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Posted by David Braden over 8 years ago
There has been some push back about me operating a “permaculture institute” when I have not completed a Permaculture Design Course. My intent was to have teachers with certificates teach at the institute but that has not yet happened. My sense of the general understanding within the permaculture community is that maintaining the integrity of the certification process has value to practitioners. One of the consequences of that choice is that the spread of permaculture concepts becomes a marketing problem subject to market limitations1. I do not wish to offend the permaculture community, and the problem is the solution. If I change the name, my group can acknowledge the contribution permaculture ideas have made to what we do and that we are not limited to practicing permaculture, however the permaculture community decides what is and is not permaculture.
As I write this, I am considering Living Systems Institute for the new name. If you read the linked article, you can see that James Grier Miller attempted to describe the parts that all living systems have in common. I generally agree with the concept of nested hierarchical levels, I have discussed those as nested holons in a complex adaptive system. But, because Miller is focused on the parts, he misses the critical step for a true paradigm shift. What each of us observes, in the system in which we interact, is that the critical system consists of the interaction of the living things in a place. We might call that the “habitat” that we experience and, according to the article, Miller places that system “above living systems”.
The concept that I am exploring is that we are already participating in a set of interactions among the living things around us. The habitat that we experience is the result of those interactions. Within the pattern of those interactions, each actor is doing what they must. No thing exists unless it “fits” within the pattern of interaction.
From the point of view of an individual or a group, a thing might be good or bad. That is because the way that thing fits in the pattern impacts the way the individual or group fits within the habitat. From the point of view of the habitat, all choices to act have consequences and those consequences may have a positive impact for some individuals and some groups and, at the same time, have negative impacts for individuals and groups. The pattern itself, which determines which individuals and groups fit, is the end result, the net effect, of all the interactions. The pattern changes as a function of the choices made by individuals and groups and it is the pattern itself that is the complex adaptive system.
The processing of matter-energy and information that Miller describes creates flows through the habitat on which individuals and groups depend in order to fit into the pattern. It is that understanding that opens the potential for information processing at the level of the habitat. That is what I would like to explore at the proposed Living Systems Institute. I would like to know what choices lead to increasing flows, leading to an improving habitat, leading to more ways for things to fit.
The name may change again but I have to start posting notices of our 2013 events and can't wait for things to be perfect. So, for now, the next chapters will be the LSI Chronicles.
1 I have added an analysis to the Community Sufficiency Technologies page on the web site that discusses limitations of the market.
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