Orientation - Where Are We Physically?
19 August 2021
A three country exploratory and current volunteer project, USA, Canada, United Kingdom, to engage youth in three cities, Washington DC, Toronto, and Oxford in a Structured Democratic Dialogue (SDD) on Rivers. The Potomac River in USA, the Humber and Don Rivers in Canada and the Thames River in the UK.
SDD and Youth and Rivers and International
The purpose of this overall project is to achieve 2 objectives.
1. To examine the science and art of developing and implementing Structured Dialogic Design, it's process, application and adoption at scale.
2. To develop and engage youth in three international cities on the topic of rivers. We will be looking for, and creating, new ways for all youth who use, are near to, are affected by, and live or work near or next to the river to engage in Structured Democratic Dialogue. The purposes are to encourage youth to:
a. appreciate the totality, the wholeness of the river and its relationship with everything and everyone around it.
b. look at how the community and youth in particular influences the river and correspondingly how the river influences the community and the youth
c. examine what controls and regulation there are imposed or concerning the river and how the river controls or regulates the behavior of the surrounding community
What is a triggering question? How do we democratically come to an agreement about a triggering questions? How to conceive of the discovery phase? How to ensure diversity and balanced representation?
From Bruce Sept 26 2021
I’ve just finished a three day conference on Local Economies prepared by the Systems Change Alliance.
This area caught my eye. I thought I would share some links..
The main website is:
Their focus on Rivers is in this link
They mentioned this bio region contains 4 watershed areas.
Here is their steps for bioregions .. (projects are part of this).
They mentioned that Donella Meadows was an inspiration to this work. I think this is their approach to integration of systems thinking into the work.
Here is their work on the doughnut
They have an overall doughnut baseline (tailored doughnut for better understanding).
And they have mini-doughnuts taking local baselines. These baselines allow progress to be measured.
I was quite impressed with the way they positioned the Citizen work along side the local government work and attempted to build bridges (metaphorically).
They also reached out to any groups within the bioregion that had similar goals. They provided a map of these groups across the whole bioregion .. over 200. This is their set of projects.
I like that projects are under the heading of ‘action learning’.
They seemed to have a role of coordination and overall tracking (much like a programme team).
They also have 7 communities of practice. Some in Scotland.
I’m now wondering if there is a similar group looking after an Oxford Doughnut??? Or a wider Thames bioregional focus (one was listed in CoP).
I’ll see if I can find anything..
Maybe we need a short stakeholder analysis to go along with the proposal.
In this virtual nature walk, James Carpenter aka Grey Cloud shares Indigenous knowledge of Rowntree Mills Park, discussing the area, the importance of community, and the story of the Birch tree. (Wig Was Tree)
Some links to documents from the UK National Ecosystem Assessment
UK NEA (unep-wcmc.org)
Meaningful Watershed Educational Experiences
Fairfax County Schools
8/13/2021 From Marcus
I found yesterday some “river health” projects in Oxford and potential contacts to follow up:
Ned Wells, co-founder of the End Sewage Pollution mid-Thames group
Oxford city councillor Linda Smith
DR KATRINA CHARLES Associate Professor and Senior Research Fellow - Chair of the Oxford Water Network
Sloane Robinson Official Fellow in Environmental Change and Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Champion, Reuben College firstname.lastname@example.org
Member of the Economy and Society: Transformations and Justice research cluster
However I also found the Oxford City Council’s Strategy for Children and Young People that I though could be of interest ( It still might provide useful contacts). The document https://www.oxford.gov.uk/downloads/download/503/children_and_young_peoples_strategy
discussed something called The River Learning Trust. I assumed that this demonstrated a commitment to the River in Oxford, only to be mortified when I realised that this is the largest collection of Private Schools in Oxford. Great that the British “ruling classes” disguise the fact that all of the best schools in Oxford are expensive, elitist and non-inclusive. Inequality between “Town and Gown” in Oxford is probably at one of the highest levels in the whole of the UK.
Should rivers have the same rights as people?
A Critical Juncture of Human History Professor of Communications at Western Washington University, USA Michael Karlberg is a professor in the Department of Communication at Western Washington University. He completed his Ph.D. in the School of Communication at Simon Fraser University in British Columbia, Canada. His research examines the struggle to create a more just and sustainable social order in an age of increasing global interdependence. Our reproductive and technological success as a species has transformed the conditions of our own existence. The defining characteristic of the age we now live in is global interdependence. Within this context, the prevailing culture of contest is proving unjust and unsustainable. In order to move beyond this culture of contest we need to debunk the myths that perpetuate it. Then we need to exercise constructive agency on three fronts: the education and empowerment of individuals, the construction of radically new institutional forms, and the development of organic modes of community life. But this constructive agency will only be effective if it is informed by a culture of purposeful and systematic learning on each of these fronts.
Original Idea summarized by Kirk 1 July 2021
Action rally around an emergenc-y of climate or other hot topics
Many topics seem crucial for youth such as indigenous reconciliation, defunding police, The OCEAN, etc. We seek to enable a constructive engagement in the framing and solution of these complex problem systems. As members interested in Structured Deliberation using system scientist and structured collaboration; we would like to be part of and help as impresarios and producers of a forum for youth dialogue that leads to action on topics of their choosing. Our hope is that such dialogues can be more productive toward action if they utilize structured deliberation and system science tools and methods.
We propose a three city, initial pilot hosted by respective museums in London, New York and Toronto as a demonstration project of this approach. We are seeking prospective youth activity coordinators and creative directors at museums in these cities to support this effort. We know that this is too nerdy of an approach to attract youth so we will have to independently manage the invitations so we can obtain broad participation of youth, indigenous, First-Nation, place-based peoples along with others not normally attracted to museums.
Key to this effort are several core assumptions:
1) An ongoing forum with and by youth should entice key topic selection and framing for later deeper collaborative deliberation.
2) Investigative journalism is crucial to avoid the collision of good intentions that is often seen as individual viewpoints collide during misunderstandings across a spectrum of diverse solutions.
3) New metaphors such as cooperation rather than conflict should be enacted during dialogue to more efficaciously value unheard voices and ways of being.
4) A humble posture of learning by all involved is the hallmark of true progress.
5) A performative art narrative will be key to attractively engaging youth.
We seek novel means of enabling youth to expand their capacity to act constructively in society for the betterment of their planet, cultures and societies. During an initial discovery process, a framing and steering group will chose a theme such as “unasked questions answered by actual climate and earth science.”
Prior work like this is inspiring and a place to build:
Our goal is to conduct parallel or perhaps conjoined forums where youth can dialogue together about issues that they care about. We hope that youth will identify issues that we can then focus upon with Structured Deliberation and other beneficial systems methods in our toolbox. We know we should not emphasize the methodologies but rather focus on action planning so that this approach is attractive to youth and others in the throes of suffering from various crises. We plan on seeking grant money to scale up across other cities and regions with the results of this proof-of-principle pilot. Our vision could include new educational curriculum, new ways of learning in action, more systemic and lifeworld pluriversal ways of engaging in grassroots key societal issues to find constructive means to beneficial action in society.
Indian River and Indian River Lagoon