Solutionaries are people who evolve culture through
instigating inter-generational and cross-cultural collaboration,
actively cultivating life-sustaining solutions
for current times and future generations.
Our world is transforming through the constant dance between the light of life-supporting solutions and the shadow of life-threatening challenges. The living earth which nourishes us is sick and needs our loving attention. People, animals and plants are being harmed every day. At the same time more and more of us are waking up to this awareness and becoming stewards for healing the earth. Habitats are being restored, organic food is being grown, and oppressed people are standing up for their rights, reclaiming their culture and land.
This great adventure of our time has been referred to as the “Great Turning.” This is a term coined by ecological buddhist and activist Joanna Macy to signify a movement of people shifting their consciousness towards a regenerative, resilient lifestyle. As a community, we face global crises. In the face of these crises, we have the opportunity to grow and cultivate positive transformation for the wellbeing of our planet. The Great Turning explains how we can liberate from the unconstrained, exploitive industrial growth model, and make a conscious shift to an ecological, sustainable and just paradigm that supports all beings. This is done through personal and collective, global and local, small and large, social and environmental solutions, in action. These include projects such as self-sufficient organic community gardens, renewable energy infrastructure, policy reform, alternative education, art and music as activism, healing arts, and a political, spiritual and social movement supporting and honoring all people and all communities, all animals and plants and the land and nature.
Every day, we face obstacles. Individually and in community we can find ways to overcome and creatively transform these obstacles into life-supporting solutions. When we generate these everyday solutions they help us to evolve and grow as a collective, improving the lives of our environment, community and ourselves. We have the power to rise up in the face of environmental pollution and human exploitation and create a beautiful, safe and harmonious reality. Instead of just feeling angry, overwhelmed, stuck and afraid, we can put this energy into designing the world we want to live in.
As changemakers, we can ask ourselves, “in what ways can we take personal responsibility for earth-care, and people-care, that meets human and ecosystem needs while generating ease, fun and inspiration?
Anyone can be a Solutionary. Not only is it a mindset; it is a way of life, a way of interacting with our world. Solutionaries take accountability for their impact on the planet. They strive to generate this positive, influential and helpful impact for the benefit of all living beings and future generations to come. A Solutionary cultivates mindful, loving and conscious living, develops self-regulation, accepts and integrates feedback into designs, and considers all perspectives when making decisions. Solutionaries see both the short-term and long-term effects of climate change and are motivated to engage and participate in creating a regenerative, sustainable lifestyle which honors the interconnected web of all people, plants and animals in our living breathing ecosystem. Solutionaries know how to make their work fun, interesting, engaging and exciting, encouraging all to get involved. Being a Solutionary means celebrating life, taking on challenges and being motivated to create positive change. A Solutionary creatively looks outside the box, collaborating across cultures with innovation, using imagination to cultivate powerful, dynamic projects, events, farms, and community centers, that bring people together, creating a positive impact on society and the environment. Rather than putting a band-aid on an issue for a one-time fix, a Solutionary sees the root of the issue and strategizes ways to implement helpful tools, resources, and systems that generate a life-sustaining, holistic, and regenerative design for permanent transformation.
There are so many ways we can “be the change we wish to see in the world (Gandhi),” starting right now, from right where we are. We have experienced the blooming of our projects through co-founding, co-organizing and co-leading the Blooming Biodiversity Permaculture Tours, a journey through the West Coast with a traveling team of 28 Solutionaries, creating permaculture work parties and events at over 50 locations, from eco-villages to inner-cities and beyond. Our Blooming Biodiversity organization consists of a team called the Solutionary Productions which is a diverse group of social-environmental activists, dedicated to co-creating a resilient and regenerative lifestyle for ourselves, our local and global community, our natural world, and future generations.
Through our permaculture tours, we have traveled to Canada, Washington State, Oregon, California, Arizona, Texas, Hawaii, Maui, Kauaii, Costa Rica and Peru, facilitating over 100 events, starting in February 2015. Our tours facilitate empowering days of action with interactive workshops for social and environmental evolution including: permaculture and biodynamic farming/gardening, live music, yoga/healing arts,expressive/visionary arts, ecstatic dance, integration of intentional communities and eco-villages. In every location, we gather in communities for the integration of permaculture principles and values, holistic education and transformational festival culture, in action. Through these action days participants experience the power of living in harmony with nature and supporting each other in community through hands on activities, workshops, presentations, music, and meals. These events generate and implement regenerative solutions through work on the land, discussions and activities fun for people of all ages and a variety of cultural backgrounds.
You can read more about our organization and tours at our website:
The biggest question for aspiring changemakers is “how to?” As a blueprint, we’ve compiled this guide to empower and motivate you to enact your soul’s work, and to help transform your desire for change into impassioned action.
Here we go!
Step 1: Feel it.
Meditation, Mindful and Conscious Connecting to our Inner and Outer lives, Stream of Consciousness Writing, Sitting/Walking in Nature, Arts, Music & Movement
Whatever helps you tune in with your emotional body, your soma, start there. Connect with your sense of that which comes up for you when you tune in with the current state of the world. Feel what is perfect and beautiful about the world and yourself, and then feel what is out of balance and in need of attention. It begins with the feeling. Feel your presence. Feel and experience all five (or more) of your senses. Feel your breath, and let your energy flow naturally.
Exercise: Write a stream of consciousness poem about your vision. Keep your pen on the paper the whole time, and write everything that comes to mind. Then, repeat this exercise, this time creating a drawing that visually represents your poem. Use shapes, textures, and feelings instead of thoughts of what it’s supposed to look like. Feel it.
Exercise: Put on music and dance out what you are feeling in this moment. What are you embodying right now? What makes you feel alive? What are you passionate about? Act it out. Visualize it through your body movements. What does the act of doing what you love look like? What does it feel like?
Exercise: Write a song about how you are feeling, freestyle, sing it, drum it, and express it through a melody. What are the emotions behind the song? What message is wanting to express itself through you?
Intuit and dream up the ideal reality you wish to help co-create. Dream up a project or action that will help bring about this reality. Create a detailed map that visualizes, explains and expresses your ideas. Dream big, and let go of limitation! What does your dream project look like?
Exercise: Draw pictures of what your idea looks like. What environment are you in? Which people are involved? What resources do you need? What is the goal?
Step 3: Communicate it.
Speak it, write it, discuss it…
Share your ideas in a solutionary discussion council, with close friends, relatives, an online forum, or whatever will help you bring your ideas into the realm of discourse. It’s important to prepare yourself by knowing that not everyone will get it, and you may receive doubt or criticism, but keep going, because those who understand will shower you with support and encouragement, and likely help you discover great ideas that will enhance and accelerate the formation of your creation.
Exercise: Create an elevator speech, 2 minutes to explain the whole idea, in the most clear and concise way.
Step 4: Plan it!
Organize it, map it, draw it…
This is one of the most important parts of solution creation, something that is often forgotten about and stunts the actualization of our dreams. The planning stage is what brings ideas into the realm of possibility, and helps others get on board with co-creating projects. If you have access to the internet, google docs are one of the best tools for creating living documents that can be added to and edited by any co-creator on board.
Programs like “Slack,” will create a chat group just for those involved, “Asana” is a great way to organize tasks and “to do” lists, and Facebook chat groups are often the most visited and most commented on.
Exercise: Create a map of your action plan, resources needed, locations, mission statement, purpose, goals, and further details that will help bring your project into fruition.
Step 5: Get Others Involved!
Create roles for community members to get involved.
Remember, receiving support is important. You can’t do it all by yourself. Assign roles and tasks to fitting individuals. Get your community involved. Don’t be a afraid to ask for help. The more people involved in positive ways the more you can accomplish!
Exercise: Organize a networking event for your project! It could be at a house, a café, a park, etc., and gather interested allies to discuss and dream together.
Get creative with your funding! Make it fun, interesting, and engaging. Feel the abundance mentality, and visualize all your project’s needs being met, and all resources provided for. Act from a space of knowing that your project is already happening. There are many great crowdfunding platforms, such as indiegogo, kickstarter, gofundme, and patreon. A lesser known gem of a resource is the scholarship and grants database, accessible to the public at most university libraries. Fundraising is also a great reason to organize really fun events. Whether it’s a crowdfunding launch party, a smaller scale version of what your project is going to be, or a dance-a-thon for a cause, do something, and it will help your dreams come true.
Exercise: Write out a storyboard for a video that will tell your story clearly while asking for funding and explaining where the funding will go.
Step 7: Promote it!
Let the world know!
Make an event page, put up flyers, contact local newspapers and radio stations, etc. Create a website and campaign. Make Facebook updates about your project.
Exercise: Go to events in your community and talk to people about your vision and project, and pass out cards with clear information. Keep an e-mail list to collect a database of interested participants and collaborators.
Step 8: Do it!
Make it happen! Follow through! Make your dreams come true!
This is the most important part of Solutionary action. Putting your ideas into action! If you're putting on an event, show up early to your location with volunteers who are ready to help out, and make this shift happen! Whatever your project is, create a launching day that marks the beginning of your projects' journey, and celebrates all your hard work.
Exercise: The night before your launch, visualize your project in action! What are your goals and expected results? How would you love to see it play out? By visualizing the reality you would like to see, you can cultivate your vision in grounded ways. This process clarifies and refines what you want to see and what you need to do to make that happen.
Step 9: Reflect it.
Integrate, Meditate, Heartshare, Feedback
It’s important to reflect on what you’ve accomplished. Having your own time to integrate, through meditation, journaling, or whatever works best for you, and then having time to integrate with your team, will help you grow and improve your offerings for next time. It’s important to reflect on what was accomplished, and what can be improved. Take notes and make sure they’re easy to find! Exercise: Sit in nature with your journal and write a stream of consciousness reflection about your experience. What went well? What could go better next time? What have you learned from this experience?
Step 10: Share it!
Sharing is caring!
Share your experience via social media, blogs, videos, photos, audio, etc. Tell people about what you did, what you’re doing next, and how they can get involved, or how they can organize their own actions from wherever they are!
Exercise: Make a power-point and present your solutionary actions to schools, organizations, to people on the street, online, wherever you can to further cultivate positive effect through your project!
Projects & Activities You Can Do
Now that we’ve looked at the solutionary steps for positive transformation, here are some DIY (do it yourself) and DIT (do it together) ideas to get you started!
World Cafe: Bring together your community for a solutionary discussion council. Provide tables and chairs, paper and colored pens on each table for visual additions to the discussion, and come up with a theme (intergenerational collaboration, environmental protection, etc.) and three questions related to this theme. Ask participants to find a seat at a table, and ask the first question. Encourage everyone to add graphic design to the paper in front of them as they discuss. Each time you change the question, ask for one person at each table to stay, and all other participants to change to a new table. At the end, bring everyone together for a big group “harvest” of ideas, sharing what was most prevalent during this session. This can be followed with tea, a meal, a nature hike, etc.There are many alternative ways to organize a World Cafe, including groups based on specific projects, groups based on regions of where people are from and wish to create positive change in, or groups based on various changemaker styles. Learn more about this here: www.theworldcafe.com
Work Parties: It’s always better together! Organize an event that brings people together for a specific goal. This could be turning your front yard into an organic garden, installing an aquaponic pond and rainwater catchment system at your local grange hall, making a community cob pizza oven and benches, or simply planting flower beds at a school. If you make it fun, more people will come. Invite local musicians, theater troupes, yoga teachers, artists, and whoever you can to help make this event enticing and memorable. It’s amazing to discover how much work can happen when people are enjoying themselves.
Potlucks: Have weekly meetings with a community meal to discuss your projects and update each other on activist actions.
Download Domes: Set up a station on the street, in a park, or at an event, and provide frequent viewings of short inspirational videos that will wake viewers up to important issues and tangible solutions in the world. Follow it up with a discussion council. You can have people sign up for short 10-30 minute sessions, or let people flow in and out as they wish.
Gift Circles/Clothing Swap/Trade Blankets: Create an event where people get together to give each other gifts!
Learn more about this here: wiki.gifteconomy.org/Gift_Circle
Council/Heart Share: Get people together for a check in. Go around once to share how you’re doing in general, a second time to share any commitments you’d like to make with support from the group, and a third time for longer heart shares from anyone who wishes to express in detail what’s real for them.
Habitat Restoration: Join a local habitat restoration project, or research ways to restore habitats near you.
Growing your own food in a Community Garden: Search for a local community garden and get involved, or if you can’t find one, start your own!
Here’s a great resource for those in the U.S. to find local community gardens: communitygarden.org/find-a-garden
Beach Clean Up: Get together your local community and clean up the beach, or the street, or anything that needs cleaning! Make the events fun with live music, yoga and dance parties before and after, and anything else that will get people to show up. Get involved with organizations that are already doing this, like Surf Rider: www.surfrider.org
Village Building Convergence: Participate in the VBC nearest to you, and then create your own VBC in your own town! Learn more here: villagebuildingconvergence.com
Permaculture Tours: Get involved in currently active permaculture tours, and/or create your own! The more the better! The new regenerative paradigm is about pollination of good ideas and collaboration, rather than competition. Just make sure to do it with your own unique flavor and a name that will clearly show that you are distinct from pre-existing tours and organizations.
That you can get involved with!
We’re all in this together! There are plenty of Solutionary organizations that are waiting for you to participate. These five Solutionary oriented organizations that we are actively involved in provide trainings in developing solution-focused life work. These organizations include: Generation Waking Up (GenUp), The Work That Reconnects (WTR), The Story of Stuff, Earth Activist Training (EAT), and Social Artistry.
1. Generation Waking Up: Addressing our Situation
From typical daily challenges to global systemic issues, solutions exist and are waiting for us to put them into action. While the key is to walk our talk, we first must talk our talk so we can better walk it, with informed certainty. An organization that we are part of, Generation Waking Up, addresses our current planetary situation. Through presentations called the “Wake Up” experience, ambassadors of GenUp guide participating audiences through four questions: 1. “Who Are We?” as individuals, as a generation, and as a people on the planet today…
2. “Where Are We?” in the context of history, and in relation to the thriving, just, and sustainable world we wish to live in…
3. “What’s Going On?” that challenges and creates obstacles to our ideal reality… and…
4. “What Can We Do?” to be the change we wish to see in the world?
As Solutionaries, our work is to focus on question four: “What can we do?”
In our Blooming Biodiversity workshops, we move beyond GenUp’s process, and focus on these questions:
How do we want to live?
How can we live in ways that support and promote all life on earth.
How can we live in a way where all of our needs are met without harming people, animals or the environment?
What can we do as individuals and as a community?
What are our dreams, how do we make them become reality?
How can we live in our full potential?
What motivates and inspires us, and makes life worth living?
These are all questions we have inside of us. With the right support, guidance, and processing, the answers become clear. We realize that all the answers are inside of us. This is a Jedi training of self-empowerment, focus and healing. This is the work of liberating and finding your voice and sharing it with your community. Everyone has a greater purpose. What’s yours? Why are you here on the planet? What is your role? Why did you come here?
2. The Work That Reconnects and the Three Dimensions of the Great Turning
“Drawing from deep ecology, systems theory and spiritual traditions, the Work That Reconnects (WTR) builds motivation, creativity, courage and solidarity for the transition to a sustainable human culture. WTR has inspired thousands of people to take heart and work together for the sake of life on Earth, despite rapidly worsening social and ecological conditions. It has also inspired people to co-create experiential practices that serve the Work in specific groups and settings, its methods are widely used in classrooms, faith communities, grassroots organizing, and environmental and civil rights campaigns.”
Through The Work That Reconnects Joanna Macy describes three dimensions of the Great Turning, or three elements of Solutionary changemaking. These are:
1. Holding Actions (“Actions to slow the damage to Earth and its beings”)
These actions include policy reform, protests and blockades, whistle-blowing, and anything that halts the gears of global destruction.
2. Solution Creation (“Analysis of structural causes and the creation of structural alternatives”)
This includes creating permaculture farms, community gardens, planting trees, restoring habitats, and anything that fertilizes the soil for a life-supporting existence.
3. Paradigm Shift/Consciousness Transformation (“Shift in Consciousness”)
This ranges from work that helps us reconnect with nature to spiritual practice.
3. Earth Activist Training: Changemaker Solutionary Discussion Council
Permaculture teacher, designer and modern day Witch, Starhawk has created the Earth Activist Training (EAT).
“This course can set your life on a new path…or show you how to save the world. Green solutions are sprouting up all around us, but permaculture shows us how to weave them together into systems that can meet human needs and regenerate the natural world. EAT is practical earth healing with a magical base of ritual and nature awareness, teaching you to integrate mind and heart, with lots of hands-on practice and plenty of time to laugh.”
During the course Starhawk facilitates an activity where people discuss a variety of changemaker groups. These groups include:
1. Community Building
2. Arts/ Media
3. Direct Action
4. Policy & Politics
5. Science & Technology (added by us)
In the “Solutionary Discussion Council” portion of our Blooming Biodiversity “Embodying Permaculture” workshop, we ask participants to form groups based on the type of changemaker they are feeling most resonant with. Each group discusses the questions, “Why is this type of changemaking important?” “What is your direct experience with this style?” “How does this style of changemaking relate and interact with the others?” and “What is your action plan for creating positive change in the world through this style of changemaking?” This is an activity that you can catalyze anywhere. At the dinner table, at a concert before the show begins, in a park, with friends, family, or whoever happens to be around. These questions help us look deeper into specific ways to create positive change, and motivate us to find our own unique gifts.
4. Story of Stuff: What Kind of Changemaker Are You?
Watch this video, storyofstuff.org/movies/story-of-change and take this Changemaker Personality Quiz to find out your role in the movement: www.storyofstuff.org/changemaker
Annie Leonard, founder of "Story of Stuff," articulates six types of changemakers we need for a thriving future. Here they are in her words:
Resisters are on the front lines of changmaking! Here are just a few ways Resisters are already helping to write the next chapter in the story of stuff:
Standing up to the bullies and bad guys.
Practicing civil disobedience.
Halting destructive projects with a wide range of tools from lawsuits to injunctions to blockades.
Helping other changemakers find their own power to resist injustice.
Networkers play a crucial role in making change! Some of our favorite Networker traits:
A love and skill for making introductions and making new friends and contacts.
Helping to bring all types of people and Changemakers Personalities together over commons ideas, goals and actions.
An outgoing, open-natured person that’s constantly trying to strengthen and grow blue-panel their communities
Nurturers make it possible to make change! Here’s how:
Providing support, care and just about every other kind of sustenance to changemakers and change efforts.
Having (and keeping!) a source of strength so large that it can be shared with others when they need it.
Always being ready, able and willing to help.
Investigators play the crucial role of exposing both the problems we face and the solutions. Here’s how:
Reading, inquiring and learning constantly.
Researching facts questions, issues and stories thoroughly until the entire picture is clear.
Asking the hard questions and finding the sometimes-dark truths, even when it’s challenging and uncomfortable.
Communicators tell the stories and share information that build our power, bring us closer together and closer to a better future. Here’s how:
Using your creativity and expression to share knowledge in compelling and accessible ways, whether through art, film, oratory, music, online or innumerable other ways.
Reminding people about all the ways we’re connected.
Spreading news, information and ideas to other Changemaker Personalities.
Builders aren’t waiting for the solutions, they’re out there creating them. Here are just a few ways they do that:
Using engineering, design or science to make stuff that doesn’t trash people or the planet.
Creating community gardens, time banks or other methods for sharing resources and strengthening community.
Starting new businesses that foster healthy communities and a healthy planet."
Take Action: For those unable to attend a training in person, take this free online training! “The Citizen Muscle Boot Camp is designed to get each of us flexing our Citizen Muscles and building the skills we need to make change in our communities.
Complete with videos from Annie, hands-on, interactive online exercises, and some additional tips and exercises to practice as you go about your day, this course will help you build skills to become the most effective Changemaker you can be.
To participate in a Boot Camp, all you need is an internet connection, about an hour or two a week, and desire to make the world a better place.”
You can learn more about the Story of Stuff and find out what kind of Changemaker you are here: storyofstuff.org/changemaker
5. Social Artistry
In the words of Jean Houston, “It is within the deep work of Social Artistry that we can access the inner capacities to align ourselves with the earth's higher purpose. Ultimately, it is about all of us together co-creating the human and social changes needed to make a better world.The Social Artist is one who brings the focus, perspective, skill training, tireless dedication and fresh vision of the artist to the social arena. Thus the Social Artist's medium is the human community. She or he seeks innovative solutions to troubling conditions, is a lifelong learner ever hungry for insights, skills, imaginative ideas and deeper understanding of present-day issues.”
“The Social Artistry Odyssey Training was created in response to the current global societal shift: to empower people to take ownership of the future and foster connections between individuals and communities of all ages. If we are to rise up to meet the unprecedented challenges of our time, we must do it together. Imagine people of all ages and walks of life, affecting change from a place of connection to themselves and to each other. These are the communities we are creating: the communities that the world needs to catalyze its transformation.”
This training helps participants come up with an action plan and project design for their life work, through discussion groups, vision council's, mapping, presentations, visualizations and more.
We invite you to develop your own action plan for how you wish to show up on this planetary stage as a changemaker, and then, actualize this dream into reality! The invitation is to create, organize and actualize your own Solutionary project. Post updates with photos, videos and blog entries along your journey. Comment on and connect with the projects of fellow changemakers, and watch this planet blossom with positive transformational action! For support in your project, we encourage you to participate in any of the trainings and Solutionary organizations outlined above. It’s up to us to be the change we wish to see in the world, and if we don’t do it, who will? Remember, you are never alone. There is so much support, so many resources, and so many mentors and peers, readily available to help you. The world is waiting for you to begin making your dreams come true.
1. Find us on Facebook by searching Blooming Biodiversity Permaculture Tour: Solutionary Productions Presents
2. Post your project ideas and updates on our Facebook page.
3. Complete our Changemaker Challenge form on our website: www.bloomingbiodiversity.org/ChangeMakerChallenge
Here is a brief resource guide of Solutionary activist organizations that we are personally connected to and particularly inspired by: