This is an explanation of the building blocks that I think can enable (codename) "intentional society" to enter amazing new territory. They are my justification for "why there's a THERE there", even though I can't describe quite what it looks like to be there beyond some possible engagements and feelings.
My favorite metaphor for systems change is that of a gravitic landscape, where the stable self-reinforcing points are like planetary gravity wells, and personal feelings and incentives form the majority of the force of gravity. You can expend a lot of energy pushing up or across various slopes, but you have to crest the hill and find a new attractor to fall towards. When changed feedback loops reinforce the stability and elegance of a new mode of operation, that's change you can believe in.
What follows are the five pillars which can, I hypothesize, create the conditions for beating gravity - for achieving greater human capacity and thriving. They all overlap and intermix, reinforcing each other. A bigger, better mode of being and being together is possible if we can rise to inhabit it together. Operating in this capacity results in greater awareness, higher agency, bigger perspective, meaningful contribution, and deeper peace. Individuals can thrive and inhabit their biggest and best selves consistently. As a collective, we can raise our capacity to meet the existential challenges facing humanity. Here are those pillars that seem to me like the critical components.
There are incredible heights to our personal growth and development beyond our conventional conception of adulthood. There's a core "growing up" move from the inside (being "subject" to something) to the outside (that thing being an "object" to you) perspective on a sequence of identifying frames. As our perspective grows, our capacity to handle complexity expands and we (paradoxically) become more coherent and integrated internally even as we deconstruct the solid frames we once relied upon to make sense of ourselves and the world.
References: Multiple compatible ADT models (Kegan, Cook-Greuter, Torbert, etc) in the last 40 years, which trace back even further to Loevinger's ego development, Kohlberg's moral development, and Piaget's cognitive development.
Correlated with and partly-bounding the distribution of adult development mindsets, this is the set of society-level norms and values that govern the cultural commons. Layers of values come online additively over time, adding new complexity and capabilities as society evolves its cultural code. Even while people themselves are all over the place in their values and reasoning, groups cohere around a center-of-gravity in their practices and can create a high-ceilinged space for personal development.
References: Spiral Dynamics (Graves, Beck & Cowan, Wilber) as "value memes", the well-known cultural movements of modernity and postmodernism (and now metamodernism), the Nordic implementation of bildung.
We are very deeply social beings. We long to belong, to be known, and to be loved and valued by people we value. We have fewer strong friendships in our ever-more atomized world, and digital social connection seems to have lost something for most of us compared to pre-modern social settings. There are practices, however, that allow for rapidly building deep connections with other interested humans! Connecting at an emotional level while maintaining personal ownership and boundaries can set the stage for rapid trust formation and normalize a high degree of honesty and truth-telling. It's also deeply challenging and eye-opening to see yourself through others' perspectives of you. Sometimes it's scary, sometimes it's fun - either way, dancing with your relational growth edges is strong fuel for personal development.
References: Authentic Relating and Circling (and similar), social societies (think Freemasons etc), church small groups (e.g. in American evangelicalism)
Future of Work
Corporations suck. The big mega-corps are especially soul-sucking, bureaucratic, and dysfunctional. Small-organization workers and the self-employed report much higher autonomy and satisfaction, but have to put up with higher amounts of risk and overhead. But the "best of both" future is starting to come into view! A growing number of post-conventional organizations are ditching centralized hierarchical command-and-control and exploring self-management, radical transparency, and distributed governance that hold tantalizing promise for being both more fulfilling-and-fun and more effective-and-adaptive!
References: Agile and post-agile, Teal (Laloux's adaptation of Spiral Dynamics into the workplace), Sociocracy etc
Independently underneath all the above, mindfulness is a core skill, practice, and way of being that unlocks right relationship to ourselves, others, and the world around us. Awareness, consciousness, attention - it's what we notice, how we notice things, and noticing the noticing! I'm also including a strong component of acceptance in this category: accepting the reality of what is true in each present moment, accepting of all our emotions, accepting and loving and re-parenting ourselves according to the needs of our limbic/subconscious selves.
References: Mindfulness/meditation movement, various strands of Buddhist thought, post-rationality, therapeutic memory reconsolidation, internal family systems
Perhaps you can already see how these mesh together? And wouldn't we just love to be highly capable, self-aware, secure, advanced, autonomous, connected, free and joyous humans surrounded by similarly evolved others? Hah - of course the challenge is in doing it. But the lens of acceptance lets us accept ourselves right where we are right now, too! And we can integrate acceptance with growth and enjoy the journey, especially in the company of other wanderers. Why don't we go see what's over that next hilltop together?