Looby Macnamara

Looby Macnamara is author of People and Permaculture, 7 Ways to Think Differently and Strands of Infinity. She runs a permaculture smallholding and education centre in Herefordshire – Applewood Permaculture Centre. She is co-founder of the Cultural Emergence project.

Website: loobymacnamara.com

Diary 2021

Being in a state of Cultural Emergence is a state of mind, a way of viewing the world, and a way of responding.

The first step is observing when things aren’t fixed; when emotions, thinking, finances, weather and politics are in motion.

Fluid circumstances can bring feelings of impatience, confusion and frustration.When we embrace the opportunities for emergence we can overcome and transform these feelings, inviting curiosity, problem-solving, acceptance and flow. The feeling of ‘being on edge’ could be seen as uncomfortable, but we could reframe this to think about what we are on the edge of: is it the edge of our courage, the gateway into a new possibility, an innovative discovery? What wants to come through in this time? Learning to ride the wave of emergence and breathe into it helps us to use it positively and creatively.

Shifting our way of thinking and reframing our interpretations of what we observe is always an available option that creates alternative ways of responding. Differences in response open up new pathways. When we find ourselves in times of change we can bring people-care tools into the situation that encourage fertile, regenerative emergence.

Being in a state of fertile Cultural Emergence can be joyful and fulfilling, allowing for creativity, spontaneity and synchronicity to guide and support us.

Being in a State of Cultural Emergence © Looby Macnamara 2019

Looking after ourselves requires attention to our emotional, mental and spiritual well-being. Self-care is multifaceted. Self-care extends all the way from meeting our basic needs to becoming our full selves. Self-care can involve any activity that makes us happy and improves or regulates our mood. It can involve letting go of limiting beliefs and patterns that no longer serve us. Self-care involves valuing and appreciating ourselves, and ensuring we have kind self-talk. This self-appreciation provides a springboard into self-evolution and development.

The importance of self-care is not to be underestimated. In the same way the deeper the roots on a tree the more growth above the surface; the deeper our inner self-care the greater our ability to expand our care for others outwards. Often we think that we need to find these precious moments during the day when no one is around when we can fit in some self-care. This can become frustrating if our lives are centred around caring for others. Reframing this and finding ways we can practise self- care with others can unlock many opportunities.

Looking after ourselves is a way to walk our talk, and is a potent demonstration of our values of care and connection. The more we bring ourselves into alignment, the more effective and influential the ripples will be.

Self-Care © Looby Macnamara 2019

When we create cultures of personal leadership, collective intelligence and planetary care we are emerging truly regenerative cultures. We are creating systems of growth and renewal, systems that are rejuvenating, healthy and productive.

With a culture of personal leadership we have responsibility, agency and power. Personal leadership involves recognising that we have freedom of choice and can be proactive in making changes and moving away from automatic pilot. We need to take responsibility for our own personal culture: examining it, questioning it and changing it. Our goal is for our activities and behaviours to come into alignment with our values. Emerging a culture of collective intelligence requires us to create conditions for imagination and creativity that encourage individual and collective genius to shine. New narratives, ideas and designs are woven through the sharing of stories, life experiences and skills. Our very DNA holds the collective intelligence of thousands of generations of people: there is vast wisdom to tap into. A culture of planetary care would prioritise the care of Earth in all decision-making. When this care is placed at the centre of our culture then we will no longer be able to act contrary to this, and pollute, harm and destroy eco-systems. We will proactively be caring for the fundamental resources of life: water, trees, soil and biodiversity. Care will extend to all beings and for future generations of all species.

Building Regenerative Cultures © Looby Macnamara 2019

I am woman, I am child, I am me,
I am nowhere, I am everywhere
I am past, present and future
I don’t know who I am
I am no one and everyone
I am ancestor and great grandchild
I am air, water, fire and earth
I am Mother Earth,
I am singer, dancer, writer, healer, mover, shaker,
I am one of humanity
I am body, mind and spirit
I am thoughts, emotions, feelings and I am none of these
I am a window through which I see the world
I am a womb where ideas can grow
I am a boat to travel the cosmos
I am a spiral of connections
I am energy in one place
I am stars exploding, I am dreams flying
I am movement, muscles and breath
I am the pattern and the detail
I am the question and the answer
I am the vastness and the minuscule
I am the oneness, the everything and the nothingness
I am the universe and the atom
I am a strand of infinity
I am eternity, and I am now.

Who Am I? © Looby Macnamara


Diary 2020

As we begin a new decade it is time to begin a fresh direction. We know we need to make the Great Turning to a life-sustaining culture, but we may not know how it is possible. All too often the vision we have seems unattainable, far from our current reality. How can we move in the direction of regeneration at a speed and volume that dramatically halts the global spirals of erosion that we are currently swept up in? This can seem like an enormous task, but a small shift in our trajectory can lead to a big difference in destination. Has there been a time in your life where you have faced a new direction and then found yourself somewhere completely unexpected further down the line? Initially it may seem like not much is happening, but even a shift from automatic pilot and a subtle turn of the head changes the direction we are looking in and the next step we take. When we align cultural values to the ethics of Earth care, people care and fair shares, our patterns of interaction and resource use will follow suit. Let’s look towards the future we wish for ourselves and humanity and make the first step in this new decade.

Small Shift in Direction – Big Shift in Destination © Looby Macnamara 2018

Emergence occurs when things come together and something unexpected arises. We are surrounded by emergence – LIFE is emergence. We take it for granted though that if there is sunshine during a rainstorm there will be a rainbow somewhere, or that the bees visiting the flowers are making honey, but we would not be able to guess this just from looking at the bees and flowers, or the sun and rain. The parts do not give away the emergent properties that arise from their combination and interaction. The ingredients of a cake do not hint at the treat to follow, and it is actually one of the smallest ingredients, the baking powder, that literally gives rise to the cake. What is the recipe of people, skills, motivation, tools and knowledge that will give us the unexpected nudge or leap towards regenerative, visionary, life- sustaining cultures? Whenever we feel overwhelmed by the world’s problems we can remember that perhaps WE could be the ‘baking powder’; our gifts and talents might be the magic ingredient that the world needs right now. Emergence is magic and gives us hope.

The Magic of Emergence © Looby Macnamara 2018

It was once thought impossible to fly, to end slavery and apartheid. But these things have all come to reality. Is it possible to end poverty, malnutrition and sexual abuse – to feed the world and for every citizen to live in safety? Is it possible to reverse ecosystem destruction and climate change? What dreams do we hold for ourselves personally? What visions are hiding behind the smokescreen of ‘I can’t’, ‘it will never happen’, and ‘it’s not possible’?

Allowing for the possibility of the seemingly impossible invites us to ask why not? What’s stopping us? Can we look beyond the glass ceilings, subtle barriers and limiting beliefs? We are encouraged to let go of the ‘impossible’ box, and the assumptions we hold about what is or isn’t possible. We can give voice to what our hearts truly desire, giving our visions space to breathe, expand, become more detailed and open to their full potential.

Holding the belief that something is possible, that we can solve a problem, will keep us engaged in looking for solutions, trying new combinations and experimenting. We remain observant for shifts and openings and opportunities to co-operate with others. We can connect with a bigger vision of possibility for ourselves and humanity. Our visions will motivate the genius inside of us, engaging our creativity and activating our gifts.

Allowing the Possibility of the Seemingly Impossible © Looby Macnamara