connecting social language to nature’s process language

Helene and Steven had raised the need to include finance in the narrative of “the commons” and Myra had said about my reply “Jessie, This is your clearest writing by far on the new financial commons. ”  … so I hope it’s of use here.   (The discussion was part of a follow-up to a CAUN Commons Action for the UN conference call with Barrett Brown, on the different kinds of “thought leaders” he had identified setting the course for the sustainabilty movement, using social science methods, reflected in his Fall 2012 article in Kosmos. fyi)


Learning to speak nature's language


I. On Feb 4 2013 Jessie responded

Helene & Steven,

Great to have someone bring up the need to work on having a new financial commons.  We need to map out how to transform finance, so that it acts to care for the earth as its main objective rather than to squeeze it dry as fast as it can, as at present.    So we’d need to understand things that people already do that contributes to steering finance in one direction or the other, kind of unusual territory for social organizers…

So what we need to do is get our social language to somehow recognize nature’s process language.

Some of what now steers finance to make choices for the economy is described in my proposals for new commons based institutions, collected in Models of Commons Interest (an attachment to the CAUN Post2015 sustainability proposal).   Steering economic systems is different from steering social systems.   The main thing is that to steer an economy it needs to produce a profit, and to then spend its profits on changing how the economy works.   That’s mainly what finance does, allocate profits to investments in change.

Using the profits of a system to expand or change how it works is the physical way all growth systems in nature develop and adapt.   So, it’s a matter of “profit allocation” that determines how any physical system changes itself, what finance does in our economy.   My proposals outline a way for businesses, investors, the public and government to get good information on how investment choices change our future.  People could then apply their values and see the economy change accordingly.  That’s not happening now because people see profits as money, and not as what is used to change how our world works, and so don’t ask.

The first choice for building a world that works is the need to start with investing profits in growth and watch for when that will become unprofitable.   Using profits to grow the economy naturally creates complications that shrink future profits, perhaps to zero, so it’s unable to maintain itself or change in the future.  As that approaches, investing in growth needs to decline and for the economy to keep creatively changing and thrive, it’s profits redirected to securing its well-being instead of expansion.    So as the economy’s profits are first used to grow its niche on earth they then need to be used to care for it.

It’s remarkable, but that concept, of switching the purpose of investment from building our niche on earth to caring for it, seems completely missing from sustainability discussions so far.

It’s a common but fairly unstudied natural cycle, and not a social issue but a natural process issue, is the apparent reason for the lack of interest.    So it’s then also hard to get anyone to focus on it, too.    It’s like a curled up dimension of reality no one paid much attention to before.

So what we need to do is get our social language to somehow recognize nature’s process language.

That it’s so hard to discuss seems to be the main real problem for turning it into an effective avenue for change, that would give our values fulfillment in reshaping our society’s knowledge of how to live on earth.    But the missing social keys needed to open discussions are things a group like ours could be important for helping to create.



II. on on Feb 5 2013 Helene had said in part:

What I would suggest is that you work on a form of ‘brief’ of the key provisions that should be embedded in our communication to do ‘sustainability right’. A few bullet points of the messages that should be conveyed in forms of operating principles or provisions that can lead to the adoption of adequate solutions.

and  Jessie replied:


I’m not sure why I missed this comment earlier.  Thanks for reviewing my Skype notes during the conversation yesterday.   I can’t tell quite how you’re responding, but I appreciate your suggesting we need a list of principles.    One might condense what I was focusing on there to:

  1. a need to recognize and use the natural processes of economic change, and
  2. give ourselves good information on the whole system impacts for how we choose to use money, using Scope 4 whole system measures.  I’d also like us to speak a bit less abstractly about all these things.

As to how to write a “brief” on how sustainability should use natural system principles I’m a little unsure, as I’ve written that so many times and gotten very little discussion going.    People like to talk about social issues, and I seem to have difficulty discussing natural processes in social issue terms, losing too much of importance from both.   Which version of the People’s Sustainability Treaties drafts did want me to look at again?

I think I’ll still need it clear that social processes can only operate through natural systems to have real effect.

I’m not sure I know how to have that make social sense, though.   There’s an implication that making a sustainable world requires people to learn how to read and speak some in nature’s process language.

so… making a sustainable world require people to learn how to read and speak some in nature’s process language



on Feb 4 2013 Helene said

Dear Steven,

You are absolutely right. The financial commons, and using finance and the money system to grow the commons would be an essential goal/deliverable of our commons action (in the realm of working group suggestion #1 which is meant to identify the several elephants we have to deal with :) and certainly deserves a working group on its own, in particular if there is a specific expertise and will to handle the subject. I have often suggested to Jessie to further develop her thinking and approaches on this subject. Having a group to address this is an excellent thing. And we could look at it from various perspectives. Finance and money as a material way to grow the commons and generate abundance is one. Using the instruments and discourse of finance and asset or risk management as ways to forward the needs for a commons perspective is another.

All the best

Helene Finidori – author & systems thinker


On Feb 4, 2013 Steven replied to Helene on her “Commons as meta-narrative Communication strategy”

Dear Helene,

Thank for this helpful summary of take always and suggested working groups. May I suggest we add a working group on the elephant in the room, I.e the financial commons, the stuff of money and life that we need to address in order to transform our economic system into force for regenerating not only economic but also social natural cultural and spiritual capital? Jessie pointed us into this direction early on and I do agree that unless we are prepared to take on the underlying story  that has predisposed humanity to squander the gift of life because of a systemic man-made design flaw, we might find ourselves tinkering in the margin.

The meta narrative may be (or at least a major strand thereof) that we need to recognize “we are ones” to redesign the money system (and its consciousness) in service of the commons – our universe and fabric of life that is interconnected and one, shared by all, and sustaining the whole. All levels of consciousness relate in different ways to money; its purpose and meaning define how we all relate to each other.

As Myra mentioned during the call, we are working with the film maker of the forthcoming Money and Life documentary on a premiere and possible two- day deep dive dialogue. Seems there would be lots of synergy and effective use of all of our time and efforts to further our common(s) goals. Finally, on the subject of dumbing down, I feel that the most complex challenges almost always needs to be reduced to a message that is elegantly simple in order to be heard and foster progress. Arriving at this simplicity is far from dumb and highly complex.

Hope this is helpful. Really enjoyed Sunday’s call and want to thank everyone for their commitment to this important endeavor.

Kind regards,


Steven Lovink, Founder Power of One – Become the Change, Transform the World
Planet2025 Network – One People, One Planet, One Future



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.