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CONTRIBUTION FROM NEELESH MARIK


PAGE 1 OF 2       Concept Note



Background


Environmental sustainability and economic progress are usually viewed in contradictory or mutually conflicting terms, i.e. one of them may have to be sacrificed for the other. This conflict perception can sometimes put various stakeholders such as policy makers, business leaders, activists and investors in some sort of a bind, potentially resulting in harmful action, sub-optimal action or inaction. The subjective and objective dimensions of energy scarcity/ abundance plays a big role in the dynamics of this polarity.


However, a different vantage point of understanding and action can resolve and transcend this polarity, and our working experience with such initiatives indicate that this is not utopia, but a realizable goal that can be achieved with a potent combination of new technologies, a shift in awareness and intention, and a hands-on implementation approach to verify results which speak for themselves. To pilot such an initiative we are looking to work with an educational institution that share such a vision, and are able and willing to invest leadership focus, resource prioritization and a spirit of bold experimentation to work with us in their neighbouring geographical area.


It is perhaps not an exaggeration to say that most educational institutions today have to deal with a gap between the curricular/

theoretical knowledge of their students and translation of that knowledge to employability and adequate income generation. With the possible exception of well- known Business Schools and a few Marquee colleges, appropriate and adequate 'placement' of a batch remains both uncertain and often not rapidly rewarding enough for the student to pay off student loans. Even if financial self-sufficiency is achieved, it is often at the cost of sacrificing the passion (the thing really loved) in the student-employee's work-life.


Eco-Synergetics is a creative venture awaiting incubation through a working group of BFF (Berlin Future Forum) in alignment with a larger vision for a new civilization. This paper is a preliminary and tentative outline of a thought process that invites focussed participation to formalize into an Investment Proposal and eventually execute on building the microcosmic blueprint of a new society.



Initiative Vision


Our initiative's focus is to establish a comprehensive and fully integrated Model “Eco-Village” that would not only act as a vehicle to address the knowledge-skill gap of people, but also to do so in a manner consistent with sound, ethically-directed, ecosystem based principles and values for long term economic viability and sustainability. We would incorporate and fully utilize the latest methods and technologies associated with energy, land, agriculture, building design and other relevant aspects associated with operating in accordance with principles of economic democracy and ethical living. Around this nucleus, depending on the aptitude, inclination and agency of the students involved, a full-fledged economy with ventures that leverage the resource-bounty and other geographical benefits of the location would spontaneously mushroom and grow.


Primary livelihood activities such as and including but not restricted to:


     · Food and other crop production and distribution.

     · Energy generation such as solar, wind and methane production.

     · Zero waste management through recycling, reuse, composting and other methods.

     · Water resource management, conservation and purification.

     · Responsible resource acquisition and use.

     · Cost effective, eco-friendly building construction.

     · Health, wellness and medical services.

     · Educational programs and services.

     · Cultural enrichment, social malady redress, specific local business and industry operations.


All of the above would be planned, developed, implemented and managed using appropriate technology, ethical business management processes, insights of social psychology as well as the collective wisdom of the participants and the demonstrated experience of the team members who have implemented many such successful endeavours throughout the world.


We would employ the network of inter-dependent 'ventures' that would work cooperatively and collaboratively to obtain significant synergistic outcomes including enhanced efficiency, cost optimization and effect minimum negative externalities on the environment. Our endeavours would utilize a whole-systems approach that would synchronize the relationship between and among all aspects and elements of this comprehensive village ecosystem and employ functional and responsive feedback loops to make timely adjustments in operations as the need arises.


The participants in this ecosystem would be students and members of the local population in the pilot area chosen for this purpose, with financial ownership in the activity stream ventures based on a worker-cooperative model enriched with risk-return considerations. The pilot system would have porous boundaries for interactions with neighbouring geographic areas that would serve as catchment markets for the products and services, as well as for sourcing of input raw materials as needed. An elaborate monitoring and Metrics Program would be set-up to track, monitor and manage the overall progress of the system, measured in mutually agreed parameters of human well-being.


Students from the university would undergo a comprehensive Training Program and then constitute the initial seed team to initiate these ventures and activity streams along with suitable participation of the geographic community of non-students as appropriate. We would explore working with universities to conceptualize, launch, select, train, empower and oversee the ecosystem operation till a self-sufficient steady state is achieved. One of the key aspects of this involvement of students will be to provide practical hands-on training and enhanced real-world experience in the implementation process so that successful graduates of this engagement will allow participants to apply their skills and capabilities in the job market.


Based on the above, the educational institutions can not only achieve the objectives of imparting critical direct and functional life training skills that will be readily translated into meaningful employment opportunities the students; and, also play a pivotal role in social uplift and pioneering a new experiment of living based on ethical and sustainability standards for individual achievement and collective well-being.



Initiative Approach


Our initiative's approach uses a holistic framework drawn from Ken Wilber's Integral Operating System. The IOS posits that there are at least four irreducible dimensions or perspectives that need to be taken into account when attempting to fully understand, and address, any issue or aspect of reality. These 'quadrants' express the simple recognition that everything can be viewed from two fundamental distinctions: 1) an inside and an outside perspective and 2) from an individual and a collective perspective.


TABLE OF CONTENT:


     1. Background

     2. Initiative Vision

     3. Initiative Approach

     4. Initiative Components Illustrative

          - Permaculture Project

          - Energy Use and Conservation Project

          - Renewable Energy Generation Project

          - Zero Waste Management Project

          - Water Resource Management


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Eco-Synergetics:

the microcosm of a new society.


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So, when considering the Model Eco-Village as described above, one has to consider all four of the dimension perspectives simultaneously, to make the initiative coverage holistic, and raise the probability of its sustainable fruition.


          1. The thought, motivation, intention and awareness of each stakeholder in the initiative (directly and indirectly)

              and how the initiative shapes their psychological interiority across the life-cycle of the initiative.

          2. The externally observable physiological behaviour and action(s) of each stakeholder as they play/ choose not to play

              their role across the initiative life-cycle.

          3. The shared vision, values, meaning-making and judgements of the collective entities (at various levels of aggregation)

              whose lives, livelihoods and aspirations are touched by the initiative directly and indirectly.

          4. The ecological, economic, political, social and technological systems, both in the present and in the future, that this

              initiative seeks to influence, re-engineer and adopt, directly and indirectly.



Initiative Components Illustrative


The Initiative comprises a comprehensive set of venture streams which cater to every aspect of human living and thriving, designed and executed within a framework of sustainable and ethical principles. Eco-Synergetics will facilitate the conceptualization, feasibility analysis, design and execution of these streams through the student-resident community inhabiting in and around the village, through a network of collaborative coalitions and relationships with partner enterprises who bring to bear world class best practices and proven results elsewhere in the world. An illustrative list of such venture streams with short descriptions are provided below, to convey a general flavour.



Permaculture Project


Permaculture is a philosophy of working with, rather than against nature; of protracted and thoughtful observation rather than protracted and thoughtless labor; and of looking at plants and animals in all their functions, rather than treating any area as a single product system.


The three core tenets of permaculture are:


     . Care and respect for all living things: Provision for all life systems to continue and multiply. This is the first principle,

        because without healthy ecosystems, humans will not flourish on this earth.

     . Care for the people: Provision for people to access those resources necessary for their existence and to obtain an

        acceptable quality of life.

     . Return of surplus: Reinvesting surpluses back into the system to provide for the first two ethics. This includes returning

        waste back into the system to recycle into usefulness.


The 12 Design Principles of permaculture followed to the extent possible will be:


     1. To engage with nature and design solutions that are compatible with our particular situation.

     2. To design systems that collect resources at peak abundance and use them when needed.

     3. To ensure that we are obtaining truly useful rewards from the work that we are doing.

     4. To discourage inappropriate activity so that systems can continue to function effectively.

     5. To use and value renewable resources and services and to also reduce our consumptive behavior and dependence

         on non-renewable resources.

     6. To value and use all available resources so that nothing goes to waste.

     7. To observe patterns in nature and society and incorporate them into our designs,

     8. To integrate rather than segregate and combine the right things in the right place so that productive relationships

         develop and they work cooperatively to support each other.

     9. To use small and slow systems that are easier to maintain than big ones, that make better use of local resources

         and that produce more sustainable outcomes.

     10. To use and value diversity thereby enhancing resiliency and improving recoverability from any potential disease,

           threats or problems.

     11. To recognize that the interface between things are often the most valuable, diverse and productive elements in the system.

     12. To observe and be responsive for the need to change so that we act as constructive feedback loops that will improve

           our ability to intervene at the right time.


Based upon these tenets and principles, the ECO-SYNERGETICS LLC team, working collaboratively with local residents and students, would design, implement and operate a comprehensive community oriented permaculture-based project in the village area. The project would include multiple raised beds vegetable growing areas, fruit trees, shade trees and seating areas for resident mediation and conversational engagements. Areas would be designed into the project that would reflect the interests and needs of the residents and those who might use the garden for other educational, musical, art or other events and activities.  The permaculture zone would be designed to be an attractive place for the community of residents to gather and interact.  


Food production would be created by recycling all available food waste, yard waste, paper waste, animal waste (available or acquired) and other plant waste to form a viable compost operation.  These compost bins are aerobically operated and, when consistently turned every 3-5 days, would not produce any odor.  The compost produced, combined with available and/or acquired soil of initial quality to grow plants, will provide the basis for the consistent growing of a substantial portion of the food consumed in the village, to expansion in other areas to eventually work towards the goal of maximum food growing potential within the available land resources.  


Eco-Synergetics would train chosen key members of the resident community to eventually become the operational and managerial staff for the gardens.  From the outset, resident and student involvement would be an essential aspect of the design, building and operations of the permaculture operation and, most importantly, the methods and skills for implementation would be embedded in this development and operational process and continued use of the zones will provide an on-going educational resource and vehicle for the development of implementation skills going forward for more residents and students.



Energy Use and Conservation Project


This project is applicable to a situation where an existing village infrastructure, based on an assessment of convertibility, is chosen to be retro-fitted into an eco-village.

The Eco-Synergetics team would develop a comprehensive and detailed energy conservation assessment and analysis program.  This program will incorporate a verifiable technical assessment process and set of evaluation procedures that would be used to assess and evaluate all aspects of energy use in the housing infrastructure of the village.  These assessment and analysis processes would be fully computerized to ensure that detailed analysis of the data can be made and from which detailed reports can be provided.  Included in this analysis and reporting program will also be a detailed and specific set of recommendations would be made regarding the retro-fitting and/or installation of the appropriate fixtures, coverings, lighting, heating/cooling systems, controls, energy monitoring and management systems and other appropriate requirements to meet the desired and measured objectives and outcomes.


In order to ensure that energy utilization is consistent with the desired uses, cost-effectiveness and efficiency of the energy so utilized, and the efficiency of the fixtures/devices/appliances/etc. that are being used, additional research would be incorporated to provide recommendations of the manufacturers and related costs of the proposed products be made available for review and selection by those responsible for such decisions.  As descried in the Permaculture Project section above, residents and students will gain significant skills in learning how to implement this energy conservation program and will have learned how to use this capability and skill set for future employment either as an employee  of an energy conservation business or possibly to start their own business that provides these services.



Renewable Energy Generation Project


All renewable energy systems commence with conducting a detailed, comprehensive assessment of the energy requirements for any residential, farming, industrial, commercial requirement and use.   That is, an energy budget is created that determines, within acceptable parameters, the total monthly, seasonably and annual energy use requirements for each location being assessed.


Once this energy budget is prepared, then an assessment is made of the solar radiation available in the selected geographical area and building location and then, from this available sunlight and solar energy available, specific manufactured solar panels and their conversion rates from sunlight to direct current electricity are evaluated.  Selection of a specific solar panel and manufacturer is determined depending on the environmental and climatic conditions present and/or anticipated that meet the conditions and requirements so obtained. Conversion from DC to AC and the availability for the required storage of the electric energy during times when the solar panels lack sufficient sun to operate are then incorporated into the analysis and used to determine the number, size and compatibility with the building and/or total energy needs of the facility.  If installed on the roof or the ground is made based upon the most appropriate use of the roof for water catchment from rain.  This type of analysis must also be made for other than solar including wind and methane energy generation.


All of the benefits that have been described in the Permaculture and Energy Conservation section pertain herein as well.



Zero Waste Management Project


The Eco-Synergetics team will work cooperatively with SMEs to design and implement a comprehensive program for addressing what can be called the “4Rs” (reduce, reuse, recycle, rot) and include an interconnected approach linking the 4Rs to the well-being and health of the ecosystems upon which all life depends.


Development Objectives

     · Facilitates learning though hands-on activity or engagement

     · Durable and simple to maintain

     · Addresses a variety of learning styles and multiple senses

     · Uses environmentally sound building materials that may include reused and/or recycled content materials,

       sustainable materials such as bamboo or FSC wood and others.

     · Bilingual labeling and resources when appropriate

     · A permanent/semi-permanent display(s) on the benefits of the 4Rs for every person, for the university and for

       the communities related therein.


Possible Themes

     · Garbage is everyone's problem

     · The stuff we buy comes from natural resources

     · There is no away

     · The choices we make can help reduce waste

     · Composting is nature's way of recycling

     · Some things biodegrade, others do not

     · Interdependence between humans and natural resources

     · Environmental costs and solutions to managing waste

     · Ways that human behavior impacts natural resources

     · Media and its impact on our definition of wants and needs


The design and implementation of a comprehensive program must reflect many of the local and cultural aspects of those who are and must be the participants in the program.  The collection, transporting, processing and eventual disposition and/or sale of the recyclable materials must be properly designed in a manner that is fully compatible with the current facilities operations and capabilities.  However, efficient and cost-effective methods must be considered to ensure that the viability and sustainability of the program will be enhanced thereby.  All of the same outcomes as described on the prior project descriptions remain valid in this project as well.



Water Resource Management


In the same manner as the Energy Conservation Project, a detailed and comprehensive program would be established and conducted across all water related activities and uses on the campus.  A site specific assessment would be made to identify any and all areas that currently use water and in what significant and cost effective ways can improvements be made in how water is used, how is can be conserved, how retro-fitting and/or installation of water flow restrictive fixtures, plumbing, and other water consuming devices can benefit from the implementation of a comprehensive water conservation program.


All of the previously discussed benefits to students in becoming involved in these activities, tasks, programs for learning implementation methods and techniques and the outcomes expected therefrom apply in this project and all others as well.


The Eco-Synergetics team is prepared also to work with the university regarding the water retention, water catchment, water aquifer recharge planning and related water matters if our services would be considered appropriate and worthwhile in these endeavours.


Initiative Human Agency Management


The participating student members in the Eco-Village will be familiarized with the various Initiative components enumerated above.  They will then be taken through a rigorous Implementation Skills Training Program (ISTP) with the following facets that fully transferable to any job or avocation, with suitable local language translations:


     · How to distinguish between purposes, goals and objectives. Defining objectives that are measurable and achievable

       is essential to knowing what is needed to get the job done.

     · How to think systemically so that all relevant and critical aspects of the project/task are considered and reflected in any plan.

     · How to identify the underlying assumptions of the proposed project/task and ensure that these assumptions are verifiable

       and appropriate to this situation.

     · How to strategically plan and therein consider, evaluate and assess all relevant options for achieving the desired objective and

       from this process select the most appropriate option that meets the constraints of available resources or; if otherwise,

       then to reconsider the objective.

     · How to determine what resources are required for the project/tasks.  How to prepare a budget that is realistic and appropriate

       to the situation and selected option.  How to allocate scarce resources to obtain the best use of the available resources.

     · How to determine if the plan option chosen is feasible.  That is, are the resources (i.e., financial, human, equipment, facilities, etc.)

       sufficient to complete the required tasks and obtain the outcomes expected?

     · How to analyse information and data so that a thorough and well-thought through feasibility study can be completed and that,

       subsequent to validating feasibility, the proposed budget and resource allocation process is an accurate reflection of reality

       and not based solely on unverified assumptions.

     · How to work cooperatively and collaboratively with others in a team and to mutually agree on how to allocate the workload

       for the assigned objective to be achieved.

     · How to prepare a plan of action and/or work plan for the participating members of the team and how to clarify expectations

       by mutual agreement for the assignment of responsibilities, tasks, authority, timelines and deliverables in accordance with

       the requirements for achieving the objective.  How to determine the manner in which those with responsibilities and assigned

       authority will be held accountable. Everyone involved must have an ownership interest in taking responsibility for a task,

       the authority they have to carry it out and how they will be held accountable for achieving their mutually agreed to assignment.

       Everyone has to carry their share of the load.

     · How to develop and apply leadership skills and the skills needed to manage people and a team as well as how to use authority

       wisely and treat people with mutual respect and with consideration for others.  How to help create and maintain a positive

       and constructive work environment.

     · How to communicate one's thoughts and ideas coherently and logically so that they will be understood.  

     · How to listen and obtain the collective wisdom of the member of the team and to incorporate the valued insights and

       perspectives of others into the overall plan and management of the endeavour.

     · How to respond to failure and how to obtain feedback from others when the prepared plan of action is not working. How to

       recover from unexpected events and to reorganize and reposition the work plan to accommodate the new information or

       acknowledgement that the plan failed to properly recognize a critical factor or issue that must now be taken into consideration.

     · How to persevere even when the situation appears unworkable or hopeless and you need to rely on the combined efforts

       of others to overcome adversity.

     · How to succeed wholeheartedly!

               ✓ With an endeavour—

               ✓ With a project—

               ✓ With a business—

               ✓ With obtaining employment—

               ✓ With keeping a job—

               ✓ With life—


At the heart of the Human Agency Management process is a certain ethical orientation, and a self-peer group- purpose space design and execution process, which facilitates and celebrates the discovery of individuality in every participant and puts that individuality in collaborative service of the whole Eco-Village (and eventually beyond). HAM is founded on the observation, agreed upon by many social scientists, that the key levers that are being touched upon (and the transformative opportunity associated with them) involve a shift from an “I” centric to a “We” centric life orientation, a movement away from “consumption focused lifestyles” to “giving” and “sharing” oriented lifestyles, a superseding of a purely “.com” (competition) based economy (which has merits in some contexts, though) and paradigm by a “.co” (co-operation) based economy and paradigm and ultimately, in individual terms, a move beyond “problem” oriented modes of cognition to “perspective” taking in situations of apparent difference or conflict, and the release of  the feelings of “separateness”  via the acknowledgement and experience of the truth and fact of our inherent inter-dependence and inter-connectedness.

Each student will, after successful completion of the ISTP, receive a ISTP certificate as a testament of their capability upgrade, and inculcated into the HAM Club at a stipend and accommodation. Thereafter a Purpose Space Design and Execution Process will be invoked to enable each individual to understand himself/herself better and align with complementary-skilled peers in  prospective 'purpose spaces' constituted by component venture stream that suit their interest, aptitude and livelihood intention. The idea is have a thriving, self-organizing eco-system of students who build both specialist skills pertinent to their ventures and generalized skills for cross-venture understanding, mobility and synergy capture.


Eventually, every HAM club member will operate as 'part owners' of the venture which will be legally set up as a worker-owned cooperative, so that financial ownership, social responsibility, and the culture of sharing risks and rewards coalesce in the entire entrepreneurial life-blood of the Eco-Village, thereby ushering in a new way of socio-economic organization.



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     5. Initiative Human Agency Management

     6. Initiative Impact Assessment

     7. Initiative Scalability

     8. Initiative Execution Model

     9. Initiative Financing Options

     10. Initiative Risks and Dependencies

     11. Initiative Launch Steps


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