Global Forum 2014: Labs

During the Forum, we will move between ‘big picture’ engagement in plenary and ‘deep dive’ explorative breakaway sessions or "Labs" which will focus on areas of profound innovation and system transformation. The Labs will be highly interactive with facilitators and presenters. Labs will include: 

  1. Collaborative and Conscious Consumption
    Juliet B. Schor, Professor of Sociology, Boston College
    Bob Massie, President, New Economy Coalition
    Denise Chaer, Novos Urbanos (Brazil)
    Caroline Howe, MIT Sloan; Groundswell, Inc.

    “Humans are degrading the planet far faster than they are regenerating it. Food, energy, transport, and consumer goods are becoming increasingly scarce and over the long term will be more expensive. The economic downturn that has accompanied the ecological decline has led to another type of scarcity: incomes, jobs, and credit. We can start addressing both economic and ecological deficits by tapping into neglected assets.” -Juliet B. Schor

    How do we shift the economic paradigm, connect unmet needs with unused resources, and begin to re-shape the system?
    This Lab will explore how we might re-link the economy with well-being through alternative consumption patterns, and in addition, convene and support all those who would contribute to an economy that is restorative to people, place and planet, and that operates according to principles of democracy, justice and appropriate scale. Although we take consumerism as a given fact of society, it is actually a relatively recent phenomenon created and sustained by a variety of assumptions and drivers. It has become a complex, interwoven system of government, financial, commercial and environmental issues.

    Some presenters will discuss their research on and experiences with the rapidly changing world of consumption, highlighting initiatives such as peer-to-peer lodging sites, time banks, car sharing, community demand aggregation, makerspaces and waste diversion. We will engage with presenters’ experience in building movements of citizens and leading groundbreaking initiatives in sustainability, and explore some of the challenges encountered as well as encouraging signs of innovation and success in changing mindsets and behaviors and creating new collective alternatives.

  2. Business: Unleashing the Power of Purpose and Compassion
    Michelle Long, Executive Director, BALLE
    Eileen Fisher, Founder & CEO, Eileen Fisher Inc.
    Marcelo Cardoso, Executive Director, Fleury

    How can we reconnect entrepreneurship with the power of purpose and compassion in order to shift the focus of business from financial profit to wellbeing, from scarcity to abundance, from exclusion to inclusion, from competition to co-creation, from reducing negative to generating positive impact, from transactional to transformative relationships, and from exploitation to shared ecosystem prosperity.

    In this session, participants will explore two case stories that have emerged from the GNH Business Lab: Eileen Fisher and BALLE (Business Alliance for Local Living Economies), shared by Eileen Fisher, Marcelo Cardoso, and Michelle Long. Marcelo and Michelle will also lead us through a blended set of deeper personal reflection practices that will help Lab participants reconnect to their own passion and purpose and explore how to best put this into service of nature, others, and the emerging self.

  3. Cultivating the Commons: a Green Economy in a Blue World
    Yannick Beaudoin, Head of Marine Division, GRID-Arendal
    Mariana Velez, Alliances Coordinator, Yucatan Peninsula, The Nature Conservancy (Mexico)
    Niaz Dorry, Coordinating Director, Northwest Atlantic Marine Alliance

    The world’s oceans and coasts – the Blue World – are the cornucopia for humanity. They provide us with food, oxygen and livelihoods. Despite oceans covering almost three-quarters of the planet, we are just beginning to discover the extent of the natural wonders that lie beneath their surfaces. We are also just beginning to understand the complexity of the interactions that tie oceans to the rest of Earth’s ecological systems. The coastal biome is where vital ecosystems are found to be the most vulnerable. This biome’s links with both land and ocean extend its reach and vulnerability both far inland and well out to sea. The depth of awareness of the importance of these interactions, however, is not yet at a level that can sustain our long-term wellbeing and the wellbeing of other species. Harmonising conventional economic activity with ecosystem-dependent economic values is a challenge we must address.

    This lab seeks to build on the untapped opportunities of this Blue World and invites participants to deeply reflect on and investigate habitat-fish-human relationships beyond our historical utility-driven understanding and behavior. The lab will use Fisheries as a lens to investigate and learn about how to co-create ecosystem economies that cultivate the commons, safeguard natural resources for future generations and shift our relationship with the natural systems of which we are a part.

  4. Movement Building and Shared Prosperity
    Kang Yoto, Bupati, Bojonegoro, Indonesia
    Alice Maggio, Local Currency Program Director, Schumacher Center for a New Economics
    Phil Thompson, Associate Professor, MIT Department of Urban Studies and Planning (DUSP) 
    Pedro Leitao, Brazil Transformation Hub
    Ernst Valery, Founder and President of Ernst Valery Investements Corp.
    Dayna Cunningham, MIT Co-Lab
    Katrin Kaufer, Presencing Institute

    In the wake of the global economic crisis, more and more people are looking for ways to change the economy and improve the wealth and wellbeing of citizens.

    In this lab, we invite practitioners from various global hotspots to share their experience with social movement building that serves this purpose. The examples will include a transformation of state government in Indonesia, an alternative currency in the Berkshires (USA), an innovation lab in Brazil, and an initiative to create a movement towards new economic thinking. We will explore how to successfully create a movement towards social change, and some key learnings from the examples presented. 

  5. Measuring What Matters: "Beyond GDP"
    Cylvia Hayes, First Lady of Oregon, USA
    Lew Daly, Director, Sustainable Progress Initiative & Senior Fellow, Demos
    Katherine Trebeck, Research and Policy Advisor, Oxfam GB

    ‘First the economy separated itself from ecology…then it separated itself from society…[because of the use of] the artificial measure of growth as GDP’ (Vandana Shiva)

    ‘Development is too important to be left solely to financial ministries and economic measures’  (Joseph Stiglitz)

    As a measure of progress, GDP does not distinguish between economic activities that increase a nation’s wealth and those that deplete its natural resources, or result in illness or future cleanup costs. It is consumption orientated and distribution blind. Moreover, GDP leaves out many of the things that impart a sense of wellbeing and purpose to our lives.  In the wake of multiple social, financial and environmental crises, we are now witnessing a growing interrogation of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) by economists and national leaders, who are increasingly aware of its limitations in capturing a nation’s progress and wellbeing. 

    What opportunities are emerging as a result of this growing critique of our current GDP-based economic paradigm? What are current examples of alternative measurement systems, and can they be an impetus for shifting us from an Ego to Eco-system economy?

    What are the challenges and obstacles to realizing this potential? How are people tackling the challenges and navigating the obstacles? What can we learn from the Genuine Progress Indicator (GPI) or from Bhutan’s Gross National Happiness (GNH) index or Oxfam’s Humankind Index in Scotland? Where and why might such initiatives get traction in policy making and in setting the direction of economic development?

    In this lab we will look at some of the measurement alternatives to GDP, how these are being applied at different levels of society (e.g. community, institution, state, nation), how numbers can shift our awareness and attention, how this can lead to policies and decision-making that are better for people and planet, and what other actors and processes need to be recruited to achieve deep and lasting change.

  6. Strengthening our Sources of Health
    Roberto Benzo, Founding Director of the Mindful Breathing Laboratory, Mayo Clinic
    Ole Thomsen, CEO, Central Denmark Healthcare Region
    Phil Cass, CEO of the Columbus Medical Association

    In the Health Lab we will investigate how to reinvent the health system to serve and strengthen innate health and wellness in patients, citizens and the community.  We intend to shift the conversation away from generalized complaints about the system to examining how we all participate in this system and how we might begin to co-create a shift.

    -How can we collectively shift the paradigm of the health system on three levels of relationships:

    --within myself?
    --within the health care system, between patients and physicians, between all health care providers and health care seekers?
    --between me and the system as a whole?

    -What is the deeper connection between a paradigm shift in the health system and a shift within us?

    -How can we co-create a health system that helps us connect to our innate capacity for health, rather than disconnecting us from ourselves, each other, all of us?

    -How can we move from fragmentation to wholeness on all levels in health care?

    In this lab we will share experiences of presenters and participants that highlight moments of transformative change on all three levels, stories of health from within.  

  7. Education and Mindful Learning
    Arthur Zajonc, President, Mind and Life Institute
    Peter Senge, MIT/Society for Organizational Learning
    Tho Ha Vinh, GNH Centre Bhutan

    How can education support the real needs, aspirations and inherent potential of learners, educators and our various communities and societal systems? Education plays a key role in the shift of awareness towards “society 4.0”, by changing the focus from a narrow view of the human being who is to be trained to meet the needs of the economic system (homo economicus), to an holistic approach that allows the full development and expression of human potential - with happiness incorporated as a skill.

    In this lab we will engage with people who are taking action towards transforming education - action that acknowledges, supports and respects the fuller potential of all people and the impact this can have in the world. We will hear multiple perspectives from those immersed in this work, explore the experience of participants, and mine our own wisdom and inquiry.

    Some questions we will address: What makes us grow as human beings? What is the role of mindfulness and compassion in life and in education?  Can a universal secular ethics become a common foundation for all curriculum development? What teacher training could support this new education?

  8. Arts, Aesthetics, Action
    Arawana Hayashi, Presencing Institute
    Beth Mount, Presencing Institute
    Claudia Madrazo, La Vaca Independiente
    Stan Strickland, Singer, Saxophonist, Flutist, Actor

    The aesthetic of the eco-system society expresses the inherent connection and wisdom of people, communities and the natural world. It is a continuous sourcing of underlying intelligence and beauty within the universe that guides us toward possible futures we co-create. As change agents we create situations in which this wisdom naturally comes forth. The artistic process affirms that creativity is natural and will crystallize into insights, innovations, and fresh ideas. Co-creating with our hands, bodies, and voices opens space into which the new may enter. We are animated to create new possibilities.

    The arts strengthen our capacity to learn with and from all people. They offer a way to include those who live in marginalized groups – children, people with disabilities, people excluded by race and socio-economics… Art can express the invisible, and bring to life voices and aspects of society that might not otherwise be heard. Artistic methods increase degrees of freedom in our imagination and release our sense of agency to act upon limitation. We need art to express the inexpressible, the yet unseen, the hoped for, the possibility of wise and beautiful futures.

    How might the creative process be a way of living, woven into all aspects of our personal, work, and community life? How are artists currently serving transformation?

    In this Lab will look at some powerful examples of co-creating arts partnerships with people who are often marginalized, and explore too how Lab participants may engage directly with the Social Presencing Theater experience in this Forum.