Note from Dan: Big thanks to Peter for contributing these great reflections.
So I sent Dan an email with a few diagrams and ideas about my thoughts regarding his ‘Mapping the Design Process’ series. He gave me some generous encouragement to continue along my line of thinking and asked me if I’d like to write a guest blog. I agreed…
… then I crapped myself.
I mean, unlike other guest bloggers here, or Dan’s podcast guests, I’m a permaculture design nobody. Who on earth would be interested in my ideas. I’m a one client (me) designer with no experience designing for others, and no ambitions to do so. But at least I’ve been involved in one permaculture design. I ain’t never written a blog before though so I don’t know how this is going to go.
So that’s the expectation management taken care of, now let’s get on with it.
I got excited by this:
Yes Finn. YES!!!
As soon as I saw Finn’s diagram positioning nature way off the limits of the chart I felt that it was correct. It just feels right. It also presents a problem to those of us who hope to design systems in alignment with nature because the closest we can hope to get, based on what we have so far articulated on the axes of the chart – what we currently comprehend – is the extreme top right of the generative transformation box (C3). And that is a long way short of where we hope to get to. So how do we continue to progress beyond the current limits?
One way is to continue exploring both our understanding of whole-part relations, and design-implementation relations. To expand each of the axes. Discover new ways of understanding, thinking and doing. By doing this we move the extreme limits of the chart closer to nature and give ourselves room to progress further in nature’s direction. These new ways must exist, because even where Finn has placed nature it still has an x-y coordinate on the chart – out at Z26 or beyond. From where I sit even getting to D4 seems remote. I’m still struggling to fully come to terms with the idea of Transforming – I’m at best a generative partitioner – and I can’t imagine what on earth increment 4 on the x-axis (beyond Generating) and point D on the y-axis (beyond Transforming) would be. But I do think they exist. D4 exists, E5 exists, and so it goes. There may already be those who have expanded the boundaries of the chart, and eventually more and more of us will move there. As we develop new understandings we will almost certainly have to develop new language to describe them, because our current language represents our current understanding and may not be adequate to articulate new fields of understanding, thinking, and doing.
I also believe there is a limit to how far we can go. I don’t think that we can ever understand – fully, partially, or even at all – each of the steps needed to extend the axes of the chart out to nature’s coordinates. Maybe it is because we are merely a whole within a whole within a whole etc. all the way out to Nature – the ultimate whole. Nature has the full understanding, and each of the wholes within only a portion of the understanding. Or only their own form of the understanding. But despite our ignorance we can still look at Finn’s diagram and feel that it is right. We can see where nature lies despite the blank spaces along the x and y axes. The feeling of how to get there, if not the specific understanding, is in us. Here is how I have tried to draw that feeling – the forces/signposts/vibes that lead us to nature’s way:
I was initially thinking of force fields that push/pull us towards nature and the lines in my diagrams were intended to depict lines of force. But I started to think of them more as signposts, which don’t directly impose a force on us but indicate – to those who care to look – the path we need to take. More of a passive signal than an active force, or maybe a combination of the two. For now I’ve decided to call it Nature’s Vibe. Whatever it is, I was thinking that it is the required direction of travel that they indicate/exert that is the key, so I was excited to see the comments Dan made about direction of travel and velocity in his post: ‘Mapping the Design Process – Part Nine’. We can understand certain aspects of how to move in the right direction and can’t understand others, but we can relatively easily understand the direction itself because it is a part of us, just as we are a part of it.
The nine part ‘Mapping the Design Process’ conversation represents where we have got to in terms of our understanding of design process. We can do better, but there are limits to our understanding. To move further towards nature’s design process we need to let go of understanding, we need to connect, we need to observe & interact our brains out, we need to become the design, we need to feel the vibe. If we can do that then maybe we can get a bit of this action going on:
I’m a big fan of Jascha Rohr and Sonja Horster’s Field-Process-Model. I believe the ‘Mapping the Design Process’ conversation is leading towards a Field-Process event horizon where who knows what will emerge. We may be closer than I’ve depicted on the above diagram. We may already be there at C3, but my hunch is that we still have at least one more step to take to achieve ‘immergence’. And I don’t think it will be a deliberate, logical, thoughtful step. I believe it will be something different. Something spiritual? Something very hard to put a finger on. That’s the vibe I’m getting.
Thanks Dan for allowing me to contribute. I’ll see you all in the emergence.