Collaboration & Play
Seek to understand and combine forces with the natural system.
Collaborate with Nature.
Natural systems and watersheds are vast and no single person can possibly address even a single subwatershed on their own.
Watershed/ catchment restoration is necessarily a collaborative process – due to the scale and complexity of the landscapes, but also because the disciplines of ecological and watershed restoration remain in their infancy.
Both can become emergent properties of stimulating collaborations – a primary aim of Rainfall to Groundwater.
How to best stimulate collaboration toward innovation?
Some pertinent excerpts from Play: How it Shapes the Brain, Opens the Imagination and Invigorates the Soul (2009) by Stuart Brown, MD with Christopher Vaughan:
. . . The ability to play is critical not only to being happy, but also to sustaining social relationships and being a creative, innovative person. . . .
Brown quotes the response Bob Fagan, expert in animal play behavior, offered to Brown’s query, while viewing frolicking grizzlies on Alaska’s Admiralty Island.
Bob, why do these bears play? . . .
After a long, tolerant silence, during which I felt as if he were a sensitive artist having to explain a sublime painting to a tasteless dolt, Bob relented. He answered reluctantly: “in a world continuously presenting unique challenges and ambiguity, play prepares these bears for an evolving planet.”
(Brown and Vaughan 2009)
Joe Meeker once said “Evolution is genes at play”. Now we know,
Evolution is genes and epigenetics at play.
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We don’t yet know the whole story about how to repair those linkages.
Novelty lies ahead.
Faced with novelty – Play!
Creative, innovative responses to the problems, as they arise, of restoring watersheds/ catchments to sustain groundwater can become elevated through playful collaboration.
The Wright brothers, the Beatles, Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony, Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak.
None of these people succeeded in spite of the drama — they flourished because of it. Brainstorming groups generate 16 percent more ideas when the members are encouraged to criticize one another. (Grant 2017)
Instead of trying to prevent arguments, we should be modeling courteous conflict and teaching kids [ourselves also] how to have healthy disagreements. We can start with four rules:
• Frame it as a debate, rather than a conflict.
• Argue as if you’re right but listen as if you’re wrong.
• Make the most respectful interpretation of the other person’s perspective.
• Acknowledge where you agree with your critics and what you’ve learned from them.
Good arguments are wobbly: a team or family might rock back and forth but it never tips over. If kids don’t learn to wobble, they never learn to walk; they end up standing still.
By Fritz Conner [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Brown, S. and Vaughan, C. . 2009. Play: How it Shapes the Brain, Opens the Imagination and Invigorates the Soul. Avery, Penguin Group, New York.
Carse, J. P. 1986. Finite and Infinite Games. The Free Press, A Division of Macmillan, Inc., New York. http://wtf.tw/ref/carse.pdf
Grant, A. 2017. Kids, would you please start fighting? New York Times. Nov. 4, 2017. https://nyti.ms/2j13pC3
Meeker, J. W. 1972. The comedy of survival: in search of an environmental ethic. Guild of Tutors Press, International College, Los Angeles.
Meeker, J. W. 1997. The comedy of survival: literary ecology and a play ethic. Third edition. University of Arizona Press, Tucson, AZ.
Nemeth, C.J., Personnaz, B. ,Personnaz, M., Goncalo, J. A. 2004. The liberating role of conflict in group creativity: a study in two countries. European Journal of Social Psychology 34: 365–374 DOI: 10.1002/ejsp.210
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