Celebrating the United Planet Game’s 1st birthday
This week is the first anniversary of the launch of the UP Game. It has been a year of experimentation, envisioning and play. To celebrate this milestone I wanted to share a retrospective on what has unfolded, lessons learned and where we’re heading. This post forms part 2 of a 3 part series that highlights the past, present and future of United Planet. You’re welcome to read part one here.
Firstly, let me start by sharing what the United Planet Game is today. We are designing a game show where we gather leaders of systemic change to co-envision the future of civilization around 16 Leagues — each representing one of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. The game follows the Native American Medicine Wheel with the Earth, Air, Fire and Water elements each representing a season with four Leagues a quarter.
We design immersive experiences into 2030 where we invite collective imagination towards the creation of a thriving civilization in harmony with all life. We believe our world needs a new story and we are on a mission to utilize collective intelligence to tell the greatest story ever told. With a new narrative, we can reverse engineer the solutions needed to get us there. It becomes a question of aligning talent and capital around the best possible future scenarios.
We have been currently experimenting with teams of 12 people convening around each League. We have been gathering experts in each field both in person and online to explore different methods of storytelling, visioning and cooperation. This is working towards our goal to launch in Ibiza an immersive ‘New World Fair’ where each League will invite 12 teams of 12 people to participate in a systematic approach to systems change. We envision these 144 athletes of systems change going through a transformative journey towards self-mastery and collective thriving. Our intentions are to enable the greatest collective story to be told for our shared future.
We are still in the early stages and continue to use design thinking experimentation on every aspect of the Game. I’ve spoken to hundreds of leaders of transition solutions about their vision for a thriving future. Our first year has been self-funded and focused on designing a game container that could be a rapid prototyping engine for a more positive societal design. Despite no external funding, the Game struck an acupuncture spot of interest. We have had many thousands of hours of many hundreds of the most talented people I know contribute their time to this enquiry.
In short, this Earthshot mission could be described as a very early attempt to create what the late and great Buckminster Fuller called the ‘New World Game’. In his prophetic writings on this topic, he eloquently summarized the mission of the Game: “Make the world work, for 100% of humanity, in the shortest possible time, through spontaneous cooperation, without ecological offence or the disadvantage of anyone.” Or inspired by Jamie Wheal’s ‘Recapture the Rapture’ masterpiece: ‘United Planet aims to create a rapture ideology for the 100%’. Perhaps, a way to do this is a game incorporating spirit and sport.
I like to think of the UP Game as an aspiring ‘story engine’ for this mission. We are seeking to design what I lovingly call a ‘Commons Wealth Engine’. We envision a ‘Planetary Commons Stack’ made up of well-funded ecosystems around every aspect of our basic needs as a society. Essentially flipping the pyramid of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. We envision a wellness commons, a learning commons, a food commons and more than our present imaginations have been given permission.
After a year of hundreds of experiments and thousands of conversations, I feel incredibly lucky to have found my vocation as a Chrononaught (time traveller) and hindsight futurist. I often reflect on what a position of privilege it is to spend my days speaking to some of the best and brightest in the world about their vision for the Golden Decade.
The eternal optimist that I am, I believe that there is no part of the next system that is not being worked on by some of the most talented and dedicated humans alive. I conclude that it is strategically advantageous to have childlike faith that we can and do find our way through this meta crisis and create a world that works for 100% of humanity and all life. There is a philosophical iceberg beneath this worldview that I won’t dive into in this instance.
Suffice to say, we are undoubtedly at a civilizational crescendo where our choices in the coming years, as we hurtle towards 2030, will define the lives of many generations to come. Whilst the status quo may feel out of control and a one-way train towards dystopia, we can reframe the entire narrative by stepping outside of time and starting the design challenge with what we are aiming for — what is true north on the planetary compass. I believe the solution to the stalemate of left and right partisanship is a different dimension — Forwards and backwards through time. By connecting to a more informed understanding of our shared history and the wisdom of our individual and collective ancestors, we will be able to go beyond the confines of the current crisis. We can step forward into the future and see beyond the noise of the present. It is with that clear vision that we will chart our way through the metamorphosis. From here we can experience a faster unification of Communitas (connection), Catharsis (healing) and Ecstacis (inspiration). In doing so we will escape the trap of the unwholesome threesome — victim, hero and perpetrator.
With that said, let’s go on a journey together through a timeline of the UP Game’s first year of explorations. On 13th March 2020, the lockdown was announced in the US and went into effect on 16th March 2020. I had been a co-organizer of 40 changemakers coming to a retreat in Esalen, the birthplace of the human potential movement. This was cancelled 2 days before we were due to meet as a result of Covid. We responded quickly and designed a game for the attendees to come together online. A year later the UP Game has been my primary focus and I believe it has great potential for societal transformation despite still being extremely nascent. We’ve made a lot of mistakes and recognise the vision currently is beyond our capacity for immediate execution. But none the less, here are some of the highlights and achievements over the last year:
- We began the games with a digital ‘sprint sanctuary’ game around the Esalen Labs for 50 changemakers that birthed numerous collaborative Guilds sharing insights and solutions for the Golden Decade ahead.
- We then launched the game with Sound for Health and invited 22 sound experts with 432 years of combined professional experience to envision the role sound will play in the transformation of society. This resulted in the Sound Ambassadors and this UPGrade. It felt obvious to start our societal redesign expedition with sound… It was here that we developed the concept of a four-part exploration based on Seed, Sprout, Blossom and Harvest. You can watch the 5-minute highlight video here.
- Following this, we spent 8 weeks on Food for Health. We gathered numerous thought leaders at the forefront of regenerative agriculture and kicked off a concept we called the ‘Dinner Portal’. This game resulted in this UPGrade.
- Our explorations then led to an 8-week journey around Community Impact where we continued to design the UP Game using the collective intelligence of numerous community leaders. It was through this game that I got to know my beloved Tatiana Kazakova, Co-Founder of Leaders on Purpose. I would have never have guessed that our deep enquiry into the future of community impact would lead to finding my soul love.
- Following this, we started experimenting on a variety of topics as collective intelligence enquiries. We participated in convergences on the Planetary Commons, Unanimous Quest as examples. The Unanimous Quest is an initiative to expand the UN Charter from a human-centric document focused on Nations to a Planetary Centric covenant focused on all life. The first version of the Unanimous Charter was launched at the 75th anniversary of the UN.
- Chief Phil Lane and I came together to prototype the Intergenerational Leadership Alliance. Our concept is to convene 50% hereditary indigenous chiefs from around the world and 50% the descendants of the most powerful families in the world. I represented the latter being a Seventh Generation Grandson of John Jacob Astor, Catherine the Great of Russia, and other lineages such as the Haig’s, Potocki’s, Zamoyski’s and Tarnowski’s. For our first prototype, we convened descendants of the Rockefeller family, a Chinese Emperor, a Mongolian Prime Minister and others to explore this concept. It was based on a narrative of ‘From Family Karma to Planetary Dharma’. I believe the families that created great wealth from the extractive system of capitalism will play a crucial role in transforming industries into a regenerative win for all system. In fact, the largest wealth transfer in history ($60 trillion) is moving from one generation to the next and 70% of this inheritance is going to women who have a far more of a conscious investing focus. I see this community of wealth holders as critical to funding transition solutions. My family (the Astor’s) were the wealthiest family in the world for some time so I have a particular interest in stewarding this concept with my dear mentor and spiritual uncle, Chief Phil Lane. This Alliance is just being seeded but I believe it will be a necessary community of purpose to support the transition and stewardship of an enormous amount of capital to fund the next system innovations.
- For the 50th Anniversary of Earth Day, we held an epic all-day festival with four stages focused on Wellness, Arts and Community. We pulled this together with a mighty but tiny team of us at Civana House with no funding or time. We gathered almost 100 speakers, performers and artists including Charles Eisenstein, Daniel Schmactenberger, Jamie Wheal, Janet Stone, Amanda Sage and performances from Gone Gone Beyond, Amanda Gregory, Lion Breathwork Rituals and others. 40,000 people saw the livestream of this through our partnership with Unify.
- We pioneered the concept of the Dinner Portal and hosted bi-weekly conversations on topics of substance gathering friends and leaders from around the world to sense make our times. These dinners were often quite a hit and some had thousands of views from the livestream.
- We continued the practice of creating immersive experiences in 2030. These included a number of events and dinners including a particularly special 2030 celebration of Food Abundance on World Food Day in collaboration with the Social Gastronomy Movement. In classic 2030 style, we invited systemic change leaders of food and agriculture to speak as themselves from 2030 about how we had eradicated hunger and created food abundance for all. This is a very powerful medium of imagineering that we have incorporated deeply into the United Planet Game.
- We participated in a huge range of online events, interviews and conferences. Highlights include presenting at the Skoll World Forum on ‘Changing the Planetary Game’, presenting alongside Nobel Peace Prize Laureates Mohammed Yunus and Mary Robinson at the 75th Anniversary of the UN Summer of Purpose, Leaders on Purpose Global CEO Summit, One Earth Live, Young Global Leaders Annual Summit, Bold.ly Now, Community Inspiration, Emerge, and many more.
- We experimented with regional United Planet communities in San Francisco, Paris, Lisbon and Ibiza. As you might imagine we found many people resonated deeply with the identity of connecting beyond national borders.
- We chose to call the Players of an UP Game Eagles given the indigenous symbolism, prophecies and practice of flying above storms in order to see past them.
- We developed the United Planet Oath that we began to initiate all Eagles with:
- We have developed a culture around the United Planet Games which we share as 10 invitations for how to show UP
- We continued the practice of sharing 10 memes for the Golden Decade in 2021 which I find to be a powerful synthesis of some of the insights the UP Games have generated.
- We established foundational principles of the game such as the 100x Principle — the delta between the highest-paid and lowest paid players of the UP Game is 100x. To illustrate this, if the best performing teams pay their players (called Eagles) $1000/day then the minimum anyone playing the game could be paid is $10. Those earning $1000/day can only increase what they get paid when those earning $10/day increase. The intention of this is the experiment with what happens when to tie the interests of the 1% to the 100% and vice versa. Other such foundational principles include 10% tithing back to the United Planet ecosystem to fund the Commons.
- During a Game on ‘Gamifying Planetary Solutions’, we changed our name from the Unified Planet to the United Planet as it felt more inclusive and less homogenizing.
- On the ancient celebration of the Harvest Festival, September 22nd, we launched the 2030 League of Extraordinary Storytellers (16 Leagues focused on the delivered SDGs). The Game we kicked off was on Food Abundance and we gathered 12 leaders of agricultural transformation to explore how we could eradicate hunger this decade.
- In San Francisco, at Civana House, we prototyped the first in-person game on Infrastructure Innovation. This UP Game resulted in a vision for Planetary Embassies, Lighthouses and Temples around the world.
- We completed the first experiment of the prototype Planetary Embassy in San Francisco. Civana House was an 8000 sq foot mansion built by the creator of the Golden Gate Bridge in the heart of San Francisco, above the well of the Ohlone people. We hosted 3000 people from over 1000 organizations often around their vision of the future of our world.
- We established a United Planet Lighthouse in Ibiza on Benirras Beach where we began prototyping in-person United Planet games.
- We then utilized the United Planet Ibiza Lighthouse to organize in-person and/or online UP Games around the Regeneissance, Land Stewardship, Health & Well-being, Thriving for All, Planetary Health and Embodying Wisdom. For each of these Leagues, we gathered a team of 12 people to experiment with different ways of co-envisioning the future around those topics. The results have been varied but include creating a shared goal to increase food production in Ibiza from the 2–4% of food consumed currently to 50% of food consumption by 2030.
- Tomorrow we are launching the League on Gender Harmony and will convene 12 Eagles to tell the story of this transformation from 2030. We will be hosting similar events in the coming weeks on Clubhouse starting with 6pm CET on Tuesday 23rd March. You can join us here.
This leads us up to the design of the UP Game in its current format. We settled on teams of 12 being the perfect number for a collective intelligence enquiry. We have explored how triads (4 teams of 3) can also be utilized for rapid collective sense-making. We then found 90-minute rounds are the best way to hold the attention of Eagles followed by 30-minute breaks. We try to find a Yin Yang balance between being and doing. Half of the time of UP Games is dedicated to going inward into practices of self-mastery and group synchronization. We have experimented with dance, breathwork, meditation, sound healing, voice activation, visualization and other such transformational experiences. I deeply believe in the value and importance of creating a coherent field as a group.
We then have explored various storytelling and deep listening practices to support an effective group enquiry. This has been the focus of much of our experimentation. Our latest experiments are with the Socratic Dialogue method led by brilliant Canay Atalay. This is a process of deep listening when we collectively decide the topic of enquiry and then repeat the insights of the person before you contribute your own insights. We are also experimenting with new ways of immersing the team in a 2030 scenario and using visual and artistic storytelling to describe the scenario as viscerally as possible. This is a powerful methodology to be able to reverse engineer optimal future scenarios.
We completed a conscious business model design for the creation of a United Planet Balearic Association that will begin to prototype a ‘Flower of Life’ ecosystem between 12 United Planet Lighthouses, 3 Temples and one Planetary Embassy. We gathered an amazing team of visionaries for this that was facilitated by Canay and included Rudy de Waele, Julie Gensthaler, Melina Munoz, David Solomon, Yanling Duan, Jane Corbett, Zoe Van Horenzeggen, Alexis Crawley and Andrea Pitt. Here we defined our values as Love, Nature, Joy, Community, Wisdom, Co-Creativity and Feminine Energy.
Since then we have begun partnering with a number of community land projects in Ibiza that can each house a team of 12 coming to play the United Planet Game. Our intention is to begin to prototype a 2030 New World Fair immersive experience where we gather 144 leaders of systemic transformation around each of the 16 Leagues. This aspect of the vision remains a work in progress, and as with all our experiments, are subject to change as we receive more insights.
There is much that I can share about our future plans for United Planet… Much more must be done and discovered. We are going to need the support of a team of teams, a community of communities and an ecosystem of ecosystems in order to realize our collective visions. May Providence prevail.
For now, let me finish with encouragement to all those experimenting with societal innovations to respond to the current meta crisis we find ourselves. There are so many people I’d love to thank for their participation and support across the last year. Special mention goes to the Civana House family of Joshua Barber, Melissa Lynn, Mahoney Turnbull, Brian Hoffstein, Danny Kauffman, Teresa Yung, Mandy Hamilton, Hunter Cressman, Travis Wallis and Mary Candice Shindler. Other big shout outs go to the fellow architects, friends and advisors that collectively birthed so much of what I have shared through the year. Aside from thanking everyone I’ve mentioned thus far I also wanted to name the people that have been instrumental in all mannor of ways in shaping United Planet — there are too many to mention all the people who have participated in Games but huge thank you to Amandine Roche, Raamayan Ananda, Sarah Murray, Maya Zuckerman, Sheri Herndon, David Levy, Antony Randall, Bobbi Dunphy, Jonah Lion, Georgie Benardete, Dave Hanley, Karn Manhas, Amanda Sage, Stephen Brooks, Nicholas Free, Paola Pollmeier, Christa Essig, Adah Parris, Rieki Cordon, Ruben Daniels, Nicky Kisch, Adam Russell, Mackenzie McAlleer, Shane Thunder, Yasmine El Baggari, Michael Liskin, Rachel Morrison, Katie Joseff, Samantha Sweetwater, Ian-Michael Herbert, Daniel Schmachtenberger, Andrew Hewitt, Jamie Wheal, Lucy Caldwell, David Solomon, Rakhee Mehta, Tom Green, Seth Bunting, Gregory Wendt, Alden Bevington, Nico Alcala, Nichol Bradford, Dominic Swinn, David Gibson, Mel Seme, Soma Sabery, Maryn Soref, Natalia AI, Amanda Gregory, Serena Malkani, Emile Janse, Julian Guderley, Andrea Bell, Cheif Phil Lane, Chris Bui, Marie Eriksson, Jason Doig, Kunal Sood, Paola, Aura Annanda, TeaFaerie, Solara Sophia, Martin Hohn, J-Lo, Andy Brown, Anjuna Saran, Mamadou Toure, Amanda Joy Ravenhil, Drew Moxon, Bodour Alqsimi, Amit Pradhan, Peter Giblin, Alan Laubsch, Alanja Forsberg, Patrick Mielmann, Shane Williams, Paola McGee, Florence Magne and of course my beloved Tatiana Kazakova. There are literally hundreds of Eagles I would love to thank for their participation. I honour the souls of three of my closest friends who died over the past year and continued to inspire me, Toni Lane Casserly, Ryan Haig Bozajian and Sheetal Amte-Karaji. I pray that the United Planet may honour their legacy and serve the interests of all life and generations to come. May we all live our lives as Great Ancestors.