Stumbling across the Regenerative Movement – finding a home I didn’t know existed

The regenerative era calls people from all walks of life to the river of change.

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Emily Johnsson
Emily Johnsson
Nurturing changemakers for a whole world.

R- E-G-E-N-E-R-A-T-I-O-N.

I remember spelling it out on my notebook in capital letters.

“I’d love to be part of this community…”, she said, “together with other people who also know what regeneration means”.

I nodded quietly, whilst I scribbled down the word.

“Wasn’t this something I had learned about in high-school biology?”, I thought to myself, somewhat confused.

I had just held an online event called ‘The New Changemaker’ where I had invited people to join my then brand-new programme – Roots 4 Change – a self-leadership journey based on the wisdom and folklore of trees, which in turn had been born from the container EarthHeart. It was early autumn 2021 and had not yet properly come across the Regenerative Movement.

Yet, here I was, together with this wise woman, who was an important part of it and who seemed to think that what we had just spoken about in the freshly-held event and what she had read in the Wish Tree blogs and social media, were to do with this thing called regenerative consciousness:

  • The paradigm shift from ‘power-over’ to ‘power-with’
  • From co-dependent, colonial, extractive, individualistic and narcissistic to interdependent, reciprocal, humble, communal
  • From disembodied wounded masculine and feminine qualities to mature, grounded, present, embodied
  • From a destructive, rushing, competing, pushing, proving, pleasing, rescuing, perfecting way of being and doing life to one that affirms it
  • From the separation in all directions to healing and wholeness
  • Listening to Nature’s wisdom and remembering that we are Nature and of the Earth
  • From searching for answers on the outside, to creating a life and service from the inside-out
  • Our new paradigm for life on Earth to be a combination of remembrance and innovation, head and heart, logic and intuition

And so on.

I felt perplexed. And at the same time I realised why.

In 2015 I had stepped away completely from conventional public life.

10 years of changemaking consultancy in the cross-section of access, learning, DE&I, Arts&Culture, organisational development and public education, followed by a series of stark personal losses, had set me on a radically different path of service.

A path that had led me to let go of anything related to a ‘career’ in any traditional sense.

Essentially I went to the woods, and had stayed there for 7 whole years.

In the woods I surrendered to the deep personal and spiritual healing journey that life invited me on. Along the way, I experienced many things that were incredible, yet mystical and unexplainable.

I embraced my yin/moon leadership. My intuition became strong.

Little by little, I removed old stubborn armour and built a large online heart-led community of wellbeing facilitators, changemakers, artists, healers & other powerful misfits.

I live-streamed sessions on everything from cultivating the courage to share our unique gifts and medicine with the world, to the nature of resilience, moon rituals, the link between racism and the climate emergency, to core aspects of conscious (awake to serving the whole) entrepreneurship.

In 4 years I birthed 5 online self-leadership programmes for space-holders, wellbeing start-ups, creatives and changemaker entrepreneurs, focusing on supporting the inner and outer journeys of creating and launching their heart-led businesses: from getting clear on values, life purpose and unique serving proposition, to creating signature transformational workshops, to learning how to share vulnerably from the heart in their communications, to saying yes to receiving life’s abundance more fully.

In external terms I was successful. I had grown my company Wish Tree twice from zero to 6 figures within 18 months. (Once as a consultant, once from the woods).

But none of that mattered to me.

What mattered to me were the ripples of wholeness created by the community members, going out into the world and sharing their magic.

The corporate world of achieving and competing, and the world of LinkedIn, were a million miles away.

And here I was.

I smiled and thanked my friend.

I typed in REGENERATION in my search engine.

My eyes widened.

My whole body became warm.

I danced and I cried.

I was home.

Home to a home I didn’t know existed.

To learn more about Regenerative Leadership, visit Regenerators by Laura Storm

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Emily Johnsson | November 25, 2023
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About Emily & White Supremacy

Emily is a space holder and self-leadership coach to changemakers. She has over 20 years experience in the field of human development, learning and growth, and leads the coaching and consultancy company Wish Tree since 2011. Her work centres around wholeness – whole humans, whole communities, whole organisations, whole ecosystems. A whole world. Her changemakership is therefore dedicated to clearing distortions and fragmentations that relate to our perceptions of separation.

Emily has been exposed to and ‘sat with’ systemic issues around race, racism, privilege and injustice her whole life. She was born in Camden, London, in the late 1970s to a Swedish immigrant single mum and spent her first formative years in a highly culturally and ethnically diverse setting. As a baby, Emily and her mum lived in a bedsit in a shared house with a Black British family. Her first memory of Father Christmas was of him as a Bangladeshi man. Emily’s mum worked with refugee families and in Children’s Homes in inner city London, and since she had no access to child care opportunities, Emily joined her at work. For a while, Emily had an older Black British foster sister called Debbie. She was very often the only white child in the community of children of which she was a part.

Emily moved to Sweden with her mum as a child and as a teenager became involved with, and led, antiracism youth work in her local town through her school and council-initiated networks in the 1990s.

Her mum, who was active in the peace-and- environmental movement and who had been involved as an ally in the civil rights movement in the US on her travels there, introduced her to Black feminist and activist writers such as Alice Walker, Toni Morrison and Audre Lord, and actively taught her about white privilege, white supremacy and the truth of colonialism. She was also taught about the importance of learning from Indigenous wisdom keepers in order to heal and evolve as humanity, and to (in those days) stop climate change.

In contrast, on her father’s side, Emily is of British Colonial descent. Emily’s grandmother was born in Zimbabwe to Scottish sheep-farmers. Her grandfather came from a poor English background but won a scholarship to Cambridge University to study law. As many young British men of his time who sought “adventure, a good job and travel”, Emily’s grandfather joined the colonial service in the final days of the British Empire, and served in several African countries as a high-ranking colonial officer. He spoke Zulu and Emily’s father spoke Swazi and Swahili before being sent to Britain as a child to attend boarding school, thousands of miles away from his parents.

Although Emily did not grow up with her father or his family, she eventually came to know them and have a relationship with them, which involved taking responsibility for understanding and healing her own familial and ancestral relationship to colonialism and white supremacy.

In this process, she came to see, feel and understand first hand and close up, the deeper psychological workings of the system of white supremacy, the colonial mind and its intimate links with narcissism, perfectionism, patriarchy and extractive economies and behaviours.

Between 2003-2015, Emily worked as a learning researcher and Access, Diversity and Inclusion enabler in the Arts & Cultural Sector, deeply rooted in the Convention of the Rights of the Child and the Human Rights Convention. She worked across the U.K and Scandinavia contributing to a number of large scale change projects, self-evaluation initiatives, conferences and trainings such as “Access for All”, “Inspiring Learning for All”, “Belonging – the Voices of London’s Refugees”, “The West Indian Front Room”, “Kultur och Fritid för Alla”, “Vidgat Deltagande”, “In this curriculum I don’t exist”, “In between two worlds – London teenagers’ ideas about Black History, Belonging and being British” to name a few. She worked with a wide range of marginalised communities as well as with leaders and directors holding white privilege, facilitating necessary and brave conversations challenging the status quo.

Emily has worked across many cultures and languages around the world from Sri Lanka to South Africa, Costa Rica and India to Romania and Denmark, continuously reflecting on and challenging white saviour tendencies. In this process has come to observe how white supremacy and racism works differently in different countries depending on context and history.

In 2020, in the wake of the murder of George Floyd, Emily became a loud voice in the Wellness industry by calling in leaders bypassing white supremacy through ‘love and light’ rhetoric, exceptionalism, colourblindness and virtue signalling. She closed down several online coaching circles because white participants were unwilling to dive deeper into their own internalised white supremacy, and rendered the spaces not only additionally unsafe, but traumatising for BIPOC clients. Her platform and large facebook community for coaches and wellbeing facilitators centred BIWOC-led anti-racism conversations as a response.

Emily is a skilled and fiercely loving coach and space-holder with many years experience of creating safe spaces for accountability, healing, integration and growth to take place.

She is dedicated to her own ongoing learning, healing and unlearning of covert white supremacy. Examples of this are continuous learning from a wide range of anti-racism educators, authors and activists from around the world.

This bio has not been written with the intention of centring Emily in the context of Me & White Supremacy, but to transparently share about her background, values, skills and experience in order for you to make a conscious decision to choose her as a space-holder, or not.

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