What People Are Doing, Ecosynomically

Over the next few posts, I will share some examples of groups that are discovering new agreements, that enable them to experience a sustainably higher level of harmonic vibrancy.  I will start with a quote.

“Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?”

“That depends a good deal on where you want to get to,” said the Cat.

“I don’t much care where–,” said Alice.

“Then it doesn’t matter which way you go,” said the Cat.

“–so long as I get somewhere,” Alice added as an explanation.

“Oh, you’re sure to do that,” said the Cat, “if you only walk long enough.”[1]

As the Cheshire Cat implied to Alice, knowing where you want to go influences the path you take.  If you expect scarcity, because that is what you see through lens #1 of “how much,” that is the path you take.  While most people see and experience scarcity as “the norm” in many aspects of their lives, there are plenty of examples of people breaking through to create abundance for themselves.  For example, a school in El Salvador has tripled the percentage of young girls entering and staying in primary school.  A community health center in Texas maintains top-hospital-level services for an increasingly uninsured population, when all other centers are cutting even basic services.  A textile mill in North Carolina pays living wages to its high-craftsmanship shop workers in an industry that has outsourced its low margin commodity products to low skilled workers in Asia.  A small town in New York has created the equivalent of hundreds of jobs by circulating millions of dollars of trade with its own local currency.  A private currency system in Japan has replaced a large percentage of expensive, hospital-based elderly care not covered by the national insurance plan, with a more effective system based on people exchanging “caring relationship” credits.  I have met many of the people involved in these activities, and I have seen how they are redefining what is possible through innovations in human agreements.  In science these outliers can give us answers for those who are not outliers.  We call them positive deviants.[2]

As I started to gain a better understanding of those innovations I was personally acquainted with, and as I gained greater clarity about the principles of Ecosynomics, I realized that thousands of groups around the world are making similar abundance-creating breakthroughs.  Looking through an “Ecosynomics lens” at existing innovations, such as Asset-based Community Development and the cooperative movement, I recognized that the groups involved in these activities have shifted from operating solely at the things-noun level to functioning effectively at both the development-verb and things-noun level.  They are making different kinds of agreements, and they have created abundance for themselves by doing so.  Similarly, I could identify groups working at the light-possibility level and see the positive results of that.  The Ecosynomics lens not only makes these innovations recognizable as moves toward abundance, but also makes it easier to see the common elements of those moves and gain understanding that will perhaps help people replicate them in other areas.

A couple of caveats about these examples: First, since these are not formal Ecosynomics experiments, I cannot tell you that I know these innovators have explicitly embraced the fundamental assumptions of abundance, or that they have stepped into the outer circle of the five primary relationships. Future Ecosynomics research may address these questions. However, because the outcomes they are achieving and the processes and structures they are using are well documented, I can show you how they are working at different levels to create greater abundance.

Second, I have not been exhaustive in searching out existing innovations, although I am sure there are many being documented in fields I do not even know about.  The point is, if I have found a handful of innovations involving thousands of groups, it is safe to say there must be many thousands more out there than I will share with you here. This is not, in other words, an isolated experience of a few lucky people; rather it is a broad-based phenomenon from which many are benefiting.

[1] Lewis Carroll wrote this conversation between Alice and the Cheshire Cat in Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland (Carroll, 1904, Ch. 6).

[2]Positive deviants” are people who do something very different from others, and their deviant behavior leads to very positive outcomes, thus they are positive deviants from the norm.  This term was popularized by researchers at Tufts University in (Pascale, Sternin, & Sternin, 2010).



6 thoughts on “What People Are Doing, Ecosynomically

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