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robertogreco : systemicchange   4

The Making of a Democratic Economy | Ted Howard | RSA Replay - YouTube
"While not often reported on in the press, there is a growing movement – a Community Wealth Building movement – that is taking hold, from the ground up, in towns and cities in the United States and in the United Kingdom, in particular.

Ted Howard, co-founder and president of the Democracy Collaborative, voted one of ‘25 visionaries who are changing your world’, visits the RSA to share the story of the growth of this movement, and the principles underlying it. Join us to explore innovative models of a new economy being built in cities from Cleveland, Ohio to Preston, Lancashire, and to discuss how we might dramatically expand the vision and reality of a democratic economy."
economics  tedhoward  inequality  democracy  extraction  extractiveeconomy  us  uk  2018  capitalism  privatization  finance  wealth  power  elitism  trickledowneconomics  labor  work  universalbasicincome  ubi  austerity  democraticeconomy  precarity  poverty  change  sustainability  empowerment  socialism  socialchange  regulations  socialsafetynet  collectivism  banking  employment  commongood  unemployment  grassroots  organization  greatdepression  greatrecession  alaska  california  socialsecurity  government  governance  nhs  communities  communitywealthbuilding  community  mutualaid  laborovercapital  local  absenteeownership  localownership  consumerism  activism  participation  participatory  investment  cleveland  systemicchange  policy  credit  communityfinance  development  cooperatives  creditunions  employeeownership  richmond  virginia  nyc  rochester  broadband  publicutilities  nebraska  energy  utilities  hospitals  universities  theprestonmodel  preston  lancashire 
november 2018 by robertogreco
The Problem with Philanthropy | Public Books
"In her richly told historical analysis, Kohl-Arenas interrogates the longstanding tension between philanthropic funders and their grantees: “Can the surplus of capitalist exploitation be used to aid those on whose backs this surplus is generated?” Considering the Central Valley as a test case, one would have to assume the answer is no. Farmworkers continue to face substandard housing, food insecurity, dangerous working conditions, underemployment and overwork, lack of health care, endemic racism, and the threat of deportation. While the lack of “outcomes” from philanthropic investments suggest a simple systems failure, Kohl-Arenas’s close examination of the negotiation of power over decades offers a deeper lesson, providing key insights into the nonprofit sector’s role in American society and beyond.

The “myth” Kohl-Arenas identifies is the belief that individuals and communities can change their material circumstances in the absence of any change to the systems and policies that govern those circumstances. In the US, our national narrative places the lion’s share of responsibility on individuals: responsibility for poverty on the poor, for mental illness on the mentally ill and their families, for incarceration on the incarcerated. As a wealthy, developed nation, we are a bewildering outlier in our refusal to take more communal responsibility for our brethren. When people do organize to care for one another, and in doing so discover that life struggles are linked to structural problems in need of policy solutions, they are often demoralized to find that funders shy away from any work that would promote policy change.

Historically, such structural change has proven hard to come by. In 1962, Cesar Chavez, fresh from a Community Service Organization training (funded by the Emil Schwarzhaupt Foundation), moved to the Central Valley and began to organize farmworkers. When he joined Dolores Huerta in founding the National Farm Workers Association (NFWA) later that year, they chose to support themselves only through member dues to avoid the unwanted political influence that external funds might carry. But by 1965 they were applying for such funding. Chavez and Huerta had realized that many other organizations were receiving large sums of money, and that they could not promote their vision for the NFWA without outside funding of their own. Their initial instinct to resist outside funding, however, proved justified: the philanthropies redirected work toward self-help projects that required communities to focus inward and away from the labor organizing that sought to address longstanding power imbalances.

By funding many organizations, philanthropies also created competition among indigenous leaders who had been working collaboratively to empower their communities; this caused conflict and distrust, driving Cesar Chavez out of his role as community leader and into the refuge of a nonprofit. Four decades later, philanthropists are funding a “win-win” model of community development, in which workers themselves bear the responsibility for the survival of the agricultural industry while the company abdicates all responsibility for the workers’ well-being. The philanthropist’s role has thus moved, over the course of four decades, from that of labor organizer to that of arbitration board trying to negotiate productivity increases for the good of all.

The subtitle of Kohl-Arenas’s work, How Philanthropy Fails to Alleviate Poverty, may undersell the point; much of the evidence presented in the narrative suggests that philanthropic intervention actually perpetuates poverty. This is primarily achieved by distracting social movement leaders from the task of systemic change. Leaders’ connection to funders takes the form of endless paperwork: grant applications, reports, logic models, data collection, and evaluation.

And then there is the deeper, more fundamentally problematic influence of the philanthropic relationship on social movement organizations. In the constant renegotiation of tactics and goals—away from structural change and toward individual and community change—there can develop, on both sides, a cognitive dissonance. The stated goals of the partnership can never be achieved through the agreed-upon work, leaving grant makers frustrated and grantees burnt out. Funders abandon one failed initiative for the next, churning organization after organization in their wake of largesse and disdain. This system makes liars of us all.

Considering alternative pathways, Kohl-Arenas singles out the Occupy movement and Black Lives Matter as historical standouts of effective organizing for social change in the past two decades. Emerging from two different traditions of social change—one with anarchist roots, the other originated by queer black feminists—these movements have no centralized leadership, no significant ongoing funding sources that require reporting, and no single spokesperson or list of demands. They both would likely subscribe to the Ella Baker motto, “Strong people don’t need strong leaders.” Her book prompts the question: can activists and philanthropists ever successfully collaborate?

This question has been complicated by recent hiring trends in philanthropy. Today, philanthropies are not the cloistered, family-run institutions they once were. No longer restricted to the grantee side of the equation, activists, people of color, and people from affected communities are being hired as program officers responsible for giving out the money that once funded their own innovative work. Beginning with innovators like the Soros Foundations, bolstered by some of the newer health conversion foundations, and epitomized by the 2013 hire of prominent philanthropy recipient Darren Walker to head the Ford Foundation, philanthropy is experiencing its own revolution.

This trend muddies the waters. Who will be setting the agenda for the next generation? Will it be traditional philanthropists, with this ever-growing cadre of program officers and board members? Or economically disenfranchised communities? Written out, the question sounds rather preposterous: a David-and-Goliath battle for the ages, in which Goliath is played by a sea of people looking, with each passing day, more and more like David.

I feel a generational kinship with Erica Kohl-Arenas. She beautifully articulates the promise of equality that seemed woven into the social contract for those of us born to parents of the ’60s, raised as we were to believe that social change was attainable in our lifetime. By the time we emerged as young adults, that childhood dream had faded, replaced by the stark realities of rising economic inequality, exploding incarceration rates, and persistent structural racism and sexism.

The Self-Help Myth raises the gaze of poverty research to focus on the lived experience of the nonprofit sector. Her account is refreshingly accessible, in part because it is embedded in local examples rather than abstract theories. Intellectually honest, Kohl-Arenas doesn’t claim to have answers or provide a roadmap for the future—instead she offers readers a critical resource for thinking through the intractable problem of wealth."
philanthropicindustrialcomplex  philanthropy  charitableindustrialcomplex  charity  systemsthinking  systemicchange  change  poverty  ericakohl-arenas  occupywallstreet  ows  blacklivesmatter  socialchange  capitalism  power  control 
may 2017 by robertogreco
Making Games in a Fucked Up World – G4C 2014 | Molleindustria
"And yet here we are now, academia, disruptors from the education industry, DARPA creeps, venture philantrophists, noprofit bureocrats, technocrats, game fundamentalists…

We are working for all kinds of change. Therefore we cannot really talk about change.

We use euphemisms like social good, values, and other progressive terms that don’t offend or scare anyone (especially funders and sponsors).
But we can only really talk about games. It’s the only common denominator.

We are discussing games as general purpose instruments.
And in doing so we are putting the means ahead of the ends.

Here’s my first proposition:

If we can't talk about the change we want to see, we can't choose our tools according to tactical considerations and strategic goals.

The Nazis embraced radio because, in Germany, at that point in time it was an extremely centralized infrastructure. Perfectly consistent with the kind of change they wanted to create.

The discourse around serious and transformative games has been stuck in a sort of delusional loop for several years now.

Of course at this point we established that games can be expressive and representational media. They aren’t mere vectors for messages to be dumped into players’ brain.

They are objects we can think with – like moving images, or texts.

They are interfaces between people.
They are conversations that can happen via body language and verbal language, through the clash of conflicting desires, through the dance between chance and skill, through computation and storytelling…

Even single player games are conversations.
I often say that single player computer games are a type of multiplayer games. The designers can be seen as players as well. They are an extreme form of asynchronous, asymmetrical game if you will.
You play with the authors.

Games are multitude.

BUT for serious and transformative games this is not enough.
It’s not enough to be just a cultural form among the others.
Serious games want to transcend this symbolic and relational dimension and be the very embodiment of *actual* change.

This is the delusional loop I’m talking about.

One of the starting points of this narrative was this talk from 2007:
Making a new kind of serious game: Games that are designed as functions with an end result that is a measurable difference in the present state of reality.
— Jane McGonigal Erasing the Delta – Games that Accomplish a Specific Task, Games Developer Conference 2007

The delta is the gap between representation and actual change.
And here the keyword is measurement.

The presumption is that social change can be measured in the same way you can measure the calories burned by playing an exercise game.

This obsession with quantification pervades contemporary society.

It’s the basis of the gamification ideology.
And the basis of contemporary capitalism. Late capitalism is less about producing and selling stuff and more about reifying the immaterial sphere (culture, language, relationships, ambitions).

If you can measure something, you can rationalize it, you can optimize it, you can sell it.

If you are in the no profit industrial complex you can get more funding if you demonstrate a measurable impact.

Except the measurement of complex social phenomena is always reductionist and problematic.

We use the Gross Domestic Product to measure the success of a nation disregarding many other indicators.

By using standardized tests to assess the quality of learning we turned our schools into bootcamps for standardized tests.

Here’s another simple proposition:

If you can measure it then that’s not the change I want to see.

It’s a provocation of course, I’m fine with games accomplishing very specific tasks.

The problem is that by focusing on measurable goals we narrow our action.
We favor individual change, versus systemic and long term change.
We target burning calories without addressing food politics and food justice.
We try to impose prepackaged behavior protocols rather than facilitating critical thought.

And I’ll go even further:

If your game or technology really works (in this direct and reductionist way) it freaks me out.

If you actually figure out methods to control people’s behavior.
You can bet they will be adopted by governments and advertisers in no time.
You are working for them."



"But one thing I can tell for sure: the act of making games about social issues, has always been a profound transformative experience for me.

I came to the conclusion that there is a greater liberation potential in designing games rather than playing games.

I argue that next step of games for impact doesn’t lie in some technological advancement but rather, in helping people to engage with the practice of game design.

Game design, especially when socially engaged, involves a lot of research and synthesis. What are the actors and the forces governing this system?
What are the internal relationships?
What are the limits of the player’s agency?
This conceptual (and not just technical) tools is what we practitioners can share.

Designing game has a couple of terrific extra outcomes:

First: by designing games you acquire the tools to demystify all games. To play critically.

Second: by democratizing game design you don’t have to look for big funders.

Games are expensive to make but also not. I’ve never spent more than 100 dollars on my games.

There are plenty of digital tools. And non professionals have been making and adapting games (even games for change) since forever.
As Zach Gage said yesterday, every child is a game designer.

Third: by just facilitating the creation of games you don’t incur into typical fallacies of the white savior industrial complex. Like the mis-representation and objectification of others.

This makes me think about another keyword in this industry: empathy.
If you want to convince privileged people to donate you have to make them feel bad.

But empathy is almost inevitably patronizing, it presumes helpless subject who can’t speak for themselves. And privileged subjects i.e. “us” that are somehow separated from them.

Pppression is fractal.

Most of us (the 99% of us), are both oppressed and part of a system of oppression.

Anyway, here’s my last proposition:

WORK TO MAKE YOURSELF OBSOLETE

Which is probably a terrible idea if you want to be a professional in the social change industry.

I want to conclude by mentioning an initiative I’ve been helping to coordinate in the last two years.
It’s not a solution but a small contribution and a possible alternative model. It’s a series of workshops called Imagining better futures through play."
videogames  games  gaming  gamification  systemsthinking  longterm  systems  behavior  2014  paolopedercini  control  measurement  systemicchange  advertising  centralization  change  changemaking  seriousgames  gamedesign  design  quantification  capitalism  gdp  janemcgonigal  zachgage  classideas  children  making  empathy  paulofreire  oppression  saviorcomplex  privilege  edg  srg 
april 2014 by robertogreco
Perestroika and Epistemological Politics : Stager-to-Go
"I am suggesting that it is useful to think of what is happening as the system striving to define teaching as a technical act."

"Real restructuring of the administration and of the curriculum can only come with an epistemological restructuring, an epistemological perestroika . . . reshaping the structure of knowledge itself."

"A body of evidence is building up that puts in question, not only whether traditional scientific method is the only way to do good science, but even whether it is even practiced to any large extent."

"Control over teachers and students is simply easier when knowledge is reduced to rules stated so formally that the bureaucrat is always able to “know” unambiguously what is right and what is wrong. "

"For stable change a deeper restructuring is needed–or else the large parts of the system you didn’t change will just bring the little parts you did change back into line. We have to seek out the deeper structures on which the system is based."
accountability  power  control  sovietunion  mikhailgorbachev  rules  curriculum  cv  teaching  epistemology  revolution  perestroika  mitmedialab  logo  1990  learning  education  change  megachange  educationreform  bureaucracy  systems  systemicchange  hierarchy  constructivism  seymourpapert  medialab 
january 2013 by robertogreco

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