Notes from the Field

Notes from the Field / January 2010

The Renaissance2: Great Shift Gathering And
A Political Op-Ed Piece Too Good Not to Publish (with apologies to Terry for not asking permission—Russ)
by Terry Patten

terry pattenOn October 22th to 26th, 2009 over 70 participants from 20 countries and 4 continents gathered for the Renaissance2 “Great Shift Gathering: Catalyzing the Second Renaissance” at Chateau La Tour Apollinaire in Perpignan, France.

Renaissance2’s intention is to catalyze a meshwork, a “network of cooperative networks”. At this inaugural meeting, the Worldshift Alliance was forged, founded, and announced. The Worldshift Alliance is an unprecedented co-operative venture involving Robin Wood’s Renaissance2, Ervin Laszlo and David Woolfson’s Club of Budapest, Barbara Marx Hubbard’s Foundation for Conscious Evolution, Don Beck’s Center for Human Emergence, Andrew Cohen’s EnlightenNext Global Network of Evolutionaries, as well as the Institute of Noetic Sciences and The State of the World Forum. The formal EU NGO papers will be filed in Brussels in February 2010.

Renaissance2 was founded by Dr. Robin Wood after his successful UK-based consulting career spanning several decades. During that time, he facilitated integral change at top levels of large corporations and public organizations through a major consultancy he co-founded and later sold.

Featured speakers at R2 included Barbara Marx Hubbard, Don Beck, Andrew Cohen, and, by teleconference, Neale Donald Walsh, and Marilyn Schlitz. Also present and playing prominent roles at the conference were Marilyn Hamilton, Brian Robertson, Eric Allodi, Fiona Hayes, Robin Wood, Graham Boyd, and David Woolfson. I (Terry Patten) had the honor to serve as master of ceremonies.

Renaissance2 distinguishes itself by:

  • Bringing together “people of action”—CEOs, investors, entrepreneurs and highly-skilled consultants—with “idea people.”
  • Focusing on incubating a series of practical projects with valid business models in the areas of “Renewable Energy”, “Enlightened Enterprise”, “Integral Governance”, and “Resilient Environments” expressing over the over-arching themes of “Conscious Evolution” and “Wise Culture.”
  • Considering our evolutionary emergency, as sobering as it is, to be also an enormous series of interlinked business opportunities, and bringing best business practices to bear to manifest new, high-efficiency solutions.
  • Working both “top down” (from the elite that gathered in Perpignan to the general population of the world) and “bottom up” (helping catalyze and cooperate with worldwide grassroots movements, involving “every-body-all-at-once” as my root teacher, Adi Da, wrote in his book Not-Two Is Peace).

According to Robin Wood, “’Building’ is important here: mere good intentions won’t cut it. We need to operationalize these intentions, getting our hands dirty on projects on the ground, risk our heart being trodden upon, team up, support and share resources through web 3.0 applications and otherwise, enjoy the process and thus role model what we’re doing.”

He draws parallels between our moment and the Florentine Renaissance. There a mere 500-1000 people catalyzed forces for change, ushering in the Enlightenment. This period gave birth to the industrial revolution and modernity itself. Modernity has brought high speed to human development in countless positive ways. Guided by further evolution in consciousness, these shifts may bring unprecedented prosperity, progress and human happiness. If not wisely stewarded, however, modernity’s power creates new dangers, and may yet engender social collapse on an evolutionary scale. Robin Wood elaborates the principles underlying Renaissance2 in his book, The Great Shift: Catalyzing the Second Renaissance.

As Barbara Marx Hubbard has so resonantly said, the transition to conscious evolution is a “phase shift.” “Our crisis is a birth.” In a whole series of conversations at Renaissance2, I encountered a refreshing combination of transcendent evolutionary inspiration and grounded focus on practical business models.

The key principles I enumerated above were very present during the gathering. And although there were certainly a range of vMemes interacting, the emphasis on creating tangible projects with business models remains a deep consideration of all involved. I still have real hopes for what Renaissance2 can spawn in the weeks, months and years ahead.

During the first three days, “Designing a Resilient Civilization,” we focused on launching over 40 initiatives and exchanging information on viable projects in the areas of Renewable Energy, Resilient Environments, Enlightened Enterprise, Integral Governance, as well as Conscious Evolution, Wise Culture and Human Wellbeing. We used a combination of techniques from Open Space technology, Appreciative Inquiry, Holacracy, Presencing, and Integral Life Practice.

During the final two days, “Conscious Evolution,” I facilitated a lively dialogue among Barbara Marx Hubbard, Andrew Cohen, Don Beck, Robin Wood, Neale Donald Walsch, and Marilyn Schlitz at the edge of the evolution of spirituality, global culture, science and technology. We also launched the WorldShift Alliance, using video conferencing technology to connect with people on the other side of the globe.

There were many standing ovations from participants and the entire event was filmed by Positive TV (you can view their 10-minute video report) and especially well-photographed (in my unbiased opinion) by my wife, Deborah Boyar, which you can view here.

The 5 Ms

Robin Wood, who founded Renaissance2, uses the following “5M” Framework to explain what Renaissance2 is all about:

1. Movement
Our shared purpose is to catalyze a second renaissance through accelerating social and technological innovation. We do this by applying worldcentric maps, deep yet accelerated methods, transformative business models and thriving meshworks embodied in the brilliant minds and hearts of our members.

2. Maps & Mindsets
We work with leading edge maps and mindsets to navigate the 21st century and co-create a future equal to our highest potential as we meet the challenges we face in the next decade to create a resilient civilization.

3. Methods
Once we have located ourselves and others with similar interests, values and goals on the maps, we become able to offer our gifts into the whole and begin collaborating effectively to make the shifts that are required of us personally, organizationally and socially to successfully navigate this difficult transition.

4. Meshworks
In order to catalyze the shifts required in our systems at all levels to ensure a thriving human civilization in the 21st century, we need to connect up the dots represented by the different projects and programs in specific locations around the world. A meshwork integrates hierarchies and self-organizing webs of relationships uniting information, people and resources for more effective actions and outcomes.

5. Transformative Business Models
In a traditional business model, a business is designed to serve a specific set of customers for the profit of its shareholders. The transformative business model catalyzed by Renaissance2 and its partners in the WorldShift Alliance fills the gap in the traditional business model, which largely ignores an enterprise’s impact on our environment, communities and society. We accomplish this by focusing on social innovation, which includes not just profits but also people, planet, purpose and principles.

On the ground, what stood out was the vision, intelligence, commitment, and creativity of the people who gathered together. Countless remarkable conversations advanced the leading edge of culture. And a higher level of dialogue often emerged, one powered by what Andrew Cohen calls “the evolutionary impulse” but also focused on manifesting practical, profitable well-executed solutions. A catalytic visionary synthesis bubbled through the gathering, and something began to surface. Perhaps it was what Barbara Marx Hubbard calls “the convergence of the emergent.”

The success of the Great Shift Gathering leads on to…

Renaissance2 in 2010

The R2 Worldshift Leadership Circle: May 27-29 Executives and leaders from around the world will assemble for an intensive three days in which they will grapple with our key issues and challenges, focusing on developing rapid solutions through meshworked organizations.

R2 Great Shift Gathering 2010:
 October 22-26 In the second annual Great Shift Gathering, committed Evolutionaries will join together to enhance the synergies among those committed to co-creating a renewable and thriving global civilization.

If you’re interested to get involved with Renaissance2, apply to join on the main web site. There is also a social network which you can join—see this web page to connect.
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Breaking News: A News Flash We Can’t Ignore

January 23, 2010

Yesterday’s political news couldn’t have been more important. The U.S. Supreme Court, in a dramatic departure from established law, struck down regulations limiting corporate spending on political advertising, including much of the McCain-Feingold Campaign Finance Reform Act.

This ruling is of enormous significance to Integralists and Evolutionaries, because it is about a meta-systemic realignment of the very political mechanisms through which citizens’ choices can shape public decisions.

An Integral Analysis of Money Politics & Media

Americans live in a virtual sea of advertising and public relations messages that are structured (scientifically reverse-engineered, in fact) to influence us outside our conscious awareness. Subliminally, these communications have enormous influence over our buying decisions, attitudes, and votes, even though we think we’re aware of them and are disregarding their influence. This applies equally to commercial and political messages. They influence people up and down the evolutionary scale, but are particularly compelling at earlier levels of development. And ads cost money.

Through the interconnections between media saturation (we live in a virtual, mediated world most of our waking hours) and scientific advertising and PR, along with political donations, lobbying, and spin, guided by political polling, Nielsen ratings, and market research, the ultimate power in the United states tends to be an intertwined meta-marketplace. Some players are certainly more skillful than others, but what dominates is market dynamics. The marketplace for the attention of consumers, voters and contributors merges with the marketplace for goods and services and the marketplaces for money, power, and political influence.

An Integral Analysis— Beyond Paranoia to Sobriety

This fused meta-marketplace operates to facilitate marketplace success and economic expansion. Let’s not fall into left-wing-style condemnation of greedy malicious corporate villainy—many corporate leaders are quite enlightened. And let’s not overgeneralize. we’re talking about powerful tendencies rather than absolute correspondences. But the incentives of the system still operate in a way that’s opaque to non-economic values. Our financial economy tends to be a “machine of more.” We now manufacture not only goods and services, but also the demand for them. Consumers can be readily influenced to buy products and services they don’t want or need.

Voters can be influenced too, even to misplaced loyalties and hatred even of those who most closely represent their interests. Because of the effectiveness of media manipulation, the popular will can, to a significant degree, be bought and sold. People try to reason for themselves; we are not blind automatons. But the power of well-funded advertising and PR efforts (even when they are dishonest and destructive) is now much stronger & more insidious than is generally understood. It determines the results of most elections. We shrug it off and minimize it at our peril.

We’re all party to a pattern bigger than any player. As I wrote in 2004 in The Terrible Truth and the Wonderful Secret: Answering the Call of Our Evolutionary Emergency:

…the all-consuming marketplace tends to function as a positive feedback loop fueling uncontrolled consumption and economic expansion. Companies must maximize profits to succeed. Successful companies must advertise, whetting consumer appetites in order to increase sales and profits. To succeed, television, radio, online and other media, advertising, and public relations must compete for our attention. In the process programming must become ever more hypnotic, compelling, addictive, and persuasive. Media-saturated citizens will believe they are making free choices, even when their consumption and voting choices are being programmed subconsciously….Profitable companies, their executives, and well-to-do investors all understand the wisdom of contributing money to parties and candidates who are sympathetic to their interests. Politicians must raise money if they want to get elected, re-elected, and wield influence. It seems as though no one has any real choice in these matters; everyone is simply fulfilling the inherited obligations of his or her role.

Many Integral Evolutionaries have been working to bring more intelligence to public affairs through cultural education and persuasion. But yesterday’s ruling tilts the game board in a way that further exaggerates the influence of money politics and corporate special interests, even further stacking the deck against principled political activism.

Without demonizing corporations, we can see that in aggregate they exercise their political influence on behalf of their economic advantages and interests, which are often (although not always) different from the best interests of the country as a whole, and too often unprincipled. It’s not the job or the nature of corporations to lead us to an optimal political future. But yesterday’s ruling hands them outsized political power.

Even with the surge of citizen involvement he catalyzed in 2008, it is doubtful that Barack Obama could have been elected president under the campaign finance rules handed down yesterday.

It was a sweeping ruling, going far beyond the case at hand (and even the plaintiffs’ arguments) to strike down campaign finance restrictions that have been in effect since 1909. In his dissent, Justice John Paul Stevens wrote, “The Court operates with a sledgehammer rather than a scalpel when it strikes down one of Congress’ most significant efforts to regulate the role that corporations and unions play in electoral politics. It compounds the offense by implicitly striking down a great many state laws as well.” (Speaking of judicial activism!)

Stevens began his dissent with a chilling one-line summary: “The Court’s ruling threatens to undermine the integrity of elected institutions across the Nation.” And President Obama summed it up pretty well: “With its ruling yesterday, the Supreme Court has given a green light to a new stampede of special interest money in our politics.” A New York Times editorial said it “strikes at the heart of democracy.” Florida Representative Alan Grayson probably said it most dramatically: “The Supreme Court in essence has ruled that corporations can buy elections.”

Don’t forget, this comes at a moment when huge transitions in the newspaper industry are also threatening the financial underpinnings of the serious journalism that is vital to an informed electorate.

Like most other Integralists, I admire President Obama tremendously. Even so, I’ve been unenthusiastic about the compromised process that has produced most major legislation this year, especially the health care reform bills (which reform only certain aspects of a dysfunctional disease-care system, deferring more fundamental reform into the future). I mobilized to elect him, but it’s been hard for me to get excited about his recent agenda. So, like many others, I’ve become less outwardly engaged in politics. But yesterday’s news calls all passivity into question.

An Evolutionary Civic Duty

The issue raised by this ruling is unambiguous, fundamental, and impossible to overlook. It compromises the ability of our society to make important choices intelligently. Democratic rule has serious problems, but the problems of a corporate plutocracy are of a whole different—and frightening—order.

This is a blow to what’s left of our system’s very ability to correct course and purify itself of corruption.

May this ruling prove to be the “swing to excess” that produces a backlash. May it mobilize a broad coalition of patriotic citizens who can’t bear to see American government being effectively for sale via a marketplace controlled by moneyed special interests.

This may be a meta-systemic issue that large numbers of people can understand. If so, it may harness people’s widespread anger over our broken system and motivate a movement more righteous and benign than that of the recent tea-parties.

Conscious, responsible citizens will need to respond forcefully and effectively to this disturbing development. That includes President Obama, the fragmented and disappointing Democratic Party, you, and me.

About the Author

Terry Patten is an Integral coach, teacher, trainer, consultant, and writer. He is committed to serving the emergence of Integral consciousness—by writing and educating, and by helping conscious individuals and organizations negotiate extraordinary transitions. He is a co-author of Integral Life Practice and has been a major contributor to integral conferences and events.

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