Our podcast chat created a fantastic stir and much interest. Your comment about humans not being part of nature created much confusion/consternation and a few folk have wondered about your choice to work with some of the big companies you’ve worked withDan Palmer in personal email to Carol Sanford – July 28, 2019
I’m grateful for Carol’s taking the time to write this characteristically feisty reply, which I hope will stimulate further productive dialogue in the comments below:
Nature: People get very confused by Nature being the preeminent real idea. They don’t understand Living Systems as preeminent and all Life is embedded, nested Life working as nested systems. There are many different living forms nested in Life. Nature is an abstraction. I DARE YOU! Show me IT, nature that is, as a whole. Where is it? Living systems is what I am working with and teaching others to see. There is no Nature you can point to. But Lifesheds (watersheds) you can. Animals (of which we are one also nested in Living Systems) you can. Indigenous people have words for life not for an abstraction called nature. They are very concrete and real. Western Europeans invented the abstraction and exported it.
Source: Environmentalists produced a lot of passion as well confusion along with it by talking in abstractions without giving any concrete ways to work with it. ‘Don’t touch it, leave it alone to heal and restore.’ We are a working part of living systems and have work to do. We have to learn our work in the system. Nature does not really exist. But Biota, Soil, Mammals are all real things. Abstractions let us come up with abstract ways to work on things. Like reduce carbon footprint. That is an effect on real things, but an abstraction and people can’t grasp it for that reason.
Plus, most “best practices” to work on sustainability are abstractions, not regenerative approaches based on the working of Living Systems. Start with a real concrete being. Humans are one of those nested in Life, in Living Systems. “Environment” itself is another abstract distortion. Environment is an anthropocentric concept. “Our” Environment! Listeners who said this are listening to me through a paradigm that is filled with abstraction. My work is about the concrete and about building the mind that stops using abstractions and gets real. It starts with Living systems as the preeminent whole and then nested wholes all the way down, as native peoples do. It is always specific place sourced. Abstract ideas from the Environmentalist Era are slowing down our getting to work on Life being able to live from potential.
Working with Big Business: Get those folks to Look at the results I created in Business. Like leading to the founding of the UN Global Compact with Chad Holliday, Chair/cEO at Dupont. And stopping deep water injection well by writing and lobbying for regulation, and creating Freon replacement as an open source unpatented offering, so no other county created its own Freon when DuPont stopped making it. That is what would happen. People have to see the working of systems and find the node to move it, not protest and shout against it.
Blind spot: Making some people bad, rather than realising it is a capability that is needed. That is a cognitive bias that slows down our ability to educate the powerful players that need to move. I don’t work with Big Business. I find one leader ready to learn and learn, (Chad Holliday, Jeffrey Hollender, Michiel Bakker at Google) in a powerful position who wants to do HUGE things and I work with them for decades. Holliday stoped the drilling in the Arctic when he took over as Shell Chairman. He learned to do that at DuPont. He would not have had that capability and mindset without working with the Regenerative Technology for 2 decades and supporting others learning to think that way, across broad swarths of Dupont.
Loving people, seeing their potential and showing them how to do big things is the most important work. Working with the already converted is easy and usually comes from polarized thinking (you choice who is worth helping learn to think systemically and label the others as evil). That is the real stuck spot. That is no better than those evil guys – by offering their judgmental projections – made by people who think we should shun Big Business. Uneducated leaders in all business sizes will kill us if we don’t educate them. Mission Driven businesses are undermining democracy by how they manage people. Most are gentle command and control. I wrote The Regenerative Business to wake up the well-intended businesses to their disruption of social systems. Should I not work with them since that is bad? Laws and policy are a slow path. Shifting the mind is the fast path. Ignoring and judging is arrogance and ineptitude.
Post that on your site.
Take Risks—Discern Systems Working
CarolCarol Sanford in personal email to Dan Palmer – June 29, 2019
Would love to hear your thoughts about all this. I am finding myself rather partial to Carol’s disruptive style and I am learning things from her and her colleagues that are both disrupting and enriching my work in permaculture design. Yes, I will try and get a post together sharing these things some time soon.
Meantime don’t miss Fraser’s recent review of Carol’s book No More Feedback, I’d recommend checking out Carol’s seven principles of regeneration either here or here, and if anyone else wants to submit a review of any of her books, videos, or podcasts, then please, be my guest!
Go ahead, make a comment, let me know how all this is landing for you. Let me know what is helpful and what isn’t. Let me know what or who you’d like to see more of moving forward. Let me know how you think I could do a better job of making permaculture stronger. I will listen, I promise!