Our true destiny is a world built from the bottom up by competent citizens living in solid communities, engaged in and by their places. – David W. Orr
In Giving Permission, (posted December 20, 2018), I did a deep dive into what I believe it means to have a community of inclusion, one that is built on giving its residents permission to be and do what drives them rather than what is the static norm. We cannot assume that permission is implied in all communities. Permission requires engagement. It is the antithesis of indifference, which is too often commonplace. It’s taking the time and exerting the mental energy to acknowledge your fellow residents, still warrant your attention, reaction and respect; regardless if they hold the same demographics or social standing, We must build healthy communities founded on neighborly engagement that can act as an ad hoc social safety net – one to compensate for the one too often left to fray by our decaying institutions.
In the second piece of the series, Creating Communities of Permission (posted January 8, 2019) we assume a community must be inclusive, support healthy engagement and be founded on permission in order for it to realize its full potential. Looking through the eyes of Nora Bateson, author of “Small Arcs of Larger Circles, the likely realization that any ecosystem, whether in occurring in nature or built by humans, is dictated not by the best laid plans, but rather how its inhabitants manage their community’s ever-changing relationships and the messiness that comes from them. Our task then must be to find a model that can best accommodate inclusive input and the resulting adaptation. We can find this model right in our backyard – plant rhizomes.
The rhizome is a modified subterranean stem of a plant that is usually found underground, often sending out roots and shoots from its nodes. Rhizomes develop from axillary buds and grow perpendicular to the force of gravity. They sprout where and when resources are available. It’s this resource maximization that provides the foundation of the Community 3.0 decentralized ecosystem where the people “in the streets” hold the power of direct action, not just at the polls.
During my research on rhizomes, I came across the philosophies of Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari – specifically their concept of how rhizomes can be extrapolated to create an alternative civic organizational structure. Deleuze and Guattari broke down the description of their philosophy into components; rhizomes, nomadism, the Smooth Space and the Body Without Organs. (refer here for a full breakdown).
How do we tie all this together into a functioning array of responses while not resorting back to traditional top-heavy hierarchies. How do we create a flow … a flow of empowerment?
David Hume and the Inherent Good
18th Century Scottish philosopher David Hume theorized that people are inherently good. He believed we were born with the virtues of benevolence, trust and commitment. This ‘spontaneous order’ of humanity did not need to be enforced by a greater overarching power or institution of human or theological making; but rather would be individually and collectively more efficient and ordered on its own. That said, Hume acknowledged that some degree of higher societal order is required. Countries, states and cities often need to administer functions that a neighborhood community itself can’t provide … such as an airport, a mass transit system or a national defense system. But in the end – our society revolved around the inherent goodness of the people in our neighborhoods.
In the Treatise, Hume emphasizes the distinction between the natural and artificial virtues. The natural virtues—being humane, kind and charitable—are character traits and patterns of behavior that human beings would exhibit in their natural condition, even if there were no social order. The artificial virtues— respecting people’s property rights, fidelity in keeping promises and contracts, and allegiance to government— are dispositions based on social practices and institutions that arise from conventions. And with natural virtues – we have the underpinnings of the Community 3.0 model.
Essentially what David Hume said is that the people of a community have the ability to determine and implement their own social norms and the expectations of their populace. This falls in line with the operational assumptions of the Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari’s rhizome civic structure (see Creating Communities of Permission). What engagements and behaviors a community allows and nurtures will determine what it becomes. To Deleuze and Guattari, these resultant actions are called the Body Without Organs. This is the community’s personality. But rather than this personality being dictated by those in the high rungs of a traditionally mandated hierarchy – it will come to form through the participation of those who live there … those on the streets, no matter their social stature. How the community directly responds to its needs and opportunities will be what it is.
“Leadership for this era is not a role or a set traits; it is a zone of interrelational process. Step in, step out.” Nora Bateson
The Norwegian word, dugnad, can best be described as a type of civic and communal mindset where people get together and volunteer to fix, clean, paint or tidy things up for the betterment of their community. Dugnads are organized in neighborhoods, blocks of flats, at summer homes, marinas, mountain cabins even at schools and especially places of work. It can be summed up as a time of coming together and contributing.
Community 3.0 is our version of dugnad; a civic flow of individual and collective health and volunteer benevolence. Community 3.0 connects a community’s small business network (including its customer base) with its healthcare and NGO ecosystem through an online communications platform (the bleedingEDGE). Through a set of A.I. tools, the bleedingEDGE platform is designed to elevate the health and well-being of your community’s populace using automatically triggered prompts and engagement nudges.
At Community 3.0, we’ve created a model that assesses how your daily behaviors are able affect change in our health and well-being. The 3.0 Health Map is a well-being assessment that evaluates ten areas of behavioral focus that can be addressed to better your health journey in the future. From this you’re given a score for each of the Community 3.0 three pillars of well-being; mental, physical and social.
At the core of Community 3.0 is the Front Porch network. This network connects local businesses, healthcare providers, NGOs and their customers and patrons by solving your community’s problems directly through volunteer projects. It’s this shared sense of civic involvement that will form the foundation of your community’s norms and expectations. Front Porches are our version of the Norwegian dugnads.
Each Front Porch will sponsor (and design) a community Solution, or volunteer project, as part of their involvement in the Community 3.0 network. These Solutions are designed to fix the problems and take advantage of the opportunities in your community that too often are left unaddressed by our traditional institutions. They can range from organizing a cleanup effort, to fixing a school playground, to organizing an elderly outreach effort, to even spearheading a high school mentoring program. By being a 3.0 Member, you can get involved with whatever Solution fits your strengths and desires. Community 3.0 transforms local businesses into ones that you would be ashamed NOT to do business with … something no box store or Wall Street chain can compete with.
As you journey through the 3.0 world, you will be encouraged to join the network of participating Merchants and other community organizations (Front Porches). Upon taking The 3.0 Health Map, a virtual assistant will make corresponding suggestions to help you improve your agency within each pillar by prompting you to engage with either yourself or those in your selected 3.0 network.
Each morning and each evening you will receive an email guide of six engagements (nudges) from the Front Porches you’re networked with (Community 3.0 included). These correspondence are your conduit selected activities in the community as well as personal tasks prioritizes that will directly help you elevate your personal health. An engagement could be a reminder from your doctor or healthcare provider, special deals from your neighborhood small businesses or even alerts of volunteer opportunities sponsored by a community non-profit you want to part of.
Whenever possible, the engagements will direct you towards activities that also address the environment and suggest ways and activities you can take to do you part in restoring it
The bleedingEDGE communication platform ties everything together. Its A.I. features act as a fully automated personalized marketing vehicle for each Front Porch by executing pre-loaded campaigns specific to each Member . Every campaign, either marketing or/and health related, is triggered by one of 16 activation programs automatically. Those campaigns designed for health self-efficacy are funneled through the bleedingEDGE system determining its relevance according to the insight gained from the The 3.0 Health Map the Member previously took or updated.
Below are the five tenets of societal behavior that are instilled in all Community 3.0 ecosystems. These are the touchstones of any local 3.0 Smooth Space and actions performed on it, its Body Without Organs. They’re not goals from a traditional sense in they have no To Do list or timetables. They just are. They weave through the narrative of the community – influencing each decision; personally, professionally and civically.
- Inclusion and empathy: The basis of any community is its “human capital.” Every member of the community is unique and adds to fabric of the community. Everyone has something to offer and must be given permission to contribute – no matter their age or social standing. And it’s up to us as neighbors and fellow citizens to help them find those offerings and help them nurture them.
- Mental stimulation: Engagement leads to cerebral development and critical thinking. These are the basis of a healthy sustainable community; and engagement is its fuel. Sitting idly by and leaning on the crutches of ideology only serves to exclude and limit out potential, individually and collectively.
- Physical health: Without our physical health, nothing else really matters. It is the responsibility of the community to provide serendipitous opportunities that will persuade us to live healthy, stay physical fit and group together for collective goals.
- Sustainability and environmental health: By definition, sustainability accommodates continued existence. In order for a community to sustain itself – its people need to be environmental stewards and make decision not for today, but for generations in the future. If we let our physical environments fall to isolation and toxicity, they will undermine our health. These sustainability efforts need not be limited to its physical settings, but extend to those who will carry on these efforts in future. Feeding a community’s talent pipeline is not a luxury … it’s mandatory.
- Economic equity: All too often a community evaluates itself solely by over-arching economic revenue numbers. The more money that flows into a community the better, so it goes. But a more accurate assessment is to look at the disbursement and equality of this revenue among its residents and specifically whether it stays in the community through the patronization of locally owned businesses. Skewed statistical models peddled by city hall can often run counter to the public well-being.
Life is a journey. Our role must be to navigate our circumstances by creating relationships with everything around us. The flow of these relationships will help form the new version of our community – one that should be inclusive, resourceful and serendipitous – not ridden with ideologies, division and silos of hierarchy preoccupied with maintaining privileged positions. Keeping your metaphorical car of community evolution on the road will not be easy. The potholes are everywhere and those in power will do their best to interrupt your journey. If you don’t persist, and instead fall back into the comfort of the familiar … the mediocrity of the status quo will continue its reign.
And that is unacceptable.
The Stairway To Nowhere
We all have our roles in this world to moving forward. Some are larger than others – but that doesn’t absolve any of us from contributing in our unique way. It seems we’re in an era of accepting that it’s alright to hold the bar low for much of our society. The bare minimum and little more. We accept austerity levels of civic revenue, cutting services and support below sustainable. Epidemics of addiction ravish entire states. We let toxic corporations destroy land, water and air and alter our climate through our obsession with fossil fuels. Instead of joining together to conceive solutions – we discard proof and debate if problems even exist.
Absolve has replaced resolve. No longer.
To the healthcare community: You are in a unique position of having the bully pulpit, one from which many take your words as gospel. Yet too much of the time you’re silent. Where are the calls for more bike paths and parks. How about spearheading nutritional instruction in our local schools? Where’s the farmer’s market in your parking lot? Link to the “New Paradigm”
To our elected city officials: Notice I didn’t call you leaders. That is a title that is deserved, not often gain through often uncompetitive elections. Rather appeasing your retired electorate anchored in front of Fox News eight hours a day clamouring for sub-austerity level taxes – look to your young people, the generation who will be responsible for your community going forward.
To the small business community: Quit complaining about Amazon and box stores and realize you have an advantage by being leaders in the community by actually being part it. You’re not just an outpost of a faceless corporation in another state. Become more than just a place to “buy stuff” and be part of the solution to your community’s problems. You and your businesses are the real touchstones of the your community.
To the non-profit community: Your job is more than just protecting your donor base and maintain your existence. Think out of the box and evolve. The world and your community has changed and needs new collaborative solutions that look past your charter etched in stone.
To your education community: Start teaching life skills like culinary arts and an appreciation for environment and others. Memorization of irrelevant fact and figures for the benefit of standardized is the equivalent juvenile imprisonment.Schools must be a place where the appreciation for life-long learning is implanted and curiosity is nurtured not extinguished.
… and most of all us in the streets: “Civic participation is a muscle that too many of us have allowed to atrophy.” We need to not only start holding our institutions accountable … but ourselves also. Our contribution to society is determined by the behaviors we pursue. Sitting on the couch watching Fox News, nor MSNBC – doesn’t cut it. Conversation doesn’t cut either. It time we act.
I don’t remember a time when there’s been a civic Call-To-Action like this. Will we use this urgency to build a more connected society focused on doing and helping … or will we let it slip further into the abyss of intractable allegiance to political ideology, hate and complacency? No political party or candidate is going to do it for us – no matter how many campaign promises.
This is an opportunity for all of us to wake up and create a new set of civic habits – habits that revolve around direct engagement and extreme neighborliness – regardless the neighbor.
Regardless of whether you’re an administrator at a healthcare provider, or run the front desk at the local YWCA, or the mayor of your city … you have the opportunity to do something.
If not us … then who? If not now … then when?
I can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org