Above ground, Pando appears to be a vast grove of individual trees. Underground they are all connected through a single root system — sprouts from the same organism.

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About Pando Populus™

Pando Populus™ brings together the resources, connections and opportunities needed to change the game – for the Earth and its people.

We’re up against vile problems. The status quo is a nightmare.  Change-makers are siloed.  Innovations get derailed.  Inportant stuff just isn’t getting done.

Pando itself is dying.

Pando is the name of the largest and oldest organism on the planet.  It weighs in at some 13 million pounds and spreads over 100 acres in south-central Utah.

Above ground, Pando appears to be a vast grove of individual aspen trees.  Underground they are all interconnected through a single root system.  Genetically identical, they are all part of the same tree.  Each part is affected by and nourishes the other.

Pando has survived this way for as long as 80,000 years but is now dying.  The climate is changing.  Deer and cattle eat young shoots.  A highway cuts through its heart.

So we’ve taken Pando’s name as a fitting symbol of our fragile life together.  It signifies our profound interconnectedness.  Illustrates the enormous challenges we face.  Reminds us of our remarkable ability to endure.

And it embodies hope that we might rethink civilization in explicitly ecological, Pando-like terms.

More about Pando the tree

Alfred North Whitehead

The philosopher Alfred North Whitehead (1861-1947), described his own set of ideas as the “philosophy of organism” and is singularly influential for many who have been motivated to launch Pando Populus.

A giant of 20th century thought, Whitehead was a leading mathematical physicist at the universities of Cambridge and London before joining the philosophy department at Harvard in the last part of his career.

The philosophy Whitehead developed is the careful and systematic working out of this one idea: To be is to be in ecological relationship with everything else. He put it this way:

“[Everything] is to be understood in terms of the way it is interwoven with the rest of the universe.”

In this, he challenged basic assumptions of the modern, industrial world.

Of course, Whitehead lived in a pre-ecological age and never heard of Pando. But he’s important to us because no philosopher before him had ever worked out such a systematic and rigorous view of the world with ecological relations at its core.

And he believed deeply that philosophy should be pertinent to the concerns of the world, rather than keep a cool distance.  Whitehead challenged root assumptions of the modern world and offered up organic alternatives. We are inspired by the aim.

Inaugural Conference

“Seizing an Alternative: Toward an Ecological Civilization”

Pando Populus launched into public view with an inaugural conference, “Seizing an Alternative: Toward an Ecological Civilization,” June 4-7, 2015 on the campus of Pomona College, Claremont, California.

The conference was broad in its ambitions: to rethink civilization along ecological lines. It included more than eighty different tracks – from rethinking education and agriculture to rethinking economics and religion — and asked:

  • What would business and finance look like if the aim of creating a thriving ecosphere becomes the goal of the economy?
  • What would religion be like if it were to focus on world loyalty as opposed to sectarian or national loyalty or world escape?
  • How would the university be reshaped if it accepted responsibility for the future of the Earth rather than attempt to be value-free?
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Featured speakers included: Bill McKibben, Vandana Shiva, Wes Jackson, Herman Daly, and others. John B. Cobb, Jr., founding chairperson of Pando Populus, served as intellectual architect of conference events. The conference united the 10th International Whitehead Conference and the 9th International Conference on Ecological Civilization.

“It is the business of the future to be dangerous; and it is among the merits of science that it equips the future for its duties.”
—  Alfred North Whitehead