Lessons from the tour: a shift in consciousness
The core problem re/ seeking coherence…
If the local grassroots is to come into any kind of useful coherence, the inert majority must be engaged in the process. A coherent choir, while the congregation remains inert, can do little beyond making pleasant noise.
More than a dozen of you (thanks!) sent in responses to the ‘core problem’ posting. I’ll be sharing responses in a follow-up message, and I’ve been conversing with some of you privately. The most promising of these conversations has been with Richard Flyer, who founded a movement in Reno called ‘Conscious Community’, which has since evolved into ‘Connecting the Good Worldwide’. I highly recommend checking it out:
The movement is motivated by a desire to ‘reweave the bonds of community’, and it is based on the universally respected virtues of love, integrity, courage, service, and respect. As regards the inert majority, Flyer said:
In my opinion and the strategy I use, you don’t get the inert majority involved by trying to get them involved directly.
That is the paradox! …
From a strategic point of view (and from my actual on the ground experience) it makes more sense to FIRST activate and connect the folks who already believe that we are in the middle of a SHIFT, that the old system does not work,and they are already open and working on being part of the solution. That is why we take a spiral approach:
1. Attract the 3-5% into Connections Gatherings (we only really needed 100in the core)
2. Begin connecting those people and their embedded organizational and network connections.
Those 100 connect to 20,000 (because each person has on average 200 connections)
3. Those 20,000 can reach the rest—in Reno that is 400,000
This strategy makes good sense, but there are many strategies out there that make sense on paper. What’s special about Flyer’s work is that his strategy is proving itself in practice, and the movement is showing strong signs of being able to spread widely and become self-propagating.
Partly this success is due to Flyer’s systematic approach, which has evolved based on years of experience, and which includes the development of online manuals and training materials. And partly it’s due to his remarkable energy and organizing skills. But the key element of long-range success – the element that facilitates self-propagation – is the neutrality of the movement, with respect to any particular cause or initiative.
It’s a process movement rather than a content movement. The outreach approach is not ‘Join our cause’, but rather ‘Here are some tools that can be useful to you’. The tools have to do with how to run meetings, how to promote them, and how to build collaborative networks. The tools embody the virtues of the movement, and they help build trust and respect among those who participate.
In the introductory video they talk about how our problems cannot be solved from the old level of consciousness, and there is an image of water, with ripples spreading out as drops hit the surface. The ripples represent waves of community consciousness, transforming the work of those who are affected. An ideal image, I’d say, for how a morphogenic field propagates.
This movement is generating a morphogenic field of a very special kind. The field does not exclude anyone, due to its issue neutrality. The appeal of the field is not limited to progressives, greens, or any particular perspective, and it brings in activists and non-activists alike. This kind of inclusivity is of critical importance, if we are hoping the field will help move us toward the emergence of grassroots coherence, rather than becoming yet-another divisive movement field.
In addition, the field is about autonomous, respectful, ongoing, creative conversations aimed at mutual understanding and the pursuit of collaborative opportunities – in service of ‘reweaving the bonds of community’. The field is fractal: it generates similar community-weaving energy at different levels, from a neighborhood Connections Gathering, to networking gatherings on a community, regional, or wider scale.
In the ‘shift in consciousness posting’ I set forth a new line of inquiry for my research:
What I want to understand is how we can get [society’s] sub-personalities to talk to one another, and what kind of conversations could move toward wholeness and coherence, in the mind of our social organism.
It seems to me that the ‘Connecting the Good Worldwide’ movement is doing exactly what I’m looking for. It’s succeeding in getting ‘sub personalities’ to talk to one another, on an inclusive basis, and the field naturally moves toward wholeness and coherence. Richard Flyer and I have already had a long and productive Skype conversation, and we’ve agreed to follow that up with another soon.
I’m eager to contribute to this emerging morphogenic field in any way that is useful. And I invite you to consider if the movement might be relevant to your own activities. In all three of the events on my tour, where I did some facilitating, I can in retrospect see how the movement tools could be of value to the people I met with.
In Nanaimo, a community group is forming, and the ‘Consciousness Gathering’ might be a good model for them to look at. (I just now got a note from Janet Hicks King, in Nanaimo, and she has signed up to learn about the movement 🙂 In Victoria, the activists were yearning to talk about collaborative networking opportunities, which is what the movement tools were designed for. In Ashland, the group’s ongoing focus is ‘the science of consciousness’, and I imagine their curiosity would resonate with the movement’s consciousness-raising focus.
If grassroots coherence is to achieve transformational potential, however, the inert majority need to be involved directly, at the level of respectful, collaborative conversation. It is not enough that lots of people are affected peripherally by the movement, such as by joining a consumer co-op.
The movement’s morphogenic field is certainly open to the inert majority, and would make as much sense to them as anyone else – if they were motivated to overcome their inertness enough to participate directly. Some will participate, surely, those near the edge of inertness, those who feel some resonance with the emerging field around them. But given the systematic nature of the movement, I think it would make sense to seek a systematic approach to bringing in this final, essential, tier of participants.
I think Flyer’s initial strategy was correct, to go after the ‘low hanging fruit’, to begin with those whose level of consciousness and community spirit are already in tune with the virtues and goals of the movement. Otherwise the movement would have bogged down in the early stages, spending scarce organizing energy trying to engage people who aren’t likely to respond.
But where the field has become strong, with deep roots and wide participation in the community, as in Reno, we have a quite different context to work with, no longer a start-up context. The field is now alive and well in Reno, and there’s got to be some way to ‘share the love’, to manifest some of the field’s energy in a way that arouses the active curiosity and interest of those who have remained so far on the periphery.
If some of the mature consciousness gatherings, for example, were to take on this particular kind of community weaving as a strategic challenge, and appeal to the growing network for support with any initiatives that are identified, perhaps a way could be found.
In any case, I look forward to brainstorming with Richard Flyer when we get around to Skyping again.
may the field be with you,