Why focus on “America”?

The Americas refers to any grouping of South America, Latin America, Central America, and North America.

However the slang in New American Paradigm refers to the U.S.A.

The U.S.A. has had hegemonic power for many decades now, and as a cultural export, a political power, a leader in the global economy, and powerful force in the ecosystem, the understanding, culture, and frameworks in the United States are of the utmost importance.

In a recent talk at Middlebury College in Vermont, the Dalai Llama said that the world is changing and that the U.S.A. needs to “catch up”.  This generally reflects my personal view.

Aljazeera recently published some wonderful graphics relating to a topic I find important: the Kyoto Protocol.

Aljazeera Infographic

http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/interactive/2012/11/20121118131411899744.html

 

 

Balance, not compromise.

What was missing in the debates?

In politics and economics two themes seem to emerge in almost every conversation.  On the right, Mit Romney has exclaimed “We believe in individual initiative, personal responsibility, opportunity, freedom, small government, the Constitution.”  On the left Bill Clinton and Obama have attempted to make sure the public know, that “We are all in this together.”  From the liberal view, government can and should support initiatives that benefit the collective, believing that what makes our collective nation strong, will benefit everybody.

This tug of war between individualism and collectivism seems to exist in every intellectual pursuit.  These themes were present in designing Democracy and opening trade barriers; from philosophy in education to philosophy in sports.

Mounting evidence is showing in neuroscience, that this ‘tug of war’ exists prominently in the human brain.  According to Iain Mcgilchrist, author, psychologist and Neuroscience expert, the left hemisphere of the brain is being understood as a “force for individuation” and the right, a “force for coherence.”

In ecology, Darwin’s theory, ‘survival of the fittest’ might be compared with E.O. Wilson’s work and the benefits of cooperation, explained in his new book, the “The Social Conquest of Earth.”

Evolutionary biologist Elisabet Sahtouris explains her study of the evolution of bacteria and the tendency of organisms to break out from “the whole”, like an infant becoming independent from it’s mother, becoming an individual, distinguishing itself, until cooperation is eventually required to evolve, culminating with a re-communion of a new whole. This seems to indicate that at times, individuation is possible and at others, integration is essential.

This brings us to the question, how do we know who is right, in any given moment?

To take again from Neuroscience, Iain Mcgilchrist explains that “Wherever the whole is not the same as the sum of the parts, the force for individuation exists within and subject to the force for coherence.”

Though governments and societies have feared the freedom of individuals, we know in the United States that this freedom of individualization is what allows for innovation, and specialization.  When these elements are combined with cooperation, we see success. This is how the free market functions, and the ecosystem itself functions.  Species who are able to both specialize AND cooperate have a serious advantage. Biodiversity has been shown to in itself, stabilize the climate.

In the United States we developed an incredibly sophisticated balance between the individual and the collective, but it has begun to destabilize.  However, in many minds the most pressing issue is not the integration of citizens with American democracy, or workers with the economy.  It is the integration of U.S. humans, and the U.S. economy with the ecosystem;  A subject entirely forgotten by our culture, but one which effects the economy, our health and our politics. Here is a piece of art from European History with a piece from the Aztecs, who both had advanced civilizations in a similar time period.

Mona Lisa, Lenardo da Vinci, 1503–1519
Xochiquetzal: Goddess of Flowers and Love, Codex Borbonicus, c.1525

The Mona Lisa, like most other european portraits, were at the very least confined to one species. On the other hand, in the Aztecs, we see a culture, whose temples were constructed with the stars and whose Gods and Kings were intimately connected with other creatures.  Portraits, never portrayed individuals alone without other species and elements of the ecosystem.

From the life sciences, the mind sciences and even economics, there seems to be great evidence that we are needing to recontextualize our selves within the greater ecosystem.  Climate change, species extinction, and human health are just three of many reasons that humans are needing to find a way to re-integrate with the greater ecosystems and exist in healthy exchange.  The parts are no longer consistent with the whole. Theories are far from practice, and systems are not sustainable. Alignment will mean that success within the system will mean success for the individual and society. Economists are beginning to see that economic theory is being overshadowed by the theories of physics, and ecology.  Resources are finite, subject to the laws of thermodynamics; inputs are not substitutable and waste is becoming very costly.

Most agree that the narrowness of political debate does not serve us.  According to the sciences, in order to truly re-integrate our vision, we would not be required to ‘serve the collective’ or ‘put ourselves first’.  To achieve a new vision would require transcending the ‘utility’ of the left hemisphere, transcending ‘enlightened self interest’, and even to transcend ‘group selection’. This allows what historian of science Thomas Kuhn would call a “paradigm shift”,  allowing a new vision for what is best for us as individuals, based on a new and improved understanding of how the world works and what is needed.  The goal of systemic changes are to find balance with individuality, integrity and service, without compromising the individual or the whole.

Notes:

People who have made this jump have come up with solutions like creating a steady-state economy, and different measurement indexes. People who want to correct inconsistencies have developed models like multi-tiered capitalism and green growth.  Incorporating a consistent model, Ecological Economics starts from a base level understanding that the economy is a subset of the ecosystem.  In the past Presidents and Senators have questioned the merits of GDP growth and the framework of ‘the ecosystem as part of the economy’. In 2010, 34 OECD nations signed onto a “green growth” platform.  Has anyone heard these concepts presented in the recent debates? I haven’t.

In the words of Milton Friedman, “.. government is essential both as a forum for determining the “rules of the game” and as an umpire to interpret and enforce the rules decided on.”

Naturally, government will require increased concentration of power, when the rules of the game stop adequately serving the citizens.

The 47 Percent Event

At a fundraiser in Florida Mitt Romney was secretly recorded while he discussed politics, Obama, and pitching to swing voters.

To give him the benefit of the doubt, Mitt Romney was making statement that he didn’t actually believe.  It’s as if hes playing for both teams; Romney manages to swing and pitch at the same time.  If you don’t know what I’m talking about, check out this video from 94′.

During Romney’s pitch to funders he made the following comments: “There are 47 percent of the people who will vote for the president no matter what.  All right, there are 47% who are with him, who are dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims, who believe the government has a responsbility to care for them, who believed that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, you-name-it; that that’s an entitlement.  And that the government should give it to them.  And they will vote for this president no matter what… these are people who pay no income tax…”

Here is one of the full clips…

Romney might want to consider the following:

In states Republican vs. Democratic States:

  • Average Republican Credit Score: 658.36
  • Average Democratic Credit Score: 671.39
In Republican vs. Democratic States:
  • Average Republican Salary: $38,855
  • Average Democratic Salary: $44,934
from: http://funancials.biz/democrats-are-richer-than-republicans/
It’s also important to note that of the group that don’t pay income taxes, most pay other taxes, many are elderly, many are students, there are poor and rich, and many are republican as well.
Again, at best we can hope that Romney was just seeking money and speaking what his funders wanted to hear.   At worst, he is ignorant about what truly makes people Republican and Democrat, doesn’t have good intentions with 47% of the country, and is all around radically out of touch with reality outside of the business world.

Watch other videos here:

SECRET VIDEO: Romney Tells Millionaire Donors What He REALLY Thinks of Obama Voters

Occupy Wall Street Anniversary

The Occupiers rallied again over this past weekend and into Monday, September 17th for an anniversary March.

Media reports say that numbers were quite lower than the year previous with perhaps 1,000 total occupiers and couple hundred arrests.  Portland, Oregon also held an anniversary march.

Media critics have focused in three areas.

Some believe that this is a movement guided by a jobless youth who are unhappy with the state of the economy.

“We’ve been locked out, people my age don’t have much chance of getting a job, so we have to do something to get people’s attention,” is a quote from one occupier who interviewed for a Reuters article.

This definitely seems to be a fair.  A percentage of the Occupy crowd march because of this issue.   It is possible that this  angst comes from a complex of economic problems, like betting and trading industries based on phantom wealth.  This is a large part of our economy which contributes instability to the economy with very little productive investment.  The income gaps in wealth between the top 1% of the nation and the 99% is enormous, as money continues to have more influence in politics and we are seeing increasing concentrations of power and wealth in corporations.

Economist Paul Krugman wrote in the New York Times, “First things first: The protesters’ indictment of Wall Street as a destructive force, economically and politically, is completely right.”

At the same time, as history goes and as the world goes, the current economy of the United States is not too terribly off.  When we look at the conditions for say, immigrants, or the hundreds of millions who live in slums in Asia, or the farmers caught between the police and guerrilla warfare in the Americas, or Indigenous populations begging for food in changed societies, I’d say the United States has managed to provide well for most sectors of their population.  Here we have a gap between the people who just want a job and people who understand that we are needing some systemic changes.

People say the movement is not holding strong.  Reuters explains, “The demonstrations attracted roughly 1,000 activists, down sharply from last fall, highlighting the challenge the movement has faced in trying to sustain interest in protesting against what it calls an unfair economic system.”  Umm.. haven’t the media been saying that since day one?  I personally don’t know of the last time a protest had it’s own anniversary.  Then again, perhaps the Tea Party and other organizations have found more funding sources and sustainability in their action.

Lastly, we have all heard that occupy folks don’t know what they want.

I believe that the true Occupiers don’t just want a job, and perhaps don’t just want the reform of one policy.

Gerry Williams a wood worker from manhattan described the new Paradigm he seeks in this poster.

Gerry is an occupier who felt called to the movement after a history of working to protect animals from unnecessary and cruel abuse in laboratory settings.  Gerry says he feels like “animal testing” epitomizes our “current paradigm”, the manner in which our systems and people “objectify life around us.”

Getting at the core of the inadequacy of Capitalism,  Gerry makes another broad sweeping demand with the statement “GIVE ME MY ECOSYSTEMS BACK”.

Corporate control and abuse of our planet is not just a problem of individuals, or policies, or politicians, it a cultural fixation driven by a system which promotes the conversion of ‘resources’ to consumer goods, and especially given the nature of our banking systems, does not promote the protection of public goods, or of the inherent value in other species.

Occupiers like Gerry don’t just march for their own benefit; they march in order to change the way we value the world around us, our U.S. and international citizens, and all other precious life on earth.

 

Notes:

Here were the four subjects of education on the website: OccupyWallStreet.org

  • The Occupy the K-12 Public School Narrative Thematic Breakout – will bring together students, parents, educators, community members and activists to discuss the Privatization of Public Schools and the Continuum of Resistance.
  • Money out of Politics Assembly: Together, we will: describe the parameters of this movement, it’s origin story, involvement with OWS, New York specific efforts, national campaigns and major organizational actors.
  • Strike Debt: Share individual and collective actions for those fighting debt in all of its forms.
  • Occupy for all species: An OTS teach-in to talk about ways we can commit ourselves to the struggle: All Day, Every Day.

ICE MELT

Watch an Arctic Cyclone Melt Ice over the period of a month.

Longer melting and seasons and shorter freezing seasons are causing record low levels in the presence of Arctic Ice.

Canis Lupus Wolf in the Arctic

According to the National snow and Ice Data Center there are 1.32 million square miles, which is about half of what has been normal between 1979 and 2010.  While we see declining numbers the last record low, was 1.61 million square miles in 2007.  That’s almost 20% in five years, as melting speeds.

Some models have put the melting of all ice by 2050, but so far all models are being surpassed. Aggressive estimates say that this may happen by the year 2030 or before.

NBC found a positive in the mix. Melting ice may open up shipping lines.  Thank you NBC!  Maybe Arctic ice melt will provide the boost our economy needs……….   Let’s change the paradigm!!

God, the Conservative, the Liberal and the Snake

One day, a conservative walked through the brush.  It was a warm day, the sun beating down on the fields. After passing over a hill the conservative stopped to take a drink, when out of the grass came a long, venomous snake slithering across the path.  Startled and scared, the conservative reached for his rifle.  “This world isn’t safe with that snake slithering on my path.”  He loaded his gun, and BANG, shot the snake right between his head and his tail.

Shortly after, God was walking through the Brush and he came upon the snake. Unlike the conservative, God was not scared.  After all God created the snake, and could see himself in the slithering creature.  The snake recognized the creator, and made a plea: “Dear Lord, I’ve been shot, and I will surely die soon… unless you save me.”  God preferred not to use his powers, but showing mercy, God bowed before the snake, and spoke, “You are a magnificent creature.”  With a strong dose of love, the snake was cured.  “Oh God, you are the giver of all life” said the snake.  The snake then humbly thanked him before clearing off of the path.

From the hilltop, the liberal had watched the whole scene.  Amazed, he began to chase after God.  At the bottom of the hill, God was gone and only the snake remained.  Seeing the snake, the liberal was scared like the conservative, but held firmly to his beliefs in acceptance and cooperation.  The liberal looked at the snake and said, “Snake, I see a liberal in you.”  He then knelt down and declared, “You are a magnificent creature.”

The snake was so grateful, that he decided to say a prayer.   “Dear God, thank you.  First you have saved my life, and now you have provided me with dinner.”

 

Becoming the future

At New American Paradigm Design we create transformation through transparency.  We believe that ethical design is not created, only uncovered.

We want to empower employees, communities, and our ecosystems and to create business models and political institutions that are strengthened by creating this context.

These businesses will be enabled through trust, transparency, and distributed decision making and will not just ‘market’ their products, but will market themselves and their vision for the future.

It’s been called many things: The Next System, the Ecological Economy, the New Economy , with various sub-aims, like triple bottom line, and protection of resources for future generations.  It doesn’t fit within our current left and right paradigms. We want to work at the intersections to find synergies, transform processes and communicate about these transformations. Communication means participating, hearing both positive and negative feedback, campaigning, and informing.  We imagine that large scale transformation toward ‘strong sustainability’ will start with a conversation about what we value and how we produce this value.

Descriptions of our Descriptions

 

The theoretical underpinnings of our work

The basic concept which we work with at New American Paradigm Design is that of a self-organizing system.  A self-organizing system like you and I are in a constant negotiation with our environment, continually drawing boundaries between who we are and who we are not; what our path is and what it is not.

Systems of all sort; biological systems, political, economic and social organizations, implement controls which define their boundaries.  Consider the immune system which has to decide on a case by case basis, which bacteria should be considered as friends and as threats.   In some cases they will be enhanced by inviting more to the party!

We can use three symbols to illustrate these divergent courses.

(1) Control; the perpetuation of boundaries. (2). Conflict; When we let down our guard, we might not like the environment’s plans for us, eg. disease (3). Integration.  This occurs when the direction of lower level entities, enhance higher level entities to truly become themselves (eg. the enhancement of the immune and digestive function through incorporation of germs, bacteria, etc..)

Economic systems and business models, currently insulate themselves from the surrounding social, political and environmental fabric through various forms of control.

In pursuit of the New American Paradigm, we specialize in achieving substantial integration.  This is as much about knowing when such integration is advantageous as it is about understanding when it is not!  It’s not ‘all good’! And failing management is not good for anyone!

Leverage points

Trust:  Trust within the workplace, within the supply chain and with consumers, is now more important than ever in a fast paced and information intensive environment. 

Ownership and Benefits: On average, employee ownership significantly increases productivity, as well as employment stability, growth and firm survival. But this is not always the case.  Context, transition method, and communication all play a huge role.

Decision making, Information sharing:  Distributing ownership is not the same as distributing decision making power and access to information. Not every team depends on distributed learning system techniques, but when they are properly implemented there can be huge rewards.

Exploring this space sometimes means looking outside of company boundaries to engage with stakeholders in the community or in the supply chain.  Again, we want to bring in new energy, when it can help us to meet our goals.

Creativity, collective purpose:  We need a collective vision for the future; for what matters to our communities our environment and our business. This starts by appreciating that which makes our work possible.

Ecological Integration:The ultimate source of energy, and controlled elements for a self-organizing system is our ecosystem and in the new economy a successful company will work with the environment instead of against it.

This means working with product design, waste management and recycling, supply chain dynamics and localization

Communication

When these changes are made advertising becomes an extension of the internal dialogue as the aims of the company fall into greater alignment with the community at large.

This is also the beginning of connecting to the political sphere.

Facilitation

In order to consider changes that we might make in any given context, we first undergo a facilitation process, inspired in particular by second-order cybernetics. Cybernetics is the study of interactions, aims, feedback and learning. What makes the design process ‘second-order’ is that we ground our practice in experience, perceived as the core of design. We understand that an idea is no better than the spark that created it.  Using techniques which cultivate ethical sensibilities, playful exploration, metaphor development, and gleaning reflection we cultivate the conditions for powerful and effective communication and design.