Episode #24  Humanity Rising: the global summit that will change the future

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“What’s the equivalent, by 2030, of putting humanity on the moon? What do we need to do that is bigger than life, worthy of human nobility, such that if it put into action around the world, we would be credited as that generation of human beings that when the chips were down really made a difference? That’s what we want to do.

Radical activists, educators, academics and entrepreneurs, Jim Garrison and Matt Robertson of Ubiquity University have launched the world’s most ambitious summit – using the cutting edge of modern technology and bringing together hundreds of organisations and hundreds of thousands of committed activists – Humanity Rising sees the beginning of the wave that could change the world. If we commit to it.

Jim and Matt talk to Accidental Gods about the project, how it arose, and their visions for the future.

Dr Jim Garrison

Matt Robertson

Episode #24


Ubiquity University

Here are the access links for Humanity Rising:


The Humanity Rising schedule

If the maximum amount of Zoom webinar participants is reached you can watch the live stream here:

Facebook Livestream
YouTube Livestream
Awake TV Network

If you missed a session the recordings can be found here

Matt’s Poem: Humanity Rising – A New Story

In Conversation

Manda: [00:00:13.24] Today’s episode marks the opening of the third season, in which I want to begin to lay out a vision for that more than beautiful future. We can’t go somewhere we don’t have a feel for. And to have that feel, we have to let ourselves explore radical alternatives that are a million miles from business as usual. We’re recording this during the first wave of the pandemic. And amongst all else, this has brought it has given us time to reflect and to see that great change is possible when great need arises.

With that in mind, I have two guests today. Dr. Jim Garrison is a graduate of Harvard and Cambridge with a PhD in Theological Philosophy. A Lifelong activist. Jim has been president of the Gorbachev Foundation and the State of the World Forum. He was president and chairman of Wisdom University and is now president of Ubiquity University, which is important because Ubiquity University has given rise to Humanity Rising, which is the point of today’s podcast.

One of the key organizers of Humanity Rising is also one of the administrators of Ubiquity University. Matt Robertson is a connector and relationship builder, an activator and educator, writer, poet, musician, athlete and adventurer, mystic and philosopher, and one of the single most insightful and inspiring people I have had the privilege to meet during this podcast.

Matt is my second guest. And as I said, he’s one of the key organizers of Humanity Rising. We will explain more about that during the podcast, what it is and how it arose. But if you’d like to have a look as you listen, go to https://HumanityRising.Solutions. This is something that has arisen during the pandemic. It’s grown out of it as a response to it, and it feels like the beginning of something essential to the future of humanity. It’s the creation of an ecosystem of ecosystems, of ideas that can explore the radical alternatives, that will create a platform from which the emergence from our hyper complex system can be created. If accidental gods has an intellectual arm out in the world, then this is it. So, people of the podcast, please welcome Jim Garrison and Matt Robertson.

So welcome to Accidental Gods, Matt Robertson and Jim Garrison. Jim has builders in Amsterdam so we may hear the occasional clatter in the background. Hopefully that will not distract anybody from what we’re actually saying, because Jim and Matt are an integral part of Ubiquity University. And through that, they have created Humanity Rising, which feels to me one of the single most exciting developments that has grown out of the Covid pandemic and may lead us into a wholly different world in the way that we need to go. So welcome, Jim and Matt. And what I’d like to do first is ask both of you a little bit of how you became involved first and Ubiquity University and what it is. So, Jim, let’s go to you first.

Jim Garrison: [00:04:34.73] Thank you, Manda. It’s a pleasure being here. I’m the founder of Ubiquity University and I came to academia through my own educational experience and realizing that the educational systems that we have are positively medieval.

Manda: [00:04:56.29] You did go to Cambridge. You don’t get much more Mediaeval than that!

Jim Garrison: [00:05:00.9] And it was a Cambridge man who founded Harvard where I also went. So I got the full dose of the medieval educational world in universities that are considered elite. And then I watched as my two sons struggled through school. My oldest one in particular, who was a very gifted artist. But it was like a square peg in a round hole. And finally, when he was 18, he quit. And I realized that I needed to do something about the educational system. So the founding of Ubiquity was really to design 21st century learning from the future rather than the past. And it needs to be holistic, so it needs to be about knowledge. It also needs to be about self-mastery. It also needs to be about social impact. So learning in the future needs to be about your head, your heart in your hands.

Manda: [00:06:10.26] I went to Schumacher and that was funded by Satish Kumar. And absolutely head, heart and hands is core to how we are.

Jim Garrison: [00:06:16.68] And Satish is a good old friend. He actually published one of my books back a couple of decades ago. But I would say the most fundamental transition in education today is the shift away from taking tests for grades and degrees to developing your competencies and skills, most of which are developed outside the classroom and developing competency portfolios to show what you can actually do. And at the heart of that are the soft skills. How do you actually get along with people? So there’s a Copernican revolution happening in education and Ubiquity University is right in the middle of it. And at the forefront of both holistic education and the shift to competency-based learning, assessment and credentialing.

And we were going along, and minding our own business, as it were, and then came pandemic. And we realized very quickly that this was an unprecedented event, actually, in human history: it’s the first time when virtually everybody everywhere is undergoing the same experience. And there is in the same conversation. And so we decided that we needed to do something because our entire university, our brand is to take stands, whether that’s on climate change or whether that’s on student activism.

So here we were in the pandemic. I started to send the emails to my Rolodex, to others as well, including Matt. And next thing we knew, we had several hundred individuals, heads of various organizations and several hundred organizations that wanted to join what we came to call Humanity Rising.

The purpose of which is to come together in a deep deliberation about how we transform the crisis that Covid-19, represents into an opportunity for human renewal. And I think that the enthusiasm and the overwhelming response that we’ve received has been an indication of the universality, of the concern that people have the need they have to come together, even within the contexts are probably especially within the context of social distancing to create community online, but not just to hear people say things, but to actually engage in a process whereby you transform conversations that matter into actions that make a difference. And to say one final word. You know, I think this pandemic was actually in part an act of Mother Earth to the world, send us to our rooms and tell us to think about things until we could figure out how to behave ourselves better.

And the reason I think this has been an essential disruption in human affairs for the first time literally in human history. Virtually every economy everywhere has gone into shutdown. This has never happened before. And we need to take seriously that we are standing on the precipice of human civilisational collapse – at the center of which is runaway climate change. You know, there’s a growing number of scientists and diplomats that are saying that if we do not by 2030, change these indicators around (all of which are getting worse, not better) we could forfeit the world as we know it.

So the vision of Humanity Rising is to galvanize a critical mass of leaders in organizations that will come together. Consider how we can increase our strategic effectiveness and get out there and truly give shape to a post pandemic world that is more sustainable, more resilient, more abundant, more healthy and more based on ecological harmony. And so we’re motivated by a 10 year campaign so that by 2030 we can stand together knowing that we were part of a critical mass of human beings that rose up together and made the difference at an extraordinarily urgent moment in human history and did something that honored our ancestors that have brought us to the present place. And more importantly, set the foundation for children yet unborn unto the seventh generation that need an abundant and sustainable and resilient and healthy world to be born into and build upon.

Manda: [00:11:43.84] Brilliant. What a vision. Thank you. There are so many things I want to ask you arising out of that. But let’s go to Matt for a while. So, Matt, can you tell us a little bit about your history and how you became involved in Ubiquity University and then in Humanity Rising?

Matt Robertson: [00:12:01.81] Absolutely. And thanks so much, Manda, for the opportunity to be here today on Accidental Gods in a certain way, I am somewhat of a test case for what Ubiquity can be.

I grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area and my family were practitioners of spiritual work through the Arica school and that work and helping share the wisdom that I learned. There has always been the most important thing in my life. And so in many ways, I’ve been experimenting with finding opportunities for transformational education for a number of years. I started off at a small liberal arts school called Pitzer College in Claremont, California, which had a social activism lens and in many ways the same as Jim’s sons, I struggled in the traditional system and at a certain point I connected up with a group called ‘Generation Waking Up’, which also connected me to Joanna Macy and The Work That Reconnects. And I had a strong impulse that the traditional system was not for me and I needed to seek out other opportunities. And I made my way to a small liberal arts school called Naropa University, which is a Buddhist-inspired school in Boulder, Colorado, and spent six years there: two as a student, four as a staff member, experimenting with what part mindfulness could play in the field of education.

And through a family connection, I was connected with Ubiquity and as a funny turn of events, I actually also attended the same high school as Jim’s sons, Luke and Zach. So the synchronicity emerges.

But I had a calling to make a life shift, which aligned with the needs of Ubiquity at the time, which were to bring in a Director of Admissions. And so I started out and the admissions role and worked with Jim very closely also in Sri Lanka to help admit young students to one of our flagship programs, the ‘Foundations and Soft Skills’ Program, which was a flagship program that brought together the United Nations, SDGs (Sustainable Development Goals) and the seven central soft skills that are needed for a hyper complex world.

Manda: [00:14:30.49] Can you say what those are?

Matt Robertson: [00:14:31.63] You start off with teamwork and collaboration, emotional intelligence, leadership, critical thinking, whole systems design and all of the attendant skills that go along with that. So when you take those soft skills and practice them within the meta context of the Sustainable Development Goals, you really activate people to find their passion in a way that they can be effective in the world.

That’s one of my favorite quotes. What’s the world’s need? What’s my passion? And where do these two intersect so that we can find our vocation? This is related to Parker Palmer’s work as well. And so working in Colombo and eventually on one of our new projects, which is a social learning platform called ‘The Ubiverse’. I moved into an operations role and it was out of this mix of ingredients in our organization when the pandemic hit that we decided we wanted to be the place to be, to have some of these conversations around how do we transform ourselves into a healthy, resilient, sustainable society for a post pandemic world?

And we had such a large response that I was called to help Jim organize not only all of the speakers, but also to my privilege, organize the next generation component of this summit, which I would like to talk about, too, at some point. But we’re very excited to have a number of under 35 young Leaders from around the world come in and share their vision for the future and what solutions they’re working on today.

Manda: [00:16:15.6] Brilliant. Definitely, we’ll come back to that because that feels utterly critical. But Jim, let’s go back a bit. When you first considered Ubiquity University, was it going to be campus-based or was it always intended to have a large online component?

Jim Garrison: [00:16:36.36] Oh, we always conceived of it from the very beginning as online, because we knew back then that online was the wave of the future, it was just a matter of time. And interestingly enough, it’s the pandemic that is tipped the scales. From now on, everything will be online with in person, I think is an exception.

Manda: [00:17:00.48] I heard there was a rumor that Cambridge was going to go that way. It was going to teach the whole of 2021 online. And then the medieval university becomes much less medieval. It’s going to be very interesting. But I’m curious. And this is a genuine curiosity. I don’t know the answer to this question: when we are developing the seven essential soft skills and everything else that we need, it seems to me that a lot of this is, first of all, assessing what you can do, but it’s before you can assess what you can do, it’s just each person discovering for themselves where their strengths are and allowing those strengths to evolve as they mature as human beings.

So I’m wondering, are people coming to you slightly older than the average college student or have you found ways to help younger people to step into that exploratory phase where they can find out what it is that they’re best at, where your heart’s greatest need meets meets the world’s greatest desires?

Jim Garrison: [00:18:03.54] Statistically, the demographic that is most attracted to online is twenty five to thirty five. And in part is because they’re out into the workplace. They have a family. And so they have to balance a number of factors. And I apologize about this.

Manda: [00:18:30.01] This is lockdown, we’ve had lots of other things we can still hear you, it’s fine.

Jim Garrison: [00:18:35.45] But what is interesting, again, about the pandemic is that it’s it is up ended, the educational system as we know it, not only by making online inevitable, but really challenging whether these in-person universities that charge vast amounts of money can continue to demand high tuitions when the students aren’t even at the university. They’re taking the courses online.

And so the predictions are that the Tier One universities like Harvard, like Cambridge, Harvard’s got an endowment, I think, of seven to eight hundred billion dollars. They’re going to make it through. And because the elite they will stand the test of time. But the Tier Two and Tier Three schools are in serious trouble because they’re highly leveraged, they’ve got stadiums, they’ve got buildings, they’ve got dormitories, they’ve got cafeterias, they’ve got vast classrooms. And they still have to keep those up. Even if the students aren’t there. So we’re seeing a veritable deconstruction of the educational system as we know it and how education will look. I would say in three to five years’ time, it will be a completely different world. And Ubiquity has been betting on online and competency-based learning assessment and credentialing. Those are the two megatrends of the future.

Manda: [00:20:27.15] So competency-based assessments. Can you unpick that for us a little and explain how that actually works in logistical terms?

Jim Garrison: [00:20:34.9] Yes. I mean, when you think of education, normally you think of going to a classroom, taking notes. And the competency that you’re judged by is how well you do on the test. You’re compared to other people and you get a numerical grade and then you move on or you don’t depending on the level of your grading.

The challenge with that is twofold. Number one, the knowledge that you’re learning is obsolete by the time you graduate from school. And number two, the economy now is moving and shapeshifting so fast that two thirds of the jobs, a 10 to 15 years ago, do not currently exist. And two thirds of the jobs that exist now won’t exist in 10 years. That’s how fast the economy, technology and society are changing.

So going to Harvard for four years and then to Harvard Business School for another three years doesn’t give anybody what they actually need in a highly dynamic geostrategic situation and job market. So what the corporations are more and more requiring is not a degree. They want to know what you can do. They want to know how well you can get along with others because they’ve discovered that even if you have a Harvard MBA, that doesn’t mean you can get along well with your peers, that if you work at Google or you work at Apple or Facebook or Samsung, Toyota, these are all global corporations.

They need people who can think out of the box in a collective way and get along with their peers from different cultures, backgrounds, genders and ethnicities. Not necessarily know a lot about the periodic table of elements because you can look that up on your smartphone. So that’s what competency-based learning is about. What competencies do you currently possess that are marketable toward a job? And at the center of that are soft skills. There are a certain subset of competencies called soft skills, which are not what you know, they’re basically who you are and how well you interact with others around problem solving. That’s what Google wants. That’s what a Facebook wants. And so we’re no longer in a world where degrees, even from elite universities, matter much. And in fact, the one of the senior executives at Google late last year said that the worst people to hire are graduates from the Ivy League schools because they have no intellectual humility.

Manda: [00:23:50.5] Then they just end up becoming our politicians because we don’t have a very good way of selecting politicians. And so we end up with the anyway, let’s not go down that route. OK. Matt, I’d like to come back to you. And I want to talk about the next generation summit. I’m aware that I’m in danger dragging this podcast into being solely about education because it’s so interesting and we do want to move to Humanity Rising.

But just before we go there, the seven essential soft skills – listening to Jim, listening to you – to what extent are those things that anybody listening to this podcast with the right help could pick up and really run with? And to what extent are they innate? And also, are we finding a generational difference where let’s say the millennials or even the people under 30 are more flexible than the older generations? So two questions.

Matt Robertson: [00:24:43.53] That’s a great question. I’m happy to share my opinion. I think for a lot of these soft skills that we have, the innate seed of their potential to be expressed in our life. You know, these are aligned with our nature as human beings. It’s in our nature to be collaborative, to have self-awareness. So use our creative capacities and understand our emotional intelligence. But without the right structure of these seeds, don’t get nurtured. And so that’s part of the reason why we put together this program, which is to really provide a format and a training for these essential soft skills as it relates to our world today. What difference does it make if we have leadership capacities, capacities, the ability to understand people’s emotional state, if they’re not being applied in a way that is good for the whole basically? So I do think they’re innate. And I do think that it also needs training.

Manda: [00:25:48.3] Can I ask a sub question on that? Is it something that generally speaking, individual competence across all seven rises together. Or is it that you find that there remain people who will be particularly self-aware with perhaps less competence at leadership and that we help them to foster that? Or is it that all 7 rising together?

Matt Robertson: [00:26:15.66] It’s a really great question. You know, of course, everyone has their own individual strengths. Some people, let’s say, are better at public speaking or collaboration and other people are better at taking a leadership stand. But what we noticed is that within this program, which takes an integral approach to these seven soft skills, that, yes, not only do people see an enhancement across the board in all seven when they work on just one. But also, as their soft skills become enhanced, their more, let’s say, left brain or hard skills also become enhanced. So as they get better leadership, critical thinking and problem solving, they also become better at things like math and engineering. And it’s really quite phenomenal.

Manda: [00:27:05.34] And has anybody done the neuroscience of why that might be the case?

Matt Robertson: [00:27:09.75] That’s a good question. We have a current course right now on on the neuroscience of these things. But to my knowledge, I’m sure it’s out there. I’m not aware,

Manda: [00:27:18.29] OK, at the point when you are we going to do another podcast! Because that would be so interesting. We had the second question, which was, is there a generational divide? Are people, let’s say, in their 50s or 60s, can they come along? And the soft skills that really did not exist as things that we learned when I was at university, can we come in, learn them now?

Matt: [00:27:40.32] That’s my understanding of what neuroscience is saying around neuroplasticity, that throughout the duration of our entire lives, these skills, no matter what age we are, are learnable. And just like people have different strengths, I think, so do generations, for example, the millennial generation and those to follow – we’re some of the most interconnected and largest generation to ever exist, having been exposed to technology from a very young age. And so by a predisposition in that way, we may be more prone to things like emotional intelligence, empathy. Some of these soft skills, collaboration. Exactly. Simply because we’ve been exposed to it at an earlier age.

Manda: [00:28:25.83] Ok, thank you. I’d like to talk to you about the next generation summit, but let’s come back to Jim for a little while, depending on the level of excitement in the background.

Jim, can you tell us a bit about your process of creating Humanity Rising? Because when we spoke in our pre podcast talk, you talked me through the process of imagining if you were the world leader of the day. And then what you came down to as you one necessary task and how that informed Humanity Rising. So can you talk to us about that for a while?

Jim Garrison: [00:29:01.11] Yes, I think that the initial impulse was just to be of service so that we weren’t just sitting here as victims in the overall scheme of things, but that we were proactively trying to make a difference, even if it’s in a very small way. And that’s my nature. I’ve always been an activist. I like to get out there into the trenches. I want to make a difference with my life. And so the pandemic was no exception.

I have a long history of convening. During the 1990s, I was privileged to work with Mikhail Gorbachev after he stepped down as president of the Soviet Union. And for a number of years, we convened leadership groups all over the world within the sort of the tag line of transforming conversations that matter into actions that make a difference. And so when Humanity Rising began to take shape and we realized that there’s a huge response coming in.

Then I went through a couple of thought experiments as I was seeking to discern how does one shape this? Now you’re getting dozens, then hundreds of people and organizations wanting to get involved. What do you actually do? And one thing is I realize that we don’t have to do a three day or seven-day conference where everybody comes online and they go in a marathon and then they go home. Why don’t we do it every day for as long as the pandemic lasts?

So that was the first time that as an old convener and conference organizer from many decades, I realized the freedom of having all the time we need to really structure a serious conversation over time. And so that was the first decision. So every day, seven days a week, from five o’clock to seven o’clock pm Central European Time on our Zoom Link and live on Facebook and it’s live on Awake TV. And there’s probably a half a dozen social media platforms that are streaming it live. We’re going out to tens of thousands of people every day. And we want to continue that open space so that people can really dig in and really ask over time some very deep questions at the center of which is: how do we enhance our strategic effectiveness so that we can actually make a difference in the shape of the post pandemic world?

One of the supreme ironies and tragic paradoxes in the world right now, is that as the situation gets worse, the leadership in country after country is authoritarian, myopic, incompetent and xenophobic and just plain unconcerned about the human future.

And I’m talking about the leadership in the United States and the U.K., in Russia and China and India and Brazil, in Hungary and in dozens of other countries that one could name. We’re being governed by pygmies. At a moment when we need vision, we need clarity, we need action towards strategic goals that are actually going to improve the capacity of human beings to stay alive on on this planet. And so that really gave shape to the second level: that sense of coming together with a focus on strategic effectiveness.

And then very quickly, I went through another thought experiment. I thought if I was dictator for a day and I could make one decision about the post pandemic world, what would I decide? And my first thought was keep all the oil in the ground and then I realize that doesn’t solve anything that stops a crisis. But the system stays the same.

Jim Garrison: [00:33:42.35] Then I thought, well, how about stopping the deforestation of the Amazon? And again, that stops a crisis, but it doesn’t solve anything. And I actually thought for a day and I thought, you know what? What would if I could make one decision that would be as transformational as the pandemic. But in a positive way, what would it be?

And I realized there’s for me, there was only really one answer, and that is order that within the next 30 days. Every government and organization on planet Earth would be turned over to women as executive leaders and that they would lead the world until 2030.

And I guarantee you, if we did that, if we can shut down major economies within days and weeks, we can transition leadership to women in a radically accelerated way, because I believe that the mentality that produced the problem at its heart is patriarchy.

And the men need to get out of the way, turn things over to women and let them lead. And I would say that we’ve done that in our organization. Ubiquity University is basically led by women. The chief executive officer, the chief financial officer, the director of operations, creative director – all the major executive roles are are n the hands of women. I believe that women need to be leading at every conceivable level because the men have put us in to an awful mess.

So what we did for Humanity Rising, we started with a big woman’s circle. And now for the next nine days, we’re having circles of women for every session from all over the world, from every walk of life. And it’s been an extraordinary outpouring of vision, pathos, clarity, audacity and heartfulness.

And then on the 1st of June, we’re going to transition for seven days and we’re going to listen to the next chart. We’re going to listen to the youth because it’s the youth that inherit the future and they’re going to have to live in the world for a lot longer than any of the mature adults. That’s what Matt’s leading. He’s curating next generation discussions for seven days. And we’ve got an incredible array of young people, again, from all over the world, from all walks of life coming together around very serious issues that he can describe.

So then then we open on the 9th of June to the business of Humanity Rising. And that is what we’re calling strategies for change. How do we increase our effectiveness so that over the next decade in the context of rising crises and tumult – because this pandemic is not just an isolated event – it’s coming out of climate change, just like extreme weather events.

So we’re going into perhaps the most turbulent decade maybe in the history of humankind. And we need to know that’s happening. And that’s one reason why we founded Ubiquity, because we’re now no longer in a world of complexity. We’re in a world of hyper-complexity. And we’re in a world, as Lester Brown says, of a race of the tipping points. Things are getting better and better, worse and worse, faster and faster.

How do we equip young people with the mindsets and the skill sets and the tool sets and the competencies they need to navigate an increasingly turbulent, hyper complex world where jobs are disappearing overnight? And how do you prepare yourself? So, Matt’s absolutely right. The millennials and these gen-Zs intuitively are being born with innate soft skills that, if developed, could make them the most creative and problem-solving generation in history, because they’re going to need to be that in order to ensure the continuity of civilization as we know it.

Manda: [00:38:29.91] And then we just need to empower them to be able to do it. But let’s let’s talk about how we might do that later. So, let’s go to Matt. Matt, let’s talk about the next generation summit. Just very briefly, I’m assuming that Jim’s idea of populating everything with women is because they are more likely – not guaranteed, but more likely – to have the seven essential soft skills innately. And so, what Jim just said is that the next generation really is much more likely to have them innately. And so, the next generation summit, can you tell us a bit more about the vision behind that and about how it’s panning out how the whole thing is panning out for you?

Matt Robertson: [00:39:13.08] Absolutely. So, one of the characteristics that defines our generation is, of course, diversity. And so, I don’t claim to speak for everyone. But I think, as Jim mentioned, it is obvious that this rising generation of decision makers and global citizens has a very important role to play in this movement, to build a more sustainable and resilient planetary society.

We are the largest, most connected generation to ever exist. And we bring a fresh perspective and an inspired vision within which we can assess our current situation and work to imbue a vision of the future with our passion and what we would like to live our lives like.

So, it’s a really fantastic opportunity for young leaders to be featured at the beginning of this summit. As Jim mentioned, we start with nine days of women circles and move to a week featuring young leaders from a variety of organizations who are working to make the world a better place. So most of them are under the age of 35 and have taken leadership positions, but not all their organizations. We’re hearing from organizations such as ISEC, Synergos, NCW Global, Institute of Aliveness, Force of Nature, City Transformer’s – on a variety of topics. A lot of them are related to youth-led local leadership in their communities, personal empowerment, health and well-being, as well as really important trends such as green business, climate, justice, and one that I’m particularly inspired by green cities by an organization called City Transformers.

What do our cities look like in a post pandemic future. And what we hope to do is begin to form the roots of a community that will allow us to reach our 10-year goals. In a certain way, we’re building a network of networks.

This is getting into the future visioning, but the first action that we’re going to take is invite all of the participants into a working group to review all of the solutions and perspectives that are offered during this first week and synthesize them into a summary, a product, a representation of the vision that we’ve laid forth throughout that first week. And we will represent that to the summit down the road and then work together to collaborate around future actions that we would like to take. But it’s very exciting. And I think that connecting with each other with good intentions and trusting that our collective intelligence will bring out the best of us and inspire us with creative solutions to innovate successfully is really the purpose of this first next week and overall program.

Manda: [00:42:13.51] Are you getting any kind of youth leaders from within any of the spiritual practices?

Matt Robertson: [00:42:20.33] That’s a good question. We have a few, but I think that the the realm of spirituality for youth is a really tricky one. It’s something that, if I may speak universally, it’s tricky for our generation to try and navigate those forces. And they do exist. But I see them more as grass roots and popping up in my understanding through artistic endeavors as well as activist. So a lot of the activist movement has its grounding in a certain kind of spirituality, a connection to something that’s bigger than ourselves, as well as the creative and artistic realms, which are really a fantastic way to connect to these other aspects of our being. So we do have a number of artists who will be presenting there in the first days of those weeks. And we also have an open invitation as this summit unfolds alongside global events for people to join the conversation.

Manda: [00:43:20.6] So if anybody listening wants to join, they would find that on the Humanity Rising website.

Matt Robertson: [00:43:29.6] Absolutely. It’s an open call.

Manda: [00:43:31.4] So, we’re heading towards the end. I’d like to talk to Jim and then Matt really to get your vision – if this ecosystem that you are creating, which I have to say sounds really, really inspiring of bringing everybody together, of giving them space to talk, to synthesize ideas, to create something new out of the cauldron of everything that we have at the moment. If we were to look perhaps a year or five years – or if we’re very daring, 10 years – down the line, where would you hope that we would be? Have you a vision of how the world could be from here? Jim, first.

Jim Garrison: [00:44:13.76] I think it’s clear that our governments and prevailing institutions are either unwilling or unable to grapple seriously with the crisis at hand. I think that the vision of Humanity Rising is inherent in our name. We believe that the only true solution left as we literally teeter on the precipice of self-destruction is for humanity to rise up all over the world as one and take the actions that are required to effectuate a better world.

And all kinds of organizations are beginning to do that. In our opening session, for example, we had Nicole Schwabe from the World Economic Forum and the World Economic Forum has taken an initiative to curate and plant one trillion trees over the next decade. That’s a significant commitment. You plant one trillion trees and you’re going to probably do more to ameliorate climate change than any other single thing we could do. It will stabilize the ecology and stabilize the weather.

And so were looking through Humanity Rising to bring people together for daily dialogues, to share what we’re all doing so that everybody everywhere knows what’s going on in the spirit of radical collaboration. And then the come together for mega projects like planting a trillion trees.

What is the equivalent by 2030 of putting a man on the moon? What do we need to do that is bigger than life, worthy of human nobility, such that if it was effectuated, we would be credited as that generation of human beings that when the chips were down really made a difference? That’s what we want to do. That’s the aspiration for Humanity Rising to work together with like-minded, similarly inspired people from all over the world. Over the next 10 years to make the critical difference necessary to ensure human survival.

Manda: [00:46:48.0] It doesn’t get any more profound than that really, does it? So, Matt, that sounds quite hard to follow, but I wonder if any additional things to put into the vision, particularly of how young people might have taken over the reins of governance? No, I’m putting ideas into your hands. Let’s hear what you think about this.

Matt Robertson: [00:47:11.46] Jim can be hard to follow sometimes, but it’s always a treat to envision along alongside him and for what we’re trying to do with this Humanity Rising summit. And I think about this, again, almost from the perspective of neuroscience. It seems to me like there’s two phases here. And the first is really walking ourselves back from the edge of extinction.

I mean, we think of Extinction Rebellion and these groups that are really working to keep us on the right track here. And our survival instinct is incredibly powerful and it’s being activated right now. And it’s a real challenge to bring in the higher capacities of our human being, to mix with the survival instinct and help let our natural intelligence emerge.

And so within the next 10 years, I see a continuum of a resolute group of committed humans who have a clear vision, working to address the world’s biggest challenges on climate change, wealth inequality, governance that will then allow for a space of, and some sense of, renaissance. A huge opening of space and opportunity for humanity, and particularly our younger generations, to experiment with the kind of life that they want to live.

And as we progress along that continuum, the vision that I personally have, I can’t speak for other people, but I love to see all of these different communities popping up around the world that are organizing themselves around any given principles: regeneration or new politics. And I would love to see in the next 10 years – I can start to see clearly in my mind – not only these communities that are out there because they already exist, but a network of networks of these communities that are learning from each other, supported by technology that is enabling them to experiment more quickly to pull information around what’s working and what’s not.

And I am no expert on this by any means, but I see a huge, huge possibility for the technologies of personal A.I, and AI in general, along with VR, helping us to enable these kinds of community experiments for how people can actually live in alignment with natural cycles.

And lastly, I just want to say that in this age of information, when all things are possible, I envision emerging, a North Star. What is the organizing principle that allows us to wade through the hyper complexity, the immense level and volume of data and possibilities that exist? And so I see coming through a kind of integral ethics that helps us navigate the almost unlimited possibilities that technology and these times are presenting to us.

And so I see that world and young people contributing to that, as we’ve said, through our natural inclination and exposure to the kinds of principles and characteristics that that way of life requires

Manda: [00:50:52.47] That just makes my heart sing so much. That gives me hope. That’s so wonderful. Both of you listening to that feels like there is a world opening up, full of possibility. And with the right people at the helm. So as we close. Is there anything else that either of you would like to say in closing, Jim? Have you got any any last pearls of wisdom? Anything that we didn’t cover that you think we should have done?

Jim Garrison: [00:51:21.86] Well, you know, it’s a helpful metaphor for Humanity Rising in our current situation comes from the Nobel laureate Prigogine, who talked about islands of coherence in a sea of chaos.And he pointed out that in physics, the chaos has an underlying order. And that if you can create a island of coherence in the midst of complete chaos- and keep focused on the coherence, the coherence has the capacity at a certain critical point to transform the sea of chaos into a higher order coherence.

And I think that’s the aspiration of Humanity Rising in what many, many people and organizations and efforts of goodwill around the world are doing. We’re creating islands of coherence in a sea of chaos. And if we can maintain that intention, no matter what is happening around us, at a certain point, we’ll reach a critical mass that will arm the entire system to transform spontaneously in a better direction. That’s my hope. That’s my prayer. And that’s the way we are unfolding. Humanity Rising.

Manda: [00:52:53.79] You just articulated most of the basis behind Accidental Gods also. And that came from Prigogine. I am so happy to hear you say that. Thank you. It’s so good to hear somebody else who took the same concept away from that. Matt – anything else that you would like to add.

Matt Robertson: [00:53:12.56] You know, one of the things that comes up for me is what’s a revolution without dance? And so, with your permission, I would love to share a short poem that I wrote for the summit.

[00:53:24.51] And it’s called Humanity Rising: A new story.

[00:53:29.51] Coming to you live from shelter in place. A watershed moment for us, the human race.The planet has 10 years to transcend fears, so now watch us rise with strength and grace. And pause for the ones that came before, leaving wisdom of sorts, the force, and, of course, seven generations to come who also deserve our earth, water and sun. And so we rise up. All of us together, now. Back to claim our birthright. We’re birds of a feather now. Weathering the weather while we all learn to take a bow. With our bodies separate, we bring our hearts together – wow. And with one deep breath, collective intelligence will arise from the depths. Welcome to the moment we finally arrive. Today, we gather round and help humanity rise.

Manda: [00:54:17.76] That is glorious. And you’ve put that to a beautiful video, which I will, with your permission share in the show notes for everybody so that they can listen to you read that with the video. Would that be OK?

Matt Robertson: [00:54:30.33] Happily. Thank you.

Manda: [00:54:31.77] Fantastic. Thank you. So thank you both very, very much for your time and for the astonishing amount of work you’re putting into this. And for the vision behind it. This is the single most hopeful podcast we’ve done yet. And I really hope that anybody listening to this is going to head off straightaway to the Humanity Rising website and through that to Ubiquity University. Because we all need the seven essential soft skills.

Manda: [00:54:56.22] And just guys listening. Take note and go and take part in the events that happen each day. They are genuinely inspiring and there’s a very lively chat channel in which you can participate. So this feels to me very much as if it’s drawing large numbers of people from a very wide network, which is exactly what we need. So thank you both. I’d really like at some point, maybe six months from now, we’ll come back to this again and see where we get into, because I think the rate of change at the moment is so fast that by the fall we will be in a different place. And thank you both.

Matt Robertson: [00:55:36.39] Thank you, Manda. We look forward to building a movement together.

Manda: [00:55:39.21] Thank you. So that’s it for another week. Enormous thanks to Matt and Jim for the scale and scope of their vision and the astonishing amount of work that’s going into making it happen. Humanity Rising could be genuinely life changing, I believe. We will put links in the show notes and on the blog. But once again, if you want to head for it straightaway, go to



The Jay, The Beech and The Limpetshell with author Richard Smyth

The Jay, The Beech and The Limpetshell with author Richard Smyth

Today we speak to the author of ‘The Jay, the Beech and the Limpetshell’ – a work that is both memoir and eulogy for a dying world. It brings together Richard’s passionate love of the natural world with his care for his two young children and considers how we help the generations that come after us to fall in love with a world that is going to be so, so different from when we were young – however old you are now, whatever your memories.

Clean Air, Clean Water, Clean Politics with Baroness Natalie Bennett of the Green Party

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In this second election special, we talk to Natalie Bennett (or Baroness Bennett of Manor Castle if we’re going to be formal – but she said we didn’t need to be) – one of two Green Party members in the House of Lords. Natalie is author of the Book ‘Change Everything: How we can rethink, repair and rebuild society’ – one of the essential books of our time that outlines in detail how we can create the total systemic change we need.


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