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.

The Living We, as an ecology for transformative action, would strive to increase the richness of this field, this “in between” that would inspire, empower and enable people and organizations to “configure themselves” for transformation. Think of an operating ecosystem and API that would help form and channel realization, intentions, possibilities and transform them into outcomes and achievements by bootstrapping human agency and collective capability one step at the time in an exploratory and visible learning process.

Helene Finidori 12/3/11 The Next Edge


I’d say “the milieu itself” is indeed endowed with and suggests a great richness of meanings, often tangible and relevant.    As the environment with which the parts of a system connect, it’s where you find the pathways for reliable exchange/communication between the parts.

Reliable paths are what form the system’s loops of relationships and their feedbacks, that define the “internal domain of organization” by which society and the economy physically operate.

Exchanges of different types tend to be through specialized commons, or “marketplaces” (as network “hubs”).    They allow close connections between parts while they remain separate, like partnerships that allow independence.

The “milieu” is also the system’s medium for unprecedented connections, for other levels of “conversation” as well as where the reliable ones develop.    Open exchange allows a diversity of original and unprecedented events occur, sometimes producing “hot beds” (I also call network “hives”) of irregular connection, that may have periods of being intensely creative, with waves of new things are being germinated.

Even tightly controlled markets remain somewhat open to irregular connections, simply as markets are “separations that connect” other things.

So as “spaces in-between” they also allow for the exchange of very remote signals.  Sometimes those are at the level of “messages in a bottle” one can pick out of the open stream to connect with very remote loops or energy centers.


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