Moving from the Past to the Future

Moving from the Past to the Future

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One of my favourite community projects in the world right now is The Downtown Project in Las Vegas. I had the pleasure of going there last year, meeting the founder Tony Hsieh and hearing him speak of how he is building his community. The results they achieve in one of the least likely places on earth are remarkable.

One of the primary things he focusses on is what he calls ‘Collisions’. He likens the process of world-leading community reinvention to the methods used to improve chemical reactions. Rather than traditional top-down approaches to community reinvention, he focuses his efforts on creating an environment in which the community is more likely to thrive and improve on its own.

Imagine old hierarchical societal systems as solids, some of the best organisations in the world as liquids, and self organising platforms such as Wikipedia as gaseous, and you start to see how the chemical system analogy can be quite helpful.

If you view communities as chaotic systems that you cannot control, you find radically different ways of making a difference. We see this approach happening more and more, all over the world.

At The Dandelion Project in Guernsey we are using similar techniques to give momentum to creating the best place to live on earth by 2020. We deliberately focus all of our efforts on creating the right environment for change, rather than engaging directly with the system itself. We are best described as a catalyst organisation, aiming to rapidly accelerate our community’s progress, moving beyond its antiquated hierarchical systems.

To break down old ways of doing things, we do not fight or aim to control what exists. We create more opportunities to break the system down and provide ways for the community to organise itself, rather than erupt chaotically. We do this by communicating constant messages of possibility and by shining a light on all the great things happening within the community. We execute this through social media campaigns, big events, meetups, idea sharing, new technologies, pilot projects, big goals, inspiration, and random acts of kindness. The more we do, the more others are inspired to do similarly. It is a self-organising and self-growing system.

Day by day we are applying more and more heat through positivity and opportunity into our societal system and day by day the temperature is rising. We expect that, in time, many of our old systems will just melt away, as the people of Guernsey migrate by choice to better and better ways of doing things.

In terms of societal structure, the best place to live on earth will look more like a gas than a solid. Whilst in the past this may have been considered unmanageable, we now have the technological platforms to self-organise and operate in a much freer way.

Without those technology platforms to self-organise, chaos ensues. You only have to look at the Arab Spring or the London riots to understand that flashpoints are on the rise, worldwide. People are becoming far less tolerant of societal imperfection and have increasing capability to do something about it. There is worldwide revolution, whether we like it or not. Change is not something we can avoid, or hide from. There is no way to maintain the status quo in a societal system that literally and metaphorically gets warmer every day.

The continuing advance of technology is what is heating up our global system. We have more information, can connect better and have increasing ways to leverage our capabilities. Our hierarchical systems are falling one by one under this continually rising heat. Wherever they fall, if nothing has been built to replace them, chaos and violence ensue.

The real challenge for communities and organisations around the world is to reimagine their systems, to replace them in a positive way. The Arab Spring and London riots are reactions in which vacuums allowed the wrong type of chaos to thrive.

The Dandelion Project aims to be one of the first examples, globally, in which this transition is deliberately organised and managed in a positive way. A non-violent revolution based on community, inspiration and possibility, rather than the violent alternative arising from frustration, fear and hate.

The Dandelion Project is one of the most ambitious projects in the world right now. If it succeeds, the world has a new and far calmer path from the past to the future. If it succeeds, it will provide a blueprint for a new kind of society and a bloodless way of achieving it. If it succeeds, we will truly create the best place to live on earth.

What are you seeking to change in the world?

How can you apply positive heat into the system you are trying to change?

How can you use technology platforms to allow positive transitions from the past to the future?


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  1. “The more we do, the more others are inspired to do similarly. It is a self-organising and self-growing system.” so applicable to all levels. Microcosm/macrocosm… Oh the possibilities!

  2. Hi Marc

    Great post. It reminds me of Buckminster Fuller’s quote,

    “You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.”

    That is exactly what you are envisioning and enacting.

    You and the Dandelion Project are a great example of this and inspiration for others of us wanting to and doing similar things.

  3. mamokhethi says

    I agree with you Marc, really we can move forward and grow as a nation if we allow ourselves to adopt change. But bottom up approach seemed to be difficult to adopt because in most cases projects that are introduced in different communities do not respond to their needs and priorities therefore, after the project face out people get back to square one. There is no resielience and sustainability. Change from top-down to bottom up approach is crucial.

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