Joy, bliss, flow… these are often words used to describe one’s personal state, and sometimes groups, but rarely communities. The more we understand the art and science of these qualities, aka ‘flow or ecstasis‘, the more we will begin to see communities designed to evoke flow. Supported by the book, Stealing Fire and associated Flow Genome Project, the following four questions provide a primer on flow, how prevalent it is in our economy, and how we can apply it to our neighborhoods.
1. How do you define flow? You know you’re in flow when you experience ‘STER’: selflessness, timelessness, effortlessness, and richness. A description of each is provide below.
2. How does flow already exist in our world? The flow economy, aka ‘altered states’ economy, is a $4 trillion industry, offered through personal growth, media, recreation and drugs.
3. How can we harness flow to create emergent communities? An emergent community is the resulting vibrancy that naturally occurs when its population is in flow. This can be achieved by applying collective impact to the four forces of flow/ecstasis: Neurobiology (understanding how our brains work), psychology (understanding personal development), pharmacology (understanding neurochemicals), technology (tools for scaling to the masses).
4. Is there a current example of these four forces creating an emergent community? Yes, as excerpted from Stealing Fire: “Michael Michaels, one of Burning Man’s original founders (aka “Danger Ranger”), explains it this way: “At Burning Man, we’ve found a way to break out of the box that confines us. What we do, literally, is take people’s reality and break it apart. Burning Man is a transformation engine— it has hardware and it has software, you can adjust it and tweak it. And we’ve done that. We take people out to this vast dry place, nowhere, very harsh conditions. It strips away their luggage, the things they’ve brought with them, of who they thought they were. And it puts them in a community setting where they have to connect with each other, in a place where anything is possible. In doing so, it breaks their old reality and helps them realize they can create their own.” In other words, it’s a transformation engine tailor-made to invoke selflessness, timelessness, effortlessness, and richness (STER)…”