Curating Content To Support Learning About Humanity's Transition

This content was posted on  17 May 24  by   Joe Brewer  on  Medium
Collapse of Sense-Making in the Regenerative Movement

One year ago, almost to the day, I wrote the essay Restoring Trust Among Regenerative Leaders. It was seen by some as a public apology, yet in truth the purpose was much deeper.

Back then I was already seeing the collapse of sense-making among regenerative efforts. There simply was not enough coherence among us to say that we were functioning as a movement. So I “took one for the team” and attempted to role-model the kinds of social restoration that would be needed for coherence to increase at the movement scale.

What I have seen emerge between then and now is deeply troubling.

Through a combination of factors — manipulative social media algorithms, fragmentation of efforts, wounded egos and interpersonal competitions, the release of so-called “artificial intelligence” tools, and the accelerating confluence of collapse patterns in social + ecological systems being the primary considerations — our ability to collectively discern reality has largely disappeared.

Earlier this week, I posted publicly that an orchestrated effort has been undertaken to erase my work from the movement. Without naming who the culprits are, I took care to frame my message around the importance of giving attention to on-the-ground organizing where the real regenerative leadership exists. Those who are building fiefdoms of exclusion are harming the movement.

I have been carefully observing a diversity of patterns among regenerative efforts to reveal evidence that this intentional fragmentation of efforts was taking place. What I observed as a response was a combination of some people posting false claims of being allied with me to protect themselves from being accused; others who presumed I was acting out of hurt personal feelings who began promoting my work to help me “feel more included”; and a general lack of robust sense-making about what is actually occurring.

One response in particular included the fabrication of a AI-generated video with their company’s branding on it that falsely claimed to support our work in Barichara. Another claimed we are colleagues when they were part of the group who was actively erasing our participation from key processes over the span of months so they could displace us while exploiting advances in the field that our work had made possible.

I want to emphasize that all of this is taking place at the level of the field as a whole. It is not reducible to individual actors, nor to specific agendas. Meanwhile there ARE a few bad actors who have been actively smearing me to build their own fiefdoms. I have discerned who those people are.

The larger issue is a matter of coherence. When I observed last fall that a huge number of people were jumping on the bandwagon of bioregionalism, it was easy to see that most of these newcomers didn’t know what the term meant, that it has a 50+ year history, and that there are very robust definitions for what it signifies. Our team at the Design School for Regenerating Earth (together with aligned partners) began a process of deepening the coherence — by introducing a discourse about what bioregions are, how to map them, and how to create bioregional learning centers all over the world.

This strategy is working. Coherence is increasing. But not without increasing noise at the same time. The unethical actors are creating incoherence at an accelerating pace — and the breakdown of sense-making is speeding up as well. This brings about the need for profound realignments of effort if we are to become coherent as a planetary movement.

I am fully aware that I am a disruptor. That there are many who do not know me as a human being, nor who grasp the unusual ways that I work. I am accustomed to being judged, criticized, misunderstood, and occasionally attacked by those who should be my allies. It is a painful truth for real leaders that this is what happens. It sucks to lead, which is why so few people actually do it. (Those of you who are leaders will know very well what I am talking about.)

Let me add a comment about psychopaths. Most people don’t believe in their existence. They don’t understand how damaging a person can be who is charismatic yet lacks conscience. I have a lot of experience with psychopaths and I have watched on various occasions as naive participants in social processes assert that “we all want the same things” — as if being in the regenerative movement means there will not be people who actively do harm to others in service of their own personal agendas.

One of the bad actors I have discerned in the field is a psychopath. I know this clearly because I have studied what psychopaths are and have come into contact with them repeatedly throughout my life. I know full well that a bad actor can pretend to be a hero while believably spreading intentional falsehoods about their colleagues in the movement.

This brings us to the depth of the challenge. Our information ecosystems have been fully colonized by corporate algorithms. Human emotional wounds create ego insecurities that can be easily exploited by bad actors. Confusion is widespread even without these bad actors. And we are in the midst of the most important struggle for humanity’s future that has ever existed.

Those of you out there who are working to build coherence, please know that we are here doing the best we can in this very challenging context. Let us increasingly find each other. Support each others’ coherence-building activities. Grow the trust and alignment among our diverse efforts that will be necessary if we are to succeed.

Onward, fellow humans.

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