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!

Cultivate constant awareness of the magic...

"Cultivate constant awareness of the magic, mystery and wonder if the world; educate the senses to see the ordinary as extraordinary, the familiar as strange, the mundane as sacred, the finite as infinite." - said Novalis

"The world is full of magic things patiently waiting for our senses to grow sharper" - said Yates

Turn everything on its head, re-consider, see from a new angle, jumble it up and re-order, find magic in the ordinary, learn from each detail, open up to be inquisitive, joyous and curious. Fuse modalities, connect the unconnected, abandon silos.

Fritjof Capra, Systems Thinking and Barrio Solar

Last month, I had the pleasure of having lunch with Fritjof Capra, renowned physicist, author and systems thinker.

In the world of systems thinking, Fritjof's books are well known... In fact, the Systems View of Life is almost like a core textbook at Schumacher College. Other books include the Tao of Physics, which draws the similarities between ancient spiritual traditions and the new paradigm physics (of the 1970s!), and also a series of books on Leonardo Da Vinci's works, and his truly systems-thinking lens, work around nature, engineering and essentially biomimicry! Something that's crazy to think about is what modern day science would be like if we had discovered Da Vinci's manuscripts earlier.

We chatted about science, spirituality, new ways of learning, the networked future and why systems thinking is more important now than ever before. We also caught up on Schumacher and the connections between both of our works.

On top of that, we also connected over our joint paths in activism. Which brings me round to...

One of Fritjof's latest projects: Barrio Solar. A self-organising, on the ground, solar network serving hard-hit communities in Puerto Rico.

This is a really worthwhile project that Fritjof co-founded with his wife, Elizabeth Hawk, and Indira Cortez, an engineer from Puerto Rico.

Barrio Solar was created on September 21st, the day after Hurricane Maria devastated the island nation of Puerto Rico.

The idea is to purchase small, off the grid, solar units (battery packs/portable solar panels and gravity lamps) and distribute them directly via partner distribution networks on the ground in Puerto Rico.

The solar devices to be shipped to Puerto Rico will be collected and distributed by a network of 35 women’s shelters and aid organizations under the leadership of Paz para la Mujer. By partnering with these women’s networks, we will be avoiding the risk of black market profiteering and, as we are at this moment a fully volunteer network, the entire distribution effort will be done for free.

They will be sent to communities hit the hardest on the island... Distributed to shelters, community centres and homes - especially the small towns in the centre and south of the island - where immediate aid and reconstructed power sources are least likely to be deployed.

What is being shipped: solar kits (solar panels), a gravity power lamp (it has a slowly descending weight that drives an electric generator). The aim: to help rural communities in Puerto Rico get back on their feet and provide lights and electric outlets.

$90 will buy a gravity lamp and $350 will buy a solar unit.

Please consider giving to the Crowdfunding campaign! They are $16,000 of the way to $25,000 and it seems like a really direct way to support what's happened in Puerto Rico.

Two years ago today - Science, Technology, Humans and Nature workshop in a school in Mumbai

"What a morning. The creativity, limitless-ness and ability to totally change and explore new dimensions and angles of thinking of these kids continues to excite/astound/energise me.

Why are we not achieving this level of joy and excitement in every classroom?

Why are kids feeding back that they found science lessons boring before, that it's usually too complex - and asking me what subject this is, because it can't be science. WHY ARE WE NOT TEACHING ABOUT LIFE AND HOW THINGS WORK AND WHAT IS POSSIBLE?

By creating workshops that are pumped with excitement, relevance, and cutting edge science, kids as young as 11 are already grasping the concept of DNA as a code, As bonding to Ts, Cs to Gs, and grappling the ethical dilemmas of genetic engineering, and the subtle tensions of using Nature as a technology with people in power/with money.

What's more, is through the balance of OBSERVATION and CREATING, which yesterday we covered as the feedback loop and branches of science, kids can continuously learn and take on new thinking, facts and skills, and immediately apply them creatively to build, design and make. A constant discussion of ethics, intentions and purpose allows the connection between the what and why, which can be carried into everything we do.

Every child is a genius. How we frame their learning and their environment of learning, how we create spaces within us and within schools that are fearless and safe, and how we create two way channels of communication so that learning can be tailored, shared, and bi-directional is so so so very important.

What is holding back our current education model? We have amazing resources, amazing technology, and also amazing Teachers. I think framing and prioritisation is what is important -- allowing teachers to have freedom of how they frame content, and prioritising communication, emotional intelligence, creativity, kindness, consciousness into our centres of learning."

Millenials

I like millenials. I like the quality in them that says "I won't 'settle'". I won't settle for slavery at work. I won't settle for doing something I hate. I won't settle for a lack of choice. Now all we need is millenials with ethics, with deep concern for the planet, human and non-human beings, with care and responsibility and service. Millenials 2.0.

Far away in an intentional community in Oakland, California...

I am sleeping in a simple small hut stacked with books, herbs and potions, in the middle of a permaculture garden in Oakland. Life is blissful and adventurous. I am in an intentional community of about 30 that serves as a hub for the work that reconnects, social and environmental justice, and youth initiation. This place is like a hidden oasis in the middle of the city, in total service of The Great Turning. My trip continues in meeting and talking to people across all kinds of movements building the more beautiful world. Whether in Silicon Valley or this tiny acupuncture point in Oakland, lots of us are deep in the work of developing and uncovering Technologies For Humanity... all with different ideas as to what that is. It makes me hopeful. But not lazy - there's so much work to be done. 

Dying, again and again

When we meditate, some people say we are practising dying, again and again. In relationships we have the same. How many times can you let go - again and again? How many times can we die, only to trust in coming back to Life, more vigorously and authentically than ever before? It is as a friend put in an email this morning:

"It is just like you trust breathing - letting all the air out of your system despite not seeing if there will be more air to breath in seconds later."

NB: this only works when the letting go and the dying really is felt authentically. You cannot have a near-death experience where you actually know all along that you will live. It's a bit crazy, but this is what we must go through.

The third movement

“In the first movement, our infancy as a species, we felt no separation from the natural world around us. Trees, rocks, and plants surrounded us with a living presence as intimate and pulsing as our own bodies. In that primal intimacy, which anthropologists call "participation mystique," we were as one with our world as a child in the mother's womb.

Then self-consciousness arose and gave us distance on our world. We needed that distance in order to make decisions and strategies, in order to measure, judge and to monitor our judgments. With the emergence of free-will, the fall out of the Garden of Eden, the second movement began -- the lonely and heroic journey of the ego. Nowadays, yearning to reclaim a sense of wholeness, some of us tend to disparage that movement of separation from nature, but it brought us great gains for which we can be grateful. The distanced and observing eye brought us tools of science, and a priceless view of the vast, orderly intricacy of our world. The recognition of our individuality brought us trial by jury and the Bill of Rights.

Now, harvesting these gains, we are ready to return. The third movement begins. Having gained distance and sophistication of perception, we can turn and recognize who we have been all along. Now it can dawn on us: we are our world knowing itself. We can relinquish our separateness. We can come home again -- and participate in our world in a richer, more responsible and poignantly beautiful way than before, in our infancy.”

― Joanna Macy, World as Lover, World as Self

Holding paradox

A quote I’m pondering —

“Most misunderstandings in the world could be avoided if people would simply take the time to ask, ‘What else could this mean?”

― Shannon L. Alder

What if we were to hold paradox and complexity, and pause - without feeling the need to jump to conclusions, to have the "right" answer.

What if our education system rewarded this sort of behaviour - instead of breeding people who thrive off competition, one-upping, and getting the answer before anybody else?

What if we asked the question: "What does it feel like to be you?"