We need a new religion: on Religion 2.0

(Taken from Twitter thread: https://twitter.com/solarpunk_girl/status/1118069102030073856)

We need a new religion. Post-modern science paves the way. Mutual aid between species, intricate webs of symbiosis and dazzling complexity of the Web of Life. This is the topic of my lecture series at Schumacher College. Will publish recordings soon.

Many people have been contributing to this emergent religion over the past century - people like Lynn Margulis, James Lovelock, Monica Gagliano, James F Scott, Peter Kropotkin. I call this "post-modern" biology.

Post-modern biology is biology that started to show us that our way of seeing the way Life works is incomplete. Life is not based solely on competition, "survival of the fittest", "Nature red in tooth and claw". Life is based largely on cooperation, symbiosis and solidarity.

If you go out with a hammer, everything you find is a nail. Darwinian science informed economics, and economics in turn informed the evolution of science. When we looked at bacteria, we saw disease-causing agents. We didn't see the cooperative mats and biofilms.

Then Margulis comes out with her Endosymbiotic Theory. Her paper was rejected from scientific journals 15 times before finally being accepted. She was mocked and ridiculed. We now know that each of our millions of cells house once-free bacteria which fused with our cells.

The lens we interrogate Life with is changing. What you look for is what you find. Suddenly we are discovering interspecies solidarity, complex and wondrous symbioses, interspecies communication: Being Alive is a Team Sport.

Post-modern science is holy and sacred in itself. Patterns of cooperation and mutual aid in Nature and a total reverence to Nature's complexity and intelligence can unite all humans. So can a reverence at humanity's gifts and technologies. We must use them in the right way.

@RichDecibels #microsolidarity is a pattern of this new religion. Connect patterns of human solidarity and social justice with post-modern science and reverence for interspecies solidarity and we see what it could look like.

Nature shows us the way. We just haven't been looking right.

#religion2.0 #interbeing #solidarity #mutualaid #symbiosis #interspecies #networks #biofilms #nature

Life in symbiosis: a new science of relationship

For centuries we have cut nature and the richness of the world we experience into separated disciplines, categories, and subjects of inquiry. We reduced the vibrant and unpredictable complexity of the living and transforming whole that we are part of — and participants in — to manageable chunks of reality defined by clear — but nevertheless artificial — boundaries.

The result of favouring reductionist, mechanistic, and analytical thinking over holistic, organismic, integrative thinking has brought us a lot of useful knowledge and technology. Yet it has done so at a price — the profound illusion of separation from each other and from life as a whole.

A persuasive cultural narrative of separation has fractured Life as a 3.8 billion year old planetary process into supposedly competing species and individuals — making us blind to the symbiotic relationships and intricate patterns of interdependencies by which life optimizes the vitality of the whole system for the benefit of all participants.


Why I don't want to steal your ideas

NB: This was a piece that grew out of a conversation with Nora Bateson last year, where we spoke about the phenomenon of nurturing an idea, a project, a piece of work, or art, and having it be replicated by somebody else. The article was meant to be written as a dialogue, but when I started to write I couldn’t stop. Which is funny because it kind of illustrates the whole energy of “taking”. Well. Living and learning…

Are ideas ours to keep?

An idea starts as a seed. A seed inside of a person, informed by every of their life experiences up to that point in time, every interaction, every spark, idea, emotion, blended into intuition. An intuition of how things could be, something that could come into being, a new way of doing things.

 Ideas are personal. They also have a lot of vulnerability, especially in the journey from the internal to external world. We don’t know if this seed will survive. If we cast it out into the world, to face the winds and weather external forces, opinions, systems, judgements and reality, it may not find right soil to germinate. It may just disintegrate.

What is even more vulnerable is to share an idea with others. But without sharing, the seed will go into dormancy. When you cast this seed out, it allows it to take up new materials: nutrients, water, information, energy. We have to let them go, in order to let them grow. It’s a delicate balance: how long to keep it in its tender, germination phase, as it comes into being? When is the right time to assign words to this idea, or put it down in writing? Language is limiting. To define in rigid language is to limit a being. To freeze something moving, evolving, flowing, in time.

However: without a form, substance cannot evolve. There is a quickening, a boundary that is reached, as the time comes when the formless establishes boundaries, gradients, edges and reaches a moment of crystallisation. Like the very first stage of an embryo. Now there is form, the form can evolve. And as your idea takes shape, it will evolve. Deep in the recesses of your subconscious as it bumps up against other ideas, forms, experiences.

As you begin to talk about this being, held inside of you, your priority is to ensure its viability. At the same time, a space is being held for growth, change and evolution. A careful balance of entropy and order is held. As you are questioned, challenged, these external forces help you crystallise the form, bring the edges into focus. There may be large disruptions, and it is up to you whether your idea and inner world can reach new equilibria. To ignore the new information coming in and to focus only on protection is to tend towards decay. To allow too much disruption and disequilibrium risks a tendency towards chaos.

It’s been a delicate process. This seed comes from a part of yourself. You’ve been careful, you’ve wished to protect it, and then you’ve also trusted, moved into vulnerability, sharing something precious!

So then it happens: someone ‘takes’ your idea. Punch in the stomach. Ugh. Unfortunately ideas are ephemeral - it is simple to create a copy, without the original idea holder noticing a thing. Something strange happens to the energy around the idea. Something has been breached. And a trust broken. How could you be so stupid? But to let go is to let grow. You took a risk and the risk backfired. There is another seed now germinating and could be taking up the same resources as your own. Aha: Nature sets in, red in tooth and claw. Time to compete! And compete you will, because your seed, as the “fittest”, will survive.

Of course, we want to stay connected, or attached to our ideas. Like a seed, they are created from our own substance.

But are ideas only ours to keep? An idea is an amalgamation of others and society at large — through conversations, other’s ideas, influences, maybe beyond conscious awareness. It may even be that someone else’s idea lodged itself deep inside you, and germinated with inputs of your own. No-one lives in isolation, and so ideas and seeds are born not in isolation.

— 

Back to the seed: it’s a harsh world out there. And we know this already — we grow up with the mantra that the very operating system of life is based on competition. The phrase, “survival of the fittest”. not even Darwin’s himself, is the one that took hold in our society.

 Survival of the fittest is not written in high school text books of politics, or sociology. It’s written in biology. This is how life works. If you want to be alive, you compete. If you stop competing, you die.

Perhaps the right route for an idea is for it to enter the lively battleground of competition, scarcity of resource, and “stealing”. It’s very likely that somebody else could actually execute your idea better than you. If we look at ideas, like the lifeless cold genes at the heart of Darwin’s evolution, then the aim of the game is survival and replication. Does it matter which human is attached to it in the process? The best vector wins.

But. What if there’s more to life than survival? What if we were wrong about evolution, and life thrives on collaboration, cooperation, co-evolution? What if, instead of “stealing” your idea, I put out a signal into the battlefield, that together we might be stronger? What if instead of eating you and digesting you, your cell enters mine and sets up camp and incubates inside? What if we could both win? What if we create a mosaic that’s so damn beautiful that we create new lifeforms together?  

What if, instead of the priority being survival of the idea — a meme, a concept, a piece of information, like the fragments of DNA Darwin isolated too, the priority is in fact the human, and the idea is seen as inseparable to this whole human being?

A person is a system of systems, and an idea or a project is inextricably interdependent on the dynamic flows moving through a person’s life. To reduce a person’s work, projects, and ideas to a part that can be separated from their whole is missing out on the whole complex entangled mess and beauty of life. What are we on this planet for? Is it to ensure the survival of the fittest ideas? Or is it to ensure the thriving of whole living beings, in systems, together? What is the price we pay when we narrow into reduced experience of purpose, and life?

— 

So, I say: take the idea. Run with it. There is no right and wrong. In fact, for the sake of the idea, it’s best that we all get a little bit less attached to our work, and take a colder attitude to these things: whoever can execute best, takes the prize.

But let’s not forget, there could be another way.

The Anti-Preneur Manifesto

Something that influenced me a lot in this path of labelling and unlabelling and resisting the pull to become sucked into the labels that “work”.

This piece is written yy Danielle Leduc, from March/April 2013 Adbusters…

Thank you to Andrea for the subscription to Adbusters which continued throughout the years :)

The Anti-Preneur Manifesto

I don’t want to be a designer, a marketer, an illustrator,
a brander, a social media consultant, a multi-platform
guru, an interface wizard, a writer of copy, a technological
assistant, an applicator, an aesthetic king, a notable
user, a profit-maximizer, a bottom-line analyzer, a meme
generator, a hit tracker, a re-poster, a sponsored blogger,
a starred commentator, an online retailer, a viral relayer,
a handle, a font or a page. I don’t want to be linked in,
tuned in, ‘liked’, incorporated, listed or programmed.
I don’t want to be a brand, a representative, an
ambassador, a bestseller or a chart-topper. I don’t want
to be a human resource or part of your human capital.

I don’t want to be an entrepreneur of myself.

Don’t listen to the founders, the employers, the
newspapers, the pundits, the editors, the forecasters,
the researchers, the branders, the career counselors,
the prime minister, the job market, Michel Foucault or
your haughty brother in finance – there’s something else!

I want to be a lover, a teacher, a wanderer, an assembler
of words, a sculptor of immaterial, a maker of instruments,
a Socratic philosopher and an erratic muse. I want to be
a community center, a piece of art, a wonky cursive script
and an old-growth tree! I want to be a disrupter, a creator,
an apocalyptic visionary, a master of reconfiguration,
a hypocritical parent, an illegal download and a choose-
your-own-adventure! I want to be a renegade agitator!
A licker of ice cream! An organizer of mischief! A released
charge! A double jump on the trampoline! A wayward
youth! A volunteer! A partner.

I want to be a curator of myself, an anti-preneur, a person.

Unlimited availabilities. No followers required. Only friends.

Team Bacteria

Today I got sick. I am travelling, far from home, and it's the kind of sickness that racks through your body, ransacking you for all you've got. Just 6 hours prior, before falling asleep, I was busy and preoccupied making plans, sorting logistics, typing messages here and there and all together being very effective and in control and busy. Right. Meanwhile, the real site of the action was all buzzing and alive. Things were kicking off, just as I lay my head down to fall asleep. 

We think we are in control, but we are not. As the waves of nausea started to crash on me, like the tide reaching the shore, my whole perspective shifts instantly. I am talking with and conversing with my bacteria: what do you want? What did I do wrong? They are not happy. "We" are not happy. Suddenly there is an us. I am no longer Phoebe, a coherent and collected whole, delivering and doing and coordinating and Being The Boss. It's a we, and it always has been, and I'm just slow to the party. 

Violent vomiting and purging ensue. Get It Out. My body feels hijacked, the teams of bacteria are at war, and I'm just the container, the host, the incubator. Guys? Can you tell me what's going on? What's the plan? It's full blown warfare and we are In It Together, the bacteria and me, and they are far better equipped than the 'me' of the 'us' to know what to do. Ok, we will empty ourselves of it all. Ok, I won't eat until we're done. Ok, please sip slowly. Together we're cooking up quite a storm, but I am definitely copilot, I am cc'ed in but I'm no longer allowed to pretend I'm in control. 

Surrender. What does it feel to surrender to your own bacteria? To let them have their way with you? To let go, for a second, of this whole human thing of "knowing what to do", "having it together". How does one prioritise sending out invitations to this very important event, or editing that very important document, when you're suddenly split open, and you're not even a "me" anymore?

If it sounds like I'm losing coherence, it's because I am. My stomach churns and I receive news of a spasm, I may need to be sick again soon. 

I sip a tiny amount of Pepsi, and pause. Do we like this? I feel worried about what new participants I have unknowingly invited to the party, disrupting a careful, intricate, webbed and fragile ecology of beings that are actually "me". Is this whole "me" thing actually one big joke? There's me at the front, the Front of House, thinking that I run the show. Meanwhile the beautiful complex interdependencies and mosaic, symbiotic tanglings, the relationships which are friendly, abrasive, competitive, mutual, spread out in time, in space, and constantly changing... The microscopic crew, who are working hard behind the scenes, giggle at my hubris. 

Or maybe, I'm simply serving them? They let me believe what I believe, so I serve the whole and play my role. "Let her believe what she wants to believe". These guys are small, wise and difficult, and they know how to get what they want. 

24 hours later, and I'm allowed to rest. The pain, the alternate reality of swimming in nausea and movement and sickness starts to subside. 

The relief is sacred. 

Like the waves that crashed on my shores at the beginning of it all, it's as if the tide is receding. Gently, washing out. I feel a pang of longing, of missing, where did they go? -- as everything resets to "normal" I know the bacterial allies and the majority of my team starts to fade and vanish in the background, as if they were never there. I'm back to feeling "me". The battle is over. But then who I am grateful to? Why am I left feeling held, ushered, bolstered, but some Others, the most intimate Others, who make up a Me. 

Ritual, magic and placebo

Rituals and ceremonies don't hold some kind of mysterious power or esoteric magic hocus pocus. They are spaces that allow for and create deep connection and *magic* which we are basically capable of when we realise we are all God. It's the power of intention, of operating from a place of knowing you are God, and everyone is God. Then from that place we commune with the natural world, and there's all sorts of wisdom that natural beings hold that we cannot access alone. The power of story weaves our human journey with that of the natural world, and imbues the natural world with meaning and a reality where we (humans) have a place in that general ecology.

Engaging in indigenous ceremony makes me see how simple it really is. Where is our respect and reverence for certain plants? Where is our belief that certain plants and herbs and ointments have the power to open certain doors for us, and heal? We (white culture/Western culture) have rejected it all and hedged all our bets on science, only. We need science (please don't take this as a rejection of science - I r scientist), but we're really coming full circle when we start to see the "magical" healing properties of the "placebo effect" which is basically the power of intention and the permission to heal ourselves, and for our bodies and spirits to self-organise in healing. Not to mention all the data coming out on meditation > antidepressants, epigenetics, "mind over matter".

So we end up in the same place but without all the colours, the tradition, the story, the sacredness, the feeling that being alive on Earth is one big mystery that we have the privilege of playing a part in. Why did we make this choice? Is it too late to see what we've done?

Big rant, very unformed, probably full of holes, but I'm feeling passionate!

I also wonder why it is that in the West we have problems with addiction to tabacco, alcohol and drugs. These are historically ritual medicines. But we disrespect the plant, while deeply craving ceremony and initiation, and it all gets muddled. Our ritual medicines are giving us liver cancer, lung cancer, heart failure. Would addiction to these medicines stop if we replaced chain smoking and binge drinking with ceremony and initiation?

5-day Enspiral workshop - through the eyes of a participant

"One week ago, we came to the end of our 5-day Enspiral themed programme at YIP, but the fun didn't stop there. It's a really unique pleasure to be staying longer term at a community as a resident facilitator/mentor, as I am also being given the chance to hear feedback and grow/develop during the weeks here.

It's rare that you get to hear from workshop participants in detail about what worked for them, what didn't, and what they'd like more of next time. In the situation I am in, I also get to continue the work and continue offering sessions to draw out the impact and allow participants to keep practising skills and using tools they have picked up during our week.

Below is a short article written by Robbie Solway, one of the YIP participants, about his experience of the week. He in particular really took on a lot of the skills and tools we offered, and is now working on a fantastic project to build a network of solidarity projects in Toronto and its surrounding area... As well as taking an active role in building the online YIP Alumni network.

Thank you Robbie!

Article:

"What is Enspiral? This question [en]spiralled chaotically around our course last week... alongside our freely moving understandings of social enterprise, money management, network, project incubation and community culture. Regardless of the answer, we learned a lot from the Enspiral course contributors, Silvia Zuur and Phoebe Tickell, about working with each of these themes.

For the week, we each 'dated' one of our projects. These initiatives became the case studies on which we applied Enspiral-y practices, as well as the lenses with which we listened to Silvia’s stories of entrepreneurship. We envisioned our initiatives as social enterprises through the Social Lean Canvas, exchanged our rapid-fire pitches and created financial roadmaps. I noticed my plans becoming increasingly grounded: specific & realistic ideas formed for a series of events to bring together the people, families and communities of Toronto.

What makes Enspiral truly unique, it seems, lies in the eye of the beholder. From my perspective, one particularly unique quality is their jargon: the Enspiral community applies software development terminology like ‘refactor’ and ‘fork’ to projects way beyond their computer screens. I haven’t been quite sure how to fit my computer science background and my YIP experience together thus far, but last week I felt at home when Silvia started sharing her challenges with “merging into the master branch.”

Many of us took the opportunity to learn from the Enspiral network for reflecting on what the YIP network can also mean. In smaller discussions, we shared excitement around the August gathering, the alumni map, and the possibilities of how as YIP10 we want to enter the space of being YIP alumni. In the Brosbe check-in group, we’re experiencing a taste of what it means to open the relationships we’ve formed over 10 months to the wider community. Our name amalgamates those of Rose, Bruna, and Pheobe - the amazing people who have stepped into the rotating role of the Brosbe OT throughout the year.

We've been with each of them in spaces of deep sharing as well as learning from their work. Rose invited us into the world of Moral Technologies, Bruna brought her care for education & nature with the Amazon Summer School, and now Phoebe has opened us up to the world of collaborative networking through Enspiral. Phoebe’s role as both Enspiral Member and YIP OT invites possibility for how we can all connect even better together. Having Phoebe around as a friend, mentor and visionary brings a lot of excitement to our remaining time in Sweden."

Entrepreneurial mentoring, Enspiral, saunas, fjords and community life

I may have to work on my weekends at the moment, but when I do step outside I find myself taken on all sorts of adventures. And I'm falling quite in love with the participants here. It's going to be tough to leave! Today I read over and checked one of the participants' applications to university, he is 18 years old. I was completely bowled away by the application. It starts with a poem that he's written, and this is the first line:

"If you knew me you would know
that inside this white male body
there is a soul willing to help.
To empower, to teach and learn, to comfort.
A soul willing to heal the planet."

This is coming from an 18 year-old boy who will be going on to study Physics and Aerospace Engineering at a top university. Perhaps we have a chance on Planet Earth afterall.

This is a magical place. Today I decide to take a break and find myself walking with a group to the fjord, getting in a rowboat and crossing the water, arriving at a small ecovillage community who host us in their sauna. It is on the beach of the fjord, and we watch the sun set while dipping in the ice cold salty water after each round of the woodfired sauna. We row back, hike the final leg surrounded by huge boulders, moss and lichen, huge pine trees, a sky alive with pink and orange and the fjord stretching out on our right. 30 minutes later I'm back at my desk ready to finish off what I was working on... It's surreal!

Perhaps a real work/life balance is possible like this? Living in community in a beautiful location which allows you to dip in and out of your own little world... Grateful for the internet allowing all my remote work and digital nomadism right now! Imagining the quality of life that will be possible in the future when we create these new villages and communities outside of cities, with the possibilities to connect easily in...

Day 1 of delivering a course on Collaborative Entrepreneurship inspired by #Enspiral

Without the time to properly write, I have reverted to Twitter to be sharing and open-sourcing what I am doing with the world... I hope to write up something from these shorter snippets soon! But just in case I don't, here they are...

Opening the #Enspiral Week with @SilviaZuur at Youth Initiative Programme - participants answer "Why do I do what I do?" #youth #entrepreneurship #northstar #purpose #work

Some figures - why do we need to change the way we think about work?

Data from the Australian Foundation for #Youth - the average 22 year old will have 17 #jobs and 50% of those #jobs don't exist yet #FutureOfWork #Enspiral #youth #future #work #inspired

What is the plan for our week together?

Day 1 is all about #Projects and #Identity. Where does your #self meet the #world's needs? And how do we actually make sure there is #balance -- not just what makes you come #alive! #Enspiral #YouthInitiativeProgram #YIP

Day 2 we will cover #Business and #SocialEnterprise, getting into the nitty gritty #business #tools - and talk about #money. Silvia will share about her experience starting #DevAcademy. #EnspiralWeek #YIP

Day 3 we move to #Customers, #Users, the #Humans we serve. Here we also focus on the #impact - #positive and unintended #negative #impact of our work. Let's have that conversation... #Enspiral #social #entrepreneurship #stories #masterclasses

Day 4 is all about #COMMUNITY. What is #collaborative, #community #entrepreneurship? What are the #tools we can use to #collaborate and create #value in a #community, #tribe or #team? Using the story of #Enspiral as an example. #socialentrepreneurship #Enspiral

Final day - Day 5 - the theme is #YouTheEntrepreneur - what is life like as an #entrepreneur in the #world - let's talk about #personal #leadership, #freedom, #loneliness, #community, #challenges, #failure, #heartbreak! What is it to be an entrepreneur of your own life? #Enspiral

What is Enspiral?

In #Enspiral, we #prototype and #build #Enspiral itself, and those #tools sometimes become #ventures which go out and have #impact in the world. #network #entrepreneurship #tech #tools

An afternoon of more practical creating...

Jumping into applying the #SocialLeanCanvas #business planning #tool to participant #projects and facing some #realtalk and #metrics... #socialentrepreneurship #Enspiral

Stay tuned for our time together tomorrow!

Important question from my friend Nora Bateson

Important question from my friend Nora Bateson:

"Who are the people who fund complexity / contextual / systems projects? Ideas??"

And some great comments from the discussion:

"System entrepreneurs are catalytic to communities but one step removed from impact and harder to fund."

"How do we fund the projects that shift epistemology but don't make money?"

And something that sounds exciting/hopeful in response:

"We are working on redesigning incentive structure for social entrepreneurship & philanthropy to legitimize and encourage systemic awareness and depth of intervention and use that to change impact metrics and funding criteria in the mainstream. It's the second year we are running the Evolutionary Future Challenge and are getting some very interesting results."

Call out to my network in case you have any leads. For context, Nora is working on tackling complex challenges and systemic problems which require systemic solutions - beyond a 'quick fix' solution or piece of technology to save the day.

You can read more about her work here: International Bateson Institute.

Looking forward to hear from you if you know of anything or have some ideas. :)

Islands of sanity, and some island hopping....

Laptop charger is broken. Phone is in planned obsolescence, thanks Apple. But adventures continue from YIP in Sweden to this last weekend in Schumacher with amazing teachers Stephan and Fritjof, digging into science and spirituality and a new Earth Wisdom, on global Earth day! Tomorrow morning early train to Brussels to help host the 'Going Horizontal' course introducing non-hierarchical organising and systemic thinking into organisations with Percolab and Spotted Zebras.

There are so many changes afoot at Schumacher but feels like it's a transformative time, finally for the organisation and not just the people and students... Feels like maybe we should be running the 'Going Horizontal' course at Schumacher! But leaving the College today feeling that the community is in safe hands - many of us are stepping up and a new vision for things to be different appearing...

Feeling blessed and embedded in networks of change... the pockets of change network together into larger islands of sanity. And when islands join together... 

Facilitating Fritjof Capra's course on "Mind, Matter and Life"

Starting the second morning session of Fritjof Capra's course with a non-intellectual introduction to systems thinking, science and spirituality. Beautiful Indian guitar with my teacher, colleague, mentor, Stephan Harding. We are about to start a session on 'Final Participation' with the world, nature and reality, combine with science and deep ecology and find a whole new perception of reality.

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Morning conversation recorded on soulful learning communities... Watch this space!

I started the day today with deep, soulful conversation with Alan Webb of the Open Master's about reimagining education to serve the purpose of developing full-humanness. How do we each build a life full of purpose, freedom and meaning, and support others to do that? The conversation started around self-directed learning, the The Open Master's and learning communities but quickly ballooned into what it means to be human, to grow into wholeness, and the sociopolitical implications of radically self-directed one's own learning and self-development...

All at 9am before even a coffee! Thank you Alan for this deeply connecting foray into a subject so close to heart. It is priceless when you have a conversation that takes you back closer to who you are and what your 'soul work' (in Bill Plotkin's work) is in this world.

The conversation was recorded and I'll be looking forward to share it further on with the world! Traian Bruma from Universitat Alternativa you were also presenced in conversation as we let imaginations run wild with explorations into the un-university of the future... or the people's university :). It has many names and different iterations. And it exists as a mosaic made up only in collaboration, with many people bringing the many different pieces.

Here's to every human being having the chance within their life time to grow more into themselves and realise a part of their true belonging and reason for being on this planet. And from there knowing exactly what is theirs to offer in this "one wild life". Yes!

Life-long Continuous Learning: online panel discussion

Check out this panel on #Continuous (#Lifelong#Learning I was lucky enough to facilitate and host a couple days ago with Connectle - a community of practice for connected work that manifests online. Thank you #Connectle for the invitation! Great conversation - #learningcircles #collaborative #learning, #communities of #practise and learning and more...

We shared experiences from working in the education, learning and corporate worlds and discussed how to encourage a desire for continuous learning in the workplace, what we need to do in our educational institutions to prepare for the future of work and so much more.

Watch the full recording of the online panel here:

Or the short trailer here:

One of the listeners of the panel created this graphic harvest of the conversation - thanks you Julia Gumula

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This week... Erotic Ecology to a panel on 'Science with Humanity'

This week I have been resident at Schumacher College facilitating a course called 'Erotic Ecology'... An experience of 'doing' ecology through the skin. It is fascinating to combine the rational with the experiential, to offer people a glimpse into the total wonder and abandonment of the natural world in a way that truly touches them and their lives, and to make the scientific touch the personal.

The Universe keeps bringing me situations that make me go deeper into my inquiry of becoming more our 'selves' through 'other' - through our symbioses. At the same time I am reading 'Humankind' by Timothy Morton, as well as Andreas Weber's work (who is the main teacher of the course). A couple of weeks ago we had French philosopher Bruno Latour visit us at the College, and there we got into extremely interesting discussions about the 'networked self' - the self defined by other, biologically and also in contextual terms.

Andreas' current work revolves around the concept that 'ecos is eros'. Ecological and erotic relationships are of the same kind. That being alive is a yearning for otherness. Ecology now needs to be done 'through the skin' and 'through the senses' to reconnect to a wider, ecological self, which makes action to protect the living world a natural instinct, and not a cerebral response.

I really enjoyed the framing of this emerging field of inquiry as 'relational science'. I refer to my teaching at Schumacher as the 'science of relationships' - symbiosis, networks, stigmergy, emergence, collective intelligence. Andreas takes this into the personal realm and says literally 'I want to understand relating as desire for other. Yearning to touch 'otherness''. This was brought alive by experiential exercises we both facilitated in relating and reconnecting to ourselves, other and natural world.

How do we melt the barriers between us and the natural world?

The world is yearning to be met and touched by us, to be experienced through the skin and not just through the intellect. Suddenly the combination of science with art, dance, movement, metaphor and poetry becomes entirely necessary. There are some things and sensations that cannot be understood through thinking alone. What does it mean to be a story-telling, dancing, artist scientist?

The motivation to do this has a reciprocity to it: both for the planetary health, and for our own personal vibrance, health and well-being. As the planet's well-being increases, so do or personal well-beings. Do you agree? Are humans who are totally denied nature connection and connection to our wider human and non-human community liable to poor mental health? The studies are increasing, and you just need to Google 'forest bathing' to find the articles that correlate time in forests amongst trees with lower stress-related hormones.

Funnily enough, when I consider this I have an inner conflict. It's not too surprising seeing as I straddle worlds of ecology and technology, science and transformation. Maybe it is actually very possible to survive in a thrive in a totally nature and community barren context. Maybe it's true that emerging technologies of VR, AR, 360 video and others could seamlessly take the place of this thing we call Nature. Who am I to say otherwise? If studies emerge with evidence that supports this - that the technological can replace the natural in the well-being and connection in brings, then who are we to argue? But is there something that is not possible to quantify that is lost?

Waking up this morning at 6am to something I don't think I have ever witnessed: I was gifted the full chorus of birds welcoming in the day, singing all together in full blast. It didn't feel like a coincidence that the birds are surging to meet me in this place. The night before I woke up at 2am to hear the call of an owl, bright and clear in the nightly silence.

Now I travel to London to participate in a panel with senior scientists where I will be explaining my work around a need for 'Science with Humanity'. We'll see what comes of it!

4 minutes of inspiration... My application to the Edmund Hillary Fellowship last year!

Last year I applied to be one of 60 entrepreneurial fellows to join the first cohort of the Edmund Hillary Fellowship -- a brand new 3-year long fellowship offering the world's first 'entrepreneurial visa' for 3 years, to come and prototype global solutions in New Zealand.

I was chuffed to make it down to the very final stage (I think there were something like 400 applications for 60 places - and in the end only 30 fellows were accepted). Although I didn't make it through in that round, I found the experience hugely helpful and motivating, and so I share part of the journey with you here! Onwards and onwards...

A conversation with Nora Bateson

This is the first in a series of conversations we are recording, under the series name "Systers Thinking"...  Sisters doing Systems Thinking, in true collaboration. Our theme here is around being a systems change-maker, and what it means to show up in integrity, authenticity and true collaboration in a world where none of those things are incentivised. How do we help each other put forward what is important, and support each other to be strong enough to "walk the talk", even when sometimes that leads to missing out on something you think you need.

Nora makes for an amazing conversation partner, and I always look forward to when we can next come together... I hope you enjoy this too!