Guest Post by Lynn Jungwirth
I asked Fran Korten, who interviewed Elinor Ostrom (2009 Nobel Prize winner in economics) for “Yes Magazine”, about
the difficulties with “large landscape level planning”. This answer came
“Yes, there’s a role for large landscape level planning, but when you get
down to implementation, it’s got to be at smaller levels. As Lin puts it,
you’ve got to have decision making and implementation in nested tiers that
start at the human-scale level and stack up to the larger resource.”
Wow! “Starting at the human-scale level and stack up to the larger
resource.” We do it exactly opposite. Start with the National Level, then
the Forest Level, and then try to make the local level fit in with those
goals and constraints. Maybe we should invite Elinor Ostrom and her team to
work with this planning rule.
Excerpt from the “Yes” interview. Here’s the link.
At the Workshop we’ve done experiments where we create an artificial form of
common property-such as an imaginary fishery or pasture, and we bring people
into a lab and have them make decisions about that property. When we don’t
allow any communication among the players, then they overharvest. But when
people can communicate, particularly on a face-to-face basis, and say,
“Well, gee, how about if we do this? How about we do that?” Then they can
come to an agreement.
Fran: But what about the “free-rider” problem-where some people abide by the
rules and some people don’t? Won’t the whole thing fall apart?
Elinor: Well if the people don’t communicate and get some shared norms and
rules, that’s right, you’ll have that problem. But if they get together and
say, “Hey folks, this is a project that we’re all going to have to
contribute to. Now, let’s figure it out,” they can make it work. For
example, if it’s a community garden, they might say, “Do we agree every
Saturday morning we’re all going to go down to the community garden, and
we’re going to take roll and we’re going to put the roll up on a bulletin
board?” A lot of communities have figured out subtle ways of making everyone
contribute, because if they don’t, those people are noticeable.