Friday, April 29, 2011

Calm waters...for a little while

I read energized comments about making the community cake!! exciting!! I had just finished The 4-Hour Workweek: Escape 9-5, Live Anywhere, and Join the New Rich when I wrote that post and was in the middle of Brains on Fire: Igniting Powerful, Sustainable, Word of Mouth Movements. From the 4 hour week I realised that we need action and soon, and from the comments and Brains on Fire, I noticed that I need to work harder on making clear 'what's in here for you'. How do I and this project fit in your lives and how I think you can make this work by bringing just who you are. So that is what I am determined to put together. That is my own personal, apparently little, next step.

I think it is very important, it will hopefully give us the burst we need to stop lurking and start acting. Making this project happen is not so much about working on this project but rather about working on your passion. I believe that it is by allowing your passion to come forward that this project will be succesful. But enough of that, my first action is to prepare this sort of white paper, or memorandum of understanding, or manifesto or maybe board game or something...something that will make clear, or at least a lot clearer the role you may want to play.

I don't know how long it will take me to work on it. I am moving out from my unit and getting ready for a 5 months trip back to Colombia with my husband and son, so I don't think I will be online too much, but I can asure I'll make sure I can work on it.

So that's it for now, I wanted to give you a heads-up about it. Changing topic (not really), every book I read gives me new ideas and insights about this work, and I found that What's Mine Is Yours: The Rise of Collaborative Consumption really got my imagination going about local type of businesses. For example I thought about a business that would improve the public transport experience to reduce the use of private cars. Imagine for example that one person gets on your bus and tells you a short interesting story about the next suburb the bus goes through. So as a passenger, you don't just pass but go through a location and learn something, connect. Another day you have a comedian for those who got up with the wrong feet that day...I think putting more buses and building more roads is not necessarily what is needed to  increase use of public transport, get cars out of the road and improve traffic, but making the trip an enjoyable experience may play a big part of it...anyway. I wanted to recommend the book. If you are looking for something that may stir your imagination and give you ideas, this book helped me to do that.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

The community cake. Talking about it? or making it?

"Don't talk about making the community cake, just make it!!!" - David Engwicht from Creative Communities.
I am excited about the project, I want to start, I want to be unleashed, or find how I can unleash myself. But I am finding that I am allowing the situation to put a collar on myself.

Ever since I started this blog, and mainly since the Social Financial Enterprise idea came up, I have been putting so much effort into getting a team together. Initially, I was aiming at a big team to get the financial institution of the future up, then things went a bit deeper into what may be needed for communities to establish their own monetary systems according to their real local needs. So I ended up with the Business Model Generation for Community Organizations project (name likely to change), which didn't required too big a team. Now that we are a few in it, I am finding very hard to get ourselves on the same page. So the question is, have I been looking for a team only because I am afraid of doing it by myself?? Am I looking for permission to start?? for someone to tell me "Oh yes Tatiana, you can do that"??  What sort of team do we need to become and what game are we playing??

I believe a diverse and well connected team is key. But I don't feel we have that connection yet and instead, I find myself trying to convince others rather than merging our insights. For example, in the previous post, I have a drawing of a business tree to explain some of the potential dynamics of the project. I used a tree to symbolize a few concepts, like for example, the idea that external factors (Sun, water, soil conditions, wind) will imply changes in the tree so it adapts to the environment. That would imply that some leaves and fruits would fall, therefore changing the shape of the tree. In business terms, I was referring to the possibility of some business disappearing or completely changing their model to give rise to new ones. I was referring to the resilience capacity of the tree, which is a concept I feel needs to be there from the start: We need to get used to the fact that our ideas will be obsolete at some point and we have to re-create all the time.

Also, I was symbolizing how different business might play different roles within the same community (some becoming part of the tree trunk, others being in the inside of a crack, others being leaves, others becoming fruits which would contain seeds with the genetic information of what worked and what didn't so it could be passed onto future trees). But I was asked about what the Sun, the water..etc would represent  in this context and business terms. How would they affect the business tree? or even, how would the tree affect them. It is an interesting and excellent question, but in the effort to answer it, I realized that I would have to spend an awful amount of time creating a theory. Again, it feels like a question of "Yes, it sounds great but how??". To which I am starting to develop a negative reaction. Can we discover the how, rather than try to theorize it? 

Not all parts of the earth have access to equal amounts or quality of light and water, and the soil properties change according to types of vegetation and location for example...I feel like I have been asked to describe the business tree ecosystem, when the very tree can be an ecosystem itself. And what I argue is that we may be able to track or map the formation and structures of the ecosystem, we will be able to say "wow, look at what is happening, look at what has emerged!!!!". Rather than us establishing well beforehand whether a tree would represent a transition town, or a particular project...For instance, a business that focuses on improving the public transport experience to reduce the amount of private cars on the street, will not look like a tree, but perhaps like a root, or like little streets made from worms in the soil so that nutrients (information from one place to another) can get through...but that is just what occurs to me will most likely be very different.

We mentioned that we may want to use a different tool to explore the relationships of the project and resulting businesses in the local environment, rather than using the tree/nature metaphor. Which may be true but, do we still want to theorize about 'what would happen a long way further down the road' and put it in a map?? Why do we want to do that?? Plus, using nature as a tool to explain ideas, to me is crucial. It is how I relate to all this. I am trying to embed my activities into nature so that I am part of the cycle, rather than keeping the separation of "the environment and me". Yes, it may be more complex but we don't do it very often. My viewpoint is: We are part of nature, we need to find the role we play in it and play it well. How else can we do that if not trying to merge what we do with what nature does??

We are talking about making the cake, I don't want to talk about it anymore, I want to start making it and mixing the ingredients. We have a recipe. In the process we may decide we will add or eliminate ingredients, we can reduce or increase some quantities, and in the end someone may change the recipe all together. I understand we have a need for certainty, but times ahead are increasingly uncertain and I feel we shouldn't attempt to know it all. I am not saying 'go blind', I am saying don't "overthink" about it. I am happy with taking the low hanging fruit, and use agility to constantly develop a product. We don't (or I don't at least) even know what our local environments really look like now. 

Simultaneously, there has been another conversation happening in the group. It is one where we are defining the roles of community engagement, community education and a particular transition initiative in Brisbane. It started when we identified that it is not enough for people to acquire knowledge and skills to create business out of their passions. Communities and citizens should be engaged citizens. Thus, the latest news say that there seems to be a need to 'educate people about climate change and peak oil'. I guess this need appears in order to ensure that the businesses that come out of the project, will not add to the climate change and peak oil issues, fair enough. However, I believe the approach can be completely different. I have the feeling that reaching people to educate them about climate change and peak oil to motivate them to change their businesses or to create new ones, is like trying to convert people from one religion to another, promising heaven to those who join us and condemning to hell those who don't. We seem to be implying that everyone should believe in climate change and peak oil if they want to be able to create socially just, environmentally sustainable and spiritually fulfilling businesses. 

I'd rather think of a game and few rules, for example: 

1) Your business has to come from a visceral passion of yours: Something that is not a burden (So driver can't be just to make money), something that you feel will give you wings to freedom if you do it. Does a passion ever attempt to harm?? I say no. So asking people to build business out of passion ensures that it is a well intentioned idea. 
2) Your business must attempt to connect people with people, and people with area: Local from any angle you look at it.
3) Your business must attempt to be socially just, environmentally sustainable and spiritually fulfilling. To me that says it all. Using too much energy? Then it isn't environmentally sustainable. Improve it. 

Imagine we design an online platform, for instance, where everyone's projects are visible to all members and comments and ratings are allowed (or some sort of reputation system) that means that every business, will be exposed to members feedback on their efforts to comply with the game rules. In other words, it is your responsibility to comply, not ours to be policemen, the entire community will be watching you. This is a possibility in the case of a Business to Business platform. Then, imagine we build in a feature where 'consumers', the people of the community where you actually serve, can also rate your compliance of these rules, leave other comments or even create new rules?? To me, this approach directly tackles climate change and peak oil issues, but avoids turning people off who may not seem environmentally driven. Every human being is capable of doing good. I only want to create a game where we can show our goodness. Is that possible?? I have an apparently unrelated, but real example:

I play ultimate disc (or ultimate frisbee), a seven-a-side, non-contact, hard running, team sport with a frisbee. The big thing (to me) about this game is, we do not have a referee. Whereas in most team based competitive games you have rules and a referee that you need to convince you didn't do the wrong thing, we have rules and every team member is responsible to comply and discuss with the opposition every time a fault is called. Look at soccer for instance, not only you try to convince the referee that you didn't do the wrong thing, it is part of the game that you try to fault the opposition to get the ball back or keep it with you. In most games where a referee exists, you see absolutely no intention from the players to keep the rules, or at least not the ones that refer to the physical integrity of the opposition. Players have been stolen the ability to be responsible players and in so doing, they play the game without any empathy for the players of the opposition. They know they shouldn't grab your shirt, yet they do it and do their best to avoid being seen or to deceive the public. In ultimate disc, if someone grabs your shirt, you call a fault and the game stops until the solution to the fault is brought forward. Therefore, the most entertaining, competitive and exciting game to play and watch is that where only very few and unintentional faults are made, keeping the flow going.

I haven't met one player that was brought to the game with an argument on how to behave within the ultimate community, or with a 'You need to learn how to be one of us before being one of us'. All what we've been told, and what we tell others is "I play this sport and it's awesome, do you want know what it is about and try??". The rules are set, and they encourage good behaviour. Whether that is your intention or not, if you don't behave properly, that is, according to the rules,  it will show up and people won't like it. The best thing of all is, most people become disc-addicts. We can't stop playing or being involved with the sport in one way or another. If we hurt someone from the opposition, we can express it without being regarded as 'softies', so we do apologize, and we do care for the opposition (many of us do), we clap when someone, anyone, has to leave the field due to a game injury as a form of acknowledgement for their efforts. And we still compete very hard...can we see something like this happening in the business area?? I sure can. I don't have to try to convince anyone, all I have to do is belong to it wholeheartedly.  

"One could argue that it doesn't matter whether the system leads to a change in mind-set as long as it converts our consumption into positive outcomes - fewer products, more efficient usage, less material consumed, reduced waste, and more social capital.
Throughout the book, we've seen certain consistent and specific motivations for participating in Collaborative Consumption: cost savings, coming together, convenience, and being more socially conscious and sustainable. The fact that it attracts new consumers based on traditional self-interested motivation, including money, value, and time, and that it converts this into positive social and environmental outcomes, should not detract from its overall impact on consumer behaviour. 
When people enter Collaborative Consumption through one particular door - a clothing exchange, a car sharing scheme, or a launderette- they become more receptive to other kinds of collective or community-based solutions"  - From What's Mine Is Yours: The Rise of Collaborative Consumption. (Itallics added).
Am I trying to convince you that it is possible?? It seems I am...damn!! Anyway, I don't think we should tell people to behave according to our standards of humanness. Instead, we can offer people a place where they can experience one of many ways to be a human. From my perspective, very seldom are we given the chance to be peaceful and let our goodness shine. All I am saying is we can give ourselves that chance, we can be humans. 
What I'm feeling is a need to find and describe a little more of the shared vision for the types of effects we want to have by carrying on this work. From an outsider standpoint, in any community where we have an impact, what may shift? - BB (A team member)
I am not sure if I can describe what I have in mind with any more details. I think that if you are a member of the team, is because you feel something in common here. My vision is already connected to yours. I believe you have a vision that is connected with me and this project. Let's create vision statements individually about this project and see if they actually connect. What is your vision and what effects would you have in your community. My vision statement so far:

A [socially just, environmentally sustainable, spiritually fulfilling and] passionate business for every human passion in your neighborhood. 

More ideas: Passionate people connecting passionate businesses. Connect earth, heart and business. 

There will be space to think about what if scenarios later on, we'll get to validate our hypothesis and other things. Also, until we don't define the role of the particular transition initiative, I don't see why we need to earn their attention unless we feel we can't do it without them. It is not that I don't want to include them, we can definitely let them know that this is what we're doing, and if anyone wants to join, welcome. So far, all this effort is completely accessible to anyone anyway, I am talking about the role of the transition initiative as an organization. 

What is our game and our rules?? Let's agree on that and create personal visions statements, see if we are connecting. 

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Advancing the PSP and BMG for Community Organizations Merge

We are exploring the merge of the BMG (Business Model Generation) process with PSP (Project Support Project). PSP basically plays the role of inspiration and catalyst for transition projects with no hierarchical approach, which is basically what I was proposing with workshops to support peoples passions within the transition community using the BMG process. 

From The Art of Placemaking I, we learned "pick the low hanging fruit NOW!" which is, get your idea and take a small step now, that will get you there. So with that in mind I came up with this:

The PSP/BMG for Community Organizations project is the big business tree. It occurs to me that if we want to be able to support others' projects through BMG, we need to make sure we can support our own personal projects in the same fashion. So, in the stage we're at, where we are only a few contributors with individual ideas to apply in our own locality, it makes total sense to me that we engage in using BMG/Customer development/Agile product development in our own projects as part of the germinating tree that is emerging from a seed. 

Each little tree represents a project/passion that will be supporting and supported by the big tree. With time, the big tree will develop its trunk, rings, cracks, fruits, leaves and the whole tree ecology. Each project may eventually specialize in a particular function within the big business tree. Some, for example, will become the fruits, that will either be picked by others as achievements, and some others will fall and become nutrients to the soil and their seeds will become new trees, using the information of what worked and what didn't. 

The business tree adapts to its environment; too much sun, not enough water, too much wind, too many leaves and so on, means that it will need to be pruned every now and then, some leaves and fruits will fall. That is, some projects will disappear but others will enter a new stage and adapt, potentially changing their specialization. Whatever affects the big tree, implies a change in the little ones that make it.

I don't want to go to deep into this kind of pseudo-fractal representation that I have in mind because I don't have the details, they will emerge. What type of tree, what sort of environment and ecosystem we'll be living in as individual projects and as the business tree, is something I feel we need to discover/create. I am not quite sure what type of seed I am, so to speak. But I know I am germinating.

The big business tree, and therefore, the individual ones it is made of, involve a very complex flow of information. I am not attempting to describe it here, but I can sense it: How each project will interact with each other, with the whole community of business and their creators, the flow of value within the system and maybe, the flow of money, whether complementary or official.  I think that will be key. 

I'd say there are things that make our big tree of one species and not of other. For instance, our businesses believe in localization, we geographically belong to the communities our passions want to serve, we'll create and transform organizations that will be embedded in the physical area and that foster civic engagement within the space. Our individual trees (projects) make up the big tree. So whether each current team member is a germinating seed in their own soil, or whether we'll be part of the same tree, I don't know. But we are definitely linked in one way or another. 

This is what I see we can start working on now to learn and test the BMG process. Each of the team members have expressed to have particular interests and skills. Imagine you want to establish your own business - What would it be?? Take into account the above [business tree] considerations.

The Business Model Generation for Community Organizations project, which will probably have to change name because it is becoming a bit confusing, in general terms is in stage 1 (assembling the team, establishing objectives, initial canvas and creating a plan). If we all follow the BMG process for our own projects simultaneously with the BMG for the main project, then we'll be able to identify key issues and opportunities in each stage that may potentially apply for it (the main project: business tree/PSP/BMG for community org).  We would also be able to identify some patterns and structures and we would get to learn through practice something about what is involved in supporting others' projects and passions by using BMG approach. As I write I am thinking that the product to deliver our collective value proposition may evolve into a social platform where people can go and access others' experiences of the process at each stage, rather than a workshop where it is harder to follow up people's processes...but who knows, that's a bit further down the track.

I propose to organize workstreams in BetterMeans as follows. BM stands for Business Model:

For two of the team members who are located in Brisbane, we said that there is an opportunity to choose Transition Kurilpa (TK) as the transition initiative that would be considered as the Project Support Group. But in the way I see that these ideas are evolving, it seems to me that TK may play a different role and possibly in the future, not right now. Maybe as the first transition community in Brisbane to will make use of the 'product' we develop...a 'pilot community'?? Otherwise, how can we integrate TK now?? Ideas welcome of course.

Key activities I foresee, at least for stage 1 are:

1. Develop a code to name the individual project workstreams to make it easy for visitors.
2. Develop documentation standards, as in: Where are we expecting team members profiles?? In a wiki of the NEH's workstream or in their own individual workstream?, minimun details that should be included in the individual project's description.
3. Brainstorm and discuss about if and how to get support from key people like the books' authors and Creative Communities. (Books: Business Model Generation: A Handbook for Visionaries, Game Changers, and ChallengersThe Four Steps to the Epiphany, Creative Communities delivers the Art of Placemaking and Creating Resilient Cities workshops). 

The Art of Placemaking II: Resiliency

This was my second day at the marvelous workshop. It was focused on us internally, rather than our environment (place): Our creativity, what we can do today, the barriers I impose on myself, my metastories...and the focus was RESILIENCY.
"Resilience: Creativity applied in circumstances of adversity."
Laws of resilience:

1) Yesterday's creativity is today's lead shoes: Don't fall in love with your ideas, learn to appreciate them and to let go of them when needed.
2) Resilience is directly proportionate to the risk you're willing to take: Survival is in the margins. Don't aim at changing everything to keep yourself in your comfort zone. Instead put yourself out of your comfort zone and learn to re-create constantly to adapt to the always-new conditions. 
3) Over-planning reduces agility: Plan yes, don't fall in love with the plan and the first idea. Create something that gives you room to change it when you need.
4) Over-planning produces a 'false sense of resilience': The best example I can think of, is that about 'being prepared for climate change'. We are getting prepared for what we think that is going to happen. What if it doesn't happen that way?? Our plans will be completely useless and there is no resilience, just the sense that we're ready to act, if only if what we think will happen, actually does happen. 
"Second-guessing the future and preparing for forecast threats lulls people into a belief that they have the future under control. This 'false sense of resilience' reduces their agility to deal with elements that were not in their forecast."
5) There are not right or wrong actions. You may choose not to act. But do not, not choose. Not choosing is death: Don't get paralyzed because you have to get a decision "right". Even if it seems stupid, you will have more and new information.
"It is far better for a man to go wrong in freedom, than to go right in chains"                    -Thomas H. Huxley -
6) Resilience is proportionate to how much the organism plays: 
"Play allows us to experiment with new ways of relating in a non-critical environment" 
7)Blame reduces resilience:
"In survival situations, those who blame others... perish first. Survivors take personal responsibility and choose a course of action"
8) Honed senses improve resilience (tune your senses to what is really happening in your environment)
"Resilience is tied directly to the ability to be a 'sense learner' - learning from the direct experience of an environment rather than third party interpretations". Babies are sense learners until they transform in symbol learners.
There is also a concept from Bernard Lietaer that is in my heart. From his article on financial stability, he says:
"Nature does not select for maximum efficiency, but for a balance between the two opposing poles of efficiency and resilience... Too much efficiency leads to brittleness and too much resilience leads to stagnation: The former is caused by too little diversity and connectivity and the latter by too much diversity and connectivity.
It is critical to understand that the findings described in natural ecosystems arise from the very structure of a complex flow system, and therefore that they remain valid for any complex flow network with similar structure, regardless of what is processed in the system: It can be biomass in an ecosystem, information in a biological system...or money in an economic system"
These concepts really resonate with what I believe and I would like to apply them in different aspects of life, which includes the Business Model Generation for Community Organizations project. In the way I see the project, resiliency concepts are (and must be) completely applicable.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

The Art of Placemaking I: Taming the tigers

This was a workshop I attended in Brisbane. An amazing experience that took me to a level even deeper (It never stops!!). I believe it is worth sharing what I brought home from it.

One of the main reasons I had to attend this workshop was to take ideas used by the presenter and see what I could use for my own project. I was of course interested in the topic because placemaking and localization go together. But I didn't really know what to expect  about the contents, so I was more focused on the structure of the workshop. Funny thing, I came out completely in love with the contents and the experience, and not so much interested in recording features of the structure.

Localization is what I believe in, and all my ideas are focused on promoting it. I discovered that all I do in relation to it comes from the deep desire to ultimately reconnect with humanity and apparently, there is no better way to do that than getting to know your neighbors to name the least. Bring the inside goodness out. So  let's talk about day 1: placemaking or the external needs (tigers) of a place.

Make yourself at home.

Bring the inside out: What creates a sense of home in a public space?? That's what we ultimately want. Be on the streets and feel secure and safe as in home, be a participant and homemaker, rather than a mere observant. In the same way you transform your house into a home, the collective transforms the public space into place. Rather than confining yourself to your house, bring up higher fences, and retreat your kids to play in the backyard, start coming forward to the front of your house again. Bring who you are at home, for a walk and a chat with those who are in your surroundings, participate and create a good experience for others who share that space with you. Placemaking requires bringing people out, inviting them to create place with you. One of the thoughts that came up in my group, was that people living in the same area may have reasons to live there other than the geography of the area. What brings people to live where they live??  

Home is a feeling, not a location. Home is an experience. It is the same with place (i.e your neighborhood/local community/suburb). Place making is creating experiences that are transformative in nature. 
Focus on exchanges, not mobility. Here things connect completely with my work: 
Cities are an invention to maximise exchange and minimise travel. The role of transport is not mobility, but multiplying the opportunities to maximize exchange. 
Probably the biggest idea here is that David, the presenter and creator of the workshop, argues that cities are not only, nor more importantly, for the exchange of goods or services (planned or delayed return exchange), but they emerged from the spontaneous exchanges that imply immediate return: the exchange of stories, a conversation and an invite to have dinner or coffee. These social interactions apparently occurred often at places that were increasingly recognized, creating exchange spaces. I believe that it was the frequency and strengthening of these social relationships what evolved into communities and cities. So basically, the big implications for my work, is that to work on local economies, I need to have a physical local community.

The local community issue

I am a member of Transition Towns Brisbane and also BrisLETS. I was part of a particular transition initiative that was sort of local...not really, it just covered a smaller area, the south of Brisbane rather than the whole city. This initiative is idle at the moment and, from my perspective, we don't even know each other, just a few of us have had interactions with the 'usual suspects'. BrisLETS is something similar, members are scattered all around Brisbane, most activity occurs around a physical area well known for a green tendency, but the system is pretty stagnant in general terms.

So when I thought about the Business Model Generation for Community Organizations project,  where I would create workshop for individuals to create business out of their passions, I assumed I would work with the scattered Transition Brisbane and BrisLETS as communities of interest so that their individuals, with their businesses would make localization a scalable 'product'. But here it is the thing, how could an individual create a passionate business to solve a local need, if he/she has not connected with his immediate locality?? I believe communities of interest can deliver value to local communities and make localization grow, but after the workshop it makes much more sense to me, to have the physical local community first, and its observant residents engaged as participative citizens. This way, the idea of communities recognizing what they really need and deliver value by themselves via BMG, sounds a lot more real. 

It is my understanding that Transition towns in England came out of already formed communities with strong social relationships. Towns where neighbors knew one another rather well and where mobilizing ideas was not as hard. Here in Brisbane the story is different: I wonder how many of us know our immediate neighbors, at least their names. Localization without the physical locals that interact with each other sounds rather contradictory, if not unreal.
Place (read home) is not a product you can deliver. Citizens have to deliver by themselves. 
Only a few days ago, a friend of mine, who is a member Transition Brisbane as well, wrote me an email saying "the part i'm really interested in pushing forward with Transition is a step that I think needs to occur before, or possibly simultaneously, with this idea of business development of sustainability projects. This part is to do with community engagement. Without community engagement, transition is simply a small grouping of the most concerned individuals, making decisions for the community as a whole. Same with this idea of business development. If the validation of ideas only happens with the people currently involved in transition, then it's not representative of the community and not sustainable in the long term". 

I can't agree more. I must add that if this is going to be the case, then there is a narrative within the transition movement that needs to change. At the moment, it seems to me that we tell a story about fear of climate change and peak oil, so we mostly draw people who act out of fear of these futures, rather than focusing on opening a space where people can be moved from their fear to see other possibilities for a sustainable future. To be honest, I am not part of TT's because of climate change or peak oil, and I sometimes feel to much judgement and even hatred against particular groups of individuals...I think we have to face the fact that they share this world with us, and we can't leave them behind. Rather than focusing on acting out of fear of the future, how can transition project a message of opportunities and possibilities FOR ALL?? He, my friend, also said he is interested in proposing  to a particular Transition initiative to become a Project support project and also be involved in evolving the Business Model Generation for Community Organizations. 

Another team mate mentioned the need to recognize patterns and shared this link from the transition network, which I think is pretty in line with my thoughts. And it puts on the table something very important: The recognition of patterns. 

So, I would like to explore my thoughts on that to discuss with the team:

Should individuals create place, this is, re-create their physical local community and social local interactions, and so allow the emergence of communities of interest?? Or should individuals team up with people with similar interests, which is what I feel Transition Brisbane and all my other groups are at the moment, and then re-create their physical local community?? They are not necessarily mutually exclusive, but to me, and for the reasons already mentioned, the former makes much more sense than the latter. 

However, what if for example, we can work on them simultaneously?? What if a kind of well formed Transition initiative, as a community of interest where most members live locally with strong(ish??) social ties (Transition Kurilpa in our case), uses BMG to create a social community enterprise (the project support project or PSP), and at the same time, members of Transition Brisbane, get together to put in place placemaking strategies in their own suburbs?? Placemaking strategies can be reported so that Transition Brisbane is aware of how things have changed, what is working where or what isn't and where, and what needs and projects are emerging. I would love if, for example, a couple of TT members decide to have a street party at someone's street, to give that person support in their re-creation process and also learn and start interacting and giving feedback from the process...I'd love David to support this!!

The PSP, although I need to read more about it, sounds exactly to what the idea of BMG for Community Organizations project would do, just that I had 'decided' that it was going to be through workshops, which of course can change because it is at an early stage. We can see here how a product and the Business model canvas can start to evolve through mobilizing the initial Canvas idea. 

In any case, what David suggests is "pick the low hanging fruit NOW!", which means, 
"Set up a trial on a discreet project. Create a 'best-guess master vision'. Brainstorm the "instant deliverable" that would move you towards that vision. Implement. Review. Choose next instant deliverable." 
The next instant deliverable does not necessarily mean a new deliverable, it may also mean, a new feature of the previous deliverable that would improve the experience of those who are using it or will use it. 

I recognized a lot of business concepts and applications in David's workshop. He uses the concept of Agile product development, which I first heard from Steve Blank's blog about customer development. I believe that it is necessary, before picking the low hanging fruit, to redefine terms related to business, profits, money, economy and so on. Because if we agree that business as usual is not working, then we need to define what the new business is. I'd love to see a 'translation' into 'localization language' of the terms used in the BMG canvas. And  this thought may be a bit rushed but, it seems to me that with this translation, creating an Energy Descent Plan will be a bit redundant. Energy descent has to be built in the Business Model, it has to be reflected in business actions. 

To do this, I found a delightful reading at David's website. You can go there and download that and many other articles. But I thought I would make life easier and just share it here with you. I strongly recommend it because it touches on the very basic definitions that can be used to create a new story of localization, communities and economics.


Local and creative economies

Monday, April 4, 2011

Welcome to my World: The End

The last post of the series...I am actually pretty impressed of myself. I knew I was committed, but this was the confirmation of the confirmation. This post is about lessons learned from writing this series and about some hypothesis I came to.

  • Knowing that I had to have a post every Monday was both good and mentally exhausting. It was good because I organized my time to get it done. I can't set a particular time every single day, but I just knew I had to take the time to do it. The general trait was that I started to write a post during the week, edit it and complement it on the previous Sunday at night, and then re-read it on Monday and publish it. It gave me some sense of what I could and could not do. I also learned that the first writing is never the final one. There are about 5 draft posts saved that were completely different to the final versions of what went public. It was good to realize that ideas can fluctuate everywhere. A couple of weeks I got anxious because it was Saturday night and I didn't have my ideas articulated into an understandable stream of words. That was exhausting when it happened, the anxiety that it provokes is energy draining. For no real reason to be honest, in the end, I had a post that reflected where I was at, so it was always a honest post, even when it wasn't what the public was expecting, it was what my brain had been processing for a week. In general, I can't complain, and I got stressed every now and then with no real reason for it. It was my choice.
  • Awesome lesson was that writing down the ideas, whether they go public or not, is really helping me to clarify what I want to do, it is taking me to the deepest source of my motivation, to the point that I have a hypothesis now: When we have an idea, we usually think that it is to help others, it is for the benefits of others, and because we are good people, and we are well intentioned and so on. But that approach, although it is not 'wrong' or incorrect, is just the surface of the matter. It is only the skin of your body, which is good, necessary and useful, but you need to go to the bones of the matter. You need to get to a place where there is nothing else beyond, behind or beside it. You can have many passions, but there is something that comes from very deep inside you, something that causes you either a grate pain or an enormous unconditional state of happiness and peace. The biggest idea may be inspired by what happens around you, or the feeling that urges you to act may be awakened by a situation in your surroundings, but it comes from the strongest feeling within you that, if you solve it, will give you absolute freedom, it comes from a place where you sort of say "I'm not willing to let this happen to me". It sounds selfish, and it is if we approach it from the position of the false self.  In my hypothesis, I argue that if your idea is about how to solve others' problems, then you'll end up patching the hole. And if your motivation is to make money, then you'll just create a hole somewhere else. From the perspective of the 'we are all one' story, then it makes perfect sense because my deepest pain it is also yours, and if I break free of my burden then you will too. But you may want to try yourself. You're passionate about public transport?? What hurts you so much about it. Take your time to explore yourself and if you can, write it down, even if it is just random words. 
  • Even deeper than the motivation leading to the Business Model Generation topic, is the fact that I need to feel connected with humanity again. That's what I need and that's what I would like to offer to others. I discovered that at a workshop I attended last week, which I'll post about later on. I can't help but say that it was completely out of the box and amazing experience: I need to reconnect with humanity in its pure form, not with the labels we put on humans, but with humans. That is why I am looking for all forms and shapes of localization, it's because I yearn for strong ties and connections around me. I have many passions, but they all attempt to satisfy this need. Not related to the writing process, but related to what I do, which is what this blog is about.
  • Another lesson, Patience!! I don't have to impress anyone, I don't have to demonstrate that I am capable of anything. Yes, I am building relationships of trust but out of honesty. This is not like when you are dating someone, that everything looks so good at the beginning because both parties are trying to impress one another, and then, when there are no more cards left under the arm, reality shows up. This is not that kind of relationship. Patience!! I am learning how to do this thing!! nobody is teaching me, I am not sure where I'll end up going, then don't be too hard on yourself. Bringing ideas from uncertainty to focus takes time, it is a necessary step and if you trust the process, you'll give yourself more room to learn and love it!!. 
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  • Do you remember the image on the introduction?? well things don't look like that anymore. But I must say, this is not that the initial ideas have been completely deleted from the process. The financial institution with its platform for local currency and action, plus the educational program are still related. The workshop is an improved version of the educational program. And it made sense to start there because, one of the main limitations I see within CC communities, is that they struggle to include production of basic needs like food, shelter, energy... So, if this workshop proposition does a good job, communities should be able to re-localize and go through a process of CC and financial system design by themselves, as in, not someone telling them what they need and what sort of system to do what, but them establishing the parameters and let's say, the rules of the designing game. Communities can always consult of course, and outsource product development if needed, but it will be in their hands to say what they want. Me suggesting how the system will work right now, seems a bit too rushed. I need to explore the issue of 'reconnection to humanity' because it may take the project in a slightly different, but most likely better and more exciting direction. That exploration will come soon when I share my workshop amazingly inspiring experience. 
I want to thank all of you who have been part of this process with your comments, emails, conversations via skype, blogs....It is only the first Monday of April and this started in January. I think it has been rather a relatively quick progress, it wouldn't have been so if not because of all the feedback I've had and the friendships I'm building. 

From now on I'm back to 'normal'. As in, I may not have a post every single Monday, or I may write more than one post a week. I'll give myself some room to experiment with time and space.

Big thank you and will keep in touch!!