Champagne: Metaphor for Social Transformation

January 2009

In this issue:
1. Readers’ Comments
2. Newsbits
3. January Editorial: “Champagne: Metaphor for Social Transformation”
4. Preview: Next Month’s Editorial
5. Quote of the Month – Van Jones
6. Hot Link of the Month
7. Want to Blog?
8. Click and Play of the Month


Thanks to Canadians Bruce Elkins and Desmond Berghofer, Switzerland’s Peter Kessler, UK’s Alan Harpham and Bruce Lloyd for their kind words regarding last month’s editorial on “hyper-capitalism.” My friend Robert White took issue with it, however, accusing me of a liberal bias. In part he writes:

. . . The killer for me is your conclusion: “New laws about influence peddling, campaign contributions, and other reform measures will most likely be needed.”. . . I’d love to hear even one success story of how a “new law” has stopped influence peddling et al . . . Until we radically reduce the honey pot that is Washington DC federal spending and restrictive legislation, smart people will figure out how to circumvent any law passed. Remember, when asked why he robbed banks, Willie Sutton replied “that’s where the money is.” . . .

Thanks to Rosa Alegria, last month’s editorial Has been translated into Portuguese and published in the Brazilian newsletter Mercado Ético (If you have colleagues who read Portuguese you can refer them).


Welcome New Dimensions Readers

New Dimensions Media prominently featured a portion of my ‘conversation with the future’ article in November in their December newsletter which resulted in quite a surge of new subscribers finding their way to FutureShapers Monthly. Welcome to you all! Michael and Justine Toms – the founders of New Dimensions – have been friends and colleagues for over thirty years doing yeoman’s work in the field of transforming human consciousness through media, primarily radio, and have listeners all over the world.

John’s January Blog

This month’s blog is “Do You Think Globally? Then Check This Out!” It has to do with an initiative I support than allows people to sign a declaration of global citizenship and rally around others who have made their own personal commitments to improving the world. Please check it out and post your comments:

New Article in SpandaNews

The fourth quarter issue of SpandsNews – just published and focusing on consciousness and personal development – features one of my articles (“A Transformational Approach to a Sustainable Future: Conscious Leadership,” page 50) along with articles by Riane Eisler, Pete Russell, Ervin Laszlo, Rupert Sheldrake, Charlie Tart, Stan Grof and other luminaries so I’m in privileged company.


[Champagne seems like a befitting metaphor given we are welcoming in a new year. May all your surprises in 2009 be pleasant ones!]

I am often asked how hopeful I am about there being any real probability of meaningful lasting change – or even transformation – of society and its organizations so a civil, peaceful and sustainable future can be inherited by our descendents. It is clear than millions of attempts to bring about large scale social change have occurred yet rarely have these efforts produced lasting results.

Some of us belong to small communities of kindred spirits (perhaps only three or four, perhaps as many as twenty or thirty) where the conversations are inspiring, empowering and conducive to exciting new possibilities for the world. But the vast majority of people and the conversations they are having are not conducive to social transformation. It is impossible to know how many small group conversations – “conversations for possibility” – are going on in the world because they are usually under the radar of collective awareness. Those of us participating in these conversations for possibility are like isolated bubbles with our own boundaries distinct and separate from the surrounding environment – whether we are operating in real space/time or virtually. When we leave our bubble and engage the surrounding environment there is often what has become known as a “culture shock” and we will likely be startled by the contrast.

Something like this occurs when someone from the Midwestern U.S. visits one of the coasts, or vice versa. It can happen when one changes jobs, moves to a new neighborhood or a different country.

I was recently participating in one of these conversations for possibility, where exchanges are authentic, unguarded and visionary, when I imagined the bubbles in an unopened bottle of carbonated beverage – champagne, soda pop, fizzy water, beer – as a metaphor for communities such as the one I was in at the time. I envisioned communities of consciousness as the bubbles of gas normally incorporated into the bottled liquid. When you mildly shake the unopened bottle, the bubbles come to life for a while. Sit the bottle down and everything eventually returns to normal again as the effervescence is reabsorbed.

This seemed like a good metaphor for many failed efforts to bring about transformations in organizations and society. The conversations for possibility occur within the container and some agitation stirs things up a bit but eventually things get back to normal and status quo returns!

Later in the day a first-time attendee shared with us that he was very surprised by the openness, honesty and transparency people had been expressing. He was a state employee and was used to a very different culture. He was clearly very stimulated. He said he had been quite “shaken up” by his experience of the day. Suddenly, the metaphor became complete for me.

When you vigorously shake the bottle the bubbles show up rapidly seemingly out of nowhere. They multiply and build-up pressure inside the bottle which can result in it “blowing its top” as anyone can appreciate who has started to open a bottle of champagne after it has been overly stimulated. Bottles have been known to explode with enough agitation. Once those bubbles collectively rise to increase the pressure in the bottle and the contents escape the confines of the bottle the status quo is gone forever! Things will never return to “normal” again.

Regardless of whether it is a company, a country or the world, bubbles of consciousness have a greater probability of having lasting effects when things are really shaken up – a lot! – enough to blow the top off the existing situation. Both the smaller communities of consciousness being released in vast quantities and the “shaking up” of the entire system combine to make lasting transformation occur.


4. NEXT MONTH’S EDITORIAL: “Possibilities for a New Elevator Speech”

“Some of the enemies we need to defeat are inside us. We ourselves are a part of the problem. We are trying to change the status quo. But we are all have a stake in it too. We all rely upon it to live and survive. And so, every day, we end up feeding the very monster we are fighting.” – Van Jones

6. HOT LINK OF THE MONTH (see a complete list of links:

The Wisdom Page is a compilation of wisdom-related resources — various on-line texts concerning wisdom, references to books about wisdom, information about organizations that promote wisdom, wise activities, and listserv groups concerned with aspects of wisdom.


My blog – “Exploring the Better Future” – is located at the Global Dialogues Center; a new topic every month; take a look and post your comments. I’d love to hear from some of you subscribers!

8. “CLICK & PLAY” OF THE MONTH: (also see Audio and Videos)

Global Dialogue Center’s Debbe Kennedy interviews John

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John Renesch

John is a seasoned businessman-turned-futurist who has published 14 books and hundreds of articles on social and organizational transformation.

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