08/15 – Lisa Chacon: Integral Innovation

Fresh Perspective / August-November 2013

Russ Volckmann

Russ Volckmann

Lisa Chacon

Lisa Chacon

Russ: I’ve never met Lisa Chacon, but I’ve heard about some of the work she’s been doing in the San Francisco Bay Area. I was delighted to discover that she has quite an extraordinary integral background. But when I learned about the work that Lisa and others are doing in Oakland, California, it represented the kinds of things that I’m sure people who are developmentally and integrally oriented all around the world are trying to accomplish. In this case we have a wonderful opportunity to learn about one approach and how it’s bringing the integral perspective forward in generative ways. So, Lisa, welcome.

Lisa: Thank you, it’s great to be here.

Russ: I understand that you have been something of a student of integral. Could you give us a feel for what your background was before you got into the integral work and then how you got into that?

Lisa: Sure. I have a doctorate in chemistry from the University of California, Berkeley. I lived in Berkeley for many years and I would say that I was in an Orange phase of development at that time, of really being entrenched in the scientific method and holding a scientific perspective on the world. I ended up going and working for a big company in upstate New York doing chemistry and material science for about ten years. I started as an inventor, and got into innovation and leading teams and projects, and ended up doing new business opportunity assessment for the company. Around that time – it was around 2002 so it was after 9/11 and before the war in Iraq began – I really became activated and just so fed up with what was going on under George W. Bush that I started reading and learning more about current events. I got very involved in protesting the war in late 2002, and started taking bus loads of people from my mostly conservative upstate New York community to Washington DC to protest the impending war in Iraq.

As I became more and more concerned about what was going on in the world, I was beginning to see bigger patterns and researching things like climate change and peak oil. I began feeling like the work that I was doing and what my company was doing were contributing to the problems rather than the solutions. I got an energy initiative going in the company, but I ended up taking a leave of absence for a year and going to Sweden and studying sustainability. I got a Masters in sustainability, which focused on systems thinking and sustainability principles that addressed all levels of the system. So that was a big move for me.

It was in the middle of that year that I read my first Ken Wilber book – A Brief History of Everything. That was 2006 and I’d had it on my bookshelf for several years. But I could never get through the first chapter, because Ken referenced about a dozen philosophers, thereby citing the lineage. I thought, “Oh my god! I need to read 30 books to understand what he’s saying right here. I know this is important but I just don’t have the time.” So that cold snowy winter in Sweden I ended up reading the whole thing. The light bulbs went on for me, because I was in this program studying system theory and system thinking, and with my technology background I was sitting there scratching my head saying, “Why isn’t this catching on?”

We have all the technology that we need to change our systems but we’re not using it. We don’t need to spend a dime more on researching better solar cells we just need to deploy them on a large scale. Then, when I read Wilber, I realized that it was an interior problem. It wasn’t an exterior problem. You can’t just reach out and change the system. People are controlling the system by their decisions. If we don’t understand the system and we don’t understand our impact, we are not making good choices.

So I got very curious about how the brain works, cognitive psychology, how we think and why we get it wrong. I became very interested in that. Also I became very interested in culture and how culture affects behavior and perception. So, I took a hard turn to the left, as I tell my integral friends. I got really curious about the left quadrants.

Russ: I thought I heard you say that change happens on the individual interior basically. I suspect that you would agree that change happens concurrently in all four quadrants.

Lisa: Absolutely! Yes. When I began on this journey about eleven years ago, the simple questions that have been guiding me are “How does change happen?” and “Why doesn’t change happen?” Those are the questions that I’ve been chasing all these years. I was coming from the perspective of technology and systems. I realized, “Oh! There’s this other side to things – the interior.” In fact, a few years ago I developed a change model that I called the ABC’S of change, based on the quadrants. It’s a derivative of quadrants for the special case of social change. I call the upper left A for Awareness, upper right B for Behavior, the lower left C for Culture and the lower right S for Systems.

I wrote a little paper called “The ABC’S of Social Change”. I found that that is a really great shorthand and easy way to explain the quadrants to people who are not familiar with the theory. I’ve introduced it to an Orange/Green sustainability community and have gotten great feedback.  It’s very intuitive, people say, “Oh yeah! It takes all of these things! We have to touch on all of these pieces, because they are all important.” So I have a whole process around this and a change model that touches on all the quadrants.

I’d love to expand on this paper. In fact that is what I wanted with the HUB – to teach it, use the HUB as the laboratory for applying it and see what works and what doesn’t – really iterate on the change model itself.

Russ: You just referred to the HUB. There may be someone who hasn’t a clue as to what the HUB is. I know it’s an international phenomenon. What is HUB International?

Lisa: It is a network of co-working spaces. A HUB is a place where people can come and rent time or offices, conduct their business or do their work if they are freelancers. People can have meetings there or can host events, et cetera. But the other part of it is community– a community of likeminded people who are in some way or another working to make the world a better place. That’s what makes it different from other co-working spaces – shared vision and values around purpose in the world.

Russ: Can you tell us what that shared vision is?

Lisa: It’s a world-centric vision held by people who are working in a number of areas from international development to environmental causes. I tend to call it the 10,000 causes, because there are people who are working on so many things. But they are not necessarily seeing the bigger systems that connect the dots between whales and water in Africa and windmills and things like that. It’s very issue focused. I don’t know if you are familiar with Paul Hawkins book, Blessed Unrest. He catalogued all of these organizations. There are millions of them around the world – people working to make the world a better place. There’s so much energy and effort going on. Yet, we’re not seeing a lot of traction.

Russ: You talked about people with a shared worldview. How would you describe what is shared here?

Lisa: It would be a shared worldview. It would be a shared commitment to working towards a more sustainable and just world. It is not sector specific. You might have a software company, Internet technology based company, or a physical technology based company. There are a lot of people who are developing energy solutions and products for developing countries or education. It’s so varied it really is 10,000 causes. But I would say it’s a very green community. They are focused on collaboration, co-working, connecting, and community.

Russ: Are you saying that Orange has its incubators and Green has its incubators and the HUB is an example of the latter?

Lisa: I would say that HUB is really a mixture of Orange and Green – Orange in service of Green values. It’s about using the tools of business and entrepreneurship in service of Green values. There are social businesses, social entrepreneurs, non-profits, as well, but more people are actually interested in using business to transform the world.

Russ: By implication it’s not just people working with people in terms of this business orientation you are talking about. It is people working with technology and with a problem centered focus in relation to the challenges we face around the world.

Lisa: Exactly!

Russ: Do you know how the HUB got started?

Lisa: It began in 2005; the first HUB was in London. Now we are eight years later and there are 40 HUBs around the world. They created an association of HUBs so that other HUBs could come into the network. The first one in the US was in Berkeley in 2009. That company soon opened the San Francisco HUB in 2010. There are now a handful of others in the US: Boulder, LA, Seattle, Boston. Oakland just opened last month and there is another handful that will be opened by the end of this year.

Russ: So there is a rapid development?

Lisa: Yes. It’s really growing quickly. I think in the next year or so there will be 200 around the world.

Russ: That’s astonishing. Has there been any kind of bottom line results that you are aware of from the HUBs that have been in existence for a while?

Lisa: That’s a good question. One of the things that we as a network are working on – I’m not personally involved in this work, but I’m very interested in it – is a movement in the network to really quantify the impact: what has been the impact on the environment, on society, on job creation, on revenue generated, on social impact broadly? So we are just starting to get our arms around it as a network.

There were a number of surveys done at the global level just over the past couple of months. They are still working with the data to understand what’s going on. But one thing that was really interesting that we learned was that there are 6,000 members worldwide. When you consider the size of each individual’s network, professional and personal networks, the actual reach of our organization – if you take that out one or two degrees – is around 20 million. So this network is connected to 20 million people worldwide.

Russ: During this same period of the development of HUB there has also been the business conscious capitalism activity. John Mackey and Raj Sisodia have come out with their book this year. Are you seeing any parallels or mutuality between what is going on with HUB and what’s going on with the conscious capitalism business effort?

Lisa: They are absolutely the same thing. I was at a conscious capitalism conference in, 2010. I got to meet Raj and some of the other leaders of that organization, like Jeff Klein. They were absolutely on the same path.

Russ: So do you anticipate any kind of formal relationship or mutually supportive relationship other than just beyond parallel business HUBs?

Lisa: The Conscious Capitalism group is a little more East Coast focused. They have their research conference in Boston. There is a San Francisco team that’s getting organized right now and I’m in the loop on that. I definitely want to get the HUBs involved and connect with them. But it’s still in the forming stages here on the West Coast.

Russ: This has been a very challenging era for startups in businesses. It is also an extraordinarily creative era for lots of individuals and groups. What do you see happening in the larger society, in the community, that helps you have confidence that moving in the directions that HUB International represents can make a significant contribution?

Lisa: Well, one of the things that gives me comfort as a business owner opening a HUB, is that the HUBs in Berkeley and San Francisco opened in 2009 and 2010 and that was right in the worst of the recession. They’ve seen tremendous growth over this period. They are at about maximum capacity right now and they grew during the recession. I think that makes sense to me, as people have lost jobs or they’ve seen their livelihoods change. There are a lot of people who are questioning what they are doing and wanting to live a life of greater purpose. The HUBs actually facilitate that – help people get connected with the resources, the know how and the people who can help them bring their dreams into reality. That’s something that I’ve experienced, definitely.

So, in a way the HUB is recession proof. I also see HUBs – to get philosophical about it – as an expression of evolution. The old systems are crumbling before our eyes and people in the HUBs are really pioneering new ways of doing things, from alternative currencies to local living economies and minimizing our harmful impact on the Earth. These entrepreneurs and change makers at the HUB are doing the experiments. And if you look back at times of crisis on planet Earth, whether due to climate or other factors, you get these incredible bursts of creativity where Life, itself, experiments and creates random mutations.

You don’t know what is going to stick, but it’s in times of crisis when there seems to be an urge to experiment. I really see HUBs as an expression of that, of that evolutionary impulse to try something new and hope that it will work. Does that make sense?

Russ: Yes, that was beautifully said. It encourages me to go to the next level on that. It would seem to me that what the HUB is representing, as is the Conscious Capitalism, Integral and other efforts, is alternatives to a global economic system that is built upon a constellation of political systems that support it and contribute to ethical disasters – the demise of ethics in the world of finance and business, for example. This could involve the disintegration of systems that you are talking about, but it could also be that the systems that are going to replace the ones that are disintegrating are even more oppressive. For that not to be the case, the ethical dynamics – the ethical orientations of people who are able to create and generate influence for individual or collective action – are going to have to operate within an ethical framework that is different from the one that has been in evidence. This ethical system has had increasing influence in the world of business and in the world of government. It is the foundation of cronyism, corruption and economic oppression, for example the widening gap between rich and poor. Where do you see the signs of hope for that to change?

Lisa: I don’t have the numbers in front of me, but the rise of impact investing is something that is really interesting. It is a movement of investors who are putting their money into social or environmentally focused businesses; it has been on the rise for a while. It’s projected to be a 500 billion dollar sector in the not so distant future. That’s one thing that gives me hope: there are serious investors, serious influencers, who see the promise and the potential of what’s happening in this movement towards alternative systems.

I don’t want to get into the whole “Occupy” conversation. The movement was fuzzy and ill-orchestrated, but it was a real manifestation of a movement towards ending corporatism in America. I think that we are choking under the corporate influence on our government. That’s leading to so many ills. Some great work is being done by Lawrence Lessig, a law professor at Harvard. There is even a movement under foot to amend the constitution and end corporate personhood. Those types of interventions are really critical as part of the puzzle on the government reform front.

It’s true that the current ways of doing business and the hands that are on the controls are very entrenched. If we are going to fight on the playing field of money, power and influence, we don’t have as much of that.

Charles Eisenstein makes this point. He is an author on alternate economies, the sharing economy, the gift economy. These are just some of the experiments we are seeing unfolding in this Green movement. I went to hear him speak about a year ago and what I heard completely blew my mind. He started out talking about these different economies, but very quickly switched gears. He started talking about miracles. I was stunned. He said that a miracle is just something that seems impossible from your current paradigm, but from the next paradigm it’s just the way things are. He started talking about synchronicity and miracles, where people set out to do something impossible. Miraculously, the resources they needed, the money they needed, the connections they needed just materialized. He told stories of people who had stopped a coal power plant from coming online, stopped a refinery from being built or stopped the construction of a shopping center. They had no money and no connections, but everything came together. I went to his weekend activist training and he was basically trying to train people how to do miracles.

The thing that he said that has stuck with me is that if the people who want to create a different world try to compete on the field of power, money and influence we’ll lose. But what we have is this other way of working from the new paradigm, where “miracles” are possible. We just need to learn how to do that.

That’s really powerful. I know that these things are happening. I’ve seen these “miracles” in my own work, in my own life. I know all of us have examples of this. I’m working with Thomas Hübl, in his yearlong course. We are touching on some of this there, as well. I think stepping into that ability and bringing those capacities online as human beings is stepping into non-duality – recognizing that we are creators in this universe and that we do have the ability, just like these extraordinary abilities to magnify the things that we need in service of something higher.

Even in the integral community we are so stuck in the Orange paradigm of a linear cause and effect world where everything is physical and material. We are limiting ourselves. We need to transcend that and step into this world of absolute unknowing. We need to acknowledge that there is some other thing going on here that we don’t understand, that we probably can’t understand with our minds, that we can’t understand with our reason. We can then surrender into this next paradigm and allow these “miracles” to come through us and our work in the world.

Russ: I was part of the activist community in Berkeley all during the 60s. When I came back from a year and a half in India, The tragedy of People’s Park had happened and while I was gone Martin Luther King, Jr. and Robert Kennedy were assassinated. I came back to a radically different world. I left from a world of optimism in the hope that the kinds of things we were doing were going to make a difference that we were going to end the war in Viet Nam.

Part of what was developing in that era, was the whole arena of self development. That was in the arena of humanistic and transpersonal psychology and experimentation with different lifestyles. When I came back it was a world that had turned grey. Telegraph Avenue in Berkley wasn’t the sparkling alive place it had been. It had started to get grubby.

I look at what we are trying to accomplish today through integral, spiral dynamics, conscious capitalism and other kinds of activities. It’s exciting and it reminds me of the excitement of the 60s.

How is it different now than it was then to suggest that there’s reason for optimism and hope? I think there is a difference. I think you were suggesting it is more holistic. What you are thinking about being and doing in the world opens the possibility for development and reduces the potential for unintended consequences? Does that make any sense?

Lisa: Yes it does make sense. I’ve studied these movements and there was that moment of optimism, change and hope in the 60s. I think it was a time of the flowering of that consciousness – Green consciousness coming on line at a larger scale. It was on a large enough scale, a critical mass, that when people really woke up to see the world in a different way, it spread. That has happened before. It happened in the Enlightenment, the Age of Reason, the Industrial Era – the flowering of Orange consciousness. Before that there was the flowering of Blue consciousness.

I’ve asked myself, “How did this revolution in thinking and consciousness happen?” I think the answer is that there is a small group of people who start talking and writing, publishing, making art and songs and finding each other through whatever modes of communication they have. They grow in numbers and share space and time. They spend time together hashing it out. They have debates, arguments and experiments and do personal growth work, as well. They develop the skills and capacities of that stage.

I had a flash of insight at a Bay Area Integral event at which Carter Phipps talked about his book, Evolutionaries. It was a year before the book came out. He was talking about the flowering of Blue consciousness. It suddenly struck me what he was saying and thought, “Oh my gosh! Orange, then Green. Now we are on the brink of the flowering of Teal consciousness.”

Then I thought, “Well what needs to happen? People need to be in the same place. They need to be talking. They need to be writing, singing, dancing, making art.” I realized suddenly that where I am located, here in the Bay Area (I would even argue Oakland to a greater extent than anywhere else in the Bay Area) over the last decades or so, there has become a critical mass of Green consciousness on the planet. I realized “Oh my gosh, I’m living in the epicenter of Green.”

And further, this change maker community that I’ve become a part of is holding very high Green, exit-Green consciousness. I realized that there was an opportunity to bring the integral community and this Green/Green change maker community together into relationship. I think there is so much potential in this for both sides, because there are all of these world-conscious people doing work on all of these causes but they are not seeing how the dots connect. I think the integral framework can help people be much more effective in their work. That would accelerate what’s already happening. These people already get it. They have already dedicated their lives to this work. They don’t care about making a lot of money. This is it for them.

Integral holds an aspiration for its second tier that’s going to really help them develop in that direction and be much more effective. On the other hand, the integral community needs Green if it wants to grow in numbers. What I see in the integral community often is the rejection of Green, which is so counterproductive. Green is the hope. That’s where there are enough people who are close enough to move into second tier.

Russ: If you remove Green from the path, all you do is create a precipice for all that you are doing.

Lisa: Exactly! I see Green as the integral movement’s greatest hope. This is going to help the integral community understand Green and work with Green in a healthier way.

I also see that there are so many integralists who are doing amazing things, truly extraordinary work. But they are struggling to do it in a way that sustains them; they are struggling to monetize it. What they will get out of this relationship is to gain access to entrepreneurship support and a network of entrepreneurs, investors and mentors who can help them take their brilliant work and really bring it to the world effectively.

Russ: You are talking about the HUB again?

Lisa: Yes. I’m talking about the HUB. The HUB community of Green and exit-Green change makers – and Orange as well, that entrepreneurship side of it coming into community and relationship with the integral community – there is such a rich potential of exchange in these relationships.

Russ: Compare what’s been going on in the integral movement with the same kind of experience that people have who go into the helping professions. We go into helping professions, whether it’s the therapeutic, consulting or whatever it happens to be, because we love doing the work. We love working with people. We love working with systems to bring about change. We learn so much about ourselves as we do this. But what we often don’t bring with us is any meaningful comprehension of the Orange aspect of being an entrepreneur, of opening one’s own professional practice, of building a practice. Marketing is required. As a consequence, we struggle. We struggle while working with a passionate commitment to doing what we love. And we are caught by surprise when the world hasn’t opened its arms and given us all the rewards that we think we earn.

Lisa: Absolutely! I have been there, too. I struggled in the same way. I had a consulting firm for two years with two integralists as my partners. We came together to form an integral team. One partner, David Butlein, has a PhD in psychology and my other partner, Jared Lovejoy, has an honorary PhD in “cultural engineering,” or cultural cool making. He was a guerrilla marketer and worked in art, music and media for many years. We came together as an integral team to do consulting work on innovation for sustainability. We did some great work. We worked with some great clients, but we struggled to run the business. We ended up disbanding after two years, because we just didn’t know enough about how to keep the pipeline full and how to run a business. We couldn’t bring that online fast enough.

It was around the time that our firm was unraveling that I became a HUB member and took some entrepreneurship education courses. In the final months of the firm I saw how much we had done wrong, how much we could have done differently. But it was too late to change things at that point.

Russ: This raises a really important question. At the HUB that you are creating in Oakland, clearly you are creating a space for all the functions that you’ve talked about earlier. Is it going to include attention to the business functions, all of the practical boundaries, nitty-gritty Orange stuff that integralists probably for the most part would prefer to ignore or have others attend to?

Lisa: As a HUB our main job is to convene all of these organizations, leaders and mentors. It’s a mixture of all of the things you named plus investors and retired business executive mentors – people and institutions – entrepreneurs, universities, professors, students, local government, state government, and Federal government. It is going to require all of these people in dialogue, because they are all holding different parts of the system. I’ve done some work at this level where you bring together all of these different stakeholders who have their hands on different parts of the system. It’s really going to take all of those people in a room to understand each other’s perspective to see the system through each other’s eyes. Then what happens is that together we can create new systems that are going to work. We are bringing those hardcore Orange folks into the room with the visionary integralists, the Green folks with the vision, heart, dedication and passion. That’s where the gold is.

Russ: Could you give an example of what that might look like so that we can get a grounded feel for where you are headed?

Lisa: I did a project with Coca Cola. They wanted to develop a new recycling system in the US that would get 70% recycling of raw materials. So what we did is convene a group of people who touched on all aspects of that system: local government, municipalities, companies that hauled the trash away, producers of packaging who make bottles, cans and boxes, advocate groups, activists who were trying to get bottle bills passed and reduce pollution. We put all of these people at the table and facilitated a process with them where they could really see the system from each other’s perspectives. We did a session on multiple perspective taking. Then we sat and looked at the system together. We devised a way that this goal could be achieved, using all of the players and all of the pieces of the system that we knew about. That work hasn’t been implemented in the world, yet, but the process was really transformational for the people in the room, the decision makers.

I envision that this could be done here in Oakland. I’m sitting here looking at the City Hall across the plaza. I’m also looking at homeless people and drug dealers on this corner. It’s actually a crime hotspot for the whole city. I envision doing work here in Oakland that brings together the government, the police department, the activists, the kids.

The new thing these days is hack-a-thons. A group of people comes together to understand a problem and hack a solution or some solutions that could be tried. I see our job as a HUB to convene those conversations, to be sure that the stakeholders are all in the room and to facilitate them in a process using the integral model, using an integral change model, that will give rise to more effective action in the end. Is that helpful?

Russ: That’s very helpful. I know you’ve had a history of involvement with the Bay Area Integral group with Terry Patten and others. How would you describe your experience or your relationship with that group, as significant for what you are doing with the HUB?

Lisa: I need to go back to an earlier part of my story. As I read that Ken Wilber book during a cold Swedish winter, I immediately got online. I started Googling Wilber. I wanted to connect with other people who knew something about this. I wanted to work with them. I was lucky, because a few months later in September in 2006 there was an integral sustainability workshop in Boulder. I went there and met 50 people just like me. The workshop was brilliant; it was completely transformational for myself and other friends that I made there. I ended up collaborating almost exclusively with people that I’d met at that workshop through the next five years.

I met my business partner, David,  there. I also spent time in South Africa working with a business partner, Anna Cowan, who I met at this workshop. Together we really pushed the limits, tested the theory and application.

Working with other integralists, being a part of an integral community, has been a really strong drive for me. There is loneliness in second tier when you don’t have people who get you or you feel like you are the only one who’s not fitting in, not seeing the world the same way as everybody else. There was a hunger in me to surround myself with this community. So it actually began with a somewhat selfish motivation, because I really just wanted the company of other likeminded people.

Once a year I would go to one of these big integral gatherings. In 2006 I went to the Integral Sustainability seminar led by Barrett Brown. In 2007 I went to the Integral Education seminar led by Stephan and Miriam Martineau. In 2008 I went to the Integral International Development meeting. I would just drop in on these conferences and meet more people. I’d met Terry Patten in 2007 at I-Ed and then I went in South Africa and worked with Anna. When I got back I went to the Integral Theory Conference in 2008 and bumped into Terry again there. He and Jordan Luftig were starting up Bay Area Integral (BAI). I went to one of the early events and there were just eight people. I told Terry afterwards that I wanted to volunteer my energy, to grow this organization, grow this community.

He said, “Sure!” So I stepped in and became the main volunteer. We produced tons of events and our team grew over time. We adopted Holacracy a few years ago and we’ve got quite a large team of volunteers now. The organization is really functioning in a self-sustaining way.

A little over a year ago, I stepped out of leadership at BAI. I was the managing director and the lead link for about four years. Now we’ve got over 1,000 people on our mailing list and we can get 200 people at an event. And there are several other spin off communities, events and groups that have sprung up. What has evolved is really an ecosystem of integral groups. This is amazing to see and feel and be a part of.

Russ: You are leading an extraordinary life that is about making something positive happen in the world. I wonder if there is anything I haven’t asked you that you wish I had?

Lisa: I would like to talk a little bit about two of my cofounders and an investor in the Hub project. I want to show more of the team, because I’m not the only one holding an integral perspective. One of my partners is Edward West, who’s been in the integral community longer than I have, and is an entrepreneur who teaches in the Presidio MBA program. Konda Mason is my co-director and CEO. I’m the COO and CFO. I really want to share the story of our meeting.

When we first met I had been working on an idea for a co-working space for integralists. I had been a HUB member and I saw this need for integralists to work together, so I started working on a business plan in the entrepreneurship course I was taking. I had found a space downtown, and had talked with Dori Koll who became HUB Oakland’s first investor. But that was maybe a year before HUB Oakland was even a name. When I first met Konda she was working with the HUB network. In our first meeting together she told me about all of the meetings with the HUB folks. They were excited and “green lighting” the team. She went on for an hour telling me all about these meetings they’d had, everything that was being said and decided. Then she said, “Okay, so tell me about your project, what are you working on?”

I felt like they had a lot of backing where I’d been working on my own. I said, “Well you guys have done a lot and that’s amazing. I’ve done this and this and this, but I think in order to really explain my vision I first have to say something about integral theory.” As the words left my mouth I was just wishing I could reel them back in, because that can get into a long conversation that completely derails you from what it is that you really want to talk about. So I checked myself and ended by asking, “Have you heard of Ken Wilber?”

Konda’s jaw dropped and her eyes opened wide and she pointed to herself and she said, “I’m an integral evolutionary”. Then my jaw dropped and I said, “You are what? I mean how come we haven’t met? Like I’ve been running BAI and you are here and you don’t know about us?” Then she said, “Well actually I did meet Terry Patten years ago. I just never got involved in BAI. My brother gave me a copy of Spectrum of Consciousness when I was 16 years old. He talked about integral theory all the time. He read every word that Ken Wilber ever wrote. When he died, the only thing I wanted from his estate was his complete works of Ken Wilber.” When she said this to me we were both crying and she said, “You know I’ve been waiting all my life to figure out how to bring this into my work. I can’t believe that that’s what you are here talking about.” On the spot she asked me to be the co-director of HUB Oakland with her. That was synchronicity number one. She was completely bought in and excited about the integral vision for this HUB.

Russ: It’s an awesome story.

Lisa: There’s more! Our first investor is an integral evolutionary, Dori Koll. I’d talked to her maybe the year prior about the co-working space for integralists. When this whole came about, Edward reconnected her with the team. She was thrilled and delighted and has been such an amazing part of our team. So there are four of us holding space for an integrally-informed HUB and the others are really excited about it too.

We are creating a HUB that has everything that’s in the prior model of HUBs. We are adding programming around the whole-person development and leadership development. We’ll also have a space for meditation and yoga so that people can integrate practice into their daily lives.

HUB Oakland has three parts. It’s a co-working space, a community, and its also programming and education that helps people accelerate their ideas and their work. The programming is where there is a lot of opportunity. I want to plug in the integral community so that they can bring all of the brilliant programs and trainings and developmental work into this community. It’s something that we team up and partner on, rather than try to create ourselves.. HUB’s main theme is entrepreneurship, social entrepreneurship. To that we are adding a really strong personal development track and developmental practice.

Then the third track is around social change. There is going to be a boot camp for change agents, using the integral framework and  the ABCS of social change in the actual work and projects of the entrepreneurs and activists. I want to bring in universities such as UC Berkeley and Stanford, where there are programs studying social change. We want to bring those researchers in, as well, to help us study the impact of what we are doing. We can all learn from that and can iterate into better and better change models. That’s the longer term vision of how we are going to work with integral at this HUB.

Russ: If anybody wants to contact you or the HUB to find out more, how would they go about that?

Lisa: My email is lisa@huboakland.net.

I want to make a call to the integral community that we need each other to do this. We need the best minds and the best thinking and the best of our community to really bring this to bear. I know it’s beyond me and it’s beyond my team. It’s really going to take our community to bring our best practices to this effort. We have to get it right, because if we trigger the typical Green allergic reaction to levels, for instance, we are done for. We need to be really skillful in this, in our communication about integral.

Russ: I’ve really enjoyed this opportunity to talk with you. It is exciting to hear about the work you are doing and if there is anything we can do at Integral Leadership Review that would be helpful, please don’t hesitate to call on us.

Lisa: Thank you so much, Russ. This has been such a pleasure. I’m so glad that we’ve finally connected and I look forward to much more collaboration.


Lisa reports: HUB Oakland has now been open for a little over one month, and there hasn’t been a dull moment! We are located across the plaza from City Hall so we are literally on the front lines of all kinds of demonstrations and protests, in a town that loves to protest. On our first day we opened our doors to a major transit strike that shut down the Bay Area, and we were able to pivot into hosting a community conversation about the strike and broader social issues. At the end of our first the month the George Zimmerman verdict came out, the day after the movie Fruitvale Station opened – a true story based in Oakland. Thousands of people took to the streets in grief and outrage, and we responded with a healing session with Joanna Macy’s “Work that Reconnects” in memory of Trayvon Martin and Oscar Grant.

In between these bookends, we grew our membership to almost 100 people, and hosted dozens of awesome events. We’ve learned that people really want to connect and meet each other more than anything else (yes, even more than free coffee and wifi), so we have focused on creating opportunities that provide intimacy and are culturally relevant as a way of creating space for community. We’re just getting our programming tracks off the ground – Learn (entrepreneurship skills), Grow (personal and leadership development), Innovate (social change), and Connect (networking and social events) – and this will be another way of both connecting and bringing people in. Check us out online at huboakland.net, and please stop by when you’re in the area!







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