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Greta Beekhuis

Demongraphics? Otherwise i agree strongly with this post. Very well stated. I try whenever possible to swim upstream against the PUSH mentality. The only way to do that effectively to to relax, notice the flow of the stream of consciousness, and let it go by...as I keep my face to the light and look for ways to open my heart and be an example for others to return the favor.

Michelle Miller

This was extremely useful in describing what we've been doing in our work to reduce pesticide use in apple production.

In short, to calm the vicious cycle of magnified risk and diminishing rewards, we balanced the threat-based narrative of regulation with an opportunity narrative. We developed opportunities for farmers to voluntarily use in their efforts to stay in front of the regulatory curve and meet short term economic needs. New behaviors created rapid positive feedback loops. This then provided momentum to deal with longer-term opportunities such as on-farm research, habitat restoration, etc.. We endeavored to live the change we sought in the world using participatory leadership, where landowners and farmers are empowered to shape the project and are spokespeople from the project’s initiation, forward. The net result is that more than half the state’s apple growers are participating in the project and have reduced pesticide risk by 46% and increased the use of IPM by 54%. State and federal policies in Wisconsin and a growing number of other states are now aligned to meet both farmer and civic needs for conservation activities.

Thanks for providing the architecture to describe what we've done intuitively.


So much here that resonates, John. Of course, recently posting on cognitive bias in science and philosophy, I see even more clearly how we are exploring similar challenges, perhaps different dimensions of common threads. In particular, as I read your thoughts on risk/reward, it helped amplify the tenure risk in academia that I think has had a cummulative negative impact on science. Thomas Kuhn certainly thought so. Gathering data to support known theories (Kuhn's 'normal science')is immensely safer than being radical or revolutionary ('extraordinary science'). Paradigm shifts do not come easily. They are fraught with risk to incumbents of the prevailing view. Do you think science has suffered by being, on balance, too conservative?

Anna Smith

Hi John, I love this post and definitely need to re-read it to understand it better. My right hemisphere prompted me to paint a picture a few weeks back when distantly thinking about a similar topic - I think it goes great with your writing: www.whatdoyouwantfromthem.com/resource/resmgr/After12-08-2010_Images/auto.png

Lynnea | Catalyst House

Thank you! When we reduce or preferably our innate threat-based narratives we can see the opportunity in anything... especially the brave new world of faster cheaper techno-velocity.


Wonderful post! Thank you. I would also add that beyond the younger generation, those who have been most marginalized in our society have much to offer this alternative path, because they have already already created it just to survive in the "mainstream" system. I would look to those edges for lessons and wisdom as well.

Michael P. Gusek

John, I rarely disagree with you...And I don't even know if this is a disagreement, but instead a "also/and".

Completely abandoning Risk activities and moving directly into Benefit activities will perpetuate the problem and move us to the other extreme. My goal: Stop this extreme black-and-white thinking.

You can't be risk-based and reward-based simultaneously? If I have learned anything from you it is the beauty and effectiveness of begin comfortable in paradoxical situations. Paradox is one of the keys to balance. Don't do away with short-term thinking completely. Don't do away with command and control either.

Use the right tool for the job in balance and harmony with your environment.

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