Collaboration: The Key to a Sustainable Future by Nathan Crane

What does sustainability mean to you? I look at sustainability from a wholistic perspective that includes social systems, food systems, communities, education, healthcare, relationships, politics, family, clothing, building materials, water, music and art. It is a viewfinder; a way of not only seeing, but being in the world.

My wife, daughter and I have traveled extensively, interviewing nearly fifty different people from all over the country about sustainability: politicians from Washington, DC, organic farmers in Portland, Oregon, self-reliance experts in Austin, Texas, educational institutions in Arizona and many others. We organized the interviews into a thirteen episode online documentary series called The Search for Sustainability, which received over 150,000 views in three weeks. To our knowledge it was the first documentary to bring together all of these varied and important facets of sustainability into an organized and practical format for inspiring and educating all of us how to live more sustainably.

I also had the opportunity to visit the incredibly green-conscious country of Costa Rica, with funding help from the Visionary Ethics Foundation. There I was able to conduct another twenty- five interviews in every corner of the country, vastly expanding my knowledge about sustainability. One of the commonalities I observed in the US and Costa Rica is that while there are many small pockets of people working toward a greener, more sustainable future, they are not necessarily working together.

While various organizations and leaders may have met, or at least know of each other, more often than not, they do not collaborate or organize co-creative projects together. We often end up in our own little corner working toward our goal, focused on accomplishing our mission. Personal achievement is ne, but in order to attain greater impact in the world, expand our reach and help more people in a shorter amount of time, we have to learn to collaborate.

The reality is competition is not sustainable, but collaboration is. When organizations, schools, activists, leaders, communities and families come together to work toward a common goal and support each other, they not only multiply their reach and their resources, they also multiply their ability to share tasks, increase productivity, improve impact, and so much more.

Collaboration works by focusing on similar goals and initiatives, then coming up with ways you can support someone else with the skills, talent, influence and resources that you have. Create a fair, balanced agreement where everyone wins: you provide support in some way and your collaborator reciprocates. Together you determine what that looks like, how you can benefit each other and, more importantly, the greater community.

In 2011, when The Panacea Community began, it was founded on the core principle of collaboration; reaching out to other organizations and leaders in the health, wellness, spirituality and green sectors and starting conversations about how to support one other. The Panacea Community has helped further the missions of hundreds of authors, leaders and organizations, positively impacting millions of people around the world. In turn, with the help of others, we have been able to achieve incredible things: publishing award-winning books, reaching hundreds of thousands with our documentary series, and inspiring and educating the 90,000+ people in our email and social media community, to name a few. That is the power of collaboration.

Email newsletter lists, YouTube channels and social media accounts are great examples of resources that offer value and can be avenues for collaborative relationships. There are infinite ways of collaboration and it really just depends on what you’re able to bring to someone else in terms of value and what they can bring to you; then you put your talents and focus together to help the community with your offering. When you really dig deep and see what value you can bring to someone else, there’s no end to the creative possibilities. And as you grow and broaden your influence, you are better received by established organizations, increasing your service to humanity exponentially.

To create a sustainable future where all people live in harmony with the land, have access to clean water and healthy food, and live more locally and self-reliantly, we have to collaborate. Working together with your neighbors and nearby community is critical. Create alliances so that everyone has a hand in something that benefits the whole community. Community members can take turns growing specific crops and share them with each other. Trading food, clothing, water, services or skills with your neighbors are all forms of collaboration.

This was a way of life all over the world for hundreds of thousands of years. Some tribes fought and others lived together in harmony.

The ones who lived together in harmony and collaborated were the ones who were the happiest and most successful, while the ones who fought for resources ended up living in fear and tyranny. I encourage you to focus intently on how you can bring more collaboration to the world to create a brighter future. Think of how you can collaborate with your neighbors, with your community, with organizations, politicians, schools, parents, children and others. Think about what value you can offer them, and vice versa, to create a win-win-win scenario. This is the way of the future and the way we move humanity forward toward sustainable living.

My most meaningful and important collaboration to date is producing UNIFY FEST, a transformational festival dedicated to sustainable living that brings together thousands of people from all walks of life. It is an amazing party and community experience with world-renowned musicians, keynote speakers, workshop teachers, yoga instructors and indigenous leaders focused on helping unify humanity for the common good of people, animals, plants and the planet.

Now in its second year, the long-term vision of UNIFY FEST is to raise awareness and funding to build a sustainable community and eco-school in Santa Fe where collaboration, permaculture, organic sustainable food production, self-reliance, spiritual unity and sustainable living are at the center of the community and the heart of the educational curriculum. We want to teach these important skills to children and families and continue to be a living example of collaborative and sustainable living.

Whether you just want a brighter future for your family, or you want to leave a legacy for future generations, collaboration is the key. Reflect on what your unique skills and talents are. What gifts are you meant to share and how do they create value? Don’t underestimate your contribution and whatever your vision is, be sure there are those who align with it and are open and willing to collaborate!

Nathan Crane is an award winning author, inspirational speaker and conscious filmmaker dedicated to helping every human being experience a healthy, sustainable, meaningful life. From addiction, jail and homelessness, to a profound spiritual awakening, Nathan found his life’s purpose helping people experience joy through physical, mental, emotional and spiritual transformation. Visit UnifyFest.com and ThePanaceaCommunity.com.

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