Giving Space
A ChiliPLoP 2004 Hot Topic

by Tom Munnecke

This workshop is a continuation of the Pattern Language Workshop which seeks to use the pattern approach to systematically discover and replicate patterns of uplift in humanitarian and developmental activities.  Our model of uplift is based on the notion of positive discourse – to intentionally look for patterns which amplify what Alexander calls “alive, humane, ecologically profound, and with a deep living structure.”  This approach is influenced by academic research in Positive Psychology, Appreciative Inquiry, and Positive Organizational Scholarship.  It also examines existing practices such as Women’s Empowerment Program, Positive Deviancy, and self-help groups.
Our pattern language seeks to flip the discourse from “So many problems, so little money” to “So many strengths, so little appreciation.”  For example, alcoholism is one of the greatest medical problems facing society today. It is tempting to rank problems by their severity and then ask which problems require the most money.  However, the most successful approach to sobriety is Alcoholics Anonymous, a self-organizing, self-propagating group of volunteers.  Based on the insight of it founders that one person’s sobriety can be enhanced by helping another stay sober, it has formed a growing and sustainable organization which has also evolved to other forms of addiction treatment.
If the success of AA could be bottled and sold as a pill for $50/month, it would be heralded as a miracle drug.  However, because it operates “below the radar” of debit/credit financial transactions, its value in building social capital, preventing other medical problems, and reducing crime is often overlooked.
The goal of the Uplift Pattern group is to figure out systematic ways of giving value to those things without a price tag which can have positive, life-affirming effects.  Recent innovations such as the rise of the open source movement, the global connectivity of the Internet, and new understandings of scale and networks create new opportunities to discover and replicate patterns of uplift.  In particular, we will be looking at ways of discovering scalable small things – simple, small-scale activities with a low threshold which may be have great aggregate value when propagated.
We are developing Uplift Patterns concepts in tandem with ways of using them.  The Scholars Network concept seeks to create a learning network of individuals around the world who would be involved in both discovering and diffusing innovative patterns.  The Uplift Community concept would link communities and their activities with patterns.

The purpose of this workshop is to lay the technical foundation for the pattern language, discuss ways of integrating the pattern language with other activities, and ways of using patterns in the context of large scale networks.
Please contact Tom Munnecke at or (858) 756-4218 if you are interested in participating.


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