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The US election next week feels like a planetary watershed moment, with implications well beyond the United States. This moment has an exterior and an interior dimension. The exterior dimension is a referendum on the occupant of the White House. But a change there will not on its own change much. …


The 20th-century avant garde artist Joseph Beuys reportedly once said that there are two forms of creativity on earth — the creativity of the artists, focusing on the creation outside ourselves, and the creativity of women, allowing for the creation inside ourselves.

One year ago today, my mother, Margret Scharmer (1938–2019), crossed the threshold. I want to honor her life by sharing five personal reflections, five learning experiences that I now begin to see more clearly. …


By Otto Scharmer and Eva Pomeroy

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We live in a world of disruption, drama, and despair. All of these are real. But at the same time, we also live in a world of unparalleled opportunity — the opportunity to step into new spaces and to sense and actualize the future that many feel is wanting to emerge — even though it is unclear how.

Yet, in public perception it is the first story — disruption, drama and despair — that keeps being amplified, while the second story — the space of unparalleled opportunity to reshape the world anew — tends to remain unnoticed and unattended to. But why is it that the case? …


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We are living in a moment of tectonic shift in society. Something changed when we all watched the same images — 8 minutes and 46 seconds — the killing of George Floyd. During that unbearable experience, something broke down and broke open in our hearts, in how we relate to one another, and in how we want to live together.

From the Collapse of the Berlin Wall in 1989…

When the Berlin Wall collapsed in 1989, we witnessed the end of the 20th-century Cold War era. …


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Visual by Kelvy Bird

Three weeks ago, I posted some reflections on what we are learning from corona and climate action. Given that post’s wide circulation (150K+ views), I wanted to share a quick update. The concluding idea of the post — to launch an impromptu, global infrastructure for leaning into our current moment of disruption and letting this moment move us toward civilizational renewal — has quickly taken shape.

GAIA — Global Activation of Intention and Action — was implemented only twelve days after a small core team first came up with the idea. Within twelve days, 10,000+ had signed up for this free, four-month, online journey, and a global team of 100+ volunteers had begun co-creating, in five different languages, a suite of deep learning events for participants around the world. On March 27, we launched GAIA with a day-long series of events, including framing inputs, deep listening practices, small breakout groups, intentional stillness, reflective journaling, live music performance, and “social image resonance.”


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Checking the temperature of a passenger arriving at the international airport in Hong Kong. The city, like Singapore and Taiwan, has made headway in containing Covid-19. (Ph. credit: Hannah Mckay/Reuters)

As 100 million people in Europe are in lockdown, the US seems to be completely unprepared for the tsunami that is about to hit. “We’re about to experience the worst public health disaster since polio,” says Dr Martin Makary, professor at Johns Hopkins University’s Bloomberg School of Public Health. “Don’t believe the numbers when you see, even on our Johns Hopkins website, that 1,600 Americans have the virus. No, that means 1,600 got the test, tested positive. There are probably 25 to 50 people who have the virus for every one person who is confirmed. …


The first two articles in this three-part series explored two blind spots in the response to global climate change: soil and democracy. The third one is consciousness.

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Figure 11 — Leverage Point No. 3: Consciousness

In January, I spent a weekend with 300 biodynamic farmers in northern Germany. The topic of the gathering was Creating from Nothing. The topic struck a chord with me. For one, it resonated with questions I’ve seen asked in many contexts: How do we move beyond marginal innovation that only modifies the patterns of the past, to one that truly creates something from nothing?

What also struck me was how many of these regenerative farmers are struggling to evolve and scale what they do. Only 1% of farmland is cultivated using regenerative methods, and only a small fraction of that with regenerative organic methods. These forward-looking farmers are among the true pioneers of our time, forging a path to the future. They should have all the support in the world to continue and accelerate their work from 1% to eventually 100%. But in reality, the support that they get is highly limited. Instead of supporting them, we continue to pour between $700 billion and $1 trillion per year into an outdated agricultural paradigm — one that is eroding the topsoil, polluting the water, poisoning the bodies, and degrading the lives of future generations. …


In October of 2018, a small group of activists in Bavaria, Germany’s most conservative state, submitted a petition called “Save the Bees” to the state government. The petition called for 30% of agricultural land in Bavaria to meet organic standards by 2030, for 10% of green spaces to be turned into wildflower meadows, and for land and streams to be more stringently protected from pesticides and fertilizers. Bavaria is home to various German industry leaders, as well as the largest surface area of farmed land in any German state.

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Figure 5 — The Power of Dialogue and Direct Democracy

The conservative government was strongly opposed, and representatives of the agro-industrial complex were outraged. But to no avail. Just four months later, the petition received support from 1.75 million Bavarians — about a fifth of the state electorate. Five months after that, in July 2019, the petition was passed into law, under the same conservative governor who a few months earlier had been leading the opposition. …


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It’s 2020. Britain has left the EU. Trump is preparing for his second term. Bolsonaro keeps the deforestation of the Amazon soaring. Australia is still on fire. The people from Hong Kong to Paris, from Teheran, Beirut and Bagdad to Santiago de Chile keep rising against what they see as corrupt and illegitimate governments.

The good news in 2020 may be that most people are now aware of climate change. Places like the World Economic Forum in Davos demonstrate that the topic has finally reached the executive mainstream. Everyone realizes that global warming presents a serious threat to our future. The bad news is that most people harbor a deep-seated doubt, or even find themselves collectively depressed concerning our capacity to turn this situation around. In this three-part column, I will outline how a profound shift to reverse global warming and transform our economic, democratic, and learning infrastructures is not only necessary, but also quite possible within the next decade or two. Such a shift will be possible if society focuses on three collective blind spots; focal points and dimensions of change work that have largely been ignored. …


Otto Scharmer and Eva Pomeroy

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The Social Field Research Summer School — Berlin, 2019

In June 2019, 55 researchers, graduate students, artists, practitioners and academics gathered at the FORUM Factory in Berlin for an unconventional research event: the launch of the inaugural Social Field Research Summer School. They came from 23 different countries across five continents with the intention to advance the research that helps illuminate the deeper structures (and often hidden dimensions) of the social field.

The multi-stakeholder nature of the gathering was reflected in the diversity of organizations represented, some of which include the World Health Organization, Impact Hub, Ministry of Social Development (New Zealand), Centre for Human Ecology (Glasgow), Stockholm School of Economics, Federal University of Rio de Janeiro State, Forum for the Future, Centre for Social Impact (University of Western Australia), Scottish Government, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and the universities of Edinburgh, Vienna, Rennes, Antwerp, Cambridge, Pittsburgh, Wisconsin, and Stavanger among many others. …

About

Otto Scharmer

Senior Lecturer, MIT. Co-founder, Presencing Institute. www.ottoscharmer.com

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