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In terms of our dialogue, I am trying to gently lead us in a new medium for discussion. As I move us along, however, and I reiterate that this dialogueis intended to be reciprocal, and is for all of us to benefit from, thatdoesn't mean that someone cannot choose to remain on a pathway a littlelonger, or even return, upon occasion to pick up a thread once again. As well, when I ask people to respond specifically to certain points, that does not preclude others from jumping in. As stated earlier, we don't want to lose synergy and the resulting emergent thought and creativity that stems from spontaneity and synergy.
I am learning that we are an awfully polite group. With respect to group,I am thinking about trying to schedule a face-to-face meeting sometime aroundthe middle of June 1997 in Ottawa, probably on a Saturday and part of aSunday. Could you please individually advise of your availability aroundthat time, and whether or not you would need travel money, and how much?
I re-read Ann's introductory material last night; new perspectives emerged,and I thought I'd share a couple of ideas, hoping for more discussion fromthe lurkers.
First, Ann suggested that we strive to employ a feminist or women's perspective.After a couple of rounds of dialogue on this topic, I sense that we shouldnot discuss this or any other precondition or 'procedural format' (for wantof a better term). To do so runs the risk of bogging down the process. Rather,we should use (i.e., not talk about, but employ) whatever perspectives areimportant to us. To do otherwise would require that, in the name of fairness,we approach each discussion topic from a northern vs. southern perspective,a Catholic vs. Islamic perspective, developing nation vs. industrializednation, etc. This, I suggest, is counterproductive as we begin the Delphiproject. We can do this without talking about it.
A second idea, more of a concern actually, is what I call the tobaccolesson. Long before there was scientific 'proof' of the damaging effectsof tobacco, virtually everyone in the world knew the stuff was poisonous.How long was it? Something like 20-30 years passed before scientists wereorganized enough to agree on this. I would be most disappointed if we, theDelphi group, could only hand Ann a list of what we disagree on, insteadof constructive suggestions for sustainable policy.
Third, I wonder if there is some reluctance to send messages to thislist because of the diverse backgrounds of the participants. Already itis apparent that some people are prepared to communicate general ideas,while others cite published papers, and use specific examples. The potentialfor mis-communicating appears great. I suggest this should not encumberanyone. C'est la vie.
Fourth and finally for this message, I'm aware that e-mail is a formatof communication that imposes severe restrictions upon the users. The lossof face-to-face secondary cues is quite limiting. For example, I suggestedearlier that we begin our discussions of sustainability with an assumptionthat one of our goals will be to work toward reducing the total human populationon earth. John Middleton disagreed with this suggestion, offering an alternativeview that I was an order of magnitude off in my estimate of a reasonablecarrying capacity of humans. My figure was, if I recall correctly, around2 billion people. John Middleton, by extension, envisages a world with 20billion people that is also sustainable. If we had this brief exchange inroom with all of us present, this theme might have flourished instead ofdying, as a result of nods of agreement, disagreement, or whatever.
Perhaps a meeting in June will be very helpful to overcome this limitation.
Despite my earlier comment about long term goals, disagreements are mostwelcome at this point. So is agreement.
Just wanted to offer my comments on David's (below).
>First, Ann suggested that we strive to employ a feminist or women's>perspective. After a couple of rounds of dialogue on this topic, I sensethat >we should not discuss this or any other precondition or 'proceduralformat' >(for want of a better term). To do so runs the risk of boggingdown the >process. Rather, we should use (i.e., not talk about, but employ)whatever >perspectives are important to us. To do otherwise would requirethat, in the >name of fairness, we approach each discussion topic froma northern vs. >southern perspective, a Catholic vs. Islamic perspective,developing nation >vs. industrialized nation, etc. This, I suggest, iscounterproductive as we >begin the Delphi project. We can do this withouttalking about it.
I am not sure that I agree entirely with David: Certainly I believe thateach of us should be encouraged to bring (freely) our individual perspectivesto the dialogue, although I *do not* think it is at all counter-productiveto be explicit about the nature of that perspective. In fact, we shouldtalk about it-be specific. In my own experience, all too often our valuesare buried implicitly in the propositions and assumptions we make, and therefore,in the conclusions we draw. Most importantly, the overriding and predominantIMPLICIT perspective in much of what we hear, see and read is that of theWestern, logical-positivist a.k.a. that of "rational economic man";the rational scientist"; the white patriarchy- whatever label you ascribeto the paradigm that dominates our institutions and our governance.
The point I am making is that an essential part of Ann's research, asI understand it, is to identify the barriers to as well as the change strategiesnecessary for SD. Certainly one of the major barriers to SD is the profoundand *implicit* entrenchment of the dominant Western-Industrial-Economic-Maleparadigm within the very heart of governance; the dominant paradigm of "goforth, seize power and conquer" that got us into trouble in the firstplace. Perhaps a key strategy for us (the group) in identifying these barriersand defining the change-strategies, is to be EXPLICIT about the perspectiveswe bring to the dialogue. For me, this is an exercise that forces us toexpose and identify power structures; it makes us aware of the ideologicalroots of our views and able to identify the power(less?)-sector to whichwe belong. Having said all this, I *do* agree with David that we must takecare to be explicit about our values but NOT to allow this to become anobstacle to meaningful dialogue. This is an experiment of sorts, so I amnot sure if I have contradicted myself!
>A second idea, more of a concern actually, is what I call the tobaccolesson. >Long before there was scientific 'proof' of the damaging effectsof tobacco, >virtually everyone in the world knew the stuff was poisonous.How long was it? >Something like 20-30 years passed before scientistswere organized enough to >agree on this. I would be most disappointedif we, the Delphi group, could >only hand Ann a list of what we disagreeon, instead of constructive >suggestions for sustainable policy.
I agree with David that a focus on the positive and constructive is certainlydesirable-especially when faced with the enormous scope of change neededfor SD. At the same time, I emphasize that we *do* need to note the majorideological or procedural points of disagreement within the group-this isa key part of identifying barriers to change (SD).
>Third, I wonder if there is some reluctance to send messages to thislist >because of the diverse backgrounds of the participants. Alreadyit is apparent >that some people are prepared to communicate generalideas, while others cite >published papers, and use specific examples.The potential for >mis-communicating appears great. I suggest this shouldnot encumber anyone. >C'est la vie.
Well said, David. That's life, let's not get hung up on it. Or betteryet, let's use our differences in approach to enrich rather than encumberus. After all, the essence of an adaptive and flexible framework for SD(as Ann and many of us advocate as key to dealing with change and uncertainty)is a plurality of means, tools, methods, and voices. (Diversity in complexprocesses!)
>Fourth and finally for this message, I'm aware that e-mail is a formatof >communication that imposes severe restrictions upon the users. Theloss of >face-to-face secondary cues is quite limiting. For example,I suggested >earlier that we begin our discussions of sustainabilitywith an assumption >that one of our goals will be to work toward reducingthe total human >population on earth. John Middleton disagreed with thissuggestion, offering >an alternative view that I was an order of magnitudeoff in my estimate of a >reasonable carrying capacity of humans. My figurewas, if I recall correctly, >around 2 billion people. John Middleton,by extension, envisages a world with >20 billion people that is alsosustainable. If we had this brief exchange in >room with all of us present,this theme might have flourished instead of >dying, as a result of nodsof agreement, disagreement, or whatever.
>Perhaps a meeting in June will be very helpful to overcome this limitation.
Again, I agree strongly here with David. I think I made a similar pointin my first posting: it is easy to be intimated by or to shrink away fromthe bold assertiveness of jargon-filled hard print staring you in the face-emotionless, clueless and otherwise devoid of the rich array of word-lesscommunication that goes on through voice and body language. In my view,it is even more anti-human if that "print" is terse, without personalniceties such as a salutation or a personal commentary here and there-althoughof course I recognize the realities of time constraint and the fact thatmany of us are forced to cut ourselves off when we have a mailbox of 25e-mails every day! I am simply noting that Marshall Macluhan was right:"the medium is the message". In fact, with e-mail, the mediumhas BECOME the message very quickly. I agree that we should try to get pastthat. Again, having said all this, I too am looking forward to a face-to-facemeeting in June!
That's all for now.
Greetings. I think we can have a very legitimate and interesting discussionon sustainable development from many perspectives - gender, well-being,religious, whatever. I also think it is up to us - Ann? - to decide thedirection this discussion shall take. However, my feeling is that by lookingat the issues of sustainable development from any single perspective carriesthe risk of evolving into a discussion a lot more on the perspective itself- gender, North-South equity, system of governance or whatever else - thana discussion on sustainable development per se.
Nevertheless, I agree with Nina-Marie that we all carry our pet perspectivethat is there even if we say it isn't, so I suggest that what we need isnot NO perspective in our discussion but an additional one. In a recentexercise on performance measurement in sd we came up with a number of principles,one of them called "holistic perspective". For one reason I likethis perspective better than any other because it puts - at least in words- the whole system in the focus, and because I think unsustainability isa systemic problem sd needs a systemic vision and solution. Let's say weall have our own pet perspectives and have this one that helps us peek outof the hole and see the rest of the world. If I am allowed to choose myown narrow pet perspective, I choose the one on cooperative vs. competitivebehavior b/w institutions, people, species etc.
With respect to David Sims' comments on the perspectives we should orshould not bring to the dialogue, followed up by comments from Nina-marieLister concerning implicit and explicit beliefs and Lazlo's comments, Ithink we have to look at the overall problem context in which we are dealing.As Laszlo points out, Elisabeth has stated she believes that "valueshave fallen out of our discussion". Since sustainable development researchand as Trist refers to domains of interest is normative, then values areimplicitly brought to any table where this domain is under discussion. Whatis important is that we make them explicit, acknowledge and own them, andlook at what influence these values bring to bear on the nature of our discussions,our knowledge and most importantly, do they act as barriers against socialchange for sustainable development. As Laszlo rightly points out, and asindicated in my discussions on the dominant socio-economic paradigm, economicvalues have tended to be the norm, and values such as, intrinsic values,aesthetic values, love and reciprocity tend to be ignored, because theycannot be commodified. How civil is our society when we only value whatcan be commodified?
When I suggested taking a feminist perspective on our dialogue, I shouldhave clarified why. Feminisim looks at the social construct of gender andthe power relationships as a result of that construct. Feminisim, therefore,does not apply only to women, but to men and women, and how they are oppressedthrough gender roles. Feminist critiques look at power relationships, dominanceand patriarchy, all of which I believe mitigate against the meaningful implementationof sustainable development, once again, as illustrated in the three models.The integrist model is one, hopefully, that transcends the dominant paradigmof dominance.
One of my committee members, Frances Westley, a biodiversity expert whoteaches in the Faculty of Management at McGill, has suggested that my researchwill be meaningless if it does not a. address issues of power and controland b. develop transition strategies for moving towards the dynamic evolutionarytarget of sustainable development. As Stephanie Cairns pointed out, technologyhas an important role to play in contributing towards reducted environmentalimpacts, particularly with respect to the economic and ecological imperatives.Once again, however, values come into play. What we value as a society determinesthe role, and the size of the influence of technology on our society. Asall of us are aware, there are some proponents who believe that technologyhas the power to get us out of any human crisis. Others, believe that itis a question of values. I believe that the two are inextricably linked,we cannot divorce technology from values, and vice-versa, neither can weseparate values from our work in sustainable development.
I apologize for the length of this message, but I am sitting here withthe sun pouring in my window, four degree weather, and indications of springaround the corner. I am trying for a delicate balance between guiding thisprocess and letting the dynamic process of the "wonderfullness"of all of you evolve. I am excited by where we are going, even if we don'tknow where we are going, or where we will end up, but we are on an excitingvoyage of discovery.
On a matter of proceedure,that is evolving as our groups dynamics areevolving, I would like to clarify how our respective contributions willbe credited. I had originally thought about doing a content analysis ofour discussion for my own research purposes, or David Brown (who has yetto discuss his ideas around a set of dynamic evolving principles) pointedout to me, the question of collective versus individual research is veryimportant. In harmony with the principles of action research, I have decidedto use direct citations in any articles I write or co-author, and throughoutmy dissertation. In this way, all co-researchers are footnoted for theirinvaluable contribtions through direct citation and it ensures a fidelityto the voices articulated through the dialogue. If there are any instanceswhere participants do not wish to be foot-noted, then we should so indicate.
I feel rather lonely, without a lot of dialogue going on right now. Itis hard to gauge silence electronically, whereas in a face-to-face meeting,one can judge from body language disinterest, boredom, or just in the caseof us Easterners, profound depression because of the snow. Regardless, Ithought I would post some interesting material I have recently read on themeaning of dialogue.
I was reminded of Elisabeth's message when I read this. "What doesdialogue require of people? Those who engage in dialogue must come to itwith humility, love, faith and hope-a formidable list of characteristics,but one that exemplifies a relational, rather than technique, perspective."(Dixon 1996) Freire (1970) wrote that "Love is at the same time thefoundation of dialogue and dialogue itself." In an address to the TeilhardCentre for the Future of Man, Stafford Beer (1981) stated "Having begunwith much talk of models, in what I consider was a proper analysis of ourphenomenological milieu, I have brought together a different model, wovenfrom threads of ancient and modern Western philosophy, from ancient Easternphilosophy, and yogic practice, from new scientific insights in physics,mathematics and neurophysiology, and from the intuitive, religious and aestheticunderstanding of the right-hand brain. I have not yet said what seems tome to be a model of. The best answer that I can give is that it is a modelof love."
Freire goes on to say "Faith in man[kind] is an a priori requirementfor dialogue; the 'dialogical man' believes in other men even before hemeets them face to face. . .Without this faith in man, dialogue is a farcewhich inevitably degenerates into paternalistic manipulation."
My question is, how do you re-integrate what are seen as "soft"concepts such as love, reciprocity, and relationships into harder conceptssuch as knowledge, systems, analysis, critical thought, that is, the wholeparadigm of rational versus irrational, objective versus subjective, whichfor me, is such an artifical construct. PERHAPS CATERINA WOULD LIKE TO COMMENTHERE.
(To once again avoid the trap of dualism, I do not reject ofjectivityas a desirable goal, I believe, however, that one can only attain some degreeof objectivity, by recognizing one's very subjectivity and all that entails.)
I was reminded of our discussions around perspectives when I read this"Dialogue is an affirmation of the intellectual capability of not onlythe individual but also the collective. It acknowledges that everyone isblind to his or her own tacit assumptions and needs the help of others tosee them. It acknowledges that each person, no matter how smart or capable,sees the world from a perspective and that there are other legitimate perspectivesthat could inform that view." I then thought back to my arguments forthe use of a feminist perspective, and believe I was falling into the trapof something I have argued against, dualism, that this perspective is betterthan other perspectives. And yet, dialogue means the bringing together ofmultiple perspectives that inform thought, it is indeed our ability to makethose perspectives explicit, that means we are engaging in possibly newthought, for "meaning is co-created in the act of dialogue, it cannotbe known ahead of time what meaning will emerge." (Dixon 1996)
I then fell into David Bohm's work on Dialogue, edited by Lee Nichol.Some of his musings: "recognizing the power of these assumptions andattending to their "virus-like" nature may lead to a new understandingof the fragmentary and self-destructive nature of many of our thought processes.. .a very considerable degree of attention is required to keep track ofthe subtle implications of one's own assumptive/reactive tendencies, whilealso sensing similar patterns in the group as a whole. . .the essentialdifficulty here is that we automatically assume that our representationsare true pictures of reality, rather than relative guides for action thatare based on reflective, unexamined memories. . .in actuality, the wholeworld is shades emerging into one. But we select certain things and separatethem from others-for convenience at first. Later we give this separationgreat importance. . . he suggests that what is occurring is in fact a paradox,not a problem. As a paradox has no discernible solution, a new approachis required, namely, sustained attention to the paradox itself, rather thana determined attempt to eradicate the "problem".
Perhaps some of the above, particularly with respect to a relationalperspective leads into answers for question 5. How can the concept of developmentreplace growth as necessary for sustainable employment, social mobilityand technical advance? SALLY LERNER MAY HAVE SOME THOUGHTS ON THIS PARTOF THE QUESTION. Is there a link, or new narrative for social change thatcan be made between development and progress?
Have a great day, Ann
As all of you are well aware, this dialogue forms the core of my research,in other words, it is my case study. My success depends very much on myand your contributions as co-researchers to the dialogue. Our face-to-facemeeting on June 27-28 is thus very important to charting the rest of ourcourse for the dialogue, and I urge everyone to consider trying their bestto come. I know that both John Middleton and David Brown will be unavailable,one being in South America and the other in Thailand. I would also liketo spend some time during our meeting evaluating our progress to date andidentifying what barriers there are to increased participation.
Caterina suggested in an earlier email to me that "it would be useful,perhaps, to do a round of everyone asking them to make a brief statementabout the values they hold dear. Trying to figure out whether dense citiesare a path through the future and so on could end up being nothing morethan a number crunching exercise if we don't make clear what our underlyingvalues are. What is it that we're trying to conserve? The human species?The biosphere? Life? Thought? Are we working to make our lives everydayuseful and practical? Are we adding to the hope and inspiration that's sobadly needed? I think this is a good idea, and perhaps we can start ourmeeting by talking about our personal values.
Throughout the dialogue values have been mentioned on the periphery,and whenever something keeps coming up on the periphery, then is prudentto examine whether or not it is actually central to the issues at hand.As we have agreed, sustainable development is a normative concept, valuesare therefore inherent to its implementation. As well, there is a lot ofmanagement literature now arguing about a return to "values-based management".It will be interesting to see what role ethics and values have to play inthe upcoming federal election.
Dale, in your message dated February 14, 1997 you mentioned receivinga forum from 1994 in Human Ecology on the subject Can Selfishness Save theEnvironment? Have you had a chance to read it yet and give us a summary?
I would also like to introduce Greg Baeker to the group, who has askedto join us. Greg is a colleague of mine from the University of Toronto,and perhaps I can ask him to introduce himself and the nature of his work[GREG].
Have a great day, Ann
My goodness - the list certainly has come alive again! It must be theinvigorating spirit of spring (and perhaps the more mundane cycle of academicschedules.) The recent spurt of postings has prompted me to chime in onCaterina's suggestion to take some time to lay out our own values as anaid to discussion. I do agree with Caterina that this is a good idea, butthe thought is a bit daunting, as Nina-Marie and Dale have both suggested.
This group dialogue makes me think of the various interdisciplinary projectsthat I have been a part of over the last few years. I think one of Ann'sgoals in gathering this particular group of people together was for us toshare and build on our different knowledge bases and experiences. But oneof the things that I have learned about interdisciplinary research is justhow important process is. You can have all of the best guidelines on "how-to"do interdisciplinary research and "lessons learned" from previousefforts, but this doesn't replae process. Each new interdisciplinary researchteam has to take the time to build trust around the table. This is time-consumingand requires significant commitment to repeated meetings, etc. And it hasto be re-done with each new team to enable true collaboration and inter-(or trans) disciplinary research. It means more than just an intellectualknowledge of the disciplines of your collaborators, but a personal knowledgeof who you are dealing with, their assumptions - and as Caterina says, theirpersonal values.
From that perspective, I was interested to see how our group would developthis knowledge, without being able to meet face-to-face. Of course, we haveall worked on interdisciplinary projects before. Bur for me, I think theprospect of having to state my personal values is daunting because beingonline and relying only on written communication forces us to make themthat much more explicit. In face-to-face communication, we don't often haveto be so explicit; values are communicated in other ways, through workingthrough a problem, casual conversation before meetings, visual cues, etc.
So I suppose this message hasn't been strictly on the subject at hand(Ann's thesis), but is a bit of an indulgence - a muse on our process. Ihope you don't mind.
... from a very sunny and spring-like Vancouver afternoon,
I just read Christine's message and was nodding in agreement thoughout.She has described the importance of trust-building and values-recognitionin any multi- and inter-disciplinary decision-making process very well indeed.In fact, her posting almost perfectly describes my recent experience withone of the cases in my research. I thought I would share some of it withyou here.
I am part of a multi-disciplinary planning team for a natural area insouthern Ontario. The planning process has been so emotionally draining,time consuming and frustrating for all the stakeholders as we navigate theground within and between one another's "disciplinary" territoriesand experiences. We (well, most of the participants) have fought, bickered,threatened to quit, laughed, yelled and more. AND, tomorrow we are goingto pop champagne and "do some thing unprofessional" in the wordsof our Chairperson, to celebrate a key victory for our group.
What I found interesting was his choice of words: he wanted to rewardthe group with a celebratory and "unprofessional" (meaning, uncharacteristicallyopen, relaxed, and warm) meeting because he recognised that we had overcomea key barrier in our process and we needed to celebrate. Furthermore, herecognised that we needed to feel appreciated. This is very telling to mebecause the group is quite traditional and typical of institutional decisionmakers... or at least it WAS, before all the emotional outpouring and frustrationtook place. Now, it seems that the group has made an investment of sorts:we have a shared sense of purpose, trust and respect-something that Christineidentified takes a lot of time and energy to achieve. However, now thatwe have come through this watershed and "made the investment",I beleive that the group will have relatively little trouble getting onwith the task at hand, and will likely also have a tenacious sense of stewardshipand ownership over the process and the resulting product. (Something I amalready seeing signs of.)
I wanted to share this experience because it really harkens to the coreof Christine's experience, according to her posting anyway. Also, in thisprocess with which I am involved, I had been an advocate of getting a personalvalues statement regarding the project from everyone at the table, but Imet with continual and profound resistance-not explicitly, but implicitly,in the form of barriers to communication, lack of response, being sidelined,ignored and even patronised and my contributions minimised in the discussion.Very interesting stuff to see how entrenched the myth of "objectivity"is, but even more interesting to me was the obvious discomfort some of thepeople had with the idea. (In case someone is wondering about the profileof this group, I am one of 2 women (we are also the youngest) among a groupof 12 men who are middle-aged, Anglo/European, white, and bureaucrats, engineers,or university professors by profession.)
I am still grappling with trying to make a "values statement"for this forum, in a virtual way, seeing as we aren't able to see/hear thenuances of personal communication to which Christine alluded.
All of the foregoing is an attempt to start co-shaping our workshop discussion,scheduled for June 27-28, 1997 at Lac Maskinonge. From our fruitful discussionsover the last nine months, I gleam that we can go into this workshop witha consensus on the following. The decision-context of sustainable developmentis such that we regard all issues are of importance, no one part (or issue)can be addressed without also looking at the whole, in other words, we arelooking for holograms. All sectors are equally involved and should be engaged.The frameworks we are searching for are, therefore, reconcilitatory andintegrative, as well as holistic. We agree with the earlier definition ofsustainable development (Dale 1997) and that we are employing a systemsperspectives.
I would like to propose the following general agenda to be spread overthe two days of meeting, interspaced with swimming, canoeing, a salmon barbequeon Friday night, and a wrap-up dinner on Saturday.
- Introduction (Dale)
- Individual Values Statements
- Decision Context of Sustainable Development
- Dynamic Slate of Generic Principles (linked to individual values?)
- Possible Framework(s)
- Dialogue Mechanics
- Next Steps
All of our discussions over these two days I would see as very applied,that is, in our dialogue around possible frameworks, we should also assess"what is doable", I am not in the business of designing the mostelegant framework that has no hope in hell of ever being implemented. Aswell, an important strategy may be to look at transition frameworks movingto the ideal, but is the ideal ever achievable or desirable, as sustainabledevelopment is not an end state, but a constantly evolving target, giventhe co-evolutionary nature of human impacts on their environment?
PLEASE ADD ANY AGENDA ITEMS YOU WOULD LIKE TO SEE, AND I WILL SEND OUTA FINAL AGENDA JUST BEFORE OUR MEETING.
Since this message is now so long, and I am stuck inside because theblack flies are now so horrific that even the dogs will not go outside,I think I will leave my values statement for another time.
Just to build a little on what has been said before, and linking backto focusing on any one sector, I am reminded of the parable of a guy onan island, in a sea of shit that is just below his nose. A boat goes by,and he says, "Don't make waves, man". In Arja's message, she talkedabout the value of adaptability, in the words of Stuart Hill, "onemust remember that one can as easily adapt to "shit" as to thegood stuff!! - remember the adaptation/addiction/allergy/ degeneration syndrome.Maybe what we are talking about are two key features of ecosystems, responsivenessand resilience.
From a very buggy Lac Maskinonge. Ann
Ann's recent posting struck me as particulalry synergistic of our pastnine months' worth of dialogue. I felt myself nodding in agreement whilereading it (and intermittently shouting Yes!" loudly enough to startlethe snoozing cat on my lap). In any case, let me agree and offer my interpretationof Ann's synopsis as this:
1. We may not agree on the priority of urgent isues, but we agree ontheir collective urgency and that this urgency demands action NOW.
2. We must focus on the collectivity of the urgency because we know thatour planet's natural and cultural systems are co-evolutionary and interconnectedin ways we are only beginning to (and may never fully) understand.
3. The fact that we may not agree on the priority of urgent issues mustNOT preclude action (because this has been a traditional strategy of conventionalbureaucracy: to "divide and conquer" through demanding perfectinformation before action or consensus on priority before action, etc).
4. We know enough to act now.
So, with this in mind, I agree with Ann's framework and propsed agenda.This only thing I would add is this: I don't want to add more specific agendaitems personally, because (in light of the above summary of consensus (?)points), I don't want to create a too rigid, and therefore brittle, structurefor discussion. I like Ann's loose framework interspersed with recreationaland probably dialogue-stimulating activities. For me, it provides enoughstructure that I can prepare some thoughts to share with you all, but notso much as to preclude emergent ideas or a new attractor for the dialogue!
To paraphrase one of my activist colleagues, the only sure way to maintaininterest, high energy and creativity among unpaid participants/activistsis to provide food, drink, music and merriment-and things will get done.
I would like to take this opportunity to wish each and every one of you,a healthy, happy and peaceful New Year.
As we start the last six months of the dialogue, scheduled to end thisJune,I would like to take a moment for reflection, and ask if there is anythingI could be doing differently in chairing our dialogue? Are there any impedimentsto your effective participation? I would very much appreciate your response,as this also forms an integral part of our research, that is, the processand evaluating what is working and not working.
I plan to start the next round of the dialogue with a tenative strategicframework for sustainable development, building further from our June 1997workshop, followed by a list of strategic questions for developing a subsequentframework for governance. The s.d. framework will include a definition,followed by a "generic slate of principles" followed by strategicobjectives. Using the fisheries case study, we can then try and developa dynamic framework for governance and refine the overall s.d. framework.Before proceding, however, I would appreciate some feedback on our progressto date, as I am feeling rather like a lone voice in the wildnerness, andwonder if there is anything more I should be doing to restore the wonderfulsynergy and energy created at the June workshop.
- Greetings everyone, and a happy new year to you all.
- I apologise for being a little slow off the mark, but as seems to be characteristic of the academic lifestyle, I spent my "holidays" in forced bedrest, thanks to some nasty virus that took advantage of my low resistance etc. etc. (Ok, hands up, how many of you did the same? Here at U of T and Ryerson, at least MOST of my colleagues did it seems.) Anyway, it is a new year, and as Ann has reminded us, just 6 short months to bring our dialogue together into an applied (or at least applicable and policy-relavant) framework. I for one, could use that kind of deadline staring down at me. I am cheering at the thought of wrapping up with a "product", and for Ann, to being able to pull it all together in her dissertation (which is what I am also immersed in so I'm empathetic).
- Ann, you asked what you could be doing differently to help us all recapture that "wonderful synergy" we achieved last June on your dock. Personally, I am not sure that there is anything YOU can do differently. I find that your style of facilitation is gentle but firmly directed -- you provide us with (LOTS of maybe more than enough) background information, guidance and
- periodically, strategic questions to address. If there is a problem in generating the discussion, that problem as far as I can indentify it for myself, lies in other factors, principally related to the length of the dialogue and the medium. Here are the things I find challenging about this
- 1. E-mail medium.
- This is, paradoxically, the chief advantage AND disadvantage to this forum I find. An advantage because we can literally post whole papers and well-contructed think-pieces that can later be cut, re-combined and re-written with ease ... and always dragged out into the open again (no matter how embarrassing for some of us (ha ha). And of course, verbal stream-of-conscious ramblings are elusive, lost once spoken aloud. I find that the whole synergy that is created in the traditional in-person workshop is the result of the personal connections we make to ideas, to
- characters, to the combination of personalities -- more than to the substance of what is said. For many of us, this e-mail forum is a new way of carrying on what is essentially a long workshop. I know we've spoken about this before, and we've been asked to be spontaneous in our postings,
- but try as I might, when I see my words printed, staring me in the face, I can not treat them as frivolously (or as playfully) as I do when I simply think out loud. This brings me to #2:
- 2. Time.
- I can not just dash off a reply to one of Ann's or anyone else's carefully thought-out postings. I ALWAYS leave the mail in my in-box until I have free hour or more, no matter how hard I try to just respond off the cuff (which is why during the past teaching term, most of your postings sat there until December). We all know how hard it is to find a block of free time, especially now that e-mail has become THE preferred means of harrassing anyone for anything, and our in-boxes fill up with more requests for information everyday from more people all the time. So then the Dialogue postings collect, sitting there, haunting me, staring at me and the pressure mounts to respond thoughtfully, carefully, intellectually. If I took this much time to answer any of your questions last June, I'd still be there, frozen on the dock!
- 3. Intellctually demanding nature of the dialogue.
- Again, related to #2, I can not just treat this e-mail like the majority of others that drop in my file. This takes TIME, it takes thought, yet it competes with all those other projects and administrative tasks sharing virtual space. While I appreciate very much the opportunity to participate in this challenging discussion (which has influenced much of my dissertation writing and thinking as well) I also find the on-going nature of it to be difficult. I am better with shorter bursts of concentrated energy, like in a weekwnd workshop or design charetete, where I can clear my thoughts and plunge in. Although the pressure to create is intense, it is also the source of synergy and productivity. Maybe I am wearing out, but sometimes I just shut down mentally when I see another posting after a long day, or at the start of a busy day when I can't devote more than a few minutes to it. Then again, it's probably just a matter of time management,
- like anything else.
- Well, that is how I feel about the quiet out there in virtual space, Ann. For my part, I'll certainly try to set aside the mental space and real time to respond as I have in the past. Hopefully, as I get further immersed in my writing this term (and feel the heat from the University) I'll have
- enough spill-over from my work to contribute something more meaningful to yours.
- Best regards to you all... I hope we meet again in person this year.