I am working with a group of people who want to buy a 14-acre rotting estate and convert it into an ecovillage. As I pass by the half dozen log cabin structures, built around a rheumatic, yet lushly charming, apple orchard, my amazement at their intrepid courage propels me toward their future nearest neighbor.
Actually, their only future neighbor residing within a mile of the wildly abandoned estate. My job is to represent the Solidarity Ecovillage intention to this neighbor, and invite her to participate in a permaculture design interview. Basically, we want to find out if she is with us, against us, couldn’t care less about us one way or the other, and, if her reaction suggests an ally, to include her, and her aspirations for her own property, in the Ecovillage development plan.
The neighbor’s name is Gaia. Gaia What, no one seems to know. There are rumors, mostly benign and gentle, that she roots back to the Iroquois, and is eccentric in a shaman-ish way. This should be interesting.
Gaia: Who are you?
Me: My name is Gerald Oliver, and I am here on behalf of your future neighbors to learn how we can be good neighbors for you.
Gaia: I have been expecting your question for rather too long. It is a good question, an important one, so I wrote them some suggestions about what I think would be helpful.
Here, take it with you. If you have any further questions after reading it, you are welcome to return any time. My home is your home.
And with that, Gaia handed me a scroll and gently, but firmly, almost abruptly, closed her heavy door.
Eventually I closed my mouth, turned around, headed back toward the orchard where I knew of the perfect log, and the perfect vista, for reading–most anything–but especially this Gaia scroll.
The late-morning sun radiated gentle October warmth as I opened the scroll:
Thank you for your compassionate intent to practice remembering that we are all in this mess, and this potential paradise, together.
There are 4 interdependent principles in learning how to live regeneratively on this planet.
The first of these you have heard from land use planners, real-estate agents, community and economic developers: Notice the potential highest and best use of all resources and nutrients, all property, all people, all species.
The second is similar,but moves from noticing, toward understanding, from using to sustaining. How can we achieve the most abundant effect, and affect, with the least effort, cost, dissonance, chaos?
Combining these first two principles results in the Golden Rule of Regenerative Development: Optimize integrity by deeply learning inclusively holistic potential. In other words, intend and practice today what we all want to wake up to tomorrow.
Our greatest, most holistic, most resilient, most regenerative potential is discovered through Deep Listening together, the intentional practice of compassion. Deep Learning begins with deeply listening, noticing, and slowly, integrally, inclusively discerning a shared vision of optimized potential intent. This is true whether your shared vocation is to build a regenerative interior landscape, or exterior landscape. It is optimally and inclusively and resiliently true if your intent is to build a regenerative interior/exterior landscape together. Our species’ “Commons,” like the Commons of your Solidarity EcoVillage, expands inward and outward, fertilized by rich, abundant, diversity when we notice, listen, and fully value our current situation.
Fully valuing our current potential brings us to the 3rd principle of Regenerative Development: the Principle of Complementarity. Our Species’ Interior Landscape AND Exterior Landscape are complementary perspectives on one thermodynamically balanced NATURAL Landscape. Humans, at our best, bicamerally learn about our profoundly balanced and harmonious potential within a richly nutritious ecology of nutrients, energy. The “essential orientation of human nature,” to borrow a phrase from the 14th Dalai Lama is scientifically and religiously emerging as the essential orientation of all nature: thermodynamic balance is an Exterior Landscape way of cognizing the theo-dynamic balance of our Interior Landscape.
What we are trying to become, our teleological, and thermodynamic, mission as Earth’s bicamerally-reflective Species, with least effort and cost, suffering and resistance, violence and dissonance, is our highest and best regenerative potential. The most abundantly valued vocation for every intentional community, every faith community, every school, every farm, every government, every recreation center, every health care facility, every human service agency, every family, every individual, is to become the very best balanced Regenerative Research and Design Center possible, given current situations, developing compassionate understanding of complementarity between our natural Interior and Exterior Landscapes.
In our inclusive Research and Design ecology, we recognize communication and thought as information nutrients, with the potential to build up or dissemble, to increase confluence, or contribute to dissonance. The Principle of Complementarity is both spatially and temporally dimensioned. Its spatial dimension spreads across the Interior and Exterior natural landscapes. Its temporal flow dimension is either toward confluence, or toward dissonance, with complementary balance defined in physics and systems theory as intrinsic thermodynamically-valued polarity. What goes up must come down. What goes in must come back out.
The intrinsic value-balance within all religions, all faith paradigms, follows these same complementary patterns: As before, so after. As above, so below. As within, so without. If Self, then Other. If Yang, then Yin. If Becoming (regenerating), then Being. If sociotherapy, then sociopathology. If sociopathology, then sociotherapy. If confluence, then the potential for dissonance. If dissonance, then the potential for confluence. As theo-dynamism within, so thermo-dynamism without.
The 4th principle of Regenerative Development is the Principle of Holistic Subsidiarity. In systems theory, optimized abundant values matriculate up from integrated/confluent individuals and families, through neighborhoods, to communities, sub-regions, regions, and globally inclusive ecological integrity. There is no such thing as a “natural” division between sustainable economic wealth and ecological integrity. Economies are value-transfer systems within the ecology of our relationships.
The Principle of Subsidiarity is commonly understood, and sometimes practiced, as retaining choice authority at the lowest effective level of function. The form of our self-governance wisely follows functional practice and intent. It is most holistically efficient to leave our current effectiveness at the lowest level of functional autonomy. If I find my life and environment to be richly nutritious, satisfying, meaningful, fulfilling, then it would be a violation of this Principle of Subsidiarity for the Solidarity EcoVillage to even intend to fix what I believe is not broken.
Our current suffering has to do with those times, places, situations, when there is disagreement about which is most important, the Principle of Holistic Subsidiarity or the Principle of Complementarity. For example, if I am a cancerously expanding tumor within your brain, then you and I would probably disagree about which is the currently effective lowest level of functional autonomy. If I am a parasitic species, overpopulating and devouring a planetary ecosystem, causing great trauma to the planet, such as climatic dissonance and the extinction of species diversity, then the Principle of Complementarity reminds us to listen to our pathology because it is our complementary and wise instruction.
We recognize communication and thoughts as nutrient-value events. The lack of healthy, balanced nutrients is implicated, or potentiated, information of great value because of our faith in holisitic subsidiarity, and balanced thermodynamic complementarity. If we have a Whole System, then we have subsidiary parts. If the subsidiary parts forget the Principle of Holistic Subsidiarity, forget that efficacy is discerned within our intention for sustained whole-system regeneration, then our resulting sociopathology reminds us that our Internal/External health and wealth find therapeutic value by improving their complementarity. This provides us with both a positive and negative feedback loop. Both loops are needed for regenerative self-care, people-care, and Earth-care. Dissonance teaches us about the possibility of confluence. Confluence teaches us about the synchronization of balanced holistic subsidiarity.
The Principle of Complementarity is to Yang-imbalance as the Principle of Subsidiarity is to Yin-imbalance. The natural law of thermodynamic polarity balance, whole-system harmony, holds together all four Deep Ecology principles of regenerative systems development.
“Waste” is inefficiency, loss, dissonance and is heuristically held as a potential resource; a suffering that may teach us something we would like to learn. Waste, loss, harm management are all about planning sustained self-organization and self-maintenance through balanced sub-system subsidiarity and whole-system complementarity. This balance optimizes learning (highest and best use of our information ecology) while minimizing loss of thermodynamic balance, or dissonance, and ineffective sustenance, internally and externally.
Community builders, faith community organizers, intentional community developers, public dialogue facilitators, economists, ecologists, even lobbyists, recognize that where you end up is hugely and persistently boundaried by where you start out. Our self-regenerating landscapes value diversely entwined root systems, mutually defining and enriching, mutually protecting and promoting, nutritiously and lavishly seeded investments that will flower to reincarnate our Original Intent, our hope-filled active gratitude for Re-Creating most fully and bountifully together forever. Regenerative intention is the faith infrastructure that underlies the universe of religion, ecology, and Systems Design. Permaculture Design is our ecosystemic metaphor currently on pilgrimage toward a holistic, thermodynamic, Regenerative Systems Development Theory of permanent evolution.
Speaking of evolution, some of the Solidarity EcoVillage wanna-be’s are familiar with Thomas Kuhn’s Theory of Scientific Revolutions. Kuhn became somewhat obsessed with an issue about knowledge; the Problem of Incommensurability. How can we be sure that we are using language to signify the same thing, or different things, or things that stand in the same relationship to other things, or not? How can we predict if a new idea will lead to the evolution of an entirely new paradigm, a new scientific theory, or whether it will not really become part of our culture, our way of seeing the world? How can I be sure that my values are, or are not, commensurable with your values, your thoughts, your communications, what feeds you, or causes you despair or anguish and suffering? How can I reliably predict that what I propose, what I notice and try to understand, will inform your interior landscape in the same way that it informs mine?
A theory of regenerative evolution responds to Kuhn’s Problem of Incommensurability with recognizing dissonance and complexity as more than hopeless suffering and confusion. We intend and practice active Complementarity, a compassionate faith that within dissonance lies the fertilizer of potential information. The issue of imbalance between intentions, the disparities of diverse practices and pilgrimages and paradigms, contains the seeds of a universally commensurable meaning. In this way, our pathological fears and concerns point us toward hope and faith in the potential for a more deeply integrated relationship. Compassion, empathy, Deep Learning, plus significant dissonant complexity, inspires revolutionary development toward understanding, integrity, resilience, inclusively rich information and nutrition; solidarity.
Our thermodynamically-balanced exterior informs our theo-dynamic interior, as Permaculture Design potentiates Regenerative Creation. The difference between Deep Learning and Deep Ecology is that one actively hopes for interior regeneration while the other also hopes for exterior regeneration.
Your grateful neighbor,
As I rolled up the fragile scroll, I couldn’t think of any more questions, so I headed back home, not quite the same way I had arrived.