We go to the edge & push outward

“Originality is dangerous. If you want to increase the sum of what is possible for human beings to say, to know, to understand and therefore in the end to be, you actually have to go to the edge and push outwards.” 

– Salman Rushdie, author

The edge keeps changing

The edge changes in response to what is going on in the world. We take responsibility for staying aware and knowledgeable about events and conditions both locally and globally.

We have learned that to identify and balance on the edge we need clear seeing, sanity, bravery, and community.

We want to occupy the ever-shifting edge so that we can intelligently discern answers to these questions:

  • What is the work that is needed for the world at this time?
  • Are we the right ones to serve this need?
  • Do we have the conditions and capacities to contribute to this need?

We identify the edge then push outward

Everyone in Berkana is actively engaged in the world, working in many different cultures with people of all ages and in many roles. These people are working to make significant changes that benefit their communities, the planet, and the future.

On the ground–with our senses and heart-mind open–we can discern what is working, what is needed, and where things are trending.

Once we define the edge, Berkana’s work focuses on:

how to educate
how to support
how to strengthen
how to bring together

those daring to live the future now.

We support life-affirming leaders in
a life-destroying time

We pioneer a new paradigm for leading change

We advance community engagement processes

We sponsor trans-local learning

We invoke women’s leadership

We summon Warriors for the Human Spirit

“There is nothing so practical as a good theory.”

-Kurt Lewin, Social Psychologist

Since 1991, Berkana has worked from a robust theory of how change happens in living systems. All living systems change using the same processes, be it an individual, a community or a society. 

We have been leaders in developing this theory. Everything we do is a conscious experiment to refine our understanding of how life organizes as interdependent, interconnected, complex living systems that change through emergence. 

We have learned that: 

Relationships are all there is. Healthy change requires respect for and full engagement with people. Community is the most effective locus of change.

These principles are embodied in all Berkana does

  • Whatever the problem, community is the answer 
  • Diversity is a blessing not a problem  
  • The leaders we need are already here  
  • A leader is anyone willing to get engaged  
  • All people are creative and will work tirelessly for what they care about  
  • People support what they create 
  • To heal a living system, connect it to more of itself
  • Change happens through emergence, not by any other process
  • Self-awareness is the foundation for good leadership 
  • A living system is a learning system or else it dies
  • A good sense of humor is an absolute necessity   
  • Grace and joy are present even amidst the sorrows

The meaning of Berkana

Berkana is an ancient Norse word for birch tree, the Norse rune for growth and rebirth.

Berkana denotes a form of fertility that fosters growth both symbolically and actually, that leads to blossoming and ripening.

Berkana is concerned with the flow of beings into their new forms through gentle, penetrating, and pervasive action.

To promote blossoming, Berkana requires the qualities of modesty, patience, fairness, and generosity.

adapted from The Book of Runes, Ralph Blum

Berkana’s recipe for creating healthy community change

Combine and stir together gently 

highly-motivated activists 

deeply rooted in their communities

in deepening relationships 

generously sharing their discoveries 

lovingly supporting one another 

working as a trans-local community 

fueled by curiosity and dedication 

experimenting with practical theories 

steadfast and persevering