How do we start reforming a society where loneliness seems to be the norm more than the diversion? How come this is reality, when technological progress has allowed us to be more connected to anyone that we would want to on the planet? And how come that inhabitants of eco-villages don't seem to suffer from this and where does the connection to nature come to play? These are some of the questions that laid the foundation of our Value Creators journey.
After doing extensive desk research, seeing where the feeling of belonging, feeling of knowing oneself, and connection to nature naturally exists, we assigned each of us different fields of expertise. We gathered inspiration from indigenous cultures, eco-villages, green urban design and continued to dig for what patterns, connections and theories we could find. Here, we collaborated with international stakeholders, and gathered small dance moves here and there. From USA to Ireland and from Spain to Bulgaria we gathered knowledge that guided us on this dance along the complex system.
We attended conferences, conducted interesting conversations, attended events and engaged with local stakeholders that likewise were within the topic, which could be making the city greener or hearing from a government standpoint what is being done on a local scale with the feeling off belonging.
In the process we also found several other international stakeholders that were dedicating their life's to promoting eco- community values and worked on spreading the value of deep human- nature connection, sustainable community practices and regaining the feeling of safety that goes hand in hand.
We started to see, if we want societal change, we must change how we act, from the root.
And what is the root of how we act? And where does it come from?
Our journey began towards shifting the mindset.
From here, what we saw fit was to create an offline and online co-creation session to gather as many of these professionals together and see what we could create.
But then pattern started to appear….
The stakeholders on a local scale seemed hard to reach, not really envisioning, or having the same priority for working with the feeling of belonging, since many of their main tasks were slightly related to it, but they did not have the resources to dedicate themselves to this broader vision. However essential and beautiful these organisations are, they could not supply us with the time or dedication needed to realise a value product. On the other side of the laptop screens, there was a heartfelt engagement from several of the professionals on an international scale. They, who had the same vision, worked with the topic themselves, developing frameworks, communities and networks and are all dedicated to the matter of regaining the connection with each other, oneself and nature.
Therefore, with few days to spare before the deadlines for the phase where engagement with the stakeholders should have already been executed, we decided to let the dance guide us in a whole other direction. We went all in on the online presence where we could dance to the same song without compromising.
We realized that we regained our spark and were able to create something beyond our expectations.
The co-creation session was a success, where the stakeholders showed much gratefulness and playfulness around seeing each other’s points of view and how we could create this vision that we all shared. Our network consisted of representatives from “Vegetarium Home Community”; “Ecocivilisation”, “The Eco- Institute" and “Global Ecovillage Network”.
So, how do we shift the mindset of a hyper individualistic society to one where we realise the importance of connection? The idea of a practical framework was born. A framework that can empower any citizens, even urban citizens to embrace ecovillage values into their everyday lives. This framework brings the transformative vision, down to earth with 11 small habits anyone can adopt to change their life. This framework can be read and applied globally, making a very different impact than our local event would have. Besides this academic format, we wanted to bring the mindset shift to the people in a playful way. We designed a card game that takes you and your team along the journey of the character Eddie. Eddie is living in the city and feels overwhelmed by overstimulation and lack of connection and thus he ventures through four different chapters: nature, an eco-community, his own self, and life back in the city. The players follow him on his journey as they are confronted with contemplative questions and interactive activities to strengthen their relationship to each other, themselves and to nature.
Our stakeholders have given us very positive feedback along the journey. One of them, Filip Kirilov from Vegetarium Home, will translate the game to Bulgarian and integrate it into his permaculture design course, with approximately 60 participants.
“Based on our 20 years of experience with more than 7000 guests, volunteers and members, our entire Vegetarium Community finds your game to be a valuable addition to the community (Kirilov, F. 2024).”
However, the value creation does not end there. The game will be distributed to many people in and around our network. This is where it gets interesting, because the game will never actually be owned by anyone. In the spirit of collective ownership, the game is meant to be played and to be passed on. This does not only catalyse an important mindset shift, but also ensures value creation far beyond the number of games produced.
“Your game is a fantastic tool that has the potential to catalyse a positive transformational process, contributing to the personal and collective well-being of many (Kirilov, F. 2024).”
When shifting over and allowing the journey to take us where we wanted to go, we found back to ourselves a little bit more.
And not only did the journey add value to the stakeholders, the wicked system and hopefully the disconnected society around us, but most and foremost, it added inspiration, belonging and value in our own lives. Seeing the paths that can be taken, to grow this topic that we felt for personally, was a journey that could not have been prescribed to us in the course manual but came from the part that we were given the opportunity to explore what we burned for with other people that burned for the same.
And for that, we are grateful to getting the opportunity to describe our journey.
For any more information or questions, we are more than happy to answer. Feel free to message us through email or LinkedIn.
Anastasia Schneck: firstname.lastname@example.org
Eliana Eldsfors: email@example.com