The little town of Ii, Finland, has set an audacious goal—to become the first zero-waste town in the world. And they’re well on their way.
The Little Town That Could
This tiny community of 10,000 people has already moved to completely renewable energy sources—geothermal, wind, solar, wood chips. They no longer use any fossil fuels; no gas, no oil, no coal. They’ve already switched to electrics cars. As a result, they reduced their CO2 emissions by half between 2007 and 2015.
The children are involved from a very early age. They monitor water, heat and electricity consumption and provide personal feedback for their teachers on their performance. Schools get 50% of the savings they make on water and electricity.
The town as a whole brings in half a million euros a year in energy-saving projects. Leena Vuotavesi, Climate Action Leader in Ii, says
“If Ii can show that environmental work is profitable, no one else has an excuse. Even global challenges can be solved—it’s just up to the will.”
That’s just it, isn’t it? Collective will. If we agree on something, we can achieve it. So how do we get to the point where we all agree on a common course of action?
Can You Have Collective Will on the Individual Level?
I suspect it has something to do with becoming aligned individually. What happens when your heart, mind and hands are all working toward the same end? Or, more commonly, what happens when they aren’t?
Let’s say I logically think through a project and decide on a course of action. But, for whatever reason, my heart really isn’t in it. What happens? I start procrastinating. I find all kinds of excuses to work on something else. If it gets really bad, I start having physical symptoms as well—I feel too tired to work on the project or I’ve got a headache that just won’t go away.
The mind has a plan, but the heart and the body are just not on board. Not much gets done.
Head, Heart and Hands in Sync
But then look at what happens when the head, heart and hands work together. I have an idea. It makes logical sense. My heart is engaged. And I have the energy to carry it through.
Then things really start to happen. Not only am I in motion and getting things done, my focused energy becomes an attractive force. I start drawing to me the people and resources I need to accomplish my project. When I’m unified within myself, and focused on being of service, I start meeting people who bend over backwards to help me achieve the aims of the project.
But when I’m in internal conflict, when I’m full of doubts or start second-guessing myself, I actually start to repel people away from me and what I’m trying to accomplish.
The Individual Mirrors the Collective
The same is true with groups. The individual and the group mirror each other. When a group comes together and chooses to work together on a project, when it achieves this collective will, nothing can stand in its way. Such a group will not only achieve its own aims, it creates a ripple effect that spreads out into the world.
Look at the tiny town of Ii. They set out to achieve sustainability within their town, but they are having a global impact. This little community is accomplishing far more than net-zero at a local level. They are inspiring individuals and communities across the planet.
The cool thing is… we can too. And we don’t actually have to wait for people to wake up to the fact that we need to work together to solve our problems. We can start right here, right now, within ourselves.
As we develop that internal “collective will” and get our hearts, minds and hands all working in the same direction, we attract others who are doing the same thing. What a joy! Then we start to combine our efforts and it just snowballs from there.
What’s Your Experience?
When have you experienced that internal coherence, that inner collective will, when your head, heart and hands all say, “Yes!”? What was it like? What happened next? Share your stories in the comments below or contact us directly. We’d love to hear your insights.