Scientists were writing about the threats from a warming planet for a long time. They considered global warming one of the two “existential” threats of our time (in addition to nuclear weapons), spreading a collective dread of the future as it disrupts the living systems that support human life. Conventional approaches to mitigating the effects of global warming have yet to demonstrate any major reversal, and despite the actions pledged during COP26, progress continues to fall short.
A Systems View of Life
We approach our work with a “systems lens”, based on an awareness of the integral interdependence of all physical, biological, psychological, social, and cultural phenomena. This holistic view of life is necessarily transdisciplinary, requiring a whole new Western scientific discipline known as the theory of Complex Adaptive Systems. We combine this new theory with Traditional Ecological Knowledge (TEK) that has always been holistic, helping to co-create the new and safer world to come.
Professor of “Native Science” Gregory Cajete, writes, “A new scientific cultural metaphor has begun to take hold. The insights of this new science parallel the vision of the world long held in Indigenous spiritual traditions.”
Interdependence and Connection with Nature
Weather and ecosystems are Complex Adaptive Systems. Indigenous wisdom recognizes that we are an intimate part of the flow of nature’s life-giving forces. We are in relationship with the non-linear (uncertain) give and take of dynamic evolutionary change. On the other hand, linear (sequential) causal thinking (Newton’s “clockwork universe”), while important to basic engineering and technology, often leads to the false assumption that man can control the energetic, restless adaptive flow that defines our living world. We do all of our work from the basic understanding that we ARE nature, not separate from, challenging the destructive ideology that for too long has separated us from our home in the universe.
In a world with finite resources and generation-defining challenges like global warming, we must move beyond the concept of sustainability to a philosophy of regeneration. Sustainability can be defined as sustaining current activity or seeking to maintain stability, whereas the principle of regeneration offers new ways of living in times of rapid change.
Hope for the “Adjacent Possible”
Our attachment to the preservation of our present energy-intensive ways of life forces us to attempt to develop strategies within our existing institutions, in the context of a largely flourishing planet of the past. But this does not hold the keys that unlock the doors to adjacent possibilities hidden in the unknowable future. These future possibilities offer a shift in individual and collective consciousness. The Center is developing a methodology (“The Adjacent Possible: TAP”) that will train a commonwealth of practitioners with special skills in facilitating community-building dialogues specifically designed to help people prepare for, adapt to, and strengthen resilience. We are faced with rapidly occurring shocks coming from a planet that is heating up. We are committed to a facilitative dialogue process that enables communities to design a future.
Emerging Young Voices
We involve the voices and concerns of a diversity of youth in any and all efforts to respond imaginatively to the present climate crisis as the youth of today will fully inherit the world of ‘tomorrow.’ They are our future leaders, farmers, politicians, luminaries, and community organizers. Our mentorship of the leaders of the former U.N. Youth Forum creates the opportunity to ensure that emerging leadership is woven into the fabric of our mutual collaboration. Not only is it our responsibility to bring young people into the spaces and places where important decisions are made, it is our responsibility to respect and adopt their unique perspectives. We believe that involving youth in conversations that count leads to more innovative and creative solutions to the complex challenges we will be embracing.