Transparency and Trust

I visited the Synergy Hub, Decentrale, near Basel, CH last year where I met the founder Chris, and had a revealing conversation about the relationship between trust and transparency.

In short: Transparency is basically a means to (re-)establish trust when trust is lost. There is little to no room for gossip, speculation, and accusation when all information is available to the one who has lost trust.

For example: You begin to suspect that the finances are not stewarded responsibly in accordance with the values of the organization, and you blame the CFO. You begin to share your suspicion and gossip with your co-workers. All this is unknown to the CFO, as no-one dares to confront him with this suspicion for the fear of being fired (excluded from the group, and thereby being threatened in your survival). When all transactions of the organization are transparent and the books open then you can always check whether there is something to your supicion, or whether it is your own distrust making up stories.

Perhaps the following can be concluded: The more transparent communication and information is within an organization the quicker trust can be (re-)established.

You of course want to be carefull as to what and who you allow into your ecosystem in the first place, with sensitive information being available. It goes both ways – the more trust the more transparency. The more transparency the more trust…

on food…

Food is a gift. Gifted by the earth in abundance. First and foremost this gift needs to be acknowledged. When you receive a gift from the heart to the heart then it is often received with a thank you, and gratitude. But why is this gift gifted? what is it gifted for?

Life is serving you to serve itself. Life longs for itself. That life recognizes itself for what it is. So how do we acknowledge and recognize this gift from life?

By intending to direct our attention to our senses and thereby opening them. Our senses are always in the present moment. Always here now, where life is, as  it is… So, seeing the food, the bowl or plate the food is on. Really looking at it. Like a baby seeing the world for the first time. BEginners mind. Smelling the food, really smelling the food. Slowing down. Taking the time to taste the food. Chewing the food thoroughly. Noticing how it is swollowed down the through and lands in the stomach. The aftertaste of a bite, while listening to the sounds of the boards, the cars, the people, the movement. Just listening, while watching the breath, going in and how, shallow and deep, high and low . Just watching the breathing, feeling the body.

The practice is the eating itself  through the gateway of the sense perceptions, we awaken ourselves to recognize ourselves for who we are, and who and what we are not. This is why we eat . And not only when we eat, but from the following moment to the next moment… Here now.


Pluto conjuncts with Mars

On March 26

Pluto, I welcome your destruction of non-truth. Bring those flood waves to clear the ground for truth to grow. The Cosmic symphony growing into a dramatic crescendo. Perfect design. Nothing out of order. Bring those waves so I can be washed clean. So that the “crazed defence of this crumbling fort” can been seen for what it truely is.

The foundations of sand be washed away so that foundationscan be built on the rock of truth…

Defining, Co-creating or distilling your mission statement

Step1: define and understand the term mission

Step 2: co-create your mission statement

When i say mission you might understand and define the term differently then I do, so the first step in this process is to come to a shared understanding and definition of the term mission.

This can be done in many ways. A way that worked for us was making a graphic jam. This is a method from the book Game Storming – A playbook for innovators, rulebreakers, and changemakers.

Materials needed: paper, pens & post-its

1.So ask the group to draw whatever comes to mind when hearing the mission. You might draw a drawing before to show as an example.

2.Once you then have collected the drawings. Place them all visible to all and ask the artists to describe and explain their drawings. Feel free to ask questions. Encourage inquiry.

3. Have people write down words that stood out to them when hearing the description. Hang these post-its up

4. the final task is then to put all those words together like fitting pieces of a puzzle. Either do it yourself or ask if anyone is able to write one paragraph out of the words. This is like a brainstorming session. Continue til everyone is ok with the sentence.!When the pieces have been put together you have found a shared understanding of the term.

Distill and co-create your mission statement

Start out by reading a mission statement from a group or organization that inspires your group. This serves as an example.

Then ask everyone to draw their and the group’s mission on a piece of paper. Either integrated into one or two drawings. Be creative. Allow space for creativity to unfold.

Once the drawings have been drawn or painting or cut you continue from step 2 above.


Keeping an overview – Externalize! 3 Tools you can use

Instead of keeping everything inside your mind. Externalize it to the tools available online. It will clear your head, and give you some breathing room. These tools are also great for delelation, co-creation and cooperation.

Trello is a useful tool to keep an overview of all the different areas of operations.

So is metamaps btw too. Open source, and free of charge.

Oh and if you are working on a commons use instead of using google’s services.

she seems like many, but is jut one

I am in love with the Dutch woman.
To me there is only one.
She drives me crazy, mad,
sometimes sad sometimes glad.
I can’t get enough
of that stuff
she stirs im my heart
lost in devotion

gone.. gone… beyond gone..

good or bad?

Glad or sad?


Gone… gone… beyond gone.


Co-Creating an Agenda

Nothing new under the sun, I guess, yet very important if you want engagement and participation from your team members. Conscious creators prefer to be seen and acknowledged as creators and pull back when they are not. Thoughts like: “he is not my boss”, “Why does he decide?”, “What about my input?” start popping up and then you’re dealing with resistance already. And this resistance is welcome, because it reminds us of our creative potential. Why not co-create the agenda as equals. Knowing ourselves to be vessels for the divine expressing itself as intelligence. Radios picking up on words that are just transmitted.

I might add three items to the agenda, someone else two, and someone else one, and together the agenda points complete the picture. My radio did not pick up on all the points, we needed to tune our radios together to get the complete picture.

Here is some visual aid. An example:

We wrote what we thought had to be on the agenda on post-it notes. This exercise was copy pasted from Game Storming “a playbook for innovators, rulebreakers, and changemakers” by D. Gray, S. Brown, & J. Macanufo. All of us placed our post it notes “randomly” on the paper you see above. Some couldn’t resist moving them around yet I asked him to wait. It is important to notice and pay attention to everything. How the post its are placed. Where. What else is on the table. All this has symbolic value left for you and the group to interpret.

I asked everyone to group the post-its once the post-its had been placed. Cluster them and once clustered to label the cluster.
The above was the result and the road map for the General Circle.

Self-Managing Organism – The Nitty Gritty

Which circles where needed was clear, not yet who would lead and represent what circle, and what would that entail? What was a circle anyway in the first place? The more we looked at the organizational architecture as we called it, the more we noticed the gaps.

We formed a work group with the specific objective to clarify, present, and implement the operational architecture, to the central co-op work-group. This was myself, a psychology, buddhist meditation and antroposophic business BA drop-out from Germany/US/DK, our MA in Advertising turned gardener Sergio from Catalonia, Mathilde, our swiss/belgian literature and sociology MA graduate turned project manager with a flair for documentation, Falk, our German detail-oriented doer with an insistence on getting tech to work, and Kasper the cook and part-time programmer with a lot of questions, which everyone asked themselves, but not out loud.

We identified what needed to be done by the next meeting, and at that next meeting Pol turned up with a draft of 5 points he had defined for the Garden Circle: 1. The aim, 2. The elections of the lead, representative, and Secretary, 3. the internal communication of that circle 4. the budgets, 5. something

We gave the homework to have each circle to first define their aim, then to elect, then to sketch the internal communication and finally to hash out their budgets. We went ahead with the elections etc. yet this should have been presented to the main co-op work-group as a proposal which was to be consented to or objected to.

Kasper had to get on the same page with Tabda, his German kitchen circle member, who barely spoke English and did not care much for meetings and paperwork. He ended up merging his draft with the draft of Tabda and elections took place with only two circle members, which was questioned in hindsight. I put some pressure on to have the elections done, so that the roles were to defined in the kitchen. Who had the responsibility?

Mathilde for some reason ended up writing up the 5 point definition documents for most of the circles. Probably because she did not believe anything would happen unless she took into her own hands. They only had to be modified by their circle members. One by one over a period of a couple of months were the roles elected and power struggles surprisingly, at least to me, seized to exist to the same degree as they had been. Who had the lead was clear, and how was clear too. At least within the frame we had defined ourselves, heavily inspired by sociocracy 3.0.

The garden circle already had organic roles which seemed to work, and the circle members did not see why they should wear the cloak of a sociocratic system, when their system was working organically. We somehow came to the conclusion´that these formalities would make it easier for the garden circle to relate to the other circles, and they went through the elections.

It was not that easy to get everyone together in a general circle (GC) once the leads and reps. had been elected. It took several weeks with that meeting being postponed once or twice. We managed to define the aim of the circle relatively quickly. Once the elections of the GC were to take place a friend of the founder came by and disrupted the meeting by asking one of the circle members to talk to him. A dispute arose with the friend of the founder and the rest of the circle members for his violent communication and disrespectful behavior. This meeting ended up with electing the GC representative.

Only at the next meeting a couple of weeks later was I elected as lead of the GC, which again changed my position in relation to the owner. I felt more respect and that my position was legitimate.

The Rep. and I as lead of the GC took part in board meetings. Requesting what we needed from the board: representation in the board.

We got back that a good fence makes a good neighbor and we were asked to define the operations further in relation to the owner and through what instruments we would play.

I’m not sure if this is how it was supposed to be, but we insisted on implementing this sociocatic framework for our operations. None of us had much experience with organizational development and I mostly just copied what I, or the others had read in a book or through the internet.

So yes, less power struggles. An attempt at harnessing the collective intelligence, all voices. To trust in synergies and that the whole is more than the sum of its parts.

The development of self-organizing people

I had to do a lot of things by myself when I first came to Vlierhof. I had energy and did not mind giving everything, and going totally into this challenge on re-structuring Vlierhof.

I remember joining the morning meetings where the work was delegated. I liked to work with my hands outside. Eventually I was invited (or I invited myself) to join a so called “management meeting”. Here Emilia, the coordinator of the organizational development of Vlierhof and her boyfriend back then Hendrik, had identified roles or positions which had to be filled to keep the boat afloat. I remember how I realized how little I knew what role I wanted to play and none of the roles fit exactly, yet I decided to compromise the marketing role. I ended up with the newsletter and promotion, which had been left undone like a lot of things on Vlierhof.

Emilia tried to harness the wild west as the only woman with 7 men in so called management. Who was to hold the reins? I grew confidence and lost trust in Emilia’s ability to steer the ship in a way that would work. I could do it better. Emilia had an emotional conflict with the man clinging to the talking stick, and unresolved issues from the past surfaced, which again triggered people, which triggered her.  In the wild west every competes with everyone and so did we. Coalitions formed. The men against the woman who cried too much. I just wanted to steer the ship where I thought and felt it wanted to go.

Hendrik, Emilia’s boyfriend, questioned the man clinging to the talking stick’s role as volunteer coordinator. That he would neglect the volunteers upon arrival and would draw up pictures of Vlierhof to the volunteers which were not accurate. He wanted to do the volunteer coordination. We did a sociocratic election. I can’t remember who got the role, but this was my first introduction to sociocracy. Anutosh the founder facilitated the election.

Emilia broke down and decided to leave at some point. She told me outside the sauna. In one way I felt bad for having competed with her and perhaps pushed her to this point. And on the other hand I felt relieved as her behavior scared me at times. Like the behavior of a lot of people on Vlierhof in those days of the wild west.

For the next one and a half years or so I and we and we have been refining the domains or circle teams and the roles needed to be filled to “carry” Vlierhof.  I could list them, but I’ve done this too many times. It gets rather dry to write and talk about organizational structuring over time.

Back then I was busy in most circles. Circling between the circles, which was not sustainable in the long run as you might think while reading this. So after having read Frederic Laloux’s book reinventing organizations and having done some case studies on the organization of ecovillages,  I came to the conclusion to put together self-managing circles to distribute the responsibility. When responsibility is taken then freedom and autonomy follow, which are universal needs. I quickly noticed how some kind of self-sustainability formed  or at least a plausibility that the responsibility would be taken on when at least two people where together. The procedure was as follows:

I would call for a meeting with the people engage within the domain, brief them of their deliverables, the expectations of the costumers, quality standards, the values, and aim that I’d propose, yet invite to change these according to the team.

What I want to share though is how the sentence from my grandfather (on my mother’s side) “A good manager is an obsolete manager”. An obsolete manager is someone who has recruited, coached, and trained a team to manage itself without a manager. It is turning sheep into shepherds.

Yet, the performance of the circle fluctuated, it depended on the lead. To what degree the sociocratically elected lead takes responsibility and is passionate about the aim of the circle. Key is key people in key positions. People you trust, and who trust you.

*Names have been replaced to keep the characters anonymous