This blog is about my adventures in evaluation, mindfulness and human ecology – thinking and practice.
What and who is this blog for?
This blog is intended as a conversation (with myself and the various communities of practice of which I’m a part). It is an attempt to capture the intersection between several areas of interest for me, and begin to build some coherent thoughts about how these link. Sometimes it will be theoretical, sometimes it will be operational. It is also a place to gain feedback and critique on those thoughts, develop my writing skills and experiment with technology. In other words, it serves many purposes.
It is important to note that I am not trying to be theoretically/academically pure but collect my thoughts and reflections about things I find puzzling. I don’t assume to know much at all, so please keep that in mind!
I have always been perplexed by the ways that humans live in landscapes, how we create order, logic, culture and celebrate life in them. I am also really scared about the trajectory of human civilisation, and the extent to which we are supporting the ecosystems that support us. This has been the repeated fate of multiple civilisations through time, and I wonder why this is! I am worried that those humans who live in the parts of the planet most vulnerable to shocks like climate change, are also the poorest. I am disappointed that in my own culture and country (Australia), we are prosperous and wealthy, but often unfulfilled and therefore, unkind. We are unkind to ourselves, to other humans and other organisms. I see the need for systemic changes, but sometimes feel powerless to effect them.
Sometimes humans learn from our mistakes, but my observation is that collective or social learning is not a default status for humans. It is a state that we have to actively cultivate, nurture and weather. It requires work. So I am seeking to find ways to understand social learning and change so that I can help humans subsist on this planet with a higher quality of life, greater resilience and more mindful intentions. I’m starting with myself and looking outward as I go.
What is the intersection I am trying to capture?
There are three intellectual/professional domains that make up my worldview at present.
1. I studied Human Ecology, a pan-discipline which seeks to understand the way that humans and ecosystems interact. Human ecology places emphasis on the cultural framing of landscapes and the complexity of social-ecological organisation. It applies the principles of ecology to understand humans, along with a dash of sociology and philosophy. I find human ecology useful because it helps me think about how learning can occur collectively and on a scale sufficient to generate social change.
2. I am employed in and have studied Evaluation- a profession that focuses on how groups of humans (i.e. organisations, teams) can make judgments about the merit and worth of what they are doing. I will write more about my understandings of evaluation later, but ultimately, see evaluation as a mechanism by which to encourage service-delivering organisations (governments, charities etc) to develop considered practice and a learning-orientation.
3. I practice mindfulness meditation- mindfulness meditation includes practices and attitudes that in my mind, lead to constant learning. I am interested in how these practices at an individual scale can be used to facilitate collective learning and foster deliberate organisations- that is, organisations that act with intention.
Across these domains, I see several common threads. For example, the idea of being deliberate/acting with intention and the product of this being an orientation toward learning (I’m hoping to clarify what I mean by this). I am interested in mechanisms that create this dynamic or examples of where it is existing and fostering the kinds of social change that are imperative for humans survival.
I plan to write about the overlaps of each of these themes, along with other points of interest. I may delve into one in depth sometimes, or pull back and think about the bigger picture. I hope to review literature and provide constructive commentary on trends in the bodies of thought I interact with. We will see what emerges.
I invite critique, commentary, opportunities and comments. Please get in touch.
Let’s be deliberate together.