Culture Change

I attended the first day of the HOPES Ecological Design Conference at UO, and it renewed my exitement about ecological design and the wider culture change. At the dinner, I shared table with Stuart Cowan, Toby Hemenway, Jair, and at the end Mark Lakeman of City Repair.

These are all amazing people who’s work is profoundly inspiring and exiting to me. They are among those who see and are manifesting the initial phases of a deep cultural shift that integrates ecological sustainability, social equity, a consistent partnership approach (no enemies), arts, open source ethics (freely sharing information), and fun!


While in Madison last week, I had a dream where I died. Life and sensory experiences faded out, and there was nothing there. It was quite comforting, in an odd way. Of course, what will actually happen belongs to the (my) future.

Update, April 13. Dream: A Chinese astrologer said I would die in the next few days. I am processing my own death these days (with Bruce, Iraq and more). And I may also be in for a change.


One of my dear friends from Kanzeon Zen Center, Bruce Waldrop, died this week. We both came to Kanzeon about the same time, and he was a senior monk as of last year. Spending time with him was one of the things I looked forward to the most when I visited Kanzeon.

I will miss his friendship, humour, our walks and conversations, his daily yoga classes, vulnerability, deep commitment to a spiritual life, occasional acerbic comments, and most of all his deep humanity… He did everything fully – including exploring any aspect of the human and spiritual life.

Roshi and Sensei would often mention that we should not take our time at the zen center for granted, nor having access to a good teacher. It is so easy to forget the preciousness of what we have (good friends, health, a spiritual teacher and community), and so important to make the most out of it when it is there. To appreciate our lives.

Listening & Letting Go

Processes unfold more freely when there is active and deep listening – to oneself, others, nature. And listening is about letting go – of ideas, thoughts and insights coming up. Which in turn require trust. Trust that it is OK to let go. That it will come back if need be, and that it is OK if it does not.

The Unexpected & Exitement

I am finding myself appreciating and seeking unexpected resolutions more, rather than the fixed and expected, and I am exploring processes that can lead to those unexpected resolutions.

These approaches have several factors in common: They embody a realization that processes can be supported in certain ways to allow surprising and life-enhancing solutions to emerge. They are ways of working with situations, allowing them to unfold, rather than working against them. They allow for a dance between the ordered (ground rules) and the unexpected (resolutions).

The approaches I am currently actively exploring are Compassionate Communication, Citizen Dialogue, and Permaculture. In the past, I have actively been involved in Process Work, and intent to deepen my involvement with that approach.


This has been a day of unsticking.

I committed early on in my life to not become stuck: To recognize the signals of when I may be stuck (when I automatically reject something that may be a good idea), and to learn how to unstick myself.

I am still too young to have encountered my stuckness in very obvious ways (to me!), but the Universe is now offering me many new opportunities to unstick – all challenging and also attractive.

I am beginning a class in dynamic systems theories from ProtoTista, and may get involved in other ways too. I have explored systems theories and their implications since my teens, but this opens up the possibility of deepening my involvement in how to apply the lessons from systems theories in my life and work. It also opens up for the possibility of helping create multimedia to convey the lessons from these fields.

Earlier today, I had a conversation about new ways of looking at social/cultural change and information, taking my own ideas quite a bit further. I am committed to exploring it further, including the use of Open Source tools in social/cultural change, and how the Open Source view can inform social organization.

This evening, I had dinner with the folks at Walnut Street Co-op today, including Tom and Adin from the Co-Intelligence Institute. This was followed by a meeting with local faciliators. I will help organize one or more citizen’s councils/jurys with the two groups.

I may also do a dynamic facilitation training in March.

Tomorrow night is my first evening in a course in compassionate communication, another area I have explored on my own up until now.

All this is aligned with my deeper worldview and interests, but also takes me into partly uncharted territory.

I have found that my life takes on wholly new characteristics each time I move. In Norway it was art and spirituality. In Utah psychology, Zen practice and living in an intentional community. In Madison sustainability and grassroots organizing. In Eugene, it is still working itself out. For now, it is a combination of collaborative approaches to culture change, with aspects from group deliberation facilitation, communication techniques, ecological design, permaculture, complexity theories, spiritual practice, and more.

In any case, the new situation helps me unstick and flow…

Distractions & Our Lives

Our lives are abundant with distractions. Food, news, movies, books, gossip. All this takes our attention away from our own lives. From how we really live our lives, how we spend our time, and how meaningful our choices are. I notice this especially strongly when I go away for a retreat – without many opportunities for distractions. It is only me, my life, and my choices. It is very simple. But not always easy.

Living at Kanzeon Zen Center in Salt Lake City also gave me the same focus on my life. Engaging in sitting meditation for a few hours each day gave me no option but to face my life as it is. And make choices out of more awareness.

Memories of the Future

In my mid-teens, I had a recurrent strong dream that still is vivid to me. I saw myself somewhere between one and two decades into the future, living in a particular region of North-America, in an ecologically and spiritually oriented community. The dream had a numinous quality – related to the community.

The dream was very strong, and I still have flashbacks – small events that brings back the particular numinous quality from the dream. I had a clear visual impression of which area it was from, and an atlas confirmed that it was in the Pacific Northwest of the US.

At the time, I had no intention of ever visiting or moving to North-America. I did, and still do, have an unfavorable impression of the US culture and politics. Yet, circumstances and coincidences brought me here some years back to study psychology, and I am still here. Last summer, I moved to the Pacific Northwest. My impression of US culture and politics is unchanged, although I experience a strong connection to the land – especially in the West – and have found many good people and friends here.

The dream? For me, the dream is a sign of what I should look for to be fulfilled. I have explored the various elements at different phases of my life since then. Art and spirituality in Oslo. Living in a spiritual community in Salt Lake City. Sustainability and community in Madison, Wisconsin.

It seems that I am about ready to find a more integral approach.

Native Americans & Scoliosis

I have scoliosis. It has never caused discomfort but may in the future, so I have over the last year or so visualized my spine smoothing out.

The visualizations led to Jen and I working on it regularly. She with massage (NMT and MAT) and I with yoga and similar exercises. It has helped quite a bit, but there is a little further to go.

Last night, Jen used a massage tool to work the ligaments between the spinous processes. I went into a fully lucid altered state, which occasionally happens during massage when we tap into something that has to do with more than muscles and ligaments. I had a very clear image of Native Americans, and the word “culture” came up strongly. As she worked up along the spine, and to an area higher than the scoliosis, the images went away. She touched the scoliosis area again a few times later, and the images immediately came back. It clearly happened outside of my conscious initiation. My sense is that there is an emotional component to my scoliosis, and it seems to go far back in my life. It may have to do with personally experiencing a culture clash similar to that between Europeans and Native Americans.

It may seem woo woo, but if it has to do with my health, I take it seriously. I sometimes use active imagination to explore my night dreams, and may use it on the images that came up last night.