Dear Andrius and All,
Thanks for your thinking about Holistic Helping and the Food Story project. I thought I would reply below some of your comments (in black), and would like to hear from others in this forum about their possible interest in helping with the Food Story project (forming a team).
Franz's "Global Villages" and Janet's "Holistic Helping" are doing very well already and actually may be at their limit in terms of how much traffic they could bear, in my opinion, and also they are both working on a higher level (much like Direktorius as I do, linking up different groups).
Janet: I understand that we don't want to "overload" any particular forum. However, I do not see much traffic at HH now, and a project like this could actually rivet our attention and be a worthwhile way to make an impact, which we hope to do. It could also help our members, many of whom are working at the grassroots and addressing issues related to agriculture, nutrition, health, ICTs.
"Holistic Helping" as a concept involves an integrated and multi-faceted approach to issues, challenges, and projects, which is how the Food Story initiative is being conceived, so I think this would be a great fit. I'll address below what you've said abt working through HH in terms of a crop and technology.
I think that HH could actually work at a higher level via this project (I'm not sure that we are there already), by which I mean investigating what "holistic helping" is about in a self-conscious way. The Food Story project is a great way to focus on both activities at "ground level" and also what is meant by the concept "holistic", especially as the project addresses a crop, a value, and a technology together.
I also don't see myself or HH solely as a linkage-maker or networker only, at least not as that relates to being a "conduit" only and not an end-point. I am head of 2 HIV/AIDS and development organizations, one being the international wing of a Kenyan nonprofit which has a specialty in nutrition and agriculture. Not only could I/we benefit from the work going on in this project re knowing other stories, but we could contribute our own, and I could employ my networking abilities to find stories, as I have links across Africa and elsewhere, as well as being helped by others in my own work through the efforts they will make.
I have been connected to many "food stories" through my work, and have helped to design our own "food story" projects (complete with links between crops-technology-values), so I think I'm in a position to be useful, even if I don't have time to lead a team. I am honored and appreciate so much your interest (Pam and Andrius) in me leading a team for LFEO, and if/when I have time, I will consider doing that, whether or not we have a team at HH working on this project. It wouldn't be a question of leading a team other than Pam's...I'd be delighted to lead one for her if/when I have time.
I think such "cross-cutting" linkages can be effective: I could work for a team at another forum, while someone leads a team at HH (with myself in a more advisory role). This kind of cooperation is itself "integrative", and can be a great team builder, of the MS lab and its forums/orgs/members as a whole.
The concept of "Holistic Helping" means to me that while I and we in the forum do help others (ie link them up, serve as a gateway, et al), it also means that we work on behalf of our own interests and needs as well. As a forum leader, I would like to have the ability to act on behalf of HH forum members re possible involvement in Lab projects, especially as these may be helpful to them and also to my work. In this particular case, I could be a mentor or director as regards an investigative team...which doesn't necessarily mean I lead the team, but to provide advice, feedback, support, and networking as needed for the team which works through the forum.
As a "director" of MS, of course, there are different considerations--taking into account the whole Lab and interests of all members--so this is something to keep in mind with the different "hats" I wear, ie forum leader and MS "director". However, in this case, I think HH would make an excellent forum for this work, and this is why I have proposed it, mentioning others besides myself to lead it. In this case, I think I am acting as a director, as much as or even moreso than a forum leader.
So it makes a lot more sense for their groups to serve as "gateways" where we can assimilate people into our culture and route them to where they might be most productive when that's not clear from the start.
Janet: I actually don't think of HH primarily as a "gateway" where we assimilate people and then re-route them. I have understood it in part to be created for me to develop my key concept. And it has become a home for African members of our various forums too, who are all working on issues related to sustainable development.
I do understand that it has "incubating" potential, and has served and will serve as a gateway too, which is great! From HH people may want to branch out and work in other forums as well, which is terrific. This cross-cutting approach is one of our strengths, though it needs to be handled with an eye towards confusion, overload, and other challenges which may emerge from this diffusion or decentralization.
I see the HH forum, like the concept itself, as dynamic and action-oriented, a group which will also investigate what the term "holistic" means: what sorts of integrative programs need to be created to address issues and challenges, the balance between addressing individual needs and those of the group, of building sustainability at the local level and how that links to globalization and/or global issues (and "villages"!).
The concepts and philosophies or principles of holistic helping being fleshed out through "action-oriented" work, in other words. I hope to do more of this at HH with other projects as they arise from our group...so far, it's been difficult due to lack of time, and wanting to meet immediate needs, but that is my longer-term goal (and one which will address working on my key concept more directly).
It makes more sense for our resources to help groups that could use a boost of momentum, in particular John Roger's Cyfranogi, Pamela McLean's Learning From Each Other, Jeff Buderer's Back To The Root and Lucas Gonzalez Santa Cruz's Mejores Vias.
Janet: I understand in one way what you are saying, but in another way, do not agree. Resources are very much needed by some members in HH, such as Sam, Kennedy, Tom, Helen, Lenny, Wendi, and others. And I'm sure they would like to contribute to a project into which they can sink their teeth...in more ways than one, haha!
We might also conceivably start new groups around Markus Petz, Maria Agnese Giraudo, Dante-Gabryell Monson, Tom Wayburn, Rick Nelson, Samwel Kongere, Shannon Clark or others who might rise to the challenge, but especially in other languages such as Lithuanian, Spanish, German, French.
Janet: again, I think this is fantastic, and I am especially excited abt the possible forum/group you mention related to new technologies. This is precisely what KAIPPG and others on the ground are experimenting with now, and using, need to know more abt and have more access to in the near future.
And the HH forum actually started out organizing around Sam Kongere's stated interest in and need for an ICTs project...which led to linkage with Maria Agnese and others, something which is just bearing fruit now. So I'd love to continue that trend at HH, because every one of us there is interested in technology and its applications, and this is part of any "holistic helping" project in today's world, in my view.
Also, something to consider for the shorter term--and getting this project underway in a timely fashion--is working within the forums which have both the need for and the presence and participation of members at the current time. AND focusing on "what people know" and can easily access re finding stories and jumpstarting this project.
Sam, for instance, has some connection with "grains"--through his family's business--and may be able to gather many stories abt grain in a shorter time period than he can with coffee, which he perhaps has no direct connection to as a crop yet. This is not to say that he and Shannon shouldn't pursue "coffee" (which is just my cup of tea!!), but that--to produce something more immediately--it might be good to "go with" people's strengths, what they know and are familiar with already.
My goal is that - as Samwel has - they learn to think in terms of their own values and investigatory questions so that we could be personally
connected to them and they could also reach out to others and include them in our culture. This is a relatively low pressured work as they will receive the money upfront. It's also a chance for us to support local clusters around the world.
Janet: this is a wonderful goal, and we should all encourage one another in this direction over the longer term! It may be some time down the road before we have eforums for everyone, and if everyone has an eforum where they explore their key concept before we have figured out the logistics of all this, it may be an overload of emails and info (which is not as beneficial to this particular project in the short term).
So how to find ways in which we can all explore our individuals concepts, while working together and connecting with others on this project and more, would seem to be an important consideration. Perhaps we can start by discussing the key concepts of members within the already-existing forums, as this would help each of us, and also the general collective.
Janet, if you were to host a team at Holistic Helping - which is a good thought experiment - then we would want to find a crop that you think brings out what "holistic helping" is all about (I think of something like the olive tree, which in the Mediterranean was a foundation for "civilization" because of it's great usefulness - for oil, soap, olives, etc. Is there a comparable multipurpose "holistic" crop for nutrition,
medicine, economics, etc. in Africa? Soybean also comes to mind with its thousands of food products.) And also a technology that fosters "holistic helping" (you mention "community radio" which makes a lot of sense). That would be great!
Janet: Soybeans is a good crop to feature, as is artemisia, and also tea, with which Kenya and KAIPPG have some connection. As for a technology, KAIPPG and others in Kenya and Africa w/whom I work are using a number of technologies in a holistic (multi-dimensional way). Radio is one, mobile phones another, as well as AV equipment, computers, both wired and wireless applications. Radio can be "wireless", so this is connection to "wi-fi". You're right that community radio is indeed holistic, esp. if there is a link between content users and producers, and a situation in which those making radio programs and those listening are sometimes one and the same, or closely linked.
We need more wireless solutions (KAIPPG and most development orgs I know), which I would like to know more abt, esp. as to how this links with nutrition, agriculture, and income-generation, all subjects on which KAIPPG works, and around which we have both operating projects and future needs (especially related to what equipment we use and how to make it work, in settings of severe infrastructure deficiences...so the more info we have, the better decision-making and community development can result).
So Sam's interests and goals--and to an extent his values--do seem akin to mine and to "ours" at KAIPPG, and--if so--we can work to develop this further, for our mutual benefit. This synergy and teamwork is extremely important, especially in situations of great need and challenges, and could result in finding some way to work together on the ground to address the "food story" in Kenya in a way helpful to all there, which could also have applications in other parts of Africa and the world.
But I think that Samwel's values and interests are in a different direction. I'm organizing based on values rather than geography. Our different teams will be able to work together locally on the ground, but it's important to me that each tune into a particular value (such as "holistic helping"). Then it will be more meaningful to look for connections between teams, how they can work together.
My suggestion, as per above, is based both on values and on geography, and is made partly in the interests of time and getting some short-term traction on the ground. I'd be interested to know from Sam whether he thinks his values are different from those of "holistic helping", I mean as a concept, and perhaps those values which seem to be embodied in our forum (based on the interests, work, and needs of members).
Also, you and Samwel are quite possibly our strongest participants, and I don't think it makes sense to put our strongest people together. It's better to pair each of you with somebody who you can help grow stronger, and then have your two teams find ways to work together. That's my strategy but I appreciate to hear more if you think.
Janet: again, I understand what you are saying, and thank you for the confidence and compliment! I think we have many strong participants, though, and that--in this case--the project itself should be a primary focus, ie what will advance it in the short-term now, ie to get it started. With these other important considerations coming into play (different teams, various factors going into team creation et al) as we move further along.
If Sam, who is so active, works now with someone like Steve--who is a focal point (his forum and person) of this project--and Maria is there now at Social Agriculture too, that will be a good grouping, as all have strong participation and motivation, Sam and Maria know each other, and SA is an existing forum which can dive into doing the project now.
I would also like to add that, for some projects, perhaps we should not be thinking in terms of "forums" to house "teams", but more who has interest, time, experience in working on this project, and pick *one* forum host (or possibly two) for this project. The "natural" one to my mind in this case being "Social Agriculture". That way we won't be generating as much mail from 5-6 forums, all working on this project, which is sometimes much harder to keep track of anyway.
I look forward to your thoughts on the Chocolate project, what worked or didn't from your point of view, that's important to consider. But as far as "Holistic Helping" is concerned, I'm afraid that you're a victim of your own success, I would be hesitant to put resources into a group that I think is at maximum traffic (2 letter per day) for a subscribership with marginal Internet access, when we could be adding a new group and multiplying our possibilities for leadership and action.
Janet: Thanks for your invitation to share thoughts abt the chocolate project, and I will do that at some point. For now, I--like you--would like to see this new project get off the ground first. I would ask us to consider the effect in mailboxes of setting up even more groups. I think we should consider designing this project so that it does not generate so much mail as to be onerous to a forum in any case.
I would not expect every activity and communication of the team to be posted in a forum in any case (do you?). Rather, I would think it more helpful to have summary reports, or links to wiki spaces, and for team members to keep some interactions among themselves as 4-5 individuals--except for the reports--as a way for people to keep abreast of what teams are doing, and teams to communicate with each other, without overloading the rest of forum members.
All of this to say that I suppose we should think of your activity on a higher level as a Direktorius and what that might mean, for example, as your role in interlinking groups and moving momentum amongst them. That is my concern - how to shift momentum from our most dynamic groups (like Holistic Helping and Global Villages) to our less dynamic groups so they catch on fire, too. Also, I'm interested if you might work for pay because that might strengthen your situation for our work in the long term, and also, maybe it's good to challenge you! Thank you for all your devotion to all of us.
Janet: Yes, I am happy to do that with you, perhaps not so much in this public space--which might generate more email, and mails people do not feel a direct interest in--though some sharing of this discussion process and the end result is fine, esp. if people have comment/feedback and want some input. I do understand where you're coming from and agree abt balance, energies, strengthening all groups, and similar considerations. And thank you for sharing these concerns and considerations with me and with us all.
And on your other suggestions--Markus, Benoit, Rick, Chris, Shannon, and others--about who might get involved in the Food Story project, that's a BIG BRAVO, and hope to hear from all of these folks as to their interest and availability!
With greatest thanks for everything you are doing for each and all of us, Andrius, and very best wishes and blessings to everyone! Janet