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Hunting and Gathering

责任编辑:ccpg  来源:  作者:  人气:889  发布时间:2014-03-11 17:04:13

chris corrigan, british columbia, canada:  

Okay. Now that we have a self-organizing explosion of threads taking place, let me extend one small side spoke a little, only because it is touches on a recent contemplative passion of mine. This doesn't have to go anywhere, but I feel the need to say it.  

Harrison Owen wrote: There is a needed change of metaphors here -- from auto mechanics who build machines to gardeners who understand that at the end of the day, the flowers will grow all by themselves, or not. Water and fertilizer help -- but the flowers do their own thing.  

I agree with the need for a different metaphor, but I don't think that gardening is it. The point about water and fertilizer kind of underscores my point: gardens (in the commonly accepted sense) do not self-organize. Not at all. They require a tremendous amount of planning, cultivation and work. You must beat back weeds and nurture the things that you DO want to grow. You must water if your chosen plants are not native to your area. You must mulch if they fear cold.  

In short, gardening is, in my mind, the very antithesis of the new metaphor. It requires a large amount of energy from outside the system to be put into the system. That energy then dissipates with often disastrous results for the surrounding system (algae blooms in local waterways from over use of fertilizer, faster than normal water run off from lawns requiring more water to be added to compensate for the water running off, creating erosion and the rapid disappearance of your growing  

        

                                      

    medium....). Gardening creates needs that send systems into sometimes devastating feedback loops.  

My preferred metaphor is that of the hunter/gatherer. For a hunter/gatherer, the landscape is rich to begin with and requires no further intervention to make it that way. Hunters and wildcrafters protect systems by using them sparingly, thus preserving and sustaining their yield without  

threatening the context in which they operate. And if the system collapses, hunters can move on to another piece of land. They are adaptable, resourceful and flexible. Gardeners (and by extension, farmers) fence off their land, battle against the elements and try to preserve what they have. If the system collapses they are hooped.  


There is a new book out by Hugh Brody which explores this metaphor as it applies to cultures. I have a link to a review of it and some further musings on this at http://www.chriscorrigan.com/miscellany/bijournal/0  1-08-2001  .htm  

I realize that the map is not the territory, but while we are at play in the field of the metaphors, I thought i would throw that intervention in and see if it had resonance. Hunter/gatherer is my business model. Having been a gardener in my years with the federal government in Canada, I realized that, beautiful as they are, growing cacti in the rain forest just isn't sustainable. Either you defend the enterprise to it's inevitable death (and the to the detriment of the context which nurtures it), or you give it up and try to think of something else to do.  

Us hunter/gatherer types just glide across the landscape, eating berries and keeping an eye out for the next big (and tasty) thing.  

tim sullivan, british columbia, canada:  

Good thought, Chris, however... .with 5 Billion plus on the planet now, and increasing by leaps and bounds... .we can't all be hunter/gatherers. It is a metaphor of 'go lightly' that is feasible with much smaller numbers, and will not drive the system to the "edge of chaos". The eco-system will be stable. We live in different times. Now, its chaos for breakfast, lunch, dinner and midnight snack. And the 'edge' is becoming the 'brink'.  

harrison owen, maryland, usa:  

Ah Chris -- you have fallen into my trap, made my point -- and my day. The gardening you are talking about is that practiced by an auto-mechanic. Everything according to the plan. Bolt on a new plant and forget its natural habitat. After all that is what it says in "Home and Gardens" -- and every homeowner MUST follow the rules. And for sure take some exotic creature that can't stand cold and plant it in the Arctic. After all it is a part of the plan. Wheeeeew -- hard work for sure. But is that the only way??? You could see what grew naturally -- all by itself. And then help it along. That is really what I am talking about. Look before you leap. Don't fix it if it ain't broke --and I am sure some other trite phrases would cover the issue.  

chris corrigan, british columbia, canada:  

Laughing my head off! Not the first time I've fallen into a trap of yours, big guy!  

That is really what I am talking about. Look before you leap. Don 't fix it if it ain't broke --and I am sure some other trite phrases would cover the issue.  

...uh, yes. That's what I'm saying too. Have a good weekend. I'm off to eat fern rhizomes... wondering if there is a smiley for "rolling eyes."  


chris again:  

Tim Sullivan wrote: Good thought, Chris, however....with 5 Billion plus on the planet now, and increasing by leaps and bounds....we can't all be hunter/gatherers. It is a metaphor of 'go lightly' that is feasible with much smaller numbers, and will not drive the system to the "edge of chaos ". The eco-system will be stable. We live in diferent times. Now, its chaos  

for breakfast, lunch, dinner and midnight snack. And the 'edge' is becoming the 'brink'.  

We can't all be farmers either. Not so much a case of "either/or" for me, so much as "both/and."  

Also not sure about the idea that farmers are better at handling chaos, especially "auto mechanic" farmers, as "ho" has just pointed out. Usually chaos involves people traveling every which way over a field full of freshly planted crops. If you are wedded to that land, you're sunk. Therefore, farmers generally have to fence in their stuff, defend against intrusions and lash out at anyone who wants a piece of it. Low tolerance for chaos. Hunter/gatherers (HGs) are able to move because, while they might be dependent on a few species, they don't care where those species are. If an upheaval strikes, they move.  

In the same way, businesses and organizations that are "farmers" fence in their market share or property or copyrights and defend themselves against the threats to their future. HG organizations move with the times, exhibit flexibility and an ability to thrive in widely differing climates. Myers-Briggs is a farm. Open Space is a hunting territory. HGs are better at surfing chaos because they are a part of it. Farmers/gardeners take, as their raison d'être, the taming of the chaos, the assumption of which is always a prelude to a drowning.  

Cheers, Chris . . .currently a trapped HG.  

j. paul everett, washington, usa:  

Well, this prompted a thought on your thought. When we look at the long wave history of humankind, we see only two eras of truly fundamental change. Not that change didn't occur in the other epochs, but it wasn't a truly paradigmatic shift. The first was when mankind stopped being hunter/gatherers and became farmers and herds- keepers. This was an enormous change that gave rise to civilization and more importantly, a small, very small, slice of the population that could then be supported by the rest and who then had time to think---and all elements in this world of human origin are first a thought. The invention of mathematics by an Indian genius, the invention of cities, record keeping, writing, etc., mostly in Sumer, were monstrous leaps up off the veldt 6000+ years ago. And, they enabled many more people to live, and therefore, many more thoughts to appear/be had, and therefore, human-created newness to happen.  

To illustrate my thesis that then no further fundamental change happened for a very long time, take King Solomon and George Washington, living about 3,000 years apart. Yet, they had, essentially, the same heating, the same lighting, the same transportation (nobody went faster than a horse on land or a sail boat would go on water), same mode of communication (written or  


verbal, delivered by a person), slave power and very similar medicine. In fact, it was not until 1939-40 that medical science had something that would reliably, knowledgeably (on the part of the prescriber) fight a disease inside the human body---that was sulfanilamide, followed in short order by penicillin, etc. (Saved my brother's life, btw).  

The next big change in human consciousness about man's relationship to reality came someplace in 1740-1785/90 when the Enlightenment fundamentally altered ideas about the source of change and what humans might do about it. From that incredible shift we have the modern civilization that we exist in, filled with ever-increasing rates of change on multiple fronts. Is it any wonder that the Modernists and Post-Modernists are much hated by the Medieva lists? We are destroying what existed for millennia. And, that we have multiple troubles adjusting to that pace of change on so many fronts. But, in the process mankind is becoming even more free, at least those able to avail themselves of technologies and new thoughts that generate newness, world wide.  

Therefore, I challenge whether the hunter/gatherer is a viable metaphor for any organization in this epoch of man. It certainly can't support the aggregation of brains necessary to create what we now have. It would seem rather that Prigogine's model, or George Land's model, or some other model might better describe what works best at this point in humankind's history. Perhaps the cybernetic model, or Open Space as a model, together with it's self-organizing characteristics is what's really required in these times. Chaos, complexity and emergence seem to be expanding our understanding of the Universe, at least it appears so to me. Just a thought or two.  

chris corrigan, british columbia, canada  

j. paul everett wrote: Therefore, I challenge whether the hunter/gatherer is a viable metaphor for any organization in this epoch of man. It certainly can't support the aggregation of brains necessary to create what we now have. It would seem rather that Prigogine's model, or George Land's model, or some other model might better describe what works best at this point in humankind's history. Perhaps the cybernetic model, or Open Space as a model, together with it's self-organizing characteristics is what's really required in these times. Chaos, complexity and emergence seem to be expanding our understanding of the Universe, at least it appears so to me.  

I agree with you for the most part there. OST is my map for surfing the universe, and my surfboard is hunter/gatherer technology.  

I haven't tried to put a value on farming vs hunting and gathering. Just that they describe two different approaches. They do different things well and have different drawbacks. That's why I replied to Tim's post that it was not a case of either/or, but both/and.  

I can't remember who put together the "conditions for life" list that gets kicked around (Kauffman right?), and I don't have it at my fingertips, but one of the things that facilitates the emergence of life is when a bunch of molecules have "no prior connections." That is, they are free to bind to whatever comes along. If they are locked up, their potential for development becomes severely limited.  


From my perspective, when we talk about facilitating self-organizing systems, the HG metaphor works well because it is not tied down, not already taken up with prior connections. There is a myth that cultivation of the earth resulted in cultivation of the mind. Having others cultivate food certainly allowed for those who weren't farming to engage in other pursuits, which in a sense was a liberating moment for some. For others it was the beginning of a long period of slavery and powerlessness. One person cannot grow food for 1000 others without some help. And often this help took the form of unpaid labour, like slavery. Having slaves work the land is an almost universal experiment, and it certainly continues to this day. Furthermore, the farmer is not any freer for being a farmer. Farmers themselves rarely have time to do anything other than farm (or keep their slaves in line).  

My point is that is very much the business model I see around me. Lots of folks here in the Vancouver area get up early in the morning, go off to work and stay there for 14 hours where they do everything in their power to fence in their enterprise and - yes - grow it. They protect their market share, open up new fields of endeavor, grow the business and reap the rewards. All a very agrarian model, right down to the language. And for the most part a model that ties them down to the same thing year after year. There might be moments of creativity and perhaps even room for brilliance, if it's not too risky, but most people who pursue that life are like the farmers of old. Tied to the land, providing goods and services and an economic engine so the rest of us can float above all that and pursue higher agendas of liberation. People that are really discovering things, like really big things, are not busy trying to protect things.  

Harrison is a case in point, with his now infamous story about why he didn't copyright OST. Two instructive reasons here: a) you can't patent breathing and b) having patented it, he would be defending the patent rather than opening space, and that kind of activity (the defending part), although it might have made him rich, wouldn't have allowed much time for two martini lunches, and trap-setting for his young friends.  

Anyway, good post Paul. I still stand by my use of the HG as my own business model, as it has served me well in encounters with chaos (which sometimes wears the robes of invitation, sometimes the mantle of Shiva. . .one can never be sure...)  

Just a thought or two.  

...spawning eight...  

larry peterson, ontario, canada:  

To me, "self-organization" is a metaphor that is used to describe the fact that patterns of relationships between entities emerge when the conditions or present and that some principles are usually involved in those conditions. Atoms, rocks, life, organizations, meme's are all emerge in to being. (According to Graves and the Spirial Dynamics folks, memes are "self-organizing".) Every thing manifests in every moment out of its relationships to "entities" in the past moment (according to Whitehead, and I think he's right). Our consciousness as humans shapes that  


emergence, but I think aspects of the process of becoming can be described and some of the principles can be described.  

Those patterns of relationships between people are shifted, in some time and space, when the space is intentionally opened. When the Principles and Law are brought to consciousness. It may be that opening the space is a "hunter" thing, Chris, to do for an outside consultant, at least it's intentional. It may allow for a new "garden" of changed (or even new) relationships to form for awhile in an organization. Whether that garden continues to grow in that organization or community is dependent on many things. It can enable people to experience (sometimes consciously) a new way to relate that the "control" processes they have been using. It certainly leads to new connects, new leaning and often an experience of a higher or deeper level of spirited working and being together.  

I think "Self" organization has taken on some important meaning, particularly for those of us with a "green" orientation because it counters the proactive (orange) view that every thing has to be proactively managed. It is a step in our understanding of phenomena, of what happens and helps me clarify what to do and not to do, what to expect and to be surprised about.  

joelle lyons everett, washington, usa:  

Thanks, Chris, for this hunter/gatherer metaphor. I think the place where you and Harrison come together on this is that neither gardeners nor gatherers can control what comes along, though gardeners put a lot of effort into trying to control. And some of us do garden with much less intervention than your example!  

jeff aitken, california, usa:  

I've been working on the notion that when we participate in Open Space Technology we are acting as hunters and gatherers do -- following our intuitive and rational capacities across a diverse and shifting landscape into situations that seem meaty (or may bear fruit).. .then returning to the circle around the fire to share what we found for the nourishment of all. In a multi-day OST I often use the metaphor of a group moving thru the wide forest by day and then meeting in a clearing at night and the next morning.  

I see "open space" as exactly that - a large, open field filled with issues and opportunities. We are individually invited to make our own journeys thru this open space, working alone, in pairs, or in small groups as the situation requires, in service to the whole group as well as ourselves. It's a wise way to make sense of a shifting, chaotic environment.  

want to disregard the experience of those outside our familiar circles, because we will probably need it.

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