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Catalyzing worker co-ops & the solidarity economy

Reading "The Nature of Order: A Vision of a Living World"

January 19, 2022
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For some time now I have been reading, a page or two at a time, Christopher Alexander's four volume work The Nature of Order: An Essay on the Art of Building and the Nature of the Universe, which is marvelous, idiosyncratic, visionary, and practical, the product of deep collaborative experience and a free mind.

The third and fourth volumes are more focused on architecture, which is Alexander's field. Not being an architect, I discovered that one way to regain my concentration/curiosity when reading his description and analysis of the process followed in contracting and carrying out particular building projects is to imagine that he is describing the process of organizing a cooperative, or some other social movement-building project. I can then see how the deep patterns and principles are relevant to the work.

So here's a passage from Vol 3, Chapter 5, p154, re-written to be about organizing movement projects. I find it very meaningful. It reminds me of how Luis Razeto decribes the process of organizing a solidarity enterprise.

"2 EVERY ORGANIZATION IS PLACED AND SHAPED TO FORM A POSITIVE PATTERN OF RELATIONS

Consider what it means to create organizations according to the fundamental process [described in vols 1 and 2]. It means simply that each act of organizing -- every single act of organizing -- has a positive effect on its surroundings. It completes the movements  and communities of which it is a part, preserves their structure, makes them deeper, makes them better, by creating strong centers in them and next to them.

When this is done right it means that each new organization will be a good neighbor. Instead of harming its surrounding organizations, as so many organizations do today, instead of standing alone in precious isolation, each new organization fits into its context, makes the larger movement more profound, enlarges it in spirit. Each organization -- especially in its position, its location, its volume, and in the external spaces it creates -- will be shaped to protect its neighboring community, to extend and improve the commons, in conjunction with other organizations.

The effect is that each organization enlivens and intensifies the movement. The movement -- its valleys, ridges, slopes, its stands of trees, its lanes, its ponds, its pathways, its conformation and resources -- is improved, made more solid, given a more living structure."

 

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