Ben Haggard on Potential and Development in Permaculture and Beyond (E30)

In our first ever conversation, Ben Haggard of Regenesis Group shares his history with and perspective on permaculture.

This episode catalysed waves of reflection that are blowing my mind.

Yes, I was struck with the profound clarity and depth of what Ben shared.

Then the sheer resonance of the relevance to exactly where Making Permaculture Stronger is at – well that pretty much knocked me off my seat. You could say I’m still climbing back up off the floor :-).

I don’t know about you, dear listener/reader, but I have the real sense that this conversation is itself a nodal intervention in Making Permaculture Stronger’s ongoing evolution.

It is like I can feel the energy shifting and growing and generatively transforming throughout my entire being and hence the being of this project. New levels of Will are awakening.

I mean I use the terms potential and development (who doesn’t) and before this chat I would have said I had a fairly clear, coherent grasp on what they are. Not any more. I was almost dazzled by the clarity Ben gives these terms in a way that resonates deep in my bones. Then, when he spoke about the idea of permaculture’s originating impulse, well, game over. Let me pen a few reflections on each.

Potential

After decades of experience and reflection in collaboration with a tight-knit community of practice, Ben has reached a fascinating perspective on what potential is. As I understand him, he sees the potential (or the possible contribution) of something as existing in the tension between that thing’s deep, enduring, inherent character and the ever-changing reality of the context in which it is nested and in particular what this context calls for in this particular “historical and evolutionary moment.”

To identify the potential of a farm, a garden, a person, a family, a business, an organisation, a blog project, we need to ask:

  1. what is the unique character of this being? then
  2. what is currently called for in the immediate, local, and greater wholes it is nested within?, and
  3. what could happen here that would harmonise these two things?

Which brings us to…

Development

Clearly, potential often remains latent. For Ben, development is then the practice of actually revealing and manifesting the potential inherent in something, which involves removing anything in the way and becoming more and more relevant and valuable to context.

Originating Impulse

When Ben first mentioned this phrase late in our chat, I knew immediately it was going to inform my very next steps with Making Permaculture Stronger. So take this as a sneak preview where I’d invite you to start sitting in the space of this all-important question: what was permaculture’s originating impulse? Please don’t rush – take your time with this – there will be space to chime in with what arises for you very soon.

One thing here I’d invite if you come across any sound bites or text that speaks of this originating impulse to you, especially if from the early days of permaculture, please send it through to me and I may well include it in the upcoming post.

Other Notable Threads

  • what Ben said about permaculture’s usual initiation/conversion experiences and how these can make it very difficult to bring the ideas into one’s existing ways of working I think was well worth further exploration. I mention it here as a reminder to come back to this in future as appropriate. Any thoughts?
  • This idea of the word place as a rare world in English in that it includes people, landscape etc etc…
  • the idea that if you can be with a person or other living entity as it is, you are taking it as whole (as opposed to our default pattern of fragmenting things by paying attention to their various attributes)

Links to Stuff Ben is involved in

Ben on Place

22 Comments

  1. Forgive me for another long post, I’m in between jobs and have too much time on my hands. This is the most important post I wanted to make regarding the recent conversations though.

    I want to offer one more wrench into the works about this conversation around Potential. I see a danger that’s similar to our discussion on Development, where we are intending a different meaning from the colloquial usages. We must be very deliberate with our language, especially because we are discussing things that border on the indescribable (wholeness), which tends to prefer eloquent poetic illustration rather than rational dissection.

    I think there’s a problem of perspective in this definition of Potential. It’s particularly noticeable to me around defining the unique character of a place, project or being. We have to rely on someone’s subjective perspective of something objective, which is a problem in a culture that places such a massive chasm between subjective and objective. Then we use that same subjective perspective to describe what is currently called for in the immediate, local, and greater wholes it is nested within. And finally, we subjectively speculate about what actions could harmonize the unique character and what we think is needed in the future. So whoever gets to decide and name those aspects of another being is extremely important, because the potential must change with who’s mind is filtering the present and future conditions of a place or being, and especially with their perspective on the means of resolving those conditions.

    I don’t believe in such a rigid difference between subjective and objective perspectives, but their separation is palpable throughout our culture. The definition for Potential that we’re discussing may not save us from property owners making the same decisions they always have regarding their investments, namely short-term, exploitative and profitable decisions. Who gets to decide what the unique character is, what the pertinent conditions and needs are, and how to harmonize them can be a kind of gatekeeper whose own vision and intention are the driving force of their place’s development.

    So how do we reconcile this idea of a place’s inherent unique character and it’s current conditions with the problem of subjective perspective and its associated intentions? My guess is, *there is no inherent potential of a place that is separate from the intentions of it’s inhabitants.* Therefore, it is the intentions and worldviews of people that are the key leverage point in any place’s development and potential. So the highest value work is the cultivation of a culture that can maintain life-affirming intentions for generations, which means that we have to learn to make decisions bearing fruit that we will never see.

    Finally, I’ll reply below with an excerpt on Potential from a favorite book of mine, Come of Age: The Case for Elderhood in a Time of Trouble by Stephen Jenkinson. He weaves an excellent narrative for the kind of village-mindedness that many people seek, especially Holmgren in his latest Retrosuburbia. In this chapter, he wonders about the history of colonization and the ways by which it demoralizes and exterminates place-based narratives and cultures. He makes a riveting case that the primary mechanism of colonial oppression is in our language. Through verbal reinforcement, a culture could be assimilated into the dominant culture within two generations by cutting the children and grandchildren off from their ancestors and linguistic traditions. In the first generation, there is trauma and cultural devastation, but by the second and third generations, those events are mere history, and the future of the West is far more captivating. Jenkinson lists four linguistic habits that feed our place-based poverty: The Universal, The Eternal, The Potential and The Inevitable. He refers to them as spells because they are so casually recognized and spoken, and yet so powerful in affecting our worldviews and what we believe is possible.

    Thanks again for all your patience with my long posts, I hope this isn’t leading our conversation too astray. It’s a privilege to have the time and space here to share my thoughts on the wonderful conversations Dan has been hosting!

    1. The Potential
      Chances are that some well-meaning teacher offered this to you, in the name of inspiring you or goading you: “You’re not living up to your potential.” When you hear this as an older person, it amounts not to inspiration but indictment. Apparently everyone else can see who and what you should be and do with yourself, and how to do it, though the self-evidence is lost on you. Alas, it seems that it may not be in your potential to live up to it. If you hear this as a young student, you are cast adrift on the secret sea of “could be.”

      Potential means something like “could be, but isn’t.” Held to a standard of “maybe,” young peoples’ potential is fated to remain an allegation. Forever in the future, drawing you towards itself, somehow more authentically real than you are—that’s your potential.

      Well then, what is the potential of whatever history you studied? What is the potential of children who are stillborn? What is the potential of the aged, the played-out, the spent? I know the instinct rises here to placate and to cheerlead, and I feel it myself. But allow the usual understanding of potential to run its course, and let the claim of the thing, its self-evidence, weaken as it will, and do you notice how little potential there is in the going, and none in the gone? That’s because potential requires a future, because potential is a hope-addled addiction to the virtual, to the fresh and clean, to the promise, to the untainted. To heaven, in other words.

      Never mind what’s been done, the dross of possibility not quite realized. What’s yet to be: that’s where the best part of us appears. That is as fundamental an article of faith in the West as there is.

      But prod this bit of the architecture of hope and faith, and mortar starts to fall away. If the future is the repository of the best part of us—for that is the faith architecture of progress, of evolution—what or who are we now to those who came before? Are we not their future? Are we not the best part of them shimmering into the world, into time? Are we not what they might have been, just as surely as the present is the past’s future. Are we not either the incarnation of their potential, or its exhaustion, or both?

      If that is who we are, the irretrievable playing out of what they could have been if only…, then is this the machinery of progress we’ve been tinkering with and relying upon for a good while now? Are we the betterment of our forbears? And if potential is that perpetual motion machine that grinds the past into raw material for a brave new us, could it be that the spell of potentiality that we labour under is what keeps our ancestors from us?

      No, we are not potential anythings. We are meant and dreamt somethings.”

      Excerpt From: Stephen Jenkinson. “Come of Age.”

    2. Thanks again Trevor I so appreciate opportunities to consider and refine our language and the frameworks/stories/perspectives informing it. Potential is totally a kind of buzz word that so often gets used in problematic ways, one of these being so future focused the past gets left behind and we miss out on the present. I look forward to musing further on this and I’m also drawn to relating it to the idea of possibility and navigating possibility. As for the subjective/objective thing your guess re reconciling resonates though I’m enjoying moving from the concept of ‘leverage’ to ‘nodal intervention’ point in my thinking thanks to Carol Sanford’s prompt.

  2. There’s a lot in this conversation that I would like to respond to, but since it’s been over a week I’ll just speak to the originating impulse of permaculture.

    I recently attended a talk by farmer-activist Leah Penniman, of Soul Fire Farm in New York, which runs farming training programs for Black, indigenous and other people of color. She delivered the somewhat radical statement, “Permaculture has collapsed,” and later elaborated that she means it’s never explicitly integrated it’s true origins, and therefore has stolen from the indigenous beliefs, ethics and practices upon which it was based.

    If we’re going to talk about the wider conditions, context or system in which Permaculture originated, we should be addressing the stagnation and imminent decline of the global economy, and the very present decline of the biosphere. David Holmgren speaks particularly about this decline in a recent conversation on The Permaculture Podcast, and he offers the notion that our way of organizing land use, and the production of goods and services is not the only way. He was inspired by Mollison’s community of self-reliance, and both of them understood that many indigenous cultures past and present understood the intertwining of the health of their culture and the land, and as such organized land use and production in ways that benefited the environment and increased diversity.

    In my PDC, there was a token mention of F.H. King’s Farmers of Forty Centuries, and much less on the cultures that lived on their lands for millenia. I would like to expand the discussion on indigenous influences in Permaculture, and particularly in the area of design, but I think this will suffice for now as my two cents on Permaculture’s often detrimentally ignored originating impulse.

    1. Trevor I really appreciate your input here. Makes me want to get Leah Penniman on the show – I love this ways of phrasing things around in how neglecting to integrate its true origins PC has been more prone to grab and import stuff from outside, where for me this has been perhaps more from modern industrial culture than from indigenous beliefs, ethics and practices. I would also like to expand the discussion you mention and would invite anyone out there to help us do so!

      1. Yes Dan, I totally agree. You mentioned in a previous episode how Permaculture had merely imported industrial/reductive design strategies into its process, which I had also come to realize through my conventional landscape design classes. We were using essentially the same kind of categorized map layering that I learned in the PDC.

        It was mostly thanks to your focus on Christopher Alexander- back then- that I could see how similar the conventional design process is to the modern permaculture one.

        I don’t really agree with Penniman on permaculture’s collapse, but I think she’s right that many indigenous cultures exemplify permaculture’s deepest aspirations to be resilient and regenerative.

        I think Alexander offers a critical difference in perception between the industrial/modern permaculture design reductionism, and the more holistic spatio-emotional tool of the human ability to make beauty and community (human and non-human relationships) upon a landscape. It’s odd to think of Alexander’s spatio-emotional process as functional, but that’s the effect of a person moulding the space around them with their whole living context as an influence. We can’t mentally conceive of our whole living context in any given moment, which is why the rational process must at least be tempered by the emotional. One could say that the emotions are a kind of rationality, our “evolutionary environmental safety logic”. And of course, within socially-adept humans at least, emotions are so much more. I would say Alexander is closer to the indigenous perspective. The word “indigenous” means ‘born inside of’, so we can be sure that the English word ‘place’ is not the first word for human-land community.

        I don’t mean to paint indigenous cultures so generally, but the fact is that many lasted far longer than this modern civilization has so far, and I would argue that was essentially due to a core understanding and perception of “home” that allowed place-based cultures to maintain their land with a biogeocultural reciprocity. They shared narratives built over centuries and millennia that carried implicit truths about who they are, where home is, and how to respect it. It’s that kind of understanding of origin and essence which I believe we are seeking to recreate with permaculture. The essence then isn’t the narratives themselves, which are more like the ties that bind, but it’s the culture of kinship where all beings are included as kin. It’s the sense of continuity that comes from considering lineage and ancestry in the kin-ecological context, think of totems.

        I wonder a lot about that sense of continuity within the precious few remaining indigenous cultures. Their stories and cultures must have changed extraordinarily through the past and present colonial oppression to be represented today. I think such magnitudes of adaptation and resilience are only merely available in permaculturists’ dreams now. It’s those dreams that breathe intention into permaculture’s potential to flower within a dying civilization.

        1. I’ll plan to reply properly later Trevor but want to say thank you – I go so much out of this comment (and not only because it starts with agreement then has a central focus on Christopher Alexander :-)) and can’t wait to dip back into it. There are many flavours here that resonate deeply with what are emerging for me as the right next steps with this project. Actually I think this is not the first time you’ve demonstrated an uncanny ability to steal my thunder, come to think of it :-).

          1. Well the feeling is certainly mutual. Listening to your conversations, I often catch myself smiling when the subject weaves through the same threads I’ve been exploring on my own. I really appreciate your recent enthusiasm and focus on language, as I’ve also been digging into word meanings and etymology.

            For instance, the Old French meaning of “Develop”, *desveloper*, was to unroll, unfold, unveil, reveal the meaning of, explain. Even more interesting, it changed in English by the 18th century to mean: “unfold more fully, bring out the potential in”, “come gradually into existence or operation”, “advance from one stage to another toward a finished state”, “become known, come to light”.

            Exciting as some of those meanings are, I also think “Development” is a risky word to use in common circles without explaining our meaning, and how it’s different from the common understanding. I think most people hear a kind of biblical, “make Bread from Stones” meaning, which is practically antithetical to the meaning we intend. The common meaning is essentially a colonial imposition of space and a powerful meme or mental tool for extractive capitalism.

            There is another surprising word with a similar meaning as “Develop”, which I couldn’t help thinking about during this conversation. Apocalypse is generally considered to mean “end of the world, cataclysm”. Once again though, the etymology reveals a much richer origin in the Greek apokalyptein- to uncover, disclose, or reveal. The prefix Apo means off, away from, + kalyptein is to cover, or conceal.

            I was perhaps a bit overzealous to refer to the current global context as “dying civilization”, but there is certainly enough revelation available to anyone wanting to know that the cracks are now gaping chasms. Between dozens of countrywide protests by young and working people against the failed neoliberal economic consensus, and central banks ramping up their bail outs of the failing banks and corporations *again*, the global system that distributes our goods and services is looking like it may never, and maybe should never recover to its current form. I believe this past decade will be looked upon by history as The Great Stagnation, but also as The Great Revealing.

            I don’t mean to get too political, I just mean to address the context to which Mollison and Holmgren were ultimately responding with permaculture. There are certainly even wider contexts, larger wholes beyond our earthen economy and ecology, and I think we will need to consider even those systems at some point along our earthly descent if we are to true regenerative cultures into existence.

    2. This comment has been percolating within me for a couple days. Lately, I hear this idea that ‘permaculture is dead’ a lot. And it’s always chalked up to that is has “stolen” the ideas from indigenous cultures. I’ve been there, and after sitting with it for a long time, I’m very sure it’s not so clean cut. I think it behooves us to be more precise with our thinking and language.

      In everything I’ve experienced in permaculture, the originating impulse of it is to understand who we are and how we harmoniously relate to all things. Or as I say in my classes, “permaculture is about what it means to be alive in an ecosystem”. That’s not only an indigenous culture urge. It’s a human urge. Permaculture, and things like it, all arise from the desire to improve life on earth. In my experience, that’s why people show up to PDC’s, because they feel the inner yearning to wake up and develop harmonious relationships with life. This is an innate quality to every human, and I see no basis for any culture (or movement, or religion, or design practice) past, present, or future to claim ownership of that.

      It would be a disservice to see permaculture taken down by statements like “permaculture has collapsed”, because permaculture represents one of the few things that people today can grab onto and learn how to be in better relationship. We will need many forms of those things too. If I squint, it’s almost looks like the politically correct among us are saying people that are non-indigenous have no right to strive to decolonize their own minds and lives. And let’s face it, we’ve all been colonized by the separation, exploitation, greed, anger, and all the other things that industrial culture has programed us with.

      So perhaps the greatest potential is to ENCOURAGE people to learn permaculture and adopt it as a practice in their life. That feels like a very high order of positive contribution for the future. I don’t know why we would want to stifle that urge in others. That’s certainly not been the case in my experience with indigenous and traditional land-based cultures either, so something is amiss.

      To be more precise with our language, permaculture certainly has to recontextualize itself. It must include honoring indigenous cultures, it also must include a pathway for more and more people to learn ways to truly wake up, which inevitably means ancient ways will get re-articulated and made fresh for the time and people. We will have to grow to see that as a positive thing for life on earth.

      1. Thanks for your well articulated and very nuanced response Jason. I completely agree, permaculture’s essence is about relationships. I really appreciate the depth and coherence with which you addressed these “permaculture has collapsed” and “stolen identity” narratives.

        Usually when someone asks me the basic “What is permaculture” kind of question, I often struggle to reach the realm of fundamental human desires to deepen relationships on Earth, and how that work can address the trauma in human communities and bodies perpetrated by colonization from the dominant culture of the West. There’s so much depth and history to this core narrative because we’re talking about both societal and individual trauma and needs. There are many threads to trace, through social, economic and environmental justice, and often the lack there-of.

        The threads mostly lead back to wholeness, what it means and how it arises. This blog stands as a great example of a deep exploration of the meaning of wholeness, and how we might create it- or at least avoid contributing to more separation. So thanks to all for contributing their insights and experience to make it so rich and exciting.

      2. Hi Jason,
        I have responded to many of the ‘stolen from indigenous cultures’ comments by observing that:
        a: all knowledge is derivative and builds on what has come before. This is part of why our species has proliferated: we can learn from the achievements and mistakes of others (although our ability to do so is often outweighed by our preparedness to do so! 😀 )
        b: the indigenous knowledge in permaculture was not appropriated as it honestly credited indigenous knowledge where it was referenced, and
        c: indigenous knowledge was not the only thing that informed the development of permaculture. It was also strongly influenced by contemporary systems thinking, the rise of the environmental movement and the work of people like Fukuoka, Yeomans et al. So yes, it does reference indigenous knowledge but it is far more than JUST indigenous knowledge. It is an ethically based design pattern that can be applied to any design task.

  3. Hey Dan,

    This is another one of the episodes that largely went over my head and will have to listen back to again to make proper sense of it. I enjoy following your learning journey with the Regenesis group but sometimes I feel like I’m playing catchup to concepts and nuggets of wisdom you’ve come across between episodes, and I need a second listen to really tune into what’s being spoken about. Also I listened while doing the dishes, which might not be the best time to process meta-level thinking tools that I’m hearing for the first time!!

    Re: Originating Impulse, I think it would be remiss to not include Mollison’s ‘Prime Directive’ in our investigations. I don’t know where it comes from, but it is always quoted verbatim so he obviously wrote it down at some point, and is as follows: “The only ethical decision is to take responsibility for our own existence and that of our children.” (Source: https://northdevonpermaculture.com/2015/03/27/the-prime-directive/)

    Interestingly, in this interview Ben mentions that “permaculture provided [him] with a set of questions, which are the same questions he is trying to answer with the work he is doing today, whilst not providing the “mental tools” he needed at that time . I found this a very noteworthy statement – I have often in my head formulated permaculture as a ‘narrative’, a ‘way of seeing the world’, or a ‘set of questions’ which challenges the mainstream and strives for something else, because this is the way I most actively use it in my everyday life. However, these terms suck for use in an elevator pitch because they come across either too vague or too exclusive! My new favourite def. of pc, as of last week and I want to keep it for a while, is as ‘a field of study’ (trying to find ways to create human systems with greater ecological harmony/of meeting human needs while increasing ecological health). The benefit of this term is that it implies there are many roles: researchers, students, practitioners, social activists etc., all of which exist in pc. It also implies that it is asking some seriously big questions, none of which have straightforward answers and all of which are going to take a lot of time and energy to answer, and which can be tackled from multiple different directions.

    I know I preach to the choir which much of this, but I felt compelled to emphasise that the hugeness of the questions the pc community is trying to answer is what keeps us all engaged, motivated and still talking to each other as colleagues! Perhaps it was the case in the 80s and 90s that pc represented itself as having the answers to those Qs – I don’t know, I wasn’t there and can’t put myself in those shoes – but by the time I inherited the pc concepts and toolkit in 2015 it was very much my understanding, which will have been facilitated by the teaching process (although I know everyone leaves a PDC with slightly different understandings depending on context), that permaculture was in no way a ‘done deal’, it didn’t have everything ‘sorted’, and there was still a lot of work in trying to get it right every time.

    Now I guess the task ahead is formulating these questions (that I’ve referred to a lot but not articulated!!). I think the question IS the originating impulse, the prime directive. Perhaps you, and others here, will feel the need to strip back what’s already out there and try to go a couple layers deeper towards an innate essence, or perhaps reformulating the original writings of Mollison as questions is good enough. All I know is that getting the right questions is the next nodal intervention along our co-coppicing journey 😉

    I’m really interested to see what other folk put forward on this.

    1. Excellent comment, Finn! Definitely stick with this podcast. Listen over and over. Ben has articulated something deeply insightful.

      I like your “field of study” definition, but want to seek your thoughts on permaculture as a ‘field of practice’. Does that shift anything for you? In general, much of your comment resonates with a piece I’ve been writing that recontextualizes permaculture. That it is a field of practice is a big part of it. I also think you are right on the target with the prime directive. Part of what Ben is saying in this interview is that we’ve not emphasized the personal transformation side of permaculture. I think that is the core of it actually and the prime directive is the germination of that seed. Permaculture is indeed aiming for something much larger. I hope to share the new piece I’ve been working on in regards to that soon.

    2. Hey Finn, you’re not alone (riffing Jason’s encouragement too). I reckon I’ve replayed the companion interviews with the other Regenesis principals too at least 3-4 times. While not doing the dishes (!) and with quiet reflection time in between. Only in that way have I been able to let their clarity really speak too me. This one will be no different I expect. Another absolute gem from the curatorial genius of Dan Palmer.

      1. Ahh, time to focus followed by quiet reflection time, that thing of great myth that parents of tiny people often dream about, and barely believe ever existed or could again exist! ha 😉

        Jason, I wrote a long and drawling answer here, luckily I got interrupted and had to leave the computer and by the time I came back my thoughts had crystallised much better. For me, calling it a field of study (or even a discipline?) is more true because it brings with it the narrative of seeking knowledge by asking questions about the very essence of being and experimenting on them. Contained within that narrative is the idea of the ever-expanding knowledge base – ‘the more you know, the more you know you don’t know’. I think there are many fields of practice associated with the field of study which all share certain commonalities but definitely require different focus and skillsets. Perhaps fields of practice could be considered different types of experimentation, or perhaps fields of practice could mean something more like Holmgren’s seven Domains.

        In short, study = pursuit of knowledge whilst practice = application of knowledge. There is clearly already a great deal to practically do with all that we already know about this thing we call permaculture, but we can also acknowledge that there’s far more out there to learn than what we already know. Bringing it back to the elevator pitch, I also think that ‘field of study’ invites a more inquisitive mind than ‘field of practice’ – imagine the difference in response between someone who is interested and says “Great, how can I start learning?” (A) compared to “Great, what can I do next?” (B). I think A will sooner take the journey within themselves, whilst B will more likely want to be shown the nearest demonstration garden. I’m not suggesting one is better or worse, but they have different functions and I know with the way you’re thinking about refreshing your PDCs that this subtle difference could have large ripples.

        If you want help putting the finishing touches on your piece then hit me up, I’ve helped with some of Dan’s work and he’s always very complimentary 🙂 you can ask him for my email.

        1. Great points, Finn. Thanks for thinking on this with me. I like how you explain “field of study”. It has an inward characteristic, which is something I encourage in permaculture. Field of practice has an outward quality in the sense of application. I also like the idea of permaculture posing a “set of questions”. That has been my process. Lots of internal and external questioning, never ceasing.

          Ultimately, I think with something as aspirational as permaculture, it has to be both internal and external and maybe more. We need inward and outward forms of study and practice. I think the practice of designing and building (even just little design decisions implemented in ones daily life) is the space in which permaculture becomes a discipline that sharpens ones mental faculties and shapes ones character, so maybe discipline is a good term after all. Toby Hemenway and I discussed this idea of permaculture as a ‘discipline’ a lot. His argument was that permaculture doesn’t look like other disciplines that have a singular focus and typically many levels of study and practice. My argument was, well, what if we made it look more like that? Which is not to say we should make it an academic discipline (I tried that in academia, it’s not the way). I think it’s more like an evolutionary discipline for self and world improvement.

          We have to try things out in order to stumble and course correct, which I think is the experience of life in general. That’s the developmental process. I want to develop the proper guidance that leads one to use that process as a pathway to continue to improve oneself and the results one gets from ones work in the world, thereby improving the community of life for all. I also hope to provide something for those with the outwardly projected idea of improving the community of life. And ideally that sends them within and without, with a process that allows them to continually grow and improve. Or something like that. 🙂

          1. “an evolutionary discipline for self and world improvement” – I love that! All these reflections from Finn and yourself are going to feed directly into the upcoming post btw.

    3. Thanks for this Finn and I’m with you all the way here and thanks for bringing in Bill’s prime directive – super relevant for sure. It is interesting that a lot of people have been telling me they’ve been listening to certain episodes twice or even three times and getting more each time. I’m not sure quite what to make of this in terms of how I go about things from here. Like should I be slowing the pace and aiming to get them such that folk can grab onto the key nuggets in one shot, or is the fact there are layers to go back and unpack for those keen enough rather a positive thing? I also want to repeat your “All I know is that getting the right questions is the next nodal intervention along our co-coppicing journey” – YES!

      1. That the episodes are dense enough to warrant a second, third, seventh listen I would definitely grab as something positive, since it already provides knowledge and value in a first listen. If a first listen would be so obscure as not to provide value I would have argued differently, but that’s not the case. Just like the best books in life keep giving in subsequent readings, it’s a good thing that these interviews keep giving as well.

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