NextNower Gets Serious About Play: SERIOUSLY!

About a year ago, Gwen Gordon and I were playing together, exploring cosmologist Brian Swimme’s Powers of the Universe:

Seamlessness – the source of all powers, the ground of being, pure generativity; Centration – the power of concentration and exhilaration, how the Universe centers on itself; Allurement – the power of attraction, how things hold together; Emergence – the power of creativity, how the Universe transcends itself; Homeostasis – the power of maintaining achievement, what the Universe values; Cataclysm – the power of destruction, living in a Universe where things break down; Synergy – the power of working together, mutually enhancing relationships; Transmutation – the power to change the self, disciplines and constraints; Transformation – the power to change the whole, communion and intimacy; Interrelatedness – the power of care, how the Universe responds to the other;  Radiance – the power of magnificence, how the Universe communicates.

Gwen had studied with Brian and understood that all the powers of the universe are at PLAY together and so generate the play of evolution. Brian taught that evolution itself is extravagant play, and we humans are like the champagne, the climax of play, bringing our special powers of adventurous play to the ongoing, greater evolutionGwen could feel the truth of this, and decided to take her insights Seriously: 

Support the film by visiting the Kickstarter Campaign Page

This from Brian Swimme:

In Robert Bellah’s massive new book on the deep roots of our religious sensibilities, he offers his view that at our very core — forming the basis of our deepest creative capacities — is play.  And yet, in the long and tortured development of civilization, we have constructed several religions that regard play as frivolous and ignorable, especially when compared to the aims of contemporary industrial societies.   Gwen Gordon, a graduate of PCC, is attempting to make a difference here.  She is devoting her life to educating the world in a different way of being human, a way that returns us to this playful mode of being.  Some of you might want to get involved in one way or another.

What we understand is that play is also a form of collective, connective intelligence, which is another reason we’re supporting this film.  NextNowCollab is an experiment in social synergy, focusing on  projects that use technology (inner and outer) to enhance connective intelligence that sources our creative capacity to consciously evolve our world.  We work at all levels: personal (connecting to our own inner intelligences), social (creating more intelligent, synergistic groups and activity for the exponential interconnectivity of social innovations), and planetary (a whole system shift).  

If the idea of PLAY as a form of connective intelligence resonates with you, please consider spreading the word (and the fun) by supporting Gwen’s campaign for the film, Seriously!  A movie about PLAY


This is from Gwen Gordon, the filmmaker:

An endless stream of serious news crosses our screens everyday – the theater of politics, the perils of ecological collapse, the specter of economic uncertainty. But what can we do? After all, most of us are already exhausted and overwhelmed by the immediate concerns pressing on our personal lives. Amidst this pressure, how are we supposed to unleash the full genius, creativity, and sheer life force it will take to meet the really big challenges of our time? 

In the face of uncertainty, our overwhelming tendency is to become tight and rigid. But you can’t untie a knot with a knot. Whatever it will take, it needs to help us stay present, open, and flexible…and work better together! 

What makes that possible? Where do we see people engaging the unknown with creativity, intelligence, and grace…together? Simple. Wherever there is PLAY!  Think about it! When we play together we’re cooperating, adapting, learning, creating, and solving problems!  After all, the universe has been playing for 14 billion years on the edge of chaos, trying everything under the sun (including the sun), making big messes, trying again,  learning, evolving…and now we have broccoli, jellyfish, giant Sequoias, and fleas that live inside the nostrils of hummingbirds. As cosmologist Brian Swimme says, “Life itself has evolved as and through play.” 

I used to live above a preschool playground. The bell rang every morning and children burst through the doors into the schoolyard screaming with pleasure. They built stuff and smashed it down, there was climbing and falling, hitting and hugging. It was all there..the raw workings of the universe itself! The universe was playing!

And yet, as critical as play is to our survival, schools continue to cut recesses and arts programs and children are getting less play time then ever in history. The APA has just declared a play crisis. And adults aren’t doing much better. We’re taking fewer vacation days and working longer hours than ever (the U.S. ranks as one of the most overworked, depressed nations in the world). We need a serious play intervention, a perspective shift that ennobles play as an evolutionary imperative…and gives us all permission to be the spontaneous, free creatures that we really are.

I’m making Seriously! A movie about play! to shine a bright light on the vital importance of play in every area of life through a chorus of play experts, gripping stories, a promiscuous red ball, and a menagerie of playmates. 

Watch the film teaser at


  1. I am very encouraged by this post. I think that it is good to see you while very focused on a lot of important esoteric big ideas you also get the importance of play. I think there is a lot that needs to be said about this, especially in relation to the fact that those who often become obsessed about heady ideas least understand the importance of or have developed or channeled that innate inability we all have to play. Possibly this has a lot to do with the dehumanizing way mass scale socioeconomic systems affect humanity today. Sometimes the sad thing is it is often easier for us to play with our pets than our fellow human beings. Could there be something going in the psyche that is healing when we play with each other? That if we learned to play even with adversaries maybe this would prevent a lot of wars and disputes that lead to social cleavages that are destructive because to us all – because we dont know how to play with each other as ADULTS? The tendency for judgement and adversarial relationships is natural but possibly we might have more fun if we learned how to play a bit more and took each other and the world little less seriously.

    1. NextNow Collaboratory

      Thank you Jeff; great questions!

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