Commented on my Larry/nuet     July 12, 2016


Accelerating the Great Transition

Engaging mainstream commitment to a life-sustaining society

Andrew Gaines
original doc

Without a vision the people perish

It’s time for the environmental movement and climate activists to unite with those who care about social justice and community well being. We are in a fight – a fight for the life of the planet – and our team has barely put our foot in the ring.

Those who are against us – the power elites who willingly destroy communities and the environment for the sake of massive power and profits – know that to stay on top they must control the mind of the general populace (aka mainstream society).

They invest heavily in controlling the media and spreading disinformation, along with manipulating governments and contriving to get people with their ideology into influential positions.

They think strategically, and they intend to win. As they ‘win’, the planet loses. They win through communication.

In comparison, we in the progressive/sustainability movement are amateurs. As a movement, most of us haven’t even asked the key question:   What will it take to win? What will it take for life-sustaining values to set the tone for society as a whole?

Maybe it isn’t an issue of winning, but of succeeding in creating a better world for ourselves and invite all others to join.  To WIN implies to compete, and we can’t compete with the ESTABLISHMENT ON THEIR TURF.

Might more be needed that SETTING THE TONE. Maybe we need more than values: greater competencies in all relevant domains and exploratory stragegies.

From the perspective of Larry/nuet, everyone attends to a few (of a great many) symptoms and seem unaware that the “Big Picture” is in their blindspot – possibly because it isn’t a “picture” and can’t be experienced. What most humans lack is an awareness of the influence of unconscious context on their experiences.

To a great degree we are stuck in messages, policy analysis and protest. These are important and useful, but are not sufficiently powerful to generate the degree of change required to reverse global warming and other looming environmental and social issues.

Is our “civilization” – personal-to-global – competent to do what is needed EVEN IF WE KNEW? Humankind is the cause and CHANGING HUMANKIND must be the cure. And that means very significant change, where transformation may be an inadequate process. This The Great Transition labels, but I don’t yet find evidence that the current proposal adequately accounts for the full Magnitude/Scope/Complexity of the challenge.

So: what will it take to win?
I believe that will take inspiring mainstream commitment to changing all the factors that make global warming and other environmental and social issues worse. These include devotion to economic increase, corporate control of governments, poor industrial design, compulsive consumerism… and widespread ignorance about how the system works. It will also take embedding life positive values in every level of society.  In other words, what is required is a whole system change to a life-sustaining society.

This doesn’t look to me like WHOLE system change. It talks mostly about changing some policies of an existing system;  not considering the variety of systems and whether a system to do what is needed can, in today’s present circumstances, be transformed to what is needed.

Whole system change means humanity doing everything necessary to reverse global warming, adapt to the effects of climate change and successfully cope with other looming environmental and social trends.
For this to occur we need innovative communication that engages people who have not yet thought deeply about environmental and social issues.

I propose we can “prove” Humankind (in my terminology, HUMANITY is yet to be achieved –  [Humankind >”birthing”> HUMANITY] is THE system change needed) as currently organized in terms of institutions and means of governance, is systemically incapable of doing anything relevant about what humankind is doing to Gaia and itself, even with a radical change of leadership and agendas. Civilization is structurally unable to change as is needed. You can’t transform a car into an oceanliner or a fish into a deer.

It seems implied that it is OTHERS, who have not yet thought deeply about environmental and social issues, who must be engaged in innovative communication by those who have thought deeply on the critical issues. You and I and all involved in this dialog really are more competent on these issues than 99% of the rest of humankind. Yet, I really challenge whether WE have YET the distribution of competencies to do what is needed.  I am quite sure that WE don’t really know enough of what is going on to ensure that what we do will work. We won’t have another chance.

I don’t call for us to wait DOING until we learn more and become more competent. The conceptual scheme emergent within Larry/nuet integrates Learning, Organizing, and Doing – starting NOW and accelerating exponentially – not waiting until we are ready.

But WE, the so called “leaders” and with valid expertise, must ALSO CHANGE SIGNIFICANTLY.

The change agent communities of humankind are dedicated, and are not to be blamed for their lack of success or their lockins to paradigms that are obsolete. Fundamentally, we really don’t know who we are, our potentials, and how we can change.

Larry/nuet doesn’t know either. He does know that our best knowledge about ourselves is vastly incomplete and in error in ways that block further learning. He has speculative ideas of how we can break these block and discover that we have the ready potential for a transition change vastly greater than imagined by our best.

A vast wave of positive change is already occurring

There is a vast movement for positive change going on. Paul Hawken chronicled it in Blessed Unrest. It is comprised of millions of individuals and groups who care about social and environmental well-being, and who are taking positive action.

If this movement fulfills its promise and we actually do become ecologically sustainable, historians of the future may look back at our time as the age of ‘the Great Transition to a life-sustaining society’. The Great Transition is already underway. Together we need to accelerate it.

Together we need to accelerate it as pollution becomes unmanageable, extinctions become more commonplace and ‘trade agreements’ lock in increased corporate control of the state.

I was very pleased by Hawken’s book and movement, and very sad to see his website  fold – yet not to be unexpected. Social change activists and groups, as currently constituted, are incapable of synergizing. Seymour Sarason, community psychologist in 1971 pointed out many of the inadequacies of movements for change in the 1960 – and they haven’t improved.

However, the Blessed Unrest has increased exponentially since Hawken called our attention to it. But, it is much more than UNREST. The new knowledge, competencies, and technologies have increased exponentially – although its distribution in humankind is weak and access limited. It is exploding in fractal-like complexity, but lacking much of the coherence of math fractals. Humankind has the ready resources to uplift itself by its bootstraps far, far beyond what might be imagined by a Great Transition.

Although we also have accumulated better data and patterns of human behavior and human change, it remains hampered by human scientific theories that are as obsolete as flat earth, phlogiston, fire/air/earth/water, and Earth Centered theories of our past. Human understanding of Human is orders of magnitude behind our understanding of the worlds of physics, chemistry, geology, and biology.

We have the knowledge pieces to start creating a new conceptualization of humans and humankind, but we must free ourselves from millennia of myths as to who we are.

A great many of these new pieces have been and are currently being discovered but their potential is not recognized because a next major shift in our scientific thinking is not in our imagination. All current futuristic thinking is within our existing paradigm. [I will post a list of 30 recent books that contribute to this shift.]

I believe it could be proved by scientific analysis that The Great Transition is NOT (yet) UNDERWAY.  Its launch is long overdue, and the potential is well above the breaking point, but many things are missing and they are in our collective blindspots.

What is missing is not a big, major idea that we are ignoring.  Larry/nuet (due to his savant handicaps and abilities) is gifted to consider realities with hundreds to thousands of little tweaks of our conventional reality. Now is not the place to explicate this nu reality. A process What I call SEAFing (Support/Enable/Augment/Facilitate) [A elaboration of Shoshanna Zuboff’s The Support Economy] is a parallel domain of human activity dedicated to seafing the relationship between persons, teams, and other orgs. A Seafnet also promises to provide an enzymatic-like accelerator to all human-human activity. As currently constituted, the Hawken’s orgs can never adequately cooperate or collaborate without significant help – the conflict between internal and external needs and the biological limitations of human members of each org, makes it impossible. Cyberspace demonstrates this silo effect.

During my life I have been active in many social change movements. My focus has always been improving the eeree (efficiency, effectiveness, relevance, enjoyability, elegance) of the movements to better ensure success. It was within the Anti-Vietnam War action in 1970 that I started having cascades of insights on a deeper complexity of humankind and human change – and have followed that path ever since.

I don’t seek agreement; I seek only to be studied sufficiently for others to make valid judgments. At 81, I may not have much more time.

Even though each of the many groups has its own agenda and each agenda is important, I suggest that perhaps we can collaborate and establish common ground by all agreeing on the goal of transitioning to a life-sustaining society.

To  collaborate and establish common ground cannot be achieved by agreeing on the goal of transitioning to a life-sustaining society.  I wish it were so, but humans don’t unite on a single goal – or vision. Humans are complex, if they are to be creative and competent. They can be rendered as simpletons by oppression and brainwashed to follow narrow ideologies.  We can’t achieve what we need by any variations of existing political, economic, management, and educational practices, or any of the variations proposed by reformers. What is ignored are the vital patterns of interaction between each of our societal sectors that block significant reform – which in civilization have never been designed (other than for elite control – and this wasn’t very competent design, but effective, too effective).
Surely we all want to live in a life-sustaining society − indeed a life-sustaining global civilization − rather than in a human society that is ecologically and socially self-destructing?

It is said that ‘without a vision the people perish’. This movement can act together to make transitioning to a life-sustaining society as the high priority goal of our time.

Many agree that our collective task is to accelerate the Great Transition. The key to success is mobilizing passionate mainstream commitment to doing everything required to transition to a life-sustaining society. And of course people need to understand what is involved… and take action within their sphere of influence.

 “mobilizing passionate mainstream commitment to doing everything required to transition to a life-sustaining societyis but another vision. How is this “mobilizing” to be achieved? I fully expect that some actions will be cited later in this essay, all of which I expect are needed and necessary. But, until we better comprehend THE WHOLE SYSTEM we need to continue seeking other actions to make the collected actions sufficient for success. At the start we won’t know all we need to know – so a primary activity will be to continue to seek what is missing that we must know and take into account. For this continuing seeking we need an advanced process for Organizing-for-Learning=&=Learning-for-Organizing (OLLO).

Going past preaching to the converted

I fully understand this habit of activists. At the University of Minnesota, as one of the leaders of an antiwar movement, I worked to distribute a questionnaire to the audience of fiery speakers at a teach-in. I had challenged the choice of speakers and forecast that the vast majority of the audience were already committed activists and we needed information on tactics and strategy. My questionnaire proved that 90% attending were committed activists. The Trotskyite members of the org accused of embezzling funds of the org to print the questionnaire. I had to start another organization.

However, it is the contemporary activists that need new messages – not for us to attempt to inform non activists of our old messages – even in new settings, unless we can demonstrate that it will actually work.

Since most people in mainstream society rarely seek out transformative ideas, how can we effectively inspire and engage them?

Here I outline a simple communication strategy. It can be carried out by individuals in all walks of life, whatever their situation, as well as by organizations.

There are three levels to the strategy.

1   Promoting our goal

Our goal is a life-sustaining society. The top level of our suggested communication strategy is to use variations of the meme a life-sustaining society wherever possible. It can be embedded in phrases such as:

** The Great Transition (or Great Turning) to a life-sustaining society
** Whole system change to a life-sustaining society
** Accelerating the transition to a life-sustaining society.

The idea is that people see it ‘everywhere’; at some point it will register and inspire action.

This is Marketing 101, of course. The movement does not have a brand, but we can have a meme that works as a brand. In time this meme will replace the mantra economic growth as the defining goal of our time.

Propagating memes into different populations and nurturing them to competent organization is a practice yet to be discovered – except in the simplistic domains of conventional business and politics. “In time this meme will replace” is a too hopeful wish. It is not that systems of meme replacement – or nu meme system emergence and displacement – will not have eventually occurred – in retrospect.

The members of the millions of groups Paul Hawken refers to are an unrecognised resource for a potent communication initiative.

Our vision is to inspire as many organizations and their members as possible to act as citizen educators by communicating with people in their networks about healthy systemic change. We provide ready to use tools to make this communication as easy as possible.

We do need new and better tools to assist OLLO. The current toolbox for online and F2F meetings are (synchronous and asynchronous), in my analysis, grossly inadequate – primarily because many of the features needed are not viewed as necessary by geeks and users of apps.  Advancement in apps and other tools continue to circle around a few limiting paradigms.

In my analysis, all the excellent practices of NCDD are intended to induce positive feedback from participants, and possible attendance in future gatherings. Whether the discourse in the sessions leads to different actions by participants is never adequately evaluated, to my knowledge.  F2F gatherings are but one of many types of human-human activities needed. You have hopes for those who attend The Great Transition gatherings to work to bring cooperation and coordination to orgs of the kind pointed to in Blessed Unrest.

What you inspire to do and accomplish looks the same as what I propose in UPLIFT.  I anticipate that the challenge will be much greater than we expect – but can be handled if we integrate an ActionResearch theme in all that is done. We both call for a more effective flow of useful information between humans, which greatly assists their gain in useful knowledge, competencies, and willingness to participate in a growing social change movement.

2  Enabling people to understand what is involved in successfully transitioning to a life-sustaining society in a way that they can act on.

It is important that people develop a robust mental framework for understanding how we can actually carry out a whole system change to a life-sustaining society.

Aspiration is not enough. Having such a framework prepares people to support constructive leadership when it emerges, and, if so inspired, to take a leadership role themselves within their own sphere of influence.

We have developed a communication tool called Kitchen Table Conversations.

Kitchen Table Conversations are structured face-to-face conversations that enable people to look at the big picture, connect-the-dots, understand where they fit and develop a clear understanding of the necessity for whole system change and how we can accomplish it.

Do we really know how we can accomplish it  given the Magnitude/Scope/Complexity of our Crisis-of-Crises, including rapid societal collapse and climate changed induced disaster that will affect us all. In addition, this is a start, designed primarily for “Western” cultures. An early project of UPLIFT will be to design BUS systems for refuges and favelas around the world.

The  Inspiring Transition website lists a number of other excellent ways of articulating whole system change including:

Paul Raskin’s Great Transition: The Promise and Lure of the Times Ahead,
David Korten’s The Great Turning: From Empire to Earth Community,
Annie Leonard’s The Story of Stuff, and
Pope Francis’ recent Encyclical on unrestrained growth and the environment.

Actually, the resources available are expanding beyond belief.  Daily I skim titles of 10-40 of new books, websites, significant persons, projects; and my sources are only a small part of that emergent. I will provide my sources later.

Materials and curricula for OLLO of different populations and persons of vast cognitive variation/diversity must be an Action/Research endeavor. Mass educational practices will not work for this!

Connecting the dots and understanding how our current system drives ecological and social deterioration makes it easier for people to see through the lies and questionable policy proposals that some government and business leaders put forward. They are mentally equipped to consider whether a given policy is consistent with transitioning to a life-sustaining civilization − and to reject if not.

Most people today can’t be significantly moved simply by informing them of things they didn’t know. Yet, this is the almost universal approach from left to right. “Connecting the Dots” is a conceptual system more complex than Einstein’s Relativity. And there are many types of dots and connections, and whether they are true/valid or not.

Why are all the many who already know the facts you want others to know and connect not doing what is needed? They are doing, and believe they are doing what they can do; but there is NO MOVEMENT for a TURNING, only a fading dream.

3   Mobilizing a massive citizen led educational program

The members of the millions of groups Paul Hawken refers to are an unrecognized resource for a potent communication initiative.

Every member of each group is embedded in mainstream society because mainstream society is comprised of our friends, family and neighbours. And in the age of social media many of us have large online networks. A few of us are prominent thought leaders, or leaders of large businesses and organizations.

Our model is to inspire as many organizations and their members as possible to act as citizen educators by communicating with people in their networks about healthy systemic change. They can do this as an adjunct to their primary mission; it need not take too much of any one person or organization’s time.

We provide ready to use tools to make this communication as easy as possible. They include:
· Sample emails · Presentations · Kitchen Table Conversations, an innovative way of conducting personal
conversations about transformative change. We use physical models to enable people to keep track of complex conversations. People enjoy them. · Kitchen Table Conversations training. · A variety of additional guerrilla marketing tactics. They are freely available through the Inspiring Transition website. But we don’t have everything. There is great room for creativity and innovation!

I deeply feel your energy and commitment to achieving your vision, which I share. I feel I may have sounded negative above – but in these critical times of great opportunity, there is no time for shyness.  SUCCESS is all that matters.

In a sense, I feel your first steps aren’t much different than what my first steps with launching UPLIFT would be: working with others. The difference may be that I would hope to have clear, measurable behavioral objectives for all my projects. I would also have sketches of strategies. Many actions we may hope to take in stage n may need tools that started development in stage n-3.

I must ask everyone dreaming of a better world: tell me the story of how the various nations, international organizations, global to local financial and corporate system, local-regional governments, religions, cultures are all going to join the MIGRATION IN TIME to the better world?  What is the story of our EXODUS?  We must bring the ENDGAME out of our blindspot.

Communicating through a multitude of outlets

If millions of us inspired by this project communicate through the multitude of outlets that are available to us, we have a way to penetrating mainstream consciousness that vested interests cannot stop.

Possibilities include:

· Mentioning the Great Transition in blogs, articles and lectures.
· Promoting  renewable energy products such as solar power systems as examples of practical steps supporting the Great Transition to a life-sustaining society
· Plaques and flyers displayed in professional offices asserting, “We are committed to contributing to the Great Transition – a whole system change to a life-sustaining society,” perhaps with introductory videos for screening in waiting rooms.
· Posters for display in libraries and other public places about the Great Transition referring people to a website to learn more and to equip themselves to be citizen educators.
· Conducting personal in-depth conversations about the Great Transition (i.e.  Kitchen Table Conversations). · ‘Workshops on the fly’ – brief exercises that introduce thinking skills that equip us to become the kind of people who can create and enjoy a life-sustaining society.
· Great Transition training workshops.
· Conferences and events.

(For more ideas, see What the Inspiring Transition initiative will look like when it is in full flower)

As a widespread movement collectively we have huge  is resources of talent, skills and experience that could be mobilized without necessarily requiring central coordination. We do not need a large budget; many of the communication tactics are virtually free.

All of this can be done, and much, much more. There are many, many practical topics that will be asked about that are not in The Great Transition curriculum. Primarily: WHAT TO DO NEXT? This can’t be put off, even if the query is not a question, with no clear answer. Many will want a map (even if crude). But, most of all, each person involved will NEED to personally feel being an integral part of the movement. If the above are done at the BEST they can be done, I doubt that it will succeed in launching an exponentially growing movement, which is NEEDED.
The point of all of this is to produce:  Real world transformation

Ah!  You used transformation, not transition.

I deeply believe we are deceiving others if we promise that their actions will transform existing societal systems into new forms that will be just, sustainable, compassionate, or any other attribute we will list. Until a sketch of an endgame scenario for transformation is outlined, I must continue to act as if it is impossible and push for an alternative: Societal Metamorphosis.

Identifying and applying the operating principles of a life-sustaining society will produce real world changes in organisational behaviour, industrial design and global governance, as well as changes in personal attitudes, behaviour and lifestyles, so that collectively we live well within planetary capacities. These are some of the many levels of change involved in transitioning to a life-sustaining society. People are also positioned align around small and large initiatives for change, because they see the need.

We DO NEED nu organizations with nu organizational behavior, nu ways of moving resources to meet needs, and nu means of governance (without governments), nu changes in personal attitudes, behaviors, and lifestyles. I just can’t scientifically imagine how this can be done by transforming what we have to what we need.

Some systems simply can’t be morphed into another system –because of “scientific laws”. I believe that an advanced simulation beyond from The Limits of Growth simulation in the 1970s could demonstrate that transformation is highly if not totally impossible, especially in the time we have.

ONCE we accept TRANSFORMATION IS IMPOSSIBLE, we can put our energies into UPLIFT and Societal Metamorphosis (actually developing them in detail by Action/Research and OLLO) and discover that this alternative route is far more eeree and successful. { efficient, effective, relevant, enjoyable, elegant }


The Great Transition Mobilization

We are organizing a Great Transition Mobilization for March 2017. We envision thousands of groups and their members communicating through their networks and through public forums about transitioning to a life-sustaining society. This will help initiate a pulse that catches the power elites by surprise, inspiring public excitement about the Great Transition before they have time to malign the movement.

Rachel Carson’s 1962 book Silent Spring accomplish something similar. It inspired public concern about the environment, and led to the formation of Environmental Protection Agencies around the world.

A critical role for the Great Transition Mobilization is personal outreach to engage leaders of organizations. Being active in the Great Transition Mobilization need not take an overwhelming amount of their time, and we have ready-to-use materials to make it easy. However, the first step is to attract interest.

If you have the communication skills to talk to influential people, I would be pleased to talk with you. Briefing notes and a draft pitch (to be tweaked in your own way) have been prepared. In this, as in every aspect of Inspiring Transition, our intent is to make things as easy as possible for you.

Inspiring Transition

Inspiring Transition is a platform to support people in communicating about the Great Transition to a life-sustaining society.

Inspiring Transition is not an organization in the usual sense. There is no central command-and-control that directs what people do. Rather, we are an independent community of peers aligned in our commitment to communicate to engage mainstream commitment to transitioning to a life-sustaining society.

Be The Change Australia provides administrative support for the Great Transition initiative.


Our intention is to seed the vision of transitioning to a life-sustaining society deeply into mainstream culture.

Our deeper purpose, with others (millions of others!) is to change the operating character and achievements of our global civilization so that we actually succeed in transitioning to an ecologically sustainable and socially healthy society.

This intention is neither hubris nor ego but simply the great need of our time. We would like to think that you will join us in this intention.

I truly applaud your work and this venture. I wish it all the success possible.  You may find a better opportunity for success in Australia than here in the USA.

As the “leader of the free world” the USA has a greatly entwined power structure, much underground. Our Election 2016, Theater of the Absurd, demonstrates that the formal Federal Government is no longer in charge.

I fear that any movement to TRANSFORM the USA would be suppressed before it gained momentum. UPLIFT must engineer suppression avoidance by not attempting to transform the primary power systems.