22 January 2008

Networking and dialogue

Thanks to Mike Kwan for pointing to the Wiser Earth site in his comment on my last post. As he says: ‘It's a tool and directory for currently more than a 108,000 organizations around the world working on social justice and environmental issues. Anyone can contribute to the directory for free or add their own events, jobs, resources, etc. It was started by Paul Hawken and his team a few years ago and was a manifestation of Hawken's Blessed Unrest. The site serves to strengthen the connections within these organizations and people (the Earth's immune system) working for change.’

I added a Wiser Earth link to the Earth community resources list on our gnusystems site last year, but we hadn't read the book until now. I'm also adding a link to the Bohm Dialogue site which i recently discovered. Physicist/philosopher David Bohm devoted the last part of his life to promoting dialogue—not exactly the kind of intergroup communication promoted by Hawken and Wiser Earth, but a process devoted to bringing the participants' hidden assumptions out into the open and ‘suspending’ them. Bohm felt that those assumptions, or rather our chronic inability to see past them, are responsible for much of the mess we are currently making of the world. The aim is not to get everyone to agree, or even to work together on specific problems, but to show that we're all in the same boat, and are all capable of seeing our own and others' assumptions for what they are; and this (rather than agreement) is crucial to understanding one another. It's close in many ways to the dialogue concept developed in Chapter 2 of my book.

Personally i think both kinds of dialogue are important and complementary to one another. When i was working and living in the city (Sudbury, Ontario), i did what i could to promote the kind of networking that Wiser Earth fosters. 20 years ago i started a local newsletter covering environmental, social justice, human rights and international development issues and showing how they were all connected. Now that i've retired to the backwoods, i focus more on the philosophical side, finding that kind of connectedness at the heart of semiosis, communication and life itself. This seems to me a natural development from the more activist work i was doing back in the 20th century.

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