10. The Story Of Us: A Thought Experiment
Imagine we’re part of a small group of five people who don’t yet know one another, but are about become a very important part of each others lives. Imagine that we begin to each cross paths with one another, meeting at workshops, whole food cafes, co-working spaces and other kinds of events. Imagine that we immediately recognise the same hopes, dreams and sorrows shining in each others eyes.
The five of us begin to hang out and get to know each other more deeply, sharing meals, spending time in nature and making music with each other. We put words to the sadness that each of us feel in relation to all the suffering we see in the world, and we learn that despite our sorrow, each one of us remains steadfastly committed to doing whatever we can to make the world a better place. We discover a shared intention for personal growth, for making change in the world and for having as much as fun as possible while we do it. And before long these intentions form the basis of a potent communal bond. We discover that just by spending time together we pollinate one another with new insights and ideas. We laugh, dance, cry and shout together at the top of our lungs. We remind one another that we’re alive, and that while our hearts are still beating there is always hope for a better tomorrow. We start to feel a sense of being at home when we are in each others company.
Over time each of us invites in other friends that also wish to share in the experience. And as our shared connections deepen, we begin to practice relating authentically and compassionately with one another. We form small groups we call Pods and hold space for each other to share about the intimacies of our inner experiences. We open up about the more challenging emotions many of us experience in our day to day lives and begin to celebrate each others victories. We articulate, capture and share our personal dreams with one another, and when invited to, we hold each other accountable in following through with our commitments towards making such dreams a reality. Little by little, as we share more of our personal stories, we begin to open up and trust each other enough to talk about our vulnerabilities and insecurities. We begin to let down some of our emotional armour.
Some of us choose to go deeper with this process, actively supporting each other to bring awareness and acceptance to those parts of ourselves we’ve had a tendency to avoid or repress. We discover that deep in our hearts each one of us has been carrying around an unexpressed reservoir of aloneness, a yearning to be seen and appreciated for who we feel we really are. We learn that we all share a common desire to drop the masks that we so often find ourselves wearing, and that every one of us has been actively seeking out a lived experience of the full spectrum of physical, emotional, intellectual and spiritual* human connection. A state of being and relating that deep down, we’ve always known to be possible.
And before long, we decide to formalise our organic network of relationships in the hope that it will help to strengthen our new found sense of community, and ensure that it remains healthy and resilient over time. After a few whole group meetings to fully explore the idea, we all agree to form a new mutual aid community, and so our Collective is born. The twenty or so people that form the group all come from many different walks of life, but we each hold a similar vision for the future and have agreed upon a shared set of values and guidelines for the how the Collective will operate.
We start to gather out of town once or twice a year, spending three or four days just being in each others company, away from the hustle and bustle of daily life. Many of us meet regularly each week and help one another with the projects that are important to us, sharing support, expertise and advice where ever it’s welcomed. Some of us co-create events, others collaborate on business ventures and social enterprises, and a few of the freelancers in the group experiment with pooling their income streams together. When tensions arise, we do our best to clash gracefully and encourage conflict resolution whenever there are major disagreements and fallouts. And all the while we remain ever vigilant of the kinds of unhealthy group dynamics that can so often emerge in such close communal contexts.
Along the way we continually educate and update each other about the causes that are most dear to our heart’s. We playfully inspire one another to start integrating more social and ecological awareness into our lifestyle choices. We regularly grieve together about the injustice we see in the world and attempt to make sense of what appears to be an increasingly uncertain future. We raise money together for causes we believe in and reconnect to our local food sources, supporting and becoming involved with nearby organic farms and permaculture centres. We plan for how we can adapt to the environmental and social changes looming on our horizon, and strive to determine how best our Collective can offer up support to the wider community around us. We engage in activism work together, continually motivating and empowering each other to become ever more effective advocates of political and social change.
And one day, we each awake to the realisation that we’ve collectively woven a thriving trust network from which we all draw a strong sense of belonging, support and shared purpose. It dawns on us that we’ve cultivated our very own pocket of regenerative culture, and that each of us feels an integral part of its creation. We discover that without having jeopardised our own personal sense of freedom, privacy or individuality, we’ve become deeply engrained in a human container that encourages and empowers us to enact positive change in our selves and the world. We’ve found loving community, and surrounded ourselves with the kind of people we wish to grow along side of throughout our journey through life.
This story depicts the formation of a Conscious Change Collective, a new type of mutual aid community that may be able to help us collectively bloom in the decades ahead. Let’s now explore exactly what these Collectives are, how they might improve our lives and how they might hasten our transition into a whole new narrative.