Accidental Synergist

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"Because the rooted vegetation cannot get from one place to another to procreate, all the insects, birds, and other creatures are given drives to cross-circulate amongst the vegetation; for instance, as the bee goes after honey, it inadvertently cross- pollinates and interfertilizes the vegetation. And all the mammals take on all the gases given off by the vegetation and convert them back to the gases essential for the vegetation. All this complex recirculatory system combined with, and utterly dependent upon, all the waters, rocks, soils, air, winds, Sun's radiation, and Earth's gravitational pull are what we have come to call ecology.

As specialists, we have thought of all these design programmings only separately as "species" and as independent linear drives, some pleasing and to be cultivated, and some displeasing and to be disposed of by humans. But the results are multiorbitally regenerative and embrace the whole planet, as the wind blows the seeds and insects completely around Earth.

Seen in their sky-returning functioning as recirculators of water, the ecological patterning of the trees is very much like a slow-motion tornado: an evoluting- involuting pattern fountaining into the sky, while the roots reverse-fountain reaching outwardly, downwardly, and inwardly into the Earth again once more to recirculate and once more again__like the pattern of atomic bombs or electromagnetic lines of force. The magnetic fields relate to this polarization as visually witnessed in the Aurora Borealis."

R. Buckminster Fuller. Synergetics: Explorations in the Geometry of Thinking

Cuba-U.S. Agroecology Network


During Cuba's Special Period following the collapse of the Soviet Bloc in 1991 and the dramatic reduction of financial and energy resources almost overnight, farm families were challenged to develop a food system capable of feeding themselves and their communities without the use of petroleum-based inputs.  That meant no chemical fertilizers or pesticides to nourish and shield crops from pests and disease and no gasoline to fuel trucks to transport produce from rural areas to cities.

They met that challenge by rediscovering and reinventing the traditional farming practices of their ancestors who modeled their farms based on their observations of the natural world.  In the process they developed what amounts to a "post-petroleum" system of food production called agroecology - a sustainable, resilient approach to growing healthy, nutritious food without adversely impacting terrestrial, aquatic or atmospheric environments.

I founded the Cuba-U.S. Agroecology Network (CUSAN) in 2015 following a week-long visit to Cuba organized by the Schumacher Center for a New Economics in October 2014. We went there to have a look at their agroecology system up close.

Cuban farmers demonstrated in the most powerful way under the most challenging circumstances that growing food without the aid of chemical fertilizers and pest controls can be the foundation of a country's agriculture system. We felt that we could learn a great deal from them and them from us.  The Network was established as a way for sustainable farmers in Cuba and the U.S. to share experiences.

Battle Creek, Michigan Is Serious About Good Food

This past weekend I had the honor as serving as a mentor to an amazing group of food entrepreneurs at the Battle Creek Business Boot Camp -- a three day intensive training providing select good food entrepreneurs the skills and resources that can help them grow their businesses. Participating entrepreneurs were provided with a toolkit of business essentials that focused on marketing, telling your story, break even analysis, understanding financial statements, solving business challenges, and more.  The camp ended with a “pitch competition” that sent one business team home with a $10,000 award from the Michigan Food Fund. The Michigan Good Food Fund, a $30 million public-private partnership loan fund, hosted the boot camp.  It provides financing and business assistance to good food enterprises that benefit underserved communities across Michigan. Our national political system is experiencing what appears to be an insufferable entropic free-fall.  This chaos at the federal level of government is galvanizing states and local communities to take more responsibility for shaping their futures.  That makes me hopeful. I am hopeful because I believe what I experienced at Battle Creek is an example (a microcosm if you will) of what is happening through out the country.  As I reflected on the weekend during my flight back to Massachusetts, I realized that what transpired actually extends well beyond the skills building and the pitch competition. The “pitch” that the teams of entrepreneurs made before a panel of experts on Sunday evening focused on how the $10,000 award could help them address an immediate challenge their businesses needed to overcome.  It was clear that each of the six businesses could REALLY use the money. However, throughout the weekend these competing individuals helped one another refine and improve their presentations.  That’s worth repeating. The ten entrepreneurs representing six businesses competing for a much-needed pot of cash willingly and enthusiastically helped their competitors – whom they did not even know before they came together to prepare for and participate in the boot camp!  There’s no question that the skilled facilitators set the stage by consciously structuring the sessions to encourage interaction among the participants, but that alone was no guarantee that would happen. The group was diverse: §  A family-owned business serving affordable, healthy lunch optionsusing locally sourced produce. §  A cooperative of Hispanic farmers with a mission to provide locally grown, sustainable produce and preserve Michigan's farmland. §  A producer of handcrafted, frozen treats utilizing locally sourced ingredients made with no artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives. §  A diversified, four-season farm and CSA producing vegetables, herbs, and flowers with a mission to provide fresh, naturally-grown produce at a fair price. §  An urban farm with a goal to cultivate health and consciousness through growing and educating the community about wholesome and local food. §  A family owned restaurant featuring authentic cuisine from Mexico using fresh, local ingredients and offering a salsa bar. There was an almost spontaneous bonding around a sense of shared purpose (globally and locally oriented), strong community pride, and an intuitive awareness of the importance if what Meena Palaniappan, Founder and CEO of atma Connect described to me in an email as the significant yet under appreciated role of social cohesion in building better communities. So take another look at the photograph at the top of the page.  This is an inspiring reminder that competition and cooperation are not necessarily incompatible. Both have critical roles to play in creating sustainable communities.  Let’s continue to demonstrate and communicate how apparent conflicting differences can be integrated into synergetic wholes that are greater than the sum of their parts.  In fact, the reconciliation of “polar opposites “ often results in generating the most sustaining synergetic benefits. Creative community syntropy (order, organization and life) is the counterpoint to political entropy (decline into disorder). By the way, congratulations to Olivia and Devon from Sunlight Gardens. I looked around when it was announced that they were the winners. Everyone was applauding and beaming from ear to ear. Relevant Links: Fair Food Network Good Food Battle Creek

This past weekend I had the honor as serving as a mentor to an amazing group of food entrepreneurs at the Battle Creek Business Boot Camp -- a three day intensive training providing select good food entrepreneurs the skills and resources that can help them grow their businesses. Participating entrepreneurs were provided with a toolkit of business essentials that focused on marketing, telling your story, break even analysis, understanding financial statements, solving business challenges, and more.  The camp ended with a “pitch competition” that sent one business team home with a $10,000 award from the Michigan Food Fund.

The Michigan Good Food Fund, a $30 million public-private partnership loan fund, hosted the boot camp.  It provides financing and business assistance to good food enterprises that benefit underserved communities across Michigan.

Our national political system is experiencing what appears to be an insufferable entropic free-fall.  This chaos at the federal level of government is galvanizing states and local communities to take more responsibility for shaping their futures.  That makes me hopeful. I am hopeful because I believe what I experienced at Battle Creek is an example (a microcosm if you will) of what is happening through out the country.  As I reflected on the weekend during my flight back to Massachusetts, I realized that what transpired actually extends well beyond the skills building and the pitch competition.

The “pitch” that the teams of entrepreneurs made before a panel of experts on Sunday evening focused on how the $10,000 award could help them address an immediate challenge their businesses needed to overcome.  It was clear that each of the six businesses could REALLY use the money. However, throughout the weekend these competing individuals helped one another refine and improve their presentations. 

That’s worth repeating. The ten entrepreneurs representing six businesses competing for a much-needed pot of cash willingly and enthusiastically helped their competitors – whom they did not even know before they came together to prepare for and participate in the boot camp!  There’s no question that the skilled facilitators set the stage by consciously structuring the sessions to encourage interaction among the participants, but that alone was no guarantee that would happen.

The group was diverse:

§  A family-owned business serving affordable, healthy lunch optionsusing locally sourced produce.

§  A cooperative of Hispanic farmers with a mission to provide locally grown, sustainable produce and preserve Michigan's farmland.

§  A producer of handcrafted, frozen treats utilizing locally sourced ingredients made with no artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives.

§  A diversified, four-season farm and CSA producing vegetables, herbs, and flowers with a mission to provide fresh, naturally-grown produce at a fair price.

§  An urban farm with a goal to cultivate health and consciousness through growing and educating the community about wholesome and local food.

§  A family owned restaurant featuring authentic cuisine from Mexico using fresh, local ingredients and offering a salsa bar.

There was an almost spontaneous bonding around a sense of shared purpose (globally and locally oriented), strong community pride, and an intuitive awareness of the importance if what Meena Palaniappan, Founder and CEO of atma Connect described to me in an email as the significant yet under appreciated role of social cohesion in building better communities.

So take another look at the photograph at the top of the page.  This is an inspiring reminder that competition and cooperation are not necessarily incompatible. Both have critical roles to play in creating sustainable communities.  Let’s continue to demonstrate and communicate how apparent conflicting differences can be integrated into synergetic wholes that are greater than the sum of their parts.  In fact, the reconciliation of “polar opposites “ often results in generating the most sustaining synergetic benefits. Creative community syntropy (order, organization and life) is the counterpoint to political entropy (decline into disorder).

By the way, congratulations to Olivia and Devon from Sunlight Gardens. I looked around when it was announced that they were the winners. Everyone was applauding and beaming from ear to ear.

Relevant Links:

Fair Food Network

Good Food Battle Creek

What Is Civic Synergy?

Social innovation appears important because, as anticipated, it indicates viable ways of dealing with [intractable problems]: solutions that break the traditional economic models and propose new ones, operating on the basis of a multiplicity of actors’ motivations and expectations.[1]

I vaguely remember civics class in junior high school.  What I do recall is how little it seemed to resemble the way the relationship between government and its citizens actually worked.  This was particularly true in the predominantly black neighborhood where I grew up in Cleveland, Ohio from 1949-1967.  I’m sure that theoretically all of the textbook boxes were checked off: people voted, paid taxes and obeyed, while bending, the law.

However, in no way were we equally represented in city or state government nor on the police force or in the firehouses. Shortly after I left home to attend college in Massachusetts, Carl Stokes was elected mayor of Cleveland in November 1967. That was a big deal. He was the first elected black mayor of a major city in the U.S. 

The foregoing might lead one to conclude that my childhood neighborhood was socioeconomically disadvantaged. On the contrary, I lived in a thriving, robust community that included street after street of family-owned homes, main streets and boulevards teeming with locally owned businesses, safe and well maintained public parks and baseball diamonds filled with kids, reliable public transportation and easy access to some of the most wonderful cultural resources in the nation.

That’s not to imply that Cleveland’s Fairfax neighborhood was immune to the discriminatory and racist practices that were prevalent throughout the country at that time.

[Cleveland’s] postwar era was also marked by progress in civil rights. In 1945 the Cleveland Community Relations Board was established; it soon developed a national reputation for promoting improvement in race relations. The following year, the city enacted a municipal civil-rights law that revoked the license of any business convicted of discriminating against African Americans. The liberal atmosphere of the postwar period led to a gradual decline in discrimination against blacks in public accommodations during the late 1940s and 1950s. By the 1960s, both hospital wards and downtown hotels and restaurants served African Americans.

Despite these improvements, however, serious problems continued to plague the African American community. The most important of these was housing.

As the suburbanization of the city's white population accelerated, the black community expanded to the east and northeast of the Central-Woodland area, particularly into Hough and Glenville. Expansion, however, did not lead to more integrated neighborhoods or provide better housing for blacks. "Blockbusting" techniques by realtors led to panic selling by whites in Hough in the 1950s; once a neighborhood became all black, landlords would subdivide structures into small apartments and raise rents exorbitantly. The result, by 1960, was a crowded ghetto of deteriorating housing stock. At the same time, segregation in public schools continued, school officials routinely assigned black children to predominantly black schools. In 1964 interracial violence broke out when blacks protested the construction of 3 new schools, as perpetuating segregation patterns. Frustration over inability to effect changes in housing and education, coupled with a rise in black unemployment that began in the late 1950s, finally ignited the Hough riots for 4 days in 1966.                       

The Encyclopedia of Cleveland History

Against seemingly insurmountable odds our neighborhood flourished. I can best describe it as a decentralized, safe, nurturing and mutually supportive ecosystem that was nested within racially charged national, state and city layers. Bound together by pride and commitment to resist racist oppression, our families self-organized into a tightly knit organism capable of generating a powerful form of social capital that empowered and enabled us to prosper in ways that conventional wisdom could not comprehend.

That is civic synergy: the collective power of people in organized networks to transform the systems that affect their lives. The Dudley Street Neighborhood Initiative leveraged it.  The Cuban revolutionaries leveraged it.  Interestingly, so did the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) following the tragic fire in 1967 that took the lives of Apollo 1 astronauts Grissom, White and Chaffee. 

NASA and its contractors still tend to date events in terms of ‘before the fire’ and ‘after the fire’. Before the fire there had been the usual run-ins between NASA and its contractors…Suddenly everything changed. NASA Administrator Webb came to realize that relationships with the contractors were defective and that the inter-communication they had fought so hard to obtain was not working as well as they thought it was. The result was an intimate new sociology of space, a new kind of government-industrial complex in which each interpenetrated the other so much that it is hard to tell which is which. Frequently now the government and corporate participants in Apollo display an emotional – at times almost mystical – comradeship that seems unique in industrial life. (“The Unexpected Payoff of Project Apollo” by Tom Alexander. Fortune. July 1969.) [2]

 In A Paradise Built in Hell: The Extraordinary Communities That Arise In Disasters, Rebecca Solnit describes how natural and man-made disasters can be utopias that showcase human solidarity and point the way to a freer society. Neither capitalism nor socialism can save you when all hell breaks loose.  People -- your family, friends, neighbors and sometimes, total strangers – can. The question is, can the same kind of solidarity be mobilized to create opportunities for positive change absent a life threatening catalyst? (Although it can be argued that it may already be too late for that).

Interactive Networks

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Interactive networks facilitate the sharing of encouragement, insights and innovation among individuals championing specific solutions to their local problems and among others concerned with the same type of problem.[2]  The emphasis is on innovation not invention, although inventions may be developed as part of the process. Tools such as systems maps help reveal the active or potential networks that can facilitate innovative change within existing systems while helping stakeholders envision and build new systems that are truly free, just and sustainable.

Is that too utopian?  Then I plead guilty as charged.


[1] Manzini, Ezio. “Design, When Everybody Designs: An Introduction to Design for Social Innovation. The MIT Press. 2015.

[2] Parker, Louis Allen. “Interactive Networks for Innovation Champions: A Mechanism for Decentralized Educational Change. Harvard University, Ed.D., 1971.

The Transformative Powers of Interactive Networks

In the early 1970s while working at the Harvard Coop in Cambridge, Massachusetts, a young man named L. Allen Parker approached me pretty much out of the blue and invited me to join his ad hoc Center on Technology and Society (CTS) discussion group.  Allen used his 1971 Ph.D. thesis, Interactive Networks For Innovation Champions: A Mechanism For Decentralized Educational Change (I still have my copy) as the catalyst for the group’s explorations of innovations which simultaneously address technological, societal and individual concerns. It was the first serious examination of networks and networking that I had ever read and has been a major influence in my life and work. 

What made Allen’s thesis particularly compelling for me was the wide variety of networks he researched in his quest to discover the common properties responsible for their capacity to facilitate change. One example of the latent transformative powers of networks he cites really struck a chord:

NASA and its contractors still tend to date events in terms of ‘before the fire’ and ‘after the fire’. Before the fire there had been the usual run-ins between NASA and its contractors over schedules, performances and costs. Suddenly everything changed . . . From this analysis emerged virtually a new organization, new state of mind, new approaches. NASA Administrator Webb and his administrators came to realize that relationships with the contractors were defective and that the inter-communication they had fought so hard to obtain was not working as well as they thought it was. The result was an intimate new sociology of space, a new kind of government-industrial complex in which each interpenetrated the other so much that it is hard to tell which is which. Frequently now the government and corporate participants in Apollo display an emotional – at times almost mystical – comradeship that seems unique in industrial life.  (“The Unexpected Payoff of Project Apollo” by Tom Alexander. Fortune. July 1969.)

 

So Who Was Bucky Fuller?

I wrote this essay for the New Alchemy Quarterly in 1983. The photo shows Bucky in the New Alchemy "pillow dome" with Nancy Todd, Liz Fial, J. Baldwin and John Todd.     - GW

R. Buckminster Fuller’s insights inspired the creation of the Whole Earth Catalog. He is responsible for introducing concepts such as “whole systems", "comprehensive anticipatory design” and "synergy" into our vocabulary. More than 300,000 of his geodesic domes dot the globe, serving functions ranging from housings for radar equipment to year-round passive solar greenhouses. He has written more than 25 books, and by his own account has traveled more than 1,200,000 miles - or the equivalent of 48 trips around the planet - delivering lectures and consulting with heads of state, architects, designers, artists, schoolteachers and community activists.

Despite all this, Bucky, as he preferred to be called, was still a figure more admired (or in some cases dismissed or scoffed at) than understood. In this, he was not unlike other great thinkers. Most of his profound insights and discoveries have been obscured in the limelight of his more dramatic and tangible inventions like the dome, the Dymaxion House and the Dymaxion Car. However, if there is any truth in the saying regarding hindsight's near perfect vision, I'm certain that future generations will acknowledge Bucky as the discoverer of no less than the mathematical principles by which the universe expands, snowflakes form, florets distribute themselves in pine cones, DNA twists, thoughts take shape, and gravity manifests itself as love, all of which disclosed themselves to him upon his discovery of what he calls “Nature's Coordinate System."

Bucky's discovery of Nature's way of doing things was the result of a 56-year commitment he made to himself: "Dare to speak and live and love the Truth." Bucky’s passionate pursuit of the eternal verities of Universe were motivated by feelings similar to those expressed by renowned biologist C.H. Waddington shortly before his death:

"Most people are beginning to feel that they must be thinking in some wrong way about how the world works... the ways of looking at things that we in the past have come to accept as common sense do not work under all circumstances, and it is very likely that we are reaching a period of history when they do not match the type of processes which are going on in the world at large."

Bucky was not at all reluctant about pointing out exactly where he thought our thinking went askew:

"Science's mathematical language is not based on experimental evidence. Science refers all events only to its three-dimensional x,y,z coordinates. Physics has found no straight lines - has found only waves. Physics has found no solids - only high frequency event fields... Universe is not conforming to a three-dimensional perpendicular-parallel frame of reference. The Universe of physical energy is always divergently expanding (radiantly) or convergently contracting (gravitationally).”

What Bucky was telling us is that Nature is not logical. That's not to say that nature is beyond reason. Gregory Bateson, ecologist/anthropologist who loved to delve into matters of epistemology, once wrote: "Logic is a poor model for cause and effect." Bucky simply presented us with a more accurate model: Synergetics. "Synergy alone explains the eternally regenerative integrity of Universe. You cannot understand nature if you do not understand synergy.”

Synergy is a fundamental principle of whole systems and therefore of ecology. It refers to "the unique behavior of whole systems unpredicted by the behavior of their respective subsystems' events."  A corollary of this synergetic principle is: You can't predict the whole by looking at its parts in isolation. Bucky's discovery of synergy uncovered the flaws in reductionist science, the way that most of us have been taught to think about the world and the manner in which we approach problems.

"Evolution," said Bucky, "is bound and determined to make humanity a success.”  The fact that we seem to be headed deeper and deeper into one crisis after another might seem to contradict that claim. But Bucky was convinced that collectively humanity now possesses the know-how and resources to take care of all humanity for generations to come and to do so at higher standards of living and individual freedom than any humans have thus far experienced or even dreamed of, while in no way endangering the ecological integrity of our planet.

If we are only willing to observe Universe and talk about those observations without falsifying them, we can learn how the harmonious all-embracing set of relationships we call ecology allows nature to achieve maximum results with minimum use of materials and energy. Our ability to discover and apply Nature's eternal principles to problems of human design is the key to the salvation of our planet for Bucky. Real wealth is know-how -- the ability to do more with less.

“The world teeters on the threshold of revolution. If it is a bloody revolution it is all over. The alternative is a design science revolution. Design science produces so much performance per unit of resource invested as to take care of all human needs. This can be accomplished by each individual's acquiring working knowledge of Nature’s coordinate system.”

 

So, Who Was Bucky Fuller? by Greg Watson

To learn more about Bucky and his work, visit the Buckminster Fuller Institute website.

 

It's Time For A New Economics

Having worked on and off in the arena of sustainable agriculture for nearly fifty years in both the government and nonprofit sectors, I am asked/challenged most often with the question “When will the production of locally grown, nutritious food become economically viable?”
 

For years I struggled mightily to find an honest and (very important in this “sound-byte era”) concise response to that needling question.  The struggle is finally over.  The answer came to me clear as a bell: It already is.  I came to this conclusion upon realizing that the question we should be asking is “Why is our current economic system incapable of meeting the basic needs of so many citizens?”

This epiphany is in large part a result of my recent experiences in Cuba. My first visit to the island was at the end of October 2014 – less than two months before presidents Obama and Castro announced that it was time for their two countries to take serious steps toward renewing diplomatic relations. I was part of a delegation organized by the Schumacher Center for a New Economics and supported by the Christopher Reynolds Foundation.  The delegation was seeking to learn more about what Cubans did to avoid starvation during their “Special Period” following the collapse of the Soviet Bloc in 1991. That singular event abruptly and forever severed Cuba’s major lifeline for agricultural exports and petroleum imports. The immediate results were the near implosion of its economy and looming starvation of its people.

A crisis of that nature leads to rapid no-nonsense prioritization. Priority number one for Cuba was finding ways to feed its people without petroleum or the economic support of the defunct Soviet Union. Cubans responded to this first challenge by developing an organic system of farming within a cooperative infrastructure. The Alamar Organopónico on the outskirts of Havana is one of the country’s premier agricultural cooperatives. The farm was created in 1997 to serve the surrounding neighborhood. Vivero Alamar is one of many organopónicos that have emerged since the early 1990s.  Employing seventeen workers, this 25-acre worker-owned organic farm provides 60-70 percent of the fruits and vegetables consumed by the residents of Havana.

The other major challenge was finding a new economic system that acknowledges the value of Cuba’s crisis-driven strategy for sustainable food sovereignty. I was surprised by the animated and informed public conversations taking place during our visit around the economic failures of socialism.  The gist of those conversations boiled down to: Is there a system that can improve the overall economic condition of Cubans while preserving the significant social gains (health, education, agrarian reform) stemming from the Revolution?

A similar conversation is long overdue here in the United States.  It borders on the absurd to think that the reason for not supporting locally based strategies for producing nutritious food grown with environmentally sound practices is because they are deemed “uneconomical.”  In 1973 economist E. F. Schumacher wrote a seminal book entitled Small Is Beautiful: Economics As If People Mattered.  Schumacher’s advocacy for a more ethical approach to economics resonates in 2016 as much as, if not more than, it did in 1973.  We are desperately in need of a new economics that prioritizes people’s needs over corporate greed.  Why not begin by demonstrating how such a system could deliver life-giving sustenance to all citizens?

This is not a utopian dream.  It is a goal that is well within sight if we are willing to adjust our vision.  Bernie Sanders is right on the mark with his call for a political revolution to get the U.S. back on track.  That revolution needs to be informed by what visionary polymath Buckminster Fuller called a “design science revolution” that would put the discoveries of science and technology to work on behalf of all humanity. The Buckminster Fuller Institute annually awards $100,000 to an individual or organization with the most comprehensive solution to a pressing global problem, helping “make the world work for everyone” while preserving – even enhancing – Earth’s overall ecological integrity.

A convergence of these two nonviolent, systemic revolutions provides the best hope of shedding light on alternatives to corporate trickle down as well as to government-planned economies and reveals pathways to economic systems that are truly for and by the people. Critical components of an equitable and just economics are already being implemented in communities where residents’ basic food needs are unmet in Cleveland, Detroit, Boston, and other cities across the country. Among the pieces of this promising economic puzzle are food banks, community land trusts, neighborhood markets, urban farms, urban farming zoning ordinances, worker-owned cooperatives, farmers’ markets, food policy councils, and regional food systems plans – all waiting to be assembled and complemented by pieces from other sectors such as housing, healthcare, education, and transportation. Local currencies are wonderfully disruptive innovations designed to support local businesses by keeping money circulating within communities and creating new value networks.  They are being incubated in communities as diverse as San Francisco, California, to Great Barrington, Massachusetts.  Taken together these social innovations, organizational strategies, and progressive policies are part of an evolving Community Systems Design Toolkit.

What we need now is proof of concept: one or more place-based pilots where a critical mass of these tools can be put into play and unleash the socioeconomic synergies (simultaneously eradicating so-called food deserts; providing new options for preserving open space; creating new job opportunities; generating civic pride; empowering citizens) that illustrate the true value of this approach to economic development.

As Manuel DeLanda points out in his remarkable book A Thousand Years of Nonlinear History, there are historical precedents for the economic disruption that is imbedded in the structure of society:
 

The birth of Europe in the eleventh century of our era was made possible by a great agricultural intensification.  A series of innovations occurred which consolidated to form a remarkably efficient new way of exploiting the soil. These innovations (the heavy plow, new ways of harnessing the horse’s muscular energy, the open-field system and triennial field rotation) were mutually enhancing as well as interdependent, so that only when they finally meshed were their intensifying effects felt. 

 

Here at the beginning of the twenty-first century there’s a new opportunity for synergistic meshing; however, rather than exploiting the soils, this meshing seeks to nurture and co-evolve with them, with the emphasis on synchronizing our economics with Nature’s regenerative cycles.

The two scarcity-driven extremes (capitalism and socialism) have dominated our thinking regarding what is possible for far too long. We deserve an economics that is at once practical and fueled by hope. In order to bring this about, we must break free from the linear (left-right-centrist) approach to thinking about economics. It would be ironic to say the least if a collaboration between Cuba and the U.S. contributed in some small way to the creation of a transcendent, synergistic economic system.

It's Time for a New Economics by Greg Watson

To learn more about the Schumacher Center's work in Cuba, visit the Cuba-U.S. Agroecology Network's website.