Home Sustainability Ecosystems of Innovation, by Davie Philip

Ecosystems of Innovation, by Davie Philip

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Transitioning from ‘me’ to ‘we’.

“Pioneering the principles and practices that help us to transition from ‘ego-system’ to ‘ecosystem’ awareness, may well be one of the most important undertakings of our time.” Otto Scharmer, MIT Senior Lecturer.

In the book he co-authored with Katrin Kaufer, ‘Leading From the Emerging Future’, Otto Scharmer suggests that we have entered an era of great disruption and that we are collectively creating a future nobody wants.

He believes that meeting the challenges of the 21st century will require a monumental shift of consciousness – a transition from an out-dated ‘egosystem’ awareness, that of being focused on the well-being of oneself, to an ‘ecosystem’ awareness that emphasises the health of the whole and including oneself.

To help people individually and collectively make the transformation that is needed, Scharmer has co-created a method for leading profound change called Theory U. This framework facilitates deeper thinking; it assists us to open our minds to moments of discovery and mutual understanding, and helps us avoid repeating old patterns and assumptions. Unless we transform the quality of the awareness we bring to our actions within systems, we will never transform them.

I’m based in the Cloughjordan Ecovillage, a neighbourhood in rural Ireland that is pioneering low-carbon housing, demonstrating sustainability, and exploring how we collectively create a healthy environment to live, work and learn in. The community has many challenges but is fast becoming what Otto Scharmer calls, “a living ecosystem of innovation”.

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With its many educational offerings, a community farm, an award winning bakery, research gardens, a green enterprise centre with co-working space and a FabLab, an eco-hostel and a vibrant community with plans for co-housing, youth leadership projects and more, it really is a brilliant environment in which to learn and co-create the future. Being involved has been enriching and incredibly satisfying for me but it’s not always easy and I often say it has been the longest and most expensive self-development course I have ever taken.

To make the journey from a ‘me’ to a ‘we’ perspective, we need to better connect to ourselves, to others and to the whole system. If we are to move beyond a society driven by values of self-interest, status and power towards fl ourishing communities and thriving local businesses, we will need to relearn the art of cooperation. This is best done through practices of sharing and mutual learning.

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Our community in Tipperary is no utopia but it does offer insights into the technologies that we will need to make the transition to a low-carbon society, as well as practical, experienced learnings and prototyping the behavioural and lifestyle changes that will be required. To accelerate and advance this shift from the ‘me’ to the ‘we’ will require more places like Cloughjordan and more change-makers who can co-sense, co-inspire, and co-create the future that wants to emerge. More details on Theory u can be found at presencing.com.

Davie Philip is a group facilitator and trainer who manages the Community Resilience programme at Cultivate Living and Learning. he is based at the Cloughjordan Ecovillage and is a board member of Grow It Yourself International. Davie is collecting stories of transformational community-led projects; if you know of something in your area send him an email. davie@cultivate.ie | thevillage.ie

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