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By: Isabel Nuesse

How do you bring people into the conversation about economic systems change? How do you make it relevant? Interesting? Or, as we called it at our event yesterday, “cool”? 

Our hypothesis was that by creating metaphors about our economic system, we could hopefully open up the conversation to a wide range of audiences- inviting more people to think critically about our current economic system and empowering them to take action to change it. 

During the 90-minute session, we crafted a few compelling metaphors for our economic system.

  1. Humanity is an organism. Right now we belong to this organism, but it’s sick. There is no solidarity, communication or support within the organism. And in order for it to move so we can flourish together, we need a new organism where every cell is cooperating with and sustaining each other. 
  2. The economy is like a game with many players involved. However some players are running in sandals, or barefeet, while others are running in Nike’s. It’s not a level playing field for all – and therefore the odds are stacked against those that don’t have Nike running sneakers. 
  3. It is typical for aliens to arrive on planets, ravage the resources of the planet and move onto the next one. We haven’t learned their technique. Instead, we ravage our planet, take all it’s resources, and still believe we can survive on it. We’re locked where we are. Unless you’re a mega-millionaire who can afford to leave the planet – and the damage behind. 
  4. The economy is like glass that is made from sand. Each sand particle represents all lives (animal, human and ecological). You can use the glass that we have now, but it’s fragile and broken. The edges are sharp and people are getting hurt drinking from it. We need to re-shape the glass from the sand, and ensure that the glass will work properly for all lives.  We need to make sure the glass is clear, and has smooth edges so everyone can sip from it. We need a glass that can be passed on for generations to come; one that is resilient. 

It was beautiful to see the many different metaphors that came from each group- and the vast differences in each of them. One participant made a comment, however, that broad metaphors lack a stickiness that’s needed. 

This shifted the conversation toward identifying what exactly is needed. Many agreed that a major obstacle to ensuring the Wellbeing Economy flourishes, is shifting the stuck thinking of “well that’s just how the world works.” Many people are attached to the ‘normal’ so much so, that they cannot possibly imagine an alternative way of being. 

So how can we ensure that our metaphors inspire audiences to think bigger, whilst also disentangling them from the current narrative that is so pervasive?

One key element here is to make sure that our metaphors are contextualized locally. We don’t need to universalize our metaphors – but rather create targeted metaphors for specific locations – that speak directly to the audiences they’re intended to resonate with.  This emphasizes the importance of the audience, most importantly those that don’t have the conscious space to think of these things as more pressing issues take priority, such as putting food on the table. 

Next time we run this session, we hope to invite artists and other visual thinkers that can illustrate our verbal metaphors into pieces of art that can visually convey the messages. We hope you’ll stay tuned for the next session – as this last session was such a fantastic way for our network to co-create something together. 

Lastly, at the end of the session, we asked the participants to share one of their key takeaways, you can read the list below. 

  • Metaphors can open up possibilities for individual engagement & action
  • We haven’t asked what metaphors ‘ordinary people  might use 
  • We need to break out of old toxic paradigms 
  • We need more events like this with many many artists to be in them!!!  🙂
  • Community is important to create a healthy earth system
  • It is hard to keep a metaphor inclusive 
  • The big interest in thinking about the economy
  • The economy can be many things, depending on whom you ask 
  • The power of a metaphor is one thing, but to discuss metaphors in a group is even more inspiring than I thought…
  • The economy surrounds us
  • Some people are playing to play and some are playing to survive
  • We had a very wide-ranging conversion which was quite free-wheeling and creative. That was a good reminder of the value of multiple viewpoints from all around the world. 
  • There’s so many different ways you can spin a metaphor- a great group helps with that!
  • I’m thinking lots on how to get ourselves out of the spaceships and land and connect with the planet and the rest of humanity 
  • We have become aliens living in spaceships and need to land on earth and become human again
  • The economy is a metaphor itself for the way all beings relate
  • TO keep taking the metaphor economy to the next generation
  • Cultural context matters! We’re often too biased. 
  • We are the economy

Around the world, there are a plethora of activities that blend environmental benefits with health benefits. This co-beneficial approach is outlined in our recently published paper, 5 Pathways to Health and Environment in a Wellbeing Economy

The paper showcases a number of these case studies that marry these two ideas – proving that we don’t have to choose between just focusing on environmental benefits or only focusing on health benefits. ather, there are ways in which we can develop policies that support both of these objectives simultaneously. 

On June 28th, WEAll hosted with the authors of this paper, a panel that brought together speakers from around the world implementing these practices in their local communities. 

The case studies show that multiple objectives can be achieved if thought of holistically. Social cooperation, food security, health, climate change – all of these can be tackled simultaneously to build a Wellbeing Economy. 

The first case study was Emma Whitman from Moo Foods. Based in the Scottish Highlands, Moo Food works to build community resilience by bringing people together to grow food, knowledge and confidence. 

“Everything we do at MOO Food is based on these three words; Growing Our Future.”

Emma Whitman

They do this by supporting a multitude of agriculture projects in their community. From planting orchards to building growing spaces, to instigating school partnerships, Moo Foods reaches a  wide range of the community –  all centering around food security. This method of practice centers food security while also strengthening  community. 

The webinar then learns from Piedad Viteri from Johannes Kepler school in Ecuador. This school integrates regenerative design into all aspects of their curriculum. They’ve taken the  Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as the framework to further develop their strategy. They even went as far to declare their school as an ‘SDG Territory’. 

“We have to get together, in order to change things, in order to also regenerate.”

Piedad Viteri

One of the highlights of their program was the decision to move all the classrooms outside. This furthered the education of the students at their school to not only understand the core pieces of their curriculum, but also foster a deeper connection to the earth and to each other. 

Lastly, the webinar introduced Zeenath Hasan who works at Rude Foods in Malmo, Sweden. In Sweden there is an activist culture around food rescue. Rude Foods saw this and thought they could make food rescue a part of the mainstream. 

“Most of the economic activities that are hidden, is mainly what makes up the economy.”

Zeenath Hasan

With this in mind, they’ve built a strategy to rescue food and resell it to the community. This practice they refer to  as a ‘food rescuing catering service’. In this practice, they’re able to reduce food waste and blur the lines between the eater as an activist or the activist as someone who is food insecure. 

These case studies show the creativity involved to develop co-beneficial approaches to achieving both health and environment objectives. If you’re curious to learn more, please read the paper here.

Written by Isabel Nuesse

By Alexander Evatt, Helsinki, Finland

Dear WEALL community,

Two weeks ago, WEAll Youth brought together WEAll Youth, Citizens and Members at ‘WEAll Connects’, our first Intergenerational event aimed at creating a space to build cross-generational connections and discuss WEAll Youth’s initiatives and goals.

I had the great pleasure to facilitate the first WEAll Connects session, which welcomed WEAll Youth and WEAll members from all over the globe, including Argentina, Canada, USA, Uganda, Kenya, Netherlands, Scotland, UK, Spain, Singapore and many others – weaving a tapestry of intergenerational connectivity and support.

My journey as a member with WEAll started last year, during my Master studies on ‘Leadership and Change Management’ in Amsterdam. Part of my thesis research centered on how to create the bridges between generations in organizations and get intergenerational energy flowing. One of the main findings of my research was the importance of creating “safe spaces” that allow people to share and get to know each other by opening up and listening to different perspectives.

This is one of the reasons I was excited about the co-creation, within the WEALL community, of a space to explore how we can collaborate across generations to build connections, hear one another’s voices and offer support.

Part of the intention for the WEAll Connects event was empowerment. There is power in connecting Youth, the leaders of the future, with experienced experts within WEAll’s network, who can offer confidence and insights.

Together, we explored how to best find synergies and collaboration possibilities across generations and communities, discussing:

  1. What are your greatest challenges?
  2. What do you want to achieve by the end of 2020?
  3. In what ways can we continuously connect, share ideas and projects and support one another?

We explored challenges, such as navigating difficulty in creating engagement, a lack of awareness around intergenerational work, translation of ideas into action, as well as how to integrate Youth voices into the work of WEAll members.

We also felt positive emotions, such as excitement, openness, joy, appreciation and compassion for one and other – and a sense that this is something we want to be a part of.

We all shared the urgency for a unified space where WEAll Youth and Members can share networks, projects and invitations for collaboration and meet regularly.

I felt as if all of us who joined the session embodied what such a WEAll connecting space looks like, feels like, talks like, and works like!

I’m looking forward to continuing the WEAll Connects sessions by building on inspiration and ideas from our first event, deepening our connections and creating value for one and other.

Join us – I’m looking forward to connecting at the next WEAll Connects event!


Alexander Evatt
Next Generation Leadership Coach
alexander@newdirection.fi 
www.newdirection.fi

#WEAllConnects #BridgingGenerations

WEALL member @r3dot0 held a one-hour webcast about the latest developments of r3.0, with a focus on getting participants an overview of the two forthcoming Blueprints on Sustainable Finance and Value Cycles, as well as an overview of the September 8-11 7th International r3.0 Conference.

As in earlier years the conference delivers a top-notch set of 16 keynote speakers in four plenary sessions as well as about 35 more speakers in breakout sessions and market-making sessions, covering eight important focus areas: science, behaviour, finance, growth, value, circularity, education and governance.

The conference is fully online and more details can be seen at www.conference2020.r3-0.org. r3.0 also informed about the start of two new Blueprint projects on Educational Transformation and Systemic Governance & Funding. Interested parties can find more information on www.r3-0.org or can directly contact r.thurm@r3-0.org or b.baue@r3-0.org.

To watch the recording of the webinar that was hosted last week, please view it below:

This week, WEAll joined Social Enterprise Scotland in a webinar: ‘Time for Change – New Economy’ on the role businesses can play in creating a Wellbeing Economy.

Three great speakers joined the session: Michael Roy (Glasgow Caledonian University), Michael Weatherhead( Wellbeing Economy Alliance) and Julie McLachlan (North Ayrshire Council).

If you missed it, you can watch the webinar recording here.

WEAll’s Michael Weatherhead covered takeaways from our Business of Wellbeing Guide, from the 19 minute to the 39 minute mark, including:

  • Analysis of the dimensions businesses need to deal with when trying to contribute to building a wellbeing economy, from leadership to accounting for impact;
  • Case studies of pioneering businesses to inspire what’s possible;
  • Expert views on how to navigate transformation;
  • A self-assessment tool to help decision makers plan their next steps.

Download the PDF guide here – or explore extracts in our dedicated Business of Wellbeing web portal.