Apathy & Compliance, Dignity & Participation

Last week we talked about boundaries and compliant children. This week we're going to start a series of discussions about ideas from this book Rules for Radicals. The book is only about 300 pages long, and in very normal english, so I highly recommend giving it a peek.

The transcript of the first discussion is here.

Today, I want to first talk about a couple of ideas from the chapters, Policy after Power (p.106) and "The Process of Power" (p.113):

"One of the great problems in the beginning of an organization is, often, that the people do not know what they want. Discovering this stirs up, in the organizer, that inner doubt shared by so many, whether the masses of people are competent to make decisions for a democratic society. … These reservations can destroy the effectiveness of the most creative and talented organizer. Many times, contact with low-income groups does not fire one with enthusiasm for the political gospel of democracy. This disillusionment comes … because when you talk with any people you find yourselves confronted with cliches, a variety of superficial, stereotyped responses, and a general lack of information. In a black ghetto if you ask, "What's wrong?" you are told, "Well, the schools are segregated." "What do you think should be done to make better schools?" "Well, they should be desegregated." "How?" "Well, you know." And if you say you don't know, then a lack of knowledge or an inability on the part of the one you are talking to may show itself in a defensive, hostile reaction: "You whites were responsible for the segregation in the first place. We didn't do it. So it's your problem, not ours. You started it, you finish it." If you pursue the point by asking, "Well, what else is wrong with the schools right now?" you get the answer, "The buildings are old; the teachers are bad. We've got to have change." "Well, what kind of change?" "Well, everybody knows things have to be changed." That is usually the end of the line. If you push it any further, you come again to a hostile, defensive reaction or to withdrawal as they suddenly remember they have to be somewhere else.

The issue that is not clear to organizers, missionaries, educators, or any outsider, is simply that if people feel they don't have the power to change a bad situation, then they do not think about it. Why start figuring out how you are going to spend a million dollars if you do not have a million dollars or are ever going to have a million dollars—unless you want to engage in fantasy?

討論逐字稿 Boundaries, Trust, Consent

We discussed 'Boundaries, Trust, Consent' the second discussion in the 'Boundaries' series.

Why was it okay (according to the parents) for the boy to repeatedly knock down the girl's castle?
Boys are supposed to be like that.
Like what?
To be naughty. To damage things, to create some damage.
Because other boys do the same thing.
They prefer the boy can show the power or to dominate or control the situation.
What do you mean by naughty?
Not behave.
So boys are supposed to break the rules.
Uh-huh. It's okay for boys to break the rules.
Most of the time, boys are more aggressive. This is what I think.

Do you personally feel it was okay that the boy kept knocking down the castle?

討論逐字稿 Boundaries, Trust, Community

This is the transcript for the first of our 'Boundaries' discussions.

Concluding Statements:
I think normally groups set the boundaries for the individual in the beginning, because it is easy to have the order instead of chaos. What I can think if, is, for example, when a group of people joins a summer camp, and the organizer, or workers will try to make the members follow certain rules, and if most people follow the rules of the camp, and actually all the members can get the most benefit from it, and they will learn more, and also enjoy more. I think the group has its own boundary, and most of the time, I need to follow, because I am a part of the group. But if that boundary influence my private life, or have too much of an impact on me, it's time to step out, or adjust or actually set my own boundary there. So I can be in that group for the longer term.

Boundaries, Trust, Consent

Today we are continuing our conversation about boundaries. Here's the transcript from a previous discussion of this article.

In general, most cultures encourage boy children to be more unruly, and girl children to be more cooperative. In this article she describes how in her daughter's playgroup, a boy would daily destroy the castle her daughter built. Frustratingly, the boy's parents did nothing about their son's behavior. They didn't try to discuss it with him or even point out that there was a problem. Instead they say things like this:

"You know! Boys will be boys!" 
"He's just going through a phase!"
"He’s such a boy! He LOVES destroying things!"
"Oh my god! Girls and boys are SO different!"
"He. Just. Can't. Help himself!"

She goes on to critique their response to the situation.

Not once did they talk to him about invading another little person's space and claiming for his own purposes something that was not his to claim. It was, to them, some kind of XY entitlement. How much of the boy's behavior in coming years would be excused in these ways, be calibrated to meet these expectations, and enforce the “rules” his parents kept repeating?

Boundaries, Trust, Community

This is the first part of a two-part discussion. Here's the transcript of a previous discussion on this article.

The following quotes come from this blog post, and from the comments below it. The last quote is a concept invented by people in the USian blogosphere.

"…as soon as someone stops having fun, we stop. If [our 4-year old] tells us to stop, we stop. This is the only way to teach our kids boundaries."

"When I was a child (and now, actually) my mother didn’t respect me saying no or telling her to stop doing something to me at all, and … she wonders now why I don’t trust her."

"It’s important to teach these things to the next generation but just as important to model them, too.
Unfortunately this side is so often ignored. When the two-year old in question says “no!” to his Dad, is he listened to? Or is his “no”, like the “no” of so many children, ignored, called a”tantrum”, is he told to “get on with it, there’s no choice”, is he told to “stop answering back”? "

"Raising an assertive girl means valuing and respecting her assertions and letting go of the notion that a “good” child is a compliant child."

“You don’t get to say what offends other people. If they don’t like it, you can’t keep doing it. As soon as you know you’re offending them, and you keep doing that thing, you’re saying you don’t care how you make them feel, that you’re ok that they’re uncomfortable, and that it’s your fault.”

"My rights end where yours begin."

I feel that there is a connection between the ideas contained in these quotes, with wider implications for building a successful community. Would you come explore with me?

Workshop results for "What are the qualities of a sustainable action/product/system?"

We explored the question "What are the qualities of a sustainable action/product/system?" in a workshop format. The Consensus Workshop process, developed by ICA builds ideas gradually, starting from brainstorming individually to sharing ideas in pairs, until finally coming together as a whole group to organize and name six or seven answers to this question.

What is Sustainability?

Last week we looked at Cuba, and how it was kind of forced into sustainable living in the 1990s because of the loss of its lifeline, the Soviet Union. Through our discussion, we came up against the realization that actually, we're going to have to learn how to live sustainably as a planet within our lifetimes! It turns out, we personally are going to have to figure it out sooner or later, so maybe now is a good time to start.

So, if we're going to face up to sustainability, the next step is to visualize just what sustainability means to us. To help us understand this, tonight we're going to do a visioning workshop. We're going to use the power of the group to answer this question:

What are the qualities of a sustainable action/product/system?
What defines something as sustainable?

This workshop is going to be a little more active than our usual discussion.
We're going to write down things with markers! And stick paper on the wall with tape! We might even draw things! So, come prepared to have fun!

討論逐字稿 How Cuba Survived Peak Oil

We discussed how Cuba survived a kind of peak oil. Here's the transcript of most of the discussion:

Okay, what's the main thing you understood from the first 10 minutes of this video?
The production of oil goes down year to year, but on the contrary, the consumption of oil continues to increase.
We have a certain amount of oil, but the population is growing, even big countries like China, they need to consume more oil, much more than before, and that's a problem, how to survive.
Oil is limited. And we need to find other alternatives.

What does 'peak oil' mean?
The oil that we have found now is it, there's no more that can be found.
In the beginning, the whole production of oil can be consumed maybe over twenty or thirty years, but in the time of peak oil, we just can only use oil in a short time period. In the beginning it's a kind of bell curve, but now it's more like a spike than a curve.
Basically, no more oil can be found than is already found, and we're already halfway through it.

How Cuba Survived Peak Oil


Normally, when we talk about change, we're talking about personal change. Personal change is very worthwhile, because we truly only can change things outside of ourselves once we ourselves have changed.

At the same time, personal change can only go so far before you run into conflict with the structures of society, one example being capitalism.

So in looking at the Cuba movie, one thing I want to explore is, what happens when society as a whole is forced to change?

Another question I had, watching this movie is, "How do Cuba's base values influence the decisions they made when confronted with a crisis of this magnitude. For example: Cuba's education systems and medical systems are completely free. During the crisis, this was not changed. What I want to know is, how does that come about? How many people have to participate in this decision for it to hold up? How many people have to oppose an idea like this for it to fall apart?

The whole movie is about an hour long. We won't look at all of it, just these segments:

Basic Background
10:05 It explains the basic story of what Cuba went through, called 'The Special Period'.