“It's easy to build knowledge and experience in good times. In good times, leaning and such things is a matter of enjoybale adventuring.”
Carole Deppe

The Resilient Gardener

Ceptr: Centers instead of Containers


This post is another reflection followup to the recent Ceptr organizational structure meeting.


Imagine a hill or a pond (or, spoiler alert, anything LIVING) … there is a clear sense of “there is a pond” but we can’t really draw a clear border around it?
Does the pond include the earth underneath it – if so how deep?
Does the pond include the earth around it – if so how far?
Does the pond include the air above it – if so how high?
Does the pond include the in-feed flow or the overflow drain – if so how far?

Talking about containers implies that we CAN draw clear lines.
Talking about centers acknowledges that we CANNOT.

The primary quality of a center is the degree (not necessarily quantifiable) of life we experience when we relate to it.

  • Centers are made of other centers and support each other: a plant – in a pot –  on a stand – in a place – in a room – in a house … each a center supporting other centers.
  • When we change a center well its aliveness increases and by relationship so does the aliveness of other related centers.
  • A good change is a small change in one center that resonates profoundly throughout a sytem being (symathesy?) of interrelated centers.
  • Unfolding wholeness is that living pocess which leads to a sequence of good changes.

(If you are metaphysically inclined you may pick up a scent of something suble and profound: all there really IS is not even centers, but a network of relationships.)

If we wish to talk about something living (as I assume we are) then a vocabulary of containers is bound to make us feel choked, constrained and fragmented.

During the (infamous?) “organizational structure” talk we went with a containers-based vocabularyand that highlighted the more mechanistic and tangible-to-our-minds things (that we don’t yet have) and, I believe, downplayed more subtle yet living things that we do have. I suspect there are quite a few vital living centers in the Ceptr project which we did not acknowledge in the meeting because of the “contained” glasses we collectively put on.

I hope to be able demonstrate the implications of this in numerous domains. But I want to start with one concrete and relevant example: do-ops.

Current Do-Ops

Our do-ops are work-groups that have formed to focus on different aspects of Ceptr. If we think of do-ops as centers, then each do-op that forms should enhance the overall vitality of the project. As each do-op matures and finds its team, voice … comes to life … the overall life of Ceptr increases.

But as it currently stands we are treating do-ops more like containers and as a result there are undesirable outcomes that can make the do-ops draining (reducing live) rather than nourishing (increaseing life):

  1. Too many – creating a sense complexity and possible overlap. Where do I belong? Where does a subject belong?
  2. Dead – do-ops that promise life but do not have any.
  3. Hidden – some of those that are brimming are inaccessible (for differing reasons of tools, process, culture …) to an outsider.
  4. Theoretical – an expression of needs that have been recognized  but for which resources have not been allocated.
  5. Personal Ambition – some are expressions of personal preference, not necessarily bound to what Ceptr needs at the present.

For anyone who is not already deeply immersed in Ceptr this can come across is a fragmented experience. For anyone just stepping in, it can seem like a confusing and alienating space.

What would our do-ops look like if they were treated as living centers? coming up next.

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