Saturday, January 3, 2015

Pre-Course Briefing for Roanoke's U.Lab Hub

group epignosis (an urban ecolab) is hosting a satellite classroom (a "hub") at Roanoke's main library for six weeks beginning January 6th in support of local learners participating in MITx's upcoming U.Lab: Transforming Business, Society and Self. The "massive open online course" (MOOC) presented by senior lecturer Otto Scharmer will afford participants an opportunity to "(l)earn how to create profound innovation in a time of disruptive change by leading from the emerging future" (edX).

U.Lab Hubs Trailer (Yukelson)

Beginning at 6:30 pm on Tuesday evening January 6th, and over the next six weeks, Roanoke's U.Lab Hub (the R-U-Hub) will meet at the main library in support of local learners enrolled through edX in this free, online course. Prototyping "a new 21st-century university model", the class will offer a cutting-edge "real-world learning environment, with the goal of sparking a global web of interconnected hubs, inspiring initiatives, and grounding learning locally in places where societal challenges are manifest" [emphasis added] (Presencing Institute).

What's the Purpose of a Hub?

Roanoke's U.Lab Hub
In order to create a "shared place" for change makers "to connect, co-sense and co-create the U.Lab extends an invitation "to create such a place" with "a few other friends and colleagues" and subsequently use "the MOOC infrastructure to connect and co-inspire ideas with others". In this way then, hub members are entrusted with an opportunity to "collectively prototype a new platform or leadership school that helps change makers across generations to connect with each other, with the situation we face, and with our own sources of inspiration, in order to build a movement of awareness based change across systems, sectors, and cultures" (Yukelson, Hubs Overview).

Likewise then, this "interactive and experimental course" itself, "is about leading profound innovation in order to pioneer a more sustainable economy and society. It focuses on the intertwined relationship of the following three questions":

  1. "Transformation of Capitalism: How can capitalism and society evolve from their current forms to emerging future forms that create well-being for all (society 4.0)?
  2. Multi-stakeholder innovation: What kind of leadership is required to create profound innovation at the scale of a whole eco-system of stakeholders and partners?
  3. Presencing: How can people access their authentic self -- their highest future possibility -- and "act from" that heightened state of awareness?" (Yukelson, Syllabus).

How Will the Hub Work?

Roanoke's U.Lab Hub
Because organization of Roanoke's Hub has been relatively informal to this point, yet due to the fact that beginning the second week of the U.Lab, we'll be forming "coaching circles" comprised of five people, it's important to note the two different shapes these circles are likely to assume:

  1. Circle of Friends: comprised either solely of R-U-hub members or as a mix of hub and U.Lab course members, this group's focus (or orientation) over the six-weeks, is likely to be less highly or clearly defined than circles functioning with an express purpose.
  2. Innovation Hub: comprised solely of R-U-hub members wishing "to change the system" in which they live and/or work (e.g. Roanoke as a community), these circles are likely to "use the entire U.Lab as a six-week innovation period to co-create or accelerate a new initiative" [emphasis added] (Yukelson, Hubs Overview). 


Adam Yukelson, the U.Lab's co-facilitator, has distributed a recently updated course syllabus announcing an enrollment of "18,000 people (with more joining each day) from 186 countries"  (Yukelson, Syllabus). Consequently, and if you'd like to be a part of this phenomenal learning experience as a member of Roanoke's U.Lab Hub, wish to contact us for additional information via email, or receive R-U-hub's updates, we invite you to use the online contact form at the bottom of the event page on the group epignosis website. You'll also find a section on that same page written to complement this blog entitled, "Pre-Course Briefing and (Final) Check List" to help make sure you're prepared for the course and off to the best possible start.

We'll be looking forward to seeing you at the "hub" . . .


edX. U.Lab: Transforming Business, Society, and Self. edX. 2014, n. pag., Web. 30 Dec. 2014.

Presencing Institute. U.Lab: Announcing - Live Sessions and Global Hubs. Presencing Institute. 31 Dec. 2014, n. pag., Web 31 Dec. 2014.

Yukelson, Adam (2014): "U.Lab Hubs Trailer." Online video clip. YouTube, 31 Dec. 2014. Web 31 Dec. 2014.
---. "Hubs Overview.pdf." Documentation to author. 9 Dec. 2014. Dropbox. 31 Dec. 2014.
---. "U.Lab Syllabus 12.28.pdf." Documentation to author. 28 Dec. 2014. Dropbox. 3 Jan. 2015.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Group Epignosis Launches New Blog!

Group Epignosis Launches New Blog!
Group Epignosis of Roanoke, Virginia announced its launch earlier today of a new blog it's calling, Integral City 2.0 - Roanoke.  "To say we're excited in taking this 'next step' of exploring the creative potentials inspired by Marilyn Hamilton at Integral City this Fall through, "The City 2.0 Online Conference" is something of an understatement" said group director, Brian McConnell.

"The Integral City 2.0 Online Conference gathered 60 visionary thought leaders, designers and practitioners, with 600 participants from 6 continents, to inquire into how to design a new operating system for the city. The 12-day Conference allowed exploration of each of the 12 intelligences from the book, Integral City: Evolutionary Intelligences for the Human Hive, and their contributions to city vitality." from "Radically Optimistic Solstice Exec Summary from Integral City 2.0 Online Conference"

Hamilton: Integral city - city boundaries related to consciousness from FreedomLab on Vimeo.

By integrating social media platforms like YouTube, Wikipedia, Vimeo and Slideshare together on Blogger, the Integral City framework readily translates as a multimedia context through which emergent (integral) thought and theory can be shared with a global audience across multiple disciplines including leadership, education, governance, and economics.  This in turn, initiates a laboratory setting for collaborative, transdisciplinary practice and methodologies in which city practitioners can communicate with each other through, or across, an integral 'meshwork' to further discuss, test, and harvest their respective visions.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Transforming the City 2.0 - An Idea Worth Spreading

TED Wish Revealed - The City 2.0
A recently published, "Project Epignosis - Transforming the City 2.0" asserts that creating integral economic laboratories at the local level would afford a means for transforming impoverished urban settings into more vibrant ecosystems (McConnell, 1).  Submitted as 'an idea worth spreading' in response to a challenge by this year's TED Prize winner -- The City 2.0; Group Epignosis has joined others from around the world championing ideas of their own in hopes of winning one of ten, $10,000 micro grants from TED's 2012 award.

Welcome to the Anthropocene from Group Epignosis on Vimeo.

The 'Problem'

"For too long the debilitating effects of material poverty have been divorced from the spiritual causes of poverty that begin with what we value, with the way we think, and with the resulting economic systems and practices.  In this book, we have revealed that the greatest poverty is that of our economic thought, encapsulated today in 'Western' neo-liberal economics."  from "Chapter 22 - Co-creating the Future" of Lessem and Schieffer's, Integral Economics (2)

Where conventional science typically relegates itself to measuring 'exterior' quantities utilizing sophisticated mathematical methods, such approaches generally produce findings excluding dimensions of experience representing 'interior' qualities of 'value', 'meaning', 'morality' or 'happiness'.  Consequently, but contesting the inequities engendered by a centralized monetary system exacting interest bearing debt from the world's masses, many associated with the occupy movement and anti-austerity protests have indicted neo-liberal economics for recklessly undermining the cultural, ecological, and economic health of global populations.

Bernard Lietaer on TED Berlin from Group Epignosis on Vimeo.

By contrast though, the 'White Paper on Initiating an Integral Economic Laboratory' points to a recurring flaw in both the design and function of infrastructures which results when efficiency in imbalance to resilience, threatens to disrupt an ecosystem's vibrancy.  Comparable findings however, emanating from the work of both Geoffrey West, who's identified an "inexorable trend toward urbanization worldwide" (3), and Bernard Lietaer's scientific breakthrough rendering "a single metric as an emergent property of (the ecosystem's) structural diversity and interconnectivity" [italics added], constitutes sound reason for reassessing traditional approaches to 'system' design and maintenance (4).

Inspiring Global Transformation: The Integral Economic Laboratory

"These spiritual sciences include the contemplative and meditative traditions of a collective humanity, East and West, North and South, traditions that have been carefully collecting 'interior' spiritual data for at least three thousand years, and traditions that, in deep structure analysis, show a surprising unanimity as to basic architecture of the 'higher' or 'spiritual' stages of human development."  in a section titled, "The Spiritual Domains" from Wilber's, The Marriage of Sense and Soul: Integrating Science and Religion [single italics added for emphasis] (5)

The Four Quadrants of AQAL - "Excerpt G"
In respect to Ken Wilber and integral theory however, presentation of 'the problem' to this point has addressed only the quantifiable dimensions of empirical Science, or the right-hand column of exterior IT and ITS of his AQAL matrix (see figure above).  A United Nations resolution adopted last July acknowledging "that unsustainable patterns of production and consumption can impede sustainable development" however, suggests the merit of fresh perspectives.  Revealing also that the "gross domestic product indicator" (GDP) doesn't adequately reflect the happiness and well-being of people in a country", the motion sends a strong signal concerning the role left-hand 'value spheres' of interior I and WE will play in espousing a more "holistic approach to development" (6).

""Sustainable Development" is the term given to the combination of human well-being, social inclusion, and environmental sustainability.  We can say that the quest for happiness is intimately linked to the quest for sustainable development.

The most basic goal is that by measuring happiness across a society over time, countries can avoid "happiness traps" such as in the U.S. in recent decades, where GNP may rise relentlessly while life satisfaction stagnates or even declines."  from an Introduction to the World Happiness Report

For these same reasons perhaps, the entire field of happiness economics "has grown substantially since the late 20th century" thanks to such visionaries as Jeffrey Sachs, editor of the World Happiness Report and Helena Norberg-Hodge (see her TEDx Talk), producer and co-director of a documentary film, The Economics of Happiness (Wikipedia, 7).  Their respective work is part of a "generation of studies by psychologists, pollsters, sociologists, and others" showing "that happiness, though indeed . . . subjective experience", poses a strong benchmark of "underlying crisis or hidden strengths" (Helliwell et al., 8)

The Economics of Happiness - Official Trailer from Group Epignosis on Vimeo.

Similarly, but in lending his own insight to the cause of global transformation, economist and Senior Research Fellow Christian Arnsperger recently reviewed Lessem and Schieffer's Integral Economics for the Integral Leadership Review in an article entitled, "A New Economics of Cultural Cross-Fertilization".  Consequently, and by further adopting "The Practice of Transformation" enlisting the authors' 'Four-World (GENE) Approach' (see also Chapter 2 of Transformation Management), "Chapter 22: Co-creating the Future" specifies the 'Five Core Success Factors' for releasing economic gene-ius at the local level.

"As you have seen, we have designed this framework in a way in which it links economic theory and practice.  Indeed, through the rhythmical GENE-IUS built into the four economic paths introduced, the 'student of economics', as an academic theorist or as a business, governmental or civic practitioner, is invited to critically engage with the economic context of their society, in both theory and in practice."  from "Chapter 22 - Co-creating the Future" of Lessem and Schieffer's, Integral Economics

The Transformation Management Model  (Chapter 2 - Figure 2.8)

Their text subsequently models four economic paths using Muhammad Yunus', Grameen (Southern path) Ryuzaburo Kaku's, Canon (Eastern path) Father José María Arizmendi's, Mondragon (Northern path) and Ray Anderson's, Interface (see Appendix 1) as real-life examples.  Serving to build "up a generic integral knowledge" then, laboratories function "as community hubs for local economic transformation agents."  Furthermore, but from "this community of researchers and practitioners communities of practice [are] formed, that mutually complement each other and become catalysts for innovation in relation to economic thought and practice on a local basis" [italics added] (9).

The 'More Beautiful' City . . .

Faced with the unprecedented scope of ecological, societal and economic challenge our planet currently faces, Ronnie Lessem and Alexander Schieffer have fashioned a working framework from a foundational conviction that nature and culture are profoundly interrelated.  Consequently, and along these same lines, they've articulated an approach that in recognizing its inherent potential, likewise perceives culture "as a natural extension of nature" (10).

"Our current self/world distinction, and its consequent parsing of all the world into discrete entities, has run the course of its usefulness as the dominant paradigm.  Our individuation, as individuals and as a species separate from nature, is complete; in fact it is over-complete . . . To the extent that the separation is an illusion and that we too are part of nature, that illusion has unleashed a new force of nature that has transformed the planet."  from an "Introduction" to Charles Eisenstein's, The Ascent of Humanity (11)

Sacred Economics with Charles Eisenstein - A Short Film from Ian MacKenzie on Vimeo.

As Charles Eisenstein has articulated so eloquently in his Introduction to Sacred Economics however, "(h)umanity is only beginning to awaken to the true magnitude of the crisis on hand."  Noting too that this "present convergence of crises-in money, energy, education, health, water, soil, climate, politics, the environment, and more-is a birth crisis, expelling us from the old world into a new", he points to the "spiritual dimension" of the heart as the channel by which we're "born into a new normal: a new kind of society, a new relationship to the earth, a new experience of being human."

"I dedicate all of my work to the more beautiful world our hearts tell us is possible.  I say our 'hearts,' because our minds sometimes tell us it is not possible.  Our minds doubt that things will ever be much different from what experience has taught us . . .

I will, using the tools of the mind, speak what is in my heart.  In my heart I know that an economy and society this beautiful are possible for us to create-and indeed that anything less that that is unworthy of us."  from an "Introduction" to Charles Eisenstein's, Sacred Economics (12)

To this, those of us at Group Epignosis add a rousing 'Amen' as we in turn, embrace the emergence of a global network of practitioners like Trevor Malkinson at Beams and Struts who together, aspire to realizing the 'more beautiful world our hearts tell us is possible'.


Works Cited

 1. McConnell, Brian. "White Paper on Initiating an Integral Economic Laboratory: Project Epignosis." (2012):, June 2012. Web. 14 June 2012.
 2. Lessem, Ronnie and Alexander Schieffer. "Chapter 22 - Co-creating the Future." Integral Economics: Releasing the Economic Genius of Your Society. Ashgate Publishing (Farnham, Surrey, England: Gower, 2010). Web. 14 June 2012.
 3. Bettencourt, Luis, Jose Lobo, Dirk Helbing, Christian Kuhnert, and Geoffrey West. "Growth,innovation, scaling, and the pace of life in cities." (2007): Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America (PNAS). April 24, 2007, Vol. 104, no. 17. Web. 14 June. 2012.
 4. Lietaer, Bernard, et al. "Is Our Monetary Structure a Systemic Cause for Financial Instability? -Evidence and Remedies from Nature." (2010): Journal of Futures Studies, Vol. 14, #3, April 2010. Web. 16 June. 2012
 5. Wilber, Ken. The Marriage of Sense and Soul: Integrating Science and Religion. New York: Random House. 1998. Print.
 6. United Nations. General Assembly. Happiness: towards a holistic approach to development. GA/11116 - A/65/PV. 109. July 19, 2011. Web. 16 June. 2012.
 7. Wikipedia contributors. "Happiness economics." Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, May 23, 2012. Web. 18 June. 2012.
 8. Helliwell, John, Richard Layard, and Jeffrey Sachs, ed. World Happiness Report. The Earth Institute, Columbia University. April 2, 2012. Web. 18 June. 2012.
 9.  Lessem Ronnie and Alexander Schieffer. "Chapter 22 - Co-creating the Future." Integral Economics: Releasing the Economic Genius of Your Society. Ashgate Publishing (Farnham, Surrey, England: Gower, 2010). Web. 19 June. 2012.
10. Lessem Ronnie and Alexander Schieffer. "Chapter 2 - The Four Fundamentals of Transformation Management." Transformation Management: Toward the Integral Enterprise. Ashgate Publishing (Farnham, Surrey, England: Gower, 2009). Web. 19 June. 2012.
11. Eisenstein, Charles. "Introduction." The Ascent of Humanity. Panenthea Press (Harrisburg, PA, 2007). Web. 21 June. 2012.
12. Eisenstein, Charles. "Introduction." Sacred Economics: Money, Gift, and Society in the Age of Transition. North Atlantic Books - Evolver Editions. Web. 21 June. 2012.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

A Leaderless Revolution: Occupy Economic Democracy

"But what do they want?"
"I conclude that since capitalist growth cannot be stopped, or even slowed, and since the market-driven growth is driving us toward collapse, ecological economists should abandon the fantasy of a steady-state capitalism and get on with the project figuring out what a post-capitalist economic democracy could look like."  quote from "Beyond growth or beyond capitalism?" (Smith, 1)

But what do they want?

Beginning with a clarion call to 'occupy' lower Manhattan in a September issue of Adbusters and citing the success of Tahrir Square insurgents in issuing a "straightforward ultimatum" for Mubarak's ouster, Occupy's camaraderie was forged in solidarity with that of an Arab Spring by togeth- er asking, "what is our equally uncomplicated demand?" (#OccupyWall- Street, 2).

Consequently though, and only after Occupy Wall Street (OWS) demon- strators had elicited popular support following release of an internet video showing female protesters being pepper sprayed (Day 8) and the arrest of more than 700 marchers crossing the Brooklyn Bridge (Day 15) did

mainstream media (MM) begin to wonder, "What Do They Want?".  While this question has proved to be one of the movement's earliest shared issues, articulating a consensus-based response has revealed unique aspects about the group's orienting structure.

Having authored an article only three months earlier for the Integral Lead- ership Review ("Toward a Sustainable Future") however, and in aspiring to envision a form of 'complex adaptive' leadership for a 'New World Economy', I mused over the wisdom of opting "to legitimize or otherwise sanction" the imposition of debt (usury) on a global populace.

"Let's radicalise our analysis"
"As a result, it's disturbingly unconscionable, especially in view of Egypt's revolution earlier this year, to blindly ignore how the West's present centralized, debt-oriented, economic system, implemented globally towards the end of World War II, is perpetuating an ever-widening gap between the world's richest and poorest, and in so doing, fueling tensions increasing the likelihood of social upheaval across vast geopolitical sectors."  from "Toward a Sustainable Future: Integral Leadership in the New World Economy" (3)

By way of an update then, but explaining why Occupy's response to the question, "What are your demands?" should be, "We demand that you stop demanding a list of demands", Robert Jensen proposes instead, a deepening of "our analysis of the systems that produce" an "unjust dis- tribution of wealth and power".

"The demand for demands is an attempt to shoehorn the Occupy gatherings into conventional politics, to force the energy of these gatherings into a form that people in power recognise, so that they can roll out strategies to divert, co-opt, buy off, or - if those tactics fail - squash any challenge to business as usual."  from "Occupy demands: Let's radicalise our analysis"

Likewise, but acknowledging that while "(r)allying around a common con- cern about economic injustice is a beginning", Jensen further sug- gests "understanding the structures and institutions of illegitimate au- thority is the next step" (4).

Being the 'Global Vision'

Wilber's AQAL Model (an Integral Operating System - IOS)
Along similar lines, Jennifer Gidley too, describes a "crisis of consciousness" as evidenced in the findings of "(s)ev- eral contemporary ecologists, edu- cators, philoso- phers and scien- tists", but whose affects are experi- enced "environmen- tally", "economically" and "psychosocially" (5).  For these reasons however, and within what's otherwise been termed a 'leaderless' (see - Leadership) movement, those expressing constancy with OWS, including Chris Hedges ("A discussion about Occupy Wall Street"), David Korten ("Why I'm in Solidarity with #Occupy WallStreet"), and Douglas Rushkoff ("CNN: Occupy Wall Street is Not a Protest but a Prototype") are all the more notable.

Also in a recent interview, contemporary philosopher and Integral Operat- ing System (IOS) visionary Ken Wilber discussed how a "major global (world) transition now under way" (1:40) doesn't merely embody a para- digm shift from a Newtonian-Cartesian worldview that's "bad", "fragment- ed and broken" to one that's "more balanced", integrated, holistic, and "all good", but more accurately, reflects the human mind's evolutionary devel- opment across a continuum of five or six subsequent phases.

As Wilber further acknowledges though, prior transitions of this type from a modern, scientific-rational worldview [AQAL's lower-left (LL) quadrant] involving industrial and corporate-state social (i.e.political-economic) sys- tems (LR) for example, to that of a postmodern, pluralistic culture (LL) within an informational, value communities environment (LR) have in the past, entailed "very dramatic social and cultural upheaval" (14:40).
Clare Graves' - Levels of Existence
Referring to 'tipping points' (18:30) and the magnitude of change witness- ed by the 'modern' "rational-industrial era" (Stage 5 - AQAL) in respect to government, value structures, and the eradication of slavery; contrasted with "the emergence of pluralism or postmodernism" (Stage 6 - AQAL) which realized shifts in "multiculturalism", "valuing all minorities equally" and an "enormous emphasis on civil rights", Wilber similarly notes that both transformations occurred, "starting right about ten percent (10%) of the population (19:30)."

Following this same line of thought, interviewer Todd Goldfarb then asks, "What is the emergent worldview that we are evolving to?" (21:40).  Wilber responds by adducing Clare Graves' analogy of a 'momentous leap' in meaning making (see: "Human Nature Prepares for Momentous Leap") from previous levels which to this point, have viewed their own respective values and those values alone as "real" (24:05), to one which is integral and instead recognizes "that all of the previous stages have some sort of value.  In other words, there's some reason that they're there." In this respect, and as Wilber further explains (25:05), the integral level of maturation is the first to accept that "(t)o some extent" those earlier stages are "all necessary for the human mind to grow and devel- op" (6).

Betraying Our Trust: "A Crisis in American Leadership"

U.S. Federal Debt to Gross Domestic Product (GDP)
"A new type of thinking is essential if mankind is to survive and move toward higher levels."  quote by Albert Einstein in, "Atomic Education Urged by Einstein", New York Times (25 May 1946)

In light of the scope and complexity of transformation to which I've already alluded; but within a context where the prospect of systemic failure (see Debt to GDP graph above) is ever present, humankind is concurrently witnessing the wide- spread faltering and even break down of conventional economics, politics, traditional media, higher education, social justice, and the church.

Super Committee's Failure a Win for Occupy Movement?
Consequently, and along these same lines, because an onset of corporate fascism (e.g. invert- ed totalitarianism) has informed my focus over the last ten years, begin- ning with 9/11 and a subsequent intro- duction to Aaron Russo's, America: Freedom to Fas- cism, it's been a recurring theme in a multitude of projects including, "A Crisis in American Leadership" (see also "A Case of Willful Neglect").

Likewise, where "Toward a Sustainable Future" exposed neoconserva- tism and neoliberalism as reflecting two opposing sides of a single global- ization coin, a comparable affiliation with partisan values and ideologies in the contemporary church too, evinces a despotic autocracy.  Not coinci- dentally, the 'fascist' motif has also commanded particular attention from various authors including Naomi Wolf (End of America: Letter of Warning to a Young Patriot) and Chris Hedges (American Fascists: The Christian Right and the War on America and Death of the Liberal Class).

Rescue Mission Expansion - "More Homeless"
From my own expe- rience, and as the author of a blog en- titled, "In the Belly of the Beast - Report from a Homeless American", nowhere is this unholy theoc- racy of 'church' and 'state' any more evident than in my own city's  manage- ment of its under-employed poor.  Nevertheless, but having drafted a 10 Year Plan to End Homelessness three years earlier, in 2009 it received stimulus funding totaling $766,000 to establish a Community Housing Resource Center and later, an addi- tional $708,856 for distribution to local 'service agencies'.

Also, with an estimated "15.9 million" of HUD funds slated for interjection into the community over a five year period beginning in 2010 (Roanoke, 7), it's not especially surprising that 'Health Care and Social Assistance' workers have constituted the city's single largest group of employees, while Local, Federal, and State government workers together, were the second greatest in number (Roanoke, 8).

Yet in my case, and though highly skilled and well qualified in multiple ca- pacities, because I'm no longer afforded a contributing role within the so- cioeconomic system, I've been a 'guest' for the last three years in a Chris- tian shelter which recently announced plans for major expansion.  Like- wise, although I'm innocent of any criminal offense and will be commemo- rating nineteen years of personal sobriety later this month, living condi- tions relating to hygienic routine, eating, sleeping, and even religious ob- servance are uniformly imposed in ways resembling corporal incarcer- ation.
As a result, both my freewill and movement are severely constricted by ‘economic’ factors over which, neither I (nor anyone else), seemingly have control or influence.  Strangely too, but as something of an exemplary citizen in respect to community advocacy, my homelessness appropri- ates a relatively high degree of civic monitoring nonetheless.  Conse- quently, local bureaucrats have proposed that Roanoke's interfaith com- munity join it in utilizing a computerized Homeless Management Infor- mation System (HMIS) to extend its data collection on the city's destitute.


Works Cited
 2. "#OccupyWallStreet: A shift in revolutionary tactics." (2011): Adbusters. 13 June 2011. Web. 2 Nov. 2011.
 3. McConnell, Brian. "Toward a Sustainable Future: Integral Leadership in the 'New World Economy'." (2011): Integral Leadership Review, June 2011. Web. 9 Nov. 2011. 
 4. Jensen, Robert. "Occupy demands: Let's radicalise our analysis." (2011): Aljazeera, 09 November 2011. Web. 10 Nov. 2011.
 5. Gidley, Jennifer. "The Evolution of Consciousness as a Planetary Imperative: An Integration of Integral Views." (2007): Integral Review, Issue 5, December 2007. Web. 10 Nov. 2011. 
 6. Wilber, Ken. "Ken Wilber on Humanity's SIXTH Known Shift." (2011): Audio Blog by Todd Goldfarb.  Worldwide Tipping Point, In Integral Review, Issue 5, November 2011. Web. 10 Nov. 2011.
 7. Roanoke (Virginia). "2010-2015 HUD Consolidated Plan". Roanoke, VA: The City. (2010). Web. 30 Nov. 2011.
 8.Roanoke (Virginia). "2010-2015 HUD Consolidated Plan - Employment by Industry". Roanoke, VA: The City. (2010). Web. 30 Nov. 2011.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Toward a Sustainable Future

Addressing Sustainability Issues
"The US dollar, like all national currencies these days, is a debt-based currency created, not by the government’s printing press, but through the extension of credit from the central bank, via the fractional-reserve banking system, to borrowers in the government, business, and household sectors. As each new dollar is created, a new dollar of debt is also created, and as the supply of dollars accumulates over time, so too does the balance of debt." quote from "Debt Trapped: Exploring Monetary Futures" (O'Connor, 1)

Tracing patterns of popular consciousness over the last three hundred years my, "Toward a Sustainable Future: Integral Leadership in the New World Economy" as published in the Integral Leadership Review casts light on an incipient, but previously shrouded, account of why global economics is currently teetering on the brink of calamity.  Consequently, but addressing the prospect of just such a tragedy in a Preface to his We Hold These Truths: The Hope of Monetary Reform, Richard C. Cook writes:
"As the world slides into an economic crisis marked by skyrocketing food and fuel prices and exponentially-growing debt, many people are fearful of a global catastrophe.  Continuous warfare, financial bankruptcies, and scarcity of basic resources paint a disturbing picture to which many are responding with scenarios of doom."
Collateral Damage
Yet similarly, and as Cook notes so insightfully in this same context, "Today's crisis, above all, is spiritual" (2). Stated differently, yet over the last three centu- ries, because the "certainty generally associated with objective reality" has "been viewed as more tangible or real" and subsequently "af- forded precedence over subjective experience (i.e. 'reality')" the province of consciousness and values "pertaining especially to moral and ethical develop- ment" has largely "been eschewed in relegation to the domain of religious doctrine."

Adopting an Integral Approach

For this same reason however, it's notable that scientists like Stuart Kauffman ("Towards a Post Reductionist Science") are expressing the pertinence of expanding scientific thought and inquiry beyond the limits of reductionism so disconcertingly evident across today's academic disciplines  (McConnell, 3).  Likewise, and stirred "by the urgency of our times", Jennifer Gidley in, "The Evolution of Consciousness as a Planetary Imperative: An Integration of Integral Views", explains, "(w)e live in critical times —times of apparently human-created complexities, challenges and unprecedented change. In all the major domains of our lives the seams are beginning to fray."  Consequently, she cites findings pointing primarily to three of these realms:
Environmentally - Alterations of the biosphere "to the extent" that "our planetary homeland" may become "increasingly inhospitable for human habitation" in "the foreseeable future". 
Economically - A "growing inequity of wealth distribution" associated with unsustainable levels of "affluent consumption". 
Psycho-socially - "(D)isturbing trends" concerning the "mental health and well-being of young people".
Wilber's AQAL Model
For Gidley though, these indicators reflect the view of "(s)everal contemporary ecologists, edu- cators, philoso- phers and scien- tists", signaling "an epistemological crisis—or crisis of consciousness" as existing "at the heart of our planetary di- lemma" (4).  Sim- ilarly too, philoso- pher Ken Wilber's own contribution to Integral thought has led him to identify a "vertical component clash" as the "single greatest problem facing the world" in its impact on the subjective dimensions already referred to above and depicted in his AQAL model as the quadrants of individual (interior) 'intention' (Upper Left - UL) and collective (interior) 'culture' (Lower Left - LL).

Along these same lines, but pointing to the dominance of 'modern disciplines' (i.e. Economics, Education, Medicine, etc.) founded over the last four hundred years on empirical orientations arising from the Scientific Enlightenment, Wilber calls into account traditional Religion's seeming failure to nurture higher stages of spiritual intelligence (or 'ultimate concern') to any significant extent beyond Fowler's Stage 3, or Gebser's mythical, levels of respective development. By way of counterpoint to this assertion however, there's also a common injunction running through the vast scope of his writing involving the term exemplar which he elicits as knowledge emanating from the 'wisdom traditions' in general, and contemplative practice even more specifically (5).

Pioneering an Integral Future

Laurie Lipton's Icon
"The United States, locked in the kind of twilight disconnect that grips dying empires, is a country entranced by illusions. It spends its emotional and intellectual energy on the trivial and the absurd. It is captivated by the hollow stagecraft of celebrity culture as the walls crumble. This celebrity culture giddily licenses a dark voyeurism into other people’s humiliation, pain, weakness and betrayal. Day after day, one lurid saga after another, whether it is Michael Jackson, Britney Spears or John Edwards, enthralls the country . . . despite bank collapses, wars, mounting poverty or the criminality of its financial class." Chris Hedges from, "American Psychosis".

While not a new theme in the field of related academics, it's from this epistemological/ontological stance that "Towards a Sustainable Future" nonetheless, takes such direct aim at the shortcomings of neoclassical economicsHa-Joon Chang in "Breaking the mould" for example, refers to neo-liberalism as "an 'unholy alliance' between neoclassical economics and the Austrian-Libertarian political philosophy" [some punctuation modified], claiming that "despite its pretence of intellectual coherence and clear-cut messages" it protracts itself only through "intellectual contortion and political compromise" (6).
"In such a context, it should be noted, “society” is first and foremost—and often exclusively—seen as the system of governance schemes designed to order a potentially disorderly set of individuals scrambling for material rewards. Society, in such a view, is something that is designed by people—but mainly and even exclusively by those people who are “in charge” of looking after the whole and to keep it in a measure of internal order."
Echoing similar sentiments to Chang's, Christian Arnsperger however envisions the prospect of 'integral economics' as an "agent-based, complex-systems approach in which agents have evolutionary states of consciousness and which, consequently, evolves not only through positive and negative feedbacks from system to components but also—and mainly—through the agents’ own existential and critical reflection on what a meaningful, human potential–enhancing economic life could be."

Viewed within the context of a 'meta-discipline' methodology, Arnsperger further suggests these potentials be realized by adopting 'integral' practice that draws from an "empirical observation of the most highly realized exemplars coming from each culture, religion, or spirituality" through a paradigm of "experientially reproducible life trajectories (states evolving into traits as the individual evolves through necessary stages)" (7).

The Effect of Diverse Complementary Currencies
Arnsperger's vision however, is made all the more vital when juxtaposed with Bernard Lietaer's findings utilizing ecological models to better understand complex information and sustainable flow systems.  Lietaer's work in this regard has subsequently led to "scientific evidence that a structural fault is indeed involved in generating financial crashes", which in turn, helps confirm "that nature does not select for maximum efficiency, but for a balance between the two opposing poles of efficiency and resilience" (8).

Consequently, and as "Toward a Sustainable Future" concludes, once opened to redefining relationships "predicated on, and to some extent dictated by, a monopolization of" the very commodity (e.g. 'money') used to control or otherwise bind them, this planet's citizens stand poised to "venture beyond the limits and ignorance" of blind obediance to their masters' will and instead, awaken to the prospects of a shared destiny.


Works Cited

1. O'Connor, Daniel. "Debt Trapped: Exploring Monetary Futures." (2011): From Catallaxis, (March 2011). Web. 3 June. 2011.
2. Cook, Richard. We Hold Theses Truths: The Hope of Monetary Reform. Denver: Tendril Press. 2009. Print.
3. McConnell, Brian. "Toward a Sustainable Future: Integral Leadership in the 'New World Economy'." (2011): In Integral Leadership Review, (June 2011). Web. 6 June 2011.
4. Gidley, Jennifer. "The Evolution of Consciousness as a Planetary Imperative: An Integration of Integral Views." (2007): In Integral Review, Issue 5, (December 2007). Web. 3 June 2011.
5. Wilber, Ken. Integral spirituality: A startling new role for religion in the modern and postmodern world. Boston: Shambhala Publications, Inc. 2006. Print.
6. Chang, Ha-Joon. "Breaking the Mould: An Institutionalist Political Economy Alternative to the Neoliberal Theory of the Market and the State." (2001): United Nations Research Institute for Social Development. Social Policy and Development Programme Paper Number 6, (May 2001). Web. 6 June 2011.
7. Arnsperger, Christian. "Building an Integral Economic Science: Opportunities and Challenges." (2008): Journal of Integral Theory and Practice, Volume 3, No. 4 - Winter 2008. Copyright, Integral Institute (2008). Web. 6 June 2011.
8. Lietaer, Bernard. “Is Our Monetary Structure a Systemic Cause for Financial Instability? – Evidence and Remedies from Nature.” (2010): From the Journal of Futures Studies, Vol. 14, #3, (April 2010) Web. 20 Mar. 2011.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Taking an Evolutionary Step . . .

Consistent with Quigley's analysis, Arnold Toynbee suggests that a civilization begins to break down when there is "a loss of creative power in the souls of creative individuals," leading to a diminished capacity of that civilization to successfully respond to challenges.  quote from Butler Shaffer's, Boundaries of Order

Leading economists have deemed our current economic situation as "the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression of the 1930's."  The magnitude of devastation has subsequently been reflected in a decline of global growth rates, deepening unemployment, and a severe drop in U.S. production, making any sort of 'bottom up' reversal seem implausible.

Nevertheless, and acknowledging that the present situation has resulted "not from a cyclical or managerial failure, but from a structural one", Bernard Lietaer (et al) in their "White Paper on All the Options for Managing a Systemic Banking Crisis" assert the "good news is that a systemic understanding and technical solution are now available that would ensure that such crashes become a phenomenon of the past."  The "systemic understanding" to which Lietaer is referring to however, stems from a relatively new field of academics known as complexity science.

Addressing Sustainability Issues
Consequently, where the industrial age took shape largely from positivist perspectives founded on principles of entropy, scarcity, competition, equilibrium, and certainty, many of these underlying assumptions are currently the focus of theoretical retooling.
“I will argue that Clausius’ model of a universe running down by entropy and the Darwinian model of biological evolution as an endless competitive struggle for scarce resources both give half-truths about Nature that seemed appropriate in their historical context but are now seen to be fundamentally flawed, thereby seriously misleading us and holding up our own natural evolution.”  quote from Elisabet Sahtouris', "The Biology of Business"
As a result, these emerging outlooks view even Nature differently than did their predecessors.  As Lietaer's 'White Paper' attests however, a "recent conceptual breakthrough" taking "its evidence from balanced, structurally sound, and highly functioning eco-systems now proves that all complex systems, including our monetary and financial ones, become structurally unstable whenever efficiency is overemphasized at the expense of diversity, interconnectivity and the crucial resilience they provide."

"The surprising insight from a systemic perspective is that sustainable vitality involves diversifying the types of currencies and institutions and introducing new ones that are designed specifically to increase the availability of money in its prime function as a medium of exchange, rather than for savings or speculation."  quote from Bernard Lietaer's (et al), 'White Paper'
This quite simply, entails introducing what are known as complementary or alternative currencies "within a community, region or country".  The primary reason these 'systems of exchange' are referred to as 'complementary' or 'alternative' is "because they do not replace the conventional national money, but rather, operate in parallel with it."