Natural Systems: Demonstrating the Interdependencies Between Sustainability and Democracy

Dave Ewoldt

Abstract


This paper will cover a practical application of systems science by using a natural systems perspective to create global sustainability--a necessity for a world of peace, justice, and democracy.



Ecology, the study of systems of relationships, and psychology, the study of how we think, feel, and act, combine to help people remember that our lives and our potential rely on an interconnected and interdependent universe.



The core principles of natural systems--mutual support and reciprocity, no waste, no greed, and increasing diversity--are exhibited in a healthy and thriving ecosystem. These principles provide the models and metaphors necessary for humans to create healthy, fulfilling, and sustainable lifestyles and social systems.



A methodology from applied ecopsychology, known as the Natural Systems Thinking Process (NSTP), provides an epistemology and personal benefits for health, empowerment, and wisdom in an interconnected and interdependent world. The NSTP thus directly translates into social and environmental benefits as well. Relocalization, the process to bring sustainability into our lifestyles and social systems, provides a practical application of systems and complexity science for steady-state economies and democracy.



Overcoming our separation from nature--reconnecting with the nature that is within and around us--deepens conscious and sensory awareness of our connection within the web of life. This reconnection is personally healing and also motivates behavior that protects the environment. The intimate and heartfelt realization that we are an intricate part of a larger system, as well as being interdependent systems ourselves, and not disconnected and independent pieces, helps us create and sustain responsible, mutually supportive attraction relationships--the self-organizing activity of life itself. Sustainability can then become a natural extension of who we are and become embedded both within what we create and the personal and political decisions we make.



These systems of relationships are the polar opposite of the ranking hierarchies of control based on fear and force which comprise the dominant paradigm today. They are decidedly non-hierarchical in any traditional sense, and more closely resemble the peer-to-peer decentralized network model most people are familiar with in the Internet today. In the social sphere, the partnership way and partnership education are practical examples of this model. The decentralization that is a core precept of bioregionalism is another example of this model, and is used in consensus based bioregional governance for democratic decision making.



Our work at Attraction Retreat does more than uncover the systemic nature of the problems that are causing the world's ills, it makes solutions available to individuals and the community that must be brought to bear in creating systemic alternatives instead of single-issue band-aids in building a just, equitable, and sustainable future.


Keywords


ecology, relationships, ecosystems, natural systems, health, sustainability, relocalization, society, economy, democracy, ecopsychology, non-hierarchical, decentralized, consensus

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