John G Bell
Reflective Practicum 1
Spring '04 - Hormann

Weekly – Desires for Change

What are your intentions, purposes or aspirations for change? What motivates your desire for change? Consider a group in which you have membership. What change(s) would you like to see in your group and why? Be as specific as you can.

I recently finished my undergraduate studies at Evergreen. For my last quarter self-evaluation, I created a summary of my Evergreen experience. I think I examined some of these questions about change there.

I mentioned the academic areas of my work and then spoke to what my overall theme had been:

An examination of these is to no small part an attempt to surface the systems where, as Martin Luther King Jr. said, at the Riverside Church in 1967, “racism, economic exploitation and militarism are all tied together.” My academic work over the last few years has been to develop related skills rooted in community. My focus on community management of conflict and change is work toward understanding and developing a response to these systems. In addition to my work in economics, political philosophy, political and legal history, I combined active community work in mediation and dialogue with my work experience in the non-profit world creating community.”

The question of creating community has central to my investigation of dialogue, facilitation and a new interest in labor studies and social movements. Enclaves within larger communities are are part of a real world history of conflict, mediation, normalization and progress. This is also a study of the way that ideological and economic movements do and do not survive and how they do or do not create change. The primary cultural narrative co-opts and mainstreams parts of radicalism, unrest and dissent as an attempt to control shared history. Ideological and economic movements attempt to influence shared history outside the primary cultural narrative. Shared history is actually formed collaboratively by these conflicts not independent of them. Shared history is an interdependently argued a posteriori conclusion about time, place and value.”

Attempting to understand the dynamics of enclaves of change within larger communities is important to me because I've long feared that I was surrounded by people and structures that did not meet my needs nor my ideas of what was ethical. The question of how to create change aligned with particular vision and survive the backlash is a big one in my mind. I participate in a culture that seems to be slowly destroying itself in many ways and like a child does everything in its power to avoid taking necessary medicine to remedy the situation.

Those willing and able to develop community need the time and place. I would like to see a culture that values public space, the public domain of ideas and the public sphere of debate. These are all hindered by the struggle between the viewpoint that our deep ecology is a value to be extracted for exclusive benefit or a treasure to be protected because it will diminish to nothing if used. Our deep ecosystem has a metabolic process that should produce no waste that is not usable as a nutrient for other parts of that ecosystem, but that nutritive process must also provide parallax and create a nutrition cycle that includes the whole ecosystem or we're just a top spinning rapidly toward the edge of a table. This deep ecosystem has a third answer to the dilemma between Jane Jacob's viewpoints of commerce and guardian, in that there is a ever increasing value to a nutritive process that creates new value without diminishing the resource.

Culture and community function in this way. The ideas in the public domain are free to be used, and the resulting creative works become new ideas in the public domain. The cycle accelerates. The ecosystem can function in this way when, as suggested in Cradle to Cradle, the idea of waste is eliminated and the deep ecosystem becomes an engine of healthy energy for the system itself.