By the Light of Collective Intelligence

By the Light of Collective Intelligence

Much depends on the strength of the lantern we hold up to see where we are, our surroundings and the possible paths through the deep woods around us. A dim lantern won’t shine deep into the dark. It won’t clarify the looming shadows.

How do we make our lantern burn brighter and more stable, since all else will follow it?

“What makes lanterns burn bright is their connection to other lanterns. What makes intelligence come into its own is being directly connected to other intelligences.”

The answer is: We combine it with other lanterns.

This is not additive mathematics, one plus one plus one. No.

The light that helps you see what you need to see is the light that’s more than the sum of the parts.

This light is an exact parallel with collective intelligence – an intelligence that’s more than the sum of the individual intelligences that make it up. The concept of more than the sum of the parts doesn’t make mathematical sense. The concept doesn’t help you feel that extra quality, a kind of pre-existing Presence that you hadn’t noticed until now.

What makes lanterns burn bright is their connection to other lanterns. What makes intelligence come into its own is being directly connected to other intelligences. This is a felt experience, immediate as a kiss. It’s an actual connection, not a concept.  

Connection, my friends, connection. ​​Being right or being wrong, and all the other ways we make differences between us matter more than connection, matter not. They smoke up the glass on the lanterns. ​

Though it seems counterintuitive, knowing other’s opinions on important issues doesn’t make the lantern light stronger either. Being curious about the people who hold the opinions, being interested in their lives, makes it burn brighter. But opinions, not. (I don’t mean that opinions don’t have a place but that they’re a function of connection or common illumination. Without connection they’re divisive.)

This is the time for lanterns, illuminants out there in the darkness finding the way.

I think this process is well alive in the world. An ​brightening is happening and available for those who earnestly join with others in pursuit of the common good.

Or so it seems to me. Take a moment and tell us what you think.

Neighborhood is the New Wilderness

Neighborhood is the New Wilderness

I have to say it again: Neighborhood is the new wilderness. Love that. Wish I’d said it myself but I didn’t. I do want to go to the neighborhood wilderness though: build a little cabin . . . off-grid, wood stove, birds and animals, my sweetie.

No I heard the phrase, almost in passing, day before yesterday from Peter Block in a little “workshop.” His book Community: the Structure of Belonging was so important to me when I first encountered it ten or so years ago. The book is about imagining a future that is distinct from the past. At heart it’s about a new kind of conversation, one we haven’t imagined yet.

IBuckminster Fuller famously said that to change something you don’t fight the existing reality, you build something that makes that reality obsolete. That’s another way of saying a future distinct from the past. Peter’s work is the best way I’ve seen how to do this! .

The opposite of the existing reality is to make friends out of the strangers in the neighborhood. Being amazed and very happy to learn that our unknown neighbors have deep dreams and talents and gifts just like us. And big hearts just like us.

The new “getting to know you” is also the new activism. It’s the revolution, the one that’s been dreamed of for so long. It’s not about overthrowing evil tyrants. They can fall in their own time. In the meantime, we can do our own work

Could we have the great rest instead of the great reset? Yes, but not yet. Freedom takes time and practice freeing ourselves. It takes something besides fighting the enemy.

The Israelites were enslaved in Egypt for 430 years before they left and then they were 40 years wandering in the desert before they made it to the kingdom. The people weren’t all united on leaving and of course, the Pharoah didn’t want them to go. Seven plagues fell on Egypt while the Pharoah said no but finally he had to let the people go. We already have many of the plagues falling on us. How long before we leave the consumer culture that is enslaving us?

Come join this small group conversation on Thursday at 11 Eastern time. We’ll practice making the polarization obsolete and welcoming strangers and each other. We are using zoom (maybe practice local later). We’ll be in groups of three and then together reflecting on what we’re noticing. It’s free to join.

If you CAN’T make it but get the idea, share this email with a friend and copy me. Friends can join my mail list at

We’ll do some other free experiences. Later there’ll be a closed group that will give opportunity for a mutual social field that can support all of our deepest dreams coming true. If any of this appeals to you, take a wild risk and jump in for something different  this Thursday. 11am Eastern, 4in the UK, 5 in western Europe, etc.

This is an exciting seed of a new direction. Feel free to jump in even if you’re not sure what I’m raving about. The new wilderness is under our nose but we so often miss it. Hope you’ll join us and see what can happen for you. ​

Building a Personal Support Network – Part 2

Building a Personal Support Network – Part 2

Part 1 is here.

Further to the question of personal support network, we might call it a creative support network. Or an everything-everywhere-is changing-so-what’s-important-for-me-today support network.

If we think of a Creative Support Network, this means being supported with our creative works, whether that be work as a writer or artist or craftsperson, through things our society have designated as “creative.” But it also can be living artfully through the challenging time we’re in. Navigating this is creative work too. Perhaps not seeing it as creative work is a symptom of the times, which don’t much value stepping back and reflecting. Although we’re not in Kansas anymore (the once-familiar landscape that Dorothy referred to in the Wizard of Oz), the mainstream hasn’t really noticed the landscape has changed. The market and the numbers are the metrics it uses and these keep it unaware of the wider context.

I can imagine people saying,  if you’re to be “creative,” why don’t you just get on with it and do the work. Why talk about it?

The reason is that  good listening and reflection open the way to the next step. That’s why playwrights “workshop” their new work to people who are invited for that purpose. They need fresh eyes on what they’re doing. Good listening and good feedback are part of the creative process and I would say, the human process. We thrive in a high feedback environment.  

But most of us don’t have such an environment for ourselves or even think it’s possible. Thoreau said, The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation. People usually blame themselves for their sense of abandonment but it’s not an individual failing. Rather it’s a social issue with deep roots. Our consumer culture expects us to play by rules that prioritize consumption and structures a world in which “soul values” take a second place, if they’ve any place at all. Even “creative artists” often work within a paradigm in which success is based on future rewards of recognition and money, rather than on joy in the creation, or on generosity and gift.  

 People have lived for so long without a supportive environment for their meaning-making that, like a neglected plant, it hangs in the corner of the window without sunshine or enough water.

Good support, happy plant; bad support, sad plant! Good support, happy human; bad support, sad human. It’s not that you do nothing. Creative support also requires your participation at every step, or nothing happens.

The nutrient that people love is live connection with what is true and meaningful. For many people, this might look like traditional religion. It might look like individual meditation and prayer and study.

But for many of us, including me, the oxygen also needs to come from meaning making and sharing with others.  And in real time too, not in a workshop you took last quarter, but updated today.

Like taking the dog outside into the world for a walk, it has to happen when it has to happen. Its immediacy is one of its chief charms.

More on this soon!

Building a personal support network

Building a personal support network

An exciting direction that’s just appearing now for me can be to create a personal support network that helps you daily with your creative process. This could look like inviting several people you can check in with by phone or perhaps by video chat. It could be small, just a person or two you invite and make a clear agreement with. Or perhaps you could have four or five, or seven short check-ins with different people most days. This is similar to the injunction in many spiritual traditions to check in with “spirit-as-you-define-it” many times daily, perhaps just for five or ten minutes. Think of the call to prayer or the Catholic office.I have part of this in my life but this idea is more honest about what I want for myself. Thanks to Neli and her mentor Dominic Barter; the audio in his teleseminar link here will give you a lot of info.With such a personal support network, you get to define exactly what kind of support you want and make clear agreements with others based on it. You can talk about what’s really going on with you and the other, get feedback on an idea or project, get emergency help – if that’s in your agreement. You can stay more current with your inner life by sharing with a skilled listener and getting the feedback you ask for.Many many of us are more or less adrift with the massive changes going on in our world, with climate change and the other uncertainties. People are often struggling on their own. I can imagine personal support networks, active daily, being helpful to many people, including activists, recovering FaceBook and Twitter junkies, meditators, people concerned for their children’s welfare in a world that encourages alienation. The system often has us in its thrall. This is a way to collaborate on busting out!