How to improve your pattern literacy

Resource / How to improve your pattern literacy

By Gemma Adams / 28 Apr 2017

According to Tim Murphy of the Regenesis Group, seeing and responding to pattern is a way of being in the world that promotes harmonious relationships and is a core capability in permaculture design. He says it’s common to indigenous people in a way that contrasts sharply with Western cultural programming about how the world operates.

Here, he puts ‘pattern literacy’ forward as a core problem or opportunity for permaculture teachers in “overdeveloped” countries and describes how you can improve yours.

What might the implications of this be? What related resources have you seen?

Pattern literacy is a superpower for designers, artists, and innovators; all the more so when shared amidst a field of similarly fluent practitioners. Good visual thinking and communication is de rigueur - now greatly extended through digital means. Often the languages and symbolism employed grow rather esoteric and/or vernacular, yet, in a living systems approach we can work from common understanding of the so-called "mega-patterns" that underly and influence complex and dynamic systems. Christopher Alexander distilled a canonical set of 15 fundamental properties of wholeness thusly: Collaborative concept mapping and modeling tools like now support individuals, groups, and open communities to adopt a pattern-native approach to design thinking and sense-making together, in realtime. Pattern cognition profoundly enhances our capacity to sense, process, and express multi-dimensional information via collective intelligence to address 'wicked' problems and obstinate systems.
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