Friday, August 7, 2009

Guiding Principle 2 - Focusing Energy: Creative Synchronicities – The Mandala/Lotus Flower Metaphor

Guiding Principle 2 - Focusing Energy: Creative Synchronicities – The Mandala/Lotus Flower Metaphor

Following prior projects undertaken, Solomon Source recognizes that it is critical to have
a strong conceptual framework for its projects. Derived from work with the Vice President for Research at Texas A&M University, Diagram 3 highlights the necessity for creating a focal point for a regional empowerment model. This diagram creates the foundation of our effort, highlighting the importance of education for improving people’s lives.

The Rural Revitalization and Empowerment Strategy (RRES) does not ignore traditional educational settings such as classrooms, workshops, seminars and short courses, but will utilize a dynamic combination of learning environments with an emphasis on experiential, learning, “conversations”, and real -world learning. The aim and underlying purposes of the RRES strategy is to infuse our educational experience with an understanding of the truly spectacular planet where we live and our own inherent magnificence, and then to empower individuals and organizations to ignite the dreams and aspirations in their hearts.

To move from the theoretical to application this proposal develops specific “action centers” to adapt the RRES to any context. Diagram 3 is a metaphorical representation of a nu
clear reaction. The key to getting an explosion is to focus a considerable amount of energy into the core of the reaction. However, after the critical mass of energy has been reached, the expulsion of energy is instantaneous and far reaching. We thank Dr. Ewing for sharing this vision with us before he passed in 2007. Below is a brief discussion of how we see this image providing another way of depicting our approach.

The Center of Diagram 3 represents the core “nucleus” of the RRES which will be represented most significantly by the RRES Institute and the Idea and Product Visioning & Creation Center (IPVCC). The five “green” circles represent the “context” in which the project works in a community / region / country. The RRES team recognizes that the world has been cut up into pieces by our scientific and human-oriented (separatist) perspectives. Depicting the general categories of disciplines (environmental, social, cultural/historical, political, economic
s) in the five inner circles in Diagram 3 will allow us to re-cognize the integral relationship of these pedagogical domains, providing a new context for re-aligning our efforts for a successful rural economic empowerment strategy.

Diagram 3): The Nuclear Reaction – or The Mandala (Lotus Flower): “when a critical mass of knowledge and energy is reached, the results can touch the world”.

1. We memorialize the inspiration for our “lotus flower” (or mandala) to Dr. Richard Ewing. Dr. Ewing was the Vice
President for Research at Texas A&M University until Dec. 5, 2007. Thank You Dr. Ewing.
2. President Emeritus, Oklahoma State University – author “Reclaiming a Lost Heritage: Land-grant and Other Higher Education Initiatives of the 21st Century.

The RRES, as it develops its programs, will take into account each of these areas. Yet we recognize that the lines drawn between these “disciplines” are only a functional or organizational delineation established by historical and contemporary authorities. In fact, as stipulated in Systems Thinking, there is a desperate need to re-examine and recombine these perspectives into a comprehensive whole after study or examination.

The “petals of the flower” in Diagram 3 depict the “outreach-service” delivery mechanism of the RRES. Our emphasis on Outreach-Service (extension) is developed from the Land Grant University System that was so powerfully transformative in the United States. However, we agree with John Campbell’s(2) critique of the limitations of the Land-grant system as it has matured, mainly that the “Outreach” not been properly expanded and utilized. Diagram 3 is a symbolic metaphor of a “nuclear reaction”, which is our vision to powerfully extend the learning and research of RRES to re-connect education to the world, which is depicted in the outer ring of Diagram 3.

It is beyond the scope of this document to discuss all of the benefits of utilizing/revitalizing the land-grant model while empowering it with information communication technologies (ICT), however, in brief, this approach will re-vitalize the educational experience for students. It will also connect RRES to the mainstream of society, delivering a multitude of benefits: essentially creating a recursive flow of ideas, information, people and business to a world that is clamoring for these outputs of our educational system. The outer ring of Diagram 3 shows the original vision of the Land-grant model which framed the educational system on three legs (Education, Research, Outreach). We add to the model the ultimate outputs of this inspired model – Learning, Development, and Service.

The purpose of the Rural Revitalization & Empowerment Strategy (RRES) is to stimulate creative innovation in the economy through the creation of an experiential learning institution (see Diagram 9). We will begin with a core educational program derived from our team’s broad based experience. Delivery will be supported by state-of-the-art hardware and software infrastructure, in addition to “train the trainer” community outreach. It is critical that both the technology and human elements be supported in a complimentary fashion. Our “faculty” is strongly connected to excellent colleagues, experts and practitioners around the world. Working together, they can produce a unique experiential, multidisciplinary, international institution that will excel in education, research and outreach. Students will be able to expand their horizons enormously in this virtual and on-site learning environment.

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