The issue of sustainability leads to a discussion of mimesis, or approximation of natural systems. I believe that sustainability is a process that requires both growth and stability. By this I mean that in a forest, the proliferation of saplings is a lively part of a healthy system. However, in times of distress, it is the 100-year-old trees that are suited to anchoring the system toward the future. This is an important relationship between stability and growth, both of which are necessary for over all sustainability.

Sustainability - Stability & Growth

Sustainability - Stability & Growth

Within this model, that requires both growth and stability to achieve sustainability, there is an opportunity to evaluate the sustainability of an entity, whether that is a goal-oriented organization or a community of divergent individuals. The entity is more likely to be sustainable if it has parts that offer both growth and stability. In this mimetic model, stability leads to the development of growth if the stable structures “seed” structures, transferring energy and knowledge, from each bloom comes new seed. Further, the mimetic model suggests that each of these “seeds” of active growth are opportunities for new structures of stability to develop, from a each seed is the chance for a new bloom.

Sustainability - Seed & Bloom

Sustainability - Seed & Bloom

Within the Olympia Reclaiming community it is the process of offering classes that plants the seeds that can grow into new stability. New members of the community offer energy to the community and could develop into new structures of stability. It is primarily through engagement with the larger community through classes and events that these new seeds can be planted. Therefore, it would appear that the events are a necessary element to the overall sustainability of the Reclaiming community in Olympia.

However, the planting of seed requires the stable structures, the strong and stable individuals in the community to make sure that these events, classes and rituals, occur. At the current time, it is the case that there is one primary structure of stability in the community. There is a single individual without whom most, if not all, events would not occur. This means that the seeds that have been planted are not developing into structures of stability within the community. I see this dysfunction as a primary issue, the solution of which would create sustainability in a community that is only as stable as this primary individual. Until there are additional individuals able and willing to be stable forces in creating the events, the overall community will not achieve sustainability. In this regard, the community is failing to support this primary individual.

Posted by John Bell on June 8, 2006
Tags: Putting Community In

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