What is New Culture?
New Culture comes out of examining every aspect of our existing cultures and experimenting to find out how to create a world based on love and freedom, rather than fear and violence.
In our explorations, we have looked at everything from inner aspects of one’s self-experience to global consequences of our societal choices. Some areas we have focused on include: methods of dealing with painful emotional reactions; developing healthy boundaries; conflict resolution skills; alternative models of family, community and “tribe”; improving communication across gender, ethnic, and racial lines; acceptance of neurodiversity and diverse mental experiences; freedom in sexual and loving connections; reducing consumption and global impact of our lifestyles; living in healthy relationship to children; making sustainable choices around food and diet; organizing to create local, regional, and global change. We look forward to future explorations in these areas and others, such as the aging and dying process; money and our relationships to it; disability and “normality”; social entrepreneurship as a means for social change, etc.
PERSPECTIVES WE’VE FOUND USEFUL
IN EXPLORING AND BUILDING A NEW CULTURE
Being “At Choice:” In New Culture, you are always AT CHOICE about your participation in any workshop or activity. Honor your sacred intuition and follow your joy and excitement.
Ask for What You Want: It’s always OK to ask, if it’s OK for the answer to be “no.”
Boundaries: “No” is as welcome as “Yes”, maybe even more so. In many ways, “no” is the most intimate communication you can give another human being. If others can trust you to say “no”, they can believe you wholeheartedly when you say “yes”. Being clear about what you want in the moment creates more freedom for others– it is always OK to say “no” or “stop;” it is always OK to change your mind from “yes” to “no” and from “no” to “yes. We flit like butterflies; we flow like a river; we go back and forth like ocean waves. We learn to know ourselves in each moment.
Curiosity: Wow! Why did that happen? Why did she react that way? Why am I feeling these feelings? A curious person is an empowered person. You are not your feelings; your feelings visit you, like houseguests that can be entertaining or difficult. When your feelings become your masters, you have lost your freedom and autonomy.
Personal Power and Responsibility: Part of New Culture is learning to take 100% responsibility for one’s feelings. A key insight is that difficult emotional issues that arise in everyday life are opportunities for personal growth. The internal conflicts must be resolved before the external stresses can be dealt with. This means that the person with the feelings is the person with the power — the power to look inside, learn and grow. Intimate relationships are a crucible in which people can heal themselves, find joy with each other, and look outward with hope and energy to transforming the larger world. So if feelings are coming up for you, take this as an opportunity to practice what we are learning.
Flexibility and Non-Attachment: Attachment to a specific outcome — needing to have things a certain way — is often rooted in old hurts and can cause new ones. In New Culture, we are learning to stay light on our feet and to adapt flexibly to new situations. “Huh — I didn’t get my needs met the way I wanted. How else could I do it? What new amazing thing could happen next?”
Transparency and Openness: How do we live well together and co-create joy? How do we maximize our opportunities for getting what we want? When people have healthy boundaries and take responsibility for their own feelings, relationships become easy and joyful. I can honestly share my thoughts and feelings without fear of hurting you, because I know that you will set a boundary if you do not want to participate further. If painful emotions come up, I know that you are not to blame for my pain, and I am not to blame for yours. Instead of keeping silent for fear of hurting each other, we are both freed to explore what would bring us joy.
Co-Creation: We are building a New Culture together. Everyone involved is a volunteer and make no profit from New Culture activities– it is a labor of love. We honor each other both in our strengths and our imperfections. If you see an area that needs more attention, you are invited to communicate this lovingly, and to think about how you can act powerfully and gently to make things better.
Karma Yoga: We work together to serve our community’s physical needs (for beauty and order, good food, healthy spaces) as well as our emotional and spiritual needs. Notice how you feel as you serve — are you joyous? Tired? Happy? Frustrated? What is it like working with others? All feelings are welcome.
What is New Culture?
BY ARIES INDENBAUM
We wrote hundreds of definitions of New Culture. We crossed each definition out, re-wrote it, erased it, and wrote it again. We scribbled out what New Culture isn’t, and what it could be, then threw those words out too.
Each person defines New Culture differently — for a network without a central leader, it’s nearly impossible to pull out the common threads. Who can constrain a freedom movement with a strict definition? Who can provide a singular answer to a group that constantly questions? Who can describe New Culture in one sentence?
i. You can define New Culture by its buzzwords: transparency, curiosity, compassion, freedom and love, intimacy, personal growth, equality, sustainability, open sexuality, and the power of community.
On one hand, this is all fantastically true. New Culture really IS about the honest pursuit of love and freedom. And who hates love and freedom? Who disagrees with life, liberty, and happiness?
However, this definition lacks a call to action. New Culture is transformative and revolutionary — it challenges the status quo. It is about change and exploration of yourself, your relationships and of the world.
ii. You can define New Culture by its human ingredients, drawing a Venn Diagram of overlapping groups. New Culture comprises activists, communards from intentional communities, government officials, high school students, social workers, waitresses, families with small children, entrepreneurs, polyamorous lovers, teachers, doctors, husbands and wives.
A community is certainly defined by its members. For an egalitarian group, the wide range of participants creates a constantly shifting, living network. Especially as the number of New Culture participants is growing year after year, the skills and reach of the group is equally expanding.
As fantastic as pointing out the diversity of New Culture, it only begs more questions. What draws these people together? What ethics makes the group cohesive?
iii. You can define New Culture by its activities — how it accomplishes change.
New Culture operates over events: open houses, introduction nights, potlucks, weekend workshops, retreats, and a 10-day summer camp. From there, participants take New Culture into their own communities and workplaces, organizing discussion groups, intentional communities, and businesses. This is a grassroots organization — there is no central authority. If one feels moved to host an event, they have the power to do so.
New Culture is an activist organization — it creates change. Starting from within, New Culture helps relationships grow, and seeks to find solutions for societal problems. New Culture tests new approaches to parenting, education, health and nutrition, entrepreneurship, permaculture, sustainability, sexuality, and social justice issues. In the process, participants build loving, long-lasting networks of friends.
iv. You can describe the goals of New Culture. New Culture makes you see yourself differently, and shows you a new way of living.
In New Culture, you show the ugly parts of yourself to others without fear. And without that fear, nothing is ugly.
New Culture is an experiment. It is a never-ending set of questions with no set answers. It is a game with few rules and infinite puzzles. It makes you throw out the judgments you’ve always had and the social limitations you’ve worked within. It helps you build boundaries, and learn how to connect with people you’ve never understood.
In New Culture, you show the beautiful parts of yourself to others without fear. And without that fear, everything is beautiful.
New Culture is always changing and shifting, as presenters teach more skills, and participants challenge different beliefs. Still, it is always fluid and accepting. New Culture explores issues of gender, race, class, and privilege without stigma or shame. It changes the way you think, and the way you think about others
In New Culture, you show everything in yourself to others. And then, you can see everything.
The New Culture Network
The New Culture Network is an all-volunteer, grassroots network. The Summer Camps are the heart of NFNC. Since 1994, Summer Camp and New Culture have grown to include more time, more places, and more people. Smaller gatherings and retreats now happen every few weeks in many places around the country: Seattle, Washington DC, Eugene OR, Philadelphia, New York City, Boston, Hawaii, and more. Group houses and intentional communities have formed in many places that incorporate New Culture values and insights (New-Culture.org.)
Although the network is not formally organized, volunteers have created several not-for-profit corporations in the spirit of New Culture, to manage the finances for major New Culture projects. The New Culture Institute handles Oregon projects, the Center for a New Culture sponsors projects on the east coast, and New Culture Northwest is active in the Seattle area. The first two corporations have been granted 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status; others are in the process of obtaining that status.