Pioneers of Change

Pioneers of Change

Pioneers of Change

A Chaordic Learning Network


Pioneers of Change is an emerging, self-organising, global learning community of committed, young people, aged 25-35, from diverse cultural, social, and professional backgrounds.

The community evolved as a common experience was voiced and shared - an experience of wanting to contribute to a purpose higher than self, yet facing internal and external systemic constraints in trying to do so, and of, in our day to day strivings, feeling pressured to compromise our personal values and beliefs.

We are learning what is behind that experience and are now, in an on-going process, developing the commitment, understanding and a network of relationships, to create or transform systems that they may come to serve Life and operate in life-affirming ways.

Pioneers of Change is, to this end, first and foremost a learning community through which we work on becoming better change agents:

-through observation & inquiry,

-through retreat & reflection, and

-through practice

Charter of Pioneers of Change


Pioneers of Change is an independent, non-partisan association, founded on the following beliefs, purpose, and principles.

a. Beliefs

Life, in its essence, moves towards plurality, diversity, interdependence, self-constitution, and self-organisation - in short, towards the fulfillment of its own freedom.

Throughout time, humans have built and reproduced systems of production, types of society, and frames of mind, that contradict Life.

While we are taught to work within such a system (and the system learns to work within us), both our intuition and our senses tell us that it is fundamentally flawed, and that we can do something about it.

We can change the rules of the game.

b. Purpose

Together we will, in an ongoing process, develop the commitment, understanding, and a network of relationships to create or transform systems that they may come to serve Life, and operate in life-affirming ways.

c. Principles[*]

I. Principles of being a pioneer

1. Be Yourself

2. Do What Matters

3. Start Now

4. Engage with Others

5. Never Stop Asking Questions

II. Organising principles

The core organising principle of Pioneers of Change is community. When we come together, we create a trustful environment for questioning, affirmation, fellowship, peaceful interaction, and cross-pollination of ideas. As young people of a similar age group, we provide a peer group for each other, and we recognise that, to create a community, we must as individuals invest attention, presence and contribution in that community.

Since the first conversation where the idea of Pioneers of Change emerged, we have been working on creating it as a de-centralised, non-hierarchical, inclusive network.

Chaordic model of organising

We adhere to a "chaordic" model of organising which aims to create institutions which are self-organising, innovative and adaptable, based on clarity of shared purpose and principles, and compatible with the human spirit and the biosphere. To us, this means embracing the following organisational principles:

  • The organisation must be infinitely malleable yet extremely durable. It should be capable of constant, self-generated, modification of form or function without sacrificing its essential nature or embodied principles.
  • Participants should be given space and room to grow, change, experiment, and learn.
  • Participants should have the right to self-organize at any time, on any scale or around any activity consistent with the Purpose and Principles.
  • The network and all its parts should freely and fully exchange information related to achieving the Purpose in accordance with the Principles, unless doing so violates confidentiality.
  • Deliberations should be conducted and decisions made by bodies and methods that reasonably represent all relevant and affected parties and are dominated by none.
  • Authority should be vested in, functions performed at, and resources used at the smallest or most local part that includes all relevant and affected parties.
  • Conflict should be resolved creatively and cooperatively avoiding social, ecological or physical violence.
  • The organisation and all its parts should respect, protect, and encourage individual, cultural and societal diversity, and encourage interactions in different languages, modes of expression, and media.


The network is based on worldwide, voluntary affiliation of ‘pioneers’ (defined below). Among the pioneers are a small group who work as a ‘Cultivation Unit’, playing a role of facilitating the network to grow and turning ideas and potential into programmes and practices, as well as securing basic administration. Externally to the network there exists a reference board, whose main role is to be ‘caretakers of the network’s identity’.

The roles of the pioneers, the Cultivation Unit, and the board are described below.

a. Pioneers

An individual pioneer is someone, aged 25-35, who self-selects to join the network by embracing the beliefs, purpose, and principles. Upon entering the community, the pioneer is asked to make a personal commitment statement elaborating on what the five principles: Be yourself, Do what matters, Start now, Engage with others, and Never stop asking questions, mean to him/herself in his/her life. This becomes a type of “passport” for the individual in the network, a way of introducing oneself to others. The commitment is also a guide for activity in the network as pioneers share support and resources with each other to clarify and fulfil these commitments.

Any pioneer has the right to communicate freely, to announce him/herself and his/her intention to the network, and to call groups of pioneers together around any issue or activity that is relevant to and consistent with the purpose and principles. In joining the community and benefiting from the network, the pioneer also shares the responsibility to invest (in various forms) in building the community and supporting other pioneers in their efforts.

b. Fractals

Any pioneer or group of pioneers has the right to create a new part of the system as long as it embodies the common principles and seeks to advance the common purpose of Pioneers of Change.

A fractal is a microcosm of Pioneers of Change, which emerges when small groups of pioneers commit to being engaged in a collaborative process for a fixed or open time period to support each other in developing and applying their capacity to bring more lifegiving practices into their spheres of influence.

Fractals might come together for learning and knowledge creation in a given area, to provide a service, or for social experimentation, mutual mentorship, resource exchange, advocacy, event and project planning, tools development, etc. They will generally use names other than “fractal” (such as “initiative”, “community”, “team”, etc.) as a label for their form.

A fractal may:

-Determine its own unique purpose, membership, structure, and ways of making decisions that are relevant and consistent with the principles of the network

-Join with other fractals around any issue or activity that is relevant to and consistent with the purpose and principles

-Develop financial and other resources to meet the needs of their own fractal and to help meet the needs of others (and to join with others for this purpose)

-Use the name "Pioneers of Change" and its related names, abbreviations, logos, and images so long as they are used in furtherance of and in accordance with the purpose and principles (see section on name use below)

-Create a formal legal structure registered under a name other than Pioneers of Change, unless otherwise approved by the Cultivation Unit and the Board

-Freely communicate learning, best practices and stories to other parts of the network

Fractals only invite direct responsibility from those who choose to participate in them, and individuals may choose to join more than one fractal.

c. Cultivation Unit

The main role of the Cultivation Unit is to create continuity and generate added energy in the network, and to help make the learning community more conscious of itself.

The Cultivation Unit will be maintained to be as flexible as possible. For the first three years of the network's functioning (i.e. 1999 through 2001) the Cultivation Unit consists of the three global facilitators who are also founding members of the network. After this time, the Cultivation Unit will consist of a larger number of members, some full- and some part- time.

New full-time members of the Cultivation Unit are chosen and hired by the Board on an annual basis, on suggestion from the current Cultivation Unit, which in turn receives suggestions from the broader network.

Rights and responsibilities of the Cultivation Unit

-To support new pioneers in the process of joining the network and generating activity

-To ensure and facilitate open information flow among the pioneers, and to stimulate continuous learning

-To support the incubation of new ideas emerging in the network

-To provide methods and assistance to support emergence of new fractals

-To design international meetings enabling pioneers to meet across borders

-To maintain the web site and other information and interaction media vibrant, of high quality and in accordance with needs of participants

-To stay abreast of trends, issues, and patterns in learning and new ways of organising occurring within and outside of the network so as to keep the network at the forefront of just and sustainable

-To monitor quality levels of the different activities and processes in the network, and to engage in feedback to improve these

-To ensure the legal and organisational structure of the organisation, as well as the logos and names associated with the network, are aligned with this Charter, and provide the appropriate platform for proper functioning of the network

-To raise and manage the finances of the operations of the Unit

The members of the Cultivation Unit will be provided with basic office infrastructure and market level financial compensation for their work. The operations and finances of the Unit will be audited annually by the Board.

The organisational home of the Cultivation Unit will be located in Denmark in the municipality of Copenhagen, or any such location agreed upon by the Cultivation Unit and the Board together.

In cases where members of the Cultivation Unit will need to register Pioneers of Change in a new location, such incorporated organisations must abide by this international Charter, and always attach it to any locally required statutes.

d. International Board

The Reference Board meets once a year as "caretakers of the identity" of the network. The central spirit of the Board is a spirit of service not of control.

A Board member’s mandate will be for two years, with possibility of being re-appointed to continue. The Board will be kept lean, and will be composed of:

  • 2 current pioneers (who are not in the Cultivation Unit), who serve on a rotating basis (i.e. one is selected and one departs each year), and cannot be re-elected,
  • 1 former Cultivation Unit member, and
  • 4 external supporters.

Further requirements include that, at all given times:

  • one Board member will have been appointed by Celemi, Inc. as a founding venture supporter,
  • one Board member will have been appointed by the three founding facilitators, Marianne Knuth. Colleen Bowker, and Marianne Bøjer together,
  • the present Board invites the rest of the new Board members as necessary, and is responsible for ensuring the above compositional requirements.

Any committed member of Pioneers of Change can challenge a person’s membership on the Board, at which point the Cultivation Unit needs to facilitate a discussion among the committed members about that Board member’s role. If deemed necessary, the Cultivation Unit can ask the Board member to step down.

The Board will not receive compensation.

Rights and Responsibilities of the Board:

-To monitor the finances and operations of the Cultivation Unit (to ensure its independent financial soundness).

-To serve in the selection of new members of the Cultivation Unit.

-To officially adopt changes to the constitution, as proposed by the network and the Cultivation Unit, to ensure that the network stays true to its purpose and principles, while respecting the evolution driven by the members at any given time.

The agenda for Board meetings will be set by the Cultivation Unit in consultation with the broader network. Board members may suggest additional points on the agenda.

In addition the Board members play a voluntary advisory role on the strategic direction of the network, development of the learning programme and learning tools for use by the network, and in some cases, advise on individual activities of fractals. They will advise the Cultivation Unit and the network on ways to improve and uphold the purpose and principles in accordance with the roots of the network.

Note on Founding Members

The Founding Members, consisting of Margareta Barchan of Celemi, Oscar Motomura of Amana-Key, Marianne Bojer, Colleen Bowker, and Marianne Knuth, will have honorary membership of Pioneers of Change, and will be invited to Board meetings, but will not have a vote at these meetings unless they are independently serving on the Board.


As stated in the organisational principles, authority should be vested in, functions performed at, and resources used at the smallest or most local part that includes all relevant and affected parties.

Only those questions related to changing the Charter, allocation of core resources, and selecting the Cultivation Unit will be taken by the Board.

An open e-mail list ensures a constant conversation which people join and leave as they feel called to make comments on the basic purpose, principles and structure of Pioneers of Change as a chaordic network. All the messages are stored, when off-line conversations take place they are saved in the files area, and all of this is reviewed at the annual Board Meeting, where the Charter may or may not be amended.

All other decisions will be taken at the level of the affected parties.

No fractal of the network may take any decisions that will compel behavior from any other part.


Pioneers and fractals may use the name "Pioneers of Change" and its related names, abbreviations, logos, and images so long as they are used in furtherance of and in accordance with the purpose and principles

Name use for advocacy
We encourage pioneers to translate the purpose and principles of the network into implications for political and other systems, to draw on the network to call together advocacy circles, and to use advocacy as a means of creating change. However, no one can speak on behalf of the entire network and use the name of Pioneers of Change to back any specific political stance or otherwise – individual pioneers must always subscribe voluntarily to advocacy initiatives.

Name use to generate revenue
When using the name of Pioneers of Change in revenue-generating situations, an individual or a circle of pioneers must describe themselves as participants and not representatives of the network as a whole.


Pioneers of Change aims to be self-sustainable based on the direct value created by the network.

The Cultivation Unit will be responsible for composing and implementing the financial strategy and revenue model of its own operations, including collecting contributions and investments from members and supporters, and for ensuring that the value which motivated such contributions is created. It will also work to create an enabling platform for fractals to generate their own revenue.

The Cultivation Unit may create and run projects and ventures that directly support the pioneers. These may be independent entities born out of the network, and hosted by the Cultivation Unit, and may be profit-generating as long as their goal serves the pioneers and the purpose of Pioneers of Change, and any profits are re-channelled back into serving this purpose.

The following principles will apply to accepting external funding for Pioneers of Change:

  1. Independence: Funders will not be granted influence on the direction and philosophy of Pioneers of Change, which will rather be decided by the membership, according to the processes described in this Charter.
  2. We will seek to receive support only from funders who have a high ethical standard (paying attention not only to the practices of the given company but also to who owns them, their stakeholders, etc.), and who share the values behind Pioneers of Change.
  3. Pioneers of Change will not sell corporate promotion in return for sponsorship (unless approved by the Board).
  4. Funders will not be given access to the pioneers' membership, and will not be promised recruitment benefits out of funding the network.

The financial year for the Cultivation Unit is the calendar year. The annual accounts will be finalised by March 1, and will be audited by an external auditor.


What problem is the social entrepreneur addressing?

Sera Thomson is at the centre of a community of people, each of who is an innovative social entrepreneur, working as a team, to build a global learning community of committed, young change agents in their 20's and early 30's, from diverse cultural, social, and professional backgrounds.

There are thousands, if not millions of social change agents in their late 20s and early 30s who are committed to making the world a better place. They face certain challenges in doing this: