St-Imier 2017
Monday, November 6, 2017
The Mycelium Model of Glocal Governance - Description

Description:

The need for a new shape for current and future challenges

As we recognise the need to see global challenges as a requirement for more global coordination and cooperation, and hence, the need for governance to become one global organisation, we at the same time see organisations of all sizes shifting from simple decision making structures towards a more complex governance culture. Governance at any level and organisations of any size are becoming increasingly synonymous concepts.

Different shapes of organising, providing a historic context

In recent human history, different paradigm shifts in how we organise and govern have come about at an increasing pace. From a triangle shaped governance, that is authority based and where the bottom line is what the person in charge is saying, to boxed shaped forms of organisation where the bottom line is what the "contract" says, to circle shaped governance, which is dialogue based and where the bottom line is what we decide together.

These waves of new forms of organising have spilled into the cultures of our society in ways where the older organisation structures continued to exist in parallel. The new organisations tend to form along side old ones, but grow to increasing importance, while the older organisation structures slowly fade in their relevance.

On the historic time scale, authority based organising has shaped our governance for thousands of years while contract based governance has become of primary importance during the past centuries. In comparison, dialogue based, collective decision making has really been gaining only during the past decades, with a vast amount of our governance structures still dominated by the earlier forms of organisation. However, we see an exponentially fast transformation happening towards the more advanced forms of organising, to the point of new paradigm shifts happening already before the impact of earlier shifts is fully felt in society.

The shape of the mycelium

We propose that the new shape of a governance culture to meet current and future challenges is that of the mycelium.

"I have increasingly come to regard the mycelium as a heterogenous army of hyphal troops, variously equipped for different roles and in varying degrees of communication with one another. Without a commander, other than the dictates of their environmental circumstances, these troops organise themselves into a beautifully open-ended or indeterminate dynamic structure that can continually respond to changing demands."

Dr Alan Rayner ( Biologist and Educator)

The word “mycelium” literally means “more than one”. The plural form is Mycelia. The word has modern Latin and Greek origins and was first coined in text in the early 1800’s, and refers to the thread-like body of a fungus.

The spores of most fungi grow a network of branching filamentous hyphae, which spread into the existing organic structures. In most fungi, hyphae are collectively called a mycelium. The hyphae excrete enzymes that break down the old and turn it into compost, which serves as nutrient for the emerging new.
Where hyphae gather to form a whitish mycelium-soil aggregated zone, called the shiro, a mushroom will come out as the fruit bodies of the mycelium, with its spores spreading to grow new hyphea elsewhere.

The shape of the Mycelium applied to governance

Like a spore from a mushroom, people that carry the awareness about a collective consensus in society, will be motivated to move to action along that path. Like hyphea, they will grow to find others that they can join in order to implement projects for manifesting the change that is called for. Or they will be motivated to further explore related aspects regarding that challenge and gather in groups with others that share that interest. Like in shiro, these gatherings, with the use of best practice processes, will create consensus outcomes statements that, like mushrooms, send the spores of that newly gained awareness out in society.

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The Mycelium Model of Glocal Governance - Cause and Effect

The Mycelium's governance cycle's cause and effect

Based on the existing awareness they have in society, people are motivated to individually or as part of a group, implement projects with the aim of manifesting the change they see needed. By providing platforms and tools where they can connect with others that interested to work on these shared aims, they can use stronger synergies of cooperation and are more likely to succeed to manifest that change.

To the extent that such change manifests in society, people in society become more aware of related challenges. Also, based on the level of awareness in society people will feel motivated to gather to explore other existing challenges. Organisational structures and tools can continue to be improved, that allow the people interested in these challenges to gather and through the nurturing of best practices for the consensus development, come up with breakthrough consensus outcome statements, for which the awareness in society at large did not exists before.

Based on this higher awareness of collective consensus in society at large, again people motivated to start or join a project with that aim will look for others to cooperate with. Since their plan of action is based on a wider consensus in society, they are now more likely to find others with a synergetic motivation to join in manifesting the projects.

As this circle repeats, this leads to change with a wider consensus in society to be exponentially more likely to manifest.

Implementation of the model and its challenges

The challenge of the model is to motivate people to gather and invest the time in the consensus processes. This becomes easier as they see the effect that the shared outcomes have in society. The shared outcomes in turn are payed more attention to, if they have a high probability of being representative of wide spread consensus in society. This in turn is dependent on the quality of best practices and methods used in the consensus development processes.

So, the main need for the successful evolution of a mycelium governance culture is to nurture and cultivate the quality of the ways in which 1) people gather, 2) the consensing processes used and 3) the ways the outcomes are shared.

Progress can be made separately in all these three areas. Many existing groups and projects are working on increasingly better solutions for these three aspects. This ranges from online platforms where people with shared motivation can more easily organize to gather, either in offline venues or using online tools, it includes the evolution of better facilitation methods for working with gathered groups of people, new social media technologies and media platforms or distributed databases for the sharing of outcomes.

It is the groups of people that chose and evolve these tools and best practices, they are not given by the model itself. Hence, their diverse evolution is encouraged and will self regulate towards higher quality and transparency.

The people participating in this governance culture do not need a mandate to participate. Nor do they have any decision authority as a result of their participation. They simply share their resulting consensus, which through good sharing practices raises awareness in society. It is society, its individual members, its organisations and institutions, that will act as a result of that higher awareness, through the usual mandates and accountability.

Manifesting change through existing governance structures

As new challenges and risks are emerging, the self-empowered culture of the evolving and curated consensus will be ready for organisations and institutions to tap into. It will be a self-regulating reality that consensus outcomes are produced and collected ahead of existing and emerging decision making structures starting to be paying attention to these challenges. This essentially means that in a mycelium governance culture it is likely that when a need to act emerges, the awareness for what that action should be is already there.

The Mycelium model suggests the transformation of the old order with a progressive and dynamic way that increases and improves our democracies in a comprehensive manner. It is a metamorphosis without an overthrow of existing order; but a pragmatic approach of consensus building with everyone concerned.
Once collective realization arises, there should be no need for making "decisions" anymore because everyone will know what has to be done when the time comes to do it. This awareness strongly forces those governmental decision making structures to abide by what the people have in their collective wisdom through open discussion and debate worked out.

To the extent that there is resistence to implementing such change, the Mycelium governance culture would also lead to a much faster emergence of new bottom up governance structures that replace old top down structures that resist this change. Therefore, where decisions would be made in other existing or newly emerging governance structures, this collective realization is increasinly likely to be taken into account when agreeing on a path forward.

In some ways these changes have already been taking place across the world in various communities and nation states and are ongoing. The aim simply needs to be to nurture and curate the key facilitating aspects of this emerging governance ecosystem.

Conclusion

The mycelium model addresses the current and future challenges in society through its decentralized structure and its open, transparent democracy encourraging culture. By creating and accelerating awareness or consciousness and redistributing responsibility, it focusses strongly on the solution and how it can be implemented. It encourages a culture that moves away from decision making, which just gives an opportunity to point fingers at others, who made decisions, to avoid responsibility. It leaves the actual doing, along with the ultimate responsibility that comes with that doing, to society at large, where both is in much better hands.

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The Mycelium Model of Glocal Governance - Argumentation

Argumentation:

1. Core Values

We trust the open processes that the model affords and distrust the closed processes of existing structures which are bound by bureaucracy and secrecy. The value system of humanity we believe to be intrinsically good and aimed at what is the better and the right course of action for all, for all life on the planet.

2. Decision-Making Capacity

In our case our process happens before the decision happens and happens ahead of time. It speeds up the process, because those participating in the decision making can take the outcomes into account, therefore it makes the decision making process faster and is likely to increase the quality of the outcomes. Ideally, decision makers will feel that there is no decision to make because of it being clear what needs to be done.

3. Effectiveness

With a Mycelium governance culture, it is more likely that implementation of decisions within societies and within decision making structures are met with less resistance because the process of agreement has already been dealt with through through the awareness for what consensus exists in society. If a community is more committed to the course of action, then it is easier to implement such action.

4. Resources and Financing

At its fundamental level, the Mycelium model is a self-empowered, decentralized, bottom up governance structure for which the resources can be obtained without top down aid. The most important support that it can receive would be to not expend top down resources to try to suppress its emergence. Ideally, a broad consensus in the United Nations general assembly would encourage nation states to have a supportive attitude towards the emergence of a Mycelium governance culture.

As the action of moving forward with manifesting changes happens outside the Mycelium governance structures themselves, the existing and emerging governance structure will have or will obtain the required resources for implementing change through their existing means. If anything, these changes, due to them being supported with larger awareness in society, will have an easier time to obtain required resources and financing in a matter that is equitable and fair.

5. Trust and Insight

This model gives back the power into the hands of the people, by empowering them through the collective awareness. People will regognize themselves to be a sovereign part of the manifestation of change. They will feel responsible to maintain and increase the quality of the governance processes and hence its transparency. The outcomes of these processes are shared with everyone in the society and fears are overcome with truth. This in turn will strengthen the emerging Mycelium culture of governance to itself become a strong web of trust.

As part of that, transparency about the groups that gather, the processes they use and the way the outcomes are shared are important meta data of the outcomes themselves, essential for that web of trust. Because this governance model is decentralized and bottom up, it will self regulate in this regard.

6. Flexibility

A Mycelium governance culture, like a mycelium in nature, is highly adaptive to the evolving environment around it. In many ways, it is a meta governance structure to old governance structures that exist and new ones that emerge. Hence, it itself has less of a need to change. The ever evolving parts are the tools and best practices that are used to continuously improve the quality of the different processes in the Mycelium governance cycle. Continues and divers improvement and evolution of these parts is an integral part of the model and is self regulating.

7. Protection against the Abuse of Power.

The Mycelium model is based on sharing consensus and raising awareness in society and doesn't make or implement ANY decisions. Since it itself does not have any power to manifest the change, it can not overstep its mandate. By separating the awareness and the implementation processes we create natural checks and balances that prevent abuses of power from happening. Through the increased awareness in society, the model also serves to make abuse of power in other existing or emerging governance structures less likely.

8. Accountability.

The accountablilty of those that implement projects and manifest change, as well as of those that make decisions in existing governance structures, is not impacted or changed in any way by the Mycelium governance culture. Through the higher awareness in society, the accountability in these other governance structures, as well as the accountability of anybody manifesting change or trying to prevent it, will tend to increase due to the Mycelium governance culture.

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The Summer Camps experience of St-Imier 2017

FairCoop is beginning to consolidate its new form of organization. Finally, thanks to the work of the last Summer Camps (in Décentrale, Mont Soleil, Switzerland, with the help of Synergiehub and SCI Schweiz), a new operating scheme has emerged, which we will detail in our next post. There, in Jura, we spent eight weeks of intense work in which we approached different aspects related to the FairCoop ecosystem. Two months of pleasant cohabitation and a continuous flow of ideas whose development we describe below.

July 30th – August 13rd

Introduction to FairCoop ecosystem. How to create a local node in your region

The first FairCoop camp introduced dozens of young people from all over the world (Ukraine, Mexico, Spain, Czech, Russia, Italy, Ethiopia) to the principles of permaculture, self-empowerment, synergy, solidarity, cooperatives, alternative economies in general, citizen journalism, democratic schools, etc… Working on building the dome, yurt, wood chopping, renovation of the veranda was an important part of learning how to self-organize and share the values of community life.

At first, the camp was “chaotic”, according to the participants; later realizing that the “chaos” was part of the order they needed to establish with their hosts. Intensive work outside and inside the house, in the kitchen, promoting diversity and vegetarian food, weekend trips to lakes and mountain houses, and cities around Jura, was all part of the plan for them to learn and enjoy as much as they can during this process.

Young people were surprised that everybody was equal, in the sense that there were no classic representative authorities like owners, leaders, teachers… They often didn’t understand everything that was part of the workshops and lectures, as a complex study of theory and praxis of subjects like permaculture, anarchy, cooperatives, blockchain and cryptocurrency economics, protesting at first that there was too much information. Participants were slowly introduced to communicating on Telegram, installing FairCoin wallets, buying some FairCoin, spending some in the Espace Noir bar in St. Immier, and learning a lot about how differences can be peacefully harmonized in a diverse group of people.

It was interesting that one of the “conclusions” of the people participating in first of four summer camps dedicated to further development of FairCoop, was that they witnessed the movement needed to change the world away from its current capitalist system.

August 16th – August 23rd

Blockchain for women

During the 3rd week of August, a meeting of women took place to learn and reflect on this new technology. It was a great opportunity to meet, live together and learn both from Blockchain and the need to readjust everyone’s expectations when we want to move forward in a group towards a common goal. Women from diverse backgrounds, knowledge and expectations, embarked on the task of self-organizing both at the academic and logistical levels, with diverse results. The experience was certainly very enriching.

In addition to the enormous and worrisome gender and class gap that this new technology is generating, we learned some of the enormous possibilities that will emerge in the immediate future from it. Complicated but exciting, we understood how the FairCoop ecosystem uses this technological opportunity to generate value and support the creation of a fairer world. We also set about creating a space for the study of crypto trading and its intricacies, in order to contribute from a female/feminist perspective.

No less important was the realization that neglecting to care for each other and to consciously generate spaces for exchange and reflection – on what we want, and how we want to do things – leads us time after time to ways of doing that constrict us. A true reflection of what we have to do in our daily lives is needed, if we really want to organise from below and cooperatively – without anyone having to direct or supervise anyone else. Also if we want cooperative spaces really to be cooperative, so that in spite of the individualistic and hierarchical culture in which we have been raised, we are able to create spaces where we are all able to give the best of ourselves, and so take care of both people and the planet.

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Open cooperative work and glocal governance
August 23 – September 6

FairCoop ecosystem open cooperative work

This module was intended more for people already experienced in the FairCoop ecosystem, and had as its goal the refinement and development of the already existing FairCoop protocols and ways of organising, plus some new additions to these.

The workshop welcomed to Mont Soleil people from Switzerland, France, Austria, Catalonia/Spain, Argentina, Greece, Italy, South Africa, Philippines… and we were particularly happy to have some people from Bakur in Kurdistan (Turkish state), who had come to learn about merging their own style of self-organised cooperativism with our own.

The focus of this summer camp was to develop five areas of open cooperative work. This areas are: welcome, communication, common management, circular economy and tech. In each one of the areas an assembly was created that is now taking care of the priorities of the area, and defining tasks to be done and paid for in a fair and open way – simplifing the way in which any participant of the ecosystem has the opportunity to be rewarded based on the time spent in doing useful tasks.


A common budget was proposed (and approved later on in the September FairCoop assembly), in order to begin this innovative and inclusive method of collaboration. Most of the areas also activated roles of facilitators who will help the development of the assemblies and tasks, and some subareas were also introduced, looking forward to an even more decentralized open coop structure. We also learnt about dynamising assemblies and scrum/agile techniques, and applying these to the newly formed Areas of FairCoop.

We concentrated quite heavily on the new Circular Economy Area, intended to increase participation in FairCoop at a local level, and this does seem to have been successful, judging by the number of new Local Nodes which have been formed since the Summer Camp. We also worked a lot on the Welcome Area, Media and Communication, and Tech areas.

We couldn’t have left Jura without paying for beers in Faircoin at the fantastic Espace Noir bar, and the walk down from Mont Soleil to St. Imier was as much of a highlight as getting the cable car back up!

We really feel that the Summer Camp was a massive injection of energy into the project, and we unblocked some longstanding issues which allowed us to move the whole thing up to another level. This process is ongoing since then and we will be seeing the results soon. It was also great fun to meet everyone who we may up until then have only known ‘virtually’. FairCoop is all about building trust and community, unlike many other ‘crypto’ projects which are focused on individualism, so it was vital to be able to interact face-to-face and in person with the other people building the project. There was a lot of cooking and cleaning, and also a Fair bit of dancing and laughing!


September 7 – September 22

Developing a model of glocal governance

Beyond just the immediate steps of developing the organizational structure of the FairCoop projects for the next phase of the next months and years, we looked at ways to scale a governance culture to society at large. A governance culture that embraces autonomy and gives authoritative answers to what we collectively want to consent to doing.

People from Switzerland, Finland, Spain, South Africa, Austria and Greece were involved in this part of the summer camp. We focused on collecting various governance best practices such as the Constellation Model, Sociocracy 3.0 and Occupy-Style Open Assemblies.

The governance structure that resulted from these workshops is one that aims to be parallel to other governance structures. It does not aim to replace them. It is complementary to them. It has, however, the inherent power to transform them or to bring about new structures that make old ones obsolete. It is glocal, translocal in nature. It is decentralised, powered through the interdependent participation of local and translocal random groups of people.

This governance culture does not make decisions. Its function is to facilitate awareness of current consensus in society. Once collective realization arises, there should be no need for making “decisions”. However, where decisions are made in other parallel governance structures, this collective realization is taken into account as part of agreeing on the chosen path forward. We defined ways to implement such a glocal governance culture that can be taken into account as we move forward.

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