Prepare Yourself to Contribute

The Playbook: Participate in evolving

Definition of playbook: “…or a notebook containing descriptions of all the plays and strategies used by a team, often accompanied by diagrams, issued to players for them to study and memorize before the season begins.” Don’t sit on the sidelines this season. Find teammates who have complementary skills and resources. Get your team in the field. Here you will read about strategies. Find the parts that fit your interests and aptitudes. Here’s how one long-standing team coach Joanna Macy describes the plays:

We can see this great turning happening simultaneously in three areas or dimensions that are mutually reinforcing: 1) actions to resist and slow down the damage to earth and all its beings; 2) analysis and transformation of the socio-economic foundations of our common life; and 3) a perceptual, cognitive, and moral shift to biocentric values and worldviews that affirm our human responsibility to life in all its richness and diversity and to future generations. Many people are engaged in all three dimensions of this great turning, all of which are necessary for the creation of a life-sustaining and just society. (Macy, 2021, para. 13)

Intentional communities can address all three of these areas at the same time. But do a part that calls to you. Foremost, recognize that the situation—the earth, the social institutions, the cultural values, the economy—is calling for transformation, even while many think it can remain the same or go back to some version of normal, perhaps a time when the middle class was more sheltered from recognizing the part they play in oppression. The appearances of the good life on advertising and social media feeds can keep us forever grasping, never grateful, even tho we can read story after story of people who “made it” and realized their version success was not fulfilling. Clarity is burning like a fire inside team members; it will come out as you refine your plans together. Get close, get warm, and get lit up. There is much changing around you that you may not be recognizing. You may not know what to do, even when you recognize that some change in thot or action will be necessary. Charles Eisenstein says it this way:

The way I see the transition happening—and this isn’t so much of a of a plan, but it might give birth to at least some clarity personally about how we might contribute to this transformation—the way I see it happening is for one thing the general public belief in the scafolding story of our systems hollows out, and this is already happening. We no longer so fervently believe in the ideology behind modernity, so anything that we can do to contribute to that hollowing out is useful, because when it comes time to exercise people power, there will be fewer internal barriers to that. It won’t be like, “well I’m not sure. Do I really want to bring it down? Do I really want something different? This is kind of good.” To know that there’s something on the other side of collapse, there’s something on the other side of a reset. (Rebel Wisdom, 2020, 56:57)

How I interpret his statement is not that we should actively try to hollow out or to “bring it down,” but that we shouldn’t try to prop up or be part of corrupt systems. It is a central tenet of this book that a stance of non-rivalry is our best chance of success. Further, we need access to resources for building up our multiple laboratories for a better way of life. Most of us will be more effective if we’re not stuck in prison. We need as many allies as possible. Altho I’m not personally in favor of the “virtue of selfishness,” the author Ayn Rand had an important message: to build something is heroic; to try to tear down others’ work can easily be seen as not righteous anger at injustice, but as simpering envy. Our most inspiring leaders were those who advocated non-violent resistance. Brene Brown points out it is easy to take the “cheap seats” of the critics; it is hard to get into the arena and compete. It is vulnerable to put in your best effort, to risk failure.   


The hero’s journey starts with the call to action. You likely wouldn’t be reading this if you didn’t have that in you already. The hero first refuses the call. We have defensible reasons. It seems rational to excuse ourselves: “It’s not my job to save others; I pay taxes and I donate to non-profits so that they take care of problems. I have kids, pets, other responsibilities. I’m too busy barely making ends meet to start something else. I don’t know how. I need to make some money first. I don’t have the right credentials. No divine being directed me to do exactly that, or should have made it more obvious or easier. I’ll just get immobilized with depression if I focus on all that’s wrong.”

Everyone has to sort out for themselves the timing and direction of their work. If you feel called to make the most impact you can to evolve the culture, you will find mentors and guidance. It does not need to be and shouldn’t be a grind, or a cause of constant anxiety. If it feels that way—to summarize a collection of leadership and spiritual teachings—it’s either the wrong direction for you, or an opportunity to work on getting centered. In Creative Stress: A path for evolving souls living through personal and planetary upheaval, James O’Dea teaches that often a recurring fear has a crucial message in it. You can get help decoding it. Don’t give in to it. Don’t ignore it or distract yourself from it. Many people are recognizing this now, so I don’t know who to quote: your best life is on the other side of your deepest fear.

You may build your team around your purpose, or you may build your purpose based on the common interests and concerns of a family or friend group. Starting something good might be more important than trying to find absolute certainty that you have the best plan or cause. What you have had a lasting passion for is what may bring you the motivation to keep at it for the long haul.

Resources: See the collection of summaries of multiple authors’ works regarding purpose at

Get Yourself Prepared

You may be prepared now, or getting more prepared for your team position. It may take some personal growth. There’s no need to shell out cash to prepare—unless you feel inspired to explore more some particular ideas, some book or course to dig deeper. There’s more quality content available free online than you could manage to wade thru in a lifetime, and this site can point you to those with perspectives fitting this type of work. Look at your situation to understand what has grown unproductive. How can determining what you don’t want lead you to discover what you do want? You may be keeping a protective covering to hide behind, while your authentic nature remains unexpressed. Perhaps you are shy or afraid to be who you are. How can life celebrate your unique qualities if you keep them hidden? Metamorphosis and molting are natural occurrences, so set yourself free. You have the opportunity to create systematic change in your life, but if you choose not to, circumstances beyond your control may transpire to lead you to your authentic path. What is your super-power? has curated many resources for a self-guided assessment of what areas of your life are out of balance and what various authors and speakers have said in those areas.

Self-awareness and humility. Many leadership and business gurus have said don’t worry about your weaknesses. To focus on your strengths will get you much further in external success. While there’s merit to that idea, it’s also true that with that approach it’s often a course of shooting off strong then burning out or crashing. It’s more an inner development path to look at weaknesses, and in the long run that can support our external achievements. Let’s face the fact that many if not most people seeking intentional community are a bit broken. We may not have experienced more challenges or trauma than the majority of people, but we may have more trouble coping. Check out the dandelion orchid hypothesis and see if you can relate. Some of us seek the sense of acceptance that we didn’t have in our family of origin. It’s important not to get puffed up with a sense that we’re free thinkers who see the truth about society in the way the mainstream doesn’t. While it’s probably true we can see some truths that others deny, we need help with our misunderstandings too. The following quote points to a need to ourselves as individuals to reach a point of emotional freedom before we can create a societal change.

When you go to a place where there is no more hope for fixing the system, there is a chance that your mind will break free from the system, and then within you there will be no divisions. There will be no wars. There will be no hatred or discrimination, and at that point you become peculiarly powerful. (Beck, 2020, 19:38)

Expanded worldview. If you are a rationalist, I invite you to think of spirituality as simply an expanded worldview, a big-picture approach to life that is open to wild imaginings. This could help you tolerate mentions of spirituality. Some neuroscientists and physicists are pushing the edges of human understanding of consciousness and reality (see Appendix C: Materialist Versus Mystic Worldview). Having a research-verified practices such as meditation or walks in natural settings can help in subtle but powerful ways. Some create a practice out of daily review of favorite inspirational books. A vision board collage of pictures representing important elements you want to have in your life can be a way to remember and add these elements in organic ways, without forcing them into a timeline or plan that may be too rigid.

Political philosopher and sociologist Daniel Görtz exemplified the blue quadrant as he criticized a commercialized spirituality that he saw as prevalent in the new age movement:

We really can’t do without spirituality, and I even think in a movement to change the world it’s going to be an important element. The things I’m wary about are more like spirituality as it looks on the capitalist market, namely you go to book shop and then there is a shelf called spirituality and self development… you can cure yourself from cancer or with your intentions and then there’s The Secret which…basically throws people off some pretty horrible existential cliffs…and then there’s a bunch of exploitation stuff in there, a bunch of cults…(27:18) What are the actual ecological problems and what are their solutions and how does that work in a big system? All of these things tend to be reduced to, “Oh it’s all about your intention.” (29:58)

Terry Patten exemplified the green quadrant when he approves of the acceptance of a variety of spiritual and religious views:

anybody who’s gotten to the point of assuming that their spiritual experience relates to something real that people can grow into…via a whole lot of different traditions and models and conceptions and names for the divine…it actually creates more coherence than there was otherwise. (34:48)

Similarly, Patten calls for less arrogance among materialists:

There’s a different level of coherence…within those who are holding fast to empiricism and science and rationality. There are some who are willing to appreciate that science does not disprove a spiritual perspective on life, and there are those who are more doctrinaire and dogmatic who are aggressive materialists, whereas science is agnostic as to whether at the very fundamental substrate of matter there might be …maybe a consciousness at the very core of the subatomic particles, that Copenhagen hypothesis of quantum physics. And you have a kind of really unhealthy and extraordinary scorn heaped upon people like Deepak Chopra for arguing that there is a spiritual substrate….those arguments are not stupid or preposterous. They’re not provable but they’re also not disprovable. (34:48)

Daniel Gortz describes the need for more than ecstatic, spiritual, or therapeutic experiences to shift the main social challenges we face, criticizing the green quadrant for often keeping their spirituality isolated from their action in the world:

 We ended up in a conference…and there were hundreds of people, highly educated theologians and therapists of different kinds, but there was nobody talking about politics, and everybody was obsessed about joining “the process” which had something to do with drumming and humming. And they got really angry if you didn’t drum and hum and hug all day. And there were clowns, lots of clowns running around. And apparently this was very, going to be highly transformational and this was going to change the structures of society. It did not. Rather there was no potent politics around, and people were talking about strategy and they were doing constellation work, and it didn’t change society….People are free to do all of that stuff, but it’s disingenuous to think that that stuff will politically change the structures of the world, will politically win over the opinion to more holistic worldviews and to change the institutions…to take existential work seriously. That’s a playground for people who want spiritual experience for themselves and want nice and interesting and therapeutic experiences for themselves, and it should be called for what it is. (Patten, 2019, 43:10)

Daniel Gortz describes his desire for a movement that offers transformation of social structures:

I ask more of a movement in the future. I ask for a movement which will be genuinely revolutionary, which was the promise of integralism, and which drew young people like me who were dissatisfied with life and felt guilty participating in a culture, in a society that we felt, that we feel reproduces injustice and pain and mutilates human souls, and want something else. People like me who are drawn to this stuff, we are drawn by the promise for a revolutionary life where we get to serve the purpose of changing society and getting it to the next developmental stage where the problems of modern life are resolved for all practical purposes. I mean there can be residuals of them, but the problems of life are resolved, so that there is this revolutionary rage, but tempered rage, against modern life that, “no this is not good enough. Going to school for instance growing up here, it’s not fair enough. It not doesn’t make sense enough,” then seeing the labor market and what life is like for many people, “it’s not good enough. Seeing how we treat the animals. See how we destroy the environment. It’s not good enough. I want more. We have higher potential. ….So I mean how do we get serious about this? The integral perspective is so powerful, so why does it not produce anything better than that?…We can create new movements and create, change institutions…  [interviewer interjects] it isn’t so much that we take them over but that a pattern that we understand allows them to evolve naturally into another structure that accounts for our needs and our aspirations and our life support systems and doesn’t self-destruct, that doesn’t create misery…and we’re needing a viable and truly new human politics that has to be brought into being on many levels. There is a spiritual dimension to this in the sense that we have to go through personal transformation. (Patten, 2019, 45:00)

What you can plan is too small for you to live. –David Whyte

Mentoring. Seek out mentoring. If there’s been someone you know personally who inspired you, who you have admired, tell them about their influence on you. If you can’t think of anyone, even a high school teacher who was encouraging or inspiring. It takes courage to face possible disinterest, but even a single advice session could be useful. Tell them you’d like some advice and offer to take them to lunch at a place and time convenient to them. Tell them about your project. Seek one piece of advice from them, follow it, and then report back about how it went. Ask or suggest how you can be helpful to this advisor, and in return you free up some of their time to counsel you. There are many people who would and could help you make more progress than you could on your own, but your initiative is key. If you have the resources to pay for personal coaching or therapy, do so. You might ask them for a certain number of sessions if it isn’t feasible to make it an ongoing process. If you don’t trust your gut as to whether their counsel is relevant to you, talk it over with peers who can see your potential biases.

Gary Sheng makes an appeal to mentors:

If we do not jailbreak young people out of the default system that is very excited to onboard talented young people to work at Google or Goldman Sachs…a lot of that has to do with money but a lot has to do with helping them feel valued in ways that we’re not even close, and so why it’s urgent for the emerge field, especially a lot of leaders of it, to show that they are really excited about young people emerging as leaders of emerge, is that’s only way emerge can compete over this young talent, because Google for example is you know giving headphones, a ton of money for summer internship, free food, all these things right? so millennials were unable to kind of resist that, in part because it was so much less conversation about purpose ten years ago, but I think Gen Z if given enough money, and just feel like they’re valued and they are not tokenized but treated as people that do bring different necessary things to the table, I do feel optimistic about that. (1:07:45)

Strategies to free up your resources. Time is a non-renewable resource. Free up your time for project-planning by lowering expenses and working less.

  • The self-employed prosper by charging high enough rates to escape the hamster wheel. Charge the maximum that your experience level allows and select only high-paying clients. While this may not be an operating mode you want to stay in, it can free up your time.
  • If you have option to move anywhere, you might house-sit or pet sit while in a project-planning process, to give yourself free lodging.
  • In the current U.S. economy, service work increases in profitability with the wealth of those served. Public service work, including public school teaching and health care, has become so burdened with bureaucratic mandates that many who entered these professions to “make a difference” feel stifled and unable to use their gifts, acting as replaceable cogs in the system, with fairly low pay tho stable benefits. You might choose to bring these skills into independent organizations that have flexible hours or into self-employment where you can charge more and work less.
  • One tiny home owner said, about buying outright after selling her 4-bedroom house, “My whole intention behind all of it is to be able to live a lifestyle that I can go and experience life instead of being stuck in the rat race and working 9 to 5 and coming home and cleaning on the weekends,” she said (Owen, 2020, para. 20). She leased a spot of rural land. This allowed her to go from working 60 hours a week and commuting 2 hours each day to starting her own business with more flexible hours.

Self-employment can also offer ways to free yourself from location constraints, giving you the option of living in community and/or semi-remotely. describes ways to free yourself from an overworked life. Your strategy will be unique to your responsibilities and the role you choose or are called to.

These strategies can seem less risky if you have a backup. As a group with a shared mission, you might agree to share resources—housing, cars, an emergency fund—to benefit all members.

  • Enspiral: a social enterprise support network that forms trust-based profit-sharing pods; it is a leading edge in managing collective projects among digital nomads (see their P2P wiki)
  • Squad wealth: growing trust in small groups to collectively get free of meaningless employment and build shared prosperity (See

Transforming Culture

David Sloan lists four capacities needed to create new culture: science, replicable techniques, spirituality, and the arts (State of Emergence podcast, ep 069, 1:02:20). This is part of a discussion of how to engage in play and transformative events. Sloan writes of forming new culture as collaborating communities take up the challenge “prepare yourself to contribute”:

At that point, suitably informed and motivated, then we can set about forming the small groups…. When we do things, we should do them in small and appropriately structured groups and those groups have to interact with other groups. At the higher levels of organization (thankfully) the same principles are applied again and again. They’re scale independent, so it’s not as if you need to learn new principles when we talk about between-group interactions. …that group is so well organized we qualify as a superorganism; that’s how cooperative we are. We’ve really got our act together….So it’s actually not hard. (1:02:34)

Sloan has a larger vision of how this begins to transform the culture:

At that point, suitably informed and motivated, then we can set about forming the small groups…. When we decide to do something, we do it. … we can put it into action. And that just means that we’re now an actor, an agent, and a larger community. We hope that you’re as well coordinated as we are, and we also hope that you’re cooperative, so that what you’re doing as a group is part of the solution not part of the problem. (And if you’re not, then we just have a cooperator-cheater thing going on in between group scale that we have to work on. And then we have to implement those same protections that exist within our groups need to exist between our groups). And hopefully go up to scale. (1:02:34)


References are accessible here.