Photo by Simon Rae

I’ve just given a short talk to a corporate audience at a daylong online conference. I was invited to help close out the day with some provocative thoughts. And still, it felt risky and brave.

Here’s the description of the session, as it was given to me:

This discussion will look ahead and try to imagine a world that has truly arrived at stakeholder capitalism at minimum, or a just and regenerative economy at best. Speakers will offer pathways to getting us there, along with suggestions for highly effective levers of change we need along the way.

Here’s what I…


Just over half the US population and much of the rest of the world is puzzling over one question: why would anyone (much less 70 million people) continue to support Trump, given everything he and those associated with him have said and done? In fact, a growing number of countries have their own local version of this dynamic, complete with the dumbfounded disbelief of some part of the population.

There are many answers to the question. But here’s what my research suggests: Trumpism and its global equivalents stem from the simplistic worldview of reductionism and dominance that has shaped Western…


Last week, I facilitated a virtual summit on the need and opportunity for profound change in how our society cares for its elderly. And as so often happens in my work, there were lessons for all of us, as we look for wiser, more compassionate ways to care for each other and the Earth.

At times, preparing for the summit felt like sacred work to honor the elderly and those who offer them care, particularly after so much tragedy in long-term care facilities during the pandemic. At other times, I confess that I wondered if this was the best use…


It’s frustrating and disappointing — to put it in absurdly mild terms — that we’re still having to protest the same problems we did in the 1960s. That decade brought so much power to the table, with the Civil Rights movement, the Stonewall riots, the Women’s Liberation movement, the anti-war protests, the environmental movement, the Red Power and Chicano movements, and the Summer of Love. …


New Hampshire’s state motto

Last week I kicked off a month-long series of discussions with members of New Hampshire Businesses for Social Responsibility. Our topic is “Live Free and Thrive,” a twist on the state’s strident “live free or die” motto and an exploration of the meaning of freedom in these times. After this first 90-minute call, the conversation has already generated powerful insights with relevance for all of us and for this moment in human history.

The series came about as a follow-on to my keynote speech at NHBSR’s annual conference. The association’s director had proposed a series of ongoing discussions to explore…


Jerez, Spain

I have this strange occupational hazard in which I fall in love a little with whatever group I am serving, even if the encounter is brief — even, I’m discovering, if the interaction is separated by monitors and keyboards within the constraints of social distancing. This is how I find myself thinking longingly of people who work in “the built environment” — architects, lighting designers, landscape architects, green building consultants, urban planners. Those who shape the spaces in which we live and work and love and play. …


Photo credit: Owen Humphreys

Suddenly, everything is up in the air. The ground has fallen out from beneath us. That vertigo we feel is real. Like the coyote in those old Road Runner cartoons, we’re suspended just beyond the edge of the cliff, waiting with equal parts denial and dread. Between coronavirus and climate crisis and all the systems they act upon, there is no scenario in which the ground gently rises up to hold us as it has done for so long. As a civilization, this is the moment when we either learn how to fly or we come crashing down.

“Learning to…


[Be advised: this article makes reference to sexual violence.]

Many years ago, when I started talking publicly about thrivability and regeneration (words I use interchangeably), people struggled to understand what I was talking about and what it could mean for them. And so in place of regeneration, I sometimes proposed the word “healing.” After all, to support a system’s ability to regenerate is, fundamentally, to support its ongoing healing and emergent wholeness. Healing is a concept we’ve all experienced. With a little effort, we can all imagine how an experience, a product or a service could contribute to healing. …


[This article originally appeared in the Ecological Farmers Association of Ontario November/December 2019 print newsletter, in advance of EFAO’s annual conference at which I spoke. The theme of the conference was “A Climate of Curiosity.”]

What will it take to grow the ecological farming movement, with its more responsible and regenerative ways of being in relationship with the land? As EFAO’s Katie Baikie and I plotted and planned my talk for the upcoming annual conference, that has been the question at the heart of our conversations. The urgency to grow the movement is pressing. …


[First published January 6, 2010] My colleagues and I have had an ongoing debate about whether we should use the phrase “spirit of life” when we talk about the integrative property or force that animates living systems, including ourselves and our organizations. Of course, we mean it in a non-religious sense, referring to it in the context ofS a model grounded in biology, complexity science, quantum physics and the vast literature on organizational success. To me, “spirit” seems the most accurate term, with its dictionary definition as the “breath of life” as well as its hint at the underlying integrality…

Michelle Holliday

Maven, Guide, Strategist, Speaker. Author of The Age of Thrivability: Vital Perspectives & Practices for a Better World. www.michelleholliday.com

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