One of the “meta-challenges” of the cChallenge opportunity that attracted me was the opportunity to view the cChallenge in the context of a “meta-community”. I was curious if we would attract participation from what I call the 4+1 Voices of the Human Hive; namely, Citizens, Civic Managers, Business/Innovators and the Third Sector – plus other Human Hives. If we worked together could we Think Cosmically, Feel Globally, Act Locally?

Our Findhorn community includes people from the Findhorn Foundation, NFA, the eco-park organizations, the traditional Findhorn Village and the nearby neighbourhoods like Kinloss. For those following my cogitations (elsewhere) on this habitat, I have called the whole “Meta-Findhorn”. So, with this overview of our eco-peninsula, it is clear that we have in our experiment the +1 factor of the Voices.

“Meta-Findhorn” appears to be developing all the qualities and features of an emerging town (maybe even the “City of Light” that Eileen Caddy imagined). It is manifesting the level of complexity that I characterize in my writings as an Integral City or a Human Hive.

This “integral” or whole system approach to human habitats privileges consciousness and culture – something I call Placecaring. It embraces actions, objects and systems – often called the bricks and mortar and technologies of city Placemaking – but transcends and includes them to be visible partners with the invisible essences of consciousness and culture. In other words, in an Integral city, community or Human Hive – people’s individual and collective inner lives provide the core caring qualities of the thinking, feeling and acting.

While I have been influenced to see communities and cities as whole systems – evolutionary and interconnected that can even be mapped in an Integral City model – I have also been influenced by our sister species, the honey bee to view our habitats as living systems (a form of biomimicry). And those bees have figured out how to meet cChallenges by assigning roles within their hives that not only sustain the hive but also the whole eco-system that they pollinate. What is more, I suggest we can notice those 4 roles – or Voices as I have come to call them – operating in our ccc19 cChallenge. Here are the Voice patterns I notice that have emerged:

Citizen Voice – Most of us speak with this voice when we tell the stories of our individual experiences of cChange. This Voice is characterized by Susie and Kerstin caring for their families in ways that balance the change in diet to remove dairy or eat vegan, while expressing the shocks of cChange: “What no cheese on the pizza?!” Other expressive Citizen Voices came from Saille and her curiosities about the effectiveness of “Truth Paste” and Judith’s unhappy exclamation, “Oh my! the birds’ nut treats are sold in plastic!!!”.

Civic Manager Voice – In the city these Voices would be heard from city managers, education system, healthcare system, police, fire, emergency response – those Voices who manage the operation of the human hive. Their job is to allocate and manage resources. In the cChallenge we might nominate Eveline to this Voice because of the entirely new resource she created to enable composting in the eco-park. Berent is also demonstrating this voice by undertaking the measurement and allocation of plastic waste while striving to reduce or even eliminate it. Daniella was the first to remind us of the major impact that can come from saving energy through turning down the thermostat and realizing the electric kettle is such a big energy user. Also, Roger’s reporting in the Carbon Bites about the various endeavours to reduce carbon emissions is speaking from this CM Voice. Maria also contributed to this Voice by offering the Carbon Conversations as a major source of education on practical options that we can implement to activate “Drawdown”. All of us who elected to change our diets to plant-rich (or caffeine free) options are also demonstrating this Voice.

Business/Innovation Voice – An “accidental player” in our cChallenge has been the Phoenix Shop who has provided strong retail support for our changing buying habits, especially to reduce plastic packaging. The Phoenix has long required customers to supply their own bags, and offers only paper bags for vegetable, fruit and bulk purchases. It has been very receptive and supportive of our inquiries and/or requests for change. In like manner we could point to the nearby farm shops who started to receive more trade as people switched from Tesco or other large retailers. We could also point to the “social enterprises” that have emerged during our cChallenge – like Eveline’s Hot Composting Project (also mentioned above) – which took initiative and crowdfunding to implement. Innovation and artistic expression came through the YIP’s Zero Waste art project and Jane’s photographs.

Third Sector Voice – This Voice I consider to be what is the “Integrator” or “Hive Mind” Voice of the bee hive. It is the Voice that tells the bees whether they are achieving their objective of producing their 20 kg of honey per year in order to survive. In the Human Hive this Voice plays the role of conscience or civil society, reminding us of purpose, inspiration and the greatest good for all. In our cChallenge this Voice came through Jane’s poems about Nature; about her reflections on her walks in both our community and in Edinburgh. This Voice was also reflected by Emma when she shared her reasons for switching to a vegan diet, that connected her to animals’ consciousness and their right to life.

I think it is easy to see that our cChallenge has attracted a 4 Voice harmony that is already influencing the +1 Voices of other communities. Many of us have reported sharing our cChallenge with other members of the Meta-Findhorn community (as our announcements and gatherings have also been broadcast through the ccc19 conference preparation) as well as other places much further afield – from Edinburgh to Australia.

In returning to the premise that Karen O’Brien used to design the cChallenge, we can notice that the 3 Spheres of Influence she framed for cChange included Technologists, Politicians, People. It appears that our ccc19 cChallenge 4+1 Voices are a microcosm of those same spheres: Business/Innovators, Resource Allocators, Citizens and the Third Sector.  What is more, by working together as a community (and not just as isolated individuals) we are far more likely to achieve our intentions to accomplish meaningful cChange – just as the bees use their 4 roles to sustain the hive and pollinate their eco-region.

I have a friend who might call the beautiful integration and complexity that results when the 4+1 Voices sing together the big HUMMMMM. I think it is the sound of Thinking Kosmically, Feeling Globally and Acting Locally.