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our approach

As a Think Tank and Action Lab,

we work to cultivate:


  • sustained presence

  • collective intelligence

  • community-derived visions


All to foster sustainability.

From the workings of the universe...

To a single drop of water...

To how neighbors talk across the fence...


Coherence is the
harmonic order of life.


The greater the coherence, the

more attuned the system to

transformational change.

Building coherence requires a long-term commitment to:
  • being present
  • cultivating mutual understanding and
  • advancing common objectives
We raise the visibility of community-based projects while also working to catalyze impact investing that can sustain and grow these efforts through time.

building coherence

kaua'i circle

a whole systems approach

Our approach to transformational change brings together Earth Systems Science, Indigenous Wisdom, Community Engagement — and Love.

EARTH SYSTEMS SCIENCE >> Earth Systems Science embraces chemistry, physics, biology, mathematics and applied sciences in transcending disciplinary boundaries to see the Earth as an integrated system. Coherence Lab seeks to unite scientists and scientific data related to the health of people and ecosystems across disciplines and perspectives. Guided by community input, we apply Earth Systems Science to map and investigate current conditions among human and non-human communities.


ANCIENT INDIGENOUS WISDOM >> As the first peoples to inhabit a land, passing down wisdom through the millennia, Indigenous Peoples are often the best interpreters of changes in the ecosystem. From their history as early astronomers, navigators and agroecologists, Indigenous Peoples know science is not independent from the spiritual beliefs and creation stories that describe humanity’s intimate relationship with the natural world. Coherence Lab seeks to expand awareness of Indigenous Knowledge and to provide a pathway for Indigenous Cultural Wisdom to guide and inform our engagement with the Earth and one another.


COMMUNITY >> We value place-based solutions. Change begins in community with a shared experience of living in the same geography—drinking the same water, breathing the same air. The best “experts” are the people who have a relationship with the land and one another, who love their place, their home. This is the basis for community ecosystem stewardship.


what we do

We gather, we listen, we support, we JAM. We build our programs based on direction from the community received through listening sessions, coherence summits and JAM sessions.  We have learned from the relationships we have built with community groups, indigenous peoples, and the scientific community that the key elements necessary for transformational social and ecological change include the ability to be present, and the willingness to see and act in new ways. Examples of Coherence Lab programs include:

LISTENING SESSIONS >> We bring together small yet diverse gatherings focused on seeing community priorities through one another's perspective, finding points of alignment around a shared vision and creating a plan for transformational action;


COHERENCE SUMMITS >> Using the priorities identified by the Listening Sessions, Coherence Lab convenes local and global advocates, thinkers, scientists and traditional knowledge leaders to identify and explore place-based strategies for collaborative engagement;

LEADERSHIP SUMMITS >> Bringing together the leadership and expertise that already resides within the different communities of a place, the Leadership Summit creates a platform for sharpening the focus on developing a sustainability model for that place. Articulating where we collectively want to be will support the widening of our problem-solving lens by harnessing the collective intelligence that resides both within and outside of the community (pre-cursor to Solutions Lab);

SOLUTIONS LAB >> A means to build a “community of innovators for sustainability” with students, traditional practitioners, educational institutions, allies in business, government, non-profit, and community organizations. By bringing together diverse and committed teams, we help to systematically address priority challenges to a sustainable future at the root-cause or systemic level. Innovation efforts are directed at the application of traditional management practices to new challenges, business models, products and services, and infrastructure that make effective use of natural resources and advance our self-sufficiency, sustainability and quality of life;


COMMUNITY FORUMS >> Public events featuring local and global Wisdom Keepers with interactive community engagement;


COHERENCE TREKS >> Dynamic guided field experiences designed to enable participants to listen deeply to the Earth and each other.

Kaua'i Circle is a tool to assist us in moving beyond our isolated, fragmented existence to create a shared picture of our home, of the place we love. Just as the image of the whole Earth from space transformed our sense of identity, the Circle invites us to see our community as one interconnected system and to find ways to coordinate and align our actions.

THE CORE OF THE CIRCLE >> focuses on the cultural values and systems thinking needed to generate a sustainable community.

THE MIDDLE RING >> includes ten essential community systems, such as food, water, energy, transportation, and others.

THE OUTER RING >> shows nine planetary boundaries, such as climate change and acidification of our oceans, that affect any community, whether urban or rural, megacity or island.

With the Circle, we can monitor our ten community systems in the place we love, the impact of the nine planetary boundaries on our community and of our community on our larger Earth system.

This "Circle of Sustainability" is a tool that can be used anywhere to help us become conscious of — and take responsibility for — our Biosphere, both locally and globally.

Research has shown that when a community has a shared picture of the whole system in which it is operating, individuals can coordinate naturally, more effectively align their actions and create more coherent community engagement and collective action.

Coherence Lab will collaborate in “place-based” sustainability research with the M.I.T. Sloan School Sustainability Initiative. The subject is a new field of research and experimentation focused on creating place-based, small-scale and diversified economies that support the long-term sustainability of human societies.

Kaua’i is perfectly suited to serve as a model for a growing list of “place-based” sustainability initiatives where creative individuals and groups are developing their visions and ideas of how to transform their homes into truly resilient, flourishing communities for all life. Kaua’i is a relatively small community (population 68,000) with 1.2 million tourist visitors annually, making it a very attractive and highly visible demonstration project of place-based sustainability with potential to provide inspiration and insight to many places around the world. 

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