CTRLshift and Cultural Emergence

The CTRLshift emergency summit for change may have felt ahead of its time in 2018, but in 2019 it feels right on time. There has been a mainstream shift in recognising the emergency of our time. Now there is a widely acknowledged and publicly declared climate emergency, and many people are wondering what’s next. And this is where CTRLshift comes in. Gathered together were over 100 people representing a diverse range of organisations that all have solutions to offer. Around us were the colourful and visionary graphic harvesting from last year.

These lent a sense of continuity and long-term process to the gathering. This wasn’t just a one-off event, there is very real intention and commitment to collaboratively make the shifts needed.

I was there personally thinking about the Cultural Emergence project that I am pioneering. (Cultural Emergence is an evolution of my work with social permaculture). Shifting cultures and emerging regenerative cultures is one of the common threads that brings these organisations together. Cultural Emergence involves shifting patterns of thinking as well as creating physical structures and organisations. The CTRLshift solutions sessions dived below the surface of culture and gave insights and case studies of how to challenge beliefs, create new narratives and provoke creative thinking. The connecting across difference workshop gave us an embodied experience of some of the usually unseen cultural patterns of interaction with ‘other’ groups. Other workshops focused on the visible tangible parts of culture, such as how the cultural spaces of a disused pub in Stoke and museums across the country were being repurposed to fit community needs.

There was very clear and conscious group culture creation led by the CTRLshift organisers. We were actively creating a shared language of our collective vision as well as how we can build rapport and respect with each other, to enable us all to bring our gifts to the conversation. Dee Woods invited us to see inclusivity as a practice and a journey – a journey away from assumptions and towards equity and celebrating diversity.

Dee Woods speaking about inclusion and diversity. Dee recommended people can start the journey by reading “Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race” by Reni Eddo-Lodge

We were encouraged to radically listen to each other from the heart. The strength in the summit came from the diversity – of ages, size of organisation, colour, class and background; all voices were welcomed. One workshop extensively explored the role of women as a force for social change. And the Extinction Rebellion Youth team held lively discussions about how to engage young people and support their voices to be heard. The summit was hosted in one of the now disused pottery of Stoke on Trent which gave it a very tangible context and there were many representatives from Stoke there, who gave a real picture of how they were meeting the challenges they were facing.

I define regenerative cultures as cultures of personal leadership, collective intelligence and planetary care. CTRLshift is an opportunity to bring that culture of collective intelligence to light and share it widely. Emergence happens in relationship; new unexpected possibilities and insights arise through connections. We are facing multiple emergencies, which call for multiple solutions and give us multiple opportunities for emergence. We really don’t know what is possible when we come together to collaborate and co-create with collective intelligence. The CTRLshift summit gave us a glimpse and a sense of how to turn that into reality and enabled us to grasp a collective belief.

[epq-quote align=”align-right”]”We really don’t know what is possible when we come together to collaborate & co-create with #collectiveintelligence. The @CTRLshiftSummit gave us a glimpse & a sense of how to turn that into reality”[/epq-quote]

We spent an empowering afternoon answering these empowering questions –

What will it look like when we have successfully built agency at the local level and shifted power?

What will it take for us to achieve that?

The discussions and ideas sparked a collective belief and sense of purpose in what we had to offer in terms of direction, solutions and responses.

The solutions offered fell broadly into the 3 categories that Joanna Macy described as necessary for the Great Turning to a life enhancing culture –

  • Holding actions against harmful activities
  • Creating alternative structures
  • Shifting thinking and paradigms.

One of the many threads that is being followed up, is how we can approach councils, as CTRLshift, offering professional consultancy and initiatives, answering the question of what’s next, now a climate emergency has been declared.

While we were very expansive with the possibilities for completely transforming the world, we were also invited to make our own changes. Indra Adnan acknowledged the need for our own internal CTRLshift; who do we need to become to enable the bigger shifts we wish to see in society? This is of course just a flavour and a slice of the inspiration and connections shared over just 2 days.

I went to see what Cultural Emergence could contribute to the conversation and movement. As with any good permaculture design process, I came this year to observe, to get the beat of the system, before suggesting solutions or processes. I have now plenty of ideas of how Cultural Emergence Design can support CTRLshift, and look forward to bringing them forth over time. Myself and Andy Goldring (one of the key organisers of CTRLshift) are co-facilitating a Cultural Emergence Effective Design (CEED) course in September and we will continue designing for CTRLshift and Cultural Emergence. Ideally we will have some funding for a group of people to attend to take this forward.

See you next year at the summit where I will certainly offer the Cultural Emergence toolkit in one of the solutions sessions.

Looby Macnamara, author of People & Permaculture and 7 Ways To Think
. Co-founder of the Cultural Emergence project. Steward of Applewood
Permaculture Centre

CEED – Cultural Emergence Effective Design course 10th -15th September with Looby Macnamara and Andy Goldring at Applewood Permaculture Centre.

For more details about all the Cultural Emergence courses see http://www.ApplewoodCourses.com

Find out more about Cultural Emergence with the free/pay as you wish taster course https://coursecraft.net/c/culturalemergencetaster

2 Replies to “CTRLshift and Cultural Emergence”

  1. alan charlton 31/05/2019 at 7:06 pm

    good article, nice photographs too.


  2. One simple way in which we can all get active is suggesting to churches and school leaders anywhere in the world is choose “autumn” to grow young native trees. This is the season for seed & nut collecting with the squirrels. Please put in your diaries the 20th November as this date is the annual Woodland Trust’s invitation to plant a tree. Oaks are the UK’s native tree of greatest diversity and longest timespan. Ask children to grow their own from reception age upwards so that in their own time at school trees are being grown & cared for ready to plant in the community “giving back” from free natural resources every autumn. Forever until we have recovered the Planet again. The Queen & Sir David Attenborough sowing seeds for the future Commonwealth Forest Canopy initiative April 2018.

    Nature provides all the necessary education & fun and as Forest Schools are now a part of the National Curriculum this is a natural way of new leadership for the 21C Change. Child-led to ensure a better world of equality & fairness to all living things.

    Please also read Isobella Tree’s book called “Wilding”. Knepp Castle Estate are UK’s new leader on bringing back endangered species from the brink of collapse. A true success story of allowing Nature to lead us out into the light from the legacy of the 20C downward spiral of war and control of the masses.

    Well done everyone for shaping our Brave New World and especially Satish Kumar, Rob Hopkins and Mary Clear and all volunteers with RYTON GARDEN ORGANIC whose vision is transforming people’s lives through growing food together as communities. Looking after the Whole.


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