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047: It's the People, not the Projects!

Ed Zaydel
Ed Zaydel
7 min read
047: It's the People, not the Projects!

Table of Contents

Hola Amigos, 

We’ve got a fun one this week, so put on your scuba gear, we’re going deep. I’ll be sharing my latest thoughts and findings, as I explore what community looks like in the world. I’ll also be sharing some light bulbs from the field that are relevant to those starting land projects, as well as to our day to day lives and relationships. Hint: “It’s about the people, not the projects.” I put that in quotes because Ronit Herzfeld, from Leap Forward instilled that learning in my mind and heart, and it’s changed the way I work and operate in the world. With a background in hospitality, I’ve always been in the people business, a natural connector, a people person, but later I would learn that it’s a far cry from actually caring for others. Most people really don’t give a shit, and oftentimes myself included. 

My care used to be primarily for myself, and my spiritual journey to discover who I am and why I’m here, became almost narcissistic at points in time. I was self absorbed and “healing”, in victim vs the active director of my life, jumping from healer to healer, program to program. In business, although in a very collaborative field, I was always looking at how to advance my work and projects and “make it.” Socially, I also would quench my loneliness by throwing large gatherings, having lots of “friends”, and searching for love and belonging endlessly. It was all about me first, my cup getting full, and my needs. Yet, I would give talks about the future of community and impact at festivals and conferences. I was like a child who needed every form of security, to achieve a future state of peace, happiness, and fulfillment. Ultimately, between me and me, my “problems or issues” came first, and the spark of doing something of impact for others in the world would eventually dim. I knew I was capable of more... 

After searching at Burning Man and festivals relentlessly, after everything I’ve seen and studied in the eco-village movement, and after years of organizing large community events in NYC, when it came down to “Community,” the question remained, do I really care about others? Do I think I care, or do I really show up as care via my actions?

Here's What I Want to Share This Week:

Being part of the intense training and community at Leap Forward for over three years, was one of the first places I could see and practice my care for others on the court, in our meeting. Over and over, I saw how many times I lacked care and dropped the ball on various projects, or with various community members. This “care stuff”, in practice was not easy. It involved sensitivity and feeling, it involved seeing patterns in myself and others, it involved cutting out excess noise in life, it involved time, energy and awareness…

My evolutionary goal was to start to shift my scope of care from the Ego (Self), to the Ethno (Group), to Global (Planet), but that is easier said than done. We have millions of years of neural wiring and survival instincts in our DNA. In more advanced stages and states of evolution, humans can expand our awareness and channel our care into a purpose beyond ourselves, serving the whole system, and that’s really where it’s at for me - our common humanity! 

Bill Reed from The Regenesis Group calls it moving from the “Self, to the Group, to the System,” and in Spiral Dynamics, its stages and colors, but it all boils down to our evolution as humans on this planet. For me, it’s the only game in town, and the project, as Bill Reed says, is “the whole system of life.” 

But it’s one thing to see something in the world and become awake or aware, it’s another thing to do something about it. I can be aware that this week thousands of children were sold into slavery in Africa like cattle, or women being stoned for exposing their face in Syria and other countries with Sharia Law, or Protests in New York City in front of the Nova museum exhibit, praising terrorist organizations that massacred innocent people, including Americans, in the October 7th terror attack at the Nova Music Festival. It’s good to be aware, and not just on a joy ride as I often was, and at times still am. Life, a whole life, includes both ‘this and that’, to feel and not ignore. The real question I ask myself is, What action will all this inspire in me today? 

Look closely at what someone worships, idolizes, and talks about - it will tell you a lot about who they are...

People & Places: NYC with VOID CR 

I often work on large scale land projects with architects and key experts, to masterplan and study the land, talk to the local community and stakeholders, and know what exists, before we start to dream up what’s possible. My job involves putting together an aligned vision with founders and stakeholders, nailing a sound strategy and model, and then assembling the right team for each project - it’s a soup, where each ingredient matters. It is also a time in a project’s life cycle, where it’s critical to go slow. I enjoy savoring this time, since it’s about the people, not the project for me or as Bill Reed calls it, “the field.” And this is where the field starts to form.

I love working with the architects and team at VOID, because of their integrity and care to listen to the land, their hearts, and they’re just a fun gang. They traveled from Costa Rica to New York to work on this 800 Acre Land Stewardship project with me and we had a blast. I also loved our client Ben’s care for doing this the right way, with the local community and the land/nature coming first and foremost. We just observed, listened, talked to locals, we didn’t draw or plan anything. For Ben, at this point in life, it’s not about the ROI (Return on Investment) anymore, it’s about the QOL (Quality of Life), for himself and others and what legacy he can leave. And he humbly asked for support, in how to make this project as impactful and additive as possible (vs extracting from the local community and nature). Again, many talk about legacy and impact, but few can show the deliverables and KPI to see if they are being effective in achieving it. One step at a time, starting with intention, followed by action. 

"Spiral Dynamics was initiated in the 1960s through extensive research done by Prof. Clare W. Graves, an American Professor in Psychology at Union College, New York. Graves was captivated by the question 'What is healthy, mature, human behavior?' To answer this question, he started his large-scale research. Data and results from his scientific research in the 1960s and 1970s showed that human behavior is strongly determined by our value systems, our internal motives and our belief systems. Spiral Dynamics is a theoretical and pragmatic model for understanding the dynamic forces at work in human development and change processes. Knowledge about Spiral Dynamics is extremely valuable for both understanding the versatile needs (values and motives) of individuals, teams, organizations and society and for aligning them in the most optimal and effective way."​

It serves as a "conceptual framework and perspective, enabling us to map complex human issues with clarity, and supporting us to develop a new view on society, organizations and people. The framework and its tools have been successfully applied internationally to achieve transformations on an individual level, in teams and in organizations and in local communities and societies as a whole."

Memorable Quote:

Much Love Amigos!

Founder, Live the Possibility @edwardzaydelman / Pinterest / YouTube