Tamara SunSong and I were discussing organizational forms and decision making structures in groups promoting transition ideas. My point was that a "community" is a self-organizing form with no decision making structure. Instead, the characteristics of a community are determined by the interaction (the choices) of the community members . . . or, all the choices of each of the people, plants and creatures resident within a given locality.
That raises the issue of what any of us can do to help our community adjust to increasing energy prices and climate change? And that brings me back to this group which starts with the premise that synergy is the highest activity in all life.
I am promoting an approach, not unlike that in a permaculture design, where we observe how the members of a community interact, with an eye toward making new connections that make better use of existing resources. My fondest wish is a forum in which I can compare notes with other people attempting a similar approach in their community . . . so that we can discontinue failed approaches and multiply successful approaches.
I have a goal for this first discussion, which I hope to be the first in a series. That goal would be to draft a 1/2 page (the length of text the average reader will read to the end where there is no prior interest) that explains this difference in approach from setting up a new organization to promote an idea, to operating as a catalyst for new connections between the existing elements of the community.
If we were successful in drafting such an introduction, I would ask all the participants to post it in every forum where they have a reputation, and share the results back to a new discussion among we the new kind of leaders who are developing this application of our knowledge of interconnectedness.
I hope you will join in the work.
"Instead of tearing down bridges, are we saying choose our bridges more wisely and therefore stop using the dysfunctional ones?"
I think so, to the extent that we can at the time. As I see it, we each (and all) have a certain amount of time, energy and consciousness -- how much of each we cannot know. Further, those are the ONLY things I can be certain that I have...
For myself, I'd rather use what I have to serve the Highest Purpose that I can conceive. (Obviously, I still have to deal with dirty dishes and taxes 'n' stuff, but maybe I can do so with a higher consciousness...)
From this perspective, "tearing down bridges" is a waste of T, E & C that could be spent building new bridges, or using new bridges. If those bridges that I think are bad are bad, they'll crumble over time... But then who am I to say what's "bad"? That's another reason to build instead of attack...
This, pertaining to T, E & C, is parenthetical. I feel a breakthrough coming for me, as I usually replace C with attention. In fact, I wrote recently of my three. Now I will contemplate the sameness/relationship of consciousness and attention.
I've been wondering about consciousness and the whole person paradigm, which doesn't directly mention it. I got as far as recognizing that the consciousness associated with, for example, integration of body/heart/spirit must be different than that of integration of body/mind/heart, and is certainly different than integration of body/mind/heart/spirit.
A complex set of interactions is more resilient in the face of environmental change than a simpler set of interactions.
This is a principle that can guide us in our design work. It is characteristic of complex adaptive systems that they exhibit integrated systems of production, where the by product of each process is the feed stock for a different process, and that they expand and contract as complexity spirals.
Stated another way, an exuberant multiplicity of connections is more productive than a restricted set of connections. We can see that in ecosystems, and economies and social systems. But, since one thing is connected to another and everything is connected to everything else, there really is no place to draw a line between those systems . . . it really is the ecological/social/economic system in which we find ourselves.
The effect of barriers to new connections, such as ethnic animosity, or walls between socio-economic strata, or a culture where all “value” is measured in money, is to limit the kind of connections that are made. The connections that are not being made represents a loss to the system of that value that would have been contributed to system flows if the connection had been made.
We may not have the power to end ethnic hatred, or stop the use of poisons in agriculture, but we can build new bridges to the people, plants and creatures, who have more to contribute, who live in our neighborhood. A complexity spiral requires us to consider the needs of diverse elements and therefore creates the alternative to monocultures and economies of scale.
We are engaged in a single pattern of relationships in which there is no good or evil . . . only choices and consequences.
This is a difficult one for most people because “our story” is about the struggle between good and evil. The story embodies millennia of struggle between groups. Animosity between groups prevents us from building a more complex and productive system. It creates a feed back loop where conflict leads to less to go around leading to more conflict.
This is not a criticism of anyone in particular. We all have individual needs and we are all probably capable of doing what is necessary to protect ourselves and our families. We are also, all still learning. It is best to keep in mind that there is more that we don't know than we do know . . . and a lot of what we know comes filtered through the needs of the groups to which we belong. And, groups of people are entitled to defend themselves . . .
However, as we come to realize that we are engaged in a single ecological/economic/social system, and that more connections are better than fewer connections, and that the world we live in is created by the choices of individual human beings, it becomes more and more difficult to think of this group as “good” and that group as “evil”.
Over the years people have told me things like; 'Interesting ideas, but philosophy is beyond me'. I want to assure you that none of this rises to the level of philosophy. A person can understand these aspects of system function and still believe in God . . . or not. A person can understand these aspects of system function and still believe that the “invisible hand” is the best way to regulate human affairs . . . or not. Rather, these are testable hypotheses about our individual power to be effective in the system. If this analysis is correct, and we exercise our individual power understanding all 3 dimensions of system function, then we can create a world that works better for more people, plants and creatures. We do not require the permission of anyone else.
The Egyptians are currently engaged in an effort to "reform" their society. The other top discussion in this forum is about alternative money systems. These are top down efforts. They require that we overcome the resistance of all those who rely on the status quo and then agree on a change that will be imposed from the top. What is happening in Egypt . . . tearing down the bridges that support the Mubarak regime . . . seems necessary to allow new kinds of bridges. The hard work will be to build the new bridges . . . bridging the potential contribution of all the people, plants and creatures in Egypt . . .
We have yet to figure out how to do that here in the United States. I don't think that the final set of connections can be done from the top down. I think it will require individuals, who understand these system dynamics, applying that understanding in their neighborhoods . . .
There are two aspects to my plea in this discussion. The first is a collaboration to develop these ideas into a form that can be shared with others interested in taking responsibility for their own power. The second, is to identify individuals who are prepared to begin building these new bridges in their neighborhoods. I can share what I am doing . . . and what seems to be working . . . and what is not working . . .
But, I know that there are people a lot smarter than I am . . .
If you think it is important to share these ideas, please join me in drafting a collective expression of them. If you are ready to apply these ideas in your neighborhood, let's set up a communication to share notes.
Last night I watched Willie Smits' Ted Talk that Judith Linked in the Permaculture Science discussion. It is a wonderful project with impressive results that I want to compare with the topic of this discussion.
The destruction of the rain forest resulted from people pursuing their 1st dimensional needs and the 2nd dimensional needs of their groups, unconscious of the ways in which they relied on nature's systems. As they began tearing down bridges to the plants and creatures in their place, they lost the flow of resources that previously supported them. As each bridge was lost there was a domino effect until all that was left was a nutrient poor, eroding grassland prone to fire.
I wonder how many people applauding at the end realize that they are participating in exactly the same process of ecological/social/economic destruction in the place where they live. I wonder how many realize that a similar reversal of the ecological/social/economic destruction could be accomplished in their neighborhood . . . by applying the techniques Willie Smits uses in his project . . . understanding the needs of each of the potential contributors to the system flows . . . understanding system function in 3 dimensions.
Few of us have the resources to buy a place and redesign it from the ground up. But every neighborhood has the same kind of resources that Willie Smits has to work with . . . the unrealized human and biological potential of a place . . .
I tell my gardeners that our goal is to convert all the lawns in Colorado to gardens. (They usually laugh a little there :-) When we are successful, the system will need legions of Permaculture Maintenance Technitions and we will no longer be importing our food from California . . . we will have built the bridges to the potential contribution of all the people, plants and creatures in our place.
Every problem we face in the world can be traced to the failure to build the necessary bridges . . . and I would like to collaborate with you to figure out how to build them.
There are two earlier attempts at explanation of this 3rd dimensional understanding (understanding system function as a whole and our role in it). The Game of Life and How Humans Came to Live in Peace and Plenty. They each have their own positive and negative characteristics in terms of their purpose, but, the biggest draw back remains that they are "my" understanding. That is, they are the views of David Braden, and everyone is entitled to their views, and we have no way of evaluating what views are useful for the future and what views are not useful for the future.
By comparison, the idea of "transition" is becoming a "collective" idea. People are beginning to accept the "authority" of the concept that a lot of things must change as a result of peak oil and climate change. The goal is to develop that kind of authority for this particular approach to accomplishing those changes. We don't have to convince the whole world right now . . . we need people willing to help refine the presentation into a "collective understanding" and, . . . we need people willing to conduct the experiments, by learning to build bridges in their neighborhoods.
"...we have no way of evaluating what views are useful for the future and what views are not useful for the future."
That is true only to a point, David. We don't know what will fall/fail first, second and third. We don't know what the intervals will be. But anthropological and historical records are clear that before Cartesianism and slaveholding/powered-machine-using merged to become the dominant culture shaper, people lived, learned, loved and left legacies. Civilizations collapsed, but we see what they didn't and can take it into account as never before.
Throughout the period, design that is life enhancing has been dominant, generally giving us attractiveness, variety, convenience and fragmented persons. Design that is also life affirming, called permaculture by some and holistic management by others, is ascendant and can help us become integrated persons who face forward and take considered steps together as never before.
"We don't know what will fall/fail first, second and third."
I probably should have written next, after that and after that. Falling and failing have been ongoing, becoming more and more inclusive.
Nicely put, David. (referring to the opening call -- hard to decide whether I can catch up on this thread... )