All posts by mothernature

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Sad changes at Etymonline.com

I’ve enjoyed the previously marvelous etymonlin.com etymology dictionary and the also marvelous word patterns site, Onelook.com, for years. They worked great together to explore the meaning of the repeated structures of words and how words with one, two, three, four, five, or five-syllables are assembled as very lean geometries for adding the many particular nuances that modify the base term for a particular kind of use.

I seem to be at war with the site’s new managers, though. They are showing the greatest of all possible vanities in eliminating both the word “syllable” and the idea that syllables have any meaning other than the repetition of letters.

Richard Nordquist, a language scholar diagrammed the classical interpretation as follows:

SuffixMeaningExample
-acystate or qualityprivacy, fallacy, delicacy
-alact or process ofrefusal, recital, rebuttal
-e/a ncestate or quality ofmaintenance, eminence,
-domplace home beingfreedom, kingdom, boredom
-er, -orone whotrainer, protector, narrator
-ismdoctrine, beliefcommunism, narcissism,

And I’ve similarly included for variety a few others. There seem to be hundreds of each kind.

SuffixMeaningExample
-tificin the manner ofscientific – well-defined
-finemake finitedefine – To fix, bound, limit
-ivitypotential, biascaptivity, longevity, activity
-owin a manner ofnarrow, widow.shadow
-encea contextual forcescience influence presence
-lapseslip, expire, ceasecollapse, relapse,  

My complaints to Scott, one of the Etymonline.com editors, it seems, went like this:

June 6, 2024

Scott 2D

You’re taking a different approach to understanding words than this dictionary. The ‘pos’ part of the words composition and pose come from different sources. Either from *apo- or *tkei- in the reconstructed Indo-European language family for composition, or from pauein in Greek for pose.

The pose entry does mention how the similarity in form between pause and position has influenced their meaning:

hence the Old French verb (in common with cognates in Spanish, Italian, Portuguese) acquired the sense of Latin ponere “to put, place” (past participle positus; see position(n.)), by confusion of the similar stems.

Jessilydia

Scott,
Yes it does seem I wish I knew how to strenuously fight what I see happening on Etymonline. The site seems to be just erasing the contribution of root meanings of syllables used in the geometries of compound worlds. I’m really astounded and frightened by such a blatant error.

The root meanings of the parts combine to create elegant and rich compositions of meaning, clearly serving as the building blocks of our natural languages. These structures of language happen to derive from the most useful and lasting ways of referring to the forms of nature and our experiences of them, derived from many thousands of years of beautiful discovery, and now someone has some notion to erase them.

I think it’s wrong to erase them, particularly for some arbitrary lexicological reason. That is just awful harm to history and humanity to drop the meaning of the ancient building blocks of every language’s most durable words. They carry the history of our direct references to the designs, processes, and ends of natural systems, their material meanings, and our relationships with them.

JUST SAYING… YOU KNOW, I THINK IT’S DEAD WRONG.

Scott

I respect your level of concern for this stuff. Maybe you can help me understand you a little better. Here is what I think you are saying:

There is an inherent meaning connected with syllables or geometries in written words. Which implies a shared meaning between composition and pose simply due to the presence of pos in both words.

So tell me if I represented you correctly there. Also let me know what you think about these two objections.

1.) swine and pig share meaning but do not share syllables.
2.) noon and soon share a syllable but do not share meaning.

I’m having trouble imaging how your approach would make sense.

Jessilydia

Thanks for the question.  The answer is not exactly.  The geometries of meaning that one finds [from combining] syllables in compound words are interactions of the ancient meanings attached to them, as units of ideas [and] meaning that had originally been expressed vocally. It’s hard to say, but as Latin and Greek record their conversion from vocal to written dialect, it appears most of which seem predate written language.

So they appear to come from sounds and gestures *referring to* natural phenomena and experiences, repeated over and over for their usefulness and added attached meaning, that formal language developed from. So as long as they live, those informal, accumulated, culturally sustained, and diversified packages of experiences, feelings, and insights remain attached to the direct reference to the subjects of the word.

Chris

Ok ok. Could you give examples of words that preserve that ancient context as well as words that are too abstracted and have less connection to the vocal roots of meaning?

Also, are there any definitive books which outline this way of understanding language?

Jessie

I have wall-to-wall meetings till next Friday.  Sorry for the brief reply. It’s all the long-lasting useful words that stem from the meanings of indo-european syllables.  Say “conflagration” four syllables, {con fla gra tion}, or cooperation {co oper a tion}, each geometry of subjects with syllables is a reference to an old idea of the combined meaning as a whole.

One of the other pieces of evidence is that history shows that written Greek and Latin appeared as if all of a sudden, with NO precedent, while displaying a vast and deep appreciation of nature and the human experience, with no one at all to tell the writers what all that meant, — other than — the ancient common cultures from which they emerged. 

Get it?   It all had to come from somewhere, and the start was the long, long accumulation of short sounds associated with deep meanings that had to have spread and built up as people spread from Africa to the Mideast,  then both Eastward and Westward, then to the North, as the ice retreated, maintaining enough contact for innovations in knowledge to be passed along. There is no other way for the deeply related family of languages to have developed.

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I’m out of my league here, a natural systems research scientist against a block of pure semantic theorists (it would seem). If you have any ideas about how to respond or what this means to the truth of language, please respond.

Jessie

Why did science become myopic and now unable to guide our future?

It’s both sad and marvelous to now be reading the clear signs that science has become so misguided that only a scientific revolution will keep it from destroying all of what science built. Science has indeed shown us the great beauty of nature and our lives, given us marvelous tools for self-expression, and then also highly unbalanced ways of life now an existential threat to the only living planet we’ll ever know, not to mention threatening to the glorious diversity of human cultures made possible by the blind multiplication of our power to interfere with nature that science enabled and made science so profitable. 

One of many bits of clear evidence is the scientific consensus that global warming is caused by our overuse of fossil fuels. Technically, that is a symptom, not at all close to the cause, but aside from that, the consensus scientific response to the symptom is to try overusing something else to replace fossil fuels to see if that works out any better. 

Or, you could ask, “How’s this for progress?” This December 2023 data record of the entire history of human-caused CO2 blanketing the earth shows the accelerating acceleration of the climate-forcing trend. Its real value, though, is as remarkably clear evidence that **all our solutions are only accelerating the problem.** You could hardly find a greater or clearer cry in the darkness for a new scientific revolution. Clearly our guidance is way off track.

We’ve faced profound contradictions produced by science generation after generation, most not timely nor effectively responded to, some wonderfully enlightening too, and of both the larger and smaller varieties of important confrontations between our minds and nature.

Perhaps going back to the origin of the human species about 850,000 years ago when our peculiar constellation of amazingly perfected designs, our ultimate problem seems to be whatever caused us to be emotionally attached to making up our own realities, given minds and bodies that proved very clearly our sudden emergence back then marked a major departure from evolution. 

Image from “Genomic inference of a severe human bottleneck during the Early to Middle Pleistocene transition” in Science August 2023

In this story, the rub is that in order for humans to make mental images powerful for influencing our far more complex and varied environments, we clearly had to keep perfecting our ideas and tools and selecting the most powerful for controlling outcomes as we evolved. Given the vast “mismatch in variety” between mind and nature, we’d have to keep leaving out more and more and more of the contextual variation of reality to fashion ideas, giving us more and more power, not noticing that it also divorced us from the contexts from which all other kinds of meaning come.

Thus, we came to represent nature with numbers and formulas, ENTIRELY stripping our images of nature from their contexts. That separation of our powers from the wide and rich variety of the contexts of natural working relationships was the cost. Our mental versions of nature then harmonized our blind power over nature with the warm connections of home and family, the one place in our world, the foundation of our cultural worlds. Coupling our mental worlds, centered around in-context relationships but increasingly dominated by finding abstract rules, taken out of context, selected for power over things over the centuries, is the storyline of our whole history, enriching and impoverishing our chosen way of living, then becoming trapped in using science to multiply our interference with nature for profit, that the math all projects to be potentially infinite. … well, something wrong with the math – no context.

History is replete with all manner of stories about the disastrous course of affairs that lead to, like the story of Adam and Eve or how the most successful civilizations tended to collapse, the rub being that the problem-solving gets too complicated, as documented by Joe Tainter. The familiar fables and famous plays centered on the naturally corrupting influence of power over people and nature are evidence, too. The cause? The cause, apparently, is the oversimplification of the rules of power and the blinding of the people using them to the contexts in which they are being used.

So …. that’s something of a big deal. Humans are also capable of big ideas as well, though, and it’s clear today we may have only one chance left to get the idea out of our heads that the laws of nature are what we think. Could our way of thinking change to being part of the world we live in and came from instead of being in charge of it? Sure, it is very possible. If you learn to read the markers of the difference, you find the diversity and learnability of ways for people to reconnect with the natural world and possibly continue our, in some ways, most remarkable of nature’s great experiments, are growing all over.

What’s in the way is the power of our few hundred years of perfecting our powers, unaware of how ultimately dangerous to ourselves and to life it made our dominant world culture. My most recent contribution to that is in the form of a LinkedIn post yesterday (to celebrate my birthday! :-) on how my views evolved. I come from a multi-generation science and education family and had a marvelous connection with gamey high-school friends and relations who got together in Brooklyn in 1968 to collectively ponder what in the world was happening to us and have fun doing it. 

If the LinkedIn post is not accessible, the photo journal with notes linked from there, on the ten years “Where it all happened,” is posted in my library.

Jessie 

Return to Nature’s Long Path for New Lives

I’m a natural systems transformation scientist, who was mostly learning from the UN SDG process in the early years and looking for words to describe what I saw happening. There are some flaws in the design the UN produced, all preapproved by finance, that prevented the SDG process from being more effective. There are also ways in which it was intentionally or blindly designed to fail; driving BAU and our world’s existential crisis. but deep look under the hood finds something quite positive.

This is a message first sent the UN’s Major Groups on strategy for the upcoming SDG Summit, on the ten year anniversary of the SDGs, as it struggles with the world spinning ever further out of control despite the enormous effort to reverse the pattern.

Intro to the MGs: It’s been a very pleasant honor to engage in NGO MGoS meetings again this week, feeling the energy building to do something significant this fall (just around the corner). In the workshop at the Church Center yesterday I got some very reassuring responses to suggesting we finally look at the main causes (where the leverage lies) regarding the threats we’re responding to, and, to having “nature on the board” of the MGoS and maybe the UN too.

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The main thing I found, though, is that we’re not learning from the diversity of examples of how nature elegantly solves growth overshoot problems like ours. There are good models of all sorts to help us see the turns to take. It’s a matter of responding in time to care for what we create. The fortunes of a starting plan, of “multiplying new forms,” switch in the middle to “making them work” in context. At first, growth is centered on what got it started, then naturally collides with the world it grows into. That involves steering. We do it quite successfully all the time when we see what’s happening, as when making dinner, making friends, or starting a business, noting when multiplying initial successes turns to a need to make them work in context.

To me, the greatest achievement of the SDGs is the great wave of caring about what happens to us it helped trigger. We’ve been talking about why that seems not the main interest of the many institutions that are supposed to serve us. That may be natural at the end of growth. An emerging wave of caring for the whole of a new system, as a unity of parts, seems to be the first sign of it developing a survival instinct. It seems to come with the shock of starting to collide with its environment when new lives most often also need the most care as they struggle with their new reality.

So, other than nature, what’s the real root cause of our troubles, and why hasn’t humanity readily responded in its own self-interest? It seems to be what has bothered the now dominant culture forever, that it learned to communicate powerful ideas with words and numbers, that kept going out of control and separated us from nature. Using words and numbers for steering our choices is dangerous. Both easily misinterpret and misrepresent the realities they are abstracted from. So fears and misunderstandings of what we’re doing can amplify and allow us to create and need to rely on entirely unreliable life support systems, as ours is, based on multiplying power.
One could spin it saying that people blinded by power found it simpler to creatively overpower parts of society and nature to solve their problems, making bigger and bigger problems. Another way to see it is as one of those “experiments” that nature wanted to try out on us… just to see what we’d do, and if we’d ever grow up. Nature IS very experimental, after all!

“The cure” seems to be to unblind ourselves, rediscovering how our world works by reattaching our abstractions to their real meanings. We’d more carefully explore, experience, and validate our thinking, “regenerating” the tried-and-true ways of steering our lives that all of life has depended on from the start. Without much notice, the systems scientist Elinor Ostrom received the Nobel Prize in economics in 2009 for the essence of that plan.
Rather than using powerful and blind abstractions for remote controlling nature, we’d explore our contexts to enrich and inform our senses, notice and respond to changing opportunities, and draw on honest feelings, fears, and other intuitions to help us understand what’s going on in the non-verbal world, and develop indicators for where our externalities are and include them in making our decisions.

So, is this our best chance to put nature back on the board? The main threats from not consulting her seem to be:
1. Global societal degeneration and threatened authoritarian takeovers.
2. Financial institutions taking the job of defining the rules of “sustainability” to
a. blame producers for what they’re told and paid to maximize for finance.
b. holding themselves blameless for the multiplying externalities to be ignored.

JM Keynes seems to have been the first to say it. We should find some better uses for our money. Will it be to care for our world, to destroy it, or go endlessly back and forth?

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What do you think?

We’re clearly in the biggest jam our species has ever faced, with our cure for climate change accelerating it, the latest curve, below, clearly showing that we have had ever faster accelerating climiate change since WWII, and the curve is very smoothly optimized, apparently by the financial system believing that maximizing the the steady explosion of profits would outweigh the exploding costs of the damage, apparently not having looked at that either..?:

Our solution for inequality rapidly accelerated it too, apparently for some reason not studied as well.

I guess everyone was convinced that growing the pie (without counting the disruption of nature) would be best for them even though it would become worst for everyone, as the separation accelerated and the brutal consequences of disrupting the working contexts of life around the globe mounted:

It was the grand display of data driven growth maximization after WWII that did it

and … famous for failing to get out of its biggest jams, plagued by self-corruption, self-deception and extraordinary tragidy, with mumerous whole civilization collapses ‘under belts,’ only to do it again. That’s a remarkably odd behavior for a natural species, isn’t it?

Earth Day – And Where We Are

Response to Fast-Growing World Confusion & Conflict
Earth Day Apr 22, 2023 – LinkedIn – Please repost if it needs to be said

In the past, we thought we could overlook the mysterious growing variety of world crises. They grew in scale as we developed, seemingly better able to overcome them. However, none continued for as long or expanded as rapidly as the one racing ahead of us today!

Keynes solidly predicted it, as have many others, but others didn’t believe it. I’ve also closely studied its physics and emerging self-organization for four decades in detail and general pattern. I had the tools and saw the very leading edge. Then I saw how growth systems multiply their scale and complexity, approaching explosive rates of change in how fast they expand, reorganize, and require their parts to adapt and reorganize their relationships. That’s the killer; what many of us now feel happening.

It comes directly from our very most immature of all possible economic plans, endless exploding unsustainable growth. Compound growth is a fast, quick start to a new life, a *pre-birth* process of not fully formed designs. We can see and feel the strains of its rising peak of internal and external pressures everywhere around us. That it’s happening to all of us at once is “the signal” that things can and must change.

Usually, self-animating growth systems in nature gracefully resolve the crises that force them to respond to change or to fail. They change what motivates them, their “purpose,” from multiplying designs to steering them toward or away from what they’re running into. It’s a sound, tried, and true strategy, if a bit counterintuitive for new lives that have only followed a fixed rule for so long.

The civilizations most successful at growing their power seem all to have succumbed to it, though. People easily become socially fixated on endlessly multiplying the power of their profitable concepts. It’s cutting that “umbilical cord” attaching us to the false hope of limitless growth that could convince us now that responding to life is our world’s best chance at life. We need to “appreciate the signal,” though.

WE SEE THE MAJOR RISING THREATS ALL OVER THE PLANET TODAY. That’s our signal. It’s to “back off, look out, and take care,” the most fundamental rule of STEERING. To survive, all new systems need to learn how to steer. All systems that survive growth are examples of the range of strategies that work.

It’s risky, like life, but even if the world has a bad slump, perhaps as inexperienced pilots make mistakes, the world getting the signal would largely assure keeping our world cultures intact. Going through a “Tower of Bable” or “dark age” type collapse would not. We would need a kind global “Marshall Plan” to help the world’s talents for organizing things, keep those talents, and put them to work on a new plan, caring for each other and making things work for and all around our fabulous new world.

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JLH – The world is on the move, but following the rule of growth that got us here, now causing crises, is not the path to our future. As all new life must,
it’s time to back away from the edge and learn to steer.

Keys for reading the world systems crisis

It seems extraordinary that given 50 years of rapidly rising signs of deep trouble for humanity’s assumptions about life, we seem to be reinforcing our efforts to make them work, when they are clearly not. That’s absolutely the wrong thing to do.

Einstein is often quoted saying
“No problem can be solved from the same consciousness that created it.” That means in whatever situation we are facing, we need to rise up to a new consciousness. A new way of thinking.

But how do you do that? Well looking for exceptions to the rule for example, not just affirmations; for the growth rule, for example. If we **look around** do we find any living systems that lead healthy and successful lives that only start with growth?? Here’s a list of some of the things happening to us, at the cost of clinging to growth despite it all.

A baseline list of our existential threats we face:
Top 100+ (existential) World Crises Growing with Growth
Please suggest ones to add, either not seen before this list was written a few years ago, or not seen from my perspective
if you have ones that really would become existential for what matters please suggest them

SOME CRITICAL INSIGHTS INTO THE CRISIS

Most of the world crisis comes from grand self-deceptions; things that seemed to work for centuries (or longer) now becoming mortal threats. Literally anything multiplied enough will have that effect. well known for centuries and probably longer. Overshoot wrecks everything!

Of course, words and ideas can deceive. So it’s critical that we learn to describe our problems, threats, and efforts to resolve them in GROUNDED NATURAL LANGUAGE. Common language is understood much more widely, and is often well grounded in ancient understandings of **life’s systems in context.** That potentially makes grounded natural language highly **scientific.** Concepts and words depicting reality “out of context,” not so much.

So **incorporating grounded root meanings** connects us to reality and by linking our thinking to genuine ancient insight into reality. Humanity evolved to have multiple cultural languages some rooted some flamboyant or purely imaginary, using abstract concepts; simplified images of natural design often turned into rules for success detached from their contexts. They may be very attractive, profitable, or empowering, but detached from reality they blind us to the drift or their validity and to certain disaster when multiplied without limit.

Of course, there are other kinds of personal, social, and professional entrapment in false thinking, but the ones that most blind us to their fatal consequences; leading good moms and dads to destroying their planet, for example, are the most wicked of them all it seems. They’re true cognitive detachments and fixations. Humanity’s separation from reality has many mentions in poetry, social experience, professional study, every since the oldest story of Adam and Eve. So now it seems to be why we’re destroying a whole living planet! Today corporate growth uses it religiously to multiply their remote controls of context globally — not working so well now — but still stuck to it like glue.

See also
1) my many LinkedIn posts & comments on it, one nice pair from yesterday is at: https://bit.ly/3ZrRaNo
2) my site and research https://synapse9.com/signals, a history of research notes and papers on it. 
3) An excellent talk on how language shows clear evidence of having been built to connect us to reality: http://bit.ly/3lgdA6d   Indicating another major urgent focus of work, on how our meaningful words refer to repeatable observations and experiences.
4) My favorite https://Etymonline.com root word meaning resource used a lot for writing the material for #3

READING NATURE’S SIGNALS

This site’s name, “Reading Nature’s Signals,” is what you’ll find here is all about. I noticed very early in my study of it, in the 70s, that ALL systems emerge by growing whole working energy systems. Growth is not studied much in science though, as science can find no good rules for it, one reason we weren’t warned about the need to use common sense when running planet much earlier.

I also noticed is that successful growth is an organizational process, that build the way a system works. Part of that is always for a system, as if reading the internal and external signals of its development’s success, and responding as a whole. We do that all the time, naturally, gauging the signals we respond to for “how we doing” and then acting accordingly. They’re mostly non-verbal and discovered and not taught. So, where do we learn that. It seems to be part of the job of life, to be actively learning and inquiring about life.

It’s a kind of very primitive but successful survival instinct, sometimes working great, and … totally missing at other times. The economy is doing both, beautifully, it’s survival instinct for sustaining growth is working fabulously, trained by people fixated on limitless growth,, taking the initiative to fill every gap they can to make the global growth curves as smooth as possible. That it’s destroying humanity’s hope for the future too, doesn’t stop it from very miraculously and and creatively multiplying its now fatal design.

World growth factors, once thought to be the “pluses” and the “minus.”

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Some will say “gee when do I get mine, if we stop growth now” even knowing it’s needed to save the planet. They’re overlooking that SUCCESSFUL GROWTH INVARIABLY HAS A SECOND PHASE. One may call it “maturation,” “growing up,” “care taking,” “preparation” or other terms, but i’s about every new system needing to change plans to have time find how to really work. We do that with our personal lives, and find growing up not unpleasant at all, if cared for of course. We also make that switch from forming the new system (in relative isolation) to making it really work (in context). Literally every successful project and effort we make has that design change in the middle.

So… a good place to focus one’s work is to learn to recognize nature’s signals for when to turn, from innovating to coordinating, for example

Gee, I should have saved the draft and I don’t have time to redo the two or three concluding pp’s that were lost somehow, never happened before, either. But… What can I say, make it up as you go ! ;-)

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JLH

Reading the signals to care for our future – The Bridge from Growth to Self-Control

First published as
A fatal flaw in the economy’s design ― Keynes first saw & the world forgot. By J L Henshaw – for the Jan 2023 UN people’s Global Futures Forum, Global Finance and Economic Architecture section.

Hi, I’m an accomplished senior systems architect, a physicist who, many years ago, found a useful scientific method for studying the designs of environmental growth systems, and the differences between growth systems taking emerging systems to fatal crises or long successful lives, what you might call “self-healing growth.” I also studied the design of UN systems at work in drafting the SDGs, which I attended and contributed to, learning a great deal about why our world economy’s growth is not.

It’s wonderful that systems architecture comes up for discussion occasionally, though rare. One reason it gets little attention is the focus on symptoms without addressing causes, as that is what most people notice. That’s important, of course, but it also perpetuates the causes. Where the cause is systems spiraling out of control, that’s bad. Today’s accelerating scales global impacts have terribly dangerous environmental, economic, and societal destabilization thresholds.

I was a physicist and then started studying the designs of natural systems designs and how they worked by themselves. As that’s not a usual scientific question, I stumbled across quite a lot. For example, physics never studied how SO many systems that develop by explosive growth at first, of both natural and human design, then, without a fuss, change strategies to then perfect their designs and connections to have active and creative lives long after their growth.

It means that nature figured out the solution to our crisis very long ago and that science did not think or see how to study how they worked. Societally we seem to get too wrapped up in problem-solving and ignore problem-sourcing, and then when we get in trouble then not change course as if always stuck. If we looked around, we’d see many systems that are responsive and change course, including ourselves often enough, examples that should be very helpful if we learned where to look.

A second important discovery is that although we discuss a growing economy in terms of numbers, economies are not numerical processes. Growth of every kind is a system-building process of creating working relationships that need to coordinate. Those new working systems originate from the build-up of connections around a tiny “seed” pattern. That produces a working whole that first multiplies more rapidly by exploiting its environment and then usually turns to make long-term relationships. Our economy is not yet doing that “part B” part of responding to limits. Keynes noticed that too, saying he thought, surely, society could find something better to invest in than growth when growth limits hit, mentioned in Ch 16, on “Observations on the Nature of Capital” in his 2nd book.

The main point is that *successful growth is always a two-stage process.* The first multiplying stage creates a new form of working relationships by growing as it exploits its surroundings. The second is perfecting the system’s internal design as it secures its new niche in the world. Call it “A then B.” The first stage lets it A) multiply its power, capturing more and new kinds of resources to build its ability to use and capture more. The second stage lets it B) refine and mature its designs to care for itself and secure its role in the new world around it. In other words, natural systems that survive their growth seem to display self-organization and self-control. That’s what humanity is supposedly trying to do, but having, as we often have throughout history, a terrible time of it.

The systems that become disrupted by external forces of their own making, as is happening to us now, differ from others that don’t by continuing to multiply their scale and complexity as they collide with hard natural limits. Those that respond to potentially disruptive changes caused by growth avoid harm by instead shifting to caring for themselves and their futures. That apparent intelligence from uncontrolled systems might only be from growth needing to be ‘self-animating,’ ‘responsive,’ and ‘cohesive.’ No growth system would get far if not also ‘exploratory’ and ‘adaptive.’ That’s not all that life is, but life always seems to have those capacities of acting as if out of self-interest and behaving cohesively as a whole. Our civilization seems unresponsive, though.

That humanity became unresponsive to the need to shift from investing in growth to care as threatening growth limits approached is the tragic mistake. We all respond to avoid such tragedies in every personal matter we can. We don’t keep taking out food for dinner till it’s a big pile on the floor with nothing left in the fridge or cupboards. No, we normally just start somewhere and A) take out approximately enough and then adjust as we B) make whatever will work for the occasion at the end to C) enjoy. That’s active steering. Civilization is not doing that, whatever you call it.

I think our societal blindness has to do with the difference between our two main ways of learning. The first is 1) absorbing experiences in familiar contexts where we become intuitively aware of and responsive to everything happening. The other is 2) making and sharing concepts. Concepts are inventions made from observed patterns that are simplified, taken out of context, and reassembled to suit our minds. How they often represent imagined realities to us and be SO satisfying we may not notice they represent a world without contexts, letting us become inordinately attached to the powerful ones. Using them hides any connection to possibly upsetting the contexts invasively controlled by their use.

The above only scratches the surface of the questions to ask, but tracing the history and demographics of this way of blinding ourselves to consequences seems to genuinely connect them to where we keep disrupting contexts by trying to impose abstract rules.

A practical response, sometimes a “cure,” lets people see their interest in caring for the contexts they might upset, something I call “contextual engagement.” The general principle is that you make better decisions if you see what’s going on. Elinor Ostrom’s video talk for receiving the 2009 Nobel prize for economics discusses it, and Gerald Midgley’s videos show his expertise in guiding divided communities to work together using it too. I’ve also developed useful methods for it, like asking people to list all the things in a given environment that connect with some primary concern — seeing the parts laid out as loose puzzle pieces makes people think much more clearly about the whole.

For more background, see my research journal, “Reading Nature’s Signals.” The theme is reading the essential non-verbal signals of change in our very lively world. We all get skilled at reading the cues in familiar contexts. Applying those skills to less familiar contexts is the challenge for learning to steer the world’s path ahead. Luckily in nature, most are related. The signs of trouble or relief and what to do next in one situation can be remarkably similar in others or at different scales. My way is to alternate reasoning and feeling, so when one turns up something odd, the other can help find what it is.

Note: This Figure is a very general schedule for the most creative and critical processes of natural system growth. The shapes and labels help notice what’s happening in the real contexts of interest. You look for how the succession of turning point events and developments take place. We seem to learn best when we’ve studied our ways of noticing interesting new connections and finding exceptions. We already know a lot about those, intuitively, so being self-critical to test those in new territory helps build what you see and clean up while better understanding the general pattern’s shapes and markers.

the Natural Growth Path

A Plan to Change Plans

Nature’s path for thriving new lives starts with a long burst of extractive growth, but then changes to become self-healing. Our economic growth started that way all growth processes do, but then we overdid it, a fatal pattern advanced human economies since the late Bronze Age, that has now become a mortal threat to us. So we did PART 1, and have now avoided PART 2 of the natural self-healing process till there may be close to no chance to fit it in before our societies collapse as the late Bronze Age and Roman ones did. We urgently need that stage of repurposing the growth resources to maturing and healing our new way of life to make it fit for living in peace and in harmony with our unfamiliar new environment.

Linked below is a talk given to the Bioregional Regeneration Summit by Jessie Henshaw on her natural systems design science on the opportunities for growth system transformation… something a little like birth actually… Self-healing growth systems reach their lasting climaxes by responding to their resources first used to multiply their scale to instead be used for healing what grew into its new world. As new lives, they change from growing to caring for themselves and learning about surviving the their new world and making their new place in it .

Our global economy’s problem is that we imagined exponential growth, we knew the math, could be perpetual. We didn’t know the experience would slap us with so many existential catastrophes all at once. That appears to be the big surprise the economies that discovered how to sustain growth before ours also faced, and failed to respond to. Now most of our ‘sustainability efforts’ are for delaying the change to self-healing growth, causing ever growing harm and waste of resources we’d use for much better purposes once we study how narture’s growth systems, as well as many that we more personally manage, take her and our systems to a peak of perfection in design, vitality, and longevity; caring for each other and our world, to enjoy what nature prepared for us, despite our earlier and continuing missteps….

Fall of 2022
Bioregional Regeneration SummitRegister Here (free) 
Tuesday, Nov 1 – 11 AM EDT Login and go to the MAIN ROOM
The talk is in the Forest Room (at the top Left of the Main Room)

 Recording of the Talk:
the Natural Growth Path – a plan to change plans

In nature… the MIDPOINT TURN at the end of growth toward real life very often works quite smoothly, with the new life being of ONE DESIGN and fabric, having grown from A WHOLE INSPIRATION of some kind and remaining whole as it grows. As a result, it is also able to make a whole respond with its internal connections to signals from the environment of when and how to turn.

We follow the very same plan with whatever we create and care for to last. A – Start something, then B – make it work. Humanity has not yet turned to making the world work, our next big job, while carrying on with our lives too.

transformation from growth toward life, that we need to learn a version of for ourselves

The most normally successful rule of new system growth is “create things to care for,” whether by nature or people. What gets it going is some small way of accessing energy and resources for accessing more. It’s an emergent “expanding spiral” process that, for people, we’d often call an “in-spir-ation” or, in nature, a “germ-in-ation”. Many other names, like “startup,” refer to it too.

As what is growing is a system organized to build with captured resources, it is more of a “find & connect” process than a “cause and effect” process. Of course, there are cascades of cause and effect, but they’re mostly organizational breakdown processes (entropic), not organizational build-up processes (syntropic). Mainly studying cause and effect ideas seems to be why physics did not find how to do advanced growth studies, despite the name first meaning “the productivity of nature” in Greek and then changing in use.

As a practical matter, one can often observe the little burst of energy with which growth starts or see some remnant of it. That aspect is fairly universal, whether for how new relationships start or projects at work. The same kind of inspired startup begins the work on a home, a new community change, organizations, and even making dinner and gardening. The success comes from following the burst of creation with a more careful process of coordinated care for the new design and fitting it, at its new scale, to its new world.

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– Another text version – Nature tells us how and when to turn
– All my links and research – Reading Nature’s Signals

JLH

Note to RegenPollination

ALERT – ambitious regeneration … faces rapid global decline!

Lauren,

I’ve been active in the movements for decades but have been unsuccessful in pointing out how we should address the symptoms AND the causes of rapid global sustainability decline.

That has not been happening at all, though. While trying to heal the world, the UN, environmentalists, and all the other regenerative movements have done nothing about what is causing the rapid acceleration of damage. Hidden in very plain sight it’s the regular financial doubling of the economy and its side effects for maximum profit. 

However important the symptoms are, we have also been displaying about as much blindness to the real cause as the people actively managing or doing it. That is, the well-educated professionals with homes and families whose rules for profit tell them to extract multiplying wealth from the earth, blind to the costs! That’s the real cause in a nutshell.

I write lots of short pieces on it. The main possible saving grace is that the people managing the planet’s destruction are mostly well-educated, successful professionals with lives and families as threatened by global environmental collapse as anyone’s. That they are blind to how they are causing the threats to themselves is the weak point in the system.

It happens by their following the old rule for profit, to use profits to invest in multiplying profits, thus endlessly multiplying the economy’s power over nature. They don’t see it because “the rules do not connect with their contexts.” The people are then only guided by their social relations, which are mostly very positive due to all the profits, unaware of the existential threat!

The real key is for the movements to expand our caring to include those causing the harm but don’t see it, rather than despising them, as Marx and so many others have, assuming they saw what they’re doing. Their blindness is systemic and, largely, NOT THEIR FAULT.

The solution is for our care for them to let us serve their interest in caring for their homes and families at risk. That MIGHT trigger a realization that they need to fund all our cares for the future rather than deny our care and fund its ever-faster destruction. We’d be in good company then, as ALL natural and human systems that survive their growth exit growth that way, by shifting from extraction to care.

I wish I could attend some of tomorrow’s key Pollination & Ecocivilization meetings (ref below). I’m generally available to talk or consult. Would you pass the word that I’d love to help writers to write up some of this? I’m a scientist who writes and needs to connect with writers who do some science.

Here are links that go in-depth, from a humanistic natural systems view, Three talks with links in the prefaces.
Language as a knowledge tree for systems *in context* (last week)
How Natural Growth Makes New Lives – Opportunistic Paths to Smooth Sailing (2022)
The Surprising Design & Steering of Whole Systems (2021),

All the very best,

Jessie

Jessie Henshaw  –   HDS natural systems design science     ¸¸¸¸.•´ ¯ `•.¸¸¸¸
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Research Journal — Reading Nature’s Signals — Publication

Regeneration Pollination will be hosting its regular session (on our regular zoom link) this Friday in parallel with the Ecocivilisation 24-hr Connectathon that starts on Sept 22nd at 14:00 UTC. In addition, Regeneration Pollination will be hosting a 1 hr session pre-event (9/22 @ 13:00 UTC) and post-event (9/22 @ 14:00 UTC), which will be on the zoom link used for the Connectathon.  Register for the Connectathon here and join us for the pre-and post-event session here: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/8206

Nature tells us how and when to turn

The first recorded talk on it will help show the quandry:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hb4Ysah2ZzY
The Updated Slides:
https://tinyurl.com/2s3skpxw,
The research behind all this:
https://synapse9.com/signals
And the early draft proposal to the UN:
https://tinyurl.com/FreshPlanFor-Steering

Natural growth is the beginning of life for all systems with life cycles like ours. There are a series of built-in transformation challenges, though. We all know life’s a challenge, right? Nature has a tried and true path to success for the big one now approaching.

Upon approaching a new living system’s limits to its first phase of growth (its explosion of new designs), they can either a) respond with a survival instinct and change their growth strategy or b) not. So far, humanity has not. The severity of crises now developing might change that, but only if a clear understanding of what to do widely spreads. We don’t have that now, culturally, scientifically, or governmentally. Starts of it are only found in small, still ineffective, transformation movements.

Nature can be very persuasive though, making it more and more clear where the needs to divest and invest really are. Whether it’s cultural or financial, it is our investments in the future that steer where our lives go. So, it’s a matter of putting our resources where they are now most needed. Today our power centers are still obsessed with multiplying their power over nature and society, which forces ever-increasing pressures and disruption in everyone’s lives.

History offers several civilizations that have collapsed from their peak of power to leave cultural dark ages in their wake, evidently caught in following an MPP (maximum power principle) plan to the end. There are lots of others that achieved long and rich lives after their initial explosive growth, too, as people and lots of our plans also generally do. We have that challenge now, to find how to make the choice to end our growing power in a way that lets our world survive. This video linked above is the first of my talks on a fairly complete understanding of the problem and solution. Just read this and listen with an open mind, let the new questions register, and mull them over.

Unfortunately, I’m still tending to talk about what I find most fascinating about this crisis. I’m a scientist with a cool set of discoveries. It would be better if I focused mostly on what it would mean for those reading or listening!

What it is all for is to help people see why nature needs us to make better use of the world economy’s profits: A) to finally fund real-world sustainability as it should be and B) to help people learn about how to shape and prepare for the new lives our future. Both changing to investing in the long-term future and clarifying how to do it will relieve the extreme economic pressure everyone is experiencing.

What makes that possible and important now is our now finally crossing the “inflection point” in growth (the breaking point in the initial rapid growth curve), and in either smooth or disruptive ways the world will soon face reality in a very new way. On the positive side, that would allow whole systems like ours to become capable of acting in unison! Also on the positive side, almost everyone on earth is skilled at making the same kind of transformation in their relationships, as well as work projects all the time. The cycle is from inspiration to multiplication, to facing reality in having to choose what to do.

Self-interests and common interests in saving the earth then coincide. If there are leaders who understand what the needs real needs are, the whole system will turn to taking care of itself and maximizing its long-term interests. That is also what happens at the birth of organisms, growth leading to facing the future, suddenly exposed to a new world to find their way in. There’s much to learn when facing a new reality, but the first big change is less hurry for most parts of the system as the guiding principles of the system quickly change.

The shock of a new reality and big interruptions in plans, first relieve the pressure to change ever faster and by the whole system turning toward common purposes, that and getting to know what’s happening without nearly so many blinders. We’ll also need to understand the natural change to the heart of the economic system. We maximized the use of profits to multiply the system, even smoothly ending that is likely to be a shock. The values and needs for business and whole system profits will change from multiplying the system to caring for it.

Every kind of natural system starts with the same variation on accumulative explosive self-organization, getting started by an inspiration (awakening of new design) that captures energy to build more ways of capturing energy. We got stuck on it, though, in a very big way, over centuries developing expertise to continue it until suddenly by accident, quite blind to it really, threatening the habitability of the earth.

The grand surprise is that even that way of mindlessly pursuing and then having to rudely collide with self-destructive limits to that “limitless” explosive growth still does, from nature’s menu of options, offers a very satisfying and graceful end goal of perfecting the design and our ways of life in a long-lasting way.

We have more than one problem

Thinking about the global crisis, the people who feel it think so differently than those who don’t, and the solutions of the latter seem to be at the very root of the problem (problem A).

We need solutions that would work in practice. That would take a real understanding of the problem and its origins. Easy-sounding solutions only mention the endpoint and skip how the process of getting there starts and develops. Decentralizing the economy, for example, sounds good but would also destroy the economy, as every product today physically comes from everywhere! Social values can make excellent design principles, but they are not system designs. We have many good designers and managers, too, but they are not doing the job needed today. So “problem A” seems to be that our system designers and managers are following century-old rules that today have become globally destructive. That implies that changing their jobs is more important than changing the people. We still need the same talents but doing the right things.

That presents a huge but possibly practical challenge. The people we’d need to communicate with are largely very communicative and, from their view, caring. It’s our world culture of wonderfully educated, risk-averse, and successful professionals from good families – who steer the world’s institutions and economy while also being blind to the side effects of their steering. They even call the existential threats they cause “externalities” and don’t know what to do about them. In truth, those so-called externalities are internal system breakdowns caused by our long history of applying Many Too Many Solutions while Blind To The Side Effects.

This cream of the world crop of educated professionals is NOT intentionally blind to their impacts, now destroying the earth at the economy’s maximum rate of acceleration. They also do have access to the data on the global system breakdowns. However, their thinking is in terms of the CONCEPTS of their work (simple models of profit), not noticing how their choices became disconnected from their CONTEXTS (the rich meanings of all the living worlds they touch). So, the problem is they don’t-feel-a-thing.

Feelings and their meanings come from contextual awareness, not abstract concepts. So blind to the effects of their work, they blindly follow the outdated rules to multiply everything that was once highly creative but now is quickly destroying the earth. Yet, if you get to know them personally, it is quite ironic how they do largely seem to be caring, responsible people. They’re from good families and try their level best to secure their homes and care for their communities. Those ironies present are where the openings for real communication are!

So, how do we get them to look at different rules to follow, like for the rest of us, please “pay attention to the planet.” There are two necessary parts to freeing professionals from their “true beliefs” and opening their eyes. (((#1 One is experiential.))) Someone needs to personally lead them out to explore the world and have direct experiences of the natural beauty of life spoiled by rising global demands and dysfunction that urgently need relief from growing pressures and good care. (((#2 Another is mining deeper cultural knowledge.))) Caring for your home is as deep a tradition as any in human cultures, but our elite professionals have totally lost track of it in wildly shaping (and reshaping) our world.
The first link shows some history of what happened to cause the blindness of experts to develop. It implies the task is to help the world’s leadership recover their ability to care for the earth as our genuine home, and NOT a concept (a). It helps to see the breadth of our crises (b). a) https://synapse9.com/signals/bronze-age-roles-of-hestia-and-hermes/
b) https://synapse9.com/_r3ref/100CrisesTable.pdf

They’d never do most of the wrecking crew work they do if they followed the customary practices of “homemaking” or if you prefer “home science.” They are fairly simple and reliable practices for 1) having wide awareness and 2) respecting common interests that we all follow in our homes. We all follow them when doing tasks, too, at home, at the office, or in the community. They are the same as the universal system-making model nature follows for Making Things To Fit The Context. When making changes, it starts with building on some idea, “confluence,” or inspiration of nature. When activated, it becomes the ‘germ’ of a new working system that grows as fast as it can at first. Then it sometimes passes the test of when and how to stop.

The universal test is simple, taking resources from growth for Responding To The Growing Needs Of The New System as those needs start competing with the values of more expansion. An endless expansion gives a system more to take care of (and more complexity that prevents it) than is manageable; a fatal problem. When making dinner, for example, the natural turning point is when you have collected and started preparing what is needed and then turn to finishing and gracefully serving. That must be before you startup too much to finish. That turn from starting to completing a design process also happens when new organisms become fully formed and ready to start learning about their new world. That occurs at birth for mammals when the new life starts to explore with family support for a while as they “fledge” and then be freed. People call it “youth” and “graduate,” the preparation and point of leaving the nest.

So, communicating to professionals about their ignorance threatening the planet is a dicey proposition. That is helped by really knowing what you’re talking, protesting, or singing about. Since negativity usually reinforces opposition, it helps to take a caring rather than aggressive approach.

A good example of that came up with the US supreme court starting to take away universal rights. The idea of forcing the country to adopt radical Christian Right (CR) values by packing the court came from their decades-long quest. Now it looks like there may be more to come than denying every woman’s right to privacy in their reproductive choices. Every living thing on earth needs individual and home privacy, though, so it seems to violate nature to deny it to others unless you are seriously injured.

So to turn that all around, ask: “What in the world happened to the CR to make them feel so directly harmed” And why was the only solution to deny the world around them universal rights??”
Were they feeling an egregious loss of their home and privacy? The world around them has indeed been changing ever faster (due to problem A). The threat of ever faster change around their very fixed beliefs could have made them feel alienated, without a secure home anymore, and only able to think of lashing back? That makes it plausible that sympathy could sometimes be a better tool than antagonization, and of course, it would go both ways.

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JLH