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why we need a crew

In September 2023, a small group of transformational leaders from across the world gathered deep in the Somerset countryside to go on a journey together. They came together in recognition that these times demand new kinds of leadership; that we must dream big, dig deep and act bravely. Through their journey, the group opened up to new and radically different possibilities and began to chart new courses towards bold dreams for the future. This audio piece tells the story of their journey in their own words.

Made by Jo Barratt with Gemma Mortensen, Iris Andrews, Lily Piachaud, Hrund Gunnsteinsdóttir and Yasmin El Dabi

The wonderful crew who journeyed with us are Alice Jay, Cat Tully, Christine Lai, Jenna Nicholas, Jo Sparber, Kim Willis, Louis Butler, Manish Joshi, Mark Cridge, Mathieu Le Fevre, Mitya Savelau, Tara McGuinness and Tom Adeyoola.


 We’ve got this conflation of multiple crises. We are seeing the things that we’ve held dear start to fall away before our very eyes. 

Whether it’s around climate change or war or the challenges with AI or so many different topics. 

If it was more a theory in the past, now we see it in all these different types of natural disasters and that is very scary.

There’s a concept in the Baha’i Faith around the forces of disintegration and integration in the world and in many ways feel as though we’re at the juncture point between witnessing these forces of disintegration.  

There’s no way anyone could say that they go through their daily lives, not fully aware. And I think that knowledge is both liberating, but incredibly overwhelming. 

You know, we’re in a time of, like, where it’s crazy to be a young person. It’s a mad time, and it should be more of a watershed moment. 

I definitely think it’s a key moment and an inflection point but I’m unsure of how different it is to the big shifts that have happened, for example, when in the U. S. in the 1910s, in about 15 years, the population went from being 85 percent rural to 85 percent urban. Or, for example, the introduction of the printing press in Europe, or the process of colonisation in the early 1800s, in particular across India.

I think it’s just, we have the information of everything happening everywhere. So we think that everything is a crisis, all the time, because we’re aware of it. 

I feel that most generations feel that they’re living through a watershed moment in history. And I think there’s a lot of the same old, same old, political economies, rise and fall of authoritarians you know, same old, majority of white men in power. 

We still seem to be lacking, like, the right systems and the right leadership to really be able to, you know, think about what new institutions would look like, and what is the actual world that we want to see, versus just, you know, putting a bit of tape on a problem and waiting for another 10 years and it still being there. 

For most of my adult life, it felt to me as though we were making slow and steady generational progress.  I don’t feel that way today. For a short time I wished to live in more boring times, but I think it’s actually a privilege to be a human on earth in a moment where you don’t know how the story ends. 

I don’t know if we’re going down a river or stream where the river is split into two paths and will never intersect again. I think this is a moment of fog and great uncertainty. 

If I do look up, it just feels like an enormous, unintelligible,  scary and complicated sky of stars that I have no understanding how to decipher or where to, how to move from A to B.

I think it could be quite a lonely road because you don’t always meet all that many people who are willing to travel with you. 

I think there’s guilt from having been complicit or being complicit as being a member of society but also in the early stage of my career, very actively working in a particular career path through advertising and marketing that was very much part of the problem and continues to be part of the problem. Yeah, as a father, yeah, still very much living a very privileged life. It’s, the guilt doesn’t really go away, I don’t think.  

I feel a deep unease with where we are, where we’re going, and what my role is and should be. I think I’m still trying to find my path forward where I feel like I’m contributing, but at the same time balancing my life and having that work-life balance which I think always is a challenge if I’m one of those people who kind of dives head first in and then doesn’t look up. 

I can kind of disengage with the madness of like the news cycle and the terror of that and if I don’t engage that and just take big broad views, I can be like, wow, you know, life and the forces of physics and of chemistry in our universe are kind of wild and phenomenal. 

I found I really need to deepen my practices of presence and gratitude and deep connection. I find it both challenging, but at other moments I can find deep, deep peace. 

Really and truly, two twos, man’s really burnt out. I’m really really burnt out and I want to just be out there exploring nature, learning from it and being in it and having those, you know, wild life experiences rather than fighting trying to convince people that seem to be so disconnected from it to love it. But that’s how we’ve got to win this. People fight for stuff that they love. 

I kind of feel quite sanguine and actually really optimistic about the level of innovation and excitement and resilience and the desire to change things. 

I am a glass half full person. And I like to believe in the human’s capacity to influence our own future. And that in working on areas which we can control, all those elements will, when added together, will lead to the positive influence that will basically shift the future towards the positive rather than negative. 

How I see and hope for this watershed moment in history to be remembered is living during a time where humanity builds and strengthens its capacity to become incrementally better by building its shared capacity to move in mutually desirable directions. 

It seems quite a tough situation at the moment, emotionally. But I think, you know, joining you guys for these couple of days will help me to take a step back, hopefully, and take a look at it in a different way. 

It’s hard to know what to leave behind and what to pack for when you don’t know where you’re going.  But, let’s try.  The first one is let’s leave our phones behind. 

I think we need to turn away from our obsession with technology being the solution to everything. 

What I’ve been describing as the low grade hum, which overwhelms us and heightens our senses to be in fight or flight mode.

I think we need to turn away from the value of money being the only value. 

It’s what people work their whole lives for and they still never achieve happiness. 

The fallacy that metrics and numbers actually can help us really steer through the kind of complex issues that we need to navigate through. 

We need to turn away from a culture of insatiable want.

Away from colonial extractivist ideas and approaches. 

I am appalled at how, in late 2023, the world seems dominated by big egos. 

We need to move away from fear fueled hate and towards a new mentality that is not us versus them when things are really tough. 

Our sense of superiority, our biases, our prejudices, our sense of survival of the fittest and that only some of us can survive.

A complacency that everything will be solved, and it can be solved, and it will be done by someone else.  

I would definitely throw away the disbelief that I cannot do anything or I’m not enough, or my skills and knowledge or experiences are not enough.

The people who have the luxury of looking for new shores, of taking days and hours of their day to think about this, are few and far between, and they’re very unrepresentative. And so, let’s really just keep in mind who we are as travellers, who we are looking for. I think listening is the key skill of the 20th, 21st century. And let’s do more of that on our ship. 

I want to turn to small voices, unique voices, unheard voices, voices that are far away from any big stages, voices that are hidden normally but are affected.  

We need to move and create new exciting opportunities and be able to present those in a way that people can engage with and overcome.  

For me, it’ll be about training my children, showing up in my life on the small things. We can’t get out of here the way we got in.  

I’m the person who will always be there and will help you follow through. I’m the optimist who believes that we can chart new courses.  

I’m really unsure of what my role is, and that is an honest, authentic response. 

You do this together. It’s not your fault. You can be part of the solution. We can all be storytellers. We can all contribute to new shared stories. We will lose things along the way. We won’t see how this ends. It will be painful. It will be beautiful. 

I think we need to step away from thinking that there isn’t something deeper to it all. 

I feel really strongly that our orientation of what we move towards isn’t a  place, or a strategy, or a ten point plan, or any of that. 

We need to go inward to find calm and clarity and peace. 

Does it feel like joy? Does it feel like wildness? Does it feel like aliveness? 

The word love keeps coming up for me. Underneath all of that, there’s this sense of, sort of, turning towards the stars, and this sense of awe and wonder. 

We need to be so much better at becoming part of this planet again. The movement of it, the feeling, the expression. 

We humans are remarkable creatures. We have enough. We also have ancient models of how to live in harmony hiding in plain sight.  

We are really just stewards guiding the future of, you know, where we hope our generations will be and the world that they will live in. I think we have to understand as well that some things have to fall away, some things have to die for new things to be reborn. 

The old can be transformed, but also all that glitters is not gold. You know, that thing of the glimmers, you sort of, the process here of seeing them and then thinking, meh, maybe not. 

This work is hard. Glimmers of progress are more often obscured as things fall away into the mist. But we have to believe that this is working. We are connecting. There is common ground. There are more for us than against us. We need to find our allies. We may not have hope but we should have faith. 

We certainly need to be dreaming big. That real sense of people coming together to work collectively. Like I think this is not a journey that any of us can take on our own. It’s why we need a crew. 

When I think of the analogy of us being on a boat, I think the sort of replication of those boats, and then the bringing together of those boats, to be able to deliberate on the ideas that emerge, the values that emerge. 

Damn, shit. We have always been living on a paradise. We’ve always been living on this blue and green rock in space that’s just hurtling  through the Universe and the Milky Way galaxy. And it’s an absolute paradise that we can steward and love and protect. 

I hope to have a role of reminding us to look up and to ask as we take small steps whether they’re actually headed in the right direction. I hope stepping back on shore, I can hold a crystal clear memory of the taste and feel and sensibility of a new constellation that’s grounded in repair, connection to each other and the earth, optimism, and possibility.