Launching a Culture Design Lab for Planetary Thriving

Go here to participate in the Thriving Planet Design Lab.

Is it possible to intentionally speed up changes in culture to accelerate the transition to a sustainable world?  We already know that the world is changing quickly, both culturally and environmentally.  Recent years have seen an explosion of disruptive technologies, breakdowns in traditional values, spread of new social norms and practices, and more.  We now live in a world filled with smart phones, subtle and powerful forms of social marketing, a series of populist uprisings around the globe, and rapid adoption of public policies that align with a more socially conscious citizenry.

At the same time there has been an upwell of natural disasters, extreme weather, shifting natural patterns, and a need for even deeper changes in our business practices, governing philosophies, and economic policies.  Timing is critical.  If we are to evolve the structures of society toward a state of thriving, it will require the tools of culture design.  The ad hoc approach of the modern environmental movement has been too slow and inconsistent to make progress quickly enough on its own.

Here at Culture2 Inc. we have started to reveal the cultural patterns that help or hinder the spread of environmental solutions.  Last year we conducted a research study on the discourse around global warming in the Climate Meme Project that revealed a great deal about why that conversation has been unable to culminate in solutions at the societal scale.  For a full discussion of our findings, watch this video.

Today we launch our first culture design laboratory for a thriving planet.  Learn more by watching this intro and then follow the link below to participate in the project.

In our study of the global warming conversation, we noted that specific ideas were toxic to those who became “infected” with them.  Those ideas have kept activists and denialists from finding common ground or working toward solutions.  They also excluded anyone wanting to be hopeful about the future from participating in the conversation — roughly 95% of the population has been left out!

The ideas that did this were:

  • Humans are the problem.  We are bad for the planet and Earth will be better off once all of the humans have died off.
  • Humanity is simply too divided to solve any big problems.  We are polarized into ideological camps that don’t listen to each other and can’t cooperate with one another.
  • The problem is unsolvable.  We might as well give up and just dwell in self-hatred as the world burns.  There is no hope and worse, anyone who IS hopeful is part of the problem.

Based on our extensive research in the areas of earth system science, human cognition, and cultural evolution we strongly disagree with these toxic ideas.  Our first task in the Thriving Planet Design Lab will be to figure out how to spread their opposites.  We need to know what the stories are that help people see that

  1. Humanity can be good for the planet;
  2. We can come come together and solve big problems; and
  3. We are equipped with the knowledge and tools to do so

Right now these stories don’t spread very well.  So we’ll have to figure out how to make them better.

Go here to participate in the Thriving Planet Design Lab.

Together we can do the research necessary to create effective strategies for change.  We can begin to test and iterate better ideas that help humanity move forward collectively toward structural change.

A thriving future is possible.  We just have to design our way into the future to reach it.


The Culture2 Team



  1. Clara McIver

    Very happy to see this next step and meet some new staff members. Video jumping between two voices/locations was much better done. Sound quality stayed pretty steady and backgrounds were kept the same for each speaker, so much easier to make it through to the end.

    I personally like choice number three. I’ve been following Amory Lovins at Rocky Mountain Institute for several years and believe there are solutions. Now I’m going to send a small donation in hopes you can spread some encouragement instead of the usual doom and gloom. As before, I’ll also share on Facebook.

    • Joe Brewer

      Thanks for the helpful feedback, Clara!

      I also think we may be onto something with Story 3 (“We are equipped for the crisis”) having worked in the arena of sustainable solutions for years now and through my training in Earth Systems Science. We really know MUCH more than we normally give ourselves credit for. :-)

      Your engagement and support are wonderful. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

  2. Clara McIver

    Hi, Joe-

    Have you run across Natalie Jeremijenko from NYU? I just discovered her work–a fusion of art and science/engineering. Wonderful possibilities plus geared for the general public. I would love to see you, Natalie (and maybe even Amory Lovins) working together.

    Here’s an interview with Prof. J:

    Some of her projects:

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