Why are we gathering? What are our hopes and aspirations for this meeting in dark pandemic times, in which the realization of the severity of the climate crisis overshadows all our other pressing problems?
We wish to explore the ‘we’-question. For there is no more urgent inquiry in this post-tragic age of ours. A bigger we is regularly called upon to arise and to address our burning global action problems. And yet even the climate crisis has not brought us closer together. If anything, we are more fractured and polarized than ever before. This is also true of the social change space. In spite of the fact that we share many hopes, we, too, have not yet managed to establish scalable protocols and platforms and projects. We, too, mainly move in our own filter bubbles, married quite firmly to our own theories of change, to our brands, niches and communities.
Is this dream of a ‘we’ capable of cohering at scale just that – a dream? Can it even exist? Why doesn’t it exist already? Which psychological, economic, structural and political dynamics keep us from forming it? How can we catalyse its emergence, sow the seeds for new imaginaries and the kind of hyper-agency that our times call for? How can we form a ‘we’ that is capable of cohesive action but that not only respects but thrives on difference?
We are gathering to explore answers to these questions. But they can’t just remain abstract inquiries. We need to be able to imagine, be, presence, visualize this bigger we. We also need to do something concrete as a we, with the we, for the we. Or else we must grapple more courageously with the shadows that keep us from letting it emerge. Perhaps this is even all we can do for now. For these shadows are very real and powerful. The ‘we’ in the room, moreover, isn’t our ultimate concern. There are many ‘we’s beyond it.
Our programme will cover approaches to we-building that focus on the imagination, on presencing and intersubjective field-work, and on practical innovations and initiatives. We believe that imagining, being and doing we, head, heart, hand-centred inquiries, are all vital parts of our exploration.
Emerge’s aspiration has always been to be a broad church to many different kinds of social visionaries. A meta-network that brings together diverse tribes, offering a platform to exchange insights, knowledge and share practices. On our website, we wish to make you and what you do visible to each other and to the outside world.
And this is also what this Gathering is about. Offering a space, literal and metaphorical, in which we can connect, hold diversity without fragmenting, and seed the field for something – whatever shape it may take – to emerge. The perhaps even more important task will be to ensure its afterlife beyond the Gathering.