World Transformation    
"Do not follow where the path leads. Rather go where there is no path and leave a trail."
 Leap Forward or Perish
picture From Synergic Earth News: Barry Carter writes: As we look at the animal world and all of nature we see lose/win. One animal must die in order for another to live. Eat or be eaten is the rule. Within groups of animals there is a control hierarchy and pecking order, just like society and companies. Lion prides continuously battle for territory with other lion prides and hyena packs. This battling occurs with what appears to be the same fierce hatred as that which we've witnessed between racial, religious and ethic groups. This is the reality from whence we evolved. Though advanced society is separate from this activity, our paradigm and social institutions still reflect this reality. Lose/win then is our evolved reality from millions of years of evolution. With lose/win being our reality, how is it possible to change this reality? ... In order to see the win-win before us we must take a leap forward out of the lose/win reality from where we evolved. We must "see things differently." We must have a miracle "a shift in our perceptions; a metanoia " a shift of mind. It is possible because our expectations create reality. This can happen in many ways. Mass privatization can help us see the win-win reality because of the directness and practical reality of the win-win structure. (02/25/04)
[ | 19 May 2004 @ 16:26 | PermaLink ]

 Programmed for Conflict
picture From Synergic Earth News: Barry Carter writes: The primary problem with wealth creation systems of the Win/Lose Era is that they have limited the levels of emotional and spiritual intelligence in people. This is because wealth creation in this era has been fear based. The desire to control others comes directly from fear and mistrust. For our present level of maturity if the consequence of losing did not exist, the drive to win would not be so important. When humans were in the hunter gather era and the rule was "Eat or Be Eaten," losing could mean death or pain. If losing had meant no discomfort then winning would not have been so important. The fear of losing, at least in the Win/Lose Era, makes winning extremely important. It forces us reactively and defensively to look for ways not to lose first as opposed to looking for ways to proactively win. This rule still holds true in our Industrial Age based civilization. Fear, therefore, is the primary motivator in the win/lose era. This fear-based paradigm is deeply ingrained within human's today. Our normal view of human nature is that of humans being competitive, selfish, judgmental, greedy, sinful, lazy and violent. Our thinking is that humans must be restrained against their natural tendencies through rules, regulations, discipline, punishment and must be managed, regulated and led by strong men. Our paradigm of human nature is, however, merely a reflection of our finite wealth creation, win/lose paradigm based upon fear. (02/18/04)
[ | 14 May 2004 @ 14:36 | PermaLink ]

 CSA's World of Possibilities
picture From Synergic Earth News: Steven McFadden writes: In 1990, when I coauthored "Farms of Tomorrow" with Trauger Groh, there were about 60 CSAs in the United States. The years from 1986 to 1990, I feel, mark the first wave of CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) development. Eight years later, when I returned to the subject with Trauger to write "Farms of Tomorrow Revisited," we found there had been steady growth in the CSA movement, albeit growth in many different directions. CSA had diversified into a range of social and legal forms, with philosophically oriented CSAs at one end and commercially oriented subscription farms at the other. Books were written, organizations such as the Biodynamic Farming and Gardening Assoc. and Robyn Van En’s CSA North America took an active interest, and the movement enjoyed a steady stream of favorable publicity. The CSA archetypes and infrastructure had been established. By the late 1990s, at least 1,000 CSAs had taken root in the United States, and growth continued quietly.This slow, steady increase through the 1990s up through 2003 constitutes a second wave of CSA development. While CSAs overall numbers have climbed over the years, there has been a significant attrition rate and many CSAs have failed. Common causes of failure include: The farmers did not ask enough for their effort, they did not have the skill to grow adequately, or they were farming on unsecured land. Some CSAs have also failed because the members of the community could not get along. For the past five or six years, estimates of CSA numbers have remained in a range from 1,000 to 1,200. But most educated observers say that number is low. Many CSAs operate privately and quietly, while most regions of the country report many new CSA farms. Thus, it follows that a more up-to-date and accurate estimate would be around 1,500 to 1,700 CSA farms across the country, ranging in size from large gardens with a few households to hundreds of acres with more than 1,000 subscribers. (02/18/04)
[ | 11 May 2004 @ 16:11 | PermaLink ]

 Protecting Biodiversity
picture From Synergic Earth News: BBC Nature -- Environment ministers from around the world meet in Malaysia on Wednesday to try to reach a deal to save threatened habitats and species. Discussions at the UN-led conference are likely to centre on attempts to reduce loss of biodiversity by 2010. However, both the European Union and environmentalists say the discussions lack the sense of urgency they believe is necessary. The horse-trading over protecting the environment is about to begin. Though countries rich and poor alike say they want to save the planet, all have their own concerns - and most of those centre on money. The developing nations say they want a bigger share in the benefits of protecting the environment. Between them they have most of the world's remaining pristine habitats, but saving them costs money they do not have. Nor do they want big business to develop products derived from flora and fauna found there without receiving some of their profits. Equally, wealthier nations do not want to leave their companies open to endless legal action over their discoveries, nor do they want to simply hand the countries of the South a blank cheque to pay for their help. (02/18/04)
[ | 10 May 2004 @ 16:11 | PermaLink ]

 Conflict: The Norm of Current Civilization
picture From Synergic Earth News: Barry Carter writes: When we look at the underlying norms and thinking that employment and our entire Industrial Age systems rest upon, we find a lose/win norm. The controlled economy and other Industrial Age systems were not the start of lose/win norms and systems. Serfdom, slavery and monarchy of the Agricultural Age were also based upon win/lose norms and prior to this so to was tribal life and customs. Controlled economies are merely the latest in a series of perhaps progressively improving win/lose systems. The inherent lose/win nature of slavery and serfdom is self-evident, however, how is a controlled economy inherently a lose/win system? Any economy that must be controlled to maintain order is one based upon fear not love. The former Soviet Union controlled its economy because it feared what free humans would do without control, likewise so do companies. Only systems and actions that come from a love paradigm can be win-win. Actions and systems from an authoritarian control or fear paradigm are inherently based upon win/lose and scarcity. The heart of the controlled economy is its lose/win compensation system. Controlled economies operate based upon standardized compensation – salaries and wages. Regardless of the value one adds the controlled economy pays the same within a relatively narrow range. With standardized compensation the more you make the less the organization makes and vise-versa. I must lose in order for you to win and vise-versa. The controlled economy is based upon adversarial human relationships. At a tangible level we see a lose/win system as CEO's salaries explode while they layoff record numbers of people. Managers and the company makes more by holding down wages and salaries; the more the employee makes the less the company makes and vise-versa. The more vacation and benefits the employee gets the more it cost the company. There is also lose/win competition for limited positions. The primary job of most managers is to get more work out of people for less money. Unions who represent employees (a check and balance bureaucracy) have the job of getting more money and benefits for employee at the owner’s expense. Externally controlled economies compete with other controlled economies for survival, customers, growth, resources and prestige. (02/16/04)
[ | 9 May 2004 @ 08:41 | PermaLink ]

 Scientists Call for Protection of Coral
picture From Synergic Earth News: BBC Environment -- More than 1,100 marine scientists have signed a statement calling on the UN and world governments to stop the destruction of deep-sea corals. The researchers want a moratorium on the use of the heavy trawling gear that gouges coral and sponges from the ocean bottom in search of valuable fish. Some of the coral fields will contain thousands of species and are sometimes called the "rainforests of the deep". "Bottom trawling is like fishing with bulldozers," said expert Elliot Norse. "It's devastatingly efficient in one sense; it's a way to get fish relatively easily and painlessly, if you don't mind killing all of the life on the bottom to catch them," the president of the US Marine Conservation Biology Institute told the BBC. The gear is huge. Nets are armed with steel weights or heavy rollers and destroy everything in their path. At the cold depths of one to two kilometres, the growth rates of all organisms are incredibly slow and the coral fields have little chance to re-establish themselves. Some of the corals resemble trees - they can be up to 10 metres tall - and some specimens have been found to be almost 2,000 years old. "They are sources of future medicines, they are recorders of global climate change because they live so long, and they provide habitat for many other species including some really important commercial fish," says Dr Norse. "They are also exquisitely beautiful organisms." It is the big and valuable species - cod, orange roughy, armorhead, grenadier and Chilean seabass - that live among the coral that draw the trawlers. But these fish species, too, cannot sustain heavy losses. (02/16/04)
[ | 9 May 2004 @ 08:41 | PermaLink ]

 Beyond Belief
picture From Synergic Earth News: Barry Carter writes: Imagine telling a person from the Agriculture Age that one day their children will no longer be taught at home. Their children will go off to a building where the parents have never visited and be taught and disciplined by people that the parents have never met. They will be grouped with hundreds of other children in one building. The father and mother will no longer work at home with their family. The mother and father will work inside of separate buildings many miles apart. They will have so little control over their work that they will have to request permission for a drink of water or to relieve themselves. Since both parents will work outside the home, the grandparents will be warehoused in a building with dozens of others and taken care of by people who don't know or love them. The parents and children will be away from home all day doing different things in different places and controlled by people who have little stake in their long-term well-being. Upon hearing this, a person from the Agricultural Age would probably conclude that this new world would be anti-family; he would be right. Centralized wealth creation produced anti-family institutions. It was the bureaucratization of the family. The "division of life" of the Industrial Age sent different family members to different "non-passionate" bureaus of society to have their needs met. This division of life, however, no longer works as our poor school statistics, along with problems in work and society, reflect.  (02/13/04)
[ | 8 May 2004 @ 07:06 | PermaLink ]

 Government
picture From Synergic Earth News: In 1848, Frédéric Bastiat wrote: I wish someone would offer a prize for a good, simple, and intelligent definition of the word "Government." What an immense service it would confer on society ! The Government! what is it? where is it? what does it do? what ought it to do? All we know is, that it is a mysterious personage; and, assuredly, it is the most solicited, the most tormented, the most overwhelmed, the most admired, the most accused, the most invoked, and the most provoked of any personage in the world. I have not the pleasure of knowing my reader but I would stake ten to one that for six months he has been making Utopias, and if so, that he is looking to Government for the realization of them. And should the reader happen to be a lady: I have no doubt that she is sincerely desirous of seeing all the evils of suffering humanity remedied, and that she thinks this might easily be done, if Government would only undertake it. But, alas! that poor unfortunate personage, like Figaro, knows not to whom to listen, nor where to turn. The hundred thousand mouths of the press and of the platform cry out all at once - "Organize labor and workmen." "Repress insolence and the tyranny of capital." "Make experiments upon manure and eggs." "Cover the country with railways." "Irrigate the plains." "Plant the hills." "Make model farms." "Found social workshops." "Nurture children." "Instruct the youth." "Assist the aged." "Send the inhabitants of towns into the country." "Equalize the profits of all trades." "Lend money without interest to all who wish to borrow." "Emancipate oppressed people everywhere." "Rear and perfect the saddle-horse." "Encourage the arts, and provide us musicians, painters, and architects." "Restrict commerce, and at the same time create a merchant navy." "Discover truth, and put a grain of reason into our heads. The mission of Government is to enlighten, to develop, to extend, to fortify, to spiritualize, and to sanctify the soul of the people."... "Do have a little patience, gentlemen" says Government, in a beseeching tone. "I will do what I can to satisfy you, but for this I must have resources. I have been preparing plans for five or six taxes, which are quite new, and not at all oppressive. You will see how willingly people will pay them." ... Then comes a great exclamation: - "No! indeed! where is the merit of doing a thing with resources? Why, it does not deserve the name of a Government! (02/11/04)
[ | 6 May 2004 @ 09:14 | PermaLink ]

 Learning to Farm Sustainably
picture From Synergic Earth News: Laura Sayre writes: This photo from the fall of 2002 shows student workers in the fields of the OASIS Farm at New Mexico State University. Andy Giron is majoring in Agricultural Extension Education; Andrea Padilla in Family and Consumer Sciences. In 2002 the student farm cultivated 142 varieties of flowers, herbs, and veggies, and yielded 20,000 lbs of food (photo courtesy of Connie Falk). ... At colleges and universities across the country, students are finding--and founding--opportunities to make sustainable agriculture part of a well-rounded education. Many go on to farm organically in real life. “I think of the farm as an agent of change,” says Scott Stokoe, manager of the Dartmouth College Organic Farm in Hanover, New Hampshire. “A place where students can identify problems and figure out how to fix them.” Ivy-League Dartmouth is hardly known as a seedbed of student radicalism, but on two sandy acres overlooking the Connecticut River, that could be quietly changing. Stokoe confesses that when he was first hired to run the Dartmouth Organic Farm in 1997, he was uncertain whether to understand the project as a new chapter in the history of food politics or as the tail end of an older movement, finally surfacing at a fundamentally conservative institution. Seven seasons later, the farm has come to fill a small but beloved role within the Dartmouth College community, supplying fresh produce to one of the campus dining halls, helping students prepare for study-abroad programs in Africa and Latin America, and serving as a popular activity, especially for sophomores, who at Dartmouth are required to spend their summer quarter on campus. Today the farm has half a dozen paid part-time student workers, another dozen or so regular volunteers, and over 200 people on its email list. Stokoe and the students operate a farmstand on the main quad one day a week in season, grossing about $4000 a year. Meanwhile, as if in answer to Stokoe's question, similar programs have been taking root at colleges and universities across the country. (02/06/04)
[ | 2 May 2004 @ 08:59 | PermaLink ]

 Internet Gift Economies
picture From Synergic Earth News: Kylie J. Veale writes: The Internet today is a mix of the ‘free and the fee’, though it still remains in part a gift economy. Personal and organisational sharing of free information, products and software continues to flourish as a circle of gifts for returned intangible reward. Though a perceived lack of these rewards, due in part to an inability to quantify them, has resulted in givers seeking more for their efforts. What are their revised motivations? What now are their rewards? Confronted with this development, I suggest their rewards are voluntary payments as forms of tangible reciprocity. This paper therefore outlines the Internet as a gift economy. It suggests a conceptual path through gift economy principles to reveal voluntary payments as tangible reciprocity. It also documents an analysis of voluntary payment schemes as evidence of operationalising tangible reciprocity. I also introduce monetary, content and purpose gifting mechanisms as tangible reciprocity. Although the Internet started humbly as an educational resource based on free personal and organisational sharing, it is today a mixed economy of free and fee. The commercialisation of the Internet has been marked by a constant rise in e-commerce enterprises and fee-based content and services along side traditionally free varieties. Those that continue to champion gift economy principles do so for intangible returns such as notoriety or pride. Some even earn money from related developments based on their reputation. Reciprocity in this ‘circle of gifts’ assumes what is given will come back as others participate (Crawford, 2001). What happens if there is no tangible return or rewards are not quantifiable? I suggest that the gift economy weakens and content providers seek more than just intangible rewards — reciprocity in the form of tangible compensation. To demonstrate that the Internet remains a gift economy, this paper describes voluntary payment schemes as examples of tangible reciprocity in the Internet gift economy. It describes the gift economy, its origins and relevance to the Internet, outlines the fundamental principles of the gift economy and suggests how these principles can lead to tangible reciprocity inside a working gift economy. The work concludes by outlining various mechanisms for voluntary payment as attempts to operationalise tangible reciprocity in the gift economy. (02/04/04)
[ | 30 Apr 2004 @ 16:59 | PermaLink ]

 Reversing Global Warming
picture From Synergic Earth News: BBC Science -- UK scientists claim they now know how Earth recovered on its own from a sudden episode of severe global warming at the time of the dinosaurs. Understanding what happened could help experts plan for the future impact of man-made global warming, experts say. Rock erosion may have leached chemicals into the sea, where they combined with carbon dioxide, causing levels of the greenhouse gas to fall worldwide. UK scientists report the details of their research in the journal Geology. About 180 million years ago, temperatures on Earth rapidly shot up by about 5 Celsius. The cause is thought to have been a sudden release of huge amounts of methane from the sea bed. Methane is itself a greenhouse gas but it is short-lived. However, it is easily oxidised to carbon dioxide (CO2) which lingers in the atmosphere for long periods of time. Plants and animals were affected by the sudden rise in atmospheric CO2. Scientists have found evidence of a marine mass extinction during this period that killed off 84% of bivalve shellfish. Over a period of about 150,000 years, the Earth returned to normal and life continued flourishing. How this happened was a mystery, but now scientists from the Open University in Milton Keynes claim to have a possible answer. "Our new evidence has shown that this warming caused the weathering of rocks on the Earth's surface to rapidly increase by at least 400%," said Dr Anthony Cohen, who led the research. "This intense rock-weathering effectively put a brake on global warming through chemical reactions that consumed the atmosphere's extra carbon dioxide." They discovered that intense rock weathering coincided with warm conditions and high atmospheric CO2. ... "Global warming is affecting the climate today, but it's very difficult to predict what's going to happen," Dr Cohen told BBC News Online. "The reason for doing these studies is that you get the whole history. If you learn what happened then, that can inform how you deal with [the same problem] in future." (02/04/04)
[ | 29 Apr 2004 @ 09:03 | PermaLink ]

 Homesteading the Noosphere
picture From Synergic Earth News: Eric S. Raymond writes: To understand the role of reputation in the open-source culture, it is helpful to move from history further into anthropology and economics, and examine the difference between exchange cultures and gift cultures. Humans have an innate drive to compete for social status; it's wired in by our evolutionary history. For most human history before the invention of agriculture, our ancestors lived in small nomadic hunting-gathering bands. High-status individuals got the healthiest mates and access to the best food. This drive for status expresses itself in different ways, depending largely on the degree of scarcity of survival goods. Most ways humans have of organizing are adaptations to scarcity and want. Each way carries with it different ways of gaining social status. The simplest way is the command hierarchy. In command hierarchies, allocation of scarce goods is done by one central authority and backed up by force. Command hierarchies scale very poorly; they become increasingly brutal and inefficient as they get larger. For this reason, command hierarchies above the size of an extended family are almost always parasites on a larger economy of a different type. In command hierarchies, social status is primarily determined by access to coercive power. Our society is predominantly an exchange economy. This is a sophisticated adaptation to scarcity that, unlike the command model, scales quite well. Allocation of scarce goods is done in a decentralized way through trade and voluntary cooperation (and in fact, the dominating effect of competitive desire is to produce cooperative behavior). In an exchange economy, social status is primarily determined by having control of things (not necessarily material things) to use or trade. Most people have implicit mental models for both of the above, and how they interact with each other. Government, the military, and organized crime (for example) are command hierarchies parasitic on the broader exchange economy we call 'the free market'. There's a third model, however, that is radically different from either and not generally recognized except by anthropologists; the gift culture. Gift cultures are adaptations not to scarcity but to abundance. They arise in populations that do not have significant material-scarcity problems with survival goods. We can observe gift cultures in action among aboriginal cultures living in ecozones with mild climates and abundant food. We can also observe them in certain strata of our own society, especially in show business and among the very wealthy. Abundance makes command relationships difficult to sustain and exchange relationships an almost pointless game. In gift cultures, social status is determined not by what you control but by what you give away. Thus the Kwakiutl chieftain's potlach party. Thus the multi-millionaire's elaborate and usually public acts of philanthropy. And thus the hacker's long hours of effort to produce high-quality open source. Examined in this way, it is quite clear that the society of open-source hackers is in fact a gift culture. Within it, there is no serious shortage of the 'survival necessities' - disk space, network bandwidth, computing power. Software is freely shared. This abundance creates a situation in which the only available measure of competitive success is reputation among one's peers. (02/02/04)
[ | 28 Apr 2004 @ 08:19 | PermaLink ]

 Learning from Nature
picture From Synergic Earth News: BBC Science -- Scientists have recruited an unusual ally in their quest to produce safer, cheaper rocket fuel: bacteria. The microbes help make a key ingredient of a fuel mix used in missiles but could also reduce the cost of drugs used to lower cholesterol levels. The US military commissioned the work after discovering navy chemists were using the cheaper, but more dangerous, chemical nitroglycerine in its place. Details are published in the Journal of the American Chemical Society. The conventional manufacture of the propellant butanetriol costs $30 (£16) to $40 (£22) per pound. Together, the Navy and Army purchase about 15,000 pounds (6,803 kg) per year. Butanetriol is used to make another chemical called butanetriol trinitrate (BTTN) which is employed in the fuel mix of missiles such as the Hellfire, an air-to-ground attack missile fired from military helicopters such as the Apache and unmanned Predator drones. ... By modifying key genes in the bacteria E. coli and Pseudomonas fragi, researchers led by Dr John Frost of Michigan State University, US, have teased the microbes into making butanetriol from simple carbohydrates obtained from corn and sugar beet. The butanetriol is then nitrated to produce BTTN, which allows the missile rocket's propellant mix to burn more evenly, similar to the way that some cigarette paper is treated. "The key aspect is simplicity, we are teaching the microbes to be chemical catalysts," said Dr Frost. "At the moment we are using two bacteria, but the goal is to refine the process to just one step. Microbes allow you to deal in large volumes, which make the process commercially viable. "Compared with nitroglycerine, which is pretty unforgiving stuff, the BTTN is safer in all aspects of manufacture and use." (02/02/04)
[ | 27 Apr 2004 @ 04:04 | PermaLink ]

 Awakening Cultural Consciousness
picture From Synergic Earth News: David C. Korten writes: This ability to recognize ourselves as observers of the behavior of ourselves and others was a critical step in the evolution of the human consciousness. We are now in the midst of taking what may prove to be another bold step in the evolution of consciousness of comparable significance: an awakening of cultural consciousness that allows us to see our cultural beliefs as social constructs that at best can never be more than mere approximations of a more complex reality. Elizabet Sahtouris explains: "When we look at human history to see what a people's worldview was in a different time and a different place, we see that worldviews have evolved along with the visible aspects of culture, and that there is a very powerful relationship between the worldviews that people hold and the kind of society they construct — an inseparable relationship, that is, between the way people believe their world is and the things they do to one another and that world. In practice, our worldview is our script for the play of life, assigning each of us our role within it. Until the last half century before the new millennium, it did not occur to people that they could have anything to do with creating their worldview. All through history, people thought the way they saw the world was the way the world really was — in other words, they saw their worldview as the true worldview and all others as mistaken and therefore false." ... Every culture captures some elements of a deeper truth, but each represents only one of many possible ways of interpreting the data generated by the human senses. Although most cultures adapt over time in response to changing circumstances, the process of adaptation is generally gradual and largely unconscious. Since cultures are by their nature self-limiting, any established cultural worldview can lead to serious misinterpretations of sensory data when rapidly changing circumstances render it obsolete  — as now demonstrated so dramatically by the case of the dominant global culture fostered by the suicide economy. The circumstances of humanity are now changing far too rapidly for the conventional, largely unconscious processes of cultural regeneration and adaptation to suffice. Consequently, these must now become conscious, self-aware process open to the possibilities suggested by the stories of many cultures and subject to continuous testing for their relevance to rapidly changing human circumstances. This is key to taking the step to a new level of human function that an awakening of cultural consciousness makes possible. (01/30/04)
[ | 26 Apr 2004 @ 07:36 | PermaLink ]

 The Cathedral and the Bazaar
picture From Synergic Earth News: Eric S. Raymond writes: In this article, I anatomize a successful open-source project, fetchmail, that was run as a deliberate test of some surprising theories about software engineering suggested by the history of Linux. I discuss these theories in terms of two fundamentally different development styles, the "cathedral" model of most of the commercial world versus the "bazaar" model of the Linux world. I show that these models derive from opposing assumptions about the nature of the software-debugging task. I then make a sustained argument from the Linux experience for the proposition that "Given enough eyeballs, all bugs are shallow", suggest productive analogies with other self-correcting systems of selfish agents, and conclude with some exploration of the implications of this insight for the future of software. (01/30/04)
[ | 25 Apr 2004 @ 12:17 | PermaLink ]



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