All Struggles Are Connected

In February of this year, the Schumacher Center hosted a two-day meeting of representatives of foundations and organizations concerned about the climate crisis. The gathering sought to probe the roots of the crisis and in doing so, better access where to put our collective energies and resources to create change. The title of the gathering was, “The Esoteric Dimensions of Climate Change.”

We relied on transformational thinkers Arthur Zajonc and Otto Scharmer to guide the discussion.

Among those attending was Mehul Sangham of Culture Hack Labs. He described a process in which Culture Hack intervened in a conflict between those who wished to expand the Mexico City airport and advocates for protecting the remaining wetland of Lake Texcoco, the ancient lake drained over the course of centuries to make room for development of the ever-sprawling city. It was a classic conflict between environmentalists and populist developers seeking much-needed jobs for a growing population.

Both sides were right in their own ways. Culture Hack’s approach was to listen deeply to the language of each side and to abstract the emergent narrative. Then, with the data in hand, they sought to uncover a transformative narrative that could move the discussion beyond the intractable conflict.

In the end they introduced the phrase, Yo prefiero el lago, (I prefer the lake). People on both sides of the issue recalled family outings by the lake– fond memories connected to people they loved, their youth, and their community. It did not involve rhetoric about the destruction of nature. It was not a catalog of the number of jobs gained or increases in municipal revenue. It was a new narrative that reframed the debate.

When the airport expansion referendum came forward for a vote, the lake won.

During the gathering at the Schumacher Center’s Library, Mehul and Martin Kirk proposed applying Cultural Hack’s methods to a transformative narrative for the climate crisis. Their inquiry soon expanded to include analysis of the Black Lives Matter movement and the COVID-19 pandemic. They asked: what is it at this point in Earth’s history and human history that brings together these multiple crises – social, environmental, economic, and health? What is the new emerging narrative that can help us transform these crises and collectively transition to a healing path forward?

We are pleased to report that Culture Hack Labs will host a series of free webinars to share its findings with the hope of building a critical community of practitioners engaged in dialogue through these times.

Webinar One: The Structural Causes of the Transition
Date: Monday, 23 November 2020 | 9 – 10:30 am PST / 12 – 1:30 pm EST

In this introductory webinar, our team outlines the Humanist foundations that have engendered the current moment of crisis. Specifically, we show how the story of progress has become the principle orienting narrative over the last 200 years, resulting in the rampant destruction of human and non-human life. Finally, we explore the ‘Posthuman’ as a useful framework for our own evolution.

Register in advance for this webinar:
Register: The Structural Causes of the Transition

Webinar Two: Two Narratives of Transition: An analysis of COVID-19 & BLM
Date: Wednesday, 2 December 2020 | 9 – 10:30 am PST / 12 – 1:30 pm EST

Culture Hack collected 30 million tweets, over 150 thousand articles, and a survey of 1,600 people as a means to understand the emergent narratives of COVID-19 and BLM during the first quarter of 2020. We found two dominant narrative forms, that of individual freedom and that of collective solidarity. In this webinar we describe our methodological process and analysis of these two narrative forms.

Register in advance for this webinar:
Register: Two Narratives of Transition: An analysis of COVID & BLM

Webinar Three: What are Narratives? A deep dive into Narrative Forms and their Dynamics
Date: Wednesday, 9 December 2020 | 9 – 10:30 am PST / 12 – 1:30 pm EST

In the third webinar in our series, we present Culture Hack Labs’ (CHL) understanding of narrative forms and their dynamics. This framework and methodology is the result of eight years of research and development, a legacy we inherited from The Rules team. We will discuss three narrative moments, including “Fees Must Fall,” “Yo Prefiero El Lago,” and the BLM movement in the wake of George Floyd’s death.

Register in advance for this webinar:
Register: What are Narratives? A deep dive into Narrative Forms and their Dynamics

Webinar Four: Cultural Evolution & Syntropic Reframes
Date: Wednesday, 16 December 2020 | 9 – 10:30 am PST / 12 – 1:30 pm EST

In these times of unprecedented crises it is critical that we collectively develop a set of orienting coordinates that help us navigate the uncertain and complex terrain of the inevitable transition. In this final webinar in our series we share our framework for narrative evolution as a map for narrative change during the transition. Our discussion will demonstrate how we use the ‘cultural evolution framework’ to assess the evolutionary potential of frames and narrative forms while developing interventions for evolution that transcend merely message-oriented narrative actions. We will also discuss the application of this framework to differing fields such as philanthropy, design, and social technologies.

Register in advance for this webinar:
Register: Cultural Evolution & Syntropic Reframes

Please join us in attending.

Wishing all good health,
Staff of the Schumacher Center for a New Economics