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What is citizen entrepreneurship?

In this blog I try to explain the phenomena of “citizen entrepreneurship” and why I use such words. Hopefully I create a sensibility on how it changes the world by creating a new local and global society based on exactly the opposite values as those that are dominant.

Maybe you recognize some of your own processes. I will finalize with personal experiences and decisions after a decade of active and experimental entrepreneurial citizenship, including my own steps in creating an alternative society within a society. The latter is conditioned of course to my own complex surroundings in the Netherlands. This may differ from your own and your own experiments in this field. That’s why we initiated also the experimental development of the STIR Academy with the intention to share knowledge and experience about such processes through a worldwide network structure of hubs.

Looking forward to hearing from you, your opinion after reading the blog and your own initiatives, I remain,

Warmly and actively

Jean-Paul Close (Sustainocrat and entrepreneurial citizen)


What comes to your mind when we use the word “entrepreneurship”?

You may think of people who run a business for money. That is the effect of a culture and perception that we created for ourselves in a money driven consumer economy. It is however not the only meaning of entrepreneurship.

What comes to mind when I ask you about “citizenship”?

You probably think of yourself as a citizen, a law abiding member of your local or national community. Citizenship goes with a sense of belonging to something big, regional and relatively powerful. It provides a sense of safety, an identity of which one is part.

When tend to be what our surroundings expect us to be (mirror)

When tend to be what our surroundings expect us to be (mirror)

That is how far it used to stretch for most people. When you read this you are probably already a person who has broken through into a level of awareness that looks around in search for answers to a bigger reality. We have become aware of the limitations of our planet Earth, the destructive forces of a global way of life and the dependence we have of financial means that seem to be managed by people of a highly disputable reputation.

When we become aware of this the first question that arises is: “what can I do about it?” This is an entrepreneurial question. It has nothing to do with the money driven enterprise but with key human and ecological values that have reached your inner worries and demand reflection and, if possible, action.

In terms of human psychology we refer to this break through as the turning around of our inner mirror. We first mirror ourselves on the behavioral aspects of our surroundings. We adopt the way of thinking that is common around us. We are also educated that way by our parents, culture and educational systems. We become what society expects us to become.

When however we arrive at a point that our awareness starts questioning aspects or even the entire functioning of our surroundings we also question our own selves. We open up to new thoughts that may even contradict the common understandings around us. We start thinking for ourselves and do not simply assume the “right or wrong” imposed by our culture or systems of law. We enter phases of awareness that develops around a new sense of morality and responsibility. The phases we feel are generally fairly common to all of us:

  • We become critical
  • We start taking decisions in a different, sometimes controversial way to the norm
  • We start expecting “something else” from our society and leaders
  • We look for new ways of getting satisfaction for our inner drives even if they are opposite to what “society”‘ imposes.
  • We become the “society” of our beliefs and start acting and connecting with other people in that way.

We become an entrepreneurial citizen.

We become like in thinking

For over a decade I have been such entrepreneurial citizen myself. In my profile you can read why I opened up to this awareness and decision to start experimenting with my citizenship in order to create a surroundings that I could happily pass on to my children.

Awareness places me and society within the context of the universe and our planet Earth. I start seeing reality in a different way, not just what is expected from me by society

Awareness places me and society within the context of the universe and our planet Earth. We start interpreting “reality” in a different way, not just what is expected from me by society

In 2009 I started the STIR Foundation (the name already refers to the stirring transformation process that affects the person and his/her surroundings) to see if I could leverage the personal views into a new reality that involves more people and institutions. For many years I had tried to convince business people, non-entrepreneurial citizens and government officials to change. This did not work.

So I decided to “become the new world” and invite others to connect. The foundation gave it all a non personal status, allowing a new reality to become of all of us, not just of me. Being the representative of a world inside a world I could explain the values of the new world. If people understand they may decide to join me in any way they want. They then go through a fearful process of opening up to a new reality and positioning it in relationship with the old one. This is complex for any person, even more for an entire community. I could help them along the way.

Some experiences:

Here are some decisions that I made along the way, forced by the circumstances and the deepening of my awareness when learning to live a new, satisfying reality within a larger unsatisfying but dominant one. 

1. Money

When my awareness reached out to my own living nature as part of the universe I could see the destructive forces of pollution that were the consequence of the way society had evolved. It was not that difficult to notice that our consumer lifestyle and consumption based economies were the cause. It was equally easy to see that the political and economic hierarchies of our society were all structured around that lifestyle. The standardized factor that connects everything is “money”. But when we consume massively without producing anything ourselves to compensate, we create an unbalance in which money only flows one way. To continue our lifestyle we depend on the injection of money into the system allowing those that manage the money to become dominant over us. This financial slavery has been imposed on us by ourselves. To undo ourselves from it we need to eliminate our money dependency.

That is not easily done when everything has been connected to this money based consumption system up to the smallest fragmented detail. In my perception money is a means, not a goal. But in the dominant reality money has become the single goal and is made available to us at incredible (financial) expense without negotiation possibilities or alternative compensations back. This became unsustainable, so I had to eliminate money from my world and concentrate on productivity of our own.

2. new negotiation

The interaction between me and society changed as a consequence. Instead of negotiating for money (a job, a subsidy, a loan) I started to negotiate for value creation based on the productivity of real values. By taking the lead in complex issues (global issues, local solutions) that are ineffectively being dealt with by the reigning structures (because they contribute to the cause) I could ask in reciprocity some values back for myself.  My financial needs transformed gradually, eliminating the unnecessary until it reached the most problematic issues of dominance of the money driven world, my primary needs (food, clothing, housing, etc). All these needs are fragmented too in the money driven world with their own systems of dominance and power. These are reluctant to change their attitude because the alternative is self sufficiency, eliminating them from the chess board. To take a distance I needed to look at ways of becoming more independent to their powers through steps in self sufficiency.

3. Self sufficiency

This negotiation brought me to define “sustainable human progress” in my own way because I needed something to help me structure my own sustainable progress and coherent negotiation with my surrounding. In order to achieve what I needed for myself I also needed something that my surroundings wanted and that they were willing to connect to, accepting me as accountable entrepreneurial citizen. The crises had affected the system’s world of money driven and money dependent structures so they were also looking for inspiration (if they managed to survive the shake out caused by the depressions). Two tendencies started to show clearly:

  • Those who were committed to keep the old society system going hardened their dominate money driven position, often supported by the reigning systems of law,
  • Those who opened up to new models and inspiration, allowing me to strengthen my world supported by moral common sense and lack of money,

This tension became a transformative give and take between realities that forced me to address top down and bottom up at the same time. In a previous blog I explained the three steps of transformation caused by awareness. But if I wanted to survive the transformative processes I had to bridge the processes and not just live in idealism only. One cannot eat money but dreams neither. The advantage of operating totally opposite the dominance of money is that it does not have a grip on me other than the ability to take away certain commodities from me. But that is just hardware. My inner drive is only strengthened and supported by growing amount of people in my surroundings that fill in the material gaps instantly.

Primary needs are food, health, safety, self sufficiency and self awareness. The became the basis of Sustainocracy, the new democracy, that placed this commitment to human progress as a dot on the horizon. Every step I took should take me and those that join me a bit closer to achieving that new harmonic reality. Meanwhile I and my people gad to defend ourselves against the dogma’s of an old society, negotiating our right to sustain ourselves by taking a distance of damaging but dominant realities. We arrived at a point that even our constitution and its executive operational reality became a point of attention. Two realities appeared, one in severe stress and the other growing while openings provided the opportunity.

As a Sustainocrat there was a strong desire to transform the complex reality, not to substitute is with a kind of utopia. The old reality was providing still a large stability and security to massive amounts of people. This needed to be respected even though these old values could never be sustained in the long term. There is no absolute truth nor ideal situation, just a purpose driven force of change. By presenting the new reality as an alternative of choice anyone involved, person or professional, could determine for him or herself the choice and the consequences of choosing.

3. The first Sustainocrat

My bottom up approach was to address my own direct environment to become self sufficient with me. As an individual I of course have my limitations and together we can combine talents and opportunities.

Top down the complexity of course increased tremendously because of the tremendous network of financial dependencies. Still it was necessary also to get executive support and commitment for change to create openings for the bottom up processes.

With STIR we tried in the field of education but the doors opened and closed at equal speed because of the system dependence of semi governmental structures. To get to the policy source I needed to break through to the right levels of operational execution. After a lot of trial and error I arrived at taking human health and air quality as the binding factor. AiREAS was born as a new age venture.

Top down and bottom up processes come together in AiREAS "Healthy city"

Top down and bottom up processes come together in AiREAS “Healthy city”

4. Fragile at first

The steps and commitments to a new reality are fragile at first. As it starts becoming part of the operational reality of the people and organizations involved they start behaving accordingly. Every change in the setting and bondage based on the learning process brings back the possibility of shaking up the structure. It becomes important to stick to the dot on the horizon and take steps that maintain the cohesion of the group. The more the steps materialize in results that can be celebrated together the stronger the bondage becomes of the group and less chance it has to fall apart.

There is difference between the volatile commitment of people who act in freedom of choice and those that commit as member of a formal institutional community. Both have a transformative challenge of their own that comes together with the Sustainocrat.

5. Not volunteers but professional

One of the snags of NGO’s and new age citizen entrepreneurship is that we are seen by the establishment as hobbyist in the area of volunteers. The money driven system’s reality is considered “professional”. It takes time to penetrate the pld hierarchy, invite them to participate and to take the issue seriously. At first we are seen as a threat, easily maneuvered into the spectrum of the “undesired”. When we display continuity and gradual progress through results and determination, while the old system continues its collapse, the doors open more seriously to accept our new age professionalism as value driven new (non economic or political) world to take into serious account.

STIR Academy

For those who started the process it was a long time an open field of loneliness that gradually received visitors and later even collaborators of ever larger authority. That is why we are now experimenting with the STIR Academy as a worldwide structure destined to share information, knowledge and best practice.

STIR Academy, global sustainocracy

STIR Academy, global sustainocracy

We even started a website to see if any interest is generated to connect.


Secrets of life

On May 14th 2013 I introduced my views on the  musical origins of life. The secrete of living life in an evolutionary, self conscious way, is lectured during my open, public evening colleges in Eindhoven. I did this today together with opera singer Irma Lohman, whose talent could be used to prove my points on how life really is and how we can perceive and use it once aware.

Irma Lohman performing Nessum Dorma

Irma Lohman performing Nessum Dorma

The next few blogs will introduce these views  to you. They will of course be received as usual by some with the traditional amount of skepticism and refusal influenced also by the opposition from the reigning dogma’s that surround us and that educate us every day. In a way we live still in a world in which the “Earth is flat and the center of the universe” according to the ruling self interests of old remaining hierarchies. These old dogma’s and their institutionalized protectors are gradually disappearing into history, sometimes replaced with new ones. They all leave us behind with the atrocities of their commitment to a lie out of powerful self interest. It shows how we evolved over time as a species through a continuous learning process, combating our own, self imposed monsters in our quest for the universal truth and understanding.

You may also find that the route to absolute freedom comes with new responsibilities and an inner and outer confrontation with old beliefs that have been “sold” to us as sacred without dispute, often at the expense of doom and punishment. It is up to you to determine whether you are ready for this challenging.

Breaking loose gives freedom but also new responsibilities

Breaking loose gives freedom but also new responsibilities

I will deal with:

  • The origin of life
  • Harmonic relationships
  • Each of the four phases of life
  • Evolution
  • Current crises and their evolutionary solutions
  • Our own evolutionary state, risks and opportunities
  • Life phases and education

I have decided to do this through this blog in order to be able to connect to multimedia on the web for the re-enforcement of my messages. The blog also offers the possibility for you to reflect back.

We are facing a quantum leap that for the individual is an intellectual choice and for society an unprecedented evolutionary challenge and significant historical leap forward.


Otto Scharmer (U-Theory) versus Jean-Paul Close (Human Complexities)

This is the second in my series of comparing commonly used methods and models in current human organizations (business, government, society, etc). The first reflected about Kondratiev and Close.

Today I try to compare the “U-Theory” of Otto Scharmer with my model of Human Complexities and its phases of Fear for Change, Paradigm Shift and the positioning of Sustainocracy. (Watch a short  11 minute explanation on Sustainocracy via YouTube here)

The U-Theory

The U-Theory has become a popular tool for trainers and coaches as well as executives teams in organizations to develop new, innovative ideas in a co-creative way and bring them into practical reality.

The U-Theory of Otto Scharmer

The U-Theory of Otto Scharmer

We see a U shaped model with five key points for progress: Co-Initiation, Co-Sensing, Presencing, Co-Creation and Co-Evolving.

When I compare this with my own model of Human Complexities there are of course striking similarities but also some curious differences to think about.

The cycle involves: organization, regression, collapse and recovery

The Human Complexities cycle

The four arrows (regression, collapse, enlightenment and co-creation) in the model of Human Complexities represent the movement between four states of evolving communities (greed, chaos, awareness, wellness) using the complex psychology of people and ways of structuring organizations and communities. It is always cyclic in a clockwise manner. After ever cycle the community has gone through a learning process. When we place the cycles one after the other in history and over time we can see an evolutionary path resembling a spiral, producing a line from chaos into sustainable progress.

The representation of human complexities in a crosslike drawing has to do with our perception of progress and organization by drawing a line from left to right. Right to left meaning just the opposite, a regression. Up means an increase or growing awareness and down the decrease or disappearance thereof. In the middel we see the crissing of the lines “to be” (search for unique edity and universal ethics) and “to do” (our actions and organization). The cross shows the continuous conflict between these two issues that produce the self aware learning curve. In each of the four resulting quadrants the overall dominant human culture is different and so is the intrinsic motivation or fear for change.

Fear for Change

Inside the model of Human Complexities I use the concept of “Fear for Change”.  This is needed to show people near or within the stress of a crisis that this a normal path of letting go for renewal. Once aware of this they can face a crisis with more confidence. The current global paradigm shift from economic societal collaps to sustainable human progress  is my main concern. In my approach I tend to focus on the side of transformation from collapse via chaos towards renewed wellness in the model. My approach is holistic inviting the entire society to become co-creative.

Schwarmer does exactly opposite, working from with the institutionalized fragments of society.

The psychology of change in a paradigm shift is the true transformative challenge of humankind

The psychology of change in a paradigm shift is the true transformative challenge of humankind

Human Complexities (J.P. Close) & Fear for Change

Important differences between the U-Theory and Fear for Change

When we look at the U-Theory and the path of Fear for Change in the model of Humian Complexities we see that both use exactly the same processes to get people to activate their inner energy for creation and co-creation.  Despite the different names the steps and significance are the same. Still there is a huge difference…..

U-Theory versus Paradigm Shift

U-Theory versus Paradigm Shift

At first sight both methods look and feel the same

In reality the creators of the U-Theory did a very smart thing. They created a sense of simulated chaos within the comfort of a running business.  Getting people to step out of the running business of greed to undergo the intense process of reflection and finally reach a state of co-creation is in reality the application of the chaos theory and human psychology in exactly the same way, yet without the need of a formal crisis or fear for change.

Drawing the U-line from left to right (against the stream of human complexities) gives a sense of a deepening spiritual experience within the context of financial recovery, enhancement or growth (greed). The smart thing is that the U-Theory gives innovative meaning to economic systems that have the tendency of becoming bureaucratic an reluctant to change (seeing themselves as eternal cash cows, which they are not).

The paradigm shift and its related fear for change is known for thousands of years already. The first people to describe this intense fear and its process of freedom when one finds a new route by letting go, were intellectuals like Dante (13th century) and later the psychologists and anthropologist of the 19th and 20th century, s.a. Steiner, when the hierarchies started to grow in magnitude and with it the complexities of organizing people and emotions.

The natural process of a system to collapse into chaos, like the Roman Empire and so many other civilizations before and after, is well documented. The intense learning curve through fear, pain, letting go, etc. is also well known now and well positioned, with logic, along the modern cycle of Human Complexities. It is typically applicable in these days of pain, chaos en crises today that are affecting everyone. People start to look at two ways to address the problem:

  1. How to avoid collaps by applying timely renewal and innovation (U-Theory)
  2. What to do when inside the collaps to get back into co-creative wellness (Fear for Change)

These are the two routes of least and most resistance, as written before in a previous blog.

This blog also introduced the law of opposites and we can see many in the Human Complexities model (transition quadrants, poor and rich, complex and simple, warm and cold cultures, spiritual and possessive  etc). The smart thing that was done by Otto Scharmer and his people was to turn the model of the paradigm shift, including the fear for change, around (fear avoidance).

Just observe the logic:

The model of Human Complexities follows a cyclic route clockwise. The segment on the circle that refers to the paradigm shift starts at the left hand side almost upon the line between chaos and enlightenment, when people let go of old security and become aware of the need of renewal. It continues all the way up to the state of co-creation for wellness. The shape is more line a big “n”.

Positiong of both theories

Positioning of both theories

When we look at the U-shape of Scharmer it starts at the same (virtual) point but travels down and to the right to end up on the line of wellness through greed. The psychological effect of visualizing this direction is that fear is eliminated by connected the process to greed (desire for unlimited prosperity). The process of the U-shape is to avoid jumping into the unknown by simulating it within the comfort of an existing organization that looks for renewed innovative or inventive success without the immediate need of a paradigm shift. It is a method for smart executives to transform an organization within its normal operations without the traditional reorganizational stress. This is brilliant.

So the method and knowledge of the Fear for Change within the need for a Paradigm Shift positions themselves essentially in left hand quadrants, the areas of poverty, chaos, illumination and experimentation with survival. The method and knowledge of the U-Theory positions itself in the rich areas of wealth and greed where enterprises want renewal, revival, inventiveness without disputing their reputation nor their original positioning. It is a protected environment for efficient creativity to enhance a competitive position.

Positioning application of the methods

Positioning application of the methods

The model of Human Complexities helps us to clarify the particular use of both models and in which situation they should be used. In fact, it is not just applicable in business, it can be applied to the entire society too. Sustainocracy is an example of jumping the state of chaos by inviting executives to co-creative renewal in a multidisciplinary setting that eventually will feed again an obsolete economy with true innovation.


The application of both theories is of interest. Sustainocracy positions itself in the wellness quadrant from a societal point of view.  In most occasions the paradigm shift through chaos is needed  in society due to the different power positions that try to uphold themselves at the expense of the others in the same community. Within each of the institutional pillars the U-Theory can help leadership to progress in such competitive environment. However in a multidisciplinary setting such a Sustainocracym where everyone has a co-creative mission at societal level, the combination of both can lead to remarkable results for the entire society.

So while the executives may be confronted with the own fear for change, within their own leadership, and the intense process of undergoing the risks of re-positioning a company within the context of sustainable progress of society as a whole, the organization itself may well be served through the techniques of the U-Theory that do not include this fear or risk. Knowing about the emotional difference between the two models the executive teams and participating consultants can create programs that are as effective as they can be in turbulent times, producing progress even in crisis with both societal and institutional success.

It would be very interesting to develop situations at regional level to experiment with this.