Welcome to Thrivable



Thrivability: Breaking Through to a World that Works

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David Hodgson, IdeaHive - San Francisco, CA, USA


Abundance is the tree that brings forth the fruit upon which life feeds and provides seeds to life anew.

It is the glorious dance of which we are all a part.

The flow of life in which we swim.

The water we drink, the air we breathe, the food we eat, the ones we love, the rich pageant of life that envelops us.

A gift freely shared by the universe in each and every passing moment.

And yet, and yet, held close in its warm, familiar embrace, we forget...

Abundance is the soil from which the plant emerges that brings forth the flower whose seed falls back into the soil's welcoming embrace from which springs forth life anew.

Abundance. Upward Spirals. Thrivability.

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Its really good and heart touching.


  --Troy Kent (Not signed in).....2013-02-01 07:58:32 +0000




Maryann Fernandez, Philanthropy Indaba - New York, NY, USA


Day in and day out.  It’s about careers with extra projects on the side. It’s about squeezing in “enough” time for family and friends. It’s about schedules, procedures and deadlines. Rush, rush. Type, type. Tweet, tweet. These are busy days and challenging times.


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WHEW! Even when it’s good, it zaps the energy and erodes the soul …. enough to finally make you take notice.


So, every once in a while, create the opportunity for adventure. Give your soul the chance to leap, romp, frolic, and giggle. Let the overused part of your brain rest, while allowing the other parts to tingle and come alive. Shed the familiar and routine; step out and be bold.

Mmmmmmm. Do you feel it? Your boundaries are stretching.

Adventures come in all shapes and sizes. There are the grand adventures that require travel and a passport, that are physically challenging, or that allow you to spend time in a place of great beauty. But there are also the small adventures that infuse your weekly routine with a bit of inspiration. It could be as simple as trying a new cuisine in a different part of town, hanging out with a new friend or taking that tango class you’ve been secretly dying to take.

Perhaps adventure is a frame of mind or an outlook on life. But whatever your perspective, take time to replenish what the day to day grind wears away, because it’s only when we have full hearts and joyful souls that we are able to offer our best to the world.




Kaye Porter, kayeporter.com - Los Angeles, CA, USA

1.    skill employed in a shrewd or sly manner, as in deceiving; craftiness; guile.
2.    adeptness in performance; dexterity.
3.    showing or made with ingenuity.
4.    artfully subtle or shrewd; crafty; sly.

-source Random House Dictionary

Cunning exists in the world of strategy.  It is behind the animal nature of survival.  Archetypes, folk tales, and modern entertainment are full of stories of how animal cunning has tricked someone else out of an advantage: Loki, the cunning trickster, Jack, bringing down a giant, and cartoon rabbits outsmarting bumbling hunters.  At heart, we’re thrilled by the cunning.  We’re impressed by how they think on their feet, applaud their ingenuity, and we’re glad not to be the target. 
At its heart, there are two main themes in cunning: guile and ingenuity.  Guile is covert.  It is the crafty, animal nature striking to get ahead.  Instinct sees having the advantage of cutting someone else out as a way to increase our own ability to survive.  Cunning whispers to us: if I have more than they do, then I’m more likely to survive.  Yet, when it comes to thriving, the nature of strategy and covert action make partnership impossible.  Because who could trust a fox to be anything other than a fox?
The trick is to recognize the moment where strategies based in survival ultimately 
limit us.

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At the same time, it would be foolish for us to say that cunning is a bad thing.  All attributes exist for a purpose in our personal and cultural evolution.  If we don’t survive, how can we make the evolutionary leap to thriving? The trick is to recognize the moment where strategies based in survival ultimately limit us.  Yes, we’re still alive, but at what cost? If survival means access to resources, is time better spent trying to collect all the resources ourselves, or could we “level up” even faster by collaborating with others?  At what point do we recognize that covert strategy interferes with the greater future we’re looking for?

Adeptness and ingenuity is the second theme of cunning.  There is skill in finding effective solutions that create an overall quality of life.  This side of cunning goes beyond survival, into thriving.  An ingenious solution to water purification allows millions of New Yorkers clean water every day from the polluted Hudson River.  An adept modification of radar technology saves innocent life and limb in Africa, with removal of hidden land-mines.  A cunning adaptation of the mirror in Indian hospitals allows for affordable treatment of phantom limb pain, so that amputees can have a quality life again.
When cunning focus evolves to adept ingenuity, the leap from surviving to thriving is made possible.




hanspetermeyer - Comox Valley, Vancouver Island, BC, Canada


I'm a passionate guy, and I'm obsessed with beautiful moments. The things I'm most passionate about: my family, marriage, dance, food, friendship, community. My love affair with dance goes way back, and threads through most, if not all, of my other passions. Dance is a way that I open up to the new. Dance is about change. Dance is about falling in love with the present moment.

It was in the moment of dance that I began to heal after a life-changing accident. At the traumatic end of one marriage, dance became my therapy, a path to a healthier way of life. Dancing that path, I discovered myself in the arms of a profoundly rich and beautiful reinvention of my family.

When I dance, I feel fully connected to what is real and true in my life. Even as that second version of marriage and family went into its "journey through the dark woods," even as I continue to navigate this forest, dance lights my way, teaches me how to trust, how to be trustworthy, how to hold on, how to let go.

It doesn't matter how I dance; what matters is... to dance.

I am catholic in my devotion to dance: I will move to most any kind of music; I will dance with anyone who wants to dance - man, woman, or child; I dive into Argentine tango's deep waters and skip lightly through the shallows of salsa and foxtrot; I freeform and "modern" when the opportunity arises; I paint my body white and expose myself to the ritual-like meditation of Buttoh.

It doesn't matter how I move, how I dance. It is simply to dance that puts the tangles of my thoughts and feelings aside. Opening my body, my heart opens. I am vulnerable, and malleable, open to change. I am alive; I am thriving.

The opening isn't singular. Dancing opens the hearts of those around me. Dancing through life's "dark woods" has given me a warm, loving community. We are very different: socially, emotionally, politically, geographically. Because we dance together, we've learned to trust each other. As we've learned to play well with each other, we laugh, and our play and our laughter spills over into other non-dance relationships and contexts in our larger community.

Are we changing our world, one dance at a time? I see the smiles on my dance partners' faces. I see the light in peoples' eyes, non-dancers (or, as I like to think, "not-yet-dancers"), when they talk to me about what they read of my dance experience and what they see when I'm dancing.

In our way, we dancing fools are opening hearts and minds in our community. Our openness and playfulness is fostering a spirit of receptivity that is hard to measure and hard to ignore! It's all part of a shift, a myriad of changes that are making our community more sustainable, a better place to call home.





Thomas Kriese, Pathbreaker Consulting - Redwood City, CA, USA


Endurance is the ability to face adversity to reach thrivability.

Adversity can be physical, like the last exhausting miles a triathlete must run on the way to the Ironman finish line.  The adversity can be mental, like the shards of self-doubt and -criticism that rain down just prior to completing a book.  The adversity can be emotional, like the evidence of indiscretions found while coming to terms with the end of a long relationship.

But endurance, at its core, is built upon the twin resources of hope and optimism. It’s based on an unshaken belief there’s something better just ahead, just across the finish line, just beyond those moments of doubt, just after the next sunrise.  And endurance increases by working hard to get to where things are imagined to be better.

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The key to building endurance is to constantly find inspiration to continue on from ever-changing sources.  You’ve got to distract your mind from the unpleasantness at hand: the miles to go, the doubts looming large, the pains of betrayal, and put your focus on anything but what troubles you presently.  What got you to the last corner or over the next hump isn’t necessarily what’ll get you to the next.

Some choose mantras; some choose math problems; some choose meditation; some choose therapy.  All choose to endure.  As Bengali poet Rabindrinath Tagore wrote, "Let me not pray to be sheltered from dangers but to be fearless in facing them. Let me not beg for the stilling of my pain but for the heart to conquer it."

For the mental skills you use to convince yourself to go just a little bit farther, to hold space a little bit longer, to believe a little bit deeper are those same skills that will propel you to greatness when the burden eases… when the adversity passes and it’s time to thrive.

The human brain is pre-programmed to pull you up short before your reserves are tapped. Your brain wants you to survive.  When you’re suffering, your brain isn’t interested in thriving, it simply wants to keep firing to live another day.

But by building up your endurance, by pushing beyond where your brain tells you to stop, you can explore just how much farther you can go.  We’re all good at self-limiting, at playing it safe, at taking less risk purely as a matter of survival.

The attitude of endurance is a matter of pushing through the adversity and realizing what our true potential is.  Because when the load is lifted, and eventually it always is lifted, we’ll know what it means to thrive.





Leif Utne, Zanby.com - Bainbridge Island, WA, USA


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Ouch! Exclusion is such a harsh word.  What place could it possibly have in a world that's open, inclusive, and thrivable?

Like a hammer, exclusion is merely a tool. In its unhealthy forms, exclusion is used to oppress, to avoid accountability, circumvent democracy, and maintain established economic and political order.  It brings to mind secret societies, smoky back rooms, nativism, and dehumanizing the "other."

But exclusion can also be healthy and life-affirming.  For individuals, that may mean choosing your conversations more wisely, lightening your load, de-cluttering your mental and physical space, eliminating distractions and focusing on what matters most.  It means making space for solitude, contemplation, attention to yourself, to your breath, to nature, to being fully present.

Exclusion is not a choice of whether to exclude, or not, it is a choice of what to exclude.

For groups, healthy exclusion means creating safe containers in which to share and collaborate more deeply.  It means being intentional about who and how many you want to share space with. It's about creating and protecting sacred space.   A good host has a talent for appropriate exclusion.  It's the social artistry of choosing who you want at the party, and who you don't.

Every marketer knows that exclusion is a powerful tool.  Done well, limiting access to a place, a group or a product makes it cool.   Anyone who has launched a new online community can tell you that early on exclusion is vital — to set the tone and model the kind of interaction you want.  It's a way of establishing a new culture intentionally.

Exclusion can be about useful constraints, which spur creativity, whether you're answering an essay question on a test or innovating new products.  Imagine, for example, a candle.  What is a candle without a wick?  Without light?  Without heat?  Without wax?  Such a thought experiment can help you identify which properties are intrinsic to something, and think creatively about novel ways to reproduce them.

Exclusion is part of evolution, particularly the conscious evolution we are living through now.  It's about casting off outmoded, destructive ways of thinking and being.   And it's absolutely essential to a thrivable future.




Amber Case, cyborg anthropologist - Portland, OR, USA


When people access digital pieces of us, our external bodies change.  Many people access those external bodies before they meet the physical tangible bodies, they're meeting people inside-out.
I begin thinking about this concept before the Internet existed.  When I was four or five years old, my father wanted to teach me about space and time.  He began by drawing two dots on a piece of paper, one marked 'A' and the other marked 'B'.  "What is the shortest distance between these two points?" he asked.

"A line," I told him, proud of myself for knowing that essential mathematical concept.

"In this case, you're not correct," he said, and folded the paper over so that point A touched point B. "The shortest distance between two points is actually a fold, or a bend in space-time, or a wormhole."

When I first began to use the Internet, and then mobile phones, I realized that technology was taking the distance between two people and folding it.  Technology was folding space and time so that geography did not matter.  Technology was also doing something more; it was providing a way for people to see the internal before they saw the external.  The world was folding, and the folding of the world was increasing the number of connections that can be made between people in different geographies.

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In the case of Skype of mobile phones, Twitter or Facebook, the shortest distance between two people was often technology.  The fold also allowed one's social interactions to become multidimensional, creating an environment in which one could connect with multiple people in multiple places at one time.

Instead of walking down the street and seeing a stranger, the Internet allows one's internal thoughts to be displayed.  This allows people to connect via interests that might not be expressed in local physical social geographies.  Baudrillard calls this a ʻforced extraversion of all interiority.ʼ What was interior now becomes our techno-social selves.  External bodies of our internal thoughts and interests.  And with this forced extraversion of interiority, one can now hyperlink to a part of the memory of another and vice versa.

But there may be a flip side to being able to fold geography.  When used correctly, with the right intent, one can connect to others that share their true interests.  If one abuses the wormholes, the ability to create them may be shut down, denying access to the benefits that natural connectivity might provide. Does folding make us more connected overall, or are we isolating ourselves from our differences? Does technology allow us to only subscribe to our interests and ignore the rest of the world?

Will our wormholes, via technology, connect us to ourselves in way that make us more Thrivable?




Stacey Monk, Epic Change - FL, USA


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I wish I could write about hope in some sexy, inspiring sort of way.  Barack Obama’s campaign did this exceptionally well.  But not me.

To me, hope isn’t sexy at all.  Far from.

To me, hope is hard work.  It’s  a little voice inside that whispers “get up” when every fiber of your weary being says “lie down.”  Weariness is not sexy.

Hope hides in every corner of this vast, beautiful universe, just waiting to be found. But it’s only ever found once you’re absolutely convinced that it’s lost.  Lost hope is not inspiring.

Hope is the realization that you are something when you think you have nothing at all.  Having nothing at all isn’t all that appealing either.

But there’s something about being weary, losing hope and having nothing that reminds you:  You may have nothing, but you are something.

In fact, you are hope.  And so am I.

Which must be precisely what makes hope so. damn. sexy.




Richard Zimmerman, Founder, Spiritual Wealth - NYC, NY, USA


When you become inspired you tap into a realm beyond your humanity and merge with the wonders of the Universe.  Everything starts to flow as you shift from doing to being and from ambition to aspiration.  You become lost in that magical moment where all possibilities exist and creativity abounds.
When you become inspired you are aware of all parts of you and in doing so become whole.  You experience what it is like to truly live as a spiritual being - in wisdom and in love, in calmness and in joy, in creativity and in compassion.  You become one with yourself and the world.

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When you become inspired time seems to freeze. You cease thinking about the past and worrying about the future and live fully in the present moment.  It is there that you connect to your purpose, passion, and true power and live that way in the world.
When you become inspired you move from fear to love.  Your mindset shifts from scarcity and competition to abundance and collaboration.  You see wealth as a sacred current which flows in a continuous cycle of divine manifestation.
When you become inspired you take a courageous stand for your truth and boldly declare your dreams to the world.  You become more conscious of your actions and make choices that benefit you and the world as a whole.
When you become inspired you commune with the beauty of nature and connect with all of mankind.  You recognize the sacredness of our lives, our society, and our planet.  You become an impassioned promoter for harmony and peace in your life and for all of the world.
When you become inspired you realize that force is an expression of fear while true power comes from a state of grace.  You meet the world with an open heart and mind.  You become less concerned with fixing and more about serving.
When you become inspired you love yourself fully and advocate for others freely.   You go beyond the boundaries of place or state and take a stand for truth and justice for all.
When you become inspired you want the world to not only survive, but also to thrive. You shine your light as a bright beacon which illuminates an amazing existence for us all, a new way of being, and a glorious life to live.




Mushin Schilling, http://blog.mushin.eu - Berlin, Germany


Mystery lies at the very core of the polyverse we inhabit — even if we think it’s a universe and started with the mother of all bangs - starting explosively simple and as an absolutely single matter in the beginning, growing ever more complex, intricate, diverse into every conceivable and inconceivable direction and dimension. Banging into being and exponentially expanding ever since is the Mystery of Thrivability.

No matter at what level we contemplate it — the empirical, spiritual, psychological, social, economical, ecological — it puts us in awe. It is completely out of control — put a lid on it, it thrives sideways. Explode it, and its fragments disperse spores all over the cosmos. Try to grasp it, and it wiggles out of your grip, sprouting between your fingers, using your suppressing power to fuel its thriving.

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These last couple centuries, a belief flourished that at some moment we would be able to explain it all, we will arrive at a Grand Theory of Everything. But all we managed to do was to put a lid on common imagination, and diminish the power of the priesthood of traditional religion and feudalistic rulers. And the old clergy was replaced by the adepts of numbers, statistics, and physics. Matters that were allowed to concern us were either turned into a fact or a commodity, into something that could be manipulated, traded and studied. Everything else was declared to be “merely subjective” and therefore a negotiable matter.  And all the while, the mystery was thriving under our subjective noses.

And now, in our 21st Century, like in Andersen’s famous tale, the emperor’s objective clothes turn out to be no cover at all! The naked mystery arises as thrivability in the sciences, as co-evolution, drifting genes, fractals, parallel universes, social graphs, complexity, and in religion it comes as an explosion of spiritualities, in economy as the irrationality of consumers (and producers) behavior and in ecology…

Imagine a clearing in a jungle. The clearing is the space we can understand and control in a very limited way; it’s the space most of us like to inhabit. And as the clearing grows, the interface between clearing and mysterious jungle also grows, exponentially. So for everything we find, we grow another mile of interface with the mystery. The mysteries thrive with the expansion of our knowledge.

Now imagine that we live in multi-dimensional space-time, endless mysteries surround us in every direction around every clearing we call our world. This is the mystery we inhabit, and it thrives from the very beginning – in fact it is the very basis of existence and being: The Mystery of Thrivability.




Nadia El-Imam - Stockholm, Sweden


The first thing that came to mind when you asked me to write about power is Six Memos for the Next Millenium, a series of lectures by Italo Calvino on qualities of good literature.

When I thought about it, I realised that it is lightness and quickness, or agility, which define how I think about power. Power used to be old library furniture, British brown leather sofas and heavy oak bookshelves... a very European concept of history....a certain kind of establishment. Over time, my understanding and interpretation of power has changed. Power is agility, it is water not wood... with the ability to unexpectedly seep into places and effect change in ripples.... light, fluid. Power is in the third-culture kids who move between worlds and hold charge over their own identity and, in effect, of the future. Why? It is this fluidity in how one relates to others and the world that allows us to position ourselves in narratives that enable change. This resonates with with the yearning for transcendence that mystics, artists and philosophers have been turning their attention to since time immemorial:


”To be human, is to be limited by the transcendence of time, space, embodiment, alterity, society and nature. Yet, to be human is to be discontent with these limitations and to seek ways to be more connected to other beings, to other cultures and societies, and even to other provinces of meaning such as dreams or a God of religious belief. The experience of transcendence, then, it incorporates the ongoing paradoxical presentation of limitation and possibility, isolation and unification, which are always co-presented in all human encounters with the world.” -Alfred Schutz

It is this fluidity in how one relates to others and the world that allows us to position ourselves in narratives that enable change.

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Agility not only in terms what our own personal identity is, but in how we imagine the identities of others can change lives of individuals, of cities and of the world. It was Antanas Mockus' belief that “we all have remedy, that we are neither good not bad by nature and our behaviour may change” that led the transformation of Bogotá during the early nineties, and it would be fair to say that what makes Mockus so effective a leader is his ability to imagine things being different from the way they actually are.

The ability to turn imagination into reality may be fueled by heavy matter, but it is led by bits. Much like our identities and Italo Calvino´s vision of the future.


Images at left are screenshots from the film: http://www.citiesonspeed.dk/citiesonspeed/Bogota_ENgelsk.html 
and at right http://www.raphaelvarieras.com/blog/tag/latin-america/




Samantha Sweetwater, Dancing Freedom - Oakland, CA, USA

Dear Prudence, the much maligned goddess of foresight!   She was given a bad name during the 1960's when the Western World busied itself breaking apart Judeo Christian moral codes in the name of sexual and spiritual liberation.  In the West, many of us have come to associate prudence with control, rigidity, aloofness and over-cautiousness.  We have posed her against the lighter gods of levity, expressiveness and permission and attempted to seduce her from her lofty towers.  We have chaffed against her restraint.  We have positioned her in antithesis to freedom. We threw the baby out with the bath water. 

Prudence is an eternal virtue and an ecologically integral value.  To be prudent is to be willing to take a profound pause to listen to the greater context before we act.  In so doing, we are empowered to choose wisely and to participate practically.  Prudence is a quality of being that supports the path of thrivability.

Prudence walks, slow and stately, on the high path of perspective and is unafraid of the small sacrifices made for the greater good.  She's not a kill-joy.  She simply doesn't get lost in immediate gratification.  She is response-able: able-to-respond with appropriateness, measure and compassion.  Qualitatively, holds down the fort when things get turbulent.

The life impulse is immediate.  Prudence reaches across the flow of time, weaving past, present and future.


Desire fires towards its own satisfaction.  Prudence invites restraint.

Play gifts levity.  Prudence gathers gravity.

Fear instigates reactivity.  Prudence counsels courage.

Consumption is a basic function of life.  Prudence knows when enough is enough.

Prudence holds the patient counsel needed to co-generate a sustaining now.

To be prudent is to apply sound judgment in practical affairs with the long view in mind.  Prudence is embodied in the ageless sage, the laughing grandmother, the responsive parent, the diligent gardener, and the exquisitely attuned child whose actions are lensed through a living sense of interconnectivity to the whole.  Prudence is embodied by those who can see, feel and respond to life as an intricate web that requires stewarding.  When we act with prudence, we are dancing with greater cycles.  When we act with prudence, we engage with and celebrate our dependent co-arising with the One Great Life.

Thrivability requires this long view.  In the praxis of thrivability, we are reverse-architecting a regenerative physical-psycho-social-spiritual ecology for humanity's place in the universe.  We are living the question of how to co-generate coherency and balance in our personal and collective relationships with the More-than-human world.  We are beginning to co-create regenerative culture.

Prudence knows that our freedom and survival are delicately interwoven with our responsibility and restraint.  Practicing prudence, we do the "karmic math" in order to determine how our choices and our actions will influence tomorrow.  We feel how this moment impulses out into the future for seven generations to come.  We pause.  We attune.  And, we choose wisely.




Greg Berry, w1sd0m - Denver, CO, USA


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Herman Wagter, CityNet - Amsterdam, Netherlands, Hermanwagter.com

The world is one big playground for every child — so much to discover, so much to get excited about.  We all long for that state of mind, for the eagerness awaiting the thrill of a new experience.

It’s the one thing we remember as long as we live and these are the memories that stay crystal clear and are romanticized as time goes on.


But as we grow older, we also tend to accumulate habits, dogmas, assets and obligations that weigh us down and make us shy away from really playing the discovery game again.  We start to place more and more value on retaining and protecting what we have accumulated and less value on discovering and growing.  We start to fear the uncertainty associated with discovery because we (wrongly) believe we have so much to lose.  We believe we have to spend more and more energy in protection and insurance because our happiness will be embodied by assets. The real loss is not seen: the wonder of a child, seeing and experiencing this rich world and its inhabitants as for the first time.

But we do feel the loss somehow.  Some seek substitute experiences that will give us a thrill without the uncertainty.  Rides, games, movies, substances, fan clubs, sports — all substitutes for the real thing. Others grow frustrated and experience what we call a mid-life crisis or follow a spiritual leader who promises nirvana in the next life if new dogma’s are adopted.


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Old people are seen as old not because their biological bodies change, but because they have stopped growing.  They seek no more discoveries, are afraid of any uncertainty, do not want to invest energy for dealing with uncertainty.  They stop listening and complain about the world that keeps on going forward, wishing it would return to the state it was (or as they remember it being).

Embrace uncertainty and enjoy the thrill, the excitement of discovering the unknown. It’s what life is all about.
Like a mental spring cleanup, look at your habits, dogmas, assets and obligations.  Choose what you want to retain and start an expedition of discovery to replace the rest.




















Thank you Lonny Grafman for the idea to have a blank simple page.




Jill Palermo, WeAddUp.com - Long Island City, NY, USA

I grew up in suburbs of Cleveland.  After college, I traveled to the wilderness of Oregon. Looking up at the stars for the first time there, I nearly fell to the ground because there were so many, and they were so bright.

Sometimes, the light pollution clouds our perspective to see the beauty that is right in front of us — a miracle that happens every night.  What is out there that is waiting to be seen if we simply change some of the conditions?  Perhaps a solution that is right in front of us.  An answer that is waiting to be heard.  Why did I have to wait 22 years and travel over 2,000 miles to know how miraculous the stars are?  And now that I am back in a city — the biggest and brightest city in the US — how often do I remember that, even though I look up and do not see them, they are still there? 

I wonder what else there is, already in existence, that I cannot see because of a cloud in my vision. 

I wonder: If I could see through the cloud, or around the cloud, or if a great wind came and blew the cloud away, what would be possible then?


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Thrivability: A Collaborative Sketch

a collection of over 60 essays and images crafting a topography for thriving

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Thrivability: A Collaborative Sketch




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