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Rooted in Connection: Emulating Nature’s Community to Enrich Our Own

Preeti Sunderajan

Rooted in Connection: Emulating Nature's Community to Enrich Our Own

When we observe the world around us, there are several networks of connections we can see. Millions of species of animals and plants all coexist with each other, sharing the same environment, creating a network of influence on each other and bound together as a community.

It is a known fact that the more diverse the species within a community, the more healthy, stable and resilient the ecosystem. Within this visible ecosystem of trees and animals is also an invisible network. An underground web which connects plants and trees ensuring they all share resources to flourish. This ‘wood wide web’ is the mycelial network – a shared economy which serves as a network of information for trees to help each other grow. Passing through forests I have always wondered how these ecosystems give birth, foster creations of one another and work together through many destructions to emerge again and again full of life.

When I see a group of people get together with similar aspirations for a better world, this similar interconnectedness always gives me hope. Hope that the visible community of people with all the invisible possibilities is waiting to be garnered and nurtured, right here inside our very own ecosystem.

Like the large trees in the forest, change leaders understand their context deeply and can solve their problems locally. However, we know that solving at scale requires a diverse set of solvers. Trees have developed complex symbiotic relationships for species survival. They also rely on the mycelium network as an integral part of this connectivity, to facilitate the health and survival of even the biggest trees. As Head of Global Partnerships at Societal Thinking, I care deeply about creating a community that nurtures partnerships and enables mentor networks. I often meet change leaders who reimagine solving social problems at scale, with speed and sustainably. I see the shifts they undergo along the way, moving from lone heroes to restoring the agency to solve, designing for scale instead of scaling what works, considering diversity the solution instead of a challenge and more. The more I get to know these leaders, the more I ask myself “What am I learning from what I see around me?” “What does it take for change leaders to induce exponential change?” “What can I do to hold space for change leaders who are on the path to impact at scale?”

I am in the unique position to be able to join the dots between change leaders for shared knowledge, resources and co-creation. I have witnessed the power of what a community like this can do when they come together, from the ‘The Purple Economy’ kicking off after a conversation between Shanti Raghavan and Sujith Nair, the long partnership Prashanth Mehra from Platform Commons and Project ECHO embarked on after a whiteboarding session to REVIVE Alliance being able to quickly reach entrepreneurs by leveraging Avanti Finance’s network instead of starting from scratch. 

I’m coming to realise ecosystems – where change leaders find and lend support to one another  – are at the heart of solving exponential. 

To learn from and imitate the mycelium network, I realise a community will need to have three things: health, wealth and prosperity. 

A healthy community is defined by its ability to weather challenges through strong, supportive relationships that fuel resiliency, enabling individuals to thrive amidst adversity.

Wealth is derived from collective values: fostering open collaboration, encouraging knowledge sharing, empowering individuals, supporting public resources, and valuing diversity, all of which catalyse innovation and learning.

Prosperity is achieved when communities intertwine health and wealth, creating highly collaborative networks based on shared values, and enhancing their collective strength and impact.

The forest above and the mycelium network below form the perfect metaphor to highlight the importance of community in fostering cooperation, resilience, and interconnectedness among individuals, ultimately creating healthier and more sustainable societies. 

Next week we will be meeting our network of change leaders, mentors and experts. I am looking forward to seeing how people from different expertise, cultures, and geographies will come together to build relationships through shared experiences and values. I hope we can nurture a sense of belonging, and create champions of building networks and generous contributors for the ecosystem to be thriving and alive! 

This enables a space for the community to create an ecosystem that’s thriving and alive!