Last week, the Presencing Institute concluded our first annual delivery of u.lab-S: Societal Transformation: a global initiative in which 300 teams from 35 countries are simultaneously tackling social challenges using collective systems mapping and design processes.
While systemic change takes time and the most significant impacts of the lab will happen with a delay, we are nevertheless excited to share a few headlines that give a window into what u.lab-S teams are working toward, and some early impacts that are already emerging.
Sao Paulo, Brazil
An 80-person team in Brazil called Cambia is creating self-organized, open-source festival for societal transformation. Their first prototype, “Cambia Favela da Paz” convened 500 diverse stakeholders from in and around Sao Paulo’s historically most violent slum to reflect together on “how can we, as individuals or as a community, help to contribute to a more sustainable society and the dissemination of a culture of peace?”
Teenagers leading an emergency brigade. Young men transcending political polarization to find reconciliation with family members. A social startup connecting young mothers. These are a few stories emerging from Proyecto Hikola, an initiative that brings together educational community members, social activists, and NGO leaders of the Great Caracas area to identify, bring to light and address in their communities and workplaces the deep causes in which the Venezuelan crisis is rooted. The project’s co-leader Helio Borges wrote a detailed account of their journey.
A small and dedicated group of 20+ local community members, academics, and entrepreneurs have been meeting regularly over the past two months as part of the Circular Design Lab — which grew out of u.lab-S — to map the waste management challenges in the city as well as co-create solutions. They have reached over 250 people through events and design workshops, and are currently bringing three prototypes into the testing and implementation phase. Additionally, they are developing a self-led, second round of work that will start in September that expands the themes to include air pollution, sustainable fashion production chains, and ocean/marine waste. They are putting together an advisory board to support their continued work. Read more about how this team is looking beyond symptoms-level solutions and identifying deeper leverage points for social and environmental change.
A team called “Living in Circle” created a living curriculum where 150 staff and students from various schools, with multiple stakeholders, shared a journey of water stewardship. The journey was an outdoor experiential learning opportunity that incorporated wisdom from indigenous community leaders, environmental sustainability interest groups, and transformational artists. Their inquiry was, “How can we create authentic learning opportunities that incorporate indigenous ways of knowing and being, as models for teaching and learning, thus meeting the TRC’s calls to action in education?”
Phillipines (multiple locations)
The Regeneration Philippines team is translating policies into behavior and lifestyle change with local government and civil society partners from eight provinces. One emerging example is from the island of Negros: an island-wide collaboration of zero waste initiatives. A workshop for Zero Waste Cities and Provinces within Dumaguete City, Bayawan City, and the nearby island of Siquijor province are to follow. The team’s hope going forward is to “support these initiatives to scale and replicate nationwide in the backdrop of the Philippines’ role as the third largest ocean pollution polluter in the world.”
As these and the many other u.lab-S projects continue to evolve, we will continue to feature them on our Field of the Future blog. By doing so, we hope to inform, inspire and continue to grow the global movement of people worldwide working from a whole-person, whole-systems perspective to bring about a more sustainable and inclusive world.