I recently participated in a course called , which has various ‘graduation requirements’. One of the options is a 1000+ word blog post with reflections on the course. It’s a great requirement, but where to start? I could go on forever. So I thought I’d write to length, in the form of (leaning towards long) tiddlers on ten different aspects of my experience.
Planting the seed(s)
I found out about the course because I follow one of the on Twitter. It caught my eye because I was looking for inspiration. I have a personal learning inquiry question this year about how to make my knowledge management work more systemic. Ideas were taking shape but I wanted stimuli and conversation from diverse perspectives. This seemed like a great way to get it. However… I had to then get hold of to pay for the course. Seeds are a ‘conscious cryptocurrency’. You have to buy them with Bitcoin. I very nearly fell at this hurdle, but eventually cleared it just in time.
I have never been on a course like this. There was a lot I liked about the way it was designed and run. The pricing, while not quite pay as you feel, offered several levels, leaving you to decide which was right for you. The cohort was large, maybe a bit too large, around 200, but it was genuinely global, and diverse in many other ways too. The sessions were on Zoom, supported by a Slack workspace and a bunch of shared Google docs. For each session there were links to a lot of supporting information, a mix of video, podcast and text. The set up all worked well for me, but I am a self-directed learner and very online.
It was both refreshing and challenging to talk big ideas with such a wide range of people — in most sessions there were random break-outs with groups of 2, 3 or 4, and you never knew what kind of mix of perspectives you were going to encounter. This is so rare, and so valuable — we spend so much time in echo chambers. Part of me would change nothing about this, but I also felt it was hard to land cold into a 15 minute conversation (often with people who were speaking English as a foreign language) without any context. There was a good turnout every week (there were six sessions over seven weeks) which would indicate that most of us coped, so maybe I am the one who needs to work on this.
The power of place
I hear the phrase ‘place-based’ a lot at the moment, and this was one of the aspects of the course content that resonated most with me. Local knowledge, indigenous wisdom, patterns that have been with us for generations and can be revived and reinvigorated. We have many of the answers, and if (it’s a big if) we can only come together in the right permutations and combinations, there is so much positive change possible. This is sitting with me in a rather bittersweet way… I made the decision to move to an intentional community ten years ago, and what I often see here is people afraid of change, or rather the work that is needed to move towards it. Maybe I am looking in the wrong place. Maybe I am in the wrong place.
Oh, I love a map. I track my thoughts in mind maps (’s the one for this course — this is its first iteration, I will build on it). So many connections only appear when you find the right way to map them. One of the things I was struggling with initially was how does all of this work together? How does soil fit with cryptocurrency? But more importantly, how can all of this energy, this power, this thinking, be harnessed in a way that can mount any meaningful challenge to the forces currently destroying the planet? Can it, even? I still don’t know, but I absolutely loved this phrase from Daniel Wahl, one of the guest speakers: “tell the stories, and put them on the same map.”
The aha moments
There were a few of these, but I’ll focus on two. The very first I watched had me. Soil! Oh my god! We could fix soil! We know how to, and everything. We just… aren’t, at least not anywhere near fast enough. I have read a lot about regenerative agriculture, and I live in a place that is directly affected by the way grazing land is managed, but I hadn’t tied it all into the climate emergency in the way that first session did. And… money. The way we use money, the money we use. It’s like the patriarchy! It’s the water we swim in. We don’t even know it’s a construction till in ways that aren’t tech bro. I am grateful for this knowledge, though I have no idea what to do with it as yet.
The scary bits
This felt a bit like multiple glimpses into multiple possible futures. There’s a lifetime of reading in the course notes, and I’m sure all of it would be worth the time. But time is what we don’t have, as a species, and while I loved the disparity, the leaping from concept to concept, the imagination and passion and commitment of so many of the people we heard from and about, and the work that we did on ourselves in the process, I still don’t see how this coalesces into something powerful enough to be that regenerative renaissance. Maybe it doesn’t have to, but where are the tipping points? How do we get there?
The frustrating bits
I live in the mainstream. On the edge of it, in some ways, but I have a house, I have a job, I have a gym membership, I shop at supermarkets. For 20 years I’ve worked to support a transition to a fairer / better / more just / more sustainable / more survivable world, but … it’s not cutting it, is it, the mainstream. I tried, when I moved here, to be less mainstream, but I found that a lot of people in that space were intolerant, judgemental and incredibly rigid in their thinking. To be fair, I did not experience much of that on this course, though some of the Slack chats were tricky, but I sensed it was there. I do not know how we stay open, how we stay vulnerable, in a world where many of us have the choice not to be. Also, I still don’t understand the blockchain.
The inspiring bits
Although there were sessions that I got more from than others, all of them were inspiring, as was the whole concept behind paying for the course in Seeds: complete your graduation requirements and you receive more Seeds than you paid. You can (if you can get your head around it) use those to share more ideas, run your own project, start something amazing. One of the ideas that completely blew me away was — imagine! But someone already has! And while I fear it would take quite a bit before I would hitch my flag to a new star, I loved the deeper 1-1 conversations I had with a couple of people on the course who were in their 20s and 30s, starting from a different place, with all of the hope and energy and determination that this brings.
The ways I am changed
Too early to say for sure. But one thing I know about myself is that switches flick within me when I am exposed to new thinking, and eventually enough things shift that I move onto a different circuit. I am starting no-dig beds on my allotment, having previously dismissed it as kombucha style hokum (I’ve been burnt by the best), and I am grateful to have been exposed to all of these ideas in a way that my Oxbridge-educated, double vaxxed, peri-menopausal self could engage with and appreciate. Watch this space.