(Note: This is an email I wrote to some of my new friends at Tryon. It does a good job of articulating and illustrating my current vision of how to fullfill what I am currently understanding to be my purpose in life. It's a bit rough, and all the terminology might not be totally self-explanatory, but I think you'll get the essence of the ideas and the excitment. Enjoy!)
Yesterday, as I transitioned from tryon/portland down to eugene my mind started attempting a synthesis of the ideas we've been talking about. I really like the mapping format I've been seeing y'all use. I'm going to go ahead and lay this out linearly right now though, recognizing the potential to reformat it. A'right, here's my understanding/reflection of the whole picture at this point...
Central goal: Supporting/facilitating/participating in the emergence of a "caring and sharing" socio-economic culture and infrastructure. This is happening on several levels. (For the fun of it, and for need of some method for distinction, I'm going to call the levels Mega, Midi, and Metta, which were the three age group identifications - oldest to youngest - used in the early Twin Oaks group care system. Is there a more appropriate/descript id system? I was thinking about using Mountains, Hills, and Valleys)
Mega/mountains level: These are people, groups and projects that are doing big-picture organizing, coordinating, networking, and support.
Cross polonators -
Collecting and sharing inspiring stories and ideas about best practices.
Helping groups and individuals feel a connection to the larger network and picture of what's going on.
Networking and facilitating all kinds of relationships (social, economic, material, etc.) between groups and individuals.
Anarchist HR collective(s) -
Services and trainings, manuals and development on cooperative/collective group dynamics and functioning, systems and structures (e.g. membership, labor, group decision-making, etc.), conflict resolution, developing good social ecology, etc.
(Does, or how does, coordinating/providing mental health services fit in with the HR collective idea? Another idea that I'm not sure quite where it fits is the idea of helping people "find their niche." If someone doesn't work out in one collective for logistical, interpersonal, or other reasons helping them find a group that they do fit in. And helping new-comers find the right place for themselves. Perhaps this relates to another idea, and is perhaps it's own whole area, which is the coordination of part-time labor between people who have money and want to support activists who need money.)
Financial and legal -
Collectives that offer services and trainings in these areas to cooperatives/collectives.
(Does Recode Portland fit under this, or is it a seperate project?)
(Another idea that may be at this level, or at the next level - Promotion/marketing collectives.)
(It occurs to me that as the network groups and strengthens it might be desirable to find an alternative way of dealing with "crime." I've read some interesting stuff on research being done into indigenous/tribal justice systems. It would be interesting to create a whole parallel judicial process so that we can deal with serious shit in an effective and compassionate way without having to rely on the police state.)
Midi/hills level: These groups have similar functions to mega level groups, but are more issue specific. (I don't have names to attach to all the activities that I think I've heard are happening, so I'm going to use generalized terms. Y'all can fill in what's actually happening.)
-Portland Collective Housing
-holistic healers network
-free/cheap food growing and distribution
-free/cheap clothing networks
-alternative/radical education institutions and networks
-arts and music support organizations
Metta/valleys level: All the groups and individuals who are doing the work on daily, personal levels to make up network/system, including mega and midi level groups. (Obviously with my limited experience with portland I have very little sense of the specifics here ;0)
Basic principles of this network - the values and ideals that help create a common bond, sense of purpose, and vision (this is not meant to be comprehensive, just a reflection of conversations I've been part of):
-autonomy and decentralization
-justice and sustainability (along all lines - social, economic, political, ecological, and spiritual)
-human relationships are the building blocks - institionalization and bureaucracy only as it serves this, the basic goal and is consistent with the other principles (can you tell I have some feelings here ;0)
-balancing specialization and stacking functions
-balancing the unique needs and culture of each group with an ethic of inclusiveness and accessibility
On a perhaps even larger level: Creating an comprehensive, user-friendly online system for accessing information on all of the above, all groups on all levels, services, products, events, etc. (I'm refering here to what Brush called "like craigslist only better.)
...I could fine-tune this more, but it seems like a good start and my time for the moment has run out and I want to get this out while it's still fresh to help keep me engaged with y'alls evolving process and efforts.