Monday, November 28, 2011

10 Principles for a Resilient Culture [WORKING DRAFT]

1. Secure Your Sustenance. Never give up your direct link to sustenance resources including land, raw materials, tools, and skills. This need not apply to every individual, but should apply to every household and at the very least to a village-scale unit of households for whom mutual loyalty and interdependence runs deep. Jeff Vail's minimal self-sufficiency. Emphasize livelihood over career.

2. Cultivate Interdependency and Relationship. Do favors for neighbors, develop reciprocal relationships and trade. Have fun together. Hold fairs and festivals. Develop a skill set that has value to your neighbors. Offer it. Jack of All Trades, Master of One.

3. Invest Much, Spend Little. Protect your endowments. Always have enough surplus of basic needs on hand to outlast a bad year, or three. Treat your non-renewable resources as capital and never deplete the principle. Always think in terms of long-term payoff.

4. Know No Waste. Socially: everyone is capable of doing something useful. Ensure everybody has a role that is meaningful, takes effort, and provides something of value. No tokenism. Materially: eliminate your waste stream. There is no waste in nature. The ideal is that everything either biodegrades or can be limitlessly recycled; energy must be renewable.

5. Replace Standard of Living with Quality of Life. Create meaningful rituals, hold recurring events, eat well, and have fun together.

6. Practice Democracy. Practice making decisions together to manage common resources. Honor everybody's voice and opinion. Avoid consistently alienating anyone. Feuds are real threats when families have ongoing multigenerational relationships with each other. Get comfortable with argument and hashing things out till you reach a decision.

7. Set Clear Boundaries. Have clear notions around ownership and legal entitlements. Make sure people know their individual and collective rights.

8. Embrace Complexity. Some things are not simple. Be attentive to externalized costs. Do not judge activities, tools, or investments by measures which reduce efficiency or productivity to simple axes.

9. Value Diversity. Not just in ecosystems but in economies and social environments. Monocultures and homogeneity in general generally yield gains for the few at the expense of the many, and short-term "efficiencies" at the expense of long-term systemic resilience. Respect your neighbor and the choices your neighbor makes, so long as they do not actively impede your own ability to take care of yourself or your family.

10. Self-sacrifice. The acceptance of the possibility of death releases unimaginable power. One need not be willing to kill to protect themselves, their family, their neighbors, the innocent, or the good, but one must be willing to die to do so.

Preparing our Communities for Uncertain Times. Updating "community development." The problem with the idea of development. Redefine or toss. In it's place: ? Proposition: this is where we should have been going all along and certainly where we should be heading now. Responding the Jeff Vail's "One institution that I do wish to explore here is the notion of anthropological self-awareness. It is important that the every participant node in rhizome has an understanding of the theoretical foundation of rhizome, and of the general workings of anthropological systems in general. Without this knowledge, it is very likely that participants will fail to realize the pitfalls of dependency, resulting in a quick slide back to hierarchy... Additionally, it is important to recognize the cultural programming that hierarchal systems provide, and to consciously reject and replace parts of this with a myth, taboo, and morality that supports rhizome and discourages hierarchy. Rules are inherently hierarchal—they must be enforced by a superior power, and are not appropriate for governing rhizome. However, normative standards—social norms, taboos, and values—are effective means of coordinating rhizome without resorting to hierarchy. For example, within the context of anthropological self-awareness, it would be considered “wrong” or “taboo” to have slaves, to be a lord of the manor, or to “own” more property than you can reasonably put to sustainable use. This wouldn’t be encoded in a set of laws and enforced by a ruling police power, but rather exist as the normative standard, compliance with which is the prerequisite for full participation in the network."

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