Section 8

---> The Metamovement


One more time back to the beginning; to our core resonance.

You already know what it feels like to be in tune with a partner or group, operating harmoniously and responsively. Maybe it was in a small team, troupe, or jazz band. Maybe it was family or friendship. Feels good, right? Almost like it was meant to be? Now, how well does that kind of experience scale up to the level of a community or larger, and how may we navigate it once achieved?

What does it look like for two organizations, or two neighborhoods, to sync up and work in synergy - not mechanistically, by decree, but organically? What can be measured there that might tell us when things are humming along, flowing just right, at larger and larger scales, and which measures might indicate when and where they're not, plus maybe why?

Organic alignment between complex social organisms is fascinating praxis and completely a propos of the gist of all this superorganizing we've taken on. We need to study this. We are learning by doing this.

Consider a few key facets of the challenge of making sense of collective flow states: context, purpose, signaling, culture, strategy, perspective, transience. It's what we're used to looking to great leaders for, but what if it doesn't work that way any more? Artists do it, lovers do it, spiritual adepts and strong kin groups or tight-knit tribes may get it together, sometimes. Beyond that...good luck? Yes. Good. Luck:

What happens out there on even wider scales, or what could? What if at the highest levels we really embrace complexity and diversity under a very general banner of shared intent for holistic truth and beauty, gently holding space for things to come together and interact as they will, flirting and frollicking and federating and such?

How does an ecosystem consciously evolve and configure itself? And how can several of them link and thrive together? Go figure. Ask your mother. The other one.


To extend our classification schema of organizational forms/types, let's try a variant here to grapple with the loaded but useful concept of a social movement. Somewhere near the intersection of tribal and network behavior, a social movement would seem to be a network that is formed or shaped by a galvanizing purpose, message, plight, or creed. As such, it tends to be irrevocably framed in that narrow view of what is it about, what is the end goal. On the flip side, such laser focus becomes a flashpoint for broad response.

Is inhabit a movement? Could or should it be? It's important to acknowledge and foreground the unifying aim of habitable futures on earth for this network but inhabit brings a different kind of message than, say, the environmental movement. In fact it elicits many nuanced and flavored conversations tied to a range of subcultures and local contexts. The "movement" angle is thus somewhat constraining and very much associated with models of activism and protest, which are not generally the case in this space.

Stretch a step further. Let's go meta for a minute. There are indeed many loosely aligned 'movements' active at this time on the global stage. How do they connect? Do they connect? What could unite some/all to better effect? They don't all see eye to eye, speak the same languages, or even necessarily know about one another, but we can see that they are generally pulling in the same direction - a world that works, for all life, well into the future. Where things get a little more complex and conflicted is in details of strategy, ethics, character, structure, messaging etc - the "how" of that sought after systemic change. Fair enough. It's open for debate, and good to have some parallel experimentation going on.

One of the key differentiators is the question of relationship to the status quo and existing power structures. Another way to look at it is: who's going to make change happen? Does it come from above, or below? Is it abrupt, disruptive, possibly violent, or more measured and incremental? Maybe it's both. Maybe, in the light of all the rest of the essential character of this open source, DIY, collaborative, p2p regenerative culture-shifting it's clear we aren't counting on a lot of support or substantive leadership-slash-novelty from 'above' at this point in time. Perhaps quite the opposite, and we need to be wary and prepared for that too; staying agile and in sync; ruggedized and resilient.

In spite of the odds and urgency, might it be possible though to anchor and energize an encompassing metamovement of loosely aligned changemakers, ready to take the future into a mandala of interlocking hands, minds, hearts, and %$@ in order to begin bootstrapping a Green New Deal for the ages? Well, great. It's going to get marvelously messy, let's prep and practice.


As much as it runs counter to some of the rhetoric and design wisdom around local and appropriate scale, there's a real opportunity to extend our imagination some leagues forward and around a corner or two to contemplate the expansion and evolution of the basic principles of inhabit.

Let's mark out four speculative phases of this unfolding story:

Phase One is what we might call establishment: gaining critical mass in a couple of pioneering regions, laying out corridors and hub sites, nurturing the network infrastructure and shared knowledge gardens, crafting culture, spinning stories. Several practical steps in that direction are sketched out in the roadmap below.

Phase Two brings us past early adoption and proofs-of-concept into the mainstream conversation and more widespread application, especially when (not if) urgency escalates in the collective zeitgeist. We can start to mark out whole bioregions that are transitioning and renewing themselves, including local food sovereignty and significant distributed light green industrial capacity. The powers that were are faintly jealous.

Phase Three sees a tipping point, where the basic economy and culture is sustainably grounded (as the old model is unequivocally deprecated), no longer immediately a threat to itself, and producing abundance to cover the basic needs of all citizens with surplus to spare, able to invest in large scale innovative infrastructure and technical development in new directions, inspired by ethical and imaginative thinking - ecocities, solarpunk; there's a new normal clearly in evidence and a new set of visionary ideals rising.

Phase Four is too hazy to say much about from here, but let's keep it on the radar to fill in as we go. Who knows...might we have earned the right to terraform mars?

Far out! Before getting too caught up in fancy futurism, there's some real cautions to hold in mind as things evolve, energy grows, and humans...remain all too human. There are real, deep, systemic injustices embedded in the current models, legacies of abuse and exploitation that have carried forward in often subtle and treacherous ways. We're not starting from a clean slate here, and those things will perpetuate anywhere they can, as part of the more parasitic segments of our cultural DNA. We don't have to look too far back in the past, or outside our filter bubble, to see evidence of power struggles and brutal suppression of less advantaged minorities.

It's an amply demonstrated component of human nature that we tend to resist change. Be ready to overcome that pattern time and again through the use of every art and craft in your toolbox.

Final thought about the idea of commons, social wellbeing, and bridging the ultimate gap from network (or metamovement, if you dig) to an inclusive, thriving united ecosocial system. Call it Gaia, if you will. We come back full circle to many of the same daily concerns and political battles that seem to weight things down and prevent major action today. Will we be in a better position to grapple with such things when the environment and basic survival are off our backs? Will we have better tools and processes by then to organize and address major collective concerns like infrastructure, social security, health and wellbeing - taxes etc? Maybe. If we make it that far, in good style, learning and testing and sharing as we go.

Upward, another trip around the viral spiral of sentient life.

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