Notes from the Field

Don Beck

11th Annual SDi Confab
Grapevine, Texas

by Dr. Don Beck

This will be the first report on the 11th Annual Confab event held at the Embassy Suites Hotel in Grapevine. Texas. The theme this year dealt with the “Bio” in the Gravesian “Bio-Psycho-Social” framework, a focus that puts Spiral Dynamics at the forefront of any of the developmental/evolutionary models of human emergence, and is one of the reasons I adopted his work among 42 other models in the l980s and 90s. So, among other things we dealt with genes, the brain, and how they display themselves in personal and group cultures.

Mike Jay started us off with his visionary understanding of the importance of “bio” and was the first in our group at least to insist that we factor in these dimension in his Spiral-Next initiative. Howard Bloom connected many of our social actions with correlates in the neurology and began to add in genetic influences as well. Dr. Bruce Lipton reinforced and expanded Mike Jay’s insights by equating our subconscious influences with our biological codes and messages, which run like tape recordings and not open to “change”. He explained how he developed an understanding of the adaptive nature of genes in his own scientific (medical) experiments and how all of these new insights are transforming our knowledge of human emergence.

Bruce brings a powerful and highly credible voice to provide support for what Clare Graves described in his presentation at the National Institute of Mental Health in Washington DC in the early l970s. He said he was going to “climb out on a fragile limb” which, based on contemporary scientific research, has now become a strong, and growing tree in itself.

We then talked with Dr. Marc Lucas from Cologne, Germany who gave us an initial briefing on the mind/brain research using PET scans and fMRI technology to validate how these memetic codes are processed in various part of our neurological equipment. Say “goodbye” to naive blank slate models. You will note how we continue to validate and deepen the underlying support for Spiral Dynamics and feature innovative applications, which serve the interests of everybody.

Many enjoy benefiting from the fruits of our years of research and theory-building but make no contribution to the origins of the body of knowledge or its on-going development. This same thing happened to Professor Clare W. Graves, which is why I stepped in with financial, emotional and conceptual support (additional research initiatives for example) to build on what he had discovered over many years of efforts. One of these days I will tell the whole story about my relationship with Graves and how I provided Ken Wilber with what he truly needed in his “Integral” efforts to ground them in real-world experiences, in South Africa, Palestine, South Chicago, and in many, many other applications. You will also note that he adopted part of our color scheme and you will find other places where he benefited from what I freely gave to him. I support all of the evolutionary models or spiral wraps and do not criticize any of them. I expect that level of integrity and professionalism in return.

And, our good friend and colleague Bjarni Snæbjörn Jónsson from Iceland walked us through the processes he and the “Ant Hill” designed around the ( and the long term process of implementing the ideas generated by a cross section of the population. Here is a major Meshworks project which is being crafted to deal with the financial crisis in a systemic and healthy fashion. We are the first to have identified the unique codes in various entities, how they flow together, and how it is now possible to think in truly world centric terms. This all came to me during the tear gas days in South Africa where the global diversity existed in the form of a microcosm, and was also highlighted in my work with Elza Maalouf in Palestine, Peter Merry in the Netherlands, and many other elements in the centers for human emergence.

The last presentation, on Sunday morning, featured a live (Skype) interaction with Colonel Fred Krawchuck from Kabul in Afghanistan. The Colonel is a 23 year veteran and highly regarded Special Forces officer who has been involved in all of the “hot spots” which have required risk taking, innovation, and sensitive attempts to connect at the grass roots with Afghans. As you might expect, he works virtually alone with opposing points of view not only in the Taliban but in other elements of the NATO military and NGO civilian societies. He is literally a lone voice in the wilderness, and we want to honor him in every way that we can. He is truly one of us and represents what the future will require of military/civilian (Pentagon and Department of State) initiatives.

He used the language of Meshworks Platforms to describe how they are designing and implementing efforts in villages, provinces, and among tribes and other social systems which are unique to Afghanistan. He has been to our SDi events as well as a number of programs around spiritual practices. We gave him a standing ovation which he could see, and have many other plans in mind to provide support for him. I know that any who complain about military actions will want to assist us in our efforts.

As many of you know I first began using the idea of Meshworks almost 15 years ago and have used the symbols and processes to describe how to work across and within multiple diversities or entities to “connect what matters to design what works” especially in this age of collaboration. There is no doubt but that we are at the cutting edge in this 7th and 8th Level Code approach and it is time for us to become more visible and focused. I can’t do this alone and it was clear from the responses in the Confab that more people are now ready to get involved. We hope you will do it as well.

I want to especially thank Petra Peterse who helped organize the confab and arranged for the facilities, sent out the mail shots, and made contacts with a number of people about attending the event. She truly deserves recognition for her capacity to deal with details and be sensitive to the needs of various people. If it had not been for her we most likely would have not made this program available in 2010. And, Ben Levi continues to work his technological magic by managing all of the quite sophisticated “tools” in making it possible to do the “live wire” sessions from literally around the world. We are thinking about both the annual Personal Emergence event in Boulder in October and the 12th Annual Confab next May in Texas. You will need to let us know whether we can depend on your support.

About the Author

Dr. Don Beck, PhD, has been developing, implementing, and teaching the evolutionary theory of Spiral Dynamics for more than three decades. Beck has elaborated upon the work of his mentor, Clare Graves, to develop a multidimensional model for understanding the evolutionary transformation of human values and cultures. As cofounder of the National Values Center in Denton, Texas, and CEO of the Spiral Dynamics Group, Inc., Beck is employing the Spiral Dynamics model to effect large-scale systems change in and among various sectors and societies of the world. He is the author of Spiral Dynamics: Mastering Values, Leadership & Change, written with Christopher Cowan in 1996.

Beck’s long consulting career has taken him to such diverse settings as 10 Downing Street to consult with Tony Blair’s Policy Unit; the south side of Chicago to address the problems faced by inner-city schools; the World Bank to consider the future of Afghanistan; and the boardrooms of major banks, energy companies, airlines, and government agencies. In his 63 trips to South Africa between 1981 and 1988, he had significant impact on political leaders, the business sector, religious leadership, and the general public in order to help bring about the peaceful transition from apartheid to democracy. Out of his experiences there, Beck wrote The Crucible: Forging South Africa’s Future (1991) with Graham Linscott.

Before his work in South Africa, Beck taught for twenty years at the University of North Texas. There he was named Outstanding Professor in 1978, named Honor Professor in 1979, and listed as an “Outstanding Educator in America” in 1980. Beck has also been the team psychologist for The South African Springboks, winners of the 1995 Rugby World Cup, and has been associated with the Dallas Cowboys, New Orleans Saints, the Texas Rangers (baseball), and the U.S. Olympic Committee for Men’s Track and Field. He writes a “sports values” column for the Dallas Morning News. He makes his home in Denton, Texas.

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