Combining for Community

Dave Pendle
6 min readJan 12, 2024

I replayed and recorded my exchange with Nora Bateson during her late December presentation in the Prometheus Project’s , ‘Voices’ Series. Prometheus is a platform that showcases prominent figures in the realm of leadership and offers them opportunities to share their latest work or offerings with a community of peers and practicioners.

I have known Nora Bateson from the time she was promoting her film ‘An Ecology of Mind’. Where she curated some of the familial and professional legacy of Gregory Bateson’s, her father’s work. Since then she has become a leading voice of an alternative paradigm, an ecological seer, a voice for planetary healing, an enchantress of the liminal, as well as a purveyor of regenerative life forms, she articulates, the almost inexpressible and embodies a way of being that reforms the human soul. Her artful expressions hexcavate for me the deepest possibilities of human’s attunement to Nature.

Nora has recently launched her latest book ‘Combining’ which is decribed by her publisher as ‘’A blend of intellectual inquiry, essays, emotional engagement, storytelling, poetry and graphic art, Combining is an invitation to nurture genuine connections and navigate a world brimming with “Warm Data

What follows is the bulk of the lightly edited exchange between me and Nora on the imminence of ecological collapse plus an interesting observation posed by series co-founder and host Tom Bohinc.

Photo by Shannon Potter on Unsplash

Dave: Yeah, gorgeous to hear you share and speak your words. I think you exemplify a degree of embodiment in terms of encompassing, the multidimensional complexities inherent in existence. I sense there is a kind beauty and exquisite attention in the ways you describe how ecologies function. As I attune my listening into what I’m hearing. It reaches really deep into my soul, evoked by the poetry of your expressions. We were speaking in the breakout group about paying attention to one another in this way.

All these multiple dimensional aspects of ecologies that you surface, are kind of edited out of or excluded from modern interchanges or just day to day communication. Your notion of combining these different contexts I think, I find, really elevates our interactions. Yet I was wondering about our current ability to give exquisite attention and express in these nuanced ways, in what is, still somewhat convenient circumstances. Whereby that’s still nonetheless possible. But should the ecological crises take further exponential leaps? Our ability to do that may become very impaired.

Nora: Well, yes, I know.
That’s why I am working as tirelessly as I possibly can. I invite you to come take a warm data course with me, because every moment, there’s a call for community. The polycrisis that our era is, is so far beyond the possibility of any of our institutions to respond to. It’s not possible because mental health, for example, is inextricable from economic, ecological cultural and familial strife. Okay, the mental health industry may only deliver in one context. Though our economic and ecologic issues are based in all sorts of notions of identity, of technology, of media, of history of culture, etc, etc.

It’s also not really about dollars and cents or currencies that are shifting. You can’t change poverty by actually adding money. It just goes right back up to the one per cent. So every single situation that we are looking at right now, requires a completely different approach. What I see as being the centremost pending here is, the people on the ground. Can they actually meet a crisis together?

Because the question for me is not how do we get the solutions? The question is, how do we help people to be able to help each other? And how is it possible for that helping to help to help, because you see already a third, we’re already doing multiple orders there. I’m not helping you. I’m helping you to be able to help other people. Without saying how, because I don’t know how. I don’t know what you will face. I don’t know if it will be fascism. I don’t know if it will be war. I don’t know if it will be a lack of water or a loss of food. I don’t know if it will be mental health issues, or I don’t know, right. But I do know, that these crises are probably moving their way, right into every household at this point in one form or another. They keep getting identified as problems which individuals have produced by making bad choices.

So we have to fix the individual so they can put go back into the system that’s creating the polycrises. So I think we cannot have that kind of community without first communing. And so that’s where everything that I want to do right now is really focused on that place. Let’s tend to the possibilities of communing, because as far as I can see, that’s all we got. The rest of it, is going to have to sort itself out from there.

But if everybody hates each other there’s, no, no model in the world that you can implement. I mean, I’m watching people creating all these crazy save the world models and I’m like, ‘You can’t do that’. These guys they cannot agree on vegan or non vegan, they cannot agree to have a conversation about half the things that are going on in the world. We can’t have a top down model, when when people are not communing, which really means mutual learning.

Dave: Just great to hear your pour that out and great to hear you say that and recognise the truth of that and just thank you.

Tom: I just want to say this is not in disagreement. This is actually integrating, but it’s a way people may process some of these messages. They may struggle with this idea, the idea that if we have control of nothing, that gives us an excuse to do nothing. Or if we are communing, we feel better. So we don’t have to, actually do the combining, we can stay safe because you’ll feel better about it. I know you’re not saying those things.

Nora: On the contrary. It’s actually a much, it’s rigour actually it’s a lot of integrity and responsibility and rigour,that’s paying attention.

Tom: The craft of combining and the vulnerability of combining is the most urgent need. As it’s too easy for us to stay in our compartentalized spaces.

Nora: Yes

Photo by Joash Castro on Unsplash

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About the author Dave Pendle; I am synthesising almost 30 years experience in non profit enterprises with over 40 years of deep personal development experience. Passionate about enabling others’ sense of fulfillment, impact and trust, to engage wholeheartedly with inspiration and commitment to 21st century work and life.

My website Generative You, explains my interests in more in depth, so do sign up for my newsletter or express and interest in my services, or share there how you best like to connect with me. I also run a monthly conversation series Phenomenal Conversations co-exploring life defining topics with pioneering changemakers who embody systemic and regenerative change in the whole life.



Dave Pendle

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