Monday, January 18, 2016

Social Alchemy, Social Change, Social Transformation--A Review

I want to start the new year with a look back and make some clarifications.  For people new to this blog, I want to explain what Social Alchemy is, why I write so much about communities, and why I sometimes veer off into things like chemistry and spirituality.

First of all, Social Alchemy, as the title of this post implies, is another way of saying social change or social transformation.  I think that there are lots of problems with this society and believe there are better ways to live.

I’ve joked to people that my hobby is “rebuilding the world from the ground up.”    I started this blog, as I point out at the top of the sidebar, to offer “Some Tools for Creating a World that Works for Everyone”.  I view, as I’ve mentioned several times in this blog, intentional communities as laboratories for social change.  And when you’re thinking about rebuilding the world, looking at everything, from chemistry to spirituality, makes sense.  As it says at the bottom of the sidebar, “It's all connected... it's all connected... it's all connected…

Much of what I’m going to write from here (in this and in the next few posts) is a rehash of stuff I wrote about early in this blog--some of it, back in 2008 when I started the blog.  (You can also find this stuff in the two zines that I published if you want--see my note at the very top of the sidebar about Bodhisattva Revolutionaries and Social Alchemists.  I still have a few copies available if you’d rather read this stuff in print rather than online.)

So how do we create social change?  How do we transform a society?  I don’t think that there’s any one answer but the most useful framework I know is what I learned from being in the Movement for a New Society in the 1980s.  There we began by looking at Analysis, Vision, and Strategy.

During the 1970s I was involved with a lot of personal growth stuff--including something called Neurolinguistic Programming.  I remember John Grinder at one point saying something like he thought that you could anything if you only could see clearly what was going on, had a very definite picture of what you wanted, and were willing to try many different things.  When I thought about it, I realized this was an example of analysis (analyzing the situation),  vision (picturing what you wanted), and strategy (trying different things).

Recently, I was looking at The Transition Handbook, by Rob Hopkins.  The book is divided into three parts which he labels Head, Heart, and Hands.  Head is an analysis of the situation we find ourselves in, in this case focusing on peak oil and climate change.  The Heart section is subtitled “Why having a positive vision is crucial”.  And the Hands part is focused on the Transition process, ie, their strategy.  Again, analysis, vision, and strategy.

So, this social change process is going to be the focus of my next three posts, one each on Analysis, Vision, and Strategy.

Quote of the Day:  “What does the global justice movement want?  What is our vision, our picture of an ideal society and economy?  When we say ‘Another world is possible,’ what kind of world are we talking about?
“The global justice movement is diverse.  It ranges from union leaders who want to secure a fair share of this economy for its members to old-line Marxists, to anarchists, to indigenous communities struggling to preserve their traditional lands and cultures.  No one picture of the world can describe all the different viewpoints.  No one vision may actually serve this tremendous diversity.”  - Starhawk

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