These are the fundamental principles and orienting values that help to guide our work, select projects, and express our mission: Create conditions perpetually conducive to life; expand human creative capacity. We see our principles as works in progress with these being the current rendition.
1. CREATE THE FUTURE :: VISIONARY PRAGMATISM
We recognize that we are responsible for creating the future. As such, we are obligated to anticipate future conditions based on changes now occurring (and innovate around that scenario), as well as to envision, design, and realize the ideal conditions that will actually become our future.
The goal is to engage a kind of visionary pragmatism that designs problems out of existence from the onset.
To conduct our lives, make choices, re-design our economies, and respond to current life conditions from the perspective of ‘creating an ideal future’ not only addresses the problems we currently face, it also allows a larger vision to shape our innovation, thus avoiding the pitfalls of conceiving of our responses to crises like global warming in too narrow a context, defined solely by the specific terms of the problem. For solutions to have longevity, they need to be informed by as large a context as possible, lest we invest precious energy and resources in piecemeal and short-lived solutions that quickly reveal fatal limitations.
2. LIFE-CENTERED REDESIGN
Redesign human civilization as an entirely life-giving presence. This is the overarching assignment from which all innovation and action flow. The purpose of this is to ensure the unfettered evolution of human creativity in part by guaranteeing the health of the totality of living systems that make life possible.
DESIGN MOTIVE: ASSURE AND ASSIST THE PERPETUAL EVOLUTION OF HUMAN CREATIVITY, CONSCIENCE AND CONSCIOUSNESS BY EXPRESSING WHOLENESS, LIFE, AND HEALTH IN EVERY FORM OF HUMAN ENTERPRISE.
Architect William McDonough and chemist Michael Braungart use a similar standard for setting their design protocol, and define the ultimate intention of design to be 100% good, rather than simply less-bad. Why not set the ultimate standard from the onset? This shifts focus to: "What is the right thing to do?" rather than, "How can we do the wrong thing more efficiently?" and lends power and weight to any project. While current conditions declare an urgency we have never before faced and call us to immediate action, a life-centered design vision is worth accomplishing for its own sake; ultimately it is what we will be compelled to do.
3. EFFECT OF REDESIGN ON INDIVIDUAL TRANSFORMATION :: SUSTAINABLE BEING
We recognize that the kind of change we are seeking and the creative genius, dedication, and imagination needed to bring that change about, will engage the full spectrum of our individual humanity.
If future design is conceived solely as an applied technological or physical accomplishment, the human/cultural dimension required to express and sustain new ways of living on our planet and new ways of engaging with each other as a human community will be lost.
4. TRANSITION CULTURE
We acknowledge that we are a TRANSITION CULTURE and need to cultivate transparency around being in transition: The transition from current practices to new ones (which have yet to come into being) will involve many incremental steps, and such steps will precede the ideal future we are collectively articulating and envisioning.
As we create a new, parallel infrastructure alongside the existing one in our economies and communities (through new forms of energy, buildings, food systems, organizational structures, and community practices), we will need great skill in navigating the physical and cultural shift from one infrastructure to the next. This needs to be factored into our re-design.
Because of the complexity inherent in current human and global conditions and the extreme urgency posed by the civilization-wide challenge of global warming, the design of the future is dependent on our capacity for widespread COLLABORATION. Because our future is at stake, collaboration takes on an important moral dimension. This kind of collaboration is itself a cultural solution to the problems we now face, uniting previously disparate disciplines and individuals, nations and cultures. Simply beginning the work together brings this important aspect of the solution into existence IMMEDIATELY.
COLLABORATION AT THIS SCALE REPRESENTS THE EVOLUTION OF COMMUNITY and will facilitate communities of meaning and deep human relationship in the process.
New kinds of collaboration encourage the development of new capacities and expanded intelligence. We become capable of accomplishing more, and more quickly, when working at this scale with everyone guided by a similar foundational obligation and impulse toward systemic survival.
6. CONCEIVING AND COLLABORATING INSIDE BIG SPACE AND DEEP TIME
Design and initiatives need to be conceived in the largest possible context, which means long timeframes, large geographical dimensions (global), taking in the greatest amount of information possible, and interpreting that information in a developmental/evolutionary and historical context. (For example, local initiatives need to factor in global conditions as well as desired future conditions). This expands the significance of our current choices, and our particular responsibilities, and reveals information we may not otherwise see. This is in itself a collective effort, requiring the input and perspective of many fields and people.
7. COLLABORATION IS INQUIRY-BASED, DYNAMIC, RESPONSIVE TO NEW INFORMATION
We will need great skill and sensitivity in becoming an adaptive civilization. Receptivity and Inquiry in a collective context are the basis for further innovation in applying and expanding life-design principles.
8. OPEN SYSTEM COLLABORATION :: TRANSPARENCY OF PROCESS
Our next stage of critical innovation may be significantly impacted if we operate as an OPEN SYSTEM: widely sharing knowledge across and amongst disciplines. This will allow for essential rapid change and adaptation which may, at this time, be more important than proprietary knowledge. [Example: new fabric dyes, chemical recipes that eliminate toxics, new industrial processes, energy technologies…]
9. COLLABORATION WITHIN A UNIFYING CONTEXT
An enlarged, life-centered goal unites disparate groups and super-charges innovation. When the goal is entirely positive and deeply desired, the relationships formed around its pursuit are entirely wholesome.
10. BOLD HUMILITY
What's important is finding out what works, what is true, what is effective, what is most important—and every individual is responsible for continuously questioning and asserting this.
Examples of critical questions we will be asking when deciding which projects to take on:
1. How large is the context that is defining this initiative? The larger the better.
2. How specific is the individual responsibility that can be taken? How clear is the action that can be taken?
3. Does it inspire healthy risk-taking?
4. Does it inspire creative thinking in many dimensions?
5. Does it move creative capacity forward?
6. Is it integral? (does it take into account the physical, cultural, and individual dimensions of experience which facilitate lasting change?)
7. Does it facilitate collective innovation?
8. Do projects entertain and embody a decades-long or century-long view?
9. Does it consider repercussions far into the future? Does the solution have longevity? Is it just a replacement technology, a quick fix? What is its integrity over the long run?
10. Is it biomimetic? (Does it learn from and mimic the successful processes and ‘products’ that occur in nature?)
11. Is it ecologically durable? Does it avoid the exploitation of local resources over time?
12. Does it have a moral dimension: i.e., does it express and call others to a new kind of accountability that is self-emergent (rather than externally-imposed)?
13. Is it regenerative? Is inspired by and does it uphold life's fundamental dynamic of self-replication and new self-expression?
14. Will its actualization move civilization as a whole forward?
15. Is it revelatory? Does it facilitate a new perspective and new knowledge?
16. Does it ‘create conditions perpetually conducive to life?’
17. Do the individuals involved embody integrity, generosity, inquisitiveness, and creativity? Does the project inspire the flowering of these qualities?
18. Does the project increase the viability of living-systems design, and can the project itself function humanly as a living system?