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Podcast 319 - Wheaton Laboratory Update Part 3  RSS feed

 
Cassie Langstraat
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Summary

Credit: Lorenzo Costa

Permaculture is about having a symbiotic relation with nature and we are dealing with human nature, so we have to design so that human nature brings forward the system. An ant village will be the way to achieve this. In designing these systems, we have to observe all possible design options to mitigate any problem and Paul is convinced convinced that the ant program will do that. This whole podcast is about community systems. wheaton labs as an experimental site, is the best way to think of designs to solve community problems and make these systems function.


Paul hopes to come up with a design for a community, so that permaculture will become not a household word, but a community word. This way Paul hopes to help permaculture spread. Paul and Jocelyn start by talking about their feelings. Paul recognizes he is a difficult person to stay around and probably of the two hundred people that came to their place, about a hundred were happy to meet him at the beginning and then changed their minds quickly.

Paul talks about how his productivity has changed during twenty months. At the beginning he was very happy and was working hundred hours a week. But after eight months, he started to get burnt out and was productive for seventy hours a week. Twelve months in and he was down to fifty hours, fifteen months in and he went to see the doctor and that was when the magical words: you have to work less, slowed him down. But that is how he went from being from being a difficult guy to be around, to being even more difficult to be around. This had consequences on relationships that maybe could have evolved in other ways.

Paul gets back to the fact that things add up and in the end, even a little thing becomes enormous and you end up with a poisoned community. Paul recalls how it did get to a point when it wasn’t fun anymore, especially at meal times. That hampers velocity in achieving things that he thinks are important, and he again states that the ant village will be a solution. If you’re trying to do something and one of twelve people flakes out, it hurts the others and it takes some time to recover, but if four people flake out it’s a cluster-fuck and you have a real difficult time making plans. Soon, nothing functions anymore and you can’t feel the team.

Paul thinks it’s going to take him a year to recover from the past 20 months. Ant village will be one tenth of the effort of what all the other stuff took and one tenth of the money. Jocelyn says that for recovery, being alone for some time has been so good for them. Even though they have passed their time cleaning up what people should have cleaned and were paid to clean. They are doing a lot of healing. It's not that they were injured, it’s just that day after day after day of being dirty-cup-CSI just adds up and you lose mind fertility.

Paul is still obsessed with moving the projects forward. And what they are putting up now is the easiest way to complete them. Jocelyn, trying to explain her feeling’s uses the example of the used of towel. She had to explain seventy times how towels are better to dry something, not to clean something that is dirty. If you have to explain it seventy times, it's too much. Jocelyn knows her irritability was not how she normally is and it was not helping the work at Wheaton labs. Paul says he knows many people will think what idiots to let people not respect your belongings, but the goals seemed more important and more achievable by overlooking some flaws. As with everything though, even if there were excellent people, and excellent goals were achieved, when things go bad you remember the ones that go bad. Jocelyn says we both martyred ourselves for the community, this is what went wrong. The gapper project will not start again for a year, but it will be all different and they are not going to provide food and not going to have to work. Gappers will stay more time with ants and not with Paul and Jocelyn.

Relevant Threads

Podcast 317 - Wheaton Laboratory Update Part 1
Podcast 318 - Wheaton Laboratory Update Part 2
Ant Village Challenge
Just the Ant Village


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S Haze
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Thank you Paul and Jocelyn for sharing all of this, you guys are very brave for airing all of your shit out in the open like this. It's also in my mind another act of generosity shared in hopes that others will learn from it. I know certain people will use this against you and think "Ha! Paul Wheaton thought he knew it all! Not so smart anymore, eh?" But you continue to hold your head high, admit mistakes, and most importantly continue on towards your vision. Please keep it up, what's going on here and in the larger permaculture community inspires many others who are going to help move this forward.
 
Elisha Monger
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It sounds to me like the failure point still boils down to expecting nobility. I hope the new plans work out better. Having just discovered permaculture this year (and just now caught up on the podcasts), I have been inspired to start my own projects and make plans for the future that I would never have dreamed of a few months ago. Thank you for sharing.
 
R Hasting
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+1 on the expecting nobility comment.

Paul, the problem with community is that it is often made up of people. If you consider, for just one moment, the kind of people that would consider 200 mostly empty acres in Montana, living as a house mate to the cantankerous Paul Wheaton, as being preferable to what they got going on, it might mean that they don't have much going on where they were. I mean, if I got nothing going on here, well at least Wheaton will feed me, and mom kicked me out last week. Ok, that might be an oversimplification, but I think that the point is valid. Also consider that a small bunch of bad apples can ruin the entire barrel.

So one thought is that some of the people that wanted to experiment at the labs were willing to uproot because they had already burned their bridges, or were not socially or intellectually capable of actually performing, and so they didn't really make it in the real world to begin with.

This is a significant problem. What if you make a system idiot proof and they send you better idiots?

As a software engineer, it is difficult to consider the population as a whole when the average IQ that I work with is pretty much genius level. When I have to work with "regular" people, it often takes me a bit to realize that I am not working the the sharpest knives in the drawer.

So, these are my thoughts on the matter. Please tell me if I might be missing something.

1. People are really only motivated, for the most part, by their own self interest. You don't work, you don't eat. Exceptions for those sick in bed, gruel will be provided.
2. A permaculture leader will most likely not want to join your fiefdom for any length of time, since they are likely already doing their own thing and having success with it.
3. It is damn hard to fire someone that isn't paid.
4. Volunteer labor is even less reliable than paid labor.
5. The problem with community is the people. It is great is you can hand pick them, but the ones that show up on your doorstep are likely the ones that didn't fit in well at their previous communities, homes, family, etc.
6. The average education level is insufficient to be a manual laborer.
7. The average work ethic revolves around personal comfort level.

I suspect that there are ways to make this work/ I expect that it will involve some of the following:

1. Require trade to occur, for labor, products, services, etc. Create your own currency, if you will. Maybe they would be called Wheaton bucks. Breakfast is $4wb, Lunch is $6wb and Dinner is $8wb. Could literally use a cryptocurrency for this.
2. Leaders will emerge when they are forced, through their own circumstances, to be productive.
3. Removing dead weight ASAP.
4. Require an interview process, including a 3 reference check. They have to be employed for at least 6 months before you let them in.
5. Each individual needs to participate in their success. If I pay you $8 an hour to wash eggs, I am pretty sure you will take your sweet time doing it. If I pay you $.45 a dozen eggs to wash them, then I bet you get pretty motivated to wash a LOT of eggs.

Well, just a few thoughts off the top of my head.

Richard
 
Pia Jensen
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awesome dialog both Paul and Jocelyn... many things that need to be described... great insights on how permaculture community happens historically...how to manage... simply awesome real explanations
 
Pia Jensen
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Have any of your permaculture folks been to Findhorn? I'll try and find a way to make that happen - Paul & a couple others ought take two weeks or so, go connect & be re-fueled
 
Dawn Hoff
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Hi Paul
You takes about your tomato competition and I wanted to show you these two plants. I don't know if they are the same variety - because I usually just take the seeds from the chopping board, or smash a tomato gone bad in the beds. The big one, I think, is from the chopping board and planted where it grows. The three small ones were planted in a planter, and transplanted (but quite late). After transplanting I had to nurse them back to health - but now they seem to have regained their vigor. The big one I had to traine up against the grape, because it was taking over the terrace, strangling my strawberries and basil.
If you make the contest again I will try to participate in a somewhat scientific manner
image.jpg
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Tomato planted from seed
image.jpg
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Tomato transplanted
 
Kelly Smith
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good podcast.

i can just feel the frustration oozing out of both of you, and i am sorry it has gotten to that.
i think a lot of the people who replied in the other threads didnt have a full understanding of what was happening at the lab - so your responses reflect that.

knowing what i know now - i wonder if there should have been some sort of interview process.
some sort of inbrief where you can lay out expectations and make sure everyone is on YOUR page (different than "the same page" imo).

i look forward to hearing part 4 and i am gonna do some more reading up on any village.
thanks
 
Roy Sullivan
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"I don't even know who the fuck I am."

"Millions of personalities"

"Permaculture is 90% community"

These comments from the podcast got me to thinking ...

I've been listening to your podcasts and (at least at the beginning) you were asking people to pay a price. Ie, make links etc. I'm extracting myself off twitter and FB ... so can't really link to your stuff. However, I would like to buy a book for you which I *think* (okay, my own grand sense of self-importance) might help in the future.

What am I talking about?

It turns out there are only four basic personalities, which can be pretty much mapped on two scales. ie, if you map a person on the relationship oriented - task oriented scale; and also map a person on the extroverted - introverted scale one can pretty much know 70-80% of their personality traits, motivation, fears, etc.

If you wanted to go deeper, you can divide those scales to make 16 sub-personalities.

My guess is Paul is a Choleric / Melancholy blend and Jocelyn is predominately Melancholy.

If you'd like me to get you one of the following books, can you please email me your address? (Presumably you can see my email address)
http://www.amazon.com/Personality-Plus-Understand-Understanding-Yourself/dp/B000YIKXC8/ref=sr_1_4?ie=UTF8&qid=1430958030&sr=8-4&keywords=personality+plus

http://www.amazon.com/Platinum-Rule-Discover-Business-Personalities/dp/0446673439/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1430958097&sr=8-1&keywords=platinum+rule

http://www.amazon.com/Acorn-Principle-Know-Yourself-Grow/dp/0312242840/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1430958122&sr=8-1&keywords=acorn+cathcart


You can preview the Cathcart book here - this goes WAY beyond just personality.
http://publishing.yudu.com/Freedom/Aajpw/TheAcornPrinciplebyJ/resources/index.htm?referrerUrl=http%3A%2F%2Ffree.yudu.com%2Fitem%2Fdetails%2F264%2FThe-Acorn-Principle-by-Jim-Cathcart
 
Adam Hoar
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paul/Cassie- Have you read Fields of Farmers by Joel Salatin? http://smile.amazon.com/Fields-Farmers-Interning-Partnering-Germinating/dp/0963810979/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1431063977&sr=8-1&keywords=fields+of+farmers+joel+salatin
This book is all about his experience about having and mentoring apprentices/Interns and his process with training and working with them.
I think this would assist you in working towards what you are trying to accomplish. I applied for the internship this last fall and you are required to fill out a questionnaire, then every member of the family has to agree for you to come out, and then there is a 2 day working interview where you work with and spend time with the family to see how you fit in with them and in turn they fit in with you. There is a clear leadership structure and a level of expectation. I think looking at how he works through the various issues and his level of expectation with the interns is pretty eye opening. He talks about the broken tools and how the first month he has someone on site is a loss, the 2nd month he might break even and by the third month he might be making some money off of them.

It might be worth a read to assist in your community issues.
 
Roy Sullivan
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I'd like to distance myself from the context that was created around this thread. I am in no way saying x and y was wrong with your community - as if I could do better. I am saying going forward categorization of personalities may be of use (and may make a modest contribution to your future community). And like I said if you're interested in the topic in happy to make a contribution in the form of a book.
 
Shane McKee
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I've found it quite difficult listening to this latest bunch of podcasts - it's clear that Paul & Jocelyn have put a massive amount of effort into this experiment, and it hasn't entirely worked out as planned. However it certainly has generated some useful data, and highlighted a lot of the problems of "community". But Paul said a very interesting and (to my mind) vital thing - he mentioned this a couple of times, and it resonates with me. What we have to do is design *systems* so that the people we get frustrated with become part of the solution rather than part of the problem (I'm paraphrasing). Easier said than done - the Mollison approach - the Problem is the Solution. Any of us who have worked in teams know that very often you can't simply select the Dream Team from an endless pool of candidates - most of the time you have to deal with the folks who happen to be there already. You may have some degree of hire/fire capability, but often not that much, so the challenge is to take this collection you've been given, and establish roles and relationships that will move towards the goal. That strikes me as the permaculture approach. Which is great when written down, but in practice is tricky. So anyway, my point is that your podcasts should be required listening for people building teams.

Keep it up; don't lose hope. The Ant Village concept sounds excellent, and I really hope it works out.
 
Chris DeBoer
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Kelly Smith wrote:
knowing what i know now - i wonder if there should have been some sort of interview process.


a suggestion I think made by Diana Leaf Christiansen on one of Paul's podcasts a while back.

R Hasting wrote:
So one thought is that some of the people that wanted to experiment at the labs were willing to uproot because they had already burned their bridges, or were not socially or intellectually capable of actually performing, and so they didn't really make it in the real world to begin with.


A possible, and if correct, astute observation R Hasting

Paul, usually this is the point where I'd ask if your open to feedback after having listened to the last few episodes....

I have lots of thoughts and opinions but not having been there and experienced it I really don't think theres much I can say.
What I will say is that, take some time for yourself, purge the poison, remind yourself why your doing this.

Much of our culture has lost a sort of robust vitality in the way of social capital. Having become disconnected from a sense of community (for most people) and lacking rites of passage that renewed social compacts and reverence of elders. We have to relearn this way. There are simply not enough of these communities for everyone to join one, although this is how it has been sustained for the last few decades. (back to the land etc.)Those bold enough and with the leadership qualities will have to start them.

Paul,
You have visited and lived in many intentional communities, perhaps trusting in the experiment of starting your own brand, forgiving yourself for your mistakes, forgiving others for theirs, and taking a new direction...one step at a time.

I commend you, Jocelyn and everybody "noble" for contributing to this project and sharing your lessons learned. I do indeed reflect on them.

I think Mollison said something like "The only ethical decision is to take responsibility for your life, your children and the generations to come."

 
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