Our first Capra Course Alumni Zoom gathering – a success!

On the 8th July 2018, we hosted our first ever Capra Course Online Zoom Gathering for Alumni to meet with Fritjof and each other virtually, from all around the world. The gathering took place over 3 hours, and was joined at one point by 71 participants.


Alumni from many countries joined. People checked in from Santa Cruz California, Pender Island BC (Canada), Rhode Island USA, Montreal, Medellin, Colombia, Jacarepagua, Brazil, New York, London, and Devon UK. We suspect there were also others representing other places and countries! It was amazing to experience people gathering from all corners of the world.


Participants from all around the world wave at each other. Call facilitated by Phoebe Tickell, Capra Course Development Manager.


The format of the gathering was as follows. After a brief introduction, Fritjof shared some reflections for 20 minutes live from his office in Berkeley, California. Fritjof spoke about his recent visit to Europe, his highlights from the forum of the Spring Edition of Capra Course, and the subject of ‘plant intelligence’ informed by conversations with Stefano Mancuso in Italy. After this, Fritjof replied to six questions that had been sent in by Alumni beforehand. Fritjof’s reflections and his answers to these questions can be listened to using this link to the video on Vimeo.


Following this, Fritjof answered “live” questions from the Alumni community on the call for 20 minutes. The questions were very lively and exciting, ranging from “What is the systems view of freedom?” to “Where do we go from here – is it up to us to start something new?”.


After the first hour, the focus then shifted to an Alumni Open Space. We had two Alumni-led sessions, one led by Felipe Tavares on “Collective thoughts on the Alumni Network”, and one by Helen Black on “How do you use systems thinking in your own life and work?”. Both were very lively discussions and highly participatory. Felipe used a framework which can be found here to guide us through thinking about the Alumni Network and its potential.


In this document, he provided a framework and a place for Alumni to co-author answers to the questions asked. It was amazing to see all of the names and words appearing on the screen, in the same document – truly a co-created resource! Below is a snapshot of the collaborative process.


The collaborative Google document with template provided by Felipe to collect answers from the group to a series of questions.


Helen’s talk was also very interesting and she facilitated a discussion afterwards where people were able to go deeply into their work and projects and talk about how systems thinking informs them. We also spoke about silos, sometimes the importance of silos, and how they can be connected together.


We shared many resources and ideas about articles, books, courses, trainings, projects, frameworks, tools and theories to help support each other in the continued journey of developing a systems view of life. There was a real emphasis on swinging into action to make a difference in the world together.


Some of the projects people presented and put forward to work on together, or receive support in, were: a basic systems thinking curriculum that could be co-created by a group of Capra Course Alumni and offered to places such as libraries or community organisations. The idea was to focus on the ways systems thinking and theory can be taught in a grounded way, that doesn’t only bias those who prefer a conceptual view and way of learning. Another person requested help in proof-reading his new book written with his wife, and somebody else asked the same about a book which features a chapter about systems thinking, inspired by Capra Course.


The Online Zoom Gathering really saw the Alumni Network come alive. While many of us have met online on the Capra Course Forum and Alumni Network, many of us have not met face-to-face before. The Zoom technology platform gave us a way of gathering virtually in a way that felt very much like we were in a room together. Many people reported how exciting it was to see each other for the first time.


Some of the feedback we received after the gathering was:


“71 participants in the first global meeting of the Fritjof Capra’s Capra Course student network. High motivation for being connected with this diverse and deep crowd… Aligning head and heart with the intelligence of living systems.”


“I wish to express my gratitude to Felipe for this idea. To Mira & Phoebe for facilitating the virtual gathering. To Fritjof for being the “Strange Attractor bringing us together. And to everyone for their presence and contribution!”


“I was so energized by connecting voices and faces of former course-mates and seeing friends I have made in face-to face gatherings. I hope we do this again giving continuity to the discussions we began. I am pledging to visit the discussion forums once a week, reading and responding to the ongoing dialogue.”


We hope to arrange another Online Zoom Gathering for Alumni in the near future, given that this experiment was such a success. Thank you to everyone who joined the event and made it what it was. We look forward to seeing many of you next time!

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Chris Burbridge