“What Time Is It? Part 3″ video is online

The next one is up. In this 19-minute video we start to identify the key characteristics of the Planetary Era. It begins with a brief look at the changes during the Empire Era and then takes a closer look at the Empire-to-Planetary transition. We peek into the future by looking with fresh eyes at what is already happening around us.

If you haven’t yet seen the previous videos, you will find them all on the “What Time Is It?” Videos page. We’ve been getting lots of good feedback, such as:

  • “I thoroughly enjoyed this history lesson and the notion of discerning the future by looking at the previous shift in domain.”
  • “Eager to see the rest of the story unfold!”

“What Time Is It? Part 2″ video is online

We’ve gotten a lot of thumbs-up on the first two videos (Introductions and What Time Is It? Part 1). Here’s John Graham commenting on the CI Facebook page:

“Well, I wasn’t at the live presentation, but I’ve seen the video edition and it is brilliant. I don’t mean ‘brilliant’ in that Robert is a genius, which he is. I mean ‘brilliant’ in that he has found the words and the technology to get across some very important but highly complex concepts in a way that will make anyone say, ‘Why, heck, why didn’t I think of that?’ Carl Sagan never did it better. Well done all around.”

The next in the series – What Time Is It? Part 2 – is now online. This 23-minute video introduces what I call the Outline of History: a way of understanding the flow of history in terms of three cultural system domains – Tribal/Empire/Planetary – and the transitions between them. It then uses this core framework to explore the first big transition, Tribal To Empire. It’s a powerful start to a journey that, in subsequent videos, will move all the way into the Planetary Era – and how we can be part of creating a thriving sustainable future.

First “What Time Is It?” videos are online

How’d the Feb 12 presentation go?  The best answer comes from those who were there:

  • “I attended ‘What Time is It?’ last week in Seattle, and over the several days since I have been humming with excitement about Context Institute’s work and purpose.”
  • “Wow. Amazing stuff. I work in sustainability, and Robert’s synthesis was profoundly insightful.”

There is so much discouragement and misunderstanding in the world today – at a time when we can ill-afford it. In this context I’m grateful that the Foundation Stones are proving to be a practical, grounded, constructive alternative – providing encouragement, new understandings, new tools and a purposeful way forward.

If you’d like to see for yourself, go to “What Time Is It?” Videos, where you’ll find the first two of what we expect to be a total of six videos to come from the Feb 12 presentation:

  • a 10-minute video that introduces the whole Foundation Stones project, including an introduction of yours truly
  • an 18-minute video that starts the main talk with a look at the dramatic changes in behavior that systems can go through – and how humanity likely went through such a change in the late 20th century

We’re working hard to get the rest of the videos finished. We’ll upload each as it’s ready and use CI News, Facebook and Twitter to announce the new arrival. If you haven’t already, I encourage you to connect with us through at least one of these. We’re excited by this start and hope these videos will serve you, and the world, well.

This work needs your backing

As we launch these videos, we’re at a crucial time in the life of the Foundation Stones project. Our impact is about to grow … and our costs already have. The time has come when we need your backing. If you’re ready to help, please accept our gratitude and use our easy Donation Form to give what you can.

If you’d like to hear more before offering your support, please take a look at A Message From Ann Medlock.

Thanks!

Thank you

Over the past few months we’ve gotten a fair bit of supportive feedback on the Findhorn presentation and more generally on the Foundation Stones project.

A wonderful example comes from my long-term friend David Spangler who used his monthly column in September to talk about the work he used to do in relationship to the “Big Picture” and his sense of what CI is now doing. Among other things, he was kind enough to say:

“Among the many ‘Big Picture’ thinkers of whom I’m aware, Robert stands out for his optimism about our future as a species. It’s not a Pollyanna, wishful-thinking, in-denial kind of optimism either. His positive vision is informed by a wealth of information and insight. … In painting this picture with hope and promise, no one does it better than Robert Gilman and his Context Institute. I encourage you to explore what he has to offer.”

Getting this kind of supportive feedback is deeply nourishing and I want to thank David and everyone else who has offered such encouragement. It touches our hearts and fuels our next steps.

Thank you.

Welcome Eldan

Eldan GoldenbergOne of the most significant milestones in the past few months came at the start of October when Eldan Goldenberg started working with CI as a part-time consultant and thereby converted what had essentially been a one-man-band into a team.

Eldan is currently helping with organizing the Foundation Stones presentation series because that’s our next step and Eldan understands the quiet aspects of service. Yet Eldan brings more than his helpful operational experience. He comes with a deep commitment to acting for a sustainable future and a wonderful alignment with the CI approach.

Let me tell you just a few things about him and then send you to a link where Eldan says it much more beautifully.

Eldan went from a psychology degree from the University of Sussex in England to work at Case Western Reserve University on a PhD involving dynamical systems models of lower animal nervous systems. The more he learned about dynamical systems, the more worried he became about climate change and the risks of passing tipping points in the climate system. Eventually he became convinced that the problems of human society and their environmental manifestations were more urgent than the work he had been focussed on, and left academia to become a full-time sustainability activist.

On this path he has worked at the NW Environmental Training Council and Sustainable Seattle. He co-founded the Happiness Initiative and continues to assist it along with a number of other worthy project. I’m delighted that CI is now one of the places where he is putting his good energy — and delighted to introduce him to you.

So those are the outer contours of his story. I encourage you to look here for Eldan’s own more inner telling of this good story.

“What Time Is It?” – Lessons from history for a sustainable future – Feb 12 in Seattle

Event image

If you are (or will be) in the Seattle area, save the date — 6:30 pm on Feb 12, 2014 — for the first of the Foundation Stones presentation series. You can register for the event at contextinst.brownpapertickets.com or just come. At the door, tickets are $10 for individuals, $7.50 per person for two or more, and $6 for students, unemployed people or those over 65. Scroll down for “Advice for attendees”.

We start the series with Foundation Stone 1. Here’s the event description:

What Time Is It? — Lessons from history for a sustainable future.

“I’ve never been more encouraged about the future than I am today.”
That’s Dr. Robert Gilman, former astrophysicist and long-time sustainability thought-leader, drawing a surprising conclusion from his study of 16,000 years of human history. On February 12 he’ll talk in Seattle about the reasons he’s so encouraged and what they mean to you personally, to the way you see the future and what you can do to create a thriving future for yourself, your community and the world.

Come and discover what you can do to work with the momentum of history.

You can download a PDF flyer for the event here and email it to friends.

The presentation will cover much that was in the Findhorn presentation but will also add important new material.

The event will be in Hildebrand Hall at the Plymouth Church in downtown Seattle. The church has a great lounge if you need a place to hang out between work and the event.

If you know people in the Seattle area, please encourage them to come.

If you can’t come, there will be freely-available videos of the event — not quite the same as being there, but still a good reason for you to cheer us on.

Advice for attendees:

  • Arrive early:
    We have a full evening and need to start on time. Sign-in for the event will start at 6 pm. The Church lounge will be available from 5 pm. If you would like to bring food to eat before the event, you can do so in the lounge.
  • Getting there – Public Transit:
    Your eventual destination is Sixth and Seneca. If you don’t already have a route, Google Transit or Metro’s Trip Planner can help. Every bus that runs through downtown stops within 2-4 blocks of the venue, as does Link light rail. Simply get off at University Street station or the stop closest to University Street / Benaroya Hall / the Downtown Post Office.

    Finding the hall – Walk uphill on University Street. Turn right at Sixth Ave and enter the Church through the second door, closer to Seneca Street, which will take you directly to the hall we will be using.

  • Getting there – Biking and Walking:
    Head toward the intersection of Sixth and Seneca. Enter the Church through the door on Sixth closer to Seneca Street, which will take you directly to the hall we will be using. Bikes can be stowed inside the hall.
  • Getting there – Driving:
    Getting from I-5 to the church is quick and easy. You will find a helpful map and directions here.

    Coming from the north – Take the Union St exit off of I5. Go a few blocks on Union to 5th and turn left. Go one block to University, turn left but get in the right lane. Parking is about half-way up the block on the right.

    Coming from the south – Take the Seneca St exit off of I5. Go a few blocks on Seneca to 4th. Turn right and go a block on 4th. Turn right on to University and get in the right lane. Go up the hill past 5th. Parking is about half-way up the block on the right.

    Coming from I-90 – Exit I-90 heading north on I-5 and take the Madison St. exit. At light, turn left and go down to 4th. Turn right and go three blocks on 4th. Turn right on to University and get in the right lane. Go up the hill past 5th. Parking is about half-way up the block on the right.

    Parking – There are two parking garages used by the church. You don’t want the first one, which has an open-air ramp and is run by IBM. The second one that goes under the church building is what you want. Tell the parking attendant that you are there for a “Plymouth Event” and you won’t be charged (presuming you arrive after 4 pm). There is no attendant in the garage after 6:30 pm, so don’t leave valuables in the car.

    Finding the hall – Take the elevator from the parking garage up to the 2nd floor and you will be right at the entrance to the hall.

  • Seat cushions:
    The seating is on standard metal folding chairs. If you would like some padding, please bring whatever you like.
  • Mugs:
    If you prefer to bring your own reusable mug for tea, please feel free to do so. Otherwise, feel free to use the compostables we provide.
  • Video:
    The event will be video recorded and eventually put up on the web. If you have personal issues with appearing in publicly-available video, you should get in touch with us directly.

Updated 7 Feb 2014

Foundation Stones presentation series

The success of my presentation in June 2013 at Findhorn inspired me to look at doing more presentations covering all of the Foundation Stones. Since then we have been hard at work laying the groundwork for such a series.

If you aren’t yet familiar with the Foundation Stones project, it is Context Institute’s response to the core challenge of our times: to bring our cultures into sync with the 21st century reality around us. You can find out more about the project here.

The plan is to video record each presentation, edit the video well, and then make those videos freely available on the web. The goal is to get the basic concepts of each Foundation Stone out to the public in an easily digestible form.

We will begin in early 2014, in Seattle, starting with Stone 1: What Time Is It?, and then over the coming months move through all of the Stones. Please see the “save-the-date post for the details on the first event.

Organizing these presentations on our own (rather than doing them at conferences) gives us the opportunity to create a comfortable pace. Our current plan is to build the presentations out of 10 to 20 minute chunks with time for Q&A in between.

I’m really looking forward to what we can do with this series and the videos that will come out if it! I expect this to be my major focus for 2014.

Dynamic Planetary Context video is up

I’ve just posted the video of my well-received keynote presentation for the International Communal Studies Association 2013 conference. I invite you to take a look.

Update July 27, 2013: I’ve added a 3-minute trailer and a PDF of the slides to provide options for a quick overview.

Dynamic Planetary Context live on 6/26/2013

I’ll be giving the opening keynote for the International Communal Studies Association’s 2013 conference being held this year at the Findhorn community. My presentation (on 26 June) and all of the plenary sessions will be streamed live over the internet and then be available for streaming over the next 28 days — click here for details including times.

The keynote is called The Dynamic Planetary Context for Intentional Communities and will provide my latest thinking on Foundation Stone 1: What Time Is It? I’m delighted to be able to share this with those at the conference and everyone around the world who watches the video stream. I invite you to take a look!

Introducing the FS Main Thread

The central story of the Foundation Stones is starting to emerge. As I’ve been writing articles and posts for the Foundations Stones, it has become clear that some of these are part of that central story, with each one building on what has gone before. Others play a supporting role. I think of the central articles and posts as the Foundation Stones’ Main Thread.

To make it easier for you to follow this Main Thread, I’ve put in place a system that makes it explicit:

  • There is a listing in the sidebar with links to each Main Thread item.
  • There is a Foundation Stones’ Main Thread page that provides a graphic table of contents, listing published material and upcoming material — so that you can see where the process is headed.
  • Each article or post in the Main Tread is identified as such within it and has previous and next links along the thread.

If you want to get the full benefit from the Foundation Stones project, I encourage you to look at the Foundation Stones’ Main Thread page and then read any of the Main Thread items you haven’t read yet.

hOS and the Burden/Gift of Culture

I’ve posted two additional articles in the Tools For The Journey section:

The Human Operating System (hOS) uses an analogy with smart phones to identify the part of innate human nature that is most important to understand so that we can be effective cultural change agents.

The Burden And The Gift Of Culture goes deeper into what culture is and how it functions — and why it is so essential to what it means to be human.

I invite you to take a look and use the comment form to let me know what you think.

Introducing “culture as interface”

cai-small-full

Today I posted a video and an article that introduce a simple, powerful, big-picture framework for understanding how culture fits into its context. The framework is called culture as interface. It’s important groundwork on which the Foundation Stones rest.

The 8-minute animated video, created in Motion, is an experimental first for this site. I’ll be interested in your feedback on it.

I’ve also posted a companion article, Culture-As-Interface In Its Historical Context, that connects the culture-as-interface framework to a rich history of related ideas.

I invite you to take a look and use the comment form to let me know what you think.

Five working hypotheses

(This post follows Who Are The Foundation Stones For? in the FS Main Thread.)

The material on this website is written within the framework of five basic assumptions about humanity and the Earth at this time in history:

  • Business-as-usual is not sustainable
  • The culture is not changing fast enough
  • A thriving sustainable society is possible
  • A pathway to get there is possible
  • These four are all reflections of the major cultural transition that humanity is in the midst of now, a transition as profound as the shift out of hunting and gathering and into agriculture and cities that happened 5,000 to 10,000 years ago.

In this post I want to make these working hypotheses explicit and provide a brief introduction to each, so that together they can provide a meaningful context for the more detailed material in other posts and articles. Continue reading “Five working hypotheses”

Who are the Foundation Stones for?

(This post follows The Foundation Stones Project in the FS Main Thread.)

Here on this public website, everyone is, of course, welcome. Nevertheless the Foundation Stones material is being developed with a specific audience in mind. Do any of these descriptions fit you?

  • Do you feel that something momentous is happening now in human history and do you sense that there are positive opportunities for humanity as well as dangers?
  • Do you feel a desire, an inner calling, to play a constructive part in this profound historical process?
  • Do you want to deepen your understanding about our times and your possible role in them?

If you do, know that we are creating the Foundation Stones for you.

We hope that, as they develop, the Foundation Stones will offer you three things:

  • an empowering understanding of the big picture of our place in history;
  • the identification of high-leverage ways for you to engage with the process; and
  • tools, techniques and ideas that can help you be a more effective and skillful participant in the process.

If this appeals to you, chances are good that, from an innovation diffusion perspective, you are a change agent or an early adopter relative to these issues — just the people we are doing this for.

If this all feels like it fits you, please look at the material already available as part of the Foundation Stones’ Main Thread and make sure you stay connected. We have a lot of new material coming.

(The next piece in the FS Main Thread is Five Working Hypotheses.)

Behind the scenes

Life often has surprising twists and turns.

I had hoped to post more new material in the last few months, but we ran into major web-server problems (both hardware and software) involving multi-hour and then multi-day outages. By the time the site was hit with the second major outage, I decided to take the time to put a more robust web-server infrastructure in place.

We now have a new server as the main one for the site. We also have a backup server that we can switch to should there be problems on the main server. In the process, I learned a lot more about server administration than I ever thought I would!

I won’t tempt fate by claiming those issues are now all in the past, but I’m feeling good enough about the new setup that I’m happily turning my attention back to generating new content for the site.

New: The Core Challenge Of Our Times

What is the core challenge of our times? I have posted my take on this in a new article in the “What Time Is It?” section. This article serves as a starting point for the whole Foundation Stones project.

I invite you to take a look and give me your feedback via the comment form link at the bottom of that page. Let me know what parts of the article work for you, which ones don’t, topics you would like to see expanded on in the future and anything you feel is factually incorrect.

Thanks!

Celebrating 33 years … and a new beginning

Thirty-three years ago today, the State of Washington accepted and certified our Articles of Incorporation as a nonprofit organization. It’s been a long, wonderful, surprising journey. I encourage you to take a look at Context Institute’s History and the In Context Back Issue Descriptions to get a good sense of what’s been accomplished. I’m deeply grateful to all of the people who have shared this journey and made it possible.

Yet as wonderful as it’s been, I’m feeling that the best is yet to come. As I’ve been telling friends of late, I’ve never been as encouraged about the human future as I am today. I’m convinced that a thriving sustainable planetary future is possible. The major questions in my mind are less about “whether?” than about “when?” and “how gracefully?” and simply “how?”

The answers to those questions depend on all of us. I honor what you’re already doing to provide positive answers — and I hope that our work will make your work easier, more joyful and encourage you further.

Our next big step in that direction is the Foundation Stones project — a means for us to share what we have learned about realistic pathways to a thriving sustainable planetary future. Do stay in touch as we build this resource.

It’s all part of doing what we can to build a future that coming generations will thank us for. Are you up for it?

Welcome to the new CI website!

We are delighted to bring you this new version of www.context.org. Context Institute has had an internet presence for a long time. We got the context.org domain in 1994, we did our first website in 1996, and we upgraded the site in 2000. The old version of the site served us well for many years, steadily hosting over 20,000 visitors a month, but as we started in late 2011 to plan for Context Institute’s next phase, it was clear that we needed to bring the website fully into the 21st century.

The new site has all of the essential material from the old site — especially all of the 900 articles from In Context. What is new is that the site is now a dynamic content management system (based on WordPress and the Hybrid theme framework) that will allow us to add all kinds of features that the old static-page site couldn’t handle.

We expect to be adding substantial content to the site over the coming months and years as we develop the Foundation Stones project. Please sign up for our email newsletter, CI News, using the form in the upper right column. In addition to updates about new articles on the website, CI News will have behind-the-scenes info and questions well before that material reaches the website.

We invite you to explore this new site. If you are not familiar with our work, the About Us section is a great resource. We would love to get your feedback both on what you like and where you feel there is room for improvement.

Thanks!