Comments

  • From Jason Gerhardt on Bringing it all together in a diagram (Part Five) - Mapping the Evolution of your Design Process Signature

    It’s almost like you read my newest article in pre-publication with the finger pointing at the moon metaphor. Ha! 🙂

    I have to agree that some processes definitely bring us closer to our desired goal of regeneration and lastingness in human culture. And that is the point of exploring this beyond greater design literacy, as you said. It brings up the importance of aims, goals, and achievement. This is something that I feel permaculture itself has not articulated fully yet, and something we hope to contribute to at the PI. With a focus on aims, goals, and achievement we can move closer to the edges of right and wrong/good and bad, and have a more well-defined scope and context for the nesting of permaculture in the first place.

    Go to comment
    2019/03/22 at 2:28 am
  • From Robert Mathieson on Dan Palmer talking about permaculture and life and creation and related stuff (e16)

    It reminds me of when I facilitated a few Introduction to Permaculture Workshops in Western Australia that I likened the whole experience or process of growth to ourselves. When Parenting our children we should endeavour to provide the best local soil available for them to grow in. That is our relationships should be healthy rich and full of creativity love and emotional stability. That our friends visit often and our community has a part in the air, water and energy around them. That their needs are met no matter what winds that change may bring. That our intentions are always for the betterment of their survival and we are consciously active and responsible for that purpose. It went something like that, I did it as a brainstorming type comparison on paper at the front of the class in understanding all the elements required to create a healthy adult was almost identical for any living organism. It helps to realize that we all instinctively know what we know already in terms of fostering good relationship to our environments.

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    2019/03/23 at 5:42 pm
  • From Jason Gerhardt on Bringing it all together in one diagram (Part Six) - Mapping the Centre of Gravity and Trajectory of a Project

    Just quoting you here: “I cannot stress how important I believe this sort of process literacy is to the future of permaculture and, frankly, the future of humanity.” I couldn’t agree with you more. Your work, to me, is a big part of articulating the paradigm shift that so often gets mentioned in permaculture, but not analyzed and described in detail.

    Go to comment
    2019/04/04 at 2:43 am
  • From Siddiq Khan on Christopher Alexander's Challenge meets Darren J. Doherty's Design Process - Part Two of Two

    Hi Dan, thanks for all your fantasticly provocative reflections, freely shared for all the world to grapple with. I am however confused by your formulation “we can describe some of the same core acts we saw inside Darren J. Doherty’s design process as both the differentiation of a whole and the assembly of parts. This fact renders inadequate our prior conclusion that these two acts are complementary partners inside design process.”

    If you can´t differentiate between assembly and differentiation when considering acts within a design process, how could these NOT be considered complementary? It seems like they are so complimentary as to be almost indistinguishable!

    That said, we just had Darren over this weekend and the way he suggested we begin designing the farm was definately differential, in explicit opposition to assembly: first dividing into areas based on what activities are possible, then dividing these into parcels using geographic drainage lines and roads as boundaries. This is spatial differentiation. Then there is also the sequential differentiation: dividing into the areas with highest marginal utility which are to be focused on first, then dividing these areas into a sequence of successional interventions leading towards permanence — progressively dividing a single landuse into multifunction landscape, from haymaking only to adding grazing covercrops (which serve as hay) to adding trees (yeilding hay, livestock and tree crops or timber).

    Just my two cents.
    Keep it up!

    Go to comment
    2019/04/16 at 11:46 pm
    • From Dan Palmer on Christopher Alexander's Challenge meets Darren J. Doherty's Design Process - Part Two of Two

      Thanks Siddiq and right on and thanks for grappling! Frankly I was confusing myself at this point and eventually came out the other side to realise that the core act inside healthy design/development process is transformation (wholeness-enhancing transformation to be precise – more terminology from Alexander I’ll be exploring more explicitly in future). Assembly/differentiation are subtypes of transformation no matter whether we describe a particular instance of transformation as assembly, differentiation (which I now call partitioning so as not to confuse it with transformation), or both at once. I appreciate your distinction between Darren’s use of spatial and sequential partitioning too – this is exactly the kind of thing I think we need more of in terms of diving into the dynamics of our design processes and clarifying the different kinds of things that are going on therein. Not for its own sake, but so over time we can get better at understanding the difference between process dynamics that deliver on permaculture’s foundational aspirations and those that fall short. All and all I got more than two cents from your comment – and I do hope to hear from you again (perhaps you’d be up for a recorded conversation for the podcast sometime). I also clicked on your website link and your project/property look incredible! I’ll be trying to come up with some kind of excuse to visit if I ever find myself in that part of the world for sure!

      Go to comment
      2019/05/18 at 1:48 pm
  • From Siddiq Khan on Adventures in Generative Transformation: Shocking raw footage of permaculture designers caught in the act with their paints (and pens and pencils) down

    Beautiful approach! It just gave me the idea of doing the same thing in terms of garden design — cut some big branches and stick them in the ground as mock-up young trees to model the backbone of multistrata design — play with how different configurations affect sun and shade, etc. Has anyone been crazy enough to try this?

    Go to comment
    2019/04/26 at 6:10 am
  • From Darren J. Doherty on Darren J. Doherty on master plans, Keyline design, carbon farming, dung beetles, and much else (e17)

    Thanks for the opportunity to work with you and your team (and clients!) Dan.

    I also appreciate you taking this effort to turn this all into a podcast and hope that it will prove useful to others as they seek to improve their work — be that as a producer seeking to develop a farm plan or a consultant looking to do the same for others.

    If people want to know more about what we at Regrarians get up to then please visit our website: www.Regrarians.org. If you are interested in being a Regrarians Workplace member then check out the membership options at http://www.regrarians.org/memberships/.

    Furthermore I look forward to any critical dialogue that may follow any listening of this podcast.

    Thanks again Dan and we look forward to the opportunity to work with you and your team in the future.

    Hooroo!

    Darren J. Doherty, CPAg
    Director,
    Regrarians Ltd.

    Go to comment
    2019/04/27 at 5:51 pm
  • From Meg McGowan on Bringing it all together in just. one. diagram. (Part Three)

    YES!! This aligns with what we spoke about regarding ‘soft systems’ and the way they can’t be planned as a final concept because they are never finished. A detailed, finished plan often, in my experience, leaves people feeling overwhelmed and not knowing where to start. We are now ‘permacoaching’ clients using a process that aligns with what you are calling a generative approach. Start with all of the same observation and collection of information, but then generate ideas and options and make plans to implement the best choices in stages.
    In our PDC we’re asking students to demonstrate an understanding of the design process for their final assignments, including staged implementation, rather than asking them to show us a detailed plan. This is helping them to develop serious design muscles and not to get bogged down in detail. I am leaning more towards a concept design as the most useful for clients. It helps them understand the macro and gives them the freedom to play with the micro. My observation is that they are far more likely to engage quickly with a concept plan and actually start doing.
    Wonderful stuff, Dan, and it’s definitely making permaculture stronger. Thank you. Love this stuff.

    Go to comment
    2019/04/28 at 6:25 pm
  • From Jon Buttery on Darren J. Doherty on master plans, Keyline design, carbon farming, dung beetles, and much else (e17)

    This was a great format as well of course as the content. More in this style would be fantastic. Keep up the great work. Cheers Jon

    Go to comment
    2019/04/29 at 12:28 pm
  • From Dylan on Darren J. Doherty on master plans, Keyline design, carbon farming, dung beetles, and much else (e17)

    Enjoyed listening to this! I love how Darren negates the need for expensive fuel guzzling machines by using nature i.e. grasses (+ fungi), cows, dung beetles… so much sense in this! I hope there is more of this from Darren’s consult.

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    2019/05/02 at 6:27 pm
  • From David Mattinson on Morag Gamble on Permaculture, Life, and Citizen Design (E13)

    Such a beautiful invitation to living the design process and building community. Thanks for the introduction to Morag!

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    2019/05/03 at 4:36 pm
  • From Angie O'Connor on Darren J. Doherty on master plans, Keyline design, carbon farming, dung beetles, and much else (e17)

    Fascinating! Arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi, snotty glomalin, busy dung beetles. Love it! Thank you both 🙂
    (Still gonna be a vegetarian, but I figure that we veggos can happily cohabit the planet with you enviro-omnis. If enough of us eschew meat, you guys will be able to keep stocking rates low enough to steward the land with these techniques, while serving the market demand. It’s counter-intuitive, but really the two camps should team up to defeat the industrialized meat debacle! Hopefully on-farm slaughter will one day be a thing – that one bad day is probably the most divisive issue…. )
    Cheers

    Go to comment
    2019/05/04 at 2:16 pm
  • From Alex Heffron on Darren J. Doherty on Design Process, the Regrarians Approach, and Making Permaculture Stronger (E05)

    Loved this interview, thanks very much for sharing it. Resonated strongly with me. I really feel like we must get away from this idea that permaculture (or regen ag for that matter) is just a collection of techniques that we fit into a landscape. And as discussed get away from the hubristic idea that we know what’s best and can force the land to submit to us. There’s thing I see where designer can sometimes apply their signature to a landscape, but surely missing the point there’s a unique context at every site, which is inextricably bound with the people and wildlife that live there. So many good points in this pod. Also the bit about being incremental, pragmatic and strategic. We tried to do much in the first few years and are now learning to reign it in. Also the bit about not trying to innovate in all areas at once; ecologically, financially and socially. It takes time to build a regenerative farm based on permaculture principles and ethics. I’m really glad we’ve taken our time before planting any trees yet, just to gather info and slowly decide what might work. Top stuff chaps, keep it up.

    Go to comment
    2019/05/05 at 2:47 am
  • From John Carruthers on David Holmgren on his permaculture journey, future scenarios, retrosuburbia and much else...

    Some really very ideas in this wonderful dialogue. Take David’s observation that a situation’s constraints inherently provide the nascent impetus to enable us to make better decisions (if we frame them accordingly). Taking the challenges of our particular geographical location, under climate change, for example, David seems to be saying that it serves us equally ill to approach its limitations with Panglossian optimism or wistfully hoping we were somewhere else; the (hard won) pragmatic realism of Candide is more likely to lead us to more creative and durable solutions…A simply wonderful conversation David and Dan (and hats off too to Dumbo Feather).

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    2019/05/14 at 11:17 am
  • From John Carruthers on Striking at the Root: A Life in Permaculture Design - by Jason Gerhardt

    Wow. A truly inspiring journey. A Tao of permaculture. It is Jason’s observation that our inquiry ought to be with people (alongside his companion optimism in the land’s inherent capacity) that deeply resonates…I guess I ought to be mindful of confirmation bias (as one among many) but more on that in this blog forthcoming I hope. Thank you Jason, and Dan.

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    2019/05/14 at 2:40 pm
  • From wes roe on Striking at the Root: A Life in Permaculture Design - by Jason Gerhardt

    hi
    thanks Jason Gerhardt for the story of your journey
    when Margie Bushman i took my PDC with Bill Mollison in 1997 – Bill said the most important and underdeveloped part of the Permaculture Design manual was chapter 13 -this chapter is on the human systems the invisible structures, We decide that this was the part of PC we would engaged as Community Organizers now for over 20 years and teach this in PDC’s – the journey of PC eventually will take you the human part of change
    WES

    Go to comment
    2019/05/17 at 4:01 am
  • From Jason Gerhardt on Striking at the Root: A Life in Permaculture Design - by Jason Gerhardt

    Thanks for commenting, Wes. Scott Pittman feels the same way. I’m constantly surprised how prescient Bill Mollison was with the last PDM chapter. It’s increasingly relevant to the conditions of today. And we have to go further too. We are actively writing new curriculum and articles about this topic. We see great need for a fresh articulation and contextualization around permaculture. And that may save some folks from what I’m calling “permacultural materialism” and “suffering in paradise”.

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    2019/05/17 at 7:36 am
  • From Jason Gerhardt on Living Design Process at Limestone Road - a Video Letter

    John, this is wonderful work, and thanks for your comment on my guest post. So much of what you said in the videos and wrote in the notes here speaks to me. Your thoughts on habit, time-scales, and “bias for action” echoes my work with clients very closely. Awesome collaboration guys! Looking forward to more.

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    2019/05/17 at 8:04 am
  • From Will on Dan Palmer's Journey with Permaculture Design Process and David Holmgren's Response (E11)

    Hi Dan,
    Just wanted to drop you a line saying thank you for the amazingly rich conversations you share through this podcast. I’ve been stumbling around in permaculture for just the last couple of years and I am really excited about the direction that Making Permaculture Stronger is driving me as a listener. Thanks for adding another function to my commute and enhancing my own permaculture design thinking. I really enjoyed your story and the insights in this episode. Cheers.

    Go to comment
    2019/05/17 at 7:11 pm
  • From lilian on David Holmgren on Making Permaculture Stronger, reading landscape, reading people, and the importance of design process (at the 14th Australasian Permaculture Convergence)

    Thanks for the article. Interesting to discover Formidable Vegetable Sound System. PANG, a Belgian collective also use music to inform differently about lombricomposting, dry toilets and other sustainability related topics. Check out this hilarious videos (it’s in french but you’ll get the point)

    Go to comment
    2019/05/25 at 11:41 pm
  • From Finn on David Holmgren on Making Permaculture Stronger, reading landscape, reading people, and the importance of design process (at the 14th Australasian Permaculture Convergence)

    “We don’t really know what we are doing. And getting a closer sense of that, gives us a very powerful contribution.” This made me chuckle and smile. I think this should be the endorsement on the front page of your book Dan!

    Go to comment
    2019/05/29 at 8:34 am
  • From John Carruthers on Concept plans vs detailed plans

    Wonderful article. Should be prescribed reading for every PDC. Meg’s encouragement that we should escape pretty two dimensionality in favour of ways of designing more tactile and kinesthetic is spot on. It was Dan, in fact, who encouraged me to peg out with wooden stakes, and hypothesise with a topographic model: for which I’ll be eternally grateful.

    Go to comment
    2019/06/04 at 12:33 pm
  • From Jason Gerhardt on What is Transformation and how does it differ from Assembly and Partitioning? Response to a reader query

    (length warning) As I read this, I can’t help pulling from Zen Buddhist concepts. So much of the inquiry and expression on this blog is at the heart of the non-dual philosophy and mindset described in Buddhist texts. Words have never quite done it justice and most of the descriptions are intended to get people to just BE it. My favored description might go like this: the whole and the parts are not one, and they are not two. What is one supposed to do with that? Go practice.

    I’d like to play along with you guys by using the example of the room I’m sitting in. When I took occupancy of this house there was an empty room with a closet. This room is just a part of the whole of the house of many rooms however. So I looked at the whole house and had to determine what was the appropriate use of each room. I had to consider the whole of myself as well because I needed different rooms for different purposes with different characteristics. I had to consider a bigger whole yet because of the forces other than this house, such as directional city noise, sun access, temperature, etc. Some basic assumptions were made, for example I don’t want to sleep in my kitchen. Fair enough. And I could actually go through the motions of determining why that assumption is correct for me, but it’s become ingrained knowledge that I don’t want to sleep in a warm space that has the fragrance of food, etc. An analysis of elements exercise would reveal all of the things by showing the outputs of a kitchen are incongruous with the inputs I need for healthy sleep.

    Back to this room. I determined it was best suited for my office. How I set it up was by measuring different parts of the room and pieces of furniture I needed for my office, where they would fit, and envisioning how it would function. Then I began constructing. I shuffled things around until I found the fit. And over the course of a year I kept nudging things in this direction or that and trying different wall hangings in different places. That on-going low-level configuration process ended up staying in place until my girlfriend moved in. This addition changed things up as we found our house is a bit small for two, and we needed another comfortable place for someone to sit and get alone time from the rest of the house (which is very much open floor plan). So we moved a desk out and added a couch. My girlfriend also needed the closet in this room so it had to serve that function as well. We also need more storage so there are boxes of stuff under the design table and bikes in the corner. Two years later we’ve realized the office is not in right relationship for so many different purposes, so we are looking for a house that has a better configuration for our needs.

    So what are the design lessons here? Time changes everything is one. Any additions (or subtractions) to a space changes the whole is another. These lessons alone should inform my process moving forward. One process pattern that emerges is that we can only design with the information that we have now, and knowing that things always change, we shouldn’t spend too much time figuring out every last detail acting as if it’s going to be set in stone. This points us to the previous post of Meg McGowan’s wonderful articulation about concept planning versus detailed planning.

    The point here is to provide a description so that someone can use design process in a more effective way, yet even that could be an assumption that may be off the mark, however. Maybe there are no designers and there are no spaces to be designed? Subject and object are not one, and they are not two. Maybe it’s all just action. In my example above, the house is acting on me, while I am acting on it. Where does one draw the line to differentiate the two?

    In a final analogy to Zen practice, Zen is described as the “sitting school”, which is a very basic practice of sitting in meditation, following ones breath, and just being present. It’s basic, and yet incredibly difficult for most people. Practice helps. As one sits over and over and over it becomes more of our natural reaction to ‘just be’ on the cushion. As one does that in the safe space of meditation, it starts the ripples that impact non-cushion time. I see design in the same way. As we consciously practice designing over and over again, it starts to change our whole life. Being in such close encounter with relationships in space and time in the safe confines of a design project starts to change us to where it impacts everything else that we do (which is all design). Just as Zen doesn’t have continually higher levels of practices, maybe permaculture design doesn’t either. Maybe describing design practice pretty simply is all it takes to get one going, and then it’s up to trusting in life, using time as an ally, and incorporating gradual realizations into one’s daily life by working through the articulations of designers more steeped in the practice than us.

    One thing in particular that I love about this blog is that many designers are sharing their realizations about how designing works in their life. These articulations get us closer to being able to give people the proper tips and practices to get started and help us along the way. I don’t know that there is a best and final articulation that can fast-track designers own processes though. I do think these things are important to articulate, but mostly serve as something to refer to for inspiration and confirmation as one matures in their practice.

    In short, there is no substitute for practicing properly. Keep doing it over and over again forever, constantly working on dissolving the boundary between wholes and parts, space and time, oneself and the world. Then we will become better and better designers. This dissolving of boundaries is what allows one to realize the permaculture ethics fully, which is what will allow us to grow greater permanence in human culture, which is what I think we are aiming for. We’re not designing in spaces and times, wholes and parts. We’re designing a way of life that is in greater integrity with the nature of life.

    I bet this is “out there” for some, and I probably need to work on the articulation, but I do believe it’s the kernel of what we are trying to describe and achieve. I also believe this is what Christopher Alexander was on to.

    Go to comment
    2019/06/05 at 12:19 am
  • From Jason Gerhardt on What is Transformation and how does it differ from Assembly and Partitioning? Response to a reader query

    You really are giving people a much better place to start. While it seems complex at the surface, I think you’re actually making it more approachable. And the process you are describing is so human, accessible to anybody with flags, string, stakes, and senses. In the last few months I’ve been working on design projects almost on a daily basis and I have to say you are having a huge impact on my approach. I see it everyday a little more clearly. My process signature is surely shifting.

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    2019/06/05 at 10:53 am
    • From Dan Palmer on What is Transformation and how does it differ from Assembly and Partitioning? Response to a reader query

      Thanks so much for your support and appreciation Jason. It is so motivating to learn that what began as random cathartic musings have evolved into something coherent and useful enough to be making a difference for fellow permaculture designers (in addition to just myself). Having folk from around the world (most recently from both Latvia and Sweden) share that this stuff is making a difference in what they are doing in real projects motivates me to keep going.

      And it is so true, right? A bit of potentially unusual terminology aside (which I hope to weed out more as things move forward), this stuff is all about bringing design processes back toward life, which means more accessible, collaborative, inclusive, functional, beautiful, empowering, etc etc. Once you get a taste there ain’t no turning back.

      I look forward to our next chat and I was meaning to mention that your prior comment resonates muchly with this one from Dave Jacke.

      Go to comment
      2019/06/08 at 7:05 pm
  • From Sarah Mayo on Jason Gerhardt on allowing permaculture to have its greatest potential (e18)

    I am traveling in Australia with my boyfriend, and we have been listening to Dan’s making permaculture stronger podcasts almost religiously this past week while doing garden work. The interviews are very interesting and we have been learning so much through the diversity of content that he is putting out there. Being new to the world of Permaculture it is inspiring to hear from those who have been involved in the movement for decades. It is also helpful to hear differing opinions on the topic both positive and negative… it’s always important to challenge and question along the journey of any movement to make it stronger.

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    2019/06/06 at 5:12 pm
  • From gerald lindner on Bringing it all together in one diagram (Part Seven) - Mapping the design process signature of permaculture, culture, and even nature herself (Your turn!)

    If the fundamental aim of any design process is to achieve Ian McHarg’s “creative fitting”, resulting in health and happiness, then the whole-part will always be in interaction with its surroundings. Both adapting to it and changing it.

    The operators “transforming” and “generating” don’t cover this ground.

    A suggestion would be to perhaps add a third axis – time (the type of interaction with the surroundings) with the parameters: fully fixed, intermittent/linear (adaptive design), cyclic (evolutionary design).

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    2019/06/09 at 5:22 pm
    • From Dan Palmer on Bringing it all together in one diagram (Part Seven) - Mapping the design process signature of permaculture, culture, and even nature herself (Your turn!)

      Gerald thanks so much for your stimulating comment!

      Following Christopher Alexander’s lead, while I don’t emphasise it in this chart, part of what transformation connotes for me is a focus on how a given whole-and-its-parts creatively fits at its own level of resolution, with respect to the smaller parts it contains, and with respect to the larger whole it is part of (what you refer to as interaction with its surroundings). The generative piece is then about striving to achieve this fit in real time in an ongoing way where the process never stops. So in this sense I (tentatively) see generative transformation as inseparable from what you call cyclic or evolutionary design. Where any kind of fabricating (up-front masterplanning) is much more likely to be what you call fully fixed, and hybrid perhaps more likely to be what you call adaptive (with intermittent/linear feedback loops into and back from the environment). So I’m not sure it would be an independent axis, though I’d be interested to find what others think and to ponder this more myself.

      One other third axis I have considered previously is that moving from 1) designer, builder and end user are the same, 2) any two are the same and the other different, and 3) all three are one and the same. Though as soon as you move from two to three axes the accessibility plummets. I’d also stress that this framework is one of so many ways of teasing apart differences between different kinds of design processes and in that sense is highly selective, limited, & partial. Though it is also feeling to me like both a helpful conversation starter and a useful stepping stone or collection of rungs on a ladder that can be kicked aside once it has given the necessary leg-up :-).

      ps. I would love to read Ian McHarg on “creative fitting toward health and happiness” – can you recommend the best source for this? Also Gerald I followed the link to your site and I’d love to hear any additional process insights you’ve gleaned over your years of practice as an architect that you’d be kind enough to share (including any thoughts you might have on design process within permaculture and Alexander’s work which I’m guessing you must be familiar with).

      Go to comment
      2019/06/10 at 3:47 pm
  • From Jason on Concept plans vs detailed plans

    Fantastic article, thanks.

    I provide many three-hour landscape consultation sessions, some of which lead to further planning or implementation by us but most are the kickstart for homeowners getting started.

    Our greatest tool during these sessions is a big bundle of bamboo stakes from our local riverside. We do arrive with scaled aerial photos with contour lines which are great to sketch general patterns onto. But the best and most client inclusive discussions happen in the landscape with everyone involved moving around bamboo and other objects at hand, either lain down on the ground marking edges or structures or stuck in the ground representing trees etc.

    I try to demystify design process by making it active, approaching it in different ways. Thanks to Dan for excellent approaches to drawing out client intentions etc through language and written statements.

    Drawing is a useful contrast to on the ground idea iterations. Pull all the bamboo out and make a completely different arrangement and see what reactions everyone gives. Fast iterative drawing can provide new insights to be tested again on site. Any drawing that results is simply taken from the on the ground mark out. Flat topped weedmat pegs can be left in the ground and mown over (if working with lawn that needs mowing between sessions).

    Really appreciate these discussions and sharings!

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    2019/06/12 at 7:02 pm
  • From Meg on Carol Sanford on Living Systems Thinking (E19)

    Mycellium! It’s the master pattern for everything I do!

    Networks. Nodes. Connections. Soft systems keep evolving.

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    2019/06/15 at 6:04 pm
  • From Meg on Carol Sanford on Living Systems Thinking (E19)

    Possibly of interest: I put a lot more systems thinking into the current PDC than most people would. Feedback from students on the thing they most valued about the course? Systems thinking!! Every system is perfectly designed to get the results it gets. To change the outcome we must change the system and that cannot be done from a reductionist perspective. We must understand the whole of the system.

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    2019/06/15 at 6:09 pm
  • From Cara on David Holmgren on Making Permaculture Stronger, reading landscape, reading people, and the importance of design process (at the 14th Australasian Permaculture Convergence)

    So true about the failures of design education!
    Is this address available as audio on your podcast or elsewhere?

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    2019/06/16 at 8:59 pm
  • From Jeff Mcneill on A Conversation with David Holmgren

    Agree completely with the problem of process in Permaculture as seen through the lens of “A Pattern Language”. However, what has been overlooked is that Alexander provides exactly the processes needed for design and building, but in the companion book “The Timeless Way of Building”. This second work, published two years later but as “Volume 1” is a part of a two volume whole. Unfortunately, people skip ahead to “A Pattern Language” and then try and use patterns without a thorough understanding of what they are and the methods and processes used to design and build with them.

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    2019/06/20 at 1:52 pm
  • From Jeff Mcneill on Joel Glanzberg: Continuing the conversation about permaculture and working to regenerate whole living systems (E20)

    This is the biggest problem with permaculture. It sound like hippie mumbo jumbo. Imprecise language, empty metaphors, a complete lack of perspective. How can this be taken seriously?

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    2019/06/22 at 5:31 pm
  • From Rosemarie Penno on Joel Glanzberg: Continuing the conversation about permaculture and working to regenerate whole living systems (E20)

    I agree I skimmed the mumbo jumbo to find the substance. There was none.

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    2019/06/23 at 5:22 pm
  • From Will Heffernan on Living Design Process at Limestone Road - a Video Letter

    Fantastic. I am well and truly following in your footsteps….being able to see you in the distance is keeping me motivated to keep chasing you 🙂

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    2019/06/25 at 5:19 pm
  • From Jason Gerhardt on Bringing it all together in one diagram (Part Nine) - Mapping the design process centre of gravity of permaculture, culture, and even of nature herself (My turn!)

    Great post, Dan! You’ve enriched my Saturday morning rituals for many weeks in a row. Thanks for your dedication. I love playing with this diagram, so will be sad to see it go. Let’s make sure our next conversation happens before this gets moved on from. There’s a ton of richness in this post for me in general.

    I had not seen the design process chart with all these great designers processes side by side. It made me dig to find a design process structure I created for my students five years ago. I feel it’s actually pretty true to how I still work, and captures a lot that you’ve been articulating (though I’m sure it differs too). Since I’m short on time this week as you know, I’m gonna paste it here, and would enjoy discussing this with you to explain it further, break it down/blow it up, poke holes in it, etc.

    Jason Gerhardt’s Permaculture Design Process:
    This is a process to follow for practicing permaculture design. It is never a linear process, as each stage reflects all others, but it can help you to get moving to look at each stage as a step. Using this process is the central function of the permaculture designer.

    1. Observing- using ones observation skills, reading the landscape, performing client/stakeholder interview(s).
    2. Analyzing- performing detailed analysis and assessment of the site/people (site and sector analysis, use frequency planning, analysis of elements (especially people), budgeting, random assembly, source to sink, ecological patterning). Further synthesizing vision expressed in client/stakeholder interviews with reality.
    3. Visioning- getting clear on what is feasible to create (based upon site/client/invisible structure observations and assessments).
    4. Planning- generating design concepts that harmonize abilities with vision, creating strategies and techniques.
    5. Communicating- creating documentation and presentation materials to effectively communicate the design, as well as WHY and HOW design decisions were arrived at (design drawings, supporting documents, project manuals, budgets, presentation tools and skills). Possible revisitation of previous steps to generate new concepts.
    6. Implementing- translating the design into reality and making careful changes to the plan as required by unforeseen/changing circumstances.
    7. Maintaining- steering the implemented design to keep it on course to achieve desired goals and vision/which can often mean evolving ones vision.
    8. Assessing- revisiting to analyze and gather feedback on the successes and failures of the design, asking oneself: What went well? How could it be even better? What went wrong? How can I remedy it? Revisit design process continually.

    A couple quick notes:
    -Every step ends with “ing” to highlight that this process is a continual motion. It’s alive!
    -Visioning comes 3rd, not first. I created this as a direct pushback to design processes I saw being taught. Starting with visioning means imposing a design so that everything else has to fit into it. That’s just not how successful life works.
    -Planning is conceptual. I want to discuss this with you in particular. My company produces very polished paper design work (we absolutely have to for the type of projects that require institutional/governmental approval, code adherence/variance, use of earth moving contractors, etc.) and I’m curious if you would view them as master plans. I call them road maps, with lots of potential detours along the way (why every implementation needs a project manager too).
    -Includes explicit recognition that detours frequently come in the implementing and assessing steps.
    -Something in here hints that there is no beginning and no end, whether implicit or explicit, I don’t know, but I think that’s important. Again, IT’S ALIVE!

    Go to comment
    2019/06/30 at 12:59 am
  • From Dan Palmer on Joel Glanzberg: Continuing the conversation about permaculture and working to regenerate whole living systems (E20)

    I wanted to chime in here to express my gratitude for you sharing your impressions Jeff & Rosemarie and more generally to bring this fascinating situation into the open.

    One the one hand we have a seasoned permaculturalist (in the form Joel Glanzberg) who has been doing great practical permaculture stuff for over three decades (Including one of the centrepiece three-decade-old food forest examples in Gaia’s garden). Who here in his open letter is attempting to distill and make accessible what he’s learned about the potential and promise of permaculture relative to some of the less promising pathways he sees it walking down.

    On the other we have, I’m assuming, two other well-meaning folk interested in permaculture, namely Jeff and Rosemarie. While this is the first I’ve heard from you Rosemarie, Jeff recently made an insightful comment on another post which tells me Jeff you are not a random trouble-making troll or whatever the lingo is. Anyway the point being Joel’s language lands for you as substance-free hippie mumbo jumbo. Which is fair enough. And where as interesting to me is that no-one else has chimed into say otherwise, possibly meaning that they are either unsure or in agreement with you.

    The situation that fascinates me here is I believe that unless there is some kind of way that more experienced permaculturalists, and in fact any permaculturalists, can productively share their considered reflections with others in a way that prompts some kind of meaningful dialogue, then permaculture is not only missing a fantastic opportunity to grow and evolve, but its chances of stagnating are all the higher.

    I mean this dynamic is pretty common I’m guessing to many forums outside permaculture. Someone takes some time to try and convey something they are deeply passionate about and others skim it and chime in declaring it empty bullshit or whatever. The upshot being zero progress and the likely devolution where any potential for civil, productive dialogue falls flat on its face where folk end up yelling “no your opinion is BS” – “no yours is” and so on, until they eventually each storm off in disgust even more convinced than they were when they started that they are completely right and the other person or persons are completely wrong.

    I mean perhaps Joel has just done a spectacularly bad job of conveying himself here. Certainly it is the first time in the history of this project such declarations have been made. However I would invite anyone in making such a sharing in future to elaborate at least a tiny bit. As in is there anything that you can relate to at all? Is there anything you’d be up for expressing an alternate view of? Is there anything at all you could share on top of your declaration of BS that might contribute to some kind of steps toward clarification or progress within permaculture? Even just sharing that you think permaculture is doing great and doesn’t need any critical self-reflection or further development would be great to know about.

    No pressure or anything, just an invite. I’ll continue to be grateful to any comments for they all give me valuable grist for the mill as in information about how this stuff is landing for folk.

    Thanks again,
    Dan Palmer

    Go to comment
    2019/06/30 at 12:20 pm
    • From Finn on Joel Glanzberg: Continuing the conversation about permaculture and working to regenerate whole living systems (E20)

      Just came back to this post, having seen Jeff and Rosemarie’s comments before and wondering if it ever went anywhere; shame it didn’t.
      I thought Joel’s writing was very clear and uncontroversial. Indeed, it seems to state many truisms from within permaculture and ask a couple of questions, all in all much less ‘controversial’ than much of the content you’ve been creating, Dan!
      And I couldn’t agree more about having a language for advanced practitioners to use to communicate. A recent shoutout for more ‘intro-level workshops’ for the British Convergence had me thinking about how I very rarely feel pushed or challenged at Convergences, often leaving feeling like I’ve had a nice enough time but not especially inspired. When you’re holding events of only a couple hundred people is it worth trying to keep the space broad and encompassing all levels of enthusiasm, or if the workshop offers lean towards being tailored for a more ‘advanced’ crew then should you follow that? Given the fairly slow-moving feeling of genuine permaculture in Britain right now, I know which I’d opt for…

      Go to comment
      2019/07/25 at 10:09 am
  • From Sue Laverack on Concept plans vs detailed plans

    Thank you, thInk you, thank you! I have been struggling with my diploma in Permaculture because most of my designs begin with a concept which is full of ‘roughly’, ‘-ish’ and the detail is often ‘it looked and felt right’ or changes happen becauze ‘it looked wrong’. But my tutor wants me to follow a recognised design pathway and tools explaining that I must be able to present a design to clients. This post has helped me see where we are missing each other and re-assured me that my way is valid if not mainstream.

    Go to comment
    2019/07/01 at 4:15 am
  • From Fraser on Carol Sanford on Living Systems Thinking (E19)

    That was a great interview, Dan. Lots to think about!

    I do find it hard to reconcile Sanford’s insights with my distaste for the whole mega-corp world (her clients include Google, Nike, Proctor & Gamble etc.) and the business self-help vibe of her website, which seems very focused on revenue growth. Given the terrible practices of many of these organisations, and the intrinsically harmful side-effects of a massive profit-extraction machine, it’s hard to understand how a concept of ‘regeneration’ is relevant.

    Not that I’m judging Sanford for working with these organisations – I work in the corporate IT industry myself – I just struggle to understand the apparent disconnect.

    However, the ideas from the interview did really speak to me; so I’ve just started reading “No More Feedback”. Don’t want to judge the book by its cover, so to speak.

    Go to comment
    2019/07/01 at 12:03 pm
    • From Peter Kopp on Carol Sanford on Living Systems Thinking (E19)

      I’m with you Fraser. I quickly lost interest in Carol’s website due to the corporate vibe but I am fascinated by her thinking. Would be keen to hear your thoughts once you’re finished reading ‘No More Feedback’.

      Go to comment
      2019/07/02 at 6:29 pm
      • From Fraser on Carol Sanford on Living Systems Thinking (E19)

        Hi Peter,

        Having just finished the book, I’ve come back to your comment with a lengthy review!

        I think it’s well worth reading if you’re involved in any kind of employer:employee or mentor:mentee relationship. I’d definitely like to try applying some of the ideas to how I work with my manager.

        The basic gist of the book, as I recall it, is that all people naturally have some potential to become self-determining, autonomous, and to take responsibility for the development of their own potential, as it relates to their own life satisfaction and their contribution to the greater good (whether that’s an organisation, a society, or an ecosystem).

        In business, and many other contexts, “feedback” has become the most popular concept in managing people. It is somewhat effective, but has a bunch of negative effects that lead Sanford to consider it a ‘toxic’ practice. Some of these include:
        – It’s a mechanistic concept that doesn’t translate well to the complexity of human development as part of a “living system”.
        – Being authoritarian, it damages people’s ability to self-reflect, use their intuition, and take responsibility for themselves.
        – Despite the appearance of objectivity, it’s actually wildly subjective in practice.

        The alternative that Sanford offers is a “developmental” approach, in which the organisation has a high-level framework of values and goals, and the workers are supported to become self-reflective. Instead of providing feedback, she advises managers and others to become good at using the Socratic method to ask questions that help workers to come to their own insights about their current work and future aims.

        She doesn’t quite flesh out how to put this process in place; I guess it’s covered in her other books and courses.

        One thing I’m not entirely clear on is how broad Sanford’s definition of ‘feedback’is. The book focuses on feedback as a mechanism for staff performance reviews (and similar scenarios); I’d like to understand whether she thinks it’s also applicable to, say, offering and seeking advice more generally. I think Dan asked the same question in the podcast but I don’t think I quite understood the answer.

        Reading the examples in the book did help me understand why Sanford works with the organisations that I called “massive profit-extraction machine(s)”. They’re made up of people, and when people embrace a developmental/regenerative view of career development, it sets them up for looking at how to apply the same thinking in a wider context. There are a few examples in the book of people and companies using Sanford’s developmental approach in a way that countered societal problems. However, what I’d really be keen to see is some examples of people using the approach to tackle what I think of as the *inherent* negative effects of a mega-company like Google or Proctor and Gamble. I’m thinking of stuff like environmental damage, consumerism, forced obsolescence, political interference, exploitative third-world labour practices and so on.

        Go to comment
        2019/07/26 at 5:02 pm
        • From Peter Kopp on Carol Sanford on Living Systems Thinking (E19)

          Thanks for that great review Fraser. I’ve really enjoyed the recent series of conversations Dan has had with Carol, Joel, and then Bill. For me Carol has been the hardest of the three to get a handle on. I may have to read some of her books to try and properly understand her thinking. It seems that being clear on definitions of terms is key. I remember Dan grappling with her meaning of feedback, just as you did, but I think there was ultimately agreement and a happy ending. I think I’ll have to go back and listen again to her conversation with Dan. There’s been so much to absorb in the recent podcasts and I missed a lot of ideas because I was still mulling over previous points as the conversation continued.

          Go to comment
          2019/07/29 at 7:36 pm
  • From Finn on Adventures in Generative Transformation: Trying to Break Client's Design Ideas

    This is absolutely something I’d love some practical skill in! How to softly and gently tell clients that their idea is rubbish until the whole picture has been fully designed. I guess starting off with well articulated goals allows for this more easily, which itself is another process I’d like more practical experience and skill in facilitating…

    Go to comment
    2019/07/07 at 9:03 am
  • From Meg McGowan on On the topic of a practical, commercially viable permaculture design process with Artūrs Freijs

    Another great post, Dan, and thanks also to Artūrs for generating such great discussion.

    I agree with your point about client interviews. I used to send an advance questionnaire and usually found myself going back through it with clients to seek clarification on their answers. This was not energy efficient (and therefore against the principles about using energy efficiently).

    I would suggest that the starting point is to develop a macro perspective of the area using local knowledge and online resources. Working in the same bioregion means my knowledge of the relevant patterns, climate, weather, wind, sun angles, topography etc, transfers from one project to the next but there’s still a need to check how these factors will impact a particular site. Human made features like dumps, heat sinks and potential sources of contamination are worth exploring, as is the threatened and endangered species lists of plants and animals for your area. Noting the location of any large bodies of water and bushland will be relevant to local temperatures. Move from these macro patterns to the patterns on site, noting which reflect local conditions and which deviate. As an example, we are at the end of a keyhole valley so our primary high wind direction is altered. Notice patterns specific to the site and check observations when you can, for example with soil sampling.

    I also think there’s room in this process for auditing the property using the principles (whichever set you use). To what extent does this property…………….?
    It can be immensely beneficial to do this with clients. It’s not necessary to give them a lesson in permaculture. Just ask the questions. It’s sometimes necessary to reword them if the language isn’t clear for the client, but you’re planting lots of seeds regarding the way they view the space, and the kinds of things you’ll be doing with your design. I agree that walking the site with clients and listening carefully to what they say is critical. I also like to wander alone where possible. I see different things.

    I hope this is useful. I’m still working on my current best design process, and I keep redesigning it. I recommend that process too. Collect information, learn, analyse, ideate, plan, implement, review using the ethics and principles and repeat.

    Go to comment
    2019/07/13 at 4:16 pm
  • From Ian on Peter Kopp on the Mapping the Design Process series

    enjoying this extension of the chart; and yes, good resonance for me. when I take time to meditate on holistic design i come to the torus. Let’s spend more time in vibe land! [Paste pic here of torus but I can’t see place for attachment 🙂 ]

    Go to comment
    2019/07/20 at 7:48 pm
  • From Meg McGowan on Bill Reed: Staying in the Game of Evolution (E21)

    Wonderful. I use a similar analogy for whole systems by asking people to imagine dissecting their favourite pet into various sub systems; skeleton, muscular, circulatory, nervous, digestive etc. And then we talk about what ISN’T there. I have found people very quickly get to the “essence” of what made their pet more than the sum of the parts.
    Very much agree with your observation that we facilitate the place and the people to be who they are together.
    I make the observation that we are moving away from the historical (and patriarchal) “hero” narrative, and towards a collective, collaborative narrative where community and cooperation are the precursors for evolving the species.
    The motto of Vermont is “Freedom and Unity”! Perfect!

    Go to comment
    2019/07/31 at 9:44 am
    • From Meg McGowan on Bill Reed: Staying in the Game of Evolution (E21)

      I am also pleased to see ‘mimicking nature’ challenged. This is why I prefer ‘cooperate with nature’ because it allows us to consider the whole of nature, including our own nature, and how we might best return to a natural state of dynamic equilibrium within the context of our place.

      Go to comment
      2019/07/31 at 10:04 am
  • From Meg McGowan on Carol Sanford on loving people, seeing their potential and showing them how to do big things...

    YES YES YES!!!!
    Time to end “us and them” thinking and work cooperatively. If we are not prepared to engage with those that disagree with us in a loving and respectful way then why would they change their minds? If we are to honestly “use edges and value the marginal” then surely that means working with those that are at the edges of permaculture – the cautious business owner, the interested employee, the grounded CEO. I am sure there are those that would criticise me for using permaculture to redesign a police force, and those that would not approve of all the effort I’m putting into sharing permaculture knowledge in my own community, mostly with extremely privileged, right wing voting people, but both of these are examples of getting the greatest return on the energy I invest. It’s easier, and a lot more fun, to train people that are already environmentally aware and seeking to do good in the world, but I’m probably only slightly adjusting their current behaviour. The work I’m doing in the local community has seen mountains of materials that would have gone to landfill being shared for free, people cutting their water use, ending their synthetic chemical use, sharing tools and resources, improving local safety and campaigning for lowering the speed limit to protect wildlife. It’s also taught me that I have as much in common with my neighbours as I do with permies. Nobody wants to kill the planet.

    Carol’s thoughts on nature are interesting and challenging. I’m not sure I understand what she means. This debate seems to be about semantics. Even if I accept Carol’s contention that nature is an abstract concept and that abstract concepts are problematic because they limit our thinking I would still need to find a word to talk about the thing I mean when I talk about nature.

    I’m not convinced by her argument that talking in abstracts undermines our ability to take real action. I know where I can point to nature. For me it’s everywhere. It’s me, and the air I’m breathing and the food I ate yesterday and all things I see in the natural world. My challenge has been determining which parts of the human-made world can be considered “nature” and which parts cannot. So far, my best measure is the extent to which these activities or things increase ecological health when assessed using cradle-to-grave analysis. It has been more useful for me to contemplate the divisions between human nature, natural human and unnatural-and-human. I certainly struggle with the “we are nature” credo when so much of what we create and do is so destructive. Natural systems achieve dynamic equilibrium. I don’t think we can claim to be part of nature unless we can demonstrate that (and we can’t). My concern with the “part of nature” claim is that it can be used to justify a lot of very destructive behaviour on the basis that we are entitled to “garden” our world (where “garden” is taken to mean changing it in any way we like).

    I will keep rereading Carol’s comments and exploring more of her work. Perhaps I am missing her point. I suspect it will become clearer when I understand the kind of work she is doing and the results she is achieving. Certainly I am greatly enjoying getting to know more about what she is doing.

    Go to comment
    2019/08/02 at 2:27 pm
  • From Jason Gerhardt on Carol Sanford on loving people, seeing their potential and showing them how to do big things...

    Kill the language! “Best practices” is a fine start, but it doesn’t stop there. Everyone learns the “pattern language” of “change making” and it’s like using the words themselves makes someone KNOW the topic. A lot of rookie permaculture teachers out there are part of that. And some long time permaculture teachers never graduated past the minors too. “Regenerative” is on it’s way to becoming one of those terms as well! It’s shallow levels of intellectual and spiritual engagement that are weakening Life. THAT is the first point of intervention. To me, what Carol is saying, and if I get her wrong, what I’M saying is that you need to pick some living system and engage with it over and over and over again, which will take a decade at least, and learn about it before criticizing, congratulating, adopting, and/or trying to change it. We’ve lost our ability to dive deep. And we need guides other than social media memes, which, let’s be real, are the things that are patterning the minds of so called “change makers”.

    I don’t diss Carol for working with big business. They are made up of people after all, which are living systems themselves. I don’t work with CEO’s and whatnot, not because I think they’re evil, but because that’s not authentic to my experience in life. So I choose to work with those systems that I know. And much of the time that system is myself, even while in the moment of working with others. The crux of the matter is that we don’t even know ourselves. So what are we gonna do to get there? If we don’t understand the living-interconnected-system of ourselves, how in the hell will we work with “nature”? It’s abstract so long as the projection has been majority outward. Which is where permaculture has spent too much time in my opinion.

    Last, THIS is the issue with people learning permaculture for a perceived profession. Kill the profession! It’s not a vocation. It’s not a vacation either, the other side of that. So what is it? Don’t rest until you discover it.

    This blog is a great place to unrest your rest and especially to disrupt your unrest. Remember, ultimately the words aren’t gonna get you there.

    Go to comment
    2019/08/02 at 10:10 pm
  • From Peter Kopp on Carol Sanford on loving people, seeing their potential and showing them how to do big things...

    I feel like this is the meatiest conversation yet for MPS. Great stuff. The latest round of podcasts from the Regenesis folk has really introduced some great ideas. I love Carol’s style but I’m not yet ready to accept all her ideas. All of the points raised by Meg had me nodding in agreement. And I’m in lock step with everything Jason says. It’s just all great stuff.

    So my thoughts on what I’d like to see moving forward. Maybe it’s time for some weakest link analysis. Is it time to move away from the design process and focus elsewhere? I’d like to see a line of effort exploring how we influence people and thinking: ourselves, our families, our communities, our corporate and government leaders. How do we apply the design process beyond the built and biological, and get deep into the behavioural field. And finally I’d love to hear more voices from outside of Australia and North America. I know you have a guest from Europe coming up in the podcast Dan, but it would be great to bring in some Asian, African, and South American podcast/blog guests if you have any on your radar.

    But the current round of activity has been brilliant, so just keep doing what you’re doing.

    Go to comment
    2019/08/04 at 8:17 pm
    • From Dan Palmer on Carol Sanford on loving people, seeing their potential and showing them how to do big things...

      Many thanks for these thoughts about where to from here Peter (and thanks to everyone for your insightful, honest and even fiery comments on this post). It was already on my radar but your comment prompted me to book in a chat with my friend Charles from Uganda which I’ll record tomorrow. And yes re the other stuff too. We’re coming up to a significant juncture, I can say that much for sure!

      Go to comment
      2019/08/12 at 11:12 am
  • From Lizzy on Carol Sanford on loving people, seeing their potential and showing them how to do big things...

    Great thoughts and views by all. Carols approach to design in complexity allows for attitude change, emergence, novelty and innovation of solutions rather than starting from the assumption we can address everything from a point of expert led best practice.
    Abstraction is a very human trait. We are part of nested systems.
    I agree we want to avoid allowing ourselves to get lost in abstractions to the point of not being effective in our collective action or seeing ourselves as other than animal. That state may lead to despair in individuals as the problems feel too big to affect by my small actions; or delinquency from beliefs such as “I (as human) am better/higher in importance than any other living thing” or “technology will save us”.
    I see that currently a lot of design disciplines and movements appear to be struggling with their language which I think is an indicator of transitions in expertise in a connected world of information. We want diversity not adversity. It’s important to take the time to be careful with language to convey meaning (sharing our stories helps here and avoiding blindly adopting “buzz words” or dogma) and listen deeply.
    When a situation is complex ie, we can’t easily identify all the connections in the system or predict an outcome, There is validity in designing interventions by not tying ourselves to one goal or setting targets but finding out what can we change now, and how can we monitor the impact of that so we know what to do next (in effect consciously applying principles such as observe and interact) ?
    I hope these ideas contribute to the conversation constructively. Just back from three days focussed on complex adaptive systems and designing strategy so timely topic.

    Go to comment
    2019/08/05 at 11:23 pm
  • From Belinda Ogden on Carol Sanford on loving people, seeing their potential and showing them how to do big things...

    Note from Dan: Excuse the picture of my face – just passing on this comment Belinda made on fb:

    I loved your podcast with Carol and have since been looking at quite a bit of her work. I think she has basically explained to me why I am having so much difficulty with change and innovation in my current workplace especially compared to my previous workplace where we managed to transform for the better in an exceptionally short period of time. At the end of the day business as a whole is a big, wasteful conglomerate of things. We all still need some stuff and services no matter who we are or how hard we try to provide for ourselves. Let’s do it in the best way possible.

    Go to comment
    2019/08/06 at 2:03 pm
  • From Bill on Jascha Rohr on the Cocreation Foundation (E22)

    Great stuff Dan.

    Go to comment
    2019/08/12 at 12:58 am
  • From Meg McGowan on Jascha Rohr on the Cocreation Foundation (E22)

    Thanks for another great podcast, Dan.

    I have some thoughts about your ‘essence’ discussion. For me, ‘nature’ might be a better word. What is the nature of this place? What is the nature of this thing? To answer Jascha’s question about the potential for change, I don’t believe that identifying the essence or nature of something inhibits our capacity to change it. Far from it. There is no such thing as a blank canvass. All situations come with their limitations. Much of the damage done to our planet has occurred because people did not respect or appreciate the nature of things. They sought to impose their own patterns, systems, processes, limitations, constraints and so on upon something without due consideration to its nature (or essence). Perhaps the best example I can think of is dynamic equilibrium, which is part of the nature of all living systems other than human systems. Without an understanding of dynamic equilibrium, humans make decisions that disrupt the natural balance. Another alternative to ‘essence’ might be ‘pattern’. What is the pattern of this place? What is the pattern of this thing? When we understand the pattern, we can identify both its potential and its limitations. We can find what I call ‘points of leverage’ and what I think Carol means by ‘nodes’. We can sometimes find a point of leverage that results in a transformative shift. Failing to fully understand the nature or the pattern of something before we seek to change it is analogous to me handing you my prescription glasses and telling you they will improve your eyesight. Seek first to understand the pattern because only then can we find the most efficient ways to evolve it. It’s all gardening really 😀

    These are broad brush strokes. There are patterns within patterns within patterns, as you know.

    Go to comment
    2019/08/12 at 12:36 pm
  • From Pete Kopp on Jascha Rohr on the Cocreation Foundation (E22)

    I’ve been looking forward to this one and it didn’t disappoint. Thanks Dan for another great podcast. I’ll have to listen again to get the Christopher Alexander line you mentioned – something about intellectualising and feeling – it was the perfect encapsulation of some of my current thinking.

    I found the discussion of essence interesting. The idea of essence and personality, the way you describe it, is relatively new to me. My initial feeling is that the essence of a whole doesn’t change, but the way it is expressed – its personality? – will change depending on context. The way we interact with, and within, other wholes will influence the way they express themselves. This is how we can make change. The best we can do is immerse ourselves with other wholes to know their essence as best we can, then make decisions about how to interact with them for generative outcomes. Given the infinite complexity of living systems we have to concede that our decisions will be based on incomplete understanding – or what you said Christopher Alexander said 🙂

    Go to comment
    2019/08/12 at 6:01 pm
  • From Pete Kopp on Bill Reed on Aligning around Purpose, Levels of Thought, and Transforming the World (E23)

    Another great episode! There has been so much great stuff coming in through the recent series of podcast that I’m starting to feel overwhelmed. I’m trying to consolidate all the ideas from Bill, Carol, Joel, and Jascha; and at the same time new ideas of my own are swirling around in my head. It’s all fantastic and exhausting.

    I feel like maybe there is a neat alignment between the function, being, will construct and the Permaculture ethics; People Care (function), Fair Share (being), Earth Care (will). That’s what I was thinking during the discussion and I wonder what others think. I haven’t really developed the idea but thought I throw it out there for discussion.

    I can’t remember the exact language but the idea of ritually evaluating actions against purpose, being, and will is critical, I believe, so I enjoyed that part of the discussion. There doesn’t seem much point in alignment around purpose if you don’t also evaluate against purpose – including how and why we do what we do.

    And the discussion on levels of thought kind of whizzed by as I was mulling over other ideas so I’ll have to listen to that bit again, along with all the recent episodes.

    Feels like exciting times for MPS!

    Go to comment
    2019/08/20 at 4:57 pm
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