An 8-Part Vision for the Great Turning Movement

This is a breakout section from the article, “A Social Movement for the Great Turning” It can also be read on its own.

In A Social Movement for the Great Turning, I discuss the movement for social transformation that is emerging but not yet conscious of itself or widely known. In this article, I explore in more detail an 8-part vision for this movement.

  • Wake people up to the danger and urgency of the moment.
  • Protect the earth, people, and democracy.
  • Provide a vision of a transformed society and how to get there.
  • Develop a healthy, regenerative movement culture with loving, empowered members.
  • Aid in the transformation of worldviews and values.
  • Create social, ecological, professional, and economic alternatives.
  • Collaborate with movement organizations and publicize the movement.
  • Transform governance.

Wake People Up

We will focus on waking people up to extreme danger the world faces and the urgency of responding. We will help them to understand the planetary crisis, the need for the Great Turning, and the movement as a vehicle for that. This is also the time to recruit people for the Great Turning Network or for other organizations in the movement. We will explain how the Great Turning Network works and invite them to get involved, usually by joining a Great Turning group. Recruitment is already happening through personal connections, presentations, and blogs, and it will soon include books, workshops, and videos. Social actions often generate publicity, so they will be a major avenue for awakening people and recruiting them. If someone fits better with a different organization, we will steer them that way

Protect the Earth, People, and Democracy

As discussed before, there are many activist groups already engaged in actions to solve the climate crisis, protect animals and ecosystems, stop activities and policies that are harmful to people, preserve our democracies from Fascism, liberate oppressed peoples, and much more. This also includes the many organizations that are now focused on healing the left-right divide in the U.S. Some Great Turning Network people will join with these groups and some of our chapters may start their own protective actions. Hopefully all of this crucial work will buy the world enough time for the movement to develop and succeed. We aim to work together with organizations, such as Extinction Rebellion, whose values are compatible with ours.

Provide a Vision

We will promulgate a vision of a transformed society, to inspire people and provide a broad focus for recruiting. Even though we don’t know exactly what that new society will look like, we know enough about what is possible to inspire people to get involved. We also need a vision of how the movement can succeed. These stories can be conveyed not only by presentations and non-fiction writings, but also by novels, screenplays, and other stories.

Develop a Regenerative Culture for the Great Turning Network

We must be on the alert to make sure that the processes, relations, and activities of the Great Turning Network reflect the transformed society we want. We will actively work to promote an organizational culture of cooperation, humility, absence of blame, spirituality, diversity, and interconnectedness. It should also involve global consciousness, social justice, reverence for the earth, and other qualities of the world we want to create.

If we organize and act within the current Modern Industrial paradigm, we will probably fail, or we will reproduce the problems of the current society rather than truly transforming it. For example, we don’t want to engage in our activism from these Modern Era attitudes:

Thinking

  • An overly intellectual or rigid attitude.
  • Categorical thinking, which means placing people, groups, and events into categories and believing that the category tells you all you need to know about them.
  • Thinking in terms of immediate cause of a problem rather than recognizing systemic cause and effect or the deeper cause of an issue.

Perception

  • Believing that we can make something happen (such as social change) rather than seeing the larger process and the flows that are operating and realizing that we can align with those.
  • Seeing people in the movement as just cogs in the movement machine to accomplish tasks rather than as whole people with feelings, hopes, fears, and a variety of talents and skills.
  • Seeing those who disagree with us as enemies.
  • Viewing ourselves as involved in a struggle rather than being aligned with the flow of evolution.
  • Believing that we are right, and we have the answers, and others should just follow us rather than recognizing that many different people and organizations have perspectives than may be valuable.
  • Seeing humans as separate individuals rather than as participants in community, society. and the natural world.

Status and Power

  • Ego and desire for recognition, especially from our charismatic leaders.
  • Judging others who aren’t politically correct.
  • Competing for power, either within the movement or society, rather than cooperating for the good of the world.
  • Trying to lead the movement from the top down rather than empowering the grass roots.

We must be alert to other subtle ways of unconsciously acting out the current worldview. Most of us grew up with underlying assumptions and attitudes from the current culture, so it is easy for us to act from them without realizing it. We must be awake to this danger and actively work to change our attitudes to those of a regenerative culture. This will require introspection, psychological exploration, and honest, caring feedback from each other.

Most people in the movement probably believe in the values of the new society and have a worldview to match, but this could be at mostly an intellectual level. Part of our work will be to transform our own consciousness so that these regenerative cultural values are deeply felt and lived.

Aid in the Transformation of Worldviews and Values.

I don’t think that the cultural values in most countries are far enough along that we can hope to have enough support now for the political changes we need. Hopefully, people will wake up right away to the urgent need to confront the climate crisis, but transforming society will take longer, and I believe that transforming our values and worldview is an important aspect of this. Then people will be more open to the political aspects of Great Turning.

Click here to look at the worldviews of the the Medieval Era, Modern Era, and Next Era in some detail. Our Modern Era worldview is kept in place by the many unexamined assumptions we have that lie behind it. Click here to explore what these might be for you and how to change them.

This transformation of consciousness is already happening, and we can aid it. First, we must work on ourselves–exploring the ways that we are still operating out of the Modern worldview and embracing the emerging one. And then we must engage in the harder task of helping others to make this shift, too. There is still much to be learned about how to do this, but my initial thoughts are that it will happen through:

  • Personal contact
  • The Great Turning groups
  • Meeting people’s needs in a regenerative way
  • Creating regenerative cultural events that will be so fun and satisfying that people will be drawn to them.

Click here for more details on helping people to transform their worldviews.

Create Social, Economic, Professional, and Ecological Alternatives.

There are an enormous number of innovative alternatives that are models for aspects of a regenerative, transformed society.

Social Alternatives

There are many experiments with alternative social structures of all different kinds. For example:

  • Healthy private schools foster emotional intelligence, allow students to follow their interests, and promote whole-person learning,
  • Wisdom Councils or other forms of Citizens’ Deliberative Councils, involve a randomly selected small group of citizens meet for a number of days to come up with a solution for a thorny issue. They are educated about the issue and facilitated in a process that leads to a wise and often creative solution.
  • Products are designed to be made up of constituents that can be reused when the product is ready to be scrapped, so it doesn’t create any waste. This is called cradle-to-cradle manufacturing rather than the usual cradle-to-grave.

Ecological Innovations

People are experimenting with innovative environmental projects, as are showcased every year at the Bioneers Conference and portrayed in Paul Hawken’s book, The Ecology of Commerce. For example:

  • Projects and processes using biomimicry, which means learning from nature’s ways.
  • Regenerative agriculture, which focuses on topsoil regeneration, increasing biodiversity, improving the water cycle, enhancing ecosystem services, supporting biosequestration, increasing resilience to climate change, and strengthening the health and vitality of farm soil. (See Chapter 8 of Climate: A New Story, by Charles Eisenstein)
  • Innovative food systems in the oceans, such as Green Wave.
  • A growing number of local initiatives, such as community gardens, community supported agriculture, and nature-learning ecological projects for the schools.
  • People are working on restoring to health local rivers, oceans, mountains, wetlands, forests, coral reefs, farms, and so on, which has the additional benefit of helping to mitigate climate change. The Biggest Little Farm is an amazing documentary that shows the restoration of a dead farm into a beautiful local ecosystem.

Economic Alternatives

There is much innovative action around economic issues.

  • Alternative currency systems can create money in a new way that allows a steady-state economy, which doesn’t require economic growth to be healthy. (See Chap. 10 of Climate: A New Story, Charles Eisenstein)
  • The Scandinavian countries have pioneered economic systems that put people’s needs ahead of profit making, leading to a happier way of life. (Viking Economics, George Lakey)
  • Gar Alperovitz details a vast array of largely local initiatives in the U.S. that have the potential to change the control of wealth from corporations to the people. These include new cooperatives, neighborhood corporations, land trusts, municipally owned energy and broadband systems, state banks on the North Dakota model, alternative self-reliant micro-economies, and hybrid forms of community and worker ownership. He suggests that these can eventually scale up into a new economic system called a “pluralist commonwealth.”

Transforming Professions

Pioneers in existing professions are working toward transforming the way they work toward what we need for a new society. For example:

  • William McDonough is an architect who designs products, buildings, and business practices to be in line with the health of the earth. In manufacturing, this means designing products so their components can be reused at the end of the their lifespans instead of throwing themaway. This is called cradle-to-cradle manufacturing instead of the usual cradle-to-grave (Cradle to Cradle: Remaking the Way We Make Things).
  • Many lawyers are moving away from adversarial practice to using mediation to resolve legal conflicts, which is a move from competition to cooperation.
  • Internal Family Systems Therapy (IFS) is a form of individual therapy (which I practice, see Self-Therapy, Jay Earley) that implicitly promotes the values of a healthy society. It is non-pathologizing. People learn to have compassion for those parts of themselves that are causing them trouble. There is an understanding that there is a natural healing process in the psyche, which can operate when blocks are removed. And the healing comes from the true self of the client.
  • Holistic medicine involves a wide variety of approaches to health. They all trust that there is a natural healing process in the body, so they attempt to balance the body and remove blocks to healing, allowing this process to operate freely.
  • Many journalists are doing great investigative work and other fine reporting. However, too often we get, “If it bleeds, it leads.” The new journalism involves reporting on positive happenings and organizations and especially on organizations and movements that are aimed at social transformation. These journalists will be crucial in helping the movement to become more visible when the time is right.

These are just a few examples of numerous social, economic, professional, and ecological alternatives that are already happening. We can join with them and help them to realize what they collectively have to offer to the Great Turning. We might create a database of all these efforts, from which our members and others can choose who they want to work with.

In addition, the Great Turning Network can publicize these alternatives to show that a new, healthy society is possible. For example, we could help sponsor a Wisdom Council process around a highly visible world issue and publicize the results and the process. Journalists who are part of the movement can help with this.

Collaborate with Movement Organizations and Publicize the Movement

The movement needs to coordinate with the single-issue groups and movements that are protecting the earth, people, or democracy. It would be ideal if these organizations and movements recognize that they can be part of this larger social transformation movement and work together to support it, because if we succeed in transforming society, their causes will be greatly aided. Some members of the Great Turning Network will naturally be involved with single-issue groups because they care deeply about the issue being addressed by that group. They can advocate for collaboration.

We also need to collaborate with people and organizations whose work is directly contributing to the Great Turning even if they don’t fully realize this–for example, the ones involved with social, ecological, professional, and economic innovations. After all, social transformation is an idea that is flowing at this time; if it weren’t, we would have no hope of success. There are many groups, organizations, and movements that are all part of the larger Great Turning Movement. Hopefully we can coordinate with and support each other. We aren’t going to present ourselves as an umbrella organization for them to join. We will suggest that all these organizations create our own collaborative organization.

My initial thoughts what we might collaborate on:

  • Publicity for inspiring the public and showing that the Great Turning can happen
  • Tracking all the contributions to the Great Turning, so people can see what’s happening and what organization they might want to join. (Some organizations are already tracking contributions in their areas, such as Bioneers or the Next System Project.)
  • Working together on specific projects or actions
  • Sharing expertise about processes (for Great Turning groups or projects or actions)
  • Sharing resources (such as expert leaders for Great Turning Group sessions or movement experts)

We also need to work on making this movement more visible to the general public. That way, as people wake up and realize that our world is a mess and needs to change, they will have somewhere to turn rather than despairing. They can join with like-minded people, develop their transformational capacities, and learn how to contribute.

Transform Governance

Hopefully, a time will come when many social, economic, professional, and ecological alternatives have been developed, tested out, and improved so we know what works, when the movement has expanded its size and public recognition so that we can wield significant political power. Then we will tackle changing large-scale social structures such as the money system, government, and justice system. This will probably involve demonstrations, rallies, civil disobedience, and other tactics commonly used by movements.

In this process, we will draw on creative practices for engaging the public as part of our actions, for example, using art, humor, and story. (Re:Imagining Change, Patrick Reinsborough & Doyle Canning, Dream: Reimagining Progressive Politics in an Age of Fantasy, Stephen Duncombe)

This will be the most difficult phase of the endeavor because it will require interacting with the existing power structures. The movement will need funding, publicity, tactics for building momentum, understanding how to keep demonstrations peaceful, and so on. Past movements have tended to demand changes from the government (unless they aimed at violent revolution). This movement should aim to peacefully become the government (as well as transforming consciousness and social structures) by growing so massive and powerful that we can’t be stopped.

However, becoming the government is only the beginning. We need to transform the government so that it operates in a vastly different way (see Governance under Visions of a Transformed Society).

There is a good chance that by the time political change becomes possible, the breakdown of society may have gotten to the point that existing governments are falling apart. Things may have regressed so badly that governments can’t provide food, water, power, safety, and other things that people depend on them for. Therefore, the movement might create new governments that will start functioning in the vacuum of the old. However, there is still the danger that the remnants of existing governments may try to hold on with their military might, so this may be quite difficult. It is hard for me to predict how this might go.

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