Reply to question regarding article "Saving Land Using a New Language: Corporatese"
Special Note: This post is also a message for changemakers.com readers
This post is a response to a post by Andrea Boston, in the changemakers.com “Community Visioning Initiatives” Group Site, asking for thoughts on the article “Saving Land Using a New Language: Corporatese”. (Note: The changemakers.com website represents much innovation in creating “open sourcing solutions”, but there are formatting difficulties relating to making longer posts at that website.). Thus, this post is first a message for readers at the changemakers.com website. Even so, I do believe that readers at worldpulse.com will also find interesting points in this discussion.
First, I believe it is very appropriate for the issues raised by the above article to be addressed in a group on Community Visioning, at a website associated with Changemakers. And I thank Andrea Boston for bringing the question up for discussion. I also offer my apologies for not responding sooner, but I was working on a special piece of writing and editing in the past few weeks, and I needed to give most of my attention to that work.
I would also like to say here at the beginning of this post that any article which raises questions on many levels (as the above mentioned article does), probably requires an exchange of comments rather than one definitive response. Thus, I do not submit this post as a complete response in any way, but view it as a starting point for discussions which could focus on the different advantages and shortcomings of Community Visioning in the specific circumstances mentioned above; what might be needed for the Community Visioning concept to be more fully appreciated; and other discussions along those lines.
A Larger Crises Context, and a Search for Most Desirable Outcomes
Now to my response. There are people in this world who have the skills and the experience necessary to educate people on issues like the one in Peru, and to successfully advocate for responsible solutions to questions of land ownership, sustainable energy sourcing, and right livelihood. And there are also people in this world who have the skills and the experience necessary to manage large industries or very complex governmental positions, who are very conscientious about their duties and responsibilities, and who are most interested in discovering ways they can benefit people and ecosystems, rather than exploit people and ecosystems.
However, it is also important to understand that this particular conflict of interests, and many other similar conflicts of interests, are taking place in the context of a larger set of crises—and the larger set of crises calls for a wider view of community and regional issues than we might take otherwise.
We live in very complex and challenging times. These challenges include, but are not limited to: global warming; peak oil; wide-ranging resource depletion; an ever increasing world population; global inequities and the tragic cycles of malnutrition, disease, and death; cultures of violence, greed, corruption, and overindulgence; a marginalization of the wisdom associated with religious, spiritual, and moral traditions; insufficient understandings of which basic elements of community life and cultural traditions lead to enduring peace and which do not—and a urgent need to restructure our economic and education systems to respond to these challenges. (For a more detailed assessment by this writer, see “A Ten Point Assessment by The IPCR Initiative of the Most Difficult Challenges of Our Times”, accessible at http://www.ipcri.net/images/Ten-Point-Assessment.pdf ). More and more people are coming to the realization that resolving these challenges will require problem solving on a scale most of us have never known before.
In this kind of crises context, there is a very urgent need for directing time, energy, and money towards what will resolve these overriding challenges. Where it is possible to resolve these overriding challenges, and at the same time resolve the concerns of specific communities of people, that would be the most desirable outcome. It is with a view to arriving at that kind of most desirable outcome in as many specific communities and regions as possible that this writer is advocating for Community Visioning Initiatives.
One Approach to Community Visioning
The approach to Community Visioning I developed is a 161 page proposal titled “1000Communities2” (at http://ipcri.net/images/1000Communities2.pdf ).
The “1000Communities2” proposal advocates organizing and implementing Community Visioning
Initiatives in 1000 communities (communities—or segments of rural areas, towns, or cities—with
populations of 50,000 or less) around the world
1. which are time-intensive, lasting even as much as 1½ years (18 months), so as to give as much
importance to developing a close-knit community as it does to
a) accumulating and integrating the knowledge and skill sets necessary for the highest percentage of
people to act wisely in response to challenges identified as priority challenges
b) helping people to deliberately channel their time, energy, and money into the creation of “ways of
earning a living” which are directly related to resolving high priority challenges
c) assisting with outreach, partnership formation, and development of service capacity for a significant
number of already existing (or forming) organizations, businesses, institutions, and government agencies
d) helping to build a high level of consensus for specific action plans, which will help inspire additional
support from people, businesses, organizations, institutions, and government agencies with significant
2. which expand on the concept of “Community Teaching and Learning Centers” (created by the
“TeachersWithout Borders” organization) so that such local community points of entry function as
information clearinghouses, meeting locations, educational centers for ongoing workshops (on a broad
range of topics related to the Community Visioning Process, and building the local knowledge base),
practice sites for developing “teacher-leaders”, a location for an ongoing “informal” “Community
Journal”, a location for listing employment opportunities—and provide a means of responding quickly
(by changing the emphasis of workshop content) to new urgencies as they arise
3. and which suggest—as a way of emphasizing the need for an exponential increase in compassion for
our fellow human beings—that communities (with the resources to do so) enter into “sister community”
relationships with communities in other countries where there has been well documented calls for
assistance with basic human needs.
Well organized efforts to identify problems and brainstorm solutions are a universally recognized
approach to problem solving which is commonly used in family, community, business, and government
settings in every part of the world. In its most basic format, a Community Visioning Initiative (CVI) is
simply a more comprehensive variation of the above mentioned approach to problem solving. The general idea is for as many people in the community or region as possible to respond to two questions: 1) What are the most difficult challenges for those of us who live in this community or region? 2) How are we going to resolve those challenges? [For a much more detailed description of a Community Visioning process, see Section 6 (“A 15 Step Outline for a 1000Communities2 Version of a Community Visioning Initiative”) in the “1000Communities2” proposal]. If the Community Visioning Initiative can be carried out with even a moderate degree of integrity, it will illustrate to all parties involved the value of education, especially at this critical time.
Re-Framing Confrontations into Movement Towards “Win-Win” Solutions
For example, consider the following excerpt from Step 12 (of the 15 Step Outline mentioned in the previous paragraph):
Step 12 Summary Presentations and Job Fairs
(Approximate Time Required: 4 weeks)
1) Steering Committee members (with help from volunteer Advisory Board members, etc.) will
summarize the Community Visioning Initiative (CVI) process
2) Steering Committee members-- and key community leaders who were very much involved in the CVI
process—will make presentations based on the summaries
3) Specifically, information will be provided on how residents can deliberately focus their time, energy,
and money so that their actions
a) can have positive repercussions on many fields of activity relating to solutions
b) can result in an increase in the “ways of earning a living” which are related to solutions
and action plans
4) Job Fairs will provide a forum for organizations and businesses working in solution oriented fields of
activity to describe employment opportunities and future prospects, to discover local talent, to hire
qualified prospects, and to build knowledge bases and skill sets for the future
The following passage is also included as “Special Commentary” for Step 12
“Special Commentary: By now, there will have been sufficient public discourse for those people with
understanding about high level shifts in investment portfolios to have learned something about what
directions future shifts will be leaning towards. The job fairs which come at the end of the Community
Visioning Initiative process provide opportunities for all key stakeholders in the community (businesses,
organizations, institutions, government, etc.) to demonstrate their upgraded awareness—and their
interest in the welfare of the community—by offering and facilitating new employment opportunities…
and thus helping with a just transition from patterns of investment which in only limited ways represent
solutions to prioritized challenges to patterns of investment which in many ways represent solutions to
From the above paragraph, I believe readers can see that it is possible—and since resolving the challenges of our times will require problem solving on a scale most of us have never known before, it is also highly desirable—that our patterns of investment (how we channel our time, energy, and money) represent—in many ways-- solutions to prioritized challenges. Can readers also see that the Community Visioning process represents a re-framing of the problem of “us” vs. “them”, which seems to be the way the “Saving Land….” article framed the conflict—
“Even if new oil company exploration does not ignore the land rights of indigenous people, what is to be done about the effect that existing oil companies have on the culture when the young people leave their villages to go to work for the existing oil companies? For millennia indigenous peoples have taken care of the forest because their survival depends upon it. When the oil companies offer money and goods, how can the culture (and the knowledge that it cultivates) survive?”—
into challenges which encourage all parties to share responsibilities towards “win-win” solutions?
This kind of re-framing is possible through the use of Community Visioning Initiatives.
Two Educational Processes Which Need to be Carefully Balanced
The stakes are high. Regarding the preliminary surveys, and other introductory presentations which might precede a Community Visioning Initiative, there are two educational processes which need to be carefully balanced:
1) arriving at a full appreciation of the difficulty of our current circumstances
2) arriving at the belief that a positive outcome is possible
And my commentary on these two processes, in this context:
a) Arriving at a full appreciation of the difficulty of our current circumstances is both difficult and risky, as arriving at such a point without also having sufficient faith and wisdom—and access to appropriate resources—could be overwhelming, and could lead to many people losing hope and becoming desperate.
b) Arriving at the belief that a positive outcome is possible is an important step towards actually achieving a positive outcome, and a step which needs to be attended to with much care, to encourage practical and constructive public discourse.
c) Arriving at the belief that a positive outcome is possible is not going to depend solely on “enlightened self-interest” or technological breakthroughs. If we are to overcome the challenges of our times we will need not only the resources which innovators can prove the existence of by scientific method; we will also need the resources which people of faith believe exist as a result of inner experience.
d) There are few commentators representing mass media outlets who recognize the serious consequences of the marginalization of wisdom associated with religious, spiritual, and moral traditions.
Cultivating the Time-Tested Sources so that the Sources Yield the Treasured Wisdom
I would like to add here that yes, I do understand that many people have—unfortunately—learned to mistakenly equate flaws in human nature with the practical wisdom associated with religious and spiritual traditions… but let us be very careful about what we are doing along these lines… for this kind of misguided thinking may be one of the great tragedies of our time. Consider the following [excerpted from “The Ten Most Difficult Challenges of Our Times” (link on the homepage of the IPCR Initiative or (http://www.ipcri.net/images/Ten-Point-Assessment.pdf )]:
“…such treasured wisdom contains teachings which inspire and encourage people to
a) appreciate truth, virtue, love, and peace—and live disciplined lives for the purpose of adhering
to truth, cultivating virtue and love, and maintaining the pathways to enduring peace
b) sacrifice personal desires for the greater good of the whole
c) find contentment and quality of life while consuming less material goods and ecological
d) prefer peacebuilding which supports and actualizes mutually beneficial understandings,
forgiveness, and reconciliation—and which abstains from violent conflict resolution—as a way
of bringing cycles of violence to an end
e) use resources carefully, so that there is surplus available for emergency assistance
f) support community life and cultural traditions which ‘… bring to the fore what is often
hidden: how many good people there are, how many ways there are to do good, and how much
happiness comes to those who extend help, as well as to those who receive it.’”
I believe there are still many people in the world who appreciate that the above testimony can be true about the best teachings of religious and spiritual traditions. And surely, surely, the above outcomes are relevant to overcoming the challenges of our times. It is almost certain, in my mind at least, that an exponential increase in compassion for our fellow human beings will need to become an essential and critical element of a truly comprehensive response to the challenges of our times. In such circumstances, we cannot afford to exclude from our “tool box” the time-tested sources which have helped people learn compassion over many centuries. Instead, we need to learn how to cultivate the time-tested sources so that the sources yield the treasured wisdom. Those who have had a garden can “picture to themselves” what I mean.
The Interfaith Peacebuilding and Community Revitalization (IPCR) Initiative
This writer is the founder and outreach coordinator for The Interfaith Peacebuilding and Community Revitalization (IPCR) Initiative.
There are many important initiatives which are critical to overcoming the challenges of our times, but which are not quite "coming through the mist as much as they should be". The IPCR Initiative can be very helpful in exactly these kinds of circumstances, as it encourages and facilitates a "constellation" of initiatives, by which the best (in view of the participants using these processes) associated with individual spiritual formation, interfaith peacebuilding, community revitalization, ecological sustainability, etc. can bubble up to the surface, be recognized as priorities, and therefore be brought forward as appropriate recipients of peoples' time, energy, and money.... As the ancient Chinese proverb says: "Many hands make much work light".
“Community Visioning Initiatives for Peace” is one of Eight IPCR Concepts. The other seven are “Community Good News Networks,” “Community Faith Mentoring Networks,” “Spiritual Friendships,” “Questionnaires That Help Build Caring Communities,” “Spiritually Responsible Investing,” “Ecological Sustainability,” and “IPCR Journal/Newsletters”.
The IPCR Initiative is an accumulation of documents, resources, and observations brought together to support the propositions that we-- collectively-- have both the need, and the potential, to be
a) much more organized and deliberate about "... bringing to the fore what is often hidden: how many good people there are, how many ways there are to do good, and how much happiness comes to those who extend help, as well as to those who receive it."
b) much more multi-faceted and participation-friendly in our approaches to peacebuilding, community revitalization, and ecological sustainability
c) much more resourceful in the use of the storehouses of accumulated wisdom and "embodied energy" which are now accessible to us
We live in complex and challenging times. There are many conflict of interests occurring now, which are taking place in the context of a larger set of crises—and the larger set of crises calls for a wider view of community and regional issues than we might take otherwise.
The process of Community Visioning can lead to a re-framing of “us” vs. “them” confrontations into challenges which encourage all parties to share responsibilities towards “win-win” solutions.
I hope this is helpful to readers as a starting point for discussions which could focus on the different advantages and shortcomings of Community Visioning in the specific circumstances mentioned above; what might be needed for the Community Visioning concept to be more fully appreciated; and other discussions along those lines.
With Kind Regards,
Stefan Pasti, Founder and Outreach Coordinator
The IPCR Initiative