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  • Writer's pictureJoe Lightfoot

11. Find The Others: Start A Collective

Conscious Change Collectives (which I’ll just refer to as Collectives from here on in) are a new form of mutual aid community, made up of anywhere between 15-250 people that all wish to share a deep sense of communal belonging with one another. The central idea is to form a trust network of relationships with a group of people that all share the same core values, and then to cultivate as many opportunities as possible to share meaningful experiences with one another, to grow and evolve as individuals, and to work together to bring about radical and positive change across wider society. Collectives are designed to be incubators for the creation of a whole new type of regenerative culture. They are ‘Conscious’ because a central part of the experience is about becoming more consciously aware of how we relate to our ourselves and each other. And they are ‘Change’ focused in that beyond the experience of cultivating a deep sense of solidarity with one another, such communities are intended to help us actively transform our societal model.

In essence, Collectives provide us with a direct experience of just how nurturing it can be to co-create a thriving sense of community with a group of people with whom we feel we belong. They are are intended to empower us to become more integrated versions of ourselves, whilst simultaneously increasing our effectiveness as agents of social change. And they do this by serving as active invitations for us to continually step into seven different types of practice. These practices include:

  1. Waking Up - Becoming acutely aware of the extraordinary suffering and injustice that is occurring on our planet and gaining a comprehensive understanding of the various existential crises we now face as a species. Waking Up also involves continually educating ourselves around how best to make a difference.

  2. Tuning In - Tapping into the subtle and spiritual (a la the Metamoderna interpretation) aspects of our own inner experiences. Feeling more deeply into the changing states of our bodies and minds through contemplative, meditative and mindfulness based practices.

  3. Leaning In - Having the courage to show up in community, to engage with others and take on a level of responsibility within the group. To open our hearts and risk having them touched by those around us.

  4. Integrating In - Recognising those areas in which we still need to mature and grow. Identifying our own interpersonal edges and personal trauma and then doing the work to integrate those parts of our selves we are either not yet conscious of, or have perhaps chosen to repress.

  5. Levelling Up - Recognising the kind of cultural codes and cognitive frames we use to interpret the world, and continually orienting ourselves towards a more nuanced and all encompassing understanding of how the world works and our place within it.27

  6. Throwing Down - Directing our energies towards making art, music or any other kind of creative endeavour that allows us to fully express ourselves and share the fruit of our talents with our wider community.

  7. Giving Back - Taking effective action towards bringing about more ecological balance, social justice, peace and joyfulness into the world.

On a day to day basis this takes the form of a diverse group of people regularly partaking in a wide range of activities and experiences together. Such activities may include, but are by no means limited to:

  • Annual Gatherings & Retreats

  • Book Clubs, Study Groups & Philosophy Nights

  • Celebrations, Festivities & Parties

  • Circling Pods (A form of peer to peer group therapy)

  • Co-Working Sessions

  • Documentary & Movie Nights

  • Fundraising efforts for social and environmental causes

  • Goal Setting & Accountability Groups

  • Group Activism Work (Conservation, Social Justice, Animal Rights etc.)

  • Kids Activities - Playtimes, Adventures & Workshops

  • Life Drawing & Creative Arts Sessions

  • Musical Jam Nights, Dance Events & Performances

  • Open Mic Nights & Poetry Nights

  • Online Forums & Social Media Groups

  • Permaculture & Community Gardening Days

  • Personal Sustainability Audits & Challenges

  • Physical Training, Sports, Acrobatics & Treks

  • Plant Medicine Ceremonies & Breath work Sessions

  • Political Actions (Campaigning, Marches & Occupations)

  • Potluck Dinners & Shared Meals

  • Rewilding Practices

  • Skill Shares (Cooking, Gardening, Massage, Martial arts etc.)

  • Speakers & Group Discussion Nights

  • Social Enterprise Incubators

  • Womens & Mens Groups

  • Yoga & Meditation Sessions

While these kinds of activities form the backbone of the Collective experience, participating in such a community e is as much about being as it is about doing. As underneath the veneer of our increasingly technological lives, we remain social primates at heart, biologically and psychologically inclined to spend large amounts of time simply relishing in each others company. And this is one of central aspects of the Collective experience, remembering how to become quietly and deeply comfortable in one another’s shared presence. Two of the more central activities that allow us to do this, are the holding of Gatherings and the forming of Pods.

Gatherings are multi-day events that are held by a Collective around once or twice a year. They might best be described as part celebration, part conference and part retreat, and they are a chance for everyone in the community to come together and spend time exclusively in each others company. They help us to renew the bonds of understanding and belonging that bind our communities together, and provide us with the opportunity to experience peak moments of connection with one another. They are also a way for new people to connect in with the culture of a Collective and decide if they would like to become more deeply involved.

Pods are small groups that form within a Collective in order to share in a particular type of experience together. They can be conducted in person or online and come in many shapes and sizes, but they tend to be most effective when they are made up of between 3-6 people. Depending upon the needs and wishes of the particular Pod, they can happen over a period of weeks, months or even go on indefinitely. They can take many different forms but here is a list of some of the more common examples:

  • Circling Pods - A form of peer to peer group therapy, where participants regularly come together to share about their inner experiences and gain a deeper understanding of each others internal worlds. Some of these Circling Pods may be open to all members of the Collective and others may be focused on certain demographics within the group, such as BIPOC or LGQBT+ folks.

  • Learning Pods - A group of people that come together to study a certain course, subject or approach to personal development.

  • Enterprise & Project Pods - A group of people that either directly undertake a new project or social enterprise together, or else support one other in kickstarting or further developing projects or businesses they are already running on their own.

  • Goals & Accountability Pod - A group of people that come together to set personal goals and then support each other to stay accountable in moving towards them.

  • Skill Share Pods - A group of people that take turns in teaching each other particular skills or expertise.

  • Activism Pods - A group of people dedicated to educating themselves and then taking action towards progressing a particular cause.

There are countless different ways that Pods of people can come together to support and empower each other, and the intimacy and depth they allow for is one of the backbones of the whole Collective experience.

Beyond the holding of Gatherings and the formation of Pods, there are two other central components which help to lay the foundations for a Collective to flourish. The first of those is an online platform where people in the community can stay connected and in touch with each other no matter where they are in the world. The right collection of online tools can empower a Collective to make more effective decisions as a group and allow all sorts creative and project based collaboration to unfold. The final component is a physical space, or even a series of them, where people in the Collective can regularly meet up and partake in the various kinds of activities listed above. This can take the form of a co-working space, a cafe or even someones private home.

So, to recap, the minimum viable structure for a Collective to blossom includes:

  • A group of people who all the share the same values as well as a desire to cultivate a strong sense of communal belonging together.

  • The holding of annual in person Gatherings.

  • An ongoing cycle of Pods.

  • An online platform to connect and collaborate on and if possible a physical space where everyone can regularly cross paths in person.

So if that’s a broad overview of what Collectives are, let’s now take a look at the many ways they can enrich our lives.



2021 Joe Lightfoot

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