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Intentional Community Design Factor: Changing Mindsets  RSS feed

 
D. Logan
gardener
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Location: Soutwest Ohio
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I have in the past considered an intentional community, but it seems to me that success would require a movement towards different thinking. The level of difference is largely dependent on how it was envisioned, but for me, I am focused on a thought experiment where the society mirrors a more arcane style of living but without losing touch with the modern world. For my own thinking, I will outline some of where I am considering below.

Looking at history, it seems to me that as a system of governance goes, some of the best ever recorded occurred with the people native to America before the influx of foreign conquerors disposed them and altered their patterns. Men and women handled different roles, but were not unequal in the way they often are in other cultures. Leaders only existed as far as those who followed their lead would accept. There were not police forces or other things, but instead much of it was handled through custom and taboos. While I am not saying they didn't have flaws and that each group was not it's own unique culture, I have noted a strong influx of foreign settlers who were eager to join Native American societies and who were loathe to leave them if pulled away. The fact that laws had to be enacted to prevent people from deserting European style life in favor of joining native tribes says a lot about how much of a draw there was.

So much can be taken from these cultures, from the US modeling it's government structure loosely after a native nation to the concept of HUSP as forwarded by Paul. My biggest hang-up is in trying to come to a focused thought on how modern people could transition from our way of thinking into a thinking more in line with the Native Americans of times past? So many people have a hard time getting over their feeling that a 'government' is needed. Even those who are utterly anti-government tend to expect chaos without them. Granted, to work on a global level, some form of governance is probably required, but at least on a local or semi-local level, how can one help others away from the modern mindset and into one where respect is natural rather than simply a series of enforced rules we abide by?

I am eager for thoughts on how people could be helped to move from one mindset into another in a way that comes naturally and which doesn't belittle the point where they began. Sugar is going to win more hearts than vinegar after all.
 
mark masters
Posts: 28
Location: Mora, New Mexico
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Thank you for your thoughts on this subject. I, as well, have a deep appreciation for these types of social systems. I have spent close to 15 years learning from the Lakota people. It is a culture that is almost decimated. A small percentage of the population practices traditional life. My deepest and most powerful relations are with the elders. It is so amazing to hear first hand stories about the life and experiences from such a paradigm. Much of the ceremonial practice is a reflection of the acknowledgment of all life. The intricacies of every action has meaning developed over centuries. We could benefit tremendously from these hard fought lessons. I try to bring the full appreciation of this to the garden and all my relations.



 
D. Logan
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Location: Soutwest Ohio
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It sounds like you had a wonderful opportunity to learn things first hand that most people have a hard enough time getting access to second hand. While I have done tons of research over the years, I've never had the chance to interact with the members of a tribe that is still holding on to traditional values as more than something to do at ceremonies while otherwise living a 'modern' way of life. It would be great to hear some of your experiences in general, but also specifically related to this posting. How do the two mindsets manage to coexist and how do those holding on to the older way of thinking bring others into a similar understanding who aren't already there by nature?
 
mark masters
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Location: Mora, New Mexico
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Yes, it is very difficult to find anyone who is not influenced by the colonization of the planet. Every aspect of life has been infiltrated by a value system that does not represent the living systems that surround us. My experience is that even the traditionalist are having difficulty, there is very little context to the lifestyle that we are referencing. Ceremony becomes more and more about dealing with the illness rather then communing with the source.

I have been thinking quite a bit about this as I am sure many of us have. There is a combination of experiences that humanity has shared as a whole, It would seem logical that at this time of urgency, we could coordinate our species with this information, for a timely response to the situation. As this seems unlikely, is it possible to create communities that would reflect an effective model that could replace the current structure? Are there attributes of the Native American social structure (prior to colonials), that could be reflected in a new model?

I meet more and more people that are making changes in their own lives, individuals who, cumulatively, create a community of activism. It grows organically and each of us does what we can to address the condition that we face.
Without a shift in values, shared by the majority, it would seem difficult to translate the meaning of much of what the Native Americans were experiencing when these ways were practiced. In my own experience, changes that I make bring new people into my life, as my awareness grows and I activate accordingly, the community of others surfaces in my own life. How this grows and how we deal with the failure of social operating systems will create condition that we can not imagine. This will require new thinking and expanded awareness of the world we live in.

I guess my own conclusion is this. Until we address our own personal health and balance, we will continue to see these attempts at community influenced by the current paradigm through our own dis-ease.

 
mark masters
Posts: 28
Location: Mora, New Mexico
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The current conditions on the reservations are rough by any standard. It is a case of deprivation, the policy since Jackson has been, "Kill the Indian to save the Man", thats a direct quote from Jackson himself. By removing the Natives most powerful tools and incarcerating them on "Reservations", another way of saying "Concentration Camp", the government of this country has swept the people of this land under the carpet.
The consequences of removing the "ceremony" from native life, including language and food, has had such a detrimental effect on the people. Even the teachings of the past, that have been protected by many a brave soul, have lost much of the context in which they were created.
There are still many that practice the old ways of ceremony, but very few that live the complete encompassment of these traditions. Food has been a huge factor in the disassembly of these cultures. Most of the processed food has very low nutrition and very high in sugar and fat. Then there is the alcohol, this is the real spirit stealer. The amount of damage done is unthinkable.
With all this said, we still do ceremony, there is a lot of what you speak of, the weekend ceremonialist or warrior. As a result of the increasingly dire conditions in the world, many of us are looking for deeper connections to nature and world around us. Though the environment has increasingly changed and the people with it, the relevance remains. I see that there are cycles in nature that have been recognized by a long relationship with the environment, a way of coexisting and respecting the living world. The instructions are still very much imbedded in the ceremony. I would hope that each person would gain insight into their own involvement in this toil through these ways. After that, it is up to the individual to activate accordingly.
In this way, I feel that my journey has been lifted by the practice of these traditions. As far as integrating these practices into the current paradigm, they seem to have varying degrees of effect on people, depending on how committed we are to the reality we live in. Much of what is taught stretches our perception of how we think. I often see in myself, just how much the english language, and the colonial mind set has affected my perceptions. I have to humble myself constantly to accept the depth of these influences.

 
George Lafayette
Posts: 35
Location: Lafayette, CA
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D. Logan wrote:I have in the past considered an intentional community, but it seems to me that success would require a movement towards different thinking. The level of difference is largely dependent on how it was envisioned, but for me, I am focused on a thought experiment where the society mirrors a more arcane style of living but without losing touch with the modern world.

<snip>

I am eager for thoughts on how people could be helped to move from one mindset into another in a way that comes naturally and which doesn't belittle the point where they began. Sugar is going to win more hearts than vinegar after all.


I really don't know anything about the traditions and societies of native America, although I suspect that American democracy is heavily indebted to them.

I belong to an intentional community in California that has prospered for over 45 years based on a form of consensus decision making called "the one no vote". We find it takes new people some time to get used to the idea. We start with them at the very beginning, during the process of people checking us out, and we checking them out. We teach them - classroom sessions. Then there is a "lab exercise" - we have them lead a reasonable size project in the community which requires them to get agreement and work with our decision system. [We give them advisers and as much help as we can]. But even so, it doesn't become "second nature" to everyone until after a great deal of practice, and we support each other in that - "wow, that is a great idea, have you talked to Fred about that? Do you think Sue will have an opinion on that?" and so on. It is simply not the way we were raised.

But it can work - at least we know it can work for up to ~ 45 years <smile>. People can add-on additional ways of living, add-on additional ways of thinking.
 
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