When Katie Teague entered GTC4 she was a psychotherapist in Seattle. Now, she travels the world as a documentary filmmaker. Katie’s creating a groundbreaking film, “Money and Life,” that offers an expansive vision of how money operates in the world, how each of us can be empowered by our use of it, and how it can be a primary driver for world transformation.
Katie’s is the first of our leadership.wisdom profiles of GTC grads, which will be a periodic feature. In our conversation with Katie, she recounted the personal journey that started with honoring an inner urge and following it into a new life that includes a new career and a scale of participation and leadership in the world that she wouldn’t have imagined. Katie jokingly says it’s “all GTC’s fault” and credits her cohort friends with a “profound webbing of support and encouragement [to] help her step over this threshold.” Katie’s story has some classic elements of responding to a calling. Here it is.
Receiving the Call “When I was 36 there was a real restlessness and a deep rumbling that something was trying to push and come through me. It really was my creative self and it was expressing itself as filmmaking.” This impulse was hastened into expression by the ending of a long-term relationship, which Katie experienced as a “real earthquake to all the reference points in my life, the perfect storm to invite new reference points.” She continues, “I’ve heard a lot of women talk about this feeling of wanting to be a mother as though the being in them is pushing to come in and through their being. I was feeling this way with the creative impulse.” Still, Katie had to “overcome a whole host of limiting beliefs around being an artist, and, you know, the clamor of “’I can’t do it.’”
Stepping In “[Filmmaking] was such a radical departure for me, and I did have these limiting beliefs. … I actually did need a handhold, which ended up being a four month immersion program at San Francisco State.” After completing her program, Katie moved to Los Angeles. She “conventionally” thought that she should work for somebody else to hone her skills, but was stymied by the idea that she “edit in a dark closet on a reality television show, transmitting that level of consciousness.”
Katie chose her “destiny path” instead. “It was great moving to Los Angeles and that being so disillusioning—nothing else made sense but for me to start my own production.” Katie decided to risk her remaining financial resources for this purpose. “I figured what better use of my resources that were a gift to me but to step into what felt like my gift. So much of the push and pull in me was about being more authentic about my participation as a global citizen.”
Asking for Clarity “It started with my decision to do my own production. I proverbially put it out to the Universe … where is the primary wound to the world soul, and that’s where I want to be in service. That’s what I want to make a film about.”
“I asked this question in Fall of 2008. The financial crisis was starting to show itself. I had been introduced to the work of Bernard Lietaer. I read a quote of his, something to the effect of ‘money is the key leverage for creating systemic change.’ … It was intriguing enough for me and it was powerful. ... It woke me up to the idea of doing a film on money.”
Yes! After reading Bernard Lietaer’s quote, “I started with saying, Yes, this is the film I am going to do. I said Yes with an enormous amount of naiveté, which you can call blind faith. … The saying Yes to the film project, and it could have been anything, but it was the place in which I was being called and that I was saying Yes from. … It was an initiation to the gift of my own being, and stepping into that unapologetically, with a willingness to meet whatever consequences arise.”
“In that moment that I said Yes with total blind faith, things started to issue forth, things started to come to me. “ Katie got her first interview with Orland Bishop, a community organizer and money thinker who lives in Los Angeles. At the start, Katie “made every error a first time filmmaker makes. Textbook.” She hired a cinematographer for the interview with Orland. He did a beautiful job, but his services cost $700, an overly rich standard. Fortunately, the cinematographer was selling his equipment, which Katie bought for her “good enough package.”
Unfolding “It’s mysterious how things unfold, but one person leads you to another person—if not directly, you’re reading their work and there’s links. And you start to see, especially in this world of money and finance and the economy, that there’s a circle of people who have been deeply, deeply in this conversation for decades. That’s part of the education. You start to see who’s out there and who’s speaking what. There’s a natural gravitation. Slowly, after I had a few people under my belt and was able to put together my initial trailer that I put up on the website, that became a calling card.”
Glimpsing an Arrival The calling card of Katie’s initial trailer was important for future interviewees and sponsors, but also to Katie. Seeing it, she realized that “there was enough of a self there; it reinforced the following of that initial impulse. The project itself had enough internal cohesion by that point that the project and myself as a filmmaker were co-evolving. I saw that initial trailer that I did—oh, there’s something here. I was sufficiently surprised and in wonder. I was able to witness the filmmaker self in a way that increased my capacity to step into that role with no division or at least less division.”
Money and Life
Katie’s journey is instructive and motivating, but she’s also got something to show. She’s in the homestretch on “Money and Life.” Katie’s shot about 75 hours of film, mostly interviews with people who, from various vantage points, take a long historical view of money across the multiple eras of its development and use. Through their perspectives, as well the experiences and reflections of people on the street, and other explanatory and visual devices that she will add, Katie gives a big vision view of money opening beyond it’s current mythic hold and toward it’s great possibilities for assisting transformation.
In Katie’s words:
The film is a narrative about the co-evolution of money and human consciousness. Both of those embedded in the greater narrative of life.
It takes the stand that the converging crises… that are systemically threatening us <are> a reflection of a deeper structural, systemic transformation … We’re really riding the tide of a profound structural shift.
The money system that dominates the world and dominates our lives by the fact that our lives have become so dependent on it… came into being during the pre-industrial and early industrial era at a time when the general worldview and understanding of life on the planet was really different.
The central thesis is that—and this is what Bernard Lietaer meant by this statement of money as the greatest leverage point for creating systemic change—money, being a pervasive influence in our lives, really does co-evolve with the evolution of life.
We’re really looking at a redesign of the system. Money is not a static thing. It’s a human invention. It’s made possible by human intention. By that rethinking, re-visioning of money we’re really at an important moment of human evolution where we can consciously redesign given what we know now.
Katie has called her journey an initiation. She says of initiations that you don’t enter knowing where you’ll arrive. “You have to go through the whole process wherever that takes you, down whatever scary corridor.” Deeply aligned with the process and the product of her work, Katie says:
“The more and more that every cell in my body lines up with this, the more I just want this to flow out in every way … to be a source of education that truly engages the soul of the viewer. It’s not some dry subject that we’re learning about. … So often with a big subject like money, the economy, most of us do feel completely disempowered. [We can] dispel the mythology of those disempowering positions. … All of us really profoundly can make a difference. What are we spending our money on? How are we making our money? How we are investing it if we have it to invest?”
As part of her deepened understanding of money—this great living currency of connected, relational life—Katie feels the deeper, subtle presence of money. “I’ve been listing every donor on the donation page. Something in me actually happens. I see it in my inbox when somebody donates. I see who they are and where they’re from. Often, I don’t know who they are, but even just to speak their name and take them in for a moment and to go through the ritual process of putting them on the website. In my being, these beings have become an integral part of the filmmaking. I actually take that very seriously.”
“Money and Life” is already at work. “I have people literally from all over the world who find the website one way or the other. I randomly get emails from people who are so excited about the film, who want to screen it, who are already starting to show that nine-minute trailer that I created. I have at least four people who have already or are going to show it to different workshops or symposiums. You know, that’s pretty cool.”
Now, two-and-a-half years along the path, Katie reflects: “Most of all, I’m feeling the power of a coherent heart; that’s really been the note bringing out the song of “Money and Life.” It started with this urge in my own heart and getting in coherence with that and following—you could say—trusting life.”