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UP #106: Walking Out Of Dominant Culture, Walking On To Truth With Deborah Frieze

UP #106: Walking Out of Dominant Culture, Walking On to Truth with Deborah Frieze

A few months ago, I received a link to a TEDx talk by a friend who knew the message would resonate. It did. So much so that I immediately reached out to the speaker to invite her on to the show. After numerous email exchanges, we finally connected for a powerful conversation about walking out of the dominant culture and walking on to the truth that lives in our hearts—a truth that lives for the present moment in community and service.

Deborah Frieze is this week’s guest. She’s an author, entrepreneur, TEDx speaker, and activist committed to strengthening local economies. Her award-winning book, co-authored with Margaret Wheatley, Walk Out Walk On: A Learning Journey into Communities Daring to Live the Future Now, profiles pioneering leaders who walked out of organizations failing to contribute to the common good—and walked on to build resilient communities. She is a founding partner of the Boston Impact Initiative and founder of the Old Oak Dojo, an urban learning center in Jamaica Plain where neighbors gather to rediscover how to create healthy and resilient communities.

What struck me most about Deborah’s TEDx talk is how bold she was about telling it like it is, meaning how our dominant systems—education, healthcare, government, business, etc.—are failing communities, the Earth and ourselves. Deborah clearly articulates how it’s not possible to change big systems and how we can only abandon them and start over, or offer hospice to what’s dying. Her talk and her work explores the underlying cultural beliefs that prop up the global mindset of separation. She also shares a radical theory of change that reveals how localism has a critical role to play in whatever future we may have.

In this week’s conversation, we also go into great depths about a number of topics including:

  • Walking out of the status quo and into our heart’s calling.
  • How the world is made of living systems.
  • Seeing beyond the dominant culture.
  • How systems thinking reconnects us to life.
  • The difference between the linear Newtonian worldview and quantum physics.
  • How the human worldview is based on machines, not life.
  • How rugged individualism isolates us from our community nature.
  • How community nurtures our sense of belonging.
  • The amplification of collapsing energies in today’s world.
  • Doing our work in the face of uncertainty.
  • Beyond hope and hopelessness.
  • How we cannot change the system because of how deeply entrenched it is within the human psyche.
  • Why most activism and non-violent actions don’t work and why play is more effective.
  • Fostering critical connections over critical mass.

This is a powerful conversation that I know will activate, inspire and elicit deep thought.


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This Post Has 5 Comments
  1. Deb,

    You & Deborah are 2 primary examples of the rise of female consciousness that I believe is our best chance for the planet; all life upon it. As I look around, it is mostly women engaged in acts of healing (it has always been thus) that is slowly; painfully being recognized as far more important (especially now) than the patriarchal, technological, rearranging of chairs on the Titanic that has dominated (his)story until now. I’ve known for a long time that until the women of this planet stop cooperating with their own enslavement, reclaim their life giving, nurturing power unfiltered or controlled by male orthodoxy, I could see only doom & gloom.

    This is an oversimplified response but I just wanted to briefly encourage the work you both are doing.

    As a member of the “dominant” gender, I want to apologize for our brutal ignorance & have pledged myself to work on behalf of women & other enslaved groups by helping to change the perceptions of patriarchal males by reinterpreting the male myths that provide narrative support for repression. Most specifically, reinterpreting the story of original sin in a way that frees us all from the fear, guilt & shame that we have so skillfully used on each other for five thousand years.

    There were not 10 commandments in the “garden of eden”. There was only one warning (much like a parent would give a child), Do not partake of the tree of “the knowledge of good & evil”.

    Why? Because we are not & can never be God…that is we can never know enough to pass judgement on ourselves, each other, the planet or “god”. For good or ill, we will screw it up every time & the repercussions of our attempts to “play at being god”, will haunt us (as it has) for generations until & unless we give up playing god and accept our non-dominant, transient place on this planet along with all other life forms and agree to live with gratitude for life just as it comes to us moment by moment.

    Be Well!


    1. Thank you Kelley. Totally agreed. Especially that women must “stop cooperating with their own enslavement & reclaim their life giving & nurturing power.” It always takes two to tango, but the dance can be stopped with a NO that comes from deep within—a NO that comes from the power that is always free from the conditioning of our culture of separation and assigned gender roles.

      Thank you and Namaste.

  2. I am a localist and fight a battle with my family and friends back home in india to support local farmers and businesses.
    The enabling environment here int he US through farmers markets and increased organic farming is yet to establish in India.
    I believe that by shunning multinational outlets and refusing to buy produce that is farmed with pesticides and fertilizers is possible if we support organic farmers movements in India and elsewhere. Even when i live in the US for 4 months every year, I consciously buy only local and naturally grown produce.
    I would be interested to know how I could go about creating more awareness in India

    1. Hi Uma,

      I would suggest connecting directly with Deborah Frieze. She is internationally connected and may have ideas that I’m not familiar with. Thanks so much for your support!


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