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Culture of Sustainability as a conceptual model

In consideration of "Sustainable Culture" as a precondition for a sustainable world, if human society is to be a part of it, one might discern two emergent themes, which are Health or Balance, and Scale.
To begin, let us consider the minimum size building block of human culture, which is one unit of consciousness, a single human being. The oldest written study of health of the individual is a tradition at least five thousand years old. Seeking a holistic tradition with such ancient roots and luminary contributors, we can turn to the Ayurvedic tradition from India— a medical science that considers the whole of a person, not just the physical body, and does not stop with psychology. The Ayurvedic tradition holds that there are three aspects of being: mind, body and spirit; the functional integrity of these are the definition of life. When each aspect is present in a wholesome way and in balance with the other aspects, an individual is truly healthy and has maximum potential for development. This state of balance enables an individual to live fully, with an open mind and an open heart, and the possibility for attaining enlightenment in this lifetime is enhanced.

An important realization is that the same model can apply to groups. In fact, in a group operating within a field of consensus, one of the most powerful decision states, there is a resonant harmony among all of the participants. For larger units of Sustainable Culture we can explore a simplification of five levels of scale- enough complexity to enable meaningful analysis, yet limited enough to be manageable. It is understood that the entire model is a sketch form for the vast complexity of existence, which ultimately is understood to contain all levels, all quadrants, all paths, all sectors, etc. It is proposed that five units of scale in the model are: Individual, Family, Village, Region and World. Note that the Nation State is not used as a unit of scale; in the Spiral Dynamics model with its eight plus levels of cultural evolution, the limitations of the Blue vMeme are revealed: nationalism has its place but ultimately can limit the potential for a truly integrated planetary human society.


In addition to considerations of Health and Scale, the full model of Sustainable Culture incorporates the 8+ Levels of Cultural Evolution presented as Spiral Dynamics, and the understanding of the 4 Quadrants of Ken Wilber. Further, to ground the theoretical understanding into a framework that enables real application, there are 12 Sectors of Sustainable Culture, organized in accordance with fundamental principles of metaphysics and sacred geometry. These 12 sectors enable an assortment of activities, including: 1) Mapping a community to determine weak points and places for improvement, as well as points of particular strength, 2) Design and planning for human social systems that demonstrate superior states of Health and Balance in all aspects of human reality, at all levels of scale, and appropriate for all stages of cultural development, and 3) Delivering solutions for particular social groups that address the specific weak points of a given community.

One sector at an earlier stage of cultural development will tend to impede progress of the whole system, regardless how developed particular sectors may be. Of course, a given society or social group will have individuals and subgroups carrying their particular understandings and limitations. Spiral Dynamics offers the understanding that particular codes carry special meaning for particular individuals and groups. Application of the whole understanding is a "Second Tier" approach, which accepts all the pieces as they are, legitimate in their state as they are now. People with "Second Tier" consciousness are committed to enhancing the evolution of all the elements, individually and as a collective whole. Thus we can explicitly develop codes and developmental paths specific to sectors of activity, appreciating that each sector has important relations to all of the others, and thus, accelerating change at a whole systems level is in fact possible.

Beyond the "Second Tier", in the transpersonal realm, systems models fall away as being inherently limited because of the limitations of mind. However, just as the mind is useful in enabling us to maintain our bodies with food, medicine and healthy regimen, it is true that a planning and design approach to government, social welfare, transportation systems, food production and even spiritual development has its important place. Each sector is critical to proper function and development of all the others. There is only one existence, with interconnection beyond what we can understand with mind, with a fine structure down to the smallest quantum level. And yet, there is perhaps nothing more important on an crucial journey than a good map, a reference framework within which to build and progress, to make experiments, compare experiences and evaluate results. We need one a trans-denominational integrated conceptual framework that enables universal discussion— a cognitive framework to build the next iteration of human society, a Sustainable Culture forged through a consensus on universal values.

What are the 12 Sectors of Sustainable Culture?

The 12 sectors of Sustainable Culture were identified from several attempts to describe environmental/sustainability concerns with general categories dating back to at least 1992 . The final list emerged over a decade ago from analyzing early online sustainability conversations called sustain-L. Twelve is a special number; 3x4 arranged in a circle has unusual capability and thus is incorporated in astrological systems, the hours on the clock, and the months in the year. The sectors are arranged according to fundamental sacred geometry which includes two basic polarities: Matter - Spirit, and Mind/Male - Heart/Female. The sectors can then be applied to different levels of scale and different levels of social evolution, and thus fits nicely with the system of Spiral Dynamics with its eight or more levels of social development. One practical benefit of the 12 sectors is that they allow for analysis of and a perspective toward the (re)construction of society with an eye toward what is an ideal: a balanced society, a human culture that can properly take care of its world and continue to evolve.

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