#10: where’s the place you stand most strongly?
Hello mates, I have a juicy update here: some musings on what it means to feel at home; a stack of my new writing & podcasts; and your invitation to the first in-person gathering of microsolidarity practitioners in Belgium next month. And I’ve sprinkled in some photos from my current NZ road trip.
I’m writing to you from a campervan, taking a break as I drive down the length of Aotearoa New Zealand. It’s my first time home in 3 years… only I’ve been away long enough that it doesn’t really feel like home. It’s a weird unsettled feeling. The landscape is the same, the people are the same, but everything has moved around a bit and I don’t know where my place is anymore. Without a firm place to stand, my voice falters; I hesitate to act; I’m a little less alive.
I wonder how many of you reading this feel that not-quite-at-home feeling right now?
It’s not just me right? I see this sense of unbelongingness in people everywhere. Sometimes I think that wobbly fragile sense of belonging is the deeper driver of all of the various various challenges and crises society faces. I’ll give you two quick examples:
Political polarisation: I’ve come back to Aotearoa to find my peer group has split in half, divided over covid. Sure, that’s partly about misinformation and a clash of values, but it’s also about belonging. We’re having a debate about public health and vaccines and freedom but underneath it all is a persistent quest for belonging: are you my people? do you have my back? am I safe? is this home?
Or another example: the social media narcissism my generation is known for… I reckon that’s about belonging too. There was a time where my name would have been Baker of Smith or Fisher: my name would tell you what I do, my identity defined by my contribution to the community. Without orienting markers like this I keep forgetting who I am, so I’m frantically waving my arms on social media all day, looking for people to confirm that I exist, I matter, I have a contribution to make. Ping! I exist!
What happened to our community containers?
The social landscape has drastically changed over the past few decades. We used to have numerous social structures designed to create a place for you to belong. You’re born and live and die in a single town. Every week you go to the same church congregation and go through the same annual cycle of rituals. Your career is just two or three chapters, working for a single firm for decades at a time. You all watch the same 6 o’clock news program and calibrate your perspective to a shared baseline, even when you disagree.
For most people these days, all of that is gone. The old structures have evaporated and the replacements haven’t crystallised yet.
So this my focal point: can we create new structures for belonging? This is what the microsolidarity project is all about. Can we create resilient communities adapted to our contemporary context, for people living in multicultural urban environments, working remotely in patchwork careers, and socialising extensively through digital connections?
I think we can design new social structures that fit the context we find ourselves in. Well, I know we can, because I’m part of a growing network of people who are doing it.
New Microsolidarity Essays
Since my last newsletter there’s been huge progress in the microsolidarity network. I’ve overhauled the website & published 5 new essays:
Background & Introduction — introducing some of the communities who are using microsolidarity practices to create high trust networks of purposeful action.
Five Scales of Microsolidarity — the essential piece of theory, basically: groups of different sizes are good for different things.
Leadership as Hospitality — articulating a way of thinking about authority that’s non-coercive but not quite non-hierarchical.
A Developmental Pathway — a step-by-step guide to becoming the kind of person who can host a community of a couple hundred people.
From Domination to Partnership — a transformational approach to group power dynamics that’s constructive & non-oppositional.
I hope this new writing is inspiring and useful to you as a practical guide for weaving social fabric. It represents a couple months of work so I’m eager for your feedback!
Microsolidarity Network Gatherings in 2022
The really big news is we’re having the first microsolidarity gathering next month. We’ll get together for a week in Belgium, May 9-14. The event is a kind of mashup between a personal development retreat, an intensive training from some incredible professional facilitators, and an emergent unconference co-created by everyone who shows up.
See more info here & register in the next week or so because spaces are bound to fill up. Scholarships are available so don’t let money be a barrier.
We’re also planning a gathering in the USA for November. Details are to be confirmed, but you can register your interest at the bottom of the event page to make sure you receive the announcement.
Other news from the network
I’ve released a couple of new conversations with microsolidarity practitioners:
I talked with QC Yuan about his experience looking for community but winding up in a cult (audio).
Michał Korzonek keeps publishing super useful documentation from their process building community on Pico Island. The community there is graduating from emotional to economic solidarity, read all about it in Piconomics 101.
And finally, I was interviewed by ocean rower Roz Savage (audio). We talked about social change, psychedelics, religion, and why I’ve stripped out all the apocalyptic framing in the new microsolidarity writing. I think this is the best interview I’ve done, so if you listen to one podcast of mine this year, make it this one.
That’s a wrap for this issue, I have to get back on the road. I hope to see some of you in Belgium next month!
p.s. to my NZ friends that I haven’t seen on this trip: forgive me, catching covid truncated my visit so I’ve not been able to see a lot of people. I’ll be back soon! xoxo
p.p.s if you need some new music in your life, check out these excellent eclectic playlists from my homie Reverend Black Keys.