Hellena Post - Creatrix

I've tried on so many uniforms and badges that now I'm just me - mother of 8 children and all that entails, flowmad, and human animal parent. Writer of this living book of a blog, philosopher, and creatrix of hand dyed and spun crocheted wearable art. I gave up polite conversation years ago, and now I dive into the big one's.....birth, sex, great wellness, life, passion, death and rebirth.


Saturday, June 15, 2013

Chaotic Self Organisation

I've written a lot about chaotic harmony, or the conscious balance inherent in everything for a while now, and apart from about a million different stories from our market experience and from living near Nimbin, there's a really good explanation of how it works in 'Seven Life Lessons of Chaos - Timeless Wisdom from the Science of Change', by John Briggs and F. David Peat.  And I've been telling it to people for ages now, so I thought it was time to share it with you.  I'm just gonna quote verbatim from the 3rd Chapter, which is called 'Going with the Flow - Lesson about collective creativity and renewal'........



Wilfred Pelletier, a Native American from an Ojibway community north of Lake huron, says his people aren't into organisation, there's no need for it "because that community is organic."  Pelletier gives an illustration of how his unorganised people nevertheless get things done.  
"Let's say the council hall in an Indian community needs a new roof.....It's been leaking here and there for quite a while and it's getting worse.  And people have been talking about it.  Nobody organises a committee or appoints a project leader." Nothing happens, in fact, until "one morning here's a guy up on the roof, tearing off the old shingles, and down on the ground there's several bundles of new, hand-split shakes - probably not enough to do the whole job, but enough to make a good start.  Then, after a while, another guy comes along and sees the first guy on the roof.  So he comes over an he doesn't say, 'What are you doing up there?' because that's obvious, but he may say, 'How's she look?  Pretty rotten, I guess.' Something like that.  Then he takes off, and pretty soon he's back with a hammer or a shingle hatchet and maybe some shingle nails or a couple of rolls of tarpaper.  By afternoon, there's a whole crew working on that roof, a pile of materials building up down there on the ground, kids taking the old shingles away - taking them home for kindling - dogs barking, women bringing cold lemonade and sandwiches.  The whole community is involved and there's a lot of fun and laughter.  Maybe the next day another guy arrives with more bundles of shakes.  In two or three days that whole job is finished, and they all end up having a big party in the 'new' council hall."
Who was responsible for deciding to put a new roof on the hall?  Was it that first guy on the roof, a single isolated individual, or was it the whole community?  "How can you tell?  No meeting was called, no committees formed, no funds raised.  There were no arguments about whether the roof should be covered with aluminium or duroid or tin or shakes and which was the cheapest and which would last the longest and all that.  There was no foreman and no one was hired and nobody questioned that guy's right to rip off the old roof.  But there must have been some kind of 'organisation' going on in all that because the job got done.  It got done a lot quicker than if you hired professionals.  And it wasn't work, it was fun."
Chaos theory would answer that the "organisation" in Pellerier's roofing project was self-organisation.  It began with chaos - all that disorganised talk beforehand about the leak.  The first guy on the roof was a bifurcation point that became amplified.  The feedback between the first fellow and the next one who came along started a cascade that coupled the community together around the project, and then the system got the job done.  
Clearly, Pelletier's Ojibway community is an open, creative, chaotic, nonlinear system.  As he put it, the people in this group "aren't into competition.  But they aren't into cooperation either - never heard of either of those words.  What they do just happens, just flows along."  Within the community's creative open system, micro self-organised systems spring up from time to time, such as the community's action to repair the roof.  Such short-term self-organisation renews the community and keeps it alive, as testified to by the big party held in the new council hall.  
Social self-organisation and collective creativity doesn't only happen in Native American communities, it happens in rural communities around the world and in informal organisations of all kinds.  In many different circumstances, people start coming together, helping out, lending a hand, throwing in their two cents.  Nobody's leading particularly, but things get done.
A high-tech example of social self-organisation is the Internet.  The Net was started back in the 1960's by the U.S. military looking for a distributed command system in the event of nuclear war so that no single centre could be knocked out.  The idea was similar to the one that conceived of the U.S. highway system as a distributed airport of landing and takeoff strips.  It occurred to the planners that computers all over the country could be linked together to create a giant system that shared its information.  But once the Net was set up, academic scientists began to use it and it was eventually made available to the public all over the world.  Relatively quickly, more and more individuals and groups joined, until by the mid-1990's an estimated 25 million people were on-line and the number was doubling every eigthteen months. 
Nobody's controlling the Net (at least not yet).  It's maintained by an open flow of users passing information around.  Within the global self-organisation of the Net and its subset, the World Wide Web, are countless mini self-organisations springing up all the time.  People come together to do creative work - everything from photographers displaying their pictures of lightning strikes to underground musicians converging on Web sites to create an audience for their work to interest groups discussing the Vietnam War or Brazilian cuisine.  For those who have access, the Net is a daily example of collective creative exuberance.  Most of the activity is carried out by people who are making things, looking for information, and exchanging ideas that simply interest them as part of who they are.  The giant, hierarchically structured, power-driven commercial organisations have so far been largely frustrated in their efforts to harness the Net to their mechanical engines of profit.  Anyone who has surfed the Net knows he has entered a chaotic, dynamic open system where "what they do just happens, just flows along."  Clearly there's order here, but it's chaotic. 
Taken together, the traditional Ojibway community and the new cyber community suggest a radically different approach to social organisation that the one currently taken by postindustrial society.





So what do you reckon?  Pretty groovy eh.  And a concept and phenomena that I can report as being incredibly easy to be part of, flow along with, and surrender to, whenever we enter the company of other sovereign humanimals, led by our natural interests and passions, in a way that acknowledges and accepts each other as equals and valid, and do anything together in a non-heirarchical kinda way.  And stuff really does have the darndest way of showing up when it's needed, and when we surrender to the greater focus and don't sweat the details.  

Really wanted to share that with you, and hope you enjoyed it.





2 comments:

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