Replay Session #2 – Catalyzing Societal Transformation through Community Action
On November 9th over 200 people from around the globe gathered for a rich discussion about the role of community-led initiatives in societal transformation, the need for personal transformation and how radical collaboration could change the world.
Filipa Pimentel of the Transition movement, Alexandru Tudose of the Permaculture Research Institute in Romania, and Alisa Dendro of Suderbyn ecovillage began the discussion by sharing their personal stories and visions for a regenerative future.
“All our movements are an attempt to create a different model than the current system offers. These new models are playgrounds where people learn how to use both practical and social technologies, which we as humanity will need to adapt to, as we need to relearn our whole way of being and organizing our communities,” said Alisa. “These constructive movements function as a beacon of hope.This is especially important in the COVID times when so many people feel a mental struggle of actually coping with the existing system.”
Alisa, Filipa, and Alexandru all talked of personal transformation.
Alisa grew up in a small town in central Kazakhstan, moved to Sweden, and settled in Suderbyn ecovillage in the middle of the Baltic sea. She is currently president of the Baltic Ecovillage Network and a strong advocate for community-led action.
Filipa quit a well-paid position in Brussels, started a Transition initiative in a small town in Portugal, and dedicated herself fully to the Transition Network where she is currently the coordinator of the National Transition Hubs circle.
As an anthropology student, Alexandru embarked on an existential quest to explore traditional Romanian rural societies. Through WWOOF and EVS volunteering he then traveled to and learned from various permaculture farms in different countries. This led him to set up community gardens and work for the Permaculture Research Institute in Romania.
Transforming ourselves – Transforming the world
Their stories of transformation are a microcosm of the deep societal transformation needed to transition to a regenerative world. Filipa, Alisa and Alexandru stressed that we need transformation at all levels of our lives, from our inner selves to our relationships.
“You have to do a journey of consciousness, looking inside and at the same time being compassionate with other people who you are doing that journey with. We need to support each other and understand that transition is a journey. Each one of us is advanced in different things and needs support in other things,” said Filipa.
As the webinar and discussion unfolded a number of patterns became clear. Community-led action starts with individuals who are connected to their own values and who are passionate about making change and depend on such people building relationships with one another. Each person brings their own strengths, preferences, and doubts. The first challenge is to support one another in the difference, embracing diversity and finding a common voice – and taking care of the collective in times of conflict, by creating a space of compassion, truth and trust.
As with biodiversity in natural systems, diversity is a key to resilient human systems. Diversity of perspective should be an indicator for making change. “If we have only one perspective, that’s already failure,” said Alexandru.
Learning to collaborate across difference
Juan del Río of ECOLISE, the European network for community-led initiatives on climate change and sustainability, who co-hosted the webinar said: “When you go visit places, all around the world you will always find local people doing amazing things. It may seem small, but there are thousands and thousands of projects and people doing this everywhere.”
As separate initiatives join forces and become a movement, and as movements form well-structured organizations and collaborative networks, these initiatives start turning from marginal experiments to viable options, and become a powerful force in our societies, said Alisa.
When local initiatives form a movement – and when movements join as a coalition, forming a movement of movements, such as Communities for Future, compassion needs to be expanded far and wide.
It is vital to respect and cherish the different identities of different groups that are working for a common goal. “Competition should not happen when we want to change things deeply,” said Filipa.
In closing the session Jim Garrison, of session co-host Humanity Rising, picked up on the theme of collaboration.
“If there was one thing that a progressive movement could do to save the world – what is it? To me, the answer is radical collaboration. Hundreds of thousands of NGOs are working in isolation from one another. And that’s why we are so weak. If we would all come together even in one country – let alone globally – the world would never be the same again. It’s not whether the solutions exist or not, it’s about how effectively we are cooperating. I want to honour this session by leaving us all in the question: How do we more radically collaborate in this moment?”
Communities for Future is creating a framework for collaboration across different community-led movements.