Oct 132016
 

“We’re all mad here.”
― Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland

 

All in our different ways…

We understand that people differ from each other, not just by the way we look, but by many ways in which our brains work. This is good. I think a great strength of Humanity lays here. And I think for the communities of the future to be happier and more resilient, we need to study those differences and any dynamics they case in the relationships between people. This is something to use proactively in community building on many levels.

At the moment I am into the book “Make Your Sensitivity Work for You” by Alice Muir.


The book gives some practical advise on being a highly sensitive person – like many people are, me included. It is great that the book says there is nothing wrong with being sensitive and sensitivity comes as a part of a package of useful traits, often including also being intuitive, very perceptive, empathic, good listener, understanding, enthusiastic, interested in people, sympathetic, committed, a deep thinker, creative, imaginative, intelligent, reliable, trustworthy, good at seeing others point of view, aware of subtleties, different scenarios and consequences

Time to pat yourself on the head if you are sensitive – except that (I think) there are many shades and varieties of sensitivity with different traits and the traits themselves could be on different stages of development. But, I guess, it is a trait of modern psychology – even if nowadays they acknowledge that there is big variety within “normal”, they still fail to sort the details. I wish there would be a chapter on Jungian cognitive functions here – they are an approximation of course, but better to have one than no analysis at all.

There’s however a chapter on what could make somebody sensitive which, on the level of gut feeling, seems wrong to me. This is big profound rewiring of the brain by events, some of which are not even very traumatic. Can this really happen, especially later in life?

As far as I can understand here is an ongoing debate about nature versus nurture in us humans.  Steven Pinker fights the notion of the “blank slate” human in his book with the same name:

 

 

 

People are born a bit different to each other and, again, here lies our strength, not weakness.

An interesting perspective on the differences is in one in the Johnathan Fields’ podcast: the split between helpers and makers among us. I think it is a great observation. The source of so much struggle and guilt: “I should be helping someone, when I just want to create!” or “I should be making something while I just want to help! ”.

We all should stop beating ourselves for what we are and concentrate on how can we work together for everyone’s benefit.

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Oct 092016
 

We are humans. All our friends, mentors and family are. And we are here, dominating this planet. If we never developed, would other intelligent species took over the planet one day? Could dolphins, elephants, crows, chimps, dogs or perhaps rats give rise to a new civilization? Would they be “gentler” with the Nature and each other than we have been? We can not know at the moment.

For all our sins, we are the only force so far which could potentially save life from a global disaster like an asteroid strike.

Wishing for our civilization to disappear, I think, is an immature way of thinking happening sometime withing environmentally aware community. I too might have been like this – when I was ten.

In the book “Ecovillage at Ithaca” (a useful record of an ecovillage development and a part of my ever growing list of potentially useful books for creating new ways of living)

Liz Walker starts with describing her young son’s attitude, his wish for humans to “just die of” because of species disappearing at an incredible rate. She herself, although shocked, could see his point, as “at the beginning of the 21st century, we face a world that is falling apart at the seams“…

Is it? Or we humans just intrinsically like tragedy, our media picks up on this and paint us a, alas, desirable picture of “our world … drenched in the blood of seemingly endless warfare” and “miserable living conditions for much of the world’s population“.

If we wont to build a real better future, we have to deal with facts, not the ever-changing media theater. Violence, disease and poverty are the enemies of our future. What has been happening to them?

First, I would recommend the well known Steven Pinker’s book

where he meticulously proves the diminishing of violence through the history and talks about the reasons for this.

Here you can find the data on the global decrease of poverty.

Historical data shows that global life expectancy has increased drastically over the last couple of centuries, with substantial long-run improvements in all countries around the world” – according to Esteban Ortiz-Ospina and Max Roser. Is this data good? Let me know if you find otherwise.

Life is wonderful. One of its miracles is the ability to recover. There have been a series of devastating mass extinctions throughout the geologic history of our planet.  In some cases up to 60 percent of species were gone. Of course, it took Nature from 20 to 100 million years to recover the biodiversity (see

 

for more information). We may argue, that the life would never evolve to be so inventive and resilient if not for those extinction events, but we don’t need another one. According to WWF at the moment we might be loosing between 0.01 and 0.1 percent of all species per year which is 1,000 and 10,000 times higher than the natural extinction rate. We took over the planet, this changed all the ecosystems… Bit since we realised what is happening we ought to change. It could be that the knowledge itself makes it impossible for humanity to avoid the coming change.

Living this change, this is the purpose of the Good New Town project. It has to have solid foundation: verifiable data. Doom and gloom might induce some people to act – for a while. Only complete honesty can sustain the movement.

So let’s question every piece of information coming to us, examine the evidence and try to accept the world as it is.

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Dec 132015
 
I am a scientist and I believe that scientific evidence is necessary for majority of important decisions. When we talk about building a community, there is another, much less concrete and easy to understand domain. It is people’s feelings and everything which is going in this bundle: values, relationships, openness, subjective perception, fairness, transparency, honest communication, unresolved conflicts, motivation, trust and so on. By no means I am an expert on this, just a very keen amateur and an observer.
I don’t think any organisation dealing with living people (all of course being vulnerable in one way or another), especially an intentional community, set as something intended to be beneficial and to recruit keen supporters, can go without addressing people’s feelings and their interrelationships, also the fairness of group’s practice from various points of view. No committees, protocols, agendas, rules, regulations and all the hellfire of bureaucracy can really deal with this delicate domain. I think we simply can’t build a better place without honest ethical/psychological considerations. It is not a precise science (yet?), feelings should not be used as the only justification for group decisions, yet it is something impossible to ignore or put under the carpet. Try – and see everything just sadly falling apart either in cold disinterest or in flames of a conflict…

The best way to deal with feelings and relationships, as far as I can see at the moment, is a constant honest conversation, both one to one between all the members of the group and within the whole group (on a condition that people are feeling safe to talk about their inner stuff). This should be done right from the beginning and on regular basis. Somehow this should be set as a group rule, carved in the founding stone.  It’s not some new age woo woo,  it is a necessity. There’s no way around it.

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If some members of the group see “feeling talk” as just rocking the boat unnecessarily, imagine a bunch of people, all very nice, but all of them have they own vision of where their enterprise is going, not aware that some people find their conduct strange, not very considerate or even unethical… Everybody are afraid to admit their vulnerability (without which there won’t be any trust and true friendship)… Lots of people loosing their faith in the cause just because they have no chance to talk about it honestly and affirm their feelings or because their feedback always seems to fall on deaf ears… Nobody is asked for honest feedback very often anyway… Members don’t know where other’s strength and experience lies and don’t know who to ask for help and advice in different situations as all the doors in everybody’s inner worlds are always shut… And I haven’t even been in an intentional community yet – but seen it all. This is deadly poisonous stuff for any group, really. Even more so for an intentional community.
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Oct 152015
 

I am very keen on studying people’s personalities and I think that to build a happy stable community everybody need to know of all sorts of differences in perception and behavior which stream from differences in personality.

Some types are naturally more flexible, others are more commanding. We need them all, but it is very important to make sure that the project won’t get completely taken over by a few. There is a good article (don’t bother about jargon type names) on the 16personalities.com website:

“There is a tendency to overcompensate when something we value is missing. Let’s say in this scenario, the thing missing is organization in the company – art can be a messy business. A Sentinel may become extremely rigid in response to what he sees as a lack of regard for the rules. A lot of “coloring outside of the lines” would not be unusual among Explorers. The Sentinel’s rigidity would be overcompensation by the Sentinel in an attempt to get control over the “lawless” environment he finds himself in.

However, we know from experience that dictators are rarely welcomed among free-spirits. It may be necessary for our Sentinel to be adaptive and to adopt a less rigid attitude if he really needs the job. Adapting, in this case, might mean survival. The question then becomes: Can the Sentinel take their extreme organization back a notch so as to function better among the free-wheeling artists? Can he stay true to his core self and the traits where he functions best while adapting to the quirks of a certain workplace? If he can stay true to himself while squelching his rigidity, it might save him a job. What is the cost of not being more adaptive?

Or, on the other hand, it might also indicate it’s time to find a new place to work that doesn’t feel quite so much like a madhouse. Either way, the situation requires a decision by the Sentinel about how he approaches this particular environment and how he’ll adapt (or not adapt) to it.

So, adaptation is one way in which we might get along better with the world around us. We need to remind that we are always adapting and that some adaptation is healthy. It’s part of what happens in a society made up of differing personalities and beliefs. We end up compromising by necessity. It’s inescapable. How else we will get along with others if we demand only our own way? Sometimes we just have to suck it up and change our behavior to make things work.

However, while adapting is often necessary, we should always be vigilant for fear that we might over-adapt at the expense of our happiness. When we give up our strengths to adapt, then we’ve gone too far. There is nothing more miserable than being in a place where we don’t fundamentally fit.”

I personally seen a community project which looked a bit like this example and it definitely has some misunderstanding going on. We need to build our intentional community in a way so different personalities would work in harmony not in discord.

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Sep 162015
 
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