Reaching Into the Universe

Talk: Climate Change and the Way of the Shaman

Jim GarrisonSpeaking as someone who is not actually a patriot, I would LOVE to see our faltering country step up and be a global leader once again. I would love to see my country leading the world into an age of sustainability. And yet I must face the reality that it's probably not going to happen, particularly any time soon.

Ruthless realism was a main theme of Jim Garrison's recent Bay Area Integral talk, Climate Change and the Way of the Shaman. According to Garrison, we must face the reality that environmentally we have passed the point of no return, if not scientifically than certainly politically, and that we are now headed into increasingly turbulent times.

Given that assessment, Garrison invited us to pull back from the global political scene and focus on local initiatives & creating community, saying, "If you know the truth, then you are empowered to build what you need to be." You can see Garrison doing exactly that in his letter canceling the State of the World Forum's Washington conference.

Finally, he shared his current understanding that the power that will allow us to do the above is contained in the Turquoise and Purple levels of Spiral Dynamics, the Holistic/Global and Shamanic/Tribal levels. After all, what's happening now is about the global impacts of our severe disconnection from nature and the shaman was the original mediator between nature and humankind.

Garrison is an engaging speaker and experienced in global politics. I hope he's wrong in his assessment. And yet, as I find myself contemplating the idea that putting any more effort into shifting humanity's current course is energy wasted and imagine funneling that energy into creating resilient local community I feel lighter and more empowered. Watching the leaders of the world fail to create any real change while simultaneously observing the mainstream generally failing to give a shit has been, in a word, depressing. Global fail. At least at the local levels the chance at having an impact is non-zero and you get to see real results from your actions.

I question the Purple/Turquoise idea. Throughout the talk he referred to Purple as the level that's "connected" to the Earth, but after reading Ascent of Humanity I think it is more accurate to call Purple the "least disconnected" level. Not that I don't think Purple has something to contribute; on the contrary, I would think an integral approach would include the strengths of all the levels. Perhaps Turquoise, though, is where the real work of rediscovering connection, healing separation, and creating what Charles Eistenstein calls the Age of Reunion, lies.


Holacracy, anyone?

Holacracy websiteI first saw the word Holacracy at the Integral Theory Conference: an entire workshop about "A New Operating System for Evolution-Powered Organizations" and I couldn't go because it was in the same time slot as Dylan Newcomb's Integral Embodiment, and I couldn't pass up a chance to experience integral not just from the neck up (i.e. the head).

Lucky me, Bay Area Integral is implementing Holacracy for its organizational structure, which means that I, as a volunteer, get to participate in learning all about it.

Having only participated in two Holacracy meetings thus far (a tactical meeting and a governance meeting—yes, Holacracy meetings are super-structured with explicitly defined purposes and outputs), I don't have much to say other than that I am intrigued and willing to give it a chance.

What I can say so far:

  1. I've never been in a meeting that went so much like clockwork. Part of that was the strong facilitation that kept us on track and in line with the meeting structures every single step of the way. "Ok that sounds more like a governance issue, so if you would bring that up at the governance meeting in an hour, we can move on for now."
  2. The organizational structure seems fairly flat, with roles assigned according to ability and easy to morph and adapt. Everyone got an equal say in building the agenda for each meeting and on every agenda item covered.
  3. Holacracy promises a lot. Beyond such poetic goals as "liberating the soul" of your organization, it aims toward everything from the holy grail of getting egos out of the way to make your organization self-organizing through fractal structure.
  4. Reading a Holacracy blog article, The Irony of Empowerment, sold me on giving it a chance. The article is brilliant. If the idea that self-empowerment is the only kind of empowerment there is doesn't make crystalline sense, please read it!

More on this topic as it unfolds in my experience. Holacracy's highly structured nature will no doubt be off-putting to some, but if it delivers even halfway on its promises then as far as I'm concerned such folks can go find some other group on which to impose their need for freedom!