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The Cascadia Protocol

The Cascadia Protocol is a model for self-directed, eco-logically structured learning, and deep local Nature connection, in the context of a natural, bioregional mode of human social self-organization.  

#2: More on Context
A reader asked that I expound on my treatment of context a bit and include an example.  Can do.  As  I mentioned last time, The Natural Philosopher end of the Protocol is largely about instilling a fluency in the Context of Contexts.  The word ‘context’ means ‘with the fabric’.  Following the eco-philosopher, Gregory Bateson, I take context to be functionally synonymous with ecology.  Both concepts indicate multiple levels of order, often quite complex, that are interacting. So becoming more sensitive to context is deeply similar to becoming more sensitive to the ecological.  After all, the ecology is our context for living.

First have a look at the Context icon.  You note that it is made up of the first three letters in the word, context.  Those letters are nested as contexts can be nested.  The C and N are both open, as lots of contexts can be open…that is, not too specifically defined.  The O is closed as some contexts are closed.  I inlude this icon in education materials when an important contextual point arisies.  For example, musical keys may be thought of as contexts for sound.  History often provides helpful context.  More context provides more insight.

The eye in the middle is a reminder that all that we are about here is human perception, cognition and communication.  That is what we deal in.

The Structure of Sense diagram is an example of how I represent different levels of structure in a knowledge building context.  Note that I use broken lines to divide the system.  This indicates that the terms involved cannot be meaningfully separated from each other because they are defined in terms of each other.  Context and Event relate and Meaning is a part of what comes out.

Here’s a story about context that I got from Stephen Covey.  It illustrates what The Structure of Sense is talking about.  A guy is on a subway car one afternoon.  A man and his three children enter the car.  The father sits down and begins to read his paper.  The kids, meanwhile, proceed to run amok in the subway, screaming and hollering and bothering everyone.  And it goes on and on.

After a while, the first guy decides it’s time to speak to the father so he walks over and says, “Excuse me, but do you think you might get your kids to behave?”  The father looks up from his paper and says, “I’m sorry.  We’ve just left the hospital where their mother just died and none of us quite know how to behave.”

Boom..context changes and meaning changes.  Initially, it appears as though the fellow with the children is just being neglectful of his familial and civic duties.  This seems like the context in play.  Therefore, correction and possibly rebuke are in order.  But once the true context comes out, then the meaning of everyone’s behavior changes.  Now, the context is one of understanding and compassion.

When in doubt, zoom out, I say.  When you don’t know what to do, look at a bigger picture.  Get more context and see what you see.