In this study Kosmos has taken a close look at the transformative movement to try to uncover those very ways that individuals, organizations, and communities of practice connects for greater impact. The study was conducted by Rhonda Fabian (Kosmos Journal) and Jennifer Horner (University of Pennsylvania), funded by the Fenwick Fundation, and it included interviews with 80 thinkers, doers, artists, makers, teachers, global leaders and community-builders who self-identify with the transformative movement, in addition 110 websites were analyzed. Questions informing this research included: What are the uniting beliefs of people doing similar work? Where are the richest and most inclusive conversations taking place? Is deeper collective action the next step? What kinds of collaborative opportunities are possible?
So what characterize those leading the transformative movement? First of all the, respondents were consistent in pointing to major impediments to change, including the entreated power in political-economic relationships between global corporate elites and national governments. Cultural mindsets were also brought up as strong impediments to progress and a hindrance to collective power. Media could also be an obstacle as it often reinforce mindsets that could be viewed as obstacle, including the banking and financial system. The respondents also mentioned obstacles within the transformative moment itself, such as lack of resources and shared vision.
With this as a starting point the article then lists four areas of insight emerged from the research around the theme of connection and collaboration and many individuals and organizations:
1) Gathering: Coming together as community
An interconnected ‘network of circles’ is slowly self-organizing, spanning distances, cultures, and other differences. Gathering physically as communities of practice is important, yet large-scale conferences place a burden on people and planet. Smaller, more intimate gatherings—often with a spiritual component—were seen as more effective in affirming personal direction, developing enduring connections, and inspiring closer collaboration.
2) Sharing Wisdom: Learning and unlearning
Educational efforts are recognized as an important means of shaping public policy. Of the websites that were examined, some form of education or training was strategically important in more than a third, including educating the general public and interest groups through seminars and workshops, online courses and certification, and mentoring. Participants in the survey were ardent in their desire to connect with learners in multiple ways. Participants also placed strong emphasis on indigenous wisdom and the native values of ancestors and elders. Many alternative and emerging forms of teaching and learning were mentioned, including experiential and project-based learning emphasizing hands-on connection as well as unlearning. Unlearning refers to the process of breaking out of established ways of thinking. Unlearning is a process whereby one’s assumptions are each deeply assessed and discarded if they no longer serve the purpose of deeper connection to personal happiness and community well-being. Traditional schools and universities are seen as reinforcers of the deeply entrenched status quo, or ‘old story.’
3) Co-creating: Improvisational group work
The term co-creation was stressed. The global transformation movement belongs to no one person, group, or belief system. It is a story in process, based not on pre-existing design, but rather as a product of dynamic self-organization. It is a story of people working together to address the world’s most profound challenges. Self-organization is inherent in the evolution of all living things and results in the creation of effective living systems that are more efficient and adaptive than hierarchical rigid ones. Crowdsourcing, peer-to-peer networks, crowdfunding, timebanks, and spontaneous activism are all examples of self-organizing systems that have arisen in recent times. To describe this model the study uses the word improvisational, where new orders emerge from collaborative and spontaneous processes. Such improvisation requires attention, intention, communication, awareness of self and others near to the self, and awareness of the larger picture or pattern that is emerging.
4) Interbeing: Identity and consciousness
Respondents characterized the transformative movement as spiritual. Many participants cited living spiritual teachers as primary influences, others spoke of an ‘inner calling.’ The Ancients believed the earth to be a living organism, and modern teachers have integrated this wisdom with scientific principles of evolution, advancing an evolutionary spirituality that seeks to transform collective consciousness through co-creative participation with the evolutionary impulse, rather than passive dependence on an impersonal god to save us.
The article can be accessed on the Kosmos Journal webpage and the ongoing research report “Connecting for Greater Impact” is available by request from Kosmos Journal to print subscribers.