The metaphor of our age is the metamorphosis of the butterfly. Johanna Macy calls this time of shifting from the industrial age to an ecological age, “The Great Turning”.
The caterpillar is born to voraciously consume its habitat. It grows 100 times larger from when it hatched, so rapidly that it outgrows it’s skin several times. When mature, it suddenly stops eating and growing, and forms a chrysalis.
Inside the protective chrysalis, a dramatic transformation is taking place as the caterpillar digests itself, releasing enzymes to dissolve all of its tissues.
Imaginal Cells, that were dormant in the caterpillar body, begin to activate, merge, and form the butterfly. At first, they are attacked by the dissolving caterpillar enzymes, but once the caterpillar has disintegrated all of its other tissues, the Imaginal Cells use that protein-rich soup to feed the rapid cell division needed to form the body of an adult butterfly. What began with only 50 cells becomes more than 50,000 when metamorphosis is complete.
Elizabet Satoris reminds us that: “The caterpillar is a necessary stage but becomes unsustainable once its job is done. There is no point in being angry at it, and there is no need to worry about defeating it. The task is to focus on building the butterfly…”
We are investing in some of these Imaginal Cells; the people who are creating the organizations, companies and products that are emerging as building blocks of a new paradigm, the New Sufficiency Economy, based on justice , ecological economics, and protection and care of our Living Earth, both wild lands and regenerative agriculture.
Over the last 25 years, the Lydia B. Stokes Foundation has worked toward a vision of societal change and transformation. That vision is one of distinct transition from the Age of Oil to the Age of Soil, in which soil germinates the rebirth of economics, health, food, and culture woven together in community. It is now, with the Foundation’s maturation of its philanthropic grantmaking and investment policies, the time to pass along our sense of commitment and our dedication to this larger picture. This is not about a spending down or the dissipation of a certain set amount of money.
It is about metamorphosis: one form emerging from another. Our matured focus is to nest our remaining capacity and legacy into the work of our grantees, metamorphosing our form completely into their groundwork; helping nurture them to build more cohesive, sustainable and dynamic communities.