Tom Atlee responds to Joel Dietz’ commons critique

Tom Atlee writes, responding to Joel Dietz:

“(1) I see permaculture as an answer to that question, and I see the inquiry about “social permaculture” that is emerging within the permaculture movement as a pursuit of truly useful answers. I also think that “emergent processes” (Open Space, World Cafe, etc.) and work related to my co-intelligence worldview (including the theory and practice of addressing human needs, as exemplified by Nonviolent Communication and Manfred Max-Neef’s work) also offer interesting approaches.

(2) Consensus-as-agreement can generate conformist groupthink at worst or low-energy coherence at best. Consensus-as-co-sensing generates inquiries that lead to breakthroughs with little if any compromise and with real passion (“heart and meaning”) for realization. Dynamic Facilitation exemplifies this energy. Various forms of formal deliberation can also be powerful where they minimize competitive debate while enhancing productive shared inquiry wherever differences and dissent signal important factors for the group to attend to.

(3) “Making a living” is a truly vital factor. Alternatives will require both accessing the abundance that is hidden beneath market waste and oversimplifications (e.g., “jobs” versus community asset mapping and the Maker movement) and a dematerialization of human fulfillment – using everything from miniaturization, sharing, and virtualization to focus on spirit, relationship, creativity and learning = so-called “simple living” — as well as nonprofit/gifting monetary innovations like credit exchanges, crowdfunding, CrewFund, etc. At big scales, I suspect this will follow “stumbling towards sustainability” evolutionary patterns rather than through neat plans and models. This is already underway on all fronts.

(4) I see Charles Eisenstein’s SACRED ECONOMICS as one remarkable exemplar of what you are seeking. “What would economics look like if we believed we were call connected (which we are) instead of all separate?” Gifting would be central, and wealth (both actual and reputational) would be the result of generosity. And realizing how much joy and satisfaction are available from nonmaterial sources and the ways in which “less is more” (or can be, if viewed and used in particular way).

(5) The dichotomy of thinking/talking/writing vs doing is a problematic one. A supposed Chinese proverb says that if you are going in the wrong direction, the more progress you make, the further you get from where you want to be. I see the thinking/talking/writing as helping clarify useful directions and guidance – ideas, stories, visions, plans, scenarios, etc. – for actually doing things. And doing not only produces real-world results but – properly integrated with thinking/talking/writing – provides feedback that generates better guidance for the future (as in e.g. “action learning” and “learning communities of practice”).

Some individuals can readily do both well. Some are naturally better at one or the other. All can fit – although we face the dynamic that the thinkers/talkers tend to be more comfortable with their own kind, which is also true of the doers. We need to counter that with more conscious invitation (e.g., including diverse people whose personalities fit the incubation, inspiration, perspiration, and completion steps of the creative process outlined by Charles Johnston’s Creative Systems Theory, or using Edward De Bono’s “six thinking hats” model) and more effective forms of interaction (e.g., Future Search, Dynamic Facilitation, Open Space, etc.).”

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