Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Global Pattern Language and Resource Management for Sustainability

It has been a few days since I have written anything and my head is on overload. Many of the topics swirling around have been surrounding the development or extension of Liberating Voices along with the numerous other pattern languages into a truly global-pattern language.

Though it is my contention as previously stated that pattern languages are going to largely be the work of the communities constructing these languages, the usefulness of higher-order patterns as pointers or templates to help initiate and set the stage for eliciting new or context specific types of knowledge can be extremely useful. In the case of my work this would be in sustainable development, but I could see this heuristic knowledge serving many fields which brings us back to the notion of developing a global-pattern language, a composite of sorts that encompasses a range of fields.

However, with this in mind I’m coming to see how in some cases it might be difficult to capture all, particularly as knowledge shifts in this age of hyper-creativity and information transfer. But on a walk the other night I was considering what a more specific pattern language would look like for community development where economies are largely dependent on natural resources. I began to think of indigenous communities such as the adivasi in Jharkhand and their experience as traditional land-stewards, but not just as conservationists but as people who draw primary sources of livelihoods from the forests.

Following further I was drawn to the political and social conflicts that have emerged over the past 50 years to contest this traditional stewardship and how the adivasi are navigating effects of outside political forces both on their livelihoods and the sustainability of their resources. This brought me to conceptualize further the role of patterns and pattern languages as holistic design or planning concept that can extend in numerous directions as needed. For instance, if we are thinking of developing a pattern-language for natural resource management it is certain there are going to be a predominate number of patterns dealing with the environment, but this is not the only aspect of resource management; we have to be willing and able to conceptualize the socio-political and socio-economic forces at play that can in large part determine the nature of planning and in the case of a pattern language approach determine the types of patterns we use to counter-balance some of these forces.

So what does this mean? To me it begins to highlight the notion that social patterns at a high-level that deal with ideas such as civic intelligence, social dominance attenuation or grass-roots public policy development all potentially have a place within a holistic and sustainable approach to resource management.

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