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Sustainable Proximities

The Approach in a Nutshell
In a nutshell, the sustainable proximities approach leverages technology and networks in a different way by applying a new growth model that was designed for networks. The sustainable proximities approach can lead to greater sustainable variety, or variety that continues and grows, since there is a greater focus on keeping the proximity alive, which is boosted by variety and diversity. Here is a simple "how to" guide for creating a sustainable proximity. Also, you'll find other examples, such as for climate change, websites, and downloadable content, below under Other Initiatives.

How to Create a Sustainable Proximity
Here is a guide you can use right away: How to Create a Sustainable Proximity. Please tell other people about it. Thanks!

Sustainable Variety
We know that variety and diversity are intimately connected to sustainability. Examples include the benefits of biodiversity, crop diversity, multiple energy sources, portfolio/investment diversification, variety in human teams, the multiple viewpoints allowed by democracy, pluralism, and forgiveness — each of these examples of variety and diversity enhance the sustainability of the people, systems and things they are connected to. The sustainable proximities approach can lead to greater sustainable variety, or variety that continues and grows, since there is a greater focus on keeping the proximity alive, which is boosted by variety and diversity. Not only that, but by focusing more on the proximity, people can have chances to relate to the proximity in a wider variety of different ways.

What might this be like?
What might this be like for proximities which become more sustainable? Based on how ProxRewards in Practice can function, this approach might be sort of like the give and take of a neighborhood, relationship, friendship or perhaps being a considerate traveler. You may want the neighborhood, relationship, friendship or location you're visiting to survive, thrive, and take care of you as you take care of it. You may also want it to persist, adapt and change as needed, which is how proximities stay sustainable and life stays interesting.

This approach relates to sustainable proximities as mentioned on the Sustainability page, and extends the Create Sustainable Resources point in Ways to Use ProxThink.

As mentioned on the Sustainability page, a sustainable proximity (sometimes it's a resource) is one which can support or relate to many different situations, and can persist, adapt and change as needed. This is where "sustainable" means that the complexity of growth and life can persist, adapt and change as needed. You might think of sustainable as often meaning lively. Keep in mind that more sustainable proximities can be part of, contain, or exist alongside of, others which are less sustainable.

This discussion may be especially relevant to proximities which people share, in the sense that a proximity relates to many of their individual situations as well as situations they are involved in as part of groups of people. Examples of proximities people share include neighborhoods or a neighborhood resource (energy, meeting place, communication, etc.), the earth, a drinking water system, a process or method of collaborating, a network (of roads, wires, communication, etc.), the set of elements and relationships which result in a product or service (such as a computer, appliance, restaurant, school, etc.), and a park or beach.

Sustainable Features of ProxThink
The sustainable features of the ProxThink Innovations, especially the Growth Model, combined with ways you can use ProxThink for Design and Planning, Strategy and Implementation, Conflict Resolution, and Managing Change, creates frameworks and processes for sustainable resources and proximities.

ProxThink Growth Model
The Growth Model is a key part this sustainable proximities approach. There is a brief introduction to the Growth Model here, and much more if you join here (you can then use this members Growth Model link). Using the four Growth Model processes, people can monitor proximities using ProxMonitors, connect and relate with RelatePoints, develop strategies and agreements as Vadi Agreements, and encourage and use ProxRewards (proxri). For a few examples of the Growth Model in action, see our Proxearth Climate Change Project, our Proxri Deal on this site, the Proxri Deal on, and the proxri page on

Leveraging Technology
Add to the Growth Model the network technologies enabling communication (such as mobile phones, satellites, GPS and the Internet), sensing technologies (such as for heat, light, vision, motion, chemicals, etc.), and database technologies, and the possibilities for sustainable resources and proximities expand. These sorts of technologies especially serve some processes of the Growth Model, such as RelatePoints, ProxMonitors, and ProxRewards (proxri), which will in turn support the creation and improvement of Vadi Agreements. Further, these technologies and the Growth Model might allow us to focus more on some proximities which relate to a wide variety of people and situations. By comparison, markets often focus our attention mostly on more narrow proximities such as those for companies, governments and individuals. In other words, the Growth Model and these technologies might assist us in shifting from a focus on revenues and costs for companies, governments and individuals to a focus on proximities, ProxMonitors, proxri and relationships, at least for some proximities and situations. Of course, there will be some limits. Further, this approach may also serve some proximities which markets don't or can't serve, and some situations which don't have much to do with markets, but something to do with growth or a need for sustainability, which includes many situations. Also see this blog post for a related discussion of markets and financial turmoil.

Leveraging Online Collaboration
Further, add the ongoing evolution of online collaboration, from open source software, to wikis, to social media and sharing and collaboration. The time is right to try new things, and this sustainable proximities approach may be a new way to structure our thinking about not only these trends, but where we want to go.

Evolutions of Markets?
In addition to the market-related notes in the Leveraging Technology section above, here are a couple other thoughts. Some of the things that markets do include collecting and distributing information, sometimes explicitly and sometimes implicitly. Markets also foster various degrees of collaboration between people in companies and in market sectors. Now, with networks, the Internet, sensors, communications, technology, and various online and networked collaboration practices, we can know much more about proximities, and collaborate, in a number of new ways. These new developments may in some ways complement and in some ways supplant the information-related and collaboration-related functions of markets, in an evolving process. This sustainable proximities approach may provide new ways to think about and structure our activities.

Focus on Proximity
It's important to note that we can probably create a greater number of sustainable proximities than we now have, when we focus on what proximity means, in the ProxThink sense. So, recalling the ProxThink definition of proximity, we would focus on the elements related or potentially related to a situation, in physical, mental and other ways. A few examples: We could make 1) the proximity related to drinking water (the situation) more sustainable, 2) the proximity related to a public park (the situation) more sustainable, 3) the proximity related to a neighborhood resource such as energy (the situation) more sustainable, or 4) the proximity related to a collaboration process for working, playing or resolving differences (the situation) more sustainable.

Climate Change Project
Our Proxearth Climate Change Project shows how these ideas, the four Growth Model processes, and some technologies can interact. It includes things you can do right now if you have a website, blog, or use social software sites.

Other Initiatives
Combining the ProxThink Growth Model with the Internet has resulted in four initiatives so far. The four initiatives include: 1) A new growth model for websites and blogs. See our Proxri Deal and Proxri Membership, as well as the Proxri Deal on 2) The proxri format for downloadable visual works. 3) The Proxearth climate change project, mentioned above. 4) Considerations of how ProxThink relates to markets and financial turmoil, discussed in the Financial Turmoil post on the blog. There are probably many opportunities to use the ProxThink growth model and Internet combination to complement and enhance markets, and perhaps replace markets in some proximities as well as serve some proximities which markets can't serve.

Of course, the process of choosing which elements and relationships are most relevant to a situation, and should be part of the proximity, is often subject to interpretation. Some of the sustainable ideas, tools, models and standards of ProxThink can play a role in making this interpretation more sustainable as well.

Not every proximity may be appropriate for this sustainable proximities approach. But for those which are, it may be a win/win strategy for people involved, allowing a fuller range of voluntary engagement, while meeting needs at the same time.

[[to come - more expanded examples]]

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