Walk Out, Walk On

The book, ‘Walk Out, Walk On, a learning journey into communities daring to live the future now’ (Frieze, Wheatley), documents changes happening in 7 communities around the world. Most of them are located in difficult, even dangerous political, social and economical circumstances, yet each of them has managed to become healthy and resilient without outside aid.

This simple given doesn’t adequately explain the impact this book has had on my life and world view. Deborah Frieze touches on it when she says:

The culture I was raised in taught me to solve problems, pursue success, maximize profit, gain influence, leverage power, and be compensated well for doing so. If I choose to walk out of that world view, what then will guide my actions?…

In her brief summing up, Deborah has pinpointed the place many of us find ourselves in- dissatisfied, not just with a job or a facet of our lives, but questioning the very foundations of our society’s ruling paradigm.

Where do you go if you choose to walk out way from that? Is there even anywhere to go to?

A core tenet of this book is the phrase ‘walking out, walking on’.  (slightly paraphrased):

‘Walk outs’ are people who leave behind situations, jobs, ideas, relationships that constrict them and ‘walk on’ to discover the ideas, people, and practices that lead to new possibilities.

Walking out and on we have two competing roles- the thoughtful attending to what’s dying, known as ‘hospicing’, and the pioneering edge-walking of leaving the dying systems altogether.

Inside dying systems, Walk Outs who walk on are those few leaders who refuse to work from the dominant values that permeate the bureaucracy,…speed, greed, fear, and aggression.

Many people have opted out of the existing society completely, we see their experiments in the book, but I think most of us will dance between the two poles, dealing with the challenges of giving birth to the new in the midst of the old.

Walk Outs sense that more is possible.

I have had that sense for years, haven’t you? That is part of what this blog will be exploring.

I’ve walked out of the paradigm that has annexed art into the consumer system and sublimated its transcendence into a set of marketing principles. I’ve refused to pursue the gift aspect of my art as a career, and have walked out of ‘selling’ and fame being the ultimate goals for my skills and gifts.

What now? How do I create meaning, how do I act, how do I redefine my role as a creator and maker?

This is why WOWO (Walk Out, Walk On) has impacted me so profoundly. It doesn’t just raise questions, but illuminates vigorous, practical solutions- not abstractly or in some new age fairyland community, but rooted in the soils of some of our poorest countries and neighbourhoods.

The quiet heroism and innovation of the individuals in these communities can serve as a model to rethink every aspect of our lives, from how we grow our food to how we teach a course or build a house.

More posts on this thread will follow.

Do check out the site, and if you are interested, buy the book-  the journeys to communities in Mexico, India, South America, South Africa etc,  are beautifully documented, and interspersed with valuable poetic reflection.


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