How We Work

We work trans-locally. There is no universal solution for any of the challenges of this time: increased poverty and disease, failing large-scale systems, ecological degradation. But there is the possibility of widespread impact when people working at the local level are able to learn from one another, practice together and share learning with communities everywhere. We observe that large-scale change emerges when local actions get connected globally while preserving their deeply local culture, flavor and form. We call this “trans-local” learning.

We focus on four key activities. In many ways, Berkana’s work is quite straightforward. We name trailblazing leaders and communities, connect them to one another, nourish them with relationships, learning, resources, and support, and illuminate their stories as important examples of the future taking place right now.

I. Name the Community

Although pathfinders work in close relationship with members of their community of place, they can be unaware that they are part of a global community of practitioners. And because they are so busy doing their work, they often fail to notice that their efforts have importance beyond their community. Reports of loneliness and exhaustion are frequent. Berkana serves a crucial role by naming their good work as important, by recognizing it as a contribution not only to their communities, but to the future. And we assure them that they’re not alone, that, in fact, there are many other brave leaders and communities out there encountering similar challenges and discovering viable solutions.

II. Connect the Community

In nature, if a system is failing, the solution is to create more connections. In our initiatives, we work intentionally to develop stronger connections both within a community and trans-locally.  We design many kinds of gathering spaces—both real and virtual—so that people can meet, exchange ideas and resources and develop enduring relationships. These gatherings are a rich source of ideas, inspiration, consolation and confidence. They infuse pathfinders with both clarity and motivation to keep experimenting to discover solutions to their most pressing issues.

III. Nourish the Community

If pathfinders are to persevere and be successful, they need to be nourished with many different kinds of resources, but we’ve discovered that two of the most essential sources of nourishment are relationships and learning. As trusting relationships develop, we’re more capable of thinking boldly and taking risks. In this strong web, we become eager to learn from one another’s experiments. We encourage each other to be inventive, to discover what works, to make visible the roadmap of change and transformation. Learning can come in many forms, but we notice that the most meaningful and readily applied learnings happenwithin a community of practitioners.

IV. Illuminate the Community

Many times, efforts that are based on new ways of thinking are either ignored, misperceived or even invisible. When they are noticed, they are often labeled as inspiring anomalies that do not cause people to change their basic beliefs, worldviews and practices. It takes time, attention and a consistent focus for people to see them for what they are: examples of what’s possible, of what our new world could be like.

Berkana illuminates these pathfinding efforts to develop greater public awareness, to attract attention and resources to these efforts, and to encourage others to step forward on behalf of the issues that most concern them.