Friday, June 15, 2007

Systems and Relationships

Here is a response that Tamarack Song had to an essay by Jason Godesky about Permaculture and Agriculture. Alot of the time most of us forget it's all about relationships, I think anyway.

If you haven't yet, I encourage those of you with an intellectual interesting the effects of agriculture, to take Glenn's suggestion and a look at Jason Godesky's piece at [Essay Address].

Not knowing Jason or having read much of his writings, I can only comment from my impression of this particular piece. It appears to be pretty solidly a systems approach, which has him immersed in clarifying semantics and identifying and labeling symptoms. If done well, it can be a self-satisfying task.

The pitfall of the systems approach is that it lacks perspective. Systems analysts define the issue from the perspective of the issue, and thereby come up with issue-based analyses and solutions. The analysis appears to fit the situation, and the resulting solution may appear to work, and yet the core imbalance which brought about the situation was never identified. Think of it as controlling a fire by focusing on the fire rather than the reason for the fire.

Rather than a set of systems, life is a web of relationship. When one area of the web is torn, it affects the entire web. No longer will the web respond in its intended way to the crashing force of a Grasshopper flying into it; no longer can Spider respond to the crash in her time-honored way. Tamarack Song

1 comment:

jason said...

That's funny, since what I said was precisely that agriculture and horticulture differ in how they relate to the ecology, to the land as a living thing. He's right that I do a lot of what you'd call "systems thinking," but systems aren't necessarily lifeless things. A group of friends and the social dynamics among them make up a system, for instance. Webs of relationships are systems. In fact, I'd say that's at the root of systems thinking--examining the relationships more than the supposed "objects."