We’ve got less than 20 years to get our sh%t together

Friends,

The science is in. In case you missed it, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change issued a report warning that we’ve got less than 20 years to get our sh%t together or we’re in serious trouble. It’s happening much more quickly than had been anticipated.

An Oxford scientist says we have to turn the world economy on a dime. “To prevent 2.7 degrees of warming, the report said, greenhouse pollution must be reduced by 45 percent from 2010 levels by 2030, and 100 percent by 2050. It also found that, by 2050, use of coal as an electricity source would have to drop from nearly 40 percent today to between 1 and 7 percent. Renewable energy such as wind and solar, which make up about 20 percent of the electricity mix today, would have to increase to as much as 67 percent.” {alumni of the Skid Row School – note the “direct the rider” play here – it’s not a mystery what we need to do}.

The past few years I have been doing my best to wrap my brain around climate change and grasp the implications. While no one knows for sure what will happen, here’s the most disturbing description that I’ve found so far. It’s not for the faint hearted so read at your own risk. But it’s also really important so please read it! Bottom line is it’s hard to imagine any aspect of our lives that wouldn’t be negatively impacted if any of these come true.

The same weekend this climate report was issued, our family was delighted to host Skid Row School alum and climate change leader John Hepburn of the Sunrise Project and his lovely family for a couple days last weekend. We were their final stop on their much deserved sabbatical. Over several home cooked meals with fresh vegetables picked right from our garden, we had many conversations about where the world is headed and what we can do about it. i came away from those conversations convinced that there is much to wring our hands about and yet there is so much more that we can be doing.

Both John and I had recently read Sapiens by Yuval Noah Harari (a book I cannot recommend highly enough for those of you who are curious about what it means to be a human being). While I believe our species is on in the midst of creating the sixth great extinction, John reassured me from his read of Sapiens that the defining characteristic of our species is our capacity to create new a story and live into it. As we believe, so it becomes. And one glimmer of good news is that it doesn’t take that many people living into the new story to change the course of history (for better or worse). While John was in Peru he studied the history of the Inca Empire. It took them 40 years to do it, but a mere 180 conquistadors from Spain ended up conquering the whole empire – one with a massive standing army of at least 100,000 soldiers. The conquistadors had a new story (that was a lie) and unfortunately the Incas bought it. It changed the course of history forever.

I know this story took place 500 years ago and in this example the colonizers won. I know that things are different now. And yet I cannot help but wonder about what new (and truthful) stories we can start telling ourselves and start living into. I wonder how many of us it takes to reach a critical mass. I wonder how I/we might shift to a regenerative (vs extractive) way of being in the world. I wonder what my/our lives might be like beyond fossil fuels? What if they’re a whole lot better than we can even imagine? What if, as Buckminster Fuller says, over the next 20 years we can solve this problem then get on with our true purpose and destiny as human beings: to solve even bigger problems than this…that’d be kind of cool right?

One way or the other….the clock is ticking. The choices we make individually and collectively might matter more now than ever before. May we all tap into our best selves for the challenges ahead!

Onward into the unknown!

Becky

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p.p.s. If you’re ever in town, please come over for dinner and we promise not to be too depressing.

Announcements

Skid Row School Alumni Jennifer Blatz CEO of StriveTogether gets a much deserved shout-out from this David Brooks’ piece in the NY Times about something that’s actually working well in America. Kudos, Jennifer and thank you for some good news!!

Upcoming Events

The January 2019 Skid Row School is now full though we are accepting folks on our waitlist just in case spots open up. The next available Skid Row School is June 25th – 28th, 2019. We are also available to bring the Skid Row School to groups of grantees for foundations on a case by case basis.

Graduates of the Skid Row School are invited to apply for our large-scale change leaders fellowship. We meet three times a year for three days at a time and deeply explore the adaptive challenges almost everyone leading large-scale change faces.

The next meeting of the fellows is February 5th – 7th, 2019, and will take place outside Atlanta, Georgia.It will include a tour of the National Memorial for Peace and Justice in Montgomery, Alabama.

We offer scholarships to those who need financial assistance for both our Skid Row School and our fellowship. Give a shout if that’s you.

Do you want to be on the right side of history or do you want to make history?

Friends,

Our fellows met in Los Angeles last week to do some advanced explorations around integrity, justice, and self-care as leaders of large-scale change. Many of you know that we do an introductory investigation of the “hero” at the Skid Row School. The hero includes the parts of yourself that are uncomfortable with making anyone feel uncomfortable, so you take on too much and bite your tongue and nothing ever changes other than you’re on the fast track to burnout. That kind of hero that’s widespread in the social sector.

This week we looked more deeply into another way that I’ve seen large-scale change leaders burnout: the villain. The villain is really good at criticizing and assigning blame. Some of us have more access to this part of ourselves than others. Take me, for example: I have easy access to my inner-villain!  The villain has strong opinions about the way things “ought to be.” I assume many of you are asking, “what’s wrong with that?” Well, nothing if you want to be on the right side of history. It’s actually quite satisfying know you’re right and experience the surge of adrenaline that comes with a good dose of righteous indignation.

The problem is…our villains might be on the right side of history, but our challengers are the one’s who make history. Challengers create loving pressure for change by being deeply present with someone who sees or thinks differently than we do. Challengers are able to stay grounded in our own discomfort and through our full presence, ask questions like:

How are you keeping this going?
How is this costing others around you?
Are you willing to stop this now?
What truths have you not told?
What have you not been willing to face about this issue?
What boundaries have you not created or have you broken? 

Just to ground this in practical reality – imagine watching the Senate Judiciary Committee hearings last week and taking on your best villain pose for how things ought to be and lecturing anyone who saw things different from how you did about just how wrong they are. You might end up being on the right side of history, but it’s unlikely that you created an authentic connection that opened up the possibility for creating something different going forward.

Another possibility in light of last week’s events would be to start wondering out loud some variations of the challenger questions above. Hmmmm….I wonder what truths have not yet been told. I wonder what we, collectively, have not been willing to face about sexual assault. I wonder what I have not faced personally about any of the trauma I’ve experienced in my lifetime. I wonder how I am contributing to keeping this whole culture going. These questions open the door for deeper personal explorations as well as increase the likelihood of a person to person dialogue that results in transformation versus being right or wrong. My invitation to you is to try some of these on for size and see how they work for you. For more on villain vs challenger, check out www.hendricks.com or sign up for our fellowship where we go deep into this kind of thing.

Big hug,

Becky

p.s. You can sign-up here to receive weekly inspiration and practical pointers on leading large-scale change.

 

Announcements

It gives me great pleasure to introduce you to our new fellows: Mari Jones, Michelle Pledger, and Wendy Loloff-Cooper (clockwise from top left). 

Mari Jones is the Project Co-director of the Deeper Learning Hub, a national practitioner hub whose mission is to spread deeper learning practices and ensure that more students across the country are achieving deeper learning outcomes. With Michelle Pledger, she co-leads the Share Your Learning Campaign which aims to focus on spreading a small set of practices (exhibition, student-led conferences, and presentations of learning), to 5 million students by 2020.  She is also an Improvement Facilitator for the Center for Research on Equity and Innovation at High Tech High Graduate School of Education, and a course instructor for the Teaching Apprenticeship Program at High Tech High Graduate School of Education. Previously, Mari was an elementary teacher for fourteen years and has always felt that education is a form of activism, and she is passionate about promoting social change and equity by empowering youth.

 Michelle Sadrena Pledger is the Project Co-Director for the Center for Research on Equity and Innovation and teaches at High Tech High’s Graduate School of Education. With Mari Jones, she co-leads the Share Your Learning Campaign which aims to focus on spreading a small set of practices (exhibition, student-led conferences, and presentations of learning), to 5 million students by 2020. With a dual passion for education and dance, she embraces an energetic teaching and coaching style. Proficient in Spanish and conversational Japanese, Michelle enjoys international travel and leaves the country at least twice a year. As a former member of the renowned public speaking organization, Toastmaster’s International, Michelle has won numerous accolades for competitive public speaking.

 Wendy Loloff Cooper is the CEO of Generation Schools Network. She brings extensive experience in the non-profit and education sectors, especially in the areas of network and collaborative development, replication and innovative educational models. She has worked in higher education (Northwest College, Colorado Christian University & Harvard University) and co-founded the StreetSchool Network, which grew to include more than 50 schools in 27 cities under her leadership. Since taking the reins at Generation Schools, Wendy has grown the organization from serving a handful of schools each year to serving more than 60 schools in multiple states and founding a 56 district rural collaborative as a unit of change.

Welcome – we’re so glad you’re here!! 

Upcoming Events

We still have four spots open up at the October 23rd – 26th Skid Row School and we are currently accepting applications for all of our 2019 offerings.

Graduates of the Skid Row School are invited to apply for one of the seven spots available in 2019 for our fellowship. We meet three times a year for three days at a time and deeply explore the adaptive challenges almost everyone leading large-scale change faces.

The next meeting of the fellows is February 5th – 7th, 2019, and will take place outside Atlanta, Georgia.It will include a tour of the National Memorial for Peace and Justice in Montgomery, Alabama.

We offer scholarships to those who need financial assistance for both our Skid Row School and our fellowship. Give a shout if that’s you.

Meet Our Fellows

Please join me in congratulating the magnificent leaders in the inaugural cohort of the Billions Institute Fellowship for Leading Large-Scale Change! These leaders are spreading solutions to racial inequity, infant mortality, illiteracy, housing insecurity, youth homelessness, gun violence, childhood trauma, ageism, and last but certainly not least, math anxiety. Their work is bold, inspiring and at the forefront of advancing social justice and social change. We feel very honored to be alongside them on their journey.

Going forward, we will be doing deep dives together to grow our confidence in leading for racial equity and social justice, communicating authentically in a way that motivates others, and exploring some of the “many ways to many” that we just touch upon at the Skid Row School. The fellows will meet three times a year for two years, each February, May, and September. We will allow new fellows to join the fellowship on a rolling admissions basis starting when we meet again next May 15th – 17th. We’re currently accepting applications for leaders to join the two-year fellowship starting in May 2018.