Why Nurturing is at the heart of Regenerative Leadership

If we are serious about learning from Nature, nurturing is something to pay attention to. Nurturing is what Nature, and the Earth does for us every moment of every day, in beautiful, intelligent, mind-blowing, heart-opening, complex and simple, intricate and interdependent ways. Lovingly. Unconditionally. What kind of world can we co-create, if each of us and all of us felt more nurtured?

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Emily Johnsson
Emily Johnsson
Nurturing changemakers for a whole world.

A version of this blog was published in its orignial form on the Regenerators platform on December 1st 2022.

As part of the NURTURING we offer in Wish Tree, we collaborate with leading-edge changemakers from around the world to create, or strengthen high-impact, creative offers.

Since November 2022, I have had the honour and privilege of working closely with Global Changemaker and pioneer regenerative thinker Laura Storm. Laura is the co-author of the widely acclaimed book Regenerative Leadership – the DNA of Life-Affirming 21st Century Organisations, and founder of several successful startups in the field of sustainability and regeneration, including Regenerators Academy, which enables hundreds of changemakers annually to learn and embody the principles of Regenerative Leadership.

REGENERATION, in short, describes life’s in-built capacity to replenish, restore and renew – to move towards balance and wholeness. In 2022 I was a participant on Laura’s Regenerative Leadership journey – one of the best decisions I ever made. Not only were aspects of it mindblowingly aligned and overlapped with my own work and service – it gave me a language, tools, case studies and reference points to activate, embed, and share regenerative consciousness with even more clarity and intention. I was also welcomed into a brand new family of regenenerative changemakers from across the world. I feel happier and more held and supported as a result.

My role within the Academy is to do what I am here to do in team humanity: namely to nurture the changemaker leadership community.

That means making sure we put tools in place that ensures our space is safely and bravely held by all of us. It means helping participants to navigate the breadth and depth of the content and their personal learning journeys. It involves sensing into the collective’s moods and needs, and respond by suggesting interventions. Nurturing the community is also to co-facilitate with Laura during our Live Integration sessions, and weave intentional breath, music, movement and creative exercises through the content she shares.

By inviting me to become a dedicated Community Nurturer, not only did Laura make sure that she is not alone on her journey as a space-holder and facilitator, and that the community she calls in feels seen and heard throughout.

It’s essentially placing a spot-light on why nurturing is so vital, so crucial, so necessary for this great turning to happen.

It’s saying: let’s all of us focus our attention on nurturing, and dedicate ourselves to nurturing.

It’s saying: let’s come together and dig deeper and get curious about what nurturing means to us, here now, as changemakers at this crossroad in the history of humanity. And why it matters.

I have felt great joy about being alive and here for this moment: the opportunity for us to together weave a new way of being, living, leading, creating together as life.

Because nurturing is life.

Nurturing is what Nature, and the Earth does for us every moment of every day, in beautiful, intelligent, mind-blowing, heart-opening, complex and simple, intricate and interdependent ways. Lovingly. Unconditionally.

Without nurturing, none of us would be here. And without nurturing, none of us will be here in the future.

The moment we allow ourselves to focus on nurturing, we say yes to remembering one of the most regenerative aspects of life’s logic.

It is my belief that the specific act of nurturing enables cultures of belonging: spaces and places, networks and contexts where we are all equally important, celebrated, appreciated.

Essential.

Interdependent.

Cultures, where each of us can express our unique voice and know in our core that we have an important contribution to make, simply by being ourselves.

Just like every cell, organism and species is essential to the health, vitality and thriving of any given ecosystem. To the life of everything else.

Nurturing, I am convinced, enables us to return home to ourselves and each other a little bit more.

By that I mean that experiencing nurturing allows us, in turn, to be a little gentler and more compassionate with ourselves.

Less judgemental. More allowing of imperfection.

Because nurturing is, in essence, about unconditional love.

From where I’m sitting, nurturing isn’t nurturing if it is not coming from a place of unconditional love.

One of the wonderful things about unconditional love is that when we know we can be who we are, without running the risk of rejection, we are able to show up differently in the world.

It allows our bodies to relax a little, and to become less rigid.

It invites us to the possibility of letting go of striving, hiding, proving, pretending and competing.

It paves the way for openness, softer edges, greater transparency, trust and truth telling. Loving accountability. More compassion not only for ourselves, but for others too.

It allows us to become a little more present.

With ourselves and everyone and everything else around us.

Presence enables us to listen to life, to the wisdom of Nature, as Nature.

And it is right here, when we can hear life within us and around us, that we will make different kinds of choices and decisions.

Decisions that mean we dance with life in a different way.

In boardrooms, staff meetings, product chains, investments, plans and strategies.

In classrooms, emails, neighbourhoods, shops and at dinnertime.

Decisions that allow all of us and our planet to thrive.

Decisions that plant the seeds that allow the children of the distant tomorrowlands to lead nourishing lives, long after we are gone.

What kind of world can we co-create, if each of us and all of us felt more nurtured, more part of instead of apart from? What kind of community can we weave if we were all more present, felt more whole, seen, heard and loved?

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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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