Archive for March, 2009

It is so easy!

Saturday, March 28th, 2009

I am impressed by this article and the simple truth that is in it… I copied it as a whole, because it is important that things like this get spread.
A city in Brazil recruited local farmers to help do something U.S. cities have yet to do: end hunger. by Frances Moore Lappé

“To search for solutions to hunger means to act within the principle that the status of a citizen surpasses that of a mere consumer.” CITY OF BELO HORIZONTE, BRAZIL

In writing Diet for a Small Planet, I learned one simple truth: Hunger is not caused by a scarcity of food but a scarcity of democracy. But that realization was only the beginning, for then I had to ask: What does a democracy look like that enables citizens to have a real voice in securing life’s essentials? Does it exist anywhere? Is it possible or a pipe dream? With hunger on the rise here in the United States-one in 10 of us is now turning to food stamps-these questions take on new urgency.To begin to conceive of the possibility of a culture of empowered citizens making democracy work for them, real-life stories help-not models to adopt wholesale, but examples that capture key lessons. For me, the story of Brazil’s fourth largest city, Belo Horizonte, is a rich trove of such lessons. Belo, a city of 2.5 million people, once had 11 percent of its population living in absolute poverty, and almost 20 percent of its children going hungry. Then in 1993, a newly elected administration declared food a right of citizenship. The officials said, in effect: If you are too poor to buy food in the market-you are no less a citizen. I am still accountable to you.

The new mayor, Patrus Ananias-now leader of the federal anti-hunger effort-began by creating a city agency, which included assembling a 20-member council of citizen, labor, business, and church representatives to advise in the design and implementation of a new food system. The city already involved regular citizens directly in allocating municipal resources-the “participatory budgeting” that started in the 1970s and has since spread across Brazil. During the first six years of Belo’s food-as-a-right policy, perhaps in response to the new emphasis on food security, the number of citizens engaging in the city’s participatory budgeting process doubled to more than 31,000.

The city agency developed dozens of innovations to assure everyone the right to food, especially by weaving together the interests of farmers and consumers. It offered local family farmers dozens of choice spots of public space on which to sell to urban consumers, essentially redistributing retailer mark-ups on produce-which often reached 100 percent-to consumers and the farmers. Farmers’ profits grew, since there was no wholesaler taking a cut. And poor people got access to fresh, healthy food.When my daughter Anna and I visited Belo Horizonte to write Hope’s Edge we approached one of these stands. A farmer in a cheerful green smock, emblazoned with “Direct from the Countryside,” grinned as she told us, “I am able to support three children from my five acres now. Since I got this contract with the city, I’ve even been able to buy a truck.”

The improved prospects of these Belo farmers were remarkable considering that, as these programs were getting underway, farmers in the country as a whole saw their incomes drop by almost half.

In addition to the farmer-run stands, the city makes good food available by offering entrepreneurs the opportunity to bid on the right to use well-trafficked plots of city land for “ABC” markets, from the Portuguese acronym for “food at low prices.” Today there are 34 such markets where the city determines a set price-about two-thirds of the market price-of about twenty healthy items, mostly from in-state farmers and chosen by store-owners. Everything else they can sell at the market price.

“For ABC sellers with the best spots, there’s another obligation attached to being able to use the city land,” a former manager within this city agency, Adriana Aranha, explained. “Every weekend they have to drive produce-laden trucks to the poor neighborhoods outside of the city center, so everyone can get good produce.”Another product of food-as-a-right thinking is three large, airy “People’s Restaurants” (Restaurante Popular), plus a few smaller venues, that daily serve 12,000 or more people using mostly locally grown food for the equivalent of less than 50 cents a meal. When Anna and I ate in one, we saw hundreds of diners-grandparents and newborns, young couples, clusters of men, mothers with toddlers. Some were in well-worn street clothes, others in uniform, still others in business suits.

“I’ve been coming here every day for five years and have gained six kilos,” beamed one elderly, energetic man in faded khakis.

“It’s silly to pay more somewhere else for lower quality food,” an athletic-looking young man in a military police uniform told us. “I’ve been eating here every day for two years. It’s a good way to save money to buy a house so I can get married,” he said with a smile.

No one has to prove they’re poor to eat in a People’s Restaurant, although about 85 percent of the diners are. The mixed clientele erases stigma and allows “food with dignity,” say those involved.Belo’s food security initiatives also include extensive community and school gardens as well as nutrition classes. Plus, money the federal government contributes toward school lunches, once spent on processed, corporate food, now buys whole food mostly from local growers.

“We’re fighting the concept that the state is a terrible, incompetent administrator,” Adriana explained. “We’re showing that the state doesn’t have to provide everything, it can facilitate. It can create channels for people to find solutions themselves.”

For instance, the city, in partnership with a local university, is working to “keep the market honest in part simply by providing information,” Adriana told us. They survey the price of 45 basic foods and household items at dozens of supermarkets, then post the results at bus stops, online, on television and radio, and in newspapers so people know where the cheapest prices are.

The shift in frame to food as a right also led the Belo hunger-fighters to look for novel solutions. In one successful experiment, egg shells, manioc leaves, and other material normally thrown away were ground and mixed into flour for school kids’ daily bread. This enriched food also goes to nursery school children, who receive three meals a day courtesy of the city.

“I knew we had so much hunger in the world. But what is so upsetting, what I didn’t know when I started this, is it’s so easy. It’s so easy to end it.”

The result of these and other related innovations?

In just a decade Belo Horizonte cut its infant death rate-widely used as evidence of hunger-by more than half, and today these initiatives benefit almost 40 percent of the city’s 2.5 million population. One six-month period in 1999 saw infant malnutrition in a sample group reduced by 50 percent. And between 1993 and 2002 Belo Horizonte was the only locality in which consumption of fruits and vegetables went up.

The cost of these efforts?

Around $10 million annually, or less than 2 percent of the city budget. That’s about a penny a day per Belo resident.

Behind this dramatic, life-saving change is what Adriana calls a “new social mentality”-the realization that “everyone in our city benefits if all of us have access to good food, so-like health care or education-quality food for all is a public good.”

The Belo experience shows that a right to food does not necessarily mean more public handouts (although in emergencies, of course, it does.) It can mean redefining the “free” in “free market” as the freedom of all to participate. It can mean, as in Belo, building citizen-government partnerships driven by values of inclusion and mutual respect.

And when imagining food as a right of citizenship, please note: No change in human nature is required! Through most of human evolution-except for the last few thousand of roughly 200,000 years-Homo sapiens lived in societies where pervasive sharing of food was the norm. As food sharers, “especially among unrelated individuals,” humans are unique, writes Michael Gurven, an authority on hunter-gatherer food transfers. Except in times of extreme privation, when some eat, all eat.

Before leaving Belo, Anna and I had time to reflect a bit with Adriana. We wondered whether she realized that her city may be one of the few in the world taking this approach-food as a right of membership in the human family. So I asked, “When you began, did you realize how important what you are doing was? How much difference it might make? How rare it is in the entire world?”

Listening to her long response in Portuguese without understanding, I tried to be patient. But when her eyes moistened, I nudged our interpreter. I wanted to know what had touched her emotions.

“I knew we had so much hunger in the world,” Adriana said. “But what is so upsetting, what I didn’t know when I started this, is it’s so easy. It’s so easy to end it.”

Adriana’s words have stayed with me. They will forever. They hold perhaps Belo’s greatest lesson: that it is easy to end hunger if we are willing to break free of limiting frames and to see with new eyes-if we trust our hard-wired fellow feeling and act, no longer as mere voters or protesters, for or against government, but as problem-solving partners with government accountable to us.

Frances Moore Lappé wrote this article as part of Food for Everyone, the Spring 2009 issue of YES! Magazine. Frances is the author of many books including Diet for a Small Planet and Get a Grip, co-founder of Food First and the Small Planet Institute, and a YES! contributing editor.The author thanks Dr. M. Jahi Chappell for his contribution to the article.

Thanks to Dave Pollard for the link!

Living wholeness

Sunday, March 22nd, 2009

It has been a while since I wrote my last blog post in English. In the meantime there was the Art of Hosting happening here in Dutch, with lots of related activities and I just returned a few days ago from Greece. I was at Axladitsa, the Learning Center, initiated by Maria Scordialou and Sarah Whiteley. The first few days I was part of their landweek, helping out on the land and in the garden. We fenced the newly planted vines and cleared some more space around the house and what will become the next extension of the vegetable garden.

IMG_2860

After this work outside we gathered with the hosting team – the three of us and Judy Wallace – to prepare for the collective inquiry: The Edge of Collective Sourcing. Below you find the document we put together on this day, right before the participants were arriving. You will see, it is a work in progress, not all points have flesh to the bones (yet).

LIVING WHOLENESS – Through the Practice of Collective Sourcing

This is wisdom generated by two ‘partnerships’, which have been inquiring into Collective Sourcing for some years. We have attentively been watching what happens when our will is opened intentionally – besides our mind and heart – and is held and practiced collectively. It evokes real emergence, whereby something totally new arises.
Partners are Maria Scordialou and Sarah Whiteley, who founded Axladitsa, a learning center in Greece that is researching Living Wholeness in action. Other partners are Ria Baeck and Judy Wallace who initiated the training Women Moving the Edge, which will soon have its sixth iteration.

ASSUMPTIONS
The whole is getting bigger
In order to live fully in a world with more complexity and ever more uncertainty, we know that we have to go beyond what we already know. Whatever context we find ourselves in – the corporate world, public sector, non-profits or engaging in our communities – we need to learn to hold many levels of paradox, conflict and disturbance. It is our basic assumption that the whole that we need to live into and embrace is getting bigger and bigger. We have to include all the wholes that we already know of and transcend them.

New Human Capacity

To live this wholeness we need new practices, new organizational patterns, new ways of planning etc. In general we need to activate a new human capacity. A capacity that sees the world more in terms of organisms and ecosystems instead of organizations.
In the gathering, the Edge of Collective Sourcing we are building or activating this new human capacity: the capacity to collectively hold both the highest question and the deepest sourcing. It is innovating a new collective practice, a secular practice. It is removed from new age kinds of spirituality and removed from ‘normal’ religious practices.
This new capacity is also a shift from being an individual to being of service to and through the collective – whatever that is.  Our point of gravity will shift from being ‘me in relation to the collective’ – the old way of communal – to a new expression of ‘being the collective’ or ‘being part of an ecosystem’.

Judy and Gabriele enjoying the sun

The field of potential in need of us
We came to see that there is a collective field, a collective presence, or a collective potential that exists in itself before we gather(ed). It is not us individuals coming together and then creating ‘this field’ between us. The field with its huge potential to manifest newness was probably guiding us to come together in the first place. The field is in need of us, human beings, to make it visible and to make its potential manifest. It is only through us that it can be embodied and can result in wise actions.

We can see each individual in the circle as holding a pole of awareness, being in inner alignment. In between the poles – and in the awareness of it – the field becomes tangible. The program Edge of Collective Sourcing invites participants to practice this double awareness while doing it collectively, for collective purposes.

Restoring Balance
One of the aspects of the whole that is getting bigger in our consciousness is moving beyond our ‘global village’ to ‘being a part in the ecosystem of the Earth’. In other words, we aim to restore the balance between ‘being Citizens of the World’ and ‘being Inhabitants of the Earth’, because as both we constantly interact and mutually influence at the same time.

MENTAL MODELS WE BUILD ON

We build on three mental models that have given us deeper insights and a framework to make sense of our many deep experiences. We assume you are familiar with these models, as we only speak about a specific piece of each of them.

Spiral Dynamics
Spiral Dynamics is a developmental model to see how societies, organizations, tribes – all collectives – evolve over time, depending on the environment they are in.
Our practice of Collective Sourcing is a second tier practice, and has distinctions from the Green level – also collective – and the Yellow level. We are developing and prototyping a Turquoise practice in which this new way of being in the collective is in service – or in alignment – with the Earth, all this from a perspective of the bigger whole, which is the universe.

Presencing
Collective Sourcing is, in the language of Scharmer, a field 4 practice. The difference is maybe that we are very explicit that this is a collective practice. Although it is quite implicit in Scharmer’s theory that this generative space is where ‘I exist, because you are’. It is the consciousness where you live in a constant mutual exchange with other human beings. We add to that the constant mutual exchange with place and non-human beings.
It is also where we live in the space of Open Will, besides of course, the Open Mind and Open Heart. Collective Sourcing is living in this Open Will collectively.

Art of Hosting
From the Art of Hosting community we take the pattern that we saw emerging and which we named The Fifth Paradigm. This pattern takes the known organizational forms of Circle, Triangle, Hierarchy/Bureaucracy and Network to a next level where all core elements are integrated into a new organism, fitting our new wholeness.


UNDERSTANDING EMERGENCE: SPIRIT – SOUL MODEL

(I have been writing different pieces of this model over the last months/years. Soon more will follow, you can find an article about it on EvolutionaryNexus).
Creating from Source
Living the Turquoise level seems to us also about ‘seeing and acknowledging what is’ and creating from and with the potential. Giving form to Spirit, or creating Spirit on Earth, is to create from Source. A partnership with Source allows us to create beauty.

Wholeness of Knowing

“What if words aren’t the medium?”

Stone beauty

“I remember speaking vividly about the difference of feminine knowing and masculine knowing. It was more a showing than a speaking actually! Masculine knowing is taking a step back (see me stepping away from the experience, it its talking about something, it is building a concept after the facts… Feminine knowing (not to be confused with women’s knowing! Men know this too!) is knowing IN the experience (see me stepping into the center again). It is about ‘getting something’ while drawing you never understood before; or ‘getting’ what you need to do next while walking in nature. The knowing is in the totality of your being, not just in your head; it is as if your cells understood something.

“I see a spiral staircase, a double helix, one band thin and one band thick. The thicker one is the downloading and the rational, the thinner the more insightful and intuitive. These are the threads and our intention is to create the weave of wholeness. The pole in the center – the evolutionary thread – is what connects us to what has gone before and what is emerging. This is Collective Sourcing. The challenge is to not disconnect from the thread. The staircase can connect us to the next level.”

DIFFERENCE BETWEEN PRESENCING, ART OF HOSTING AND SOURCING
In the bigger framework the practices of Art of Hosting can be understood as aiming at opening the minds and hearts of the participants who engage in it. It can be seen as helping people travel down the left side of the U as we have come to know it through Otto Scharmer.
When people have practiced the opening of the mind and of the heart – and personal practice is being a part of it – they become ready to be at the bottom of the U. This is the point where we have access to Source, to the unmanifest potential; either of ourselves or of the project or the group we are in.
Seeing it in this way, the process of Presencing – going through the stages – differs from Sourcing, which is a direct connecting to the deep levels of unmanifest potential. Sourcing is being able to plunge directly to the bottom of the well and still being connected with the manifest level of daily life.
When this capacity is shared by more people, and we go directly to the bottom of Sourcing, our guess is that the right leg of the U-curve will become different than described right now by Otto Scharmer.

NEW HUMAN CAPACITY

Ongoing Spiral between Holding the Potential and Staying in Inquiry creates New Wisdom
There is an ongoing dynamic  – like a spiral going back and forth – between the level or depth of Sourcing and the level or depth/height of Awareness or Spirit.
The depth of the potential can only become accessible for manifestation and action when we are equally able to become aware of the intention or the clear purpose. This explains to us the importance of finding the good guiding question(s). If our question comes from a higher level of awareness it will invite in a deeper possibility of sourcing. In this widened field of wisdom, through many cycles, new wisdom can be generated.
The ship with the highest mast needs the deepest keel.

Embracing more Complexity
Related with this – and drawing it in the model – we realize that this dance between both poles in the spiral also relates to widening our reach in the manifest. The depth of sourcing and the height of the intention make sure that we can embrace more of the whole, which is so needed in dealing with the challenges of our time.

CONDITIONS – PRACTICES FOR LIVING WHOLENESS
Staying in not-knowing
The underlying condition to get to the point of Collective Sourcing is the ability to keep the space of possibility open until the collective clarity of intention arises. This means that we need to be able to stay long enough in the not-knowing. It isn’t only a mental not-knowing, but we see it as a total letting-go; the ability to sit in the void with no clue of direction or possibility. The not-knowing is a place you haven’t been before, it is a place of newness and innovation.
The ability to stay in the not-knowing is enhanced by the training we receive through our individual practices.

Function of Disturbances
We realized why we say that disturbances have priority. Disturbances make us become aware of some borders or blocking energy in the play of the widening field. Integrating the disturbance means we have to widen our perception, widen our perspectives, widen our holding space, rewording our guiding question. It always is an invitation to open wider; either the mind or the heart or the will.

Capacity of holding multiple relationships at the same time
– Be participant in the process
– Be an observer/witness of what is going on in your self
– Be an observer of the field, the group, the context you are in
– Be a leader, step forward with whatever you see or need or want to bring in
Awareness on all these levels is needed when practicing Living Wholeness.

Living as part of an ecosystem
Shifting our center of gravity from the individual to the collective. By collective we mean here all that is around us, not just the individuals or humans. At some point we used the metaphor of tango, where the man and the woman become ‘a being with four legs’. In a gathering, a workshop – or in life in general – this means one needs to know what the whole is about so that we can keep an eye on it, while at the same time also being aware of our own individual energy.

New Practice of Planning
If we tend to an organism instead of an organization, then what would be the practice of planning? It seems to us that the organic form of this is invitation. The point is to know/sense when and who to invite.

Being a new kind of leader
What does ‘being a leader’ mean in an eco-system?
There is no separation between being and doing;
It is living-as-the-system,
Living-as-the-field.
It is living-what-emerges,
No separation between leader and what is led.
There is no border,
No precipice,
It IS.

Intergenerational

Collective Harvest and Meaning Making

Harvest into the Wider Field

FEATURES OF COLLECTIVE SOURCING AS EMBODIED EXPERIENCE
What leads us to Collective Sourcing is:
•    We are asking questions that lead us deeper into not-knowing and bring us to an edge of clarity
•    We are in a rhythm and pace of speaking and listening that is both waiting and yet searching
•    We are accessing information that is below the aquifer, coming from intuition, story, images, previous experience
•    We are in a field of listening for pop-out points, for clarity and for newness.
The moment collective sourcing arises we can notice some elements of it.
•    we use our subtle sensing
•    there is a slowing down, we speak and act in a different pace
•    silence comes in naturally and spontaneous
•    our small self is gone
•    I am a vessel through which the collective presence speaks and acts
This means that Collective Sourcing is an embodied experience, and not (only) a state of mind.

OUR GUIDING QUESTION
What if Collective Sourcing is
becoming a human ecosystem
that teaches us
to be one, as the Earth?

Or:
What if Collective Sourcing is
second tier partnership?

Or:
Is Collective Sourcing the
next structure of community?

PARTNERSHIP OR BEING IN RELATIONSHIP
Partnership or Being in (Mutual)Relationship seems to be crucial in Living Wholeness. This Being in Relationship we have to understand on many levels, not just on the human level alone. These are the levels that we see right now and that we keep being aware of:
–    with other human beings, the ones present
–    with place: Axladitsa is very much a place where consciousness about ‘us and the land’ is lived day to day. For our gathering now, we keep the question in mind: How can the different physical places inform – show – amplify our different mental models?
–    with history and future: How can we balance local tradition and lineage on one side and innovation on the other?
–    with local and trans-local
–    with the weather, the buildings, etc.: the human and non-human environment
–    with all other non-human beings present here on the land

More inspirations:
Without love for the whole, collective sourcing is not possible.

Creating for beauty is feeding the wholeness.