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I have lived or spend large amounts of time in Toronto, Paris, London, Istanbul, Jakarta, Stockholm, Chicago, Sydney... currently in Barcelona
I'm interested in connecting people & ideas across cultures, disciplines & sectors to shape a better future... I try to track and accelerate emerging change, to cultivate possibilities and better ways of doing business... I am looking for what inspires, empowers and enables each and all of us to have an impact.
Recent Activity
There has been a very interesting roundtable in the US last november on reinventing movements following Occupy. Douglas Rushkoff had initially talked about the need for "bringing together all these kinds of real time experience movements into something that can shape our collective agency" I particularly liked Ben Knight's intervention.... Continue reading
Posted Feb 25, 2014 at Helene Finidori
Hi John, thanks for this article, which comes quite timely and resonates with what I am currently working on. That's a very important and interesting distinction. I particularly noted the comment from kdietz, with which I tend to agree, though I don't quite understand why he doesn't embrace the distinction. In particular these: "the grand ‘narrative’ discussed here is made up of hundreds or thousands of stories that are always fluid and in motion. They work dynamically on people sometimes long after the telling." And "Narratives as movements are made up of a collection of stories, beliefs, and visions of the future that galvanize people. But folks do not relate to ‘narratives’ in this sense without having stories to connect to that are relevant to them personally." This is perfectly true, but this does not eliminate the existence and the need for narrative, as something... the aggregator or the attractor... at a meta-level.... I personally would say that narrative is the underlying logic or the scaffold that relate the stories together and creates coherence from disparate elements. Whether it is emergent from a collection of stories, or whether the stories are an expression of this logic. It's probably a mix of both in a feedback loop. In a corporate context, narrative pertains to identity and brand as a factor of cohesiveness, a corporate paradigm so to speak, and the stories are its vehicle. That's why good brand strategists first look at the stories and draw elements of narrative from it that then serve to tell stories that will coalesce various action logics to reinforce the narrative and build all kinds of connivence with the brand... indeed as you say John, a driver for action! So the brand and the communication attached to it is not an artificially projected image, but the 'true' reflection of the corporation's identity in a dynamic perspective (including it's past achievements, current capabilities, and vision/potential). I've been looking at how this applies to social change and federating efforts towards a thrivable world: I think what I presented at that conference, which illustrates what I describe above, reflects what both you John and kdietz are talking about, and puts beliefs and worldviews in the mix too.
Federating efforts towards a thrivable world from Helene Finidori I gave this presentation as part of the Cultural Diversity and the Common Good panel at the ‘Imagine the Common Good’ conference in Paris last August. It illustrates how the idea of the commons can manifest as underlying foundational principle in... Continue reading
Posted Sep 16, 2013 at Helene Finidori
Wouldn't sustainable development initiatives, mechanisms and policies considerably gain in effectiveness if they were planned and assessed in relation to the principles, processes and practices of the commons? The commons are a social system that intimately associates people or stakeholders with their resources and the participatory and mindful ways they... Continue reading
Posted Sep 16, 2013 at Helene Finidori
The Economics and the Commons Conference in Berlin closed last month. Everyone acknowledged the ground that had been covered since the last edition in 2010. Now is the moment to digest and reflect on the mass of information that has been exchanged and how it can be put to work... Continue reading
Posted Sep 16, 2013 at Helene Finidori
David, thank so much for this intervention and quotation on your post! I understand Ann Pendleton has based some of her work here on your research. I hope we can have an opportunity to exchange further on these questions.
Thanks Kevin. I'm very interested on how finance could help grow the commons. I would be interested to discuss this further with you if you don't mind -plz :)
Dante merci! Yes it's a question of diffusion of memes that reflect the diversity and variety in aspirations and priorities and possible paths, though converging toward the same attractor... For the rest of Vail's dissertation, let me know what you had in mind! I'm looking for actionable stuff! Of the kind that makes obvious to those who want to move which next steps they should take.
Great thanks Benjamin! I remember you were onto something quite akin to what I had in mind. I think I shared with you already the pearltree ( I temporarily created to navigate the alternatives awaiting for some more relevant ways to navigate between wikipedia pages and keep track of evolution of memes through generation of hyperlinks toward related themes... I'll be looking at the rizzoma with interest. Let's keep each other posted.
Thanks for your comment Jessie. I'm not sure what you mean with this question. She does not speak of ecology, and the scaffold she talks about is more virtual than real... I sense some criticism of what Ann Pendleton is saying here... But can't quite grasp your point. Is it possible to encompass the whole and all the dimensions of a topic every time we speak? Is it innate to each of us to speak of reality and what we think in our heads in different words :)
You are right Wouter! Networks is what changes the whole landscape and enables the scaffold and an effective ecosystem for change. I probably omitted to describe the whole elements of the scaffold. Let me change this.
How about 'Growing the Commons' as a meta-narrative for a paradigm shift? Ann Pendleton-Jullian in her Power and Ecosystems of Change talk suggests that a new type of metanarrative is much needed to change the world. Something strategically ambiguous towards which to head despite our differences, and that would aggregate... Continue reading
Posted Dec 16, 2012 at Helene Finidori
Wayne Elsey (Brand), I would love to hear how this can be helpful to you. Looking actually to empower intrapreneurs so that they can drive change from within, from wherever they are located!
Thanks Michelle. It's an interesting discussion that I am having with others as well. Because in this endeavor that we have, to generate a 'pull' towards sustainability, resilience & thrivability, you need to reconcile the parts and the whole and indeed express wholeness and the integrality of life. Several things come to mind here. First, I am not sure the notions of sustainability, resilience and thrivability alone contain an idea of wholeness and integrality and have enough 'attraction' to form the consciousness of that whole… Then, I think wholeness and integrality must be expressed in ways other than words, or at least other than words of wholeness and integrality -hence I like the idea of immersive experiences to help grasp integrality and make sense of it, rather that creating a representation of it-. It's about 'forming' integrality by pointing vectors towards a whole, rather than speaking 'of' integral… Words or descriptions put people in corners or in tribes. The integral discourse is not different. It is most probably the most evolved one, but to be really integral and whole you must speak to all, and help each part see itself as a critical piece, part of the whole… The interesting thing about the commons is that it is whole and parts at the same time, so as a part, even if not recognizing the whole from the position it holds, it is still only one step removed from the commons as a whole, and as a commons, it can work itself toward the commons as a whole… So now how do we create these immersive experiences, and how do we point all the vectors of change -the various pieces of the change…- towards the commons as a whole… We need to get to the integrality of life 'bottom up' and not top down :)
John, thank you for your feedback. And apologies for 'such careless language'! :) It is obvious that we, humans, the conscious observers, are an integral part of this complex living system called Nature with everything we inherit or create, including what we may 'see' of nature around us. I have invited comments and criticism because many eyes are better than just the eyes of those who produce a text... This wording is an addition, part of an iteration on an initial wording. It actually needs to be changed. I just changed it to "It includes the natural environment we humans are a part of, and all what we inherit and create, use and change, and then pass on to future generations. Thanks for pointing this out. As for "How would you see the necessary skills being developed and deployed? Who would be able to do this? How can such a process be brought into being?": First of all, this approach will probably be included in a People Sustainability Treaty focusing on a systemic approach to the stewardhip of the commons, destined to be 'rolled out' by people who will take execution into their hands, at the 'place' they are at. The goal is once this is out there and widely diffused to identify and try and bring together the people, resources, methodologies that can help the process -this process is actually part of the approach. The ideal being that those who have some answers and can facilitate the process "just do it" and help put the pieces together. That's what the framework and platform would help achieve in an emergent manner, starting with what we may have identified as examples through communities of practice. If you have ideas to share, you are welcome to share them here, or in the Linked In thread.
Thank you Patric! The appreciation is shared. You have been a real inspiration in the Journey!
Thanks Richard. I like your insights and how you build upon this synthesis. Especially the recursive-fractal-nested possibilities of the asset-culture-resultant dimensions of the commons. The people-places-things-relations-rules-results perspective you refer to adds the action (who/context/network) dimensions that enable multi-local (in the sense of subsidiarity) stewardship. This is indeed what was implied in my description, but this type of formulation could probably help make it less abstract and more 'applicable'. I will make some changes to the article in these directions. Don't hesitate if you have more insights. The idea is to get to something clear and 'applicable' enough to diffuse on a wider scale.
Thanks Mary, yes, much of what is described here is going to happen through conversation and sharing experiences and what matters, and pattern language is one way to get people to ask themselves and each other questions that can help them expand the horizon of their sensorial and understanding capabilities... Kind of traveling across cultures and boundaries to explore the unknown... and get another perspective on what you know...
Thanks Ekanath. Don't hesitate to spread it around!
Thank you David for this thoughtful comment. I am honored to have inspired this :) -with the help of Jessie. It deserved a thoughtful response, hence a little delay on my end. I agree the wording may be a bit difficult for mass communication. We have tried to be as clear as possible in a concise way so as to present something flowing and compact focused on building a bigger picture from the ground up. Don't forget this is the response to a question asked in the Systems Thinking World group. I do hope the members of this group have understood it, and saw how most of the streams that have been mentioned along the journey have found their place. The goal was not to reach a conclusion, but provide a continuum of pathways that interwoven together would produce some leveraged effect. Don't forget as well the title of the piece. Commons sense, related to common sense. There is a lot in there to be developed and elaborated on in simpler terms. Illustration as you mention of how this manifests in 'real life' through sensory and emotional experiences, in particular through stories and examples, and there are many narratives to be derived from there. Several were shared in the discussion. Many people tend to think we are reaching some sort of a tipping point, or at least highlight that there has been tremendous change in conversations over the past two years... Identifying what is 'good' for the human race -without entering in a 'moral' debate- refers to choices to be made sometimes simply dictated by common sense, knowing what is right, with mechanisms to change course… You are right, religious principles and parables came into existence to inculcate some basics of what was deemed to be 'good' for the system at the time they were laid down into scriptures. Some are more universal/archetypal and common sense than others. And yes this is something gained through all what you describe, which is actually a chicken and egg question, because how can parenting, pedagogy and politics create the conditions for embodying a sense of ethics (as in ways to solve dilemmas) if they are not themselves conscious of the necessity of doing so. Hence the emerging process is a bootstrapping one… I am indeed working with people who have different approaches to education, and I will most probably soon be working on projects to diffuse the ideas exposed in the article. I will let you know.
Here is A comment from Tom Atlee in another discussion thread (, who just wrote a book Empowering Public Wisdom to deal with similar issues: "This discussion and the items we list as our priorities as CEO of the world dance around the possibility of a "pattern language for a healthy civilization". A pattern language articulates design elements (things to keep in mind, guidances for wisely solving common design problems) and the relations between those "patterns". Three sample pattern languages along those lines are * a sustainable economy - * good group process - * communities that have "the quality that has no name" (the original pattern language) - I've been involved in two pattern language projects. The co-creation of such an intellectual magnum opus is a monumental and evolving task. I love the idea, but don't know where the energy would come from to do it. The reward is a framework that can be used in everything from transformational organizing to sustainability education to inspiration for people's individual missions in life - to say nothing of the pure beauty of a well-crafted pattern language. Perhaps the greatest challenge is the different perspectives and ways of thinking that each participant in such an undertaking brings to the project. That is also the greatest potential gift. A key factor in co-intelligence is using diversity creatively. It is not easy, but if successful, the result is deeper insight into the whole that we are all part of, and that is trying to emerge among and through us."
Thanks Jessie! We need to progress on this.
Another comment: "I'm new to the Commons discourse. I'm in the observation phase. Not sure what to make of it. I see the same discussions going on in several different places and the discussion seems to be the same.. I'm instinctively wary when I see that. If I look at an actual discourse, say Sociology, I will see thousands of people, tens of thousands if not more, engaging in a discourse, but every instance will be distinct, unique. I find it extremely unlikely that a discourse is being truly formalized if all the speakers are repeating the same thing. That sounds more like a Metanarrative or Ideology than the actual formalization of a discourse.. However, I'm not ready to come to any conclusions, since I'm still an outsider, an observer from the outside. I'm interested in taking each component, each concept of the conceptual system of Commons-ism and seeing where it came from, who helped develop the concept, including which publishing companies and their parent companies first published the foundational texts. A lot of it sounds a little like a religious discourse, a bizarre strand of Pantheism, or even something from the Catholic Worker Movement, Distributism, Christian anarchism.. Lots of anarcho-communist stuff, it seems, libertarian socialism.. The reason I'm asking for a bibliography is so I can join into the conversation, which I haven't been able to do now consistently for the last several years.." My response: Indeed the commons have been around for ever. I am not sure that it is an intentionally developed concept as a basis for an ideology and that there is one commons discourse, but rather multiple commons discourses and multiple 'attractors' to the commons. I rather see it as an archetype - probably the reason why I and others try to attempt an overarching definition of it...- as I suggest in the response above. A few resources on the commons. Many different feels and venture points...
Reproducing here an interesting point of discussion about this article from another forum: > "I'm not really steeped in conversations about the commons, but I've found the conversations are often contentious. It seems to me that one of the fault lines is a division over the relative importance of competition versus cooperation. I'm not authority but like what Noam Chomsky said: "The “New Spirit of the Age” cannot tolerate the pre-capitalist conception of the Forest as the shared endowment of the community at large, cared for communally for its own use and for future generations, protected from privatization, from transfer to the hands of private power for service to wealth, not needs." The commons like the economy isn't so much a thing but a doing. It is "the shared endowment of the community at large, cared for communally."" and > "What is meant by the term "Commons" in these kinds of discussions? It seems like a lot of people are concerned with this entity, the "Commons", they want to protect its resources, etc.. What is it exactly? Is there anything tangible in this "Commons"?" My response: I agree the commons are contentious (and I would suggest they are contentious as a term more than as a concept) because often invoked in politicized terms or contexts. This came out in our LI conversations as well. I like [your] definition of a "shared endowment of the community at large, cared for communally", in line with the definition offered in my article which tries to be as integrative and unpolarized (archetypal?) as possible. The recognition of the need to take care of this endowment can contribute to entrain the system in a virtuous circle... This can arise from love, reason, political or religious stand, conservatism (of resources), good household type management, risk prevention, generosity etc... The commons can be intangible as well as tangible. The objects (forest, knowledge, gene pool), process/culture (taking care of something as a community), outcomes (livelihood, wellbeing etc...). People see them in different ways depending on their beliefs, sensibilities and cognitive functioning. It goes back to your comment on debategraph, which is not intuitive to you, but is intuitive to others (super intuitive to me for example). This shows that people must gain access to learning and discovery of possibilities via different points of entry that corresponds to what they would be the most comfortable with 'intuitively'. I was wondering how the commons 'archetype' could be expressed in different ways to 'speak' to different types..."
Our World is in crisis as its systems have been pushed toward exceeding their limits of resilience. Much of what we care for and need in the various aspects of our lives is under threat. We need a whole system approach, one that enables all parts to thrive while addressing... Continue reading
Posted Aug 27, 2012 at Helene Finidori