Monday, December 5, 2016

Keep a little space open (Harrison Owen): Residents & Presidents

Some days ago I wrote to the OSLIST: 
Hi friends!
Watch this video. A native American confronting and ´anti-illegal´ immigration protester group:
This video reminds me of our opportunity to open space more and more, all the time.
What are you comments and impressions
on the angry mode?

HO answered quickly on the OSLIST:
Needs to be a lot of open space for the anger too. Gets a little messy and loud, but it is all part of the package. But one thing to remember. Never in 30 years of opening space with some truly angry/hostile folks have I ever seen any physical violence. Never. And usually they (whoever they were) ended up hugging each other. Seemed to happen every time. No exceptions. Harrison
Then HO himself started another thread on the recent US elections, interesting views:
"And we can help. Our plottings, plans, and procedures are interesting of course, but perhaps more important is doing what we can to keep a little space open so that Life has room to grow. Who knows what wonder and majesty will emerge all by itself"
Donald Trump Was Not elected by Martians
I experienced the election of Donald Trump as a massive shock. That said, it must be affirmed that he won fair and square – albeit with a little help from an arcane institution: The Electoral College. Curiously, there were several million more people voting for Hillary than Donald. But never mind – he won. And Donald Trump was not elected by Martians.
The Donald’s victory is appalling to me for many reasons, which need not be reiterated. But it is a fact. He won. The Donald is also a recognizable American Type, perhaps more in the mold of The Robber Barons or Al Capone, but definitely, “American.” Actually, he is his own Brand, or so he would have you believe.
More to the point, he was elected by Americans. These Americans are my fellow citizens, a disparate bunch for sure, and some of them are neighbors, relatives, even friends. How could they do this? 
You will not miss the pain and incredulity of my question. However, in the interests of transparency,  I have a confession to make. I am an endangered species, one of a vanishing few: a certified WASP. Skin color, definitely light, Anglo-Saxon for sure, and Protestant of the Episcopalian sort. Old Philadelphian, Socially Registered, all the proper schools. In short: WASP
And I lived in a bubble. It is true that I have traveled the world, living and working on every continent (save Antarctica) – for corporations, governments and very small villages. I have heard much, and seen more – but you never get out of your skin. That bubble goes with you. The election of Donald Trump popped my bubble.  I have to thank him for that. 
The revelation experienced has little to do with a sudden perception of the issues involved. Some of those issues were less familiar, but few were strangers. Indeed, I seem to have worked with them all. What I missed (or miss-gauged) was more fundamental: Fear. Deep, existential Fear. The Germans would say Angst.
The source of all this anxiety? I suspect the culprit is none other than Change. Deep, radical Change... with no end in sight. All 7.5+ billion of us are in the midst of a transformative moment. Every organization, institution, or social structure worldwide is being pushed to the edge of breaking –  and beyond. The Pillars of the Earth, the central structures, the things we count on.... are on shaking ground. It is all called CHANGE with a very capitol C. Terrifying – if you stop to think about it. 
Remarking that the world is changing has become a tattered cliché. And curiously, on the American political scene, a leading theme is the need for CHANGE! Both Obama (“Change you can believe in”) and Trump played that card. We seem to be asking for more of our most frightening nightmare.The insanity of this paradox resolves once the nature of our desired change is specified. More often than not, the hoped for Change is, “Back to the good old days.” That could be days as they actually were, or more usually, days as we might wish them to have been. The “American Dream” being a good example.
That there is The Dream is a fact, and it has had the beneficial effect of pushing and sucking us along. But suggesting that The Dream represents an assured reality, guaranteed for life, is a cruel hoax perpetrated by naive dreamers and frauds alike, but for differing reasons. The net effect, however, is the same: Massive disillusion, anger and ultimately –  Fear. The world we expected, the world we were “promised”  is never going to happen. It could be something better, maybe something different – but definitely not “as promised.”
You can see the pickle we have created for ourselves. How we got here is the core of the present debate. The virtually universal response is, Somebody did something wrong, followed quickly by strong condemnation, all combined with multiple “sure-fire” fixes. Somewhere there must be The Plan, The Leader, or best of all, The Leader with The Plan... 
In case you hadn’t noticed, we are still waiting... Then again, perhaps we are looking at things in the wrong way?
What we take to be error, chaos and confusion, the ending and dissolution of life... may be quite different. What we are experiencing could be a critical aspect of life’s ongoing, natural process. Like crustaceans (crabs, for example), we create a comfortable shelter (shells) in which we happily grow. I might also say, bubble. We are protected until that inevitable day when we are just too much “crab” for our accommodations. A serious choice has to be made. Shed the shell or die! Of course, shedding the shell makes one totally vulnerable to any passing critter searching for a tender, tasty meal. Terrifying!
Following this analogy, we have created many shells called “Political Systems,” “Scientific Theories,” “Social Mores,” “Cultures” – each one providing a momentary safe space for a few lucky inhabitants. We have done this again and again, in parallel and sequentially. For better than a million years, we as a species (Homo sapiens), have evolved – engaging, surpassing, and on occasion, eliminating, our cousins (Homo whatever), and other fellow travelers on Planet Earth. As a species, we have done quite well (so far), albeit with some collateral damage. 
For those protected by new and emerging “shells,” this is known as Progress. For all other creatures, there are different names. The weakest version may be “Change,” but stronger varieties include: pain, deceit, catastrophe, calamity. Viewed from the point of view of the evolution of our species, we simply couldn’t be what we are, had we not been what we’ve been, and overall we haven’t done that badly. Other species will take a less charitable view.
Simply put – our present, evolved position is a direct result of our moving from shell to shell (bubble to bubble).  For all those questioning the positive nature of this evolution, I suggest an immediate re-location in any handy cave – presuming you find one unoccupied by a Saber-tooth or other nasty creature.
Now to the point: The Donald represents another Shell/Bubble. Not a very good one, I submit, but never the less, a covering space for those who think, hope, believe –  that he can somehow give them shelter in the storm. As with pudding, the test will be in the eating. Should the shell prove effective, it will last for whatever time. Then it too will pass.
There are those who hope and expect the Trumpian Shell to endure. Adolph Schicklgruber was promising a 1000 years, but fortunately life moved on and change came sooner. How long we will be stuck with The Donald is anybody’s guess. In the mean time, we might just as well get on with life – for surely life is getting on with us. As usual. 

And we can help. Our plottings, plans, and procedures are interesting of course, but perhaps more important is doing what we can to keep a little space open so that Life has room to grow. Who knows what wonder and majesty will emerge all by itself.

Love, laugh, live ;-)!


Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Lost in the world?

@Gurenduz-en bidez jasoa. Mertxi!



Compact living: how to design small interior space

Pisua erosi barri, orain barrukoa eraldatzeko ilusioz.


Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Open Space on the open road (Suzanne Daigle departing to Manila, Wosonos 2016)

Great news from Suzanne Daigle, heading to #WOSONOS2016 in Manila. Enjoy the Wosonos, everybody!

"Hi everyone, 
In 2009, smitten as I was by Open Space, I traded my air miles and flew to Taiwan.  It's where I met Sharon Joy Chao. We were two newbies then. To think that tomorrow at 6 am, I'm heading to Manila - well I'm absolutely thrilled. And I'd love to bring you all with me.  
In 2009, I announced to the world here on this list that I would facilitate or co-facilitate (helper) one Open Space a month. I had just discovered Open Space and boy was I committed. Telling everyone here about my plan was scary in itself but I just had to do it. I kept track and two or three years later, I counted about 30.  My passion and belief in this work never dimmed.  
I also fell in love with our community feeling such deep admiration for the closed spaces being opened with such courage and vision.  I harbored a dream that one day I could go back to my journalist roots, travel the world and write stories about Open Space, visiting facilitator friends everywhere.  I confided as much to Peggy Holman.  That never really materialized but I never forgot my dream.  
Many reasons that I'm excited about going to the Philippines hoping that I might write some of those stories. It's one of the reasons why I created a website which I named "Open Space on the Open Road".  I hope you'll join me there in the days and weeks to come. I'll be blogging, taking pictures and maybe some video too.  Much of this is very new - my first website that I can call my very own. My goal is to share the stories of the ordinary extraordinary people that I'll be meeting on this trip. And if you stop by, please send me a note in the section titled NOW YOU! 
And finally I do hope you decide to join us at the QiQoChat house. I promise that experiencing the World Open Space on Open Space virtually will be the next best thing to being there. You can register here
Suzanne DaigleOpen Space FacilitatorNuFocus Strategic Group

Twitter @Daiglesuz"

Monday, October 24, 2016

What´s so great about Open Space?

Suzanne Daigle on the OSLIST
"If you haven't seen it yet. If you haven't considered it yet. I'd say please do!!!
OSI US has initiated a terrific project. (**Thank you for conceiving the idea: To create a 2 minute video where you can describe "What's so great about Open Space?")
I've never felt comfortable watching myself on video, let alone doing a video of myself. But my passion and appreciation for the gift of Open Space in my life was bigger than my fear so I just jumped in. Still feel a bit dorky about it but did it. Which then led me to try with Michael Herman to invite folks for the upcoming Virtual World Open Space in Manila. 
How wonderful it would be to have the voices and images of people around the world sharing in this way. I can even imagine a special session in Manila to listen to them all.

Please visit the OSI US website for instructions and to see the 4 short clips that are posted there now. Each with their own flavor and spirit. 
And if you haven't done so already, consider joining the folks in Manila and beyond for a virtual taste of the World Open Space on Open Space. For the price of a few cups of coffee and some muffins, you could be part of a vibrant history being created minute by minute. I'm sure our wonderful Filipino hosts would be thrilled to feel your presence.


Suzanne Daigle 
Open Space Facilitator
NuFocus Strategic Group 

Harold Shinsato via OSList 

Thank you, Suzanne! We actually have five videos published and three more recorded that need to be published. You can find the channel here:
Harold Shinsato


Wednesday, September 7, 2016

John Thackara: signals of transformation


SEPTEMBER 2016 Newsletter

Since my book How To Thrive In the Next Economy was published – a year ago this week – I’ve had conversations about it at forty talks and workshops . With thanks to my diverse but always generous hosts, this email is to share the 72 most interesting and cheering things that I learnedalong the way.  …


1    My talks proposed a simple theory of value: the health of living systems, including human ones, is paramount. Money and GDP are secondary indicators of progress, at best. Nobody disagreed. So that’s that sorted.
2    For the theologian Ina Praetorius, what’s emerging is a care-centered economy .
3     Dougald Hine says we’re in a shift from a transactional to a relational economy.
4    The Pope’s encyclical Laudato Si – with a target readership of 1.2 billion people – includes a whole chapter on ‘integral ecology’. Fritjof Capra celebrated the Pope’s systems thinking .
5    Encouraged by the above, my talk at Berkeley was entitled: From Biomedicine to Bioregion – The Geographies of a Care-Based Economy


6    In a care-centered economy, restoring plant life and biodiversity is at least as high a priority as changing our energy system, or reigning in the banks.
7    John Liu has demonstrated that large-scale ecological restoration is possible.
8    A ‘ National Ecological Rescue Plan ‘ features prominently in the programme of Podemos in Spain.
9    The European Union (which speaks in many voices, it’s true) supports High Nature Value(HNV) farming
10    Scotland is already monitoring HNV Farming and Forestry Indicators.
11    Wales is legislating ‘ a duty of care to future generations
12    Judith Schwartz wrote an excellent primer on the restoration of  soil health
13    In California, Fibershed published this story (and a map) about climate-beneficial wool
14    In Bangalore – once known known as the ‘city of lakes’’ – the ecologist S. Vishwanath is working on the restoration of watersheds devastated by hyper-development.
15    Re-forestation – a sub-set of ecological restoration – should focus on biodiversity . Planting trees en masse – especially as as bio-energy crops – can badly damage ecosystems.
16    I met many people involved in wetlands restoration projects – such as this
17    I learned a useful new word from this swamps community: Limnology. It means the study of inland waterways
18    Europe’s ‘ low impact fishing ’ communities have formed themselves into a platform
19    Ecosystem restoration creates jobs and business activity
20    Some of these jobs are in dam removal – which is booming.
21    Although soil restoration using plants and natural chemicals can achieve a lot, a good deal of heavy lifting will still be needed. In a talk to DEME, I suggested they stop calling themselves a dredging company and become global leaders in Land Repair.
22    I discovered a treasure trove of “good” green tech in the the Climate Tech Wiki
23    Ecological restoration, and regeneration , are not the same thing.
24    There’s also a difference between restoration ecology and ‘ rewilding ‘.
25    I learned from Regenesis that we need to “grow our capacity to think systemically and holistically about whole living systems and our role in living among them”


26    The “Network Europe 21”  agenda states that  Europe should be organised as an  “Interconnected Transnational Republic of Cities and Regions 
27    I proposed adding “Bio-”  to the word region in a post called Bioregions: Notes on a design agenda
28    We then ran a two week course at Schumacher College, in South Devon, England, calledBioregionalism By Design.
29    A lot of “learning” about a place, it emerged, involves knowledge that already exists – but in overlooked professional archives. An inspiring example in South Devon were maps made by theWest Country Rivers Trust to inform its watershed catchment planning.
30    Isabel Carlisle (a course leader on the Schumacher course) is setting up a bioregional learning centre to serve South Devon’s Dartia watershed. The West Country Rivers Trust is a partner, as are Devon Hedges (who also look after wildlife corridors). Carlisle is setting up a Keepers of the Place network
31    Later, in my talk at #earthtalks in Vienna, I argued that a Europe of Bioregions would be a strong counter-proposal to the ‘Europe of Fatherlands’ being proposed by the xenophobic right.
32    At a workshop called Back To The Land 2.0 with Chora Connection in Denmark, we invited project leaders to share their insights on what makes a living economy work in their bioregion.
33    The organic municipality of Lejre , we heard, is setting up a Farm Lab in an amazing building
34    Although the idea of an ‘organic municipality’ seems to be a first, one third of Swedish municipalities are ‘ eco-municipalities 
35    At HF Cold Hawaii, a Danish high school, lessons are rescheduled when the surf is up.
36    At a Stir To Action workshop in England, we discussed the need for a back-to-the-land cooperation platform.
37    After that worklshop, the Agroecology Land Trust made a to-do list of practical issues that need to be addressed: Access to land; Skills and training; Business and livelihoods; Communities and culture.
38    Truth be told, the words “Back to the Land” and “Bioregionalism” did not (yet) trigger an “ahah!” response. For one thing, the project pioneers who know most about the subject are already there – on the land. New concepts, visions, and plans are not, to put it mildly, a priority.
39    Project leaders do value meeting each other – but some complained of networking fatigue. They already have lots to do – and the work needed to choral a wide variety of stakeholders is relentless.
40    One conclusion: Stories about local projects are more usefully shared in that place than described, second-hand, in the city.  With that in mind, plans for a Chora Connection Caravanserai are in the works. The idea is take subject experts to work with project pioneers on key challenges: financing, housing, legal barriers, new business models.
41    In big cities, amplifying the number and reach of grassroots projects takes structure, processes, commitment, and time. To this end, Tessy Britton’s Participatory City project will involve, from 2017, a ‘demonstration neighbourhood’ of 200-300,000 people. They will test out up to 1,000 ideas over a five year period.
42    In France, a  book called Villages of the Future documents a state-of-the-art approach to community and place development in the Bourgogne region.


43    Several people asked: How could I write a book with “Designing Tomorrow’s World Today” in its title and not include a chapter on ‘Making’? I sometimes quoted Ursula K. Le Guin (in The Lathe of Heaven): “ Things don’t have purposes “. I also argued that if ‘production’ is not the purpose of life, then neither is it the purpose of a living economy.
44    Besides, we have too much stuff. Offsite storage has been the fastest-growing segment of US commercial real estate for 40 years running.
45    Dmitry Orlov takes a harder line than I do in his new book: “Unlike Gaia, which is an organism onto itself, the technosphere is a parasite upon the biosphere 
46    Many of my designer friends are excited by the promise of a circular economy. I irritated some of them with this quote: “ Sociometabolically , 44 percent of a ‘circular economy’ is not available for recycling”.
47    Christian Arnsperger offered up a compromise. Circular economy effects work – but only under conditions of one per cent growth. We should therefore grow a “ perma-circular economy“.
48    An enjoyable making task for a perma-circular economy:  the hardware needed for next economy energy systems : The necessary tools and equipment will be “numerous, varied, small-scale, and interconnected”.
49    The Make Works platform is Scotland is an asset-based-place-based approach to making. It feels more significant than all those 3d printers and drones. “ Make Works are factory finders ” – and now you can be one, too.
50    In the long run, how we use and take care of things is just as important as making new stuff. Kate Fletcher’s important book Craft Of Use: Post-Growth Fashion frames design and use as a single whole, and documents the ways in people across three continents use their clothes.


51    Michel Bauwens advocates a p2p economy in which equal partners steward common resources. A polycentric system of commons trusts would enable ecosystems to be stewarded both locally and globally.
52    This sounds hard, to put it mildly. But a tremendous buzz is growing around the notion ofplatform coops as the political and organisational means to enable such an economy to flourish.
53    For Trebor Sholz, who coined the term, the next step is to develop Platform Coops as “something like public utilities ”.
54    Platform coops are not abstract models. They are ‘living beings’. Hence, they are infinitely diverse
55    The difference between platform cooperativism, and the sharing-economy , is helpfully explained here by @jdaviescoates
56    If ecological restoration is indeed the “great work” of our time’ – then we need training centres in every bioregion.
57    I favour Folk High Schools for this role. They are in many ways an excellent model developed in the Nordic
 countries in the nineteenth century.
58    A social infrastructure complementary to Folk High Schools can be bioregional guilds – like this one in Cascadia.
59    We also need to reconnect with our places in festivals and biennials . I suggested, to a conference of biennial organisers, that “social and ecological systems can be stars of the show”
60    Overly-scientific climate communications have caused worldwide “ story fatigue “. Artists have an urgent role to play in shifting our focus onto “intangible but meaning-making aspects of the problem”.
61    Soil Culture: Bringing the Arts Down to Earth is an inspiring example of what artists can do.  The same is now involved in the ecological arts network Art.Earth
62    Another example of art enhancing place is  Cateran’s Common Wealth . in Scotland. Clare Cooper curates a wide variety of arts, cultural and heritage activities to celebrate the common wealth of Big Tree Country.
63    Could your bioregion be a memership organisation? Hugh Dubberly developed an fresh and  innovative Membership Engagement Platform for National Geographic (before, sadly, it changed hands).


64    Back in January I asked,  “ Are positive stories enough? ”  My conclusion, nine months later, is that grounded evidence of positive change is indeed a powerful antidote to the fear being whipped up by some politicians and their media.
65    To judge by project birth-rates, the next economy is emerging faster than a year ago, too. Someone showed me a map that lists 862 projects in the Marseille region alone .
66     If dversity is another indicator of ecosystem health, then the proliferation of new social and economic models is also cheering. The Real Economy Lab , which I saw launched in Bristol, documents 400 examples. They are helpfully divided up into Tribes, and Themes.
67    The search for a dividing line between ‘before’ and ‘after’ (or “Left” and “Right”) is probably misguided. As stated by the Communard Manifesto , “The new world will be born and affirmed inside the old”.
68    The best book I received this year is Lean Logic: Dictionary Of he Future and How to Survive It. I have never made this promise before – but if you buy this book, you will not regret it.
69    There was broad agreement on my travels that climate change will not be ‘defeated’ by a) wars b) utopias or c) sentences that include the words “we must” or “they must”
70   Otherwise stated: “Another world is possible” (Arundhati Roy) was a good story.  “Another world is happening” is a better one.


71    I’ve been a writer and storyteller all my life but I never heard the word “ narratology ” until the military got involved.
72    I guess that means I am a Narratologist for hire


Contact me (John Thackara, Doors of Perception) by Email
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