Archive for the ‘life-affirming’ Category

Ecosystem and simplicity

Thursday, November 12th, 2009

There are two ideas or experiences very present to me now. One is the notion of ‘being an ecosystem of conversations’. This is very much how I identify myself these days as I see myself as a constant interweaving of different conversations. They all are kind of related, they build on each other, they weave concepts and ideas closer together or weave a new color in. The cloth that is woven is never finished, keeps on changing and becomes wider, bigger and deeper.
And this doesn’t only happen for myself, it also happens in the collective I’m most related to. Mostly women, I notice now.
WMtE7 yellowleaves smallTo take the notion of ecosystem as the main identification means I drop more and more any attachment to form; or maybe better to say: any attachment to stable form. What I am seeking for these days is dynamic balance. There is nothing linear in that, but it is an always moving in many directions and levels.

A second notion that is very present with me is simplicity. Not for the sake of itself, but as a necessity to come to a way of living that is really life-affirming. It is probably not a simplicity in technology – I think we will need a lot of innovation in this area – but a simplicity in processes and relationships. I think it is the simplicity of self-organisation and emergence: just enough design to let it happen, and not too much.
WMtE7 leaves smallIt makes me return to gardening: learn to make good compost to nurture your soil; observe what happens anyway and build on that. Gardening is kind of simple when you work in synergy with nature. The really complex processes are done by nature itself, we can only improve the conditions where these processes can thrive and where they have enough resilience to respond to different circumstances. It seems to me that a lot of our planning in linear time (chronos) makes things complicated and build up a lot of stress. It is weird to say maybe, but there is simplicity in trusting synchronicity, trusting the experienced timing (kairos), trusting the mystery of life itself.

Generation M Manifesto

Thursday, September 3rd, 2009

This is a must read for all of us! A blog post with 256 comments so far!

Dear Old People Who Run the World,

My generation would like to break up with you.

Everyday, I see a widening gap in how you and we understand the world — and what we want from it. I think we have irreconcilable differences.

You wanted big, fat, lazy “business.” We want small, responsive, micro-scale commerce.

You turned politics into a dirty word . We want authentic, deep democracy — everywhere.

You wanted financial fundamentalism. We want an economics that makes sense for people — not just banks.

You wanted shareholder value — built by tough-guy CEOs. We want real value, built by people with character, dignity, and courage.

You wanted an invisible hand — it became a digital hand. Today’s markets are those where the majority of trades are done literally robotically. We want a visible handshake: to trust and to be trusted.

You wanted growth — faster. We want to slow down — so we can become better.

You didn’t care which communities were capsized, or which lives were sunk. We want a rising tide that lifts all boats.

You wanted to biggie size life: McMansions Hummers, and McFood. We want to humanize life.

You wanted exurbs, sprawl, and gated anti-communities. We want a society built on authentic community.

You wanted more money, credit and leverage — to consume ravenously. We want to be great at doing stuff that matters.

You sacrificed the meaningful for the material: you sold out the very things that made us great for trivial gewgaws, trinkets, and gadgets. We’re not for sale: we’re learning to once again do what is meaningful.

There’s a tectonic shift rocking the social, political, and economic landscape. The last two points above are what express it most concisely. I hate labels, but I’m going to employ a flawed, imperfect one: Generation “M.”

What do the “M”s in Generation M stand for? The first is for a movement. It’s a little bit about age — but mostly about a growing number of people who are acting very differently. They are doing meaningful stuff that matters the most. Those are the second, third, and fourth “M”s.

Gen M is about passion, responsibility, authenticity, and challenging yesterday’s way of everything. Everywhere I look, I see an explosion of Gen M businesses, NGOs, open-source communities, local initiatives, government. Who’s Gen M? Obama, kind of. Larry and Sergey . The Threadless , Etsy , and Flickr guys . Ev, Biz and the Twitter crew. Tehran 2.0. The folks at Kiva , Talking Points Memo < , and FindtheFarmer . Shigeru Miyamoto , Steve Jobs , Muhammad Yunus , and Jeff Sachs are like the grandpas of Gen M. There are tons where these innovators came from. Gen M isn't just kind of awesome — it's vitally necessary. If you think the "M"s sound idealistic, think again. The great crisis isn’t going away, changing, or “morphing.” It’s the same old crisis — and it’s growing.

You’ve failed to recognize it for what it really is. It is, as I’ve repeatedly pointed out, in our institutions: the rules by which our economy is organized.

But they’re your institutions, not ours. You made them — and they’re broken. Here’s what I mean :

“… For example, the auto industry has cut back production so far that inventories have begun to shrink — even in the face of historically weak demand for motor vehicles. As the economy stabilizes, just slowing the pace of this inventory shrinkage will boost gross domestic product, or GDP, which is the nation’s total output of goods and services.”

Clearing the backlog of SUVs built on 30-year-old technology is going to pump up GDP? So what? There couldn’t be a clearer example of why GDP is a totally flawed concept, an obsolete institution. We don’t need more land yachts clogging our roads: we need a 21st Century auto industry.

I was (kind of) kidding about seceding before. Here’s what it looks like to me: every generation has a challenge, and this, I think, is ours: to foot the bill for yesterday’s profligacy — and to create, instead, an authentically, sustainably shared prosperity.

Anyone — young or old — can answer it. Generation M is more about what you do and who you are than when you were born. So the question is this: do you still belong to the 20th century – or the 21st?

Love,

Umair and the Edge Economy Community

Commitment

Thursday, September 3rd, 2009

Via Toke Moeller and it speaks to my heart, gut and mind!

Commitment

To be committed means we are willing to make a promise with no expectation of return; a promise void of barter and not conditional on another’s action.

In the absence of this, we are constantly in the position of reacting to the choices of others.

The cost of constantly reacting to the choices of others is increased cynicism and helplessness.

The ultimate cost of cynicism and helplessness is we resort to the use of force.

In this way the barter mentality that dominates our cultures helps create a proliferation of force.

The use of force is the essence of the past we are trying to transform.

Commitment, the antithesis of entitlement and barter, is to choose a path independent of reward.

It is a choice made in the absence of reciprocity.

This is the essence of power.

Peter Block from Civic Engagement Series; writer of the book Community; The Structure of Belonging

Beyond Greed and Scarcity

Friday, July 17th, 2009

I have been reading Bernard Lietaer’s book ‘The Future of Money’ many years ago, when I realised that regarding to money, I wasn’t able at all to think ‘outside of the box’. Since then I learned about many initiatives and conversations that are searching a way of how to see economics and the money system different in the new way of living and working we are looking for.

Even if I read nothing really new in this article from Yes! Magazine, I still read it from the first till the last line… maybe of interest to you too?!

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!

Instead of …

Thursday, January 22nd, 2009

I have been reading Dave Pollard’s blog for a long, long time. This time I want to share something – because after all he is a good writer! He goes on naming what is required from us in these times:

“Instead of seeing conceptually I have to learn to see perceptually.

Instead of using the tools of propagandized modern language, I have to learn to use the natural tools of intuition and attention and appreciation and sensation and presence.

Instead of learning based on planning and presupposition (based on what I’ve ‘learned’ before) my learning must be based on openness to all possibility, on appreciation of emergence, and most of all on humility.

Instead of applying complicated, analytical learning methods I must apply the ways of complexity: experimentation, discovery, observation, imagination, and practice.

Instead of learning by the traditional means of separating myself from the object of my study (“the environment”, “the culture”), I must learn integrally, as a connected part of all-life-on-Earth.

I have to relearn to learn how a child learns: authentically (=Gk. being oneself).

………..
To move forward now I have to become un-civilized, wild. Agile. Authentic. Finally, fully, nobody-but-myself.

………..

To do that I must let go of everything I believe, everything I think I ‘know’, everything I fear, everything I think is appropriate (or not), expected, accepted (and acceptable, or not), everything I have unintentionally become and everything I have ‘taken on’. All that baggage. All that stuff that holds me, holds all of us, back, and holds us in place.

I have to become light.”

Beautiful.

Raw.

True.

I love it!

When time is collapsing

Thursday, July 3rd, 2008

Some weeks ago I told a good friend that I want to live in the energy or space or field where I can always ‘act in an instant’. This ‘acting in an instant’ is used by Otto Scharmer in his Theory U. It describes how you can be totally aligned in your self with your thinking, your emotions, and your actions and at the same time also be in harmony with your environment and third in resonance with the future that is emerging through you.

flower2

So, it is not following some instincts, or giving in to your longings. To me it is an alignment of your personality and your soul. In my experience it is a way of being totally alive. I guess it is like a bud of a flower, opening itself up more and more, step-by-step – a better word here is unfolding.
The difference between myself and the flower bud is that I get excited, and the flower is ‘just growing’? Or maybe the flower is always excited?

Why do I feel excited? Most likely because I wasn’t fully alive before. I was holding back a lot, I was silent, I didn’t take myself serious and many more ways of being ‘normal’ and ‘obedient’ instead of being fully alive.

Acting in an instant, it feels so good! The days and moments that it happens follow each other quicker and quicker. As if time collapses! There isn’t much scheduled in my calendar, which makes it possible to act in the now: to finish tasks right away; to take steps ‘one conference call at a time’, no big projects are figured out into detail, which then need to be accomplished, but a sensing of ‘right time, right space, right people’.

If time collapses, then space should collapse too. I can see glimpses of it in the ease of conference and Skype calls connecting people easily across the globe, in sending text messages from Belgium to Israel, but I am wondering,
if the time-space continuum really collapses can I disappear from here and appear right next to you???

This is an idea worth spreading

Saturday, March 29th, 2008

Someone send me the link to this incredible video! It is one of the famous TED-talks, where you can find a lot of inspiration, and good presentations!
“Neuroanatomist Jill Bolte Taylor had an opportunity few brain scientists would wish for: One morning, she realized she was having a massive stroke. As it happened — as she felt her brain functions slip away one by one, speech, movement, understanding — she studied and remembered every moment. This is a powerful story about how our brains define us and connect us to the world and to one another.”

We are the system

Sunday, January 13th, 2008
IMG_1622

“We are the system
– the system is not outside ourselves –
it is our own broken relationships that need to heal
– my relationship to myself, to life – to this earth – to the others – to the world –
that is how systemic shifts happen.

I am the need in the world – we are the system – we are the solution.
Meaningful conversations and real learning space heal our relationships.

We are invited to enter living from the heart….
From disrespect to respect,
from I know better to curiousity,
from judging to understanding each other,
from fear to love.
This is what we need to host now between us,
this is part of the Work of anyone who wants to help the world at this time.”
Collective insight during Art of Hosting training in Brazil, December 2007.

In March ’08 there will be another Art of Hosting training in Belgium, to which you are invited! Look at the website for invitation and registration form.

Mycelium

Sunday, November 4th, 2007

Somewhere during Sunday morning, we had another generative dialogue, which of course built on all the previous ones.

Again there was our metaphor of the mycelium:

IMG_1130

A definition: Fungal de-composition is the job of the mycelium, a vast network of underground cells that permeate the soil. The mushroom itself is the fruit of the mycelium.

If the ‘I’ is the mushroom or the fruit and the ‘We’ is like the mycelium… Who am I when I drop my separate identity? Frightening thought maybe, but on the other hand, it was happening right in our midst. Different voices in the circle said: “I don’t want to go back! (to old structures and separateness)”. There is excitement in the ‘not-knowing’; of going to that place, of being pregnant with what we have not known before. We must create a new way from there. How can we bring clear outgoing energy and still be connect to Source? How will we be fully alive while being pregnant, while not knowing what we will birth?
“What is real right now – here?” asked somebody else.

We came to see that women had been given away so much of our lifeblood. As we are so much identified with the collective and with relations, we tend to loose ourselves in it. “Pull it in” was one way of naming the way to go; “draw back in the lifeblood we have given away”. Our primary relation is with Source, and not with others or outside ourselves. Being connected with Source is self-generative and will not deplete our energies.

“The future is already here! The collective She is present. We are her voice.” Les gave an eloquent contribution about the ‘self-generating fire storm’. And suddenly there was a big YES!

Probably there was much more, but these are the things that I remember…