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“Theory and Practice of Integral Sustainable Development: Part 1”

Last post 08-18-2006, 8:22 PM by Heartwater. 4 replies.
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  •  08-07-2006, 7:52 PM 3685

    • heikkinen is not online. Last active: Thu, May 29 2008, 7:25 AM heikkinen
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    “Theory and Practice of Integral Sustainable Development: Part 1”

    Here are some suggested discussion questions for Barrett Brown’s “Theory and Practice of Integral Sustainable Development: Part 1.” As time goes on and we get a groove going as applied integral practitioners, we might moderate the forum more or less intensely with fewer or more questions. For now you can think of these questions as suggestions and we'll see how it goes from there. I’ve tried to lean the questions towards real-world application instead of theoretical analysis, but theory talk is welcome here as well.

     

    1. On page 13, Barrett explains “The Four Quadrants of a Kofi Anna Statement.” Keeping in mind that this is an introductory paper, meant to explain the quadrants in the simplest way possible, can we recontextualize the explanation using quadrants, quadrivia, and methodology?
    2. If a particular methodology only takes into account one or two dimensions of reality—one or two quadrants—it literally addresses only half the picture, and therefore has a higher chance of failure.” (page 15). Can you give any examples of initiatives in your experience (personal, professional, or even “heard of” or “saw on TV”) that have failed from being partial?

     


    Katie Heikkinen

    Integral University Presents
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  •  08-10-2006, 12:21 PM 4037 in reply to 3685

    Re: “Theory and Practice of Integral Sustainable Development: Part 1”

    Here's an example I've encountered in my professional career as a bicycle transportation advocate/educator...

    I ran a survey of our organization's members and potential members asking what their top priorities were when it comes to biking. The overwelming answer was safety. Makes sense, right? Being safe is a basic need for everyone, obviously. So we got our goal for our organization spelled out for us right off the bat: improve safety.

    But then the various members and employees of the organization jump ahead to the conclusion that more bike lanes are what we need to fight for. Bike lanes look great to many people and seem to promote biking.

    So now the organization miraculously has the Lower and Upper Left solutions for reaching our goal, and people go to work on creating the corresponding Lower Right laws and policies to back up the idea of seperate lanes for bicyclists. Pretty much everyone thinks we're golden.

    The problem is, the poor little Upper Right quadrant gets lost in the excitement. No one ever questions whether or not bike lanes actually increase safety. Lots of people believe they do, but no real UR investigation is ever done! And if someone does wander into the UR and points this out, they are considered a troublemaker. Occasionally, the bike lane proponents (perhaps the engineers at MIT who consider themselves so very, very Upper Right!) may try and appease the UR by conducting studies on the bike lanes. But these studies end up being seriously biased by the UL (statistics are gathered by asking bicyclists if they like the bike lanes and feel safer in them, and so they naturally "prove" that the UL was right all along.

    It's all so comical. Until there are real safety problems with a bike lane. When a woman died while biking smack dab in the middle of a bike lane, the only thing not considered as part of the problem was the bike lane itself. Blame was attributed to society, the victim, and the vehicles involved (all of which were certainly useful to look at). But the bike lane itself, which was so entrenched in UR, LR, and LL, completely escaped scrutiny.

    By the way, I'm not suggesting that bike lanes are inherently dangerous, but some are, and certainly they are promoted without any real basis in UR reality. Lots of people love bike lanes because they feel safer than being in mixed traffic. But UL feelings of safety aren't necessarily correlated with UR physical safety. And also, the LR consequences of segregated traffic patterns are mixed, at best (that whole "seperate, but equal" doesn't always work so well, and being relegated to the edges of the roadway may increase the sense of bicyclists being outcasts, and not really belonging on the roads).

    I wish I had had the AQ mapping system back then, so that I could have at least had a clearer basis for understanding the issue. I'm thinking that a lot of sustainablility issues might suffer from a similar lack of UR views, based on the very UL and LL motivations of many of the people involved.

    Peace, Love, and (safe!) Bicycles,
    Turtle
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  •  08-10-2006, 12:48 PM 4041 in reply to 4037

    • heikkinen is not online. Last active: Thu, May 29 2008, 7:25 AM heikkinen
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    Re: “Theory and Practice of Integral Sustainable Development: Part 1”

    Thanks for the awesome response!

    Fantastic point that people can often get caught up in assumptions of what 's true in the UR, without neccesarily doing the neccesary testing. Every quadrant has its validity claim!

    And what that can lead too is heading straight towards the 'typical' solution, potentially bypassing out-of-the-box solutions that might be more effective.

    I'm also reminded of the rather grisly analysis I learned in a class on natural disasters I took once: cost per life saved. I imagine bike lanes have a pretty high cost. Could other solutions provide more bang (lives saved) for your buck?

    thanks for the thought-provoking post!

    Katie


    Katie Heikkinen

    Integral University Presents
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  •  08-11-2006, 10:36 AM 4097 in reply to 4041

    Re: “Theory and Practice of Integral Sustainable Development: Part 1”

    heikkinen:

    I'm also reminded of the rather grisly analysis I learned in a class on natural disasters I took once: cost per life saved. I imagine bike lanes have a pretty high cost. Could other solutions provide more bang (lives saved) for your buck?



    Bike lanes can be cheap or expensive, depending on the design. The cheap ones are often the ones that are most dangerous, as you can imagine, and also are, not surprisingly, often the ones that end up on the roads. This is another whole discussion that causes arguments in the field, as you can imagine! (Hey, we got a bike lane installed, who cares if it's good!)

    And yes, there have been a few clever folks who have done the work to come up with more wholistic/all quadrant solutions, as well as solutions for some of the quadrants that get missed by the bike lane solution. These ideas include putting more infomation about bicyclists rights and responsibilities in the state's Driver's Manual, and adding a few questions about bicycles to the written test. These inexpensive policies obviously help out the LR, and help bicycles sneak into the LL a bit too, in a way that really does affect the UR physical safety in a positive way. Also, a better kind of road marking, called the "sharrow" or '"shared lane marking" that offers most of the benefits of segregated lanes, while avoiding the potential dangers, has been gaining popularity in several parts of the world recently. These markings have had (generally) unbiased physical safety studies done on them, showing them to be at least reasonably safe (UR), as well as accomplishing the UL goal of helping cyclists feel safer, and bringing respect for cyclists into the LR and LL quadrants, too. Though more studies on all kinds of road design really need to be done to be conclusive.

    I'd also suggested to my organization that it might be useful to start at the beginning and really look to see if we could get a handle on what the specific problems are that most cyclists encounter when they are out on the roadways, i.e., What are the causes of most crashes and near crashes? (I'd hoped to get this information by using personal surveys, as well as police crash data, and even some independent "incident" data collected on the roads.) Unfortunately, I wasn't convincing enough in my explanation of this idea, and didn't really get much support for conducting such an analysis. Most people's response was, "I know there's a problem, and I know the solution! So get outta my way girlie!" (Note: most of the people in the organization are middle aged white guys! While I am not quite 40 yet, and a female... :-) ) But, I figure the longer I am an active part of the organization, the more respected I'll become, and thus I may be able to introuce the project at some future time and have a more enthusiastic response...

    I do think it's true that people who see a UL problem imagine that the only way to solve it is through a UL solution. It seems to fall under "common sense" for most people, especially those in first tier. But in this case, of course, there are UR, LR, and LL elements of the problem, as well, that they weren't able to see, and so they didn't understand why I wanted to look for solutions in so many different directions.

    Anyway, thanks for inspiring me to translate this stuff into AQAL. It really helped me clarify my thoughts about it, which I hadn't been able to do before. I guess I was intuiting (UL) my AQAL plan, and now I can map it out in UR as well! Nifty!

    Peace, Love, and Bicycles,
    Turtle
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  •  08-18-2006, 8:22 PM 4656 in reply to 3685

    Re: “Theory and Practice of Integral Sustainable Development: Part 1”

    Hi Katie,

     
    Your questions have brought me to a new level of understanding sustainability. In trying to recontextualize Barrett’s explanation of Kofi Anna’s Statement I have unlocked a few new dimensions of my own interior. Thanks. I’ll give this a try.

     
    “The whole idea of sustainable development is that environment and development are inextricably linked. Prevailing approaches to development remain fragmented and piecemeal; funding is woefully inadequate; and production and consumption patterns continue to overburden the world's natural life support systems.”

     
    Understanding that Barrett is using this example to briefly explain the perspectives of the quadrants within the context of the subject document we could as well use any statement for the same example. But to recontextualize this in the framework of sustainability I would say that we can for the moment leave aside for the moment the (LR) systems that portray his speaking, the microphone and industrial systems that provided the coffee  and focus on the perspective of what he is speaking about.

     
    “The whole idea…” an (UL) manifestation of Kofi’s … “of sustainable development…” his idea points to a (LR) techno/industrial definition which has meaning in the audiences’ individual (UL) consciousness and is culturally contextualized by those individuals’ identification with their (LL) cultural world view. Sustainable development for an Eco-Strategist might mean that that individual listener will reap more profits by better management of resources while an Eco-Warrior might hear in the words “sustainable development” to mean the separation of natural spaces and industrialized areas. Kofi’s topic though coming form his perspective and personal level of definition may be interpreted in meaning form any of the recognized levels as well as translationally different meanings within the same level, i.e., deep ecology v/s ecofeminist. So here we see the meaning of sustainable development having individual representation and contextualization’s in the (UL) linked to worldviews in the (LL) and differentiations within individual views at the same levels. I might add a personal note that the term sustainable development for me becomes a problem of fish in the pond. Development can only go so far and then you need a bigger pond. The concept that we can forever “develop” (LR) infrastructure, growth, population on a given planetary environment is kind of  a mutually excusive set of terms…but that is what we are using these days so… Possibly development could be intuited to include (UL) growth as well.

     
    He goes on to say that: “…environment and development are inextricably linked.” I believe he is pointing at environment as a (LR) natural system we inhabit, which also inhabits the other three quadrants, with the human techno/industrial (LR) means of survival or how we consume and dispose of the natural resources. Good point. The environment and how we utilize it are connected. Again we find the relationship between the two (LR) action or developmental means, and object; natural resources to be a perspective held within individual (UL) and cultural values (LL). At an Amber wave the individual (UL) as member of a (LL) culture may view our role as Eco-Manager to steward the planet’s resources as our divine right while a different view, Eco-Guardian may see us as parts or members of a whole; all being equal and following the given rituals to protect the Mother Earth. Poor Kofi; we don’t know his audience but his message may be disseminated in several different ways.

     
    “Prevailing approaches to development remain fragmented and piecemeal.” In his next sentence I believe he is noting that the prevailing approaches are first tier. I think we all get the gist of this but to quote Ken from SES:

     
    “Central to these ecological approaches is a notion that our present environmental crisis is due primarily to a fractured worldview, a worldview that drastically separates mind and body, subject and object, culture and nature, thoughts and things, values and facts, spirit and matter, human and nonhuman; a worldview that is dualistic, mechanistic atomistic, anthropocentric, and pathologically hierarchical-a worldview that, in short erroneously separates humans from, and often unnecessarily elevates humans above, the rest of the fabric of reality, a broken worldview that alienates men and women from the intricate web of patterns and relationships that constitute the very nature of life and Earth and cosmos.

     
    My first person view of what I believe to be Kofi’s first person feeling behind this statement is one of frustration; my (UL) interpretation of his (LR) exposition relating his (UL) sentiment. I will refrain from the integral calculus exponents. I feel that we both inhabit the same (LL) space on this issue; his form my interpretation of his statement viewed from my experiences dealing with the same issues in my local community, (another story).

     
    I might further expound on Kofi’s statements about funding, production, consumption, etc., but the point remains the same, these problems are viewed by the audience from different value levels and herein looked at from my value level which I hope is making a pitiful attempt at some form of AQAL. The increased funding to help relieve the reduction in world consumption or modify the production scheme and alleviate the burden on the worlds natural life support systems will not be enacted by the same old methods; my view is best, but by reframing these issues into methods that appeal to all of the stakeholders’ values systems.

     
    The quadrivia part; I think must relate to (LL) intersubjective value perspectives seeing the (LR) natural/resource structures and developmental modulus in a way that brings meaning to “sustainable.” This would be the methodology.

     
    Great Questions.


    With Love, John

    "The real voyage of discovery lies not in seeking new landscapes but in having new eyes." Marcel Proust
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