Daring to Live the Future Now


Notes From: Walk Out Walk On: A Learning Journey Into Communities Daring To Live The Future Now


(Wheatley and Frieze)

Notes By Cheryl Broetje

What does it mean: daring to live the future now? For those who try it, we experience what’s possible when we change our beliefs about what people are capable of and how change happens…for all, not just a few. When we abandon hope of being saved by the perfect or heroic leader or perfect program and instead, look inside of our community we can see there are resources and wisdom already there.

When people walk out on subscribing to a world of scarce resources, limiting belief, destructive individualism, and instead, choose to walk on together, we find out what is truly possible.

Healthy and resilient communities have learned to trust themselves, find solutions to challenges, take control of their future. They develop greater capacities as they learn what works and how to work together. They become confident that they can deal with whatever problem confronts them next. In the face of hunger, poverty, economic injustice, ill health, etc. they respond, adapt and invent.

These experiences can become trans-local as discoveries in one community inspire other communities. Diverse peoples learn from them and try their own local experiments.

Inside dying systems are those few leaders who refuse to work from dominant values that permeate the bureaucracy…like speed, greed, fear and aggressiveness. They champion values and practices that respect people, rely on others inherent motivation, creativity and caring to get quality work done. They create protected places where people can practice.

Pioneers have to expect to feel ignored, invisible and lonely…what they are doing is so new and different that others can’t see their work even when its staring them in the face. That’s why it’s so important that pioneers work as community, encouraging each other through trials and risks natural to those giving birth to the new in the midst of the breakdown of the old. Each community has unique and invisible qualities of place, including social and cultural heritage.

Notes on ‘scaling up’/’scaling over’: Scaling up is about replication of uniformity, standardization,, franchising, a formula…mono culture on a global scale. The local is suppressed. We patent a product, standardize a process, franchise a formula in order to produce maximum growth. Best practices are studied and disseminated, with the belief that what has been invented in one place can be parachuted, transferred into another. Often these ‘best practices don’t work. This view assumes that organizations are machines.

But communities are not machines. It is said that people only support what they create. What works is when teams from one organization travel to another and through that experience see themselves more clearly, strengthen their relationships and renew their creativity. These learning journeys disrupt our old ways of seeing and widen our view of what’s possible.

This ‘scaling over’ (instead of ‘scaling up’) preserves a deep reverence for the uniqueness of place. By visiting one another, we can come to see ourselves more clearly…carry new insights home and develop them in our own unique, local way. In order to build healthy and resilient communities, we must walk the pace of the slowest…we can’t leave anyone behind. This is the practice of solidarity. Speed is not the goal. Growth is not the primary purpose. Winning is not evidence of our success. What gifts can we discover as we slow down, look around, invite more people in and enjoy the journey together?

For communities that choose to go down this path, there are several important questions to ask themselves:

  • What are we walking out on?
  • Who are we choosing to be?
  • What is our name?
  • Whom will we connect with for nourishment?
  • What stories will illuminate our path?

Our actions, no matter how small,  are a declaration of our new identity: we are walk outs, who walk on. We accept the risk, step onto the invisible path, and walk into the unknown. And there, we discover the many beautiful people already bringing this new world into form.

“You thought I knew where the road was and you followed me.

But no, I didn’t know where the road was.

We had to make the road together.

And that is what we did.

That’s how we got where we wanted to be.

We made the road. It wasn’t there.”

(from Zapatista Stories)


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