Buckminster Fuller famously talked about "emerging through emergency," and we certainly have no end of emergency in the 21st Century. I think of our conversations at Worldchanging.com after the Southeast Asian tsunami, and again after hurricane Katrina. Our first thought was of what might emerge from self-organization in the complex, chaotic wake of profound disaster: innovative new architectures and cultural transformations are at least possible when legacy structures are wiped out. Similar thinking around climate change: we have those who deny the problem, and we have those who merely fear it - but we also have those who see the problem of climate change as very real, and as an opportunity to create more sustainable methods for managing (producing + using + conserving) energy. Given sustainability, what of thrivability? How do we become resilient and prosper in a "post-carbon" world?
Complex systems and patterns emerge from simple interactions and rules; the future will emerge from patterns of interaction and coevolution according to rules we establish and goals we set now, and will be more or less chaotic based on how coherent and focused we can be. If we lack focused goals, we can expect chaos and entropy as our energies and processes will lack coherent patterns, properties and models for self-organization. In other words, we can have the future we want, but we have to be clear about what we want - shared goals - and we have to work within well-defined ethical frameworks - rules that bring focus.
In this context, I see a connection between emergence and collaboration. Collaborations are successful when they are structured around common goals and clear communication protocols that are defined up front and refined as we go. Successful action emerges from coherent collaboration.
Thrivability as a goal depends on the emergence of actions, systems, and processes that are driven by goals that we have defined as relevant. This emergence is the product of collaboration around objectives, within a well-defined context for communication, where there is a shared set of ethics, principles, and protocols. If we are to create a thrivability movement, this collaboration is our first step, and it begins here.