The Arthur Morgan Institute for Community Solutions

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Feedback Loops

Written by Community Solutions Executive Director Susan Jennings



The notion of feedback loops is an important part of the climate conversation, as climate researchers note that the positive (reinforcing) feedback of methane released from the warming Arctic and peatlands move our time for coordinated climate action up from decades to years.

Feedback loops also allow a more sophisticated reflection on global systems, rather than the linear cause-and-effect thinking that permeates political discourse. If, for example, we see the refugee crisis as feedback from climate change and military policies, we may be willing to reflect on our own deep complicity with international upheaval, rather than attempting to stop the international flow of peoples across borders.

Recent marches and protests are also a feedback loop, alerting us that those who have been nurtured by a multi-cultural society are unwilling to play the politics of separation. This kind of feedback can embolden others to find their own voices. As governors, mayors, and activists of all stripes find their leadership legs, hierarchical systems of control may cede to more sustainable systems of distributed and local leadership.

This sort of virtuous feedback loop is a central concern of Didi Pershouse, upcoming Soils Symposium keynote, and author of The Ecology of Care: Medicine, Agriculture, Money, and the Quiet Power of Human and Microbial Communities. Didi writes and speaks eloquently of the hope that she feels, spurred by the emergence of a ‘fertile’ model of care of ourselves and our soils.  By nurturing our biotic and human communities, a cascade of health, relational, and planetary benefits ensues.  We hope that you will be able to join us in February in Yellow Springs for our Healthy Soils Symposium. In the meantime, you can whet your appetite on the writing of Didi and other presenters below.