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Saturday, 26 July 2008 00:20

A WORKBOOK AND ONLINE COMMUNITY
for Co-CREATING OUR SUSTAINABILITY ETHIC

Section VI - The Curve of Hope
Chapter 5 - Seed & Nurture

 

Catch! calls the Once-ler.
He lets something fall.
"It's a Truffula Seed.
It's the last one of all!
You're in charge of the last of the Truffula Seeds.
And Truffula Trees are what everyone needs.
Plant a new Truffula. Treat it with care.
Give it clean water. And feed it fresh air.
Grow a forest. Protect it from axes that hack.
Then the Lorax
and all of his friends
may come back."

"The Lorax", the last page
Dr. Suess

 


What seeds are you planting, and how do you assure that they are well cared for?

When we discern our groups and organizations as living systems, we readily use agricultural as well as health metaphors. Nature provides us exquisite, limited abundance with its emergent and autopoietic attributes, and this is our ‘Seed and Nurture' model. The seeds we plant are sometimes physical like plants, and more often they're seeds for learning and maturing like exemplary behavior, ideas, information, education, and life changing events.

In order to create a ‘Curve of Hope' for ourselves and the generations who follow, we sow the seeds of sustainability. And we must understand the environment necessary for them to flourish as well as the nurturing required for them to become fully mature and produceOO_VI-5_2009-02-27 healthy seeds. Then we must understand the time it takes for the maturing process. I would suggest that we are dealing with a multi-generational problem, and re-achieving balanced sustainability will require generational seeding and nurturing solutions.

We know that there are ‘tipping points' - many of which have been reached - where some relatively small number of people, far less than a majority, changes whole cultures.

In the very late 1990's and shortly after the turn of the millennium, I was on the Board of a group called the Oregon Progress Forum that sought to influence candidates and shape political issues. The glue that held us together was the possible candidacy of a young, progressive politician, Phil Keisling, who was thinking about running for Governor. One of Phil's approaches to raising issues was asking what he called ‘inconvenient questions.' He would often draft questions for our review about health care, education, voting methods and so forth, and I would invariably write back, "What about sustainability - is it too inconvenient?" There was a real reluctance by several members to frame our Forum's mission around sustainability. I pushed the sustainability issue, but not without some reservations of my own. I was quite concerned that sustainability, an issue with consequences that affect us all, would become part of our political partisan ‘food fight' - that we would essentially be taking steps backward with this most important concern. This concern has been largely validated on a national level, but I'm ecstatic that it is a much lesser issue in state and local politics. In Oregon, and particularly many of its local constituencies, sustainability has been a shared issue that tends to bind us across political ideologies. We have reached a tipping point in terms of recognizing the severity and urgency of our sustainability problem. We move forth with activities like recycling, reduce and reuse, as well as green chemistry, energy, and buildings. And it has been largely institutionalized in some of our education, politics, and facets of industry like marketing and advertising. It is interesting to pause and note how far we have come. Al Gore's, An Inconvenient Truth is known by almost everyone both in the United States and abroad, and it has been honored in the most wonderful ways - general acceptance, and a Nobel Prize. Yet, it is interesting to note that when then V.P. Gore was running for President in 2000, sustainability was so inconvenient, it wasn't a campaign issue.

One of the key messages from this workbook is that there are several other crucial tipping points that must be reached. Some that come to mind are:

 

  • Educating large numbers of people with basic sustainability knowledge;
  • Recognizing the theory that underlies sustainability - Living Systems Theory - so that it grounds the teaching and learning in our educational institutions;
  • Educating everyone on the principles and structure that underlie democracy and from which creativity and social order are derived;
  • Creating an unwavering ethic within governance - we only do what we believe to be sustainable;
  • Upgrading our capacity for critical and systemic thinking;
  • Integrating sustainability ethics as a key component for religious interfaith activities; and
  • Blending our ‘ethical compass' with goals and objectives where the former is the stronger paradigm.

 

 

Reflection

When we seed and nurture a plant, we often measure our success by the fruits it produces. When we seed an nurture and idea, particularly if we encourage the recipient to incorporate the idea in their own seeding and nurturing activities, we generally can't make a direct correlation between our efforts and the results we might see - we might only have a vague idea regarding the ‘fruits of our labor'.

When were you a part of planting and nurturing a seed?
What direct effects did you discern?
Are others now planting the seed that you originally planted?
What indirect or spurious effects do you believe resulted from your effort?

 

Rev. 2009-02-27 MOM


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