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The NORA Knowledge Base is intended to help people build a commons-based economy of abundance, in a similar way as people used to build settlements, by organic growth rather than a blueprint.
What makes unplanned pre-industrial settlements, from Siena in Italy to Old Delhi in India, from Rothenburg ob der Tauber in Germany to a village in the Trobriand Islands, so beautiful? What makes them so alive, and such draws for tourists? You can find more detailed answers to these questions in the work of Christopher Alexander, but part of the answer is that the people building each house built it for their own purposes, but with awareness of how it fit into its neighborhood. A single plan for the village or town would not have allowed for the diversity of needs and would have created a dead uniformity, or variations and ornaments that seem arbitrary and uncalled-for (as we see in too many of the planned settlements of today). But lack of awareness of the larger whole creates an ugly agglomeration of structures with no synergies between them.
NORA is supposed to help people design their own methods to suit their needs, while raising their awareness of the multitude of interactions between their own projects and those of others. With proper attention to those interactions, we can all make our work easier by fostering positive synergies. For example, a project oriented to community health may also, as a side effect, contribute to the creation of beautiful outdoor spaces that foster participation in the affairs of the community and to better nutrition. To make those synergies work, we must be aware of possible complementarities, and then talk with people involved in complementary initiatives in order to ensure that our efforts support each other rather than detract from each other.
NORA can give no directives as to how this can be done. It relies on the initiative of individuals and groups for this to happen. However, it can provide the tools and perspective needed to make synergies happen. Here, then, are three scenarios for making use of NORA. Bear in mind, though, that NORA is in a very early stage of development, and so is not yet fully useable in the ways indicated here!
Finding approaches toward abundance
If you are new to the tasks of creating a better world, but are simply concerned about how to use a particular resource sustainably, or how to address a particular need, then the best thing is to simply look for a particular approach toward creating greater abundance.
For example, if you are concerned about lack of access to good food in your neighborhood:
Note that most pages on specific approaches toward abundance are not there yet, so this method of using NORA is still in an early stage of development!
Reflecting on and improving your own work toward abundance
If you are already actively engaged in an initiative that works toward greater abundance in some way, think about the needs you are serving, the resources you are using, and the organizational form of your initiative. Read the relevant pages on NORA, especially the sections on “understanding patterns of abundance and scarcity.” Think about how well your initiative is doing in reducing scarcities talked about on those pages. Think about where it might do better. Then use links within NORA (both in the “Context within NORA” and the “Approaches toward creating greater abundance” sections) to find out more about initiatives with which you might collaborate or coordinate, and links outside of NORA to deepen your knowledge about them.
For example, if you are involved in a worker cooperative making furniture, you may find that:
Developing and advocating for policies for greater abundance
If you are involved in some area of policy, anywhere from the local to the international level, think about the most important needs you are seeking to address, and which resources are needed to satisfy those needs. Also consider what organizational forms exist to help satisfy those needs or utilize and manage those resources. Read the pages on all these, particularly the sections on “understanding current patterns of abundance and scarcity,” and consider how they are all interlinked via the “context within NORA” sections. Consider whether the policies you are promoting address the most important causes of scarcity discussed on those pages. If you are missing out on some of the important policy areas, consider who is working on those so that you can build a coalition with them, and develop a combined platform. Within the pages on the needs you are primarily concerned with, look for approaches toward satisfying those needs that you have not considered before, and think about how the policies you advocate might affect people involved in these efforts; here there is also a potential for building new coalitions that you had not considered before.
For example, if you are advocating for the preservation of natural habitat in your country, you will find: