Caring + Economy?

A Caring Economy Conversation in SLO, Riane Eisler, Zette Harbour

A Caring Economy Conversation in SLO

Once Upon A Time

On an iconically beautiful September evening at sunset, 19 people gathered in San Luis Obispo to explore the nature of caring and economics as outlined by Riane Eisler and the Center for Partnership Studies. The act of creating and bringing the event to life itself, inspired much caring and the infusion of a little economics.

As a traditional storyteller for the past 22 years, I’ve enjoyed many hours with 1,000’s of people, sharing tales that inspire, touch, and awaken. On this night, I felt privileged to share one of the most powerful stories I have come across in my work: the story of Partnership Culture and the Caring Economy.

The best stories are deeply rooted in our human experience, and the Caring Economy story is no exception. Since being introduced to it, I am able to see it woven throughout the fabric of my life. The community members who joined me on this night reflected this truth without exception.

Everyone in attendance was a seasoned community volunteer or activist. They had already spent a great deal of their adult lives enacting the Partnership Cultural Paradigm and were actively engaged in a Caring Economy, although they did not have these particular words to express this. They did not yet know that they are already a part of this great story.

Our Journey
path to forest among the clouds

Walk With Me


As we began, I encouraged them to see this evening as a journey that we would all take together into a beautiful, inviting, but unknown territory.


Caring Economy Conversation in SLO

Shake it up!

We got our bodies, minds and hearts engaged by standing up and moving around. Shoulder rolls, hip circles, wiggles, and a few giggles provided just the right recipe.

In my experience as a speaker and performer, it is optimum that the audience feels the presence of their bodies as directly as possible and moving as a group creates a joyful connection.


Appreciative Inquiry

Having been introduced to Appreciative Inquiry as part of my CELP training, I shared some of the ideas from it that supported the work we were about to do:

…focus on the best of what is, in order to imagine what could be, followed by collective design of a desired future state that is compelling, and thus does not require the use of incentive, coercion or persuasion for planned change to occur.

Appreciate Inquiry, Wikipedia

…the most important insight we have learned with AI to date is that human systems grow toward what they persistently ask questions about.

The Art of Powerful Questions


The entire 2 hours were energizing, enlightening and filled with authentic sharing, and the moments from the evening that contained the greatest energy were interactive.

Caring Economy Conversation in SLO, CELP

Fulfillment Takes Form


We identified what brings us the most fulfillment in life and co-created a 3 dimensional representation of True Wealth, a concept described by Riane Eisler.



CAring Economy Conversation SLO, CELP

Talking Story


We shared stories of how our lives have been influenced by someone who cared for us or for the environment.


Caring Economy Conversation, CELP

The Continuum

We checked in with where the different aspects of our lives fall on the Dominator/Partnership Continuum. This led to a lively discussion during which everyone had a direct experience of the two styles of cultural structure.

CAring Economy Conversation SLO, CELP


We played a round of Caring Economy Jeopardy as a way of exploring gendered values and the effect this has on our Cultural Continuum. This group was highly engaged in expanding the definitions of masculine and feminine traits.


CAring Economy Conversation CELP

A Winner!


And, to the great delight of all, one guest who generously invested $1 in children – right there on the spot – received an exciting return of $17 in cash! It was a visceral demonstration of the power and the economic value of providing optimum care for our children.


The Stretch

This event was unique in that my primary intentions were to

  • Model Partnership Culture throughout the evening
  • Build a strong framework of questions with which to stimulate conversation
  • Inspire participants to see themselves in the story.

It was a great night and it has truly created a new conversation about our economics and our culture.

Here’s to many more!


Special thanks to the Cosmic Muffin, Sacred Earth Remedies, Trina Dart Photography, and Mothers For Peace.




The story of the Caring Economy and Partnership Culture dovetails beautifully with other work that I am currently creating; follow these links to get the rest of the story. 🙂

Zette Harbour, Storyteller blog

Read stories, thoughts, musings and more at my blog.

Experience Life As A Mirror

Experience Life As A Mirror