Every few hundred years in Western history there occurs a sharp transformation. Within a few short decades, society - its world view, its basic values, its social and political structures, its arts, its key institutions - rearranges itself. And the people born then cannot even imagine a world in which their grandparents lived and into which their own parents were born. We are currently living through such a transformation.
So begins, “The New Political Compass”, by Paul H. Ray, Ph.D., author of, “CULTURAL CREATIVES: How 50 Million People are Changing the World”, (www.culturalcreatives.org ). Paul Ray is helping to build a new conceptual framework for understanding the larger dynamics of our world. Framing is catching fire in the political world because of it’s power for gaining knowledge of how to influence people. The marketing world has always known this. Now, Paul Ray, a sociologist by trade, has begun to publish his research on the social and political dynamics of today’s world. The difference is that, instead of a conceptual framework of the elites, by the elites, and for the elites, Ray is offering one of the people, by the people, and for the people.
What or who are Cultural Creatives?
There is a questionnaire online if you would like to see if you might be one: ( www.culturalcreatives.org/questionnaire.html ) Ray goes beyond standard demographics by asking people about their values and the kind of world they would like to live in. In summary, Cultural Creatives are:
What is culture?
We all have some idea of what it means to us and, yet, anthropologists find it nearly impossible to define. Margaret Mead credits Ruth Benedict (Patterns of Culture, 1921) with beginning a popular discussion on the concept of culture. Benedict theorized that any group of people exhibit a culture which is an aggregate, “personality writ large”. My favorite culture quote is:
Other common components of culture include: values, attitudes, practices, traditions, arts, beliefs, customs, institutions, inventions, language, and technology. Others say that culture is the social construction of meaning.
Assuming Aristotle’s premise, then, that which is constructed without both skill and virtue, therefore, is not truth. Or, at least, it has only a degree of truth relative to the degree of skill and virtue used in its construction. But, if a truth is constructed with skill and virtue, but, without a social context, then, who cares and who would even know? Do not both skill and virtue require that truth or meaning be socially constructed? One person with maximum skill and maximum virtue can perceive from only one perspective. Anything one person, or a small group constructs, excludes the perspectives of others. A work of art is meant to be a personal expression and to stimulate thought and feeling and conversation. However, a culture must be of, by, and for the people – all people - who live within it.
For the purposes of cultural navigation, the current consensus seems to be:
Anytime 2 or more gather for any length of time, there is organization and there is culture. Sustainable organizing is the key to navigating our way to a new culture as safely and efficiently as possible.
( WE = U + ME + U-Process )
The People-Centered Development Forum ( www.pcdf.org ) maintains a web-archive of “Global Citizen” articles by Donella Meadows – the late leader of the sustainability movement. In her article, "The Cultural Creatives Are Coming", (www.pcdf.org/meadows/cultcreatives.htm) Meadows comments on, “finding each other, sharing stories, building our communities and our worldwide network.” She quipped, ”...story of my life. But do note Ray's point about ‘no cohesive sense of community.’ In my experience cultural creatives are no better at working together [bold added for emphasis] than any other Western individualists. Maybe, because of our distrust of institutions, we're worse. Contradance bands and coops are about as much organization as we can stand.”
The core social technology of Change Labs is the U-Process.
I. SENSING - transforming perception
II. PRESENCING - transforming self and will
III. REALIZING - transforming action
The U-Process is designed to enable practitioners to pay attention to, and learn from, emerging realities or opportunities. The process comprises three major stages: observing the current reality carefully and in depth; retreating and reflecting to allow “inner knowing” to emerge; and acting swiftly in order to bring forth the new reality.
Regrettably, Donella Meadows is no longer with us to help develop the sustainable organizing component of the sustainability movement. Fortunately, the spirit of Meadows’ work continues at the Sustainability Institute in Vermont.
LINKS to more Navigational Aids for Sustainable Organizing: