CLab Learning Journey - Summer Season Summer Season – Embracing a living systems view The ground we covered We started our CitizensLab online Learning Journey entering the season of summer, when all is growing, flourishing, and being abundant. We began by looking at the lens of how we view life. We explored a living system worldview, one that is based on us being part of the wider web of life. We looked at the worldviews and assumptions we each have and hold, the contradictions within and how we embody and manifest them. We took the time to listen and witness each other, to see a new collective worldview emerging. Landing into the Living System view To land and open our perspectives to a Living System View of life we invited Ben Haggard, a holistic, systems-based approach expert, active in understanding and building upon the complex human, natural and economic relationships that create and sustain the vitality and viability of a place. Ben led us on a thought experiment that pointed out the shift in different mental states, one where we experience the world as a mechanism, as fragmented parts assembled together, and one where we experience the world as alive and as whole. Ben considers it fundamental to be able to make this switch. In Western culture we’ve grown up in that mechanistic paradigm, it is deeply ingrained in our institutions and in the way we solve problems. Wholeness is now becoming a popular concept but it does require an inner shift to be able to experience the world as whole, as a living system. Ben then shared an example from his field of work that illustrates how embracing such a living systems worldview makes a real difference. He introduced us to the project Isla Urbana in Mexico City, which installs rainwater harvesting systems in poor neighbourhoods like Xochimilco, which has a huge Mayan indigenous community. The programme included training residents how to install and maintain the systems which led to the community self-organising in the aftermath of an earthquake and redistributing the water making sure that everyone had access to water in that time of crisis. In parallel to the technical training, the project also included a cultural piece of work – re-awakening the connection to the sacredness of water within the urbanised indigenous community. Through bringing together families and children to talk about this topic- stories, plays and murals started emerging in the neighbourhood representing water as a gift from the sky and the act of harvesting it as a way of participating in the cyclical gift of nature. On top of creating a temporary fix to a problem of water shortage this approach also calls forward the soul of the community and its sense of place within a sacred set of relationships. This is where wholeness and the living systems view comes in. Rather than just isolating a problem- in that case how to harvest rainwater- a weaving together of the whole context in which that intervention makes sense is needed. Ben left us with the questions: “How can we make that inner shift from analysing things in fragments towards looking at the wholeness and beingness? How can we begin to feel that relationship as the starting point from which to then work with? You can watch a funky video about the project here. Deepening into our worldviews To deepen the way we see and understand our own worldviews and assumptions, we invited our hosting team member, Louise Armstrong, to bring her contribution to the topic of the living systems view and systemic change. Louise’s work is about seeing patterns and in sensing and giving voice to the invisible interconnections of a system. She has been working in the sphere of systems change work with the Forum for the Future for a decade and has just closed a 10year cycle of work. Louise did a brilliant job in sharing her own personal non linear story about worldview changes that she went through. She reflected on the cultural frames that she is holding, noticing how they shape how she views life, making sense and acting in the world. She confessed that she initially wanted to hide behind academic frameworks but upon invitation by the hosting team decided to share more of her own story, honouring her embodied experience. One of the major shifts Louise went through is the shift from wanting to change the world to realising she needs to live and embody the change, recognising that she is not separate from it. A rather relieving shift in perspective occured when a senior ex-colleague confessed to Louise that she didn’t really know what she was doing and just picked things up along the way. It allowed Louise to free herself from her own expectation of having to be an expert at all times. “Meeting the unknown has become a big part of my professional identity” Louise concluded. Becoming a mother, learning how to not be in control and letting go of her own needs, has taught Louise even more about interdependence and surrendering to the unknown. She always knew about the living systems lense but when she scuba dived for the first time she experienced this direct connection with the vastness of the ocean very viscerally, which started to shift things in her. She still often feels overwhelmed by trying to grasp the enormity of the universe and thinks it might be connected to our attachment to ego which is also what fuels our fear of death. Understanding that we are just a little piece in the wider web of life can take some of that fear, she concluded. A shocking realisation for Louise came when it was brought to her attention that she was listening to colleagues with different skin colours to her own, differently. She realised that the oppressor was within herself. Louise felt that there is still a lot of work to do about unlearning a lot of these habits and mental structures. Activating our multiple senses The artist, musician and violin player Alicia Sanchez, created a magic and awakening connection with our emotions and our contexts, accompanying our deep journaling exercise where we reflected on our worldviews. We were invited to connect to a moment when our worldview was shaken and to notice what has shifted in us and how we see life now. Integrate and embody our leanrnings We integrated our learnings through Awa Ndiye`s spoken word poems that reached the depth of our bones and souls. Awa is hosting and creating spaces where people connect intentionally, vulnerably, and reflect critically. She is sharing her gifts with the world, and we are very grateful to have been able to savour them. Some of Awa´s poems she shared during the CLab Learning Journey: To be bold Grow a tree Becoming, human Where does this take us? From this rich journey and time together, we’re sharing some of what are we noticing, (un)learning and practicing and now asking ourselves: • To start unlearning we need to see the embedded oppressive systems within us, our worldviews, habits, and social norms, otherwise we risk to keep reproducing or transforming within the boundaries of this monocultural, colonised mindset and worldview. We have to overcome our fears and start to unlearn and reinvent our education system (i.e. exploring unschooling), our economic system (embracing abundance and regeneration instead of scarcity), our political system (activating a deep ecology of citizenship through processes of self-organising and practicing the commons). • To practice intimacy to seek wholeness, and access the living system and non-dual view. Cultivating Intimacy with ourselves, with others and the world supports us to be with the unknown in a generative way. How do we connect with ourselves, the Earth and other human beings? How do we establish and experience intimacy when we do not speak and hold the same language systems? We’ve shred a list of simple everyday practices that can support us to do this. • Building trust amidst conflict, how can we practice being present and resonant also in conversations with people holding very different worldviews than the one we want to see emerging? Longing for intergenerational connections, for people to people connection and heart to heart connection. How does a change in worldviews support our response to a sense of Powerlessness;can it heal our collective trauma?