2020

"Never was so much destroyed by so few for so little.

Never did so much need saving by so many so fast."

Julia Steinberger

“Yes, of course we need hope. But more than hope we need action. Once we begin to act, hope is everywhere.” Greta Thunberg

“If you want to go quickly, go alone; if you want to go further, go together”

African proverb

 

All CHANGE IS
SYSTEM CHANGE

Although climate change has increasingly gained attention as the most important issue facing us today, it is not at all an isolated issue. *

 

Inaction over global warming, ecological degradation, malnutrition, legitimation crisis of democracy, corruption and self-serving political behavior, inequality, poverty, our nations continuously racking up debt, the erosion of your civil liberties, the unjust wars fought in your name... *

The world faces challenges so difficult to grapple with because they are complex, systemic and interrelated.

 

Truly addressing these challenges requires going beyond business as usual. *

It demands nothing less than a worldwide fundamental cultural transformation. ** 

 

What's a planet without a plan?

Whether we manage to find our way through times of  extraordinary turbulence depends primarily on whether  we reach for the right stories to explain what’s  happening at this moment in history, and whether  enough of us can see ourselves as part of a larger ‘Us’  instead of a ‘them-and-us,’ *

 

Then, we need a plan based on reason, evidence and  testable designs, that cuts with the grain of history and  is sustainable by the planet. And we need to get on  with it now. *

 

We can do that by identifying the best proposals from  many different thinkers from various disciplines. We  can shape those proposals into a coherent alternative  and collaboratively create a persuasive vision of a  better future. 

 

This is not only a declaration of (environmental)  emergency but a call for a collaborative effort to  imagine and design a world of prosperity, peace,  sustainability and beauty, achievable with what we  have from where we are. *

 

Post-Truth

The paradox of knowledge is that the vastly increased access to information and knowledge we have today does not empower us or make us more cognitively autonomous. Rather, it renders us more dependent on other people’s judgments and evaluations of the information with which we are faced. *

 

'Glossary' of Meta-Challenges

Narrative Thinking

Many times we are presented with something that looks totally chaotic. This randomness is unnerving and so we search for a pattern that eliminates some of

the chaos. * But most of the narratives we tell ourselves and others are either designed to flatter our motivations or make sense of inexplicable unintended random noise. Inasmuch as the one true narrative exists, it would be beyond our comprehension. * 

Fragmentation of Identity

As modern society becomes more fragmented, more complex, and more unstable and fluid, the individual turns inwards to look for consistency. On the one hand, modern identity is open-ended, transitory, liable to ongoing change. On the other hand, a subjective realm of identity is the individual's main foothold in reality. * "The essence of being human is an uncomfortable duality of ‘rational’ technology and ‘irrational’ belief. We are still a species in transition." *

 

 

Attention and Performance Culture 

A retreat from complexity into an existence that constantly reflects our desires and anxieties back to us. * “Everything is amazing and nobody is happy."

Convenience

Human beings, whether in global organizations, democracies, industries, political parties or as individuals, are incapable of sacrificing their different present convenience to forestall a penalty imposed on future generations. It seems we are wired to “obsess over the present, worry about the medium term and cast the long term out of our minds. *

 

Democracy and Governance

Current democratic systems governing societies have grown stagnant in terms of participation, are leading towards increased polarization, * become less democratic, more corrupt, more bureaucratic and more beholden to special interests by corporations and other non-state powers. * 

When large parts of the population find themselves with no control over the crucial decisions that their political classes make, a sensation of powerlessness is arising.*

 

One of the main reasons of this powerlessness is that our democracy struggles to keep pace with technological change. When we look at communication, entertainment, financial systems, transport, travel, industry, everything we do today is fundamentally different than 100 years ago.  Only our governing model has stayed exactly the same. Today we govern ourselves under a system that was created for a world that doesn't even exist anymore. *

We need solutions that will tackle both the political and technical issues currently weakening the prospects of democracy. And we need to develop digital technology for voting that can be securely deployed in any geographical location and for communities of any size.*

 

Challenges

Global Economy

A global network layer of mostly business dynamics dominate much of the landscape of our planet today. Our construct of life is based on the relationship between production, distribution and consumption of goods and services, * where scarcity plays an important role how people make choices. *

To simply reduce our economic reality down to mere trade, coupled with the claim that only a degree of scarcity justifies the use of the market for allocation, is to ignore the true nature of what ensures social harmony, sustainability, and prosperity. *

If the social order in question is not able to incorporate new means to further ecological balance, improve public health, solve problems and increase prosperity, then there is likely a structural problem inherent.  *

We must make the link between economy and environmental degradation explicit in our politics and critique the role of the state in facilitating this. *

We need to fundamentally re-evaluate our relationship to ownership, work and capital * and  

disruptively change the process of production, consumption and distribution of commodities. *

 

Food System 

Today's highly industrialized and technologically controlled global food systems dominate our lives, shaping our access and attitudes towards food and deeply influencing and defining our identities. *

In the case of climate change, Our todays food system is responsible for up to 30% of total greenhouse gas emissions. *

 

Although individuals can make a difference by modifying their diets, and send clear demands for action to politicians, we cannot redraw the food system on our own. That will require not just governments, but global agreement.

It’s worth remembering that the modern western diet is a recent invention. The separation of livestock from the land only took off in the 1950s, thanks to cheap energy to keep animals housed, to synthetic fertilisers increasing grain production for feed, and to mass production of antibiotics to control disease. It’s not so very long since most people ate in the way we now need to rediscover. *

 

Consumption and Environment

Human systems currently use resources at a rate 50% faster than they can be regenerated by nature. By the early 2030s we are projected to need more than two planets worth of resources to meet demand.

A new attitude towards planned obsolescence alongside rising material costs will require a global shift in design, manufacture, sale, recycling, and resale of everything from construction to food and beverage. We need innovations in materials and life cycle design to achieve acceptance and appetite for second-life and fully recyclable products. 

At the foundation of this shift will be a change in our understanding of consumption in general. *

 
 

Citizen Engagement

Citizen engagement has to move away from political elites to become an opportunity for ordinary citizens to actively influence and shape meaningful action. Through citizen engagement we can strengthen not only forms of local measure but support a global resurgence of solidarity, democracy and justice. *  

ALTERNATIVE NOWS

 

Examples for citizen engagements

Porto Alegre

Iceland 2009

London CLT

Community Led Housing Initiatives

Mietshäuser Syndikat Germany

Local Banking for the Public Good

WIR Bank in Switzerland

JAK Members Bank

Community supported agriculture markets

Today, as digital global networks supersede hierarchies and each of us is empowered in new ways, more people than ever can propose new ideas and share these with others. The transfer of sovereignty from hierarchical institutions to networks of citizens can lead to more democratic and ultimately better decision-making. *

Homes as financial assets and the increasing amount of money chasing a finite amount of land and property is one of the key drivers of the housing affordability crisis today. But having a decent place to call home is one of the basic necessities of a good life.

Local banks and building societies were swallowed up by conglomerates, leaving us with shareholder-owned global banks that are ‘too big to fail’. Those global banks are increasingly focused on putting money international financial markets, not investing into small businesses, affordable housing or renewable energy. If we want a future where everyone can thrive and really take control of our lives, the banking sector has to do its job of channelling investment into other places and sectors.

We need CSAs or similar organisations to develop local solidarity-based partnerships between farmers and a community of supporters and to provide a direct link between the production and consumption of food.

 

URGENCI

Roxbury Farm 

Online Governance Tools

With internet growth reaching over 4,4 billion lives * and the development of encrypted networks permitting incorruptible transactions with permissionless audits, there’s no reason stopping mankind from building a borderless commons that can help shape the next evolutionary leap for democratic governance at any scale.*

Democracy Earth

D-Cent Europe

 

TECHNIQUES OF CHANGE

Systemic Change

Systemic change is required when efforts to change one aspect of a system fail to fix the problem. The whole system needs to be transformed. Systemic change means that change has to be fundamental and affects how the whole system functions.

By definition it can refer to change in any system: the whole school system, the global food system, the local waste system etc. *

The mainstream models of 20th century thinking in governance, business, economics, and education followed the model of a one-directional, linear reasoning: You measure the world, you come up with a plan and then you implement it. However, the world is, and yet, in fact has always been, volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous (VUCA) and does not obey to the idea of linear thinking. *

 

Experiential futures 

Experiential Futures (XF) is a family of approaches for making futures visible, tangible, interactive, and otherwise explorable. 

The power of experiential futures is that they remove the cognitive, emotional, and temporal distance between us and the future. Rather than talk about an issues as far-out possibilities, we enact and interact with potential problems as if that future is happening to us here and now. For example: Watching a demonstration in a cramped, crowded room full of stale air and the sound blaring from a speaker evokes a different response than watching it in a comfortable, private spa room.

These choice points are important decisions that lead to different emotional outcomes.

Companies like Google * use variations of experiential futures to design their present-day strategies and explore the futures they want to bring about. Dubai’s Museum of the Future * has used experiential futures to explore environmental sustainability. A number of notable futurists such as Anab Jain * and Stuart Candy * are creating experiential futures and disseminating the practice. As AR and VR become more prevalent, we’ll see more examples emerge. *

 

High Dimensional Thinking

Let us look at this picture and think about the way a 3 dimensional object would look from the perspective of a 2 dimensional planar reality: The 2D view of the cylinder is a circle from one perspective and a rectangle from another. Both are true “slices” of the reality of the cylinder, but neither alone give a clear sense of the higher dimensional shape’s reality.

 

 

This metaphor points to a clear limit to the extent of reductionism possible without losing truth and creating a basis for perceiving false dichotomies.

Our perception of existential paradoxes often comes from exactly this kind of reductionist process. The key insight is to recognize these differing perspectives as orthogonal to each other rather than opposite ends of a gradient spectrum.  *

Oversimplifications can lead to unnecessarily severe polarization and social divides. Sometimes things just aren’t as simple as ‘right’ vs ‘wrong’, or ‘guilty’ vs ‘innocent’ (and obviously not ‘left’ vs ‘right’).

Of course when it comes to taking action, we are faced with the difficult task of eventually committing to a categorical decision of ‘take action A’ vs ‘take action B’. Or we sometimes are torn between oversimplification and feeling lost in a paradoxical-impossibility. 

Despite these challenges we should not forget to keep using and democratising collective high dimensional imagination tools to dramatize our alternatives and come out with the capacity to shape change towards just and worthwhile ends. *

 

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