Eva Schonveld

What is the golden thread that brought you to feel such passion about inner-led change? What is it within your own lived experience that touches and moves your heart to feel this is so important?

I have always been fascinated with understanding people. This began with a bit of puzzlement at why people act in the ways they do stemming from a bit of neurodivergence which meant I didn't swim as easily in the waters of social relations as others sometimes do, so my growing up often felt quite sad and awkward.

As I matured, developed a sense of spirituality that was meaningful to me and found people I could relate deeply with, I found practices and processes which supported me. I also found meaningful work, first in the arts with people experiencing mental health issues and then in community level activism on climate.

To begin with, for a number of reasons, I kept my inner life and my life as an activist very separate. But after a severe burnout I came to understand why it was so important to find ways for them to come together. I feel much more able to be my full self in the last few years and have come to understand much better the deep spiritual, personal and cultural roots of our current social and environmental problems.

It feels to me that there is nothing more important in these times than finding, sharing and embodying ways to recover ourselves and our relationships with one another and the beingness of the world.

What experiences have you had to date that have got you to the point that you are able to bring what you do to Starter Culture?

My focus is on how we can bring an awareness of how trauma happens and on how we can work within and between ourselves into our collective decision making (aka politics).

My relationship with politics began early. My family were communists and brought me up with a keen awareness of and anger around the injustice in the world. I also learned that politics could be frightening, that you might think or say the 'wrong' thing and be like those other bad people who don't think like us... growing up with the Thatcher government I cut myself off from the pain of seeing what was happening in my country and focused on working in the arts.

But I was also increasingly concerned about the environmental impact of our way of life and moved into environmental activism. There I encountered sociocracy, including its wonderful decision making processes, which revolutionised my thinking on how we can come to agreements on ways to move forward.

Bringing this together with my growing understanding around trauma meant I was able to clearly articulate thinking that had been brewing for years on the need for a decolonised decision making process which grew into the sister-project to Starter Culture that I'm working on: Grassroots to Global.

Eva is a climate activist, process designer and facilitator. After many years working in community arts with Artlink, she coordinated Transition Support Scotland, the Fife Diet and ran conferences for the Scottish Greens. She is a co-founder of Starter Culture, Heartpolitics and Grassroots to Global, co-convened a Conflict Transformation summit for Transition Network and is now lead link of the Conflict Transformation circle of the international Transition Hubs. She supports sociocratic system development, decision-making and facilitation in many contexts. She continues to be active in her local community and with Extinction Rebellion. She is also co author of Politics, Trauma and Empathy, which you should read even though it's very long!