Vector Theory of Change

The Cynefin framework, created in 1999, divides the world into complex, complicated, obvious, and chaotic relationships .

Cynefin framework

My RSS reader recently handed me The Vector Theory of Change, an expansion on the way to interact with complex systems, probe-sense-respond.

I really like the way this model is different, it skews the traditional thinking about how we interact with the world. Instead of some unachievable goal to be controlled into existence, we have a directional unfolding of possibility.

Our mental image of how we interact with the world is not wrong. It’s a case of Yes and. We need to tell stories about all the ways of interacting. Since most of the stories we have are ones of direct control, what would a new story of directionality look like?


The world is not ours to control, we can only interact.

As we have gained awareness as a species, we have used that awareness to manipulate our environments to our advantage. However, that awareness blinded us to the awareness of others and perhaps even ourselves sometimes. 

We may be able to manipulate our environments, but we cannot control the actions of others. It is possible to manipulate others, though any attempt to do so results in harm to those we force our will upon. 

On the flip side, when we manipulate our environment for our own gain we can also incorporate the awareness of others. As soon as we begin to do that we are using the group mind. The mind of nature, or is it god? 

Small changes can have big impacts. Can we live simply enough to not harm others? (eating them as part of a natural cycle is another matter.) What changes can we make now that have the most impact on our surrounding beings? 

I believe there is a fundamental change happening in the world, the realization that control brings suffering will continue to propagate between people. As we watch this process unfold we will see suffering caused by those that want to control against those that refuse.

But ultimately will there be anyone left who chooses control?

The Practice of Permaculture

We need to understand that to practice permaculture is to pick up it’s mantle and charge forth into the world.

Get a charge out of permaculture

You can choose to practice it, in this moment, now.

What people see and call permaculture is in fact the product of permaculture. 

Certainly if you’ve never thought this way, this might be hard and uncomfortable. Perhaps some help?

  • It is to be antifragile, it gains from disruptions.
  • It is pattern recognition, which is possible in many forms. 
  • It is to be organized, to make some attempt at optimization.
  • It is curiosity, about what may be and why.
  • It’s about observation, seeing without judgement what is really happening. 
  • It’s about acceptance of our place in the grand scheme of things.
  • It is about scale and universal order, not putting the cart before the horse. 
  • It’s about doing more with what you have.
  • It’s not about how it looks but it can take many different forms. 
  • It’s about doing the next right thing. 

Anybody can practice. With time they’ll get better and better. It’s something we can do all of the time. It fundamentally changes the way we interact with the world. Anyone can make use of it, anytime, in any situation. 

Will you join us?

What is Permaculture?

I’ve had a fascination with permaculture since I learned about it. There is so much to like. Make the world a better place. Work with nature and feed yourself too. 

But there seems to be a whole bunch of baggage built up around it, some real dysfunction. And at all levels! So many mistake the map for the territory and the pieces for the whole. So many retreat into their own little bubble and disconnect from the realities around us.  

How can we permaculture, without falling into the trap? What is it to really permaculture? We need to think permaculture, to speak its language, to shift our consciousness in some specific ways. I’ve decided for my own practice it’s three things: improve my awareness, ensure me and my family’s life on this planet, and be open to better process. Clearly seeing, improving our action, and having a goal. 

Awareness – What is going on with us and around us? I’m going to know more about me and the world around me, therefore making better decisions. 

Goals – What are we even trying to do? What needs to be done?

Process – What course of action gives the best results in line with our goals based on our contextual awareness?

Seeing whom we’re with, where we’re going, and how to get there in the given context. 

Permaculture in Action

To start we need to at least question the need for change. What is life like now? What will life be like for future generations? Where are we headed?

Right now we’re planning on infinite growth on a finite planet. I don’t think it will end well. Change will happen. Either we change or we will be changed.

Change requires us to do something. The more we do the more changes.

Start with one thing. Change adds up.

In what ways could you invite change into your life?

Making Sense?

I’ve found myself smelling and tasting soil and various plants around me (some known poisonous). I like to ramble through the woods. Find a sit spot, stop and listen. Do Tai Chi in the woods. All different ways to experience than a map. Perhaps the landscape is the map itself!

Counter Mapping

What is a map? How does the form it takes influence our thinking? How have maps shaped the world? What is the effect of the birds-eye view? It’s completely different from the way we experience the world.

What other forms could a map take? Are the zines that we made maps?

The Source

The inspiration for this website came out of an event put on by Love, Resilience, Action Ypsilanti in response to the presidential election in 2016 and our desire to contribute something. We have different styles of thinking, Grace and I, and I think the products of our labor reflect that. Nevertheless both booklets turned out amazingly.

You can download them both here:

Glorious Debris in a computer readable format and in a printable format.

Permaculture in Action in a computer readable format and in a printable format.


This site is an experiment.

It is our ongoing study, offering up our findings as we go. Searching for an originating thought. It is the question in search of an answer.

Some things don’t work, some don’t work they way they were intended. But, we learn and grow.