Tag Archives: Empowerment

Gangs and Circles

Gangs are a product and a reflection of social domination structures. Inducing fear, guild and shame by either punishment or ideas like right and wrong are strategies that make people do what their leaders want them to do; it makes people obey and follow. This works only as long as people are ignorant of it, and if they are ignorant of it long enough, their inevitable protest or uprising will in most cases, at least at first, be conducted in a similar spirit, dominated by a similar thinking, a similar mind-frame than that of the oppressor, because that is what the people have learnt, that is what they were brought up with and so that is the behavior they know.

But human beings are able to learn from each other, as well as from their own mistakes. They are able to have insights and expand far over what we would expect of them.

It takes a different thinking, a new mind-frame, an inner revolution to become able to break the structures based on domination, authority and oppression. It takes an inner revolution to invent or rise up to a new culture, a new structure that supports life, that supports freedom, that supports the idea of mutual support and create a lasting change.

When I mention domination structures in gangs I don’t want to stress on street gangs, they play a small part, they are a dim reflection of what is inherent to most of our human connections and relations. Most of us have grown up with it in our families, in our schools – fear, punishment and reward, guild and shame, right and wrong, good and bad, we’re this and we’re that. It’s been there in kingdoms thousands of years ago, in institutionalised religions, in monarchies, in centralised governments with their justice system to now be replaced by corporations, the economic systems and the media creating these hierarchies and casts that put one above the other, and divide people into those who have and those who don’t. It is a part of us, we’ve all grown up in it, we’re all victims of oppression, more concerned about our status and what other people think of us than about our needs, our feelings, our being human.

We’re moving, people are looking for different ways, first emptiness, giving space for the new, they are experimental and are called crazy, mental, dreamers. We’ll find a way though, letting empathy in, letting compassion in.

Thinking of circles I think of groups sitting together in a perfect circle, in a way that each person can see every other person in the circle; each person can look into each other person’s eyes; all have the same point of view, at least on the physical plane. Sitting in circles is something that has been practiced for thousands of years by tribes, families, work groups, decision making groups, in situations of conflict resolution, yes also by governments. When we sit in circles today, do acknowledge the circle? Do we realise its power, do we consciously create that connection?

There is the plane that goes beyond the physical, that plane where we see each other as equal, where rank and status disappears. The spirit of a circle invites everyone to speak out and be listened to, without being judged, without being evaluated and analysed, but as a part of a bigger whole, interdependent, belonging, safe and supported.

Circles in circles and circles around circles, circles linking circles and circles extending circles, a world of circles, is that where we’re heading.

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Dragon Dreaming pt four: Walking through the Quadrates

See earlier posts on topic here

As the circle is a fractal, every quadrate holds all 4 stages within itself. There are 12 steps through the circle and four guardians of the edge that make sure you’re ready to pass on to the next stage.

  • 1. New awareness is the dreaming of the dream phase where the dream comes into being in the self.
  • 2. The motivation or the sharing of information is where the dream is put out to others to become others’ dream. It is the planning phase of the dreaming.
  • 3. Gathering information is the doing phase of the dreaming and is a phase where feasibility will be checked and considered and planning material will be gathered.

Here, before the project moves into the second stage, the planning, there is a time for reflection. It’s the centre of the circle, a time for reflection, quiet, like the centre of a candle or a storm. It’s the first guardian of the edge, if the project doesn’t work or hasn’t been successful to hear it goes back to the first step.

  • 4. Considering alternatives is the time to find different or other helpful options; the dreaming in the planning.
  • 5. Designing strategies is the point where the group will look at what needs to be doe and design ways of doing it, an action/implementation plan will be worked out.
  • 6. Test and trial is the stage to try out the design and readjust, develop it.

The second guardian comes in to reflect the planning stage.

  • 7. The implementation will be started here, first foot in the water, the doing is dreamed into being.
  • 8. The management and administration is organised, the location of resources identified, checking incomes and outcomes, tracking time and keeping the deadline in mind.
  • 9. Installing monitoring helps to change the doing, readjust, learn from previous experiences.

The third guardian comes in to reflect the doing stage.

  • 10. Evaluating outcomes allows us to learn from our processes, and acquire new skills, see where we need to develop to be more effective.
  • 11. Personal growth will be the benefits acquired by the individual in the project.
  • 12. Inner reflection time is there to find deeper wisdom within the individual and new meaning, further direction to start the cycle again.

The fourth guardian comes in to reflect the celebration stage to move on to the cycle.

This wheel is a model: the menu, not the meal. A model is trying to be close to reality, but is never perfect in that imitation.

You can imagine one project that you’ve done in their lifetime and walk over the 12 steps, evaluating how much effort/time you have put into each one of them on a scale from one to 10; one being little time and 10 being a lot of time. It is easy to draw up a circular diagram from here that shows which stages you seem to prefer. The diagram has circles around the core, the closest being one, the furthest 10.

Dragon Dreaming pt. three: Narrowing down the Dream

For earlier posts see Dragon Dreaming pt. one: an introduction and Dragon Dreaming pt. two: the Dreaming Circle.

The meeting facilitator will write down the results from the Dreaming Circle without getting rid of the original document (which is good to keep). Things that turned up a few times in the Circle as well as relating ideas can be put together or grouped so that the outcomes are more easily visible. He/she reads out the dream to the group and ask whether everyone feel like their contribution has been considered (which should be the case as he/she doesn’t want to take anything away from the initial document).

The Dreaming Circle gave the project a broad layout. At this stage, as the group moves towards the planning phase, the dream needs to be narrowed down and find more focus and strength. Like a stream of water that flows through a narrower bed becomes stronger so do our thought, ideas and visions as they become focused. Thats why the outcomes from the Dreaming Circle need to be formulated in 3 to 5 specific goals, the vision of the project. From here the group can concentrate on giving the newly designed project a subtitle which describes the core of it and finally a title or name. This should make the meaning deeper while still enabling people to identify with it.

This process will be done in the groups, or in one big group all together, facilitated by the main facilitator of the session. If there is no time for that an example can be given.

Following is a draft (which explains having text in brackets) example from the EDE that will clarify what is described on top. Because of the high number of African participants on the EDE we designed a project to support the African Network of change makers and Ecovillages.

Goals:

  • develop capacity building (strategies) to empower communities
  • identify and strengthen (relevant) networks (of sustainability) in Africa
  • establish sustainable agriculture for food sovereignty
  • promote holistically sustainable communities and design
  • enhance and celebrate African traditions and best practices (for sustainability) 

Subtitle: Growing Resilient Communities

Name: African Abundance

More posts on Dragon Dreaming are following.

People want to engage …

People want to engage with their whole being, head, heart and hands.

If we try to create social and environmental conflict awareness through posters, flyers, web articles, newspapers and movies we engage people in thinking, in using their heads; there is still that element of ‘Me and Them‘, ‘that’s what THEY tell ME‘ or ‘look what THEY do‘. We fail to integrate or engage people’s whole being and make them be a part of what is happening.

This will be important to think of when we want to achieve social change: how can we engage whole people and how can we make them take ownership in the solution, be a part of the solution in progress.

That’s what makes visitors feel at home at the Panya Project so quickly. They are integrated in daily activities from day one; working at the farm, cooking, cleaning, things we all do communally and some things they do at home as well, caring for the most basic needs. At the same time they have the opportunity and the freedom to start something on their own, to bring change and own ideas. They are a part of the community, and they are the community when their whole being is engaged.

Check out kaiconfusion.wordpress.com for other great posts about the Panya Project, Permaculture and alternative ways of being …

Life With Nature

Table of contentsIMG_3581

  • VOLUNTEERS
  • DAY TO DAY LIFE
  • MEETINGS AND DECISION-MAKING
  • MANAGEMENT AND TASKS
  • COURSES AND PROFIT SHARE
  • THE CHALLENGE
  • ACTIVITIES
  • LINKS/ RESOURCES

Written by the author of
www.beetroot. wordpress.com
currently (2012)  working at the Panya Project. Photos and editing by kaiconfusion.

In the last four posts I have tried to introduce into important practical aspects of alternative and sustainably living. In this 5th post Mich
and I, are trying to introduce in how we can live together and how such life can be organized which is just as well a very important aspect of sustainably living, again at the example of the Panya Project and this time the community.

In Permaculture there are three core values:

  • Earthcare – recognising that the Earth is the source of all life (and is possibly itself a living entity- see Gaia theory) and respecting her accordingly.

View original post 1,486 more words

Towards Permanent Cultures – An Introduction to Ecovillage Design 4th – 11th August, Chiang Mai

This 6-day Introduction to Ecovillage and Permaculture Design is based on the Global Ecovillage Network’s Ecovillage Design Education, an internationally taught training for sustainability and social change. In an interesting mix of head, heart and hands on experiences we will teach 40+ hours of interactive workshops around the five dimensions of Ecovillage Design.

Social dimension: We will explore the non physical processes necessary for community to thrive; positive communication, decision making, conflict resolution and meeting facilitation will all be covered. We will look at organisational structures of different scales, from intentional community  to wider society. By discovering what we believe to be true community we can develop new ways of working and living together.

Ecological dimension: Actively building natural capital throughout the duration of the course we will learn how to live with the earth, restoring and regenerating ecosystems. Workshops will include learning how to save seed, build healthy soil, catch, clean and store water, manage forest sustainably and use appropriate technology.

Economic dimension: We will take a look at the current global economic system. Analysing its strengths and weaknesses, we can explore alternatives and the possibility of a Common Welfare Economy that is truly beneficial to society. We will learn about developing local currencies, gift economy and LETs schemes amongst other ways of being community reliant.

Worldview and Cultural dimension: A diverse mix of community building games and exercises will guide us through the week. An Open Space to share and a World Cafe event will give us the opportunity to explore our collective power as a group.

Design dimension: Discovering concepts of systems theory and pattern language we will learn to observe and recognise patterns in nature, society and ourselves. Once we become aware of these patterns and systems, we are able to incorporate them into intelligent design from garden landscaping to community development. We will focus on Permaculture Design and Dragon Dreaming as integral approaches to project/land design.

This brief overview of the topics that we will cover is by no means comprehensive.

The Panya Project Permaculture and Sustainability Centre offers an optimal and inspiring environment to truly experience living in intentional community, exploring an alternative way of life and reconnecting to a natural state of being. This 6-day workshop will equip participants with the right inspiration and tools to become a force for positive change in this world.

Find more information at the Panya Project’s webpage here.

Consensus Decision Making at the Panya Project

The new decision making process that we’re currently using at the Panya Project has shown to be effective and save us a lot of time that used to be spend in useless and tiring conversations. Below is a describtion that serves as a guideline during the process.

We are using hand signals for each of these options, so that so that a quick overview on the groups standpoint is possible.

Permaculture in Practice Internship, July 17 – July 30, Chiang Mai, Thailand

This is a perfect opportunity to get a hands-on experience of Permaculture – whether you’ve done a Permaculture Design Course before or are new to the idea. Permaculture in Practice Internships are regularly run by the Panya Community and have always been very successful and inspiring courses during which we explore the practicalities of building sustainable relationships with our environment.

Learn the art of natural building: Learn and put into action natural building techniques including wattle and cob, adobe, clay plasters and pigment renders and use these tools in building projects.

Plan and plant organic vegetable garden beds.

Learn to plant and tend a food forest: This will be one of our focal points during this year’s PIP as we’re in the middle of rainy season, ready for planting a great variety of fruit trees, shrubs and soil improving plants. 

Make 18 day compost: see how we turn organic matter into usable living soil in less than three weeks.

Discover the importance of seed saving.

Empower yourself to live self sustainably through sessions where you can learn to make bread, wine, cheese, yoghurt, kimchi, kombucha, tofu and EM.

Experience day to day life in a Permaculture community. We will hold daily yoga and meditation sessions in the mornings and there is a nearby reservoir to have cooling swims in the afternoon.

Put your new-found permaculture practice to good use!

This course is organised and run by the Panya community, with each community member contributing to the content and skills shares to bring in a high diversity of experience.

For more information check out the Panya web page.

Consent with people

We’re trying to use consent in all our decision making at the Panya Project. When a proposal is made by the facilitator we make a round to find out people’s feelings and concerns. For the proposal to be accepted a maximum of two group members can stand aside (this is the case in our usual group size of 6 to 10 people; if there are less, 2 seems one to many). Standing aside means that you don’t agree with the decision but you won’t block it either as it seems as if the majority agrees and you want what is best for the community. People who stand aside express their concerns to the group and those who agree with the decision get a chance to express themselves as well – this might change the picture, more people agreeing or standing aside, in a second round. If more than two people stand aside, the decision can’t be made and the proposal has to be reformulated to match the groups needs.

If one person is strongly opposing a decision, he or she can block it. Not in every group that uses the consensus decision making process blocking is an option. Blocking needs to be properly understood and in many amateur groups it isn’t: we’ll block a decision ‘once or twice’ in a lifetime, when we truly believe it will harm the group/community.  If we’re the only person blocking we might ask ourselves a second time what is best for the group as everyone is of different opinion and, if a solution can’t be found, we might even consider leaving the group. However, a block as well as standing aside are options that have to be respected as valid choices; reasonable concerns must be addressed.

Why do we use consent decision making rather than vote?

We want to create win-win situations. Even this little insight is capable of changing the group’s attitude. In a vote decision we’re not trying to find an optimal solution or an optimal formulation of the proposal, we just let the majority chose ‘yes’ or ‘no’, create two sides, separation. In consensus we’re listening to concerns and reservations and try to adjust the proposal to fit everyone’s, and even more important, the group’s needs. A concern is coming up for a reason and a decision taken is strongest and most powerful when concerns are eliminated. The result we mostly go for is however rarely ‘ this is the optimal choice for everyone’, but more often ‘everyone can live with this’ or ‘this is the best for the group’.

Here is a short step-by-step guide for the process:

1. The facilitator gives a proposal to the group and announces a first round show of hands;

2. Handsigns are used to show people’s position:

    • a. two hands up shaking means ‘I fully agree’;
    • b. one hand up shaking means ‘ I agree but have reservations’;
    • c. two hands up with palms facing to the group means ‘i stand aside’, or ‘don’t agree but I can live with it’;
    • d. showing an X with the arms indicates a very severe disagreement and ‘blocks’ the decision from being made.

3a. Everybody agrees, so the proposal is accepted;

3b. Space is created for reservations to be expressed and addressed if necessary and possible. The proposal is either accepted as it is or with adjustments;

3c. Everyone has the right to express his or her concerns, reservations, toughest and feelings. If there is a maximum of two people standing aside the proposal is either accepted as it is or with adjustments. If there are more than two people standing aside, the proposal is not accepted, the group can however adjust the proposal addressing the concerns of the group and start the decision making process again;

3d. A block is stopping the decision from being made. The concerns of that person must be addressed is one way or another.

In this regard, consensus or consent IS NOT unanimity, which leaves groups often in frustration and endless discussions. Consent is building solidarity to take out collective strength and the best of the group.

Introducing myself …

Hi, my name is Michel Thill. I was born in Luxembourg, about 27 years ago. When I was a child I wanted to become a woodsman, as a teenager I looked more towards becoming an artist or musician. I ended up studying landscape architecture and environmental planning in Berlin, which led me to social ecology, community building and permaculture… these are my specific fields of interest today.

Hi, my name is Michel, or short Mich. I’m from Luxembourg, a wealthy country in the middle of Europe. Early I came to realise that money can’t buy happiness as I saw people becoming richer and richer with their lives becoming more and more miserable. This realisation made me for a few years dismiss the common social system, governments and economics and everything that works in it. From a keen interest in the other extreme I quickly moved to the cutting edge of both, there where I can see change happening most.

Hi, people call me Mich and I’m a son of the earth. Somewhere along the way I lost the connection to my mother; distraction and technology made me a stranger to the source of life. Today I’m conscious of this alienation and I’m working towards reconciliation.

Hi, my name is Michel. I’m a yoga teacher. My master gave me the spiritual name Siva. In Hindu mythology, Siva is the God of destruction and transformation. I call upon his energy to transform my material being into a spiritual being full of love and light… something I’m inspired to give to the world.

Hi, my name is Michel and i’m a man in love. My partner, friend and soulmate is the other half of my whole being, balancing every aspect of my existence. I see this connection as vital and representative for all strings of life, each one of the consisting of opposing pairs: sun and moon, day and night, heaven and earth, inside and outside… it’s my duty to heal that relationship.

Hi, my name is Mich. If I was an animal, I would be a turtle. I took it as an easy refuge in the past, and I still do today from time to time, to hide my head under my shield whenever life becomes complex and a little more challenging. As an excuse I claim to be contemplating. The more I experience, the more I know, I’ve got to live through life’s wonder, the valleys and the mountains and embrace every aspect of life.

Hi, my name is Michel, I have studied environmental planning and wrote my thesis in an Indian Village, often called the Mecca of Social Service. When I interviewed the headman of the village, Anna Hazare, he asked me what my intention for coming was and how I would serve my community at home. A year and a half later, exploring my Self, the Earth and her people, I know, my sacred intention in life is Service.