---> Pathways and possibilities
Ah, let's don't rush. Begin in harmony. Remain in harmony.
This is not a fight or flight scenario. Find your ground, find the others.
Observe, take stock, check in with traveling companions, find out what people are carrying, and what must be acquired or relinquished underway.
Going alone? So be it, let folks know where you're heading. Leave an invitation and a souvenir for the next bunch along the path. Your new story starts now, soon others will be watching and listening. Tell it well.
If the end goal, the fait accompli, is a state of peaceful co-existence at scale, that must be part of the DNA, part of the structure and process to begin with. Find everything in side of you that resists. Find out what real, generative social cohesion looks and feels like, and practice practice practice. Own it, author it, then build your strategy.
Re-learning how to be in community may take you the better part of a lifetime. It's a feature of existence that's been largely designed out of the western world, misinterpreted as a bug, a hitch, a constraint. And it is a pain, often enough, along with the pleasure.
Maybe we can reinvent some things. Who knows what the future brings? What new modes and meaning will emerge in unexpected ways we find to merge and manage being alive together, in tune and at ease. You are a microcosm of cultural innovation, a vector for social change, a stranger in an estranged land - act well the part! You've chosen the path of actionism, your voice is much louder than words. You have left hate and anger and bitterness and bewilderment behind. You're not a rebel, you are Cause. You are riding the invisible undercurrents that are already shifting power and energy from the old to the new. You may be on the move, unsettled, unsure of your final destination, know that this world contains many of your peers and many unadvertised sanctuaries for the wandering soul. Be humble, and of service.
Know your place. Find your Place, your center. Welcome. Be at peace, and in play.
Why are you here? Not like, here on earth, well that too, but here, reading? Looking for something? A better way? A spark of inspiration or insight? What motivation are you tapping into, deep down, to proceed on this path - your path? Do you feel something is missing, or that you have something to give?
There's a fair bit of science and speculation devoted to the psychology of human behavior, particularly the drivers of choice and action. Most famous and succinct is probably Maslow's hierarchy of needs (and his lesser known but more essential model of Metamotivation), there are other schools of thought as well. Consider Max-Neef's fundamental motives matrix, of which he said all 9 drivers were relatively concurrent and dynamic in all people.
It's important to grasp of some of the mechanisms and dynamics at play under the surface of overt 'ordinary' consciousness, to be able to at least talk about and reflect on these things, before and during this journey. The idea or myth of an abundant, safe, harmonious and accommodating world is a tricky thing in the mind, arguably not a real 'place' or possibility at all in this corner of the universe - hence the originally and often cynical use of the word Utopia to denote such aspirations.
What would your life be like if all were readily provided to you, all needs met, and your experience of life was merely to enjoy and perhaps create? What would move you then, and how would you learn or grow as a sentient being?
Hold that question, it's important but a little off track. You see, the kind of abundance we speak of in the parlance of regenerative design or systems thinking is rather less magical: it means a system that is self-sustaining, self-propagating, self-regulating, and non-invasive or in fact salutary to its environs - aka a net positive impact from most standpoints.
Crucially, we are active participants in that system, carrying quite a load of responsibility for operations, upkeep, ongoing intelligent design and evolution. It is a variagated system that is integrally tied to place. Thus instead of one quintessentially perfect 'topos' or place, regenerative habitation evokes many unique systems and contexts, something we might label a polytopia: a complex web of sites, systems, stories, and conscientious stewards.
No denying there's a manifest abundance of natural elements and raw energy. It is our task, our art, to harvest and transform these into higher order goods, services, value, and creative potential. Yes, we're edging back into the realm of economic thinking, except we're going to elevate and integrate that discourse to formulate responsive land based cooperative enterprise ecosystems as a substrate for community vitality and ecological integrity. Catch that?
Agile collaborative ecosocial venture networks cultivating regenerative commons of mutually interwoven habitat and culture. Perfect!
Except there is still the onerous and obsolete 'default' economy to deal with in this undertaking, and it is doubling down on some pretty insidious rules and conditions, as we've seen. Quite the opposite of our aims. How to remedy or circumvent? We're up against a tremendous historical tide of extractive industry, enclosure, commoditization. This is going to take some really fancy art- and foot-work.
We are beginning to see precedents for valuing nature on its own, natural capital et al, but the language and intent is still to draw nature into the matrix of conventional accounting and decision making, rather than the other way around.
Some ambitious and dedicated teams are starting to demonstrate economic viability from commercial scale temperate climate permaculture. Agroforestry and Holistic Management practices are expanding their not insignificant niche. There are even instances of government entities acting to regenerate habitat on a vast scale. So far though, economically viable village scale regenerative settlement patterns have eluded many well-meaning attempts. Activating and synergizing as a network of networks is still a tenuous proposition too.
We have a ways to go - read: there's lots to explore and test, woohoo! - to build and stabilize this bridgework between the old paradigms and the new, in order to permit a more seamless, possibly less cataclysmic disruption, as the transition takes hold.
jump to >>> Regenerative Enterprise
It is tempting to try and think things through, figure it all out, from the top down. From macro to micro; an executive approach to system change. The mind likes that method a lot. It is comforting, and facile. There is a place for design, but it must come from and respond to direct experience, it must engage with the emergent, bottom-up reality unfolding in realtime.
Eco-social transition is a vast landscape of loosely connected initiatives, ideas, and intentions. It's just beginning to take shape and become self-aware as an inclusive movement. There are a multiplicity of sub-groupings, paradigms, catch-phrases, and frameworks, all pointing in the same general direction but offering different sets of instructions and rationale--different narratives--for a range of circumstances and preferences.
It is worth looking at this landscape from hi above to better understand and navigate it. It is possible that high level design thinking can open up or accelerate new and much needed progress on the whole. Attempting to master plan and micro manage the works is foolish and dangerous.
The recently articulated work around Transition Design seems to acknowledge all this and offer a sound approach to iterative, participatory strategy development and trans-local collaboration. It's one of many frames to work through, seems especially relevant. General outline in map form below.
Do you have a theory of change? Do we agree? It's one thing to point to what we're each doing, practical steps with perhaps some rationale and reflection. The MO of inhabit is skewed heavily toward action. But there is a place for the academic too, underpinning the connection and coordination between diverse centers of activity. We are systems thinkers AND subtle doers.
Transition is really only achieved when the whole culture of attitudes and beliefs has shifted to support and sustain the new behaviors. We have to proceed from merely doing, to fully being; embodying the change we wish to see in the world, and being recognized as such.
Have you seen the future lately? Please, find a local distributor and check out the latest models. Each one is unique. Regenerative community is in demand, but it's not, like, made to order, mass produced, rapid assembly stuff. Look around: there are not a lot of shining examples to emulate yet, but they are out there. Worth the search. Learn their stories, what is working and what needs work. What would you change or add to make it more like what you want to be a part of? May a million global ecovillages bloom…
The phrase global village has been used a few different ways. Here it signifies the establishment of a compact center of habitation, socialization, commerce, and culture which is characteristically localized yet globally engaged. It may be relatively self-sufficient and "off-grid" but it is decidedly "on-mesh" in regular and active contact with a large open network of fellows, allies, citizens.
The Global Village knows and cherishes its place in the much broader fabric of regenerative culture, offering a gateway to newcomers and curious visitors, and engaging in larger consortium efforts, governance, stewardship, innovation.
We may also add to this map some smaller, eclectic outposts and hubs serving as cultural incubators and laboratories.
Of a somewhat more transient, ephemeral nature, but by their nature very inviting and inspiring are the festival and chautauqua circuits sprouting in many lands. Good place for a taste, an exhilarating imaginarium and pollination station. But it ends.
What does it take to get something up and running, stabilized, self-perpetuating? In this era, a lot will come down to economic viability. Nobody wants to start a (r)evolution with a business plan, but it may come in handy early on. Think again of a broader, holistic understanding of what economics could be. Build bridges between the current model and future. Find out what kind of surplus value you can aggregate or nurture, and who this could best serve in line with your mission. Your minimum viable project might be something as simple as a community food forest, or a fab lab, or a co-living household.
Or you might find your bearings, gain skills, and make connections by joining some of the livelier online forums and hubs dedicated to the practice. Several have developed ambitious, comprehensive action plans, coordination tools, and knowledge/resource bases and are wide open to input from new contributors. Virtual networking isn't the same as committed collaboration with peers in person, but it does hold some of the keys to large scale transition project development and movement building. Marshall McLuhan gets credit for the most widely recognized use of the phrase "global village" and in his words (more or less):
Our technology forces us to live mythically. The new electronic interdependence recreates the world in the image of a global village. We live in a single consecrated space resonant with tribal drums.
Global villages and inhabit encampments are not just connected virtually, but also play host to a lively parade of in-person encounters and exchange. As a growing network, individual sites become a geophysical web of nodes for 'economads' and conscientious adventurers to visit, contribute, learn, and cross-pollinate. Especially in temperate and variable climates where the site-specific work load varies substantially over the span of a year, it makes great sense to enhance the flow of compatible collaborators when and where apt, allowing for seasonal mobility and opportunity matching for a large number of fluid participants, all part of the contiguous network.
jump to >>> Connections
Networks are not a new phenomenon today, they are however all the more tangibly present and practical. Networks of many types exist in nature, and we've just begun to explore how they can be utilized with the advent of computational infrastructure to conduct and process digital information. At its most fundamental, a network is an assembly of elements (or nodes) that are somehow in contact and regular communication. A web of things that can propagate signals. From this basic rule, all sorts of interesting possibilities and configurations arise, especially in the domain of network protocol, which describes the nature of functional signaling within the network. In the digital domain, we have developed all kinds of applications around a few basic protocol.
The application layer of the network makes use of available protocol to enable complex behaviors and coordination among some or all nodes. This is what we see on the web today. How do you create more advanced, complex functions in a network? Connect to more of itself. Check!
Here's how things are shaping up currently around a handful of key patterns emerging from the new network reality:
Probably the most familiar and clearly influential is the phenomenon of social media, which has enabled new forms of globe-spanning discourse and knowledge sharing with profound implications. It has also led to the formation of natural clusters or groupings of peers around certain interests and perspectives that was previously impossible due to geographic constraint. This has some negative implications as well, including filter bubble effect and tendency toward detachment from face to face encounter. But the upshot is that we are starting to see the emergence of fluid 'neotribe' groupings around shared identity and worldview.
Remember that Network encompasses and transcends tribe if you recall our layering of human affinity groups. That's important as we go forward, with the prospect that network i.e. communicability is slowly supplanting Nation as the basis of 'a more perfect union'
Identity + Society
In a world of everything all at once, it's easy to feel stretched out, spread thin, easily distracte - essentially living in a default state of attention deficit disorder with a side order of chronic identity crisis. Maybe younger gen 'digital natives' have it better off - maybe worse. There's something kind of spiritual and awe inspiring that comes with recognizing this new capacity for instant globe-spanning communion at our fingertips, for scanning and surfing your way through the livestream of the digital noosphere; so long as you're able to stay grounded in a sense of self and place. But what do those things even mean anymore, when we can so easily warp and morph our way around to some 'virtual' reality more to our liking, even if largely artificial and ephemeral? Lots of smart people are thinking and writing about those questions, beyond scope here...but consider this:
What if, instead of trying to achieve a big leap forward into some supercharged future self, we look behind us for a minute at what the 'self' used to be (and maybe still is in big, important, neglected ways). Place, story, kin, rhythm, direction, ecology, duty.
Still true, but evolving. One thing we are certainly less of today is defined by nation, creed, religion, patrix. But this trend toward decentralization has pesky side effects in a world going swiftly global. Identity management is a major headache, for bureaucracies as much as it is for the slew of competing communication apps on your mobile device.
Are we just what we make of ourselves? Can we choose where and how we belong to anything more? The prospect of heightened personal or collective sovereignty is appealing and often touted in fringe movements, but are we ready for such a radical shift? Have we cleaned up all our karma and prepared the ground for a brand new chapter in the human story following the decline of secular power structures? An important aspect of this movement towards regenerative culture must be first to address lingering strands of social injustice and the legacy of how power and privilege came to be distributed as it is now in society. Deserves a careful look. Some form of oversight, jurisprudence, and enforcement are surely needed in the transition times ahead. Yet perhaps we can come at these activities from a planetary perspective, creating an encompassing baseline of collective stewardship and accountability, an open citizenship.
New governance, new economy, new community - all interdependent aspects of the new story that's being written as we go. The foremost purpose of this document is to outline and prompt the establishment of a network of sustainable land sanctuaries for the distributed development and coordination of those higher order functions and features of a newly regenerative civilization. Inhabit. Make way!
Secure access to hospitable home ground - productively, ethically, and aesthetically maintained - is crucial to the furtherance of all other aims. Theory is that we can achieve this a lot better, faster, more enduringly, convincingly, resiliently as a decentralized collaborative network, bolstering each other's efforts, sharing knowledge and resources, and providing a backstop when and where some fall short or fall victim.
There are many avenues toward establishment of viable habitat. The following map outlines a few of the broad categories and strategies to consider. This subject itself needs a lot more research and refinement, specific to existing legal/cultural regimes.
The hurdle of acquiring and improving land within current legal/economic frameworks has been a tremendous barrier to well-intentioned communal endeavors of the past, due to the high levels of commitment and capital generally involved. At this time, it may be possible to start looking towards a more agile approach that lowers this threshold of acquisition, in large part by creating effective partnerships between landholders, land stewards, concerned citizens, and enthusiastic young apprentice laborers. The need is growing, the opportunity is clearer, the structure and form of such arrangements is coming into focus.
We've touched on a few of the alternative paradigms of organization, production, exchange, governance etc that might apply in such a co-habitation scenario. Let's take a closer look at key elements and options.
Also much more to explore and evolve here. If there is one theme to return to, it is that of collective intelligence and wisdom as guidance systems for coherent, generative action. The purposeful, grounded, energized, co-intelligent and wisdom-driven social organism is an extraordinary creative force in this new world. It holds tremendous evolutionary capacity. Something to be nurtured and tended with great care, great love and deep service.
Key insight: wisdom driven co-creation is about who you are as much or more than what you do (they are surely related) - it lives in the cultural layer or field of embodied values, principles, practices.
Crafting mature and appropriate culture for new operating systems is some kind of art. Can also view it as a conversation. Which means you need to get on the same page with the language and semantics involved. A useful exercise is some form of "culture map" template to help articulate and link various threads and themes in applicable form.
It appears we've come around again to the metaphysics of value and the relationship between theory and practice. What does it mean to label something a 'good' idea or an essential 'right' behavior? In the abstract, we can nod our heads and concur with ample sincerity, but in practice, in the application many thorny issues and questions arise, possible tradeoffs and compromise. Misinterpretation, contextualization, timeline dependencies…complexity and complication! We must each develop the skills and capacities to navigate this terrain and most importantly to communicate with our peers about the how, why, what, and wherefore of our actions. To be practical and reasonable, without becoming slaves to regulation and routine. Lest we forget, this is play!
There is no better learning curve to be on. Building self-worth that is verified in the eyes of your peers. Living, working, growing, building, loving, crafting, sharing together is ultimate gratification. It isn't instantaneous. It isn't easy.
Personal growth and enrichment of what you might call soul happens subtly over time. Can't be programmed, but it can be practiced. It helps immeasurably to be immersed in a supportive and conscientious environment, yet sometimes the most profound learning and breakthrough occurs amidst terribly trying and painful circumstance. That's a paradox to ponder.
What we might start to do is characterize various pathways and modalities of growth, learning, capacity building so as to engage with each, when and where appropriate, more fully and consciously and with the knowing support of peers.
What is the desired result? Is there one paragon or ideal of human maturation and self-actualization all should aspire to? Nah. Far from it. Consider again the cultural landscape you inhabit, or aspire to. This imprint calls for certain qualities and abilities that match well and help to form a thriving field. But each is unique, even if they share qualities and attributes.
Consider also, somewhere in the midst here, the most fundamental of dichotomies in the human species, between male and female biological type. It's...significant.
Are there meaningful distinctions to draw out between the fullness of expression of each type as a mature participant in social, technical, and biophysical systems? How do they relate, interact, complement, and contrast with one another? We can blur that line some by speaking instead of 'gender' as a looser construct attached to certain qualities and modes of being correlated but not constrained to biological sex traits. We might start by looking at ways the dominant cultural atmosphere has shaped and/or skewed these archetypes. Accenting opposition and polarity, the two are locked in tension and conflict. Placed in vivacious mutual relationship, they're an encapsulation of a most potent creative force. Watch out! Knock your socks off and burn stuff you weren't anticipating....
Despite (and sometimes as a result of) years, lifetimes of personal growth and training, we still wind up bumping into multiple sucky, sticky barriers and pitfalls on the way to establish a thriving center of eco-groovy habitation. There's no training substitute for diving into the creative process with a conscientious and enthusiastic group of peers. Things will go out of whack and you'll have to deal with it. It'll make you stronger, kinder, calmer, and wiser. It'll hurt, it may break some of you, and you should be prepared for the hard work of resetting, reconciling, reconfiguring, and recovering.
Here are some of the most nefarious trouble areas - the strangely attractive 'anti-patterns' of otherwise wholesome and benevolent collaborative endeavor:
More on all that in, you guessed it, a map right here!