Whole-systems approach

Relational systems thinking is an eco-centric way
of both sensing and intervening in systems
that privileges relationship and centers mutual benefit.

Melanie Goodchild,
Anishinaabe complexity scholar
Wolf Willow Institute

Our whole-systems approach to change is grounded in a relational systems-thinking perspective. This means exploring how all the seemingly different elements of any system connect at a deeper level and together hold the keys to transformation. For us this specifically means working with complexity at both depth and scale - and, of course, including the inner dimension of life to ensure this systems-thinking approach is relational and in service of mutual benefit.

Many of those committed to social and ecological change also believe in a whole-systems approach. However these inner and relational dimensions are mostly neglected. This tends to result in a zero-sum approach at the expense of serving mutual benefit. We believe it is this neglect of the inner and relational dimensions that is fundamentally hindering our vast efforts around social and ecological change and preventing the deep cultural transformation these times are increasingly demanding.

Our whole-systems approach seeks ways of re-integrating inner-led change:

* at depth e.g. shadow work, cultural somatics, transforming trauma and connecting with spiritual and other-than-human realms, and;
* at scale e.g. supporting collaboration across difference and identifying leverage points to enable widespread integration of inner-led change.

We intend to do this across the full spectrum of approaches around inner-led change. By presencing this myriad of gateways we hope to unleash the transformative potential of groups, organisations and institutions working so passionately for social and ecological change and deep cultural transformation.

This relational systems-thinking approach requires openness, inclusion, feedback and balance between the different dimensions of both inner-led change and progressive socio-ecological change work. It also requires us to include the full range of our ways of knowing: our thinking, feeling, sensing, imagining and intuiting, at individual and cultural levels.

As a poet I hold the most archaic values on earth. They go back to the upper Paleolithic: the fertility of the soil, the magic of animals, the power-vision in solitude, the terrifying initiation and rebirth, the love and ecstasy of the dance, the common work of the tribe. I try to hold both history and wilderness in mind, that my poems may approach the true measure of things and stand against the unbalance and ignorance of our times.

gary snyder
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Image credits

Header: With thanks to Saad Chaudhry on Unsplash

James Wainscoat on unsplash