Living Systems with Pamela Wilhelms

What if we reimagined businesses as living systems within the greater living system of the planet? What if the Church re-examined the words of Christ within the framework of a creation given and a desire for shalom? In episode 7 of text.soul.culture, Pamela Wilhelms joins Dr. J. Derek McNeil to discuss the intersection of systems in a world so often governed by single transactions and linear thinking.

The Dialogue 

What shaped you for the work you do?

Pamela: I have been an environmentalist since high school and have always been drawn to social systems. Much of my work focused on the layout of cities for sociological reasons. Leaders I respected were making direct connections to social systems.

What is the Soul for the Next Economy?

Pamela: The Soul of the Next Economy forum began as work with businesses that drive a triple bottom line. People from all parts of the system come together to ask critical questions, such as, How can businesses benefit all life on the planet and pivot away from a sole focus on GDP? Everybody I knew that was leading in this area was coming from a deep sacred narrative, and none of our sacred narratives measure wealth by GDP alone.

What is your dream for the Church?

Pamela: My dream is that the Church would understand the fullness of shalom, which is embedded in Christ’s teachings. I also hope to see the systems thinking that is so beautifully displayed in the margins of the Church move to the center, to replace the hierarchical structures that currently sit in the spotlight.

What’s is it like teaching at The Seattle School?

Pamela: Every class is different and requires adaptive leaders. I am always challenged to use systems thinking within the classroom. Highlights for me are when students say they can’t stop thinking in systems or when I have helped give them language for what they already believed. My work in the world now is in the deeper questions that are posed to The Seattle School students.

Highlights and Takeaways

  • What it means to move from transactions to transformation
  • Why businesses must be held accountable at every step of the work they do — not only the final step of potential philanthropy
  • How Christian environmentalists have historically been rejected by the Church and environmentalist groups
  • What triple bottom line thinking is
  • Why shalom is more than just a lack of conflict
  • “There is no environmental injustice that is not also a social injustice.”

About Pamela Wilhelms

Pamela Wilhelms is a social architect, organizational consultant and executive coach. She is the founder of Wilhelms Consulting Group and the Soul of the Next Economy forum. Pamela has designed award winning multi-year leadership academies and taught in graduate programs for many universities, including Harvard, Georgetown, Yale, the University of California and Stanford.

About text.soul.culture

Hosted and curated by Dr. J. Derek McNeil, Academic Dean, text.soul.culture is guided by a commitment to understanding narrative, wrestling with intersections, resisting reactivity, and fostering radical hospitality. Every other week, Derek is joined by faculty members, alumni, visiting thought leaders, and other conversation partners to explore what it means to foster wisdom and imagination for a world in need of complex thinkers and healers.

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