The name of this blog, Rainbow Juice, is intentional.
The rainbow signifies unity from diversity. It is holistic. The arch suggests the idea of looking at the over-arching concepts: the big picture. To create a rainbow requires air, fire (the sun) and water (raindrops) and us to see it from the earth.
Juice suggests an extract; hence rainbow juice is extracting the elements from the rainbow, translating them and making them accessible to us. Juice also refreshes us and here it symbolises our nutritional quest for understanding, compassion and enlightenment.

Wednesday 27 March 2013

8,759 Earth Hours

...58, 59, 60.  That's it - that was Earth Hour 2013, the 6th occurrence of the world-wide dimming of the
lights.  For one hour many of the homes of the world, and over 7,000 towns and cities either turned off their lights, or switched to sustainable electricity sources.

For one hour we proved that it is possible to reduce our dependence on fossil fuels or nuclear energy in order to live a good life.  Advocates for Earth Hour suggest that we continue with such practice for the remainder of the year - the other 8,759 hours.

Those other 8,759 hours must surely become our goal.  The energy generation source for each and every one of those hours must become sustainable.

Indeed, once Earth Hour has proven the possibility, and sustainable energy has become a continuance phenomenon, maybe we could have an Un-Earth Hour.

For one hour a year we could burn as much coal, oil and gas as we wished.  We could drive recklessly around city streets for an hour burning up fuel as if we were all young boy-racers.  We could put on a massive light show for one hour, making the Earth glow enough for it to be noticed by Curiosity on Mars.

Yes, for one hour each year we could remind ourselves (and teach our children) of just how wasteful, thoughtless and selfish we used to be for 8,759 hours each year.

Wednesday 20 March 2013

Dynamic Facilitation Manual (Review)

I have posted a number of pieces on this site recommending greater empowerment of communities and a lot more public decision-making being put into the hands of ordinary citizens.

Throughout the world there are a numerous cases of these sorts of ideas being put into practice.  Citizen Juries, Wisdom Councils, Open Space Technology, World Cafes and even the occasional glimpse of demarchy (democracy based on random selection).

Such ideas and practices are vitally needed in a world that faces serious issues such as climate change, massive inequalities, reduction in biodiversity, increasing tension, terrorism and war.

One common objection to more ordinary citizens making public decisions is that ordinary citizens do not have the necessary political, diplomatic or dialogue skills to take part.

Appropriate facilitation and mediation are sometimes cited as doorways that can open up the wisdom and insight of ordinary citizens.  An exciting framework and technique arises when these two practices (facilitation and mediation) are brought together. Dynamic Facilitation is what Jim Rough names the process.1

Source: Codice Tuna (Creative Commons)
Dynamic Facilitation could be described as an approach that sets up the conditions that allow for breakthroughs to emerge from the dialogue.  In this sense Dynamic Facilitation differs from more traditional facilitation processes in that Dynamic Facilitation seeks to create choice rather than a decision.

How to Manual?

How does a Dynamic Facilitator undertake their role?  Perhaps the best Manual that I have seen is that produced by Rosa Zubizaretta.

Rosa begins with a brief and useful history of Dynamic Facilitation and outlines some of the similarities and differences between Dynamic Facilitation and other facilitation methods.  She then goes on to describe the Dynamic Facilitators role and the stages of a Dynamic Facilitation session.
Rosa describes each aspect thoroughly using key points and anecdotes that help to fully explain the roles, purpose, process and skills.

For those of us who have used facilitation skills and techniques for many years there are some habits that we would need to unlearn in order to become Dynamic Facilitators.  The most significant of these is to let go the notion that the purpose of facilitating a group is to enable the group to arrive at a consensus decision.  Dynamic Facilitation actively seeks out divergence, diversity and complexity.
Graphically, traditional facilitation could be seen as slowly narrowing the discussion towards a “point of agreement”. Dynamic Facilitation, on the other hand, could be symbolised as broadening the dialogue widely and divergently thus enabling something new and creative to spontaneously emerge from within the space.


In today’s world and communities within it, everything is so inter-connected that no-one of us can hope to even get a glimpse of “the fullness of reality”.  We must discover ways to collaborate and that means that we must tap into our collective wisdom.  Dynamic Facilitation is a powerful technique that just might provide us with the key to doing so.

Rosa recognises this and in her Introduction to the manual states that “the challenges we face as a species in our world today call us to share our tools as freely as we can…”

He manual can be obtained from her website:

If you can, get along to one of her, or Jim Rough’s, training workshops.  I’m keeping a lookout for a workshop Downunder.

1. Jim Rough has trademarked the term Dynamic Facilitation to ensure consistency of usage.

Wednesday 13 March 2013

When Democracy becomes (Demo)crazy

Source: emilegraphics
What happens when the population reaches 8 billion?  What will the climate be like when average global temperature surpasses 2o C (from preindustrial times).  What will sea-side communities do when sea levels rise by a metre or more?  What happens when there is little biodiversity?  What will happen when financial systems collapse due to continually growing inequality?

How will we make decisions when societies grow increasingly displeased with their elected representatives?

These are just some of the serious questions facing us during the course of this century.  There seems to be two ways of answering these:
  • We can plan on the basis of “what to do when…”
  • Or, we can answer them with another question; how do we prevent this happening in the first place?
Either way, we are going to require long-term thinking, planning and policy making.

What’s the chance of that?  Very little according to some commentators (e.g Jorgen Randers1).
Randers and others suggest that the only countries that will be able to take a long-term approach to decision-making and policy formation are those with highly centralised or autocratic political systems – China, for instance.

Democracies, they claim, are just not capable because they are short-term focused.  Most Western, rich nation democracies operate on 3 or 4 year election cycles.  Politicians concentrate on the short-term, thinking from election to election.


That’s crazy.  Our public decision-making should be to provide us with public well-being, not just for now but also into our old age and into our children’s and grandchildren’s futures.

Short-termism is not good democracy – it’s (demo)crazy.

But it need not be.  There is a form of democracy that overcomes the impediment of short-termism.
Selecting our public decision-makers by random selection (known as sortition) removes the focus on short-term thinking because there is no possibility of career politicians attempting to gain votes based on what they will do in the next 3 or 4 years.  Randomly selected decision-makers can afford to be thinking long-term (and therefore, sustainably) because their careers and parliamentary seat are not at stake.

Sortition provides a number of other benefits for sound, long-term, solutions based, decision-making:
  • It reduces significantly the influence of vested interest lobby groups,
  • It thwarts individuals and organisations with money buying political favours,
  • It removes the adversarial nature of much of parliamentary debate,
  • It widens the background and experience of those selected as decision-makers.
Each of these benefits tends to allow for better decision-making processes and policies that are more suited to the well-being of the whole population, and of the earth, both now and for the future.

1. Jorgen Randers, 2052: A Global Forecast for the Next Forty Years, Chelsea Green Publishing, 2012.  Randers was one of the original authors of Limits to Growth (1972).

Wednesday 6 March 2013

Community Development talks with Deep Ecology (Part 2)

Source: Kroo2U
Community Development is not simply a case of “pick-a-community-and-develop-it” (although too many bureaucrats seem to think so).  Community Development espouses a vision for society based on social justice and, consequently, a critique of present social structures and arrangements.

Community Development says that our present individualistic life-styles focused on consumerism and growth is harmful to us as individuals as well as to our collective selves.  Community Development claims that the ultimate expression of the cult of the individual is our hierarchic models of authority and power – a misguided form of Social Darwinism.

Deep Ecology, in response, warns us that we are also harming nature by our disregard for the richness and diversity of life on earth.  Deep Ecology claims that we have no inherent right to do so.  Indeed, suggestions that we do have such rights could be seen as a misguided form of Social Creationism.

Community Development, if it is listening carefully, would do well to hear the words of Deep Ecology, for one of the biggest threats to communities anywhere is the harm that we are doing to the planet.  Tragically, the communities that will be first hit and hardest hit will be the very communities that Community Development wishes to support: the poor, the marginalised, the excluded and the disempowered.

Indeed, many of these communities are already experiencing the effects of our harm.  Many of the indigenous inhabitants of low-lying Pacific Islands are having to look elsewhere to live because of rising sea levels.  Small, scattered communities in the jungles of northern Venezuela are in threat of mercury poisoning of their staple fish diet arising from gold mining hundreds of miles away in the upper reaches of the Orinoco River.

Community Development elaborated it’s critique of society at a time when linear causality was widely accepted.  Deep Ecology on the other hand recognised from it’s inception that linearity was inadequate in a dynamic, diverse system of inter-connection.

Community development workers could find it illuminating to listen to the Deep Ecology rejection of linear causality.  Much of Community Development is still wedded to linearity.  If we do A then B will happen.  Not necessarily says Deep Ecology.  Some Community Development work relies (for example) too heavily on; planning by objectives or results-based accounting.  Such thinking may be appropriate for small, local, short-term projects, but in a world of complexity and chaos1 the approach is far from appropriate.  Deep Ecology has much to teach Community Development here.

Thankfully, many Community Development workers today have a clearer understanding of systems theory and this makes Deep Ecology a natural ally and teacher.

In its turn, Community Development has over it’s 40 or 50 years of learning, formulated a number of techniques, skills and organising principles that could be picked up by those within the Deep Ecology movement.  No doubt, many already have been.

Two Loci

Lorenz Strange Attractor
Returning now to the two loci (human centred and nature centred) that began this discussion (see Part 1) we could visualise these not as two separate and discrete worldviews or focus of activity.  We could, instead view them through the lens of chaos theory as two loci of the famous Lorenz Strange Attractor (see figure at right).

As human beings we will naturally be attracted more to one loci than the other.  Some of us will be more concerned about other humans and have a desire to work on humanitarian or community development projects.  Others will be more concerned about nature and wish to work to halt the slaughter of whales in the Southern Ocean or help develop permaculture gardens.

Whatever our natural attraction, as Community Development and Deep Ecology talk with one another we will find that the two loci are intimately connected and involve continuous feedback loops.

If the two movements, Deep Ecology and Community Development, are able to continue their discussion and learning from each other it may be that a doorway opens up into a new understanding – one that allows us to redirect our thoughts and actions towards a better world for us, for nature, for inter-being2.

1. Here I refer to chaos theory rather than chaos as confusion, disarray, untidiness etc.  For a quick answer to "what is chaos theory", try this link.
2. The term inter-being was coined by Thich Nhat Hanh, the Vietnamese Buddhist monk credited with initiating Engaged Buddhism.