Your NameJake Lawy
Cohort AssignmentCohort A (Europe + MENA)
1. What do you see as your primary work at this stage of your life?

1. What do you see as your primary work at this stage of your life?*

Note to reader: I ended up writing this to myself primarily. I know what I am talking about could seem a bit ‘grandiose’ but I am aware of that, and I am certain that in the hard implementation I will get plenty of learning about how difficult real change is to establish.

At this stage of my life, the way that I see my work is roughly as follows:

I am literally just the other side of a major life stage transition. Last summer, everything that I have been studying, learning and practising crystalised and the different streams of theory and practise unified themselves into a cohesive whole. Up till that time I had been experiencing them as related, but I did not have the clarity as to the explicit underlying congruence between them. I will dive deeper into the specifics in subsequent questions (and you can also reference my application form which I will not attempt to duplicate here).

What this has meant for me is that for the first time in my life I have pretty razor sharp clarity about what is before me in the next 40 or so years, God willing, as they say.

The Job, so to speak, meaning the assignment that I have sat on my desk (given by life so to speak) that I cannot now avoid due to the clarity and specificity with which it has arrived is to share the clarity I have been given about finding the most effective possible way way in which ‘we the people’ can connect to, discover enact the ‘will of the people’ in a way that is going to be most positively on the current systems of governance and management of resources.

Up till now I have been practising fragments of what I think needs to be a complete approach, communication/dialogue practices for collective intelligence, systems thinking, restorative approaches to conflict and making cross references and parallels between different ways of thinking of many different traditions and lineages. I have been deeply influenced by ecological systems theory, various permaculturists and models for organisational change and large scale systems change. In that time I have become a kind of polyglot, speaking more than a few different ‘languages’ such as that of the regenerative paradigm and that of the tradition of nonviolence.

The thing that has arrived to me, in the form of the synthesis, is much bigger and deeper than anything I had imagined arriving to, not least because of the enormity of the regenerative paradigm itself as well as some of the other approaches whose insights I have been integrating. I never thought I would be able to say that I have finished the R&D but the truth is that that line has been crossed and it really is about implementation in small groups, on local plots of land and projects as well as reaching out into the activist community who are committed to principled nonviolence with training and framing that I believe can form the basis of an optimally effective social movement for societal change.

The name I have tentatively put to the work I’m being called to is RNA Regenerative Networked (or perhaps Nonviolent) Activism. The core of this is about self-governance of the land and all resources by the people, for the people, in beloved community.

Nonviolence is an antidote to violence. Not only an antidote, but actually the only thing I have ever discovered that in a thoroughgoing way can be directly applied to the situations where we otherwise assume violence of one sort or another is unavoidable.

My dream is to help to found a school for the above here in Scotland. So till then my work is to express the work the best I can in the best form I can until the possibility for a residential retreat space opens up.

2. What role do you see as yours to play?

My role.

I think that my function here is to help to plant the seed and spirit of (hopefully) regenerative nonviolence deeply and simply enough here in the activist community such that good things blossom and bloom from that.

In social movement design theory we talk about the ‘movement DNA’ which is the core operating principles, framings and ways of working that are the ‘essence of the movement’.

By developing and applying the framework thinking I have received so far through the output of the Carol Sanford institute and Regenesis I have arrived at a movement DNA that is framed in terms of the regenerative paradigm. That, is essentially the seed that I want to plant, water and see grow in the world around me.

What i think i have discovered, in fairly techy terms is a core linkage between the processes of governance and decision making (where i see the story of place framework at the core), and the processes normally called ‘justice’, that resolves conflicts and problems (usually created by early decisions or the lack of them). I see both decision making and conflict resolution as special cases of communicative process, one oriented to choices and actions in the future, the other towards choices and actions in the past, both relying implicitly upon the quality of communication and dialogue that happens in the present moment.

In summary, the end result of conflict processes, at least the way I hold them, is necessarily going to be a need to improve the governance and decision making frameworks that gave rise to the conditions that produced the surface level symptoms we associate with painful conflict. You see enough conflicts and you see all the proof you need that regenerative framework thinking is not only important but essential to stopping unnecessary suffering.

At the same time, bringing regenerative thinking to those who are open and have the resources and capacity to use it is super important, yet there are so many situations in which the communities most in need are beneath power structures that they have little or no way to influence. In other words, nonviolence works, i.e. is tried, tested and proven, purely from the bottom up.

I want to bring these two pieces together. The people need to be organised to do both the things that can be done but are not seen through lenses other than the regenerative framework in the sense of ‘blue ocean strategies’, but also to organise themselves to address the most pressing and urgent horrors and injustices that get systematically ignored.

Ultimately I want to see regenerative governance of the people by the people for the people and the land, spread all over the land. My sense is that it is going to take a social movement that is capable of stepping towards injustice directly in order to do that, alongside a clear articulation of how we would love it to be - i.e. regenerative.

That is essentially the plan. Make regenerative governance an embodied fact in a peoples movement in which the first and core demand is for regenerative governance to be brought into the institutions that live in our communities.

3. What goals or aims do you have in regard to the above?

The goal that I have set myself are to see regenerative governance spread over every last scrap of land in this country and beyond, and in that respect I felt deep resonance with Ben Haggard's expression of that goal he mentioned was part of the founding story of Regenesis. My starting point is going to be community watershed management projects. Given the flood risks in some parts of the UK they represent ideal points for nodal intervention by concerned communities. By working with existing greenspace community projects I see that regenerative community watershed management is a likely natural expression of the work done by individual initiatives.

In mid term the aim is to land a site from which to offer this work here in Scotland. Aside from our personal plans, I have a couple of full scale professional sites in mind. It would be a dream to invite Regenesis here to help design and build.
On a more short term level my partner and I are going to try to move house to a property outside the city (Edinburgh, Scotland) where we can begin inviting people to residential retreats without the costs associated with renting spaces.

My near term goal is to get my first project finished (which I have started) where I am supporting a small group/team through the creation and integration of a self-generated restorative conflict system linked to their own regenerative governance frameworks and decision making protocols.

Finally I want to seed my movement DNA workshop, here in Edinburgh, hopefully catalysing the networks that already exist and getting a first real life test of all the methods brought together in genuine city-scale organising mode.

4. Where do you feel your next arenas for personal growth are?

The next big area of personal growth is essentially grounding myself in a more specific daily spiritual practice, meditation and intentional living. These are things that I am doing, but a deeper commitment to the principle of inner stillness and peace is essential for me.

This is necessary because there is an active and open ‘call to arms’ that is alive in my being. The existential nature of the threat to so much of life on earth is a lived and embodied experience for me. The demand I hear and feel to act decisively and effectively, in ‘warrior mode’ is very strong. I have my own work cut out to ground in peace, the equally strong commitment to love and solidarity and mutual understanding. I walk a fine line between the call to action that would pull me into ‘arrest disorder’ or ‘do good’ and the call to love that would see me far too inactive on the key issues of the day and their urgency. These are the basic terms of my inner battle.

5. And for professional growth?

Professionally, public speaking, presenting and providing formal written documents and analysis is a core area of growth for me to lean into. I have not been sharing very much in the sense of being genuinely public facing. I see that with the higher level of structure in my thinking I now feel more confident that I can express what I mean in a way that can be received as I intend it...and that’s new. I need to take that impetus and put myself out there so that I meet and network and attract the right people to work with.

I also need to be very careful and precise about my basic organisational systems for working with groups and clients as I would hate to fall down on the simple pieces that make working with someone efficient and easy. This is particularly with reference to the larger scale work I can see coming where I will be engaging with much larger group sizes than I have in the past.

Finally there are key technology choices that I have to make, that scare the hell out of me - choices that I hope will support the above goals. I want to create a knowledge database that's easy to access for those I am working with so that group learning can happen without my direct involvement.

6. What have you invested in to get you where you are?

The key thing that I have invested in is inner work. I personally work with and offer professionally inner work based in Nonviolent Communication and a modality called Focusing. My Kabbalah practice is also pure inner work.

In 2010 I hit rock bottom with grief after a good friend took his own life. I was hit very hard and was essentially out of action for about a year. During that time I really had to let go of my goals and plans in life and focus all my effort on understanding my own mind in order to come out of anxiety and depression, much of which was existential eco-anxiety. Learning to communicate nonviolently with myself and others was a core part of that together with vipassana meditation. Since then I have never looked back.

In 2011 I met my partner and now wife and we have invested deeply in the relationship we have, learning and growing together, as well as working and facilitating as a partnership.

To complement the inner work there has also been a strong commitment to Nonviolent Communication as a communication practice and in terms of outer work I have invested myself in learning to comprehend complex living systems in various ways.

Finally I guess the obvious is that I heavily invested myself in Extinction Rebelion. It really was a right of passage for me, in which I managed to get myself thrown in at the deep end, facilitating conflicts between co-founders and between major arms of the movement, being in the Strategy team, as well as intentionally getting arrested for civil disobedience. All of that is based on my love for nature, or perhaps better said the nature of nature. That has been my guiding north star, that and my love for the potential I see in human beings.

7. What fields of learning and which thinkers have been important in your life?

I will just list them - as I am sure you already realise ideas have been a huge part of my life and I think it's safe to characterise myself as a polyglot with quite a high degree of fluency in these various disciplinary languages: Nonviolence , spirituality, psychology and systems thinking.

NVC - Marshall Rosenberg - Founder of Nonviolent Communication
Dominic Barter - Student of Rosenberg and Founder of Restorative Circles
Robert Gonzales - Student of Rosenberg and Founder of Living Compassion
I have attended multiple trainings with both the above, whose work represents innovations of NVC reaching towards the outer and inner respectively.

Nonviolence and social movement design
Gandhi, King, Gene Sharp, Roger Halam (Extinction Rebellion Co-Founder)

Animism, Indigenous wisdom and Decolonisation work
Stephen Jenkinson - Grief, death, eldership, story and the notion of cultural activism
I have attended Stephens Orphan Wisdom School

Shamanic Teacher called Luis Rimachi holder of a genuine indigenous lineage from Peru

Eastern Nondual meditation and philosophy
Vipassana - Insight meditation, Rupert Spira - Vedic Non-dual teacher, Swami Dayananda - Vedic teacher

Systems thinking
Spiral dynamics - Beck and Cowen, Permaculture - in particular Dave Jackie & Dan Palmer, Doniella Meadows

Self-organizing systems
Holacracy (used in Extinction Rebellion)

Psychology - linked to NVC and the above neighbouring disciplines
Transpersonal Psychology, Transactional analysis, Psychoanalysis; Viktor Frankl - Founder of Logotherapy, Ernest Becker - The Denial of Death, Robert Moore - Archetypal Psychology

I am student of a large and established Kabbalah School with authentic lineage that works from Israel
I have an established daily practice that is centred in awareness of one's intention .

A recent but powerful interaction with a close friend.

Regenerative Paradigm
Carol Sanford Institute publications - all books owned and studied hard!
Regenesis publications
J.G. Bennet - his work on Triads and Tetrads only.

8. Can you frame your philosophy or cosmology of life? What role(s) do humans play in it?

I believe that there is a spiritual and physical universe that is ultimately one, or better said ‘not two’, as the eastern traditions express it.

I see deep links between Animism, Kabbalah and Science such as this:

The light of the sun and the light of God's truth both shine on, in and through matter. They are both generative sources of possibility, necessary for life itself. Physical light is received by the vegetative layer and transformed into biochemical energy. This is the basis of the economy of biochemical energy that gives rise to the animal and ultimately human levels of existence. I see that the role of human beings, or at least the potential role we as human beings are being asked to fulfill, is to govern this physical economy of light and energy in order to maximize fertility and creative self expression in service to the whole (aka system actualising). On the spiritual side I believe that the human conscience is a place from which we can receive direct guidance and prompting from ‘God’ (defined in Kabbalah as ‘The Good That Does Good’ or ‘the will to bestow’) which is a purely altruistic intention from which we receive spiritual Light. Human beings need to awaken to the fact that we are a part of a Living system and that only if we maintain altruistic intention (that's a kabbalist way of saying ‘external considering’ in the Gurjief tradition) towards the external can human society function in a healthy fashion. When we are connected through relations characterized by the intention to benefit the other, connections are created between us that form a healthy cultural ecology, through which spiritual light travels, awakening more people to their own conscience and connection to God, that source of Good. Thus spiritual light enters the physical world and ecosystem through Humans just as physical light enters the ecological world via Trees and plants. There is magic waiting to be made at the place where these two economies of light meet. The basic minimum task of Humans is to ensure the soils and seas stay fertile; out-putting toxic waste must stop and the creation of healthy agroecological systems needs to start. God for me ultimately lives, is felt and experienced, in the connection between us and between us and all things.

I think I would be categorized as a Panentheist.

This cosmology is as it is, through conscious reflection upon the world views held by teachers such as Gandhi and King as well as in dialogue with the other traditions and lineages I listed above. In my estimation nonviolence cannot be shorn of spirituality and maintain effectiveness.

The purpose of the social movement that I want to be a part of would be through all its actions (and in all three lines of work) would be to awaken the conscience of as many people as possible. I see this as perhaps the one safe goal that a disruptive movement could have. I have been deeply influenced in this direction by the Reconnection Tetrad in Responsible Entrepreneur.

I don’t know if Viktor Frankl puts it quite this bluntly but basically He, Gandhi, King, Stephen Jenkinson and the Kabbalah school I am in, all have a very particular orientation to suffering caused by the violence of others. Whilst opposing it, they see in it a redemptive possibility, that can serve to awaken a person to their ethical core. I have been intently following that path in my own imperfect way for more than a decade. It is clear to me that I have to walk the walk, not just talk the talk if anything like what I am dreaming of is going to come out of my own direct choices and actions.

Date CreatedJanuary 27, 2023