• Ian Lillington posted an update in the group Group logo of CommunicatingCommunications 4 years ago

    Here is a summary of some of the Q & A that was going on a week ago on Oceania.

    From: Champagne
    Subject: Re: [Pil-pc-oceania] Communication
    To: permaculture discussion list
    Message-ID:
    Content-Type: text/plain; charset=”iso-8859-1″

    Thanks Michele for opening this discussion up and Janet, as always, for
    your considered input.

    Such a critical area this communication thing. As Janet mentioned a few
    weeks back, all PA has to do is make the connections with all the groups
    and let it evolve from there.

    Once upon a time there was the PIJ…….we were all connected
    globally. Nothing has come close to matching that magazine and a past
    PIL Board decided a new website was needed to interact. Well……its
    there, but it’s not being taken up as a communication tool. Permaculture
    activity is all over Facebook and other social media but its disjointed
    and hard to discuss detailed issues.

    I know first hand trying to get the Imagineering Bondi event and helping
    Penny and Gillian getting info out about International PC Day, how
    difficult this task has now become. Sorry Michele, I don’t know what the
    answer is……

    A great outcome from Bondi was the offer from Robyn Rosenfeldt to next
    year introduce a new PC magazine called PIP, onto the Australian market.
    Hooray!! she needs support but I’m sure she’ll get it.

    This mailing list is an oddity. Maybe a few 100 on it? does anyone know?
    Yet maybe only half a dozen people prepared to say anything…..why?? So
    many sit back and read the discussion but choose not to contribute…..why?

    Another interesting list is the 520 people who filled in the Amigo
    Troika Survey Monkey a couple of years back. We still have those
    contacts if needed.

    Anyway, good luck Michele and Maddie with your first PA communication
    meeting……look forward to any outcomes.

    On 5/21/2013 11:08 AM, Janet Millington wrote:

    Good questions and a fair comment re the difficulty of discussing of
    fundamental Permaculture issues in a singular open forum.

    How do we balance the ability of a person who has one belief and has
    used the forum to influence the thinking of members and then allow an
    opposing view be raised and discussed without it becoming a “tennis
    match”? Who do you cut off and when?

    The only thing I can think of to retain a democratic dialogue without
    boring everyone else who isn’t interested, can’t make up their minds,
    or already has and doesn’t want to hear anymore- is for the issues to
    come under spheres of interest.

    If the interest for example is in Permaculture Education, then perhaps
    an area for those people to discuss issues could be made. But the
    most important thing is that the discussions should move to a
    *resolution *that is then put to the membership. The resolution would
    contain the different points of the discussion/argument and then a
    vote can be taken and the membership can see where the group is
    heading and not just the first to raise or the last to comment. I
    have been very disappointed with the mode of discussion that leads to
    circular arguments or long tennis tournaments without input from
    others and no resolution.

    So my suggestion is a variety of areas of discussion, threads to
    follow and a moderator who can step in and list the points of
    agreement or disagreement and open up for further comment and vote and
    then a resolution come out of the discussion to be taken to the next
    convergence.

    Regards

    janet

    *From:*pil-pc-oceania-bounces@mailman.aboc.net.au
    [mailto:pil-pc-oceania-bounces@mailman.aboc.net.au] *On Behalf Of
    *Michele Margolis
    *Sent:* Tuesday, 21 May 2013 7:04 AM
    *To:* permacultue discussion list
    *Subject:* [Pil-pc-oceania] Communication

    Hi All,

    Madeleine Ford and I are meeting today to discuss what a
    Communications Team for P.A. might look like and what should it be
    doing. 2 or 3 people from Sydney is not going to represent everyone
    out there involved with Permaculture so we are opening up the
    discussion to anyone out there reading this. How do we invite people
    who do not read the PIL posts?

    Some questions that come up are:

    What role should a communications team have for Permaculture Australia?

    How many people should be on the team and where from?

    Should the team be voted in or volunteers?

    What means of communication work best for P.A.? (I guess there will be
    several)

    Who gets to design and run it? Voted or volunteers?

    What means of communication do you use and which works best for you?

    Are there existing guidelines for communications within P.A?

    Should there be a moderator to vet communications or is in anything goes?

    If there are no guidelines for what can be posted, should there be
    guidelines?

    Should there be any limits about how many and what type of posts a
    person can put out there?

    My experience of PIL is that very few people post on it and some
    people post a lot which suggests an imbalance. Certainly I have often
    read what is a bit like a tennis match between two players and that’s
    enough to put most people off because it’s a 2-person game. The kind
    of thing that might be better done in private between the two people.
    This is especially true if the posts are a bit aggressive, that would
    surely put a lot of people off participating.

    So how do we open up the conversation and encourage more people to
    participate?

    In many ways the majority of people involved in Permaculture are
    probably most active where they live with the communities they live
    with, a pretty healthy state of affairs. So what differentiates the
    role of a Permaculture Australia Communications team?

    Michele

    _______________________________________________

    Message: 2
    Date: Tue, 21 May 2013 15:09:33 +1000
    From: “russ grayson”
    Subject: Re: [Pil-pc-oceania] Communication
    To: pil-pc-oceania@mailman.aboc.net.au,
    pil-pc-oceania@mailman.aboc.net.au
    Message-ID:
    Content-Type: text/plain; charset=”utf-8″

    Hi Michelle…
    Apologies for not being there today. You would have got my earlier messages.?

    Seems there’s a conversation opening around communications. Let me have a go at answering your questions below, in brief.

    1. What role should a communications team have for Permaculture Australia?
    In government and corporations, the communications people control who says what when and what they say. I don’t think this a good model for permaculture or for the community sector at large. We can do better.

    Were the communiations team to produce a set of communications guidelines ? you can call them a ‘policy’ if you want ? it usually states a purpose of communciations, tries to identify the different audiences, provides talking points about what the organisation does, identifies a set of key messages and chooses preferred media. For an organisation like PA it might identify people who would comment on areas of their specialisation. It doesn’t mean those people are the only ones who can comment but they might be those whose contact details are listed on the PA website as first points of contact.

    2. How many people should be on the team and where from?
    I think it can difficult getting people to join then stay around these things. Why not accept as many as express interest so we are left with a smaller core group through the usual attrition?

    I’ve worked with groups of different sizes and found no difficulty.

    3. Should the team be voted in or volunteers?
    A communications group world be a task team without the accountability to membership that a management team would have. I think, as I said above, that it could well be difficult to keep a group over the long run. Past PIL communications teams have started with enthusiasm but over the months, that waned. This suggests that volunteers are the way to go.

    4. What means of communication work best for P.A.? (I guess there will be several)
    Email is old, tired and difficult to maintain a cohesive history of a discussion. Doing that relies on people maintaining the same subject heading so that the emails are aggregated in a thread.?

    The website has a social media side and forums that I understand retain messages as threads.?

    The permaculture conversation today has largely moved from email to social media. However, there remains no place where people can discuss permaculture is any deeper sense. This is a barrier to developing a community of permaculture practice and is unlike other practices which have a place for discussion of practice, issues, opportunities and futures. This I recall being raised over a decade ago.

    The ‘best’ means of communication depends on who you want to talk to. You go where they are, to the media they use.

    5. Are there existing guidelines for communications within P.A?
    None that I know of. There was talk of a PIL communications policy years back and I produced a draft of that but the energy to do something with it wasn’t there.

    6. Should there be a moderator to vet communications or is in anything goes??Should there be any limits about how many and what type of posts a person can put out there?
    You will need a couple moderators to delete the flood of spam.

    ‘Everything goes’ is a good idea. When people stray too far off topic the group usually brings them back, it can be a self-organising sort of thing. The trouble with controlling what gets posted or is deleted is that you climb onto the slippery slope of online censorship. Governments and some corporations practice that and it has a very bad name. To associate permaculture with control of people’s communication would do much to discredit it.?

    Another difficulty comes through permaculture being a very broad thing. What someone posts might be seen as not relevant to permaculture by others and an argument ensures. I’ve seen this happen.?

    Giving someone the power to decide what should and shouldn’t go online presupposed they have the necessary capacity and understanding of communications to do so. It hands them a lot of power.

    We’re talking about Web 2.0 here… ‘social’ media. To limit the number of posts and topic areas is to misunderstand social media. It’s like a conversation where people have their say, it’s not like corporate communications where the freedom to speak is vetted by a gatekeeper.

    7. If there are no guidelines for what can be posted, should there be guidelines?
    Communications law already covers hate speech, incitement to violence etc.

    We live in a democracy and as we exercise our freedom of speech there are those who will be offended by what we say. You cannot have a democracy without the risk of offending people. This means those aggreived might complain, as is their right. When there is little aggrevation an interesting conversation can ensue from which all involved can learn much. Offending someone, usually done without intention and happening because people have their own values and beliefs, is no grounds for restricting speech.

    Message: 3
    Date: Tue, 21 May 2013 15:11:00 +1000
    From: Michele Margolis
    Subject: Re: [Pil-pc-oceania] Communication

    Thanks Janet and John for your valuable points.

    Agreed Janet that there needs to be room for honest discussion given that
    there will be different views – if the discussions get dominated by a
    couple of people then a lot of people will lose interest and drop off,
    which is possibly what has happened with PIL – just as it happens in many
    meetings in most organisations. It’s always good to hear from people who
    have positive solutions to offer rather than criticising what’s there. But
    need to be allowed to offer an honest critique as well, how does a
    moderator decide what is good healthy debate and what is a slanging match
    that scares people away? It can be quite personal too and conflicting views
    are inherent in most movements, one might be worried if there is no
    conflict.

    Agreed also that there could be threads where people can discuss issues off
    the main list perhaps, that’s a good idea..perhaps P.A. could facilitate
    discussion threads.

    Also agree John that we don’t have the answers to how to improve
    communication when there are so many forums of competing information
    and communication. It seems that most of the social media is about
    promoting particular groups and events rather than discussing issues and
    communicating between people. It does seem to be about “Look at us and
    what we are doing” rather than connecting us as a movement, but then we are
    probably not just one movement and people are trying to draw attention to
    what they are doing, it is competitive and that’s no different to the wider
    social system we live in – would we expect to be any different?

    The cooperative systems in the movement seem to just get on with it in
    their local communities and build locally, this does not require a National
    moderation system does it? Possibly most people involved in Permaculture
    and related areas have no need to go to a national body and it may be a
    good thing. Possibly more enabling to avoid any large umbrella that may
    impose regulations and bureaucracy as well as charging fees. So many people
    in Permaculture just get on with it without waiting for a vote or a meeting
    or official backing – there are a lot of anarchists amongst us who don’t
    wait to get approval but see a need and just try to fill the gaps by local
    action. In many cases meetings and official structures are dis-empowering
    so if we want a P.A. that works it needs to be opens source and empowering
    and easy to navigate. Madeleine and I discussed the rifts and differences
    occurring in small organisations and groups – it’s pretty normal and will
    result in many people avoiding joining their local group due to personal
    and philosophical differences.

    Madeleine and I had a good initial meeting today which mainly raised
    questions but also came up with some concrete ideas to improve
    communication between us all. We also talked about the need to have records
    of the history of the movement and have a way to link the younger newer
    generations with those who have had so much experience in a positive manner
    – that’s a valuable partnership and at Bondi there was a good
    representation of elders and new bloods and a willingness to dialogue and
    work together. And as Janet mentions – would be good to have a resolution
    that can be voted on rather than endless circular discussions which don’t
    really lead to any particular action!

    Here were the questions we raised:

    Who recorded the Permaculture Imagineering Conference findings and where is
    this information held and by whom? How can we access it?

    How can people be encouraged to join Permaculture Australia – what does it
    have to offer us? What should it offer us?

    Where are the data bases about membership of PIL, P.A.? This seems a little
    unclear – many of us are unsure if we are members or not. There was also
    the question of joining local P.C. groups and Transition groups – seems a
    lot of groups asking for membership money, be good if we could just join
    one group that connected all these related groups. We also need to know
    where the money goes and how being part of the group benefits us.

    Where does the membership money go? Who decides? This is going to be a
    contentious issue. Also is membership means tested? A large business can
    afford to pay more than an individual however why would a large business
    join if they are doing fine without a National Body?

    Given the transient nature of people involved with Permaculture, how can
    succession be secured especially given most roles are voluntary?

    Why isn’t the P.A. website and PIL being used widely?

    We also thought it would be good for the website to have a clear welcome
    notice and renewal notice – automated responses.

    Madeleine and I went on a little journey to find out what happens when you
    click on Permaculture and there is a strong bias towards certain well known
    large organisations who have well established websites. These websites
    represent businesses rather than Permaculture organisations and clearly
    they have done well. How does this sit with a national website? Should a
    national website have some type of impartial administration not connected
    with particular interest groups? Impartiality and transparency are
    important if people are to feel included and represented. If the links and
    leads always seem to be going to one particular group or course well that’s
    not impartial. That’s why we liked the idea of a physical map offering
    links to all the Permaculture related groups, people and activities that
    are on offer with no one group getting more space than any other.

    We agreed that the nature of Permaculture is in its diversity and also that
    most people involved in Permaculture are not making a living from it and
    may be transient and passing through, therefore may have no desire or time
    to be involved in a national body. This may suggest that people who do get
    involved with a National Body have more to gain by doing so and then there
    are people who are just passionate about Permaculture and want it to
    flourish in all its diversity and these people tend to stand out and have a
    long track record to prove their commitment.

    We agreed that one of the roles of a communications team would be to enable
    communication between members. In agreement with John and Janet – set up
    the connections and let it evolve from there. It’s not something anyone can
    have control over and probably would be a disaster if anyone could control
    it. I guess how that is done is the key – how to encourage people to be
    part of it? If only a handful of people use it then it’s not serving the
    Permaculture communities. We both felt it needs to be open source – make it
    accessible to everyone and make it transparent who is doing what. Is the
    P.A. website there for us all? Should anyone moderate what goes on it? At
    present “P.A.” comments on the P.A. website are from two people and perhaps
    it’s better to speak as individuals rather than as a representative body,
    that just struck me as a bit odd in terms of transparency without it being
    a criticism as such. I like to know who is speaking when I read a post.

    We also agreed that a suitable method to enable communication would be for
    there to be a graphic of a map of Australia and people can click on a
    region and be sent to links in their area. This would need to be a
    voluntary thing of course and built by people in their own local
    area/bio-regions. This would be especially useful to all the new
    Permaculture graduates and people arriving in a new region.

    The links would be to websites and contacts in areas such as: community gardens, seed
    savers groups, Permaculture groups, food coops, local organic farms, Wwoof
    hosts, relevant local Council people, jobs (??), P.C. properties, farmers
    markets, Permaculture teachers, local venues etc. This would provide a
    voluntary and inclusive open and horizontal system so that any group could
    be represented and no group is represented more than any other. The links
    can take people to Facebook, websites and individuals without any
    advertising directly on the website (re- liability). At present when you
    Google Permaculture there is a domination of a few major businesses which
    is not surprising as we are not separate from a globalised market-driven
    economic system.

    It seems that there are PC hot spots that emanate more
    heat than smaller groups and probably most Permaculture activity happens
    off the radar, which is perhaps exactly how many people prefer it to be! If
    P.A. only represents the loudest voices with the biggest media presence
    then it’s not working for the majority of us and it won’t be used, so we
    need to open it up and use the ethics and principles to enable more fair
    share and people care in the organisation.

    We both felt that asking for a membership fee was a little fraught and that
    perhaps P.A. needs to create something more to offer before charging a fee
    and then where does this money go and who decides? Certainly some larger
    businesses can afford to pay more than individuals. We felt it was a bit of
    chicken and egg.

    Madeleine had a good point about being a voice in response to environmental
    issues – like WWF etc – is that something P.A. can offer and is that
    realistic? Do we have one voice? Can we create a space for a number of
    voices and are there areas we can agree upon in the movement?

    So things we felt could be achieved:

    Creating a graphic (map) of Australia so people can add links to what’s
    happening in their area. This needs to be open source and voluntary to
    respect people’s privacy. It also requires someone with the graphic design
    skills to do this.

    Opening P.A. up to make it more accessible to members and more transparent
    – knowing who is on the board, who is in admin, who is contributing to the
    discussion, having access to the data base(s), knowing where the money goes
    and having access to the history and records of the movement including
    summaries of the conferences etc.

    I imagine a lot of the information we are talking about is already
    available in one of the data bases so instead of re-inventing the wheel it
    would be great to have access to the data bases and build on those – of
    course making sure they are current. If anyone has already created a
    graphic of Australia with a click in link function it would be great to
    know who you are so we don’t have to do it all over again.

    Happy to take on board ideas from out there as 2 or 3 people can’t
    represent everyone’s ideas.

    Michele

    On 5/21/2013 11:08 AM, Janet Millington wrote:

    Good questions and a fair comment re the difficulty of discussing of
    fundamental Permaculture issues in a singular open forum.****

    ** **

    How do we balance the ability of a person who has one belief and has used
    the forum to influence the thinking of members and then allow an opposing
    view be raised and discussed without it becoming a ?tennis match?? Who do
    you cut off and when? ****

    ** **

    The only thing I can think of to retain a democratic dialogue without
    boring everyone else who isn?t interested, can?t make up their minds, or
    already has and doesn?t want to hear anymore- is for the issues to come
    under spheres of interest. ****

    ** **

    If the interest for example is in Permaculture Education, then perhaps an
    area for those people to discuss issues could be made. But the most
    important thing is that the discussions should move to a *resolution *that
    is then put to the membership. The resolution would contain the different
    points of the discussion/argument and then a vote can be taken and the
    membership can see where the group is heading and not just the first to
    raise or the last to comment. I have been very disappointed with the mode
    of discussion that leads to circular arguments or long tennis tournaments
    without input from others and no resolution.****

    ** **

    So my suggestion is a variety of areas of discussion, threads to follow
    and a moderator who can step in and list the points of agreement or
    disagreement and open up for further comment and vote and then a resolution
    come out of the discussion to be taken to the next convergence.****

    Regards
    Janet