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Overview


SEED-SCALE offers a process by which almost any community can direct change underway within it, using resources they already have to respond to forces that are affecting them. Unlike other frameworks that presuppose money, mandate skilled workers, or insist on first establishing effective government, SEED-SCALE provides a process for change that any community can follow, once a collective community decision is made to begin. It is a standard process that leads to site-specific solutions.

SEED-SCALE, coalesced out of a dialogue from around the world that came together in the years before the 1995 United Nations Social Summit; two monographs were produced and circulated[1]. Subsequently, field activities were launched to further understand the approach, and a subsequent volume was published in 2002[2].

A growing amount of literature, from the daily news to academic scholarship, describes and analyzes what the problems are, when they started, why they happened, who did what to whom, where trends are likely to end—a long litany of w’s. The w’s are helpful, but the list mounts in a manner that makes it difficult to move out of this worrisome web of w’s to positive solutions. Instead of joining this descriptive trend, SEED-SCALE focuses on the h—the how of social change. It proposes a strategy for making progress through the thicket of w’s by offering an easy-to-do process. In doing so, SEED-SCALE fills a specific void.

SEED-SCALE offers a solution to these issues. It does this by focusing on the one resource available to us all: Human Energy. When human energy is viewed as the essential commodity that will improve lives, individuals are shown to already posses an infinite resource they can build on. Therefore, resourcefulness is the end result, rather than a compulsion for resource consumption. Working with resources already owned—and everyone who is alive owns the resource of their own energy—then technologies, social systems, information, financing will all follow. And if momentum builds around the application of human energy, it will shape to local ecology, economy, and values.

The role of human energy is self-evident when stated this way, much simpler than the complexities of economics, much more attainable than vast sums of money, more universal than approaching social change through a professional discipline such as agriculture or health. The overarching commonality provided by energy is easy to understand, and is often stated by many. (It is easy enough to be a language for illiterates, and simple enough to be understood by politicians.) The challenge is how to operationalize this. That is where SEED-SCALE provides an “operating system.”

The increasing use of proxies (of money, of professionals, of moving action to a distance and away from communities) has obscured the fundamental understandable character of the human quest. It is a collective endeavor, not an individual one, although recently we have celebrated individual successes thought capitalism. But ultimately, every individual’s successes are built though an operating collective. Human enterprise must go forward building on the planet and the resources we all share—not exploiting them.

 Site-specific solutions must be found: They must be grown to each situation’s ecology, economy, and culture. Effective responses come when we are able to evolve new opportunities, grown out of today’s crises by reflecting on experience. Each crisis, has inside energy that can be turned; the very forces that drive them contain energies that can become an opportunity. This requires a process—not simply a strategy, but a process—of working with the pre-existing energy in order to rechannel it. As people build their futures, what works is to have a system that adapts iteratively, that keeps communities (whether small or large) moving to the priorities they collectivly decided to undertake.

 

 


[1] Daniel Taylor-Ide and Carl E. Taylor. Community-based Sustainable Human Development—Going to Scale with Self-reliant Social Development. (New York: UNICEF, 1995).

[2] Daniel Taylor-Ide and Carl E. Taylor. Just and Lasting Change When Communities Own Their Futures. (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2002).