Developing a plan

Translate Your Vision To A Plan

Moving from Vision to Plan

Now that you have develped a vision, it is time to translate your vision into a concrete plan. You may have already found that you have already begun to live your vision. This is one of the advantages of having a vision. The act of developing a vision helps to build it into your life quite naturally. Now you will be moving further along the path to implementing your vision. You may be doing this based on an individual vision or a collective vision with friends, co-workers or members of your community.

Developing a Plan

With regard to developing a plan, I have found that Oneplanet.com offers a good deal of help in this regard. It also provides a place for you to publish your plan with some useful graphics. This can be of value to you as you keep a record of the plan and make changes as time goes on. It can also be of value to others who are involved in developing a plan. I know that I have benefited from looking at the plans of others posted on Oneplanet.com. In fact, the plan for Project Earth was published on the Oneplanet.com site. Other plans and their descriptions can also be found on Oneplanet's parent site, Bioregional.

The Oneplanet.com site will first ask you whether you want to set up a plan for an Organization plan, an Area-wide plan or a Project plan. I opted to use the Project Plan for the Earth Project. You can also invite people to become members in the development of this plan. (You will have to consult with Oneplanet.com in terms of whether this is a free or a paid functionality.) The Oneplanet format allows you to develop Outcomes, Actions and Indicators and to create links between them. I use the links to both illustrate the relational connection among members as well as the logical connections among different aspects of the plan. This can be illustrated graphically or set out as a pdf written document. A way of viewing all of this as a table is also available. The entire approach on Oneplanet.com allows you to color code any of these elements based on one of the Ten Principles of One Planet Living if you so desire.

Helpful Resources

If you have registered with Oneplanet.com as a user, you can log in and access detailed planning documents such as "Implementing One Planet Living," and "One Planet Goals and Guidance for Communities and Destinations." I found the later document particularly helpful. It has a good deal of detail on the Ten Principles of One Planet Living. For each principle, it provides a description and examples of related goals, key performance indicators (KPI), indicators and possible targets.

Holding a Planning Workshop

A collective plan is best developed at a facilitated workshop where the relevant stakeholders can be involved. Goals and outcomes can be established. Activities determined. Roles can be established in terms of who will be responsible for which goal or activity. Timelines will be set out. You will determine how you will learn and adapt based on feedback that you receive along the way. As important as anything else, at a workshop you will continue to build the trust and the network needed for successful implementation.

 

 

 


Building a Successful Conversation Through Diversity

Whether engaged in a conversation about sustainability or developing a vision or plan, building diversity into our sustainability efforts is an important principle that will lead to success.

I take a broad view of diversity. It applies to the individual, the organization as well as the wider society. It includes demographic diversity, certainly. It also covers diversity of thought, perspectives, disciplines and the diverse realities that reflect each of our separate existences. It covers one additional important area that I will discuss here.

Applying Diversity to Individuals

How this principle is to be applied is the critical question. Diversity applies on an individual level. There are many different ways in which we approach the world, and they may sometimes appear to be in conflict. For example, there may be the part of us that likes structure and the part of us that may like things to be more free and easy. There is likely the part of each of us that wants to "do" and another part that is happy to just "be." There is the part of us that is a member of a capitalist, market economy and the part of us that may be quite tired of the consumerist culture. There is the part of us that firmly knows we must act to save the environment and the part of us that may be reluctant to make the necessary changes. You cannot divorce yourself from either one of these internal polarities or tensions. It may well be healthier for you to facilitate your own internal dialogue amongst them. Through such a process, all aspects of yourself will feel acknowledged and heard lessening defensiveness. A natural integration will result which will facilitate your awareness of what you truly need to flourish. You will be able to bring more of your full, rich self into your interactions with others.

Applying Diversity to Organizations, Society

The same is true with organizations and societies. They also have many different aspects to them some of which may appear to be in conflict with one another. We can facilitate a conversation amongst them and the people who hold them. As in the individual case, such a dialogue between seeming opposites is one way of enabling both to be acknowledged and heard. The human psyche will do its natural job of seeking integration both on an individual and organizational level. The result will be a healthier and more flourishing society.

We can helpfully build this diversity into our workshops, our conversations and our communities and facilitate the necessary interactions. To ensure each perspective is fully heard, listeners should try to see the world through the experiences of the person who is speaking. We should provide a safe space to support each in sharing their views.

Expanding Beyond Privileged Narratives

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There is, however, a trickier part. We may think that we have factored in a diversity of perspectives even while we are steadfastly following an historical story, narrative or discourse that has been with us for a long time. As a result, we end up privileging that discourse while ignoring other ones. These other ones represent different ways of learning, thinking and even being in the world.

Here are some examples that represent other ways of thinking and being in the world.

"First Nations people in western Canada see the forests of British Columbia as sacred spaces. People from a European background see them as resources to be used or developed even if for leisure. The giving of land back to First Nations people in Canada elicited the complaint that they do not "do" anything with it. The idea that sometimes the point is to "be" rather than to "do" seems to have proved very hard to communicate." (Cata, Myers, 2011).

"The indigenous people of the Amazon understand their world through a different sort of songline.  Indigenous people know how to "think" the forests, know that the paths through this wilderness are songs, the song that each plant has. Song makes a thread of light, a path of the mind; each song tells of one plant's relationship to other plants and not only differentiates one plant from another but distinguishes between the uses of for example, stem or leaf or root of the same plant. There is practical wisdom here but also psychological wisdom; you find your way and learn how to live unlost not through the wild forest but within it. The songlines harmonize people with environment. There is no divide." (Griffiths, 2009)

Joanna Macy in "The Greening of the Self," provides another example. She discusses the Chipko "tree-hugging" movement in north India where villagers protect their remaining woodlands from ax and bulldozer by interposing their bodies. One of her students comments,

"I think of the tree huggers hugging my trunk, blocking the chain saws with their bodies. I feel their fingers digging into my bark to stop the steel and let me breathe....I give thanks for your life and mine and for life itself."

Joanna comments in turn,

"What is striking about Michael's words is the shift in identification. Michael is able to extend his sense of self to encompass the self of the tree. (The) tree is no longer a removed, separate, disposable object pertaining to a world "out there," but intrinsic to his own vitality. Through the power of his caring, his experience of self is expanded far beyond that skin-encapsulated ego."

Each of these stories represents another perspective, a reality that may be quite different from our own.

In discussing the First Nations story, Cato and Myers comment:

"What is important here is the unsettling of a previously privileged discourse, an historical embedded discourse from a "civilized" culture of pioneers, conquerors and colonialists, who on initially encountering First Nations and indigenous Peoples' way of life considered it inferior and yet now value their wisdom as contributing to a different understanding of life and collective reality. In the context of the sustainability crisis, this awareness of an alternative perspective acquires added salience." (Cato, Myers, 2011)

 


Operationalizing a Bioregion

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How to "operationalize" a bioregional approach is an intriguing question to ask.

The response to this question starts from the premise that a bioregional approach is a framework - it is an orientation, a way of seeing things. In this regard, we can say that a bioregion aligns with the ecology of place. We can surmise that this is how Nature sees itself. This becomes the defining litmus test rather than saying that one is part of a city or a political region. It is not the politics that defines the existence of the region, but rather its own local ecology.

In taking this ecological perspective, we are asking the question what does it take for this bioregion to thrive as any ecosystem might thrive.

One "operational" step on this developmental pathway is to map the bioregion in which one exists. This will be in line with recognizing the multiple capitals of the bioregion and also to assess whether the bioregion being considered is congruent with any political, geographical jurisdictional lines which currently exist.

For the purposes of this, we can set out the multiple capitals with which the region is endowed:

  1. Financial capital
  2. Manufactured capital
  3. Human capital
  4. Social and relationship capital
  5. Intellectual capital
  6. Natural capital (renewable and non-renewable environmental resources)

Here we are asking the question: what are the different types of resources which endow the region. We are looking at the past, the present and the future potential.

Specifically, we can look at the plants indigenous to the region, the climate, the terrain of the land, the watershed, the animal life. We can look at the cycles of life that happen in this region: the length of seasons, the growth seasons of plants, the habits of animals (seasonal pollination activities of bees), the relationships among species, even the migratory habits of humans (is there a seasonal migrant work force). We are looking to have a deep ecological knowledge of the region.

We can look at the existence of renewable and non-renewable natural resources which includes minerals, rich soil, clean air and water.

We can look at the history of the people resident in the area. What traditions do they have, food they are noted for, well-known cultural attributes? Are they rich in historical skills, intellectual abilities, technical knowledge? The list can be a long one as each area of capital is explored and mapped. This is done on multiple scales: nano (individual), micro (enterprise), meso (portfolio) and macro (national) if applicable.

As part of this, we can ask questions about who are we as a community. What are our values, our vision for the future, our assets- both historical and current and our culture. Are we indigenous, homogeneous or diverse? Where are we on the path towards recognizing and articulating values and in developing a common culture?

Finally, one has to assess the carrying capacity of the bioregion from both a local and global perspective. (See: Kate Raworth, "Doughnut Economics") For example, what kinds of industry or agriculture will be within the carrying capacity of the region without having a negative impact on the surrounding elements of the environment? What will be the impact of activities within the region on the global carrying capacity? As part of this one must look at issues of equity within the bioregion and the impact in contributing to inequities on a global scale.

This type of mapping process helps to create attunement with the local ecology and also positions the residents of the bioregion to think about strategic actions that will enable the overall bioregion to thrive.