Help organizations become healthier

This is a practical, do-it-yourself guide for leaders and facilitators wanting to help organisations to function and to develop in more healthy, human and effective ways as they strive to make their contributions to a more humane society. It has been developed by the Barefoot Collective.

via Barefoot Guide

Giving the Commons a Voice!

Silke Helfrich and a few other German commoners have drafted a Commons Manifesto that explains the importance of the commons for the well-being of us and our societies. The manifesto also calls all of us to assume our responsibility and protect and nurture the commons:

Commons inspire and connect. To take them into account requires a fundamentally different approach in perception and action. Commons are based on communities that set their own rules and cultivate their skills and values. Based on these always-evolving, conflict-ridden processes, communities integrate themselves into the bigger picture. In a culture of commons, inclusion is more important than exclusion, cooperation more important than competition, autonomy more important than control. Rejecting the monopolization of information, wealth, and power gives rise to diversity again and again. Nature appears as a common wealth that must be carefully stewarded, and not an ever-available property to be exploited.

Read the full Manifesto in English (Strengthen the Commons: Now!)German (Streiten für Gemeingüter: Jetzt!), and Spanish (Fortalecer los Bienes Comunes: Ahora!).

Food is the Basis for Local Economy Building

The Wallace Center, a program at Winrock International,just published a report called Community Food Enterprise: Local Success in a Global Market Place.

My main takeaways from reading the executive summary and introduction of the report:

  • Local food enterprises can scale.
  • The analyzed enterprises put considerable investment into achieving social goals beyond private profit.
  • Food is one of the most important entry points for local economy building.

Triple Pundit published a more detailed summary.

Rewarding the good better than punishing the bad

On the Origin of Cooperation, by Elizabeth Pennisi
Science 4 September 2009: 1196-1199.
How did cooperation evolve when cheaters—those who benefit without making sacrifices—can threaten its stability? In the ninth essay in Science‘s series in honor of the Year of Darwin, Elizabeth Pennisi discusses the genetic nuts and bolts of cooperation in systems from microbes to humans.

Positive Interactions Promote Public Cooperation, by David G. Rand, Anna Dreber, Tore Ellingsen, Drew Fudenberg, and Martin A. Nowak
Science 4 September 2009: 1272-1275.
Reward is as good as punishment to promote cooperation, costs less, and increases the share out of resources up for grabs.

For those who read German, I found this on Silke Helfrich’s CommonsBlog.

We are cooperative animals

[P]eople systematically and predictably behave in ways that are much more cooperative than would be predicted by the game theoretical impact. [original post]

I discovered this quote by Yochai Benkler on People and Place, a (relatively) new online magazine. The first issue was on Resilience Thinking and the current one is on “One Person, One Share” of the Atmosphere.

Articles on social capital, networks and learning

Very good review article on networks and learning at the Learning for Sustainability site, called Building networks for learning:

Social capital refers to those stocks of social trust, norms and networks that people can draw upon to solve common problems. But harnessing the power of these seemingly invisible networks to achieve sustainable development goals such as in public health, well being or environment is an elusive undertaking. All too often their power for supporting development is seriously underestimated. However, the downside is that misguided networking efforts can creates relational demands that sap people’s time and energy. So there is good reason to study networks, and determine the best way to manage them. The articles below offer three different perspectives of networking.

A related article I have to yet read fully is Network Capital: an Expression of Social Capital in the Network Society, which introduces the idea of network capital as a type of social capital:

This article deals with an emerging type of social capital which is labeled as ‘network capital’. It is formed from collaborative practices emerging from e-enabled human networks. It is proposed that network capital is a specific type of social capital in the Network Society, and that it holds significant value for the advancement of human development around the world.

Can mining be sustainable?

Via IISD’s SD-list, I just came a cross a very interesting book about a sustainability project by Alcoa. Given the reputation of the mining industry with regards to environmental stewardship, respect for local communities and transparency, the claim to develop a sustainable local development process raises suspicion. From a quick read through the report, it looks like this project does take a new approach with regards to the social integration and transparency:

There is the license issued by the proper authorities, and this is very important. But just as important, or perhaps even more so, is the license to operate that is granted by the local community, because this is where you’ll be living each day. (…) The operation is fundamentally integrated into community and at any time,  if the community does not grant us its license to operate, it can halt production, whether on the railroad, at the port or in the mine itself.

It is great to see that a mining operation has sought to build a very inclusive and long-term partnership including the local community, civil society, government and researchers. The following are a few questions that came to mind reading the report. The process seems to still be ongoing and parts of the model are not yet implemented, but it promises to be a great experiment that might be able to serve as a model for other companies to do business differently.

Continue reading

Enterprise of the future embraces change. Are we?

Holger Nauheimer is asking a set of interesting questions about the shifting requirements for change facilitators in view of a new IBM report about the enterprise of the future. The characteristics of the future enterprise are, in my mind, very encouraging and can be summarized as embracing complexity and change and seeing opportunity instead of impossible challenge. One of these characteristics I find particularly interesting:

Genuine not Generous: The Enterprise of the Future goes beyond philanthropy and compliance and reflects genuine concern for society in all actions and decisions.

Holger’s questions are:

Are we ready to guide our clients into that future? Do we have the skills, attitudes, knowledge, tools? Do our consulting organizations work along these principles? Or are we repeating old patterns? Are we ready?

Not only change facilitators, but any professional advising organizations on their strategic direction has to ask herself if we are changing with our clients.

Join the discussion.

Collaboration leads to Life2.0?

Research under the framework of the EMUDE project suggests that services created through sharing and local collaboration can reduce the individual’s impact on the environment.

What is a sustainable lifestyle? What will our daily lives become if we agree to change some of our routines? How do we reduce our environmental impact without lowering our living standards? Observations show that growing material wealth and levels of people satisfaction are increasingly uncoupled. Could the pursuit of more sustainable lifestyles also lead to better quality and more satisfaction?

via Sustainable Everyday Project » Collaborative Services; discovered via People and Place and World Changing.

Download the report here.

Planned change or rebuilding from scratch?

The following is not only true for the US food system:

The American food system rests on an unstable foundation of massive fossil fuel inputs. It must be reinvented in the face of declining fuel stocks. The new food system will use less energy, and the energy it uses will come from renewable sources. We can begin the transition to the new system immediately through a process of planned, graduated, rapid change. The unplanned alternative-reconstruction from scratch after collapse-would be chaotic and tragic.

via REPORT: The Food and Farming Transition | Post Carbon Institute.

A commentary on the report was published on Treehugger:

While the report clearly articulates the trouble confronting a food system that has developed an addition to cheap oil, it also intelligently details what the US can do to survive when the drug is withdrawn, as it soon will be.

The full report can be found here.