Let's revisit this idea of flows from lesson 2
Each of us, every living thing, is a temporary pattern of organic molecules in the flow of nutrients through the ecosystem. We depend on that flow and the other flows for our existence. The pattern of flows that allows us to thrive is our habitat. Within that pattern we have a range of influence . . . our locality. Together these two ideas define our place in the world.
We become agents of habitat to make a contribution to the well being of our place. This is not instead of our personal success. This is not instead of the success of our group. This is an ongoing effort that we make because we understand that our individual well being depends on the well being of our habitat. The well being of our habitat depends on the interactions among the living things participating.
The story of carbon adventures tells us that, as we increase the number and diversity of the individuals participating, we also increase the volume and variety of nutrients cycling. The more nutrients being produced the easier it is for individuals to find what they need to thrive. That makes our place more welcoming.
How we use our discretionary time and money affects the flow of goods and services through our place. More individuals participating means more goods and services cycling through our place. That makes it easier for individuals to obtain what they need to thrive. That makes our place more welcoming.
How we communicate with the people around us affects the flow of information cycling within our place. When we increase the number and diversity of view points considered we increase our access to the information we use to obtain what we need. Openness to communication makes our place more welcoming.
Observe the individuals participating in the
pattern of flows in your locality.
Compare that with the individuals who could be participating but are not.
You know some of the examples:
- We cannot have lady bugs unless we grow aphids.
- We cannot have monarch butterflies unless we have milkweed.
- We cannot participate in the money economy unless we have a job.
We cannot have a job unless we have marketable skills.
For each individual of the many species that is not contributing to the flows in our place there is a limiting factor. When we are able to use our influence to change these limits, and allow more participation, the flows through our habitat increase.
This is the opportunity we seek
We seek to tap into the unrealized potential in our place . . . increasing the nutrients flowing through our place . . . increasing the goods and services flowing through our place . . . increasing the information flowing through our place . . .
When we assign responsibility for the condition of the world to someone else we give them our power to create it.
Think of it this way:
- We will not change the way that government works,
- We will not change the way business works,
- We will not change the way ecosystems work,
We can only change what we control. We can change the way we interact with the individuals of the many species resident within our locality. If we make these interactions productive, so as to sustain them, the ecosystem will change, business will change and government will change in response.
I recently had a discussion with a fellow interested in land reform. The idea is, “If I only had my own land that would solve my problems.” My question is, “What will you do with this land? How will the land produce what you need to thrive?”
I know a number of people interested in alternative currencies. The idea is, “If only we had our own currency that would solve the problems.” My question is, “How will this new currency produce what you need to thrive? What will give value to your currency?”
It is not one thing that we want. It is the capacity to produce what we need to thrive that we seek. It is not the place that is important. It is the nutrients, goods and services, and information cycling in a place that provides the opportunity and limitations. Increasing the required flows, making our place more welcoming, means increasing the quantity and diversity of individuals of the many species participating in our habitat.
A complex adaptive system, like the one we experience, emerges from individual participants following relatively simple rules.
- In a flock of birds each individual bird is trying to stay a certain distance from neighboring birds . . .
- Our global economic system operates by each individual participant following the law of supply and demand . . .
- We will create the world that we want . . . the one where we have healed nature and ended poverty . . . when we develop the rules for neighbors to work together to improve their habitat.
Imagine a world where the rule was that every individual is welcome.