Jim Kent:

"Human change initiatives must work at social, economic, and ecological levels if they are to succeed."

The Chile Mine Disaster: Self-organizing through informal networks

Posted by Jim on October 13, 2010


October 18,2010

The self-organizing of the miners in Chile continues.  They have all agreed to share any money or resources earned from stories and appearance will be shared equally among the 33.  This is a clear action of cultural solidarity, where they, through small group dynamics in charge of their present and future to the benefit of the whole.

Jim Kent

I have been captivated by the whole episode of the 33 miners trapped for the last 67 days 2000+ feet down in the mine they were working. I am watching the rescue capsule bring up the miners. They are on the second one at 10:13 pm Colorado time. That experience in and of itself is incredible to see.

The reason for my interest is that this is an absolute classic case of “self-organizing” that takes place in informal networks for survival, caretaking and cultural maintainance whether in this situation or in our communityh work. In other words JKA theory accounts for the action of these miners. Self-organizing had its origins in the theoritical area of “small group dynamics”. The way these miners organized once they were trapped was to build a conscious community of 33 where they used what we call community archetypes that serve a community survival function, not unlike the informal networks in JKA community empowerment work.

Remember the miners were out of touch with the surface for 17 days so they had to ration what food they had, and it was not much, and organize their geographic space so that it served their survival, livability, health and sanity. No “Lord of the Flies” for this small group. By the time the surface rescuers got a bore hole to the enclosure where they were trapped they already had the space organized into sleeping, exercise, eating, private, spiritual, day and night routines, and work schedules from their end in anticipation of the surface rescue “breaking through” as Ed Ricketts would have said.

I think we should give this event a lot of our attention from our Discovery framework. It is so powerful and listening to the commentators and even the NASA psychologists, they are missing the point from a social ecological perspective. Whether it is a “collaboration” process or the exercise of our definition of power: the individuals ability to predict, participate in and control their environment in a manner that does not oppress others–it has our theory written all over it. From my own reflections our theoretical foundation gives a unique insight into what these 33 miners did to survive. I think that is important to document for the larger social order. We also know pretty much what will happen to them if they do not stay grounded in the “real life” they created–as they are swamped with offers for a different life. I am reminded of the group of Marines that raised the flag over Iowa Jima. Ira Hayes from the Pima Indian Tribe and 3 of the other survivors, who raised the American flag, were toured around the country speaking and raising savings bond money for the World War II effort. Eventually Ira committed suicide because of the pressures of being separated from his family and culture. He had no absorption mechanisms to find a home in the social order that he was a stranger to. Lots to consider here.

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One Response to “The Chile Mine Disaster: Self-organizing through informal networks”

  1. […] via The Chile Mine Disaster: Self-organizing through informal networks « Jim Kent:. […]

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