2013 Vision/Purpose Retreat

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  • Check In
  • Setting Up Options for How the Hours are spent (fist-to-five)
  • 9:15 (12:15) (Vision/Purpose
  • 10:20 (13:20) 10-minute break
  • 10:30 (13:30) More Vision/Purpose
  • 11:15 (14:15) OnePagePlan
  • 11:30-12:00 (14:30 - 15:00) Recap/Revisit/Next Steps


  • Brandon ... I smell really good ... just took a shower
  • Ren ... happy he has his milk
  • Shelley ... I feel good as well, just drove in from Canby (Sequoia there with his grandma)
  • Ben ... Sleepy
  • Eric ... a little embarrassed because I had 3 more hours than you did to get out of bed, but I got up only 18 minutes ago
  • Carol ... I feel good ... well rested, had a little coffee

Options (10-15 minutes)

Two things to talk about:

  • Focus on OnePagePlan ... get the whole 2013 plan written (move in that direction)
  • Focus on the concept of TheDestiny and our overarching Purpose (consider whether it needs revision)

So here are the options:

  • 1 hr OnePagePlan, 1 hr larger vision (0,1,3,3)
  • 1 hr larger vision, 1 hr OnePagePlan (2,5,5,3)
  • Priority on OnePagePlan ... when done we spend what is left on vision (3,3,1,0)
  • Priority on Vision ... when done we spend what is left on OnePagePlan (5,5,4,5)

Notice that we could have another retreat again in a month or so.

Setting the Stage

  • What is our super-personal purpose, and is TheDestiny a durable purpose?
  • Want it to be something that is a unifying and compelling theme in my personal life as well as in the corporate life of SolSeed.
  • Want it to be a one sentence, compelling sound bite that I feel passionate about
  • Should have poetry and symbolism
  • Eric: Don't want it to stray too far from what we've already created, because that is what attracted me in the first place
    • Ben: Don't want to lose the science fiction sense of wonder ... it would make us feel like just another environmental group
  • Answer to Fermi's paradox (miniturization/efficiency) ... is TheDestiny still as compelling in its current specific form?
    • It's good to consider the potential answers to Fermi's paradox ... AND ... it's okay if whatever we pick still has some failure cases (e.g. the world collapses and TheDestiny becomes much further out)
  • How much is durability a value?
    • Is it okay if SolSeed is no longer the right religion for a future time?
    • Resilience: a core principle that stands the test of time and can be implemented different ways to accomodate changing realities in the world at large
  • Calls people to be their best self, and inspires sacrifice
    • Arete for individuals, groups and all of humanity. I.e., it calls individual groups of individuals and all of humanity to be the best of themselves.
    • RSA: communities require sacrifice of their members
  • What makes us different is that we're asking people to join a religion
    • Not just a life's work, or a belief system, but also a community and symbolism and ritual
    • Religion is where people go when they are down and out, need someone to inspire them and take care of them
    • Some people are perpetually down and out (a bottle with the holes along the bottom)
    • Everyone occasionally feels down and out (someone with a cup that can be filled)
  • Ben: what really helps my feelings is being in community with others who are inspired by this vision of life spreading out into space
    • Brandon: +1
    • Eric: this is what helps me feel safe in looking for help here, it is an important part of who I am and if I can't express this here ... where can I express it?
    • Does that belief need to be spelled out explicitly in the super-ordinate purpose, or just one of the vague meanings of "spread?"
  • We need some text and deeper meaning behind our sound bite
  • We are not the Greater Movement!
    • Brandon: I want to live in a world where the Greater Movement is really self-aware, and there are lots of colorful, different, non-"one-size-fits-all" groups within it
  • Sacrifice Shame!
    • Eric: One of the sacrifices that we as founding members need to make is to sacrifice our shame. To bite the bullet and overcome our fear of being considered weird; If we believe that a key expression of the overarching purpose of our movement is to put life in space, then we have to say that without hesitation as often as possible. We may feel shame or fear or awkwardness when we do so, but feeling those feelings is a sacrifice we need to make.
    • Ben: Some members of the religion will have the ideal of a family of living worlds in their "indwelling spirit," but we don't want to be orthodox purists who refuse to consider less-pious people (like Shelley) as members
    • Brandon: Do we create something that is equally owned by the four of us, or something that is stronger-flavored and not equally owned?
  • Religion is Enigmatic
    • What if, like other religions, we have multiple sound bites that seem to contradict each other, and only full members will fully understand how they fit together?
    • In our case, two sound bites that seem to contradict each other are "Life is precious" and "We need to get life into space"
    • Eric: We should not have just one statement; it is ok to be enigmatic.
  • Brandon: We should lead with a vision/purpose that's mostly the Greater Movement, because that's enough shock for most people to absorb
    • Shelley: Space does inspire and move me; but instead of it being innate and driving my elephant, I am inspired by the three of you. I don't resonate with going to space when it is expressed directly. Instead it needs to come through the sacredness and independence of life; I resonate with the arete statement; and then the idea that "it is life's nature to flower and spread to the stars" moves me to tears
    • Eric: The core for me is a love of life-kind (and trees in particular) ... that love drives me to space
    • Brandon: Life is where it's at
    • Ben: When I was young, I was passionate about spaceships (to boldly go). Then I had a second core belief that evolved later -- we need to save life on Earth. Then I put them together.
  • Benjamin Zander TED talk: "Everyone loves classical music, they just don't know it yet."
    • Everyone loves life ... and everyone loves space? They just don't know it yet. We can tell them.


  • Bring Life (to ourselves, each other, our communities, our planet, and even unto the Galaxy)
    • Shelley: It's so generic (in its short statement) that no one could disagree, lacks power ... When you get out to even unto the Galaxy it's kind of weird, not that inspiring ... we're a weird sort of special
    • Eric: I like that it leaves until the very end the weirdness ... hook them early and create questions and a conversation toward the end
  • Fulfilling TheDestiny (to give birth to a family of living worlds)
    • Shelley and Brandon: Does not address the future situations in which it may not apply ... (maybe miniturization/efficiency would lead to wanting to stay where we are rather than spreading out)
    • Ben: I think we're explorers by nature ... also, Fermi's paradox doesn't mean there aren't a lot of living worlds out there, just that they're not blasting a bunch of radio signals all over the place
  • Expressing the Arete of Life ... it is in Life's nature to flower and spread [even to the stars]
    • Shelley: It's not very active
    • Ben: I'm not sure about including a Greek word that people aren't necessarily familiar with
      • Brandon: Arete may be weird in a good way
    • We all like the second phrase
      • Ben: But many people won't notice or properly interpret the interesting part about "spreading" beyond Earth
      • Eric: the Spread to Space is the ultimate, but there are so many ways we can do it on Earth already (deserts, oceans, barren mountain tops, etc) ... the focus on the Galaxy as a whole isn't the prime focus
    • Brandon: This statement is about the greater movement ... SolSeed just takes the "spread" part to extremes
      • Ben: Maybe this is a value statement for us, rather than a purpose statement
  • Be worthy of our cost to Mother Earth (repay her investment in us)
    • Ben: Becoming net creators rather than net destroyers of life implies a lot of sacrifice ... speaks to my worries about the direction of the world, acknowledges that there are some problems we need to deal with
      • Eric: Reference to Seeing Nature: Let's focus on building the blocks rather than knocking them down
    • Brandon: It seems subsidiary to the implicit value of life and possibility
      • Eric: But does that value need to be explicitly stated in the purpose statement?
  • Combine our life with other worlds to create greater diversity and beauty ... throughout the Galaxy
    • Ben: Depends on the theory that we'll encounter other biospheres, when we don't know how many there are or how far we'd have to travel
  • The Upward Spiral
  • To boldly go where no life has gone before


  • Are there better words than Destiny (especially given our stance on prophecy)
  • Arete could be replaced with Excellence, Virtue, Fulfilling Potential, Happy in the Sun, Merit, Worthiness

One Page Plan

Core Values/Beliefs

  • All life is precious. This is the root of our value system. Respecting and cherishing life is the reason for everything we do. This is an Aesthetic/Spiritual apprehension that is basic to our very natures. In the words of Albert Einstein, it "neither requires nor is capable of rational foundation."
  • Expressing the Arete of Life ... it is in Life's nature to flower and spread [even to the stars]
    • The Destiny of SolSeed is to take root amongst the stars. To protect the future of life, we must help it grow beyond Earth and even beyond the Solar system, so it can never be wiped out. More importantly, our belief in this audaciously optimistic goal, and in the epic story of a future with life thriving on many worlds, is central to defining the SolSeed Movement.
  • We ALL are precious SolSeed. SolSeed is defined as "the body of all life on Earth," encompassing every human culture and belief system as well as all other species. This connects particularly to the "Openness/welcoming differences" practice below.
  • Science as the way to know truth. We believe in the scientific worldview, the principle that observing the world is a far better route to knowledge than religious texts and magical thinking. We talk about Gaia, a controversial scientific concept, and about a Destiny that sounds like a prophecy, but we admit that these are stories, not knowledge. We believe in the Destiny as a worthy and inspiring goal and Gaia as a useful and inspiring metaphor, but what we believe to be true (or rather, as close to the truth as we can presently get) is based around mainstream science.


  • Be starfarer now. The goal of spreading life across the Galaxy, or even bringing one other world to life, is still a dream for the future, but that shouldn't stop us from embracing its implications in the present. "Starfarer" is a way of life, not a job description. It involves optimism, openness to audacious possibilities, and cultivating virtues that will serve us well when we carry life to the stars. It also involves presence and mindfulness of the now, because only by taking action in the present can we build the future we seek.
  • Nurture body, mind and spirit. The virtue of Self-Love leads to the practices of staying healthy, stimulating our minds, and maintaining a fulfilling spiritual practice. If we don't look after ourselves, we will be in no condition to pursue any of our goals.
  • Openness/welcoming differences. To build a community of starfarers with strong ties to other groups that value life, we need to understand that shared values and/or purpose doesn't mean we will all think alike. Because we are all precious SolSeed, we welcome people regardless of these differences. Also, as our scientific worldview requires, we acknowledge that anything we believe could be wrong. We believe in practicing the welcoming of those with different ideas and beliefs with Empathy and respectful discussion and debate.
  • Acting upstream. Wisdom says that a small group like ours should not seek large-scale change by a direct route. Instead, we look for small actions that are well-positioned to set off a cascade of larger changes in the future. The "upstream" metaphor comes from Paul Krafel's film The Upward Spiral, in which he describes redirecting tiny rivulets of rainwater so they soak into the soil and promote life, rather than forming fast-flowing streams that cut the land into steep, lifeless gullies.
  • Acting on empathy and compassion (for the earth, for other people, etc)

Purpose/North Star

To bring life to ourselves, each other, our communities, our planet, and even unto the galaxy. (Switch this with the Arete statement?)


  • Clarify our Ideas
  • Create and refine Powerful (tasteful) Practices
  • Promulgate our ideas through various media (Ben)
  • Help the greater movement become self-aware and networked ... catalyze the birth/growth of kindred tribes/groups (ex. through Kindred Event) (Brandon)
  • Organize as a religious group (including IRS tax-exempt status, etc)
  • Incorporate the SolSeed Society nonprofit to do or contribute to charitable work
  • Build a SolSeed village/society
  • Create a Tree Caring/Breeding Movement
  • Become a player in the space industry


We decided we want to be simultaneously less ashamed of our space-related vision, and more open to starting with the greater-movement-type verbiage b/c that draws people in, and also b/c it is more accurate, given where people start (including us).

?We will have more than one statement?, and try out the Arete statement as a primary vision/purpose?

Add compassion as a practice and some other actions on the one-page plan

Near Term Next steps

  • Talk about a possible name change
  • Add goals/targets for this season, year, and 3-year period to the OnePagePlan

Weekly Event Logistics

Service Saturday January 19, 9:00am PST 12:00 EST (Eric)
Rotation: Brandon, Eric, Shelley, Ben
Work-Bee Sunday January 20, 1:30 pm PST 16:30 EST
In-person service with Vliets: Saturday the 19th, 10:30 am
Seeing Nature Readings and Practices: next is 2013-01-20 13:00 EST

WWWs from last time

  • Eric ... follow your topical community protocol for this week ... ongoing
  • Eric ... meditate and keep track of which days ... ongoing
  • Ben ... follow your topical community protocol for this week ... ongoing
  • Ben ... meditate and keep track of which days ... ongoing
  • Ben ... put images on newsletter and send it out using mailchimp ... by next call
  • Ben ... find out whether there are any details on my work schedule for June ... by next call
  • Shelley ... follow your topical community protocol for this week ... ongoing
  • Shelley ... meditate and keep track of which days ... ongoing
  • Brandon ... send credentials to Ben and an email on how to use mailchimp to send the newsletter ... by Monday
  • Brandon ... follow your topical community protocol for this week ... ongoing
  • Brandon ... meditate and keep track of which days ... ongoing
  • Brandon ... check about 1/13 or 1/27 with Carol and reply to group ... by Tuesday


  • Eric ... follow your topical community protocol for this week ... ongoing
  • Eric ... meditate and keep track of which days ... ongoing
  • Ben ... follow your topical community protocol for this week ... ongoing
  • Ben ... meditate and keep track of which days ... ongoing
  • Ben ... buy plane tickets for the Summer Solstice ... by next call
  • Ben ... work on "the gospel according to Ben" ... by next call
  • Shelley ... follow your topical community protocol for this week ... ongoing
  • Shelley ... meditate and keep track of which days ... ongoing\
  • Brandon ... follow your topical community protocol for this week ... ongoing
  • Brandon ... meditate and keep track of which days ... ongoing
  • Brandon ... make the new book available to the rest of us ... by next call
  • Brandon ... buy plane tickets to Ottawa for S, S, & B ... by next call
  • Brandon ... bring up meeting Ben for lunch with the ASF board ... by next call


  • Brandon ... I feel really good about the work we did today
  • Shelley ... I feel good. but I lost my train of thought. I am now able to talk about SolSeed in a whole new way.
  • Ben ... I feel good too. It wasn't quite as organized as I'd like, but . . .
  • Eric ... I feel good too. It was a little too organized for my taste, but. . .
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