Jim Kent:

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

Archive for the ‘Deep Democracy’ Category

When citizens organize to fight a project JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2013 Right of Way 27

Posted by Jim on October 27, 2013

By Jim Kent
The Social Risk
Those who are responsible for permitting site specific or linear facilities are well aware that, in today’s environment of regulatory requirements, polarized politics and litigation, citizen opposition to proposed projects can be daunting. Determined citizens have successful track records of delaying projects, driving up costs, and blocking projects that are technically sound and necessary. To relegate the causes of citizen opposition to a few selfish people who do not want the project in their backyards is to miss the crux of grassroots citizen activism, as China has just recognized with a major policy announcement.

At China’s 18th Party Congress in November 2012, the State Council ordered that all major industrial projects must complete a “social risk assessment with stated project impact mitigation schedules” before any project can begin. This move at the highest levels of government is aimed at addressing large, increasingly violent and geographically dispersed environmental protests of the last several years. The announcement was made because of the concern that, if the underlying causes of these protests are not addressed, they have the potential to bring the government down. Zhou Shengxian, the Environmental Minister, said at the news conference, “No major projects can be launched without social risk evaluations. By doing so, I hope we can reduce the number of mass incidents in the future.”

Just in the last two weeks of October 2012, violent protests forced the suspension of plans to expand a chemical plant, and protests occurred in every region of China against industrial projects that have been at the core of its economic boom. The promise of jobs and rising incomes is being checkmated by the rising tide of young and middle class Chinese who are fearful that new factories, power line corridors and pipelines are causing environmental damage. Environmental concerns trump the promise of jobs for the first time in China’s march to industrialization at all costs.
Sound familiar? Does Keystone XL pipeline come to mind, where the demonstrations against TransCanada continue at the national, regional and local levels? There are now over 400 energy-related opposition groups in the United States and 2,000 internationally that are tied together by wireless technology and informal networking who are interrupting and stopping projects across the country.

By virtue of their long-standing practices, companies that are building new infrastructure may, in fact, actually be facilitating more opportunities for the local community to organize. As third party activist groups are able to fine-tune their efforts against projects in general, they become increasingly more likely to take over control of local issues and impede projects, regardless of the benefits to the community. In essence, project owners may be enabling and encouraging the opposition.

Other protests include those against hydraulic fracturing in New York, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and several other states. Another contentious project is the Atlantic Wind Connection power line that is potentially coming on shore at Assateague Island, a national seashore site that spans across the states of Maryland and Virginia. And on Molokai, the fifth largest island in Hawaii, the Big Wind project is being held hostage by angry citizens.
The Missing Link

What is missing in the approach to communities in the path of projects that have launched such angry protests here in the United States? At the World Gas Conference in Kuala Lumpur in June 2012, CEOs from ExxonMobil, Shell and Total all addressed the importance of public acceptance in their speeches. Christophe de Margerie, CEO of Total said, “I believe stakeholders will be the main drivers of change. Our business is not sustainable if we are not responsible operators, accepted by all stakeholders, including civil society.”
In his keynote address to the conference, ExxonMobil’s Rex Tillerson said that his company learned in North America about “the importance of open communication with government leaders at all levels as well as local communities.” This announcement is quite a cultural shift for a company like ExxonMobil, and reflects a growing concern nationally that the old ways of centralized project development of plan, design, and build—absent community engagement—is a surefire way of generating citizen opposition and project disaster.

A crucial step that the United States took to avoid the situation that China is now addressing was passing the National Environmental Policy and Environment Act of 1969 (NEPA). NEPA is our national law designed to address anticipated citizen resistance to projects that intrude into people’s physical, social and cultural environments. Companies are often surprised to learn that NEPA requires a thorough social impact assessment and mitigation program along with the physical environmental studies. However, this social requirement has all but been lost in NEPA studies. Yet, it is exactly this neglected requirement where a company can actually learn what the real community issues are, and what they can do to address them from the very beginning of a project and throughout the project’s life. Companies that are involved with federal agencies must insist that, thorough social assessments and impact mitigation, requirements are met under NEPA.

However, with or without adequate NEPA implementation, it is time for companies to protect their investment by developing and staffing their own independent team of professionals skilled in the science of community. By addressing community-related issues that cause excess budget over-runs and project schedule delays, the team would be responsible for understanding the community’s concerns and taking a proactive approach to preventing project disruption by assisting citizens to participate in, predict and control their environment.

The social risk has become too great to not formally recognize and systematically act upon the underlying causes of how and why citizens go from potential healthy participation to organizing to fight a project. Regardless of whether the project is on public or private land, today’s projects require and deserve this level of attention.
Jim Kent
A global social ecologist, Jim has extensive expertise in crafting empowered partnerships between corporations, communities and governments. As President of JKA Group, he is an advocate for using culture-based strategies when introducing site/corridor projects to local communities. Visit http://www.jkagroup.com or email jkent@jkagroup.com.
At the World Gas Conference in June 2012, ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson addressed the importance of open communication with leaders at all levels as well as local communities.

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A Vet Responds to Jim’s Comment

Posted by Jim on November 8, 2011

And the sad downside for the Vets is that their numbers of unemployed is stunningly high at 20%, and congress will not move a jobs bill to help the vets!! In fact congress will try to take away unemployment benefit extension this Friday, of which the Vets make up a high percentage. Where’s the compassion we showed for the World War II Vets who came back to jobs programs, transitional training, federal subsidized housing (my brother Albert lived in that housing for 12 years) tax supported higher education and trade schools with the GI Bill, etc.

Have we become so polarized that we don’t care about the folks who fight the wars anymore? It is as though we send them off and when they come home we throw them away. They are immaterial to our economic system. For all of the celebration honoring vets, we better start taking care of them when they come home, all of the above plus recognize the Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome is an illness not a state of mind—and deal with it as a national priority along with the rehabilitation of destroyed bodies.

My take on Veterans Day: On 11-11-11— let’s announce a national commitment to take care of our Vets and return them to mainstream life in all the villages, towns and cities where they come back to live, and seek work, happiness and their part of the American Dream!! No more parades with great speeches and then forget about what they have done for all of us the other 364 days a year. Time for redemption of a promise to these men and women. As the great poet Robert Service said in The Cremation of Sam MaGee: ” ….a promise made is a debt unpaid.”

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Veterans Day 1-11-11

Posted by Jim on November 8, 2011

And the sad downside for the Vets is that their numbers of unemployed is stunningly high at 20%, and congress will not move a jobs bill to help the vets!! In fact congress will try to take away unemployment benefit extension this Friday, of which the Vets make up a high percentage. Where’s the compassion we showed for the World War II Vets who came back to jobs programs, transitional training, federal subsidized housing (my brother Albert lived in that housing for 12 years) tax supported higher education and trade schools with the GI Bill, etc.

Have we become so polarized that we don’t care about the folks who fight the wars anymore? It is as though we send them off and when they come home we throw them away. They are immaterial to our economic system. For all of the celebration honoring vets, we better start taking care of them when they come home, all of the above plus recognize the Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome is an illness not a state of mind—and deal with it as a national priority along with the rehabilitation of destroyed bodies.

My take on Veterans Day: On 11-11-11— let’s announce a national commitment to take care of our Vets and return them to mainstream life in all the villages, towns and cities where they come back to live, and seek work, happiness and their part of the American Dream!! No more parades with great speeches and then forget about what they have done for all of us the other 364 days a year. Time for redemption of a promise to these men and women. As the great poet Robert Service said in The Cremation of Sam MaGee: ” ….a promise made is a debt unpaid.”

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The Difference between Citizen Issue Groups and Citizen Committees

Posted by Jim on October 28, 2011

Date: July 14, 2008
To: Interested Parties
From: Jim Kent
RE: Email Communication
This is a response to a citizen caretaker who had a question about the difference
between Citizen Groups, that are so useful and successful in generating social capital
in a community, and what was going on in his town with his Towns formal control of
citizen participation through having to serve on formal Committees. The caretaker’s
comment: “ it looks like citizen involvement but the structure being used is not
empowering citizens in their governing process. So what is going on?”
Here was my response:
The best distinction is in the language in your email inquiry. Your reference to“a Citizen
Group”. A Citizen “Group” is formed for a short term task, highly focused,
accomplishment oriented, is solutions based and made up of citizens who have the skills
and talent for resolving a specific issue. It is a Group not a Committee. What your
Manager and Town Board are using are Committees. Committees are generally used to
support the formal policies of the Town Board and are not designed to empower or solve
specific issues of citizens, and are very long term. Most citizens do not want to serve on
such committees but are anxious in participating in action issue groups.
A Committee structure is like what happened at Charley’s first meeting with the new
Open Space and Trails “Committee”. The staff led by your Manager came in with the
program to hire a $50,000 consultant to work on designing an Open Space and Trails
program. Charley raised objection, stating that the Citizens are totally capable of
designing their own process and program. “After all the consultant will talk to the
citizens anyways and we are the citizens, so we do not need to hire a consultant.”
Charley’s model is Citizen Issue Group or Citizen Action Group where citizens are
empowered to address an issue in a “beginning and ending” time frame. So through
Charley’s effort they ended up with a Citizen Issue Group without the consultant and not
a long standing committee that often burns citizens out.
What was happening is that the Manager was trying to use his Town’s Committee
structure which in this case was a disenfranchisement of the citizens by essentially
announcing that “we” the staff are going to control this. “We just need this new
committee to rubber stamp our (the staff and council) decisions”. What generally
happens in a case like this is that the consultant meets with the Committee, does his
deliverables, reports to the Manager and the Manager to the Board. The rubber stamping
process was picked off by Charley because, as I mentioned earlier, he is from the Citizen
“Group” School of participation. The Citizen Group School is where the citizens are in
charge, they do the research and make the decisions with support (not management) from
the staff and the council facilitates the process (not regulates).
Committees are generally burn out for the participants because they work off of a generic
topic (not a specific accomplishable end product), staff controls and there is no letting the
citizens handle the problem in a holistic manner. Committees often function as an
extension of formal power.
Citizen Groups have tremendous energy throughout their issue resolution process. And at
the end are still energized. The Levinson Group for instance had complete responsibility
to negotiate the issues on the Levinson parcel now owned by the Town. The 3 person
group finished in 3 months and turned the results over to the Town Manager who had the
authority to write an ordinance for the Town Board that structured and funded the
solution. We now have a great town park and the Roaring Fork Nature Conservancy on
the site and the old mobile homes were bought out.
In a Committee structure you could not get such a focus because it is not constructed
around accomplishment and responsibility. It is generally structured around an
assumption of passivity and control by the powers that be, even though their intent seems
The Town Manager formed the Comcast Citizen Group the same way as the Levinson
Citizens Group. Citizens who knew technology and the Comcast politics were appointed
to take on the Comcast issue. As citizens who knew land use and finances were on the
Levinson Group, financial and Internet Technology talent were on the Comcast Group.
This group took 6 months to do its work. One result of the negotiation is Basalt’s
Community Access station funded by Comcast. We are the only community in the valley
to have such a facility. This facility is a direct negation between citizens and Comcast.
The Town Council or staff would never have been able to accomplish this outcome as has
been shown in Aspen and Carbondale where the policy bodies did the negotiation.
Both were short term and needed specific, non-political, talent to resolve the complicated
issues. That is why Citizen Groups are so affective in building social capital and
Committees are generally not. Usually in appointing a Committee you are trying to
balance the politics, ethnicity, diverse interests and people with formal pro and con
This is not so with Citizen Issue Groups—this structure goes for talent and solutions
oriented process people on a specific actionable issue.
The River Master Plan (RMP) was a classic example of a Citizen Issues Group approach
even though it was longer termed. There were many well coordinated smaller citizen
groups and each worked on a real issue that aggregated to the whole body. These Groups
had specific names, like Kayak Location Group. The RMP Citizen Group was facilitated
by the staff and supported by the Council, and Council members participated as citizens
when in the Groups. JKA handled the community participation and policy develop part
of the process. It gave them tremendous insight from a citizen, social capital perspective
when it came time to implement the RMP.
To this day no citizen that worked on this (3 years) has talked of burn out.
This is very similar to the very successful Kona Community Development Plan process
just completed on the Big Island of Hawaii. The Steering Committee which was a
facilitative body for citizen participation, not a decision making body, is now out of
business. Their recommendations for an ordinance were approved by County Council on
a 9-0 vote in a very short time frame. Everyone knew what was in the findings and had
ownership of them. There were no surprises.
Having clear beginnings and endings is essential for citizens being able to maintain their
interest in further issue management work. The citizens even worked out an
implementation process that fit the culture and based their solutions on an incremental
time and sequence approach to very complex issues. The talent developed among the
Steering Committee (Group) is very valuable for future action. In addition the citizens
will be ready and have energy for their next challenges when they come. But clearly in
both examples above having a clear ending preserves the citizen energy and enthusiasm
to have new beginnings when the time arrives.
This short term, end state focus of the action enhances citizen spirit and the social capital
that that spirit generates.
Jim kent

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Wes and Jim dialogue on Steinbeck and the Occupy Wall Street phenomena

Posted by Jim on October 26, 2011

The following is an exchange between Wes Stillwagon and Jim Kent which is a continuation of my post yesterday under Deep Democracy.


Here’s a virtual toast to Garry Trudeau!

Relative to Tortilla Flat, I believe the first actual forming of a phalanx among the paisanos was inspired, clarified, and verbalized by Pilon. The group’s feeling that Danny, the apparent caretaker (my opinion) was spending too much energy and time at “Sweets” (with the Sweeping Machine) and did not have time or energy to be with them. “At first his friends ignored his absence, for it is the right of every man to have these little affairs. But as the weeks went on, and as a rather violent domestic life began to make Danny listless and pale, his friends became convinced that Sweets’ gratitude for the sweeping-machine was not to Danny’s best physical interests” From Steinbeck’s Tortilla Flat. Their verbalized concern for Danny’s physical health was their logical rationalization for their call to action. Their actual value driven inspiration was that they were jealous of a situation that was holding Danny’s attention so long.* In judging group or team behavior, the logical rationalization and the value judgment are significant in analyzing group or team actions as they would require different responses.

The phalanx appeared at the group perception (value driven) of a problem that needed eliminating, “Wherefore the friends, in despair, organized a group, formed for and dedicated to her destruction.” (The objective).

Specifically, I believe the group was reacting to a vacuum created by the missing and beloved Caretaker Danny and the leader in this action was Pilon. I believe a similar reaction would have been witnessed on Cannery Row if Doc’s time and presence were dominated by Suzy. I suspect the leading role on Cannery Row in such a situation would have been filled by Fauna or Mac.

The phalanx (with the objective) was a complex of unique and to them, tacitly understood, individuals drawn together by forces in the collective unconscious (like opposite poles of magnets). It would be a big mistake to attempt to influence the illusionary mass or community. “Their campaign had called into play and taxed to the limit the pitiless logic of Pilon, the artistic ingenuousness of Pablo, and the gentleness and humanity of Jesus Maria Corcoran. Big Joe (the Portagee) had contributed nothing.” (Steinbeck) Does this not remind one of Jung’s functional types?

The OSW apparently has yet to realize this necessary quality of a successful phalanx or team effort and as a result we’ve see no tangible accomplishment beyond a show or theatrics.

The phalanx, if made up of individuals of higher adult maturity, has strength far beyond that of its apparent resources. Our society suffers tremendously by failing to realize the structure and dynamics of Steinbeck’s phalanx and Jung’s collective unconscious.

*This is, in my opinion, not unlike the feelings of the apostles, especially Peter, toward Mary Magdalene’s domination of the attention of Jesus”


Good insights and theory application Wes. So using the Danny analysis in the OWS movement to a Phalanx here is where I think we (they) are:

“But as the weeks went on, and as a rather violent domestic life began (the 99% of neglected citizens by the system) to make Danny listless and pale (our society before OWS–remember “where’s the anger”) , his friends (the occupiers with social networking at their finger tips) became convinced that Sweets’ gratitude for the sweeping-machine (Wall Street) was not to Danny’s best physical interests (our society and the 99%ers)” From Steinbeck’s Tortilla Flat.

“……at the group perception (value driven) of a problem (OWS) that needed eliminating (the inequities of our system) , “Wherefore the friends, in despair, (occupiers of Wall Street and international movement) organized a group (not done yet–still in the self organizing stage–but coming), formed for and dedicated to her destruction (not decided yet-still time for reasonable equitable outcomes) (The objective).

Danny, Pilon and the boys would have never agreed to allow a “Super Committee of 12 to decide the fate of our society” not now, not ever. They were participating in, predicting and controlling their environment and would not tollerate giving their power away as this congress has done.

So among the phalanx of Steinbeck, Jungs functional types, Kent’s informal network archetypes, and Wes’s concept of the individual–we are in pretty good shape to understand this OWS phenomena in a manner that pundits cannot comprehend because they are trapped in the tapestry of the formal system of leaders, control, imposed goals, self-serving actions, and no sense of humor.

Of course from Steinbeck’s writings is where I first extracted the basic concepts of the Discovery Process—from the Moon is Down, Cannery Row, Sweet Thursday and Grapes of Wrath.

Well said Wes, how was my interpretation?? And a hardy toast to Jon Stewart who has the only real news on TV!!



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The Occupy Wall Street and Social Ecology

Posted by Jim on October 25, 2011

To all Steinbeck and Social Ecology scholars and practitioners.

The attached article, miss labeled by the headline writer, is a must read for all of us. Putting politics and pundits aside this is an important happening for our social ecology and public policy program. The story it turns out is a description of “self organizing principles” being created for governance of a newly emerging phenomena of diverse community (not the threatening headline that was chosen). The description in the story shows how the “occupiers” in NYC are creating their own governance system. What is fascinating is that this is coming from many who have, I am almost certain, not participated in community creation, but have been pretty isolated in their computer worlds (taken from some of the interviews). You remember Ex President Havel”s famous speech on the Velvet Revolution: “how did our young people, raised totally all of their lives under the oppression of the Soviet Union, know about the democratic principles they so wonderfully represented to bring down 40 some years of oppression.” (see Kent’s blog for complete story under Obama and Havel).

This story is an almost pure description of how the self organizing unfolds, step by step (discovery, reflection, form creation, correction, discovery, reflection). You will note the different informal network archetypes. Also some of the guidance rules they have developed that I have never heard of before: a Paramount Objection is a show stopper and is only to be used when the community harmony is threatened. There is a Stack Keeper, a new word or function to me, that insures that the different points of view are equally heard and that one segment does not dominate. (the formal hearings on development projects from government agencies could use a Stack Keeper, to prevent one segment from un reasonably dominating a meeting).

Talk about collaboration in its pure sense, and facilitation as an emergent governance process. In our social capital writings and practices we see government as being a facilitative and reflective body for forming the policies that enhance citizen empowerment. Aristotle and Socrates would be proud of this self organizing phenomena and the Forest Service and Interior Department as well as Defense, who mouth collaboration should be encouraged to study this pure form of collaboration.

Steinbeck, the inspiration of much of our social ecology work, along with Ed Ricketts would also be proud of what is happening here. Because of the self organizing principles that have emerged, the individuals have transcended the mob phenomena and have introduced a form of governance that we call heart and soul or governance by social capital. Watch out for what Steinbeck wrote about in the Grapes of Wrath. Remember the law enforcement that sent in disruptor’s to cause a commotion at the dance so that they could rush in and destroy the government run facility that treated the migrants as human. This could happen here by threatened groups, not necessarily the police, who have already tried thier harrassment tactics and furthered the occupiers mission and numbers. Her discussion, the interviewee, of how they, the individuals in the group, know who the undercover agents are is priceless. They know by the “language” they use. An undercover agents, for instance,first question is “who are your leaders”. (real meaning so we can pick them off) her answer is really a Steinbeck type of response.

I think this whole phenomena of the Occupy Wall Street needs our analytical and writing attention. No matter what happens this is a profound moment in our emerging democracy and game changer of power shifting from formal to informal systems, while the society is redefined that will create a more human, just and eqitable alignment. It had to happen as did the Arab Spring and the Velvet Revolution. When formal systems no longer connect to the people, the masses so to speak, the people eventually figure out that this is not what a democracy (or a dictatorship, or olegarchy) is about and self organize to correct on a massive scale. The non-violent commitment is key and reminds me of the six years of work that we did with President Corizon Aquino when she was elected president of the Philippines. As Havel said: “How did they know”.

P.S. Erik,Kevin, Trish let’s consider posting this to the web site on social ecology ths Erik put up if it is appropriate

Here is an excerp form my op.ed. piece written in 2009 using V’aclav Havel’s Velvet Revolution as he makes a profound point in how communism was driven out of Czechloslavakia. Note the informal word of mouth communication recognition imbedded in his speech.


KENT: In 1989, Presidential candidate V’aclav Havel spoke to the people of Czechoslovakia about principles and core values. Havel started talking about these principles and that precedent spread across Czechoslovakia and became known as the “Velvet Revolution.” This revolution saw the relinquishment of political power by the communists and it set the stage for the first free elections since 1946.

As a social ecologist concerned with how public policy is formed, I followed the Velvet Revolution very closely. Literally overnight Czechoslovakia moved from a oppressive centralized society to a vibrant, free, enterprise-centered culture seemingly overnight. By l992 the individual vendors in Prague lined the Charles Bridge, and churches were well on their way to complete historic restoration. Private business ventures flourished throughout the city and countryside. By all indications from an outside observer, one would have expected the conversion from totalitarianism to freedom to take many years. It did not. This shift to democracy that energized the civic order occurred in three short years. I believe there are two main causal factors for this rapid return to democracy.

The first factor is the observation that whatever culture is in place when oppression sets in is by-in-large the culture that will emerge when the oppression is overcome. Czechoslovakia before oppression had a high degree of civic culture and order.

The second factor recognizes the cultural mechanisms that function when oppression is in place. These are the informal communication and caretaker networks that become invisible to the oppressors, but also become stronger in order for the people to survive. These networks operate within natural gathering places and are concerned with preserving the heart and soul of their civic order. Gathering places—coffee shops, barbershops, beauty parlors, bars, restaurants, public areas, and the like—provide the opportunity to see the everyday real faces of society. Personal relationships are the key outcome made possible through gathering places. Informal caretaker and communication networks are tied to gathering places and provide the element of trust in communities. It is in these informal networks that the beliefs, traditions, stories, values are preserved out of sight of formal systems. The power of these societal elements occurring within the gathering places and informal networks held together the Czech culture pre-1989 and thus offered a foundation for survival during those many years of occupation.

To give context and insight to what happened in Czechoslovakia during this period the following is quoted directly from President V’aclav Havel’s speech made on January 1, 1990, as a New Years Address to the Nation in Prague. HAVEL said:

“Let us not be mistaken: the best government in the world, the best parliament and the best president, cannot achieve much on their own. And it would be wrong to expect a general remedy from them alone. Freedom and democracy include participation and therefore responsibility from us all. If we realize this, then all the horrors that the new Czechoslovak democracy inherited will cease to appear so terrible. If we realize this, hope will return to our hearts..

“In an effort to rectify matters of common concern, we have something to lean on. The recent period—and in particular the last six weeks of our peaceful revolution—has shown the enormous human, moral and spiritual potential, and the civic culture that slumbered in our society under the enforced mask of apathy. Whenever someone categorically claimed that we were this or that, I always objected that society is a very mysterious creature and that it is unwise to trust only the face it presents to you…………………Everywhere in the world people wonder where those meek, humiliated, skeptical and seemingly cynical citizens of Czechoslovakia found the marvelous strength to shake the totalitarian yoke from their shoulders in several weeks, and in a decent and peaceful way. And let us ask:

· Where did the young people who never knew another system get their desire for truth, their love of free
thought, their political ideas, their civic courage and civic prudence?
· How did it happen that their parents—the very generation that had been lost—joined them?

· How is it that so many people immediately knew what to do and none needed any advice or instruction?

“I think there are two main reasons……….

· First of all, people are never just a product of the external world; they are also able to relate themselves to something superior, however systematically the external world tries to kill that ability in them.

· Secondly, the humanistic and democratic traditions, about which there had been so much idle talk, did after all slumber in the unconsciousness of our nations and ethnic minorities, and were inconspicuously passed from one generation to another, so that each of us could discover them at the right time and transform them into deeds.”


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Hawaii and Guam: Strategic Convergent Zones for the United States Forward Defense Strategy inthe Pacific

Posted by Jim on February 28, 2011

In October of 2010 I had a short statement on the happenings in the Pacific Rim and promised a full update at a later time.  This paper is the update. In developing this full update Dr. Eric Casino, John Ryan, Lee Weber (Guam based)  and I visited the Asia-Pacific Center for Security Studies in Honolulu.  We were hosted by Deputy Director Jame T. Hirai and had a full exchange of ideas including our new project on Moloka`i addressing Microenterprise development

Hawaii and Guam: Strategic Convergence Zones for the United States  Forward Defense Strategy in the Pacific Rim

By James A. Kent, President, JKA Group and Dr. Eric Casino, Director Pacific Affairs, JKA Group

Robert Kaplan had an article in the May/June 2010 issue of Foreign Affairstitled “The Geography of Chinese Power: How Far Can Beijing Reach on Land and at Sea?” His discussion of what the Chinese Navy calls the “first island chain” and the second island chain” in the Pacific Ocean drew our attention. These two maritime constructs are not simply linear descriptions of the layout of islands but ones with value-added undertones for both Chinese and American geostrategists over the Pacific Rim. Among these undertones, three are discussed below. First is the

general observation that geography trumps politics in dealing with the emergent Chinese power. Second is that  Guam and Hawaii because of  their critically important position in the second island chain are historically poised to benefit the nations of the Pacific Rim by becoming new convergence zones. Third the emerging trends and the actions needed to capture, benefit from and give leadership to these trends for the Pacific century are discussed.

An Aggressive Proposition

The “first island chain” consists of the Korean Peninsula, the Kuril Islands,

Japan (including the Ryukyo Islands), Taiwan, the Philippines, Indonesia,

and Australia (Kaplan, p. 33). The “second island chain” includes the U.S.

territories of Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands (Kaplan, p. 34).

According to Kaplan the Chinese consider these two chains as

“archipelagic extensions of the Chinese landmass.” This is an aggressive

1“The Geography of Chinese Power: How Far Can Beijing Reach on Land and at Sea?” by Robert Kaplan, Foreign Affairs,May/June 2010, Volume 89, Number 3, pp 22 to 41.


proposition, considering that Guam and the Marianas are within the

forward defense arc of the United States. There is a critical need to

question this China-centric perspective by expanding the strategic

framework of analysis to embrace the whole Pacific zone that includes

the two continents of North and South America as integral components of

the Pacific Rim (see page 2, Pacific Rim Global Resource Unit).

To better understand this unfolding, China-centric perspective, a historic

perspective is offered. The JKA Group between 1986 and 1992 was

working in China for US West, a telecommunications company, (now

Qwest) and the Philippines, for President Corazon Aquino. It was found

that the then existing definition of “Pacific Rim” was somewhat useless for

social, economic, and military purposes because it tended to limit the

view to the United States and China as bracketing parameters. The JKA

team set a course to define the Pacific Rim within a global resource unit

context. With the help of a broad team of practitioners from Asia, North

America, South America, and Australia, who had ongoing interests and

knowledge about market trends, trade routes, product development, and

social and cultural insights, the Pacific Rim was drawn in a new

geographic context. As one can imagine, it was hard to find a map of

the world that puts the Pacific Ocean in the middle. The traditional

Eurocentric map marginalized the Pacific to the degree that one could

not comprehend its vastness and structure. What cannot be seen

geographically does not exist – as far as the mind is concerned.

The Pacific Rim Map the JKA team created, displayed below, shows the

boundary line on the Eastern side of the Pacific follows the Andes

Mountains in South America, the 98th

meridian through the U.S., and the

water/vegetation line in Canada, and northward to Alaska. On the

Western side, the line comes down through Russia and continues on the

border that puts Mongolia, Xinjiang and Tibet on the Indian side of

geographic influence. The line actually follows the geographic area

where the head waters of the Yellow, Yangtze and Mekong rivers begin

their lives. Kaplan re-enforces this geographic line by pointing out

China’s use of force to keep the three geographic areas within their zone

of influence. In the end that will not work for them since geography will

2 The JKA Group employs Human Geographic Mapping to understand productive harmony between human and physical

environments. By “entering the routines” of a community (The Discovery Process™), the actual functioning of the culture, its resilience and absorption capacity are described, including the geographic features that distinguish one population from another. Efforts to mobilize people in their environment and to foster empowerment in dealing with change arecalled Human Geographic Issue Management Systems (HGIMS)™.

HGIMS provides the natural boundaries necessary forfreeing the energy and creativity for people to act from a foundation of their geographic, place-based cultures



ultimately trump political control. This concept is important to recognize

for U.S. social, cultural and defense strategy in the Pacific

With this Pacific Rim Map a better understanding is gained of the Chinese

and their relationship to the “second island chain” which falls on the

“forward defense area” of the U.S. at Guam, the Marianas, the Carolines,

and southern Oceania. Potential Chinese military activities here have no

precedents historically. It was Japan, not China, which swept over most of

the Western Pacific. The massive U.S. military response to the Japanese

attack on Pearl Harbor and occupation of some islands in Oceania have

resulted in what Kaplan calls “legacy bases” along both the first and the

second island chains. There is little probability that China has the logistics

capability to physically breach U.S. hegemony in much of the Western

Pacific at this time. This, however, is rapidly changing with China’s foreign

aid and economic development programs targeted throughout the

3″ The Revenge of Geography”, Robert D. Kaplan, Foreign Policy Magazine, May/June 2009. Kaplan’s advice is thatWestern politicians and strategists need to “return to the map, and particularly to what he calls the political geography of the “shattered zones” of Eurasia. Also see Sir Halford J. Mackinder, “The Geographical Pivot of History” The Royal Geographical Society, 1904 where the case is made for geography trumping politics: “Man and not nature imitates, butnature in large part controls”. Mackinder looked at European history as “subordinate” to that of Asia, for he saw European civilization as merely the outcome of the struggle against Asiatic invasion

Pacific island nations. The use of soft power, which they are using to gain

influence and control, is the only choice China currently has given the U.S.

administrative and military presence.

This second island chain is not comparable to the size, composition,

resources, and strategic value of the first island chain. In this first island

seascape the Chinese Navy will see little but trouble, says Kaplan. This is

because first island chain island units are themselves nation-states and are

wary of being under the shadow of Greater China hegemony. Japan

once tried to dominate much of this first island chain under its discredited

greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere. Furthermore there is the growing

consolidation of the 10-nation ASEAN political and economic

conglomerate that has a much greater frontage than China on the South

China Sea and therefore having common claim on it. Some western

geostrategists in the U.S. Naval War College consider the chain as a kind

of “Great Wall in reverse”, where a well-organized line of U.S. allies “serve

as sort of guard towers to monitor and possibly block China’s access to

the Pacific Ocean”.

The Potential for Unintended Consequences

This analogy is ambivalent with serious hidden contradictions. If one

accepts this line as marking China’s forward defense area, it unwittingly

reveals a willingness to recognize and concede China’s claim that the

South China Sea behind this wall is indeed China’s—a claim that the West

and countries in South Asia, Southeast Asia, and Northeast Asia are

naturally denying. Any intention to box in China behind this first island

chain is contrary to the principles of freedom of navigation that the United

Nations desires all countries to respect in the case of the South China Sea.

Concern about encirclement appears to be one major reason for China’s

build up of Hainan Island as a major submarine base and is an open

preparation for defensive and assertive activity in maritime zones

surrounding China. In view of these developments, there is new thinking

that desires to define and reconfigure the South China Sea as the “Asian

Mediterranean”– a concept of maritime commons, open to free,

international navigation.

No nation has a monopoly or territorial claim on the Mediterranean, and

neither should there be in the Asian Mediterranean. The more the West


Ibid, page 40.

5 On the concept of “Asian Mediterranean,” see Eric Casino and Myongsup Shin, “South China Sea or ‘Asian Mediterranean Sea’: Re-conceptualizing a Common Regional Maritime Zone,” in International Area Review, Vol. 2, No. 1 (Spring 1999)pp. 43-63.

strives to box in China behind this wall, the more China is motivated to

counter by controlling navigation inside the South China Sea by

territorializing it as if it were a landmass. However there is one caveat that

is of critical importance. Taiwan has defense agreements with the U.S.

and is entwined with the countries in the first island chain. If China should

take over Taiwan (or “when” as some analysists say), it would open up this

geographic area to China’s influence literally over night by assuming

control of the trade and defense agreements that Taiwan has with

nations in the Pacific Rim, especially in the South China Sea. This

expectation makes the second island chain as the U.S. forward defense

area of critical importance to the whole Pacific region. This essentially

means that there has to be policy recognition and commitment that puts

Hawaii and Guam in a set of power relationships comparable to those of

the first island chain that have dominated the Pacific for centuries.

An Alternative to a Military Construct

Previous Pacific Rim international research and business engagements

show that both the first and second island-chain constructs need not be

defined in exclusive military terms of defense and offense, of platforms of

hard power projections. If we revert to alternative definitions of human

geographic units inside and around the Pacific Rim rather than exclusively

political units, increasing positive exchanges across the Pacific can be

seen that have roots going back to hundreds if not thousands of years.

Southeast Asia and Northeast Asia are the anchors of the first island chain,

and movement up and down this chain was predominantly in terms of

commerce and trade

. We recognize, of course, that during the days of

European imperialism followed by Japan’s counter-imperialism, there

were eruptions of destructive colonial wars as well as unequal treaties and

political and commercial domination.

The regions around the littoral edge of China are better understood

historically as convergence zones rather than confrontation walls

separating segments of the Pacific community. Its character as

convergence zones is attested to by the coexistence here of ancient

races and contemporary multi-ethnicities. Here one sees the coexistence

of Hinduism, Buddhism, Islam, Confucianism, and Christianity. From here

have emerged the mixing and deployment of hundreds of related


For a broad treatment of international commerce in Southeast Asia, see Anthony Reid, Southeast Asia in the Age ofCommerce 1450-1680. (New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 1988 and 1993). On China’s major attempt to project commercial power into Southeast Asia, the Indian Ocean, South Asia, the Middle East, and Africa, see the amazing exploits of “admiral” Zheng He in Louise Levathes, When China Ruled the Seas. (Oxford University 1994). It is important to note that Zheng He showed no interest in venturing out to the “second island chain” in the Western Pacific but confined his seven epic expeditions to territories in the first island chain down to Africa.

Austronesian languages spread out across Micronesia, Polynesia, and


. Thus to draw connections and promote exchanges between

Singapore and Guam, or between Hong Kong and Hawaii are warranted

by centuries of similar exchanges in the history of the Pacific Rim

communities that predate European colonization and Japanese


It is important to recall that the colonization of the Pacific was through the

agency of Western powers – Spain, England, France, Germany, Russia, the

United States and Australia.

The recent formal decolonization of the

Marianas, Guam, Palau, the Carolines, the Marshalls and rest of

Micronesia, Oceania and French Polynesia is a clear recognition

by the United Nations that the Pacific was not historically under Western

commercial, cultural and political influence, but had ancient informal and

formal trade relationships that predate this colonization period.

From 1565 onwards, somewhat after Magellan discovered Guam and the

Philippines in 1521, Spain inaugurated 200 years of trans-Pacific trade

known to historians as the Manila-Acapulco trade. In reality this was a

commercial alignment between China and the Americas, with Manila as

the transit point of American silver exchanged for Chinese exotic

porcelain and silk bound for the Americas and Europe.

As a result of

centuries of international commerce and modern migratory movements,

the overseas Chinese are today a significant demographic element in all

Pacific Rim communities. When their talents, resourcefulness, and capital

are coordinated with the new vibrancy of modern Chinese civilization, the

Asia-Pacific region can expect to take the lead in constructive

globalization in the 21st 

century. In this future scenario, the function of the

sea and the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ –The 200 Hundred Nautical

Miles around continents and islands) will be decisive.


The most useful reference on Southeast Asian prehistory and the spread of the Malayo-Polynesian family of languagesin the Pacific is Peter Bellwood, Man’s Conquest of the Pacific: the Prehistory of Southeast Asia and Oceania. (Oxford University Press 1979).


For a good standard reference on early European discoveries in the Pacific, see Andrew Sharp, The Discovery of the Pacific Islands, Oxford University Press, 1960.


On the subsequent commercial colonization of Guam, Marianas, and the Carolines, see Francis X. Hezel, S.J. The FirstTaint of Civilization. (Hawaii University Press 1983). On the later decolonization of islands under the U.S. Trust Territories, see P.F.Kluge, the Edge of Paradise: American in Micronesia. (New York: Random House 1991).


A classic treatment of the Manila-Acapulco trade is found in William L. Schurz, The Manila Galleon. (New York: E. P. Dutton & Co. 1939).


A Promising Alternative

Pacific Rim trends were recently highlighted in the Asian Pacific Economic

Cooperation (APEC) Summit in Yokohama, Japan on November 13 and

14, 2010. There is now talk that the APEC forum will be complemented by

the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a proposed free trade zone that now

includes Brunei, Singapore, Chile, and New Zealand (all in the Pacific Rim

Global Resource Unit displayed above). The United States and Australia,

and eventually China, will join this group that intends to eliminate most

tariffs and other trade barriers. TPP is seen as a vehicle toward a much

wider Pacific Rim treaty. It is very instructive to note what the summit

report says: “Many Asian nations have viewed with alarm China’s newly

assertive posture on territorial issues this year, and welcomed

Washington’s efforts to re-engage with a region where it is seen as an

important counterbalance.”


A less alarmist tone is the clear statement by President Obama made at the Summit on November 13, 2010: “the security and prosperity of the American people is inextricably linked to thesecurity and prosperity of Asia.”

It is this deep historical background of commercial, scientific, and cultural

relations across the Pacific that should assist and enrich creative rethinking

on the future of Hawaii and Guam as strategically located at the

geographic heart of the Pacific Rim. Especially important is the planned

move of the Marine Corps’ base from Okinawa to Guam. This must take

place in a manner that builds Guam into a full social and economic

participant in the Pacific Rim power alignments and not just a military

repositioning of U.S. forces. This requires that the move directly benefit the

people in order to avoid a long term conflict that saps U.S. energy and

forward defense security.

Other forthcoming events and trends, described herein, will encourage

fresh recalibration of the potential of Hawaii and Guam for social, cultural,

economic, scientific, and military innovations, as essential to engaging

current and future Chinese influence.

The Navy, with its massive Pacific command Headquarters in Hawaii, is

putting enormous resources into becoming free of fossil-fuels and energy

independent within a five to ten year period for its ships, aircraft, and air


On the constructive presence of immigrant Chinese entrepreneurs, families, and workers throughout the Pacific Rim,see Sterling Seagrave, Lords of the Rim (Corgi Adult, 1996).


There is an enormous opportunity for Hawaii and Guam to

piggy back onto the opportunities the Navy research provides for

applications in military and civilian enterprises. However, in order to

benefit from this conversion activity, both Hawaii and Guam must mobilize

to expand its thinking beyond the old paradigms of tourism, military bases,

and service industries of the 20


century into what the 21

st  century has tooffer. In this emerging era, the Pacific Rim is

functioning as the major player in world affairs.

What the future implies is that Hawaii, given its centrality as the base of

Navy, Air Force, and Marine infrastructure, could also become the

commercial, scientific, and renewable energy innovation center for the

Western Pacific. Hawaii has the capability to be the showcase of

renewable energy for the world. The islands are endowed with 11 of 13

world climates along with wind, solar, geothermal and wave energy

resources, which can all be developed as integral resources of ongoing,

practical industries, as soon as outstanding cultural and environmental

objections can be overcome. Hawaii likewise is the hub for high tech

companies in the region, and as such, the islands would complement

innovation enterprises in Singapore in Southeast Asia and Japan in

Northeast Asia. Recognizing the emerging Pacific Rim trends especially in

the Chinese sphere, the alignment of Hawaii with its counterparts in the

convergence zones of East Asia will contribute to the security and growth

of Trans-Pacific commerce, technology, science, education, and business

leadership development.

Coming Emphasis on the “Gathering Place” in the Convergence Zone

Hawaii is slated to host the next APEC summit in 2011 and undoubtedly

also the expanded Trans-Pacific Partnership.

Therefore strategies need

to be developed now in order to use these powerful gatherings as an


In a recent column, Tom Friedman, (The U.S.S. Prius, The New York Times, Opinion Page, December 18,2010)discusses in detail “weighing anchor for a green navy”. The conversion of the Navy and the Marine Corps to a fossil-freefuture creates enormous opportunities for Hawaii and Guam to enter the 21st century as partners with this green conversion.


The choice of Hawaii is just the latest recognition of how historically important Hawaii is as the hub of diversetransactions for countries in the Pacific Rim. It was the “gas and go” center of international whalers in the whole Pacific in the 19thcentury. Subsequent immigration waves have brought in Chinese, Japanese, Koreans, Vietnamese, Thais, Cambodians, Filipinos, Portuguese, Hispanics, Afro-Americans, and Pacific Islanders — all continuing to enhance Hawaii’s original Polynesian population and culture. Hawaii is the home of international institutions such as the East-West Center and the Asia-Pacific Center for Security Studies. The University of Hawaii and the Hawaii Pacific University have studentsand faculty from all quarters of the world. It is uncanny how Hawaii’s schools and multi-ethnic community have educated and nurtured two great world leaders – Dr. Sun Yat-Sen the Chinese President who led China’s independence struggle;and President Barack Obama of the United States. (In fact, President Obama’s personal trajectory  amazingly links Jakarta,Honolulu, and Washington, D.C.) Hawaii is historically a convergence zone in its own right and that history can be rediscovered and built upon.

opportunity to create a paradigm shift of historic proportions for U.S.

interests in the Pacific. To optimize these events and social constructs, it

will require Hawaii and Guam to undertake various actions that can set

the course for the 21 st century:

Understand in a dynamic policy and infrastructure shift that Guam

and the Northern Marianas are our forward defense areas and must

be stabilized in a healthy and productive manner, not just as

platforms for the projection of American hard power over the

Western Pacific, but also as guarantor for securing free trade

among the nations and economies of the Pacific Rim. The

defensive scope of Guam and the Marianas includes other “legacy

positions” and “legacy alliances” in Oceania and the South Pacific

stemming from the allied victory in the Pacific War. Without a stable

and prosperous Guam, the U.S. is forced to rely on military influence

and control, thus missing an opportunity to address Chinese

hegemony by having a full social, cultural, and economic partner in

this forward defense area.

Create a local Task Force in both Hawaii and Guam of key

innovators and change agents who are currently working on

producing the shift from fossil fuels to green energy in order to

present a social and economic strategy to the APEC conference of

how these two islands intend to accomplish sustainability and future

economic and social power positions in the Pacific. The Task Forces

would build on the Navy’s innovations for parallel civilian

development in linear time that result from the total commitment of

the Navy, Guam and Hawaii to be fossil fuel free by 2020. Guam

and Hawaii loom large as convergence zones for the Western

Pacific–just as Singapore and Hong Kong are in the Asian

Mediterranean. As convergence zones they become indispensible

to free commerce and trade and provide a hedge to the

inevitable future expansion of Chinese influence in the second

island chain.

Incentivize the institutional collaboration to increase our pool of

talented, local people. Programs are needed to remedy the

“brain drain” that has diminished the talent pool in Hawaii and


Secretary of Defense, Robert Gates, has discussed the concept of Guam serving as the U.S. “forward defense area”.His concepts are included in a paper: “From Stabilization to Sustainability: A Collaborative Approach to Manage the Social, Cultural, Environmental and Economic Change Created by the Marine Corps’ Move to Guam”, By James A. Kent, Kevin Preister, John Ryan and Eric Casino. The paper was presented at the University of Guam’s Conference on Islan, September 2, 2010. The paper can be viewed at: www.jkagroup.com/whatisnew

Guam for several decades. Expansion of intellectual capital is the

bottom line for insuring influence and participation that is essential

in competing for enhancing U.S. influence in non-military sectors. As

Wince-Smith of the Council on competitiveness has said: “Talent will

be the oil of the 21st 

Century.” The Navy programs in and of

themselves will generate many new careers in industries that can

be grown in the Pacific and should be optimized on a fast track to

blunt and turn around the brain drain.

Initiate “Life Options for the Future” programs to enable Hawaii to

become more like the Singapore of the Pacific. A “Life Options forthe Future”

benefits for local residents from the actions that are currently taking

place in all sectors: military, environmental, scientific, and business

development. A “coming home” program can be associated with

Life Options ” to bring back to Hawaii and Guam people who

have, for economic reasons, been forced to leave. Building over

the long term a livable, healthy and sustainable environment is

essential to participating in the Pacific era as a full partner and not

as a subordinate to other powers.

Convene gatherings that can produce a long-term action

program, one that will be supported by the nations of the Pacific

Rim, to understand how “citizen-based stewardship,” a major trend

can be harnessed in a manner that produces economic equity as

well as levels the playing field for the people who are citizens of

these countries and territories. The U.S. forward defense strategy

must be expanded to incorporate the building of Hawaii and Guam

into scientific, commercial, education, technology and business

convergence centers. This effort can convert the islands into

centers of power such as Singapore represents in the South China

Sea. To out perform China in this expansion area the U.S. needs the

support and energy of the Pacific people if it is to remain an

important and major player in the Pacific Rim. To aid in this move it

needs to be kept in mind that geography trumps politics.

Incentivize educational and business institutions to create a

productive alignment of Singapore, Hong Kong, Guam, and Hawaii

that can usher in the era of a “Blue Nation of the Pacific”

within the

Pacific Rim’s Global Resource Unit.


Lee Webber, former President and Publisher of the Honolulu Advertiser, President of Gannett Pacific and formerPresident and Publisher of the Pacific Daily News, now living in Guam, has recognized the concept of a “Blue Nation.” He is also quoted as saying” “If the cartographers of old would only have used this (cultural mapping) tool, lines may have been drawn [differently] in the Middle East and other areas around the world.”

There is emerging acknowledgement on the part of the Western powers

that indeed this is the century of the Pacific Rim. It is also recognized that

China is fast becoming a major player through social and economic

alignments with the countries of the first island chain and is positioning for

second island chain action. The U.S. in order to address this expansion

must work on insuring convergent zones of influence in the second island

change that are socially and economically healthy and free of any

oppressive control by world powers. The era of raw use of military

influence and control is over both for the U.S. and China. In its place is a

surfacing recognition that change must come from the bottom-up. To

work in this manner, requires a major commitment and readjustment in

U.S. policy and actions.



James A. Kent is a global community analyst with extensive experience with geographic focused social and economic development in Pacific Rim countries. He is President of the JKA Group www.jkagroup.com) which has three enterprises: James Kent Associates, a public policy

consulting firm; Center for Social Ecology and Public Policy, a non-profit that builds public policy from social ecological concepts; and NaturalBorders, a human geographic mapping company. Jim has presented at hundreds of universities, policy forums, and conferences focusing on military issues in the Pacific, environmental policy directed towards thecooling of the earth, citizen based policy formation and implementation, and culture-based enterprise development through collaboration.

Eric Casino is a social anthropologist and freelance consultant with a long-term interest in international business and development programs in Southeast Asia and the Pacific. Beside his association with the JKA Group,he has spent time as an East-West Center research fellow and worked as a consultant with the World Bank in the Philippines. His academic track record included a resident Fulbright Scholar at the University of CaliforniaSanta Cruz, a visiting lecturer at the Asian Institute of Management, and language instructor with the Defense Language Institute and Foreign Language Center. He currently is with the adjunct faculty of the Hawaii Pacific University in Honolulu.


Trish Malone, 808-443-9445   tmalone@jkagroup.com;

Dr. Eric Casino, 808-778-6362


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From Stabilization to Sustainability: A Collaborative Approach to Manage the Social, Cultural, Environmental and Economic change created by the Marine Corps’ move to Guam

Posted by Jim on October 13, 2010



From Stabilization to Sustainability 

How do we manage the Marine units’ move from Okinawa to Guam in a way that supports the existing cultures of Guam, insures that ecological functions are sustained and enhanced, while also fostering social and economic health of the local communities?  Guam is a unique bio-social ecosystem that will be impacted physically, biologically, socially, and economically by the relocation of approximately 20,000 Marines and their families to Guam. Change initiatives which purport to foster sustainability require that certain key functions be in place.  Dr. Kent discussed five key action steps that offered a realistic and effective mitigation, creating an environment of harmony and respect so that all sectors can participate in, and benefit from the change.  (see www.jkagroup.com, publications, what’s new)

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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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