Invitation: open conversations on “Autonomy in a Complex World”

29 Feb 2024

“What drives the things we do?”
“What enables us to do what we are currently doing?”
“What prevents us from doing what we think should be done?”

Surely, we’re not the only ones struggling with these questions. We like to think that answers could be meaningful beyond our lives and organisation.
Hence this invitation:
Over the coming months, we plan a series of conversations under the title “Autonomy in a Complex World”. They are an alibi to gather citizens and organisers with whom we think we share values and ambitions.

The ambitions to take initiatives and even lead a life according to your own reasons, values and desires involve some form of “autonomy”. Or, the power, freedom and capacity to act. Yet, these ambitions can only be realised in relationships with others and with help from material resources, through what is known as “interdependence” or “complexity”. The tension between “autonomy” and “interdependence” may sound paralysing, but it does not have to be. The ongoing search for an acceptable balance between the two might even be what drives many of our actions.

Our attempts to consume and produce differently in order to preserve a viable future for people and planet, also require an acceptable balance between “autonomy” and “interdependence”. Yet, for want of an adequate answer, we tend to relapse in old habits. And that perpetuates a status quo that undermines our values and desires and excludes many.

Aspirations to alter that status quo -by giving voice to the silenced ones, by involving the marginalised, or by training those who lack capacities- and to reject individualistic and bigger-better-faster-more solutions come across strong resistance. In a context shaped by managing yesterday’s, at best the current crisis, there is little room left for imagining, let alone anticipating or preparing a different future.

The three questions probe us as individuals and as organisers. They explore motives, incentives and constraints on a material level –do we have the means– on a social level –are we able to involve those who need to be there– as well as on a political level –is the context supporting or restricting us in achieving goals of sustainability and equality.

We assume others also experience the tensions between autonomy and interdependence, and between the necessary change and old habits and hope they are willing to share their thoughts and experience.

It makes this invitation deliberately vague.

But who knows, it might allow us to draw lessons for our own lives or practices or get inspired by others taking on similar struggles?
At the least it will be an opportunity to meet citizens and organisers who try to lead a life and take initiatives according to their own reasons, values and desires.
But first and foremost, it will be a conversation, in its dictionary definition of “informal talk to exchange news and ideas”.

Would you like to get involved?
Email us on The first conversation is planned for spring 2024 - more info here soon !