external image naylas_cover2.gif

Forthcoming book: Identity Democracy and Sustainability

Identity Democracy and Sustainability
Identity Democracy and Sustainability

Invitation to try out the software to enhance awareness and participation

How do we hold in mind multiple, diverse variables with different value dimensions? A way forward is through enhancing the capability of people to draw together the knowledge they have gained through experience, telling stories and considering different scenarios and their implications for the future. In South Africa change was achieved through ‘people power’ and the ability to think through different scenarios ( Google for the Mont Fleur Scenarios, Kahane, 1992). Scenarios such as the following can be used as a starting point for an engaged conversation at the local or transnational level:

A – Best case scenario: an inclusive, creative society that balances individual and collective interests

We live in an environment that can support this generation and the next. Women, children and men have a say in local public agoras. Those who wish to attend the face-to-face meetings in the local town hall. Others log on to the website to follow the debates and to add their own ideas (using a form of software explained in chapter 3). The summaries of ideas update automatically and are shared horizontally with other local governments and with the state government who in turn shares the findings at joint meetings spanning all the states in Australia. These findings are shared by local government representatives at a regional forum every three months which is held to address quality of life concerns are being met in a timely, transparent manner. Quality of life is defined in terms of social, economic and environmental indicators by the people in terms of what works, why and how. Housing is affordable and made of sustainable materials. We have faced up to the convergent social, economic and environmental challenges and we are resilient, because we live in clusters of homes. We share rain tanks and solar grids that are subsidised by local governments. Poor local governments and rich local governments form twinning arrangements to support each other. No one in our community is homeless, because those who are ill or unable to work are assisted in community housing where they make a contribution in many different ways to public projects spanning home construction, food production, repairs, art projects and recycling materials.

Our living and working areas are powered by alternative energy. The new status symbol is the environmentally friendly lifestyle. Public transport is green. Off road vehicles are no longer permitted to private citizens. They can be hired for specific tasks and the kilometres are logged. The green economy supports a vibrant job market spurred by subsidies to enable packaging goods, housing people, transporting people, educating and entertaining the public. The carbon economy is replaced through innovative inventions. All members of the public are encouraged to share their experiences and ideas for living sustainably. The futures market has been reconstructed to take into account the air, water and earth we need to grow organic, safe food.

People develop new economies and new trading systems that enable them to have time to enjoy many activities. The clothes and shoes we wear are made of renewable resources. The windmill and fabric shoes are the new chic! People are mostly vegetarian because they understand that their carbon basket can be stretched further by growing their own vegies. Most waste is recycled locally and used for building or composting. Packaging is designed to ensure that waste is minimal.

Animals live in a carefully monitored environment to ensure their quality of life and ours. We are better off because we respect ourselves, one another (including sentient creatures) and the environment. Bird flu, swine flu and bovine disease are unheard of in this scenario. We no longer take too many antibiotics, because we take time to recover from illnesses.

We live in harmony with the people of our region and our economy prospers through being able to work in one another’s countries. We learn many languages. We are enriched by the diversity of language and culture. We are free and diverse in our neighbourhood, sub national region and supernational region, to the extent that our freedom does not undermine the freedoms of others.

Each local area enables each resident to be heard. The concerns that they raise about living in the hills or on the plains or near the coast are given careful consideration when making complex policy and planning decisions.

Community networks are formed to enable people to discuss their fears about bush fires, drought and the inundation of coastal properties. People who are worried or stressed are able to access specific services to address their mental health needs and their practical concerns about building regulations and the safety of their neighbourhood. The ideas of local people are scaled up through interactive democracy and governance software. People have a say in ensuring social and environmental justice.

We are happy and creative, because we have time to sleep, make slow food, talk to our neighbours, work in communal gardens, irrigated by water harvested and saved in many ways. We have green parks where the trees look healthy because they thrive on grey water. We play sport and express ourselves in a range of art forms. We have hope for the future. We do not commute long distances to work. We teleport to virtual communal areas and congregate in streets. We have technology that is inexpensive. Our desire for recognition and status is supported through being rewarded for innovation that supports the next generation by living in ways that not only sustain, but regenerate resources. We live not only for ourselves but for others and the environment. We understand and remember what the first nations have taught us, that we are the land and we are the earth to which we return.

We base our decisions on an expanded form of pragmatism based on thinking about the consequences for our own family and neighbours and also for the next generation of life. We understand that what we do to others and to the environment, we do to ourselves.

• The pathway address for local government is: https://socsci.flinders.edu.au/fippm/pathways_lg/

B- Small changes for the ‘long haul’[1]

People make annual progress towards goals which they meet for the benefit of their children and grand children. But they do not move quite fast enough. People of all ages and from all walks of life who are able to ‘join up the dots’, help to motivate movement towards a better future. They are motivated by concerns for others and the environment and are becoming increasingly less selfish and more concerned about the common good. They empathise with others. Local governments and non government organisations take the initiative. We hold workshops to demonstrate how people can make a difference. We listen to the people and help local groups to respond to local challenges. Together we undertake model projects that demonstrate how it will be possible to live differently. We model different ways of thinking and through ‘living the changes’. We show that it is possible to balance individual and collective interests, because we are not selfish nor are we unable to create alternative ways of governing at a regional level.

C- Worst case: Business as usual and a large carbon footprint

We continue to believe in economic arguments that ignore the social and environmental dimension and we continue to think that our way of life is sustainable and are not prepared to manage the risks of climate change by changing our way of life. We blame the increasing risk of drought, bush fires and floods are on ‘one off’ unrelated events or deny that climate change can mean rising temperatures in some areas and plummeting temperatures in others as melting ice effects the ocean currents. The sea is used as a dumping ground and it no longer helps to regulate our climate. More and more of us suffer from viruses and food poisoning. Animals are diseased. Most of our rivers are polluted and many have dried up. We seed the clouds, hoping that ‘hubris’ will win through. Some people who can afford to make rain have water, but others die. We fight over the last of energy and natural resources.

We export our waste material to poorer nations who ‘offer’ to store it.

‘The government’ and ‘the economy’ are blamed for the problems, but we do not make any changes to our personal lives, because it is too hard, or not our problem. The corporate business sector continues to tell us that the market self -regulates. We compete with one another and are proud to wear designer labels or to carry designer packages. We engage in fund raising activities and give money to charity. These small gestures are to enable us to pretend that we are making a difference. We refused to an agreement in Copenhagen, because it is bad for the state of the economy. We continued to wrangle for after the inconclusive Climate Change talks in Copenhagen (18 Dec 2009).

We cannot achieve agreement internationally as to how we will go about reducing our emissions and changing our way of life. We feel anxious, stressed or depressed and we use drugs, alcohol and shopping to provide temporary relief. We flop in front of television and watch mind numbing programs or endless DVDs so that we ignore the problems in our neighbourhood. We withdraw and do not know the people in our street. We feel we cannot be bothered, because we are too busy making a living and worrying about our own problems. We base our decision on narrow pragmatism, because we think about the consequences only for ourselves and not others. We believe that our power and profit must be driven by self interest and the bottom line, namely ensuring our powerful positions and our profits. We think that social and environmental considerations are ‘externalities’, rather than imbedded in the current system.

There is another way to do things - steps for logging onto the system

Pathways to Wellbeing System

Requirements:Recent web browser with JavaScript enabled (i.e. Internet Explorer 7, Mozilla Firefox 3.5, etc.)

Plug-ins for a media player (avi files) and pdf reader, such as Adobe Reader.


There is no installation required as all data is stored on our server.

All you need to do is navigate to:


Or an application for local government :


the log in user name = test

the log in code= test

Book explaining the process is entitled Identity Democracy and Sustainability see the flyer and http://emergentpublications.com.

external image crest.gif

Part 1: Explanation and overview
Part2: Demonstration of software

Streaming Material

Mens Stories
Story 1
Story 2
Story 3
Womens Stories
Story 1
Story 2
Story 3

Extra Material
Pathways PowerPoint (pdf)
User Centric Design (pdf)
Mulgan - Social Inclusion
Nayla's Cover

Aleco Christakis(pdf)
Janet McIntyre (pdf)
Janette Young (pdf)
Robert Ball (pdf)
Rite Perkins(pdf)

Publishers Link

Quicktime Player
VLC Player


Flinders University of South Australia is offering an online course on
Interactive Design and Evaluation for Democracy and Sustainable Futures

Abbreviated title: Democracy and Sustainability
The topic aims to address ways to reduce the Global Carbon Footprint. This course will utilize the Structured Dialogic Design (SDD) process science to find suitable leverage points and consensual actions to address that goal while simultaneously teaching the SDD system. The professors are Ken Bausch, Aleco Christakis, and Tom Flanagan with co-ordination by Janet McIntyre. For course syllabus and registration information contact JanetMcintyre@flinders.edu.au or ken@globalagoras.org.

The following introduction gives the flavor of the course.

Predicament of Mankind and Limits to Growth

In the onrush of technological change, humans need to exert some control over their destiny. Planning is the primary way that we will our future. It is extremely difficult to plan in situations where many factors are intermingled and tangled. In such situations, a change in one factor produces unintended and largely unforeseeable changes in other factors that may upset the whole system.

A catastrophic example is the slum clearance program in the US that razed slum neighborhoods and built high density housing projects. This program destroyed neighborhood cohesiveness, weakened traditional values, and contributed to youth alienation and crime. Governments are now destroying these housing projects because of their deleterious effects.

When dealing with the future of mankind, this ill-defined problem *Ashby), “mess” (Ackoff) or “wicked problem” (Rittel and Webber) is called the “global problematique” (Ozbekhan).

A basic law of systems modeling is Ashby’s Law of Requisite Variety, which says that a model should contain variables that correspond to the complexity of the situation being modeled. From 1968 to 1971, systems scientists working to establish foundations for the nascent Club of Rome (Ozbekhan, Peccei, Christakis, Jantsch, and others) set out to enumerate the factors of this global problematique. Their efforts produced 49 generic interrelating factors. Some of these factors are somewhat measurable (population, natural resources, technological change, pollution, etc.) Other factors are less measurable (values, economic interests, free will, etc.)

In the summer of 1970, this problematique was presented to the inaugural conference of the Club of Rome to a mixed response. Some of the distinguished international attendees were greatly impressed by its comprehensiveness. Others were overwhelmed by its complexity. At this point Jay Forrester offered his Systems Dynamics modeling as the way to understand and predict the future of the world. The Club accepted Forrester’s offer, which eventually appeared as the Limits to Growth.

There are basic differences in the approaches of Limits to Growth and the Predicament of Mankind. Limits selects five factors, charts their interrelationships, and plots their future in scenarios as one or the other is modified in varying degrees. The limitation to five factors makes the project feasible. Limits produced dire predictions for the year 2020. It caused a sensation in the 1970s. It also raised a storm of protest that found fault with it. Its predictions for the most part are not coming to pass.

If a similar had been mounted using the 49 factors enumerated in Predicament, the predictions would have been much different. The predictions would have factored in the human variables. They would have been more grounded and more realistic. The viewpoints of more interests would have been heard. The opposition to its results would have been less impassioned. This option, of course, was not available at that time.

During the past 35 years, Christakis and his confederates (especially John Warfield) have developed a sociotechnology that can address both the objective and subjective factors of the problematique. This methodology, now called Structured Dialogic Design (SDD), relies on observer dependent observations in contrast to observer independent data. It also draws upon the experience and observations of people involved in real situations rather than relying entirely upon the abstract calculation of uninvolved experts.

Limits was a masterpiece of descriptive technical analysis. It documented exponential growth for its key variables and their interactions in the context of limited global resources. Its basic argument is that accelerating growth is not sustainable in today’s world. It sets the background for environmental analysis until the present day. Its controversial prescription for a livable world is a state of global equilibrium.

Using Structured Dialogic Design with 49 or more factors of the global problematique, ordinary people can tap their formulated and unformulated ideas about ingrained problems. They propose likely obstacles and solutions, work systematically with them, and generate consensual action plans. In addition, they generate excitement and commitment for effecting the desired changes.

In this course, we will consider the global carbon footprint using SDD to decide on the best ways to reduce the carbon footprint with action is southern Australia.

Ashby, Ross. 1956. Introduction to Cybernetics. London: Chapman and Hall.
Christakis, A. N. (1988). The Club of Rome revisited in: General Systems. W. J. Reckmeyer (ed.), International Society for the Systems Sciences, Vol. XXXI, pp. 35-38, New York.
Christakis, A.N. and Bausch, K.B. (2006). Harnessing Collective Wisdom and Power to Construct the Future. Greenwich, Information Age.
Doxiadis. C. A., (1968). Ekistics: An Introduction to the Science of Human Settlements, Hutchinson of London.
Meadows D. H., Meadows D., and Randers J. (1972). The Limits to Growth. New York: Universe Books.
Özbekhan, H. (1969). Towards a general theory of planning. In E. Jantsch (ed.), Perspectives of planning. Paris: OECD Publications.
Peccei A. (1969 ). The Chasm Ahead, Toronto: The Macmillan Company.
Rittel, Horst, and Melvin Webber; "Dilemmas in a General Theory of Planning," pp. 155-169, Policy Sciences, Vol. 4, Elsevier Scientific Publishing Company, Inc., Amsterdam, 1973. [Reprinted in N. Cross (ed.), Developments in Design Methodology, J. Wiley & Sons, Chichester, 1984, pp. 135-144.]