Long Distance Collaboration for Agriculture & Education

Date Line: July 4, 2011

The beginning of the 21st Century has brought with it the blossoming of the “Green Movement“, the seed of which had germinated more than 30 years prior.

In 1798, shortly after the American Revolutionary War that we are celebrating today, Thomas Malthus, a political economist working for the British Government, published An Essay on the Principle of Population, describing his theory of quantitative development of human populations.  Today, even thou relatively few people know the origin of the concept, no sane, educated person is not aware of it or doubt its validity.  With a World population that will exceed 7 billion before the end of next year, it is clear that we are beyond the capacity of the Earth to support us any longer.  It’s not a matter of if or even when a cataclysmic die-off of humankind will occur.  At best, we can only mitigate the suffering there is and will be.  At the very root of this palliative care is our ability to grow food with minimal resources, especially water.  Aquaponics is the most water efficient way to grow food, particularly when nutritional requirements are factored in.

As it appears now, Green Revolutionaries are still relatively few in number, but growing at an unprecedented rate!  As in any revolution, proponents of the status quo are loath to the rise of the coming tide of change.  However, I have the feeling that we too, in some sense, are “swimming against the tide”!  It is, I believe, quite correct to think that once people are forced to do something a better way, they will have a higher probability of actually adopting it as a regular practice in their lives. Unfortunately, as it appears to me, people are primarily only forced into doing things by overwhelming economic factors. This reticence inevitably leads to the “boiled frog” sequence of events.

To rise above the tide, “walk on water” if you will, is going to take “out of the box” thinking and creative actions. I’m not suggesting that we work faster or harder, only smarter, more creatively and together.

A maxim that I’m very fond of is “Think Globally, Act Locally “. The World has changed in ways that weren’t dreamed of when that phrase first came into use! It hadn’t been “flattened” by modern communication and transportation systems to anywhere near the extent it is now.  In effect, we have become very close neighbors, even tho we may live on opposite sides of the planet.  We can now easily and affordably interact in ways that we couldn’t only a few years ago.

Maybe it’s time for a new maxim? Like Work Globally, Teach Personally.  Learning and teaching may well be done best on a small-scale, one-on-one basis.  While the need for environmentally sustainable food production clearly can not be met without large-scale operations. That is not to say that either can best be done in conventional manners. Both need to be decentralized.  This would increase their efficiency and make these Social Ecological “Whole Systems” more effective.

Collaborations of individuals and companies in different regions, countries, continents, and hemispheres of the globe are now rather common.  But the organizational structures that they use, often do not lend themselves to decentralizing the activities they perform.  This is because of their method of governance.  They use an autocratic power structure that is the backbone of modern organizations, whether they are for profit or nonprofit.

Dynamic governance (DG), or sociocracy, is a decision-making and governance method that allows an organization to manage itself as an organic whole. To make this possible, dynamic governance enables every sub-part of the organization to have an authoritative voice in the management of the organization.  Because agriculture and education are dispersed activities, unlike mining for example, it would make a lot of sense to manage them in this way.

Although DG in it modern form is relatively new, there are successful implementations of it.  Keese Boeke in 1926 founded De Werkplaats Kindergemeenschap , the premier school using Sociocracy.  And, in agriculture for example, Terra Viva in Brazil was started in 1959, by the Schoenmaker family, from the Netherlands.  Currently, the company researches, develops and produces Bulbs, Cuttings, Flowers, Ornamental Plants, Fruits, Cereals and Potatoes and Vegetables, in over 12,000 hectares.  With more than 1,700 direct collaborators Terra Viva is composed of four basic areas of activity.

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