What you can do

Dealing with the parts -- species, problems, or issues -- may require tremendous resources and strong organization. A person or a neighborhood may be unable to save an endangered species from extinction, eradicate a weed or a drug problem, make an ethnic group get along with its neighbors, or raise the price of an international commodity.

But an individual or group has influence over the patterns, processes, functions, and habitats that develop locally. A boulder will not be able to stop the flow of a river, or double its flow during a dry season, but it will create an eddy that will make a huge difference in the life of generations of fish.

These global systems are localized. The water you use in your garden did not last fall as rain on another continent. The nutrients that feed your garden are derived in part from the decay of other plants that grew there. The solar energy is captured by your plants. Likewise, human communities and economies are localized.


The "pattern maps" that follow do not fit neatly into established categories of knowledge, popular ideologies, or departments of government. They may put familiar issues into unfamiliar contexts.

But those who have tolerated the disorientation report the following benefits:

  1. power and beliefs needed to influence your local situation
  2. understanding of why so many large-scale initiatives do not work, or do not work as intended
  3. freedom to perceive, think, and act differently.

test yourself with a quick quiz before moving on

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