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Course: Mindful Innovation – “Becoming change agents for sustainability”

July 19, 2021 - July 23, 2021

Teacher: Tobias Luthe, Justyna Swat, Mirjam Luthe


Live-Online Inspirational Practices with Mark Coleman (tbc) or other “Awake in the Wild” Teachers (Dhana) and Dr. Susan Eirich (EarthFire Institute) 


Towards a personal toolkit for regeneration and resilience

The challenges to respond to the multiple global crises seem overwhelming. Pandemics require more resilient regional economies with less dependence on global supply chains, and more livable cities with larger green space access for anyone and cleaner air. Climate change requires the decarbonization of our economies, less traveling and integrated e-mobility, low carbon buildings, and more conscious lifestyles. Biodiversity loss demands a new relation with nature and how we live and act with ecosystem services and the landscape. We have no time to lose, but act now for maximized impact as part of the current UN Decade of Action on the Global Sustainable Development Goals. We all need to act as change agents and transformers of local people action, and put systemic innovation into place. Systemic innovation contains technical and social innovation. As of technical innovation, we already know enough to implement right now – but we need to practice, recall, and experience.

Social innovation is the most critical component – how to infuse change into society, starting with our knowledge, awareness, behavior, and moving towards communities that support transformational change, as opposed to resisting change? Here comes into play the practice of Mindful Innovation – tools, techniques and practices to infuse technical innovation into communities, based on our own active illustrative roles and our own toolkit. This “Toolkit for regeneration and resilience” or “Tools for Change” requires both technical skills and knowledge, and mental and emotional tools and practices. Systemic innovation is about transformation across scales of governance, from raw materials to bio-regional economies. How to cope with such complexity? Where to start and how not to feel overwhelmed? How to nourish joy and engagement, as we proceed? For my own role, and for encouraging and inviting others? How to see and activate the innovative, positive, creative and motivational side and energy of the problematic and sometimes anxious side of “the new”, of “change”, of global sustainability challenges?

This course addresses both spheres. We spend a couple of days together in a highly innovative and transformative place, the MonViso Institute (MVI) real-world laboratory, as part of the reviving Ostana community in the Po river mountain valley, and the diversity of the Piedmont region at the border between Italy and France, close to the Mediterranean Sea. We explore technical innovation skills across governance scales, from green chemistry such as understanding carbon flows, to using raw materials for construction such as local lime stone, hemp and wood, to product design such as building a practical kitchen tool with various machinery, to passive house design and water circularity, to community integration with tourism and e-mobility, to landscape planning e.g. via green roof building, and the regional economy with evolving circularity. Every day, we dive into one of such technical practices, learn new handcrafting skills, new design tools, new systems science, and expand our own scope and skillset across governance scales. This enables us to learn to design and plan in complexity, in very applied and hands-on daily activities, using the latest didactics in systemic design. To equip ourselves with the technical and practical systems understanding and skillset to drive real action.

The frame for this technical innovation are the practices of mindfulness and self-compassion. In this course, we draw inspiration from nature, because this is essential for a healthy inner sustainability during times of ecological and major global crisis. As we experience ourselves as part of the broader web of life, our lives gain new meaning and we can renew the sense of enchantment and connection with life as well as a deeper motivation to engage. We need to get to know ourselves better, in order to understand our own role and function in systemic innovation, feel our behavioral illustrative power, and learn to respond to, integrate and then transform societal resistance against change, which is a natural security patch, naturally built into our human expression. Learning to zoom out from our own daily rush and our own action- and result-driven opinion and mindset, we want to see, feel and comprehend the greater system and its interconnectivity. We may need to reassess our core values, build trust in our own innate capacity of resilience and learn to listen to others and the natural world more deeply, in order to bring forth and sustain the essential collaborative leverage to drive systems change as self-empowered agents of innovation and transformation. To consciously engage communities with so-called Tools for Change (https://monviso-institute.org/tools-for-change/), support communities to understand a systems’ view and hence together decrease opposition against needed innovation to build trust and gain collective support.

Mindful Self Compassion and Mindfulness practices are the daily frame for our hands-on design for sustainability experiences. All system‘s scale and daily “getting dirty hands” experiences on the compound  will be supported by Mindfulness practices in regards to enhanced sense awareness and the essential practice of self-care on the path to self-empowerment. We will draw on the stunning cultural wilderness of this location and its surroundings to help us nurture a felt connection to our natural environment. This includes practices with positive emotions like joy, gratitude and wonder, in order to sustain a healthy level of engagement, being “agents of change” and empowering others to support us on the path. This entails both active, short snapshot talks and hands-on work, as well as more contemplative practices. All with the aim to develop and strengthen mindfulness skills with direct applicable values, and gain deep understanding within a concrete outdoor-experiential didactic setting. We will experience engaging with the broader local community and culture of Ostana and consciously expose ourselves to the cultural expressions of daily life in an Alpine community that is prone to rapid change, while beautifully striving to protect and re-enliven its very particular characteristics.

One output of this course will be a set of short video snippets as “mindful instructions” on how to e.g. mindfully use the technology (low and high tech) of the onsite MVI passive netpositive house “Il Doppio”.

Suitable for non-meditators, beginning and experienced meditators from all traditions, and for visionaries yet-to-become.



July 19, 2021
July 23, 2021
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