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Content Starts Calling in the intelligence of a river

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I spent some time playing in and sleeping on the banks of the Burdekin river and the big questions I ask myself continued to worm further into my brain. As I waited to meet with the team at Joseph Mark designing the nation a few days later these questions kept surfacing like a rolodex of information flicking over on the inside of my eyes…

  1. How do I learn and design from a river? Or from nature in general?
  2. Is imagination the link here to see the threads of creation between humans and all other species?
  3. What role does today’s language play in blocking our ability to learn from, relate to and identify as nature or as the river itself? 
  4. Where do dreams fit into the equation?
  5. Can we ever fully understand imagination? 
  6. How do we find the pathways back to our ancestral knowledge like the Mudlark birds who build their nests with no real time instructions or guidance? If we are just like any other animal surely the pathway is there? What is preventing us from seeing it?

The overwhelming feeling I got when I was on and in this river was a connectedness to a deep story, one that has been shaping the planet over time as the water moves in its patterns of creation shaping the land, trees and all life that it sustains.

I’m painting my interpretation of this river and viewing it in a way where you can see the space between everything from deep below to the ripples and flows on the surface. I’ve accepted that I’ll never fully understand or see the processes between each drop of water throughout all time and its interaction with everything around it and I’m ok with not knowing, at peace with it even, it’s a lot of knowledge to process and make meaning of and I’ll surely get lost in the enormity of it all. 

What I do see when I paint it is that the river is an open exchange of energy and maybe how we can learn from it is seeing our own exchanges of knowledge as energy. 

I see knowledge as story, good/ right way story can give you good energy, it fuels you from deep within and generates hope, movement and flows for health within yourself and everything you’re connected to, I’ve personally experienced this in the last 4 years. As I painted I pondered what the barriers are that keep our knowledge “dammed/ damned” and in unhealthy systems we’ve inherited. 

Deep listening is a practice championed by Elder Miriam-Rose Ungunmerr “When I experience dadirri (deep listening), I am made whole again. I can sit on the riverbank or walk through the trees; even if someone close to me has passed away, I can find my peace in this silent awareness. There is no need of words. A big part of dadirri is listening” 

When I think about the value Miriam highlights in this practice I see how our current systems are not encourage to take time to listen deeply, to each other or anything around us – it’s quite the opposite in fact and people are free and within their legal right to make huge profits from our eyeball hours and use our stories (data) to keep increasing the growth of the zeros in their bank accounts. Deep listening and learning from nature will remain out of reach with attention economies generating one way profit flows that reinforce the storing of relations in the dollar instead of nature. 

On to some more practical questions we are asking as we prepar for the launch of the Nation in October: How do you design a digital platform that centres imagination in a way that allows humanity to transition away from the unhealthy systems we have inherited and back to our more natural role as custodians? I think the answer is somewhere in and around how the humans in the network plug into each story that is being generated and how we represent that story as it unfolds. 

Finding a frame that allows for emergent knowledge to be valued is key to understanding imagination, it’s always flowing and changing along with everything around us, this is why it should be valued above information and text based only forms of learning. I’m taken back to the NATION Stack view as a way to try and visualise the process and zoom in and out as I see it unfolding in IMAGI-NATION {University}.  


Once we are grounded in the philosophy we can zoom in and focus on the threads that represent the humans and the actions they take to generate the story on a more granular level – The blocks below represent hoodies that are given to people post action and research and it’s now in draft form at this website link.

Once a project is complete that story forms new levels on the surface of the nation and keeps building on the stack to connect us to our origins and big story.

Building the JOY application as one element in the stack required us to initiate a cycle of knowledge sharing – To be an active part of this process is quite the learning experience and trying to map it is an exercise in imagination as you catch the notes people are contributing and find ways to communicate this back to others in a way that allows them to see this as the most natural thing we can do, it’s not far reaching or hard or a lot to take in – finding the story that will cut through the noise in today’s attention economy is one of the ways the way we pass on hope and generate movement in transitioning our economic systems to more healthier ones. Like letting the river flow and not damming it.

Above is an image of the AIME JOY Corp story and knowledge sharing process of the 7 systems change levers represented as one thread in the stack.

Imagine what’s possible with all that action and unlikely connections if organisations around the world redesign their structures in ways that align with the systems we see in nature. Can you see it? It’s almost like trying to see all the layers between the bottom of the river and the surface, you know it’s there but you’re unsure how it will look for sure because it’s yet to emerge – that is the beauty in not knowing,  allowing our dreams and vision to bridge now and all time together, to realise we are imagination and everything about us is a memory represented in a dream or a vision of the future – all time is dreamtime except for now, and now, and now… 

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