Nora Bateson and Gil Friend: Inner Ecology—Thinking Through the Mess
Published on 22 Apr 2019
Nora Bateson and Gil Friend kick off Gil’s “Conversations at the Edge of Now” series at the Commonwealth Club of California with a wide-ranging exploration that starts with a simple, provocative question: “How can we think our way out of these messes, when the way we think is part of the mess?” ———————————————————————————– The world is coming undone, all sort of chaos looms. It’s pitch dark. There’s no moon. You can’t find your map. The ground shifts beneath your feet. You grope tentatively to detect sure footing, or the edge of a precipice, and long for a hand to hold. Welcome to the Anthropocene—perhaps the most uncertain era in the human evolutionary experience. Underlying the climate crisis and other pressing dilemmas of our times is the problem of how we think, and how we encounter the world, others and ourselves. How we meet this era is critical. Are we going to soothe ourselves and pretend that business as usual is an option? No. There is no more time for trendy buzz-words or empty promises. To meet the challenges of this era is to accept that, no matter how well intended, previous approaches to sustainable and just socio-economic solutions were not sufficient to meet the systemic nature of the problems. A paradigm shift is more than an incremental adjustment of existing institutions, more than a detailed strategy for silo-ed solutions to silo-ed crises that have been bought about by silo-ed thinking. Climate, immigration, trade, innovation, wealth gap, AI, biodiversity, racism, acidification, mental health, urbanization, power, supply chains, exploitation of human beings and nature…all are connected, through similar blocks, similar blindness, and something that illuminates it all. Underlying our dilemmas is the problem of how we think—“the difference between how nature works and the way people think,” as Gregory Bateson put it—and how we encounter the world, others and ourselves. It is time to authorize another kind of description of the meta-crises we live in, another kind of response, and another kind of conversation, with each other and with ourselves—since we create worlds in these conversations, and open or close the possibilities we live into. This is a radical move, out of the standard accepted models of goals and deliverables into what it really takes to meet the trans-contextual complexity of now. Join Nora and Gil as we explore warm data, the patterns that connect, the dilemma of purpose, and the ways our words shape the worlds we inhabit, and the possibilities we generate, in each other and in ourselves. Nora Bateson is an award-winning filmmaker, writer and educator, and President of the International Bateson Institute, based in Sweden. Her work asks the question “How we can improve our perception of the complexity we live within, so we may improve our interaction with the world?” Nora wrote, directed and produced the award-winning documentary, An Ecology of Mind, a portrait of her father, Gregory Bateson. Her work brings the fields of biology, cognition, art, anthropology, psychology, and information technology together into a study of the patterns in the ecology of living systems. Her book, Small Arcs of Larger Circles, released by Triarchy Press, UK, 2016 is a revolutionary personal approach to the study of systems and complexity. Gil Friend is a strategist, author and businessman, named “one of the top ten sustainability voices in the US” by The Guardian. As CEO of Natural Logic, he has challenged and guided some of the world’s leading companies to build value and competitive advantage by applying nature’s 3.8 billion years of open source R&D to today’s biggest problems. He served as the first Chief Sustainability Officer for the City of Palo Alto, and is founder of Critical Path Capital. Gil is author of The Truth About Green Business (FT Press, 2009) and numerous articles for GreenBiz, Sustainable Brands, and the LA Times Syndicate. He began his sustainability journey at Buckminster Fuller’s “World Game” nearly 50 years ago.