Creating a Community of Cultural Creatives

by Emanuel Kuntzelman


The dust has begun to settle after the conclusion of events and speakers during Chicago Ideas Week a few days ago, and it reiterated my belief that it should be the norm to offer opportunities for large amounts of people from diverse backgrounds, interests and efforts to join together in cooperation.  We are “cultural creatives,” a term coined in 2000 by sociologist Paul Ray and psychologist Sherry Ruth Anderson in their book The Cultural Creatives: How 50 Million People Are Changing the World. Cultural creatives are described as “well-educated and leading edge thinkers,” and if we are to successfully shift our world from a materialistic paradigm to one more spiritually evolved, it is essential to build momentum with the efforts of this new type of community.

The old cliché is that no man or woman is an island, and certainly in social transformation that is even more apparent. We’ve talked in previous blogs and lectures about how the 20th century spiritual path was primarily focused on the individual’s interior search for enlightenment and higher states of consciousness.  As we move forward, it is becoming clearer that this spiritual search has to expand beyond me, myself and I.  We are at a singular moment in history, where this individual quest must begin turning its focus outward toward the collective “we.”

On a purely historic and biological level it is how multi-cellular organisms came into being. In the beginning there were just single-celled blobs of life. However, their survival mechanism was not to become super cells, doing all things for one single cell, but rather to group into communities and form masses of cells offering protection and cooperation. According to biologist Lynn Margulis, this very basic understanding represents the underlying evolution of all facets of life.  If we as humans are to evolve, it is time to bring our communities together in creative cooperation.

In many ways, this shift of consciousness represents the macro wave of when life first appeared. This second coming of consciousness is at a point where as individuals we have found our life, but now we need to make this life evolve. This can only be achieved by joining in community, combining our different talents and knowing full well that the whole is much greater than the sum of its parts. If we work together and synergize our energies, we will create a powerful force that no one individual alone could ever approximate.

We can then guarantee the future momentum of these transformative times because it doesn’t become dependent on individuals but rather on the communities they create. The bigger and stronger these open-minded, transformed communities become, the more reason for optimism and higher the probability for quick and effective change to take place.

It all makes so much sense, but these separate groups of cultural creatives are still slow to collaborate. What is stopping the evolution of the “single-cell” nonprofit or business from evolving into a larger entity of life? In a word, egoism.

We are so engrained in our habits, our neural pathways trained to take the easiest route, that psychologically we are predisposed to be egotistical.  Back in the early stages of humanity, we can blame this on our survival instincts. This is fine, but most of us here in the industrialized, post-modern world are surviving just fine. Looking out for the individual is now a very outdated framework because it makes us concentrate on our separateness, and as much as we don’t want it to happen, it leads us into an egotistical point of view.

We need to shed that ego-driven perspective and move into one that incorporates the needs of our entire community. This is a huge step, because we want to be recognized by our achievements and announce our personal enlightenment. In our current materialistic paradigm, it is about ownership, but when it comes to socially based transformation, ownership is a false reality. Our evolution will never belong to any one person.

The resistance we are getting in bringing these communities of cultural creatives together is ego based. That is why this movement isn’t taking off. We need to get transformed to a more social viewpoint to realize that the holistic community is our reward, not individual accomplishments we can hang on the wall. According to spiritual philosopher Ken Wilber, we need the movement to shift from the ego-centric to ethno-centric. At the very least, what we need now is a world-centric, if not cosmic-centric view.

Once we gain that perspective, I think it becomes easier to feel right about getting out and sharing our knowledge and energy with diverse organizations and groups of people. We’ll realize that the reward is in the feedback. We will become energized when the community benefits.

This is what Greenheart Transforms is trying to achieve at its fall event:  Envisioning a World Transformed.  It is an opportunity to join a movement of cultural creatives that instills optimism, innovation and enthusiasm. We can start building this community right here in Chicago through the exchange of stories and ideas. This is how we can begin to break down the habits of ego-based incentives and begin to consider the evolution of the whole.  I hope you can join us on November 18th at the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum as some of Chicago’s leading change makers share their vision of how cultural creatives will, indeed, transform our worl

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