Guest post — Consciously Choosing Abundance-driven Agreements

by Christoph Hinske, ISC Contributing Fellow, and Eyal Drimmer, Certified Vibrancy Guide

You can download a PDF of this blogpost here.

 

Abundance and Scarcity-Driven Agreements

The problem with most agreements is that we don’t see them.  They just are.  Most often we are not aware that what is happening around us is based on an agreement that one could potentially change.  It seems that life is “just that way.” In our day-to-day interactions, either at work or at home, we are engaging in a set of agreements and relationships, whether we realize it or not.  Sometimes the agreements work, resulting in vibrant experiences and great outcomes, and sometimes they do not, leaving us feeling depleted, fatigued and disappointed about the lousy outcomes.

In addition to shifting agreements in everyday experiences, many of us work to shift agreements in large-scale social change issues, such as renewable energy, food systems, poverty, climate change, and social justice.  Decades of attempts to address these big and small challenges with approaches rooted in scarcity have proven insufficient to the task.

Research at the Institute for Strategic Clarity (ISC) has identified many groups that are finding success in addressing these issues, starting from a very different perspective, one of abundance in human potential.  Ecosynomics, the social science of abundance, offers robust frameworks that take what we have learned in scarcity-based agreements framed by economics and puts it within the much broader, much healthier context of abundance-based agreements.

But how can agreements be made consciously so that people can choose self-determined higher vibrancy in their agreements?  We present a case study from Europe where we are in the process of guiding a group to abundance-based agreements. In doing so, we follow the Vibrancy Living Lab approach, which combines a guiding process with scientific research and social-impact creation to enable a positive contribution to the group and the community where it is embedded.

Starting from a Collapsed State

The example concerns a Community Supported Business (CSB) in a village in Germany; nine people comprising two families and many associates. While the main focus of their work resides on their CSB, they are also engaged in local education and regional politics.

Despite a great vision, the group found itself over the last years in a critical state: the financial situation was getting precarious, the group underwent some hard and energy-depleting times and some were on the edge of burning out. Furthermore, they had already started to lose belief in the meaning behind their venture and to unconsciously accept their scarce reality as given and unchangeable. With those agreements, practices and mindsets they were not able to ensure their private and professional successes.

Based on initial conversations about ecosynomic research, in early 2014, the founders of the community invited us to support them in overcoming their scarcity-driven practices by working out their own abundance-based agreements. 

Raising Awareness for Agreements and Interdependencies

Our first step was to empower them and bring back the feeling of self-determination. We chose two different approaches for this. The first was to stop “just doing” and to start observing. The second was the kind of relationship we entered. In this we decided to step into an unusual role. In addition to being external coaches and consultants, we also agreed to become full members of the group. This gave us more possibility to deeply resonate with them by still being able to mirror them in their dynamics.

The goal of both approaches was to raise the awareness of whether they would rather act out of scarcity or abundance-based agreements and to assess the benefit-cost of devoting resources into the development of abundance-based agreements. The first step into this direction was done through a collaborative Agreement Mapping. This exercise allowed them to understand their unconsciously accepted agreement system and (unintentional) practices leading to perceived scarcity. They were able to do so by tapping into the wisdom of four seemingly very distant fields that humans have used for millennia to understand their interactions, experiences, and produced results:

  1. Resource or economic lens: “How much do we have, of what, to achieve our goals?”
  2. Allocation or political lens: ”Who or what is in power, and who or what decides and enforces?”
  3. Value or cultural lens: “What criteria do they use, and what is important to them?”
  4. Organizing or social interaction lens: “What rules do they apply and how do they organize?”

These currently very distant fields have been integrated by ecosynomic research, allowing a group to understand if it is “stuck in scarcity” or “boosted by abundance.” Why did we do this, and why is this relevant? ISC research conducted in 95 countries proves abundance to be a desired state for any social system. While this seems obvious, direct measurement of this abundance is not. Without measurement, the group could neither take strategic decisions nor convince possible capital providers and shareholders of the importance of “all this fluffy abundance stuff.”

Mapping out the quality of their agreement structure allowed them to create a first understanding of how their embedded and interwoven assumptions shaped their interactions and how those interactions created the basis for the quality of their experiences and results. Understanding that, they started to see that their unpleasant experiences and poor results were a direct effect of the agreements they made on a daily basis in the four fields by (unconsciously) answering the related questions in completely opposite directions. They also started to see that by changing their embedded and interwoven assumptions and agreements they would directly change the experiences they have and the results they produce.

SIDEBAR
Measuring the benefits of and capacity for abundance gets its inspiration from the quality movement. Initially nobody knew how to assess the benefits of quality programs; this made investment decisions difficult. The innovation was to assess the cost of “no quality.” The insight was that the benefit of quality had to be at least as big as the cost of no quality. Likewise, the benefits of abundance are at least as big as the costs of scarcity, which is straightforward to measure.

 

After having this higher-level awareness of themselves and their context, we employed embodiment and systemic practices to open up concrete pathways for change.

Consciously Choosing Abundance-Based Agreements

Let’s have a closer look at the groups’ interrelated agreements and practices, as we saw them the day we started to be engaged with them.

guestpost_aemapcase_111416b

After raising awareness of the current situation, the group collectively agreed to allocate resources into the development of abundance-based agreements and to explore practices that would allow them to intentionally start from abundance and collaboration rather than being unintentionally stuck in scarcity and antagonism.

Outcomes and Summary

Through raising awareness, we managed to close the gap between their wishful thinking and currently shared reality–that is, the difference between the espoused agreements and practices in contrast to the ones in use.  Some concrete outcomes are:

  1. They entered a mindset of “we do have more than enough of anything, we just have to find ways of how to manifest the potential we see into results benefiting our business and community.” They are now successfully innovating on their business model by exploring new markets, management, and leadership behaviors.
  2. They have a high-level AND in-depth understanding of their structures and how each individual drives them. Building on that, they realized the interdependencies between the different parts of their “system” and the importance of alignment within it. Both aspects are essential preconditions to relate in an effective, efficient, and abundant way.
  3. They have the awareness that with their scarcity-driven agreements they would by definition neither be able to have the kind of “healthy experiences” nor produce the kind of outcomes they envision.
  4. They are much more conscious and mindful in their daily patterns, leading to more thoughtful interactions. “We now know that we are not yet able to have everything we would like to have, but we also know now what the ground is we are standing on.”
  5. “I learned to respect my own needs and to share them with everybody in our community.”

Engaging with them, you can now a) see and feel the higher-level awareness of “why do I experience what I experience and how I can change it” and b) see and feel the positive energy and motivation to grow into the possibilities they see, which is completely different than the original drive to simply escape scarcity. They are able to do so since they experienced what it is like to work with abundance-driven agreements. Yes, they are now able to work out of this understanding and feeling, rather than just pushing away from something they do not like.

Furthermore, they not only regained trust in their own abilities and goals, but also started to reframe their shared purpose, as well as each individual’s unique contribution to the group.

We think the key learning of this case study is to take time to understand the agreements that (un)consciously drive the behavior of your business. Understanding your agreements builds the basis for lasting success and vibrant interactions, thus, having great experiences and producing above-average outcomes. Awareness, collaboration, and alignment seem to take a lot of time and energy, but there is a massive return for every minute of this investment. During our process the Japanese proverb “If hurried, go around” evolved as our guiding principle, because the fastest way is often not the straightest.

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Guest post — What Does It Mean to Be a High-Vibrancy School?

Guest post by Annabel Membrillo Jimenez and Jennifer Berman, members of the emerging global Vibrancy community

Do you know a school where something special happening is happening?  Do you feel inspired and fully engaged in the interactions you have with teachers, staff, and students?  Are students fully seen for who they are?  Is their inner potential unleashed?  Does the school re-define what it means to be an outstanding school in service to students and the future?  If you have answered yes to these questions, then you most likely know a high-vibrancy school.

So how do you know if your school or any other school really is a high-vibrancy school? After working with several high-vibrancy schools, we have noticed a few common characteristics.  The schools we have worked with are a mix of public, private, urban, and rural schools with socioeconomic and racial diversity, but in each school you can feel and see a set of core agreements that drive decision making, structures and behavior.

INNOVATIVE LEADERSHIP STRUCTURES IN ALL LEVELS

  • School leaders explore and implement innovative leadership structures and engage in transformation from a place of abundance and possibility.
  • School leaders feel ownership of and responsibility for student and whole-community development.  Department/group leadership supports evolving practices.  There is a culture of respect and support for leaders at all levels (principals, teachers, staff, and parents).
  • Leadership can come from anyone. Actions, ideas and proposals flow from every conversation, including those with students.

A DEEP SHARED PURPOSE WITH CLEAR STRATEGIES

  • Schools are centered on student development.  The whole community (internal and external) supports each child in realizing his/her full potential and development.
  • Schools are mission-driven, with a vision that evolves over time as needed– i.e., explicitly supporting children to be active, engaged human beings with supportive programming and structures.
  • Clear pathways exist to achieve that vision, including structures to help assess what is working, what is not, and what new solutions exist.
  • There is evidence of extraordinary results (success indicators coming from tangible results in the school and larger community).
  • There is a strong emphasis on stakeholder development and a deep shared purpose embraced by the wider community. 

 PERMANENT EVOLVING CULTURES/COMMUNITY

  • There is a strong culture of learning, collaboration, trust, respect, and transparency among students, parents, faculty and staff.
  • High value is placed on community engagement in the life and structures of the school. The school community is engaged in transformation at all levels (personal, group, school, external community).
  • Leadership and others have a high level of awareness of what is happening within the community.

INNOVATIVE EDUCATION MODELS AND EVOLVING CURRICULUM

  • There are continuously evolving education models that meet the needs of students and creatively support students to achieve their highest potential.
  • Stakeholders think systemically about what factors influence children’s growth and education.
  • Alliances with groups outside the school leverage whole child development.
  • Every event with the students is clearly related to the curricula and there is a shared understanding of its educational value (class, festivals, community and parent engagement)

Are you one of these schools or do you know one of these schools? If so, share your story with us. Most likely, you are already looking for other like-minded colleagues with whom you can share and explore.  We would love to help you find each other, so that together we can help co-design the next generation of schools that this world needs.

Guest post — Homo lumens — Where Attention = Love = Energy

Guest post by Leslie Ritchie-Dunham, Director of Creative at Vibrancy Labs

The work of Vibrancy is to surface, understand and rethink the underlying agreements of how we, as Homo lumens, recognize and organize ourselves.

Why do we do this? Because what modern organizations are still doing for the most part; how they work, how they are structured, how they ask people to enter into and accept unhealthy agreements already set in place, isn’t working for most. So people tend to disengage, many even actively disengage (i.e., consciously hurting the organization through their lack of engagement), BUT, if you ask, anyone and everyone (at least every person I have asked) wants to be more engaged in their work and lives, wants to connect more to others and to the earth, to work more and harder on something they love, to just love more, to live more, and enjoy the ride together more.

So why don’t we? Because of Available Capacity. Just like on your iPhone. If you buy the 8G iPhone you will fill it up pretty quickly, so then you get the 16G, and then the 32G and finally the 64G, maybe even the 128G! And what happens… yup, regardless of the amount of storage you buy, they get filled up too darn quickly with all those wonderful photos of friends and family, entertaining videos, songs for every moment, seemingly infinite docs, notes and drawings, and all the interesting stuff one finds online that is really, really cool and you don’t want to forget or that just might be useful some day…

People fill their phone to its available capacity. People do the same thing in their lives, for the same reason. They shine their light to the capacity available in any and every moment (unless the impulse has been educated out of them…). Because people are Homo lumens, or beings of light, and they are all these forms of light energy: life, light, energy, color, bodies (mass) in space with movement, playfulness, thought, intelligence, joy and love (and of course potentially all the opposites as well if not engaged).

ALE Graphic

The ALE graphic, above, was my first graphic, done years ago, to demonstrate the insight that Attention = Love = Energy. They are all manifestations of the same universal energy. We as Homo lumens manifest all three through our thinking, feeling and willing.

A human being as a being of light naturally wants to fill all the available capacity they can find with their creative gesture through their own unique forms of expression. And they will look in the nooks and crannies of their lives (just like on our phones) to find those spaces of a bit more available capacity to fill. The more spaces of available capacity they find to fill, the happier they are, the more they shine and it just goes up and up and up until they hit the Available Capacity Bar.

AuraMan

Humans beings, as beings of light, shining through our thinking, feeling and willing. What is the available capacity of our cultural and organizational structures for us to shine within?

What is the Available Capacity Bar? It is the bar (or ceiling of glass, or even brick as the case may be) of available capacity set by the structures of modern culture and organizations. Overall these seemingly set structures keep the available capacity a human being can shine into shockingly low. In fact, many, if not most organizations keep the available capacity bar below the point where a being of light can function in any healthy way. So people have to medicate themselves because it is unnatural for a being of light to NOT shine. It is actually quite painful to be required to extinguish the light that wants to shine from each and every one of us.

So what if? What if we discontinue using cultural and organizational structures that by their unconscious, or perhaps even conscious design keep the available capacity so painfully low? What if we actively start to design organizational structures that, instead of continuing to foster that low bar, actually raise the available capacity bar?  And, as we change the organizational structures, we can begin to change the cultural structures as well.

This is what Vibrancy does. We do this by helping people, through their organizations, make the flip from Unconsciously Accepted Agreements to Consciously Chosen Agreements. We do this by shining a light down into the basements and foundations of our cultural and organizational structures to find the agreements we are actually working from, so they can now be seen and understood.

When the true underlying agreements are seen and understood, people can either consent to the existing agreements by choice, or take them out back and throw them in the dumpster so that we can start again. But on purpose this time. With clearly understood, agreed upon purpose this time. And, as we start to develop these new structures, learning from the organizations already forging ahead out of a similar understanding and desire, we will learn, and we will add the ability to keep raising that available capacity bar in our organizational structures so people can continue to find new ways to shine. Because, unlike our phones, we as Homo lumens can generate our own infinite available capacity.

And why? Because that is what people do. That is what Homo lumens do. They strive to shine. And they strive to shine together, each interaction capable of setting off an exponential chain reaction of energy as our lights fuse. That is why we love to come together, to ride together through this life, relishing those mega-ton moments of juicy creative explosions along the way.

When people shine together and make those creative explosions, we all benefit. As more and more people live into their consciously chosen agreements, the available capacity bar just keeps getting higher and higher and higher…. and we all get access to that increased capacity, thus raising the vibrancy/capacity level of the world.

Vibrancy is a choice. We can, individually and together, make choices for ever more conscious agreements, by doing the work to identify and understand the underlying agreements we have accepted, to examine them and choose for ourselves ever more available capacities of love, connection, experience, work, play, joy, and life. As Homo lumens it is too painful to do otherwise.

Guest post — A Vermont Case Study: Getting to 80% renewable energy by 2030

Guest post by Jennifer BermanContributing Fellow at The Institute for Strategic Clarity

[Jennifer Berman is the former Executive Director of the Maverick Lloyd Foundation and was the coordinator of EAN from 2009-2012. This case study was written in December 2012.]

In 2008, the Maverick Lloyd Foundation stepped back from ten years of philanthropic giving to explore how the foundation could be a more effective driver for change. Despite a significant investment of resources, the trustees knew that their giving strategies were not creating the impact they knew was possible—and necessary—if the state of Vermont was to address the urgent reality of climate change.

Inspired by the success of RE-AMP, a network of 144 non-profits and foundations working to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in eight mid-western states, the foundation began to envision a social change process that could help catalyze large-scale coordinated action around a bold new vision for Vermont. The result of that early vision is Energy Action Network (EAN)—a powerful network of business, government and non-profit leaders who are aligned around the goal of meeting 80% of Vermont’s 2030 energy needs from renewable energy and increased efficiency.

Read the case study of the project (click here, revised 19March2017).

Comment by Jim Ritchie-Dunham.  Jenn Berman and I worked together on the EAN project through 2010 with our colleagues at GEP.  You can read more about the EAN project from an Ecosynomics perspective in the book Ecosynomics.

Guest post — Kopfstand — Standing Vibrancy on Its Head

Guest post by Christoph HinskeContributing Fellow at The Institute for Strategic Clarity, Kathrin Bimesdörfer, Director at IFOK

Do you know the situation when you feel completely stuck, whether with your team, you organization or any group you are a part of? You experience the lack of possibilities and innovation, and it just feels lousy. During our 7 years of working with and for organizations, large and small, in business, government, civil society, and inter-sectoral networks, we figured out that being stuck is not the end of something, but a perfect starting point for the beginning of something profoundly new. Embracing “stuckness” enables us to “think out of the box,” to start to create paradigmatic innovations and to explore different, better solutions. We find the core of this shift in the initiating assumption, do you start from scarcity or abundance? This article is about a simple method that supports groups in making the shift from being stuck in scarcity-driven structures proposed by Economics to abundance-based structures proposed by Ecosynomics.

Ecosynomics (pronounced “ee-co-si-nom-iks”) is the social science of abundance or, said another way, the principles of collaboration. [The term comes from the rules (nomos) of relationship (eco) together (syn).] As a framework, Ecosynomics is a model of health that describes what people are learning about how to move from perceived realities of scarcity, characterized by ingratitude, anxiety, apathy, mistrust, and anti-social competitiveness as well as a high level of organizational redundancies to perceived realities of abundance, characterized by gratitude, joy, enthusiasm, creative capacities, effectiveness, efficiency, trust, and social solidarity. Our research shows this to be a universal and basic experience every human being knows. Consequently, we believe that literally everyone knows when he or she is experiencing a scarce or abundant situation, whether alone or in a group. Groups that live in the abundance scenario are much more effective, efficient and innovative, achieving much better outcomes and experiences, sustainably. In our practice, we find it difficult for people to see what we are pointing at when talking about Ecosynomics and abundance-based agreements. It is hard to show people the reality they are living. Few people want to acknowledge that they unconsciously support agreements based on the principles of scarcity, leading to “stuckness.”

The difficulty seems to be in the direction of the imaginative exercise. It seems difficult to see a better reality from one’s own current reality. It seems to be easier to imagine one’s currently reality from the better (abundant) reality. We figured out that working with concepts that are “out of our current thinking” requires us to build a bridge for people. However, that bridge does not start on the shores of our old or common thinking.

Since this scenario sounds “strange” and “not real” to many of our stuck clients, we needed to find a simple and straightforward method to create an understanding of what abundance is and what it is not. Thus, we started to use the Kopfstand (German for headstand) creating an experience of “the world beyond the walls of the box.” By doing so, we challenge mental models and uncover visible and invisible agreements that drive human interactions in the system.

Borrowed from processes we use in product innovation and design thinking, the Kopfstand enables the participants to leave their current thinking and look at it from the other side.

3Circles031913_Corrected

SIDE BAR – The underlying framework

Image 1: The five dimensions and three levels of perceived reality, as proposed by Ecosynomics. The outer circle represents the experience of abundance and the inner circle the experience of scarcity (leading to stuckness). It is used as the framework to apply the Kopfstand.

 

SIDE BAR – The method

Kopfstand method

 

  1. Sharing of scarcity to abundance continuum: We start by sketching the chart of the five relationships and three levels of perceived reality on the wall (see side bar). Derived from Ecosynomics research, it provides a comprehensive explanation of the experience of scarcity and abundance. Why five relationships and why three levels? The literature and years of experience show that any social system consists of at least those five relationships. Try it out for yourself, by asking a person to, “Describe a situation where you felt richness in possibilities for yourself and/ or the group you are in.” We find that people start to describe the situation by unconsciously referring to those five relationships – the relationship to self, other, group, nature, and spirit. Their experience describes one of the circles in the image, ranging from scarce to medium to abundant.
  2. Envisioning a high-performance organization: We then gave participants green sticky notes and pens. We instructed them, “Imagine you are the responsible decision maker in an organization that is extremely efficient, effective and innovative. An organization where the individual is able to express her highest potential and the group moves towards a shared vision by living high levels of mutual trust (see also the images in the outer circle). Describe this kind of organization in your own words, using the sticky notes. Come to the image and stick your note to the respective dimension in the outer circle.”
  3. Destroying the high-performance organization: “Now your assignment is to lead your organization away from abundance (since it is considered as not business-relevant and sort of “soft”). Please do this step in a team of two. Use your red sticky notes and note down what you can do to destroy the abundance-based reality. Before putting the sticky notes on the graph, discuss your strategies and actions with your teammate.” Within 5 to 10 minutes, people note down ideas and post them on the image. Our experience is that people get really creative and eager to fill the wall.
  4. Relating destructive activities with day-to-day experiences: Once completed, we ask people to read out and explain their ideas. Destructive and inefficient behaviour as well as dysfunctional organizational structures are described. Most of the actions and strategies are characterized by ingratitude, angst, apathy, mistrust, and anti-social competitiveness. At this moment we often experience a radical shift happening. As the list continues, people start to see that they are actually describing their own organizations.

On the individual level, people react with either silence or contemplation. Others burst out laughing, since they know this kind of behaviour just too well. Some protest by saying, “Who would ever want this? Why would I choose to work this way?” Many participants note, “We just described our organizational context. It hurts, and I just got clear that it is the scarcity-based mindset that leads us to the agreements creating this kind of inefficient and ineffective organization.” There are always a few that say, “Finally I understand why my organization is so effective, innovative and efficient.” If you have such a statement we recommend using their stories as benchmarks throughout the rest of the workshop. At a group level, people start to realize that they are not alone with their experience of scarcity-based agreements and decision-making.

The Kopfstand method helps to create a container of understanding and allows for group reflection from a completely different standpoint because you start from an experience that everyone in the room has. The method gives an intuitive frame that helps to see the concept of relationships based on assumptions of abundance. The findings of Ecosynomics are much easier to understand this way, because participants describe the circles and relationships unconsciously in their own stories.

When you start to gather the voices of the whole group and someone else says something that you also had in mind, this creates a whole picture of an organization. However, it is important to avoid finger-pointing and assigning statements directly to a specific organization. People should be empowered to state their ideas and thoughts themselves instead of you presenting them with their unhealthy proposals. Participants thus have the chance to have their own experience of abundance and scarcity in that very moment and deduct their own conclusions about the concept. The method has been applied in this way in dozens of different settings throughout Germany, Ghana, Mexico, The Netherlands, Romania, South Africa, United Kingdom, and the USA. It has been applied in different sectors and with very different target audiences with amazingly similar effects.

In case you want to take the next step, we propose to continue with a Doppel-Kopfstand or reverse scenario to identify measures of how to improve the situation once the underlying assumptions have been changed. A personal experience with an abundance-based reality can help people to start questioning and changing existing agreements about how they relate to oneself, others, groups, innovations, and creativity. Be careful… our experience shows that people start to find they no longer agree to work in unhealthy and scarcity-driven environments.

 

Guest post — Ecosynomic Forum on Large System Change and Sustainability

Guest post by Prof. Dr. Martin Welp, Chair of Socioeconomics and Communication, University for Sustainable Development Eberswalde, Head of the International Master Study Programme Global Change Management, and Christoph Hinske is Vibrancy European Lead Steward and Contributing Fellow at the Institute for Strategic Clarity.

The 1st Eberswalde Ecosynomics Forum on April 2, 2015 focused on large system change. Exploring collective efforts for a transformation towards sustainability was the overarching theme of the one-day event. It provided a collaborative space to think together about necessary conditions for change and the systemic embedders of such changes. Furthermore the event was a hub to develop ideas for shared action, research and consultancy.

Participants were researchers, practitioners, business owners, activists and students, with great diversity in terms of educational background and work experience. Their reflections on the topic and the keynote speeches by Steve Waddell (NetworkingAction) and Petra Kuenkel (Collective Leadership Institute) are available on video 

EEF_blog_image_steve-maja-petra

The event was hosted by the Eberswalde Universcreenshot-15sity for Sustainable Development (University of Applied Sciences) and the International Master Study Programme “Global Change Management”. The study programme focuses on how to speed up learning processes regarding global change in different kinds of organisations and the society at large. The event was a great source of inspiration both for the education of change agents in Eberswalde and for research on a sustainability transition.

The idea for the event in Eberswalde grew out of a five-year cooperation between the university and the Institute for Strategic Clarity. The ecosynomic perspective on the kind of agreements that shape our organisations, our working together and even our economies has been part of teaching in the Global change Management study programme since then. Starting in the fall 2015, a new curriculum integrates ecosynomics more directly.

Martin: In my personal view, as the head of the study programme, the Forum showed how people who share the same passion for change and a sustainability transition can quickly team up and have fruitful dialogue, which is intended to be continued in the 2nd Ecosynomics Forum. With the help of video documentation, we can build on the outcomes and findings of the 1st Forum. I am looking forward to seeing the forum grow into a series of inspirational events on ecosynomics, change management and sustainability.

Christoph: Being a European lead steward for implementing ecosynomic research insights, my main inspiration to approach Prof. Dr. Martin Welp with the idea to co-host the 2015 Ecosynomic Forum is rooted in the excitement about the innovative study program Global Change Management. To me, a study program that focuses on training systemically thinking and holistically acting Agents of Change is a perfect place to start the series of global events, highlighting groups and approaches that successfully transcend the agreements of scarcity/economics.

As Martin already mentioned, the group of around 40 people was very diverse. We had people from all sectors in the roomscreenshot-12. To me it was interesting that, despite the very different perspectives, everyone agreed that abundance-driven collaboration is key to a healthy and successful transition towards more regenerative societies and economies that are rooted in the understanding of planet earth as a living being.

Direct outcomes of the event are major action research possibilities, new consulting contracts, and thesis topics for the participating students.

As with the 1st Forum, the next forum will be hosted by nominated organisations around the globe and supported by the hosts of the 1st Forum. The topics and content areas, connected to the interests of the next host, may differ widely.

While nominations for the 2016 Ecosynomics Forum open soon, we welcome unofficial requests referencing this blog post.

Guest post — Agreements Mapping of High Vibrancy Zapatista Communities

Guest post by Annabel Membrillo Jimenez, Vibrancy Mexico Lead Steward

Zapatista mural

Annabel set off on a journey this past spring to observe indigenous Zapatista communities, asking: What are the characteristics that allow the Zapatistas to move at a steady pace towards the third circle of vibrancy, despite the ongoing repression they receive from a part of their environment? What are the agreements that make them unique?

Annabel shares what she observed in the Zapatistas agreements in a white paper you can download here in English (aquí en español).

 

Guest post — Ecosynomics of EU Building Renovation

Guest post by Christoph Hinske, Vibrancy European Lead StewardInstitute for Strategic Clarity Contributing Fellow

Build_Upon_SlideI was invited by the World Green Building Council to share a high-level summary of our research at the kick-off conference of the BUILD UPON project in London [read PDF – ISC_WorldGBC 3 Slides // watch VIDEO]. BUILD UPON is an innovative two-year Horizon 2020 project that aims at helping European countries design and implement strong, long-term national strategies for the renovation of their existing buildings [see Project Summary].  I was also asked to speak to the key challenges I see for such a large-scale stakeholder process [see 1-min VIDEO.]

I am happy that James Ritchie-Dunham, ISC President, has been invited to the BUILD UPON advisory board, contributing ecosynomic thinking to the project.

Guest post — An Abundance-based Approach to Fostering LOcal Wellbeing (FLOW)

Guest post by Anna Cowen, Meshfield co-founder, architect, urbanist, facilitator, and Vibrancy South Africa steward and John Ziniades, Meshfield co-founder, internet entrepreneur, engineer, facilitator, and Vibrancy South Africa steward

FLOW

What is the light touch needed to awaken a place into its’ full expression of “grounded possibility”? How can we foster the kind of growing conditions that will support human beings’ capacity to thrive in the face of mounting inequality and poverty, devastating climate change, peak energy and water, widespread resource depletion and eco-system destruction?

These are the key guiding questions that inspire the FLOW project, a new initiative with deep, old roots that is currently unfolding in two South African locales simultaneously.

A sense of “what is possible”: imagine interconnected networks of self-governing, self-regulating, agile communities that are intimately connected to and protective of their locales, each living within the carrying capacity of their place. Communities that know the contours of their landscapes, in their physicality, and communities that are peopled with individuals who know and are known through their relationships with one another. Places where the idea of “work” is fundamentally reframed into something that is enjoyed, not endured, where “work” is expressing the fullness of being human, in all our abundant creativity, in service of both our selves and our communities. Communities that are rooted in the local, yet connected globally, part of planetary networks of iterative learning and rapid feedback, where knowledge is a common good and the enclosure of the knowledge commons a distant memory. Places where everyone has enough – where most basic needs are met through hyper-localized production of food, energy, water, shelter and clothing supported by systems of globally networked, distributed manufacturing using open methods of production. And where trade and learning between bioregions and countries and continents ensure access to the goods and services that can’t be made locally. These are communities where the elderly are honored as the keepers of wisdom, are included and taken care of, and where preventative health care and life long education are knitted into the very fabric of daily life.

The FLOW Project proposes that the ‘growing conditions’ needed to both ground this imagining and to support the kind of innovation, creativity and adaptive capacity that will ensure that sentient life can still thrive on earth require three interpenetrating, foundational dimensions. Each dimension is expressed in both individuals as well as in communities as a whole. The first is a thorough and embodied awareness, understanding and knowledge of the systems that support life, both the natural and human made systems. The second is a grounded sense of self-worth, autonomy and agency. The third – robust community bonds and strong social ties – a sense of communion and belonging. FLOW suggests that if these three cornerstones are strong, and are nourished and replenished on an ongoing basis, then a thick and fecund mesh of ‘grounded possibility’ will develop, enabling the kind of bold new thinking, doing and being that is needed if life is going to flourish on earth again.

The FLOW project goes about building and enhancing these three cornerstones in any given community through three interconnected activities. The first is through developing the leadership skills and capacities of groups of local youth – the FLOW Ambassadors. The second is through making visible, by mapping and storytelling using appreciative enquiry lenses resource flows, natural and human made systems, skills, goods and services, local heroes and heroines. The third is through bolstering localized economic exchange through the introduction of a local currency, a mutual credit system entirely backed by the goods and services of local businesses.

The intention is to create, within FLOW’s first year in any given community:

  • A cohort of trained, empowered local youth in each locale – the FLOW Ambassadors – that will play an awareness raising role in their local communities around the use of the local currencies, general environmental and social awareness and the identification and catalysing of new green and social entrepreneurial opportunities.
  • A first iteration of a functional, context responsive, locally appropriate community currency in place in each town, backed by the goods and services of the FLOW Business Network in each place respectively.
  • A series of FLOW Ambassador generated and community-owned maps (both digital and physical) that include representation of the economic activity in each locale, the resource flows, the unique assets and dependencies of each place, and locally appropriate social and green entrepreneurial opportunities.
  • A series of short movies made on mobile phones by the FLOW Ambassadors that include 30-second “marketing” videos promoting the FLOW Business Network members (also linked to the digital map), a series of 2-minute movies called “Loving Local” that showcase local heroes and assets, 2-minute documentary movies that describe the local resource flows and dependencies, as well as the “Seeds of Transition” movie series – local “positive deviants” that are already demonstrating green and social entrepreneurial activity that can both inspire others, and be enhanced and amplified in their own right.

FLOW has been on the ground since October 2014. See www.flowafrica.org for ongoing updates and more information.

Guest post — High Vibrancy in the Salt Lake Civil Network

Guest post by John T. Kesler, is an attorney, facilitator, writer, consultant, lecturer, and founder and chair of the Salt Lake Civil Network

 

In the Salt Lake Civil Network (SLCN) we have a Mentor Council whose sole function is to hold an open container of possibility. Members of our Mentor Council and others in our SLCN community take their passions and energy into the community and engage with the passions and energy they find there. Then we watch what emerges.

Each resulting new initiative becomes a “content network” and is self organizing in a spirit of social entrepreneurship. The content networks of SLCN include working with the homeless as part of the broader community, multi-lens community flourishing, integral journalism, modeling wellness in health care, TEDx Salt Lake City, integral public policy development, and more. We regularly ask each content network to share and cross fertilize with all other SLCN content networks, often resulting in new emergent possibilities.

Our intent over time is to network with others throughout the world who are doing similar work in order to co-learn and to contribute to local/global flourishing. This work is grounded in the realization of the interconnection of individual, community and global flourishing, as well as the intimate interrelationship of one’s inner work, and one’s work in the world.

Two of SLCN’s content networks emphasize inner work, one of which focuses on Integral Polarity Practice (IPP) the integrally informed awareness and life practice developed by John Kesler. The patterns of IPP echo throughout SLCN. IPP emphasizes working with primary polarities which emerge at each of the 15 stages of human development as validated by research.1 Once the qualities of each stage polarity arise, they are pervasive through the remainder of emergent human development.

The most foundational IPP polarities emphasizes the importance of being present to what is arising in experience. The second stage polarity emphasizes connecting with the unlimited source of vitality or vibrancy which arises out of the place of greatest openness and possibility, which in all polarities, is called the causal still point. There is also always a subtle flow between poles, and every polarity holds the concreteness of the poles themselves. The still point of the third stage polarity emphasizes the quality of fullness and abundance, even though the primary motivations arising out of this desire/aversion polarity more typically emphasize scarcity.

The fourth stage polarity brings on line the relational dimension of life. The initial experience of the “other” (as is the case with any polarity) is one of polar opposition, which evolves into cooperation, then collaboration and ultimately deep interpenetration. IPP also aligns with research regarding human flourishing,2 and for instance provides guidance as to how to emphasize and interrelate the four highest leverage patterns of human resilience in any relational environment.

In short the foundational IPP/SLCN patterns deeply correlate with Ecosynomics and its foundational patterns. We are thrilled to have become more aware of this work and the Vibrancy Network. We hope to deeply engage with the Vibrancy Network and co-learn into the future.

  1. IPP has aligned primarily with the StAGES model of human development, developed by Dr. Terri O’Fallon, except that the first three stages of IPP are prior to stage one of StAGES
  2. IPP has for instance aligned with much research in mind-body medicine and positive psychology.