Guiding Assumptions (Theory of Change)

Like a fractal, the roots of our problems(([Our problems = See Design Principles for the alternatives/countervailing forces to our systemic problems that we aim to correct through the design of Cosmos.])) permeate and affect various scales of our lives. The patterns we are concerned with altering permeate and penetrate reality at multiple scales. Whether speaking to the global scale or the individual scale, Cosmos holds to unifying principles at all scales even if the strategies or implementation appear distinct at each scale. Like a permaculture designer, we strive to seek the subtlest, most elegant interventions that shift the natural flows of energy in systems. Like tweaking the flow of water through a landscape, the slightest change at the top of the hill can have profound, transforming effects on the land downward. By concentrating, combining and stimulating people’s utmost intellectual and creative efforts in Cosmos, we will apply our intrinsic human intelligence to continually seek and address the causes and not the symptoms of our difficulties. Defining the essential nature of our problems and identifying and implementing specific adaptive strategies to bring about enhanced outcomes is the collaborative enterprise Cosmos cultivates.

Attention is like a concentrated beam at the intersection of awareness and action in a living being. It is sacred and powerful; what one pays attention to profoundly influences future real results, in nonlinear but tangible ways. It deserves to be revered and respected–yet it seems to be viewed as a final frontier, a last vestige of natural, renewable capital, for late-stage capitalist social media platforms to exploit. Cosmos affords attention the respect it deserves in allowing members to mindfully adapt and curate the ways in which their attention is applied within the platform.

At any level of attentional intensity, Cosmos will offer enriching opportunity for engagement. At low levels of attention, we provide various content channels like Metapsychosis and for people to benefit from our members’ deep, exploratory and diverse discourses. At medium levels of attention and investment, one might become a member of Cosmos to take full participatory advantage of conversations, and to access the portfolio of “plug-in” style tools and services for creatives, such as marketplace, incubation, production or publishing platform features. At even higher levels of attention and investment, there are opportunities to engage in the designing, building, administration and evaluation of the organization itself, including its direction, features, resiliency, and growth.

Cosmos is designed for “spirals of abundance:” for the regenerative circulation of social, cultural and economic capital toward increasing benefits to the member-owners. This takes the form of 1) reciprocal and regenerative social norms, 2) the designs of our collaborative/dialogic/laboratory spaces, and 3) a custom-built internal virtual currency. At its most basic level: the investment of attention is like the sunlight that makes all beings in the system grow. The reciprocal flow of inspiration is the foundation of our platform’s regenerative economy.

We honor life when we fulfill and apply our greatest potential in the world. Instead of coercing others to serve our ends, the people of Cosmos would rather support one another meaningfully in increasing our measure of self-actualization and creative/productive realization in the world, in a framework in which we treat one another with respect and as equals, and in which we directly benefit from our degree and depth of engagement. This requires resisting systems that would compel us to live lives half-fulfilled, exchanging our material security and sacrificing our dreams for appeasement of the elite’s greedy accumulation. This also requires investing our energy into systems that could do us better, that could more holistically honor us all.

You can’t develop the tech without also developing the people who will utilize it. Since the so-called Age of Enlightenment, technology has developed outrageously and exponentially in its sophistication and impacts, transforming outcomes for humanity, non-human living communities, and landscapes. However, if the people wielding the technology are of crude mind and heart, only more vastly damaging crudeness can be the result. Any technologies we produce can only express their human handlers’ goals–however enlightened or ignorant. To address this grave imbalance, we need to undertake the work of refining, honing and cultivating the human mind–accomplished through cultural conditioning that trains and strengthens peoples’ minds (enhancing discernment), increases people’s sensitivity to themselves and others (enhancing self-awareness) and supports cooperative/mutual operations (enhancing cooperability). Cosmos proposes a framework of simultaneous mutual development: the platform developing in tandem with the people on the platform developing themselves, through use of the platform and especially through interactions and collaborations with one another, framed by certain core values.

Human beings are incomplete without meaningful opportunities to shape, and be shaped by, the world they inhabit. Most ways of being or acting are increasingly “closed off” in modern arrangements and calcifications of material energy & economic systems: people feel agency only to move within them, not to rethink and reconstitute them. Cosmos imagines a society that functions on a different set of premises. 1) Can we mindfully choose which premises and which patterns we infuse with our life energy, through a discursive-collaborative (if not an outright decision-making process). 2) Can we encode and enculturate these patterns so they form a stable foundation for the development of the vision, atop?

People have the basic goodness and basic intelligence to cooperatively thrive—we only need the right social and economic conditions to let loose this potential, and the right structures to allow for regenerative energy flows. Each and all of us are inhibited from realizing our creative and participatory potential in life due to the extant socioeconomic order (anti-market global neocapitalism, broadly, as well as other entrenched and outmoded oppressive orders). Today’s dominant (but deteriorating) socioeconomic order is designed to extract natural capital (derived from the healthy, coopetitive functions of ecosystems) and our intrinsic human capital (labor, creativity, intellect, hope) into one-way upward flows, resulting in grotesquely bloated wealth for a tiny cohort of humans, at the expense of all of the rest of life and future potential for life on the entire planet. Though the terms have never been fair or just, the extant order has today mostly colonized the globe. We have traded the perks of global communication, distributed efficiencies and technological enhancements for a steep decline in local and collective diversity, starving the potential for deeper and more resilient ways of living, thinking, exchanging and being to become known and engaged with by us all. But we are much more intelligent and loving than these systems are equipped, by their design, to acknowledge. Humans spontaneously and effectively cooperate when the right environmental conditions are present. The more we grow our skills and experience in doing so, too, the more effectually a cooperative culture will spread.

We believe humans have the power to live well through applying their immanent intelligence to the essential challenges of living harmoniously with other beings. We’d like to take the aspects of the current order that profoundly combine humankind’s potential (mycelial-type networks, like the Internet, which foster cultural exchange and decentralized, diversified power) and set aside the aspects that, borne of greed and ignorance, limit human potential now and in the future.

Our main limitations today are not technological nor creative—they are ethical and organizational. Although humankind has mastered technological innovation to undreamed-of degrees, our antisocial socioeconomic order has brought about widespread ignorance, distrust, cynicism, abuse, oppression and contempt, resulting in an escalating lack of societal coherence which is presently tearing states and societies apart. Without the presence of strong, shared social and ethical constraints, we are allowed to deploy sophisticated, powerful technologies toward short-sighted, cruel and stupid objectives.((There are many examples to illustrate this point. Heartbreakingly, one is the spreading “norm” of mass shootings in the United States, in which mentally unhealthy men use immensely powerful automatic weaponry to destroy numerous peoples’ lives before killing themselves.)) 

With sufficient wisdom, understanding and social supports, we can develop and maintain the necessary social and ethical systems to complement our overdeveloped technological prowess.

There are “best practices” for living well and in harmony with others which we can come to know through direct experiential participation and communion with reality—with or without the aid of spiritual or religious ways. People’s native intelligences and capacities, appropriately applied, are sufficient for mature/positive self-organization. With the aid of globalized communications infrastructure, this can be attained at the human-collective level, in addition to intrapersonal, interpersonal and small group levels.

Whether you use spiritual or religious interpretive framings to help investigate crucial ethical/cultural functions, you must acknowledge that myth is salient, is essential, to communicating what needs to be done: every individual must go on a journey from their “homelands” into the unknown, must face ordeals, and must return transformed in order to be whole and mature. In Cosmos, people are undergoing near-continuous initiations that sharpen their tool/skillset, enabling a HUMAN growth and development oriented culture (quite different from the common uses of those terms in Western culture to refer to real assets and profitability).

We need to embolden creative & visionary people with increased social, economic and cultural capital so as to gain more influence in shaping our collective future toward beautiful outcomes. Cosmos seeks—and aims to actualize—a world in which those with divine gifts are nurtured, celebrated and afforded honor, power and responsibility. Cosmos is a self-empowering community for and by visionary and creative people—artists, writers, philosophers, dreamers—who, in coming together, create the conditions for the creative potential of even more people to flourish. Cosmos is centered on drawing out and applying the divine/creative potential latent in everyone through opportunities, challenges and a nutritive social soil. We trust in the phenomenon dubbed “scenius” (what we also call the “generative milieu”) and expect that by fostering spaces and conditions for thriving dialogues, collaborations and experiments, we will invoke and elicit the power of people to refine their activities–and themselves.

A cooperative business that provides the platform for enriching, distributed collaborative exchange and engagement is a well-suited vehicle for our purposes. As a cooperative business, our “market” is the base of shared needs, unmet by current market of our target members. While there is surely a market for the products and services Cosmos proposes to offer (see Business Plan: Market), there is broader, urgent need for a collective response to oppressive, failing systems.

Our cooperative business’ strategy is to enhance individuals’ and groups’ capacities to more powerfully respond to and participate in shaping their worlds. Thus Cosmos’ services are focused on equipping our members (visionaries and artists) throughout their processes to incubate, produce, and publish/disseminate their creative works. We ultimately dream of a spectrum or “ecosystem” of offerings and utilities for our member-users to autonomously engage with to best meet their needs, coached/advised by the system’s mindfulAI to ensure optimal “use benefit” to the member-users. This will involve building spaces, structures and conditions conducive to vibrant, diverse, regenerative exchanges (like through innovative conversational spaces, participatory and user-centered dashboards/interfaces, a marketplace, a virtual currency, etc.) The organization itself becomes a living, changeful process in the hands of our members—an autopoetic (self-making) meta-expression of our members’ activities in service to their highest purposes, linked together in a system where self-development and giving one’s “best” is the norm.

Our broader partnership strategy is to relate to, enhance and integrate the essential innovations already emerging across the globe today—in part through offering a platform wherein the flow of resources and ideas follows more flexible, enlivening, and regenerative paths than what is available through “legacy systems” (i.e., status quo).((See Pia Mancini’s excellent breakdown of the ways the legacy system of “how to do business” impairs urgent, productive collaborative efforts and social innovation.))

Our organizational strategy, in a nutshell, is to capture and regeneratively circulate people’s marginalized powers and capacities in the Cosmos system: so, those who are underemployed, unemployed, or miserably employed (with unused mental capacities and skills) can invest their energy and talents into the Cosmos framework and be rewarded for it holistically.