Week 3: “An Open Letter to our Rosedale Denver, CO and Planetary Neighbors: Sixty-One Years Blessing for All that Is”

Glory be to God for dappled things –

   For skies of couple-colour as a brinded cow;

      For rose-moles all in stipple upon trout that swim;

Fresh-firecoal chestnut-falls; finches’ wings;

   Landscape plotted and pieced – fold, fallow, and plough;

      And áll trádes, their gear and tackle and trim.

 

“Pied Beauty” by GERARD MANLEY HOPKINS

Dear Rosedale and Planetary Neighbors:

I didn’t think  Susie and I would live this long. We’ve lived long enough to see

Landscape plotted and pieced – fold, fallow, and plough;

      And áll trádes, their gear and tackle and trim.

Our world has not only survived but in fact come to thrive after the birth-pangs of 2020—the first pandemic of this century that cleared the way for the ensuing long climb from the trough of economic disrepair and despair to arise phoenix-like as the New Greener Deal; but America looks nothing like any of us could ever have expected.

Today Susan and I are celebrating our 61st anniversary, August 19, 2050.  We split time in the same Denver bungalow we purchased 61 years ago and our little place in Victor. Oldest daughter Grace has festooned our modest Denver home with food (yes, we’re still foodies) and our family (numbering 24 assorted offspring/adopted “kids”, grandkids  and great grandkids). We still live in the ADU on Grace’s property where she teaches yoga and provides transitional housing/support services coop for single moms recovering from abuse. We share our home with younger daughter Lilli and her family. After a stint on Broadway, Lilli now runs artists’ communities—and much more!– out of our home.

I remember back in 2020 someone from our Pioneer Shared Ownership group asked me about how my friendly block might evolve from the remnants of a 1950s neighborly block. I can’t believe what’s happened since those 2020s days of social upheaval and pandemic unrest:

  • During that first Pandemic, I had expanded my vegetable garden to two raised and scaffolded beds on my front lawn. We had a wonderful bumper crop of zucchini and tomatoes that year; we and neighbors with garden patches shared our surplus with folks on our block.
  • The landmark legislation, including incremental tax reform favorable to coops, was passed under the Biden-Harris administration. This legislation paved the way to stimulate coop evolution. From that modest vegetable sharing, our block expanded neighborhood sharing to not only vegetable but tools (gardening and construction). Others had knit the pandemic fabric of their blocks much like ours. These blocks formed a steering committee in 2025 to form the Rosedale Neighborhood Coop. From vegetables and tools we began to hire each other to do everything from handyman jobs to plumbing, electrical, and even and digital networks and home VR pods .

As we grew the relational fabric, we got to the point where about half of us were actively contributing and gaining income and surplus from those relationships.  We created a simple Rosedale Currency app to create surplus out of which we paid ourselves and decided how to reinvested  surplus in our Coop.

Over a century before, the Seventh Day Adventist community built  a large hospital and adjoining medical offices. Our Rosedale Coop became known for specializing eldercare eldercare and medical support that we could share with neighboring neighborhoods—University Park, Platt Park and Wash Park— using either U.S. currency or Denver Coop Dollars.

Our whole Rosedale neighborhood benefited from our community-building within our Coop. We were all personally invested in the success of local medical front liners during the second Pandemic and Recession of 2029. We banded together to support them by providing meals, caring for kids and yards, car and home repair, other services, and allaying their emotional and spiritual exhaustion by loving on them.

Yes, I did say love! That term, like soul and spirit and faith and God, has become so commonplace among everyone in the coop movements I worked with. Perhaps we were all first became aware of some deep but rarely articulated theme undergirding Biden’s “Battle for the Soul of the Nation” platform. Perhaps it came from the early 21st century work of Richard Rohr in his book The Universal Christ (video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KD7B3wr3xeY )  or Ken Wilber’s model of integral spiritual evolution  (https://youtu.be/H4jcxxJ_0ok).  These thought leaders certainly helped us get unstuck from all the old single-issue-religious-voter syndrome (abortion, climate change, BLM, white supremacy, NRA).

There was a time when it was necessary and proper that attention be paid to the First Amendment’s “not establishing religion” clause.  In a real sense, the “God-of-Many-Names” got liberated from houses of religion! Long gone were the automatic stereotyping of white “Evangelicals” or “Arab Muslims, or Indian Sikh, or Jews or Atheists or Nones. The ““God-of-Many-Names” showed up as neighbors started including one another in the great and painful life events—births, deaths, marriages, divorces, job losses—and we all learned from one another’s spiritual practices. We let one another into our very common experiences of losses and suffering, joys and overflowing love from the perspective of our faiths of origin.

While not abandoning the goodness of our faiths of origin, we chose to build from them to love all other people and all of creation more fully . We found an emerging spirit of pronoia welling up-an underlying belief that the Universe is conspiring good for us. Inextricably linked with this grounding pronoia, we learned lessons of finding common language and common ground. This new Faith found an outward expression. We found causes to build coalitions among movements around issues like right to work among Red and Blue constituents in Missouri in the 2020s ( thank you Ryan Strode).  Other significant inspirations for what we chose to pursue were

  • Felipe Witchger building a purchasing coop across disparate schools and churches to facilitates collaboration between community institutions for shared operations, facilities management, sustainability, and more equitable community wealth building.
  • Sharon Schneider’s commitment to live an integrated life and see the transformation of traditional philanthropy.
  • Nick McCann’s passion to solve the illegal immigrant dilemma in the meat processing industry.

In fact, Nick went on to patiently build trust among small meat processors to achieve sufficient vertical integration in the industry. These owners realized the power of the win-win for the small business owner and the immigrant trapped in the big processing plants. Nick found a way to create immigrant coops to allow the workers to organize to protect their rights to work. Immigration reform over the past decades created a path to citizen for these 2050 Dreamers. Better yet for both they and the industry, these worker coops and were hotbeds of innovation for improving the efficiency, safety and profitability of meat processing plants. In fact they even found new potential meat substitutes to and spur the transformation of the industry to include more sustainable meat-substitutes.

Wife Susie helped catalyze the transformation of our local GEO ICE detention center in Colorado. After the Biden-Harris reforms, she rallied immigrant allies to buy out the money-losing Aurora GEO ICE center and hire and train the new worker-owners-to-be who had no family state-side. This shared ownership community center for immigrants chose to use some of their surplus to buy out another failing GEO ICE center. Relief work of nearby organizations like Casa de Paz https://www.casadepazcolorado.org/ have been able to transition to the development work of

  • Culture/ language , job and coop training for immigrants
  • Advocating for the ongoing reformation of immigration law
  • Expanding the privitization of ICE to other outsourced prison facilities
  • Investments in seeding coop development among the diaspora of Casa de Paz’s hospitality.

I helped then-Gen EoC entrepreneurs starting new businesses to create ESOPs and business coops that expressed the charism of Chiara Lubich, the charism of Jesus Christ, to internal and external stakeholders. As scores joined the National Coop Business Association,  others coops found the EoC relationship and unity centered way of life so attractive that many adopted these practices within their coops and within the association itself. (Footnote: I actually saw how this took place within the Financial Planning Association (FPA): Nazrudin was a small band of financial advisors who in the 1970s and 80s pioneered the fields of behavioral finance, circle practices, and other “odd” spiritual practices. They were the thought-leaders of the profession and their practices have  became mainstream tracks and practices at FPA national conferences in the 20-teens).

Have all challenges evaporated by 2050? Not quite!

  • Humanity continues to evolve. Like the Civil Rights movement after Emancipation, the road to shalom/wholeness is long. Many still struggle to get past the roots of our sectarianism—Islam, Judaism, Christianity, QAnon– and tribalism. There’s a concentrated and powerful minority that has retreated into their own smoldering Gehenna (sorry, couldn’t help but take this jab 😉) . We are committed to loving all until, like the elder son in Jesus’ parable, they find their way to Wholeness. We pray and work toward the Good being supplanted by the Better being supplanted by an ever evolving Best. Each tradition needs to go deeper into the well of their own practices to share the fruits and even sometimes the means whereby they got there.
  • We hope many of you will choose to join our Rosedale Coop or your nearest local coop. Even if you choose not to, we are happy to see you blessed by our work.

As I reflect back on the life Susie and I built, I am reminded of the famous parable Jesus tells of the older and younger son and their relationship with their father. We’re happy to have chosen the way of the profligate ‘younger son” who wasted the resources of the “American Dream.” We’ve returned and found our Father’s house is indeed has room for a more just mechanism to share and reinvest surplus. We’re so blessed to be living in the 2050 “American Lucid Dream” for all humanity and for all creation. Happy Anniversary to us!

 

11 thoughts on “Week 3: “An Open Letter to our Rosedale Denver, CO and Planetary Neighbors: Sixty-One Years Blessing for All that Is”

  1. Jon I’m so inspired by your vision! I want to live in this world. One thing I’d love to explore with you: you mention “right to work” a few times and I associate that with anti-cooperative principles (anti-union and anti-collective bargaining). I’m thinking, given what I’ve learned about you the last few weeks, that you have a different interpretation. Do tell…

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  2. Jon, I appreciated your insights re: the transformation that has to happen within our religious organizations. I too am a fan of Richard Rohr. I too get frustrated with those who want to dilute our beliefs into one issue! thank goodness the Holy One is more expansive than our limited perceptions! I also appreciated your examples of projects created by folks within this learning group! that was very interesting for me.

    I am curious about, ” I actually saw how this took place within the Financial Planning Association (FPA): Nazrudin was a small band of financial advisors who in the 1970s and 80s pioneered the fields of behavioral finance, circle practices, and other “odd” spiritual practices. They were the thought-leaders of the profession and their practices have became mainstream tracks and practices at FPA national conferences in the 20-teens). I would like to know more abut how the financial planning group changed since this is not my experience of financial planners. Are thee seeds for how to change the financial system here?

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    1. Hi Corrine–how nice to meet a fellow Fr Rohr fan. I would love to have you share your learnings in and encourage others to contribute to the #meditation Slack channel! Even with the SEC attempt expanding the “fiduciary standard”–that all financial advisors put their clients’ best interests first–the industry has a long way to go. The FPA has, in my opinion, one of the the highest fiduciary standards among its members. I think there needs to be grass roots and policy and industry changes. Mammon is powerful and how advisors are paid is the strongest dictator of behavior. For example, according to the lower suitability standard, someone selling life insurance need only document their rationale for selling a product. I’ve seen people who were convinced to buy a whole life (huge commission for the agent) rather than low-commission term life; I’ve met with people who had financial products in their portfolios (annuities) that I knew carried hefty commissions for the agent but and were not the best product for the client’s financial objectives. There have been innovations like roboadvisors and more end-consumer friendly low cost, self-service trading platforms like Schwab and Vanguard and Fidelity. But overall, I think many industry structures make behavioral change difficult. That being said, I can see there are always green shoots springing up! I’m looking forward to learning more from our S.O. colleagues–Marco and Sharon in our Shared Ownership cohort are shedding light on the the Achilles’ heels of banking and the current structures of philanthropy, to name just two examples. I also see change agents within the FPA living out fiduciary values with the clients and giving them the option of at least mutual fund impact investments.

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  3. Jon – deeply appreciate the vision you have laid out on the personal, local community, and national scale. All of these spheres of change are necessary for big shifts. I, too, want to spend time in your 2050 community.

    I’m interested at how the many whose outlook was transformed by the events of 2020 (and beyond) came translated that new vision into some of the policy change at which you hint.

    Thank you for your generosity in time and creative energy!

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    1. Thanks for taking time to read and reflect, Doug! I hint at policy changes because, frankly, that is outside my area of expertise as business advisor and contemplative executive coach. I am eager to hear from you : what sort of policy changes do you see as helping enable the changes I envision in the coop/traditional business arena?

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  4. Jon, your vision articulates perfectly what a care economy could look like in practice. I like how it starts with relationships and expands outward. I’ve noticed that theme in your posts and it seems to also be a core value of your business. I hope there won’t be a second pandemic in 2029 or again in our lifetimes; but if there is, its nice that your neighborhood has the deep relationships and spirit of cooperativism to survive and thrive. I have a question regarding “single issue voter syndrome”. For some people, single issues like Medicare for All, BLM and Climate Change are a matter of life and death. How would you convince them to think beyond a single issue?

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  5. Great question, Jennifer. My initial thought is not easily! I think that’s a real dilemma facing the coalition that the Dems currently are. Adopting a strategy from their campaign, I plan to deeply listen to ( love on) those who are open to relationship and dialogue. As they/we feel safe, we can be freer to explore common ground but, as I said in an earlier prompt, we can only move at the speed of trust-building (thanks, Stephen Covey).

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  6. Jon – this is a beautiful vision for the future. I love the idea of the “American Lucid Dream.” I appreciate how it begins with small, interpersonal practices of care and widens out to family, neighborhood, community, society. This makes me think of the neighborhoods in Octavia Butler’s “Parable of the Sower” but way better. In that version of the future, the interdependent, cooperative neighborhood is the exception and is protecting itself from the violent outside world. In your version of the future, the cooperative practices of the neighborhood emanate out in widening circles of influence to encompass most aspects of society. What a beautiful vision!

    It’s also lovely how you build on what is happening in this workshop, and expand on others’ ideas.

    I’m wondering: How does a devotion to spirituality born out of sectarianism lead to unity? I’m curious about the God-of-many-names and this idea: “While not abandoning the goodness of our faiths of origin, we chose to build from them to love all other people and all of creation more fully.” While I agree about this in concept, I have seen it hard to manifest in practice. How have you seen this happen successfully, and what are things that need to change for it to truly happen at a large scale?

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  7. Thank you, Anna. I feel like you really get what I attempted to share! To your question about large scale change: A bit of personal background might help. While I was born into more liberal religious traditions (United Methodist and Episcopal), my early adult religious formation was in conservative ones (InterVarsity Christian Fellowship, Conservative Baptist seminary and various evangelical churches). I still remember my disease and mistrust (and intrigue!) when I attended an interfaith gathering convened by a management professor at the Jesuit Santa Clara University in your area. There were native American, Jewish, Hindu, Catholic, Muslim and Evangelical participants in a worship service. A few years later I participated in non-sectarian spiritual men’s work and began reading Richard Rohr’s materials and grew in deeper appreciation for the perennial tradition, which affirms the universal human wisdom found in all religions and spiritual and transrational practices. I think what we’re reading this week, especially in the video on “outrospection”/ compassionate empathy practices is the way forward so that we focus on what’s in common rather than our usual egoic discomfort with what’s different. So yes, I have seen this work on a smaller scale among those that follow the Center for Action and Contemplation and the men’s group Illuman, which focuses on guiding men through rites of passage and beyond.

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  8. Jon!! Thanks for including me in your vision!! I laughed so hard when you talked about meat substitutes because today I was at the meat lab working with a pea and mushroom protein I’m trying to make ground and formed jerky out of. The guys are skeptical, but I keep telling them who better to make fake meat than the us folks that know protein :). That may happen sooner than you think :)!!

    Your vision is inspiring and you hit all the high notes starting with some GMH and cruising into some Richard Rohr :).

    Thank you so much for sharing!

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