Big ideas guide our directions and help us change the world for the better.
Pando is about the bravest of our better angels working to muster and inspire the people who are imagining the unimaginable: A brighter and better future for the 10 million people who call LA home.
The philosopher Alfred North Whitehead wrote: “Every entity is only to be understood in terms of the way in which it is interwoven with the rest of the Universe.”
This basic orientation includes what Pope Francis calls “integral ecology,” the philosophical theologian John B. Cobb, Jr. names “ecological civilization,” and many define more simply as an integrated view of Earth and justice.
The vision extends from pollution-free air and water and ecological flourishing to supporting human community, freedom, justice, rights, and fulfillment.
The phrase “ecological civilization” was first used significantly in China. John Cobb took up the phrase to better speak to a Chinese audience, but did so with his own deeper and expanded ideas about what it meant — more profound, fundamental and far-reaching than a policy reference or political slogan.
What Cobb describes as “ecological civilization” is a new worldview or framework that suggests a stark break from many assumptions inherent in modern life and culture across the globe. His intent is to offer the foundation for an integrated Earth- and justice-centered assessment that can be applied as an independent judgment equally and broadly across the modern world — applicable as a critique for China, the U.S., or wherever modern, dualistic assumptions prevail. Pope Francis’s “Integral ecology” is the vision that corresponds most fully to what Cobb has in mind.
The Pando Framework is a working ontology of the ideas that “integral ecology,” “ecological civilization,” and similar visionary statements reference, as applied to the work we have been engaged in at the site of the Maryknoll Sisters’ compound in Monrovia, CA. The ontology in its basic structure is designed to be content-neutral and broadly applicable.
Our founding conference, held June 4-7, 2015 on the campus of Pomona College in Claremont, California, was titled “Seizing an Alternative” and attracted some 1,600 people. Cobb, founding board chair of Pando Populus, was intellectual architect.
The conference was organized around the idea that there is an alternative to modern industrial life, and that in order to avoid catastrophic conditions we must seize an alternative way of thinking and living. That “alternative” is an ecological worldview.
For many years, pockets of activity have organized to reduce climate change, save endangered species, curb poverty, cap the influence of financial markets, bring about democratic accountability, reduce militarism, and so on.
What is missing is a new paradigm that integrates these various concerns and activities and sets them in the context of a broader vision.
Such was the work of philosophers up until the 20th century. But today, many have given up the task of thinking holistically about the world, or proposing anything like new foundations for a civilization that takes us in a different direction. And few attempt to integrate thought with action.
Some, however, have long believed that a new, more ecological way of living in the world is needed, and the time for invigorating it is now.