David Korten, LEF December 2014 Report
Our 2014 focus was on preparing for the publication and promotion of two books, advancing the living Earth theme through public outreach, and further refining New Economy frames through NEWGroup.
Our current LEF priority is to advance awareness that changing the underlying cultural meta-story of global society is an essential, yet neglected, leverage point for system transformation. My decision to cut travel and focus on writing and electronic presentations and networking has extended both our reach and the intellectual boundaries of our work.
This year I completed writing Change the Story, Change the Future: A Living Economy for a Living Earth, which will launch in January. And I’m writing a new introduction and a new conclusion for a 20th anniversary edition of When Corporations Rule the World to launch July 2015.
We will focus in 2015 on promoting these two books and working with and through other organizations that align with the New Economy frame and have significant outreach capability.
Change the Story, Change the Future
Our work in 2014 focused on defining and building support for a Living Earth story frame through our associations with NEWGroup, YES! Magazine, the Club of Rome, Sustainable World Coalition, Pachamama Alliance, Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns, Living Future Institute, Praxis Peace Institute, and others. We finalized and posted the “New Story for a New Economy: To Find Our Human Place in a Living Universe” essay on the YES! website.
The essay produced an invitation from Berrett-Koehler to expand it into a short book accessible to a broad audience. Drawing on encouragement and critical feedback from colleagues, we produced Change the Story, Change the Future: A Living Economy for a Living Earth.
The Pachamama Alliance is featuring the book’s framing message in a new curriculum it expects to offer globally to tens of thousands of people. YES! Magazine will feature the Living with Earth theme in its spring 2015 issue and promote sales of the book.
The Club of Rome has accepted the book as a Report to the Club of Rome and is gearing up to promote national editions and translations through their national chapters and media outreach facilities. I spoke on the book’s theme at the annual Club of Rome membership meeting in Mexico City in October as part of a planning session on future CoR mission and strategy. All of the groups mentioned above, and others, will be promoting the book and the conversation.
I expect much of our energy through 2015 and beyond will be focused on working with partner organizations on framing and extending the reach of a Sacred Life and Living Earth story.
Change the Story, Change the Future has inspired my friend and colleague, master organizational consultant and facilitator Charles Holmes, to develop a MaestroConference series in collaboration with the Art of Hosting community on the theme of Shaping a New Narrative for a New Economy. We held the pilot session on December 8 in which Charles facilitated a conversation between Otto Scharmer and me around this theme and breakout discussions among participants organized in groups of four. Six hundred fifty people participated.
We are also in discussion with two independent film studios that have expressed interest in doing and promoting video projects centered on the themes of the book. One is Moving Art, the production company of legendary nature photographer Louie Schwartzberg. He and Lyn Davis Lear produced WHAT’S POSSIBLE and a WORLD OF SOLUTIONS, both of which were featured at the 2014 United Nations Climate Summit. The other is Habitat Media, a nonprofit media company founded by producer/director Steve Cowan based in Portland OR.
We had a successful role in shaping a Seattle University conference on the role of Jesuit Universities in dealing with justice and sustainability issues and an October Praxis Peace Institute conference on the New Economy. I anticipate reaching out to Jesuit Universities in 2015 around the Change the Story, Change the Future themes.
The collaborative energy building around this book goes far beyond anything I have experienced prior to the launch of any of my previous books and demonstrates the extraordinary current interest in its framing message.
I see ever more evidence that the Living Universe cosmology lives in the human heart and that this is a moment of readiness for a critical, open hearted examination of the nature and implications of our deepest beliefs. At the same time, I am learning how difficult it is to get those who align behind the cause of economic justice and environmental sustainability to think and act in terms of a unifying story that goes beyond promoting discrete narrowly defined individual causes and issues.
When Corporations Rule the World, 20th Anniversary Edition
As I expand and revise material for a 20th anniversary edition of When Corporations Rule the World, I note that the book is even more relevant today than when I wrote it 20 years ago. It will launch in late June or early July, possibly at the 2015 Unitarian Universalist General Assembly.
I suggest in Change the Story, Change the Future that the economic system has become like a money seeking robot gone rogue beyond human control, even by the excessively compensated CEOs, banksters, and financiers who appear to be in charge. By its internal structures and increasing control of access to the essential means of living, the system reduces us all to lives of indentured servitude.
The system of corporate rule has long been an underlying focus of my work. Its autonomous, self-directing nature, however, has been more implicit than explicit. In updating the 20 years since the first edition, the 20th anniversary edition makes explicit how, as the system has become ever more destructive, it has also become more autonomous of human direction and oversight.
The new concluding chapter, “A Global Declaration of Independence,” will update the discussion of how to liberate ourselves from corporate rule. It will examine why the system holds so much power over us, even though it is of our making and can hold only the power we yield to it, and make the case that changing the cultural story that frames the global economy is potentially the most powerful—yet most neglected—point of leverage for deep system change.
The Conclusion will also update the growth and power of a globalizing civil society as a people power counterforce to the globalization of corporate power. And it will fill in some critical gaps in the original edition’s treatment of ownership, corporate rights, and the rights of nature—issues on which our thinking has advanced a good deal over the past 20 years.
I continue to serve as board chair of YES! Magazine and co-chair of the New Economy Working Group (NEWGroup) and I took the lead on organizing the following breakthrough New Economy Transition (NET) leadership webinar sessions during 2014:
- A New Economics for a New Economy,
- From Corporate Law and the Rights of Property to Earth Law and the Rights of Nature.
- New Economy Ownership and Wealth Management Transition Strategies, and
- Living with Earth.