Big ideas guide our directions and help us change the world for the better.
We’re making the world a community of more resilient communities. By “resilient,” we mean to include sustainability. And by “community,” we mean the communities of communities of communities of communities that make up the whole of Planet Earth.
The philosopher Alfred North Whitehead put it this way: “Every entity is only to be understood in terms of the way in which it is interwoven with the rest of the Universe.”
It’s what Pope Francis calls “integral ecology,” the Maryknoll Sisters refer to as “one Earth community,” and the philosophical theologian John B. Cobb, Jr. describes as “ecological civilization.”
Our founding conference, held June 4-7, 2015 on the campus of Pomona College in Claremont, California, was titled “Seizing an Alternative: Toward an Ecological Civilization” 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.