“The fate of all of us here has been to know that we are prisoners of power. No one knows why us in particular, but what a great fortune!”
Carlos Castaneda

Tales of Power

Goodbye to Apple, Google and Microsoft

n

A good article about the technologies we use in our day-to-day lives and how we can bring back value, consciousness and choice into selecting our relationship with them:

“More important, I’ve moved to these alternative platforms because I’ve changed my mind about the politics of technology. I now believe it’s essential to embed my instincts and values, to a greater and greater extent, in the technology I use.

The tools I use now are, to the extent possible, based on community values, not corporate ones.

Posted in AltEco, Business, Intake, Open Source, outside, Tech Stuff | You are welcome to add your comment

MyBubba

n

These two beautiful vibrations toured with Damien Rice in the USA:

Posted in Enjoy, inside | Tagged | You are welcome to add your comment

Cyanogen and the future of Android

n

I’ve been told that to activate an Android phone you have to have and sign in with a Google account. I hope that isn’t true but I haven’t confirmed it. I think it would, sadly, be difficult to confirm because most people have google accounts and think that having their phone logged in to Google is a good (or at least not a bad) idea (so I haven’t asked people about it).

When I hear of Android being referred to as open-source I cringe. While technically it is (the code is freely available for anyone to review / change), the version of it most people use it code written by Google with honey-traps set by Google. That is not in alignment with the spirit of open-source as I understand it.

CyanogenMod however is an open-source (in fact and spirit) project. It, as I understand it, is a version of Android that has stripped of its Google trappings. I have only heard of it, not used it. Today I came across this bit of news:

” … Microsoft would partner with the truly open-source, Android-based Cyanogen OS to provide a bundled suite of apps … “

Granted I have difficulty thinking of Microsoft being involved in anything as good news … this story has an interesting twist:

“… failure to gain traction may be why Microsoft has recently embraced a push to put its software on its more popular rivals … By working closely with Cyanogen, Microsoft now essentially has its own Android OS, which gives it a potential reach far greater than its own homegrown platform has found so far.”

In failing to penetrate the market with its own operating system and hardware Microsoft is turning to an alternative strategy based an open-source project which is an extension of Google code. Reading this (together with this: Microsoft may open-source its code) made me feel that good is an inevitability. As if no matter how much big companies try to twist things around to serve themselves, they are, in the end, going to get spat out … unless they come into service of something greater than their own profits.

Though I do feel the article is poorly titled “Microsoft Just Took Android’s Future Out of Google’s Hands”. It is Cyanogen that took Android’s future out of Google’s hands and gave it, and maybe Microsoft, a shot at a better future. Cheers to open-source.

You may want to check if your smart-phone is compatible with Cyanogen and step into your own better future.

 

Posted in AltEco, Business, Intake, Open Source, outside | You are welcome to add your comment

Hey

n
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Suggested Price

n

Iulia has communicated to me that there is an issue with money around the upcoming Yoga workshop, specifically that some people have expressed a feeling that the price is too high. I am going to try to speak to that in this post.

If you are looking for a short answer that will give you immediate satisfaction then you are probably going to be disappointed. If you are interested in reflecting on this subject with me then I invite you to read on.

I’ve been reflecting, thinking and inquiring a lot into money in recent years and I am, as I write these words, in my 2nd reading of Charles Eisenstein’s Sacred Economics (which has been translated to Romanian) and before that David Graeber’s Debt: The first 5000 Years.

Personally …

My relationship with money has been difficult for as long as I can remember it. When I opened my first bank account I put in 100 shekels (the Israeli equivalent of the lei) and, following my father’s advice and common wisdom I put it all into a short-term savings plan … and immediately found myself in debt of 20 agorot (the Israeli equivalent of bani) due to the cost of the transaction. Though even by then I was under the impression that money is hard to get, that you can never have enough and it is an endless source of worry and anxiety.

Even when I had a good career and I was getting paid a good salary and living a modest life I felt insecure. I felt I had to carefully measure how I spent money and I was always worried what would happen if I were to lose my job … how would I manage financially. I ultimately ended my career when I realized that 1) no matter how much money I was making it wasn’t enough to meet anything that felt remotely close to financial security and 2) that I was unhappy in my pursuit of this ghost called “financial security”. So I decided to set it aside and give myself a chance at happiness.

To make a long story short (er) … happiness found me (at least for a while) but living even a modest life in a western-priced country continued to be expensive and insecurity took over once again. This time with a sharper bite … money was running out … and then it did … run out.

By then my questions about money had transformed into a single very different question. In my mind money came to represent a relationship between me and the community or society I lived in. Not having money meant not having a relationship with the society I lived in. Offering my gifts and being rejected meant that the society I was living in didn’t need or didn’t value my gifts. Either way it became a question about relationship and community … it was no longer about money itself.

To make an even longer story short(er) … my hope in coming to Romania was to create a life in which money would have a smaller role. For the most part, that has, in a surprising way and via a demanding journey, happened. Now I am in a place where insecurity is slowly starting to be replaced by security (though that journey is far from over). However one of the few things missing in this new life is me being able to express my gifts.

Gift

Charles Eisenstein (and others) speak about a gift-based economy. My impression is that many people interpret this in a superficial way to mean an economy in which things are given as gifts … “for free” … as in without an exchange of money. I think that is misunderstanding and can be misleading.

I believe that a gift-based economy describes a world in which people live their lives in their gifts. Underlying this view is a belief that we are all gifted in some special way, that we are here to manifest our gifts and that doing so brings us to an experience of fulfillment and alignment with a sense of purpose.

One of my gifts is Yoga and living in a Romanian village (with a basic grasp of the Romanian language) doesn’t offer me an opportunity to express that gift. Iulia’s invitation to give a weekend workshop in Targu Mures is an exciting opportunity to be in my gift.

That still leaves us with a question of exchange and how money fits into it.

Giving as a Means of Exchange

Before diving into money I do want to touch a bit on “gift” as an act of giving. Though we are typically taught that before money came barter (10 chickens for one goat) but it turns out that is not true, it is a disproved assumption (there is evidence that proves otherwise) at the heart of modern day economics.

A more typical form of exchange was an a network of giving that creates debt(!) within a community. This form of exchange taps into an interesting human quality: responding to generosity with more generosity … wanting to give back more than you are given. The reason for this, it turns out, isn’t some deep sense of altruism but rather an intuitive understanding of indebtedness (very different than money-based debt because it doesn’t have to be quantified). If I help you in your time of need, you will want, in return, to help me.

However, the threads that tie a community together are not the actual exchanges but the resulting (unquantified) debts. A community is a collection of debts – when everyone owes everyone else something. All those small (or large) debts create a continuous sense of dependency and relatedness. An exchange based on money is one in which all debts are canceled and there is no need for further relationship. If I bring bottled water to my neighbor when I go drive to the village center she wants to give me something in return … maybe eggs … and she will give me a generous number of eggs … and I will want to help her again … and so on and so on. If I buy eggs from an old woman in the village market there is no need for relationship between us beyond that limited exchange. (Do you care about your supermarket, who owns it, who made the produce, who stocked the shelves, the woman at the checkout counter?, etc …)

For an exchange based on giving there needs to be relationship – a community. There needs to be a web of continuous, trusted relationships over time for giving to be able to flow. Such an exchange is not likely between strangers who may never see each other again. Indeed, the evolution of money is tied in numerous ways to wars. A debt based giving exchange may have existed in historical villages but when a soldier passed through a village, you wanted him to pay in coins … you may never see that soldier again, he may be dead by tomorrow … he is not someone with whom you want to form a long-term reciprocal relationship.

I am recalling two realizations that surprised me here in the village. The first realization surprised me in its obviousness: that it is easier to give something of which you have in abundance. If I have a generous yield of pumpkins it is easy for me to give pumpkins. The second realization struck me as disappointing … most giving in the village is indeed a means of incurring (or paying) debt … there is very little gifting.

So it seems that “gift economy” is a misleading name  because it is really based on debt which is incurred through giving so maybe it should be called a debt-economy?

… which brings us to money as a means of exchange.

Money as a Means of Exchange

There are many definitions and applications of money. One of them is as a means of exchange. This can be a slippery subject to approach because we take money for granted without really knowing what it is and how it is created. I would like to try to see money in a different way … money as an expression of giving which does have a sense of community and gifting … lets let the rubber meet the road and apply this to a real scenario … a Yoga workshop in Targu Mures.

We are going to come together … I don’t know any of you and you don’t know me (though some of you may know each other). Hopefully the workshop will be a good and valuable experience for you. I am looking forward to sharing with you teachings that are precious to me and to do it in a way that will make them precious for you. You will naturally want to give something in return and you will want to do in a spirit of gift … you will want to feel generous and you will want to maintain a sense of continuity, relationship and community. How to do this?

Since we are not (yet!?) part of a continuous living community you are not likely to have something that I want or need (you barely know me, how can you know what I want or need). Therefor, suppose you could give me a token of your appreciation – something that says “this is to indicate you have given me something valuable and I am indebted to you”.

That token could be symbolic … to you. I could hold on to it until a time in the future where we met again and you gave me something I want or need and I would return the symbolic token to you. Or maybe you have a friend which is indebted to you (you have a symbolic token that friend gave to you) and your friend gave me something or did something for me and in return I gave your friend the symbolic token you gave me. Now you and your friend each hold a symbolic token from each other … and this is where things can get interesting. You can exchange your tokens and cancel your debts to each other … and bring that flow to an end. Or you could hold on to those tokens, stay indebted to each other and trade those tokens with others … allowing your giving (debts) to continue flowing.

Now lets say we want to “go with the flow”. Wouldn’t it be great if we could have tokens which are symbols that we all agree one … that represent a shared sense of value? These tokens could flow farther, smoother … they would be easier to exchange … that could touch more people. Money is such a token … or it can be … if we can gently move away from the less pleasant qualities we associate with it.

Suggested Price

To make this experience softer for me and for you I have chosen to do experiment … to transform an exchange of money into a softer token … to give us all an opportunity to reflect on our relationship to each other and our relationship with money.

This is why the workshop has a suggested price and not a fixed price. A suggested price communicates to you a reflection of my valuation. A suggested price invites you to make your own choice. This reflection will be much more relevant after the workshop … when you have a direct sense of experience. Setting your own price gives you an opportunity to reflect not just about a number, but about value, giving … and money itself. It is an opportunity to inform a relationship with me, with Yoga, with your own practice, with money, with giving.

I realize that this may be challenging for you … it is for me too. The world we currently live in feels out of alignment in many ways. The money system we live in has made money scarce and stuck instead of abundant and flowing. I am opening myself to exploring a new story and new relationships and by offering a suggested price I am inviting you to join me in that exploration.

If this workshop shimmers for you but you are thinking to yourself “I can’t afford this” … then think again … it isn’t true … it is a limitation you place on yourself. Though there is a registration fee, how much you give is ultimately up to you. At the end of the workshop you can decide how much to give. You can give the suggested price, you can give more, you can give less. If you feel it is right you can ask for a refund of your registration fee and pay nothing. I trust myself, I trust my teachers, I trust the teachings I have been given … and I trust you.

 

Posted in Expanding, inside, Money, outside, Yoga, Yoga & I | Tagged | You are welcome to read 2 comments and to add yours

Yoga Teacher

n

“What do you do?” is one question (of a few) I don’t look forward to encountering. The question seems to imply that I should to be doing something. It also seems to imply that if I am doing something it needs to be something specific that fits into a coherent, preferrably short & simple title. Even when I had a “career” which I could have leaned on for a clear answer I never felt comfortable with the question nor the answers it provoked. I felt that I was being asked to put myself into a nice, clearly defined box which always seemed to leave out some parts of who I am.

For the last … I would say third of my life … I feel I’ve been blessed with diverse and rich experiences. I’ve had opportunities to experience myself in different contexts, to see myself from different perspectives. I (and I think people who know me well) can sense there is a thread that brings it all together … however it is elusive and very difficult to put into words.

However, during this last third of my life (even longer) I have also been in a relationship with Yoga – studying, practicing and to some extent teaching.  While still living in Israel I taught a few groups, but felt that I was being asked to be more of a “Yoga entertainer” then a “Yoga teacher”. Most people seemed to expect me to provide an experience that confirmed with what they wanted Yoga to be, few seemed genuinely interested in inquiring into what Yoga is. There was a gap between my interests in Yoga and the expectations I faced as a teacher … a gap I had difficulty bridging. So I stopped trying (except for, over the years, one-on-one students with whom I’ve had precious interactions).

And yet … I am surprisingly comfortable describing myself as a Yoga practitioner and teacher. When I do teach Yoga, or even just find myself in a conversation where someone is interested in Yoga, I feel vibrant and alive … as if I’m doing something good … something I should be doing … with a clear sense of purpose … and actions that flow smoothly from me. I’ve done (and do) other things too … but almost everything I do is either in alignment, or comes into alignment, with my Yogic views. Yoga shapes and is expressed in almost everything I do. And so … if I have to be something, at least for now … I am a Yoga practitioner and on occasion teacher.

… and suddenly I find myself facing a new invitation … a first of its kind … I’ve been waiting for it so long that I have sometimes forgotten that I am waiting. Iulia asked me “When are you coming to do a weekend workshop in Targu Mures?” … not “if”. And so for the first time I’ve put together an offering that is in alignment with me. An offering that I feel respects my teachers and the teachings they have offered me. An offering that I feel respects the people who come to share in the teachings I have been given. I am touched and excited to have been asked to offer this weekend Yoga workshop. I am intrigued that it is taking place in what may well be my karmic-home-town of Targu Mures.

IntroductionToYoga_FacebookBanner_03b

Introduction to Yoga: a Living Practice

Purpose

This weekend workshop will cover basic concepts of Yoga. It is intended to provide a core understanding and experience for people who are interested in welcoming Yoga as a regular practice integrated into their lives.

Previous experience of Yoga is not required. Practitioners with past experience are welcome to join and revisit foundational ideas of Yoga and their own practice.

The weekend will be guided by Ronen Hirsch. Ronen has been practicing Yoga for over 15 years. His teachers are Paul Harvey (UK) and Ziva Kinrot (Israel) who carry forward a Viniyoga tradition developed by T Krishnamacharya and his son TKV Desikachar.

If you can breath and are curious about life or yourself you are welcome to join.

Topics

The weekend will include practice and conversation around:

  • Yoga views on philosophy and psychology: mind & body come together in practice.
  • Viniyoga: adapting Yoga practice to individual needs, circumstances and abilities.
  • Yoga and life: taking yoga beyond a practice mat and into daily life.
  • Basic asana: learning to move correctly, safely and effectively.
  • Basic breath: ujjayi breathing and its relationship with movement.
  • Basic pranayama: introduction to breathing practices.
  • Practice planning: lightly touching on the potential of creating practice sequences.
  • Yoga as meditation: nurturing meditative qualities in practice.

The program will be given in English (with some group support in translation to Romanian when needed).

Please address questions about workshop contents and practices to iamronen@iamronen.com.

What to Bring

  • Stationary
  • Yoga mat & 2 sitting blocks*
  • Comfortable clothes,(layers for regulating warmth)
  • Food for yourself

* It is useful to have two blocks sized ~ 20 x 20 x 5 cm that can be stacked or used individually as needed. There are standard (thicker) fitness blocks available online in Romania (here and here). We were able to find a local foam producer who is able to provide us with blocks cut to size for 12 lei / block. If you are interested in these blocks, please let us know when registering how many blocks you wish to purchase (recommended 2 per practitioner).

Schedule 3-5 April 2015

  • Friday,3rd of April, at 11:00 – 17:00
  • Saturday, 4th of April, 09:00 – 17:00
  • Sunday, 5th of April, 09:00 – 16:00

Registration

  • Location: Targu Mures. Exact location will be communicated in time to confirmed participants. If you come from outside Tg. Mures, we can arrange sleeping places here (informal, welcoming friends, for free). When you register, please let us know if you need this.
  • A suggested price is 540 lei / participant. If you choose to come together with your partner / a friend the price will be 900 lei for both. Please send a registration fee of 180 lei to reserve your place no later then 20 of March, 2015. At the end of the program you are invited to adjust the price accordingly to your experience.
  • To register contact Iulia at iulia.sara@gmail.com. Please include your name, email address and phone number, for keeping in contact for further details (location, registration fee, etc.).

1 On 1

The workshop will lay foundations for taking up a personal practice in day-to-day life. On the day following the workshop Ronen will be available for face-to-face 1 on 1 consultations for individuals that wish to introduce a tailored daily practice into their lives.

It will be possible to schedule consultations during the weekend workshop.

Posted in Yoga, Yoga & I, Yoga & Life | You are welcome to read 1 comment and to add yours

Greek Leadership – Fruits of Austerity?

n

Though the Greek prime minister in this video describes austerity as a failure. I would argue that at least in one sense austerity has been a success … there is a new Greek prime minister who is direct, realistic, able to address painful truths and to do softly (even when facing an ultimatum). He is subtly saying that like austerity, ultimatums are also irrelevant – that no forceful attitude will change the difficult and unrelenting financial reality Europe has gotten itself into. He has realized that the old story has failed and is trying to invite his European colleagues to co-create a new story.Regardless of the fruits of actions, his effort is refreshing.

Is this telling of a new emerging flavor of leadership? I enjoyed this.

source

Posted in AltEco, Greece, Intake, Money, outside | Tagged | You are welcome to add your comment

Armies as Market Makers

n

In Debt: The First 5000 Years David Graeber highlights a recurring historical pattern that emerged in different cultures around the world: armies as market-makers. When  a conquering army is sent out it needs a lot of supplies to keep it going. Instead of having to provide supplies kings / emperors / what-nots would 1) pay the soldiers with coins; 2) require peasants (food suppliers) to pay taxes using only those coins; 3) which would force the peasants to provide supplies to soldiers who would pay with said coin which could then be used to pay taxes. As a result, successful conquering armies were correlated with control of mines which would provide the metals needed to press coins.

Then it includes this quote from Kautilya‘s Arthashastra (over 2000 years old):

“The treasury is based upon mining, the army upon the treasury; he who army and treasury may conquer the whole wide earth”

That neatly summed up why I feel Bitcoin is a failed currency from its inception. Bitcoin is a highly centralized system where the kings are engineers. It is bound to become more centralized as mediators such as online-exchanges make the technology available compete for added-value market share.

But more then than, I feel that the most challenging aspect of currency (mainstream or alternative) is the question of backing. I feel it is the most neglected aspect of innovative new currencies. What backs a currency? Time-banking exemplified a good answer (hours of work can be exchanged) but limited in its application because it tramples value (not all hours are equal).

 

Posted in AltEco, Money, outside, Tech Stuff | Tagged | You are welcome to add your comment

Greece: The End of Austerity?

n

It is a somewhat refreshing video … maybe a preview of what is coming when social and political systems are pushed to extremes? There is hope in it … but I also have doubts. Nationalism makes me uncomfortable, passion and slogans don’t last long … but the effects of separation that are built when they are used in politics do accumulate and last.

I don’t trust solutions that are based on an us and them mentality. Us of the south and them of the north … is not a good starting point … and probably incorrect. If there is an us and them in this story … them is more likely to be IMF and other hostile banking institutions that exist beyond nationality. They are hostile everywhere (north and south) and they have vested partners with vested interests everywhere (north and south). And if we are shifting from a nationalistic view to an economic them … then we are all in this together … we are all participants and co-creators (even if passively and by default) of the economic system. As tempting as it may be to think of an “evil them” … I don’t believe that can lead to substantial change.

I would like to see a new kind of awakening. An awakening that is soft-spoken, that looks inwards, that takes responsibility, that sees connection and relatedness, that demands inner change (in addition to outer change). Can existing socio-political systems manifest and carry such expression? I don’t know.

One thing is for sure … what is happening in Greece may be a potential beginning of an end to austerity … at best.

GREECE: THE END OF AUSTERITY? from Theopi Skarlatos on Vimeo.

Posted in AltEco, Business, Intake, Money, outside | You are welcome to add your comment

A Glimpse into the Dark Web

n

From Deep Web Marketplaces

“One user put down the address of his local post office as a shipping address instead of his home. As a recipient, instead of his name he submitted “Holder of Federal Reserve Note number #NNNNN”, #NNNNN being the serial number of a dollar bill in his possession. Apparently he went to the post office holding the bill, correctly identifying himself as the holder of that federal reserve note, and was given the package”

I don’t think this is a glimpse of the future. It’s a glimpse of what the future may look like if we stay on the course we are on now. I hope that course will change and the future with it.

Posted in AltEco, Intake, Money, outside, Tech Stuff | You are welcome to add your comment

Love and Pain

n

My grandmother finally parted with her body on Tuesday the 20th of January 2014. She suffered a lot, not just in her last years, but over the course of her life … is it alright to say too much? She was a fighter, a strong woman … and in the end that strength worked against her. It colluded with her fear of dying and kept her fiercely attached to a withering body.

I don’t have access to childhood memories (I am not a very good rememberer at all). I was her first grandchild and she was with me a lot during my early years … when my parents were still getting started in their own adult lives and had me too. I don’t remember that. I do remember that in my teen years, she brought it up … a lot … too much. At one point I got the impression that she (and my grandfather) were doing some kind of accounting … that their investment in my early life was supposed to pay off in my mature life. That accounting turned me off. It also came during a time of intense and painful awakening … and so I distanced myself. I did not want to be in an accounting relationship.

I was never a “good grandson” … I was never a “good anything”. I was raw. Later, with time and distance I also became present and honest. Later, direct. She loved me, she loved my eyes. She didn’t know how to say it … she always said, with a cynical twist on love that “she hated me so much”.

I saw her only a few times in recent years, she living in Israel, me in Romania. My parents often spoke of her deteriorating clarity, though that was not my impression when I communicated with her. She became more distant, conversations were shorter, there was less outwards moving interest … but I did not feel less clarity. I felt her present, I felt her joking … I felt her fear … I felt her pain.

A few months ago, during a Skype conversation, I asked her how she felt. The only answers she had to give were about her physical condition. Feeling, as in what is in your heart, was not part of her story and expression. The last time I saw her was ~10 months ago. As her situation continued to deteriorate my parents asked /suggested that I come and see her. Whenever I held that question inside the answer was no. I am not keen on travelling, I am not keen on travelling to Israel … but mostly I felt connected to my grandmother. I was with her, she was with me. Whenever I passed air through the Shakuhachi it was with her, for her … a vibration I sent out to the cosmos as a bookmark … so that we may find each other again. I felt that going to Israel would have narrowed that experience down to a limited physical interaction.

She was a powerful spirit. Though she could not speak her heart, in the 24 hours that came before she left her body her spirit traveled the planet and touched her kin. She visited my older sister in the night. She asked Andreea to light a candle. She removed from my younger sister’s neck a necklace she gave her that my sister never takes off. She summoned her son, my father’s brother (my father is a more mind-centered person like his father was, his brother is a more heart-centered person like his mother was) to a short “unplanned” visit to her bedside which is when she exhaled for the last time, with him at her side.

The evening before (or possible the evening before that) I felt compelled to listen to music in hebrew … specifically to this song:

Empires Fall Slowly

A child sits in the living room doing his homework
He doesn’t hear the doorbell ringing
At the same time that Athens invades Troy
Father arrives holding a box of cookies and a newspaper

Mother whispers secrets in father’s ear
A child picks up fragments of the conversation
Alexander the great has conquered half the continent
Father says that half of the salary has gone

And in the pages of time that has been lost
People end suddenly
Empires fall slowly

everything will be OK Father assures
Mother responds with a smile
An empire’s soldier has arrived at the edge of the continent
A child dreams of battles that have been and battles that have yet to come

And in the pages of time that has been lost
People end suddenly
Empires fall slowly

It’s a song that has always touched me yet this time tears started pouring … leaving my drained and settled. The next day Annelieke and I were outside cutting wood and my phone rang. My phone rarely rings. It was from Israel, it was my grandmother’s home phone. I knew it wasn’t her. My father was on the other end of the line already supported by the technicalities of dying,  police had just walked into the apartment so he was brief, he said to me “grandmother isn’t suffering anymore”.

In a time where I feel found inside and lost in the world, my grandmother’s passing is making feel a little bit lost inside and a little bit found in the world. All I could / can think of when connecting with my grandmother since is Andreea and Ma’ayan.

Posted in Expanding, inside, Israel, Romania, Shakuhachi | You are welcome to read 1 comment and to add yours

What causes addiction?

n

“The experiment is simple. Put a rat in a cage, alone, with two water bottles. One is just water. The other is water laced with heroin or cocaine. Almost every time you run this experiment, the rat will become obsessed with the drugged water, and keep coming back for more and more, until it kills itself.

But in the 1970s, a professor of Psychology in Vancouver called Bruce Alexander noticed something odd about this experiment. The rat is put in the cage all alone. It has nothing to do but take the drugs. What would happen, he wondered, if we tried this differently? So Professor Alexander built Rat Park. It is a lush cage where the rats would have colored balls and the best rat-food and tunnels to scamper down and plenty of friends: everything a rat about town could want. What, Alexander wanted to know, will happen then?

In Rat Park, all the rats obviously tried both water bottles, because they didn’t know what was in them. But what happened next was startling.

The rats with good lives didn’t like the drugged water. They mostly shunned it, consuming less than a quarter of the drugs the isolated rats used. None of them died. While all the rats who were alone and unhappy became heavy users, none of the rats who had a happy environment did.

After the first phase of Rat Park, Professor Alexander then took this test further. He reran the early experiments, where the rats were left alone, and became compulsive users of the drug. He let them use for fifty-seven days — if anything can hook you, it’s that. Then he took them out of isolation, and placed them in Rat Park. He wanted to know, if you fall into that state of addiction, is your brain hijacked, so you can’t recover? Do the drugs take you over? What happened is — again — striking. The rats seemed to have a few twitches of withdrawal, but they soon stopped their heavy use, and went back to having a normal life. The good cage saved them.”

source

 

Posted in AltEco, Intake, outside | You are welcome to add your comment

Charlie Hebdo

n

I was still living at home … late teens or early twenties. It was a Saturday morning. I was still in bed in my room. I could hear my father helping my younger sister with her math homework. He was explaining vigorously (both my sisters and I ended up crying more than once under the burden of my fathers helping explanations) and she wasn’t getting it. It was escalating. I heard him raise his voice, almost shouting to her something like “how can you not understand?” It concluded with my sister not understanding … and crying. I jumped out of bed, sped out of my room and went to yell at my father. I was angry at him for attacking her.

HE was the more mature, more knowledgeable, more experienced, more responsible, more evolved human being. HE wanted to help her. HE failed to do so … he couldn’t find an explanation she could understand. HE was confused and frustrated because she wasn’t understanding him. HE chose to escalate, using more force thinking that would lead to understanding. HE chose to blame her for not understanding. HE failed to take responsibility for not being able to explain himself. HE tried to blame a young girl for his failure.

Almost all the views I’ve met (from what little media I consume) about the recent attack on Charlie Hebdo magazine in Paris seems to dance around Islam. I’d never heard of Charlie Hebdo before so the first time I had a taste of some of its published works was in this article. I was disturbed by the images … not of the attack … but of the cartoons.

In my reflections on Israel I have stated that I believe that a cultural struggle is taking place. It isn’t just between Muslims and Jews. In Israel itself I see it between orthodox Judaism and secular people too. In my current village I see different flavors of Christianity as a limiting force (brings thought and debate to dead-ends). Islam seems to be gathering more attention on the global stage than other religions (though that may be a function of global attention rather then Islam), but the struggle that is taking place is beyond religion. It is also not about civilization (as this article frames it) … but about older civilizations and newer civilizations.

I believe the makers of Charlie Hebdo come from a newer and better civilization than the civilization that the three murderers came from. I do believe that a civilization that upholds free speech is better than a civilization that does not (and that a civilization that uses free speech responsibly is better than a civilization that uses it callously). I also believe that a more advanced civilization has a responsibility towards a less advanced civilization. I believe it is the more developed civilization that is responsible for caring for the less developed. It is up to the people who have learned the value of free speech to communicate it to those who have not.

The cartoons of Charlie Hebdo tell me that responsibility was neglected. Their cartoons are a violent form of communication. It doesn’t matter how true or noble or valuable their ideas are if they are violently communicated. It didn’t matter that my father knew mathematics, it did matter that he was unable to communicate his knowledge to my sister.

The struggle that is represented in this tragic event is very real. It is a battle between ideas and the outcome is inevitable … old, obsolete, irrelevant ideas are going to die. But does this struggle have to be violent, do we have to live within violent metaphors of war?

Can we choose to live in a story where we are all part of a continuous evolution of human society? Can we choose to treat each other (especially those less privileged to live in circumstances that induce evolution) with respect? Can we collectively remember that the more advanced forms of civilization we are striving for rest on the shoulders of the civilization we are leaving behind? Can we care for our older ideas (as we care of our elders) and put them to rest peacefully instead of murdering them violently?

When I posted this image I did not know it related to the Charlie Hebdo incident … I thought it was a good metaphor for much of what is breaking in the world.

yesterdaytodaytomorrow

It seems to be a popular meme  that a pencil is mightier than a gun. If that is the case then can it be that a cartoon that murders an idea is as if not more violent than a gun that murders a man?

“Fear is a natural reaction to moving closer to the truth.”

Pema Chödrön

Posted in inside, Intake, outside, Quality | You are welcome to add your comment

Information in Transition (IIT) Workshop

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This workshop was an idea that Annelieke and I wanted to bring to life during my visit to Portugal in the summer of 2014. It didn’t take place. However this document continues to tell a story that has been slowly circulating in email channels. It is published here to make it more accessible and relatable.

Click here to download a PDF version

A 3-day workshop exploring how to support information communication in our local and national Transition hubs. Bringing together “Transitionists” and “Technologists” in service of our community.

Context

Flow of information is at the heart of Transition. Local hubs generate information that travels both within a community and to other national and international hubs.
Currently information flows sporadically and inefficiently, much like rainfall washes over a desolate landscape:

  • Powered by gravity – information flows mostly when an outside force dictates necessity (application, fund-raising, etc.)
  • Following a path of least resistance – information is collected and stored on separate computers (usually on those in which it is created) in diverse document formats (word processors, spread-sheets, etc.)
  • Draining away rapidly – documents are quickly forgotten and archived , fading out of memory and consciousness.
  • Carrying away precious soil fertility – those who create the information are worn down by a recurring and inefficient effort of having to recollect and recreate lost information.

Strategic water design involves:

  • Capturing water – harvesting information when it is fresh and vital.
  • Slowing it down – providing information a controlled path towards safe storage.
  • Storing it – keeping information where it can be organized and easily accessed.
  • Directing it when and where it is needed – making information easy to find when it is needed.
  • Giving it time to absorb into the soil – presenting information in effective and diverse way to different people in different contexts.

As water is at the heart of landscaping, so information is at the heart of Transition. Correct harvesting, storage, absorption and delivery of information can lead to a healthy and vibrant ecosystem.

Objective

To bring together diverse skills from within our community (members of Transition, web developers and designers) into a focused workshop during which a co-creative information process will be born.

The workshop will explore how an existing and abundant information flow can be harvested and utilized in service of the purposes of local and national Transition hubs.

Landscape design is founded on a view in which a designated purpose for that landscape brings it into harmony with its inhabitants (people and wildlife). In a similar way an information landscape design requires a similar foundational view of purpose and people. We will explore this idea of “People & Purpose” to guide us in forming and executing an information strategy.

Purpose: Coming Together

When it comes to information and information technologies there seems to be a divide between those who create & consume it (namely “transitioners”) and those who are able to manipulate it (namely: “developers”).

“Transitioners” interact mostly with people and nature, dealing with malleable and unpredictable dynamics. “Developers” work mostly with computers and code, dealing with well structured, well behaved and predictable dynamics. “Transitioners” drown in information. “Developers” contain and organise information.

These worlds do not mix well on a functional level. Is isn’t for lack of motivation. It is more like oil and water (that have nothing against each other) that are of different qualities. Yet when making a delicious soup it is not uncommon to find oil and water “collaborating”.

What if instead of trying to get “developers” to understand “transitionerts” or vice versa we could find a way to come together around shared interests to which we can all relate (and make a great soup)? We do not have to be confined to a view in which “transitioners” organise community projects” and “developers build websites”.

We can choose to be members and co-creators of our community collaborating towards a shared purpose. We can evolve to be “transitioniers” who appreciate how well-structured information can support our efforts. We can evolve to be “developers” who appreciate how structured information has no value unless it serves a purpose.

That is the gift of purpose. If you are reading this document then you probably have an active interest in your community, specifically about making your community better, more pleasant and more resilient.

During this workshop we will explore how clear, shared and stated purpose can transform our differences into valuable complementary assets.

Format

Each day will be made up of sessions. Each session will include:

  • Introduction of (a) task(s) and a discussion about how to approach the task.
  • Separating into groups who will take on the task(s).
  • Regrouping, presenting, integrating and prioritising results.

Over the course of the workshop we will explore:

  • Personas: who are the people we wish to support using information technology.
  • Purposes: what roles do these people fill in our community and how do we perceive their purpose in the context of Transition.
  • Information Structures: viewing information as building blocks.
  • WordPress: introducing WordPress and how it views information.
  • Website or websites?
  • Information sources: how and where is information generated.
  • Information uses: how and where is information applied.

Outcomes

  • Working website(s) for local and national hubs.
  • Content strategy & knowledge how to use it.
  • Raising mutual awareness and appreciation among Transitioners and developers.
  • Establishing collaborative processes which can support a continued process of refinement and evolution.
  • Exploring technological innovation as a community building activity.

Participants

The workshop is an invitation for diverse skills from within the Transition movement to come and work together:

  • Transition members
  • WordPress developers
  • Web designers

It is open to people who are committed, driven by purpose, have good collaborative and communication skills. Participants are asked to make themselves fully available for the entire 3 day workshop and to bring with them clarity and enthusiasm.

A few places are available for observers from other social activist circles who wish to witness and learn from the process.

Posted in AltEco, Design, outside, Tech Stuff, Wordpress | You are welcome to add your comment

Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow

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yesterdaytodaytomorrowby Lucille Clerc

Posted in Enjoy, Expanding, inside | You are welcome to add your comment

Nonlinear warfare also known as “the news”?

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Posted in Intake, Intellect Run Amok, outside | You are welcome to add your comment

Politics is the Struggle for the Happiness of All

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“We have to run people who love money too much out of politics, they’re a danger in politics… People who love money should dedicate themselves to industry, to commerce, to multiply wealth. But politics is the struggle for the happiness of all.”

Uruguayan President José Mujica

source

Posted in AltEco, Business, Money, outside | You are welcome to add your comment

Local Currency Compliments National Currency

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via CCMagazine

Posted in AltEco, Money, outside | You are welcome to add your comment

The Internet is financed by spying

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“Online companies typically make money by utilizing data gleaned from their users to sell targeted ads. If the flow of user data slows down, so does the money. A study commissioned by the Interactive Advertising Bureau with researchers from Harvard Business School underscores the point: at least half of the Internet’s economic value is based on the collection of individual user data, and nearly all commercial content on the Internet relies on advertising to some extent. Digital advertising grew to a $42.8 billion business last year, a sum that already exceeds spending on broadcast television advertising.

Digital privacy advocates, understandably, view the online ecosystem differently. They are alarmed by the growth of the surveillance economy, in which companies compile and store information about what a user reads, looks for, clicks on or buys. In this world, disclosure is fairly meaningless, because almost no one reads the terms of service that define the relationship between the customer and the company.

If the government wants to shift the Internet economy away from a “barter” system (exchanging personal data for free services) toward a subscription-based system, Congress should take charge.”

source

 

Posted in AltEco, Business, Intake, outside, Tech Stuff | You are welcome to add your comment

Talking about Talking in Israel

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A couple of weeks ago a person from Israel who I consider to be a friend sent me an email. It wasn’t a personal email. It was an email sent to a group of people and it was about promoting a crowd-funding campaign. This friend lives in the area surrounding Gaza which was (has been for some time and continues to be) one of the most threatened and impacted areas in Israel during the last conflict with Gaza.

The people in that area have experienced plenty of  fear and violence. They have come to a conclusion that for them to experience peace (or even just a reduction of violence) the people of Gaza need to experience hope. The campaign was about spreading that awareness in Israeli society (many parts of which are further removed from the violence and have a less direct experience of it).

I spent some time with the campaign, watched the video, read some of the words. Though a lot of work and social collaboration went into it and it seems like a generally good idea, I felt (given my experiences and thoughts about Israel) that it was not deep enough. I felt it was treating a superficial and current (temporary) expression rather then digging deeper into the origins of the situation.

Since Israel is often on my mind and in my heart I wrote back wondering if there could be an opportunity to go deeper. I wrote an honest response giving voice to my thoughts. Within a very short while I got back a response that communicated hurt and resentment at my position and attitude (and yet the response also included a restated plea to forward the original email to my circle of friends, despite my position, so that the campaign could continue to spread and reach more people).

I started to write a reply but realized that it was not a simple reply to put in writing, that it would be much longer then I felt was appropriate but most importantly that no matter what I said and what I intended, my words would most likely further aggravate my friend. So after a while I changed my mind and replied with three Hebrew words that said: good luck, I apologize and peace.

I wanted it to end there … but it didn’t. It stayed with me and moved within me. I felt that it was a missed opportunity. It also bothered me that my attempt to give and contribute (in my way, not necessarily in the way I was asked to) resulted (once again) in hurt and frustration. But I really felt that the main thread of the conversation that I was seeing could not be carried forward without inflicting more pain and frustration on my friend.

A few days later another dimension appeared in my consciousness. I didn’t act on it … until now … in writing this post. My intention is to plant a seed that may become a useful conversation. That seed can be nourished by an open conversation using the comment thread of this post (making it possible for others to both listen in and if they wish join the conversation). I will be sending my friend an email with a link to this post and it will be up to her to decide if she wants to partake in it.

The seed came in the form of a question: if my (a friend) response evoked such hurt and objection in my friend, how will this friend respond in more demanding situations where there is a deeper divide, larger differences of opinion, opposition and outright enmity? For grounding and specifity I phrased my question in relation to my friend, but I offer the question in a wider context since I believe that this highlights a cultural phenomenon that isn’t unique to my friend. Can any meaningful conversation take place in this way?

 

Posted in inside, Israel | You are welcome to add your comment