The Ideaspace

Interviews, essays, and research exploring the frontiers of what's valuable and in our self-interest

The Bento Society

News and history of The Bento Society
12 posts

The new Ideaspace and Bento Society

I recently read an amazing science-fiction book called Ministry for the Future by Kim Stanley Robinson. It imagines humanity’s next thirty years as we contend with the reality of climate change. It's a terrifying while also optimistic book.

The “Ministry for the Future” in the book’s title refers to an imagined UN agency tasked with protecting Earth’s future inhabitants. At one point in the book, Mary, the head of this agency, gives an impassioned speech to a group of bankers:

“Help us get to the next world system. New metrics, new kinds of value creation. Make the next political economy. Invent post-capitalism! The world needs it, it really has to happen!”

Which Mary and others go about trying to do.

When I read this passage I practically leapt out of my chair. These ideas are identical to what's proposed in This Could Be Our Future and at the heart of the Bento Society’s mission:

“The mission of the Bento Society is to redefine what the world sees as valuable and in its self-interest. The same tools and measurements we’ve used to grow and measure financial value can be applied to non-financial values, creating a world where value isn’t solely defined, distributed, and optimized as financial capital. We will learn that other values — something’s ecological value, its social value, its relational value — are just as critical depending on the situation.”

While Ministry for the Future imagines these conversations happening in the distant future, the Bento Society will be having them now.

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Lab Notes: Bento Groups Season One

“Welcome Angeline. Welcome Susie. Welcome Keshia. Welcome Yancey.”

There are ten of us in the room. Katy says our names and makes eye contact with each of us through the screen when she does. We smile as she welcomes us.

Though she’s leading us this morning, Katy is not a professional facilitator. She’s an architect in New York. But today she’s leading a Zoom room that includes two writers, a teacher, a product manager, a salesperson, a non-profit executive, a university department chair, an artist, and me. The ten of us are spread across upstate New York, Maine, Singapore, Geneva, London, Minneapolis, Los Angeles, Brooklyn, Vancouver, and Amsterdam.

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Community building with Tina Roth Eisenberg

More of my energy has gone into community building this year than any other time in my life. Being locked in dramatically increased my desire to reach out.

For me, this happened through the Bento Society — a global community that gathers virtually every week to connect and explore ideas. A number of communities like the Bento Society gained steam this year: Exponential View, Ness Labs, The Third, and countless Discords, Slack groups, and other dark forests of the internet that arose to offer collective enlightenment.

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The Anytime Weekly Bento

This week marks the one year birthday of Bentoism. I marked the occasion with a Twitter thread sharing some history behind the idea.

Going back to my Kickstarter days, I've always taken joy in celebrating birthdays for ideas and organizations. They’re wonderful moments to reminisce and retrace your steps.

While doing that this week, I cam

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Introducing Bento Groups

In a recent post on the difficult place we currently find ourselves in, I shared what the authors of the prescient book Limits To Growth said are the five steps to creating a better world. They are:

  1. Visioning
  2. Networking
  3. Truth-telling
  4. Learning
  5. Loving

The authors admitted these steps sounded small in the face of our enormous challenges. Still, they were firm in their belief that this was how a better path would begin.

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The Weekly Bento

Today I want to share the most impactful use of the bento in my life so far. I do it every Sunday morning, and it’s noticeably changed how I use my time and energy. It can do the same for you.

I call it the Weekly Bento.

It all started on a Sunday morning last fall.

I’d written a book that had recently come out. On that morning I was feeling especially anxious. I wanted commercial success so badly I was open to any idea that might get me attention: livestreams, giveaways, you name it. Whatever it took.

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The Bento Society

In the beginning, there was the bento…

Now there’s a newsletter, too.

Welcome to the first monthly update from The Bento Society, the community and organization dedicated to the ideas of Bentoism.

The goal of Bentoism is to expand what we see as valuable and in our self-interest. We’ll get into what that looks like and how we might get there in updates to come.

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