Some Situations Call for Proximity-Oriented Approaches Like the Shared Situation Guide, Leading to More Sustainability and Variety

Some Situations Call for Proximity-Oriented Approaches

Hello,

Are you, as an individual or in your organization, exploring ways of thinking about and relating to situations that could make more progress on the big and small challenges you face, and humanity faces? Whether you’re exploring or not, what follows will expand your possibilities. First, these four definitions will help with what’s coming up. A situation is whatever you are dealing with or considering. An element is anything you’re considering as separate, including a person, place, thing, idea, feeling, time, group, relationship, etc. A relationship is any kind of association or connection between elements. And, the proximity consists of elements related or potentially related to a situation, in physical, mental and other ways. With the proximity thinking framework I created, you can consider situations and challenges with the four basic terms situation, element, relationship and proximity. Although considering elements, relationships and the proximity may each be important in dealing with situations, sometimes one or two of them may dominate our attention and activities, even when that is less effective. You may see that many of our approaches for dealing with challenges, which are kinds of situations, tend to be more element-oriented and/or relationship-oriented. For example, approaches like markets, politics and hierarchies are typically more element-oriented and/or relationship-oriented, meaning they have a greater focus on elements and/or relationships than proximities. No doubt, certain kinds of situations are most effectively dealt with by element-oriented and/or relationship-oriented approaches. However, some of the big and small challenges we face are shared situations, and may be more context-related or environment-related, or may relate to diverse elements across areas that may not typically be connected, so they are more proximity-oriented. And, sometimes it’s easier and more effective to consider a proximity, such as when relationships between elements are hard to define or in flux much of the time, so element-oriented approaches become difficult. Plus, sometimes it just becomes clear that we need to focus on a proximity. For example, consider shared challenges like climate change, sustainability, shared projects, shared spaces, shared resources (whether big like water or power sources or small like parks or kitchens), or shared events (whether big like a festivals or conventions or small like potlucks, picnics or meetings). These kinds of shared challenges are more proximity-oriented. In these kinds of challenges, it can help to relate more directly to the proximity of the situation. Networked technologies, when combined with some new proximity-oriented processes I’ve developed, let us relate more directly to proximities.

While developing the proximity thinking framework, I created some new proximity-oriented approaches that let us relate more directly to proximities. How? By deploying the four ProxThink growth model processes of RelatePoints, ProxMonitors, Vadi Agreements and ProxRewards (proxri) on a collaborative, networked, mobile platform. The ProxThink growth model was developed to work with networks, and grew partly out of asking myself, if you want to relate to a proximity sort like we relate to a person, what would be needed? A RelatePoint is a primary starting point or place for coordinating relationships in the proximity, and is similar to the ability to meet and/or talk to someone. A Proximity Monitor, or ProxMonitor, provides greater awareness of and information about the proximity, similar to the feedback we get from facial expressions, voice tonality, body language, and of course what someone is saying, when we relate to them. Similar to commonly accepted standards of behavior and ways of interacting with people are Vadi Agreements. The term Vadi (pronounced vah’dee) is short for valuable differences. Vadi Agreements acknowledge that differences are a part of relationships and some differences have value, and provide relationships and agreements which can help valuable differences persist, adapt and change as needed. ProxRewards (proxri) are somewhat similar to the need, when dealing with someone, to provide encouragement, positive feedback, rewards, and so forth, which help one or both of you, and which keep the relationship flowing. So a ProxReward is a reward which relates elements in the proximity, and is often a reward made with the proximity in mind. ProxRewards are also called proxri for short (pronounced prox’ree).

When deploying the four growth model processes discussed above on a collaborative, networked, mobile platform, you have proximity-oriented approaches that are integrated conceptually and technologically. With them, people can relate more directly to the proximity of their shared situation. These approaches can help us make more progress on the big and small challenges humanity faces, but also everyday challenges and shared situations. In the process, these approaches help create more sustainable proximities and sustainable variety. It’s both fascinating and a nice surprise that these approaches can make our lives more sustainable as well as more interesting, healthy and vital with more variety. I think sustainable variety is closely related to what nature does, which is perhaps a clue that these approaches have value and potential.

The proximity-oriented conceptual and technological approaches mentioned above come together in a specific form in the collaborative and mobile Shared Situation Guide. You can use it for shared situations with friends, family, coworkers, neighbors and others. It works on your Android phone or iPhone, your tablet and your computer. I’d like you to try it. It helps your group relate more directly to the proximity and each other, improving shared situations. It turns the proximity into more of a tangible, living thing, making it easier to relate to. It also gives people chances to relate to the proximity and each other in a wider variety of ways. Combined, these things can help groups with a shared situation come alive and thrive, and life becomes more enjoyable. There may be other people in proximities you share who are already using the guide, or if not, you can start collaborations that others can join. Keep in mind that the Shared Situation Guide is a preliminary implementation of proximity-oriented approaches, and more will need to be done to integrate the processes it uses into our systems and lives. Learn more, access and try the Shared Situation Guide, find guide workshops, access guide starter sets, and discover other people who are using it, at sharedsituations.wordpress.com.

If you explore the proximity thinking (ProxThink) framework and the Shared Situation Guide, you’ll learn more about and use the concept of proxri, briefly introduced above. You’ll also see that the framework and Shared Situation Guide are offered via proxri. Proxri in practice are sort of like the give and take of a neighborhood, relationship, friendship or perhaps being a considerate traveler. How do you proxri? Basically, you consider the proximity, including your benefits, your circumstances, the other party’s circumstances, and some wider context, and then proxri as appropriate. A proxri may include money, things, services, ideas, tasks, relationships, actions, and so on, as well as a combination of these. So a proxri to me for the framework and guide might also be a referral, consulting or speaking engagement, teaching gig, grant, or other opportunity. In addition, I’ve created a collaboration deal so that people who collaborate on or improve the framework and guide can get proxri. If you think my work might be, or is, useful, interesting or has potential, please consider a proxri for it. You can find out more about my circumstances via this ProxMonitor. You can learn more about proxri here. You can make financial proxri here or via the proxri links on most any page of proxthink.com. As far as non-financial proxri, you can let me know about them by contacting me via the contact methods mentioned below.

Please contact me with any questions, comments, or for other related reasons, via the contact links on the Shared Situations or ProxThink websites. Also, if you’d like to get involved in growing the shared situations approach on various levels (social, technical, legal, organizational, etc.), please get in touch.

Thank you,
David Loughry
Shared Situations website: sharedsituations.wordpress.com
ProxThink website: proxthink.com

Advertisements

Let’s make work less dominant

In this culture, it seems many things take a backseat, or secondary position, to work, career, and markets.

Some of these things include friends, family, community, health, fun, variety, the arts, balance, the environment, living situations, social groups, and even politeness.

The proximity thinking framework may provide some approaches which could change this. The framework acknowledges and allows for the dynamic relationship of elements, relationships and proximity. Especially the greater emphasis on proximity, as well as approaches which let us relate more directly to proximities, may shift the importance of work, career and markets to a more appropriate place.

The main approach I’m referring to here is the sustainable proximities approach. Here’s an example of how to use the approach, written up as a short guide: How to Create a Sustainable Proximity.

Four Points for a Different Way

(r] proxthink.com

A four point argument:

1. We have to focus more on proximities, such as contexts, environments and the myriad elements surrounding and connected to our tough challenges.

2. Our existing social structure (markets, governments, democracy) doesn’t support that very well.

3. Networks are part of the answer, in terms of physical structure.

4. The ProxThink framework provides a new conceptual structure, to complement networks.

………………….

Expansion of Point 1

The following issues and areas point towards a greater need for paying attention to, relating to, and even taking care of, proximities: globalization, the environment, climate change, pollution, energy transitions, economic turmoil, externalities, species extinction, population growth, health degradation, etc.

Proxri Deal: As you find our relationship rewarding, proxri with the proximity in mind.

Networks offer possibilities for greater variety, vitality and liveliness?

(r] proxthink.com

Networks and technology can leverage the efforts of a few. This can create a lot of value. I’m not the first to say this, of course.

Wikipedia is created and maintained by a tiny fraction of the people who use it.

In freemium-supported websites, the whole site is supported by a tiny portion of users who pay.

Further, the people who create and maintain Wikipedia like doing it. And, the people who pay on a freemium site see the value of paying. In both cases, networks and technology leverage the efforts of a few, and create much value for other people in the process.

How many more things can we apply this approach to, in the process freeing up more time and resources, and improving the quality of life?

Part of the secret is technology allows people to leverage their time so much. Even among the small number of people contributing to Wikipedia and other group-created efforts, it usually doesn’t take all their time. It’s not like a full-time job.

Maybe networks and technology make, or can make, the notion of specialized work dominating your life less common. And being bored less common.

This is related to another thing about Wikipedia. How many worldwide, free, online encyclopedias do we need? One may be enough.

So what if we didn’t focus on making money so much as creating vibrant contexts, environments and proximities within which to live? Proximities in which the focus could be more on variety, vitality and liveliness? Isn’t that a big part of why people want money anyway? They want to be able to do a variety of different things. Maybe technology and networks offer new ways to create contexts and proximities within which people have that.

What is holding us back? Perhaps we need a new framework to think about this problem, and to structure new approaches. That’s what the ProxThink framework offers, I believe.

Proxri Deal: As you find our relationship rewarding, proxri with the proximity in mind.

Networks Transfer Information Better than Markets in Some Cases

(r] proxthink.com

Networks can transfer some information that markets and money used to transfer.

One thing markets do is transfer information. Greater demand tells producers to make more. Lower demand tells producers to make less. Higher prices tell buyers to consider shifting to alternatives. Higher prices also tell new producers to enter the market.

Markets were invented before technological networks existed. Markets are a kind of network themselves.

It makes sense that networks may now be able to transfer information better, in some instances, than markets.

So, we should be doing that. Yet, the inertia of markets may prevent it sometimes.

Part of the problem may be that we need new mental models, and practical systems, for utilizing the potential of networks.

I believe that is where ProxThink, the ProxThink growth model, and a sustainable proximities approach based on the ProxThink growth model come into play.

For more, see sustainable proximities.

Proxri Deal: As you find our relationship rewarding, proxri with the proximity in mind.