Category Archives: Community Development

The Progressive’s Guide To Raising Hell by Jamie Court

Watch this three minute video for some ideas on how you can change things.

Crowd Accelerated Innovation

I’ve been giving a great deal of thought to how humans might achieve the levels of sharing, cooperation, and organization that are needed to address the global mega-crisis that threatens civilization and our very survival as a species.

It is evident that web-based video is developing to the point where it can become a revolutionary force in communications and information sharing. This TED lecture highlights what it is doing right now to enhance creativity and realize the potential of group intelligence.  This is only one aspect of the power of the crowd when it has the necessary information, motivation, and common purpose.   — t.h.g.

Security and Survival

I don’t like to think about it either, but in conditions of instability and disintegration, it is only prudent to give some thought to possible scenarios and acquire some basic knowledge that you may need.

I am very impressed with the quality of the advice provided on the Survival Podcast. This latest episode addresses the topic of  Security During a Breakdown.

Here’s a description from the website:

We are going to look at a bit of a darker subject today.  We are going to discuss security and not security on a day to day basis against say robbers, thugs and general low life.  We are going to discuss secruity and security planning for large scale and long term break downs.  Today’s show was prompted by Episodes 1 and 2 of season two of Discovery Channel’s show “The Colony”.  I have watch thus far in disbelief at how little attention the people on that show have paid to security and how little they understand the threat and honestly survival as a whole.

Today’s show won’t be totally based on The Colony, it will simply use it as a jumping off point so even if you haven’t or don’t plan on watching it today’s show should be a good one for you.  Security is one of the five primary components of survival and the one that is most overlooked, often not an issue but the one that when needed can get you killed in a milisecond.

Join me today as we discuss…

  • The five primary components of survival
    • Food
    • Water
    • Shelter
    • Fire
    • Security
  • Understanding the threat to your safety
  • Consideration about where you “make your stand”
  • Six methods of attack mitigation
    • Appease
    • Impede
    • Repel
    • Evade
    • Misdirect
    • Terminate
  • Identifying the weak spots
  • The lesson of 300 – Funnel an enemy to counter large numbers
  • How and why guns change the entire equation on both sides
  • The importance and difference between security “protocols” and “procedures”
  • Splitting up resources – no central storage points
  • Developing and deploying decoy resources
  • Developing timberlines and evac plans

I highly recommend it. A little bit of forethought can make a big difference in the quality of your life, in any situation. — t.h.g.

Resilience and Local Self-reliance: Can Cuba Teach Us Something?

The embargo has had profound effects upon Cuba, not all of them bad. Watch this for a hint.

You can get a more complete picture by watching the documentary, The Power of Community: How Cuba Survived Peak Oil

Assuring Food Security

Michael Brownlee’s presentation on The Local Food and Farming Revolution is a “must read.” In it, he clearly outlines  the things we must do to assure our future food security and sustainability (along with the reasons why). Here below I have excerpted his conclusions.–t.h.g.

Clearly, the food and agricultural revolution is already getting underway. Fundamentally, it’s not about simply about lifestyle choices or mere differences in values. It’s arising in response to a growing predicament that is at the heart of our industrial agriculture system and the heart of our globalized economy.

This transition is coming whether we like it or not, whether we’re ready or not.

I know there’s a lot of controversy around all this, and a lot of emotions. I suspect a lot of dust is going to get kicked up along the way.

Much of the debate seems to hinge around the goals of sustainability seemingly interfering with farmers’ and industry’s goals of profitability. But sustainable agriculture must of course include economic viability. And that doesn’t necessarily mean “big.”

We sometimes hear “small farming” used as a pejorative term. Small organic farmers often get pigeonholed and tossed aside as a probable relic of the past.

But at the 19th annual Farming for the Future conference in Pennsylvania earlier this month, Bryan Snyder, the Executive Director of the Pennsylvania Association for Sustainable Agriculture said something very significant, and I want to close with his words. He said:

“People like to hear about lots of acres or large numbers of animals and bushels of corn per acre measured in the hundreds. But models of farming that can gross $50,000 to $100,000 on a single acre—or CSA programs that, in some cases and on relatively small acreage, are able to count their customers in the thousands and bank $1 million or more in the spring before even planting a seed—are anything but small!”

Snyder’s conclusion is exactly what we have come to at Transition Colorado:

“We must encourage everyone, wherever they are and as a priority, to eat food produced as near to their own homes as possible. Secondly, feed thy neighbor as thyself. From this perspective, local food not only can feed the world, it may be the only way to ever feed the world in a healthy and just manner.”

On Punishment and Intervention–some insights from Tom Atlee

Tom Atlee is a leading scholar and promoter of actions related to co-intelligence and group wisdom. In his recent newsletter below, he expresses some important insights regarding the role of punishment in changing individual behavior. His conclusions are entirely consistent with my own beliefs and research findings that behavior is determined not only by personal predisposition, but also by the situational context and systems in which people find themselves embedded. Please consider the points that Tom makes in this posting. – t.h.g.

Dear friends,

In my post yesterday I noted that punishing people who do bad things is a form of low-leverage intervention. Here I want to add some nuance and perspective to that statement.

I still believe that punishment BY ITSELF will not, in most cases, make a significant difference in whatever social, economic or environmental problem we think it will solve. One person or group is seldom the cause of what’s wrong. They are usually part of a larger picture — a system, a culture, a worldview, a way of doing business — that enables or encourages people to behave in the ways that they do. If we don’t change such larger dynamics, those dynamics will just continue to generate more problematic perpetrators.

Reading the article below about the coming investigation of bankers and other financial titans, I realized that punishment can, in significant ways, be part of a solution. It just has to be be done in a way that serves the transformation of those larger social dynamics. It can be used to drum up public support for systemic changes that confused citizens otherwise wouldn’t appreciate. It can rouse a sense of “Never Again!” in the larger public, leading to deep reform or transformation.

Punishment can also be embedded in the systemic changes, themselves.  The systemic logic of punishment is its deterrent effect (as contrasted with its psychological logic, which may look more like revenge or self-righteousness). If you set things up such that the prospect of punishment causes potential perpetrators to think twice and thus significantly reduces the number of anti-social acts, then the prospect of punishment has served its systemic purpose.  Furthermore, if the punishment includes efforts to reform the perpetrator — to expand their awareness, to change their behavior, to set them on a new, more socially benign course in life — that, too, has a systemic impact.

The evolutionary purpose of rewards, punishments and other incentives of all kinds is to help align the self-interest of the individual, group, corporation, or country to the needs and well-being of the larger whole — the whole society, the whole world, the whole of life. The pleasures of food and sex, and the pain of poisons and predators, have had an obvious impact on the evolutionary ability of species to sustain themselves over time. Moral codes and legal systems, social status and myths of heaven and hell, all play roles in aligning the behavior of individuals to the needs of the larger societies they are part of.

CONSCIOUS evolution involves, among other things, setting things up so that when we do the “right” thing we experience pleasure and when we do the “wrong” thing we experience discomfort or pain.  “Artificial” incentives are needed to the extent that intrinsic impacts are not sufficiently clear and compelling. When we fill up the gas tank or turn on the light, there is no direct link in our experience to our degradation of the climate. So we may need a “carbon tax” to help us “feel” the negative impacts of our fossil fuel use.

However, the proof of punishment’s value is in the actual impact on behavior. If we see an endless stream of perpetrators being punished — as we do with the drug war — then punishment is not serving its systemic role. If we see the worst perpetrators avoiding punishment because they can buy powerful lawyers or politicians or find loopholes or otherwise undermine enforcement, then punishment is not serving its systemic role. This is not all bad. From a social change perspective, each instance of avoiding deserved punishment gives us more data about what ELSE in the system needs to change in order to support the ongoing health of the larger society and world.

If the identification, publicizing and punishment of perpetrators of the financial meltdown described below reaches deep enough to not only send them to prison BUT ALSO to reform the financial system AND ALSO to change the political/governmental system so that those with undue wealth and political leverage cannot undo those financial reforms (as happened with the New Deal reforms during Clinton’s term), then the punishment would have served its highest systemic purpose. Gigantic concentrations of wealth, the “personhood” of corporations, campaign financing, the “revolving door” of powerful government and corporate positions, the adversarial vote-based system of majoritarian democracy itself — these are just a few of the hot targets for reform at the level that it is needed.

If change is not AT LEAST that deep, the punishment of financial titans will simply discharge some of the public’s energy of upset, and we shall see renewed financial crises over and over, as sure as the sun will rise tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow because the earth keep spinning, because that’s the way things are set up to play out.

Coheartedly, Tom PS: And of course this applies to every other issue where punishment is proposed or in place as part of the solution. Tom Atlee, the Co-Intelligence Institute, POB 493, Eugene, OR 97440 http://www.co-intelligence.org / http://www.democracyinnovations.org Tom Atlee’s blog – http://tom-atlee.posterous.com

Enhancing resilience through creativity and collaboration

In my recent lectures, interviews and presentations, I’ve been talking about the inevitable transition to “The Butterfly Economy.” I define this roughly as an economy that does not require continuous overall growth in output and consumption, that maximizes the use-value obtained from each unit of resources, and which  is both more equitable and provides a better quality of life for all.

The challenge now is to develop strategies and behaviors that move things in the right direction. In my view, this must include the stimulation of creativity, better methods of decision making, and new structures for collaboration.

This video by Andrea Saveri provides some insights and examples that may be helpful.

This video was featured on the NLab website.