Network Weaving

Friday, April 13, 2007

Companion Planting

Attended the Defrag conference at Lorain County Community College [LCCC] these past two days. What a wonderful facility LCCC has!

Just like the last Defrag, I had an ah-ha moment at this one. This moment came from one of the other attendees -- Soren H. We were discussing connections in regional economies after my presentation. He said, "I think what we need is something akin to 'companion planting', after all isn't an economy a lot like an ecosystem?" Economy = Ecosystem? Sure! "But what is companion planting?" I inquired. He explained that it is a concept from organic gardening -- plants can benefit from having certain other plants close by in the garden. You can create the right mix to benefit the whole garden.

Of course! An economy that has the right mix of connected talent will work in the same way. Each benefits from having the other nearby resulting in creative combinations and win-win scenarios while the garden/economy benefits the most from the combinations and connections.

Which combinationations and connections are best for your regional economy?


  • you might want to look at this pilot project (pdf - 1mb). It is written by a danish government organisation.

    By Andreas, at 4/16/2007 6:14 AM  

  • Valdis, I LOVE the concept!! It fits well with the idea of microclimates and regional flavor (see It also fits with the ideas of clusters. Thanks, Andreas, for the link.

    It's all about local support and density. It's about how supportive others can help us create a niche that enables our uniqueness to flourish and add value to the enitre ecosystem/economy.


    By June, at 4/16/2007 1:12 PM  

  • I also love this concept. At first glance seem to be a number of related concepts and fields as well.

    For example, there is the field sometimes called Industrial Ecology, where the waste streams of one process become inputs into another process -- see and the Chinese concept of Circular Economy -- see

    Permaculture is another related field. For an overview, see

    It seems like Network Weaving can work even more powerfully as it connects up with other approaches and frameworks such as Industrial Ecology and Permaculture. We each have our own language, our own body of expertise.

    In this context, Network Weavers might be analogous to gardeners planting seeds. But, gardeners do not themselves "make" the seeds. They need to get the seeds from somewhere (if only from an existing plant). Gardeners also do not (generally) make watering containers, and do not (in Western culture) typically carry water themselves from wells. We rely on other "experts" to do those things, and have learned how to work together with them to help things grow.

    By SteveHabibRose, at 4/16/2007 8:24 PM  

  • The companion planting concept is a gem! A perfect example of how a 'whole greater than the sum of the parts' can emerge through consideration of relationships in a system.

    Steve's reference to permaculture reminded me of two questions that Bill Mollison, permaculture founder, contrasts:

    'What can I get from this person, or land,?'

    'What does this person, or land, have to give if I cooperate with them?'

    The latter question resonates for me with Steve's strengths-based focus - and also June's gift economy post from a July last year.

    Thanks also to Andreas for his link to the Danish cluster benchmarking project. I'm going to be using Valdis' software to map networks of volunteers working on the next Global Carnival in beautiful Bellingen on Australia's north east coast. The Danish project has some great thought-starter ideas on developing indicators of network-based community capacity building. Any other ideas on this much appreciated.

    By Jen St Clair, at 4/29/2007 10:04 PM  

  • I love this concept at well, it makes so much sense - and in a simple picture it strikes a deep cord inside to "get it" of how we support eachother and can see the fruits in the whole.Nicely fitting with ecological systems working together for the whole- perhaps social ecology.

    I would like to see a study done with young people, as thier world is built in social economy!! Is there anything out there? > I think that this concept goes a long way to help the young people see how they fit into the larger whole and can be quite empowering and humbling at the same time. Seeing the needs and resources in the field... I'll meet you there :)

    -adapted from Rumi:
    Out beyond ideas, there is a field- I'll meet you there.

    By Kachina Katrina, at 6/05/2007 1:10 PM  

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