…thoughts on and about my PhD journey and beyond…

We know the rules of community; we know the healing effect of community in terms of individual lives. If we could somehow find a way across the bridge of our knowledge, would not these same rules have a healing effect upon our world? We human beings have often been referred to as social animals. But we are not yet community creatures. We are impelled to relate with each other for our survival. But we do not yet relate with the inclusivity, realism, self-awareness, vulnerability, commitment, openness, freedom, equality, and love of genuine community. It is clearly no longer enough to be simply social animals, babbling together at cocktail parties and brawling with each other in business and over boundaries. It is our task–our essential, central, crucial task – to transform ourselves from mere social creatures into community creatures. It is the only way that human evolution will be able to proceed.

M. Scott Peck Psychiatrist & author.

I’ve connected with a wider group of people, locally and globally, who have marshalled together over the last few days in concert with the G20 summit to discuss the implications at our local levels of the Global Financial Crisis (GFC).

This movement is called we20 and argues that the world’s systemic problems which are manifest in the conditions leading up to a GFC can’t be fixed only by the 20 ‘suits’ in London in official and unofficial talks at the G20.  we20 called for groups of between 3 -20 people to meet locally to discuss an issue.  Why?

What is we20?

we20 was inspired as a public initiative to run alongside the G20, creating a bridge between the G20 leaders and you. The current objective for we20 plans is around finding short and long term solutions to the global economic crisis.

we20 is an independent and neutral place.

In the long term, we20 hopes to operate alongside the G20. We are relying on you to achieve this.

(excerpt from we20.org)

Riding the wave of the GFC: Surfcoast we20 meeting held at Bellbrae Hall on Friday 3 April, 2009

Geoff Brown @ we20 Bellbrae

Geoff Brown @ we20 Bellbrae

15 people met for our local we20 meeting.  Viv McWaters and Geoff Brown generously offered to facilitate the meeting using Open Source and World Cafe principles.  It worked a treat.  We had plenty of time to discuss our issues and concerns and were guided to prioritise our ideas, choose the leading theme and then work on an action plan.  It’s amazing what can be achieved in 3 hours of mindful activity.  Viv has reported back to the we20 website about the outcomes of this meeting, see report.

Our chosen focus was to look at opportunities for change in patterns of consumerism that the GFC ‘offer’ has presented to our community.  In many ways we are extremely fortunate to be able to call this part of the world home.  Nevertheless until the GFC I was feeling like I was in the prime of my life, doing my best to live a nurturing and financially responsible life and now perhaps because of decisions made based more on greed and spin than fiscal responsibility or good business sense, and in another land to boot, I may have to adjust to living in the sub(prime) of my life!  Our group talked variously about smarter consumerism, the effects on our community of actual or future downturns stemming from the GFC, building resilience in the individual and the community and the organic gardening phenomenon that has seen sales of seedlings of basil, for example, increase by 5000% in the last 12 months or so.

Smart Consumerism

On the issue of smarter consumerism we talked about being mindful about what we choose to buy and why.  What might the effects of our purchases be on our local communities and the environment?  In The Age today on p. 12  there is an article that sums up the sentiment of these conversations.  Subtitled “two writers with a conscience are making it easer to buy according to your beliefs’  the article tells of the motivation and resulting book to help people understand just what they are purchasing in their local supermarket.  The motivation behind the book and their website www.ethicial.org.au was summed up on a t-shirt worn at a WEF demonstration in Melbourne in 2000:

“Your dollar is your vote.  Who did you vote for today?”

Nick Ray and Clint Healy were at the demonstrations that day and soon after joined forces to set up their own not-for-profit association, The Ethical Consumer Group.  In 2008 they published their first booklet “The guide to ethical supermarket shopping” and this year’s edition is selling for $5 and available through newsagents and via their website.  The booklet provides information about the product’s country of origin, parent (and related) company information, rates products and provides consumer and industry alerts.

Worldly Leadership

There is growing interest in what has been termed “worldly leadership” based on Mintzberg’s notion of the worldly mindset.  In fact there will be a Worldly Leadership Symposium in the UK in September, 2009 that will theorize this concept in greater detail.  I am looking at Wordly Leadership in relation to leadership literacies for the knowledge era as the two concepts share some common interests.  Not least is the centrality of sustainability and living asset stewardship where living assets include people AND the planet. (I plan on submitting an abstract to TEMC-09 on what I’ve tentatively called “The Sustainability Zeitgeist).

Like G20 and we20, Worldly Leadership scholars are deeply interested in the struggle to find answers to major (and interrelated) global problems of poverty, sustainability, economic stability and health.  What we are seeing here is a shift in thinking about globalisation.  From a competitive, profit- at-any-cost kind of globalisation that paid little heed to the effects on the environment, citizens and workers towards a more globally co-operative, compassionate and worldly-wise view of globalisation.

Sharon Turnbull from the Leadership Trust in the UK is leading the way in this field.  Turnbull (2009) sees Worldly Leadership as aiming for unity and collaboration (as opposed to homogeneity) across borders through a shared humanity.

It is about shared power, dispersed and flexible networks, stewardship, integrity, responsibility for the common good, and an emphasis on a sustainable world.  The qualities and ways of living required for this go beyond competency frameworks as they are about ways of being, to include: vision and inspiration; integrity, humility and wisdom; authenticity and courage; and balance and responsibility (Turnbull, 2009 pp. 91-92).

The connections between we20 and Worldly Leadership are evident in that both attest to a way of seeing the world and living in the world and sharing responsibility for our part in it.  In conclusion I’ll leave the final say to Turnbull (2009) who could just as easily be talking about the we20 meeting experience as worldly leadership:

These experiences, followed by a shared reflective sense-making process, ideally within a culturally rich and diverse group, followed by the collaborative and joined up translation of the ideas into action with the real worlds of the leaders and their practice, combine to produce sustainable transformational learning at many levels, and a form of leadership that is needed in the world today (Turnbull, 2009 p. 92).

Turnbull, S. 2009. “Worldly” Leadership for a Global World, Global Leadership: Portraits of the Past, Visions for the Future, Maryland: University of Maryland, pp. 82 – 94.


Comments on: "we20: living on the Surfcoast in the (sub)prime of our lives…" (2)

  1. […] Heather Davis writes about the same we20 event here – with some commentary on ‘Smart Consumer… “The connections between we20 and Worldly Leadership are evident in that both attest to a way of seeing the world and living in the world and sharing responsibility for our part in it.” […]


  2. Great post Heather … now I’ll go and view the report.




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