A series of Collaboration Incubator workshops are being put out into the world to gather like-minded people to combine forces for building global grassroots democracy. I am Philine Krosse, an ‘transformation architect’ from the Netherlands, who was following links one morning and stumbled upon the website of Vanilla Way. Without a second thought, I enrolled for the Berlin workshop from 5 to 7 October 2018.
‘I felt I needed something of a different order to grow further’
Yet after enrolling, I thought, why would I want to contribute to this movement? Why did I feel so strongly that this movement was something through that I could develop myself further. Also, I have never considered helping building a global democracy? For many years, I had been pondering, searching and diving into the deep of the big questions. I learned a lot from different people, literature and by designing and developing initiatives for communal healing and transformation to make collective sustainable development possible. Since a while, I felt I needed something of a different order to grow further and improve my work.
I had an inspiring talk with Manuela Bosch, one of the initiators of the Collaboration Incubator about the intentions and drive that lead to this program. She explained to me, that this program isn’t about building a global institution. It is about finding creative and innovative ways to address local issues that impact us all globally – issues that cross borders and therefore can’t be resolved solely by one institution, one country or the existing global institutional governing bodies.
What if everything we ever tried were only prototypes of democracy? What if we don’t actually know how real democracy could look like? This thinking by Otto Scharmer (Theory U) inspired the tagline of the Collaboration Incubator: “Momentum building for global democracy”. Within the Incubators, different existing local initiatives and movements are called to work on a vision and potentially also projects for a democratic society across boarders. Boarders not only in a geographical sense, but also in sense of sector, culture, class and any paradigm.
‘the required solutions are already existing, but there is a lack of cohesive effort’
Facilitated through social technologies like Dragon Dreaming, Evolutionary Work and Social Presencing Theater, we are learning to maximize the knowledge, tools and resources that are available, to connect with others and organize change. This is particularly powerful when combined with the increasing awareness of the importance of a more conscious lifestyle whether on an individual, community or organizational scale. Our assumption is, that the required solutions are already existing, but there is a lack of cohesive effort that can only come from stepping out of our comfort zones for interdisciplinary organizing. This is what the people from the Vanilla Way network believe they can help to facilitate: connecting people with shared intentions and addressing issues that can’t be coordinated from top down with tools made for collaborative grassroots organizing.
When we as participants of the incubators discover what our shared dream for democracy is, we will start acting upon it – either through what we are already doing or through a shared project that comes out of the process. Either way is supported. The diversity of people and views present will enlarge our individual view or sector view. This fosters tolerance and consciousness.
‘we can only be as global as the reach of the network is’
Enlarging the pool of diversity among the participants is one of the highest goals and greatest challenges. Diversity comes for example by bringing people together from different socio-economic-religious-political backgrounds, but also from the wealth of experience an individual brings from their work and field of interest. The diversity topic is challenging, since first: we can only be as global as the reach of the network is; secondly: Diversity is dependent on our financial resources, too – this is why we i.e look for patrons for one-on-one scholarships and other ways of independent funding; and thirdly: Levering diversity depends more than ever on our own leadership capacity to deal with race, gender and inclusivity topics.
Through her work as trainer for the collaborative project design framework Dragon Dreaming, Manuela experienced that workshop participants are connecting fast and deep, but after meeting in a workshop focused on skill learning, it’s difficult to keep collaborating, even though good intentions are there. „There needs to be a reason for people to keep reconnecting. The activists and leaders I am speaking to, seem to have no more time to waste in workshops. At the same time people do want to network, connect on a deeper level and learn. Why not use the combined intelligence of a diverse group of people coming together interested in the collective change processes that are necessary? When we make time to travel and meet over three days, let’s work on the pressing question of what we can do for global issues! Could it be possible to work on a collective dream and also not let it’s realization be left to chance, but intentionally work on it? There is no guarantee to come to conclusion on this over the three days, but it’s worth to try!“
‘find good ways to use the resources we have wisely, plus all of our creativity’
There seems to be an opening now, a commitment to come together and collaborate better. This program is contributing to what is already happening on so many levels and places. And, there is still so much work to do. Many active in organizing societal change feel there is no time to rest! Therefore another main goal of the incubator is about inspiring for self-care, so that we don’t burn out on the way. It is so important to find good ways to use the resources we have wisely, plus all of our creativity, to make sure that our power and energy endures all the way. The way of activism this Incubator supports is meant to be straight forward and honest, yet unexpected and joyful.
In the recent Collaboration Incubator in May 2018 in Berlin the participants learned through a Social Presencing Theater 4D Mapping <Report to May 2018 Incubator> experiment about the importance of borders. We learned, they are not only separating us. They really help us to collaborate better across our fields and different stakeholders. If we look at borders that exist in the natural world, for example the zone between the river and the forest, this is where the most biodiversity can be found. In permaculture this zone is called ecotone. Also personal relationships provide a classic example. Maybe others experience this, too: When we put too much attention onto another person, trying identifying with them and their actions, we are faster questioning whether we agree with them or not. The possibility of conflict can become greatly increased.
‘connect with many people, interdisciplinary and divers, with less resources or effort!’
When we focus on the third identity, though, the in-between or intersections that exists between A and B, our collaboration can be more effective, lighter and even deeply strengthen both individuals or fields. We don’t have to agree on everything, yet accept each other as the mutual partners and siblings in a global family, that we are. Each with our own skills, strength and knowledge to work on collective solutions. This way it might become possible to connect with many people, interdisciplinary and divers, with less resources or effort. It is the art of connecting through the heart in seeing and acknowledging each other and at the same time staying focused around our own work, own needs and shared vision.
The program can be called a success, when every participant has been able to take away at least one key learning or key link to a resource crucial for their current work or life. The contribution to global distributed democracy can be a side-effect and will keep building its momentum through continuous commitment of many over time. „If we are going to support the creation of a giant collaborative field, will depend pretty much on the participants and outcomes of the Incubators and especially what will happen between the ongoing workshops. If the Collaboration Incubator is helping unleash the connections between the existing movements, so that they can better recognize their own qualities and give each other direct help, we will move into this direction.“ the organizers of the Collaboration Incubator hope.
‘the wisdom and spirit that is already in our bodies, heads, hearts, souls can come to the surface more easily’
To share the knowledge and keep developing and integrating internet based technology to coordinate our efforts and make our network power visible is important. As an underestimated addition to this I believe in connecting people and their visions on a deeper level face-to-face. The wisdom and spirit that is already in our bodies, heads, hearts, souls will come to the surface more easily. After writing this article I know that this is my motivation and intention to participate.