I've tried to wait until the dust settles. What happens for me with kickstarter is that I don't even remember what level of reward I signed up for so I don't know what I'm supposed to get. I think I opted for the level where I could watch the streaming video. But, I'm afraid I have to ask you to look at your records and then tell me how to access it or refer me to a post where that already exists. Sorry about this.
I have listened to and read most of what I can find on the internet and permies forums in a search for elaborations on Smits' integrated methodology for planning his projects. I would love to learn many more details about this methodology, a methodology that includes his use of GIS (Geographic Information Systems) to apply many different data sets to models that can be tweaked to show particular regions -- or even farmers -- what recipe (of crop species and layouts, etc.) has what economic, labor, and environmental implications. He appears to use the resulting 25-year plans to generate business plans.
My next attempt will be his talk with Peter Hirst at Permaculture Voices 1, "Permaculture in a half million-acre forest concession in Indonesia", in the hopes that he may reveal more about his methodology there.
Does anyone know if there are methodological details in that talk and/or what other places I can look for such details?
Hadn't remembered what exactly I had pledged. Finally got the time to check kickstarter and confirmed my $50 pledge is for streaming. Vimeo id: 8066730.
I haven't received an email that I know of. Congratulations on being done with the project!!!
I hope this is the right way to email you all for the access.
I love the overview you gave in reply to this post. I'd love to read an overview chapter that also talked about the pros and cons about particular animals for the rest of the permaculture system. This wouldn't be the focus of the book, but probably just touch on this latter topic with references for more reading. I want to figure out what animals to use for fiber but also how they synergize with other aspects of the system and produce other yields (e.g., meat, milk).
Also, any writing I've done has been greatly facilitated by breaking it up into smaller pieces. In essence, what I'd like is perhaps the hardest one, though, the big picture integrative one that makes me then look up more detail later in the book. As in..."Oh, cool. So maybe sheep followed by poultry. Let me find out more about sheep and poultry."
So psyched you might write up some of your knowledge!
Thank you. My questions are vague right now which is why I'd love an intro book. Basically, wanting to know how to provide enough fiber for clothing while synergizing other yields. So, for example, some discussion about animal and plants useful for fibers but that can also work well in food systems.
I'm really loving the depth of the conversation that you both bring! Love the analogies relating the conversation back to permaculture at the plant level. Deep bow of gratitude to both Laura and Jennifer for sharing who you are so eloquently and courageously.
I also have found it very valuable to make the distinction between liking vs. getting along. Very important in my view.
I've also found it helpful to think about "slogging", as in slogging through the muck, one step at a time. This is for times that truly suck and that seem like they'll go on forever. I think there's strength in slogging, even some nobility. That doesn't help much, but it does help some: to know that sometimes we just have to slog and that we're not doing anything wrong because we're slogging. And, of course when we're slogging we can forgive ourselves for all kinds of things we do that might not be ideal under non-slogging circumstances. My 3 year old Son went through 3 years of treatment for Leukemia. Was I at my best? Definitely not. There were days I just had to leave work and kind of walk around in a fog. I treated myself to frites and Belgian beer. I got a little heavier than I would like. But, I was slogging, so F it, you know? So, I guess I think that slogging is another set of skills that make us less brittle and more resilient for our community -- and most of our communities need more resilience. I wonder, too, about the ability to just slog even when there doesn't feel like a lot of hope, like for our planet.
What do you suggest if one person's "truth" is just, like, really awful or sort of inherently violent towards the other person in the relationship? I live in a rural area of Texas, and if I get in a disagreement about, say, politics or some sort of social issue with someone, it's very likely that they believe that (for instance) gay people are inherently immoral, or that black people are inherently inferior. I'm not talking about matters of policy or how they vote or something, but of core beliefs about people. Do you think this kind of skillful communication can work in that sort of situation, or would this be an instance where long-term avoidance might be a good idea? What if you are "trapped" in a relationship with that sort of person, by blood or marriage or proximity or some other factor (such as being in community together)?
You've brought up two important issues here. First, we're not always going to want to be in relationship with some people given their truth. Second, we can't always choose who we are in relationship with -- we are trapped. The "trapped" factor is a big one. I've said elsewhere that to the extent we are irrevocably tied to someone, we are in dire need of skillful disagreement. If skillful disagreement is not possible, that's a pretty miserable situation. For those situations, my best thought is to try to keep things "light and easy", a reference to the Disneyland alluded to in the original post. In fact, one could say that many of our culture's etiquette rules are designed to facilitate just this. Keeping it "light and easy" means keeping things surface: "How are you?" "Great! And you?!" If it sounds like avoidance, that's because it is avoidance.
do you often observe dynamics where one person tends to far more often (and/or more genuinely) be the "listener" and the other the "speaker" in these sorts of situations
Yes, good point! It takes two to tango as they say. A dialog means two people engaging in it. If one person is using intimacy strategies and another is not, that's what I have called "the two planet problem" -- you are on different planets. I do believe it's up to the intimacy folks to get bilingual, but all too often that means not using intimacy strategies. That's a real shame, but I have yet to find any other options. In fact, something I call the "unholy trinity" is a description of people who are probably not capable of skillful disagreement. The Unholy Trinity consists of someone who is (1) sensitive (this can be a good thing: they pick up on real and subtle stuff), (2) defensive, and (3) unaware. I'd add a variant: (1) insensitive, (2) defensive, and (3) unaware. I mostly see the former version in women and the latter in men. As mentioned above, I tend to avoid intimacy with these folks by keeping things light and easy, something I find kind of boring and unsatisfying but necessary. During my day job as a therapist, it can take years of work to help people become aware and safe enough with their emotions that they can use intimacy strategies to engage in skillful disagreement. I have seen great change in people, but a prerequisite is that they want to change. In this article, I talk more about the Unholy Trinity and the "trapped" factor.
I have experienced situations where I will try to empathize with the other person and compromise and really get where they are coming from, and I do it over and over, and then when it's their turn, they just...don't really get it. Like, they'll pretend to understand/accept what I am saying (pretend is not quite the right word--they're not trying to be insincere--but they just genuinely don't get it but want to be accommodating and not be a jerk, so they just go through the motions)
This specific situation you talk about is heart-breaking. Sounds like someone who gets your words but not your music. And, as you are saying, that simply isn't good enough. It's not connecting and not really hearing. A summary is only the step in the door to a conversation, the other 2 steps are the most important, with true, sincere, "getting it" empathy, being the hardest and most important. With patients and people I coach, I use the analogy of an actor crying over the death of their dog, Old Yeller. Imagine an actor saying the right words without any emotion. "Cut!", yells the director. "That ain't gonna work! I need to feel your grief!" That's called good acting. And the way good actors achieve convincing tears on stage is similar to what we need to do for real empathy. Say the actor has never had a dog, much less one named "Old Yeller". How is that actor going to generate real empathy (in this case grief) for the role? By conjuring in their mind the closest similar experience, perhaps the death of their Bunny FruFru. Then, when thinking about their beautiful friend, the tears come. The Director will be happy with the emotional connection that results and so would we as the speaker in a dialog. But, if someone is not able to feel emotions that are similar or they "can't go there" or they haven't had any similar experience, empathy is not going to work very well.
If someone has repeatedly tried to be a good listener and a good speaker and they are not getting the reciprocation they need, that's when I start to think about leaving that relationship. But again, that assumes one can. Suppose you have children together, for example? These are really hard decisions that people work through sometimes agonizingly for months, typically with help from their support network. Often, however, a change in the dynamic is required. For this, it is useful to know about the pursuer-withdrawal pattern. In this pattern, someone withdraws. The other person pursues because they are not getting the connection they want, but the withdrawing person feels suffocated or impinged on and thus withdraws some more. The other person pursues even more strongly because now they're really not getting what they needed. Welcome to the pursuer-withdrawal pattern. So, one experiment to try is to withdraw rather than pursue and see what happens. This often goes along with setting a limit, "I'm not getting what I need from this conversation, so I'm going to stop having it for now" and then following up with a physical withdrawal (e.g., take a walk outside, garden). Finally, you might notice that intimacy strategies do not always invoke pleasant responses from others -- they want us to agree with them! They want us to do what they want us to do! Who can blame them? I want the same thing. However, skillful disagreement means just that -- we disagree. No one is saying the other person will like that. Indeed, disagreeing with someone is a great way of making them feel unpleasant emotion and the subsequent silence and violence of avoidance strategies. So part of skillful disagreement is being able to let people down and handling our own unpleasant emotion resulting from that: guilt anyone? That means handling that emotion without acquiescing.
There's lots of other stuff that is helpful to understand here, like the existence of extinction bursts, for example. But, at this point, I'm getting into stuff that is better described by referring to 4 quadrants and, for that, I refer you here.
There are two critical necessities for a good relationship: (1) Getting along, and (2) Talking skillfully when you can’t. Much of our culture focuses on the first. Thus, we are not good at the second.
Mostly what our culture teaches is that when things get unpleasant, we should (1) pretend they aren't (e.g., Disneyland, "be positive"), or (2) avoid the unpleasantness. Unfortunately, neither option allows us to incorporate all the data for a given situation (selecting only the data that make us feel pleasant) and the latter option, avoidance, leads to silence (e.g., leaving a relationship or community) or violence (ranging from emotional violence, such as criticism, to physical violence). Avoidance strategies, like distraction, do have their place: who hasn't decided a night out for beer and frites is called for to put a rest to an awful day? But avoidance strategies are best-used as short-term breaks.
There are another set of strategies -- intimacy strategies -- that we can learn to use with ourselves and others when the going gets rough that are better for the long-run. These are particularly useful when unpleasant emotion exists as a result of disagreement or things not matching our expectations. Intimacy strategies involve seeing reality (the pleasant and unpleasant) and facing it directly -- that often involves communication and, more specifically, skillful disagreement.
Intimacy strategies are hard enough to learn and use with others who are also willing and able to engage in intimacy strategies. Unfortunately, because our mainstream culture is so invested in avoidance and subsequently fearful and inept at dealing with unpleasant emotion, most people we encounter will be fluent in avoidance and very remedial with intimacy strategies. And, if one is trying to use intimacy strategies with someone totally invested in avoidance, that can lead to some really problematic interactions, many of which get highlighted here at permies.com. Many of these are the reason behind the fragility of intentional community in my opinion.
Unfortunately, the realm of Disneyland (pretending everything is "positive") and Avoidance (pretending nothing is unpleasant or rejecting those "responsible" for the unpleasant) have relatively easy rules to follow: be positive, be nice, don't talk about anything controversial, avoid those who disagree with you, etc. But intimacy strategies are not as easy to encapsulate -- it's less like playing checkers and more like raising a child or surfing a wave. Intimacy strategies require dynamic changes as the moment-by-moment interaction changes, a fact that makes mindfulness -- paying attention moment-by-moment -- a pretty foundational skill here.
The core skills for intimacy strategies are the ability so speak your truth skillfully and listen to others' truths skillfully. When I teach this to people in my practice, I introduce this as a set of formalized steps that I call the Empathy Dialog (yes, I said there aren't any simple rules, but this is just the intro). I know it may sound cheesy. Does it help that I normally use a fake announcer voice when I introduce it? Anway, the Empathy Dialog is deceptively simple. Here are the rules:
(1) A speaker and a listener take turns
(2) The speaker begins, following one rule (KISS - keep it short and simple) and this script: "I feel x (because of y), and I request that you do z". x has to be a genuine emotion word (e.g., "I feel pissed off..." rather than "I feel you're an idiot"). z has to be something really concrete (e.g., "I request that you pick up your socks" rather than "I request that you be more thoughtful")
(3) The listener has 3 steps: (a) Summarize what the speaker has said (word-for-word if you can), (b) validate (e.g., "That makes sense"), (c) empathize ("I imagine you might be feeling really pissed off at me")
(4) The roles are then switched
(5) Always be sincere. If you can't be sincere, then get more information until you can be.
(6) Avoid the 4 horseman of a relationship apocalypse (something John Gottman has researched with impressive data): criticism, contempt, defensiveness, and stone walling. Each of these has a "halo" or helpful thing you can do instead. The halo for both criticism & contempt ("you are a lazy slob") is complaining ("I really hate it when you leave your socks on the floor."). The halo for defensiveness is actually self-compassion since the only criticisms that really hook us are ones we think have some truth to them. Finally, the halo for stonewalling is taking agreed upon breaks and then returning to the conversation after you have calmed down.
Though this may sound simple, most people cannot do any of the above very well. Speakers can't keep it short and simple. They go on and on until the listener drops dead in frustrated confusion and/or boredom, they don't use any real emotion word, and their request is vague (e.g., "I just want you to love me"). The listener often forgets all three of their steps, instead launching into a defense of their sock-leaving proclivities -- they don't hear, much less summarize, the speaker. If they do try the summary, the speaker often has to repeat what they said several times before the listener can actually hear what was said. And that's not the hard part. The hard part is validating (sincerely) and then empathizing.
Frankly, I think it is a rare duo that can master the art of skillful disagreement where the steps above become fluid and quick, where someone can take several listener turns in a row if needed before they actually take a turn at speaking. But, I have personally seen this benefit many people even when they haven't got it perfect. There's a lot more to say about all of this and if you want more detail you can go here. But, you could also just try it out.
Any suggestions, comments, questions, skepticism, etc. welcome.
I really like the emails. My comment isn't about plan text or html (I don't care either way), but about the fact that I'd like to more easily line up the title/subject text with the particular post highlighted. Maybe in the body of the email repeat the relevant title/subject text before the description of the subsequent link?
Seems like Paul is one of the minority of people who express themselves fairly directly as a personal norm in a world where most people avoid unpleasant reality. Avoiders need to gain the skills to deal with unpleasant reality when it comes up. One way our avoidance culture tries to do this is by insisting on "positivity" and the pathologizing of anything "negative" which often just means unpleasant. Those who are able to express themselves directly -- something I would include as an "intimacy strategy" -- need to realize how rare that is, how fragile avoiders are, and develop better bilingual skills -- that is, the ability to talk to avoiders as skillfully as possible. Why? Because intimacy strategies might as well be coming from a different planet for many people who rely totally on avoidance strategies -- something I'd call "the 2 planet problem". This post of mine talks in detail about these issues. I am not pretending to know the answers, but I am hopeful that slow dialog about these issues can benefit from the experiments we try.
I appreciated reading all of your posts. As someone who has lived in co-housing for about 7 years and worked for about 15 years as a psychologist, I recently posted my Top 5 Lessons Learned Living in a Village that might be of interest here.
Here, though, I'd like to put in my 2 cents about something that I think deserves more emphasis in this discussion: skillful disagreement.
Many of these posts above talk about the importance of being compatible in one form or another and structures that encourage freedom and/or distance which allow for individual differences. I agree these are critical but are not a complete package.
Think about a community that should be simpler than a village -- a romantic partnership between two people. The success rate of these small, intentional communities (tried by up to 90% of us), is about 50-60% (citation). And that success rate is accomplished after, presumably, good sex, good memories, a pretty hefty filtering process, and numerous successful models in all of our lives. Like the above posts, many of us emphasize compatibility for romantic relationships. But as a therapist who has worked a lot with couples, it is not uncommon to focus on another critical ingredient, communication.
Since communication is not very difficult for any of us when we are agreeing with someone (e.g., You like the Packers?! Same here!"), what good communication comes down to, either in a marriage, or any other relationship, is skillful disagreement. When we disagree, that's the time when we need to lean on some pretty ninja-like communication skills. The problem (alluded to above by Jennifer Richardson & the author who said, "I think underlying a lot of them is that the old and dominant socioeconomic and cultural systems have evolved along a track away from living in small community. Most of us have to re-learn what that means.") is that our culture has largely forgotten how to disagree skillfully and thus, we rely too heavily on compatibility and good fences. Understand, I think it is CRITICALLY important to have compatibility AND good fences (boundaries), it's just not enough. No matter how compatible or how good the fences, disagreement will always occur. That's why, we need to re-learn the art of skillful disagreement.
That's a huge topic that I try to teach (and learn) in my work with couples and other patients in my practice. If you are interested, I'd refer you to this post, and I would welcome thoughts here (or there).
I was inspired after reading Paul's posts about the Ant Village to share my own thoughts that come from living in a co-housing community in WI for the past 7 years. As a psychologist, I'm interested in combining "social technology" with permaculture to evolve a culture of thriving on one planet's worth of resources. Community is a critical for this. I'm looking forward to engaging more with the material here to iterate these lessons. For now, though, my top 5 criteria for a functional village, in order of importance are:
(1) Without interaction between people, there is no village: (a) Allocate time for relationships. (b) Live in physical structure that encourages interaction and get the right balance between public and private space.
(2) Invite those who can (a) skillfully hear and express their truth even when there is unpleasant emotion and (b) are willing to continually improve at this. Best way to know: you’ve had disagreements and come out the other side.
(3) Be free! Learn from failure and communicate instead of creating too many rules.
(4) Small is beautiful. Empower the smallest decision-making group possible for the decision at hand.
(5) Welcome people, build goodwill, and be clear about a coherent vision and process.
To keep it short, I'll leave it there. But, if you do want to read details about each of these 5 points with links to discussions of other social technologies, you can read more here.