Introducing MetaIntegral’s Integral Planet Endowment

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[Editor's Introduction: Chris] 

This week we are publishing two pieces on MetaIntegral, a new organization launching their online presence this week. Part of our mission here at Beams is be a platform for new projects and new voices to be heard. Also we seek to further the discourse of integral theory and practice, fostering dialogue, and including as many perspectives as possible. We believe that these pieces fit within that overall mission. At the same time, I hope it's clear that the views are those of the authors. We encourage folks to leave their comments below. The previous piece in this series, authored by Tim Winton can be read here. Also check out this blog post by Carissa Wieler. 


metaintegral foundation

We just beta-launched the website for MetaIntegral. MetaIntegral (MI) is an alliance of three organizations that form a social entrepreneurial ecosystem: a training academy (MI Academy), a consulting firm (MI Associates), and a philanthropic think tank (MI Foundation). MI's mission is to develop the critical human capacities, know-how, and resources for a thriving global civilization and a flourishing natural world. Our method and means for doing this is through the professional application of Integral Theory—as a community of integral scholar-practitioners networked in spirit and in effort. As a result of our collective effort, we envision a dramatic alleviation of suffering across the planet, and the cultivation of a more ethical, sustainable, and psychologically mature humanity.

MI's tagline is Enacting Global Futures. With that ideal in mind, here we want to focus on the Integral Planet Endowment, an initiative of the Foundation that lies at the center of the MI ecosystem.

The Integral Planet Endowment

integral planet endowmentAt MI we're fond of saying the Integral Planet Endowment (IPE) is our beating heart. The IPE is what the name indicates, an endowment for an integral planet. Our project is to establish a $100 million fund for your integral projects! In a nutshell, the IPE is a 10-year campaign to raise $100 million to support 100 disciplines of applied Integral Theory for 1000 years of global enactment.

It bears mentioning—and we cannot overstate the importance of this point—our understanding and use of Integral Theory is "Kosmopolitan" and celebrates multiple lineages of integral thought and action (see the recent Integral Theory Conference call for papers to get a feel for this orientation). At MI we hold and enact Integral Theory as a dynamic integral of integrals, or an integrative pluralism (as opposed to integrative monism—where there is "one integral to rule them all").

With that said, we'd like to discuss how the endowment works. We'll do this by way of sharing some of the ideas and inspiration behind the endowment, beginning with the notion of "impacting 1000 years".

Impacting 1000 Years

Our fragmented, materialist-minded world cries out for an integral planet. Clearly we are feeling our way toward it, in many important ways. In addition to the increasing number of initiatives with integral in their name, we can turn to more mainstream developments and point in general to multidisciplinary research programs; whole-systems thinking; whole-person education; cross-sector coordination for large-scale change; conscious business; postpartisan politics; the great story, or epic of evolution; and more.

In this context we feel the time is right for MetaIntegral. Envisioning 1000 years is not an abstract utopian fantasy; it's a concrete way of making what we do today and tomorrow count. We embrace a 1000-year vision as a practice of pragmatic imagination. It's a way of taking serious this possibility: If we are mindful of how we engage life now—at this critical moment of history marked by global-scale challenges and opportunities—we stand to have a long-lasting impact on the planet and the future of humanity.

old pine tree


In this context, we've chosen the bristlecone pine tree as symbol for the Integral Planet Endowment (see above image). Not just any bristle cone—one that lives in the Sierra Nevada mountains and is estimated to be 4844 years old. This specific tree goes by the name Methuselah and is found in California, where MI was born. It's also the oldest non-clonal living organism on the planet, so it's a good reminder of the "long now". The IPE is being planted in 2012 with the vision of living 1000s of years and serving the enactment of an integral planet by supporting the most effective and ingenious integral projects around the world.

The seed of the endowment was planted innocently enough, in August 2010, from looking around the integral landscape and seeing how underfunded our efforts are. We dreamt of the incredible impact our efforts would have if they were well funded, professionally showcased, and presented in a way that supported other practitioners in their own efforts to apply integral principles to their projects.

Take a moment to look and feel for yourself. Feel your desire to be impactful. Feel the gap between the world you envision and your power as an individual to bring it to fruition. Is it painful? Motivating? Is there anywhere else you'd rather be working? Let your heart and mind be moved by the possibility, the opportunity to tap the power of our collective intelligence as practitioners and impact the world in a deep and enduring way.

This is the kinetic and potential energy animating MI. From a financial angle, our vision-in-motion is of a social entrepreneurial ecosystem that is financially self-sufficient and capable of supporting integral projects globally for the next decade, the next century, the next millennium, and beyond. To accomplish this we've developed two concepts that work together and enable the global integral community to participate in the financial support of integral initiatives: Freeing and Infinity Dollars.

Free Versus Freeing

freeing heartThe basic idea behind freeing is that everything costs at least a little—so nothing is free but every single transaction within the MI ecosystem contributes to making integral initiatives more and more sustainable. Every transaction grows the Integral Planet Endowment, which financially supports the success of integral projects around the planet. In turn, these projects produce impressive examples of integral action and build up valuable case studies, sets of best and "next" practices, and advance the application of Integral Theory in dozens of fields. The net result of all this activity coordinated by the MI ecosystem is that integral projects are increasingly freed from the current constraints and barriers they face now from a lack of institutional support, financial backing, and connected networks of practitioners. At the same time, individuals, communities, and disciplines around the planet are increasingly freed from the fragmentation, alienation, and overwhelming complexity that assail our contemporary times. In short, integrally informed efforts are freed from modern and postmodern limitations, individuals are freed from suffering, disciplines are freed from fragmentation, and the planet is freed from various forms of destruction.

The practice of freeing is an example of "contributory consumption"—an important concept in social entrepreneurship. Many of the most basic tasks, products, or services at MI will cost a nominal amount (e.g., $1 for an audio clip or $3 for an article) all of which feeds the Integral Planet Endowment. Thus, when customers or members are asked to make a minimal payment of, say, $1 they know that all of that money is going toward a fiscally responsible, transparent, and long-term sustainable endowment. With each transaction, MI Foundation gets closer and closer to a long-term financially sustainable position. The goal is to have minimal price points that don't serve as a barrier to purchase or participation but rather get people in the habit of contributing at least a little to something they already care about. So while things are not free, they are freeing. Transactions associated with all three MI organizational entities will engage in the practice of freeing. Ten percent of annual revenue from both our consulting and educational work will go toward the IPE, and a majority percentage of revenue from our philanthropic foundation will as well.

Infinity Dollars

infinity dollarsThe practice of freeing produces Infinity Dollars. The basic idea behind Infinity Dollars is that every $1 you provide goes into the Integral Planet Endowment as principal for the next 1000 years and beyond. So, even a very small pledge is a valuable contribution in the context of a 1000-year commitment to fund and support integral projects.

The idea is that every dollar keeps giving. It is a perpetual dollar or an autopoietic dollar—there is no entropy, only stability and creative generation of financial abundance. All too often donations are raised for events and projects and then spent entirely on those efforts and there is no mechanism for saving or investing capital for use in future activities. Obviously, there is no sustainability in this practice. Infinity Dollars appeal to people's care for the planet by giving them the opportunity to act in support of their values and to be part of a larger story. Infinity Dollars send the message that even their small donation actually makes a substantial contribution toward a better world.

The IPE will have a socially conscious investment mechanism in place and it will invest in integral applications where the rate of return on financial capital is low enough to support sustainable levels of activity. In this sense MetaIntegral intends to help pioneer not just socially responsible investing but integral investing. Also, we will be developing a conservative investment and grant giving strategy that takes into account the unstable and fluctuating financial realities within the global economy.

To help us visualize Infinity Dollars there will be a real-time currency counter on the MI website to show how much principal is in the bank and how much that principal represents in terms of dollars over a 1000-year period. We are including this feature in our next build, which will launch in August and include a number of other features such as a dynamic, transactional global directory to connect the integral community around projects, events, and all manner of professional engagement.

Nuts and Bolts

global initiativeWhile we are employing multiple funding strategies to grow the Integral Planet Endowment, as you can see, it is the global integral community who will fund it. In principle, then, the IPE is part of the integral global commons. The global integral community will also play a decisive role in deciding which projects are awarded grants. As a result, the IPE becomes an opportunity for us to collaborate and participate in the funding and creation of an integral planet. Never before has a group of people with a shared set of values had the opportunity to self-organize on a global scale and actually fund projects around the planet informed by those values. The IPE is an invitation for us to fully embody our planetcentric values and mobilize our resources to make a substantial difference in the world.

Here's how it works: people can donate directly to the IPE or to other projects at MI. Once we have enough funds in the endowment to be able to award grants we will begin accepting grant applications. We will use an integral application that we are in the process of creating. Let's say we get 100 applications. We will select the best applications from the pool and then post them online and invite the global integral community to vote on which ones receive funding. In this way you ultimately decide which projects deserve funding. Once these projects are funded they will use an integral reporting system to track their progress. At the end of their project they will produce a final integral report between 35-100 pages that provides an in-depth presentation of what was done, what worked and didn't, which integral lenses or methods were used, how results were measured, what their recommendations are for similar projects, etc. Each report will be available as a "freeing" download (i.e., costing $1 with the option to donate more) that will go directly into the principle of the endowment—thereby helping to grow it so we can award more monies each year.

An Integral Planet: Our Heart Beating

integral heartIn our opinion someone within the integral community had to make this move, creating an organizational ecosystem that connects the worldwide network of integral practitioners around action, impact, and enactment of an integral vision for humanity's global futures. We do not presume that MetaIntegral should be or can be the only such venture. We simply believe the time is right for this project. In fact, we highly recommend "The Rise of Neo-Integrative Worldviews", which surveys the history and present landscape of integral actors and paradigms, and sketches a path forward for us. In so doing, the authors make a persuasive case for the need for an institutional platform like MetaIntegral, or more generally, for a meta-approach to the broad and diverse integral movement.

In cities, universities, governments, and companies all around the world there are people for whom an integral planet needs no explanation. This would-be planet pulses within us. It is our heart beating, and our reason for being—we stand for integralism, and in this we are no different than the brave souls that stood for rationalism in the 18th century and contributed to the birth of modernity. We can only hope to be so profound and pioneering. The question is and has been, how?

For other people—for the vast majority of humanity, the question is "what." What is the meaning of an integral planet? And "so what." Of what value to 'me' is integral thought and action?

MetaIntegral Foundation was birthed with these questions in mind, and the beating heart of the Foundation is the Integral Planet Endowment.

Kickstart. Network. Crowdfund. Enact.

As integral scholar-practitioners in solidarity, the more you and I can free ourselves and fund our projects the greater impact we will have on the planet. The greater our impact, the more funding we are likely to receive. So goes the feedback loop of how we can enact an integral vision and the value we can communicate to others.

We believe the Integral Planet Endowment will be a game-changer for integral practitioners. Less certain, but ultimately hoped-for is this: the sum total of our actions and contributions will help humanity reach a tipping point that brings sweeping change to the world.

If this mission and vision inspires you, we invite you to spread the word and get involved. Let us stand together and share in a great adventure as we seek to celebrate and accelerate the movement toward an integral planet!


Integral Planet Endowment from MetaIntegral on Vimeo.


Images of Bristlecone Pines courtesy of Amadej Trnkoczy

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  • Comment Link Bonnitta Roy Friday, 08 June 2012 11:11 posted by Bonnitta Roy

    Looking forward to this vision... I have been checking metaIntegral website on and off since last summer.... can't wait for the launch.

  • Comment Link David MacLeod Friday, 08 June 2012 18:38 posted by David MacLeod

    Sean and Justin,

    This looks to be a grand and promising adventure, and I am excited to see how it develops. It looks like MetaIntegral is bringing in a much stronger foundation from systems principles in the lower right quadrant, which I think is very wise, and a great balancing and integrating process.

    I am intrigued by the concept of "infinity dollars" and the idea of the "autopoetic dollar," but I am also a bit confused and a bit skeptical at this point. Can you unpack this concept a little bit more?

    It sounds almost like a polarity to the demurrage concept that Charles Eisenstein talks and writes about.

    Eisenstein writes, "Given the determining role of interest, the first alternative currency system to consider is one that structurally eliminates it. ...Gesell's free-money bears a form of negative interest called demurrage. ...the currency "goes bad" – depreciates in value – as it ages. (Of course, today this would be done electronically.)

    ...Conceptually, demurrage works by freeing material goods which are subject to natural cyclic processes of renewal and decay from their linkage with a money that only grows, exponentially, over time."

    This is a somewhat radical concept, and I'm not sure exactly how it would work, but when he relates it to ecological cycles, it makes some intuitive sense.

  • Comment Link Doug Wallack Saturday, 09 June 2012 05:46 posted by Doug Wallack

    This is awesome. I'll be watching closely to see which levers I might pull.
    Thanks for the move!

  • Comment Link karen Monday, 11 June 2012 20:20 posted by karen

    Hi Guys,
    I love the image of Methusula. I spent some time in the high California desert... Amazing World!
    Currently, I'm reading "On Complexity" by one of your ITC 2013 keynote speakers - Edgar Morin. Any bodhisattva vow would have to co-evolve within any emergence as the path would be laid down IN the walkin, as predetermined programs, by their very nature, would not include the strategies or the flexibility to adapt to the unexpected.
    MetaIntegral sounds and looks exciting to me. I will definitely mosey on over and give it a feel. -K

  • Comment Link Jordan Luftig Tuesday, 12 June 2012 21:27 posted by Jordan Luftig

    Hi everyone, thanks for your support, feedback and questions.

    The Mi vision will be manifested through you/us so I'm happy to know you are interested, excited, curious, and engaged.

    Even (especially) so when confused and skeptical -- to your question, David.

    I don't profess to be an expert on the topic of global monetary policy / currency systems and we don't have all the answers. We invite conversation and I believe we will be drawing upon the insights of many people as we develop the vision and move it into action.

    What I would say is that I appreciate you disclosing this polarity, which I am inclined to accept as true or certainly adequate enough to play with here. Upon first reading your post I immediately thought of a possible analogy to John Bunzl's commentary advocating for his Simultaneous Policy approach to enacting modes of global governance. I'm not remembering his exact language, but he was highlighting how the approach both transcends and includes existing models of governance; how his approach, unlike other attempts at political-economic transformation that work either entirely within the system (e.g., via electoral politics) or wholly dismiss the system and seek to overthrow it in one fell swoop (e.g., we might say some strains within the Occupy movement as it relates to global economy), works with/in the system while possessing a transcendent vision and engaging emergent practices that might indeed evolve a new system.

    Now, I don't know how well the parallels play out with what we're creating at Mi with the Integral Planet Endowment. It's my personal opinion, however, in response to your question and comments, that we would do well to work with/in the existing currency system for the time being even if, or perhaps precisely because, we also have transformational intent.

    It's an impossible, delicious, timely, wide-open question to my mind -- how we go about something like a global-scale process of "creative destruction" on a (not just economically, obviously) so as to optimally catalyze the demise of modern systems and facilitate the emergence of constructive postmodern ones (at the leading edge).

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