An emerging Integral Enterprise in the Valais

"Nostras is committed to the highest form of sustainability, interconnecting ecological and social, cultural and ethical, knowledge-creating and innovative-driven as well as financial dimensions of sustainability. All of these dimensions form part of the Integral Enterprise model that Nostras is in the process of actualizing. If Nostras keeps advancing on its integral path, following its mission to “open people’s minds”, it has the capacity to become a true driver of economic and cultural renewal in the Wallis and Switzerland.
 - Prof. Alexander Schieffer, Co-Author of Integral Devleopment and Transformation Management / Co-Founder, Trans4m Center for Integral Development

It was in the beginning of 2017 that we gathered for the first time. We were a simple group of young people from the Valais with different backgrounds and horizons. What we had in common: the will to make our canton progress in the right direction. We finally chose the name Nostras SA, which means “from our country” in Latin. Thus, Nostras intends to achieve this goal of progress and to promote the numerous assets of our region.

From the very beginning, the integral philosophy has guided us. Benji met Dr. Alexander Schieffer, a pioneer in matters of integral development, during a course from the University of St. Gallen. With his support and his association Trans4m we created the first integral enterprise in the Valais. With this totally new approach for the Valais, we intend to open people’s minds. We would like to prove to the people from the Valais that it is possible to contribute to the development of our canton by respecting nature and traditions, while innovating in a market that is much stigmatized. That's why our production of cannabis is made in a spirit of permaculture, that means giving free rein to nature as much as possible. We do not use any pesticides and we produce our own fertilizers on the base of natural products.

Integral, what does it mean?

In short, the integral theory helps us to take into account the different perspectives and makes us aware that our vision of things is created by the society we live in. This awareness helps us understand the strengths and weaknesses of each way of seeing the world, in order to reach a sustainable balance and harmony. This facilitates self-critisism and encourages open mindedness.

To be integral means to take into account all different perspectives: you need to be sustainable economically, but also social, on the level of knowledge creation and sharing, as well as regarding nature and the respect of traditions.

The integral theory was originally written in the 1970s by Ken Wilber. The purpose of this theory was to bring together all the approaches of the mind and the consciousness into one model, in order to draw on the strengths of each method. Dr. Alexander Schieffer is a pioneer in matters of integral development. With Ronnie Lessem, they evolved the integral theory and developed the Integral Worlds Model. In their many collective books, they explain the concrete applications of their model to numerous domains of everyday life, like for example economy, management or politics. Together, they created the association Trans4m based in Geneva, through which many integral enterprises have been launched throughout the world, applying this model and creating thousands of jobs.

What does Nostras do concretely? 

We live our philosophy of open mindedness while respecting traditions. For example, we allow ourselves to be familiar with you in accordance with the local customs. We also wrote the entire website in Oberwallisertitsch, the traditional language of the german-speaking part of the Valais.

Co-creation is a central value in the integral philosophy. To achieve great things, it is important for everyone to contribute to the whole in their area of expertise. That's why Nostras is an inclusive organization, in which everyone can help. We are looking for farmers, other producers of cannabis or by-products (ointments, oils, teas, etc.) or whoever shares our vision and would like to participate in the adventure.

The integral philosophy is the foundation of our organization. Through different workshop between us, but also with Dr. Schieffer and Maxime Bertocchi (Trans4m Junior Fellow), we elaborated a new organizational design, inspired by the integral model and symbolized by the different parts of a cannabis plant. In this way, we structure our activities in the four following domains:

Community Building: All activities linked to the development of a community in the Valais and in Switzerland. This community regroups similar-minded people with common values: open mindedness, respect, happiness. Thus also our slogan: Be chill. Be free. Be happy. As a concrete example, we can name the Chill Club, through which we organize various events. This domain is symbolized by the roots, because the community is the cultural foundation of our organization.

Conscious Evolution: Includes all activities linked to the (conscious) evolution of our members, of our organization and of our society. The goal is to evolve in accordance with the integral philosophy, thus respecting all different perspectives. The goal is to promote open mindedness. This domain is symbolized by the leaves, because they absorb the energy of the sun to make the plant grow, just like our organization takes energy from the integral philosophy in order to evolve.

Knowledge Creation: All activities linked to creating knowledge. This englobes the production, as well as the documentation and improvement of our techniques (permaculture, etc.). In accordance with the integral model, here are also all rational activities, like IT or law, which make up the frame of the organization, thus the symbol of the stem.

Sustainable Development: Englobes the more economic activities. The goal is to be sustainable and to launch new projects that help us go in this direction. This domain is symbolized by the flowers, because it’s the part of the plant with most economic potential.

We later also developed a model to summarize and visualize our strategy. Based on the integral model, there is one long-term goal for each direction of the model. In this model, we used the analogy of the 13 stars of the flag of the Valais. The star in the middle represents Nostras, while the other 12 represent milestones, but should be understood as entities that will always need constant nurturing. Click on the stars and circles for more information!

Integral Switzerland: An Integral Switzerland, where there is an important and influent integral community, which strives for a holistic way of life.

Internal CB: A strong internal community, made up of the people contributing in Nostras as well as friends and relatives who help and support the project.

Chill Club: An association that we created, with the goal to unite people of a similar mindset through community building activities, for example the yearly 420 party. Join the Chill Club here.

Integral Community Valais: This milestone will be reached, when almost every person here is aware that such a community exists and what the philosophy is about. This milestone is tightly linked to the third milestone of the Eastern perspective.

Open mindedness: Especially here in the Valais. This goal is very broad and is obviously not limited to the Valais.

Integral Foundation: In the sense of “an underlying basis or principle”. Benji’s bachelor thesis lays this foundation: this integral presentation that you are reading, the integral booklet and the video. This foundation is the first step to raising awareness towards the integral philosophy and way of seeing and doing things.

Integral Events: Events in which the integral philosophy is explained. The main purpose of these events will be to raise the notoriety of the integral philosophy.

Integral Movement: A collective group of people that can influence politics and the way our society and economy function. The movement is thus more an ethical and political phenomenon, whereas the Integral Community Valais is more about the relational and human aspects.

Universal Knowledge: Knowledge easily accessible for everyone. All kinds of knowledge is valued.

Learn: Learn as much as possible on various topics: cannabis, agriculture, permaculture, the history of the Valais, etc. We are gradually working on building up a library, by collecting documents, newspaper articles or by summarizing books and texts found on the internet.

Teach: Teach what we have learned and to spread knowledge as much as possible, like for example permaculture gardening classes, integration courses for refugees, integral educational offerings in collaboration with various schools like Team Academy or GD Schule Bratsch, etc.

Communiversity: A school (or even university) deeply rooted in the community, where everyone can and should learn, not only the students. We would then have a real knowledge structure. Our role models for this are Fundación Paraguaya and SEKEM.

Economics of Love: An economy, which truly aims for sustainable development across all perspectives, not only regarding to nature or as a marketing argument.

B-Chill: B-Chill is the first brand we launched with Nostras. It’s a brand that sells cannabis products and complementary products. We set it as the first milestone, because it is the first step towards an Economics of Love, but there is room for many other brands in various domains. Through B-Chill, we have already built up a network of collaboration across the value chain, from the farmers to the independent retailers.

Cooperation: We would like to create a cooperation that englobes all actors of the value chain from the Valais, including all of our competitors, because a strong industry benefits everyone!

Integral Innovation Hub: A hub close to nature and to our traditions that helps creating new enterprises and projects with a purpose is in our opinion the best way to create an Economics of Love.

OWLO: OWLO creates virtual reality (VR) contents mainly to boost the tourism industry in the Valais. We believe that it is primordial that this very important branch for our economy stays innovative and at the top of technology. VR is a great way to show the amazing landscapes and the diversity that our region has to offer. One of the biggest advantages of VR is that it creates strong emotions through the total immersion of the user and thus creates lasting memories.