Building a Village Community

Notes from the Field / March 2013

Ian McDonald

Ian McDonald

Ian McDonald

Nearly a year ago, one of the online Integral forums put out a request for case studies covering organisations where Spiral Dynamics Integral or the Integral lens had made a measurable difference to a project outcome. No sector or geographical boundaries.  It became very clear to me, in reading the subsequent threads, that two of the most powerful sets of lenses have remained as intellectual toys – admired by thousands, played with by many but only used by a few.

The Internet has provided us with two great gifts; information and connectivity. There are a plethora of web sites offering content concerning all aspects of the Integral model, from Integral art to Integral politics, from discussions on gender to meditative practice. The challenge remains. Where are the projects, contracts, local authorities, national governments, housing associations and armed units that are known and recognised to be using these lenses to navigate them? It is over fifteen years since the publication of Beck and Cowan’s seminal work, Spiral Dynamics, and thirteen years since Ken Wilber published Integral Psychology and the first phase of the Integral Institute was established.  We have the examples of Don’s work in South Africa, Elza Maalouf’s great work in the Middle East, and other projects in Iceland and Mexico, but thousands of people have read the books, done the courses and fill forums.

My perception of the challenge has been that we have concentrated almost totally on the top quadrants of the Integral model. The energy and application have been centred on how this shows up in our personal thinking and in our personal development practice. We have seen the integral light and we have proselytized to others, but we have failed to engage in constructing the supporting frameworks in the lower quadrants to make a difference in our life conditions.  We have attended multiple on-line conversations, each of us holding some small part of a greater puzzle, but there has been no table to assemble the parts on. We have failed to use the knowledge in application and to construct our own habitat from which we can interact to make a difference, however small or large our personal  sphere of influence.

The Integral Village is an attempt to correct the omission and to fill the need of a lower quadrant cooperative, self organising, flexing structure that will support practical interaction.  We are building a community where individuals can find like minds, either by geography or sector, and then create a collaborative workspace to run projects and support each other. The initiative seeks to add the missing connectivity and sense of agency to the wealth of content that already abounds. The community connects Villagers with regular video conferencing calls where participants can see each other and screen-share to assemble parts of a puzzle. This is not another Integral site with Mother Bird feeding the young. This is a place for exploration and prototyping around what might be possible if we build from the ground up using the Integral and SDi lenses.

The next time somebody asks the question about Integral and SDi case studies, I want there to be hundreds to choose from in a wide range of sectors and locations. The Integral Village is a step towards bringing agency to the Integral community. We want the toys to become tools that work, not just wonderful distractions that entrance.

About the Author

Ian McDonald is an experienced engineer who spent many years working in the offshore industry. The last fifteen years have been devoted to exploring the boundaries of the human mind. Ian has run training sessions for Integral, SDi and Spiritual Intelligence. He is the founder of the Integral Life Centre in the UK. He is currently developing The Integral Village community, the UK Centre for Human Emergence, and  SQ21 coaches training in Europe for Cindy Wigglesworth. Ian lives with his wife Christine in a rural location in North Wales.
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