The WSIF Network as a Living Organism

1200 900 World Social Initiative Forum

The World Social Initiative Forum (WSIF) Network defines itself as a living growing organism of autonomous initiatives, organizations, and individuals. We understand this as a global body, a living structure that enables human dignity, freedom, and responsibility to manifest in diverse ways throughout the world.

Article by Joan Sleigh | Photo by Emma Claeys

Photo by Emma Claeys

Just as in the human body, each organ has its own unique form, function, and purpose. Together, they create an integrated living whole.

Same as the human body, the WSIF Network aims to “embody the complex life and spirit of diverse entities” – each contained and independent within itself, yet nourished by and in turn maintaining the body as a whole. Such networks are highly complex systems and are made up of a multitude of variables. In constant interaction, they design, maintain, and grow a vibrant body that is far more than the sum of the individual parts. The life of such a living organism is predictable within certain patterns and assumptions, yet highly creative and receptive in what may emerge through the shared conversation. They cannot be centrally directed, but valued and recognized.

Physicist Fritjof Capra, in his book “The Web of Life” describes three key prerequisites of a living system: pattern, structure, and process. [1]

The pattern of organization is determined by the ebb and flow of relationships among the independent components which define its essential nature.

The structure of the system is the physical embodiment of these patterns within the organization.

The processes within the system link the patterns and structures defining the organization in a continuous unfolding of the purpose of the organization. However, the three conditions of pattern, structure, and process, could also describe a mechanical system.

Verna Allee notes two further criteria that are needed in a living system [2]:

1. The pattern of organization in a living system is consistent with that of an autopoietic network. An autopoietic network is one that continually produces itself so that the being and doing are inseparable. That continual process of producing is cognitive in nature. So, living systems exhibit intelligence.

2. Living systems are also dissipative structures that are open to the flow of energy and matter. They exist on the edge of chaos. With too much openness, they disintegrate; with too little, they become rigid and closed and can no longer exchange energy and matter.

The attributes described here are what we identify and hope to embody as a living WSIF Network. The purpose of the networking process is to exchange tangible and intangibles values and experiences. Tangible exchanges could be through real-life encounters, in which we exchange products, services, and resources. Intangible exchanges could be ideas, knowledge, practices, and intuitions, shared in our regular open conversation.

In this sense, I would like to invite all the members of the WSIF Network and all those interested in becoming part of a living network, to participate in building such a vibrant body in which to nurture the intangible in-between spaces, in which humans encounter and a more humane future may emerge. In the words of Charles Eisenstein, “Part of our journey to a more beautiful world is the discovery of new capacities, new sources of information, and solutions not only to the questions we carry today but to the questions that will be born through our journey into the future. I would like to welcome especially that part of you that just doesn’t know, and the part of you that is willing not to know for now because that not knowing creates a vacuum. It’s an empty space in which new knowledge that’s not a permutation of existing ideas can come.”

The crisis that we face as a society will not be solved by some technical tweaks. It is an invitation to a total transformation. A total transformation in who we are and why we’re here. We are undergoing an initiation – that is the political situation, the economic situation, and the ecological situation. This is a spiritual crisis, a crisis meaning a watershed of transformation. An emergency in which something is emerging…

The aim of the WSIF Network is to place itself in the service of this spiritual crisis, the watershed of transformation. It aims to do this by hosting conversations as instruments of living thoughts and words, in which the as yet unknown and invisible agency of transformation may emerge.

About the Contributor Joan Sleigh has extensive experience in Waldorf Education as a class teacher and mentor. She served in the Executive Council at the Goetheanum from 2013 to 2020 in Dornach, Switzerland. She is the project leader of the World Social Initiative Forum since 2015.


1 Fritjof Capra, The Web of Life, Anchor Books, 1996.
2 Verna Allee,, Presented at Transparent Enterprise, Madrid, November 2002

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