POWER + CHANGE: A shout-out for Portland’s ILLAHEE; a forum,lecture series + Blog for Transformational change agents (and the curious!)

One must attend to world-view, paradigm, perspective, culture, systems, structures and context in the work of transformative change.  More and more of us are seeing the complexity and interconnectedness of issues and are struggling to get a grip on that complexity as we work to bring about greater liberty, security, equity, justice, resiliency, well-being, sustainability, sufficiency,  and enhancing our ability to cooperate/collaborate (accross divides) to continually generate the previously mentioned.  I’m lucky to live in Portland where Peter Schoonmaker puts on a lecture series for all of the above.  Tonight I go to the first lecture of the series for 2010 and I very much appreciate the purpose and framing of the ILLAHEE Forum and this series specifically; POWER & CHANGE. You may not be here for the lectures but you can follow it all on the ILLAHEE BLOG.  Enjoy.  Walt

Excerpt of notes on Jonah Lehrer’s Lecture

Jonah Lehrer opened the 2010 Illahee Lectures on Power and Change advocating that we use our brains more effectively to avoid global collapse, or mopping the kitchen floor, whichever comes first.  If we’re going to change we need to change our minds, and to do that we need to understand our brains.

There are all sorts of rational actions we can take to change course toward a more sustainable future.  Problem is, we make decisions with a mix of emotion and rationality, depending on context.  We’re more charitable when an appeal is personal rather than fact-based. We buy Coke rather than Pepsi, despite the identical taste, because Coke’s marketing makes us feel better. We fail to contribute to retirement plans at a rational level, even though we know we should.  Scale this temporal discounting up to the global level, and you get our current approach to climate change: we’ll deal with it in a little while. But there are “nudges” we can give ourselves to encourage more rational behavior……..


About Illahee!

……. We value questions and innovation above dogmatic pre-determined answers.  We’ve found that this open-ended exploratory worldview has struck a nerve with a significant segment of the region’s citizens.  Our focus is environmental issues, but environment is so interconnected with society, economics and culture, that we have to reach beyond environment when we explore issues.  While our core mission is inquiry, the result has been a better-informed public that feels a sense of community and direction……


About the 2010 Lecture Series

Many of our economic, social and environmental problems have solutions.  Some of these solutions are obvious.  But most of them are difficult, or we would have already employed them. What’s stopping us? Maybe it’s as simple as this: Various economic, belief and affinity groups are able to wield veto power on progress.

Cultural change, like biological evolution, can be incremental.  But it can also be sudden and transformational.  It appears we’re in the middle of rapid environmental, political and cultural change. Change occurs when one paradigm loses power, and another replaces it.  But how does that happen?  And how do we participate in that process to bring about the future we want?

Past Illahee speakers have touched upon the subject of power and change in various ways.  We’ve invited some of them back, and have added some new faces, to focus on what appears to be a rapid social transformation – what it is, where we might be going, and what we can do – ten years into the 21st century.


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