Collaboration Incubator *18
momentum building for global democracy
ABOUT THIS REPORT
Whatever happens at another place in the world or at another
point in time affects us at the local level. This can limit and/or
elevate local projects substantially, e.g. with bureaucracy vs.
self-organization, financial institutions vs. blockchain based
currencies, borders vs. collaborative online tools, markets vs.
commons, as well as collective trauma vs. healing circles,
conservative traditions vs. indigenous wisdom and an ongoing
number of commonalities interlinked civil societies carry.
Bureaucracy and market rules are, for example, hindrances to
information flowing more freely and innovation which can better
serve humanity. There is a lack of feedback across different
social fields such as entrepreneurship, education, activism,
farming, politics, finance, healing, and so on. This disconnection
among sectors and decisions can lead to institutional failure.
Our assumption is that we need more shared connection to
purpose and direction. As long as we aren't practicing and
improving our ability to communicate across disciplines and
striving to align our strategies across the borders of our
bubbles, this problem of failure in social innovation will persist.
To handle our complex societal questions, we need to learn to
innovate and collaborate in ways that might be far beyond what
we can currently conceive.
By being the researchers and research subject at the same
time, the Collaboration Incubator is a laboratory to learn,
research, experiment and prototype around these themes.
This Incubator Program is a product of collaboration between
the Vanilla Way Network, the Institute for Evolutionary
Leadership, Dream Farm Commons, Co-creation Loft,
Supermarkt Berlin, and Reinvent the World, with the support of
the Thriving Resilient Communities Collaboratory (TRCC) as a
program for leaders of diverse backgrounds to explore
Participants in this program are innovative leaders in their
respective fields, working on solutions in their own areas and
locations. Each program cycle starts with a 3-day workshop cofacilitated
by Vanilla Way and the Institute for Evolutionary
Leadership and continues with further support through
structures for self-organizing, stewarded by Vanilla Way and
directly self-coordinated by the participants.
Our hope is that the emerging prototypes for collaborating better
with each other across borders and fields of transformation and
activism will contribute to building momentum towards a global
Thanks to the TRCC this report has been created. TRCC has
been one of the funders of the Collaboration Incubator in
Oakland 2018, who recognized the Collaboration Incubators’
potential for their mission of “reactivating the creative potentials
of local communities by reconnecting local people and
resources”, through considering at the same time the more
global and societal contexts we are entangled with.
In this report we included material from previous incubators to
inform and expand the actual experiences of our current
participants. You’ll find documentation, data, resources,
reflections, poetry and more around our shared questions on
global distributed democracy, collaboration and trust. We hope
you’ll enjoy it.
– Fyodor & Manuela
This report has been created in collaboration with Ksenia
(Canada), Naomi (New Zealand), Marie (Germany), Gretchen
(Oregon), Emilia (Italy), Fyodor (California), Manuela (Germany)
and a number of other people who have contributed articles,
media and time. Thank you all.
This report was made possible by the
Co-Lab funding from:
This is for us #collabators to reflect, integrate and remember our experiences,
and for others to get inspired and to learn how to contribute.
The very first Incubator in the United States was
hosted in the recently opened art & project space -
Dream Farm Commons, located on15th street of
downtown Oakland. The open space concept with
large windows allowed for visibility of the activities
during the incubator to neighbors and community,
and also allowed the participants an intimate
connection with the neighborhood.
Not planned but true – right at the same time as our incubator (aka grassroots democracy lab) happened, the art
exhibition „Political Birthdays“ was hosted in the space. The title, political birthdays, is an homage to a quote by the
late founder of ‚The Lesbian Tide‘, activist, organizer, publisher, and writer Jeanne Cordova.
The change-facilitation-framework which the Incubator process is
based on is called ‚Dragon Dreaming‘. An altar with objects
representing the elements of earth, air, fire and water helped to
ground the participants when we found ourselves at chaotic points.
To ensure everyone was heard, we used a talking-piece, something
to sound the bell for a moment of silence and a ‚dragon‘ figurine, to
remind us to not take our challenges too seriously.
The Collaboration Incubator is a format where participants are
invited to be facilitators and facilitators are invited to be
participants. Daniel helped us to understand the different levels of
trust by offering a game to play about power. We collected our
insights from the ritual play on post-it notes.
In the framework of evolutionary leadership, we learned
about the power of language and how it creates social
reality. Fyodor helped us understand the different Speech
Acts - assertions, assessments, requests, offers,
commitments and declarations - based on the work of
P Speech Acts
P Theater Stuck Dance
Social Presencing Theater practice - an artform
and embodied practice for social change
which Manuela introduced - has led to powerful
insights for each one personally in the group.
It helped us to learn that democracy starts
locally and it starts with each of us individually.
We tried to never miss an opportunity to harvest our experience by using the different mediums provided.
Emilia designed notebooks for us as part of her co-responsibility role with the media & design team.
Video diaries were captured throughout the entire workshop to give space for a different way of reflection. We checked in during the mornings and at the end of the day to reflect on what we learned, how we felt and to
share our hopes for the next day. This is Daniel reflecting on the last day of the workshop.
Gretchen's reflection and check-in on day 3 described how
she felt being in the City of Oakland. How the city and the
workshop influenced her and what she can take back to her
hometown of Bend, Oregon, where she’s working with
indigenous people and doing rites of passage work.
Fyodor's reflections and final check-out has been about a
lot of appreciation for our group: ‚it’s been unique and this
space allowed us to see each other from very different
perspectives‘. What he takes home is a deep inquiry around
the purpose and the deep grounding – ‚the deep why‘ – of
change work: ‚Not everybody who paints is an artist‘!
Towards the end of the Dragon Dreaming process, we came up with themes we need to focus
on, in order to make our dream of a collaboration come true: a real tangible entity,
‚connecting democratic diversity, vision, and how we work were the themes we identified as
being essential for moving forward.
Manuela's final reflections
– feeling exhausted and very happy
about the kindness and intensive level
of engagement from everyone.
Ksenia was filming the video diaries and these are her final remarks:
“…building democracy really starts from the heart. We all bring our own experiences to the democracy building process… our personal why.
Why we are here, why we are doing this. We clearly are all interested in staying connected and doing something bigger… I feel like in these 3 days
we were able to share our stories and build upon or stories to fully open up, and now we can starting doing the work, now we can start building, so
this is how I feel! – let’s start creating something!
The Collaboration Incubator is a participatory format, where you can learn about Evolutionary Leadership
approaches and where you can experience Social Presencing Theater and Dragon Dreaming in action – both
social technologies which integrate activism and intuition.
The aim of the workshop is to figure out ways to support each other in what we are currently working with –
as part of a movement, an organization or as individuals. Related to that, we are also using the group's creativity
and intelligence to look at a bigger shared question: „How to help building momentum for global grassroots
With this idea in mind, we are inviting people who feel dedicated to progressive movements and/or progressive
ideas around changing things from the ground up.
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BLN1805 material from berlin incubator in may 2018
BLN1810 material from berlin incubator in october 2018
OKL1810 material from oakland incubator in october 2018
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learnings, our outputs and other
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GLOBAL DISTRIBUTED DEMOCRACY
OPEN DEFINITION OF GLOBAL DISTRIBUTED DEMOCRACY
doing it together
living in peace
every voice counts
‚the understanding of what global
distributed democracy is and could be,
has been one of the most critical
discussion points in all the incubators
so far. we did not come to a common
conclusion, and we might never do. but,
the people it calls together, and the
conversations it fuels, are worth all
discomfort coming from not being able
to give an answer.’ -
manuela bosch – collaboration incubator initiator
WHAT DOES GLOBAL DISTRIBUTED
DEMOCRACY MEAN FOR US?
Outcome of discussions and idea collection about what 'global
distributed democracy‘ could mean for us has little to do with
elections and governing institutions.
building an immune system
reconnecting people with what they can do today
starting from the soil & roots, from there we plant seeds
new technology for collaborative organizing democratically
connecting projects – understanding what everyone is doing today
playground for prototypes & principles
tools for resilience
civic engagement at a local level will begin to change things globally
helping transfer to other places, what works in one place (cross-pollinate)
enabling diverse perspectives to emerge and to thrive
Is global distributed democracy an illusion? Global & democracy is always local.
With each one of us doing different change work, how can we expand ourselves into
other projects? We don’t know our boundaries or roles yet.
TALK ON GLOBAL GRASSROOTS
DEMOCRACY AND CREATING COMMONS
I believe in group-intelligence and self-organizing systems. And I believe, yes, we need
a global agenda, we need a global vision, we need some strategy and a plan and ways
to communicate and decide around global questions. But in addition to the unrewarding
but needed jobs that state governments and global governing institutions carry, we as
global citizens can take on immediate responsibility in this too.
Transcription of Manuela’s talk at the 2nd Collaboration Incubator Event on October
5, 2018 in Berlin
So – why are we here?
Some months ago I was listening to a radio interview, in fact a real radio interview,
not internet radio or a podcast; no – I still have a classic radio in my home in Berlin.
I listened to an interview with Professor Doctor Rademacher, mathematician and
future scientist at the university of Ulm, and member of the renowned think-tank, the
Club of Rome.
He was interviewed about his outlooks into the future. He shared about four
scenarios, and one of them was darker than the others. He was asked what he
thinks is needed in order – I say it in other words – to steer spaceship earth in a
direction that serves humanity and life on this planet best. And what he said was
something like: We need a sort of global government. But it’s quite unrealistic that
such a government would be able to come to common decisions, since the almost
200 states are so different.
I thought – wait! Even if this would work, even if all those states would elect
representatives and form a global government, I don’t think that it’s really a good
idea, since I see that governments even on a state level have limited power and
capacity to really handle effectively the super complex issues that are burning right
And time is running. In order to move this space-ship into a more healthy direction
we need to organize this differently.
I believe in group-intelligence and self-organizing systems. And I believe, yes, we
need a global agenda, we need a global vision, we need some strategy and a plan
and ways to communicate and decide around global questions.
(continue on next page)
TALK ON GLOBAL GRASSROOTS
DEMOCRACY AND CREATING COMMONS
Transcription of Manuela’s talk at the 2nd Collaboration
Incubator Event on October 5, 2018 in Berlin
(continued from previous page)
But in addition to the unrewarding but needed jobs that state
governments and global governing institutions carry, we as
global citizens can take on immediate responsibility in this too.
So many of the diverse people I meet every day are interested
in doing things differently and I see them holding keys to the
solutions already in their hands, no matter what background
they have and from which sector the come: business,
education, activism, healing or politics.
We as representatives of different progressive movements are
holding the ecological, social, spiritual and technological
„solutions“ already in our hands. So what holds us back? What
do we need in order to scale? …. Knowledge, Connections,
Leadership Capacities, Money? The invitation we are making
here is to come together …. and cultivate a garden, nurtured
through our common vision, a vision we still need to create, and
that changes with time and new members who arrive.
Our Garden is a Commons. It’s open to visit and for everyone to
enjoy. We come together on this land because we love
gardening, sitting in trees and meeting our friends there. And
those who commit to certain behaviors can also intervene on
this land, grow their own vegetables, plant some trees.
Some of us will be even able to sell some of the veggies we
grow in this commons, that helps people making a living. And
from the money we make we invest into a watering system, we
share with other commoners, as they shared their gardening
Since it’s part of my personal, everyday reality already, I trust in
serendipity, in strokes of luck for all of us. In my dream, our
commons will provide the knowledge, feedback, and links to
connections and resources needed to start growing our favorite
fruits. Ask around and you’ll see everything is there to get your
project off the ground.
We’ve experienced this sort of luck happening already after the
first Incubator in Berlin this May. Prodii and Vanilla Way
incubated a win-win-win Collaboration. Prodii is the tech start-up
represented here by Marianne, offering a tool for collaborative
mapping of professional resources in networks. They are
interested in a use case that is also reflecting their own values
around data ethics, regenerative business models and so on.
Vanilla Way, as a facilitator and activist network, is seeking ways
to go out into the world and present its strength. We are now
working together. Our output will serve the commons. Great
things can happen. But to be honest, I believe cultivating a
commons of that kind is no easy task. It requires two things
Inspired by the meta-framework Dragon Dreaming, I say: It
requires Dreaming and it requires Commitment to dance with
our dragons. Dreaming here is the capacity to speak out our
deepest wishes. That requires first of all deep listening to learn
about our deepest wishes, and deep listening to hear the
deepest wishes of others.
Commitment – here means to take on the roles and tasks and
growth challenges needed in order to bring them into reality with
support of others. This is a lot to ask from a group of people that
meets for the first time. It’s even a lot to ask for a group that
knows each other for decades. So I invite all of you to take our 3
days of the Collaboration Incubator as a field to experiment with
this. To stay with the metaphor: Consider these 3 days as the
garden party you are visiting and co-organizing. If you stay
connected to this garden after is another story. But you are most
welcome to feel at home and take full ownership during these 3
Maybe then, you’ll find out it’s not the right time in your life to
join this project. Maybe you’ll find it’s not the right people. That’s
all fine too. Please be honest with yourself. And maybe you are
dreaming and dragon-dancing already somewhere else; another
garden is your home and you just stopped by to cross-pollinate
our flowers with your presence and wisdom. Thank you for
To be honest, I don’t know if human kind is ready to do „Dragon
Dreaming“ – to integrate and accept our traumas, to practice
being an „enlightened society“ – the paradigm we play with in
Social Presencing Theater. I don’t know if I can be a good rolemodel
in this myself. I certainly need help in this.
But if not we, who then? And if not now, when?
And as we commoners say:
„Together we know everything, together we have everything.“
Thank you for the Collaboration.
by Carolyn Whitten
When we did the social presence theater, we were like
who had clambered to the topsoftrees
laughing and swinging.
we saw the ground’s truths
and we wondered at the galaxies that * yet could be *
above our heads.
By the end of the day, we had slid
down to the thickest foliage
each tucking in at a familiar negotiation between branch and trunk.
Some had fallen, others clung fast,
stretching hands to the discouraged,
to scramble skywards again.
Can we see each other, still, through the dense, dark, green ?
if not, we will hum a melody
that echoes in the night
We will sing - and the forest will sing back to us.
WHAT WOULD KEEP YOU COLLABORATING? –
OAKLAND OCTOBER 2018 DREAMS & VISIONS
In Oakland in October, after we had discussed what ‚global distributed democracy‘ could mean for us, we were asking the generative question: »How
does our common project, working title ‚Collaboration Incubator‘, need to be, so you will be able to say that by 2021, ‚I could not have spent my time any
better!‘? « Then everyone shared their answer to the question in turns. We shared one dream at a time and made several rounds.
Fedor – We mobilized 1000 through pure synergistic efforts
around sharing our insights on global distributed democracy
Daniel – We developed our “democratic tech” tool that
connected people all over the world, and that helped to cocreate
their own liberation from repression.
Ann – October 2021 – giant dinner with tables running down
15th street, screening with help of VR, showing our projects that
are happening globally; this helps us understand the connection
to Arab Spring and Occupy Wall Street, and we celebrate its
Gretchen – we are gathering around the fire, and sharing how
our dreams have come into manifestation and how we have
been supporting one another. We are all well.
Ksenia – All are happy and healthy and gathered together with
community. Everyone at this gathering feels energized and
they recognize that we are co-creating a new era. We now
know that we can participate globally and locally on shaping our
future. There is buzz around everywhere, that we can see on
social media, that we are entering a time of participatory
governance, budgeting, and policy development.
Emilia – Celebrating “Day of the Death” and the Collaboration
Incubator Network that we have been building. We are
celebrating that we have re-designed the voting system as well!
Manu – We have successfully collaborated through the internet,
but more importantly through the inner net, the heart-to-heart
connection that we have created with each other.
Fedor – We are regularly collaborating with each other via the
internet and access information about each other and other
people across the network.
Daniel – We will be collaborating through the matrix, breaking
the silos, horizontally, which will allow us to gather new
perspectives and work more effectively.
Ann – We have made and distributed a beautiful booklet that
provides clarity on the principles of global distributed democracy
that helps people understand what it’s really all about.
(continue on next page)
WHAT WOULD KEEP YOU COLLABORATING? –
OAKLAND OCTOBER 2018 DREAMS & VISIONS
P Dream Circle
(continued from previous page)
Ksenia – We, and people around the world, are using Social
Presencing Theater to redefine global distributed democracy
by embodying how the current systems make us feel and are
redefining new ones.
Manu - We have greatly helped activists to the inner work
that helps their activism improve as their inner life continues
Emilia – We have a section on our website, showing minimum
of 4 projects on how we successfully implemented the
principles on realizing global distributed democracy.
Ann: Dream Farm Commons (DFC) continued and created
permeable democratic structure, overall resonance deepened
and stabilized. Projects emanating form Collaboration
Incubator that would interface in DFC. DFC continued to be a
Daniel: We created a network of people to collaborate + we
have an economic viable structure to ensure everything
works. We have structure for creating and relation of
ownership for projects. this could extend into multiple shapes.
Emilia: We are meeting again and celebrating projects that
occured in US and Europe, compare experience, sit together
to envision and dream the next three year.
Gretchen: Dreaming Earth is helping people in community to
find connections to themselves and each other to decrease
the disconnections process, and re-weave the connection
process, We are buidling a bridge between Dreaming Earth
and the Collaboration Incubator.
Fyodor: the Collaboration Incubator project has clarity +
purpose: beacon for people to engage a no-violent and very
open type of collaboration, honoring individuality to connect
people + a platform to develop a governance structure for the
Manu: Overheard a conversation that the Collaboration
Incubator is perceived ‚truly diverse‘ project
Ksenia – we see Real Impact on the ground – based on
whatever we did together – we are seeing people’s lives
getting better – tangible impact
Ann – Dream Farm Commons has a strong programming of
visual works, social practice works, and discourse that is
being led by a committed, united, but permeable core. Our
activity around Collaboration Incubator has emerged
Daniel -There are several physical spaces around the world
where we meet up.
Emilia – I helped Ann, Daniel, Ksenia, Manu, Gretchen, and
Fedor with their projects, and they have helped me. We have
positively inspired each other. It has been good.
Ksenia – We have been building an immune system for
thriving and resilient and flourishing communities. –
WHAT WOULD KEEP YOU COLLABORATING? –
BERLIN OCTOBER 2018 DREAMS & VISIONS
The dreams and ideas we came up with in Berlin in October when daring to ask “How does our shared project need to be,
so you will be able to say in one year from now, “ I could not have spent my time better!”? This is what they came up with.
Naomi: Blue proved again & again that we can overcome what
Marianne: I managed to inspire more than / or 10 collabators to
join prodii in building the resources and expand the network
with 10 ‚friends’ each.
Philine Helena: We have been able to join forces in a way that
Philine Helena: We have come to understand what happens in
the group on deeper , emotional levels
Marie: I knew the starting motivation I had and the motivations
of the others
Frederik: We have enriched each other and the world to create
sustainable & generative livelihoods
Frederik: The cross-pollination and collaboration arose
organically by giving space to explore freely
Naomi: We supported each other by respecting each other’s
capacities to respond to difficulty.
Frederik: I have learned / trust my own dreams / difference to
Michel: I have become a really good collaborator
Marianne: We produced a beautiful, impressive and accessible
map of all the network’s resources, skills and relationships
Manuela: We embraced the complexity of our human, personal,
intimate relationships and we’re able to move forward –
realizing the vision.
Rahel: Our products/ services accessible to many/ beyond our
group. What we do deeply inspires creativity and sustainability.
Rahel: The priority was the flow of process.
Peter: We never lost sight that we are here at the pleasure &
mercy of the earth.
Manuela: The group overcame conflicts. Someone always
came in to move to the next step.
Rahel: We found one (or several) workspaces that are flooded
with natural light, and outside allows us to connect to nature.
Marie: Deep connection between members of project group;
breathe, trust, belief
Marie: Unfold potentials of the group members and the group
Peter: The team culture includes practices to witness each
person (once a week minimum) – authentic
Marie: Contributed to a dream (+need) that is outside oft he
bubble oft he project
Manuela: There is an easy way to request help that is needed.
Needs got fulfilled, because we’ve been precise in the request.
Michel: I have become more motivated more clear, conscious
and able as a human being
Michel: I have been a very good collaborator
Michel: I have learned to deeply listen into the fire of
Imran: I have become a real good initiator
Michel: I have become part in an international network for
Imran: I have clarity where I can get in touch to talk about
Imran: I have learned that the development is bottom-up
Daniel: Transformation happened and I can disappear
Michel: I am working for change
Imran: I am smashing all the stereotypes
Daniel: I am living facilitation
Daniel: I have learned not to help others
P Dream Circle
© Photos by
MOMO C. GUMZ
WHAT WOULD KEEP YOU COLLABORATING? –
BERLIN MAY 2018 DREAMS & VISIONS
In our first
Vanilla Way network
“How does our Open
Value Network need
to be, so you will be
able to say by
„I could not have
spent my time
(Frederik) It has connected change makers around the world,
who are implementing projects around paradigm shifts.
(Huge) We have developed powerful tools to reinvent encounters
of human beings
(Manu) We have used different existing organizational structures
(Leonie) Connections have become visible and created what
would not have been possible otherwise
(Momo) Communication was so clear that vision took shape
(Huge) Each of us has been aware of his and her resources and
(Nico) The unexpected huge grant covered our energetic input
(Frederik) The value / assets have been distributed equivalently
in solidarity to all contributors and stakeholders
(Leonie) We have created a platform which has made
(Momo) We have created a platform that has opened our hearts
and minds to understand each other better
(Huge) We worked on a common pattern according our universal
laws, which allows every human being to learn and experience
(Nico) The project led to personal growth for everyone:
intellectually, psychologically, socially (Leoni) We stepped out of
our bubble and connect it with everyday life.
(Momo) We are able to connect our inner feminine side with our
inner masculine side and within the group
(Frederik) Everybody was able to contribute their unique skills
and gifts, if the wanted to
(Momo) We were able to grow our intuition and have a better
connection with nature
(Eva) We came up with a project that resulted in real tangible
(Sebastian) We succeeded in setting up an open source system,
in which every group member can contribute to the solution of
the problem, according to the members expertise, in their own
(Marianne) We have succeeded in attracting positive people by
invitation only policy
(Anton) We have connected with other perspectives, networks,
people all around the world
(Ele) We have spent time together in nature/nourishing
environment with meaningful conversations, which we share with
people in other places, who have done the same „exercise“,
connecting mind, body and heart.
(Eva) We have an organized, loving, supporting community of
practice that feel comfortable.
(Marianne) We have developed a sustainable business model.
Doing well by doing good.
(Anton) We used a wording that was understandable, also for
people that were unfamiliar with the topic
(Ele) We have succeeded to uncover and break hidden taboos
that are in the way of global loving anger
(Marianne) We have created real value to someone
(Ele) We have brought more lightness and joy
(Eva) We found solutions locally,
exchanged them globally, and
instructed how to perform step by
(Caro) Because the project was
concrete, reason for doing it together
was clear (Kristina) Started locally
(Caro) Needs driven
(Daniel) The four of us have met
another time in person
(Michael) Attracted three people to
come to Berlin to collaborate
(Michael) We worked with companies
to change their mission and company
Put values in practice which return us
to our innate humanity
local & interdisciplinary
I have grown by connecting with the
network and being inspired in a
P Dream Circle
TO COME INTO ACTION
GOVERNANCE IN THE INCUBATOR WORKSHOP
In the 3 day experience we attempted to prototype a mini-distributed-democracy. We reviewed and decided
democratically in the beginning, with help of the "sociocratic consent process" on „principles of practice"
that we all agreed to follow.
Principles of practice the group in Oakland came up with and agreed on:
Equality – all who are here are equals and peers
Consent – we take all our decisions democratically
Disturbance has priority
Co-facilitation – we support and share the leadership
Assumptions – we are aware of the subjectivity of our contributions
Responsibility for own intent and impact on others
Speaking our truth gently
Balance our personal and the group needs
One can leave the room and come back
Whatever happens is what is supposed to happen
Supportive tools and techniques we used:
A talking piece
Sociocratic consent process
"Pina Kari bowl‘ to pause and have a moment of silence
Energizer to wake us up or get us back into our bodies
weaving with both hands for appreciation/celebration;
thumb on heart for reminding to speak form the ‚I‘
crossing arms in front of chest for showing consent
act local and
share back – connect – exchange
a best we can.
HOW WE ARE MOVING FORWARD POST INCUBATOR
Throughout the 3-day Collaboration Incubator, we had many formal and
informal conversations about resource sharing, collaborating and
helping each other on projects that have social impact and are aligned
with the direction of distributed global democracy. Organically, the seeds
from our storytelling and intentions for collaborations have been planted
and are beginning to take root. Several of the participants of the Oakland
Collaboration Incubator have started to work together on projects or are
in the process of talking about potential collaborations. This is aligned
with our vision of global distributed democracy, where we dream
globally, act locally, and help each other utilizing our existing resources
and networks, in order to mobilize others.
SO MUCH WE CAN SHARE: OFFERS & NEEDS
It was important for the Oakland group to determine how to align our existing resources, projects and goals
to help each other succeed on our individual growth journeys, as well as move forward on shared goals for
global distributed democracy. The group mapped out their existing skills and resources as well as their
current needs for the work that we already engaged in to look for natural overlaps and collaboration
The offers combined uses of Physical Spaces (Dream Farm Commons,
California; Dreaming Earth, Oregon); Thought Partnership & Skills
Exchange (Graphic Design, Photo Editing, Workshop Facilitation, Civic
Engagement & Co-Design, crafting); Emotional and Spiritual Guidance
(Rites of passage & ceremonial work, physical body work/exchange
sessions); and providing rich Network Connections (Evolutionary
Leadership Community, Vanilla Way Network, and connections around the
world across Social Impact, Policy Designers & Futures Communities)
Our mutual needs spanned across several categories including strategic
Connections & Networks (designers, community builders, wisdom keepers,
and social innovators); Resources & Skills (financial, design, business
modeling); and on-going Advice and Guidance on topics enacting global
distributed democracy, creating collective energy hive with clear direction,
deeply respecting & allowing power, and tools, techniques, best practices
and advice on growing and scaling projects.
KEY THEMES TO HELP REALIZING OUR VISION
More work will be required to stay focused on the key themes’ that have been developed through a process called
Objective Setting, that have been built on the collective envisioning process aka ‚Dream-Circle‘. Now the group is called
to self-organize to come up with next steps, both for the local group and for the network of past and future incubators.
The four themes help us to stay focused on the large vision without sacrificing any individual dreams.
P Objective Setting
Clustering of key aspects
from the dream-circle
content, that will help
realizing our vision
Dream Farm Commons thriving
programming, physical site &
Real Impact on the Ground
Permeable, democratic and creative
Local tangible Impact benefitting
Help activists do the inner work to
improve their practice
We become truly diverse
Synergistic efforts mobilize
Planting seeds and tending soil
Building an immune system for
Playground for prototyping &
We help each other
We know our boundaries
Collaborating regularly with each
Optimizing our current skills and
Guiding Principles on
need to focus on.
How We Work
KEY INDICATORS SHOWING WE ARE ON TRACK
To help our strategic planning and monitoring, we came up with a set of key-indicators to know ‚if these things are
happening, we know we are on track realizing our dream, if they are not, we get an idea what we still can work on.‘ This
process was based on a variation of the Dragon Dreaming objective setting process.
P Objective Setting Variation
OUTPUT: LIST OF KEY INDICATORS
 People gather in multidisciplinary teams to do
 The on-boarding process is attracting people
beyond our known networks
 We offer tools in a constant needs-driven way
with clear and easy communication
 Level of awareness is rising
 Number of new collaborations
 Shared mindful practices
 Shared AHA moments
 Shift of dreams
—> Measured through collecting stories/
interviewing our group / observing media and
 Everyone feels seen and appreciated
 Joy is larger than frustration
 Love greater or same as responsibility
 We are fueled by our vision
 We actively invite intuition into our processes
 We see and hear stories of personal growth and
 We give them shout outs and appreciation
 We recognize media attention about how we do
things differently (transgression)
 Scale of a project is matching the resources
available and the capacity of the individuals  We
are scaling projects through integrating learning
COLLABORATIVE PROJECT IDEAS
During the Berlin Incubator in October, we came up with tasks and project ideas we
would love to follow up and invite collaboration. We organized them in different
categories – dreaming, planning, doing and celebration tasks and projects, inspired
by the Dragon Dreaming wheel, to see where we might need more balance.
Share our stories
Form on-boarding team
Form group to talk about equality &
inclusion in our community
New forums of housing
Self Org. Tool-Box
Documentation & Report of CI
Learn more about dialogues
Fire Practice - „jump into the fire“
Change unites us and can expand the
upgration.de – Guidance in finding role
Facilitation P2P practice group
„How to find unity in diversity“
Co-write article on principles of practice
Vision quest #usetheuseless
Ressource/ Relation Network built on
Shamanism & facilitation
short conversation & peer support
by Dragon Dreaming
P Phases and Wheel
SELFISH PROJECT PROPOSALS
In the first Incubator in Berlin in May 2018, we came up with a list of "selfish project proposals." Based upon the
assumption that we often don’t dare to ask, but we would like to have a support team for our project with the hope that
others might like to join us.
Caro, Nico, Huge, Ele, Frederik
Status: Happening regularly once a month in Berlin
Nico, Momo, Eva, Huge, Daniel, Kristina
Status: Turned into „Governance Kit Playbook“ Project
Kristina, Huge, Leonie, Ele, Momo
Status: First Call has happened
FACILITATION & TRAINING
Frederik, Kristina, Daniel, Momo, Ele, Leonie
Status: Manu & Daniel exchanged, Daniel open to doing
something in Luxemburg
PRODII FOR VANILLA WAY
Ele, Marianne, Manu, Huge
Status: Marianne working in Prodii for VW
Marianne, Huge, Ele, Frederik, Momo, Kristina
Status: Working session with Eva, Ela and Manu at Ele’s
place happened in July
Eva, Anton, Caro, Momo, Huge, Nico, Frederik
Status: not started yet
Pauline, Momo, Huge, Manu
Status: in production of first edit
Ele, Manu, Frederik
Status: working on governance and legal structure
POST INCUBATOR GATHERING
Momo, Huge, Kristina, Caro, Anton
Status: accomplished in May at Supermarkt
COMMUNITY PROTOCOLS (VW Governance)
Status: Bylaws and Membership agreements are in
MINDFUL TUESDAYS CO-WORKING
Nico, Kristina, Huge, Eva
Status: Kristina and Manu once attended, next chance
August 28 and September 4
Status by July 24 as known
VANILLA WAYS GENERAL STRATEGIES
Momentum is built through continuous cycles of repetition. Therefore, we have designed the Collaboration
Incubator as a recurring peer2peer training program, happening half-yearly in Berlin, Germany and Oakland,
USA. Our plan is not building a giant institution, but contributing to an ecosystem.
As we continue to host iterations in these locations, we will also grow to
reach more locations around the world.
In 2018, we started with two events in Berlin and now this one in
The main idea is to unleash collective intelligence and creativity, by
bringing together agents of progressive movements and diverse
backgrounds around a shared challenge: Developing a vision on how to
build momentum for 'global distributed democracy'. As we've seen in the
past incubators so far, we did not leave with a comprehensive
understanding how this could look like, nor do we have strategies in place
that span the whole globe. And that is not the idea.
Instead, we are creating space to exchange and envision around this
topic with people from different backgrounds. After each iteration, we
harvest the data to be used in ongoing research, which informs a deeper
By sharing our discoveries within and beyond the network, this will
contribute to building global momentum for distributed governance. Our
initial success is revealed by observing how our global support network is
growing, providing support and access by generously sharing our
knowledge, help and resources.
Some participating in this project are focusing on personal and local
projects. Others are interested in building and activating structures for
interdisciplinary and international collaboration. Our strategy here is
focused on harnessing and creatively applying existing tools, structures
and ideas such as open source, commons, cooperative platforms,
resources offered from various peer2peer networks (e.g. P2P foundation),
and by using these tools in new ways with new people, we become part
of the wider ecosystem of prototypers who can improve upon and help to
shape the application of these methods.
Inspirations to our
The Future of
Be More Feminine
the white ego
ON US & OUR WORK
It takes a while to have this kind of
conversations. You start feeling each other
very soon and then the quality then gets
denser towards the end and then you don’t
want to say goodbye. So it is great to set up
these very intense three day retreats and
really deal with each other and that takes a
lot of commitment from everyone. And
having such experiences is so important. –
OW! - MOST PAINFUL FEEDBACK WE GOT
"It needs more clarity of purpose for the
Collaboration Incubator movement in general.“
I don’t understand the „fire-practice“. What it
means and what it takes.
„The title Building Global Distributed Democracy was a bit fuzzy
to me, but frankly the topic is and remains broad.“
„After really trying to understand what you are
trying to achieve, it still remains difficult for me
to imagine for whom this program could be
„Clarify and reshape the goal of the workshop:
global democracy, co-creation (incl. group
process) vs. testing methods (dragon dreaming,
social presencing theatre)“
I didn't need to know everything at start of workshop but would have
liked if clarity on intent of workshop , what we made together came
clear by end.
„I think the question o building an organization of
Vanilla Way, an ongoing entity, is confusing and throws
off the game a bit.“
„Learn understand the needs better.“
„I wish we focused on less tools in total, and just
focused deeper on a couple.“
„Sticking to just fewer modalities would be better. We were
weaving in too much information and activity into the
„More breaks and more physical activity“
„I felt that all voices in the room were generally
heard, but we could do more to have more
diversity in the room“
„It can be disheartening to see many of those who are
committed to collaboration are not doing so well at
embodying this. Maybe it will take time…“
"I was missing a facilitative attitude, for me this
was more moderating“
„I felt that all voices in the room were generally heard, but
we could do more to have more diversity in the room.“
How does the connection after the incubator work? It feels like we
came together, got inspired, and...now what? We didn't fully dive
into how the individual visions can truly support the bigger vision“.
WHAT PEOPLE MOST APPRECIATE
Community Insight Learning Facilitation Practice Empowerment
After each incubator we conducted a survey to collect feedback.
We asked the participants 'What was your biggest personal
takeaway from the incubator?' and 'What did you take home to the
progressive movement/sector you feel you represent?' Analyzing
the qualitative data we discovered the following five major themes
of takeaways that are also matching what we've intended in this
program: finding a community of like-minded people, gaining deep
insights, learning about facilitation frameworks, mastering
facilitation practice, and feeling inspired and empowered to keep
doing change work. To learn more about each of these categories,
we recommend looking at the qualitative data provided in this
WHAT WAS YOUR BIGGEST TAKE AWAY?
…biggest personal take-away:
‚I am not alone‘
‚Deep democracy is messy; we want collectivity but are scared of it‘
‚Democracy starts with building trust‘
‚The empowerment of myself and more self-confidence‘
‚I can bring these teachings and practices to my community‘
That I am not alone and that a supportive community is critical to expand my work, to get feedback and to make a
difference (community) (insight)
To create global distributed democracy, we need local action that has tangible impact. We also need to build
trust, and that is an on-going practice that takes time and conscious effort. For us to build something even at the
local level that has tangible impact will require a commitment, and on-going collaboration. (insight)
How I show up in groups and community settings! Lots of insight into my personal contributions (ie: what I have to
offer this world and how I can deliver those offerings) and how the group contributes and supports each other (ie:
resources)! (community) (empowerment)
Deep democracy is messy; we want collectivity but are scared of it (insight)
The relationships, support from group (community)
Some great learnings around the complexity of deep intentions, conscious and unconscious narratives, trust,
shared purpose, and ultimately the future of the Global Distributed Democracy :) (insight) (learning)
I developed further insights on how to work. (insight)
… biggest take away to my progressive movement/sector:
Democracy starts with building trust (insight)
I got some fresh ideas about structures and how magic, our own stories , creative energy can fuel change
Social presencing theater brings so much embodied awareness. This along with the principles of dragon dreaming
and the dream circle are practices that I am working on. I feel that since I have a felt sense and understanding of
these concepts, that I can bring these teachings and practices to my community. (learning) (facilitation
I would like to try some of the facilitation methodologies that we have learned including dragon dreaming and
social presencing theater. I wish we spent more time focusing on a fewer techniques, but with more rigor.
(learning) (facilitation practice)
The resolution to continue pushing, even if I am still lost and far from knowing that what I am doing is actually
going to provide actual sustainable empowerment in women and an income for me (empowerment)
Social Presencing Theater and Dragon Dreaming exercise were very cool. Integrating Evolutionary
Leadership into ad hoc turns of the process was very fun too. And, of course, the relationships! (facilitation
The empowerment of myself and more self-confidence (empowerment)
WHAT WAS YOUR BIGGEST TAKE AWAY?
'the importance of consenting to decisions'
‚Sometimes be careful what you wish for ;-)‘
…biggest personal take-away:
Creating deep connections through shared difficulty (community)
group experience that transforms from a pseudo community, to chaos, over to emptiness to an authentic
community (cf. Scott Peck) (insight)
two things: one the importance of consenting to decisions. two the experience of facilitating (insight)
fire-practice (facilitation practice)
Sometimes be careful what you wish for ;-) I asked for being comfortable being vulnerable - and did I 'put
myself' in a vulnerable place? yes - however, not feeling comfortable.. not yet, next time, maybe!
first facilitation insights (facilitation practice)
making my invisible dreams (project) visible; connections with great people; future collaborations.
‚Making invisible dreams visible‘
‚the specific contexts we find in microclimates
also apply in human relationships‘
… biggest take away to my progressive movement/sector:
Not to undervalue the personal and interpersonal experiences by going straight for the tools--
reminding other permaculturists that the specific contexts we find in microclimates also applies in human
relationships. (facilitation practice)
group experience that transforms from a pseudo community, to chaos, over to emptiness to an authentic
community, group dynamics (insight) (facilitation practice)
combining the wheel of consent with consent decision-making (facilitation practice)
dialogue (facilitation practice)
A lot of work… A new view on the possibilities (empowerment) (insight)
the need to go on working on and in this sector, first approaches to talk to others about it, collaboration
as habit we need for to deal with us (me / myself), for progressive work, for our politics (europe), for the
earth (empowerment) (insight)
‚collaboration as habit we need for to deal with us,
for progressive work, for our politics (europe), for the earth‘
WHAT WAS YOUR BIGGEST TAKE AWAY?
‚a horizon widening experience‘
‚how a new format without knowing the end results can be
communicated, introduced and made successful‘
‚connecting spirituality, nature and digital‘
…biggest personal take-away:
I felt like having entered a completely different bubble from the one I am living in, it was a horizon
widening experience all in all, I am sure things I have heard of the first time not being able to connect to
yet, will pop up in future again. More consciousness and curiosity for the role of cycles, the female one,
but also natural cycles which I experience in agriculture and community life connected to agriculture is a
special take away I am very greatful for, my curiosity for dragon dreaming isn't satisfied yet :-) (insight)
Observing how chaos can be dealt with and how a new format without knowing the end results can be
communicated, introduced and made successful. Also being part of the co-responsibility group and
witnessing the beauty of it. (facilitation practice) (learning) (co-responsibility)
The connections and insights from the 4D mapping (insight)
I think the time has come for me to connect the three circles in my work life; spirituality, nature and
digital. (insight) (empowerment)
The people (community)
New perspectives on / variations of Dragon Dreaming (learning)
… biggest take away to my progressive movement/sector:
‚ transform our agricultural awareness for cycles
in processes of collaboration'
Huge consciousness for cycles, wish to use and transform our agricultural awareness for cycles in
processes of collaboration (insight) (empowerment)
A confirmation that my approach is needed for movements that want to evoke social change
A purpose to fulfill and fuel to move forward. (insight) (empowerment)
Ontological design as yet another name for artistic ways of working :) (learning)
‚A purpose to fulfill and fuel to move forward‘
„When you give the apparent weakest member of a
community too little attention, your community may
When you give them too much attention
as being the weakest part, you‘ll fail to empower
them and the whole.
Your community may fall apart.
Let us learn to balance our perspective on who we
think holds power.
We are all both deeply vulnerable
and wise, empowered people.“
- Manuela Bosch
PROGRESSIVE MOVEMENT / IDEA REPRESENTED
We asked the participants what progressive movement or idea do they feel they
represent? Here are the answers from all the registered participants.
'There's something very valuable
popping up through the image of
we might have, in fact,
prepared some soil together
which is able
to give life to things
still about coming up."
– Michel van Amsterdam
Type of Data Oakland 10/11 Berlin 10/11 Berlin 05/11 total 2018
total % total % total %
Number of registered participants incl. organizers 8 22 % 13 36 % 15 42 % 36
Number of present participants incl. organizers 7 21 % 11 33 % 15 45 % 33
Number of participants in co-responsible/co-organizer role 6 75 % 11 85 % 13 87 % 30
Number of female identified 5 63 % 6 46 % 8 53 % 19
Number of male identified 3 38 % 6 46 % 7 47 % 16
Number of other gender identified 0 0 % 1 8 % 0 0 % 1
Participants’ country of origin
Germany, USA (3), Russia (2), Italy, Sweden
Denmark, Netherlands, Switzerland (2), New Zealand, USA (2),
Germany (3), Pakistan
Germany (10), Peru, USA (2), Denmark, Luxemburg
Number of participants of foreign origin 4 57 % 9 82 % 5 33 % 18
Participants’ present place of residence
San Francisco, CA, USA, Berlin, Germany, Washington,
DC, US, Bend, Oregon, USA, Oakland, CA, USA; San
Diegeo, CA, US; Oakland, CA, USA; Stockholm, Sweden
Copenhagen Denmark (2); Netherlands; Bern, Switzerland (2,
Nomadic; Berlin, Germany (6)
Berlin, Germany (8); Bad Vilbel, Germany; Kleve, NRW;
Copenhagen, Denmark; Luxemburg, Luxemburg
Number of locals (residence within 50 miles) 3 38 % 6 46 % 8 53 % 17
Number of participants answering the survey 7 100 % 7 64 % 6 40 % 20
the following numbers come from interpretations of qualitative-data of take-aways! 0
Biggest personal take-away: Community 4 57 % 2 29 % 1 17 % 7
Biggest personal take-away: Insight 5 71 % 2 29 % 3 50 % 10
Biggest personal take-away: Learning 1 14 % 3 50 % 4
Biggest personal take-away: Facilitation Practice 3 43 % 1 17 % 4
Biggest personal take-away: Empowerment 1 14 % 2 29 % 2 33 % 5
total answers 11 157 % 9 129 % 10 167 % 30
Biggest take-away for work: Community 1 14 % 1 17 % 2
Biggest take-away for work: Insight 2 29 % 3 43 % 2 33 % 7
Biggest take-away for work: Learning 2 29 % 1 17 % 3
Biggest take-away for work: Facilitation Practice 3 43 % 4 57 % 7
Biggest take-away for work: Empowerment 2 29 % 2 29 % 3 50 % 7
total answers 10 143 % 9 129 % 7 117 % 26
AVERAGE ALL TAKE-AWAYS
Biggest take-away: Community 5 24 % 2 11 % 2 12 % 9
Biggest take-away: Insight 7 33 % 5 28 % 5 29 % 17
Biggest take-away: Learning 3 14 % 0 0 % 4 24 % 7
Biggest take-away: Facilitation Practice 3 14 % 7 39 % 1 6 % 11
Biggest take-away: Empowerment 3 14 % 4 22 % 5 29 % 12
Sum total answers 21 100 % 18 100 % 17 100 %
Average funding we had, per registered participant 428 $ 3.420 $ 225 € 2.929 € 234 € 3.506 €
Number survey-participants who’ll support/join again 7 100 % 1 14 % 3 50 % 11
Number survey-participants who’ll maybe support/join again 0 0 % 6 86 % 6
Number survey-participants who’ll not join again 3 50 % 3
EFFECTIVITY, PROCESSES & FOOD
OKL1810 & BLN1810
Here is an example of the post-incubator-survey where we asked several questions. For example,"which
aspects do you think we were most effective?" "What [frameworks] would you recommend to include in
future incubators again?" "How was the atmosphere and food?"
ARTICLES REFLECTING OUR
THEMES & EXPERIENCES
COLLABORATION INCUBATORS FOR
by Philine Krosse (NL)
Co-editing Kate Kingston (AUS), Letitia van der Merwe (SA), Manuela Bosch (DE) and Mich Levy
A series of Collaboration Incubator workshops are being put out into the world to gather like-minded
people to combine forces for building global grassroots democracy. I am Philine Krosse, an
‘transformation architect’ from the Netherlands, who was following links one morning and stumbled
upon the website of Vanilla Way. Without a second thought, I enrolled for the Berlin workshop from 5
to 7 October 2018.
What if everything we ever tried were only prototypes of democracy? What if we don’t actually know
how real democracy could look like? This thinking by Otto Scharmer (Theory U) inspired the tagline of
the Collaboration Incubator: “Momentum building for global democracy”. Within the Incubators,
different existing local initiatives and movements are called to work on a vision and potentially also
projects for a democratic society across boarders. Boarders not only in a geographical sense, but also
in sense of sector, culture, class and any paradigm.
'the required solutions are already existing, but there is a lack of cohesive effort’
Facilitated through social technologies like Dragon Dreaming, Evolutionary Work and Social
Presencing Theater, we are learning to maximize the knowledge, tools and resources that are
available, to connect with others and organize change. This is particularly powerful when combined
with the increasing awareness of the importance of a more conscious lifestyle whether on an individual,
community or organizational scale. Our assumption is, that the required solutions are already existing,
but there is a lack of cohesive effort that can only come from stepping out of our comfort zones for
interdisciplinary organizing. This is what the people from the Vanilla Way network believe they can help
to facilitate: connecting people with shared intentions and addressing issues that can’t be coordinated
from top down with tools made for collaborative grassroots organizing.
'I felt I needed something of a different order to grow further’
Yet after enrolling, I thought, why would I want to contribute to this movement? Why did I feel so
strongly that this movement was something through that I could develop myself further. Also, I have
never considered helping building a global democracy? For many years, I had been pondering,
searching and diving into the deep of the big questions. I learned a lot from different people, literature
and by designing and developing initiatives for communal healing and transformation to make
collective sustainable development possible. Since a while, I felt I needed something of a different
order to grow further and improve my work.
I had an inspiring talk with Manuela Bosch, one of the initiators of the Collaboration Incubator about
the intentions and drive that lead to this program. She explained to me, that this program isn’t about
building a global institution. It is about finding creative and innovative ways to address local issues
that impact us all globally – issues that cross borders and therefore can’t be resolved solely by one
institution, one country or the existing global institutional governing bodies.
Beyond envisioning and
planning, practicing collaboration
by creating a shared piece of
tape-art in the Incubator in May
2018 in Berlin.
By Momo C. Gumz
Incubator in Berlin in
May 2018 with Marit
Vos as our cook
By Momo C. Gumz)
Through her work as trainer for the collaborative project design framework Dragon Dreaming, Manuela
experienced that workshop participants are connecting fast and deep, but after meeting in a workshop
focused on skill learning, it’s difficult to keep collaborating, even though good intentions are there.
„There needs to be a reason for people to keep reconnecting. The activists and leaders I am speaking
to, seem to have no more time to waste in workshops. At the same time people do want to network,
connect on a deeper level and learn. Why not use the combined intelligence of a diverse group of
people coming together interested in the collective change processes that are necessary? When we
make time to travel and meet over three days, let’s work on the pressing question of what we can do
for global issues! Could it be possible to work on a collective dream and also not let it’s realization be
left to chance, but intentionally work on it? There is no guarantee to come to conclusion on this over
the three days, but it’s worth to try!“
'find good ways to use the resources we have wisely, plus all of our creativity’
When we as participants of the incubators discover what our shared dream for democracy is, we will
start acting upon it – either through what we are already doing or through a shared project that comes
out of the process. Either way is supported. The diversity of people and views present will enlarge our
individual view or sector view. This fosters tolerance and consciousness.
'we can only be as global as the reach of the network is'
Enlarging the pool of diversity among the participants is one of the highest goals and greatest
challenges. Diversity comes for example by bringing people together from different socio-economicreligious-political
backgrounds, but also from the wealth of experience an individual brings from their
work and field of interest. The diversity topic is challenging, since first: we can only be as global as the
reach of the network is; secondly: Diversity is dependent on our financial resources, too – this is why
we i.e look for patrons for one-on-one scholarships and other ways of independent funding; and thirdly:
Levering diversity depends more than ever on our own leadership capacity to deal with race, gender
and inclusivity topics.
There seems to be an opening now, a commitment to come together and collaborate better. This
program is contributing to what is already happening on so many levels and places. And, there is still
so much work to do. Many active in organizing societal change feel there is no time to rest! Therefore
another main goal of the incubator is about inspiring for self-care, so that we don’t burn out on the way.
It is so important to find good ways to use the resources we have wisely, plus all of our creativity, to
make sure that our power and energy endures all the way. The way of activism this Incubator supports
is meant to be straight forward and honest, yet unexpected and joyful.
In the recent Collaboration Incubator in May 2018 in Berlin the participants learned through a Social
Presencing Theater 4D Mapping experiment about the importance of
borders. We learned, they are not only separating us. They really help us to collaborate better across
our fields and different stakeholders. If we look at borders that exist in the natural world, for example
the zone between the river and the forest, this is where the most biodiversity can be found. In
permaculture this zone is called ecotone. Also personal relationships provide a classic example.
Maybe others experience this, too: When we put too much attention onto another person, trying
identifying with them and their actions, we are faster questioning whether we agree with them or not.
The possibility of conflict can become greatly increased.
'connect with many people, interdisciplinary and divers, with less resources or effort!'
When we focus on the third identity, though, the in-between or intersections that exists between A and B, our
collaboration can be more effective, lighter and even deeply strengthen both individuals or fields. We don’t have to
agree on everything, yet accept each other as the mutual partners and siblings in a global family, that we are. Each
with our own skills, strength and knowledge to work on collective solutions. This way it might become possible to
connect with many people, interdisciplinary and divers, with less resources or effort. It is the art of connecting through
the heart in seeing and acknowledging each other and at the same time staying focused around our own work, own
needs and shared vision.
The program can be called a success, when every participant has been able to take away at least one key learning or
key link to a resource crucial for their current work or life. The contribution to global distributed democracy can be a
side-effect and will keep building its momentum through continuous commitment of many over time. „If we are going
to support the creation of a giant collaborative field, will depend pretty much on the participants and outcomes of the
Incubators and especially what will happen between the ongoing workshops. If the Collaboration Incubator is helping
unleash the connections between the existing movements, so that they can better recognize their own qualities and
give each other direct help, we will move into this direction.“ the organizers of the Collaboration Incubator hope.
'the wisdom and spirit that is already in our bodies, heads, hearts, souls can come to the surface more
To share the knowledge and keep developing and integrating internet based technology to coordinate our efforts and
make our network power visible is important. As an underestimated addition to this I believe in connecting people and
their visions on a deeper level face-to-face. The wisdom and spirit that is already in our bodies, heads, hearts, souls
will come to the surface more easily. After writing this article I know that this is my motivation and intention to
Participants of the Incubator in
Berlin in May 2018 are putting their
names up on the collaborative
projects they want to support.
By Momo C. Gumz
RHIZOMATIC CONNECTIONS FOR
GLOBAL RECLAMATION aka following traces and enacting connectivity with Manuela
// On Innovator Incubator October 26- 28 Oakland California:
by Ann Schnake of Dream Farm Commons
The October Workshop Innovator Incubator in Oakland started
slowly. Our group of 7 people tentatively met at Dream Farm
Commons, a small experimental art exhibition and project
space in Downtown Oakland. Gazing out at a graffiti covered
wall, street people punctuated the morning with strange
poetics; gazing inward at our small altar on a wooden stump,
we began to tentatively connect as a temporary but highly
We came from 6 different countries and 7 different cities and
from fields of study of philosophy, business, art, design &
healing. I wasn’t really sure what had brought us together and
in the first hours of the workshop; it was a bit unclear what the
unifying work of the weekend was to be. We all seemed
propelled by a desire for connectivity but with an apprehension
of the unknown close at hand. My own reason for joining the
workshop was a desire to enact deep forms of democracy
within the still very newborn Dream Farm Commons by
physically hosting an experimental weekend; I hoped that a
weekend experiment might provoke answers to the more long
term general question of how to develop new structures and a
commons within Dream Farm. I also knew that the tremendous
intuitive magnetism and skillful group process management of
our leader Manuela Bosch gave me confidence to dive into
unknown waters. It appeared to me that a belief in creativity, a
desire for collectivity, examination of new structures and
willingness to deeply personally engage brought us together.
This sense of diving into the unknown, paired with our
collective current conditions of desperately needing
connectivity, a commons and new forms of production were
This, in retrospect is how I understand how the weekend
We used story telling movement, interpersonal games,
structures for collective process to get down to a quick and
temporary intimacy and deep currents arose. We differed from
groups that use some similar techniques purely for personal
growth in that ideas of collectivity, building change were what
brought us together; the personal was in action but not the
endpoint. For me the most salient currents were that many of
us are trying to work collectively or in new forms of creative
production but its hard: we fear that there is not enough and
fear giving up control. Some of the answers of how we will
work together in the future need intuition, magic, deep holding
of our own stories and that which we know in our bodies.
There are currents running all over the world attempting to
build commons and we need to follow those traces.
The question of building the tiny “empires “of Vanilla Way,
Institute of Evolutionary Leadership Dream Farm Commons
and our other individual projects got in the way sometimes and
created colliding desires in the group. Old stories of corporate
structure, total focus on acquisition and empire building can
get in the way of our cooperation and budding ideas of the
We don’t need hierarchical solutions to our current complexity
of needs, the world conditions that are begging for use of
magic, connectivity and a commons. I think the Incubator
should embrace its temporary nature and see itself as
preparing conditions of soil for rhizomatic spreads of roots and
channels, new routes of creative production.
Manuela frequently used the expression ‘following traces”. I
think that this is how our work needs to be now: brave to go
into unknown waters, give up singularity, embrace collectivity,
follow magic, play, intuition, desire, and build new channels for
all of that wonderful package to support the common good and
our big messy project of enacting a deep form of democracy.
7 THINGS I TOOK AWAY FROM THE
COLLABORATION INCUBATOR – AND ONE MORE!
“First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then they join”.
(Commonly attributed to Gandhi, paraphrased by me)
Story by Marianne Steen
written with help, feedback and English corrections by Ele Jansen and Naomi Joy Smith
Why did I initially decide to join the Collaboration Incubator workshop?
Because I sensed that the vision of the Collaboration Incubator resonated with my vision for a
collaborative technology platform.
Looking into the future– with the rise of freelancers worldwide and an ongoing competition for talent
and skills—I knew I wanted want to bring a win-win model forward. A model that challenges the “new
normal” within the tech-world. Similarly, the incubator workshop invites us to challenge how things are
done and points to more sustainable ways of living and working.
However, wanting to change what is considered ‘normal’ is not an easy task. It takes time, endurance
That’s probably the reason why I – both during and after the workshop – have taken a walk down
memory lane, remembering the last time I was part of a group trying to figure out how to move
forward to an alternative; something more sustainable. Yet at the time I was not precisely sure how to
do it and what to do.
The difference between then and now is global connectivity. In the 80s we were inspired
globally, but worked locally. Today, technology has enabled us to meet and organise across
How the Collaboration Incubator workshop connected my past and present
The way the Collaboration Incubator is connecting people with shared intentions and paving a path
together for the future offers the potential to empower new beginnings in a way that I/we could not
even imagine back then.
In the 80s, I was studying at “Landbohøjskolen” (agricultural school), the Royal Veterinary And
Agricultural University of Copenhagen. The norm back then was, in Danish terms, “konventionel
plantedyrkning” (conventional plant growth) with the use of artificial fertilizer to enhance plant growth, and
pesticides to prevent bugs and ‘unkraut’ (weeds).
In those days there was one general course about ‘environmental protection’. It was here that I learned
about how estrogen-like residues in the water had turned male tadpoles into hermaphrodites. At this point
I started to think critically about the chemistry behind pesticides. If they are designed to disturb living
organisms, how far in the food chain will it go and what will they do to our nature in the future?
I also worked in a plant nursery for some time. Once a week the gardener put on a protective suit, closed
all windows and doors and put up a “do not enter” note – and then went spraying. It was a surprise to me
how often and how much pesticides were used.
So I started wondering, why didn’t we learn about the alternatives or the long term consequences?
We were a group of students who started to ask questions and challenge the usual way of growing
vegetables. At first our professrs ignored us; or they simply answered our questions with statements like,
“because it is not possible to do it commercially”, “see how the vegetables from organic growers look”,
and “nobody is going to pay the price”.
When we discussed the risk of pesticides ending up in our ground water, the proud experts agreed
amongst themselves that pesticides will never reach the ground water; the molecules will be chopped
into smaller, non-toxic compounds by microorganisms and/or will be filtered by inorganic layers in the
soil. For sure!
Today we know that they were wrong.
Meanwhile, we kept lobbying. It wasn’t until we as a group of students applied to study at Lund University
in Sweden, and were rejected as non-qualified, that the professors finally reacted. How did the Swedes
dare to say students from Denmark were not qualified? After that point,our application for a new class
about ‘organic growing’ became a reality.
Considering myself to be one of those 1.7% (idiots), I decided to write my bachelor thesis about
organic growth of vegetables followed by my masters degree on how to use microbiology for plant
protection. Needless to say, at that time, those were not the best choices in regards of making a
career which is how I ended in tech – but that’s another story.
Today, 25-30 years later, being an organic gardener is a very good business. From 2016 to 2017 the
revenue grew from 7 billion Danish Kroners to 8 billion and the total market today is 9,6% and still
rising. Many of the organic farmers today decided to go from conventional to organic because it is a
better business for them. The demand for organically or environmentally sustainable food is in fact
higher than the delivery.
So what happened and what made the change? The one thing which has really been convincing in
terms of the organic plant movement is the business case.
And that is the reason it was a key point for me to introduce a ‘sustainable business model’ as an
indicator of success. In a better world, in paradise and on cloud nine, who cares about money? But in
this world when wanting to convince someone that change is doable and valuable; show them the
money – and then they will listen. Slowly but surely that was what happened with the organic food
In the process, the organic growers and researchers have developed methods which have been
adapted by the conventional growers. Pesticides are expensive and once you start using them, you
must keep doing so. In controlled environments like greenhouses, the majority of Danish gardeners
have exchanges pesticides with biological and microbiological methods.
So why do I share these memories with you?
At the workshop I had (happy) flashbacks to this time of pioneering, being at the front of something
new and purposeful. What I learned then is still useful, both to remind and encourage me – which is
why I am sharing with you:
7 things I took away from the Collaboration Incubator
1. New beginnings take time.
2. Changing a model that works for many people will meet resistance.
3. People living by the habitual/usual/old ways of doing things will instantly and instinctively try to
make you feel uncomfortable – as they don’t want you to rock the boat.
4. Experts can be wrong. Somebody with heart and courage has to challenge them.
5. The best way of convincing is not necessarily by persuading with words, but by demonstrating
6. The most resistant people are often most convinced by a working business model.
7. Even if they only join you for half the journey, being an inspiration to someone is still a victory.
Truthfully, the above advice is not only based on my experiences from my past.
5 years ago I began a start-up journey with Prodii, a tool for collaborative mapping of professional
resources in networks. Aiming to create a sustainable business model that is not based on data
surveillance, trackers or advertising means challenging the ‘new normal’ for digital business models.
I’ve done my share of pitch-competitions and met my share of “venture capitalist says no”. However,
thanks to a combination of regulations (GDPR), privacy-by-design and data ethical movements and
now to Vanilla Way, I am optimistic about the future.
So, let me share my one final piece of advice which is also my personal encouragement and a major
personal reward in my work:
Working with people who share your purpose and your success(es) is the best thing about
work– maybe even the best thing in life!
— oOo —
In our different ways, Prodii as a tech platform and the Collaboration Incubator as a people
network, both share a common purpose which is to:
”find good ways to use the resources we have wisely.”
Thank you for reading! I hope you enjoy my pictures from ‘once upon a time’ and from a workshop still
fresh in my memory.
With love, respect and best wishes to all and thanks to Ele and Naomi for co-creating this piece!
NO SHORT-CUT TO GET TO TRUST
We learned in the incubators the different levels of trust and how tricky it is to bring them together in a group!
We learned the value of speaking our deep desires, how desperately we failed, and at the same time wildly succeeded
by Manuela Bosch
We recently accomplished two more Collaboration Incubators –
social experiments for incubating collaborations between people
who support a shared vision around global grassroots
Our challenge: Complexity! To deal with innumerable indefinite
denominators, in a short time, to work on the puzzle of global
societal challenges. Doing this with a group that does not know
each other, and does not have a shared understanding of global
grassroots democracy, yet. In this short period of time; We aim
to connect, learn new methods, train our facilitation skills and
come up with a vision and strategy. One topic that stuck out was
trust. To collaborate in moments of gross uncertainty and
ignorance we need trust. There's just no way around it.
In the recent Incubator in Oakland, we learned there are
different levels of trust:
a basic level: I trust my life is safe, I will not get killed.
a primal level: I trust nobody will steal my things
a personal level: I share something private and I trust it won’t
get used against me
a emotional level: I trust others are sensitive, when I share
something of emotional importance
and a level of sharing deep desires: I make myself vulnerable,
and I trust I won't get hurt.
– that last level is very interesting.
When I keep my desires for myself, I might reduce my chance
for sustainable satisfaction. I am easier to manipulate here.
There are greater chances becoming controlled by sex, drugs,...
presidential candidates – by everything promising fast, discrete
During Collaboration Incubators, when we are working on our
vision around collaboration for societal change, we ask “What
do you personally need to see coming true, so you’ll be able to
be motivated sharing ownership for this project until it's done?"
Our background, where and how I’ve been raised, what I’ve
experienced in my life might, will influence how open I am to
share my actual needs and dreams with other people. So in the
diverse groups on this planet, and same in our micro-democracy
during the Collaboration Incubator, it’s an indescribable crucial
factor to consider that not everybody is capable to step right into
sharing with a group of strangers their actual hopes and
On the other hand, in order to set-free creativity and leadership
potential, one critical factor might be, that I need to have my
basic needs met first, before being able taking on such big
tasks. The individual "leadership capacity" is one of the critical
factors when daring to organize around the biggest challenge of
our time: To make it, on this planet, all together.
So speaking about trust, I think during our recent Incubators
we've unspeakably failed in this and at the same time legendary
At times we've outspokenly suffered from not trusting. We got
exhausted from not knowing what our democratically decided
direction shall become, and in the Berlin Incubator we've even
"lost" people presenting minorities on the way.
I am glad we can also say, we've managed. We were going
through times of extreme discomfort together without breaking
up. Many of us bonded deeply with previous strangers. We were
able to take away essentials for helping our local change work
grow, and some of us will continue to work on a big shared
vision and network weaving.
MAKING EVERY VOICE COUNT: A LESSON IN
By Peter Wolff;
Collaboration Incubator: Berlin, October 2018
I recently participated in three-day workshop / conference / thinktank
offered by Vanilla Way. The organizing question in the
invitation was, “How do we build a global grassroots democracy
that enables us to create a future that nurtures us and the
planet?” (http://collaborationincubator.net/). I’m usually interested
in programs that deepen my commitment as a global citizen, and
the weekend also provided an opportunity to build my network in
my newly chosen city of Berlin.
I appreciated the intention of the organizers, that the results of
the weekend should be an enhancement to the work that each of
us is already doing, thereby serving both our personal needs and
the long-term needs of society. My work as a leadership
development consultant fit well with the profiles of the other 10
entrepreneurs, facilitators and community organizers. I had more
prior knowledge of the agenda than most people attending
because I volunteered to facilitate a couple of sessions on
evolutionary leadership. I’ve also traveled extensively and my
accumulated years of wandering the planet expanded my ability
to see multiple sides at once. This ended up being an asset over
Although the current state of global governance was a reference
point for our discussions, we intentionally did not try to map all of
its systems or propose solutions to fix broken pieces. Our main
focus was to explore possibilities for grassroots democracy, and
specifically projects to which we can apply our thinking and acting
in local communities. Later in the article I’ll outline a project called
#ALLVOICES that I chose to start and coordinate.
Our legacy of liberal democracy
In these times, when right and left are polarized, it’s easy to
forget that this political theater is all happening on the stage of
liberal democracy, the form of governance that since the fall of
communism has become the de facto (or at least dominant) form
of global governance. Although it is important to protect the
frontier of devolving democracy against fascism, recreating of the
rules of democracy so that it works for all is a more urgent task.
Liberalism is simply the movement towards freedom. In Europe,
the dawn of modern liberal democracy is celebrated each year on
July 14th, Bastille Day. Jean-Jacques Rousseau, whose ideas
were used to rally the people during the French Revolution in
1789, called for legislative power for the people, creating a new
social contract. Thomas Paine wrote Rights of Manin France in
1791, after influencing the American Revolution with his writing
and activism. In it he defends the French Revolution, believing a
revolt by the people is justified when a government does not
protect the natural rights of its citizens. Since the American and
French Revolutions, “liberty, equality and fraternity” have been
the fundamental cry of democracy around the world.
During more than 200 years of democracy, the concept of “all
people” has been updated both in terms of who is represented
and the total number of people governed. It used to mean male
property owners. Now we can see and hear people on Internetconnected
devices across the globe who also want equality. In
1800 the global population was 991 million. In 2019, the number
approaches 7.4 billion. We find ourselves in a more complex
world with governments challenged to achieve fairness and
inclusion for massively diverse and connected voices.
continues on next page
When governments and change agents struggle to act
Governments are here to ensure safety, welfare, tranquility and
prosperity for their citizens. When our expectations are not met,
that government and corporate institutions should help us meet our
basic needs, we often react with anger, confusion and conflict.
Since we don’t want to act out irrationally (or aren’t allowed to by
law), we find other ways to cope with the injustice. Sometimes
people go into isolation. Others find solidarity in social groups.
The Collaboration Incubator offered a clear agenda for us, using
the Dragon Dreaming methodology to envision our lives and work
meeting both our personal requirements and global needs. I can’t
really say why or how it happened, but our attempts to move
forward brought more resistance. Social tensions in the group
began to surface. Some disengaged, others began separating into
subgroups, others chose to abandon the process altogether. Some
people felt left out, others focused on the need to resolve the
discord in the group, and others wanted to stay with the planned
agenda. Our goal to collaborate was stuck yet we longed for an
interpersonal environment that engendered trust.
Once we reached a consensus to abandon the planned agenda,
we slowly began to transform the tension by coming together in a
circle and facing the uncomfortable feelings with conscious
awareness. We called this a practice of “sitting in the fire.” Life and
limb were not endangered, but the intensity required a fair amount
I was a participant in the conflict and did my best to address the
barriers to our collaboration. We each wrestled with strongly held
perspectives as well as our individual identities. At this point none
of us really knew what the outcome of the weekend would be, but
we knew that we wanted to feel connected as a group. Although
we wanted to take positive action on societal and planetary issues,
human relationships and power dynamics took precedence.
(For more on the fire practice, check out the work of Arnold
My personal journey
Although imperfect in execution, the fire practice worked and a few
of us are meeting again to add the necessary support for
participants before and during the process. Perhaps the urgency of
the future (i.e., climate change, wealth inequity, AI) provided
additional motivation to get unstuck and find new ways of
interacting with each other. The points below summarize my
insights and learning:
Proceeding in collaboration before trust is present creates
Trust is earned, until then I don’t trust any voice to speak for me.
Every voice tells a story. I want to pull more voices into the circle.
I want to live in a world where every voice counts.
I honor each perspective in the circle.
I use my voice and language to show a perspective on the whole.
Be the person who keeps the voices in, each and every storyteller.
Until the voices are all heard, a group is not formed.
When all the voices in the circle were heard with openness and
respect, the group dynamic shifted. With some strong intentions
and facilitation skills, we were indeed able to co-create a list of
projects with collaboration partners. A project as defined by our
process may simply be an idea that someone wants to share and
develop. In other words, projects may need more thinking and
planning, while others might already be up and running and need
I found our process to be a perfect example of how groups get
stuck. To get moving again, to be able to move through conflict and
get on with making our communities thrive, we have to be able to
listen to each other.
continues on next page
#ALLVOICES: An experiment in connection.
We talk about diversity and inclusion, but even the most conscientious of us falter. A
voice of authority too often determines which stories are heard, which lives matter. The
#ALLVOICES project hopes to achieve a platform for hearing more voices in the
systems that represent us and govern our lives.
We’ll experiment and find ways to solicit, aggregate and curate stories. Starting small,
then expanding out to the Internet-connected world, a spectrum of worldviews will be
added. Perhaps by making a little bit more in each of us visible, we can acknowledge
the existence of another person’s view on life in the moment and get curious about our
I’m interested in hearing stories that connect us, and understanding that we often don’t
agree is important. The goal is for each story to reveal what a person sees. Every story
is a snapshot that captures an honest image of a person’s inner emotional landscape,
love, hate, fear, anger, disgust, resentment, sadness.
We only need to listen. We do not need to agree.
The vision is inclusion. When a group of people to come together in a sacred circle,
each authentic voice is represented fairly. Therefore, our project must have a code of
conduct that makes it safe for anyone to participate. Consider the tall order of
#ALLVOICES. A range of personal stories could be as loving and compassionate as a
Buddhist satsang and as aggressive and hate-filled as a Trump rally. Personal stories
are not about someone or something else other than what lies in the heart of every
person who shares. These stories do not begin with “I believe,” are not about ideology or
concepts, and not about the past or the future. The stories answer the question “Who
are you right now?”
Belonging to a family
True family accepts who you are. I want to see if we can love our anger, discomfort, and
our flaws. In that vulnerability, human stories can connect us because we share similar
experiences. The human tribe is diverse, complex, and conflicted. If successful, we will
find our belonging to each other.
A part of what it takes to collaborate is to be bold and courageous and
actually stay in, stay in the pain, in the conflict, and be supported by
those in the group who can support. Because each person being
vulnerable is also what helps create more connection and more love.
What's happening to you is not unique to you. Each of us has a point
where we resist, where we feel pain, where we get angry. So my
dream, my method, my practice, is to include the discomfort as part
of co-creation. It’s not just trying to find the perfect partners who
know how to deal with difficult relationships. Why don’t we just deal
with conflict compassionately, as part of how we collaborate? That’s
courageous. It takes courageous leadership.
– Peter Wolff
HOW WILL YOUR VISION GROW CORN FOR THE PEOPLE?
I carry a message close to my heart that
was told to me awhile back that I would like
to share with you. It is a message from my
Ichishkiin elder from the Confederated
Tribes of Warm Spring. He said “the only
vision I want to hear about is one that will
grow corn. It has to work here and now
upon the Earth Mother, or it's not real. If
your emotional, physical, mental, or
spiritual self is in disarray, you will be
unable to respond to and appropriately
carry out your vision. So tell me, how will
your vision grow corn for the people?”
– Gretchen Hingley
Desperately desired change
often moves so slow
that it becomes impossible to grasp
and even harder to believe
In a way this is forging unstopable sustainability
like nobody can stop the river in its flow
Collaborating with this vast unknowing
requires one to listen
with intention and trust
and some likeminds around you
with shared intentions
just wild enough to get involved
Voices will keep telling you
that does not work!
where are your references?
where are your results?
But, that won’t help
not doing is not an option
It’s worth giving a try
Momentum building for global grassroots democracy
Berlin, May 3-5, 2019
San Francisco, June 14-16, 2018
This program is only for people who:
can stand discomfort;
are open not coming to conclusion;
encounter differences with curiosity;
and love experiments
Thanks go to:
thank you for reading
Change. Agency. Network.
firstname.lastname@example.org | +49 30 58882404
MOOS - Moosdorfstr. 7-9| 12435 Berlin
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