“Our primary mission is to be a catalyst for the emergent shift in consciousness toward a life-sustaining and life-enhancing world.”
Who We Are
S.E.E.D.S. (School for Ecocentric Evolution & Design Strategies) is a diverse network of change-makers, visionaries, artists, farmers, and localized community members sharing ideas, design strategies, working models, and living examples of ecocentric interdependence, sovereignty, true belonging, and healing justice on all scales. We are everyone who holds in their hearts that a more beautiful and just world is possible. We are all those who feel the pain of what our world has become and are not afraid to look at the shadows, to heal our wounds, and to collaboratively forge a new path forward that combines ancient ways of knowing with creative modern innovation. We are those seeking community spaces safe and brave enough to allow ourselves to be seen and to choose to see one another. We are SEEDS of change ready to bring forth that which lives in each of us in order to grow the world we each know is possible.
Why Ecocentric Evolution?
It may first be helpful to digest the word ‘ecocentric.’ Eco stands for ecology which is the relationship between organisms and their environment that gives rise to the nature of place. Centric means being in or at the center of/surrounded by. When we combine the two, we arrive at the following meaning: being centered in the relational web of life.
By centered, we mean that our waking consciousness is rooted in the knowledge that we are an emergent property of relationship, completely dependent and interconnected with countless organisms that through complex and collaborative relationality have/are giving rise to the possibility of this human life experience. An ecocentric human conscious awareness not only understands that our life is a gift from life itself, born out of billions of years of evolutionary process and held up by the life that surrounds us, but also understands that its health and scope of experience is determined by the health, diversity, beauty, and freedom of the life that surrounds it. From this conscious awareness, we can participate in the evolutionary process in a way that truly benefits this planet’s life expression at large.
Egocentric Spirit of The Times:
When we observe the world around us (the spirit of the times), we can see that the driving forces of society, the predominate worldview, and the mainstream values and incentive landscapes are far from being rooted in an ecocentric awareness. In fact, we could say that the driving consciousness of this time is rooted in an egocentric awareness. If we piece apart the word ‘egocentric,’ we come to a definition that looks something like centered in a separate personal identity. Another way to say it could be, focused on oneself irrespective of the larger web of life. This form of consciousness is fundamentally unaware of the inter-relationality of its own existence, and thus can easily justify the harm of another (human and more-than-human) for “personal gain.” From an egocentric worldview, the world is fundamentally a competitive stage, a game to be played where the meaning of life finds itself rooted in competition and comparison. A game aimed at the accumulation of power, wealth, beauty, status, intellect, and prestige gained through almost any means. A game where exponential growth is linked with well-being, irrespective of the harmful externalities that that growth is based upon in terms of the exploitation of human labor and/or the extraction of the earth’s resources. Infinite egocentric human-centric growth is an impossibility on a finite planet and will therefore lead, inevitably, to self-termination.
It is interesting to note that egocentrism does play a role, albeit limited, within holistic human development across the lifespan. During the adolescent life stage, more than any other, the human being is centered on the development of a personal identity that is both authentic and viable in the broader social context in which he exists. Thus, adolescence is a period of life during which the individual is creating an individuality and discovering the unique gifts, talents, and interests that later through a maturation process will serve the evolutionary development of her community, society, and life itself. During this time, the adolescent is focused on growth, consuming information, discovering personal power, exploring sexual identity, playing different roles, wearing different masks, and generally consuming (in an expansive sense of the word) more than he is giving back. However, this developmental process (if held in an ecocentric container), eventually matures itself through a natural process of reintegrating the individual, unique, separate identity into the larger family of things through a foundamental worldview shift of the individual’s understanding of the self from the separate-self ego to a relationship-based eco. This maturation process results in the individual now finding her meaning in offering her gifts back to whole in nurturing and generative ways. This is a maturation/initiation process that marks one’s transition to true adulthood and provides one with the possibility of living a truly meaningful life.
Through this lens, we can better understand the plight of our times. Human society has become patho-adolesent, by which we simply mean: valuing adolescent qualities beyond their usefulness to the point of undermining the organism’s ability to live into the future. What is needed, then, is a collective maturation process likened to the initiatiory process of an individual going through a life-stage transition. This collective initiation can be understood as an evolutionary phase-shift that is capable of giving rise to a collective meaning, a transcendent human why that is capable of bridging the divide between even the most polarized of identities. This why, in order to be meaningful, must be in relationship with all life on the planet and in context to the spirit of the times. This human why must be connected to both a call for collective healing of all that has been done as well as begin to lay the foundation for a life-enhancing world into the future. This human meaning must promote, foster, and facilitate healthy individual uniqueness that is capable of acting in collective service to the healing of our planet, each other, and the holistic expression of life. This human meaning must compel us as a people to weave our way back into relationship with the family of all things, in order to take our place as human agents in service to the evolutionary movement of life itself.
The School For Ecocentric Evolution & Design Strategies:
The primary area of study for our school is this collective transition, initiation, evolutionary phase-shift, sacred invitation of the times. We are actively apprenticing with the process of ecocentric evolution, and life itself, in order to learn how this process takes place through us and what it’s asking of us. The mission of the School for Ecocentric Evolution & Design Strategies is to support collective evolution toward a life-sustaining and life-enhancing world, which occurs through each of us becoming active agents of the earth’s own evolutionary impulse within the contexts of our personal lives, relationships, communities, bioregions, and members of the global community at large. This task requires effective, adaptive, complex, whole-systems design strategies to navigate this treacherous yet transcendent path of conceiving of and then delivering a new world. We are grateful and excited to have you as fellow students of life along this path of learning and remembering who we are and why we are here in these unprecedented times!
The Three Pillars of Ecocentric Evolution
SEEDS has identified three primary “pillars” that serve as catalysts for the ecocentric evolutionary process. Without all three, true ecocentric collective human evolution cannot and will not emerge. These three pillars, further enumerated below, are ways of relating to the three primary domains of human experience: the self, the human collective, and the more-than-human. Without a fundamental shift in self-understanding, human relationality, and how we perceive and interact with the more-than-human world, a life-sustaining and life-enhancing future is not possible. For ecocentric evolution to unfold, a truly meaningful existence must emerge for each individual, that meaning must be enhanced by and rooted into a collective human why, and that collective human why must in turn serve the evolutionary unfoldment and enhancement of the more-than-human world community. For it is the more-than-human context that gives rise to and creates the constraints by which our human lives and communities emerge.
Pillar 1: Soul Rooted Personal Development
A truly ecocentric and life-enhancing world, if it is to include humans, will be grown out of an individual maturation process that fundamentally expands “self” to include “other.” We must develop as individuals in order to see ourselves as an emergent property of relationship, life awakened unto itself, inside itself, grown out of time, out of evolution for evolution. Each individual grown into being by the universe has a unique niche to fill in the evolutionary unfoldment of life. Niches are co-created opportunities formed out of what is and what has come before; they are a contextual invitation, a relationship between place and organism. The unique qualities grown in the organism discovers a unique time and place that invites their essence to live more fully into itself allowing for full individual self-expression and maturation in service to the whole.
Like a seed that sprouts and grows into time and space forever altering the course of evolution, so too, the soul awaits our discovery; awaits the conditions to sprout and grow into itself. Soul Rooted Personal Development is the process of discovering this internal seed, tending the conditions for its growth, and cultivating the fruits to share with the world. It is the process of self-discovery (self-knowledge) and understanding how what has been discovered fits into the contextual evolutionary invitation of the times. This is meaningful, powerful, transformational self-knowledge and self-expression in service to the collective evolutionary invitation of the times. This process is what SEEDS has called Soul Rooted Personal Development and it is the first pillar necessary in moving toward an ecocentric world.
This model of holistic self-development necessarily brings one into deep relationship with both the human collective and the more-than-human world, through understanding that the self could never achieve its full potential without the mutually co-arising reflective possibilities offered through a harmonization of relationships at all scales of interaction and experience. Soul Rooted Personal Development includes but is not limited to recognizing and healing unprocessed trauma, reconnecting with the natural world, identifying unique gifts and values that directs one’s work and contribution to the world, re-wilding oneself within the natural environment, and cultivating sovereignty and self-reliance skills to increase a sense of belonging and safety within the more-than-human earth community.
Pillar 2: Holistic/Integral Cultural Development
The primary function of holistic/integral cultural development is for human communities to grow ecocentric soul rooted adults who can serve as evolutionary agents of culture and life itself. Culture must hold, renew, facilitate, and distribute a life-serving meaning, providing the necessary conditions for that meaning to arise in infinitely unique ways within each individual while maintaining a shared collective understanding of what it is to be human. That understanding must be rooted in interconnection with all life, viewing the human being as life, awakened to life, in service to life, for the continued unfoldment of life’s evolutionary process. Culture must hold a collective why that is rooted in scientific reality and yet permeated with spirituality. Culture must provide a solid foundation and practice ground for consciousness to land in material form and yet simultaneously support the liberation of consciousness and imagination so that materiality can continuously reinvent itself across form. Because it is our culture that sets the constraints of our personal conscious experience, those constraints should weave us deeper into reality while also stretching us toward new horizons as individuals and a species. Culture must serve the function of both continuance (stability) and liberation (change) so as to eternally create and re-create the conditions necessary for life, consciousness, and evolution to exist across deep time. A healthy culture produces vibrant ecocentric soul rooted sovereign adults endowed with the skills to relate collaboratively within human culture and engage within the more-than-human world in life-enhancing ways.
Culture must serve the function of maintaining, preserving, and enhancing the conditions for life to grow and express itself. It must be rooted in deep interconnection with the more-than-human world through facilitating relationships of mutual harmony with life at all scales. It must provide the conditions necessary for soul rooted ecocentric development to occur within each individual, as seen through the growing of ecocentric adults and elders who serve as true living symbols of a life well-lived, their embodied expressions a continuous invitation to the next generations to grow lives rich in meaning for the betterment of all life.
This area of our work emphasizes the importance of creating interpersonal relationships of trust and belonging that arise from shared practices of collective visioning, community-building, collective decision-making, harm repair, and values-aligned practices (such as permaculture) of living in right relationship with the land upon which the community lives. This area of focus also includes the importance of group ritual and ceremony, in order to support the collective to be able to process emotions such as grief and celebrate seasonal changes such as the solstices and equinoxes, in order to arrive at deeper connection with one another within the context of the more-than-human and elemental natural cycles of the cosmos.
Pillar 3: Re-animation of the More-Than-Human
We must as a culture engage in the transformational process of re-animation. While our sciences have certainly given us much in terms of understanding and knowledge about the material reality of the world around us, physicalism as a worldview is not sufficient as an understanding of reality itself. Scientific physicalism has stripped the human of a meaningful ontology (way of being) capable of calling us into deeper relationality with life. It has effectively reduced life down to meaningless, unintelligent chance, particles endlessly bouncing around in space for no purposeful reason. The result of this predominent worldview has been a collective nihilism, depression, and narcissism that has self-justified its extractive, oppression, and ultimately self-terminating behavior. From this worldview, human consciousness seems awakened by meaningless accident, and thus destined to suffer inside itself until a meaningless death turns the lights off. Such a worldview is pathological, given that it creates and replicates a collective trauma rooted in separation from our once entirely animated experience of life on planet earth.
Animation is not a return to “animism,” but a way of giving life back to life through offering gratitude, dignity, and mystery back to the very thing that grew us out of itself. It is an acknowledgement that the earth itself grew us, that life itself wove together this incredibly complex organism of the human being who is capable of imaging future possibilities and growing them into the world. It’s a worldview that sees the earth, our home, our creator, as inherently intelligent and capable of growing intelligence for its own evolutionary reasons. It is a worldview that sees ourselves as emergent from the web of life and thus returns a sacredness to life for this gift of our existence. We, and all of our gifts and capacities, have been given to us from life by life in service to life. This process of re-animation is the process of life awakening back up to itself, inside itself in service to the continued unfoldment and animation of life into the future. This means a re-awakening to the gift of life itself as it lives through each of us and all of us as a collective species. This is a remembering process of the ancient and timeless knowing that life itself is an incredible miracle, and that to be conscious within the experience of life is to be able to acknowledge and honor that which surrounds us. To re-animate life is to bring life back to all elements of the living cosmos, which allows it to unfold with more dignity, vibrancy, and sacredness.
At SEEDS, we embrace and celebrate this pillar of our work through celebrating earth-based ceremony and rites-of-passage (including the ancient Vision Fast ceremony to mark life-stage transitions), we honor this through how we grow and harvest our food through a spirit of honor and animism, and we celebrate this through the relationship that we have to the places that we call home through the practices of re-wilding, belonging, and conscious home-coming.
Questions Sourcing Our Work:
Once we realize that world-views create worlds, what we value as a culture roots itself in the world around us, and that we are being invited to serve as evolutionary agents (active participants with) the unfoldment of life into the future, the following questions arise.
What world do we (humanity/life) actually want to create?
What have we learned from what we have created thus far?
What is life and experience trying to tell us about the world we have created?
What is life, our dreams, our deepest hopes and longings trying to inform us about the world we could create?
How can we best serve this evolutionary moment and gain clarity into what life is desiring to dream and live through us?
How can we facilitate a consciousness shift from a pathological self-obsession to a generative and collaborative ecocentric awareness?
How do we collectively move from one world view to another in as graceful, strategic, and timely a manner as humanly possible?
How do we actively deconstruct the most harmful and existential aspects of this current society in a timely while omni-considerate way?
How do we identify, cultivate, and embody our unique personal gifts, skills, passions, and interests in a way that serves not only our individual selves and our human communities but also the more-than-human ecosystems and the evolutionary invitation of the moment?
How do we build the spaces, containers, and communities that can facilitate personal healing and wholing work while simultaneously creating innovative and revolutionary ways of participating in this life experience that are more interesting, meaningful, resilient, collaborative, generative, considerate, creative and inspiring?
How can we mobilize the tremendous amount of collective resource to build new infrastructure, education systems, governance systems, economic systems, localized food networks, medical systems, and healthy and unbiased information systems that serve as the foundation for this transitional phase of society towards a more ecocentric world?
How do we weave networks of resilience between communities and local bio-regions that can facilitate rapid exchange of information and resources to adequately respond to the dynamic and shifting nature of this transitional time?
How do we facilitate the maturation of individuals so as to generate true adults, elders, and leaders who can lead and grow future generations in ecocentric values?
We Aspire To…
- Help catalyze the growing and emergent shift in the collective consciousness from individualism towards mutuality, integration, interconnection, and collective belonging.
- Disseminate the processes and practices of healing spaces that are safe and brave enough for individuals to do the work of examining the role that deeply held unhealed personal, interpersonal, and intergenerational traumas have in promoting fear, separation, violence, hierarchy, exploitation, competition, scarcity, greed, and other dehumanizing mindsets and actions toward self and others.
- Lift up the revolutionary models and living symbols of alternative ways of being and living in relationship to the earth, self, other, group, and species that facilitate and impel the dismantling of settler-colonialism, imperialism, capitalism, racism, classism, ableism, heteronormativity, patriarchy, reliance on fossil fuels, and all other forms of oppression and entrapment.
- Explore the concept of sovereignty (on all scales) and the role it plays in facilitating bio-regional shifts towards freedom, abundance, mutuality, and autonomy.
- Honor and promote holistic psycho-spiritual development practices (i.e. rites-of-passage, ritual, and ceremony) at individual and collective levels in order to support a much needed species-level maturation from a patho-adolescent life stage to a nurturing and generative adulthood life stage.
- Recognize and implement systems of governance, communication, economy, conflict resolution, and decision-making that are truly egalitarian and radically inclusive