Axiom News Podcast
Catalyzing a Democracy Gestalt – From Critical Mess to Critical Mass: Oliver Escobar

Catalyzing a Democracy Gestalt – From Critical Mess to Critical Mass: Oliver Escobar

May 25, 2022

Oliver Escobar was raised in a country governed by a dictatorship. Now he is making a life work in democratic research, teaching, and advocacy. He says many or most of our democracies are very underdeveloped. They focus on just a few practices, elections and party politics, which are important but very limited aspects of democratic life. That underdevelopment may have played a role in bringing about what is now a time of great upheaval. That upheaval might in turn serve up an opportunity for renewal.

Oliver says democracy is very personal. It’s about the conditions of possibility for meaningful lives. And it’s not so new as we typically think. In this episode we talk about the indigenous nature of democracy, a practice that reaches all the way to the beginning of culture, long before the dawn of western civilization. Democracy is not a story that belongs to a few countries, it is a story that belongs to humanity.

There are people all around the world who are living in or into deeper democracy. And yet, their stories are not ones we hear. We ask and explore why. Why when there is a more whole way of life alive and well in communities all around the world, do we not hear their stories?

What would it take to go from what Oliver calls a critical mess, to a critical mass?

Reclaiming Our Capacity to Produce Our Own Wellbeing: Peter Block

Reclaiming Our Capacity to Produce Our Own Wellbeing: Peter Block

May 11, 2022

Peter Block says now is a time in which we can reclaim our capacity to produce our own wellbeing in our communities, workplaces, in our faith, schools, journalism, art, and architecture.

The last two years have put many of us in touch with our world differently. We have been given a fresh opportunity to revisit the ways in which, and from where, we work. Many are reconsidering the social contract. We are suddenly more in touch with people from around the world with digital gatherings having grown exponentially. New movements are shaking up old norms. Reconciliation, restoration, and the common good are calling out for our attention.

In this episode, Peter, self-proclaimed talker and typer, and author of Community: The Structure of Belonging, reflects on the power of trust, groups, rearranging the room, and being human together first. He says he “would like to have a place where ideas matter. Where doubts are valued. Where uncertainty is embraced.” This space is now emerging in the form of Cultivating The Great Community, within which we are hosting a year-long community-led dialogue with Peter to explore what we don't understand about the world we live in now and the philosophic insights that can guide us. A space he refers to as “activism with the architecture of a gathering.”

We begin the conversation in this episode, and invite you to join it’s continuation. To learn more about Reclaiming Our Freedom and Accountability visit Cultivating the Great Community to register for a free pre-launch event with Peter Block happening July 6.


Peter Block's work is in the restoration of the common good and creating a world that reclaims our humanity from the onslaught of modernism.

To find out more, see:

Seeking the Source of Regenerative Culture: Jenny Finn

Seeking the Source of Regenerative Culture: Jenny Finn

April 27, 2022

Jenny Finn's life has been an adventure. As a young woman she broke suddenly from addiction. She then found herself on a discovery journey into life-centred ways of interacting with the world.

She says that while we all must consider the context in which we find ourselves, we do not have to rebel or conform. Jenny and her peers have identified and refined a set of five Sourced Design principles to guide us in responding to the world's current needs and shaping regenerative culture.

As she shares her story in this episode, Jenny speaks to the primacy of direct experience and relational examples, the five principles of Sourced Design, and what life is like as one who answers to a life calling.

Jenny is co-founder of Springhouse Community School in Pilot, Virginia. Springhouse is a multi-generational community of learners courageously exploring the path to regenerative culture. 

It’s Time to Reconfigure Relationships Between Non-Profits, Cities, and Government: Shaun Loney

It’s Time to Reconfigure Relationships Between Non-Profits, Cities, and Government: Shaun Loney

April 12, 2022

Shaun Loney is a serial social entrepreneur and the author of two books: An Army of Problem Solvers and A Beautiful Bailout. He's senior partner at Encompass Co-op through which he advocates for a revolution in the relationship between enterprising non-profits, foundations, and governments of all levels. Outcomes Purchasing is a transformative financial tool that values the outcomes non-profits deliver, saves governments money, and directly addresses social problems and possibilities. 

Not one to stand still for long, Shaun has put himself forward as a mayoral candidate in his hometown of Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. His penchant for bringing people together to break down barriers and to reconfigure relationships has him drawn to cities as a nexus for social change. 

Imagining a New Social Contract: Jeff Evans

Imagining a New Social Contract: Jeff Evans

March 22, 2022

In our longing for belonging have we made a deal that gives too much away? When we go along to get along, what is the cost? In this conversation with Jeff Evans, a managing partner of Designed Learning — A Peter Block Company, we explore what it would take to make a new deal and rewrite a social contract in favour of aliveness and belonging. Jeff makes the case for beginning where we are with practices like leading by convening, confronting our freedom, and welcoming dissent. 

Could Throwing a Better Party Shift the System? — Kiu Coates

Could Throwing a Better Party Shift the System? — Kiu Coates

March 15, 2022

People do not need help. They need justice. That means access to the resources that affords them the same level of authority and power as those inside institutions. It’s time to bring an end to the time of ‘doing for’ and move into ‘doing with’. For Kiu Coates, that means throwing a better party. 

Kiu is a facilitator with the Social Gastronomy Movement who is part of cultivating an emerging social architecture, one that creates a system for ‘doing with.’ That architecture, along with practices for convening and encouraging possibility, puts lived experience at the centre. He even makes the case that engaging and hiring people with lived experience is not a moral argument, but a practical one. Who better to engage than someone with direct, lived experience with the questions at hand?

Kiu shares insights he’s garnered along the way. He speaks with fierceness about transcending conventional institutional practices and the joy to be found in doing so.

Is Ours a System of Mental Madness? – Karim Alameddine

Is Ours a System of Mental Madness? – Karim Alameddine

March 8, 2022

What does it mean if our life is falling apart? What are our experiences telling us? We are at a time of great change and we have to pivot and yet there is a tendency to pivot to what is known. The cost of that tendency can be our own growth. We might die in the cocoon. Karim Alameddine has been interrogating questions he has about conventional approaches to mental health. He feels dangerous ideologies are creating a system of mental madness and keeping people stuck. Karim said he was ready to speak out. His message, while emanating from his experience in the mental health field, speaks to the changes we face and the patterns that prevent us from facing it well.

Karim is the author of an upcoming book on addiction. 

Finding the Way of Regenerative Education: Carolyn Reilly

Finding the Way of Regenerative Education: Carolyn Reilly

March 1, 2022

Carolyn Reilly serves as the generative communications design lead at Springhouse Community School in Pilot, Virginia, USA. Springhouse is a school for regenerative culture builders. Learning is seen there as a lifelong journey that should be centred around vitality, meaning, and cultivating wholeness to better serve the world's emerging needs.

At Springhouse, they have decided that it is most important to take care of, foster, and share life. The learning journey at Springhouse starts in a very different place than conventional schooling settings. In a time calling out for more whole and life-giving ways of learning and teaching Springhouse is leading the way. If you are interested in jumping through a portal to a world where learning begins not with curriculum, books, and standardized testing, but with life, wholeness, sensing, and the courage to step towards the unknown, this conversation just might be for you.

Recovering Our Authentic Self: Peter Charad

Recovering Our Authentic Self: Peter Charad

February 22, 2022

People have been harmed by the society they grew up in.

Having been harmed by the society we grew up in, many of us take on roles that do not reflect who we really are. We live 'lives outside of ourselves.'

The gap created by that separation is filled, by many, with addiction. But the substance abuse is not actually the root problem. Living our life outside of ourselves is the root problem. Peter Charad calls this co-dependency. So, when you quit the thing you are addicted to all the 'stuff' that hasn't been contended with as a result of roles and relationships that separate you from yourself is going to come up. And that is probably going to be hard. It takes time and support. On the horizon, though, is a journey to the recovery of one's authentic self.

If recovering a deeper sense of self is of interest to you, Peter's story will offer ways forward, whether you are contending with substance abuse in your own life or not.

Peter Charad has been recovered from addiction for over 30 years.

This podcast was produced in collaboration with the Recovery Pathways Research Team and was originally published on their website. It appears here with permission.

Serving Life By Transcending Silos: Christine Spottiswood

Serving Life By Transcending Silos: Christine Spottiswood

February 8, 2022

Organizations work a certain way. Organizations home in on their mission. They focus on what they know. That means a great deal is left outside.

So, there is huge opportunity in the space between them.

However, the way we manage our organizations is not the way to host the space between them. Hosting a collaborative ecology requires the ability to lead by convening, comfort with ambiguity, power-with dynamics, and practices that suit an emergent rather than a deterministic way of working. AB Seed is discovering how.

Christine Spottiswood serves as project lead. She shares her journey with the messiness of learning how to work with organizations while leading something that is a little different, something a bit beyond the norm.

AB Seed is not a legal entity. It has the financial support of 15 organizations. It is in light and right relationship with supportive provincial government departments. It ticks all the partnership boxes. It tends to the spaces in between and is catalyzing new and natural synergies.

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