Discovering Wisdom in Living Systems Design

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Hokusai’s The Great Wave off Kanagawa (神奈川沖浪裏) adapted into a meme about pollution

For the minority of the global population who have encountered the term “permaculture”, many still hold a limited view of this design system, associating it (with historical accuracy) to farming — but only farming.

The truth is, although this term was coined by a couple of English-speaking post-agriculture revolutionaries, its fundamental power — rooted in its core ethics and twelve principles — is to guide people, no matter how grassroots or systemically influential, to interact with the systems we are dependent on in a way that increases the wellbeing and prosperity of ourselves, our earth, and all living creatures.

In short, it is a tao of interdependence with complex adaptive systems, inviting participation with complexity rather than the old paradigm relationship based on subject-object divide and domination of nature. …


Whole systems are changing rapidly. What kind of education makes sense now, for ourselves and our children?

Education is the greatest preventative medicine for any kind of illness.

If there that’s true, then the challenge has only begun.

Who chooses what we need to learn, when there’s so much to pay attention to and a lack of certainty about what matters?
What should be on the curriculum for the leaders of 2030? 2040?
What on earth will be relevant by then?
What will be happening on earth?

“Perhaps we should say that all our problems tend to gather under two questions about knowledge.

Having the ability and desire to know, how and what should we learn?

And having learned, how and for what should we use what we know?” …


When our choice is between global collapse and a deal with the devil, what is the third way?

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I’m reflecting on a video call with my collaborators, Philippe Greier and Marc Thibault. It’s a stormy day in Wellington, and my plans for the year are being cancelled one by one in the face of COVID — 19.

Things are going to get worse. What can I do now? Who can I be?

Taking a Permaculture Design Course in 2016 was my wake-up call to how fragile global human society is; how dependent we are on scarce reserves of fresh water and topsoil, how quickly the loss of biodiversity can lead to any number of crises. …


Our Online Learning Journey for Earth in Solidarity with Indigenous

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Screenshot taken during our second session: https://pad.disroot.org/p/BeyondEducation

This document is an artifact, harvested from the digital learning journey that ran in sync with the Cobra Canoa learning journey in Brazil from September 29 to Oct 8. Our harvesting session was facilitated by Fyodor Ovchinnikov of Institute for Evolutionary Leadership, and Naomi Joy Smith, designer of the Digital Hikoi and coordinator of the Beyond Us community engagement.

Also participating in this harvest, was:

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Screenshot of the ‘Wedding Table’ data visualization model developed by Lauren Moore Nignon — eventually each participant will be able to connect all the conversations they’ve taken part in, track notes, follow up on action items, side discussions, missed connections and context from conversations that they missed.

Indigenous leaders, Educators and Storytellers
Starting the Learning Journey

We would like the world to know that the Cobra Canoa is the beginning: it’s the beginning and it’s happening. It’s happening during a time when humanity is talking about the sixth mass extinction, when nature is actually in an evolution of falling apart due to the popular term called “climate change”. …


Where do I stand as a Digital Nomad? Where do I belong as a Digital Native?

This post is an exploration on the emergence of digital localism and community, and how it stands in solidarity with decolonization movements worldwide. I’m writing from a personal perspective, as someone who is working actively for ecosocial justice, yet lacks ancestral connection to land and culture.
Provoked by the protests (peaceful occupation for land protection) at Ihumātao, I question the role of ‘digital ecosystems’, ‘sovereignty’ and ‘belonging’ in this new space and invite relationship between stewards of regenerative commons in all forms; whether physical, cultural, digital, intellectual, or spiritual.

You can follow GRDN on twitter to learn how I work with these topics through culture design, social permaculture, weaving, facilitation and coordination.


Commons And Consciousness

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Cosmic Energy by Remedios Varo (1956)

Consciousness as unmanifest.

Commons as manifested collective unconscious.

A collective which expands beyond control,

Metamicromacro patterned Being.

Who can we be in times of crises?

“Seeds lead into sparks who speak.”
Another audio recording, erased.
My tech game is weak.
I sang
and my words went unheard
again.

Waking up to consciousness & waking up to climate.
Micro-climates and macro-climates, the conditions discovered there; boundaries of separation. Otherness.
Discovering the otherness with each other,
our irresolvable paradoxes unfold into complex emergence.

A work of art.

What did your infinite being come here to explore?
Every pleasure corresponding to a pain.
What is your obligation to the other?
What love, power, beauty and truth do you uncover? …


How Perennial Endings Shape a Permanent Culture — and Why That Matters

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Art by Edgar Ende (pun unintended)

This essay is written as a response to the second book in my social permaculture reading list: Ends, by Joe Macleod.

A multi-faceted inquiry which addresses the overall inadequacy of closure experiences in most business models today, this book is an interesting study into a pattern of our culture which (at least in the structure of today’s mainstream world) gets pretty awkward at the stage where one life cycle comes to its inevitable completion.

On many levels, the subject of completing a life cycle resonates with the quest of a social permaculture designer.

Cultivating new social systems, starting from the values of earth care, people care and fair share, asks us to create compost out of the aging beliefs and practices of a society. …


The Conditions for Growing Peace

You are about to read Part 1 of a 10-part series exploring the relevance of Open Space Technology (OST) to Social Permaculture Design.

This piece sets the tone for Self-Organization as a key mechanism in a design practice which emphasizes the eventual redundancy of the designer.

Stay tuned for these subsequent parts as they unfold:

  • 2: Systemic Thinking, Feedback Loops and Emergence
  • 3: The Problem is the Solution
  • 4: The Map is not the Terrain: Design as a Skill of Creative Response
  • 5: Boundary Management
  • 6: Integration, Death and Transformation
  • 7: Minimal Interventions
  • 8: Appropriate Tools
  • 9: Small & Slow…


Making Space For a New Story

How to find the right question?

Sometimes

Start at the end.

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What is going, what is going to be? What is? What since?

How could you ever know?

If you plant it, it will grow.

Reflect upon the landscape.

Like a dream

How the light and the water move

Across the horizon between spaces

Above the earth and below the sky

Which stage is the moon?

And where have you been
Or what has changed since you last asked the question?

Here. nowhere. Everything.

Anywhere that has a centre.

Now. Open.

Still Tuning in.

— Answers (and/or questions)
to guestions I get about
my/our/subjective/objective
doing, going, being, and becoming.

The ones I give
Depends


Hypocrisies, observations, celebrations and improvements.

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I feel very tired.
I turned on the creative tap and the handle fell off.
I imagine I have a lot of energy stored up for discussing these topics, and now that I have an outlet, my bedtime routine is suffering.

It has also been very hot here, and I am moving around to various places and fitting in layers of work-play and connections and systems. D-Y-N-A-M-I-C.

I have learned a lot from reading this book, and the sheer amount of insight has generated a lot of labour to love. If this was (already?) my vocation, or part of a study programme, I could afford to go into more depth, editing and cleaning up each piece of this text. …

About

Naomi Joy Smith

Invoking wisdom & generosity, playing with permaculture in tech. Into weaving, tea, music, patterns & cultural evolution. What questions are living within you?

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