Words by Marc Coppola // Illustrations by Megan Palmer
[L]et’s talk reality for a second here: change is something we all want.
As a whole, humanity is constantly looking to challenge the status quo, and to push the limits of our existence, knowledge and understanding of the ‘impossible’. We are a species addicted to progress, to doing more and more. We keep equipping our countries, cities and lifestyles with the latest tools and technologies but this kind of ‘progress’ has led to a state of imbalance.
Our current path is leading us into a struggle of scarcity and our addiction has led to environmental degradation. Fortunately, it has also left us with many hopes and windows into the world we really strive for.
We all want to be on the winning team in the fight for good and we all intend to live in a happy, safe, abundant and beautiful world. Yet we can all agree that we have not fully achieved this ideal—or utopia.
As evident from the growing number of worldwide protests and meaningless political promises, we have a long way to go.
However, what isn’t obvious is how our ideal world can come about—people don’t realise that it can be achieved.
Change is like baking bread.
Mix together a few key ingredients and you’ve got the basic recipe for bread. Flour, water, yeast and sugar in the right amount and order will produce one of the staples of our culinary life.
However, the recipe for bread isn’t a static notion. Although it has some core tenants, it is malleable—we can create many different variations with the addition of other ingredients. Some recipes might yield good bread, others not so much, but they all make bread. We as humanity have pushed the baking of bread to boundaries further and further with an endless number of alterations to the basic recipe in the same way we have done with our world. We have done such to the point where we have stripped away the simplicity and left many of us confused as to what the recipe really was to begin with.
So what would be the basic recipe for change? What essential ingredients do we need to see changes take place? What ingredients are conducive towards positive change versus negative change?
After hours of pondering, research, experience and scrutiny, here is my simple recipe for positive change, which involves the 4 basic ingredients to a better world.
Start with motivations towards sustainability, add knowledge and sense of community and stir it all together through direct action.
Perhaps this seems vague in the same way that your Grandma explaining to you one of her secret recipes might, but the reality is it only requires a little bit of context and the right tools to understand.
The Golden Circle
The Golden Circle is the recipe for change in its simplest form. It embodies the pattern of change of all kinds whether intentional or unintentional. It outlines the order in which humans biologically make decisions.
It represents a process all of us understand and do instinctively—comes from our ‘gut’ and yet we often have a hard time defining it. It’s what inspires us every step of the way and it all starts with asking, why?
Simon Sinek, author of Start With Why and Leaders Eat Last coined the term the ‘Golden Circle’ a few years back, which he later popularised through one of the most popular TED Talk speeches of all time.
He explains that we as humans are motivated not by what and how things are done, but by why they are done to begin with.
Our brains understand and can rationalise the what and how, but we are absolutely fascinated and captivated by the why. It’s something that has no answer—an endless question that fuels our addiction to progress and change.
The same applies to making bread. We don’t make bread just to make it. We make it for the purpose that bread serves for us. It’s not the how (the recipe) or what (the ingredients) that motivates us to make bread, but the why that inspires this action.
So why do we make bread? We do so to satisfy our hunger and the hunger of those we care about. It is an expression of our love of self and of others, and thus it is sacred.
[S]ustainability is just one motivation. It’s a topic, word and movement that inherently begins with why. It is the most raw form of existence as it roots itself in our survival. It asks, “Why should we care to be ecologically responsible and conscious of human impact on the environment?”
It inspires us to be more mindful and conscious of the world and our impact on it. It reminds us of a bigger subset of existence than just us ourselves, and it humbles us to be less selfish and more caring for those around us.
There is a reason we all marvel at the natural world around us, travel to see waterfalls, long to see animals in the wild or lay under the stars. It’s because life in harmonious balance inspires us. This is what we long for. A better, more balanced world—one we know is possible in our hearts.
Sustainability is to humans the same as what hunger is to bread. They both ensure, motivate and enable our survival. They give us a purpose for ourselves and for those who come after us.
Although we may stray from our responsibility to the Earth, it is undeniable that sustainability is the vehicle in which humanity must travel to ensure its survival. It is the flour to which we add water, which in this case is knowledge.
[K]nowledge is exceptionally important because human behaviour comes about based on our assumptions and perceived truths of the world around us, which is inevitably informed by the knowledge we hold. It is our perspective of what we think we know that shapes how we act.
Knowledge symbolises the ‘how’ in the Golden Circle of change and the second essential ingredient in our recipe.
Only if we acquire new knowledge, ideas and information can we truly make necessary changes in our existence.
Don’t forget that the world was once believed to be flat. Anything that challenged this notion philosophically was quickly disregarded as nonsense. It is only with new knowledge that people’s perspectives changed. Our recipe for navigating the world and our operations within it were revolutionised.
The same concept applies to making changes today. The status quo might seem to be an overwhelming solid brick wall that is hard to knock down, but I suggest that it is as malleable as the dough that comes from mixing the flour and water. With enough knowledge, even brick walls can change shape, opening up a flood gate to endless possibilities.
Knowledge and sustainability must be worked together like one kneads the dough. To create the right balance and mix between the two, it can’t be too wet, nor can it be too dry to yield the right results.
Knowledge is power. Cliché to think, but such is only symbolic of its universal truth. However it only really flows and grows, as does our bread, with the yeast of society—community.
[Y]east, an active bacteria, is truly no different than society. It is made up of culture in constant motion looking to consume whatever is added to it, creating desirable byproducts. Great change takes place only when we come together as a community.
The civil rights movement for African American rights would never have taken place if it wasn’t for a great leadership that provided a concrete direction, clear communication of intentions, desires, and visions to a strong and faithful community of supporters. The Golden Circle can be seen clearly within this movement; the ingredients of why, how and what guided the process for change.
Does this seem too general of a statement?
What about the Boston Tea Party or the liberation of India? They were all possible because communities of believers backed strong leaders who inspired and advocated great change.
Through effective communications of intentions, which foments a culture of trust, protection, integrity and preservation of ones’ rights, people around the world have demonstrated that revolutions WILL happen and ARE possible.
But they never happen at the hands of government or of big business—they always begin as a grassroots movement formed by people who have had enough. It is an inevitable fact that paradigms shift; status quo changes in the same way that adding yeast to dough makes it rise. Given enough time, there will be change. The question is, in what direction will it go?
In the same way that yeast consumes sugar to make the dough rise, a community of believers will achieve nothing unless there is action.
[W]hat shape our bread grows into is determined by the constructs of the pan we place it in. It will always rise but it can also be contained. The same applies to action. If we focus our energy and intent towards sustainable and ecologically conscious solutions, we will guide change towards the future we believe in.
The what in this case refers to the various solutions we as humans can take to solve any issue.
Be it climate change or the climbing national debt, there is no limit to what we can overcome as long as we bond together in action.
Action is the glue that ties all of these other elements together. It’s what makes our collective purpose come to life. We might all have different routes and roles—some are more active than others—but we are all nonetheless a part of this greater change.
It is absolutely essential that we actively participate and fill our role within this process for change. We must realise that our responsibility as humans is to preserve the balance of the universe around us, and not to exploit it or contribute to its degradation. It is not someone else’s job to care about this. It is ours.
[T]here is one secret and often overlooked ingredient to baking bread. It is not something we buy and that’s why we don’t seem to qualify it as an ingredient. Nonetheless, it remains the most essential step to successfully creating bread. This ingredient is is heat.
Heat in this case represents time.
If there’s too much heat, the bread might burn. If there’s not enough heat, the bread will be raw.
There are many ways to take action but only one right time: NOW.
The world is currently suffering from the ailments that our culture and society breeds. It is today that positive change towards sustainability is necessary, and it begins with just a single step.
A few years ago, it was exactly this mentality and belief that founded what is now known as the Valhalla Movement.
[T]he Valhalla Movement is a movement of people who are actively combining these 4 ingredients into actively building the world we KNOW is possible in our hearts TODAY.
Why? We combine these 4 ingredients to build this future because we believe that we have a responsibility towards nature, ensuring the vitality and health of Earth for ourselves and for future generations. It is survival of the fittest in the most ethical sense of the term.
How? By making sustainable lifestyle choices, spreading knowledge of sustainable alternatives, creating and actively being part of the change community, and taking direct action every day.
What are we doing exactly?
We are going to construct an Earthship Sustainability Learning Centre. We are developing a permaculture food forest on a 60-acre piece of land steps away from downtown Montreal. We are building a team of globetrotting documentarians to cover the movement towards sustainability and responsible change through high quality media of all types.
We are giving other visionary organisations and initiatives the opportunity to take steps towards change through our soon-to-be public crowdfunding platform, GreenSeed. Lastly, we will be providing valuable information and knowledge online and offline via workshops, events, webinars and more.
We are motivated to make a better world for us and our community. These 4 elements—sustainability, knowledge, community and action—are our guiding principles and forms the recipe for our vision of change.
We believe that positive, sustainable change is not something we can buy or consume; it is a lifestyle.
It is a choice we much each adopt in order for it to come into the cultural forefront. The only way to change the status quo is to create a better one and such will only happen if people like you join this movement and adopt a lifestyle that is compatible with this change.
We are devoted to taking action towards this cause each and every day and as such, we are already changing the world.
Let us leave you with this: through intent we are the architects of the universe. With action towards this intent, we yield the power of the revolution we are all waiting for.