EVOLUTIONARY GOVERNANCE: Part II: Practices

Bright green leaves growing on vines that crawl over top of an old tree trunk.

“We believe that how we ARE with each other is fundamental to everything: being precedes doing.”

— Vanessa LeBourdais

In part one of this series, we wrote about how we applied the transformational approach of DreamRider Productions’ environmental programming to uncover a new model of governance we call “Evolutionary Governance.” Now we’ll explore the practices that we use to live these principles every day. We believe that how we are with each other is fundamental to everything: being precedes doing.

There are three core practices that are essential to this work:

1Hold a deep connection to the organization. Each Board member’s relationship with DreamRider is an integrated part and expression of their life as a whole. Each Board member holds a deeper connection with DreamRider that transcends time and place. Board meetings are nested within a wider and profound commitment to and engagement with the essence of DreamRider.

Further Practices of Evolutionary Governance:

An accessible version of the table in Word can be downloaded here.

Table — an accessible document is linked above for text readers.

“Our entire future may depend on learning to listen, listen without assumptions or defenses.”
― adrienne maree brown

A note on voting and Robert’s Rules: DreamRider’s Board continues to attend to its fiduciary responsibilities — budget approvals, policy design and the like. It votes on relevant matters according to Robert’s Rules but recognizes the limitations of this system. The Board holds these methods lightly as they are insufficient to bring the needed breadth and depth to complex and changing realities. The rules are grounded in the rational, logical and analytical approaches of the past and not in the intuitive and emergent capacities relevant today. They need to be held lightly as they can elicit habits of mind that are not reflective of what is needed, and can prevent us from seeing what is emergent and real.

  • Comfortable with ambiguity and emergence
  • Not ego-driven (as in they have made the shift from “ego” to “eco”, or from prioritizing personal interest to caring for the whole.)
  • Intuitive
  • Trusting of life, open, and adaptive, vs. need for control and planning
  • Oriented to “work light” (as more easeful and effective than working hard or working smart)
  • Self-aware and mature
  • Curious and open to nonlinear solutions
Five young “Apprentice Planet Protectors” strike a pose in their colourful superhero costumes on a wooden pier.
DreamRider’s Apprentice Planet Protectors, as featured in the Planet Protector Academy program.

A great culture can do great things

The practices above are in essence simple, and not necessarily easy. They require a willingness to face what is within us that blocks us from what wants to emerge, to let go of our “monkey mind”, to be willing to just be and do nothing, if that’s what’s required.

Four images of kids: two pretend to be superheroes, one draws, one makes a superhero pose, one puts compost in a bin.
Kids participating in our “Home Edition” during school closures from COVID-19

How Can I Get Started?

While these governance practices may feel very different and uncomfortable compared to what you are currently practicing, there are simple ways to start.

Further Reading

brown, adrienne maree. (2017) Emergent Strategy: Shaping Change, Changing Worlds. Chico, CA. AK Press.

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Vanessa LeBourdais

Vanessa LeBourdais

Recognized by Ashoka Changemakers as a global leader in digital environmental education, Vanessa is a producer, director, writer and anti-racist activist.