Social action groups
As founding co-director of Texas' first non-profit incorporated
permculture institute (Cross Timbers Permaculture Institute --
http://csf.colorado.edu/perma/ctpi) and a confirmed introvert*, I understand
well April Sampson-Kelly's (member of pc mailing list at firstname.lastname@example.org;
send E-mail with SUBSCRIBE PERMACULTURE-MG [Your Name]) feelings about the
sometimes conflicting interactions between time, social interchange, education,
and trying to get the garden weeded and the cowpeas picked.
It seems that many, many people interested creating a new culture have
grown up being marginalized by their "host" ("captor"?) societies for years
before finding, or having to create, a place to begin to fit into. I've seen
many projects started and run by very private, very brilliant, very eclectic
people whose great creativity is based in large part on their ability to
visualize reality outside the normal ("normal"? -- let's hope not!) social
context of Western society**. These same people's projects often suffer from a
lack of connection with conventional, established social avenues and mechanisms,
such as banking, schmoozing, etc. A large part of the success of many of our
endeavors will often, I feel, involve learning to reacquaint ourselves with the
idea of fitting into a societal structure, of whatever scope. I think we need to
learn to form partnerships which cross not only cultural but intro/extroversion
boundaries, linking outgoing persons with behind-the-scenes types, probably in
roughly equal proportions.
Further, the projects I have seen have almost invariably needed a lot
more people involved than were trying to do the work. I myself am presently
engaged in attempting to revive a very promising Texas seed exchange which
failed because its operator's introversion caused him to fail to take advantage
of the many interested people who were trying to get involved in his project.
Eventually the exchange collapsed because of the overwork and attempted
overextension of the operator. Again, this seems a problem perhaps originating
with introverted creators failing to create social networks capable of
supporting the projects in question. Such a network needs people who love to
talk -- in person and on the phone -- people who love to go out and find money
and other social/material support-links, and people who just want to be quiet
and work in a garden, or at a computer (pencil and paper?) planning or writing.
Moral: We must attempt to keep our disillusionment with the societies in
which we were formed confined to the diseased characteristics of those
societies, as separate from the idea of societies themselves. Humans are in the
end a gregarious species -- we need each others' support in order to accomplish
most tasks. Introverts must learn to create safe personal boundaries for
themselves, enabling us to come out ot those boundaries periodically for the
purpose of creating new social possibilities. Many introverts may, in fact, have
been turned inward in the first place by interaction with a brutal society (I
grew up in Shithole, Texas in the 60's and 70's during our participation in --
and foment of -- the Vietnam War, and believe me I know whereof I speak).
Wouldn't it be great to be a part of a healthy society which respects and
treasures the unique sensibilities and perspectives of each individual?
Extroverts, for their part, must learn what it means/feels to be introverted,
and carefully respect the boundaries which introverts attempt to form around
themselves. It seems that these things are possible, and at any rate, we must
fight for them so that future kiddies can grow up in societies where people and
animals and ecosystems are loved instead of brutalized. No?
Love, Jack Rowe
*How to tell if you are an introvert or and extrovert -- the former may enjoy
social interactions but are drained by them in general, the latter are in
general energized after social encounters. Whichever you are, enjoy the special
privileges attendant upon your category. Both (all!) types of human are needed
-- and we are all a little bit of both types!
**Difference between Western society and yogurt? Yogurt has active cultures.
Interviewer to Ghandi: What do you think about Western civilization? Ghandi: I
think it would be a great idea.