Sustainable Bonanza

October 23, 2016

Networking Nightmares

Networking Nightmares and how to solve them.

For someone like me who loves to get out and meet people the idea of networking can still be a nightmare.  Don’t get me wrong.  I find the idea of going out and connecting with new people several times per week exhilarating – as most extroverts do –  but despite the enjoyment I derive there is still something in my systems thinking heart that cringes.  The nightmare is twofold.  First that we think that getting together over drinks is going to help us make deep connections when often people split into groups they already know or breeze through as many conversations as possible to ‘do their job’ for the night.  Second the idea that surface level conversation can possibly develop a relationship that can challenge the deep issues in our society is simply incorrect.

From my perspective, when I’m trying to ‘fix’ a problem or design solutionary change I often turn to the natural world, a practice know as biomimicry.  When I think of a natural network I imagine all pieces actively supporting each other on a regular basis.  While the network develops over time and based in place, no living being is left out, even when some are more supportive than others.

In the forest of my community I like to be the Hawk, able to see things from the big picture to share with others.  In a healthy system each individual takes on a role that is as natural to them as waking up in the morning.  What is as important as what it looks like is what it doesn’t look like – plants and animals don’t gather in a clearing and try to make friends.  By going about their day they engage in life sustaining activities during which they make natural connections to each other.

But our system is broken.  The human sphere is detached from this natural flow.  We occasionally stumble into more connecting activities that networking tries to provoke like conversation around existing projects provoking solutions and possibility, or asking trusted mentors. In my experience the more typical (and scary to many) networking experience is to show up at a place where people are drinking and give you only enough words to hand you their card and keep moving.  The functional skills necessary to the development of a group of people who can support one another during times of growth is not present in this atmosphere.

I propose another way: let’s behave like the natural world.  Imagine walking into a room knowing that your value lay in your being rather than who you knew, where you worked/ went to school, et cetera.  You would move around the room at will drawn to the activities that provoked your mind; playing short games, participating in problem solving activities, and having the opportunity to work hand in hand with others that you might not have known before.  A playful networking session which feels like a time for discovery of skills, creation of genuine connection, deepening understanding of the people in your area.

The point of the networking would be to BUILD the network.  The growth of capacity and skill.  Fun interacting with people you might not otherwise really meet, much less have fun with.  As a society right now I see great need in problem solving for issues of  environmental justice, sustainability, economic flourishing in all communities, and many other topics. I can’t imagine standing in a room handing out cards with surface level conversations will help inch us closer to World Peace. And no I don’t think it is naive to think that our day to day actions could beneficially influence society.

Inspired?  Let me know.  Perhaps together we can re-imagine the network and create some deep connections in our communities.

April 21, 2014

Change is the Norm

Filed under: General — Kirsten @ 3:45PM

I was reading a blog on The Sacred Science website and it got me thinking about resistance to change.  Just as we can not stop the night from following the day, we cannot deny the coming of change from our lives and to try to do so is only going to induce stress.

Change is normal in every day of our lives.  We wash our bodies, change our clothing, finish containers of food in the house…  On a more global scale the sun rises and sets, seasons come and go.  Days give way to weeks, week to months, and months to years…

Seasonal change the type of nourishment that is available from the land.  As years pass our knowledge grows and our lives take on different forms.  Part of the meaning of being alive is to embrace these changes with comfort.

While worry about change can cause feelings of tightness and stress, reframe those changes as inevitable and instead look forward to the changes that come with time.

I was watching After Earth with Eli and the father (Will Smith) was speaking to his son about the moment he stopped being afraid.  It was while the monster that sees through the smell of fear had impaled him and he was fearful about dying.  And then it just changed.  He no longer cared.  There is great freedom in releasing fear.

“The green reed which bends in the wind is stronger than the mighty oak which breaks in a storm.” This quote from Confucius reminds us that our flexibility in thought and action are what keep us alive in times of change.

Additionally the women of Port-au-Prince, Haiti have a song that I heard them singing to each other after the earthquake.  The gist of the song was that the women of Haiti are strong in hurricanes; they hold on with their roots and bend when the rain and winds come like a (local tree whose name I don’t remember.)  You get the point.  Dig your roots deep and be solid in who you are, but flexible in that face of anything that comes your way.

The moral of the story is: Embrace change.  It happens.

April 19, 2014

Theme vs. Mechanics

Filed under: General — Tags: , , , — admin @ 9:29AM

When I’m thinking about Game Design there are two elements that I’m trying to use in order to make my point, Theme and Mechanics. (For those of you that don’t know, I design games to explain the complicated systems that are involved with aspects of sustainability.)


While there are games out there that are abstract, or have a specific storyline, more often you are going to find that games have a theme.   In Ticket to Ride you are competing to build train routes, Agricola deals with farmers & resource management, and  Battlestar Gallactica deals with… well it follows the plot.

When playing a game that deals with a particular topic you are doing the education through the story or the theme to get your point across.

The other option is to make the mechanic do the teaching.  For example, in a game where I’m trying to teach about recycling I would have an interaction in the game that gave a benefit to recycling.  It wouldn’t have to be called recycling or even have that topic at all, but simple by gaining benefit over and over for that type of action players would become better recyclers.

Habits are practiced actions which is why games are so good at teaching.  If you repeat something over and over again you are more likely to hold on to that habit.  People seek new behaviors in life regularly for purposes such as diet, exercise, et cetera and over the past 10 years we’ve seen a great influx of games for purposes other than just the sake of play.  Gamification of the online portal or website is also on the upswing as the internet becomes crowded and companies are seeking to create a draw to their sites.

The games that I’m working on are didactic because of this.  Having the desire to change is only part of the equation.  Going green means a shift in actions many of which are lifelong ingrained habits.  Those habits worked for us up until now, but with the world on the precipice of wide scale extinction we need to shift into high gear.  So how do you eradicate habits that aren’t good for you?

So when I’m choosing to build a tool and I have to decide between theme or mechanic it really depends on the nuance tat I’m going for.  Am I trying to make someone think about the topic?  Then it’s the theme.  If I’m trying to ingrain a shift in habit?  Then it is mechanic, for sure.

April 18, 2014

The Common Experience of Being Unique

Filed under: General — Kirsten @ 2:20PM

I got my eyebrow pierced.  I know, I’m 35.  Going on 36 this summer.  What’s the point of piercing my eyebrow?  Isn’t that a childish things to do?  I don’t think so.

Well there’s more to it for me.  I got my bellybutton pierced in college.

I was encouraged by my family to not allow my differences to be visible.  I was teased in junior high for being normal – perhaps that was my cue to let it all hang out.  I thought I did.  But apparently it wasn’t enough.

Triskele - Triple Spiral

I have a tattoo. It looks like this.

I’m planning on getting more.  Tattoos.  I’m ok with my body being a living canvas.  I don’t need it in other people’s faces, but at the same time I’m realizing I’ve kept these things hidden so that they aren’t visible to others.  And in effect they are hidden.  But like so many things having piercings is not unique; there are many people who have them.  There are cultures around the world where this is a norm as well.  But it is not a norm for everyone.  You see in order to embrace our sameness we don’t all have to go out and get holes poked in our bodies.  It just is nice to make sure it is right for you if you are going to do it.

I mean, really, those with piercings pay for the pleasure of being poked with a needle, and then have to be fastidious about the way we handle that part of our body for an extended period of time – potentially up to 6 months.  Think about that the next time you think someone with a piercing or tattoo is dirty.

But it is more than what I do to my body.  This common uniqueness is visible in people whose names are spelled differently than the norm, who choose to dress in a style that in not mainstream.  But back to my point.  Everything is mainstream.  Music, like other art forms are created from the styles, concepts and ideals that came before.  They are flexible in their interpretation and often multiple genres exist at the same time.  Next time you look at a piece of Impressionist art try thinking about how messy it is and you might find yourself resisting.

Imperfection can be beautiful.  Most art forms and styles were odd, and even completely different than what came before them.  It takes looking at something with an open mind, one willing to see that everything as potential, in oder to look for the beauty outside the norm.  Which brings me back to my point:  being different is normal.  How is it possible to have a commonness of unique?

The human desire to be the same is tied to our universal consciousness.  But Mother Nature never intended that we would all look the same and act the same.  This runs directly opposed to the need for uniqueness and diversity required to maintain a complex system.  We need to celebrate that which makes us difference and give in to the biological yearning for sameness by remembering and connecting to the universal consciousness and being our true selves in all their different glory.

April 5, 2014

Goodbye false friend

Filed under: General — Kirsten @ 11:19AM

Dear Internet, we’re through.  I keep leaving just to find my self back in the same old ruts.  Online all day communicating and not having as much time as I’d like to meet people in my area, or see them in person.

The face to face time is what feeds me.  Its the nuanced expression that you get in that look of joy that will never be able to be communicated through a computer (unless of course the wiring goes straight into your brain.)   It’s the nurturing feeling of connecting deeply with a friend over lunch, or a tea, or just going for a walk in the woods.  I want more of that.  Much more than I get.

So I’m going to try again to lead the life I choose.  The one that makes me feel like I’m walking rightly on the Earth.  I’m breaking up with Facebook, LinkedIn, and removing myself in any other ways I can think of that I can think of from this virtual world which has so much to offer my mind, and so little to offer my heart.  I’m going to start finding my cute baby animals in nature.  I’m going to find my love stories from meeting strangers in long lines and spending time looking deeply into the eyes of those around me.

While I don’t think I can entirely get rid of the internet entirely since many jobs that I could choose to do are likely to require my participation, I’m not going to let this Matrix control my day to day world in the way that I see as having been normalized in today’s American culture.

So this is it.  Goodbye.  If you as a reader have enjoyed my writing I’ll probably start putting my thoughts into book from from this point on so my perspective will not be lost it will just take another form.

P.S. Yes, I appreciate the irony of posting this to my blog, but it seems appropriate.

February 7, 2014

Unique Ideas for a Better Organization

Filed under: General — Kirsten @ 10:05AM

Many of us have successfully looked at creative models that look like they can work within our businesses.  Models that might just help us to be the change we wish to see. What we have not done is take the leap into the unique and revolutionary. Here are some ideas that I’ve heard about that I think are worth looking at…

  1. Pollin8r
    The concept of Pollin8r’s compensation structure is based around everyone feeling and being abundant.  Employee benefits packages are paid based on what they need to feel abundant. The focus is on having all needs met AND the paying down of debt.  Imagine if everyone had what they needed… (more…)

February 6, 2014

Walking into the Silence

Filed under: Spirit — Tags: , , , — Kirsten @ 9:42AM

The more I slow down and listen the more I notice the racket around me.  The first big step was when I stopped smoking and drinking.  While at the time I didn’t know they were helping me distract myself from my higher purpose it became evident in their absence.  I didn’t have an alcohol problem.  Problematic drinking occasionally, sure.  I think that in our kingdom of Budweiser that it would be hard to find many who didn’t exhibit problematic behaviors in some area; sex, drugs, shopping, TV, alcohol, music to name but a few. (more…)

February 5, 2014

The Fire Cider Primer

Ball jar filled with apple cider vinegar, onion, garlic, ginger, tumeric, horseradish, commonly called Fire Cider this is a healing remedy for colds and flus

My percolating Fire Cider

This week, I made my own Fire Cider based on Rosemary’s recipe, I’ve make other versions before when I was feeling ill, and I’m taking the opportunity to raise awareness of this simple healing recipe and get it into more hands.  Really that’s one of the best things that this conflict has done.

In the last few days there has been an uproar in the herbalism community.  While you might not think that could possibly be very loud, consider that the uproar overflowed into the Permaculture, healthy lifestyle, and organic foods sectors as well and that it might be an indicator of greater system change.

Some basics before I jump into what I think is behind what’s going on AND potential implications for the future based on how this situation plays out.   (more…)

January 4, 2014

You Lucky Duck!

Filed under: General — Kirsten @ 8:51PM

Turkeys, Ducks, and Lambs

During the warmer months at the family homestead.

My parents have this duck.  Her name is Lucky Duck.  Lucky stayed out one night when she was young and got nibbled on by a large animal – she’s still alive though and that’s where she got her name.  While in recovery from her injury the other ducks picked on her until the turkeys stepped in.  Literally.  When the other ducks tried to bite Lucky or push her anywhere the turkeys got in between them to make sure Lucky was ok.

None of this stopped Lucky from doing what suited her.  While she couldn’t waddle so well on her gnawed on foot she would still fly away when it came time to go in the barn, to get where she wanted to go, or to avoid doing just about anything that didn’t suit her in the moment. (more…)

November 20, 2013

Get Real, Get Out of the Closet

Filed under: General — Tags: , , , , , — Kirsten @ 10:23AM

This is NOT a post specifically about LGBTQ, but it does include it.  We’re talking about coming out about owning personal truths here, whatever they are.

I watched a video today that a few friends had posted on Facebook. What provoked my curiosity was the tagline about how a lesbian addressed the question of “Are you a man?” from a child.  The talk itself however could not be boiled down to something so trite.  I think that was the hook to get more people to watch.  What really struck me about the talk was Ash’s discussion of presence and authenticity in all areas of life.

Coming out of your closet: Ash Beckham at TEDx Boulder

I agree that being our true selves in every moment is essential.  And I agree that sometimes showing up as yourself may seem  as scary as the big hairy monster under your bed.  But when you do step into your own light, there is less pain overall, less energy that needs to be used to keep that secret, more truths to build trust between you and those around you.

While coming out of the closet in the way Ash describes over and over to co-workers and family might not be easy, those living openly are freer.  Life is easier for someone whose truth is visible and not hidden because they have to spend less time afraid and hiding themselves.  While internal feelings are sometimes harder to share than the external, they are just as important to be out in the open.

No one should live in a closet.

What we can do to help each other come out of the closet is to show up and listen without judgement.  Especially if someone is sharing their truth.  Simply being with whatever that reality is without judgment.  Having compassion for others situations, is much easier when you sit in presence with what they are saying.

Speaking your truth.

Even when talking about something that I am totally open about in public, in small groups I’ve been approached by people thanking me and feeling empowered to relate their own truth because of my openness.  Sometimes it’s hard to bring these things up but they are me – also I’m committed to speaking my truth and being honest when asked a direct question.

We need everyone fully here to make the changes to have a better world so please come out of your closet.

Show up.
Be you.
Love’s the only thing that’s real.

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