Emergent Expression(s) Experiment

Bristol Baughan
5 min readNov 14, 2023

I wanted to share some findings from the latest experiment while following the regenerative rabbit.

The Emergent Expression(s) Fiction Writing Program took place online between Jan. 26 — May 11, 2023. It was born out of a personal desire to find an alternative to an MFA program that combined fiction writing, futurism, personal transformation, and regeneration. Unlike many more traditional writing classes, this one was not critique-style, but rather focused on the practice of presence, noticing what wants to emerge (creatively), showing up for whatever that is, healing the relationship to my creative self (in community), and creating a writing practice to cultivate craft and live this as a lifestyle.

Emergent Expression(s) also emerged from an authentic desire I had to stay in relationship with a group of future architects I had met, and fallen in love with, during the pandemic. I wanted to co-create a container for emergence, shared practice, and collaborative leadership with Robert Sinclair, as well as Evan Walsh, and Jessica Clark from Dot Connector Studio, who supported it as part of their emerging Collaboratory. It was immediately clear we all value a thoughtful and collaborative process. I know I would not have done this alone and needed the strategic, organizational, creative, imaginative, and practiced support of a container such as the Dot Connector Collaboratory.

We built the class in real time and tailored it to the needs of the participants as we went. The whole process was co-creative and participants brought wildly unique perspectives, insights, and creative inspiration to each session. The time spent together in break-outs was deeply intimate and soul-nourishing.

I led the initial website development, curriculum design, and enrollment process with support from Evan and Jessica. Coti Orias was brought in for a short time to help streamline enrollment processes. Evan then stepped in and truly led all operational efforts by creating Excel docs, editing, and co-writing sections of the website, and taking lead on curriculum organization and design.

We experimented with the class itself as an example of an emergent expression. One emergent element was “The Creative Tree” artifact exercise created by Evan and Rob that was considered a highlight by many participants. Together, we explored the roots, soil, and leaves of our creative foundations. I then used a version of this tree in a workshop at the HATCH conference at Caux Palace in Switzerland around the Inner Development Goals.

Each one of us acted as facilitator and participant. Evan and I handled all class communication with a concentrated effort to keep people motivated and connected to their own personal, creative spirit. Robert led us in healing our transactional relationship to our creativity and steeped us in ecosystem thinking and worldbuilding. Evan brought many personal inquiry writing exercises and prompts to the course as well as richly detailed lectures in craft. Jessica served as a guest lecturer on futurism, as well as auditing the class as a student and providing real-time feedback. Jorge Manes Rubio, friend and TED Fellow, came as guest lecturer to ground the more philosophical and abstract creative concepts into tangible works of art.

Each class explored a theme and typically included a guided meditation, writing and/or personal inquiry exercise ), a writing-inspired lecture, breakdown discussion, and group discussion. Themes included:

  • What is feeling alive inside of me?
  • How do I relate to my creative practice?
  • How do I honor my creative self and claim agency over my time?
  • What do I/we want to grow? What conditions will support that?
  • How can I stop being extractive and transactional with my creative self?
  • Which perspectives define the shape of my story?
  • Playing with Time: Tense, Futurism, and Worldbuilding
  • Integrating and celebrating learnings and growth

At the end of each class participants were paired with someone as an accountability partner for the following week and expected to have a one hour phone call to 1) check-in, 2) work through an inner obstacle and/or 3) report out on creative work.

In the end, we created a loving, supportive, and creative container that prioritized personal healing and transformation which resulted in the cultivation of a creative practice for most participants. We co-created a digital “altar” on Padlet to share examples of our writing, inspiration, resources, and moments of aliveness.

The challenges we faced were mostly in being able to continue prioritizing our creative practice in a world of mounting volatility and especially fear around money. Together, we practiced prioritizing beauty and creation.

I have notebooks of emergent expressions: ideas, insights, Midjourney images, story starters, and ideas related to business. At the end of the course I most desired a rigorous container to continue holding us accountable to our creative selves and emergent expressions. I jokingly asked a fellow participant to be my creative dominatrix. (She said, yes! Details TBD)

Two specific expressions emerged for me:

  1. The Creative Monastery Retreat and short story, and
  2. A Regenerative Worldbuilding Collective w/ Fabrice Guerrier.

Other participants reported the following emergent expression(s) while participating in the course:

  • Advanced fiction and non-fiction works
  • Initiated new works of fiction
  • Moments of flow state writing
  • 1 person got a new job
  • 1 person quit a job
  • 1 person quit a second job they didn’t want (and continues to struggle for money)
  • 1 person quit working full-time and went freelance for more creative time
  • ​​1 person returned to church and shifted the focus of her screenplay from trauma to a journey of self-love.

Participants also reported changes to their own creative practice, such as putting more time periods on the calendar, noting ”whatever emerges in that time or doesn’t is fine, but setting the intention and boundary.”

Releasing pressure was a key theme of the class, and another participant shared the idea of “following my characters in the story and not trying to stop them or think about what it should be — just being curious about where they go.”

What comes next?

We are curious too! Rob, Evan, Jessica and I are in conversation about how else we might build on this lovely experiment. We are discussing how to translate this experience into workshops starting in the Spring. Stay tuned for details in the coming months and leave your email here if you want to be kept in the loop.

What will come through me when I leave this place?

Alchemy is an attitude. Magic is imagination.


The cobwebs of my heart are clearing —

a roll of gentle thunder and a rustle of wings flocking

Each dystopia a protopian seed.

- Co-written by Emergent Expressions, Spring Cohort 2023



Bristol Baughan

Bristol Baughan is a Future Architect, Emmy-winning producer, and Coach. Currently weaving regenerative community in the Azores, Portugal. bristolbaughan.com