Dumbo Feather

MICHELLE LONG PROTECTS WHAT IS SACRED

“We can practice reconnection. We can practice reparation. And we can practice reverence. And then we can, in each of those cases, talk about how we do that with money, with business.”

We cannot create a new system with the same mindset that created the old one. Michelle Long taught me that. As the former CEO of BALLE (Business Alliance for Local Living Economies), Michelle has been at the frontlines of financial innovation for decades, linking entrepreneurs and investors who are using business to create connected, thriving, equitable communities. Her wisdom seems almost to come from the future, where we understand that we’re interdependent, and that our survival depends on our waking up from the nightmare of an ever-increasing growth curve achieved via an ever-depleting natural world.

I had the strangest experience trying to do this interview. As the moment arrived for us to chat, I felt this eerie resistance. All the leaf blowers in the street turned on at the same time, Skype kept failing, Zoom kept crashing, my phone wouldn’t record, my doorbell rang 10 times. It was like an energetic field was pushing back, resisting the flow of what I knew would be a fundamental conversation in binding new financial capital paradigms with higher consciousness thinking. A conversation, dare I say, about sacred feminine leadership. For some reason, this required extra patience, extra holding and extra foresight. I was shaking by the time I finally (two hours later) got my technology to work.

It made me realise that things happen on more levels than the conscious mind. Forces around us—cultural, political, psycho-emotional, physical and indeed spiritual—push and pull us in contradictory directions. Everything was telling me that day that I was inextricably dependent on technology and had been made impotent by corporate forces that have redirected the way we live, work and play. I needed epic commitment to stay present and persist in asking questions which challenge these forces. How do we re-imagine our systems from a non-binary, eco-system perspective rather than the traditional ego-system of extraction and denial? Violent politics, species death, weather patterns, poverty, oppression and re-emergence of autocratic regimes are all screaming at us to stop, listen and ask better questions. Who do we want to be on this planet? How do we want to be together? What is beneficial to all humanity? We keep looking for individual heroes to strap our hopes to. With more feminine leadership, a new possibility is emerging. What if we are a network of heroes? Thich Nhat Hanh, the great Buddhist monk and peace activist said, “The Buddha, Shakyamuni, our teacher, predicted that the next Buddha would be Maitreya, the Buddha of love… It is possible that the next Buddha will not take the form of an individual. The next Buddha may take the form of a community, a community practicing understanding and loving kindness, a community practicing mindful living. And the practice can be carried out as a group, as a city, as a nation.”

As we re-imagine our world to thrive within the bounds of the ecology and towards human flourishing (what a glorious proposition), we must allow ourselves to feel again. To factor in the mysterious, the unknown, the natural world and our own unconscious biases into our processing. Michelle has a three-dimensional view ofBERRY LIBERMAN: Let’s start with some of the challenges you face when it comes to the things you really care about. Like healing the planet and community through a new economic paradigm.

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