Rise of the New Story
The Rise of the Movement of Movements
A synthesis of the themes in global movements taking us toward a New Story of regeneration and “Interbeing”
I believe that we are part of a movement that is
greater, and deeper,
and broader than we ourselves know, or can know.
It flies under the radar of the media, by and large.
It is non-violent. It is grassroots.
It has no cluster bars, no armies and no helicopters.
It has no central ideology.
A male vertebrate is not in charge.
… Paul Hawken: The Biggest Movement in the World that No One Saw Coming
The post, #BubbleSharing & #BubbleSurfing for Cross-Network Learning in Medium by Fyodor Ovchinnikov, reminded me of the piece quoted above. The post also led me to the piece, Sharing My Bubble: Tuning into the Global Field of Systemic Change on the Eve of 2019. Which is precisely what I have been trying to do — tune into the global field. I have been grappling with the diversity of this movement of movements, and trying to wrap my arms around it for the past two to three years. The immensity, diversity, the “apparent” lack of cohesion had floored me. After reading the post on #BubbleSharing, I gave myself permission to express what was alive for me now. I have been asking myself for some time, “How do the emerging patterns of the Field of the Future tie in with my work on facilitating, holding space for generative conversations, and designing for continuous learning”?
I am not seeking any answer. I am happy to live with the question and see what emerges from immersing myself into the flow of what is happening. What I have tried to do instead is to put some themes around what I have been noticing. (In this, I am inspired by Ovchinnikov who has organized his #BubbelSurfing into themes making it easy for readers). I am drawn to efforts of individuals and agents of transformation who are making a difference in their space. This post is my response to the #BubbleSharing.
Before I go into the themes, I must share an image that was very vivid for me: “The image of a massive orchestra playing a symphony across the Planet with the Universal Intelligence as the conductor. The players in the orchestra may not yet know each other but they are all responding to a tune that is connecting them across time and space.” I am staying with this metaphor.
My pathway into this global field of the future has been varied and synchronicity have played a major role. Books, courses, podcasts, poems, conversations on Facebook, and more have come my way each time I have lost the trail, floundered and grappled to see the whole. I have learned to let go of a desire to understand and have chosen to sense by osmosis what was coming my way. A few themes began to become apparent, all of which seem to tie into one key meme that has been following me around for some time — #Regeneration. At the same time, I became aware of a sense of skepticism at how mainstream the word was becoming and wondering if it was a replacement for #sustainability. At this juncture, I came across two articles by Daniel Christian Wahl, ‘Regeneration’ hits the mainstream, but what about the deeper practice? and Beyond Sustainability? — We are living in the Century of Regeneration. Having allayed my doubts, I went back to the themes that are alive for me at the moment.
Three themes emerged: a) Regenerative Businesses, b) Rise of the Feminine, and c) Sacred Activism. I have tried to define each as they stand with me now with some examples of where I see them being actualized. I have approached the themes mostly from the perspective of individuals who I see as facilitators, holders of the emergent space and scribes to an emerging era. Some are well-known. Some may not be. But they are all taking an active role in ushering in the New Story.
Regenerative Businesses — Jaipur Rugs founded by N.K. Chaudhury is the first example that comes to mind. He is one of the guest speakers in the U.Lab course from the Presencing Institute, and what he says stayed with me. He talks about the importance of the CEO losing his ego, and the three enemies he needs to overcome: unconsciousness, fear of failure and desires. Jaipur Rugs, based on their Founder’s guidance, changed the name of the HR department to “Search for the Divine Soul”. They now recruit people based on their innate soul connection. I believe this is the foundation of all regenerative businesses; what is upstream matters. The consciousness and intention from which all action emanates is the root of a regenerative organization. Giles Hutchins writes about Future Fit businesses which are regenerative and seek harmony with life. He writes about the deep and fundamental shift in logic that must take place for us to step into new ways of working and being. Michelle Holliday in The Age of Thrivability writes about the importance of “business serving life” and not the other way around, and emphasizes that the “underlying conditions needed for a living system to thrive were the same conditions needed for an organization to thrive.” In a Quora response, she describes thrivability thus: “A thing is thrivable when it tends to enhance the integrity, beauty and regenerative capacity of the living community it touches. It is not thrivable when it tends otherwise.”
Rise of the Feminine — I have been encountering this leitmotif in various forms. Here is an interview of Otto Scharmer titled The Future of Leadership Will Be More Feminine where he says, “Feminine leaders remove themselves from the center. Leaders removed from their own ego create space for others. They are good at listening. They are good at holding the space. Many times, these leaders are good at attending to the whole. They excel at helping people to connect to the edges of the system. They actively engage and connect with emerging future potential and holding the space for that.” To me, this implies a need for facilitative leadership, generative listening, the ability to stay with ambiguity, and to hold space for emergence,
In Shakti Leadership, Nilima Bhat and Raj Sisodia speaks about the synergy of the mature feminine and mature masculine in leaders. Bhat emphasizes the importance of the balance between the two energies for any action to be rooted in intention, compassion and courage. Last year, I came across an interesting post called Zebras Fix What Unicorns Break. Their premise was that, “The current technology and venture capital structure is broken. It rewards quantity over quality, consumption over creation, quick exits over sustainable growth, and shareholder profit over shared prosperity. It chases after “unicorn” companies bent on “disruption” rather than supporting businesses that repair, cultivate, and connect.” I read the last sentence to imply “businesses that are regenerative” even though the word doesn’t appear anywhere. They propose an alternative model: “These alternative models will balance profit and purpose, champion democracy, and put a premium on sharing power and resources. Companies that create a more just and responsible society will hear, help and heal the customers and communities they serve.” This is the Zebra Movement. (I recommend reading the post for a detailed understanding of what is being suggested). My initial thinking is that a movement towards becoming a Zebra organization can serve as a Holding Action (borrowing Joanna Macy’s term), and slow down the irrational industrial growth patterns. Another point of interest in the article:
“Zebra companies are often started by women and other underrepresented founders. Three percent of venture funding goes to women and less than one percent to people of color. Although women start 30 percent of businesses, they receive only 5 percent of small-business loans and 3 percent of venture capital. Yet when surveyed, women — who perform better overall than founding teams composed exclusively of men — say they are in it for the long haul: to build profitable, sustainable companies.”
Sarika Bansal, Editor-in-chief of BRIGHT Magazine (brightthemag.com) describes herself as a “solutions journalist” and their mission as “publishing stories that tackle some of the world’s most intractable problems and the people working to find solutions — including stories that covered the full range of the human experience, from India to Liberia, from Kenya to Brazil.” I believe such stories are a crucial part of the #Regeneration Movement. Here is the link to her TEDx Talk which is a story of hope and “how a more beautiful world is possible” one action at a time. Laxmi Agarwal, the acid attack survivor is a social activist, TV host and a campaigner with Stop Acid Attacks. She pursued and won her battle in court which led to new restrictions on the sale of acid. Her incredible story is soon to become a major motion picture starring one of India’s best actors.
I also include two remarkable women who bring unique gifts of holding space for emergence and also enable others to participate in this collective sensemaking. Kelvy Bird with her generative scribing has the ability to birth insights and shift perspectives that feels magical. Arawana Hayashi brings embodiment through Social Presencing Theater. I am realizing that we cannot think our way to a regenerative culture and a regenerative Planet. We have got to feel it in our bones, in our hearts and with our hands. And SPT is a powerful tool to facilitate such emergence. I first encountered their individual work in the U.Lab course and am in awe.
I am not quite certain where to fit Nora Bateson but I’m placing her here. In her book, Small Arcs of Larger Circles, she retains her father’s attention to precision but moves beyond that frame of reference to incorporate more embodied ways of knowing and understanding. Her work on “warm data” goes well beyond big data to look at “contextual information”, a rising need of the hour if #regeneration is to become possible. There are many more, and I will build upon this #BubbleSharing as I go along.
Sacred Activism — This leads me to names of people I have come to consider as beacons of light and hope. Joanna Macy and The Work that Reconnects is topmost on my mind when I think of sacred activism. I stumbled across Charles Eisenstein’s work via a chance Facebook conversation, and found it deeply inspiring. His courses — Space Between Stories and Living in the Gift — lay the foundations for a new consciousness. The Space Between Stories is also interspersed with videos from people whose individual work are equally noteworthy. Bayo Akomolafe has made a place for himself in this narrative of #regeneration through his exquisite attention to details, insights, beauty of expression and faith. His work makes me see known things through fresh eyes and an open heart. He makes the insignificant important with his love, attention and lyricism. The Living the New Story summit from the Findhorn Foundations hosted by Mattie Porte and Robin Alfred is currently running. The overarching theme is Cultivating Regenerative Societies, and it is an admirable attempt to bring together various threads of this New Story through interviews with wayfinders like Joanna Macy, Barbara Marx Hubbard, Ousmane Pame, Daniel Wahl, and such.
I feel blessed to be alive at this time. It is painful and exhilarating all at once. I cannot forget that as 2018 draws to a close, we just completed the 50th anniversary of 1st Earthrise photo from moon. And this is also the 50th year of Buckminster Fuller’s Operating Manual for Spaceship Earth. This is the 45th Year of the Chipko Movement, “a forest conservation movement in India where people embraced the trees to prevent them from being cut down”. Paul R. Ehrlich wrote the controversial book The Population Bomb 50 years ago. Finally, 2018 is when Auroville celebrated its 50th Anniversary — built by Mother and inspired by the philosophies of Sri Aurobindo, it is one of the first intentional communities to be built. I quote from the Auroville Charter as I end the post:
1. Auroville belongs to nobody in particular. Auroville belongs to humanity as a whole. But, to live in Auroville, one must be a willing servitor of the divine consciousness.
2. Auroville wants to be the bridge between the past and the future. Taking advantage of all discoveries from without and from within, Auroville will boldly spring towards future realisations.
There is more on the site…