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Page added on April 30, 2017

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Change Agents

  For at least the past 45 years, (from publication of the Club of Rome’s Limits To Growth), we have been watching a debate rage over the concept of sustainability. That word gets overused and misused so we need to be clear what we mean — the ability to maintain for an indefinite period of time without degrading resources required for support.


limits-plus-climate-forecast.pngClearly any culture that depends upon nonrenewable energy and one-time use of finite resources is unsustainable. Merely switching to renewable energy doesn’t make you sustainable. Nor, for that matter, does simultaneously switching to renewable consumer goods. To be sustainable, it needs something going much deeper than that. One needs a pervasive credo of regenerative circulation.
Ever since we can remember there has been a political divide between those who believe such a credo is antithetical to avaricious human nature and those who believe it not only possible, but the only way forward for a species in mortal danger of outrunning its supplies.
Charles Darwin, Notebook, 1837


What we have been doing with this Power Zone Manifesto that we began here in this space some months ago, is to lay the groundwork for a design science of intentional social change. We are putting it out there. Clarifying. Accepting feedback. Revising. Advancing the design by naming its parts.
With any hyperwicked, cross-cutting problem, a viable response needs to cut the sides off the box. We have to get holistic. This is going to involve a deeper understanding of planetary system dynamics, relationships of government and finance, the underlying fabric of market economies and herd behavior, the ways we get our information and pass it to others. Ultimately, we are proposing a wholesale redesign of civilization. Call it Civilization 2.0.
Joe Brewer recently said:
I just watched this excellent talk by Paul Hawken about the combination of 100 interventions necessary to reverse the worst consequences of global warming. It is truly inspiring. Yet, the how of cultural change is completely absent. There is nothing said about the narratives and social norms that need to change, how to go about guiding the cultural evolution for implementing every one of these solutions, what is needed from the cognitive, behavioral, and social sciences to make this plan “actionable” in the real world.


Elsewhere Brewer added:
humadescenttree.jpgThis problem that has not been named is The Great Transition Beyond Empires. We now have to choose between two metaphors for our planetary civilization — we can be a cancer that kills its host or a butterfly that arises transformed from the mindlessly consuming caterpillar. But it is incumbent upon us now to collectively choose before the choice is made for us by the cumulation of decisions made in the past. There are consequences for inaction in times like these.


More than a century ago V.I. Lenin instructed his readers that there are some preconditions for any revolution to take place:
1. An elite incapable of governing in the old way and beginning to split into different wings, each seeking a different solution to the crisis.
2. A middle class in ferment.
3. A poverty class desperate for a way out, not on the basis of the old society, but of a new order.
4. Clear leadership, with the necessary strategy, tactics, and organization to assure victory.
MOD phylogenetic tree.png
We have the first two of those conditions in much of the world today. Witness Venezuela, or the uprisings in recent years across Spain, Greece, Turkey, Mexico, and many other places. The tinder for revolution has been laid across Lenin’s first three steps. What about the fourth?


Foundation Stones’ Robert Gilman suggests that to be aligned and competent, change agents need to develop these capabilities:


  • be adept with complexity
  • treat diversity as an asset
  • be skilled at collaboration
  • be at home with high levels of interconnection
  • foster sustainability in their personal habits
The last 1% of the human genome
Besides a more profound systems thinking, change agents — the next generation of revolutionaries — need to learn to inhabit an Optimal Zone so they are less likely to get triggered into fight, flight or freeze and are skillful at getting themselves and others back from such triggering.  They will need to go beyond the polarizing limitations of linear and categorical thinking and becoming adept at such things as proportional thinking, continuum thinking, layered thinking, visual thinking and kinesthetic thinking….


Borrowing from Brewer inspired groups, the Evolution Institute,, and Smart Ecologies, our next generation of change agents also have to understand tipping points, feedback loops, rules of local interaction, emergent behaviors, dynamic attraction, neural processing of language, how emotions shape reasoning, the making of meaning, idea propagation, applied memetics, viral media, and social analytics.
What is needed is to get the relationships right among:


  • lifestyle, built environment, community, and the planet’s life support dynamics;
  • economic activities between different communities, i.e. the rules of trade and social equity, and not just limited to human communities;
  • fair and just governance at various scales to sustain the new paradigm.


Rxr1MNs.pngAs overwhelming as this may all seem, our situation will compel us to make the leap. If we fall short of our mark this will be our final attempt.


And on this moment of choice, whether it is named and made conscious or remains merely a societal drift based on bankrupt information pools, mistaken identities and erroneous assumptions, hangs the fate of this tip on this hair of our evolutionary sequence.


Aho Mitakuye Oyasin.

The Great Change by Albert Bates

8 Comments on "Change Agents"

  1. Davy on Sun, 30th Apr 2017 6:59 am 

    Very good systems analysis of our predicaments. We must acknowledge this is a process and it has an unknown timeline of a self-organizing organism we call modernism in a self-adapting self-organizing planetary system both animate and inanimate. We are within something that is greater than ourselves. We are at a point near thresholds of critical support. We are facing a die down. This is necessary per nature. It is horrible per humans. We just can’t imagine it. This die down is both personal and with our “things”. These things are our civilization. Along with our population decline will come the decay of our things so at some point we may be unrecognizable from today. A new civilization is dawning.

    This article sums up one thing succinctly. We have our techno optimist cornucopians offering “100 inventions” but without the cultural evolution of wisdom to guide them. We can’t just try to do more of the same when it is the same thing that got us here. Techno solutions should not be rejected but they must be accompanied with cultural wisdom. A wisdom of being able to say no. A wisdom to recognize necessity for the greater good. A wisdom of humility towards nature.

    We are fated and this fate is of the terrible kind. It is about overshoot and decline with a civilization built on growth and progress. It is a fate of our human meaning created by us and meaning unfolding in a planetary system in destructive change. A new man is dawning but we can’t see him. This new man may be the last man because we are in an extinction event. This is a time line and it is beyond our linear human understanding. This means we will continue to forecast, project, and predict the future within a linear human domain that resides in the nonlinear and expansiveness of nature. This may play out longer than our lives but it is playing out as we speak. It is unfolding in its way not our human way.

    The best thing we can do at the intellectual level concerning our destiny is acknowledgment of the here and now without the forecasts and projections. We must be careful looking back at what got us here because this is also a narrative and colored by our human disposition. What we must do is in the here and now see what is here. We must do this without denial. We must discard our social narratives of manifest destiny of an exceptional species. We must see the existential precariousness of all life on a planetary system of enormous natural forces. Systems we have tinkered with and forced and systems now in systematic perturbation. This is only for a few who are awakened. Most can’t go here. It is those who can that are responsible. This is a power but not their power it is natures.

    Multiple thresholds of change are now evident making this a time of great transition and one that is really a paradigm shift of change. It is not change for good per the human but remember nature does not live by the good and bad of humans. Yet, since humans are dualistic and live in the good and bad of things somewhere in nature good and bad does have relevance. In that respect good and bad must have some respect. Humans are natural so nature does feel and reflect on itself. Nature is following its way that is a harmonious way it is humans that are seeing the imbalances and tragedy.

    What we humans must do in the end is submit ourselves to nature’s way. We can also live in our fantasies and expansive narratives but these will not survive nature. If real truth is what you lust for then all this must be left behind and one must wade into the cold stream of nature’s reality. The good and bad of a changing world must be acknowledged but laid aside to what is above good and bad. Once here then this awakened human must go forth in the status quo of a civilization coming apart at the seams. This awakened human then follows his nature as awakened and to do what is natural.

    If that sounded crazy it may be in a way. It is little more than a spiritual mysticism of old. If it sounds crazy then dwell on what society is telling us now and what society is doing. How is the mysticism of old any crazier than the insanity of the present? This for you comes down to what is inside you. Society is on a fixed gradient of change within a natural gradient of a planetary system in flux. If you are here it is because you are searching for something. If this is so then review our social narrative and then review what came before us with those who embraced deeper meaning in times of great change. Tell me what is timeless sand what is dated?

  2. onlooker on Sun, 30th Apr 2017 9:17 am 

    What we humans must do in the end is submit ourselves to nature’s way– Great line encapsulating the need to recognize, conform to and adapt to the inevitable changes and disturbances coming our way along the only tenable course

  3. joe on Sun, 30th Apr 2017 9:57 am 

    I like Lenins simple view on revoluton. Arguably only his first condition for revolution is being met in the US. However all four conditions exist globally and we are begining to see revolt against America formenting. Revolution spreads where conditions are right. Venezuela should be watched closely to learn. In Venezuela only condition 4 is missing, so change will be slow and unsatisfactory to the masses. The Arab Spring does not count, as it was forced from outside, and Islamists could not find strong leaders, only violent ones. In the West the status quo of wealth and liberalism reigns. Trumps election as a minority candidate does little to change the system as the US splits itself against itself, but the US is not like the other countries, the US is always in political convulsions. Its the more mundane EU which has the most to lose, taking in most of the global poor (for western countries) and at the mercy of the strong centrally centered power in Turkey. With millions of refugees and likely most of Europes oil supply the EU is sliding back 500 years, forgetting why it looked to the sea in the first place, forgetting the stranglehold of the Ottomans and Islam had on Europes access to resources. The change agent may well come when Europe is subdued to the cresent and people realise what was forgotten.

  4. Apneaman on Sun, 30th Apr 2017 12:05 pm 

    It’s the end of the world and we know it: Scientists in many disciplines see apocalypse, soon

    Stephen Hawking is one of many scientists who see the possible near-term demise of our species. Spend that 401k!

    “While apocalyptic beliefs about the end of the world have, historically, been the subject of religious speculation, they are increasingly common among some of the leading scientists today. This is a worrisome fact, given that science is based not on faith and private revelation, but on observation and empirical evidence.”

    “Furthermore, studies suggest that civilization will have to produce more food in the next 50 years than in all of human history, which stretches back some 200,000 years into the Pleistocene epoch. This is partly due to the ongoing problem of overpopulation, where Pew projects approximately 9.3 billion people living on spaceship Earth by 2050.”

    “Along these lines, scientists largely agree that human activity has pushed the biosphere into the sixth mass extinction event in the entire 4.5 billion year history of Earth. This appears to be the case even on the most optimistic assumptions about current rates of species extinctions, which may be occurring 10,000 times faster than the normal “background rate” of extinction. Other studies have found that, for example, the global population of wild vertebrates — that is, mammals, birds, reptiles, fish and amphibians — has declined by a staggering 58 percent between 1970 and 2012. The biosphere is wilting in real time, and our own foolish actions are to blame.”

    If you dislike my black humor that humans are a Cancer, that’s fine, but it’s hard to argue that they are not cancer like in their behaviour- blind growth in spite of obvious & deadly consequences. Eating the seed corn on the grand scale.

  5. onlooker on Sun, 30th Apr 2017 12:08 pm 

    They the scientists should know, they are in the critical fields and they also are well trained to use critical thinking skills, unlike most

  6. onlooker on Sun, 30th Apr 2017 1:52 pm 

    How about this as a change agent
    Start of BRICS Gold-Backed Trade Pushing Deep State Desperation at All-Time High

  7. J-Gav on Sun, 30th Apr 2017 5:10 pm 

    Davy – Yes, the only life that has ever existed is ‘here and now,’ so we’ll have to go from there.

  8. Theedrich on Mon, 1st May 2017 4:11 am 

    Q.: Do BLM? Ans.: No! Ditto muds. Problem solved.

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