silhouette of trees near ocean during sunset

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
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