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Diversity: maximizing the number of elements or something more?

 
Everett Arthur
Posts: 42
Location: Gasp├ęsie/BSL, QC Zones 4b-5a
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In a 1981 PDC in Wilton, NH (and probably in the Designer's Manual somewhere, I haven't raised the funds for that brick yet), Ol' Bill Mollison said (my italics):

Diversity isn't involved so much with the number of elements
in a system as it is with the number of functional connections
between these elements. Diversity is not the number
of things, but the number of ways in which things work.

(Source on page 7)

In this recent TED video, Dave Troy maps big data to show the connections between people in different cities. This is systems science stuff. What's interesting, as permaculture people, is that even in cities (huge human near-monocultures with some canines and felines) there are specific elements (ideas, people) that form functional relationships, and others that don't.



What I take away from this is the importance of remembering that diversity isn't just a lot of different elements, but elements that work together, or work for other elements. I really like Holzer's seed bucket mix and dispersal method that helps you to observe those relationships (or lack thereof) as they evolve.
 
Peter Ellis
Posts: 1424
Location: Central New Jersey
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Definitely a significant point. It is not just about lots of different elements. If it were just about lots of elements, why would we have interest in function stacking?
I think a useful term to keep in mind alongside diversity is "redundancy". We need a diversity of means for achieving objectives. This leads to another important idea, resiliency.

Diversity allows you to have many baskets of eggs
 
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