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élan Source Document

on 18 August 2010 - 5:17pm
Evolution, Learning & Action Network

(current version posted on August 18, 2010)



The French word "élan" means vital impulse or force. Acting with élan is acting with passion. That word is also a fitting acronym for our initiative that we call Evolution, Learning & Action Network.


George Pór developed the first concept of élan in 2004, which since then went through many iterations. Its current version grew out his conversations with Helen Titchen-Beeth and John Stewart, in 2009, and subsequent explorations with many colleagues, including the signers of this document.


The website " evolutionary élan" is the home of the initiative, where you can find out more about it.






WHY élan, why today? — our philosophy



The global social body is experiencing both pain from acute man-made ills, and growing vitality from the rapid emergence of many new forms of social expressivity, self-organization, and co-creation. "Everything is going worse and worse, and better and better, at the same time," as Tom Atlee likes to remind us.


Emerging simultaneously with our intertwining global crises, there's also a groundswell of citizen initiatives and accelerating waves of social, technological, business, and cultural innovation, at a scale and variety never experienced before.


There's a new vitality in the social sector, where entrepreneurial initiatives, both social and environmental, are mushrooming. As of today, the Wiser-Earth Directory lists over 110,000 non-government organisations (NGO's) and socially responsible organisations focusing on environmental and social justice issues. Most of them are focused locally or on a single issue but alongside with them we observe also a vibrant growth of movements that are global in scope and concern.


Examples of the latter, which need to network together to realize their full potential, include: commons movement, Transition Network, open source and other peer to peer networks of production and distribution, collaborative consumption movement, etc., all of which contribute to the gradual emergence of a new social economy and a new culture of social movements. Simultaneously, new electronic and social technologies of freedom are spreading farther and faster than before. The power of new collaboration technologies, combined with the drive of Gen Y and Gen X innovators for socially meaningful action, create new opportunities for evolutionary breakthroughs everywhere.


All those initiatives, communities, networks, and movements "pioneer new approaches, provide models for citizen engagement and are vehicles to acquire the skills that will be needed in the future." (Brian Davey) The big question of consequence is how rapidly the ecosystem of transformational initiatives can become aware of itself as a whole, and boost its collective intelligence to the level, where it can elegantly address even the most complex global challenges.


The dedication of our work is to augment their collective intelligence and consciousness, by increasing meaningful connections among them.




WHAT is the concept and value of élan? — here we're getting practical


élan, first of all, is a collaborative learning expedition that's a metaphor and a model, at the same time. It is a metaphor for moving towards an interconnected humanity, where the unfettered development of the parts is core to the existence and development of the whole. It is a model and embodiment of a collaboration culture that connects with the many other emergent cultures of collaboration online and offline.


élan is a call to the fuzzy, disjoint movement that we are a part of to become aware of itself and to ascend to its potential. Our intention is to serve the unfolding evolution of our world by providing a technical and social platform for collaborative sensing and meaning-making. We do that in order to augment the collective intelligence, wisdom, and capabilities of individuals, groups and movements that aim at serving the whole.


élan is also a web of various plays, which, when fully embodied, will include an interactive map for navigating collective emergence at increasing scale, an online magazine, a network of self-organizing communities of users/contributors, who grow a community knowledge garden. In their unfolding development, the communities may include also a research think-net that will scan the landscape of our emerging planetary reality to identify early signs of strategic challenges and opportunities, as a meta-service to the evolutionary movement.



HOW we work together — what makes the "social glue" stick


Respected community agreements increase trust among members. When those agreements are based on shared, explicit values and principles, they guide the decisions we make and how we engage with one another and with others, in our work and interactions.




  • We value the evolutionary impulse in and around us, which calls to move towards the higher potential, and respond to it unconditionally.

  • We value a holistic conception of reality, gained and continually updated through our communal learning networks.

  • We value and embody the dynamic balance of order and chaos, deliberative design and self-organizing emergence.

  • We value and trust collective intelligence when guided by collective wisdom.

  • We value and support the integrity of the natural and cultural commons that belong to the whole of humankind.




  • We organise ourselves in ways that foster relationship, participation, creativity,
    learning, and development.

  • We are not attached to fixed outcomes and remain open to serve the best results for the whole.

  • We recognise that friction is a natural consequence of our interconnectedness and serves as a gateway to higher levels of authenticity, connection and performance.

  • We strive to discover resonances and partner with groups and organizations that have similar motivations and complementary functions.

  • We are never-ending learners in how to best serve the intention we co-create.


Before making a choice to be actively involved with élan work, please consider whether those values and principles are compatible with yours.


WHO are the people involved? — it's all about resonant relationship


Initially, there are four groups with partially overlapping membership, which will make up the circle of involvement.


Seed team

This is the vision-keeper group of those who step forward as co-initiators of the project. It is a seed group for a learning and action network, which supports the development of the élan projects.

The seed team is a group of people from multiple disciplines, who combine their talents and share their edge of learning and consciousness. That's what enables them to continually add value to élan and its stakeholders.



All who are working on our projects or building our web-presence and adding value to its individual and collective users: the storytellers, coders, online hosts, knowledge gardeners, ambassadors, social reporters, etc.



Everyone engaged in using the platform and its related tools and services, and contributing content and connections to make them better. They benefit from a common set of resources, while grow their own too, and provide feedback to the co-creators and the seed team.


Wisdom Council

Our circle of advisers is invitational. We invite wise women and men, leading thinkers and doers, who feel called to support élan with their insights and guidance. Along with the Seed Team, they are keepers of the process of changing this document.



Does the Why, What, and How of élan speak to you, does it inspire you? Is it resonant with something that your life calls you to do? If yes, express your support by signing the Source Document, then please visit our How You Can Get Involved page and let us know how you want to help.



About the Source Document


"SOURCE: That from which something arises; a wellspring.

Source refers to the basic elements from which something emerges. It applies to those things that are continually emergent, that have lives of their own, that generate their own shape and identity. To see the source of something, we need to understand the basic elements and their interplay, their dynamic relationships, which are key to its current identity and to what it might become.


DOCUMENT: Any text that can be referred to by a community independent of its originators in time and space.


It is therefore available as a record of origin and, at the same time, as the source of dialogue and interpretation that are continually evolving. It enables us to relate current circumstances and current development to original intentions.


A well-formed source document provides a structure of interpretation that demands continued engagement, intelligence and independent interpretation in the face of the varying circumstances of life. It lives for decades - maybe centuries - as a viable, energetic source of information because of its demand for continual interpretation."


Source: Mike McMaster's talk on "EMERGENCE, SELF-ORGANISATION AND FREEDOM: the sources of innovation" at the Complexity & Innovation conference, London 1997


ADAPTATION: The process by which something becomes more suitable to its changing environment.


A élan source document responds to the basic Why, What, Who, and How questions that interested parties are likely to ask us. Each of those sections is intended to be congruent with and complementary to each other. Our changing life conditions may turn parts of it out of alignment. The document is intended to be in constant use, to encourage active dialogue and to help change to emerge or evolve over time.


When it becomes apparent to the community (as expressed by any group of active community members) that change to the document is called for, then an open process of dialogue will be set up on the élan site. The conversation will remain open for at least one month, and no longer than three months. After that and building on that dialogue, the core team will introduce a proposal for change using holacracy-based integrative decision making. (Holacracy refers to an organizational operating system beyond both hierarchy and "majority rule.") The core team will be accountable to the élan community for managing the process of any change to the Source Document.



To join the conversation that continually feeds the Source Documents evolution join us at Talking about the Source Document


Signing the Source Document


If you feel inspired by what you've just read, consider signing it, read the following statement, and when you're ready, click on the "Add new comment" link  below.


We, the undersigned supporters of élan,
are holding its unfolding in our focused attention
and contributing our talents to what it can become.


George Pór's picture

This is an initiative that makes my heart sing and evokes my full engagement. Signing the document, I express my appreciation for the work of the élan Seed Team, the care that team brought to craft it. May it fulfill its purpose and may I be an instrument for that.

I am looking forward, with joyous anticipation, to work/play/learn with all of us in the Evolution, Learning & Action Network.

George Pór

Glistening Deepwater's picture the ideals which élan supports, the harmonious collaboration of humanity's highest potentials, the most beneficail possible outcome for all beings. I remain present and attentive to the process.

Glistening Deepwater.

John Stewart's picture

Thanks to George and the élan Seed Team.  A great set of tools and processes for facilitating the emergence of evolutionary activism on our planet!

Abraham Heinemann's picture

... I resonate with an urge to expand our collaborative intelligence

    to explore the concept of a meta-being within this framework.


Jarda Dokoupil's picture

I fullheartedly sign this source document.

I am honoured to be part of this exploration and hold the highest intention for ELAN's future.

May the winds of evolution blow fully into its sails...

With love,