Contemplative Ecologies 11

Hello everyone! This week, my favorite 5 posts are about the commons-based phase transition, affective ecology, transition design, Theory U, and solarpunk. Hope you enjoy!

1. Michel Bauwens has a new interview and article on the postcapitalist commons-based phase transition. The Symbiosis Research Collective also published a nice article on the topic. Here are excerpts from the former:

“Our best hope is to strengthen the social forces aligned with p2p and the commons during the brief intermezzo in which our civilization prepares for major catastrophes, and to have enough seed forms ready to attract those that will be vitally interested in resilient economic and social alternative forms. Things will probably get a lot worse before they can get any better, but we hope the ‘imaginal cells’ of the commons will be a significant factor in diminishing the amount of damage in the transition period.”

In his interview, Bauwens mentioned the contemplative commons, saying “We need to work on a culture of cooperation for a ‘more-than-human-commons’ (i.e. Zack Walsh in the Arrow), that has strong spiritual and ecological aspects, and overcome the subject-object split introduced by the Enlightenment, but without abandoning the aspirations for human equality.”

2. There is a new special issue on affective ecology. Check out Neera M Singh’s introduction:

“Engaging the affective and materialist turn in the social sciences, this special section elaborates on how analytical attention on affect and affective relations is central to understanding human-nature relations and to conservation interventions. The contributors to this section use conceptual resources from affect theory, new materialism, and indigenous ontologies to illustrate the practical significance of paying attention to affect in understanding nature-society relations. This introduction reviews these conceptual resources to make a case for affective political ecology.”

3. I discovered a very good bibliography on Transition Design. Here’s a short definition of transition science for those unfamiliar:

“Transition science is a new research field that studies patterns of human evolution and more specifically the interplay between humans and systems. Transition science looks for the leverage points for system change. The persistent problems we are facing today cannot be resolved with innovation-as-usual (eco-efficiency pathways) nor with traditional change management approaches (incremental change). What is needed is genuine system transformation – rethinking the way we organise our societies, our systems and our value systems. Even though transitions can not be managed in the old fashioned way of control and demand, they can be anticipated, influenced (giving direction) and accelerated. There are no ready-made solutions or blue prints. The key is to search, explore, rethink, unlearn, experiment, integrate, discover and invent alternative solutions. This is messy and chaotic. However, to break new ground, one has to leave the beaten track. Transition science brings together multiple approaches, such as systems thinking, foresight, social innovation and disruptive experimentation, in a powerful and structured way. Be inspired by transformative innovation – after all, new practices require new ways of thinking!”

4. Regardless of whether you’re a fan or not of Otto Scharmer’s Theory U (I have my issues), it remains an important influence for many people linking contemplative practice with socio-ecological transformation. Here’s a brief introduction to his model:

“The Matrix of Social Evolution spells out the evolution of social fields through four levels of consciousness: traditional (level 1), ego-system awareness (level 2), stakeholder awareness (level 3), and eco-system awareness (level 4)… we see the current global ecological and social crisis as a call to shift our way of operating from ego-system to eco-system awareness… From the perspective of social fields the essential question is: How can we apply the power of mindfulness not only to the cultivation of the individual but also to the transformation of the collective—that is, the evolutionary shift of social fields?… At the core of transforming the current social field from ego-system to eco-system is the transformation of the economy—and of economic thought. Rethinking the key categories of economic thought from ego- to eco-system awareness includes the reframing of:

•Nature: from commodity to eco-system
•Labor: from jobs to creative entrepreneurship
•Capital: from extractive to intentional
•Technology: from system-centric to human- and eco-centric
•Leadership: from individual heroism to co-sensing & co-shaping the future
•Consumption: from consumerism to conscious, collaborative sharing
•Coordination: from hierarchy and competition to co-creative fields
•Ownership: from state and private to commons-based ownership rights

Facilitating these shifts in the economy requires a whole suite of institutional innovations. These institutional innovations need to be complemented with innovations in learning infrastructures, such as collective cultivation practices that build the collective capacity to co-sense and co-create.”

5. E-flux published a good literary review of solarpunk and SAGE journals published an open access article exploring the political potential of alternative energy. Here’s an excerpt from the former:

“The first stirrings of Solarpunk emerged online around 2008, with a noticeable expansion around 2014… Some Solarpunks invoke the speciated futures of Donna Haraway and the disaster utopias of Rebecca Solnit, while others say their ideals fit squarely within the ‘wider tradition of the decentralist left’; some cite the sci-fi canon of the New Weird or Cli-Fi (climate fiction), one claims ‘post-nihilism,’ and a recent book adds dragons to the mix… Solarpunk intends to wrench science fiction from both Steampunk’s magical tech fantasies and Cyberpunk’s tech-gone-wrong. If the energy substrate of the Steam era was coal, and that of the Cyber era was oil, Solarpunk foreshadows and aims to anticipate environmental catastrophe by skipping to solar.’”

Questions, comments, or recommendations for future content? Please email <>. Like what you see? Check out my personal Facebook page or scholarly publications. See you next Friday!

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