Back in Berlin

Sunday, July 1st, 2012 | Uncategorized

The past few weeks felt like many streams coming together to form an ever more powerful river. I owe this observation to Peter Senge, who expressed it when he left Berlin after our streak of events there last week. Here are some of my recent experiences, which illustrate Peter’s point:

–A watershed New Economy Conference on the US East coast brought together 400 thought leaders and grassroots activists from across North America (two weeks ago).
–At MIT, Peter and I hosted a ten-day Leading Innovation for Sustainability program for high-potential leaders from the Chinese government, SOEs (state-owned enterprises), NGOs, and Tsinghua University to launch a six-month action learning journey. This group is so co-creative and insightful!
–The Global Forum, held in Berlin’s Radialsystem with 500 participants (350 in person and 150 via live webstream), demonstrated the power of linking deep human awareness with profound societal systems transformation.
–Also in Berlin, we convened the fourth and final module of our two-year Presencing-in-Action Masterclass. It was an unforgettable collective presence experience that began by leaning into the presence and pain of the Holocaust past while also attending to the light and shadow in each of us.
–A Berlin-based strategy retreat for the PI core team generated priorities for the coming year or two. Among them are (1) the 2013 Forum in Asia–probably Bali; (2) the next Masterclass, starting probably in Fall 2013; (3) the founding of a u.school Awareness Action Research Group; and (4) the first seminar with PhD students before or after the 2013 Global Forum.
–In a planning meeting with GIZ (the German Ministry for Development Cooperation) we got the go-ahead for a 2012 launch of our Social Well-being Lab. The lab will include Bhutan (with the Prime Minister of Bhutan as patron), Brazil, Germany, and others, and will be co-hosted by the GIZ Global Leadership Academy and the Presencing Institute.
–The next day, still in Berlin, I met with the team of the new German President, Joachim Gauck, in the President’s Office (Bundespräsidialamt) and then in the afternoon with some of the Merkel team in the Chancellor’s Office (Bundeskanzleramt) in order to learn about and discuss the challenges and opportunities they face going forward.
–A Youth and Social Entrepreneurship Summit called MISSION U brought together 100 students from seven or eight social entrepreneurship schools across Europe. These 100 students used the U process to take a deep dive into some of the Berlin-based hotspots of social innovation, followed by a two-day presence retreat that I helped them with. Very cool gang of Gen Y social entrepreneurs…

Here is what emerges for me from that growing river that Peter referred to:
–The events mentioned above are part of something much bigger: the rise of a new global movement around linking spirituality, science, social change, and a practice of inner cultivation.
–Berlin rocks! The city is alive, and its milieu of artists, social entrepreneurs, counterculture, civil society, and global community makes it a hotspot of social renewal today. Over the past ten days we staged four global Presencing Institute gatherings here in Berlin. We found that the city works in amazing and transformative ways. Show me another major capital that has confronted and reflected on the shadowy aspects of its past in a way that Berlin has and continues to do.
–If a school of business or government in Berlin offered me the opportunity to launch Theory U-based Master’s, PhD, and Exec Ed programs (the “u.school”) there, it would be very difficult to say no.

My own journey started almost 30 years ago in West Berlin’s Free University and in the peace movement on both sides of the Iron Curtain. Coming back after all these years with a global community of change-makers has been a moving experience for me. I will have to wait to see what grows out of this new web of connections. But it feels as if something has started to come into being over the past two weeks…

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5 Comments to Back in Berlin

Robert M Burnside
July 1, 2012

Peter, I agree. The world is thirsty indeed for new insights into the nature of the human being. The economic sphere also needs this fresh food, I am working to find the path there. I also am working with Tsinghua University, let’s connect. Here’s hope your work finds good ground in which to take deep root and grow abundantly for the good of all.

Martin murphy
July 2, 2012

I believe this is a transition period, because you probably cannot actually transform the global situation from within & using the same systems which, although were a neccessary evolutionary stepping stone, are fundamentally flawed moving forward. Social entrepreneurship is still operating from a position within the monetary ‘debt slave’ system. I have worked & spoken with lots of ‘wannabe’ social entrepreneurs and people wishing to follow their passion, serving others. Very little of which was possible utilising the present systems. They still have to pay their bills. Ironically, in this present economic/political system, there is very little work and opportunity available. Without the present systems, there would be plenty of good, service & purpose focussed work to do. I think we met once in Borl was it? A business and art conference. Rgds Martin:)

Juergen Nagler
July 2, 2012

Thrilling update Otto. I would be very interested in upcoming PhD or Exec course opportunities.

Wouldn’t you perfectly fit with the HUMBOLDT-VIADRINA School of Governance?

Best from the UNDP & South Africa
Juergen

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