Each January the Findhorn Foundation holds an internal conference for co-workers, the one week where we close to participants in programs. A time to come together, vision into the future, engage in group bonding and a deep exploration of who we are as individuals and as a center dedicated to transforming consciousness in everyday life.
During the conference twelve months ago I was fascinated by one co-worker speaking about Spiral Dynamics, a theory I knew only by name not by experience. I’m not even sure if he described it that way but I was intrigued by the way he spoke about ‘the shadow of green’ and the importance of ‘integrating the previous stages of human development’. I was even more intrigued by the way he was shut down by others in the group when he stood up to speak. I wanted to know more and find out what this was all about. After six years as a full time co-worker dedicated to exploring human potential, I intuitively sensed something of interest…
Jonathan and I met for breakfast in the village bakehouse and so began a fascinating friendship. The Foundation has been a center of emerging consciousness for over fifty years and we have both experienced deep personal transformation and spiritual growth. Like other centers, thousands of participants have joined in programs over the years and it’s been inspirational for a long time. However, there seem to be challenges within the culture and dynamics that historically go round in circles and as a collective feel almost impossible to resolve.
I imagine co-workers in most centers reading this post could probably name five elephants in the room and we might share a few similarities. Everyone’s voice being welcomed and valid, and the challenge of making progress through clear decision making. The value of community and the sense of belonging prioritised over financial sustainability, and the struggle to find the balance between both. Issues of accountability and responsibility, and the feeling of being one big family that cares for each other and that’s more important than efficiency and functionality. Upon hearing the phrase from a friend, “My favourite dysfunctional family” I asked, “Can I borrow that one in future?!”
Essentially the Foundation is an amazing, nurturing, caring, supportive, inspirational, safe, intense, challenging, encouraging, life changing, transformational place. Both for co-workers holding the space and participants stepping in to the immersion. This is absolutely true and reflected in the high regard we’re held in by so many; the warm smile simply upon hearing the word Findhorn that then initiates a personal story; by our global status in the world, an NGO with the United Nations, holder of UN Habitat Best Practice designation and co-founder of the Global Ecovillage Network and Holistic Centres Network.
Scattered around the globe are untold thousands of individuals all touched by the spirit of Findhorn, quietly contributing to a more peaceful, compassionate and sustainable world. In the early 1960s, Eileen Caddy, co-founder of the Findhorn Foundation, received the guidance, “You are part of a tremendous network and each member is closely linked … Learn to feel the intertwining and intermingling of each centre until not one is left on its own. The strength comes through the linking up of the centres.”
As individuals we are each one of us a powerful center of influence. This power is magnified exponentially when we consider our centers of consciousness and the vast ripple effect at play. Or the impact of a global conference or event with great relevance in these times.
We have so much to learn from each other and in a world where systems are breaking down, socially, politically, financially, in so many realms, haven’t yet transitioned into the new. In October 2014 the Foundation hosted the New Story Summit, one of our most globally inclusive events filled with diverse representation, and mid week a huge banner was created with the huge words – WE DONT KNOW!!
That bold statement opened the energy within the Foundation. One year later, rather than host another week long internal conference, we moved into five weeks of Time Together, over five months, a huge investment in time and energy. It was during this time I heard Jonathan speak and so began my journey into Spiral Dynamics and Integral Theory; Boomeritis by Ken Wilber and Reinventing Organisations by Frederic Laloux.
Jonathan wrote an interesting article for our Community Magazine, The Rainbow Bridge, entitled, ‘Yes but what is Boomeritis? (and how does it affect me?)’ where he explains…
Spiral Dynamics Integral (SDi) provides a map of how human consciousness has evolved through waves or levels, with each one supporting the emergence and health of the next as they flow into each other. Each level has distinct sets of drives, values and beliefs that emerge out of previous waves. Becoming aware of these, we can see where individuals, groups, communities and even companies are at and where the next stage of development is. SDi isn’t a new fad, it’s been around since the early 1970’s and has been subjected to extensive research.
One level of this spiral, quite a high level, is called Green or pluralistic and is driven by a need for connection and community. Green brought us the vital gifts of environmental awareness, the civil rights movement, increased equality between Men and Women and a more caring society wherever it went. Green emerged from the shadow of the industrial mindset as the ‘Orange’ machine separated people and caused environmental damage. Awareness of the shadow of one level facilitates the emergence of the next.
The underlying belief of Green is that of pluralism. This belief holds that all truth comes out of a cultural context, therefore truth is relative to context “you have your truth and I have mine” as the saying goes. In this way Green brings equality and inclusion to previously marginalised views. Every level has a shadow, however, and Green is no exception.
If all truth is relative, it is impossible to value one truth over another. In turn, this makes making decisions very difficult especially as Green wants to hear everybody’s voice! Remember any very long meetings without outcomes by any chance? Sound familiar in your center?
The full two page article is included here and next week I’ll share more of the FF journey and how this leads into our exploration of Evolving Consciousness when we gather as a network for the annual Centers Gathering in May…
Jonathan Dover is now an Associate Coach with Integral Coaching Canada and has trained in Spiral Dynamics Integral level 1 with Dr Don Beck. He was introduced to integral theory whilst undertaking a master’s degree in Sustainable Development Advocacy following a life changing visit to the Findhorn Foundation in 2003. Jonathan put SDi and his Findhorn experience to practical use, using it to lead the development of over 40 social enterprise care farms In England’s West Midlands, creating an agile, resilient, autonomous health and social care network utilising the natural environment and the multiple skills of farmers and their families.