Jim Kent:

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

Archive for the ‘Public Policy Inititatives’ Category

Intermountain West Funders Network

Posted by Jim on October 13, 2010

Jim Kent attended the Intermountain West Funder Network meeting in Aspen, Colorado from September 22 to the 24, 2010. There were over 20 foundations that attended. The focus of the gathering was to build relationships among funders in the Intermountain West to explore models for funder networking and collaboration on civic engagement, land use, and the role of philanthropy in both.  Jim was teamed with a Program Officer from the Hewlett Foundation to discuss the role of funders in advancing renewable energy sources in the Intermountain West.  It was held at the Aspen Institute and hosted by the Aspen Foundation. William Roper, Executive Director, of the Orton Family Foundation which is concerned with the heart and soul issues of rural communities was one of the organizers of the meeting.

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Posted in Public Policy Inititatives, Stories of Heart and Soul | Leave a Comment »

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

 

Abstract

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)

Posted in Deep Democracy, Innovations in Management, Public Policy Inititatives | Leave a Comment »

What is going on in Arizona?

Posted by Jim on May 13, 2010

My daughter Teresa Kent Zink who lives in Paoli, Pennsylvania sent me this question.

Hey Dad,
First the immigration law, now this! Any of your crew getting boots on the ground in Arizona? Yes to the boots on the ground, and see below for the rest of the story……….

Hi Teresa:
They have dropped off of the deep end of xenophobia. There has always been embedded in some of the Anglo culture in Arizona a deep fear of the Hispanic and Indian people. I first ran into it when setting up a meeting in Tucson in 1964 for hearings on establishing the War on Poverty. Our Center for Delinquency Control at the University of Denver got the assignment to hold hearings on poverty in the Southwest. The hearings were to establish what needed to go into the legislation. We picked Tucson because of its location and made arrangements to use a local well known hotel for the hearings.

I guess they thought we were a knitting circle or something like that, because when we showed up with Hispanics, Indians and Blacks, they would not let us into the hotel. To put the times and situation into context the Civil Rights Act of 1964 had just been passed.
We had with us for the panel: Steve Allen, Hubert Humphrey, Sam Yette (editor of Life Magazine), Herrick Roth (labor leader) and two other dignitaries for the panel. (I can’t recall their names right now). So we met to see what we should do about this “lunch counter incident”. We all agreed, the panel and participants, to set up picket lines and shut the hotel down which we did. No one was going to cross THAT picket line.

Well the hotel relented after one day and let us in to conduct our business.

When I got back to DU where I was an Assistant Professor and Deputy Director of the Center for Delinquency Control, Dean Miller, my department head boss fired me with the explanation “we don’t do community action as part of our academic program.”
So being radicalized at 28 years old, Bernard Valdez led a group to create the Foundation for Urban and Neighborhood Development, a non-profit, for me to pursue my love of social justice and as Bernie said “to keep me in Denver”.

They the Anglo power structure in Arizona can’t stand the guilt that they carry for the treatment of the Indians, the original inhabitants and the hundreds of years of Spanish residents long before Anglos arrived.  It is embedded at the culture core. Arizona became a part of Mexico along with Texas, New Mexico, Colorado, Utah and California as a result of the 1822 Mexican war with Spain which Mexico won. President Polk then provoked a war with Mexico in 1848 where U.S. captured the territories listed above. Mexico surrendered.

To get a sense of the times and the imbedded cultural fear in Arizona the Congressional Globe in 1847 published the following accredited to President Polk: “We must march from ocean to ocean…we must march from Texas straight to the Pacific Ocean. It is the destiny of the white race, it is the destiny of the Anglo-Saxon Race.” So you get a sense of this underlying cultural guilt that is built into the political and social systems of Arizona.
From my days with discrimination in the 1960-to Arizona not recognizing Martin Luther King day (a international boycott brought Arizona to its knees and they relented)-to the present–racism remains embedded in the power structure of Arizona. The fear in the Anglo establishment is deep. Complicating this fear is the fact that Hispanics have made stunning gains in the power structure, to the point of displacing the establishment. This establishment sits on all of the ghosts of oppression over the years like the Interior Department at the turn of the 20th century channeled through diversions, the Gila River water away from the Gila and Tohono O`odham Nation lands to privately owned lands of large farmers–drying up the Gila River and the agricultural life of the Indian nations. Only in 2004 with the passing of the Arizona Water Rights Settlement Act in that year were the historic water rights restored to the Gila River and the tribes use.

On it goes, but it is coming to an end and these attempts to use the legislature to turn history and social and moral and economic gains back generations where Anglos controlled everyone’s destiny are at an end. Of course there is no turning back and it will not work and the BOYCOTT as one tool will prevail. Already California, New Mexico and Texas have announced they will not join or be a party to the actions of the Arizona legislator and Governor have taken.

There is much more to this but that is my first hand experience with discrimination in Arizona. In a sense they cannot help themselves given the guilt that they must live with everyday. If you can stop immigration the storyh goes, then the guilt of what we did to the original inhabitants will go away. It won’t. Culturally and historically there is no boundary between Arizona and Mexico.

Hugs,

Dad

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Council of Social Advisors to Parellel the Economic Team of the Obama Administration

Posted by Jim on September 19, 2009

 

This is an email that was sent by Jim to his network in March of 2009.  Its message is as relevent today as it was when he wrote it. 

Interesting that all of the attention is going into the economic team, yet the recovery will mainly depend on how the people take action into their own hands. There must be an alignment, an interface, between the social policies and the economic policies, but to do that we need parity between the economic push and the social conditions that will determine Obama’s success as a new paradigm President.

How is it that  we do not have a Social Council or a Council of Social-Cultural Advisors that heads us toward empowered social policy, towards enhancing our heart and soul of our communities.  We have the Council of Economic Advisors, and Economists in all kinds of positions coming out of our ears, but no talk of the social partner in all of this. There are no sociologists, anthropologists, ethnographers at the White House level who can advise on how to make economic formulas work at the grass roots level.  All are economic advisors, as though economics can be separate from the social/cultural geographic environments in which we livepeople. 

Is this a blind spot for Obama?  He was elected by moving the consciousness of millions of Americans to come out of their deep sleep and take charge of our own empowerment.  We did that.  I am concerned that I do not want to be an email recipient for community organization.  I am a hard core community organizer that understands the dynamics of what has to happen at the grass roots or heart and soul level of society in order for permanent change to happen.

There has to be more.  Maybe this is the time for a Council on Social Advisors or  Recovery to parallel the Economic team.  The Council on Social Advisors or  Recovery could have been all over the Katrina mess immediately building from the ground up through the organization of the informal networks that still existed and proliferate the New Orleans cultures.  This would have generated a recovery of family and individual enterprise from the ground up,  creating the opportunities for new private enterprise.  This is not unlike what FDR did with WPA, CCC camps, etc.  New Orleans is a city of thousands of private entrepreneurs and to have missed using them as the base for recovery is stunning.

Many of our citizens are ill-clad, ill-housed and ill-nourished and to recover from this we will need a social/cultural pathway to leverage the economic processes now being designed in absentia of a social policy. Economic redesign that leaves the social to chance is no solution.  We are more than jobs.  We are a complete social phenomena, we live in villages and neighborhoods, we go to gathering places, we want pedestrian oriented towns, we can make or grow much of what we need, we are individual and family enterprisers, we believe in equity and social justice, we cherish our informal networks for caretaking, survival and cultural maintenance, we are caretakers of each other, communicators, story tellers, and historians.We believe that we should have more say in creating the jobs we will inhabit.  Jobs without consciousness and moral underpinnings are no different from the service jobs that have put many of our citizens into poverty in the last 10 years.

In Basalt and Carbondale, Colorado we have been revitalizing the social capital or heart and soul of our communities.  This needs to happen in thousands  of local communities.  All local governments must restructure to be viable and resilient.  There is no returning to the revenue stream of the last four years.  Therefore the social capital of our towns must be nurtured and enhanced by our governments for citizens to take charge of their own survival, cultural maintenance and caretaking, in a manner that we have never done before.  There is a distinct trend in our society towards citizen-based ecological stewardship, where people are taking charge of their local environments.  We need to work ahead of this trend in order that we benefit from a more rapid transformation from a consumptive economy to an ecological economy.

Regionally we need to think about ideas such as manufacturing our alternative energy hardware-wind mill blades, ball bearings, solar cells, etc. so that manufactured goods do not have to be shipped thousands of miles.  My company has defined ten Culture Units in the United States within which the regional economies and social structure brought into alignment could flourish.  Every region can manufacture the alternative energy hardware that they need reducing the need for thousands of miles of transportation

Time to rethink our social/cultural, economic/political and ecological/environmental integration. It is the social/cultural phenomena  based on human geography that will drive an economy of the future that sees value added and  multipliers that the traditional global model, that Tom Friedman talks about, does not produce.

(see Jim’s blog titled: China and Alternative Energy).

 

 

Posted in Public Policy Inititatives | 5 Comments »

Moving Towards Citizen-Based Stewardship

Posted by Jim on September 14, 2009

This blog received a comment concerning my post-election essay comparing President Obama’s Election to the velvet revolution (discussed elsewhere on this blog).  The question was: I am wondering how you see it now. Is the President by instinct and training a top-down practitioner. Following is my reaponse:
 
No the President is not top down by instinct and training.  He inherited a complete goverment system built over the last 8 years of autocratic top down bureaucracy that exploited America and Americans for the enrichment of the few.  He also inherited a recession that needed a top down approach in order to prevent a depression through rapid stabalization of the country.  However, as a community organizer myself, I know that you cannot be a community organizer on the south side of Chicago and not be tough and a bottoms up practitioner.  He is moving towards citizen-based stewardship reorganizing the civil service bureaucracy that is so “top down”.  And as his speech to Congress showed he began to show his toughness.  

You can see his community organizer background come through in his recent speech that shifted the playing field, brought in the independents and the moderates, and let people know he is not going to mess with ideas that do not contribute to a productive health care program for the American people.  Underneath the action and the rhetoric of the groups opposing health care for instance are a handful of idealogists that cannot stand to have a black President or a black family in the White House. That weakens them and they will lose-we are a country focused on issues right now and that is where the action is.

I am very excited about where we are headed as a country because of the grass roots trend toward people taking charge of their geographic space.  We have called it for lack of a simpler language: Citizen-based Ecological Stewardship. 

The trend is there, it is learning how to optimize this trend that will change the power equation.  Obama is moving towards a grass-roots governance, and the institutions that are so indoctrinated in top down control will give way to a new heart and soul governance.
 
I think we are in the throws of re-discovering deep democracy – the type of democracy that will be able to better address this troubling and potentially dangerous period of transitions we are in.  Health care, immigration, war, economic equity, incarceration, social justice and the need for global collaboration are but a few issues we must face as we go forward.

Whenever there is a paradigm shift there is great chaos, confusion, anger, angst, fear but there is no other way of moving to a new age. I believe firmly that this is the direction in which we are headed.  This community-based stewardship trend appears to have greater implications than previously recognized. 

It appears to be forecasting a shift from the industrial age of consumption to a new ecological age oriented toward sustaining the human endeavor in harmony with nature.  Indeed, it could be the beginnings of a movement away from hierarchical systems of control to one in which people become more empowered, and the traditions, beliefs and very heart and soul of community are enhanced and restored, forming a new foundation for government to interact with and support its citizens.
 
 
Following is a differnt way of saying what I talked about in the blog.

An autocratic top down approach to issues surrounding use of our public lands is exactly the wrong approach in this era of post millennium materialism.  There is a growing citizen movement oriented to a bottoms up approach to ecological decision making referred to by Gary McVicker, Rich Whitley, Gary Severson and Jim Kent as “community-based ecological stewardship”.  Such a movement will satisfy the diversity that we find among communities in their relationship to the surrounding public lands.  However  such a recognition remains a threat to the so called top down efficiency that looks good on first blush, but robs the communities from working out their own solutions.  During my “Social Responsive Management” days with the US Forest Service we got to the point where the District Ranger would set out “criteria” of what they wanted within the many land use categories.  Once the criteria was set the individuals, communities, users and vested interest groups would propose to the USFS how they would satisfy that criteria.  Thus began citizen-based ecological stewardship and public partnerships and collaborative action. (see www.jkagroup.com, Publications, “Mack and the Boys as Consultants” for the story of how Minturn, Colorado became the first in the nation to come into a public partnership with the USFS after the passage of NEPA in 1969.) Use of criteria on issues indeed created Socially Responsive Management since the government was operating in a facilitative/ responsive mode rather than an autocratic/regulatory mode.  It changed the entire landscape upon which USFS decisions were made for the next 15 years (1976 to 1990s) since the process was built into the Forest Plans. (A Bio-social Ecosystem Map, or Human Geographic Map of the Western U.S. grew of this  early work.  These are the social/cultural/physical/ biological decision making boundaries that people use in their everyday lives.  These are natural (related to place) not artificial (administrative) boundaries.)
 
As Gary McVicker states in his new paper: The Trend Toward Ecological Stewardship,  “The system that we currently use for managing the public lands was not designed to support citizen stewardship, it is basically antithetical to it.  Stewardship must arise out of the social and cultural systems  associated with the public lands. These function through word of mouth, social norms and caretaking. Conversely, government works through law, policy, and jurisdiction.  Social/cultural networks are horizontal in structure; government is vertical. Neither system is right or wrong; they are simply different. The proper conduct of each is essential to democracy–or what we refer to as advancing the heart and soul of community.”
 
Citizens are still victims of centralized, vested interest decision making.   For the idea of community-based stewardship to work, these two systems, the informal and the formal,  must come together in a manner that not only benefits the local interest, but the national interest as well.  To date the agencies charged with managing the public lands have sought to do that through citizen input into issues selected by the agency prior to their making major decisions. This kind of public participation is not designed to promote stewardship, but merely rubber stamp what the agency wanted to do all along.   Once made, these decisions are implemented primarily by the agencies and not the citizens. The pursuit of stewardship must be a distinctly different process. It must empower people to become well-informed, responsible environmental stewards themselves and carry the burden of ecological land management that insures their and the lands sustainable future.
 
The trend toward community-based stewardship may very well signal the beginning of a new era in public land management, one that could help resolve many concerns over the human interface with nature, and ultimately lead to more efficient and less divisive forms of governance and citizen interaction—an outcome that might well serve many other areas of national discourse.

Jim Kent
JKA Group
P.O. Box 1267
Basalt, Colorado 81621
970-927-4424
www.jkagroup.com

Posted in Culture/Social – Marketing, Public Policy Inititatives, Public Service Projects | Tagged: | 1 Comment »

Our National Public Lands and Citizen-Based Ecological Stewardship

Posted by Jim on September 1, 2009

Even though this discussion focuses on our national public lands, it is also a story about discovering deep democracy – the type of democracy that might be able to better address this troubling and potentially dangerous period of transitions we are in.  Health care, immigration, war, economic equity, incarceration, and the need for global collaboration are but a few issues we must face as we go forward.  In a very real sense, the proposals about the advancement of democracy, in this case, by using the public lands, their institutions, and many diverse interests as the players, experimenters, and creators of change are universally applicable. What we might learn could be a basic discovery of how to successfully address change in other transitional areas without destroying our society.

An autocratic top down approach to issues surrounding use of our public lands is exactly the wrong approach in this era of post millennium materialism.  There is a growing citizen movement oriented to a bottoms up approach to ecological decision making referred to by Gary McVicker, Rich Whitley, Gary Severson and Jim Kent as “community-based ecological stewardship”.  Such a movement will satisfy the diversity that we find among communities in their relationship to the surrounding public lands.  However  such a recognition remains a threat to the so called top down efficiency that looks good on first blush, but robs the communities from working out their own solutions.  During my “Social Responsive Management” days with the US Forest Service we got to the point where the District Ranger would set out “criteria” of what they wanted within the many land use categories.  Once the criteria was set the individuals, communities, users and vested interest groups would propose to the USFS how they would satisfy that criteria.  Thus began citizen-based ecological stewardship and public partnerships and collaborative action. (see www.jkagroup.com, Publications, “Mack and the Boys as Consultants” for the story of how Minturn, Colorado became the first in the nation to come into a public partnership with the USFS after the passage of NEPA in 1969.) Use of criteria on issues indeed created Socially Responsive Management since the government was operating in a facilitative/ responsive mode rather than an autocratic/regulatory mode.  It changed the entire landscape upon which USFS decisions were made for the next 15 years (1976 to 1990s) since the process was built into the Forest Plans. (A Bio-social Ecosystem Map, or Human Geographic Map of the Western U.S. grew of this  early work.  These are the social/cultural/physical/biological decision making boundaries that people use in their everyday lives.  These are natural (related to place) not artificial (administrative) boundaries.)

As Gary McVicker states in his new paper: The Trend Toward Ecological Stewardship,  “The system that we currently use for managing the public lands was not designed to support citizen stewardship, it is basically antithetical to it.  Stewardship must arise out of the social and cultural systems  associated with the public lands. These function through word of mouth, social norms and caretaking. Conversely, government works through law, policy, and jurisdiction.  Social/cultural networks are horizontal in structure; government is vertical. Neither system is right or wrong; they are simply different. The proper conduct of each is essential to democracy–or what we refer to as advancing the heart and soul of community.”

So we are up against the brut use of centralized power to further the so called protection of public lands–get protection from Washington or the courts.  Nothing changes in that scenario.  Citizens are still victims of centralized, vested interest decision making.   For the idea of community-based stewardship to work, these two systems, the informal and the formal,  must come together in a manner that not only benefits the local interest, but the national interest as well.  To date the agencies charged with managing the public lands have sought to do that through citizen input into issues selected by the agency prior to their making major decisions. This kind of public participation is not designed to promote stewardship, but merely rubber stamp what the agency wanted to do all along.   Once made, these decisions are implemented primarily by the agencies and not the citizens. The pursuit of stewardship must be a distinctly different process. It must empower people to become well-informed, responsible environmental stewards themselves and carry the burden of ecological land management that insures their and the lands sustainable future.

Fundamental changes in how we make decisions about our public lands is needed. The Obama administration should be very interested in a citizen-based stewardship collaborative approach to resolving these national land use issues.  It matters greatly to people in our communities, when decisions are continually pushed down from the top.  Ideological groups, understanding this top down approach, know how to  impose the agenda on citizens, rather than creating room at the bottom for citizens to figure out the best management practices.  Each community and their relationship to public lands is different.  The informal networks are unique to the geographic space, relationships with land are special.  Also the community archetypes of: caretakers, communicators, story tellers, bridgers, historians, authenticators, opportunists and gatekeepers, are unique to the cultural descriptors of settlement patterns, work routines, recreation activities, and the human geographic boundaries. All of this must be accounted for in how we proceed on this issue.

The trend toward community-based stewardship may very well signal the beginning of a new era in public land management, one that could help resolve many concerns over the human interface with nature, and ultimately lead to more efficient and less divisive forms of governance and citizen interaction—an outcome that might well serve many other areas of national discourse.

This community-based stewardship trend appears to have far greater implications than just public land management.  It may be forecasting a shift from the industrial era of consumption to a new ecological age oriented toward sustaining the human endeavor in harmony with nature.  Indeed, it could be the beginnings of a movement away from hierarchical systems of control to one in which people become more empowered, and the traditions, beliefs and very heart and soul of community are enhanced and restored, forming a new foundation for government to interact with and support its citizens.

Documentarian Ken Burns is releasing a unique and insightful documentary on our National Parks in September.  It is my understanding that one area he focuses on is the contribution made by the National Park system to our society’s physical and mental health.  Affording a sense of place with nature, the beauty and tranquility of our National Parks help us to internalize physical, biological, cultural space, bringing a sense of harmony within ourselves. We suggest that the same can be said of the other public lands, particularly for people living in close proximity to them. As a nation, we need to recognize, honor, and restore this inherent connection of people to the land. But the connection now requires a deeper understanding of nature, not just a utilitarian view toward it. To get there, a rich dialogue among people and institutions will be needed, not through the dictates of government, but through the empowerment of choice, with government serving mostly as facilitator and provider of reliable information. This is essentially the concept of citizen-based ecological stewardship.

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Welcome To Jim Kent’s Blog: Initialization

Posted by Harley Powers Parks on June 15, 2009

Welcome. This post provides a baseline entry with the appropriate categories, tags, pages, links, comments, media, layout, logging in, and anything else that can help to help start and administrate the blog.  Thank you for your time, contribution, and understanding.

Posted in Crisis Intervention, Culture/Social – Marketing, Deep Democracy, Educational Programs, Human Geographic Mapping, Innovations in Management, Issue Resolution, Market Segments, Public Policy Inititatives, Public Service Projects, Social-Economic Analysis, Sustainable Development, Trend Projections | Tagged: | 3 Comments »