This chapter deals with trends in Religion, Community Organization, Economics, Business Structure, Education, Human Labor/Employment, and Housing. We will discuss the impact of these trends upon NOPEC projects.
Religious thought has a profound influence upon community life, and our society's emerging world view sheds light on the nature of living in a NOPEC community.
On Easter Sunday, we hear the good news proclaimed that Jesus, the Son of God, is risen! And we know where to find Him when we need Him: He sits on the right hand of God the Father and He can be reached on a moment's notice. You don't even need a cellular phone. Ma Bell, one of the lesser deities, has captured the essence of this phenomenon in its supplication, "Reach out and touch someone."
That's the good news. The bad news is that God's Daughter is still nowhere to be found in the liturgy. It's unclear whether She has even been born yet. If She has been born and is still alive, She's either been Kidnaped or She's a run-away. If somewhere in the course of history She died (whether fighting for justice or getting run over by a truck), She hasn't been resurrected.
Which is not to say that no one is trying. The Feminist movement is promoting the Goddess with vigor these days. (You need a Mother God first to get equal time on TV. Little effort can be dissipated in defining God the Daughter yet. Wouldn't it be tacky for a rebellious Daughter to challenge a benevolent, all-powerful Father?) But there is some doubt as to whether this attempt to find the Truth is going to work.
Trouble is, we are getting into a lot of trouble holding onto the idea that God is human, and especially that God is a parent. By personifying God, we overlook the plight of the natural world. By referring to God as our Father, we are buying into the notion that we are innocent little children, and He is at our beck and call whenever we spill milk on the table. Turning Father God into a Goddess doesn't change our basic cop-out. Mothers wipe up spilled milk too -- maybe even more often.
I have a clue where we can start looking for God. At the very least, we can begin to see the concept of God as a Child. In so doing, we recognize our responsibility as adults, our challenge to nurture Creation and not merely to take another draw-down from the Father's Heavenly treasures or to suckle Mother Nature's breast. Even Jesus acknowledged the Child in God: "Suffer the little children, and forbid them not, for of such is the Kingdom of Heaven." [Matthew 19:14]
It is a time for weaning ourselves from the Mother God, a time to take over some of the Heavenly Father's chores. (I've seen His picture in the Sistine Chapel, and He looks pretty old.) As Stewart Brand said, "We are all Gods, and we might as well start getting used to it." It's time for us to own up to our responsibility for God the Child, and better yet, to discover the God in an Elephant, the God in an Orangutan, the God in a Blue Whale. We act God-like when we choose to take the life of one of these. We become Gods when we go so far as to withdraw the genetic code of one of these magnificent creatures from the planet's wealth. Do we realize the consequences of our tampering?
Whenever we buy a piece of mahogany, rosewood, or teak, we are willy-nilly acting as Gods, robbing another one of the deities, Mother Earth, of Her genetic heritage. When we buy a piece of ivory, aren't we stabbing Her with our insolence? Are we sure that we want to mess with Her like that? When we dump nuclear wastes into the ground, we are relying upon Her good will, not our good sense, to let Her take care that our folly won't get out of hand. When we destroy satellites in the Father's Heavenly Kingdom with our anti-satellite weapons, even in tests, are we prepared for the consequence that we might be barred from the Kingdom? (A one-cubic centimeter piece of metal, traveling in space ten times faster than a speeding bullet, has enough kinetic energy to decommission most any mission in the Heavens or destroy millions of dollars of investment in telecommunications equipment.) Every time we place more spurious random objects at the Gates to the Kingdom, the Heavenly Journey becomes more dangerous, and if destruction of objects in space continues unabated, all Heavenly Journeys will be canceled.
An interpretation of history might serve to better find God in our times. Consider where we got this idea of one God, of God the Father. When the Hebrews were busy conquering territory, they wanted to know who would remain friendly and who was going to make trouble. As long as their own people, as well as their neighbors and conquests, demonstrated allegiance to Jehovah/Yahweh, the leaders were freed to turn their attention to new conquests. If deities flourished, the Hebrew leaders' aggressions might have been confused or thwarted by internal dissension. Monotheism was a military strategy.
The Christians were sneaky. They were operating right under the nose of these people and they knew that they couldn't get away with promoting another new God. So they came up with the idea that Jehovah, the One God, had a Son. By keeping Jesus in the Family, a new crew of priests got their meal ticket without all the hassles of kicking out the old crew. The old crew kept the Jewish constituency, the new crew took the Gentile turf, the shepherds had enough sheep to go around, and after a few skirmishes, peaceful coexistence ensued.
Subsequently, following the Hebrew model, other bands also decided that it was convenient to use the one-God military strategy. The Muslims got away with giving Him a new name, calling Him Allah, since they were further away from the Hebrews than the Christians were. So now we have the one God, Allah, and the one God Jehovah. But the Muslims have the last laugh, for surely Allah is the God of Oil.
This domain, the Godhead, is the most whimsical, most disputed piece of spiritual real estate on the planet. In earlier times, people speaking various languages were far enough apart that arguments over God's different names didn't pull the roof down. Now, though, we find peoples in different countries gripped in an absurd flurry of battles to decide the name of this one deity -- battles which could pull down the whole house of cards.
In one such terrible battle, a friend, Nicola Geiger, tells of her very survival because she didn't have to translate God's name to her adversary. Before leaving on her perilous journey to escape from East Germany during World War II, she spontaneously grabbed an heirloom, a medallion of one of the Catholic Saints. As she fled, she was discovered and caught by soldiers who were instructed by their leader to kill her. As one of the soldiers grabbed her, the medallion around her neck was revealed. The leader saw it and said, "Wait, my mother prays to the same Saint. Spare her!" Most remarkably, Nicola is a German who practiced Buddhism!
Likewise, we can find a way to translate God's name into a common language, so that we don't have to kill each other and God's creation while arguing about the Godhead. Certainly the True God is larger than the conception of mere mortals. God is a Rock, God is an ocean. God is a space shuttle, God is a hydrogen bomb. God is Allah, Jehovah, Mother Earth, Zeus and Athena. God embodies the attributes of a Son and a Daughter.
If you still want to insist that God is a Father, then at the very least you have to admit that He has a mother-in-law too -- not to mention a wife, grandparents, cousins, uncles, aunts, nephews, nieces, and siblings! (Oh, and an old girl-friend whose name slips me just now.)
Can we stop bickering over God's gender or position in the Holy Family -- and start taking responsibility to use our endowment of intelligence for the benefit of all Creation? Aren't we old enough now? We have enough science to appreciate the Deity in many of Its manifestations -- not just in Its anthropomorphic expressions, but also in Its THERMO-dynamics, Its chemistry, Its astronomical dimensions. Perhaps now we can use our knowledge to nurture the earth and sustain its wealth. On the day of worship, we can express the Deity as All-That-Is, we can celebrate all that we know of It, and wonder at all the Mysteries that we still cannot comprehend -- without blowing each other up or fighting over God's Gender or Holy Name!
What does all this have to do with NOPEC?
Sustainable real estate development depends upon a common perception of our heritage and values. While we each may have different religious backgrounds, religious tolerance has reduced the likelihood of persecution in the modern world. On the other hand, this tolerance often does not extend to the plant and animal kingdoms (queendoms?). Progress towards stewardship, an awakening of the important role of humanity in nurturing the earth, has been slow, considering the stakes and the time available for us to change our outlook. Sustainable development requires changes, which will in turn require the broad support of the spiritual community in which people live.
"What is common to the greatest number gets the least amount of care. Men pay most attention to what is their own; they care less for what is common; or at any rate, they care for it only to the extent to which each is individually concerned. [Aristotle, 384-322 BC]
Governments are formed to manage what we hold in common. At the community level, political realities are usually shaped by the same concepts that are used in the national and international arenas. Major political movements derive momentum from broad bases of support. So, small communities are in a good position to organize according to emerging principles of governance, and they can demonstrate to higher political levels how to overcome the limitations of antiquated political organization which are so evident but unwieldy.
As we have learned from the importance of television in national elections, communications technology has a significant impact on governance. There is a lag between the availability of modern two way computer communications technology in the office and its availability in the home. However, the trend in community organization is towards participatory democracy, which may well be extended by employing instantaneous electronic voting. With fiber optics infrastructure and devices which can exploit the broad bandwidth capacity of fiber optics, more extensive participation will be possible within larger political units such as cities.
Town meetings which operate by consensus will necessarily emerge: conditions of modern life have become too complex for management by a single dictatorial decision-maker in any political arena.
Furthermore, we will see increasing varietization of financial instruments for community-scale resource allocations. For example, as an alternative or supplement to established municipal corporations, Public Capital Ownership Plans (PubCOP's) will emerge for citizens' joint ownership of productive community holdings. [Kelso, 1986]
"Isn't it strange? The same people who laugh at gypsy fortunetellers take economists seriously." [The Cincinnati Enquirer]
Economics involves the study of the flow of resources in human society. In his classic work on ecology, Howard Odum revealed to the world a new model of economics -- a model based on fundamental thermodynamics that included the natural world.
Any economic analysis necessarily draws boundaries around flows of currencies created by humans to approximate natural flows. As a result, statistics such as the Gross National Product (GNP) improve from production of artifacts which create pollution as well as artifacts which control pollution -- it makes no difference.
These important underlying facts are obscured by the rhetoric which compares one political or economic system favorably against another. Some new terminology is in order to set the record straight.
The Mining Economies of the World
Regardless of which economic system or -ism (capitalism, communism, socialism) one espouses, virtually all modern economic systems are based on the continued exploitation of nature. In the mining economy, the mining mentality extracts trees from old-growth forests, it mines minerals from the ground, it consumes petroleum in its cars. While it might be satisfying to blame big corporations or big government, it takes individual consumer decisions to move gasoline through gas stations or to read newspapers and toss them into the garbage.
Mining is not necessarily a visible activity. Minerals can be invisibly extracted from soils without replenishment, or soils can be poisoned with highly toxic pesticides, rendering food production problematic for future generations (and in some cases, even our present generation).
On the brighter side, stewardship practices are emerging. For example, "LISA [Low-Input, Sustainable Agriculture] ... emphasizes natural farming methods instead of artificial fertilizers and pesticides.... 'There's been years where the neighbors come out ahead of me,' [Gary Young, a LISA farmer] says. 'But when you figure over a period of years, it'll take and all average out. And I've got a much better lifestyle.... I can enjoy my kids more. I sure don't need to hassle with chemicals.'" [Christian Science Monitor, 1989]
At the end of the day, cultivating (regenerative) economies have more than at the beginning of the day -- more fertility, more soil, and a brighter future for the younger generation.
Depletion and Repletion
Under present tax codes, it is possible not only to consume resources that will thereby become inaccessible to future generations, but to be rewarded for doing so. For example, the so-called "oil depletion allowance" encourages subsidies by future generations for the benefit of our own generation. Continuing to offer tax incentives rather than fees for environmental degradation is a practice with dire consequences, possibly even in our own time.
Figure 4. From Depletion to Repletion
Environmental impacts (-)<----------------+----------------->(+) Economic consequences depletion fees repletion credits $ $ v ^ | | \------------------->------------------/
As illustrated above, the political will is beginning to emerge to impose fees for depletion of natural resources which are construed to be part of our common heritage, and to create tax-related benefits for repletion. Repletion credits will obtain for use of renewable resources, for planting trees, for recycling, and the like. The logical source of funds for these credits is the fees that will be imposed for depletion of related resources.
/-------------------------------------------\ | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | \-------------------------------------------/
Figure 5. Mining on "the Street"
In the future, it is predictable that lock-in incentives will be engineered into contracts to oblige decision makers at all levels to consider the long range. Changes will be made in personal planning parameters, such as retirement benefits, to enforce consideration of the long-term in corporate planning.
We will see solar energy systems which do not draw down the storage bank of petroleum, a material which can serve many years into the future as feedstock for important chemicals if it isn't all burned up in our generation for transportation and to compensate for poorly designed buildings. Regenerative agricultural practices will help to maintain our global soil-bank account, not squander it for short term gains.
Nurture Capital -- a new paradigm for business
NURTURE CAPITAL is a way to describe the paradigm shift that is transforming business from the mode of domination to cooperation. This shift applies in the relationships between people acting together in business, and it applies to the relationship between the enterprise and its environment, broadly construed.
Numerous facets of this transformation are presented here, to enhance our understanding and enrich the terminology we use to describe our dealings with each other in business. This chapter provides an overview of key elements in the new mode of doing business.
The term "nurture capital" is used here to describe a general shift in the nature of enterprise. In this general case, nurture capital is an expression of our intention to generate integrity, and it speaks to a new standard by which we can measure our performance. In this context, the term can be applied to any business, at any stage in its own evolution.
Nurture capital contrasted with dominator capital
The old system served in a time when individual action could run its course unfettered. Business was often structured in a manner conducive to power plays, creating a predisposition to competition and conflict within the essential framework. Furthermore, because an artificial economic boundary was often formed around the firm, it was possible to discount impacts upon the environment. In contrast to nurturance, these tendencies might be called "Dominator Capital." The following table indicates some attributes that distinguish these expressions of the two alternative ways of doing business:
|Element||Dominator Capital||Nurture Capital|
|Communication||Chain of Command||Lattice-work|
|Conflict||Sue the bastards!|
|Getting to yes|
|Decisions||Golden rule: the one with the gold sets the rules||Consensus|
|Game, Name of||Profit for company||Profit for all, environment is valued|
|Game, Score of||ROI (Return on Investment)||ROI + SRI (Social Responsibility Index)|
|Performance||Bottom Line||Bottom Vector|
|Structure||Hierarchy||Recursion -- Cybernetic systems|
|Who is right?||I'm right||Everyone is right|
Show and tell (and check)
How does nurture capital management turn principles into action? In a nutshell, nurture capital eclipses the obsolete hierarchical command approach ...
/---------------------\ | | | Management | | | \---------------------/ | /---------------+---------------\ | | | | /---------------\ | | | | | | Operations | | | \---------------/
... and instead relies on the "show and tell" method of communication between management and operations:
Figure 7. Hierarchical Management and Cybernetic Management
/---------------------\ | | | Management | /--w| |s--\ | \---------------------/ | v ^ ^ Show Tell Check | | | | /---------------------\ | \-->| |>--/ | Operations | | | \---------------------/
The first step is to show (set up systems and train) personnel what to do (often more appropriate than "giving orders"). The next step is to tell operations personnel when to do it. Then management will check to verify the effectiveness of its training program. Note that the emphasis is upon verifying management's effectiveness, without condemning the worker for management errors.
In the nurture capital mode, the lines of communication go both ways. Management is called upon to make decisions based upon enriched, two-way communication with operations. And, as we shall see, management and operations both give attention to the firm's environment.
/---\ /-----------\ | | | | | E | | Management| | | | | | n | |/--------\ | | | || The Boss|| | v | |\--------/ | | | | | | i | |/--------\ | | |<-----<|Developer || | r | |\--------/ | | | | | | o | |/--------\ | | | ||Executive|| | n | |\--------/ | | | /---<| |<---\ | m | | \----------/ | | | | q | | e | | | | | | | | | | n | | | | | | |Show ----+-----------| | t | | | | | | | | | | | | Tell---------| | | | | | | | | | | | | | | Check| | | | a | | | | /-----------\ | | | | | | | | | \---<| Operations|<---/ | | | | | | | | | |<----------< | | | | | \---/ \-----------/
Unlike the hierarchical organizational structure of the past, the cybernetic model of enterprise expresses the rich linkages between various functions within the firm as well as the linkages between the firm and its environment.
Figure 8. Cybernetic Organizational Structure
Management consists of at least these three functions:
The operations unit interacts with the environment (market, regulators, and the natural world).
A new model of enterprise
As the command (hierarchical) model is superseded by the cybernetic model, we identify additional channels of communications within the firm, as indicated above. We can also explicitly depict interactions between the firm and its environment. Thus, the three major blocks are management, operations, and environment, with communication linkages between each of these blocks.
Consensus decision making
While emphasis is placed upon occasional public voting in a democracy, decisions are made daily in business, often with far greater impact upon our lives. To accomplish effective decisions within the nurture capital paradigm of cooperation, new methods of decision-making are emerging. Consensus is a decision-making process that improves the quality of decisions by exploring differences until agreement is possible. The process is unitive and can be contrasted with decision making by majority vote, which can be divisive.
aha! ^ / \ / \ / \ / \ / \ / \ yes <------------ > no left <------------ > right right <------------ > wrong
aha! is the creative outcome of the consensus process. Majority rule leads to division -- majority rule polarizes. Consensus derives value from both sides of an argument to reach unity. "All voting is a sort of gaming, like chequers or backgammon, with a slight moral tinge to it, a playing with right and wrong, with moral questions; and betting naturally accompanies it. The character of the voters is not staked. I cast my vote, perchance, as I think right; but I am not vitally concerned that that right should prevail. I am willing to leave it to the majority. Its obligation, therefore, never exceeds that of expediency. Even voting for the right is doing nothing for it. It is only expressing to men feebly your desire that it should prevail. A wise man will not leave the right to the mercy of chance, nor wish it to prevail through the power of the majority." [Thoreau]
Applying the nurture capital mode of thinking involves learning to use new decision-making methods, including consensus, creativity exercises, and computerized management resource centers. These will be considered in more detail in the section on management.
Recent scientific development
Our social and political machinery is deeply influenced by scientific thought. To a considerable extent, popular science and business practice are still grounded in Newtonian physics. This is understandable: we can readily appreciate the enormous value that Newton's discoveries brought to our culture -- the ability to predict and therefore design systems with incredible accuracy, even sufficient to explore the moon.
We can also appreciate the profound impact of other scientific truths which emerged in the 19th century (thermodynamics) and the twentieth century (relativity, uncertainty). These discoveries formed the basis for the industrial revolution and the nuclear age, respectively. They also illuminated the limitations to Newtonian physics, but these limitations are only now beginning to find their way into common business practice. Attempts to rationalize inherently chaotic situations will continue to thwart management. With reassurance from modern science, we can now avoid suffering from the delusion of predictability:
"Chaotic nonlinear dynamics is a vigorous, rapidly expanding field. Many important future applications are to be expected in a variety of areas. In addition to its practical aspects, the field also has fundamental implications. According to Laplace, determination of the future depends only on the present state. Chaos adds a basic new aspect to this rule: small error in our knowledge can grow exponentially with time, thus making the long-term prediction of the future impossible." [Grebogi, Ott, Yorke]
The weatherman knows this. And leaders in business have not missed the fundamental truth either. Evidence of such a profound transformation is reflected in the title and content of Tom Peters' new book, Thriving on Chaos.
The sciences of thermodynamics and cybernetics reveal much about the changing nature of the world and thereby the management systems we use to handle complexity. Such scientific findings help us to use nurture capital principles more effectively. (More information is included in the appendices.)
What does a nurture capitalist do?
In the context of start-up businesses, one can define a "nurture capitalist" as one who works with small enterprises to enhance management capabilities. Many young small businesses are operated by a single inspired individual or a small partnership, and gaps in management are inevitable as the firm grows.
While entrepreneurs often have an amazing ability to grasp several of the primary management functions, still someone must fill the gaps they leave:
Often they rise in their field because they are very productive workers, and therefore they concentrate on operations, letting most management functions happen ad-hoc, except perhaps for the Boss function: when things need to be cleaned up at the end of the day, they stick around and finish after everyone else has left.... [In which case, the nurture capitalist provides executive and developer skills.]
Or, they may be excellent developers, with an eye to the future -- but poor at execution of detail.... [In which case, the nurture capitalist assists by formulating better channels of communication: reframing command functions in terms of resource bargaining, designing systems for stability, and designing audit procedures.]
Or, the entrepreneurs may have developed a service ten years ago. Now they have become good at the executive function, and have lost sight of the future, becoming bogged down in the here-and-now.... [In which case, the nurture capitalist assists in Development activities -- working out a pro-active business plan and directing the enterprise towards new markets and adaptations to its rapidly changing environment.]
Or, the enterprise may have capital restraints.... [In which case, a nurture capitalist plans and negotiates resource bargains with investors or lenders on behalf of the firm.]
As we explore the model of enterprise, we will consider each of these management functions and the role of the nurture capitalist in more detail.
Nurture capital symbolizes a new approach to wealth creation. It is an approach that creates value for the firm and for the society which it serves. It offers a timely challenge:
"If our economy of freedom fails to distribute wealth as ably as it has created it, the road to dictatorship will be open to any man who can persuasively promise security to all. And the marshal government, under whatever charm and phrase, will engulf the democratic world." [From The Lessons of History by Will and Ariel Durant]
How far have we come down that road to dictatorship? What can the business community do to reclaim what we have lost? This book redefines priorities and provides a language for managing those priorities.
By applying the principles of nurture capital, steps can be taken to restructure the game of business, creating and clarifying mutually supportive relationships to build a sustainable future.
"Kids are always the only future the human race has." -- William Saroyan
The above listing of problems in the schools was derived from a survey of school teachers conducted in 1940 and again in 1982. While this may not be representative of all schools in the land, this message is so powerful that little needs to be said about the deteriorated state of our culture. To the extent that this survey is the heritage of our children, they are being short-changed, in spite of the apparent affluence in the USA.
It is clear that priorities must change!
Figure 10. Employment Trends
In an encyclical of 1988, Sollicitudo Rei Socialis, Pope John Paul II speaks in anguish and confusion about the status of work in society. When seen in the context of trends emerging from the past, however, it is less mysterious. When employment and one's only legitimate access to the coin of the realm is defined in terms of labor at a work-station from 8 am to 5 pm, we limit possibilities for the future of work.
Sollicitudo Rei Socialis
"In the countries of high economic development the sources of work seem to be shrinking, and thus the opportunities for employment are decreasing....
"This..., with it negative consequences for individuals and for society, ranging from humiliation to the loss of ... self-respect,... prompts us to question seriously the type of development which has been followed....
"There is something wrong with the organization of work and employment."
[Pope John Paul II, 1988]
For example, a wealthy individual who clips coupons is esteemed for what is esesntially thoughtful management of information. Also, many legitimate and meaningful activities fall outside of the monied economy -- child-care, washing dishes, volunteer work, and gardening, to name a few. As long as the robust success of our economy is measured in terms of employment, there will be a dark side, "unemployment."
Humanity has struggled for millennia to be rid of the "curse of work." Finally we have developed the machinery to accomplish repetitive tasks and free ourselves from drudgery. Employment can now be extended to include a broadening of the base of ownership, bringing the responsibilities and rewards of stewardship to the labor force as well as those who have long specialized in managing "unearned" income.
The breakdown of the institution of employment is exacerbated by our clinging to meaningless activity. Old industries can be phased out and emphasis in economic development can be given to redefining what is important. This happens every time someone opens a new business. This is the cutting edge, and NOPEC will be equipped to encourage new definitions of meaningful business by providing start-up incubator facilities within its boundaries.
Quoting again from the 1988 encyclical of Pope John Paul II, we address the issue of housing:
Sollicitudo Rei Socialis
"The housing crisis [is] a tragic situation. Attention is focused on the millions of human beings lacking adequate housing or with no housing at all, in order to awaken everyone's conscience and to find a solution....
The lack of housing should be seen as a sign ... of a whole series of shortcomings, economic, cultural or simply human in nature."
[Pope John Paul II, 1988]
One controversial approach to meeting housing needs in highly developed countries is the relaxation of standards. This politically unpopular approach is appropriate if one assumes that federal governments will not turn attention from the military and other non-productive economic activity quickly enough to respond to the present need in the near term. As a consequence, local governments will increasingly be faced with the dilemma of choosing between allowing people to continue living on the streets or in over-crowded, old, sub-standard units -- or allowing the construction of new "sub-standard" housing which is affordable.
In this context, it is important for us to ask what "standard" means. Many housing standards were created at a time when families were typically larger than now. Furthermore, they were often created to protect markets for certain labor and industry groups to the exception of others. This practice continues to the present day. Even in the laudable arena of energy conservation, one of the authors [Swenson] directly witnessed attempts at codes favoring one supplier at the expense of others during preparation of the original energy standards for the State of California ("Title 24").
/------------------------------------------\ | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | \------------------------------------------/Figure 11. Housing Trends
While shoddy or unsafe construction is not to be condoned, there are ways to simplify housing standards -- to build small and provide for future expansion, to build open plans with fewer rooms, to eliminate garages and reduce the number of parking spaces for cars. When combined with community-wide features as advocated by the emerging co-housing movement, such options may not only be economical, they may ultimately be more useful than large, fancy houses which no one can afford and are too cumbersome to maintain.