Creating Successful Chaos Within a Well-Ordered Failure

“Our challenge is not bringing order to successful chaos but creating successful chaos within a well-ordered failure.” ~ Charles Marohn, ‘Strong Towns’

Collaboration, peer-to-peer participation and bottom-up empowerment all sounds good. And in theory … it is. The more democratic the process, the more responsive it should be. But responsiveness doesn’t necessarily translate into results. In the last piece, “Herding Cats,” organization of the masses by the masses can be exactly like that, “herding cats.” The key to any collective effort is having a defined mission that is generally agreed upon and then putting its implementation into play using a set process. In the case of Community 3.0 that mission is the physical, cerebral and spiritual well-being of your community.

Nurturing well-being by creating avenues and conduits for engagement is the road to this mission’s success. And hopefully through these efforts, the inherent benevolence of the members of your community will be unleashed. We must make “helping others” our societal norm … supplanting that of primarily making money and climbing ladder of our economic caste system. We need to create programs that not only help us … but also create opportunities that enable us to help others.

Marissa Lee Bennett
Marissa Lee Bennett

Body Without Organs – Successful Chaos

In the post Growing an Evolved Society,” I outlined the rhizome theory of societal organization developed by Deleuze and Guattari in the 1960’s. One of the components of their philosophy is the Body Without Organs. The Body Without Organs is “what happens,” the result of the Nomadic actions of the components (the populace) operating on the Smooth Space platform (Front Porches and volunteer Contributors in the community). In itself the Body Without Organs has no form until the contributions of the community are injected into it. A community’s personality and state of well-being are the results of the interactions between its Contributors and its Front Porches. It can take a conservative form or a progressive one, NIMBYism and gated communities or one more communal. Tolerant and welcoming or closed. Wall Street or Main Street.

Rather than having its personality being dictated by those in the high rungs of a traditionally mandated hierarchy – it will come to form through the participation of those who live there. How a community and its Contributors respond to its needs and opportunities … will be what it becomes.

My view of societal evolution, Community 3.0, is not a structure … it’s a result. It’s a Body Without Organs. It’s a result of the set of interactions chosen independently yet in accordance with the societal expectations and norms that create the personality of the community. While the tools used by sister 3.0 communities are the same – the way they’re used and to what ends are determined by you to create what you desire. Think of a generic set of Legos where the only constraint to what you make is your imagination. What shapes and colors you choose to use, in what combinations will be unique to you; with the constant being the collective betterment your community.

Front Porches and “Solutions”

The conduit of participation in the Community 3.0 model is the Front Porch. These informal meeting places, most often locally owned businesses, are named after gathering spots so often seen in Latino communities that are used as the focal points for neighborhood discussion and connection to the street. These Front Porches are where the Middle Ring flourishes and what the French political philosopher, Alex de Tocqueville, observed in the 1800’s as the source of America’s “exceptionalism.” They allows us to organize and take action directly, not wait on the sidelines while traditional institutions may or may not.

Your neighborhood’s Front Porch can be anywhere or anything. It can be the local pub down the street or the coffee-house where you get your morning sustenance from. It can be Bill’s garage where everyone gathers to watch Sunday football games. It can even be your kitchen table. What happens on the Front Porch is what matters … not what is looks like or where it is.

The Front Porch’s purpose is to identify Solutions, whether they be in response of needs or opportunities. These Solutions are designed to help your community pick up the slack and mend its societal safety net as well as lead it into the future. They can range from organizing a cleanup effort, to fixing a playground, to even spearheading a high school mentoring or apprentice program. And by being a Contributor, you and your community members can be involved with whatever Solution fits your strengths, desires and availabilities.

As a part of the Community 3.0 platform we’ve put together a roster of several examples of what can come from Front Porch collaborations. These examples represent Solutions to many common needs and opportunities a community may encounter. By no means is this roster comprehensive, but it’s a start.

“On-boarding” Your Local Business Community

A fundamental obstacle to scaling collective intelligence is that claimed benefit is vague and uncertain; and by this does not provide enough motivation for most people to participate. While there are civic-minded people who will contribute for social good, when the initiative depends solely on civic altruism it will struggle to scale beyond the core of committed activists and stakeholders. Initiatives are literally competing with cat gifs for people’s free time. (Simon Tegg – Scaling Collective Intelligence)

As Simon articulated in the above segment, it’s difficult to keep people motivated to stay with a collaboration. After all, the competition for their attention is cat gifs (I so want to post a gif of Orion here … but I’ll refrain). But with effective on-boarding and the use of your community’s Front Porches, I believe emotional momentum can be sustained long enough to the get the project into execution phase. After that a new momentum injection should occur once the project turns from “thinking” to “doing.” 

That being said. We still have to get people to “play” in the first place.

Although there are many causes to donate to – not nearly enough of them are hands-on volunteer projects. Being hands-on greatly increases the likelihood of the project “sticking.” Beyond helping out on Thanksgiving at your local homeless shelter, organized options are few and far in between. There’s more than enough reasons to step in and get involved; but these projects still have to be organized. Above I outlined several projects or Solutions any community can use to fill this “hands-on” gap. But again, they have to start somewhere. This somewhere is the Front Porch; specifically using the Community 3.0 model.

The connection of the Front Porch to the locally owned business community is what makes the Community 3.0 model unique. I don’t believe there will be any shortage of businesses that will want to jump on board. To be a local business and not be a part of an obvious way to pitch in and help out the community they do business in … might as well be a slap in the face of the people who patronize them. They will be conspicuous by their absence of effort.

The L.A. Finder and the Fear of Being Invisible

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One the many business ventures I’ve undertaken over the years was publishing commercial arts and printing directories, first in Minneapolis in the 1980s and then later in Los Angeles with the “L.A. Finder.” All of them had one thing in common; initially we were selling blue sky. Nothing like them existed in the their respective markets. We were asking the top players in the graphic arts and printing communities to commit thousands of dollars to something they had no assurance would even happen. All they got from us was an idea and a good pitch. But that was enough. It wasn’t that they expected fantastic returns on their investment (which could be substantial including production costs). They couldn’t NOT be in the book. If their competition was represented and they weren’t – it was like they didn’t exist in the community. They were conspicuous by their absence.

I believe the same thing will happen when the stakes are even higher – the very “well-being” and future of their community. Plus, this investment in community goodwill will provide them with the competitive advantage that no big box store or Wall Street chain can duplicate. As a resident, how could you not want to do business with a company that is selflessly helping out the city you live in. You’d feel obligated. 

The goal of Community 3.0 is to create an ecosystem where your community’s Front Porches and their volunteer Contributors (customers of the participating local businesses) are in constant state of benevolent activity – building relationships, finding opportunities and creating Solutions that will benefit the community (and indirectly themselves). 

Community 3.0 is not just a program or platform … it’s a lifestyle.

The Community 3.0 network is empowered by the bleedingEDGE Experience Platform. This platform is the fuel that powers engagement and activity. The Community 3.0 automated loyalty system directly rewards customers (Contributors) for their patronization, while being kept abreast of special deals, events, Solution activities and whatever else might connect them to local business and the community through an event-driven communication system.

The bleedingEDGE Experience Platform is the conduit connecting the Front Porch (Merchant), the Contributor (customer) and their community. This “experience platform” is the communications vehicle for Deleuze and Guattari’s Smooth Space described in the piece Growing an Evolved Society.” Tailored for specific situations and events –  each communication is customized to a local business or Front Porch, personalized to each customer or Contributor and delivered via direct mail, email or text – depending on applicability. Everything is specifically timed to maximize its response and effectiveness. The platform features an automated array of over twenty templated 1 to 1 communication and loyalty programs. Each is designed to build the relationships that will strengthen your community and repair the safety net very often left unattended to fray. Think of it like your community’s own Artificial Intelligence program designed to build the civic core.

There is an awareness that to the extent that there is a network “center,” it is about being in service of and helping to connect the whole, as well as bring in the “periphery.” There is an emphasis on contribution and creating value over deferring to credentials and the usual suspects. People lead with a spirit of openness; and there is an overall effort towards growing the pie, not just carving it up into smaller pieces. (Network Impact: Different Approaches and Common Ground)

But there still needs to be a center. There needs to be a driving force to usher in this change in civic thinking. It needs a birthing process and an incubator to bring it to fruition. This is the role of Community 3.0 – a collective Front Porch whose job it is to nurture and direct its offspring.

The Community 3.0 Front Porch World Community

Up to this point we looked at the Smooth Space being limited to the local businesses and the Contributors within a community. However, the Front Porch concept scales well beyond neighborhood businesses in single communities. As long as the tenets of rhizomatic growth and nomadic movement are adhered to – why can’t our Smooth Space of community empowerment scale worldwide? 

Why can’t a farmer from Oregon, via their Front Porch, share a success story with farmer from Nigeria via theirs. Their resource requirements and availabilities may be different, but the serendipitous sharing of insight could “turn on the light,” solving a problem that changes someone’s life. Or why do we limit communication to only those of common vocations when anyone, anywhere of any profession could share Solutions to civic fixes long abandoned by their respective governments.

If the world is to transition from a “consume all you can society” to a sustainable one – why should we look only to those who are members of the institutions that created the problems in the first place? Should we not be looking for direction in places other than the established ‘lords’ in their ivory towers? However well-meaning they may be … isn’t their perspective a bit myopic? And isn’t this the case when we live under the thumb of traditional civic hierarchies … as most of us do?

We needn’t limit our options though. There is much wisdom in the streets. But unfortunately, many with the most wonderful voices are not heard because they’re not a member of the power elite of the status quo. Conferences such as Davos and Aspen only perpetuate this “echo chamber thinking.” We must make extra efforts to seek out the voices that can open our ears to the Solutions we all need to hear. Our collaborative focus needs to expand to those often looked at as unreachable … or irrelevant. First hand these people may still be metaphorically in the dark; but through a network of Front Porches they can see … and be seen. The Community 3.0 Front Porch World Community will be their light. The world’s problems and opportunities will no longer only be prioritized by those “up high,” but also by those “in the streets.”

“Our challenge is not bringing order to successful chaos but creating successful chaos within a well-ordered failure.” ~ Charles Marohn, ‘Strong Towns’

What we have now has been constructed by those “up high” in their ivory towers; and the result is unprecedented inequality. This world of neo-liberalism, global corporate expansion and government collusion has done very little for us “in the streets.” One may say it’s “well-ordered.” I say it’s more a failure.

It’s time we create a little “successful chaos.”

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If you haven’t, I invite you to start by delving into my ideas by reading the series, On the Road to Your Community’s Perfect World,” This is my articulation of how we can create better, more inclusive, unique communities as the solution to our society’s pressing issues. Consider each week’s post a Mile Marker (MM), a cerebral off-ramp from the highway of your daily routine, taking a you little further down this road to a better version of society.

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You can follow me on Twitter at @clayforsberg and on Google+.

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