David Korten on The Great Turning: from Empire to Earth Community


FrancescaRheannonSea Change Co-Host Bill Baue speaks with David Korten about his book, The Great Turning.  It describes how current ecological, social, and economic crises create opportunities to transform from a dominator-based to a community-based model for organizing society.  And Co-Host Francesca Rheannon brings us the Sea Change ViewPoint that digs deeper into the controversy behind Van Jones‘ resignation as Special Advisor on Green Jobs for the White House Council on Environmental Quality.


The Great Turning.  It’s a response to the collapses we’re witnessing in our ecological, social, and economic systems.  Despair is one natural reaction to these turns of events.  But hope is another.  Hope that the problems prompt us collectively to identify the dysfunction in our systems, and choose to change how we organize our lives.  David Korten helped crystallize the idea of The Great Turning in his 2006 book by that name.  For an in-depth explanation of the Great Turning, Sea Change Co-Host Bill Baue recently chatted with Korten from his home near Seattle.

Korten discussed the genesis of The Great Turning concept, coined by Joanna Macy (who we’ll hear from in two weeks on Sea Change.)  He credits Riane Eisler’s The Chalice and the Blade as the inspiration for the framing of his conceptualization of The Great Turning.  He then cites three modern developments that set the stage for The Great Turning: the founding of the United Nations as a global governance body; the first pictures of Earth from space, which allowed humans to see themselves as one people on one planet with one destiny; and the Internet, which weaves the world in a seamless communications web.

Korten also defines the Jungian concept of the “shadow,” and how the US must take full responsibility for its national shadow of racism and slavery, Native American genocide, and economic colonialism, among many other things.  He says that we must awaken from our “cultural trance” by stepping into a more mature collective consciousness and telling new stories to shape our culture.

The middle break features “The Great Turning,” a song written and performed by Lisa and Brett Brumby.  They’re among the growing community of people inspired by the concept.

About Bill Baue

Bill Baue is Co-Director of Sea Change Media, a non-profit that makes connections in the shift to social, environmental, and economic sustainability. He co-hosts/produces Sea Change Radio, a nationally syndicated show that podcasts globally.