A writeup of the Pecha Kucha held at Oslo Innovation Week 2018: ‘Sustainability Special + AfterWork’ at Mesh Oslo, September 25th, 2018.
Describing her talk, Caroline says - "Stop. Inhale. Exhale. Between the inhale and the exhale there is a pause.. Do you ever take time to rest in this field and reflect on where we are headed ~ as individuals, communities and the a united organism of humanity?" Drawing on her experiences from diplomacy and development, Caroline uses her own story to illuminate the role of the ‘weaver’ in innovation and cultural design.
This is me, two weeks ago in Lofoten, Norway. My last completely saturated moment of organic inner peace and pure presence. In - and outside of time - at the same time. For as long as I can remember, I have been driven by this one guiding question - what is true peace? What does it really feel like? How deep can we make it run? And how can we sustain it?
Graduating from LSE in London. My mind was on overdrive to find solutions, to lift the perspective, connect the dots.. Having arrived at the end of two master degrees covering peacebuilding, conflict resolution, sustainable development and humanitarian emergencies, seven internships - and a yoga teacher training..! Full of information, eager to translate it into practice.
I even contributed to a book. Growing A New Economy. Using eastern philosophy and ‘Progressive Utilization Theory’ to explain how our multifaceted crises all are rooted in the state of our economic system. That our economy (from greek economia, meaning household) should be the prime driver for nurturing and supporting life itself, not diminishing and depleting it. Interestingly, in Norwegian, the word for the business environment is næringslivet - literally translated as ‘nurturing life’, so let’s try to live up to this!
I was accepted into the diplomatic training program of the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, spent two years in Oslo working for the Section for Peace and Reconciliation and the Section for South Asia and Afghanistan.
They sent me to Nepal, where I have been living for the last two years. To a city where the first thing that hits you is the – chaos – energetic knots - illustrated so well by the tangled cables in this image. There are 40,000 registered NGOs in Kathmandu - all preaching the mantra of the sustainability goals - in 40,000 uniquely different ways.
Two years into the job I began feeling frustrated, that I wasn’t able to have the overview and space needed for targeting the specific acupuncture points that would lead to the most impact. Recognizing the diseases and not being able to treat them.. Listening to people's needs and not being able to mitigate them from a holistic approach.
My meeting notes turned into a form of psychiatric art. I was constantly assessing and analyzing my scope of impact. Flowing over the boundaries that my job was able to provide me… While feeling that the world was crashing around me in rapid speed, I was stuck in the dust cauldron of Kathmandu (this said - with amazing colleagues and friends). In a mist that I have later labeled as ecological grief, environmental depression.
And all this time, I have been on a parallel path of the inner arts. Yoga, ecopsychology, rewilding, meditation – traditions teaching a deep reverence and respect for nature, for the energy of life itself - flowing in all of us in an interconnected web..
Slowly, I began realize - with Eckhart Tolle - “that the pollution of the planet is only an outward reflection of an inner psychic pollution: millions of unconscious individuals not taking responsibility for their inner space.”
Right now, we are experiencing a transition into what Joanna Macy has labeled 'biosphere consciousness'. Building on James Lovelock’s ‘Gaia Hypothesis’, the idea that the earth is one living, breathing, connected organism in which human beings are individual cells.. So as we inhale and exhale, we participate in the life-breath of the entire biosphere. Meaning, WE ARE the health of the planet.
Being a diplomat had always been the dream, but I was working for the wrong employer. I got to the top of the ladder to find that it had been standing against the wrong wall. For my life to make sense, I had to become a diplomat for Nature herself.
And my guiding question naturally became - What Would Nature Do?
Nature asked me for space - to breathe. So I had to leave my job and come home. This is my fathers’ old boat map. This is Vestfold. Rising from the roots, I needed to have a clear overview of my operating environment. Cultivating the art - and changing nature of diplomacy, which I now perceive as a fluid conversation across the fertile, thriving and flowing edges of existence itself..
I needed to embody what it feels like to be whole. Connect to my ‘ecological self’. Connect to nature in order to know what nature needs. Preparing to become an elder of my tribe, rooted in the land.
As Joanny Macy says, “Things change when you step into your full authority as a living being, speaking as and on behalf of life.” Cultivating inner sustainability. Inner resilience is about personal development and transformation, not applied to become somebody else but to become more fully who we really are and share all our unique gifts and creative passions with our community.
Because ultimately, it is our personal dialogue with Nature that holds the key to solutions that are not only sustainable, but regenerative.
Treat HER well and she will give you magic in return.
Realizing that this work has a name.. Weaving.. The work that reconnects. Telling stories - inspiring the narrative - pointing to the separation. Linking local needs and opportunities to their regional, national and global context.
As put by Daniel Christian Wahl - “‘Weaving’ is the ancient art of recognizing health and wholeness as the primary state. Weavers are healers of the ‘unbroken whole’ — connecting people and place across shared meaning and visions of our common sail plan.”
“The role of the weaver is to help facilitate a process by which disparate fields of knowledge, disparate sectors of society, disparate strands of the human endeavour can come together in the co-creation of a higher-level synthesis.”
“Weaving lasting alliances — wisdom councils — that up-hold such policies and regulations which need to stand above the party-political positioning of short-term election cycles.”
“Learning from nature, we need to revitalize the hidden mycelial connections between the tall trees of knowledge into a vibrant forest of wisdom where we can talk to each other and care for each other.”
Listening to Nature has become my most important work, my career. Weaving myself closer into her ways, communicating her needs and potential.
Nature as teacher brings realizations such as the importance of closeness to the elements.. Resting in stillness.. Deep listing and subtle communication.. Surrendering to the feminine aspects of nature.. Defining your own boundaries and findings ways to uphold them.. Going deeper and deeper into the nature of my own consciousness.. Limit my time on technologies, staying in a direct experience of reality… One project at the time..Silence the noise of disconnection.. Eating as straight from the source as I can.. Wearing natural fabrics.. And walking with ‘sacred footprints’ in everything I do..
We come into this world as pure and unique reservoirs of energy, and are slowly shaped into the mainstream frameworks. Most of us forget who we are in the process. Through inner and outer sustainability practices, like meditation and spending time in nature, you begin dissolving the borders between your personal sphere and your wider circles. Treading new pathways, and venturing deeper into the inner forests of Self. Opening gates in the fences of perceived identity - until you finally enter the innermost clearing - and reach your hands out to touch the very first code of your individual Nature. Your health becomes the health of the planet.
With this image in by Norwegian painter Edvard Munch in mind, I invite you to take a deep breath with me – breathing in the love for the earth and breathing out the love for the oceans. Breathing in the love for the air, and out – the love for the fiery life force that holds it all together. And releasing the energetic knots that are preventing your being from flowing in accordance with nature..
Now, how does weaving work in practice? One of the projects I am involved in is ‘Værøy Lufthavn’, on the island of Værøy in Lofoten. We are in the process of building a cultural design lab, to work with the local community to empower healthy economic flows, rooted in the synergies between deep ecology, inner transformation, and technology.
Another heart-project is Nordic Ocean Watch (NOW) - an environmental collective dedicated to cleaning up the northern shores and finding solutions to marine pollution. Consider supporting us by suggesting win-win commercial partnerships to sustain the core team, or vipps a donation to #10586
When we are clearing pollutants from the earth, oceans, and air - we are also detoxing our bodies, minds and soul - easing the flow of life-force - in source, soul, seed, soil, society.
What I learn from engaging with Værøy and NOW, I channel into global weaving. Like supporting regenerative design ecologies for Namche in Nepal, at the Everest foothills, 3500 above sea level. Another untouched, serene sanctuary of ‘natural peace’ – threatened by incoming waves of plastic and pollution.
So- the next generation of environmental peacebuilders are not only here to protect the environment, we are here to create a world where the environment doesn't need protection. Understanding that it's our responsibility to untangle the energetic knots of our global systems – to transmute the inner and outer waste that is blocking our life force from flowing.
Here to reconnect people to their inner and outer nature so that humanity again will embody the interconnectedness and identification of Oneness, so that every single decision will be taken with the needs of Nature at the core.
Creating global networks of ‘Cultural Design labs’, bearing in mind that “as humanity goes through a convergence of planetary-scale crises, we need to cultivate the ability to see, understand, shape, and guide cultural change at all possible scales.”
Humanity is on the verge of great breakthroughs which will spin us faster into ever-brighter futures. Share your inner visions and values with the world, and most importantly - act on them and follow them through. Because energy flows in connection – and we are widening our circles.
For this to happen, we also have to become guardians of the places we live - because ultimately - what we do to Nature, we do to ourselves.
My ladder was leaning against the wrong wall. But I needed to climb to the top to understand that in order for me to thrive as a human being, I have to be supported by Nature herself – the salt water, the soil, the sand, the sound - of wind and waves.
This is beach kale from Viksfjord in Vestfold. It’s a delicacy, tying my evolving DNA back into the land. And only I know where it grows.. Because I am rising rooted.
Suggestions for further reading