Ecosystem Mapping

Joe Lightfoot – A Conversation

We are currently embarking on a project to map the space of organisations similar to ourselves, that broadly share our core values and beliefs, and that are trying to change the world around us. Recently, we had a great chat with Joe Lightfoot, about his work and the space that we exist in. 

Joe Lightfoot is dedicated towards cultivating new kinds of mutual aid community. He creates books, articles, podcasts and conversational forums that explore similar themes. He is hugely inspired by the emergence of a truly regenerative planetary culture and is fascinated by the inner journey of transformation that seems to be required for each of us to fully show up for this system-wide metamorphosis. Read more about him on his website here: 

What is Joe up to?

Spending his time between Australia and Thailand, Joe is part of an organisation called BioArc, which designs eco-villages. As his background is more in meditation and contemplative practices, he started to see that community was probably going to be the way forth with healing. 

He helped form a collective project called Dok Rak (flower of love in Thai), which has taken up his time in the last 5-6 years. It’s now grown to a few hundred people. Joe has released a book recently which documents this experience: A Collective Blooming.

Joe has also launched a varied and fascinating podcast, which recently featured our very own Sylvie Barbier (listen to Sylvie talk about Life Itself and learning to grow beyond motherhood here). The idea behind the podcast is to profile people who are living this kind of collective experience. Learning and developing how we live in the world (and within ourselves) is crucial for Joe, as he says, “if we want to set up new systems, we have to set up a new way of being”.

Metamodern Solarpunk

The next project that Joe wants to run is a Salon, and he is currently working on a metamodern solar punk manifesto: “Every week I’ll bring in some people to discuss this, and flesh out this body of thought around solar punk and metamodernism.” Like many of us, Joe is inspired by Hanzi Freinacht’s The Listening Society, in which he puts forth the idea of metamodernism, which is the notion of how we can combine the progress of modernism with the critique of postmodernism and have a synthesis of these two things. “Solar Punk is the metamodern version of steampunk – it’s an aesthetic. It arrived about 4-5 years ago, and it’s about how we can realistically live inside the metacrisis of the world, but also have real hope that we can make a difference.”

edit: Joe has since posted this manifesto, here

Contemplative mindset

Joe believes that the language of Life Itself is all about energetic containers. And the work we all are doing in this space “is at an energetic level, at a subtle level of how we resonate with each other”. Of course, that is very difficult to put your finger on or capture in words, and requires a whole approach, which he was excited to feel behind Life Itself. Joe has noticed a positive cultural shift in this regard, as when I first emerged on the scene, the language was more about coworking spaces and social technology. 


Joe spoke to us about his interested in the idea of neotribalism. He wonders how we can weave indigenous wisdom alongside our own history, into a modern context. How do we combine the best of what we have now with that wisdom? The question is open-ended; the possibilities are endless, but the solution remains unclear. 

Building networks

Discussing the potential of building networks in this new space, Joe describes his ‘vision of the mycelium’, as he puts it. It is not clear exactly how we build this network, and bring this varied work we are all doing together. But we are all learning from each other’s experiments, and a trust network is building. We’re each running similar experiments, so a question arises as to how to make sure we don’t repeat them too much. The network building and ecosystem mapping becomes crucial to this going forward. And Joe wonders if some kind of meta-plan in place would help with the development of the space also. “Because once we all get our little ecosystems going, we’re going to want to be able to exchange information, resources, goods, and even set up our little economies. So I feel that someone has to be doing the biggest strategic thinking.”

Our conversation ends on a positive note, admitting to the intangible aspect of much of the movement so far, whilst affirming its concrete reality and growth: “I like the idea of social permaculture, and I think this is really what we’re up to. I think what we’re all realising is that we need to grow a garden of social interaction before we can get up to any of the more external stuff… It sounds like this movement is coming to fruition now, at least the first phase.”