Is humanity reaching a turning point? A leaping point? Humanity is at the verge of reaching 7 generations alive, around the world. What does it mean/provide for? Living experience is of immense value: a hidden value, a key resource in itself for humankind and the web of life it participates in. Humanity has a transgenerational nature: traces from the past and the future are at play in the very present in which individual and collective learning take place. What does learning imply? What does it mean?

This was the opening paragraph presenting a workshop at the 66th Annual Meeting of the International Society for the Systems Sciences to explore possibilities at stake in connection with an enriched present allowing more successfully navigate the so very tangible evolutionary tension humanity is experiencing right now.  

Multi-intergenerational mutual support and inter-pollination in every field of activity nurture individual and collective essential capacities facing delicate challenges in the entire biosocial spectrum. Each feeling, thought and action counts, since patterns arise there, where those are recreated along with the dynamics sustained by them. 

Shaping promising futures along with far more vital and enjoyable presents requires profound cultural innovation: a deep transformation is required to allow sustainability and supportive dynamics. It demands a growing comprehension of the interconnected nature of our world, enhanced by the ability to execute meaningful choices and live joyfully. 

A way to create a new system out of an existing one is envisioning and tuning into another far more desirable while spotting its seeds and cultivating them to bring it about with available resources. Doing so recreates past-present-future/future-present-past altogether through a process-tuning interplay that facilitates leaping to life-sustaining realities.

To that end a short-long term 7 generations approach at the core of this process-tuning is key since it opens up to a wider but relevant web of interrelation offering sustenance to a paradigmatic shift: allowing consciousness expansion.

Moving from a short to a short-long term 7 generations approach

The occasion of this event provided opportunity to honor the work and life of Ruth Benedict (1887-1948), a foremother to systems science, friend and mentor to Margaret Mead and Abraham Maslow among others. As an anthropologist Ruth Benedict conducted comparative studies of diverse cultures, some friendly and supportive to their people and others just the contrary according to their behavioral patterns, patterns that are nurtured by cultural assumptions, beliefs, paradigms. Her studies offer valuable clues to overcome mainstream worldwide patterns that prevent a life sustaining culture nurtured with available knowledge, wisdom along with the comprehension of the possibilities at stake.

We included poems by Pille Bunnell chosen from the following selection, which were offered to participants in her own voice: “Global change” “Choice” “Tomorrow” “Children Becoming” “Gaia’s gift” and “It is”, while Ethan Bonerath, at the time aged 16 years, facilitated exploring layers of Pille’s poems through a guided inquiry.

Extract from Pille’s Bunnel Poem: «Children becoming»

This section was thought as an invitation to deep listening: listening to the reading, to the questions, to Pille’s and Ethan’s caring voices, followed by a pause -a silence- so that each one could listen to what comes up from within, in resonance to the outside listening, and then the opportunity to take notes was offered, so that each one could capture what came up in herself as a hidden treasure: a personal harvest from the intended flow of a ME-WE experience. 

Paola López and her son Ángelo Zweifel offered a piece of art expressing love: loved and loving humans are the core drivers of a life-sustaining humanity in which individuals-collectives interplay in ways that nurture their humanness: disposition, attitudes, behavior organization, interactions, abilities, capabilities… by learning/recreating what is, what was, what could be, what would be in and endless constant becoming.

Paola and Angelo’s work of art

The intended purpose behind it all is an invitation to each one of us, to take its place at the very center of its own world: the web of life in which he/her participates in, and doing so by tuning into a scenario in which loved and loving humans live: a friendly, AMABLE culture, world, society, specie in which a life-sustaining economy, an “Economía AMABLE”, is a reality. In other words: a humanity that has already learnt how to take advantage of its unity-diversity.

A way to tune into such a reality and contribute to its emergence is by asking yourself:

Which is the world you would like to live in? This is a key question to foster imagination, tuning into true aspirations, and expanding consciousness of the intricate interdependence within the wide complex system humanity lives in.

Is a fully inclusive world within reach? A world for everyone, free from so many categories: race, gender, age, culture, wealth, incomes, and so on.

Could we recognize, honor and nurture the human in the human? Note that the word human is related to humus: fertile land with nutritious power. In fact HEART and EARTH share the same letters and roots: a source for love, sustenance, amiability.

Exploring questions like the mentioned above nurtured prospective imagination exercises I engaged with some years ago, resulting in a scenario that became a work of art-science: “El Mundo de NAVIS UTOPIA” (The World of NAVIS UTOPIA).

The opening piece of “The World of NAVIS UTOPIA”

“The World of NAVIS UTOPIA” is an installation presenting a promising scenario in which the most delicate challenges humanity faces today don’t exist anymore. In 28/14 pieces it describes a world in which a thrivable society where a joyful longevity along with an “Economía AMABLE”, which is a life-sustaining economy, are in place. Every key aspect of such a world is featured: each piece describes some particulars in the way a peak of an iceberg does, each one being part of a big one connected within the underlying whole.

A world in which a joyful vitality on the individual level along with a joyful longevity on the collective is a reality: a creative, innovative, learning society with an inclusive life-sustaining Economía AMABLE. Please note that the Spanish word “amable” comes from the Latin amabilitas, which means conducive to love. In English: amiable.   

Being very similar to the world we live in, “The World of NAVIS UTOPIA” is very different of it, since the key systemic drivers are different: it shows that the seeds of a desirable world are within reach, at our present. By acknowledging and cultivating those seeds, a learning-tuning process would move us into a fully sustainable world. For this reason it is a tool to foster comprehension of the possibilities at stake and nurturing the most promising.

Highlights about the event co-host & special invitees:

Pille Bunnell has a background in ecology and ethology.  After finishing her doctorate studies in Berkeley half century ago, she began her professional life as a research associate at the University of British Columbia, followed by nearly two decades as an international environmental consultant. After an early retirement to accommodate care of a family elder, Pille became engaged with complex systems through the American Society for Cybernetics, where she has served as President and is currently on the board.  She spent a further couple of decades teaching systems methods and systems thinking, mostly at Royal Roads University, before formally retiring.

Pille Bunnell

Pille is particularly interested in the implications of how we think and act, especially how the assumptions we make and the beliefs we hold about “reality” change what is possible.  As part of this she is exploring how our reflections alter our perceptions and our relationships; with ourselves, with each other and with the world around us. Personally, she reads avidly, both fiction and nonfiction, spends as much time in nature as feasible and has interests in photography, music (as a listener) and cooking, and growing vegetables. She is also an enthusiastic grandmother of two and is deeply engaged with mutigenerational living.

Ethan Bonerath, at the time 16, he understands the value of intergenerational relationships, having lived in a multi-generational home with his grandparents and great-grandparents. He attends Pickering College near Toronto, Ontario, Canada, which has a mission to instill in students the ability to make the world greater and more beautiful than they found it.

Ethan Bonerath

Ethan’s year-long Global Leadership Project (GLP) is to foster intergenerational connections so that generations can have deeper discussions about the world’s complex «wicked» challenges (the biggest of all being climate change) and work together to meaningfully address them. Ethan’s GLP is part of the Legacy Project’s 7-Generation work: You are welcome to sign up to be part of “Talk With Ethan”, which you can visit here.

Paola López and Ángelo Zweifel are mother and child. Paola is an artist, yoga instructor and entrepreneur who took time off to fully engage herself in her motherhood for some three years: first during her pregnancy and then for Ángelo’s first two years. Their language and bonding is love, joy and celebration of life, which is the main reason why they offer a work of art crafted as an expression of gratefulness to the web of life in which they are embedded in: past present and future human generations and the planet Earth, home to humanity.  

Paola López & her son Ángelo

Ángelo, at the time 1 and a half years of age, signed the piece printing his hands on it. By using an ancestral way of human signature he expressed his love for present, future and past generations.

Economía AMABLE: a life-sustaining, fully inclusive humanity