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In this blog I explain an evolution in our region in Holland where many people of all kinds of talent and status of authority seem to reach a level of awareness and personal leadership which motivates to join in a new level of responsibility together. We refer to this as level 4, one level above the hierarchies of political and economic powers, and one in which we allow core human and natural values to define our priorities and innovative investments. It is interesting to see how it captures the interest of the global community who visit us for inspiration and cocreation. This blog was also publised on LinkedIn in Dutch.
Never before in history the modern human being has been challenged as whole to put the shoulders under our evolutionary survival. Now we have. Ever since we crossed the invisible line of about 3 billion fellow members of our species, the lifestyle based on the economy and politics of production and consumption started to damage our surrounding is an irrevocable way. This happened somewhere between the 50’s and 60’s of last century and millennium. This seems very far away but in essence is the timeframe of the current generation aged 50+. It is all part of today still, not at all far away.
Before we crossed this invisible line the natural reproductive abundance of our planet Earth could still recover from our destructive behaviour of greed and aggressive competition. But after this crossing it could not anymore, not if our human species would continue the way it did. We are now well on our way to a population of 9 billion indivdiuals, three times that of 70 years ago. What have we done in the meantime? Gradually we became more and more aware of the problems and introduced new processes such as Cradle to Cradle, Biomimicry, circular economy, CSR, costly bureaucracy and new rules, costly healthcare systems, etc. Yet our steering mechanisms, based on sustaining the political and economic hierarchies, with primarily consumption driven civilians, has only been expanded and sustained artificially by the local and worldwide structures of financial power and control. Our fragmented money driven structures can only take responsibility for their little islands of self interest and none oversees the whole that is being seriously damaged, with very unpleasant consequences. Each for themselves take competitive measures out of economic or political self sustaining interest, contributing at the same time to the worsening of the problems without sensing direct responsibility for the whole, just their part. The submission to money remains leading, not our evolutionary self resilience as a species.
There are two twee routes we can take.
The first route is the one of the least resistance. We just keep going with our lifestyle and political-economic steering. Eventually nature will take over and reduces humankind to proportions below the line of (self)destruction. This is normal in nature. As soon as a lifeform cannot feed itself anymore or becomes sick it dies out and is taken over by healthier lifeforms. Whatever remains of the sort that collapsed is so much smaller that it is not dangerous anymore for itself or the rest of the lifeforms. These last mentioned get the new space to develop themselves according to the same rules of nature.
According the current situation of humankind we can expect to be reduced to about 1 to 2 billion people in a natural way via catastrophes, crises, hunger and wars. Nature does not make distinction between people and just cleans up. If we look closely at what is going on in the world we see this process already happening.
The second route is the one of awareness and taking of responsibility. We have already seen that none of the fragmented parties of self-interest can do this on their own, unless they do it together. But who takes initiative? Awareness is not limited to some happy few. It also reaches the mindset of policy makers, entrepreneurs, scientists and many civilians who all want to do something about it but often feel hindered by their individual or executive limitations. Lifting all these people, in all their diversity of talents and authorities, to a new level of interaction, above the political and economic hierarchies, we create a new level and area of cocreation, referred to as a Sustainocracy, in which the natural and human core values are leading. Together we choose our priorities, allocate means and arrive at innovative project that help change the old reality in all its dimensions. An independent Sustainocrat is enough to pave the way into level 4 leadership, the leadership that follows the development of core values together. On this level an executive policy maker can define arguments that reduce rules and bureaucracy, entrepreneurs develop new, revolutionary products and services while civilians innovate themselves socially through adjustments in behaviour and lifestyle, without reducing their quality of life, on the contrary. At the same time the functional layers of regional development become subject to integrale innovation in the field of residence, food, energy supplies and usage, mobility, local involvement and reward of participation, recreation, etc. Step by step the energetic dynamics of cohesion and care for each other and the environment develops. The good example spreads and reaches other people and institutions who wish and can participate. Those who put up resistance have to come up with powerful arguments if they keep blocking human core values, risking eventually to be held liable for this. A new culture and economy appears, referred to as the transformation economy, which has a harmonizing effect on the community while contributing to the expansion of all kinds of new innovations that can serve the rest of the world too.
In Eindhoven and Brabant we have been applying this level 4 regional development for about 7 years now and the approach grows in both recognition as local and international support. Apparently we have created a new culture together in which we can freely look for connection between level 4 leadership of people of a great diversity of talents and authority. In other areas this is often not yet possible. That is why the first mentioned route will still show us huge amounts of human suffering and drama for a long time to come and will even affect us despite our intentions. But the route we have chosen gives us hope with strength and will, as expected, sproat elsewhere as soon as people become aware of the option its way of functioning and the potential of this evolution in human and natural self-aware coexistence.
STIR foundation is ideological and practical founder of Sustainocracy, and since 2010 initiator of level 4 cooperative formats such as AiREAS (healthy air, healthy cities), FRE2SH (local cooperation for resilience in basic needs), STIR level 4 learning cooperation (education to reach level 4), Rijk van Dommel en Aa……enz. This format of level 4 regional development has been accredited in 2015 by external research and received the VINCI European Innovation Award. Sustainocracy has been introduced in 2016 in 26 regions of Europe, India and China. During all kinds of encounters, publications, presentations and workshops you can get acquainted with the expertise, methods and achievements.
Blog 2: The solution
After writting the blog about our entrapment in our own vulnerability we need to apply the law of opposites to show that breaking free is a serious option, applied by many around the world. It is not easy but once done a new world shows itself in which we can explore and develop ourselves to the full.
We just need to accept reality as it is, not just the vulnerable part of greed and destruction but also the powerful part of awareness and creation.
A human being is free, a citizen is not
When we look at ourselves as a biological member of our human species we are a single complete genetic entity, a symbiotic composition of billions of species that interact to keep that unique human being aliveand alert. At biological level we eat, drink, breath, mate and procreate, and finally die within the cyclic event of life. Such human being is born absolutely free. Free to make our own choices for survival, safety and comfort within our habitat, planet Earth, and how we organize ourselves effectively. In the natural living space there is no debt, no ownership, just usage of resources and an adaptive interaction with other species based on equality and respect. In nature everything is always strong and healthy, the unhealthy and weak disappear to give back the resources to nature for another life cycle. This we call evolution and we as individuals and community are part of that.
As citizen we are not free, we are part of a (formal) human group process. We have the ability to make arrangements in such group processes that help us live and survive, with safety and comfort, better than when we need to deal with this alone. In group processes we contribute as a member and interact with the group for best community performance. Communities tend to have unique characteristics that develop over time and may get into competition with each other for the protection of the group’s interest. Communities also tend to behave like individual species with the same type of living complexity expressed in terms of growth (greed), chaos (crisis), awareness (learning) and harmony (balans). Within such communities a set of rules determine the interaction between the members. When such community serves its members than the citizenship is never questioned. When however the community starts serving itself as an institution, at the expense of its members, than an invisible line of tension is crossed and citizens can revert back to their human freedom of choice. They stop being citizen in THAT community. No other person can oblige any one to remain member of a community as active civilian if that person does not want to. Unfortunately it is done continuously with law enforcement or empowerment of governance. Still, in absolute sense, even when put in prison, one remains always free at human level.
There are various ways to deal with the freedom of choice as human being and the obvious advantages of being member of a community. Of course this community needs to serve its members properly. The first option one has when stepping out as a citizen is to choose a new community which has a set of rules and behaviour that fits better one’s self aware judgments and desires.
I myself had this option when I became aware that the Dutch society had outgrown its human community characteristics and became a money driven institution at the expense of humankind, essentially totally absorbed in the list of vulnerability described in the previous blog. But where would I go? Holland, at institutional and governance level had a reached a point of self destruction. But at humanitarian level we had gone through an evolution too. Equality between men and women for instance was a socially accepted truth. In the mind of certain analysts such equality was created to get women to enter the labor force and contribute to capitalist economics with all the negative side effects. This may be partially true but at the same time, from a human and universal complexity point of view the acceptance that men and women are the equal but not the same is key to understand universal ethics and dynamic clustering of life.
In this duality of excessive institutionalized, money driven vulnerability and well balanced social equality, the Netherlands tends to offer a better evolutionary perspective than other communities where the money driven greed is not compensated by a minimum of gender equality. Another key element that motivates the stay in Holland is the freedom of speech and choice. The “system” may impose itself but when one turns its back to it there is an “isolation from the system” but not from the human part of society. In essence this too makes the Netherlands a vertile ground for the evolution of our species and experimentation with new structures of governance, culture and behavior.
So leaving Holland was not an option. Only very few places in the world would give me the level of freedom to evolve into something new rather than revolve in a fight against the old.
The second option one has is to create a community of one’s own, according one’s own insights and understanding. In a globalized political economic human world, fixated in its vulnerability but explained as a strength, such choice is extremely difficult. When I had to deal with this I made a distinction between the status of human being and freedom with that of citizen and community compliance. When looking at Holland, consisting of nearly 17 million inhabitants we can see 17 million human beings and nearly 17 million “compliant” citizens. Most of those citizens don’t realize their universal right to be free as human being. They take our community and its rules for granted.
In such universal freedom there is no debt, no property, no human legal system, no religion, no guilt. There is a right to determine or create community membership and citizenship. So when I address the fellow human being inmy surroundings then the conversation differs fundamentally from the address to the citizen. Even at professionalized level in the citizen’s world the so called “leaders” are also human beings. Often they are slave of the same system with the only difference that they are rewarded to make other people comply. I can address them also as human beings and challenge them to look at their citizen’s role in the community from a human perspective. Awareness is an awakening process which is best realized by taking people out of their mental or physical comfort zone.
Awareness driven human and citizenship
When I see the Dutch community as 17 million human beings that in potential can determine the characteristics of a totally new society, even though they are mostly actively and unaware involved in their old citizenship, then I can communicate with them as such. It does not matter in what role they operate in society, when they are invited to understand their human freedom we can openly reflect about change. When I started to do so in 2005 I found resonance with a very limited audience. Most people and structures were still confident that society as it was would remain. My own awareness had broken through in 2001 when I was taken out of my own mental and physical comfort zone and had to make my own decisions as human being, not as citizen. But the mental and physical comfort of the mayority of the Dutch back in 2005 was still happy with themselves. Only some resonance was gained in the field of entrepreneurship. Business people were encountering severe competition and needed to find ways to strengthen their proposition rather than continuously follow the decline of cost optimization in order to try to grown.
In 2008 this all changed when the creditcrisis threw many people off their comfortable throne with a mental wake up effect. Suddenly all executives as well as people in general were in crisis. The first reaction is to try to get back to the old and safe status quo. The second reaction was to see if change was an option. Most people acted in this on professional level, using the known instruments for that particular function and old societal context trying to make the best of it. No one had ever considered looking at it from their human perspective until I started inviting them to do so.
5 human core values
As human being I defined 5 core human values that are critical for our sustainable human evolution: Health, safety, regional self sufficiency, self awareness and fullfillment of our daily basic needs (1 kg of food, 3 kg of drinking water, 30 kg of healthy unpolluted air). each of these values is at jeopardy today and the lack of them causes the tremendous vulnerability described in the previous blog. From a human perspective it does not matter how rich you are and with how much power, the biological vulnerability is equal for all people. From a citizen’s perspective the awareness and related choices are critical as it determines the way one remains part of the problem or the solution. Some professionals get into a moral dillema when the difference between the realities displays itself to them. They have to make a decision:
- I neglect the awareness out of self preservation in the old reality
- I try to use my professional authority to make a difference by taking account of the core values
- I quit my job and make myself useful elsewhere using my newly acquired awareness
A new look at reality
Once we have been through the process of relativation of our human and citizen’s choices we start looking at reality in a totally different way. The vulnerability described before becomes an innovative challenge and the core human values a guideline. We cannot change 5000 years of city development over night but we can start with small steps. Some cities and regions are more difficult to transform from a quality of life perspective. Some even impossible. Knowing this we can even anticipate creating totally new living environments for the millions of people that otherwise would remain in a vulnerable situation. In the old reality of money driven citizenship this would be seen as a tremendous cost. In our new reality of core values driven cocreation it is seen as the engagement to make a difference between death and life. New techniques, visions, ideologies and methods can be experimented with to generate public engagement with the proper reward. Life is a great reward but when alive we need to have a house, food and other needs that we need to cocreate together too. Recently we looked for instance at the potential of the Pyramide City as self built, 100% self sufficient solution for all our unemployed and refugees. We can house over 6000 people on 1 km2 using local materials and building a totally circular economy.
It is a totally different way of organizing ourselves in which no political or economic parameters rule, nor a democratic hierarchy of self interests, but a cocreative mentality of everyone involved based on developing and maintaining our core values. We even defined this as Sustainocracy, a new type of democracy that respects authorities and professional specilizations but connects them in a new way around core challenges. The individual choice is hence not just in distinction between human and civilian realities but also in the way we contribute to progress with our professional responsibility and authority.
When individuals become aware of their human freedom of choice and the ability to redefine their conribution to sustainable human progress two realities get organized in parallel, the old vulnerable one that produced old securities and wellness but got us into trouble, and the new one that creates new securities by addressing the vulnerability through the leadership of core human rather than financial values.
While in the money based reality the relationships are built around financial transactions we see that the reality around core human values is built around project based cocreation and sharing of values. In money based city the citizen is a consumer of the city’s consumables (health care, housing, roads, parking, shops, theaters, events, etc) while in a core human values based community every person is a partner and participant sharing the progress and value creation. This means that a totally new value system is introduced, based on cocreation effort and sharing. This is not a relationship based on individual greed and dependence but of sharing and freedom.
Traditional infrastructural functions of governance are still needed but they are facilitating this participatory awareness driven eco-system based on harmonization instead of economic growth. This gives a significant different meaning to government and others in the field of cocreation. Technologies feed cocreation and awareness, not control and regulation. Governance, lawsystems, innovation, education and entrepreneurship get a totally new meaning and organization.
With appearance of two realities in one community one can live up to one or the other. Much better is to place both into perspective of eachother and relate them functionally. Suddenly we find that a large part of the old functional reality may remain alive and working blindly in the part that is claimed to produce vulnerability. Key is that the emphasys of our community direction is not anymore based on blind economic growth yet positioned at the side of values driven change. This does not mean that the economic growth parties are eliminate, not at all and on the contrary. Economic growth is good as long as it contributes to the solution rather than producing the problems. Economic growth will never challenge itself out of self interest. We need to have something beside which we call the Transformation Economy. Such economy keeps a look at the core human values and determines when the cocreative change is needed because the Growth economy crossed the line and started to produce measureable problems. Rather than raising taxes the Transformation economy raises royalties over the innovations that produce and enhance the core values while penalizing those old growth elements that measurably started to contribute to the problem. Like that the Transformation economy garantees the involvement of the specialized organization while redefining solutions through open innovation as these organizations are the ones that fragment the solutions into new products and services for the world market.
A simple choice
We have arrived at the conclusion that all our problems are solved instantly if we make our simplest choice. As human being we are free and responsible for our sustainable human progress. Once aware of that we can embrase the 5 core values and position ourselves at the side of sustainable leadership and the transformation economy. Our vulnerability is our challenge not our burden and our creativity and cocreation is our security for a safe future. Money is a means that may conditionally grow as long as it remains contributing to the global core values else we voluntarily change its content to something new. We don’t depend on banks, politicians or whatever to make this decision. When we do at our own human level we can invite others to join. As the consequences of our vulnerability grow there are more and more who are willing to chose the side of sustainable leadership and help restructure a society putting growth in balans with harmony. The cities, our places to live, our productivity and learning through awareness will then produce an evolutionary step for humankind. Life on Earth has evolved like this for 4.5 billion years. Now humankind can benefit from this unique awareness breakthrough and change our vulnerability in our strength. We don’t need to die, we need to learn how to live and act accordingly. We can only confirm what Snoopy and Charly Brown conversed and take the positive way.