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Enterprising Futures 2015 – Making sense of my experience

By Deni Curi

Between 16 February and 6 March 2015 I had the amazing opportunity to be part of the Enterprising Futures, a three week course for the masters students of Holistic Science and Economics for Transition, which was also opened to external participants like myself.

We had the privilege to have as our teachers and facilitators Robin Murray, Pat Conaty, Patricia Shaw, Kaira Jewel and Tim Crabtree.

The idea was to explore the new forms of enterprise and finance that are emerging, as an expression of ecological and social concerns: how the old assumptions of self-interest, competition and capital accumulation are being questioned and replaced by new stories and approaches.

And if I can say in few words what was all about I would risk saying that it was all about relationship, dialogue, silence, community building, presence and education!

During the first week with Patricia Shaw the main questions driving our work were questions like ‘What kind of enterprise are we shaping?’, ‘How can we firm the form?’ and ‘What kind of sense are we making together?’

We starting exploring them through dialogue followed by dancing the Tango and working with clay. It was very clear to me that our ‘ability’ to listen to the music or to ‘the clay’ was a very important point allowing us them to reflect on how we listen to ourselves, to others and to our enterprises. How we listen has a direct effect on how we relate: how I listen will have a great impact on how I lead and how I follow, thus impacting on what will emerge from that relationship.

The quality of my listening will allow me to know when I should be leading and when I should change to be the follower. Can I listen to what my partner is telling me so I can have a real dialogue and really dance? Can I listen to what the clay is telling me so I know how much effort  I should apply to it in other to produce a beautiful piece with it?

During this first week one of the participants, a Japanese student, told us that the word ‘human’ in Japanese means ‘the space between you and me’. This is one thing that I will never forget! I don’t know if what I am saying here makes any sense to anyone else but for me this is so powerful: the quality of our relationship with ourselves, with others and with all we do depends so much on the ‘quality’ of that space! It depends on how I listen, on the quality of my presence, and both of them require silence!

And any kind of enterprise is like a dance, and will depend on our sensibility to sense what emerges during this dance, like in a good Tango, and in our ability to co-create this dance.

On our second week the main focus was on the importance of the quality of our presence while ‘dancing’: how can mindfulness help us in our enterprises? How mindful are we while building our project, on our relationship with ourselves, with others and with our enterprise itself? How can that help us to build communities?

During this week Kaira Jewel ( a senior lay teacher of Buddhism, and formerly a nun in Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh’s Order of Interbeing) and Tim Crabtree guided us on how to go from the popular instrumental view of mindfulness to the more profound meaning of it. Concepts of right livelihood and the four nutriments – four ways to nourish ourselves, were explored through conversation and meditation sessions. Tim introduced the idea of a ‘trellis’, a structure that ‘guides the plant’ while growing. In that sense the teachings from Buddhism could be seen as that: a framework to guide us on our enterprise, not a fixed one but a flexible one that allows us to explore new possibilities without losing ourselves and our intentions in the process.

Humberto Maturana says that a culture is a network of conversation and can be changed by changing our conversation. I see the idea of the four nutriments like that: we are what we ‘eat’: 1. volition (my deepest desire and intentions); 2. edible (food and drink); 3. sense impressions; and 4. consciousness (what I read, see, listen, think, remember etc.) If we are able to change those we will change our network of conversation and by doing so we can change our culture and move on from competition to cooperation and collaboration, from shortage to abundance, from fear to trust and love.

By being mindful, and thus being really present, I will be able to ‘sense’ much easier what is emerging in the building of my relationship with me, with others and with my enterprise, I will have healthier and better relationships and be a much better ‘dancer’ in my endeavour.

And to finish this beautiful and profound course, in our last week we had the chance to listen to Robin Murray and Pat Conaty and their own experiences and learnings as pioneers of the new economy. They showed us amazing examples from all around the world, including many from my own country that I had no idea of. But what amazed me the most was how Robin Murray was able to ‘sew’ the whole three weeks together making it possible for us to make sense of it all.

He talked a lot about Education and about Edgar Morin. That ‘education’ actually should be called ‘formation’: the finding of a form of being! His question ‘When you grow, what is holding you together’ should be the first question any teacher should have to answer when starting his training to be a teacher. And as he asked us, why not look to your enterprise as an education project with an economy aspect in it? This is what I have been trying to do with my own project and life since back home!

Click here to find out more about our programme in Economics for Transition >>

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