Clarification of proposal - January 5, 2016
I would like to clarify the proposal that HP3C become a project of the Denver Permaculture Guild in response the objections raised at the meeting last night.
HP3C is not now a formal organization and it never has to be. It is conceived as an “invisible structure”. An invisible structure is a pattern of interactions that persists because of the value flowing through the pattern.
HP3C is conceived as a cooperation among permaculture practitioners to build a market for permaculture services. It sets up the opportunity for a mutually supportive pattern of interactions between its sponsor and its members. We can think of the full members of the co-op as a committee of Guild members tasked with event planning with a Board liaison making sure that any events comply with Board policy. We could say a guild member can become a voting member of the co-op by paying an additional $40 . . . As the sponsor DPG could manage the pattern of interactions although the whole idea is to empower the members to fulfill the mission of the Guild so the Board does not have to do all the work.
DPG is an organization of permaculture practitioners. Living Systems Institute is not. Supporting the development of a market for permaculture services is within the mission of DPG. That is not the mission of LSI. Setting up a third organization with a separate overhead would be a waste of resources that neither DPG nor LSI can afford. It would also interfere with the development of mutually supportive interactions between the members and DPG. I suggest that we integrate rather than segregate in this instance.
My interest in seeing the success of HP3C is first its potential to improve the habitat that we all share. That is why I do what I do. My second interest is in demonstrating this approach to designing patterns of interaction to address specific social issues. It is within the mission of LSI to design, prototype, test, facilitate and teach this type of design practice. It is what I teach through the Principles of Community Design workshop:
One day I hope to convince the permaculture community that Principles of Community Design should be the invisible structures part of the design course.
With that disclosure, I propose that we take the time at the retreat to review each of the projects that the Guild could take on in 2016 and choose the ones that will do the most to further the mission of the Guild. My personal opinion is that HP3C is at the top of that list.
Feel free to ask any questions you might have between now and the retreat. Thanks for considering the proposal and your efforts to improve our habitat.
The High Plains Plant Propagation Cooperative (HP3C) is a permaculture-based business cooperative that seeks to offer meaningful livelihoods for Denver residents of all backgrounds. It fundamentally aligns with the mission of the Denver Permaculture Guild. The success of the cooperative will contribute to the mission of developing authentic community and sharing the critical knowledge and expertise that our community needs to relocalize. Achieving these goals will require an outreach to the general population to enlist them in a project to improve our habitat. We want our customers to feel like they are part of something greater than themselves and making the world a better place to live. (As they will be.) The cooperative is designed to allow participation at many levels and as much as we can generate, which in turn increases the influence permaculture will have in advocating for a mutually interdependent, hyper-local community.
The Cooperative is structured to allow participation in six different ways:
- Plant Propagation
We have purposely kept the barriers to participation low. All that is required is to sign up to receive information. Once a participant is fully committed to the success of the Cooperative they have the option to become a voting member by paying a one time fee of $100. There are currently 8 voting members and 32 people who have signed up to receive e-mails about cooperative events. The voting members are authorized to assess themselves for additional amounts in the event they agree to incur additional expense. This means that operation of the Cooperative will not be a drain on funds contributed to the Guild and I can foresee opportunities for joint fund raising efforts. There is currently a little over $500 in the bank account which we would expect to be retained in a fund to be used to support the Cooperative although, I understand, that there is an administrative fee for funds transferred to the Guild.
The cooperative itself does not necessarily have any overhead as each participant is responsible for their own tools, supplies, and other overhead expenses. In the event the cooperative does decide to spend money the "full members" have agreed to assess themselves for that cost. We are still in process of working out how to share the proceeds of projects that are generated from efforts of the Cooperative. The goal is to reach out to the friends and families of members to replace chemical based landscaping with low maintenance high yielding guilds of plants and to offer designs, plants, and installation services. What is required is a coordinator who will keep the members thinking about how they can work together to promote the goods and services offered by each of them. Some examples of what they might do are:
- Spring and Fall Plant Sales
- Building out demonstration sites
- Educational programs about propagating plants
- Demonstration site tours
Each of these types of events provide the opportunity for designers and contractors to promote their services and for propagators to sell their plants. Any funding required can come from those who will benefit financially. People will also want to join the Cooperative in order to build their careers as providers of permaculture services and contractors will be able to find skilled labor in the membership. Landowners who make their land available to grow out plants can also benefit by becoming a demonstration site. They might arrange to have their landscaping built out as part of demonstration events and maintained by designers/contractors who want to show prospective customers how the plantings will look over time.
As a project of the Denver Permaculture Guild, Cooperative events could be free to members of the Guild offering a member benefit that also introduces Guild members to the opportunities available through the cooperative. The Cooperative will benefit by being a part of the permaculture community represented by the Guild and both will benefit by the outreach of members to the general public.
By distributing the responsibility for success and the benefits of Cooperative membership we reduce the risk and upfront cost of an organization with central planning. What we lose is any chance to predict just how fast and in what direction the Cooperative will develop. I think of this in the way that an ecosystem develops. The initial participants will be pioneers who benefit from the lack of competition but, over time, a more complex, stable, productive and diverse organization will develop. The role of the coordinator is to point out to members and potential members of the cooperative how they might benefit from participation . . . always looking to increase the diversity of participation. We cannot predict how things will develop but then that takes very little planning :-).
David Braden has offered to remain in the position of coordinator until such time as another qualified person is willing to take over that role.
This is the perfect project to attract new members to the guild and spread the word about permaculture to the general public and I urge the Board to authorize HP3C as a project of the Denver Permaculture Guild.