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Brexit and the New Narrative

'We have very few better places to look for a new narrative than community'

One has to wonder if the results of the Brexit referendum are an answer to a question other than the one on the ballot. Being in inquiry most of my life I’ve had many, many experiences where the question asked isn’t quite the one answered.

Life needs plurality and diversity to thrive. What if the referendum sparks energy in that direction?

The Global Society story we’ve lived into has served us, to some degree, well. Our species has learned many useful things. We’ve learned how to do large, hierarchical and bureaucratic systems. We’ve learned how to maintain, replicate, and create a degree of order and useful stability. There are great and terrible uses for all that know-how.

Yet, many of us long for something deeper. We know in our souls there is more to it and that what we have done so far isn’t going to deliver what we want to generate now.



Communities everywhere are coming to grips with what’s next. How we have those conversations is full of possibility.


Over the years as the story of increasingly large and dissociative systems grew, the lived experience of citizenship and community became "progressively" dissociated from soul, place, and community.

With the big old story wobbling about a bit communities everywhere will have to live into new stories. We have very few better places to look for a new narrative than community.

Doing so will bring our sense of identity closer to home.

When we look around and afresh we might find our community is different than the last time we took a real look, distracted as we are by the distant swirls.

As we learn to see that large dissociative systems: mechanical democracy (which is easily ‘managed’ by the way), publicly-traded firms (transient and dissociated capital), and global protest movements (some of which seem defined by and share the characteristics of that against which they protest) have reached their limits of usefulness in our quest to Be Whole and Self-Authoring. 

With the unfolding fragmentation of late there have been exoduses and immigrations. That very movement puts the meeting of civilizations right into neighbourhoods. Now diplomacy isn’t some distant practice in ballrooms and backrooms. Instead it will be played out in backyards and barrooms.

Communities everywhere are coming to grips with what’s next.

How we have those conversations is full of possibility.

Deep democracy, the Arts of Hosting and Participatory Leadership, Conversations that Matter, to name a few, are known practices alive in communities all around the world. These are incredibly, incredibly important practices for the work of co-generating our new stories.

There are skilled and experienced practitioners everywhere. They can be called upon to hold space for communities to come to grips with what is important to them, discover their gifts and possibilities, and work with what citizens have in their midst to live into new, refreshingly unique and homegrown stories.

  A recent citizens gathering at the Axiom News studio in our hometown, Peterborough, Ontario, which centred on the question: What if we kept the heart of Dialogue beating strong in Peterborough?

Those practices of deep democracy, hosting, participatory leadership, rooted capital, soul work, and others give us some of the tools for living into a new narrative. For Generative journalists and new narrative artists there is an enormous calling awaiting an answer to illuminate and manifest these stories through your art forms.

Without them, fear and scarcity will fuel yet another tired trap: the-fear mongering, so-called populist politics will hurt many of us before it too is shown to all concerned to be lacking.

A New Narrative is all around us, as are the social practices needed to cultivate and live into it in each of our communities. The way the New Narrative manifests will be different in every community. There is going to be great beauty and diversity in that. As we see life surge forward in each Generative Community our personal, social, and economic lives will change.

I anticipate much less striving, much less consumption, much more soul expression and connection. When each community is not marked by familiar brands and urban plans, but by rich diversity, travelling too will be yet another indie-wonder. As each community cultivates its own gifts we will learn from and take inspiration from one another.

Explaining Brexit by the dominant narrative is going to hurt because that narrative isn’t sufficient. The gaps in understanding that causes will be stressful. Stepping into a new narrative shaped from the grassroots, between neighbours, and out of our communities can make use of the narrative space opening up as the old one recedes.

By stepping towards our neighbour, seeing them, and being seen by them in new ways, in our giftedness and abundance, will make many explanations no longer relevant, or even interesting. In that space a new narrative will make itself known and it is ours to shape from the ground up.

What is exciting to boot is that we know how to do it. All that remains is to begin.


Hello! Thanks for this essay. I'd like to add ALIA to the mix of practices that might be helpful. ALIA is Authentic Leadership in Action, which was for many years located in Halifax N.S. Recently ALIA became part of the Authentic Leadership Center at Naropa University, and much more programming is emerging beyond the traditional annual summer leadership intensive.Here's the link to the ALC: reason I mention ALIA now is that there are several Authentic Leadership Communities of Practice emerging in different places. I'm part of one here in the Seattle area, and there are several in Europe, notably in the UK and Netherlands. Many of these people are also connected to Art of Hosting and the other practices mentioned above. Perhaps these CoPs could help hold space for some of the necessary conversations, and also cultivate key leadership skills. I'm happy to connect anyone to the CoPs in Europe.Warmly,Steve Byers

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Peter Pula has been exploring the pathways to social evolution since founding the Grassroots Review in his hometown of Peterborough in 1992. Since then he has served on the boards of civil society and arts organizations and served as board president on two of them.

He has been actively involved in federal politics and led a corporate communications firm. Axiom News was incorporated under his leadership in 2009 and went on to establish the practice of Generative Journalism in an international arena.
In 2015, Axiom News founded and funded the Peterborough Dialogues in its hometown. The Peterborough Dialogues hosted over 350 deep community dialogues, established and refined hosting arts, and has had lasting impact in the Peterborough community. For this work in community, Peter was awarded the 2017 Brian L. Desbiens Community Service Award by Fleming College after being nominated by his peers and members of the community.

In 2018, also in Peterborough, Electric City Magazine was acquired to marry local media capacity with citizen-led dialogue. Peter is now gently cultivating a local dialogue and media making collaborative, Common Work for the Common Good.

Peter works with persistence in support of deep democracy. He continues to innovate what he calls passionately but lightly-held infrastructure for citizen-led community development. He believes that artfully hosted dialogue and generative media making are together a necessary social innovation best suited to cultivating local-living abundance.

Peter’s experience has made him a suberb dialogue host, newsroom director, team leader, mentor, trainer, and consultant. He can be a supportive force in the cultivation of initiatives in your community, network, or organization.

He has been invited to host dialogues, summits, workshops, and learning circles in Canada, the United States, Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany, and most recently in France.

If you would like to enjoy an exploratory conversation about engaging Peter in appropriate ways to enliven or enlighten your initiatives, you can reach him directly by writing to

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After 15 years of producing stories that contributed to change after change for the better, people still come to us with the concern that all we do in Generative Journalism is publish positive stories at the expense of facing reality.

The stories we tell shape our culture. Journalism as a civic art, to be of real assistance to democracy, has a few things to overcome.

I have come to see capitalism as the ideology or worship of capital, of money. Absentee investment is the root of so much in the way of dissociation. Money for money’s sake, and not for what it can do. Instead, we should look at intimate and engaged investment, that puts the power of money to good use.

One of the challenges we face in realizing a reimagined democracy is the force of narrative. The dominant narrative, the one purveyed by mainstream media, corporate communications, and political campaigns, is for the most part an institutional narrative. It isn’t really for or by the grassroots at all.

During election time, we can easily get lost in the notion that voting and politicians are at the centre of democracy. And yet, democracy is so much more.

Today, democracy’s detractors point to the US experiment to denigrate the idea. In Canada, our politics have to a degree followed suit.

“The future of journalism is to play a fundamental and important role in an ecology of community development works and capacities and professions,” says Peter Pula, founder of Axiom News and pioneer of Generative Journalism.

Peter is now co-leading a local initiative to bring citizen-led dialogue and community development in direct partnership with the media.

Awakening to healing and becoming whole In community

In 2015, the year Axiom News gave birth to the Peterborough Dialogues, over 100 gatherings were hosted. I was asked by an astounded colleague in Europe, why would anyone do that? Well, to know and to serve. That’s why.