[permaculture] hierarchies and networks

jamesdavid Sneed harvestcircle at hotmail.com
Mon Nov 1 14:10:14 EDT 2010



 

> Date: Mon, 1 Nov 2010 04:43:56 -0700
> From: cory8570 at yahoo.com
> To: permaculture at lists.ibiblio.org
> Subject: Re: [permaculture] hierarchies and networks
> 
> This is a great analysis of some of the potential and existing problems in hierarchies.
> 
> I've observed the "king in his own corner" phenomena as well. Maybe there is some kind of instinctual thing, like top predators have, of defending one's own territory and keeping it separate from that of others. But on the other hand, I don't think anyone would argue that we tend to be herd animals - tribal for thousands of years. Many herds have "alpha" animals, those that rise to the top of the hierarchy based on skill sets or ability to dominate. But others are more organic, allowing one animal to lead, then another. Geese in a flock, dolphins, and others. 
> 
> Studying leadership paradigms in the natural world has been helpful for me to get out of the box on how hierarchies can work. Some key elements to keeping the organization responsive are observing the system, willingness to accept self-regulation and feedback and creatively responding to change. Diversity and beneficial connection (along with accepting feedback) help one understand what the organization is actually doing, by getting multiple viewpoints of it. Each principle has particular applications for leadership.
> 
> Sometimes it could appear that some aspects of our instinctual nature are at war with our ability to reason. Where is the line drawn between fighting one another for territory, and cooperating?
Great question. Here's a thought: In flight, geese trade off, but on the ground while eating the heirarchy appears and controls the edible resources. Also, I've seen canines specialize in their activities, the faster ones flanking and tiring the prey while the larger ones wait in reserve until time to use their muscle and weight to drag prey down. Maybe in humans the muscle gets confused with leadership.
 
> 
> Cory
> 
> 
> 
> --- On Sun, 10/31/10, Andrew McSwain <aeromax.way at gmail.com> wrote:
> 
> > From: Andrew McSwain <aeromax.way at gmail.com>
> > Subject: Re: [permaculture] hierarchies and networks
> > To: "permaculture" <permaculture at lists.ibiblio.org>
> > Date: Sunday, October 31, 2010, 8:33 PM
> > "It makes it easier for activists to
> > express themselves, and harder for that
> > expression to have any impact "-- as opposed to what, a
> > hierchical
> > organization like a car company? If this is then case, then
> > I disagree.
> > 
> > One of the largest problems with hierchical organizations
> > these days is that
> > there is too large of a distance between the peons and the
> > decision-makers.
> > That in a hierchical organization like a car company the
> > activists will get
> > absolutely no voice at all. In a hierchical organization
> > SOMETHING will
> > happen. They tend to be good at executing an action of any
> > sort, but in most
> > cases of extreme hierarchy (like most companies and many
> > activists groups)
> > they fail at being coping with a dynamic set of
> > circumstances. That's why we
> > are in the environmental crisis that we are today. TONS of
> > us have known
> > since the 60s, one could argue that we have known
> > collectively since
> > Thoreau. Have our opinions, priorities, and perspectives
> > been taken into
> > account?
> > 
> > 
> > first of all: I wouldn't say that dynamical systems are
> > always less
> > effective. sometimes being more included in the actual
> > processes makes you
> > feel "empowered." Most corrupt and/or low-productivity
> > participants are a
> > product of overly mechanistic, rule-based, and one-way
> > pidgeon-holed work
> > environments: that is, because of too much hierarchy, not
> > too little.
> > 
> > second of all, I would say that a change in culture can
> > help us with our
> > problems in more disorganized structures. We come from a
> > long-long-long---long--- history of extremely hierchical
> > systems. When we
> > got rid of our king, everyone became their own king
> > (instead of a humble and
> > equal member of a king-less society), we learned to
> > dominate others to the
> > best of our ability. The situation improved little, and
> > from my own personal
> > experiences has improved little since.
> > 
> > Everyone wants to build their own sandcastle, but lack the
> > motivation to
> > construct a town square.
> > 
> > I see have seem the same type of problem in my community
> > organizing
> > activities and pariticipations: it's all about personal
> > conquest. There is
> > little room for compromise, listening, or any true
> > reflection or accounting
> > of "hey. what are our real priorities? Do our behaviors and
> > actions line up
> > with our priorities to form a reality that completes our
> > mission? The
> > community organizing effort, or cause, ends up becoming
> > each and every
> > person's personal sand castle- and everyone feels justified
> > in defending
> > what they feel is their's.
> > 
> > That's what I feel happened here between the factions.
> > 
> > On Mon, Nov 1, 2010 at 5:55 AM, Lawrence F. London, Jr.
> > <lflj at bellsouth.net>wrote:
> > 
> > > On 10/31/2010 5:54 PM, Toby Hemenway wrote:
> > >
> > >> One subject we touched on in the recent
> > certification thread was new and
> > >> old tools for change, and the difference
> > >> between hierarchical and decentralized
> > organizations and tools. I'd said
> > >> that I once had high hopes for decentralized
> > >> leadership tools, like consensus, but was
> > disappointed by how rarely they
> > >> live up to their promise. I've been
> > >> skeptical of the value of these and similar
> > methods to actually produce
> > >> change, and have found the older
> > >> tools--strong leadership, old-style voting--at
> > least as effective (though
> > >> I still prefer inclusive versions of these
> > >> tools to exclusive).
> > >>
> > >
> > > They say that the world is run by those who show up.
> > > And, freedom of the press belong to those who own
> > one.
> > >
> > > However, these thoughts have been circulating lately:
> > a permaculture
> > > heirarchical oversight organization
> > > that offers, like a governmental agencies that have no
> > teeth and only can
> > > offer recommendations at best to
> > > those who do have the power to put laws, rule and
> > regulations in place.
> > >
> > > You vote with your feet. Permaculture teachers,
> > organizations, consultants
> > > and designers and anyone who would hire a permaculture
> > professional simply
> > > could require that they have proven expertise,
> > knowledge and a
> > > certificate(s) of having completed training and
> > fieldwork before being
> > > hired. This phoo could help those professionals in
> > training by offering a
> > > set of permaculture standards, similar to the Organic
> > Rule for USDA
> > > certified organic farms and an outline and description
> > of standard
> > > coursework that should be required of anyone seeking
> > status as a certified
> > > permaculture professional. This process could be
> > elevated to community
> > > college and university level coursework.
> > >
> > > Do read my suggestion about the need to recognize and
> > help those who cannot
> > > afford any training but want to play a significant
> > role in their communities
> > > as permaculture mentors, teachers, activists
> > (political too, if necessary),
> > > consultants, designers and local practitioners within
> > a growing community
> > > of like-minded individuals (this would be so important
> > to so many, just
> > > think about that if you're thinking about ways to make
> > waves for forge the
> > > future).
> > >
> > >
> > >  I was catching up on a stack of New Yorker
> > magazines this morning, and in
> > >> the Oct 4 issue there's an article that
> > >> fits right in to this conversation, "Small Change"
> > by Malcolm Gladwell.
> > >> Gladwell is known for his book "The Tipping
> > >> Point" and in general being a whole systems
> > thinker. He's made the points
> > >> I would have liked to have made. I was
> > >> intrigued that he feels network tools aren't good
> > for doing design, and
> > >> that they are better at preserving the status
> > >> quo than changing it. So here's a quote from the
> > article.
> > >>
> > >> "Unlike hierarchies, with their rules and
> > procedures, networks aren’t
> > >> controlled by a single central authority.
> > >> Decisions are made through consensus, and the ties
> > that bind people to the
> > >> group are loose. This structure makes
> > >> networks enormously resilient and adaptable in
> > low-risk situations.
> > >> Wikipedia is a perfect example. . . .
> > >>
> > >
> > >
> > >> "The drawbacks of networks scarcely matter if the
> > network isn’t interested
> > >> in systemic change—if it just wants to
> > >> frighten or humiliate or make a splash—or if it
> > doesn’t need to think
> > >> strategically. But if you’re taking on a
> > >> powerful and organized establishment you have to
> > be a hierarchy . . . .
> > >>
> > >
> > > Wonderful thinking!
> > >
> > > LL
> > >
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> > 
> > 
> > 
> > -- 
> > Andrew Edwin McSwain
> > 055(11)6785-1176 (São Paulo)
> > 01(501)681-0439 (United States)
> > _______________________________________________
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