Posts

By: Isabel Nuesse

On Thursday April 8, I spoke with a passionate group of Californians about developing a new narrative for the Wellbeing Economy in California. After a short presentation including WEAll’s own story of narrative development and lessons learnt, we had a group discussion and indicated a few initial thoughts on the values that could underpin a Wellbeing Economy in California. 

For some context, developing a ‘narrative’ or story around a new economic vision is one of the most difficult tasks for WEAll. While a core pillar to our work, it’s without a doubt, the one that is most contentious amongst our membership and the most challenging to articulate and come to consensus on. 

Our first step in the process has been to develop the values that shape a Wellbeing Economy – we refer to them as the 5 ‘WEAll Needs’. These needs (depicted below) are the core tenants that underpin our vision for a Wellbeing Economy. These values will change from context to context-  but from the highest level – when we speak to a Wellbeing Economy, these are the needs that must exist in order for the vision to be felt. 

I also introduced some of the lessons learnt from our work on narratives which are below:

  1. Narratives are ever-evolving
  2. There isn’t ONE narrative  
  3. Don’t counterbalance the current narrative with the opposite narrative 
  4. Focus on a positive vision
  5. All narratives have value to bring
  6. Create a simple story that resonates widely
  7. Doing the work is building the narrative

During the session, there was discussion amongst the audience around the practicalities of implementing such a narrative. One attendee asked, “How do you speak to someone about a Wellbeing Economy if they are staunch capitalists? How do you begin to unseat such strong power structures?” 

I wish I had the answer. The best ‘solution’ is to have counterexamples of other systems that could work to replace the current system. For example, instead of investing in the S&P 500 find initiatives like Boston Ujima Project who are building community-led investment opportunities. Or look to cooperatives as alternative models to replace the current extractive business models. 

We discussed issues around the word ‘freedom’ and what that word currently connotes verses what it could connote in a wellbeing context. 

Towards the end of the discussion, we spoke about what the difference is between what the current progressive left is pushing verses what the Wellbeing Economy agenda is pushing. The word we circled around was interconnection. In a Wellbeing Economy, we are no longer going to work in silos but rather, see the whole, and encourage the system to operate and function within that space. Meaning, seeing that homelessness is related to healthcare which is related to our food system which is related to land pricing etc. It’s all connected and we can no longer operate in a system that doesn’t account for those interconnections.

As an interactive portion of the discussion, we brainstormed some values that could bring definition to what a Wellbeing Economy in California could become. Below is the list of values that the group created.


We will build from the values generated during this workshop as we begin to think about how values and narratives align with policy change during our next webinar. You can sign up to join the California hub on May 18 for a one hour discussion of wellbeing policy design with Amanda Janoo here. Additionally, if you’d like to become a WEAll Member, join us here and also check out our WEAll Citizens Platform.

WEAll California’s Starter List of Values

  • Accountability+1
  • Access to Nature
  • Artistic Thinking
  • Beauty
  • Belief in a living wage
  • Belonging
  • Care for others +1
  • Compassion
  • Connection +2  (Deep Connection)
  • Creativity+3
  • Design Thinking
  • Embracing differences
  • Equity+2
  • Environmental sustainability+4
  • Freedom+1
  • From Wealth to Health
  • From Growth to Wellbeing
  • From Money to Life
  • From Exploitation to Empowerment
  • Harmony
  • Hope
  • Human flourishing+3
  • Inclusion+2
  • Incubation, testing, research to action (higher public education)
  • Innovation (California prides itself on this)+3
  • International (pacific rim) +1
  • Intersection of natural and built environment +1
  • Interrelation +1
  • Integrity +1
  • Kindness+1
  • Justice
  • Local
  • Loyalty to the whole+2
  • Material sufficiency
  • Possibility and transformation
  • Purpose
  • Systemic Thinking
  • Uniqueness

WEAll is pleased to announce the launch of the first official US-based WEAll Hub: WEAll California. 

On November 12th, the Institute for Ecological Civilization (EcoCiv) and WEAll will gather online with a broad group of organizational leaders and policy makers, to officially launch the hub. 

This virtual event will bring together participants from across the state, including representatives from the Santa Monica-based Civil Wellbeing Partners, sustainability experts from Los Angeles city government, Bay Area non-profit directors and religious leaders, community foundation representatives from Humboldt County in Northern California, individuals working in the Sierra Nevada region and central valley, and a number of city economic development leaders. 

The goal of this broad representation is to encourage a holistic approach to envisioning and planning for improved wellbeing in California.

The bulk of the event will be facilitated conversations about what ‘wellbeing’ means in California, identifying key policy initiatives needed at the state and local level, and discussing next steps. Our goal is to leave with a set of clear priorities to galvanize efforts in California, going into 2021. 

Discussions will be divided into three parts: 1) visioning, 2) backcasting, and 3) road mapping. Using online collaboration tools, participants will share major components of their vision for wellbeing in California. 

What does wellbeing mean? What does it include? How do we want the California economy to look, ideally? How can an emerging new economy look beyond growth alone to focus on the wellbeing of people and the planet?

If we look backward from this shared vision, what first steps already exist or should exist? 

The backcasting section will include short reports from representative organizations on work they are already engaged in around the state, including ideas for how such work could be scaled and where roadblocks are present.

After the reports, we will break into smaller groups to continue identifying policy changes that could be helpful for the short and long-term as well as areas that deserve a longer-term focus.

In the last section, we will begin to build a roadmap toward an economy focused on wellbeing in California from the existing work and priority areas already identified. And finally, we will end by talking about concrete next steps for the California hub as we approach 2021.


If you’re interested in getting involved, please reach out to the WEAll California hub team through EcoCiv here and learn more on the WEAll California Page here.