I’m working on a marketing project in which I’m telling some of the story of how the proximity thinking framework emerged and evolved. I’ve never really written this history before, so I thought I should share it here. I’ll update this page as I make more progress. I may remove the more marketing-oriented parts later, but at this point they are pretty intertwined, and may help you get more out of reading this as well. Below is the version as of May 26, 2022.
Hi, David Loughry here. As you likely know, it’s a very connected world. In our connected world, are you seeking ways to better meet your challenges, as well as create, collaborate, and live vibrantly? For decades, I’ve struggled with how we can meet our challenges better and live more vibrant lives in a connected world, which has become even more important as we’ve become even more connected. Meeting challenges and living vibrantly also involves creating and collaborating effectively, and just as important, doing so enjoyably.
I’ve created some different approaches to a connected world that should work better in some situations than some of our current approaches. Remember, much of how we live now was created before we became so connected. I invite you to check out the introduction I’ll be sharing with you shortly. I’ll also tell you about some of my struggles in getting to these approaches, which, when combined with the introduction, should help you skip over some hurdles. If you’re willing to learn, try some new things and think conceptually (or at least try to think more conceptually), this should make a big difference in your life and for people you know.
First, I want to remind you what a huge role connectedness plays. We’re living with connected devices, people, groups, technologies, countries, and economies. Plus, connected ideas and feelings, and connections among people and animals and other parts of nature. All the connectedness can be a bit overwhelming.
How does connectedness affect your life, career, business, community, planet, neighborhood, family and friends? How does connectedness affect your problem-solving, creativity, and collaboration?
As you’ve probably figured out, connectedness presents opportunities, but also challenges. We also have to ask, how human oriented is our technological connectedness?
In addition, it seems connectedness makes possible some things that were not possible before.
To make the most of connectedness, and to keep it human oriented, some different approaches seem to be needed, at least in some situations.
But what approaches would work better in a connected world? What would they be based on? What would they be? How would they benefit us? And benefit you? I believe I’ve created some of the different approaches we need, especially for certain kinds of situations. I’d like to tell you about them.
I’ve been working on this for a long time. It started with some things my father said to me. It has involved many struggles and adventures, and it became the kind of problem I could not give up on. I’ll tell you more of this story in a bit. But first, should you continue to read/listen?
The rest of this [[piece/video]] is for you if …
- You want some ways to transform your problem-solving, creating, and collaborating in a connected world, making these activities more effective and enjoyable, AND/OR
- You want a more vibrant life with more flexibility, variety, and sustainability, AND/OR
- You want your life, career, business, community, planet, neighborhood, family and friends to more fully benefit from the possibilities of connectedness, AND/OR
- You’re curious about any of the above, PLUS
- You’re willing to learn, try some new things, and think conceptually (or at least try to think more conceptually), THEN …
… please continue to check out what I’m presenting here. And if you’re worried about how much this might cost, I’ve figured out ways to make this accessible to anyone who wants to explore it. If the above doesn’t interest you, then this isn’t for you and you can save some time by stopping here.
If you’re still with me, I need to teach you a few things first, so you can better understand the benefits of what I’ve created. It’s fine if you don’t completely understand the first time through, as you’ll still get a feeling for it, and begin to see what’s possible.
So, why are the different approaches I’ve created more appropriate for a connected world? Because they are based on the underlying concept that being is about relating. What do I mean by relating? Relating is about connecting. Relationships are any kind of association or connection between people and/or other elements. Since relating is about connecting, the underlying concept of the approaches I’m going to tell you about is highly appropriate for living in a connected world. Again, because connectedness is about relating, and the approaches are built on ways of relating.
But how did I come upon this idea that being is about relating? This is where we pick up the story of my struggles and adventures …
When I was a teenager, my father urged me to do something for the world, which unfortunately for me, was a little too vague and too open-ended! I took him to mean something for the whole world. Partly to get my father’s attention, and partly because I tend to love possibly impossible challenges, and partly because I was not smart enough to know any better, I set off on some adventures to meet my father’s challenge. But as you can probably imagine, a challenge as big as doing something for the whole world is bound to be difficult, and could drive almost anyone a bit crazy. In addition, as you may know, once you’ve accepted a challenge, it can be hard to give up because it would mean letting yourself down. It would be giving up. You have to give up sometimes of course, but back then I saw no reason to give up yet.
Along the way, it became more clear to me that to do something for the world involves understanding what being human is about, and to enable people to be more human, more of the time.
But humans are pretty contradictory. We can be a boisterous bunch. We not only fight and bicker, but we also cooperate, collaborate, hang out, and love. So to understand humans better and do something for the world, I had a lot to learn, a lot to get good at, a lot of different people to meet, and a lot of different experiences to have.
I met many different kinds of people as I explored many different areas, from [[blank to blank]]. And I created, invented and designed [[things such as]]. I had struggles with [[write this]]. In college, after exploring architecture and design, art, philosophy, music, science, engineering, and math, finally, from the third college I attended, I got a mathematics degree and an MBA. I’m grateful for so many diverse experiences, and the many different people I’ve met who helped me and taught me. But one particular book made a big difference, and was a turning point.
When reading a book of philosophy called Many Dimensional Man by James Ogilvy, I came across an idea that seemed to be about as basic as you could possibly get, and it was this: To be is to be related. I decided to take that idea, start there, and see what could be built with it.
At the time, I was also making art, as well as designing and inventing. I wanted some simple ideas to guide me. In math and science, you often do things to constrain your area of inquiry and experimentation, you use variables to “stand in” for real things, and you use sets to talk about groups. So when designing and inventing, I started considering a constraint I called the proximity of the design or invention, thinking I should aim for what I then called proximity equilibrium, which would be a kind of equilibrium of related elements in the nearby area. I later realized that things are rarely in stable equilibrium, and that success is more often about being dynamic and constantly rebalancing. So I dropped the idea of equilibrium, but the idea of proximity stuck.
Meanwhile, in design, art, music, and inventions, I started noticing patterns which seemed present when things “just worked.” These seemed to be patterns which were present when creativity flows easily, and the results of creativity are satisfying and/or useful, depending on the situation. These were patterns useful for problem solving, creativity, innovation, and life. So I started to collect these patterns, and started calling them proximity patterns, or ProxPatterns for short. And I started calling these patterns proximity thinking, or ProxThink for short.
A note about what’s coming next … You can benefit from proximity thinking approaches without completely understanding the upcoming more conceptual parts about the four terms that support the ProxPatterns. But it may help you to have a sense of these ideas, even if you don’t fully yet see how they interact and relate. You’ll likely also realize I’m using these terms in ways that are very similar to how we use them in everyday speech. Now, back to the story …
As I started to formalize these proximity patterns into short phrases or trigger questions for problem-solving and creativity, the mathematical and philosophical parts of my brain wanted some terms and ways of thinking about relationships that would be common across the different ProxPatterns. And I realized those common terms and relationships needed some underlying structure. This was about the time I realized that the dictionary definition of proximity includes nearness in space, time, or relationship. The fact that proximity includes nearness in relationship, meant that the idea of proximity was connected to the idea that being is about relating. This was very lucky and very useful, and led to realizing I could define just four basic terms for discussing situations, and these four basic terms could support the ProxPatterns.
One of the four key terms was the word element. The word element could function sort of like a math variable, and the term element could “stand in” for anything, such as a person, place, thing, idea, feeling, time, group, relationship, situation, and so on. I had the term relationship from the idea that being is about relating, and I refined it further by stating that a relationship is any kind of association or connection between elements. I realized the word situation could “stand in” for whatever you were dealing with or considering. And since the term proximity includes the meaning of nearness in relationship, I could define the proximity as consisting of elements related or potentially related to a situation, in physical, mental and other ways. You can see how the definition of the term proximity uses the other three terms.
Among other things, these four ProxThink terms let you think in a very flexible way about situations using what I call the Core Idea, which is: In a situation, change elements, relationships and the proximity to better relate to each other.
And now that you understand a little about the four terms, you’ll get more out of an example of a ProxPattern. Here’s the quick version of the Relate a Variety ProxPattern: How can you relate a wider variety of elements? As you can see, this question uses the terms relate and element, which makes it a very general and useful question for triggering ideas and potential solutions. In the completely defined version of this ProxPattern, all four terms are used, and the Core Idea is referenced as well.
Now I can also better explain to you the ProxPatterns in general. The ProxPatterns are especially helpful for creativity, innovation and problem-solving. They are an integrated group of related patterns for relating to situations. A single ProxPattern describes ways elements can or do relate in the proximity. As a group of related patterns, ProxPatterns are valuable in relationship with each other. If one ProxPattern doesn’t apply in a situation, another one probably does. Further, they often work together and play off each other. So, as a group, ProxPatterns can help us relate to situations in more productive, effective, adaptive, creative, playful and enjoyable ways. There is also a ProxPatterns Hints generator on the ProxThink website, where you enter a word or phrase, and hints using the ProxPatterns are generated.
To tie things together for people learning about the ProxThink framework, I used the phrase ProxThink Basics for the collection of the four terms, the Core Idea, the underlying concept that being is about relating, the idea of a ProxPattern, and the idea of a ProxSet (which is a way of considering a group as a set). So, at this point, there were two parts to the proximity thinking framework, the ProxThink Basics and the ProxPatterns.
So that was a bit of the story of how I came upon the idea that being is about relating, and nailed down a coherent structure and set of terms I could use when defining ProxPatterns.
Next I want to tell you about the struggles that led to the ProxThink Growth Model, which began its life as an alternative to a business model.
Remember, I wanted to do something for the world. I had created a set of 16 ProxPatterns I thought could make a big difference. But no one knew about them. I had written a first draft of a book, but even if it got published, how many people would ever read it? If I adapted the book for the Internet, people could instantly see it, worldwide. Plus, on the web, content from the book could become more interactive, allowing people to learn faster, and put the ProxPatterns to use more actively. I was already a graphic designer, and there were software programs that let designers more easily build websites. So that’s what I did.
I learned the GoLive website development application, but wanted the site to be more interactive. So I had to figure out MySQL database management on websites, HTML, and the scripting language PHP. After more trial and error, stops and starts, and much learning, I was ready to start showing the site.
At that time, there was much talk about different business models for websites, which I followed and considered. However, none of the business models (like ad-supported, subscriptions, etc.) seemed to go well with the spirit of the ProxPatterns. So I decided to use the ProxThink Basics and the ProxPatterns, and see if I could create some other kind of business model for the site. This was the beginning of the ProxThink Growth Model, and it led to a whole new round of creation, development, work and expenses.
How would I pay for this new round of creation and development? After decades spent accumulating the knowledge, skills, and experiences needed to create the ProxThink Basics and the ProxPatterns, and multiple years actively creating them and the website, no one had yet paid me a dime for all of this. So how did I pay for all of this over the years? That’s a whole separate story, but the short version is it was subsidized by me, from different jobs, several small businesses I started, and lots of credit card debt.
When I began to create the growth model, which at that time had no name, the basic question I started with was this: If the ProxThink website is the situation, what would be needed for site users to relate to the proximity of this situation more like they relate to a person with whom they have a relationship?
After thinking about how people relate to each other, and considering this in relation to the website and the ProxThink framework, eventually I settled on four processes that could be formalized into both words and practices. And as I was doing this, I realized a couple other things. One was that these four processes could be used in pretty much any proximity shared by a group of people. The other was that, partly since the four processes were designed for a website, they were especially well-suited to situations that are connected to networks, such as the Internet. Due to this, the four processes also work well in the connected worlds of mobile devices and apps. And because the four processes work so well in a world of connectedness, it also turned out they can enable proximity-oriented collaboration and cooperation.
I cannot go into the four processes in detail here, although I’ll preview them later, but the four processes of the growth model make it easier for people who are part of a shared situation to relate to the proximity of their shared situation. The processes provide ways to collaborate and manage resources while encouraging growth. Growth for resources as well as people. The growth model has the potential to be sustainable, flexible, healthy, fun and efficient as well. It’s especially useful in proximity-oriented situations, where the proximity is more dominant, meaning there are many elements with many relationships, and the focus is more on the many elements and the many relationships. In contrast, in a more element-oriented situation, the focus would be on one or a few elements. And also in contrast, in a more relationship-oriented situation, the focus would be on one or a few relationships. I believe that when people are using the growth model, a shared situation has the potential to seem more like a living thing, partly because the growth model has the potential to transform a proximity into something more like one element, thus making it easier to relate to the proximity of a shared situation.
When mobile apps for collaborative document editing came on the scene, I saw the potential for deploying the ProxThink Growth Model within them. So I created a starter guide, which is sort of like a set of templates. It’s called the Shared Situation Guide, and can be used by a group of people who have a shared situation. Collaborative document editing apps also let people comment on the documents and proposed edits. Plus, since changes to documents are shown instantly in each person’s version of the document, these collaborative apps are a great blank canvas that functions as a common reference point for the proximity of a group’s shared situation. This can help the proximity of their shared situation come alive. Of course, custom software that deploys the ProxThink Growth Model could be developed, and so doing would likely be especially useful for shared situations which involve greater numbers of people.
Are you beginning to see how the language of the ProxThink framework hangs together and makes sense? At the same time, in some ways, I’m just using words we already know, but using them in a structured way that allows you to think more clearly about how things are related, and thus also how they are connected.
Now I want to turn more to how you and others might benefit from using the three parts of the ProxThink framework, how some things might be transformed, and what that would be like for you and others. As mentioned, the three parts of the framework are the ProxThink Basics, the ProxPatterns, and the ProxThink Growth Model.
Let’s first talk about using the ProxThink framework in the context of three challenges related to connectedness. There are at least three important challenges related to connectedness. These challenges include having ways to:
- Talk and think about connectedness.
- Solve problems, create, and innovate with and within connectedness.
- Collaborate and cooperate to make the most of connectedness.
Taken together, meeting these three challenges amounts to more effectively and enjoyably living in a world of connectedness.
As for the first bullet about having ways to talk and think about connectedness, you can probably see how the ProxThink Basics help address this, with the four terms and the Core Idea. Plus, the fact that talking and thinking about relationships and relatedness is at the same time talking and thinking about connectedness, and the ProxThink framework is built on relating. Another benefit of the ProxThink Basics is the concepts are so fundamental they can be used as a common language to communicate across different domains and disciplines, possibly helping people connect and collaborate who might otherwise be separated by domain-specific language.
Now about the second two bullets, which are related as follows … In a connected world, we often need to collaborate and cooperate in order to solve problems, create and innovate. And even if we’re mainly collaborating and cooperating, there are likely going to be situations when we also need to solve problems, create, and innovate, in order to successfully collaborate and cooperate. The ProxThink framework handles both of these cases with the ProxPatterns and the ProxThink Growth Model. Let me walk you through that.
First, I’ll discuss the second two bullets, starting from the point of view of the ProxPatterns. The ProxPatterns honor connectedness in a few different ways. They are built on top of the four terms of the ProxThink Basics, so they honor connectedness via how the Basics are about connectedness. Second, the ProxPatterns honor connectedness themselves, via being an integrated group of related patterns that are valuable in relationship with each other. Third, connectedness requires flexibility, and connectedness creates liveliness. The ProxPatterns are built for flexibility and liveliness, in how they work together and play off each other, as well as in how they help us relate to situations in more productive, effective, adaptive, creative, playful and enjoyable ways. Fourth, the ProxPatterns can be connected with the ProxThink Growth Model, since people collaborating and cooperating using the growth model can also use the ProxPatterns as needed to solve problems, create, and innovate. And not only that, but ProxPatterns can help, enable and inform decisions and actions made when using growth model processes, as you’ll see next.
Next, I’ll discuss the second two bullets, starting from the point of view of the Growth Model. The growth model connects a group of people for collaborating and cooperating in the proximity of their shared situation. It does this via the four processes of the growth model. One process provides a connecting point for relationships among the group of people. This is called a RelatePoint. A second process allows the group to monitor various elements in the proximity of their situation, and since the people in the group are part of this proximity, they can also disclose information about themselves which is relevant to the situation in their own personal monitor. These monitors connect information about the proximity of a shared situation to the people in the situation, in one place where they can find it, which is the RelatePoint of their shared situation. These monitors are called ProxMonitors. The third process helps the group understand the valuable differences among the connected and related elements that are part of the proximity of their shared situation, and then create relationships and agreements around those differences. These agreements are called Vadi Agreements, which is also the name of this third process. The fourth process provides ways for people in the group to reward others in the group and reward themselves, as well as reward other elements and relationships in the proximity, and even reward the proximity itself. These rewards are often made with the proximity in mind, and can be any kind of reward, so it’s not just about money. So money becomes just one kind of this type of reward. These kinds of rewards connect people and other elements in the proximity of the situation, and can be an essential part of Vadi Agreements but can also be used more informally. These rewards are called ProxRewards, or proxri for short. The four processes of the growth model enable the people in the shared situation to collaborate and cooperate to make the most of connectedness. And while they are using the growth model, people in the shared situation can also make use of the ProxPatterns, as mentioned previously, but I’ll state it again and update it as follows: People collaborating and cooperating using the growth model can also use the ProxPatterns as needed to solve problems, create, and innovate. And not only that, when using growth model processes, ProxPatterns can help, enable and inform decisions and actions made, especially with the Vadi Agreement and ProxReward (proxri) processes.
Hopefully, you should now have enough experience with some ProxThink ways of thinking to be able to follow some example scenarios which help demonstrate how the ProxThink framework can be used in actual situations, some of which might relate to your life or the lives of people you know. I’ll first list the example scenarios, and then show how the framework can be applied across the different scenarios. Here are the scenarios:
- First, note that the word organization in this scenario includes a company, nonprofit organization, professional group, governmental unit, etc. Scenario: An internal organizational team and/or a group of consultants to an organization, who are striving to improve and/or create things like the organization’s products, services, marketing, productivity, processes, effectiveness and value.
- Scenario: A group of people managing or seeking to improve a common resource, or planning a shared experience. This group could be:
- Neighbors in single-family home areas who are managing or seeking to improve something that affects many of them (such as a common park, garden, pool or other shared resource, or the general atmosphere in the neighborhood), or who are planning a neighborhood event or party.
- Apartment/condo residents who are managing or seeking to improve something that affects many of them (such as common areas, landscaping, or the general atmosphere in the building), or apartment/condo residents who are planning an event or party.
- Employees who are managing or seeking to improve something that affects many of them (such as a shared kitchen, common areas, or the general atmosphere at the organization), or employees who are planning an event or party.
- Families or co-housing groups who are managing or seeking to improve something that affects many of them (such as a shared kitchen, common areas, or the general atmosphere where they live), or who are planning meals, an event or party.
- A group of friends who are managing or seeking to improve something that affects many of them (such as shared resources like tools or a car), or who are planning a group trip, event or party.
- Scenario: A community or region dealing with a drought or some other threat which affects everyone there.
Each of those example scenarios are shared situations, which not only require some collaboration and cooperation, but each also requires some problem solving, creativity, and innovation. In each situation, use of the ProxThink Growth Model and the ProxPatterns should benefit the people involved. Let’s look at them a little, one by one:
- In the first scenario involving a group of people in an organization who are striving to improve and/or create things like the organization’s products, services, marketing, productivity, processes, effectiveness and value, the group could use a set of collaborative documents such as the Shared Situation Guide (SSG) as a RelatePoint, where needed ProxMonitors could be kept and/or linked to. ProxMonitors might track things like the status of the team’s progress, levels of resources, relevant external indicators, and team members’ availability and preferences. The group could develop a formal or informal Vadi Agreement and keep it in the SSG as well. Then, also in the SSG, based on their ProxMonitors and Vadi Agreement, they could list needed ProxRewards (proxri), as well as keep track of ProxRewards (proxri) as the proxri are contributed. Proxri might be things like needed and/or contributed ideas, resources, relationships, activities, etc. As the group uses the growth model for their shared situation, situations within it may arise which require problem solving, creativity, and innovation, and for these, the ProxPatterns can be of assistance. The group might use the ProxPatterns to generate ideas for new and/or improved products and services, as well as ways to be more productive and effective, and ideas for other organizational goals and needs. ProxPatterns can also be used in generating ideas for proxri and deciding how to proxri, as well as in creating the group’s Vadi Agreement.
- In the second set of scenarios involving groups of people managing or seeking to improve a common resource, or planning a shared experience, the groups could also use a set of collaborative documents such as the Shared Situation Guide (SSG) as their RelatePoint. There they could also keep and/or link to their ProxMonitors. ProxMonitors might track people’s availability and preferences, items needed and those willing to supply the items, and the status of shared resources via people’s opinions and assessments as well as perhaps via remote sensors or cameras. Their Vadi Agreement might be formal or more informal, such as a statement like this: We’ll collaborate using this shared situation guide to try to make progress on our shared situation, and to create, adapt and/or maintain the valuable differences mentioned in this guide. Now, let’s look at possible proxri in some specific shared situations for each group. At the end, I’ll mention how ProxPatterns might be used.
- Neighbors in single-family home areas who have a shared garden:
- Possible proxri needed and/or contributed – Gardening tools, seeds, some time each week, water, organizing a schedule, planning the planting, money for needed items, checking the status of the garden and reporting it in a ProxMonitor.
- Apartment/condo residents who are managing the plants, and art or photos, in the halls and lobby:
- Possible proxri needed and/or contributed related to the plants – Buying or donating plants and pots for them, watering the plants and noting this in the ProxMonitor, suggestions for plants and places for plants, repotting plants, organizing the watering schedule, updating the ProxMonitor with information such as which plants need attention like trimming or repotting.
- Possible proxri needed and/or contributed related to the art or photos – Buying or donating art or photos, hanging art/photos, hanging tools and hooks, rotating the art/photos to new spots, printing new art/photos, framing new art/photos, making wall signs to list the artist/photographer/title, printing wall signs, hanging wall signs, updating and/or commenting on ProxMonitors related to the art/photos.
- Employees who are managing a shared kitchen:
- Possible proxri needed and/or contributed – Not leaving your old food in the frig, buying or arranging for shared resources like coffee creamer or utensils, cleaning parts of the kitchen, organizing the cleaning, donating food and announcing this in a related ProxMonitor, stating your needs and preferences related to the kitchen in a ProxMonitor, helping make decisions related to the kitchen.
- Families or co-housing groups who are organizing shared meals:
- Possible proxri needed and/or contributed – Planning meals, scheduling the cooking/cleaning/shopping, doing the cooking/cleaning/shopping, buying or donating cookbooks, and buying or donating cooking gear and tableware, prepping the bar, giving and requesting ideas for meals via a related ProxMonitor, assessing the status of needed items/tasks in a related ProxMonitor.
- A group of friends who are planning and then having a party:
- Possible proxri needed and/or contributed – Sharing your party preferences and schedule and then committing to a date in a related ProxMonitor, generating ideas for party venues/places and things to do at the party in a related ProxMonitor, collaboratively building a list of needed items/food/drinks and then volunteering to bring them in a related ProxMonitor, managing or coordinating the music/entertainment, cooking/cleaning, showing up ready to have fun.
- Ways that ProxPatterns might be used in the above shared situations:
- Generating ideas and options related to the above proxri and ProxMonitors.
- Keeping relationships with other people in the shared situation lively and productive.
- Creating an effective Vadi Agreement that keeps things enjoyable.
- Neighbors in single-family home areas who have a shared garden:
- In the third scenario involving a community or region dealing with a drought or some other threat which affects everyone there, many more people would be part of the shared situation. Due to the large number of people, collaborative documents such as the Shared Situation Guide (SSG) would not work well as a RelatePoint and place to store and access shared documents. However, the four processes of the ProxThink Growth Model can be deployed in other ways. One option would be to create custom software or adapt existing software such as wiki software. A second option might be a RelatePoint that is a website and/or mobile app which links to several places that enable different processes of the growth model, also perhaps leveraging wikis. A third option might be to use existing large-scale platforms (such as Facebook) as the RelatePoint, and probably also link to places which enable some processes of the growth model. Let’s assume the second option might be used initially, and assume that the threat is a drought. Below is a proposal for how the growth model processes might work for this shared drought situation. At the end, I’ll mention how ProxPatterns might be used.
- A mobile-optimized RelatePoint website could provide links to several places that enable the Vadi Agreement, ProxMonitor, and ProxReward (proxri) processes of the growth model, as described below:
- Vadi Agreement – Initial Vadi Agreements could be written by a team of leaders, experts and interested citizens. Websites could show proposed and current Vadi Agreements for this shared situation. The sites could allow commenting on the agreements, as well as voting on comments and voting on suggested changes.
- Proxri – A special website could show and/or point to needed proxri such as needed water savings, needed changes to practices and systems that can save water, needed technology, needed infrastructure changes, needed ideas, needed money to go towards specific projects, etc. The proxri site could also show and/or point to proxri contributed towards the needs just mentioned, as well as other proxri related to this shared situation.
- ProxMonitor – Some ProxMonitor sites could report automated status information about relevant data, such as water usage, weather data, and how much water different areas, industries, and individual businesses and citizens have actually saved. Some ProxMonitor sites could show photos, videos, and text reports from citizens related to assessing the drought. Some ProxMonitor sites could show water savings commitments made by organizations and groups. Other ProxMonitor sites could show or point to what has been done and/or is being done to save water or create water, such as water-saving devices, landscaping, practices, attitudes, desalination, etc. No doubt other ProxMonitors would be needed as well.
- Ways that ProxPatterns might be used in this shared drought situation:
- Generating ideas and options related to the above proxri and ProxMonitors.
- Keeping relationships with other people and groups in the shared situation lively and productive.
- Creating an effective Vadi Agreement that keeps things enjoyable.
- A mobile-optimized RelatePoint website could provide links to several places that enable the Vadi Agreement, ProxMonitor, and ProxReward (proxri) processes of the growth model, as described below:
Now that you’ve seen some ways ProxThink framework approaches can be used, can you see yourself in some of the scenarios presented above? Hopefully, you saw several possibilities, as the example scenarios related to professional, personal and community settings. How would life be different, for you and people you know, if some of these approaches were used? What benefits can you imagine? What would it be like if your problem-solving, creating, and collaborating was more effective and enjoyable? How would it feel for your life, career, business, community, planet, neighborhood, family and friends to more fully benefit from the possibilities of connectedness? Would you enjoy a more vibrant life with more flexibility, variety, and sustainability? Doesn’t it seem ProxThink framework approaches could make possible some things that were not possible before? Couldn’t learning to use ProxThink framework approaches make a big difference in getting those benefits?
Speaking of things ProxThink approaches could make possible that were not possible before, I want to mention a couple other twists and turns in the evolution of the framework. After I created the 16 ProxPatterns, and decided those 16 were broad enough to handle almost any situation, and lived with them for a while, I began to notice which single ProxPattern seemed the most surprising, powerful, useful and needed in many situations. It’s one I mentioned earlier, the Relate a Variety ProxPattern, which is: How can you relate a wider variety of elements? This ProxPattern often seemed present in ways of dealing with situations that seemed especially useful, creative, and/or enjoyable. And striving for it seemed to help make your approaches to situations more, or even much more, useful, creative, and/or enjoyable.
Later, when I was building the ProxThink website, and talk of sustainability was widespread, I realized ProxThink approaches could help create not just sustainability narrowly defined in environmental terms, but sustainability more broadly construed, as more like how nature itself operates. In that more broad sense, I created the concept of sustainable proximities. Then, when thinking about the benefits of relating a wider variety of elements with the Relate a Variety ProxPattern, I developed the idea of sustainable variety. I tried to come up with a shorter term for sustainable variety for literally years and years, until I finally realized the best term would be SustaVariety, which includes the whole word variety. Many years earlier, I came across the idea of coevolution, when two things, species or processes affect each other, and they evolve together. It slowly dawned on me that sustainable proximities and sustainable variety seem to coevolve, that one of them increases the chances and growth of the other, and vice versa. Then, over even more time, I realized we cannot instantly create a sustainable proximity, but that it likely must be grown. And that we probably cannot set out to grow our whole life, or our connected lives as a society, into one big sustainable proximity. Rather, we’ll likely need to create pockets of sustainability, which in ProxThink language would be about growing various smaller sustainable proximities that may also get larger and overlap with other sustainable proximities. Each of these sustainable proximities should have some sustainable variety. Eventually I also realized that, if sustainable proximities and sustainable variety coevolve, then just striving towards sustainable variety could also help create more sustainable proximities, even without using ProxThink approaches. You should now have enough background to get a sense of what I mean when I say I think a good goal for us would be to create more sustainable proximities with sustainable variety. As a shorthand, I’ve started saying SPs with SV. And as I mentioned, we can start to get there in at least two different ways, by pursuing sustainable variety, and also by pursuing sustainable proximities with ProxThink approaches. However, I believe that pursuing sustainable proximities with ProxThink approaches should be a strategy that is more likely to lead to sustainable proximities with sustainable variety.
ProxThink framework approaches have made a difference in my life. I’ve used the ProxThink Basics and the ProxPatterns in my art-making, designing, inventing, general creating, and daily life. I also used them in the creation of the ProxThink Growth Model. Then I used the growth model in creating a number of related projects, including [[list here – the SPs with SV idea, the ProxThink site and services, the ProxThink online course, the proxri.org site including ways to deploy proxri in your life (for both rewarding with and receiving proxri), the Artsdown approach, the Variety People site and group, the Shared Situation Guide and Shared Situations site, SV membership groups, etc.]]. Next, I want to help get the growth model implemented more widely, to see what kind of differences it could make for both some of our biggest challenges, and some of your professional, personal, and community challenges. I want to see how many sustainable proximities with sustainable variety we can create. I hope you’ll join me by getting involved in this exploration! I’ll tell you how you can get involved shortly.
Just to review what we’ve covered, making the most of connectedness requires relating well to proximities. And at a more everyday level, making the most of connectedness requires two other things: 1. Using patterns that work well in proximities to solve problems, create and innovate, and 2. Using proximity-oriented models for collaborating and cooperating. When you do these things, you should be able to solve problems, create, collaborate, and live in ways that are more effective and enjoyable, with more sustainable variety and vitality.
I guess you could try to do these things on your own or by adapting some other systems. But you’ll likely do far better by learning and using the integrated ProxThink approaches. Using the framework involves learning and practicing proximity-oriented ways of thinking, relating, and taking action. This proximity-orientation can take some getting used to. So you’ll likely do better with some training, whether self-guided or with a coach. And to really get the most out of the Shared Situation Guide, which is based on the ProxThink Growth Model, you’ll also likely do better with some training, whether self-guided or with a coach.
I’ve created several ways for you to learn to use and benefit from ProxThink approaches. As I mentioned earlier, if you’re worried about how much this might cost, I’ve figured out ways to make starting to benefit from ProxThink approaches accessible to anyone who wants to explore them, and to also accommodate people who want different levels of support in terms of progressing faster and going deeper.