Hula hoop, happiness  and the search for evidence: stories in circular economy




Have you ever received a transgenerational gift? I could mention the hula hoop my children received  from their grandmother. The one I did use at some point. And there you go, children start questioning :

“Where did you use it? Did you play with friends? Who invented it? What was it made of before plastic?”

When I tell about those intergenerational- friends or family fragments, most people recall, not only their own childhood but they often feel grounded to earth. Some listeners told me, they even reimagine themselves bare feet for a moment….:-)

Did you know transgenerational gifts are also part of circular economy?

What is important about them? In this article, I will concentrate on the fact that they disclose a story or more.

Circular economy is regenerative, built as to retain a maximum of value from products, parts and materials and it allows for reuse and recycling. As it is a real ‘model’ with its complexity, we often forget parts when trying to define it. Circular economy is sometimes ‘shortened’ as recycling and reusing.  But there is more to it. 1

One dimension that is often overlooked is the human capital. I have chosen storytelling to introduce the concept because stories often show human value. Stories help link human experience and happiness factors. .I could have chosen many stories related to our environment/nature. I will only concentrate on those relevant to well-being or happiness.

There are some stories we already know: 1. the drop in the ocean, the story that makes you feel part of a whole, 2.  the do it yourself (DIY)  stories in which you re-own the whole manufacturing process,3.  empowerment stories are also very powerful and culturally diverse. In Building Research and Information, Janda and Topouzi have identified success stories but also caring and resilience stories to understand strategies used in times of climate change or  when difficult living conditions or adverse experiences.

These stories are all important for change and transformation of economic models but we need to keep both macro and micro levels in mind. Storytelling helps structuring, defining, putting words on human experiences. Stories are not only local stories , they can be transnational. In an era of post truth, we should find ways to identify, classify and study those at several levels.

In Energy Research & Social Science (an academic article for once😊) “Using stories, narratives, and storytelling in energy and climate change research” 2, the Authors argue that  “Stories provide different material than other traditional forms of data used in energy and climate change research. They are obviously different than more quantitative, (..)  generalisable forms of data, than interviews, participant-observation, and other social scientific forms of data collection normally do. They are immediately oriented to relationships, in particular between people and things, the present and the past, actions and consequences, etc. And they often have emotional, psychological, symbolic, and cultural content (…). So, stories invite a different intellectual and emotional framework, (…).

The authors point out stories can serve as data or bring different perspectives but also as tools for collaboration and learning but even as evidence and should therefore be categorized better.

For instance, I hope stories about universal design in environment, architecture, smart cities education etc will have a clear transversal mention so we can trace these!

The latest global happiness report (2018) not only states that monitoring well-being will require that all governmental policies are designed and tested on happiness outcomes, but it also insists on taking all human actors into account. “It will now become important to consider not just the happiness of the recipients of government service but also the impact of the services on the happiness of those designing and delivering them, and those living in the surrounding communities. The various chapters in this volume provide many examples showing that the social context—how highly people think of each other and cooperate with one another—is vitally important to how highly they rate their lives.” I am convinced these intersubjective evaluations can include children stories as well. We should also analyse happiness in terms of engagement. Companies, public bodies social networks measure long-term engagement as a well-being factor (ex. Net recommender scores) but when I do a storytelling training I also refer to other topics usually from the psychological field like attachment, a concept that also helps ground (prerequisite) and define happiness.

Because hula hoop questions made my day, happily fulfilled my story purpose, I will answer these:

“Where did you use it? Mostly in a garden but we did build houses with it as well

Did you play with friends? sure

Who invented it? I had to look it up😊4

What was it made of before plastic?” check the above reference 4😊

What I learnt is that hula hoop is not only a dance but a kind of storytelling as well… Where dancers really react to words and not only to music…


Some topics have not been developed for the sake of clarity and length.Like empowerment stories through cultures, attachment theory and its transversal consequences, these can be studied in trainings or events.


Copyright Maud Stiernet







Published by indigomama

Indigomama is a cross-cultural mom living in Europe between two cities and two stories. She is a multilingual copywriter, Communications Expert & Trainer.

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