the commons, the milieu, the space of connection

Helene has a nice short inquiry into “Configuring yourself for the transformation” the nature of “the milieu itself”.   We’d been exploring ideas for how to define “the commons” as both a place and a trust, and a new paradigm for organizing people to make the world work as a whole.  I responded with what I feel is a nice concise statement of how self-organizing systems physically work.

8/27/12 Helene then also linked to this in her lovely elaboration of “the commons” approach and the systems thinking needed, as “Commons Sense for a Sustainable World”

Configuring Oneself for Transformation –

Our system of systems is made of parts that we could consider as coexisting in a milieu, an environment that is not just a container with properties greater than the sum of the parts, but that has a substance, a density, a richness. Something exists “in between” the parts, from which the parts get some “nutrients”. Many metaphors can be used, call it a field of possibilities and potentiality, a collection of intangibles that would precipitate serendipity, attraction, connection, exchange, osmosis… the Noosphere… and that would finally lead to a metamorphosis. Continue reading the commons, the milieu, the space of connection

Steering for the organizational Lagrange Point

A discussion comment from a LinkedIn conversation on Systems Thinking World to clarify what “steering” means for complex systems and in response to a question (paraphrased).

So can you describe how “small changes at a location in a system alters the direction of the whole,” discussing the theory, certainly, but also examples because this dense country boy sometimes has trouble wrapping his mind around abstractions.


Yes, it would help to think of “steering point” as referring to a potential for controlling the direction of something, unless also speaking of someone or thing using it to steer something. They might also be like Lagrange Points in space, where due to a balance of forces it’s easier to turn.

For natural systems there’s a particularly large variety of situations where “small change” has “big influence”.  It would include all the temporary positive “feedbacks”.  You might as well just start listing them at the beginning.  There was the “big bang”.  We didn’t directly observe it but from all appearances it was produced by a process that multiplied from small beginnings, and really really blew up.  That original chain of events was very small and had big results!

That ANY event in nature implicitly starts with its own “big bang” of a sort is one of the curious direct implications of the continuity principle.   The proof is that it would violate energy conservation for energy uses to start without developing, requiring an individual burst of energy uses and the development of the processes doing it for every event.

True, you often don’t notice them, but with a little experience you can find them most places, like in a keystroke.  Any keystroke begins with a brief multiplying cascade of focused energy releases to move your finger, “kaboom” is how it would sound if you stretch out the time scale and have a volume control on the energy surge moving your finger.   It’s the attack of the “ka…” sound at the beginning of that word (same use of “attack” as in music), that refers to the explosive growth period if the local self-organizing system that releases the directed energy. Continue reading Steering for the organizational Lagrange Point

“Wasteful Splendor” Astoundingly expensive arts and crafts

We keep leaving unaddressed that political will is just not enough
to overrule the power of money.

It’s in the interests of money to change course, to use profits to offer services to the commons rather than exploit it till it fails.

Even spending on astoundingly expensive arts an crafts, like “building pyramids” to ourselves, may not be an ideal service to the economy and the earth, but is a far better one than investing profits to multiply demands on it.   It would generate earned income, which would then relieve debt.   It would keep profits from being used to extract ever growing unearned income, for ever growing inequity and debt.

Political will won’t have a chance otherwise

Posted to Climate Code Red 7/20/12

Yes, there’s a very solid case to be made to “do something”.  We’ve also been fooling ourselves from the start about political will being able to overtake and control the behavior of money.  Because for the past 40 years even discussing that subject has been avoided…,  now if we don’t face the need for a more comprehensive approach our efforts are clearly doomed to fail.

There’s also a readily visible, but somehow counter-intuitive, strategy that works for lots of businesses large and small, and for self-organizing systems throughout nature.  It’s for “the bosses” to recognize the system needs them to change roles, and become “service provider in chief” rather than “exploiter  in chief” for the system to survive and thrive.   A CEO of a large corporation or the managing partner of most professional corporations,  needs to be the lead service provider to their network of resources, not an authoritarian ruler demanding ever growing profits.

How to apply that same principle to the economy as a whole is for the financial fund owners (retirees, NGO’s, governments & the super rich) to use their profits to heal the earth, managing their funds like endowments.   Some already do, and that just needs to become universal.  That reverses the traditional practice using profits to multiply your exploitation of the earth for more.

Rearming a rag tag gang with guns that shoot straight…

On the Systems Thinking World, Helene and others had been discussing the sustainability strategy now called “circular economy” aka “cradle to cradle”.  That is a name change I was unfamiliar with that threw me off guard at first.   In theory, the economy would be “decoupled” from depleting non-renewable resources if they were 100% recycled.   That vision and intent are great.  It needs to respond to the past great failures of the same purpose, though, how “sustainability” was turned back into “business as usual”(BAU), to become a strategy for maximizing growth.   Continue reading “Wasteful Splendor” Astoundingly expensive arts and crafts