Emerging themes of self-organization

In terms of emerging themes, the first that comes to mind is the balance between individual action and autonomy and group demands and control.  How do we preserve the core of what allows individuals to act and how do spaces / organizations / endeavors enhance and support individual motivation.  At the same time, how do we ensure that collective needs and goods get produced?

The other theme that has emerged is the idea of boundaries.  Where do we construct boundaries?  Can we create boundaries within boundaries to allow for multiple purposes and uses and still remain open.  Here Alex’s story of his grandfather’s land reminded me of the 119 and it ability to constantly reconfigure.  How mutable are boundaries?  When should the boundaries expand and when should they contract? How do we define and mark the boundaries?  These boundaries can also work to define who is included and who is excluded from the space as well.

Trust also emerged and with that I think the idea of reciprocity is important.  By being open do we trust others enough to co-opt or override the space.  The “tragedy of the commons” comes to mind here.  Are participants and those we engage able to understand and share our values.  Here I am reminded of Kennan’s challenge with her new staffer that doesn’t understand the value of the relationships her organization has built.  How do we create, evolve and pass down a culture of norms and practices that ensure our spaces are valued and maintained in the way in which they have been envisioned.  At the same time, is there enough flexibility to grow, change and adapt as needed?

Authority and power, especially of centralized entities has come up a lot.  Are there ways to bring decision-making to its lowest levels?  How do we create spaces where all feel valued and have a voice?  At the same time where does collective accountability come in?  How much are we willing to give up individual liberty for the collective good?  Do we trust too much in individual responsibility?  Are there gentle ways to encourage responsibility for individual and group decisions and needs?

Finally, elizaBeth’s story circle exercise brought up the issue of feedback and how do we manage and deal with feedback into our systems?  How do we ensure that negative or detrimental feedback is not amplified and positive feedback is?  At the same time, how do we constructively use negative feedback to improve and adapt.  This then seems to be more about creating and maintaining a mindset of constructive criticism.