Seventy years ago, as the Second World War raged, more than seven hundred people converged on a pristine New Hampshire ski resort to draw up the blueprints for a brand new world. The delegates to the Bretton Woods Conference irrefutably proved that ideas matter: The concepts, designs and, principles that emerged from their meeting set forth an unprecedented expansion of global trade and finance, steering the course of the world for the better part of a century.
But the Bretton Woods blueprint had unforeseen consequences: the mindset of endless economic growth enshrined in those New Hampshire mountains has resulted in unsustainable resource exploitation, the proliferation of credit and indebtedness, oppressive power relations between rich and poor countries, and the suppression of indigenous cultures and knowledge.
Today, in another era of rapidly increasing complexity, there’s consensus emerging across regions and across ideological divides that:
" We need a process that allows us to search for adjacent possibles that have not yet been discovered and We also need a new vision".
The meeting at Bretton Woods was comprised almost entirely of white men (and one white woman) from the upper socioeconomic strata of wealthy industrialized countries. Effective creative problem solving requires access to a diversity of perspectives. While actionable and meaningful solutions to the problems of the global economy require buy-in and support from people from varied backgrounds around the world, the conversation at Bretton Woods was predicated on top down power rather than broad-based participation.
Seven decades after the Second World War, in a new era of uncertainty and possibility, it’s time to consider the question:
"What might a new and radically inclusive Bretton Woods look like?"
ECOS is a gathering, by invitation, of grassroots activists, creative thinkers, and leaders from innovative humanitarian organizations, indigenous communities, and the frontlines of failing political and economic systems. What unites ECOS participants is the vision of a global economic and political order founded on compassion, reverence for the earth, on cooperation rather than control. ECOS is a platform to connect, face-to-face, and to form a group of explorers, to discover the 'adjacent possible' solution that takes us beyond injustice and inequality.
Professor Kenneth O. Stanley says in his book, Why Greatness Cannot be Planned: The Myth of the Objective, "Objectives actually become obstacles toward more exciting achievements, like those involving discovery, creativity, invention, innovation...", especially when the problems are tremendously complex. ECOS is an opportunity to open up a solution space for inventive discovery to take place.
Distinguishing ECOS from other gatherings today will be the opportunity to discover the stepping stones shrouded in the mist that we cannot see unless we have a new way of searching. The ECOS process, based in Complexity science, ignites that search and the collaboration of diverse group to take the conversation from single issue band-aid responses to scalable transformative action.
It’s sane and natural to break complex problems into their simplest components. But we, as a species, no longer have this luxury. Complexity science—informed and inspired by traditional indigenous modes of thinking and visioning—provides a rigorous platform for making new connections and breaking disciplinary silos. This holistic orientation is the core value proposition of the ECOS gathering.
ECOS is a movement building event, invitees are successful social change makers. Please let us know if you would like to nominate or support a delegate.