social critique

Transforming Institutions

Pattern ID: 
442
Pattern number within this pattern set: 
19
Brian Beaton
Keewaytinook Okimakanak
Version: 
2
Problem: 

Traditional management models used to develop and sustain institutions and their services are often based on the corporate concept of centralized and very controlled operations. They are lead by people who are often chosen for their position only because they fit easily within the institution. Institutions become focused on their own survival rather than their original and evolving missions and visions. Institutions and organizations replicate themselves through their hiring practices and competitive practices, preventing diversity and hence, innovation. Institutions become resistant to change, maintaining the belief (at least implicitly) that "who they are now is who they should remain".

Context: 

A distributed management and operational model for institutions is required to support and sustain remote and rural communities. Establishing innovation as a way of doing business to engage remote and rural communities in all regions requires an appreciation where people are employed, where they are producing valued products as well as delivering services that are an important part of the social and economic fabric of the region. In many cases, success in fulfilling the mission of an institution can actually mean the "death" or transformation of their organization. Institutions that have some specified lifespan to fulfill their mandate can either disappear or change to accommodate the next challenge that is identified from its work and services.

Discussion: 

Most institutions are positioned to deliver services from their operation center out to the region and the masses. Often, these institutions, their leaders and their corporate management models protect and maintain their existence without any regard for those they were intended to serve. Their development and sustainability strategies are built and maintained on the basic values of greed and exploitation of the people and regions they claim to serve. The exploitation and destruction of the environment, the people and rural communities is the long term result of these types of efforts by institutions.

Regional hospitals, colleges and universities are three examples of institutions that sustain their operation centers in larger urban environments. They sustain their operation by drawing people to their facilities under the myth that they will be better served if they move to these centers. The professionals who work with clients in these institutions create a level of dependency that people have grown to accept. These efforts protect their positions and create wealth for the institution while draining local and regional resources. The reality that these institutions and corporations depend on communities to supply the resources required for their existence challenges their traditional model.

The real costs of developing and sustaining centralized, concrete environments have never been incorporated into the balance sheets of the institutions. These real costs the costs to the environment, the costs of destroying forests and the earth to extract natural resources for creating man-made environments where people are "taken care of" so a few individuals can become rich and powerful. The artificial comforts that some experience as a result of these environments should reflect these real costs of producing the food and water that sustain the lives of the people who work within these institutions; the energy they consume to have these comforts; as well as the poverty that others must experience so they can be comfortable within these artificial environments. The list of “real” costs is long and requires significant research to reflect the real exchanges that occur between the different sectors of society.

Once these real costs variables are included in any true management system, institutions and governments will need to look outside their "glass bubbles" work with others to find truly sustainable and equitable solutions. Management and program developers will need to find creative strategies to accommodate, work with and sustain communities, cultures and environments that have always existed and have been struggling to survive.

Being able to look outside of their comfortable worlds to support innovation and development with their neighbors requires a new set of values and priorities. These institutional values and priorities will be different from those that are presently in place to protect and sustain artificial and temporary facilities and environments. Partnering with others, trusting other people, understanding others, respecting other environments, cultures and people are values that should become part of any modern institutional culture and environment.

This transformation will benefit the institution by creating new opportunities and relationships. But it will also probably require some short-term pain to establish long-term gains. Finding creative ways to purchase and support services and products from other groups outside of the institution also requires finding creative ways to pay the real price for these products and services. Learning how to value and respect people and environments in remote and rural communities helps create these new opportunities and relationships.

Working with existing institutions and supporting their required change is a challenge. Starting over to create new institutions is only an option when there are opportunities and support for innovative groups and organizations that are able to overcome or counter the traditional institutional management model. But for most existing institutions, the entrenched infrastructure and investments created over the years require that they remain in place.

Institutions located in most small urban centers are an integral and historical part of their environment. Over the years they have contributed jobs and significant investment in the communities where they are located. By their very nature, they will continue to exist; the question becomes, however, will they be able to make the necessary adjustments for successfully accommodating these real operational costs within their own environments?

This type of change, with its associated challenges and opportunities, requires a transformation at all levels within existing institutions. This transformative work needs to be lead by innovative thinkers and new leaders who understand and respect the impact of their institution at the local, regional, national and international levels. The global village demands this type of relationship within institutions. As these new institutions evolve from within existing institutions or as new institutions are started, the required transformations are facilitated and supported by factors and forces both within and outside the organization.

“Leaders of older organizations often selected in the past are constrained by institutional routines, and may have resources that allow them to operate in counterproductive insulation from the environment. As leaders persist, they form bonds among themselves, develop common understandings of ‘how things work,’ and select others like themselves to lead. Access to internal organizational resources can insulate them, in the short run, from environmental change. For a time, these resources may even give them the power to shape that environment – but only for a time. Changes in organizational structure that reduce leaders’ accountability to or need to mobilize resources from constituents – or changes in deliberative processes that suppress dissent – can diminish strategic capacity, even as resources grow. The strategic capacity of an organization can thus grow over time if it adjusts its leadership team to reflect environmental change, multiplies deliberative venues, remains accountable to salient constituencies, and derives resources from them.” (Ganz, 2003)

As Ganz and others note, there is a need for permeable organizations that are flexible, contain built in ‘reality checks’ and are able to accommodate and reward innovative thinking (Thomas, 2002, Tresser, 2002, Wortley, 2002, Michaelson, 2002, Brown, 2006 and Dutfield, 2006). Working with groups and constituents outside of the institution provide leadership with unique opportunities to adjust their goals and priorities. Providing appropriate reward structures for those within and outside of the institution provides the opportunity for building new relationships and collaborative development. Being able to respond to these changes and opportunities in a timely and appropriate manner requires a special team comprised of partners in development.

Solution: 

Institutions should begin to:
* develop innovative and sustainable relationships with remote and rural communities that are built upon the principles of trust, sharing, respect and strength to ensure an equitable and fair existence for all to support a sustainable, transformative institutional model.
* establish a transformative change within their environments to engage as well as effectively communicate and share with the region their products and resources. The resulting exchange becomes a model for cooperative and collaborative development across regions and elsewhere, as innovative strategies and creativity benefiting all become entrenched and commonplace in all relationships.
* Create flexible institutional management models that can adjust to the changing and evolving needs of people so everyone has the opportunity to become engaged in these transformative efforts.

Verbiage for pattern card: 

Social institutions often deliver services from their operational center out to people in distant regions. In some cases these institutions protect and maintain their existence without regard for those they were intended to serve. This results in exploitation and destruction of the environment and communities. Institutions should develop new sustainable relationships; establish transformative change; and create flexible management models.

Pattern status: 
Released

Linguistic Diversity

Pattern ID: 
407
Pattern number within this pattern set: 
16
Douglas Schuler
Public Sphere Project (CPSR)
Version: 
2
Problem: 

Over the last century, many of the world's languages have disappeared. When a language is lost, part of the world's knowledge and culture is also irrevocably lost. Beyond the losses incurred thus far, there is evidence that the trend is increasing as languages such as English, Spanish, and Swahili are displacing languages that are less prominent in the world media and language sphere. Losing humankind's linguistic diversity diminishes our collective ability to perceive and think about the world in a holistic, multi-faceted and rich way.

Context: 

Everybody who communicates with other people employs language. To a large extent, the language that we use places constraints on what — and how — we think. Everybody has a stake in promoting linguistic diversity although some people are better positioned to help.

Discussion: 

In 1992, Michael Krauss, a language professor at the University of Alaska-Fairbanks, predicted that half of the world's languages would become extinct within the next century. Although languages periodically have become extinct throughout history, the frequency of language death today is unprecedented. Krauss reported that of the 20 tongues still known to the state's indigenous people, only two of were being taught to children. A 1990 survey in Australia, cited in a article by W. Wayt Gibbs, "found that 70 of the 90 surviving Aboriginal languages were no longer used regularly by all age groups. The same was true for all but 20 of the 175 Native American languages spoken or remembered in the U.S." The "ethnologue", an Internet resource that lists over 7,000 languages currently in use worldwide, contains over 400 languages which are thought to be in imminent danger of extinction.

It may be that our everyday familiarity with language prevents us from respecting the fact that "...any language is a supreme achievement of a uniquely human collective genius, as divine and endless a mystery as a living organism," as Krauss reminds us. Linguistic diversity can be thought as analogous to biological diversity. In that vein, Krauss asks his readers, "Should we mourn the loss of Eyak or Ubykh any less than the loss of the panda or California condor?"

Many of the imperiled languages are those of indigenous people. Unfortunately for the rest of us, the world-views of indigenous people, especially in relationship to the environment, is one of the vantage points we can't afford to lose. David Crystal, writing in Language Death, states that, "Most westerners are infants in their knowledge of the environment, and how to behave towards it, compared with the indigenous peoples, for whom the environment is part of the business of survival." It's a sobering thought to ponder how much mass media may be determining what's in our "environment" and, hence, in our "knowledge of the environment." Is it true that American teenagers have 63 words for shopping?

Linguists are now employing a variety of techniques to document the world's endangered languages before they are lost forever. This usually involves field work in which a dictionary and grammar guide are produced. Often recordings are made of native speakers. But looking beyond the last-ditch "capture" of a language before it dies forever. a variety of techniques are being used to try to build back a viable language community. A program devised by Leanne Hinton acquired funding to pay both fluent indigenous speakers and younger learners.

What else can be done? David Crystal lists six factors that he believes can help resusitate an endangered language. An endangered language will progress if its speakers:

  1. increase their prestige within the dominant community
  2. increase their wealth relative to the dominant community
  3. increase their legitimate power in the eyes of the dominant community
  4. have a strong presence in the educational system
  5. can write their language down
  6. can make use of electronic technology

Hans-Jurgen Sasse believes that "collective doubts about the usefullness of language loyalty" among the speakers of a language can presage its demise. The speakers themselves can of course strive to maintain their language. The world outside of that language community can play a role by respecting linguistic diversity, often by dropping prejudices and a bias for monolingualism. David Crystal believes that this bias is, at least to some degree, a product of colonialism, that is now being promoted by economics. When bilingualism flourishes, speakers can participate in the world beyond their language community intellectually and commercially while maintaining their own community, identity and heritage.

As with other thorny problems, no single answer exists. Solutions that work in some places have no effects in others. Education of one sort or another will play a large role in language maintenance; the language must be passed on from older to younger generations. Artistic and other forms of cultural expression can serve as an outlet for creative impulses that can also be enjoyed by the world beyond their community.

Introductory graphic, "Endangered Languages of North America," is from the web site, http://www.si.edu/i+d/lang.big.html

Solution: 

Due to their particular knowledge and expertise, linguists are often at the forefront of the struggle for linguistic diversity. It was linguists who first alerted us to these issues and have helped develop methods to archive linguistic resources. Non-linguists have important roles to play as well. We need to become aware of humankind's diminishing linguistic diversity and work to preserve and enhance it.

Verbiage for pattern card: 

Over the last century, many of the world's languages have disappeared. When a language is lost, part of the world's knowledge and culture is lost. Losing our Linguistic Diversity diminishes our ability to perceive and think about the world in a multi-faceted and rich way. Due to their knowledge and expertise, linguists are at the forefront of the struggle for Linguistic Diversity. All of us, however, have important roles in preserving and enhancing Linguistic Diversity.

Pattern status: 
Released
Information about introductory graphic: 
http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/a/aa/Early_Localization_Native_Americans_USA.jpg

Back to the Roots

Pattern ID: 
877
Pattern number within this pattern set: 
13
Douglas Schuler
Public Sphere Project (CPSR)
Version: 
2
Problem: 

Humankind has developed incredibly complex intellectual, cultural, physical, and technological artifacts over the years. This has put a wide chasm between our present status and our "roots" where we all were closer to nature, closer to the source and sustenance of our lives.

Context: 

These are some of the "roots" that all humankind shares: Fire and the hearth. Running water, bubbling or still water. Ice and steam. The sea and the ancient life within it. The sun, moon, stars, comets and planets. Soil, mud, sand, rocks. Mountains, caves, dunes, swamps. Plant — huge trees, alpine flowers, cactus and lichen — and animal life — frogs, monkeys, lemurs, spiders, rats, ants, bats, mosquitoes, cassowaries, camels, penguins and pigs. Hunger, food, nourishment, thirst, cells, the body, the rhythms and phases of life. the family; culture, music, art, and stories. Love, knowledge, wonder, mystery, language. perception. We can't foreswear them because they are part of us.

Discussion: 

In A Pattern Language, Alexander and his colleagues described three patterns devoted specifically to water — ACCESS TO WATER (25), POOLS AND STREAMS (64), and STILL WATER (71) — as well as SACRED SITES (24) and TREE PLACES (171). Yet, according in a review of Alexander's work in a Harvard Design Magazine review Saunders faults Alexander’'s "New Age flower-child wistfulness" when Alexander speaks of the health benefits that are associated with a deeper connection with nature.

In cities and in developed areas around the world generally many of humankind’s “roots” are barely visible. In the U.S., for example, only 2% of people who live in rural areas are engaged in farming. Even more astounding is the fact that "rural" is no longer rural: a large percentage of rural dwellers live within 25 miles of a city. But far from being a nostalgic look back, discovering, cultivating and building on our “radical center” can be a wellspring for creative preparations for the future.

We are learning the hard way that "estrangement from the animate earth has negative consequences for human functioning" (Barlett, 2005) and people are making strides towards a closer touch. City dwellers are now demanding “Pea patches” and other urban gardening opportunities. People are learning the value of having plants close by when, for example, convalescing from disease, operation or abuse (Tesh, ____). In South Central Los Angeles, in an economically disadvantaged part of the city close to the scene of the Rodney King riots of 1992, 14 acres of land that were destined to become home for a giant trash-to-energy incinerator was purchased by the city through eminent domain for $4.8 million. Through a series of events, the city granted temporary use of the land for community gardens that turned into 12 years and the 350 families have cultivated the urban farm since that day. In 2006, in spite of large public demonstations, the farm, lungs for the city in a car-centric metropolis, was reclaimed by the city to be sold back to the original owner. The land will be used for light manufacturing or warehouses.

In the introduction to her excellent book (2005) Peggy Barlett recounts many of the ways through which we have lost or nearly lost our connections to our roots — and the possible perils that such losses may engender. She also shows how the benefits from reconnecting spread in unexpected ways: "As volunteers clean up a trash-filled urban stream, for example, they absorb a new concept of watershed. They learn that parking lots, driveways, and lawn chemicals affect water quality and stream insect life. People who might have never thought about mayflies or runoff water temperature develop a new relationship to the stream ecosystem and indicators of its health (Barlett, 2002). Concerns about urban air quality also draw attention to the ecological matrix of life. Trees provide "services" by removing air pollutants, retaining storm water, cooling temperatures, and providing habit and food for other species. Restoration work of prairies and forests builds attachment to the natural world in a more grounded local way than a more diffuse embrace of nature in the abstract (Light and Higgs, 1997). According to Barlett, "Modern cities make distance from nature possible for a larger group than in the past." She also raises the idea that "Urban place is a locale as well for the enactment of human hierarchy. Distance from the natural world may be connected to power over the lower classes and their labor." Certainly the arts, the priesthood, the seats of governmet, and the banks are found in cities.

One intriguing concept is how our very thought patterns — our abstractions, human-centrism, and economic calculations — may exclude nature and our roots. Barlett, for examples, shows how anthropology, sociology and the other social sciences exclude humankind's connections with other life forms, natural phenomenon and own past. Of course from a capitalist perspective, nature has "value" only when it has a "price" and potential for profit. Unfortunately many people find themselves "priced-out" of their own land and their own culture legacy. Access to unexploited and unspoiled nature, our common roots is increasingly the domain of the wealthy. The most dangerous of these tendencies, however, may be that we forget our own history as a part and product of nature and hence our ability to reformulate a more harmonious connection with nature.

How are we supposed to employ this pattern? For most of humankind's progress through the centuries nature was abundant and humankind scarce. Nature was something that could be "conquered." Some of the world's religions informed us that God intended us to have "dominion" over nature. We can't really "go back" to the primeval time of our "roots" — nor would we want to. We will not and can not abandon our cities and "return" to a state of nature. But at the same time we must boldly explore the idea of living in some sort of closer harmony with nature and the forces of life that we implicitly think we can ignore.

Yet for the timelessness and presumed innocence of our roots, immense damage has been wrought over time "in the name of" roots: blood, tradition, purity, the soil. We know that people from the city are not "better" than people from the country. We also know that the reverse is not true; for actually many people in the country have also lost their feel for nature. We don't invoke the idea of "roots" to pit one group against another but to relate the two in common bonds.

Barlett believes that "there are unanticipated benefits to collective and individual well-being with the reconnection to the natural world, an often-neglected dimension of the emerging paradigm shift toward a more sustainable society" and "part of a shifting paradigm that locates humankind within the biosphere." Thinking holistically we can imagine and create new opportunities for reconnecting with our roots that have unxpected benefits: "a community garden in New York City may replace an abandoned lot and come to be a social focus for many who live nearby." Barlett again, "Community gardens not only provide nutritious food and conviviality with neighbors, but can build a different sense of self through a new awareness of growing cycles, weather and human agency."

For example, South Central Farmers and their current struggle to maintain the urban farm land.

Solution: 

Barlett presents "several layers of connections to nature" including knowledge; emerging emotional attachment; purposeful action; new personal choices and ethical action and commitments to political action. The plants that we eat of course have literal roots that climb backwards, down through the soil, searching for nutrients. Humankind’s roots also reach back through time and space and are likewise eternal.

Verbiage for pattern card: 

Humankind has altered the world socially and materially incredibly over the years. This has created a chasm between our present status and our "roots" which are closer to nature and closer to the source and sustenance of our lives. Going Back to the Roots is not intended to be a nostalgic trip: discovering, cultivating and building on our “radical center” can be a wellspring for creative preparations for the future.

Pattern status: 
Released

Working Class Consciousness

Pattern ID: 
751
Pattern number within this pattern set: 
12
Steve Zeltzer
Labor Video Project
Version: 
2
Problem: 

The need for a global consciousness, solidarity and collaboration among working people in every country of the world is a critical task for confronting the economic, political and social challenges the working class faces. The deepening contradictions of imperialism with it's war in Iraq and the need to militarize Asia and the rest of the world are opportunities for bringing working people together.

Context: 

The man made failure of the most recent catastrophe in the US Gulf Coast is an example of the need of working people to take control of their lives and society.

Discussion: 

One important tool in this process of international working class globalization is not only by joint collective action by workers throughout the world but through the use of film, art and media technology to bring working people together.

The training of workers in every industry and every country for this work is the task ahead and the success of this project requires that this be an international campaign based on the grassroots of struggle in collaboration both with regional, national and international labor. The Labortech and Labor Media conferences www.labortech2004.org in many countries of the world have been important in training and building these international links. They have taken place in Vancouver, BC, Moscow, Russia, Seoul, Korea and many cities in the United States.

In the US and Europe and growing parts of Asia, these resources are readily available but at the same time workers in every country of the world must have the means and ability to concretely link up internationally. The developments of LaborNets in Japan, Korea, Austria, Germany, Turkey, Denmark and the US have been a growing vehicle for developing labor festivals and labor technology conferences.

LaborFests or Labor Media Conferences have been held in Japan, Korea, the US, Russia. This past November, a LaborFest was held in Buenos Aries and one is planned this coming October in El Alto, Bolivia and in April-May 2006 in Istanbul and Ankara, Turkey.

These festivals which could be held in every city of the world provide a venue and concrete means for linking through film, music and culture the collective experiences and consciousness of workers throughout the world. The rebellions of workers in Latin America, the fight against capitalist globalization have been a theme that expose the commonality of all the attacks the working class faces.

The important need to use media both tv and radio to link workers around the world is also growing. The same economic policies such as deregulation, caualization, privatization and de-unionization are at work in every country of the world.

The failure of the workers in the United States to begin to challenge the basic assaults that they face is of course the responsibility of the corporate unionists who control the resources and apparatus of the trade unions. The failure to provide a concrete alternative program and agenda is a major impediment to any form of national and international fightback. The need for an international collaboration is also connected to develop the means for the international working class to take control of their destiny. Airline workers world wide, longshore workers, medical workers, teachers, public workers, telecommunication workers are faced with the exact same type of attacks yet they have been hobbled by a lack of international collaboration and collective joint action.

The experience of the Liverpool Dockers strike in 1995 that led to the formation of an international labor action in solidarity as well as a web based international solidarity campaign was crucial in building international support.
http://www.labournet.net/sept97/sfpress1.html

This was carried on in 1997 when the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions KCTU and their supporters established an international web page in support of their general strike. The web page in Korean and English became a critical tool in building direct support action for workers around the world as well as an information portal on the struggle and a way for unions and workers worldwide to show their solidarity on the web.

The Korean union federation KCTU has been the most active national union federation in the world to seek collective cultural action and direct labor action to defend it's interests. It has recently called for a national strike against casualization and temporary work on November 23, 2005 and international action by workers throughout the world would be an important step in building this collective action about an issue that effects and harms working people worldwide.

The KCTU also hosts and organizes a yearly festival in November 12 in commemoration of the death of labor organizer Chun Taeil to not only have a mass mobilization but a national 8 hour cultural media art celebration. This even which is held at the Korean Broadcasting Company Stadium brings together the experiences of the working class through a cultural and theatrical production that is choreographed to the minute over 8 hours. Such a festival could and should be held in every country that ties together the song, poetry, music and art of struggle. The power of this collective expression is an important element in breaking down the corporatized isolation, marginalization of workers and humanity as well as the commodification of music, art and cultural expressions for profit of the multi-nationals.

The growing privatization of the internet and the threat to censorship and control of the internet has been growing. In the Liverpool dockers strike, the shipping corporations tried to stop information from being posted. In Korea, the government sought to pressurize www.nodong.net, the Geman government this year raided the internet servers of the German labornet www.labournet.de. Most recently the Canadian Telus Corporation prevented million of users from accessing the labor web pages of the Canadian Telecom Union TWU. (http://www.nytimes.com/2005/08/01/business/worldbusiness/01telus.html?pa...)

This censorship does not only come from corporate and anti-union media and technology corporations.
In the UK, the Executive Council of the FBU banned members from using the public website of an opposition grouping opposing labor management collaboration and "partnerships". (http://www.labournet.net/sept97/sfpress1.html)

The international collective voices of working people have the power to overcome the different languages, cultures and borders that presently exist. In fact, this is crucial for a new renaissance of collective self consciousness that is vital for the transformation of the present dynamics. The future reorganization of the world economy into one controlled by the working class requires the use of these tools now to build this collective and democratic power.

The use of the internet as not only a communication tool but broadcasting tool is relatively at an early stage. A 24 hour labor video and radio channel in all the languages of the world is realizable with the expansion of the internet and this is now happening with a 24 hour labor radio channel in Korea at www.nodong.org International collaboration in action and on a cultural level must be linked with the use of communication technology and a labor media strategy that focuses on how these technologies can empower the working class and farmers as well as how they can confront the global propaganda blitz by capitalist media against the interests of the people.

Solution: 

The international collective voices of working people have the power to overcome the different languages, cultures and borders that presently exist. In fact, this is crucial for a new renaissance of collective self consciousness that is vital for the transformation of the present dynamics. The future reorganization of the world economy into one controlled by the working class requires the use of these tools now to build this collective and democratic power. The need to defend democratic communication rights and protections is fundamental to defend media and democratic communication and education and direct action are necessary to accomplish this work.

Verbiage for pattern card: 

Global consciousness, solidarity, and collaboration among working people around the world are critical for addressing the challenges that the working class faces. One important tool in addition to collective action is the use of film, art, and media technology. The training of workers for this work requires an international campaign in collaboration with labor at all levels. The need to defend communication rights and protections is fundamental, as is education and direct action.

Pattern status: 
Released

Memory and Responsibility

Pattern ID: 
405
Pattern number within this pattern set: 
11
Douglas Schuler
Public Sphere Project (CPSR)
Version: 
2
Problem: 

Although the evils of the past continue to haunt us in the present, society is often unable — or unwilling — to deal with historical injustice. Thus, although specific incidents of invasion, slavery, apartheid and genocide may appear to be receding into the irretrievable past, they are never altogether absent from humankind's collective memories. As Robert Putnam states, "Networks of civic engagement embody past success at collaboration which can serve as a cultural template for future collaboration" (2000). Unfortunately these cultural "templates" encode past collaborative evils of the past, as well, and these are recycled all too regularly. Can humankind escape this cycle?

Context: 

Societies are the sum total of their past events. The events of the past that have not been successfully reconciled haunt the present. Projects that endeavor to help address social problems may be well served by examining historical memory and reconsidering how to respond appropriately.

Discussion: 

Our memory of the past must guide the responsibility we accept in the present for the future. Without this linkage over time I could steal your belongings with no guilt or responsibility. Of course this has happened on a large scale throughout history. One group will murder, displace or enslave another and enjoy the fruits of their sins for lifetimes. Each passing day tends to legitimize — but never really erase — the misdeeds of history.

Unfortunately, misremembering history, is institutionalized. It's important to understand the motivation and the implications of intentional (let alone unintentional!) misrepresentation of history. Thus in the United States, the enslavement of Africans and the devastation of Native American communities as well as the militaristic forays of recent years including saturation bombing of civilian Japanese populations in World War II to the catastrophic Viet Nam War to the recent illegal invasion of Iraq are generally downplayed and sugar-coated. According to these re-writers of history, Americans always proceed with the best of intentions, perhaps marked by an occasional yet guileless misstep. With ubiquitous misinformation how can the next generation fully understand their country — with its successes as well as its failures — and make wise decisions in the future? Howard Zinn's People's History of the United States serves as an important (though still vastly underutilized) counter-balance to these trends and could also serve as an excellent model for other countries and regions as well as for various economic, political, and religious ideologies.

What can/should people to be done to reconcile past sins and heal historical trauma? Although this question has rarely been addressed peacefully, thoughtfully and effectively throughout humankind's vast history, the large number of projects now in progress shows one hopeful sign of our era. According to Richard Falk, the Holocaust perpetrated by Nazi Germany, and directed against Jews primarily as well as against the Roma, Gays, and other groups, marked a central historical marker in this regard. Since that time, movements for redress of war crimes of Japan against China, redress for indigenous people throughout the world, and tribunals and commissions focusing on war crimes and other transgressions have been launched.

People are engaging in innovative projects that help people confront and understand and, hopefully, reconcile the present and future. Some of these examples include the courageous work of the Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo who publicly confront the abuse of power with photographs of "the disappeared" from Argentina's "dirty war" to seek justice and reconciliation with the past. Other examples to explore include the Seder ritual celebrated by Jews around the world, the post-war efforts in Germany to come to terms with their past, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission work in post-apartheid South Africa (and subsequently in many other regions), and the reparations efforts to help compensate African-Americans for the enslavement of their ancestors.

In 2000, the North Carolina General Assembly commissioned a report on an event that had been covered up for over 100 years — a violent revolt and coup in 1898 that was directed against blacks by white vigilantes in Wilmington, North Carolina. Unwilling to wait until the results of the (fixed) election took effect according to law, white supremacists seized city government, burned black-owned businesses and murdered 100 or more blacks in the streets and in their houses. According to John DeSantis, the draft report released in 2005 concluded that "the rioting and coup fully ended black participation in local government until the civil rights era, and was a catalyst for the development of Jim Crow laws in North Carolina" (2006). The report stated that, "Because Wilmington rioters were able to murder blacks in daylight and overthrow Republican government without penalty or federal intervention, everyone in the state, regardless of race, knew that the white supremacy campaign was victorious on all fronts" (DeSantis, 2006).

Not only did this event disenfranchise several generations of black families in the Wilmington area but it actually ushered in a wave of similar actions and intimidation all over the South and became a model for actions in other cities including Atlanta, Georgia in 2006. Interestingly, whites and blacks were both wary of bringing this ugly historical incident back to public visibility and awareness. But what to do with the knowledge that a large number of people were brutalized and murdered (which led to a decades-long denial of basic civil rights) by a large number of people whose great grandchildren are undoubtedly still living in the region. The fact that this historical information has been sequestered for so long, especially in a region of the country that is well-known for its interest in history shows the prevalence of selective historical memory — which in itself represents many challenges for an exercise such as this.

The function of collective memory should promote healing, to set up patterns of behavior that constructively parses history to avoid future problems and to teach each other through mistakes. The intent is not to blame or punish the descendants of people who perpetuated misdeeds both great and small — after all, who if anybody would be immune to that historical ensnarement — but to encourage people to reason together and strive for reconciliation. Ideally the descendants, especially those who have prospered since that time, would play a role in the design of mechanisms and policies to atone for and help reconcile and help redress the sins of the past especially for those who have suffered the most.

In another region and in another era, Veran Matic (2004) eloquently described the rationale why the B92 radio station he works for in Serbia, in the former Yugoslavia, keeps working the way they do.

"If we do not grasp our recent past, we will build our present and our future on false assumptions, beliefs and stereotypes

If we do not face the errors of our past we will again seek excuses for our present in the same place Milosevic sought them — the guilt of others, global conspiracy and so on, rather than in the weaknesses of the society. These weaknesses must be faced in order to understand reality

If we do not fully comprehend our reality, reform programs will be based on false premises

The problems of the repressed past will boomerang, like the permanent problem of lack of cooperation with the Hague Tribunal, or the problem of mafia and police links, or problems with the business elite who amassed their wealth through privileges granted by Milosevic.

Without a radical break with the past there will be no change in the cultural model under Milosevic, which has overwhelmed the entire society, from culture, through education, to the media.

Unless we face the past, we will never know what is good for us and what is bad for us

By not facing the past, we neglect our duty to the future, leaving new generations to pay our debts, just as our generations have paid for the repression of the past of World War II in our country. This gave rise to new vengeance forty years later

And, finally, without engagement we will be unable to demonstrate authentic belief and strong will to institute changes that should benefit every single individual."

"Forgetting" the past is not desirable, nor in reality is it really possible. Although Matic is speaking specifically about recent injustice in the former Yugoslavia, his message is universal. Through hard work by all concerned, healing historical wounds can be accomplished. Although it may seem impossible, those who have inherited the results of yesterday's actions must relive insofar as it can be done, the past sacrificing as necessary to set a more just course for the future.

The best outcome of this pattern, a valuable gift to our descendants, would be the attenuation or, better, the cessation of current practices of brutality, exploitation, impoverishment and oppression.

Solution: 

Think about and confront memory in creative, productive and sensitive ways. Cultivate and assume responsibility. Actively work to reconcile the trauma of the past to guide a better tomorrow.

Verbiage for pattern card: 

Although the evils of the past continue to haunt us in the present, society is often unable or unwilling to deal with historical injustice. The function of Memory and Responsibility is to promote healing, to study history to avoid future problems. The intent is not to blame or punish but to encourage people to reason together and strive for reconciliation.

Pattern status: 
Released

Collective Decision-Making

Pattern ID: 
526
Pattern number within this pattern set: 
10
Valerie Brown
Australian National University
Version: 
2
Problem: 

Divided decision-making underlies the disrupted personal relationships, fragmented communities, atomized specializations, and compartmentalized organizations which have become standard in Western society. A potential antidote, a united holistic focus, is rejected as impractical. Yet to resolve any serious issue in any community for the long-term, the collective voices of individuals, community, experts and organisations working towards a shared goal, are required for a harmonious response to the disrupted social and natural environments of our time.

Context: 

At both global and local scales, major changes in the world

Discussion: 

Case studies of the different knowledge cultures involved in Western decision-making provided details of the ways decisions are made about the future. Individuals reflect on their own lived experience. Communities provide first-hand knowledge of the effects of change. Specialized knowledge is objective and reliable, within single frameworks. Organizational knowledge offers the political and administrative systems that can ensure the desired change. Holistic knowledge illuminates the essence or core purpose. Yet all of these are needed for mutual decisions towards a healthy, just and sustainable future (Brown 2006). Each knowledge culture was found to reject the contributions of the others. Individual knowledge is dismissed as anecdote, community knowledge as gossip, specialist knowledge as jargon, organisational knowledge as plotting, and holistic knowledge as airy-fairy. Yet all five knowledge cultures have to learn to accept each other's contribution if there is to be a constructive synthesis. A sustainable synthesis calls for commitment to respecting their individual contributions while strengthening their connections. This represents a fundamental change in the way we think. Tools found to assist in this transformational change include David Bohm's Rules of Dialogue, namely, maintain open communication, suspend judgment, separate inquiry and advocacy, clarify assumptions, listen to yourself, and remain open to the unexpected Bohm 1996). Concerted change requires all the knowledge cultures to join in the stages of open learning, as described by David Kolb: developing principles, defining parameters, designing for potential and doing and reviewing the new practice (Keen, Brown, and Dyball 2005). These suggested strategies for collective thinking were tested in three sites: an isolated desert town wanting a green town park, a tightly-packed beach-side suburb needing to control oceans of tourist waste, and an Indigenous community wishing to become self-supporting. Three years later, all had achieved their goals and established pathways for collective thinking.

Solution: 

Collective decision-making towards a humane sustainable future requires the following: 1. Commitment to synthesis: Individuals, community, specialists, and organisations reach a shared understanding on . 2. Collective learning: The knowledge cultures learn from one another, following the stages of Kolb's open learning cycle, . 3. Future-direction.: All parties work towards a shared ideal state. 4. Dialogue: All participants use Bohm’s rules of dialogue in all communication.

Verbiage for pattern card: 

Divided decision making can disrupt personal relationships, fragment communities, and compartmentalize organizations. Resolving serious issues in communities for the long term, requires the collective voices of individuals, experts, organizations and creative thinkers. To work together constructively, people from diverse knowledge cultures need to accept the legitimacy of people from others. 

Pattern status: 
Released
Information about introductory graphic: 
An ESAF 'Sangam' Meeting in progress in Kerala; jaimoan67. Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.

Matrifocal Orientation

Pattern ID: 
617
Pattern number within this pattern set: 
9
Lori Blewett
The Evergreen State College
Version: 
2
Problem: 

Because almost all contemporary societies are androcentric (male-centered), women's needs, interests, ideas, and perspectives on the world are often ignored or trivialized. Androcentrism perpetuates a patriarchal system that oppresses women and severely constrains (and damages) men's lives as well. An orientation toward social change that gives voice to women's perspectives and strives to replace patriarchy with an egalitarian, matrifocal society would go a long way toward creating a just and peaceful world for all.

Context: 

Although societies differ in the degree and form which male dominance takes, male privilege is generally maintained through systems of beliefs, laws, discriminatory practices, and cultural norms (including direct or indirect perpetuation of male violence). Patriarchy concentrates social, political, and economic power in the hands of men at the expense of women. Because gender oppression is ancient and insidious, a conscious effort is needed to recognize the gendered dimensions of social problems. Looking at the world with a matrifocal orientation can help create contexts in which women-centered analyses of social problems are fully incorporated into problem-solving processes.

Discussion: 

A matrifocal orientation to social change draws directly on women’s experience and knowledge and puts the needs of oppressed women at the center of social transformation. Matrifocal societies, real and imagined, do not challenge patriarchy by offering its mirror image--with women in positions of dominance over men. Rather, they embrace values traditionally seen as feminine: peace, nurturance, cooperation, and care for those most in need. A matrifocal society is one in which dominance over others is not supported (neither as an individual or collective goal). The needs and contributions of women are valued equally with those of men. Women’s interests are not special interests but human interests. Social distinctions between males and females may be minimized [depending on the culture], and those biological/social differences that remain do not inhibit women’s full participation in the society. A matrifocal orientation to social change recognizes that “the rising of the women means the rising of the [human] race” (1).

The need for women’s voices to be heard in order for society to become more just, has been recognized by progressive social reformers for centuries (and probably longer). This awareness led to the development of women-centered movements throughout the world. As a social/political orientation, the Matrifocus pattern is reflected in both feminist organizing in first world nations and community-centered women’s organizing in Third world nations. Historically, many Third World women’s organizations have been concerned with conditions of economic hardship, displacement, and state-sponsored violence affecting their communities as a whole, while first world feminist groups have focused more exclusively on women’s social and political rights. In recent decades the issue of violence against women has been a common theme of transnational women organizing (2). Regardless of the issue, whenever women organize with the goal of creating a more just and sustainable society, they are endeavoring to insert their voices and their perspectives into the public debate. By doing so, they are subverting the androcentric norm of male power and female silence.

Las Madres de Plaza de Mayo, for example, were able to subvert androcentric norms after initially making use of them. The simultaneous cultural respect for motherhood and perceived political irrelevance of women, allowed Las Madres de Plaza de Mayo to protest relatively unhindered at a time when public demonstrations were officially illegal in Argentina. By also making themselves visible beyond national borders, Las Madres fostered a successful international advocacy network to pressured government investigation into state sponsored murders during the Pinochet regime. The powerful example of Argentinean mothers refusing to be silent has inspired other women’s groups, such as Women in Black in Israel and elsewhere, to stand out publicly against state sponsored violence.

Not surprisingly, many organizations that can be described as having a matrifocal orientation have been “women’s” organizations. But this is not required by the pattern. Labor groups reflect a matrifocal orientation when they strive for gender equity policies, family leave policies, the right to organize in traditionally female occupations, and increased female union leadership. Anti-globalization groups demonstrate a matrifocal orientation when they recognize the significant impact of trade policies on women, and when they give voice to women’s knowledge as farmers, workers, parents, and preservers of culture. Environmental groups like the Chipko movement in India or EcoFeminists in the U.S. reflect a matrifocal orientation when they draw upon and amplify the voices of women, highlight reproductive issues as environmental issues, and speak with reference to the future of all children on the planet.

Regardless of whether a group consists of men or women or both, having a matrifocal orientation means that people ask, “How is the problem we perceive exacerbated by patriarchy, and how has our way of responding to it been limited by patriarchal thinking?" Resisting androcentric norms by putting women’s perspectives in the center, rather than the periphery, of social debates is a first step toward undermining patriarchy and the social ills it perpetuates.

One problem with the Matrifocal pattern is its potential to reinforce male-female dichotomies. Whenever people speak up for traditionally “feminine” goals and values—particularly when they use the role of motherhood for political leverage--they run the risk of reifying patriarchal beliefs about the essential nature of women. Many reactionary movements have argued that their goals and strategies are in the best interests of women, and female voices are often used to promote these messages. Many western feminists, for example, have been hesitant to organize under the banner of motherhood not only because many women chose not to be mothers, but also because such representations may inadvertently bolster the idea that motherhood is women’s single most important function in society. Activist who use a matrifocal orientation must be careful to distinguish between biological femaleness and matrifocal goals. There are many males that value peace, nurturance, care for those in needs, collaborative problem solving, and an end to reward-oriented hierarchies. There are also many females that are not interested in creating a just society and prefer to amass what benefits they can within the current social order; some fully support patriarchy. Matrifocal is not synonymous with female or maternal.

A second problem with a matrifocal orientation is the misperception that everyone who adopts it will, or should, agree on particular social goals and political strategies. They wont. What is shared by people who adopt a matrifocal orientation is a consciousness that overcoming problems of violence, economic oppression, and gender oppression, requires replacing patriarchy with an alternative social order, and that increasing women’s participation in the public sphere is one step in such a transformation.

Solution: 

A matrifocal orientation keeps the system of patriarchy visible so that alternatives can be imagined and created.

Verbiage for pattern card: 

Because almost all societies are male centered, women’s needs, interests, ideas, and perspectives are often ignored or trivialized. Matrifocal communities are organized around values traditionally seen as “feminine” such as peace, nurturance, cooperation, and care for others. A Matrifocal Orientation that gives voice to women’s perspectives would help promote a just and peaceful world for all. Women’s interests are not special interests, but human interests.

Pattern status: 
Released

Social Responsibility

Pattern ID: 
875
Pattern number within this pattern set: 
8
Stewart Dutfield
Marist College
Burl Humana
Kenneth Gillgren
Gillgren Communication Services, Inc.
Version: 
2
Problem: 

Things don’t get better by themselves. Without purposeful intervention, organizations of all kinds lose sight of their social responsibilities.

Context: 

Any organization that sees itself without social responsibility will change only in the face of financial penalty or purposeful intervention. Where social benefits form all or part of an organization’s purpose, this alone does not guarantee positive achievements. Any organization with a shared vision of social responsibility, whether a for-profit corporation or a not-for-profit group working for the public good, needs to deliver what it promises. A passion for principles drives the efforts of individuals and citizen groups to make corporations, professions and governments more responsive; the more open and accountable they are, the more responsive they will become.

Discussion: 

The striving for social responsibility takes many forms. Grameen Bank (www.grameen-info.org) and its founder, Muhammad Yunus, received the 2006 Nobel Prize for furthering peace and human rights by providing economic opportunities that conventional banks would not. Working Assets (www.workingassets.com) preassigns a portion of its revenues to activist causes. Socially responsible investing uses published criteria to recommend investment vehicles and to initiate stockholder actions in support of particular principles.

Advocacy organizations pursue a wide variety of principles. The Saltwater Institute advocates five values: (a) family and community responsibility, (b) respect and appreciation for the natural world, (c) service and stewardship, (d) the necessity for work and productivity, and (e) an intentional commitment to goodness (www.saltwater.org/our_story/beliefs.htm). Scientists for Global Responsibility (www.sgr.org.uk) opt for openness, accountability, peace, social justice and environmental sustainability, while Computer Professionals for Social Responsibility (www.cpsr.org) address technological problems in the light of technology-related principles.

Until the late 19th century, corporate charters in the United States confined a company to a specific purpose in the common good. For example, an 1823 act of the New York legislature incorporated the Delaware and Hudson Canal Company with a charter to build and maintain, with private investment, a canal between the Delaware and Hudson rivers and to charge regulated fees for the transport of coal and other goods. Any other activity by the corporation, such as setting up a bank, required an amendment to its charter (Whitford, 1905). A recent form of the socially-responsible corporate charter is the Community Interest Company ( www.cicregulator.gov.uk).

In 1970, the economist Milton Friedman wrote that "The social responsibility of business is to maximize its profits." Invoking the authority of Adam Smith to claim that society most benefits if everyone pursues selfish advantage, Friedman paved the way for some businesses to ignore the wider impacts of their pursuit of low costs, increasing sales, and big financial returns, and to consider themselves accountable only to owners and regulators. In turn, this gave rise to the tyranny of the financial bottom line; any attempt at purposeful social progress needs to overcome the myth that social progress takes place of its own accord.

Activism on behalf of principles other than self-interest or convenience is necessary to remind selfish businesses of their social responsibility, and to prevent other organizations from losing touch with theirs. This activism can take place outside the organization, in citizen groups and political platforms, or within the organization as the individual actions of the tempered radical (Meyerson, 1995) and in the form of changes to policy and governance. In these efforts, the struggle of advocacy is at least as important as the specific principles being advocated. Social responsibility does not depend upon any one principle of conduct.

To be socially responsible is to be accountable to a full range of interested parties for the achievement of clearly-stated goals. It calls for: (a) clear vision, values and strategy for a better future; (b) understanding and management of expectations; (c) actions compatible with vision and values; (d) monitoring of outcomes; (e) accountability for results; and (f) a culture and governance that makes this possible. A socially responsible organization acts on the basis of clear values, which may explicitly include measurable results, transparency and accountability (e.g. www.gfusa.org/about_us/values).

Any organization has internal and external stakeholders: customers and constituencies which both contribute to and benefit from the organization's work. For example, the Citizens Advice Bureau (2004) considers stakeholders to include potential and actual clients, volunteers, staff, partners, policy makers, and government bodies. No two of these customers of constituencies have the same expectations. A socially responsible organization makes itself accountable to stakeholders according to the unique expectations of each group, and always consistently with its values and strategy.

Accountability to stakeholders measures actual performance against predetermined goals. It does not simply describe what an organization has achieved in the past, but requires commitment to achievements in advance. To be accountable is to measure indicators of performance that affect stakeholders, and to make the results transparent—that is, to report outcomes to stakeholders as evidence that the organization is fulfilling its goals and enacting its values. One example is a set of performance indicators for microfinance institutions ( www.swwb.org/English/2000/performance_standards_in_microfinance.htm).

Any organization devoted to serving others is measured every time someone walks in or logs on—indeed, whenever anyone even drives past the building or happens upon the web site. A commitment to achieve social benefits does not absolve a not-for-profit from thinking of the people it serves as customers, and to consider its relations with them as marketing (Brinckerhoff, 2003). To clearly understand perspectives from outside the organization is a first step toward measuring and improving the organization's impact.

Social responsibility requires accountability, but for what and to whom? Several frameworks exist for measures of accountability. The Balanced Scorecard (Kaplan & Norton, 1992) suggests four linked categories: financial, customer, internal business, and innovation and learning. These categories are linked to strategy because improvement in any one will benefit all the others (except that no direct relationship is claimed between the first and the last). Epstein and Birchard (1999) propose three categories: financial, operational, and social.

A "stakeholder scorecard" (Epstein & Birchard, 1999, p. 96) uses the major stakeholders as categories of performance measures. This approach directly measures how the organization serves its stakeholders, and orients strategy towards those with an interest in the outcomes. Stakeholders may fall into predetermined categories, such as shareholders, customers, employees and communities (Epstein & Birchard, 1999); alternatively, they may simply appear as a list of specific categories of stakeholder most important to the organization.

No organization, whether for-profit or not-for-profit, is socially responsible simply by virtue of its intent to achieve social benefits. Action consistent with the organization's espoused values demands a culture—ethical assumptions, values, beliefs and behaviors—that pervades the organization from top to bottom. Without a culture of demonstrable consistency between espoused and practiced values, claims to social responsibility are at best window-dressing, and at worst a symptom of a demoralized, failing and unethical organization. By contrast, a culture of accountability makes an organization more effective and more sustainable; social responsibility demands nothing less.

Solution: 

Whether from without or within, advocate for principles to help for-profit corporations realize their social responsibility in addition to the responsibility they feel toward stockholders, and to spur not-for-profit organizations, government bodies, and professions to keep their social responsibility in view. One principle that applies everywhere is that of openness and accountability.

Verbiage for pattern card: 

Having social benefits as part of an organization's mission, does not guarantee positive achievements. Any organization with a shared vision of Social Responsibility needs to deliver what it promises. Activism on behalf of principles other than self-interest or convenience is necessary to remind organizations of their Social Responsibility, and to prevent other organizations from losing touch with theirs.

Pattern status: 
Released
Information about introductory graphic: 
Photographs in the Carol M. Highsmith Archive, Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division.

Global Citizenship

Pattern ID: 
866
Pattern number within this pattern set: 
6
Douglas Schuler
Public Sphere Project
Lori Blewett
The Evergreen State College
Version: 
2
Problem: 

Rights and responsibilities as narrowly defined by citizenship in a particular nation-state can result in an us-against-them mind-set, leading to biased interpretations of information, and even paranoia and hostility to other countries. This understanding can also be used to deny the reality or meaning of oppression and suffering in other countries and to eschew responsibility for helping to redress these problems. Citizenship also determines access to health care, education, and other rights —rights that arguably should be universal. A narrow interpretation of citizenship implicitly cedes power to national governments whose defense of national interest can sometimes be used against its own citizens who have no legal access to a ‘‘higher authority,’’ and can restrict the participation of citizens in global affairs and problem solving.

Context: 

In the waning years of the twentieth century, people worldwide increasingly began to notice the world outside their own. At the same time nation-states, facing the new realities of economic globalization, seemed to be losing their ability—as well as their interest —in promoting the welfare of their own citizens and the natural world. As John Urry (1999) stated, ‘‘More generally, global money markets, world travel, the Internet, globally recognized brands, globally organized corporations, the Rio Earth summit, ‘global celebrities’ living as global citizens and so on, all speak of modes of social experience which transcend each nation-state and its constitution of the national citizen.’’ Global climate change, natural resource depletion, economic inequity, and other vast problems that humankind now faces can be added to that list.

Discussion: 

Citizenship is generally described as the formal relationship, usually codified in law, of a person (the citizen) and a state and often is delineated in terms of rights and responsibilities. Its site has shifted from the Greek city-state, where the idea first took hold, to the modern nation-state, whose birth is linked to the 1648 Treaty of Westphalia, which established the convention that countries and its citizens do not interfere in the internal affairs of other countries.

Many nationalist political movements —the eighteenth-century American Revolution through the twentieth-century Palestinian Liberation struggle —emphasize national identity and citizenship to assert their right to self-determination and political autonomy from oppressive colonial states. But history is also rife with examples of nationalism used to oppress and remove minority, and sometimes majority, populations. At the same time, the liberal concept of citizenship based on a shared national identity offers the promise of overcoming religious and ethnic divisions. From the perspective of economically disadvantaged and oppressed subpopulations, however, the promise of inclusivity and shared interests has fallen flat.

The transnational realm of global capital in a free-market world, requires global civic response. As national laws are superseded by international treaties and trade agreements, individuals’ rights and obligations become governed by global institutions —the reality that citizens of debt-ridden nations are well aware of. The question is not whether we are global citizens. The question is what form our citizenship will take. What are our rights and responsibilities toward global governing institutions and structures. Should governing bodies be directly elected by the governed? How will the rights of the weakest be protected from the strongest in the global polity? What counts as a right? What responsibilities do global citizens have to one another?

We need to ask what types of globalization are empowering to individuals and define and construct ones likely to lead to collective problem solving. Currently there are few opportunities for people to help address shared problems. Unfortunately this lack of opportunity comes at time when many problems are global in nature and require global thinking and acting. In addition to preventing people (and their ideas and other resources) from contributing to the general welfare, narrow versions of citizenship are used to establish arbitrary categories of deservedness. Our narrow version of citizenship makes it less likely that global solutions that work for everybody are developed. The opposite, in fact, is more likely: that collective dilemmas are ‘‘resolved’’ in ways that are relatively bad for everybody—or nearly everybody.

There are two useful avenues for people to explore to make headway toward realizing this pattern. The first is to assume the role and responsibilities without seeking permission from an authoritative source; obtaining permission would of course be impossible given that no authoritative source exists that can bestow such a designation. Assuming this role means thinking—and acting—globally, adopting the perspective that the world is densely interconnected, its general health is important, and well-intentioned and well-informed citizens can play a positive role. The second is to actively work toward some formal recognition of global citizenship by, for example, helping to define and develop the intellectual and administrative scaffolding that does not currently exist. Both of these paths could be undertaken individually or through working with existing or new organizations that work in these areas.

When Diogenes, the Greek philosopher, stated that he was a citizen of the world, he was refusing, according to Martha Nussbaum (1994), ‘‘to be defined simply by his local origins and group memberships, associations central to the self-image of a conventional Greek male; he insisted on defining himself in terms of more universal aspirations and concerns.’’ But to some scholars, the nation-state is the rightful and permanent wellspring of citizenship, and alternative conceptualizations, however tentative and speculative, are damned as heretical. Michael Walzer (2002), for example, finds it difficult to contemplate the idea since ‘‘no one has ever offered me [world] citizenship, or described the naturalization process, or enlisted me in the world’s institutional structures, or given me an account of its decision procedures ( I hope they are democratic), or provided me with a list of the benefits and obligations of citizenship, or shown me the world’s calendar and the common celebrations and commemorations of its citizens.’’ As an ironic and unintended side effect of this critique, Walzer provided a useful (if overly formal) laundry list of practical objectives that proponents of global citizenship need to consider.

Ann Florini (2005) builds a case that the Internet may help create a global consciousness analogous to the nationalist consciousness that the printed word helped inspire. The printing press led to a reconciliation of regional differences and a cheaper and faster way to reach constituencies that were too remote for effective collaboration. This then played a strong role in the development of the nation-state and, hence, nation-state-based citizenship. In similar fashion, Florini surmises that a new global consciousness could help usher in broader, more inclusive notions of citizenship. And although these are more likely to be dynamic, idiosyncratic, and short-lived, new Web sites are springing into existence every day. The Internet makes it easier to learn about foreign perspectives, and although they can be as hidebound as their domestic counterparts, they help reveal the immense diversity of viewpoints on earth as well as the universality of concerns facing people everywhere.

Are there examples of de facto global citizenship? Organizations like ‘‘No person is illegal’’ and the ‘‘Without Borders’’ groups are getting closer to that ideal. Are there practical experiments that could be done now? The growth of universal declarations, supporting human rights, for example, helps explain why the time might be fairly ripe for thinking like this. The concept of global citizenship currently lacks the administrative and legalistic trappings of national citizenship. Nevertheless, from Diogenes to the present day, the pursuit and adoption of global citizenship, however demeaned and underinstitutionalized it is at present, continues to provide a compelling vision to millions of people around the world— people who are officially noted as belonging to individual, specific countries. The bottom line, however, for everybody interested in these issues is that people must think beyond the borders of the countries in which they hold citizenship.

As with other patterns in this category, the journey toward the goal will be incremental, perennial, lurching, and met by setbacks as well as successes. There are tasks for many people with a wide variety of roles and responsibilities; professionals like lawyers, think tank and NGO staff, government officials, and academics can engage with the public on these issues in addition to their more specialized and technical concerns. There are hosts of organizations and projects in which people can engage. Communication with people in other countries is especially important because this helps ensure that people realize that people in other countries are not abstract nonpersons. This, of course, represents a major hurdle: many people because of poverty, language barriers, or other reasons cannot easily engage with people outside their region.

Solution: 

Martha Nussbaum, in her 1994 discussion on the Stoics in ‘‘Patriotism and Cosmopolitanism,’’ refers to the fact that each of us dwells, in effect, in two communities: the local community of our birth and the community of human argument and aspiration that ‘‘is truly great and truly common, in which we look neither to this corner nor to that, but measure the boundaries of our nation by the sun’’ (Seneca, De Otio).

Verbiage for pattern card: 

Citizenship is the formal relationship between a person and a country and often is described in terms of rights and responsibilities. The idea has shifted over time, from Greek city-state to modern nation-state. Citizenship often determines access to health care, education, and other rights that arguably should be universal. The journey towards global citizenship will be incremental, perennial, lurching, and will be met by setbacks as well as successes.

Pattern status: 
Released

Health as a Universal Right

Pattern ID: 
870
Pattern number within this pattern set: 
5
Douglas Schuler
Public Sphere Project (CPSR)
Version: 
2
Problem: 

The crisis in health care worldwide has reached catastrophic proportions. Each day 9,000 people die from AIDS and 11,000 children die from malnutrition. Over one billion people have no access to clean water and half the people in the world live on under $2 (US) per day. The worsening conditions of the world's impoverished people provide almost ideal conditions for the cultivation of disease, including those that could reach epidemic or pandemic proportions. In addition, a somewhat invisible epidemic of depression and other mental illnesses are taking a heavy toll on people throughout the developing world.

Context: 

The economic divisions between people have become astronomical — and they are still widening. Within this context, the majority of people are literally living from one day to the next. Understandably, the health of these people is severely compromised. People everywhere and in all walks of life have cause for alarm.

Discussion: 

Environmental changes are adding additional strains to the already imperiled lives of the world's poorest people. "Droughts will worsen. We will see deforestation, forest fires, a loss of diversity, and degradation of the environment" according to Michel Jarraud, secretary general of the World Meteorological Organization" (Stevenson, 2006). Not surprisingly, the poorest — and hence most vulnerable — people are often the first victims of the severely declining standards of health in much of the developing world. As Paul Epstein of Harvard Medical School said, "Today climate instability and the exhaustion of resources (forests, soils, water, biodiversity), together with the growing inequity and deepening poverty, are resulting in the emergence, resurgence and redistribution of infectious disease, stalking humans, plants and animals. The conditions are not sustainable, and the mounting social and economic costs are creating convergent agendas among members of civil society, international institutions and the economic sector."

Why are things different today? For one thing the sheer number of people on the planet seems to be approaching the limits to the world's capacities. Unfortunately the trends are all heading in the wrong direction. Furthermore people everywhere are more tightly connected. It is no longer true that we live in isolated communities. The tight connections, although remote, give rise to "causes" (although diffuse and multiple) that are often far away from the person who ultimately falls ill.

Clearly humankind has a moral obligation to establish health as a human right. That is a reasonable first step. More importantly, humankind has the obligation to act forcefully and diligently as if it actually believed that health was an inalienable human right. However, as Garrett and Rosenstein report, global health as an issue is "not only for do-gooders." They go on to say that, "A self-interest component to the global health debate has clearly emerged — thankfully, because purely altruistic efforts often fall short of international support and sustainability. The interconnected nature of the world makes ignorance of issues such as deadly infectious diseases not only immoral, but self-destructive."

Health must not, however, be viewed solely as providing medical care after disaster or disease strikes. While it's true that a pill or injection can save a life, the person whose life has just been saved will soon find him or herself back in an environment that leads inexorably to poor health, compromised ability to work gainfully, and a diminished life-span. Nor is health something that can be attained solely through research. A focus on "the cure" for this disease or that disease is a typically a type of welfare program for western researchers. It's a search for a magic" silver bullet" or technocratic approach that, while often very important, will be only effective in conjunction with other approaches.

Extreme and persistent poverty is the primary cause of ill-health and premature death around the world. If people weren't in desperate poverty, if they earned an adequate living, the incidence of disease would plummet. Especially today health is linked to poverty. This poverty is not confined to individuals, but covers large sections of the world's rural areas, towns and cities and, indeed, entire countries. If, for example, a person enters the hospital in many parts of the world he or she is likely to find infection, unsanitary conditions and a scarcity of drugs, bandages, surgical equipment and other vital medical supplies.

Paul Farmer is one the most articulate and hardest-hitting advocate for health care for all of the world's inhabitants, especially those who are the poorest and most vulnerable. He identifies structural inequalities that often originate in the first world as sources of great of the misery that now exists in the third. The "roots" of the problem are likely to lead further upstream than exposure to a microbe in polluted water to a bank in London, an energy company in Houston, or a government office in Washington, D.C. As part of his work and study, Farmer traveled to prisons in the former Soviet Union and to Chiapas, Haiti, and other marginalized locations around the world to work with people in need of medical care and to witness firsthand how health conditions were being met — or not met — around the world. In his book, Pathologies of Power (2003), he proposes a "new agenda" for health and human rights" that includes the following five facets:

• Make Health and Healing the Symbolic Core of the Agenda
• Make Provision of Services Central to the Agenda
• Establish New Research Agendas
• Achieve Independence from Powerful Governments and Bureaucracies
• Secure More Resources for Health and Human Rights

Farmer's "new agenda" is comprehensive, holistic and ambitious. At the same time, it seems that anything less would be insufficient. NGOs and philanthropists, no matter how well-heeled, will not be able to do this work by themselves. The multi-pronged approach resembles the Open Research and Action Network pattern — but writ very large. He is not unrealistic about the chances for success. He lists a number of significant challenges to this agenda including the possibility that increasing the involvement of NGOs will help hasten, "the withdrawal of states from the basic business of providing housing, education, and medical resources usually means further erosion of the social and economic rights of the poor."

The "new agenda" would take a mammoth effort that would integrate direct care, research, and popular mobilization. Ultimately Farmer's recommendations could provide an umbrella for many types of efforts. Health care professionals could take Sabbaticals in developing countries to assist with health care. Religious people could put renewed vigor into projects to alleviate human suffering. The 400+ billionaires in the US (and everybody) could follow the lead of Bill Gates and others and donate substantial amounts of their amassed riches to the effort. At the same time, the rest of us could agitate for health-related initiatives including cheaper drugs from multi-national pharmacuetical companies and authentic foreign aid that wasn't based on arms or oil.

Garrett and Rosenstein (2005) point out that, "with very few exceptions, the disease amplifiers in the world today are manmade and therefore humanly controllable. ... exotic animal markets, unclean urban water supplies, lack of proper sewage systems, and unstable, conflict-ridded environments provide excellent breeding grounds for infectious diseases to spread and wreak havoc on vulnerable populations. Yet it would be short sided to think of infectious disease as a problem for solely the poor and powerless. These diseases do not discriminate; they are undeterred by state borders, party affiliation, or socioeconomic status. With air travel and human migration on the rise, so too is the possibility that deadly microbes can and will circumnavigate the globe with speed and precision."

Solution: 

Humankind is faced with the massive problem of declining public health. To be successful it will need to redirect its resources from activities that exacerbate the crisis to ones that overcome it. Ideologies, however dear, as well as ingrained habits and pursuit of short-term "self-interest" are likely to defeat any grand initiatives such as this. Regardless of whether that suspicion reflects cynicism or just realism is irrelevant: we must persevere.

Verbiage for pattern card: 

The worldwide health care crisis is profound. Each day 9,000 people die from AIDS and 11,000 children die from malnutrition. We need to redirect our resources from activities that exacerbate the crisis to ones that overcome it. Ideologies, ingrained habits, and pursuit of short-term "self-interest" work against the establishment of Health as a Universal Right.

Pattern status: 
Released
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