Monday, April 13, 2015

First and Foremost, We Must Care

(Crossposted from LinkedIn)

I believe sharing our stories is critically important now. In my first long post here on LinkedIn, I am sharing a bit of my story with those of you who don't really know me, to bring you to my now, curious to know your thoughts and whether or not you resonate. Because my life journey and work journey are integrated, not fragmented, my sharings tend to be lengthier than most. I realize this is unlike most other Pulse posts, but I rarely do anything ordinary. ;)

Over the last 18 months I've had several life-changing realizations as it concerns the community-building work so many of us have been doing for decades. I recently wrote about my personal journey in three essaysincluding an essay based on my social entrepreneurial journeyin an attempt to share my "why" – why I do what I do, feel what I feel, and am Who I Am – and included these realizations.
To summarize the last 10 years, I have had an almost laser focus on compassion and empathy as a means to cultivate genuine community. Even when my work -- specifically Wishadoo! -- was spotlighted on Glenn Beck's Fox News program in 2010, leading to months of harassment, I did not veer from my focus on compassion, empathy and the Common Good. In fact, I'd say I doubled down, not allowing such harassment to affect standing in my truth and integrity; nor did it lessen my faith in Humanity.

As I more recently turned my attention to explore the cultivation of authentic, deep community very specifically within the "new economy" movement (a movement I've been a champion of for decades), I began to notice a striking lack of diversity in the various coalitions within the sharing economy, gift economy, cooperatives, etc.

In my mini-bio essay, I share in great detail my experience of a racist, bigoted environment having shaped me as a young child, so I am perhaps hyperaware of anything resembling segregation and "othering." When I drilled down on both the privilege involved and lack of diversity I observed in many "new economy" initiatives I tend to champion, the reason for it came down to one simple truth:  In our society, people tend to not trust, and we certainly are less likely to trust anyone who is different from us – the "other."

I realize it's something most of us are aware of at some level; still, the depth of this lack of trust and its direct impact on advancing my community development work was jarring.

That's when I knew that, before I could continue cultivating compassion, empathy and authentic community via projects now assembled under the banner of Our Good, I must immerse myself in the work of nurturing bonds of trust.

However, in the early stages of exploring how best to foster trust, I came to my third realization, the most significant of all:  We cannot trust one another unless we about.

We must start where we are and allow ourselves to care.

We must care about one another -- care about our well-being -- and have an engaged interest in creating a more just, sustainable world that works for all.
The foundation of our collective well-being is care. No relationship or system of relationships is sustainable without a foundation of genuine care...caring about, caring for and, ultimately, caring with.
After deep dialogue with diverse groups of people about a wide array of issues impacting us as individuals and as a global society, Caregiverism was born (click here to read about my journey to Caregiverism).
     Caregiverism is a grassroots model for cultural-spiritual transformation and systems change, expanding the definition of 'care' and 'caregivers' beyond current role and gender limitations. It is the foundation and framework for a Culture of Care – wholistic care of and for ourselves, other people, communities, non-human animals and our environment. 
     Caregiverism cultivates a nurturing, compassionate, optimistic, creative, courageous, harmonious, collaborative way of being and doing -- inviting communities to prioritize their collective values, which allows for thriving rather than merely surviving – in sharp contrast to the current corrosive, competitive, exploitative, cynical, domination-based worldviews and institutions.
     Caregiverism explores, prioritizes and gives voice to our highest values and priorities. It is a model for transformation which complements and works in harmony with other models, projects and initiatives which mirror these values.
The underlying intention with all of my work  -- existing projects and those waiting in the wings – is to catalyze transformation, individual and systemic, toward a caring consciousness, caring communities, and more just, harmonious, sustainable societies via Caregiverism. I have chosen to do this by focusing on the development of these six sectors:
Caring Culture  |  Caring Democracy  |  Caring Economy
Caring Ecosystems  |  Caring Education  |  Caring Organizations
Even though I only recently assigned this "way of being and doing" a name, I've essentially been creating opportunities to raise awareness of and implement Caregiverism in our daily lives most of my life, certainly throughout my activist-entrepreneur life. Having this more basic yet deeper focus on care as the base to build upon in moving forward provides a clearer road map and blueprint for creating the more beautiful world our hearts know is possible (h/t Charles Eisenstein).
The journey begins with opening to and deepening our capacity to care; with care comes trust; with trust comes compassion and empathy; with compassion and empathy comes justice and healing; with justice and healing comes peace; with peace we are able to create meaningful, sustainable lives and societies
Currently, Our Good offers the following projects which support the movement toward more caring, sustainable communities and meaningful lives:

*  Offering the space to connect and put caring consciousness into action as a community is why Wishadoo!, the Community Good Network was created in 2007. To connect as individuals and as communities and networks and as a Caring Citizenry. Can you imagine the impact if Facebook, Ebay, Craigslist and other popular platforms were created with these express intentions? Wishadoo is a social network platform which combines all of these features and more, built upon a foundation of respect, integrity and care.
 Offering hope, inspiration and care-based solutions by sharing examples of Caregiverism is why the online Community Good Magazine was created. "Local Good" will be an exemplar for a community-based, community-owned "good news" multimedia enterprise.
*  Providing a truly comprehensive directory where one can find existing avenues of care and assistance, as well as find inspiring projects and ventures which are examples of Caregiverism is why the Community Good Directory was created. 
All of the above projects exist – I am not speaking in hypotheticals whatsoever. They are global projects, with an initial national focus (US), and each complement one another and are symbiotic. (See video below.)  In addition to fostering more caring, compassionate action, they serve the purpose of integrating the many fragments I perceive in my area of work and activism (fragmentation and the resultant inefficiency is something which drives me a bit crazy). The projects and initiatives are in various stages of development, with Wishadoo! having achieved proof of concept over the last 8 years, through several incarnations. 
Other initiatives waiting in the wings under the Our Good umbrella have all been designed to cultivate and support our evolution toward a caring consciousness and Culture of Care.

All projects are currently on hold as I seek a team of support – A Coalition for Good – in moving forward, as I cannot continue to do this on my own. I am currently exploring partnerships and funding opportunities for job creation to support expansion of my vision of Doing Good. 
Please note that collaboration in support of other organizations, projects and endeavors has always been central to my intentions and vision. I am especially passionate about social enterprise, cooperatives, and women-owned ventures. Because I feel cultural transformation can be accelerated via the global online community, transforming online culture is a top priority for me. 
While I am most definitely a grassroots, "boots on the ground" activist-entrepreneur, I have also always been a systems thinker. To use Caregiverism terminology, I address problems with a triage approach:  Identify the most critical wounds and assign treatment in order of priority based on suffering, while also seeking to identify and treat the root cause of the wound or illness.  
Because of this awareness of our systemic problems, combined with an unwavering belief that we have both the solutions and resources at our fingertips when we realize we are all in this together and thus must work together, the new Next System Project is of tremendous interest to me regarding collaboration.  
I believe wholeheartedly that we have it within our power to do much, much better as a society. And when I say "do better," I do not mean get more, more, more money or more, more, more stuff. I mean we have the capacity and means to reduce suffering and increase joy – our own and that of others.
I hope to inspire others through practical action and mindfulness of the bigger picture and the interconnectedness (Interbeing) of it all.
The word cloud shown above is comprised of words and phrases that are my focus in nearly everything I do. Maybe you'll see your focus and passions and find you care about what I'm sharing here. If so, please let me know! Maybe you'll want to reach out to connect and collaborate?
Thank you for reading. 

~ Dena

PRACTICAL COMPASSION | Sharing thoughts, ideas, and visions of a more caring, collaborative, joy-filled world.

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