“What we do to the Earth we do to ourselves,” is one of the main guiding principles of the Dragon Dreaming method, which participants from Friends of the Earth Estonia, Sweden and Latvia had the opportunity to get familiar with in a four-day workshop in the peaceful countryside of Latvia. While discovering new project management tools, the participants also got to know themselves, their team, and nature better.
Dragon Dreaming is a project design tool that combines ancient wisdom and project planning tools in order to create a sustainable projects – economically, socially, environmentally and culturally, by strengthening one’s personal growth (empowering all the participants), building a community (strengthening the community we are part of) and giving service to the Earth (working for the regeneration and well-being). This approach is being called a Win-Win-Win model, in contrast to the Win-Lose system that is commonly seen in modern societies. As Gloria, one of the participants, frames it: “The main lesson I learned is that there is a more holistic system for project management what is circular and based on Win-Win, not linear Win-Lose system. And you can apply this to all aspects of your life. My AHA! moment was at the end of the workshop when I realized that the protesting spirit of fighting against corporations is the energy of the Win-Lose thinking. The same energy is in different levels: of fighting inside your head with yourself, in the family between family members, fighting among friends, in the workspace, between companies, religious groups, political parties, states, etc. For this sort of opposing mindset we need an enemy, we need to see that the other is not us. But, actually, if you look really close or really far, we are exactly the same – wanting the best outcome, we just do not know everything. And if we see that we are everything, then we shift step by step towards to Win-Win, it may not happen at all levels, but that is the ultimate goal.”
Dragon Dreaming has its bases in scientific and environmental aspects; sociological and business aspects, related to communication, leadership, and management; but probably the most importantly – the cultural and spiritual elements of Australian Aborigines and other indigenous cultures in the sense of their worldview and respect for nature, the interconnection of beings. Matilda from Sweden says that “The main lesson I learned was that emotions should play a big role in projects as well, not only logic and rational thinking. We need to acknowledge our emotions to understand ourselves, each other, and the project, I believe. As I am already quite emotion-driven, but emotions are not usually widely promoted in our society, I feel that there is a place for people who operate like me. The Dragon Dreaming philosophy made me realize that I can actually use this strength of mine to make a change, that rational thinking is not the only tool one can use.”
The method implies four stages of project design: dreaming, planning, doing, and celebration, all of which are meant to open creativity within the group for innovation ideas, enjoying the chaos of beginning and learning as a group. What Dragon Dreaming emphasizes is the necessity of celebration – it believes that having fun in the projects is the key to long-lasting sustainability. As Piret, one of the participants, states: “There are four types of people representing all important aspects of project making: dreaming, planning, doing and celebrating. Every part of it is important, but often we neglect one part as we are not so good at it. But we need all parts to be happy in our life and projects.”
“I realized that a big problem we have in society right now is that people are not connected to nature, they feel like there’s nature and then there’s mankind. That raises all the problems of exploiting the resources etc. I realized that in the future, I want to work towards guiding more people to be connected with nature and feel as they are a part of it,” Gloria, a participant from Estonia, reflected. Indeed, Dragon Dreaming stresses the importance of engaging with the environment because, in such a way, we are engaging with a living world of which we are a part ourselves.
Why Dragon Dreaming? Because the Dragon symbolizes the fears we have and the strength we carry to overcome them by getting out of our comfort zone, daring to realize our dreams and getting the treasures that the Dragon is protecting – for ourselves, our communities, and the entire planet. And don’t forget to celebrate!