I see two perceptions at work in the Loomio thread on ontology and 'new economy'. Although this is a bit simplistic, I would say one is an approach of scaling, and the other is an approach of deepening. Loomio thread
# One perception . . **One perception** is, that activist initiatives in ‘new economy’ are complex and diverse, with necessarily local variations of culture and language and practice, beset to some degree by working inside a bubble or in silos; or maybe even, ‘not invented here’.
In response to this, there is a sense in which the initiatives need to develop shared language - although collaborative practice seems to be closer to the issue, so maybe **principles** and protocols and effective *means of interworking* are a pivot?
I get this, and what I propose below is somewhat on these lines - although the relationships between languages and practices and interweaving-interworking are tricky ones, and people can place emphasis in different parts of this dynamic.
# The other perception . . **The other line of reasoning** about new-economy ’ontology’ is that the language(s) of ‘new economy’ are too . . something. Too complex. Too esoteric. Too remote from everyday life. Too specialised. Too analytical. Etcetera. And so, ‘ordinary people’ don’t get them, and don’t want to get them, because they seem detached or distant or middle-class or elitist in some way; or they give you brain-ache.
In response to this, some folks focus on developing simpler-seeming, more meme-like ways of speaking of the (urgent) **need** for ‘new’ economy, and the **availability** - in everyday life and work - of ways of initiating or participating in new modes of practice.
I would say this was an approach of scaling: bigger, quicker, more affiliation, more brand recognition, becoming viral. In a sense, becoming less fussy, more populist.
I see this as basically a PR or marketing or ‘communication’ response; and I’m not terribly receptive to it. This seems to me to be a politics of consumption, and my understanding is that practices of production are where the rubber hits the road.
At the same time, I’m aware of initiatives like *lowImpact.org* and *noncorporate.org*, which address specific kinds of unfamiliar practice, and offer bite-sized ‘how-to’ guides (or rather, ‘why get started?’ guides) that outline what a **practice** is and does, what its benefits are, and how it can be started-on.
This orientation, to communicating ways of **doing things**, seems valuable to me. I contributed to one guide myself. In some way, this feathers into the approach that I’m proposing below.
# This proposal **I'm proposing the first of the approaches above**, which I see as a practice of **deepening**, a practice of capability and qualitative scope as distinct from (not opposed to) scale.
It engages with the practice of developing operational capability to directly, hands-on, **make** new economic practice in particular contexts.
It also engages the organising capability to **join it up**, across domains that actually are, in some sense, disparate and materially distinct.
> Community care work, for example, calls for understandings and skills and forms of organisation that in some respects have to be different from those involved in community energy, or rewilding, community land-holding, cross-region Fairtrade ‘inside the doughnut’, regional food networks, alternative currency and mutual credit, resisting forest enclosure and monoculture and defending livelihood . . etcetera.
In part, this ‘deepening and distinguishing’ approach calls for developing (and sharing - or at least, spreading *mutual awareness of* and *affiliation with*) **understandings** of on-the-ground practice in *diverse practical ’fields’* in the real economy.
And in part it’s an approach of weaving fields of practice together, in an actual *collaborative ‘dance of making’* of chunks of economic life . . and developing and sharing an understanding of what it takes to do **the dance** well, too, in actual time and space and life-time.
I have a proposal of this ‘deepening and distinguishing’ kind, involving three elements . .
- **Pattern language(ing)** - is a disciplined and skilful mode of generating and holding practical understandings, which can be fluently re-played - or woven or ‘sung’ - back into everyday life and work. *It is as much a form of practice as it is a form of language*. The skills are relatively complex, and literacy in pattern language-ing is not commonplace. The production of this literacy calls for some organising. *Production of the literacy is as much part of the initiative as the production of language*. More on pattern language-ing below.
- **Commoning** - is at the centre of pattern language for making ‘new economy’. It's not just that commoning is something described in language, but it also is the form of pattern language practice itself. Convening, curating, stewarding and mobilising a *cultural commons* of pattern language is at the core of the proposal. More below Curating, stewarding and enjoying commons
- **A college** - as a practice of developing and targeting ‘literacy’ of some kind (actually, literacies, plural) this can be seen as a proposal to create some kind of college.
The college doesn’t just have pattern language as its ‘curriculum’. Rather, *the structure of the college* can be founded in the structure of the language; and the practices of languaging and commoning can be the central modes of *the college’s practice*.
The college is distributed: a cluster of perhaps a couple of dozen federated social ventures which form the ‘schools’ of the college, each of them a DisCO (distributed cooperating organisation). More below.
But first, imagine . . a performing arts coop. This is something like the college we need to make. Imagine