Proximity Thinking about the California Drought

How can proximity thinking be used to think about, and relate to, the current California drought?

The mind map below should be pretty self-explanatory. Click the image to open it full-size. Once open, you can zoom it even larger.

Since search engines can’t index the text in an image, I’m including the text from the graphic below. However, I’d recommend only looking at the graphic, as it will make a lot more sense. Also, WordPress is adding some blank lines in the outline below, and I can’t fix it. So please imagine there are no blank lines!

• A proximity thinking example, including a few basic definitions. To learn more, visit
• Situation – A “situation” is whatever you are dealing with or considering.
• Element – Loosely, an “element” can be anything. Any person, place, thing, idea, feeling, time, group, relationship, situation, proximity, etc.
• Proximity – The “proximity” consists of elements related or potentially related to a situation, in physical, mental and other ways.

    California Drought

    Elements in
    the proximity of this

    • Need for water
    • A challenge shared by
      everyone in the region.

      • Consequences of failing to
        reduce water use.
    • How much water are
      we saving?
    • Incentives to save water.
      • Save money.
      • Avoid penalties.
      • To help yourself as
        well as others.
      • What other kinds of
        rewards might there be?
    • What are ideas for saving water,
      and how do we share them?
    • Lack of enough rain
      for many years.
    • Water sources and
      related resources.
    • People, organizations, equipment
      and infrastructure in the region.
    • To what extent are our
      efforts coordinated?

      • How could this be improved?
    • Weather and forecasts.
    • Related technology,
      tools and processes.
    • How can proximity thinking be used for this situation?
      • The ProxThink Growth Model, for people who share a proximity, has four main parts:
        • Vadi Agreements
          • Vadi Agreements
            acknowledge valuable
            differences and provide
            ways to sustain them.
          • Enough water to meet
            or exceed needs is a
            valuable difference.
          • This water vadi helps
            support many things, like
            survival, sustainability,
            stability, health, happiness
            and vibrant communities.
          • Vadi Agreements can be
            explicit (legal, contractual),
            or informal, as well as the
            general agreement that
            we’re in this together.
          • Agreements can also include
            goals for water savings, which
            ProxMonitors can help track.
        • ProxMonitors
          • A way to monitor and track
            water savings and other
            related information at different
            levels (personal,
            organizational, local, regional).
          • Proximity monitors increase
            proximity awareness, which can
            help many kinds of relationships.
          • Can be both technological
            monitors and people
            reporting current conditions.
        • Proxri
          • Sharing an idea for saving
            water is also a proxri.
          • Proxri are rewards which relate elements
            in the proximity. So such rewards are
            often made with the proximity in mind.

            • Water you save is a proxri
              to yourself and others in
              the proximity.
          • Proxri can be money, or result in
            money, but the idea is much broader
            than money, and acknowledges the
            need for a wide variety of rewards.
          • Water savings may or may not
            result in money but these proxri can
            benefit multiple levels (personal,
            organizational, local, regional).
          • People may see proxri
            made by others, or needed
            proxri, at RelatePoints.
        • RelatePoints
          • Ideas for saving water can be
            shared via RelatePoints.
          • A primary place for coordinating
            relationships in this proximity.
          • A place to connect and access
            ProxMonitors, Vadi
            Agreements, Proxri (made and
            needed), and other related info.
          • Could be a website
            and/or a mobile app.
        • Are there other benefits to the ProxThink Growth Model approach?
          • We may develop new ways of
            managing shared challenges.
          • Since it enables people to see and relate to proximities in a wider
            variety of ways, it can lead to more variety in our lives, one of the
            keys to health, happiness, sustainability and vibrant communities.
          • It may help us realize how
            many proximties we share.

• Questions? Contact us via
• Created by David Loughry.
• As you find this rewarding, please proxri with the proximity in mind via

Outline for a Post on Coordination and Collaboration for Shared Challenges


Here’s an outline of something to build on later:

It’s clear there are classes of problems which markets are ill-suited to tackle.

We need to shift the emphasis for these types of problems from elements to proximities.

A sustainable proximities approach can assist with these types of problems. It includes the ProxThink growth model, as well as networks, technology and participation/coordination practices embodied in things like Web 2.o and Wikipedia.

Many hands make light work.

With many hands and a sustainable proximities approach, many tough, intractable problems that markets are failing to solve, may become almost trivial.

In the process, I believe we could have some fun solving these kinds of problems.

Not only that, variety and vitality could be increased, making life more interesting and enjoyable.

This approach shares some aspects of a barn-raising. Yet it scales because it leverages new concepts, networks, technologies and web participation.

It also leverages probability and large numbers. Although people will participate to varying degrees, some will participate if only because it is enjoyable and interesting. Others will participate because people they know are participating. And for many, just a little effort might be needed. It’s likely this level of participation can accomplish quite a lot.

Although this approach is new, it may not be that complicated. In fact, it may be simpler than using markets for these kinds of problems. And, it may be more broadly applicable, to a variety of problems and proximities, than we imagine at first. It could be a new way to approach shared challenges.

I believe this approach will work. You are welcome to explain to me why it won’t. But a better test would be trying it for some proximities.

In the meantime, see this link for more on the sustainable proximities approach.

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

Sustainability and ProxThink


How does ProxThink support sustainability? This post is a short introduction.

I believe the meaning of sustainability supports the possibility that diversity and complexity can persist, adapt and change as needed. In this sense, you might also think of sustainable as meaning lively. ProxPatterns, and ProxThink Hints built with them, stimulate creativity, innovation and liveliness partly by how they work together and play off each other. Further, much like the way emergence works, individual ProxPatterns are patterns for relatively simple interactions, yet when combined can generate complex behavior and order from a more general viewpoint. This enhances sustainability by supporting diversity and complexity.

The four processes of the ProxThink growth model build on the sustainable qualities of the ProxPatterns, and the processes are proposed standards. The growth model has processes for connecting with people (RelatePoints), proximity awareness (ProxMonitors), sustainable agreements (Vadi Agreements) and rewards which relate elements in the proximity (proxri). By focusing on proximities, the growth model is an integrated way to more sustainably coordinate, collaborate and manage resources for proximities, and supports engaging and lively transitions to the approach.

Also, regarding a strength of proxri, as we worry about avoiding monocultures and ensuring biodiversity for greater sustainability, we should probably also encourage many kinds of rewards related to proximities, such as proxri.

For more on sustainability and ProxThink, see Sustainability and Sustainable Proximities.

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

Slowing Climate Change: Faster and Smoother Transitions to Better Situations – Part 2


Note: Part 1 of this series can be found here.

In this post, I’ll begin to discuss how ProxThink ProxPatterns and the ProxThink Growth Model can be used for faster and smoother transitions to better situations, as we coordinate efforts to slow climate change.

I suggest you join ProxThink so you can pick up some of the terms I use as you read the post. At a minimum, you’ll need four definitions to start.

Definition of “situation
A situation is whatever you are dealing with or considering. It might be a problem, challenge, opportunity, place, time, state of affairs, combination of circumstances, you or something related to you, etc.

Definition of “element”
An element relates to other elements. Examples: Elements can be objects, people, ideas, feelings, situations, times, processes, descriptions, groups, relationships, and the proximity, as well as parts or aspects of the preceding examples. Note: An element may be described with one or more words.

Definition of “relationship”
A relationship is any kind of association or connection between elements.

Definition of “proximity”
Most simply, the proximity consists of elements and relationships. Perhaps more usefully, the proximity consists of elements related or potentially related to a situation, in physical, mental and other ways. Proximate elements may be known or unknown. Proximate elements may actually be close, like along dimensions of space or time. Or, proximate elements may seem close in some way, such as mentally, emotionally, logically, etc. The proximity is usually not completely fixed or given, so we can often choose some elements and relationships, and can consider the proximity of a situation to be flexible.

Now, returning to climate change, bold words in the rest of this paragraph will refer to ProxPatterns or parts of the ProxThink Growth Model. People with some entrenched interests in maintaining the status quo related to climate change may need to increase their ProxAwareness to accept more of the depth of our climate change challenges. They may need to use the value of some to honor the integrity of some elements, while allowing some uncertainty regarding other elements, in order to relate to their proximity which now includes climate change. On the other side, people who relate to those with some entrenched interests may need to honor the integrity of some elements in the proximity of the entrenched. Meanwhile, both sides may need to relate to the variety in their new proximity, and seek to find valuable differences with which they can create Difference Agreements which help valuable differences persist, adapt and change as needed. Continuing to find ways for valuable differences to persist, adapt and change as needed, is a challenge which may benefit from the use of a number of different ProxPatterns, as well as ProxRewards.

Here are some links to explore ProxThink, join ProxThink, learn about ProxThink ProxPatterns, and learn about the ProxThink Growth Model.

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