“Robyn Francis is one of the 26 contributors to Permaculture Pioneers – stories from the new frontier. In this short interview, introduced by co-editor Kerry Dawborn, Robyn talks about how permaculture informs everything in her life now, how permaculture brings a sense of hope during tumultuous times, and how the movement needs to find a better balance between the human ‘people care’ element and the practical physical systems.”
My friend Alan Seid over at Cascadia Workshops has a new post and video which offers a great glimpse into the world of Non-Violent Communication (or “Empowered Communication”), and is very appropriate for the season.
Do you sometimes feel awkward about expressing a Thank You?
Have you ever had the sense that the other person isn’t receiving your expression of gratitude in the way you meant it?
During the holiday time there is an increased opportunity to give and receive gratitude with the people in your life.
Expressing gratitude and appreciation can feel empty, or it can leave us feeling very connected and fulfilled, depending on how it is given and received.
In this short video, I share insights into the different ways to share and be heard when expressing thanks and appreciation.
A Valuable Tool
I appreciate Alan’s post above, as I have found this tool – Marshall Rosenberg’s Non-Violent Communication process (NVC) – to be extremely helpful. It can initially seem clunky and awkward, and it has its own lingo to get used to. The important thing using this process is to become committed to holding an “NVC Consciousness” as you struggle with the tool.
Stripped to it’s bare nuts and boldts, the following components of NVC are relevant to me in regards to how to grow my communication skills, and how I would like to be communicated with.
1) NVC Consciousness tells us that all anyone is ever doing is trying to meet their needs, and all anyone is ever saying is “Please” and “Thank You.”
Any time anyone is saying anything that sounds like judgment, blame, criticism, or a demand, you can know that they are merely providing you with a “tragic expression of an unmet need.” So you can translate that they are simply asking for you to please help them meet a need, or thanking you for the gift you’ve given them that met a need. All we ever do is try to meet our needs, and all we ever say is “please” and “thank you.”
2) As much as we can, we want to eliminate blame, judgment, and criticism from our communication with others and with our self – eliminate our own tragic ways of expressing ourselves. We call these expressions tragic, because these expressions rarely result in actually getting our needs met. The beginning point of this process is to begin making Observations rather than Evaluations. Just the observable facts and direct sensory experiences. When we learn to separate observations from evaluations, things become so much clearer, and the triggering of others greatly diminishes.
3) As much as we can, we want to clearly distinguish what we are feeling (physical sensation + emotion) from what we are thinking. Thoughts are mental, and include beliefs, ideas, and opinions. When we can learn to disentangle the feeling body from the thinking mind, we will be that much closer to true clarity, and less likely to accidently judge others.
4) We need to get in touch with our own true needs – our survival needs, but especially our “thrival” needs. When we can learn to disentangle what our true needs are from our strategies we’ve become glued to, we can see a much richer range of options. (Example: When we tell someone “I need you” this specific person is merely a strategy to meet our need for companionship and love, not the true need itself)
5) Requests. After we’ve gotten clear about needs vs. strategies, we realize we no longer need to be tied to specific strategies, and we can change Demands to Requests. Requests are concrete and doable, and can be distinguished from Demands by how we respond when the answer is ‘No.’
If you like Alan’s presentation above, he offers a FREE video training series, and I think you will really enjoy and find to be valuable. Check it out here:Free Videos from the Blackbelt Communication Skills Coaching Program
Reposted from Resilience.org
Ever wondered which articles have been accessed the most at Resilience.org and Energy Bulletin? Here’s the run down…What have been some of your favorites? Please let us know in the comments section at the bottom.
Resilience.org Top 10 Hits
1. Closing the ‘Collapse Gap’: the USSR was better prepared for collapse than the US
2. A DIY guide to wicking beds
3. The Brief, Tragic Reign of Consumerism—and the birth of a happy alternative
4. What kind of tree do acorns grow on?
5. Solar Energy : This Is What A Disruptive Technology Looks Like
6. How to build a chicken run in 157 easy steps
8. Commentary: Why peak oil threatens the International Monetary System
9. The Hard Road Ahead
10. Electric velomobiles: as fast and comfortable as automobiles, but 80 times more efficient
Energy Bulletin Top 10 Hits
1. Closing the ‘Collapse Gap’: the USSR was better prepared for collapse than the US
2. The Five Stages of Collapse
3. Who has the oil?
4. US military energy consumption- facts and figures
5. Why Our Food is So Dependent on Oil
6. Soil food web – opening the lid of the black box
7. Our American way of life is unsustainable – evidence
8. Peak phosphorus
9. A shale gas boom?
10. Energy Payback of Roof Mounted Photovoltaic Cells
Naomi Klein’s recent article posted at New Statesman has been generating a bit of a buzz. The title is “Why Science is Telling All of Us to Revolt and Change Our Lives.” She begins with a story discussing a presentation by complex systems researcher Brad Werner, who “is saying that his research shows that our entire economic paradigm is a threat to ecological stability.”
Klein writes further:
There was one dynamic in the model, however, that offered some hope. Werner termed it “resistance” – movements of “people or groups of people” who “adopt a certain set of dynamics that does not fit within the capitalist culture”. According to the abstract for his presentation, this includes “environmental direct action, resistance taken from outside the dominant culture, as in protests, blockades and sabotage by indigenous peoples, workers, anarchists and other activist groups”.
I’m no expert, but as someone interested in systems theory, I find it a bit odd that there is only one dynamic mentioned that appears to offer hope. Renowned systems thinker Donella Meadows identified at least 12 leverage points, or places to intervene in systems, and PatternDynamics™ founder Tim Winton has identified 56 patterns in systems that all need to be balanced and integrated if we want to achieve a sustainable system. [I'm studying PatternDynamics now - Join me January 26th for a workshop in Bellingham, WA]
Transition U.S. blogger Joanne Poyourow, in her response to the Klein article (Revolt and Change Our Lives), points out that systems thinker Joanna Macy has outlined 3 Dimensions of The Great Turning.
Macy’s first is Stopping action, stopping further destruction, which is all that Klein talks about or labels as “appropriate.” Stopping action is noisy campaigning, it is Julia Butterfly Hill sitting in old-growth trees, it is Tim DeChristopher bidding on land parcels, it is the activists who lie down in front of the pipeline trucks.
…Macy’s second type of action is Creating New Structures, creating that which will be in place to replace the old. Sound familiar? To those of us working with different facets of the international Transition movement it sure does. This is the “change our lives” part of the equation. It’s a much quieter type of action, in that it doesn’t necessarily mean noisy crowds with plackards out on the streets, and it doesn’t necessarily grab the notice of the news cameras. But it’s no less of a revolution. And it’s happening all around you right now.
Which brings me to Macy’s third type of action to help further The Great Turning: Change in Consciousness. Joanna Macy describes this as changing the stories we tell each other, our cultural stories, our inner stories. Redefining who we are, and how humanity fits into the cycles of this small planet. Within the international Transition movement, this is addressed as “inner transition.” Changing our inner selves, our inner paradigm, our ways of relating to each other is another huge part of creating the world we want to live in.
Rob Hopkins also mentions the Klein article, in his own excellent post on Austerity (Imagination: Antidote to the Plague of Austerity).
I don’t agree with Klein and Werner’s analysis that “resistance” should be only taken to refer to the same tools that oppositional politics has always used. For me, Werner’s “certain set of dynamics that does not fit within the capitalist culture” needs to be viewed more broadly…And that’s where Transition comes in, with its core focus on imagination and the telling of different stories.
……In order to be able to create something, first we have to imagine it. That applies as much to the supper you’ll cook when you get home tonight as to social change. While there is much that Transition initiatives can, and are, doing to respond to austerity, it is the holding of spaces where people, their political representatives and others, can come together to imagine the kind of future they want to see, and modelling this in practical ways, which may be one of the most powerful things we can do in these difficult times. It could prove to be, as the world seemingly steps from arguing that climate change isn’t a problem to arguing that it’s too late to do anything about it, missing out that vital piece in the middle, you know, the doing something about it bit, that the ”poverty of life without dreams” may turn out in the long run to be the wickedest form of poverty.
Hopkins’ thinking is reminiscent of thoughts expressed by David Holmgren (also a systems thinker) in late 2011 (David Holmgren Talks Strategy):
I think that, while the big political movement stuff is always going to be in some ways more exciting – and there’s certainly some exciting aspects of that emerging in the world now around the notion of demanding that someone do something, I don’t think those things really help change the structure much, unless people are also making the changes themselves. Because the changes people make themselves are double insurance – they are insurance against dysfunctional or anti-social behavior by elites (and there’s certainly plenty of evidence for that), but they’re also the way we model the world that we’re actually wanting to be, because in a lot of ways it’s a matter of being able to crawl before you walk. The sort of world we’re trying to construct, I think it’s actually impossible to construct that top-down. It has to actually be rebuilt bottom up, in parallel with the crumbling system. And then as those models become more real, it’s possible to get some degree of top-down reform/support for those things. But if they don’t actually exist, if we don’t have the working, living solutions, then it’s very hard for policymakers to say “Yes, we’ll have more of that, and less of that.” They can’t actually create the things we need. The things we need are all very small, localized, particular, and large scale systems just can’t do that.
I’m saving the best for last. If we say we want a revolution, who better to check in with than someone who’s been at the forefront, and working on revolution for over 7 decades? Her name is Grace Lee Boggs, and she published a book last year called The Next American Revolution: Sustainable Activism for the 21st Century (read the review by WWU’s Molly Lawrence).
As an activist for over seventy years, and involved in movements including the civil rights movement, labor movement, women’s movement, Black Power movement, Asian American movement, anti-war movement, and environmental justice movement, Boggs has some wisdom to share.
Over these many years, her keen mind has continued to think about “how to bring about radical social change,” which has become all the more urgent, because, as she says, “I cannot recall any previous period when the issues were so basic, so interconnected, and so demanding of everyone.” “What is going to motivate us,” she asks, “to start caring for our biosphere instead of using our mastery of technology to increase the volume and speed at which we are making our planet uninhabitable…?”
Interestingly, she believes that, though they were effective in the late 1960s, “it becomes clearer every day that organizing or joining massive protests and demanding new policies fail to sufficiently address the crisis we face.” She tells us that we need to “come out of our culturally defined identities,” and she claims that mass protests “do not change the cultural images or the symbols that play such a pivotal role in molding us into who we are. “
Boggs also makes a crucial distinction between rebellion and revolution. Rebels see themselves as victims and do not go beyond protesting injustices. Revolutionaries go beyond anger, protest, and opposition, and instead concentrate on involving people on a grassroots level with assuming responsibility for creating the values and infrastructures needed for a new society.
What does Boggs recommend on a practical level? Working from the ground up to transform individuals and to rebuild community. This revolutionary sounds very much like Hopkins, Holmgren, and Poyourow: Living radically differently by rejecting consumerism and the ideas around unending economic growth. It can begin with simple actions such as “planting community gardens, recycling waste, rehabbing houses ,… and organizing neighborhood festivals.” It can then develop into “a solidarity economy whose foundation is the production and exchange of goods and services that our communities really need. It’s about “remaking this nation block by block, brick by brick,” pledging to look after not only ourselves but also each other.
Fortunately, there are many working on various pieces of this puzzle we call “sustainability.” Are we doing enough, fast enough to avert crisis? No. That’s why we need all hands on deck. Stopping Actions, Creating New Structures, and Changing Consciousness are all significant.
In terms of changing consciousness, the theme Boggs returns to over and over in her book is that “these are the times to grow our souls.” It’s easy to neglect this important element. In Bellingham there are two upcoming events that address this work of inner transition from two perspectives:
1. Rabbi Michael Lerner: The Spiritual Transformation and Healing of the World: Building a Spiritually Progressive Political Party. On Thursday, November 14th at 7:00 pm, Rabbi Michael Lerner, “the most prophetic public speaker and intellectual of our time” according to professor and author, Cornel West, will share his vision on how to build a spiritually progressive political movement so we can move American politics from a perspective that hurts the poor and middle-class and undermines the rights and protections won by women, gays and minorities, toward a perspective that builds love, generosity and corporate environmental and social responsibility. More info.
2. The Holy Universe: A New Story of Creation For The Heart, Soul, and Spirit breathes life into the cold, mechanistic worldview of the Universe, transforming our physical history into a living story—and provides us with powerful insights into navigating the global ecological, social, and spiritual crises now facing our world, and provocatively argues the crises we face today just might be the best thing that ever happened to humanity. Author David Christopher
will be here in person to present. November 21st, 7pm at the Fairhaven Library, presented by the Bellingham Institute of Noetic Science.
JoAnna Macy On the Three Pillars of the Great Turning
It’s the day after the big vote here in Whatcom County, where many of us are breathing a sigh of relief that the 4 candidates for County Council most likely to Not support a coal export terminal, most likely to get our County back into compliance with state laws on growth management, and most likely to reverse a new policy on slaughterhouses…have apparently won.
However, I was not entirely pleased with some of the negative campaigning that occurred in the last couple of weeks from both sides. I’m also not entirely pleased that these supposedly non-partisan races have become so clearly partisan, and it appears that voters tended to either vote for all of the Democrat endorsed candidates or all of the Republican endorsed candidates.
I hope we can move past the negative and divisive campaign season, and work together for the benefit of all. It is important to remember that elected candidates are expected to work for all of their constituents, not just the ones who voted for them. If not, we could see a dramatic swing back the other way in the next election cycle.
It is in this spirit that I recommend the following article by David King, and posted at Tom Atlee’s blog, Random Communications from the Evolutionary Edge.
One of the realities that bedevils voting is that, in an adversarial and two-party system, partisan messages and media comments suggest very limited (bi-polar) choices. People who see nuances, or prefer collaboration, or are seeking a ‘third way’, or reject confrontation are actively discouraged from voting. In an adversarial and two-party system, the only (apparently) valid reasons for voting are: (1) to elect the good guy; or, (2) to make sure the bad guy doesn’t win. Anything else is described as a wasted vote or worse, an undermining of the ‘strategic’ (blocking) vote.
In terms of citizen engagement, we have a problem in that the sense of “the public” is very weak and is being undermined, constantly. The public is not merely an aggregation of individuals, nor is it a temporary or specific or instrumental phenomenon, nor is it detached from its surroundings, nor is it a contractual relationship. The public is greater than the sum of its parts. Something transcendent transforms an aggregation of individuals into “the public” in a time and place. The public is enduring, organic, and embedded in its ecology. The public is relational: it is covenantal (for better or for worse, through sickness and in health, until death do us part).
I would argue that both politicians and conventional media have reasons for wanting to dissolve “the public” and replace it with “public opinion”, which is temporary, specific and instrumental, and detached from its surroundings…
In the previous post, we looked at Voting Suggestions for Whatcom County Council. We’ll have a brief review here as well, but let’s also consider the rest of the ballot for Bellingham and Whatcom County voters.
For those that consider themselves progressives, there are a few resources to look to for more information and endorsements. One is the Fuse Progressive Voters Guide. Another source is Whatcom Conservation Voters. They are a a non-partisan grassroots political organization that works in Whatcom County on environmental issues. They advocate for responsible growth, clean water, habitat conservation and many environmental causes. Washington Conservation Voters endorsements can be found here.
One more is The Political Junkie’s Voters Guide, by fellow blogger Riley Sweeney. With few exceptions, all of these guides named are supporting the same candidates and the same initiatives. It is Riley’s endorsements that I’ll review here in abbreviated form. All quotes below are from Riley Sweeney, unless otherwise noted (example: Whatcom Democrats). I agree with all of his choices, except for the last two.
Stuck on your ballot? Let Riley help!
I-517: Vote No. “This is Tim Eyman’s latest initiative and as usual, it is a mediocre idea wrapped in a whole bucket of bad ideas…”
I-522: Vote Yes. “This would require most grocery items to display whether or not they had been genetically modified. Currently, Monsanto is spending $4.2 million in Washington state to block this measure.”
Advisory Votes: Riley published a whole article about this earlier in the week, so check it out for the details but the end result is the same. Vote “maintained” for all of these measures.
Whatcom County Council (Redux)
(See previous post for more detail on County Council)
My comments: Check out Riley’s reporting on coal industry money coming to Council candidates in the link above, and check out the Herald article about even more coal industry money coming to the Save Whatcom PAC. Whatcom Democrats are urging citizens to contact the Attorney General and demand an investigation. They claim that disclosure laws were violated – that the donated money from SSA Marine, Cloud Peak Energy, Global Coal Sales, and others were deliberately hidden. A statement on the Whatcom Democrats website:
“With critical races in the balance, community leaders in Whatcom County are calling on the Washington State Attorney General to step in and make Saving Whatcom PAC and their big coal donors comply with the laws of Washington.
Washington state law requires the five largest donors to an advertisement to be printed on a piece of mail or television advertisement. They have set up two committees and transferred money between them, in an attempt to hide donor names from the public.”
- Whatcom Democrats
Vote for the candidates who have not accepted money from big coal: Buchanan, Browne, Mann, and Weimer.
Port of Bellingham
Commissioner District 1: Renata Kowalczyk. “She brings an outsider’s perspective which is desperately needed at the port, yet shares our values for what the port’s role is in our community. Her opponent, Dan Robbins, has done little this campaign other than repeat weird communist smears from the anonymous writers at the Whatcom Excavator and tout his failed businesses. The choice is clear, Vote Kowalczyk.”
Commissioner District 2: Mike McAuley. “For the last four years, Mike has been the lone voice of sanity on the Port Commission.”
Bellingham City Council
Council Ward 4: Pinky Vargas. “She is smart, an effective communicator but more importantly, would bring some vital self-awareness to the city council.”
Council At-Large: Roxanne Murphy. “While I appreciate Bob Burr’s activist spirit and desire to push complacent politicos out of their comfort zone, the City Council needs a steady hand and they will have one in Roxanne Murphy.”
Bellingham School District
Proposition 1: “Our schools are criminally underfunded. Walk into an school and you will see employees working two or three jobs to cover the budget cuts, improvements being delayed, technology that is decades old. We should be investing in our schools and this bond is a good start. Vote approved.“
Director Position 4: Steven Smith. “Wait a minute Riley, you endorsed John Blethen in the primary? What happened? Well, I met with Steven Smith and was blown away. This Western business professor moonlighting as school board member brings the right mix of compassion and technical skill to the school board. We talked at length about the need for, and challenges of, measuring emotional growth as part of a child’s educational experience. Quantifying our schools beyond SATs and dropout rates to see what is really happening with each cohort of learners. Smith is using his position on the board to build the tools so future board members can assess the progress we have made and where we need to grow.
While I respect Blethen a great deal, and encourage people to vote for him based on his long record of involvement, I am voting for Smith.”
My comments: I have quoted the entirety of Riley’s School District choices above, because these are the two items on the ballot that I disagree with, though I think Riley has made a good case for his decision. In my view of an integral permaculture future, we can’t expect business as usual to continue – honestly considered, we don’t have the money to spend on all the projects we’d like, and we have to start making some hard decisions. Schools are underfunded, but can we really afford to rebuild Sehome High School (my alma mater) at this time? And is closing Larrabee school the right choice, forcing more resources to go toward transporting students longer distances?
A statement taken from the Facebook page of the Coalition to Save Larrabee:
Not one dollar of the 220 million dollar school bond ($160 million principal + interest) will be spent to reduce classroom sizes, hire or adequately pay even one more teacher, fund enrichment programs, environmental learning, support neighborhood schools, STEM education, or the arts. As Democrats, when we are asked to support education we ask, “where do I sign?” But this time around we have to pay attention even if it is politically uncomfortable. Closing Larrabee Elementary School is the canary in the coal mind. The first sign that the Superintendent has a vision that is counter to our community’s vision. The Superintendent is marching us away from small classroom sizes, away from walkable neighborhood schools, and towards 10 million dollar district offices, bloated top administration budgets, and policies that reflect a belief that student learning will increase if teachers just work harder, accept less pay and benefits, volunteer more of their time, and sacrifice…
- Coalition to Save Larrabee
See also David Marshak’s article opposing Proposition 1 in the Oct. 8th Cascadia Weekly, reprinted here: “Rebuilding Sehome High School” Makes No Sense.
Please read John Blethen’s opinion piece at the Bellingham Herald: John Blethen Propose More Public Input; Attention to Bellingham Neighborhood Schools.
Research supports that small neighborhood schools are more effective academically and socially, especially for children living in low-income households, and encourage parent involvement. Neighborhood schools are essential for community building. It is imperative that the Bellingham School District aligns their school facilities planning process with the city of Bellingham to be in step with the Bellingham Comprehensive Plan, with public schools retained and new neighborhood schools located consistent with the city’s commitment to progressive urban smart-growth principles.
- John Blethen
Ballots have been mailed, so it’s time to get clear on how to vote, and then make sure we follow through by November 5th. If there are any doubts about how to vote, there are many resources out there that are more than happy to advise. For those of you who live here in Whatcom County, WA, I’ll share my favorite voting guides.
Whatcom County Council
These are the races that are getting the majority of media attention – even from outlets beyond our region, and for good reason (hint: the proposed coal port).
For a little background, let’s review some of my previous posts: Could Our Obscure County Election Change the Planet? This post linked to a National Journal article which pointed out that our upcoming County Council election could be crucial to the decision that ultimately decides whether the Gateway Pacific Terminal (aka “the coal port”) gets built or not. And Why You Should Care About the Growth Management Act if You Live In Whatcom County discussed another reason to pay attention to the County Council election – because poor land use planning is eroding our ability to be resilient, and because we are currently out of compliance with state law, which is costing us $$$. Next I wrote a post called Zone 9 From Outer Space, where we looked at how the County Council has dealt with zoning issues, using the example of the controversial slaughterhouse issue.
That last post linked to some excellent commentary by Tim Johnson, over at Cascadia Weekly’s The Gristle. If you need further education about how to vote in these races, I’ll once again refer you to the Weekly, October 15 edition. First, check out The Gristle, where this week’s theme is Election Fraud. Johnson warns: “We’ve now entered what has traditionally been the Dirty Tricks eclipse of local elections, where ugly shadow money long withheld comes flooding into campaigns only to be fired out again in torpedoes of late-hour hit pieces filled with lies, smears and petty character assassinations, the background of which won’t fully surface until after the election. The irony for voters who have not yet made up their minds about which candidates deserve their vote is the quality and reliability of information that surfaces from this point forward is much reduced.”
Johnson then proceeds to give an excellent background on the issues at stake, and how they’ve been handled to date for the County Council. Interestingly, following Johnson’s premonition, the Bellingham Herald today reported that there have been huge sums of money flooding into the “Save Whatcom” PAC from those outside of our county who have a financial interest in seeing the Coal Port developed. Most of it from Coal companies themselves. See Coal Interests Give More than $100,000K. The interesting thing is, this money has not been spent yet, so there is one more reason to believe we’ll see last minute shenanigans and smears.
In regards to the candidates themselves, once again Johnson has an excellent analysis of each race. Pick up a copy, or download the digital version of this week’s paper. Or just read my quick summary, which follows. Note that the Dirty Coal Conglomerate money is hoping to convince you to vote exactly opposite of the recommendations below.
Kershner Vs. Buchanan: Kershner is caring, orderly, respectful, and has integrity. However, she has promised as a central theme in her campaign that she will continue to keep the county out of compliance with state law in regards to the Growth Management Act. Out of compliance with state law = illegal. On the other hand Barry Buchanan is a known, thoughtful, proven candidate who will help the Council become compliant with state law and end the lawsuits. Vote Barry Buchanan.
Mann vs. Elenbaas: Ben Elenbaas presents himself as a moderate – essentially identical to the actual policy positions that Ken Mann has taken on the County Council. The truth is that Mann actually is a moderate, and Elenbaas has strong ties to the tea party, and was a primary architect of the foul smelling slaughterhouse zoning proposal. “Bottom line, whatever Elenbaas says he wishes to achieve on council, Mann is already delivering.” Vote Ken Mann.
Weimer vs. Luke: “Carl Weimer is the most gifted and informed policymaker working as an elected official in Whatcom County…By contrast, Luke is a one-note candidate. And even on that one note –aggressive revolt against GMA–she is not sharp, failing to articulate her concerns with even a single example.” Enough said. Vote Carl Weimer.
Knutzen vs. Browne: On Bill Knutzen: “Ill temper does not mix well with dim-wittedness.” On Rud Browne: “Browne is unique among candidates in his ability to transcend the standard left/right divide of local politics.” Knutzen talks about jobs, but Browne is an actual job creator. Vote Rud Browne.
Coming up next: Suggestions for the other items on your ballot.