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


Diary 2019

Hear the call for us to shift the belief that the Great Turning will take too long and that we might not be able to do it in time, before the Great Unravelling takes hold. Instead let us fully inhabit the belief and act with the conviction that we have the capacity to make the Great Turning and it could happen very swiftly and convincingly if we are effective, collaborative and supportive. When we look at life through the lens of the Great Turning we are choosing to believe that solutions are possible and that we will find them. We are choosing to hope for the best outcomes and to put our life force behind actions that will bring them into being.

Now is the time for trust and connection and for widening our circles of care. This is the time to bring ourselves together with such unity and sense of purpose that we know we will succeed in emerging a new culture that brings balance and care for all beings.

We are many.

A Swift Great Turning © Looby Macnamara

We need a deep, radical revolution that leaves no one behind. Comprehensively activating our innate sense of belonging and potential. Let’s birth and name and give power and strength to this global transformation. Let’s unify and diversify to surface our gifts and root our resolve. Let’s become the voices of the silent, the repressed and the scared, and be the voice of peace, justice and friendship. Let’s be the voice of Gaia calling us home. Let’s create the conditions for cultural emergence, opening to radical shifts in perspective to tip us into balance and into the realm of probability of succeeding in creating global harmony. Let’s become a global family destined for greatness in our ability to share and connect. The time is now! Let’s make the commitment.

We need a Deep, Radical Revolution © Looby Macnamara


Diary 2018

Taking stock of the multitude of miracles
evident in the richness of life in this present moment,
we are released from the fear that
there will be none in the future.
We know there are already blessings
brewing in the background,
miracles on the horizon of tomorrow.
The layers of trivia encapsulating our thoughts
are cut through and a wide perspective
allows us to encounter the world in all its glory.

Turn our attention, switch our attitude in an instant
and be thankful for the ordinary everyday gifts in our lives,
toothpaste, running water, a park bench.
Our hearts open and
our body armour
dissolves. We arrive in
the presence of now,
the gift of the present.

Viewing with an appreciative gaze, our mind chatter stills.
We are here and now and we are timeless.
We are uniquely ourselves and undeniably connected.

Gratitude as an Attitude © Looby Macnamara

I’m in love with you world, in love with being alive.
I love being a guest, a participant,
a collaborator, a family member of life.
I love having memories stored within my DNA of millions
of years of evolution, and memories
of laughter and warmth and friendship stored within my heart.
I love the circles of friends and friends of friends
interlocking and overlapping,
paths crossing and people arriving and
flowing in and out of my life.
I love my inner world, ideas flowing and intermingling.
I love my family and all the rich intimacies and reflections.
I love my friends and their sharing, humour and stories.
I love each person’s little quirks and unique ways of thinking,
and the surprises that arise when I open to their way of seeing.
I love all the flowers, each petal true to itself.
I love listening to the song of the trees in the wind,
a thousand leaves in the choir dancing on the breeze.
I love the smoothness of pebbles transformed
by countless strokes of the sea.
I love the sheer fecundity of midsummer, nature bursting into
every nook and cranny, reaching forth with full abandon.
I love it all: I am so lucky to be alive, so lucky to be me.

Love Letter to the World © Looby Macnamara


Diary 2017

Through recognising ourselves as part of systems that influence other systems, and that each system on the planet is connected, we move from thinking that what we do doesn’t matter, to realising that our actions have consequences and are meaningful. Many of the ripples of our actions are beyond our awareness. Systems act through their parts, as in starling murmurations, where each bird is contributing to the whole system. Each small action we take is part of a bigger story, we are part of a bigger story. Whenever we do something or act in a certain way we can ask ourselves what is it a part of? What am I part of? What flow am I contributing to?

We don’t know where the tipping points are with climate change. We don’t know what disasters might emerge from the combined effects of all the stresses we are placing on ecosystems. Equally though, we don’t know the tipping points for Earth recovery. We don’t know how our actions when combined together can bring about positive change. The words emergency and emergence have the same Latin root ‘emergere’ meaning to arise out of; so perhaps the emergencies we face will give rise to opportunities for emergence. As individuals there are limits to how much we can achieve. There can be a trap of thinking I can’t, but with emergence we can shift this to the potential of working together and we can.

Opening Up to Thinking in Systems © Looby Macnamara

Empowered people
Ready to hold ourselves and each other
Through holding each other
We are held
With our unity we light the world with love
With our love we understand
With our understanding we take responsibility
With our responsibility we are brave
Brave to dream of the world we want
Brave to speak our dreams
With our bravery comes action
The bold and the everyday actions that change our world
And bring hope to our souls
Hope we can breathe in deeply
Hope to wake us from our slumbers
To fill every corner of our awareness
With the knowing
All is possible.

Empowered People © Looby Macnamara

Abundance and appreciation go hand in hand. When we can feel gratitude for what we have and what is around us we open to feelings of satisfaction, awe and harmony. We can celebrate our harvests. We can even celebrate the learning that we gain from our mistakes and congratulate ourselves for the efforts made. We can celebrate what we have done rather than focusing on what we still have left to do. Gratitude starts with appreciation of ourselves. Within each of us is a store of skills, talents, purpose, passion, energy and enthusiasm.

The lens of abundance thinking is most influential when we use it first to reflect our internal landscape, to shed light on our inner abundance. When we are in touch with our inner resources we are more able to see clearly the abundances around us. It is through internal discovery that we are able to make the greatest changes and unearth the most valuable gems. It is through acknowledging and celebrating ourselves that we find a fulfilling world around us.

The frame of gratitude is a potent frame for change. From the viewpoint of gratitude we can feel excitement, resilience, confidence and flow.

Abundance and Appreciation © Looby Macnamara