The Word for Wednesday is . . .

. . . Synergy!

Synergy is what happens when several things interact and what comes out is greater than the sum of the parts.

If you want a more formal definition, Wikipedia says:

Synergy is the interaction of multiple elements in a system to produce an effect different from or greater than the sum of their individual effects. The term synergy comes from the Greek word synergia συνέργια from synergos, συνεργός, meaning “working together”.[1]

When I think of synergy, I think of a co-operative (worker, financial, housing, etc.), a family, a marriage (committed relationship of any sort). And now I think of the relationships we form in the blogosphere, where what we form contributes inspiration and encouragement to each other and to our readers, globally. I see how we are working together to make incremental changes in the world as it used to be, shaping the world as it is becoming.

Now I’m thinking that there must be ways to increase this synergy; make it more concrete in results. Any thoughts on that?


22 thoughts on “The Word for Wednesday is . . .

  1. In Western Australia our power supplier is called Synergy, so when I first saw your word for Wednesday it kinda made me scowl lol. Shame they have used the word for their business name, as far as I can see it’s pretty much a one way street. Anyway the actual meaning is a much better prospect. It’s true to say that country living is a much more synagistic life. People are more willing to share and help out. We enjoy being back in the country, it’s just a shame it is so far away from my friends and family 🙂 We have a restuarant in Perth that is run by buddists, which also asks you to pay what you think their meal is worth or however much you can afford.

    • Don’t you hate when companies use good words to promote themselves, but don’t function in sync with the language? I just saw a US tv show last night with a section on the current misuse of the word “Artisanal”, which means fashioned by a craftsperson, usually in a traditional way. So how is it that bags of Dorito chips can be called ‘artisanal’??

      I agree with you about country people generally being more willing to share; and to work together, often, too.

      What’s the name of the restaurant? I’d love to mention them on Twitter; I like promoting anything that’s a good cause . . .

      I like Buddhism because it’s not a religion, but more a way of living. A person can be any religion and also be a Buddhist. I first learned this in a book by a man who is a Quaker-Buddhist. I’ve been looking for the name of that book, but so far it eludes me . . .

      I think we will see more businesses like this in the future, and that’s pretty exciting.

      • Yes I agree with you on the Buddhism. It is a gentle way of looking at life. The restuarant is called Annalakshmi in Barrack Square. Their blurb is “Eat all you wish and pay what your heart feels.” I love the english lanquage and advertising is just killing it! I hate those misspelt names, like they think they are so clever, but all they do is confuse the spelling issue, and the use of words in the wrong context, like the chips, is also annoying…. I’m a grammar nazi lol.

  2. Synergy happens so often in the plant world. There are trees that grow ok alone and bacteria that do the same but put the two together and the bacteria mines the nutrients the tree needs causing the tree to grow better and the tree in its turn shares its excess carbohydrates with the bacteria and whammo, a far more productive systema dn 2 happy organisms (counting the bacterial colony as one organism here). If it’s a nitrogen fixing plant then the nitrogen will further feed other neighbouring plants that will int heir turn shade or be shaded, support a climber or climb a supporting tree and so on.

    We can easily do the same. I am in a cold climate that doesn’t really allow for frost intolerant species but there may be people who live in little frost free pockets nearby. I can grow high chill foods and swap for frost intolerant foods and we then both end up with greater variety. Our family has a synergy too if you like – I stay at home so can care for the children, focus on gardens and (in theory) do the housework. My husband works and so can pick up shopping on his way home, earn the bacon to pay the mortgage and such, whereas I have the time to make sure that money is spent as carefully as possible (researching cheapest deals and taking the time to bottle and preserve). We both help boost each other to greater heights (I hope) and our individual actions have greater effect because we are working together (mostly).

    Communities could work in great synergy. Families working together could share the load of childcare, community gardens between them, local town currencies, there is so much we can do to create greater and greater synergy that will help support those faced with or living in poverty as everyone has something to offer to a co-operating community.

    • I agree, rabid; families do have synergy when all contribute and work together. Your home is much like the one I grew up in; Dad worked hard to earn cash, but Mum managed it. Both worked on renovation projects (more so as the kids grew up and left home); Dad did repairs and kept the vehicle running; Mum sewed clothes for the girls, mended, beautified the home with handmade items, put up produce from our gardens and fruit we bought on trips to the Okanagan Valley. Dad hunted and fished; Mum baked all our bread, cakes, pies, cookies (biscuits), buns and more. She baked at least three times a week. I think what made it work was that she thought of homemaking as a calling; she was up first and in bed last, she worked hard, but made time to play with the little ones, teach me and the last two plenty before we were old enough for school, write poetry (and was published for many years), knitted, crocheted, embroidered, etc. In later middle age she taught herself to spin and weave. She also learned to do Artex (a type of fabric painting) and taught classes and sold materials in order to make a little pin money. She was also a member of the Women’s Institute (in Aus, the Country Women’s Association), eventually serving at the executive level provincially. It used to make me so angry when people talked as if women like my Mum were sort of sub-standard, oppressed and a burden on society; that ‘real’ work always came with a cash payoff. Oh, well, a rant for another day . . . 🙂

      I think we can learn a lot from communes through history, the kibbutzim in Israel, hippie communes, the Mondragon co-operatives in the Basque countyry of northern Spain. And barter is a good way to get things done, either informally or formally, with records kept and all . . .

      • Your Mum is what I strive to be like. I am but a poor shadow at the moment I promise you. How she actually achieved all she did and with littlies! I understand the challenges there.
        I think in some ways what your mum did is more real work than a career, yet in other ways not. Both are worthy occupations for either a man or a woman. 🙂 I consider my job to be keeping house (must actually DO that sometime 😉 ), raising the kids, and spending what Martin earns, but as frugally and wisely as possible. Then there is the gardens which I am taking on. It’s a lot as your Mum understood/understands. 🙂

      • I doubt you are a poor shadow, rabid! I think there were several things that helped her: she never learnt to drive (partly ’cause Dad needed the car to get to his work, sometimes a couple of hours or more away), so she was home except when they went to town on Saturday to get groceries, etc. Also, she worked as if she was at a job; she had a schedule and pretty much kept to it. Fairly traditional, washing on Monday (by hand in a tub the first few years; later a wringer washer; they never had a washer/drier until after I left home at 19). Ironing and baking on Tuesday; mending on Wednesday, etc. One thing she did was to nap when the babies did so she didn’t get too tired. But I remember when there were four under school age and four in school (later four under and five in school). She wasn’t a perfectionist, which also helps. Once I was ten, I could help with the babies, feeding, changing, bathing. By the time I was twelve, I was good enough (not nearly as good as Mum, though!) at basic chores that we never had a sitter again if Mum was in hospital (most years. She often had bronchitis and every couple of years there was a baby). I could get meals, do the laundry (wringer washer by then), care for the babies and I suppose I did some cleaning, although I don’t remember doing that 🙂

        I think being that sort of Mum is a calling and Mum certainly was called. She took in the first foster baby before I left home. She always loved babies and I guess with her own littlest being four, she must have missed those days. She went on to care for a couple dozen babies, some for just a few months, others for two or three years. Heartbreaking to let them go, but at least she gave them a good start. If it came down to dusting or rocking a baby, no contest 🙂

        Did I mention the gardens? My two oldest brothers and I helped with the weeding from when I was twelve, maybe with watering at times, too.

        It is hard, but definitely worth it! I have lots of good memories, no matter if I sometimes whinged at the time lol.

      • I agree! It wasn’t perfect, of course (what is?), but most of it was pretty good and I certainly learned a lot. I’m in awe of my parents, too. I think that making life easier for our children doesn’t always bring the results we think it will. I see young Mums here, with one child, a house, washer and dryer, central heating, vacuum, fridge and freezer, gas or electric cookstove, electric lights, tv, computer, internet, fairly new or new vehicle, all the baby equipment one could imagine . . . and they are constantly whinging on about how awful their life is; how they can’t wait to ‘get their life back’ (put baby in daycare and go back to work, is what I think they mean). They can go out when they want, where they want. I just don’t get it. They have time and means to learn, to create, to get together with friends and do communal cooking; so many more possibilities . . . I think I was lucky we didn’t have much and I’m still glad my sons didn’t, either. We tried to provide for needs, not wants, and we considered art and music as needs . . .

  3. As a penniless student hippy “Poverty” is a way of life. We have honed and crafted it magnificently and we have come out the other end satiated by how we dealt with it. Admittedly, we are very lucky penniless student hippies. We live in Australia. A place where we study and the taxpayer supplements us. We also live in our own home that was left to us by my father when he died gratis. Aside from that we have no debt, we don’t intend to amass any debt and we live well within our means. Poverty is as much a state of mind as it is a reality. What is it? People living on the bones of their arse without being able to make ends meet is my idea of poverty BUT there is always something you can do to alleviate some of the pain. You can grow your own veggies, you can collect some rainwater in a tub, you can plant a few flowers, you can go to the library and take out books and feed your mind, you can learn to live within your means most magnificently. You can be satisfied with your life, your lot and you can thank your lucky stars that you weren’t born in the slums of Calcutta. You can take a look at what it is that we are all aspiring to and realise that it is entirely monetarily driven and that a lot of our “hopes and dreams” are just some advertising executives big Christmas bonus. The amazing satisfaction of being able to live within your means comfortably is incredible. We might not be able to afford magazines now, but we can trawl the net 24/7 thanks to a $39 a month unlimited account. We can learn as much as we can cram into our tiny little minds thanks to our local government capping the cost of education to the unemployed at $280 a year. We can also head off and study online at several open universities for free…anyone can, you just have to go a bit side left and look. Being penniless has made both Steve and I inventive, thoughtful and able to weigh up the value of what we buy now. I see it as a priceless life lesson rather than an inconvenience to our way of life. We now know how to do so many things ourselves simply because we couldn’t afford to pay for someone else to do them. The value of community is that the load is spread around. No-one has to be completely responsible for everything. The elderly are prized along with the newborn and everyone pulls their weight and gives in what they can forming a close bond and a real synergistic reality. The sum of the whole is most definately so much more than the individual componants of a community. It’s like the weight of a soul, a measurable quantitive thing but what is it? The weight of synergy…I was going to write something about permaculture being a prime example of synergy but after reading your comments I thought about it long and hard and realised that in communities there is hope. That’s the true value of community, the hope that spreading the load will enable the group as a whole to live better lives.

    • You are lucky, Narfie7! I had no idea there were online universities that are free. I’ll be looking for some of those. I love learning and have always regretted dropping out of my first year. It was a huge culture shock, moving from a working class family living in the country with lots of little kids to living in a big city with an upper middle class family with one grown up son. Lots of silverware at every meal, and while I knew how to cope with all that from my reading, it was so foreign! I was dreadfully homesick, over a thousand miles from my family, on a big island. I loved the Island, especially as I became familiar with it. And the sea . . . I was born not too far from the sea and lived on a smaller island (Texada) for a couple of my first years, so I think the sea is in my blood . . . add to that the fact that my mother’s maternal grandfather and that family all the way back to the Vikings were fishermen and seafarers . . . Oh, well, there I go again . . . digressing . . .

      As I was saying, I did want to go back to school, but the only time I could have afforded it, I put it off, thinking I’d be able to do it later. And then I couldn’t. A lovely woman I worked with for several years paid my tuition for a few first and second year classes and I did well, so that was exciting. I was able to manage the textbooks on my own. So you can see why I’m excited about exploring the online options. There is a Master’s degree I’m very interested in, through Atlantic University, but first I have to get that Bachelor’s. I wish our government was as enlightened as yours about subsidising education.

      You are so right; poverty is in large part a state of mind; if you live in the country it’s a lot easier, though. Hard to grow your own veggies for me; not my apartment and no space on our balcony for much in the way of plants; plus, it would make getting around out there difficult for my Mum. But when we were in the house, we had a lovely garden. When I find the photos, I’ll share them. I do use the library lots and Mum has the internet (as does my cousin); both are wireless, so I use Mum’s computer when possible, but otherwise my phone.

      I especially love that what you see in community is hope; so true! I’m quite introverted, as you know, but I do connect to people one-on-one; I’d love to live where I had good connections with my neighbours (and I’m pretty good at turning crabby neighbours into friends, so long as they don’t get drunk and aggressive). It would be nice to have a lot of trades going on instead of just going to a store and buying. And I do like to support local, so a community, to me, is a great way to do that, too.

  4. I look forward to reading any replies Linne, I unfortunately have no answers for this. For a week I have been trying to write a post on poverty and what we could possibly do about it but I keep coming up against “What’s the point, what CAN anyone do about it!!?” x

    • No worries, I know how it is . . .

      As to poverty, I saw your post on the grocery store foreclosed on by a bank.

      I think that publicising this sort of choice (bad publicity for idiots) along with some strong suggestions as to the other available choices (leading to good publicity if acted on) can make a difference. See my comment on that post. I didn’t get much computer time today, but I did think of arguments that should have swayed the bank. I think drafting a persuasive paper spelling all this out, then mailing/emailing it to any financial institution that can foreclose could start a small change. A blog or website where ideas can be shared world-wide could help. You can’t legislate attitudes, kindness, etc., but you can bring public pressure to bear so that behaviour changes. I use my Twitter account almost entirely for ‘political’ purposes; causes can go viral pretty quickly. A FaceBook account such as “Grow Food, Not Lawns” and the related GFNL pages for the UK, “grow organic foods, not lawns”, etc. but specifically addressing poverty, would do a lot of good.

      This is another site that will indirectly affect poverty for some:

      In the end, it’s a matter of consciousness, isn’t it? I’ve had a few positive nudges cross my path recently; online information and activism; a book by Spider and Jeanne Robinson called “The Stardance Trilogy”, etc.

      It’s easy to feel overwhelmed by all the negative press, events, fear and so on, but if we give in to it (or don’t recover fairly quickly), then people who are sociopathic will win.

      In general, I don’t believe that opposition is the best way to deal with bad attitudes and practises; I think we need a combination of public pressure and ‘rewards’ such as good press for people/companies who make positive changes.

      The post I re-blogged about the man who planted thousands of trees and other plants and created a huge forested nature preserve all by himself is a great example of what is possible.

      I think a solution will require thought, creativity, planning, action and commitment to creating change. Easy to say, of course, and maybe I’m stating the obvious, but it’s a starting point.

      The Blood:Water Mission, started by the band ‘Jars of Clay’ and also Pam Stahl’s donation of her incredible quilt to a raffle to raise money to provide a well for a village in Africa set us good examples. So does the priceless (literally) restaurant, ‘Soul Foundation’, started by Jon Bon Jovi (check it out on FaceBook).

      I’m sure I could come up with more, but it’s late here. It will be interesting to see your post . . .

      • Mmmm. I will think on these things. I totally agree with you and will read some of the things you have written here (not to make light of it but I adore Bon Jovi!!! – he started a restaurant where people just pay what the can afford didn’t he?)

        I truly believe that present revolutions will just grow in kind and that they need to, however unpleasant at the time they are necessary ways for the little guy to fight back en masse.

        Very easy to feel overwhelmed but I am up for anything really, whatever people come up with here will be interesting to see. Have never used Twitter, know little about it.

        I had thought I would email that bank and express my disgust, what the hell has happened to some of humanity?! Sheer greed and no compassion. Food for thought here – thank you 🙂

      • Yes, he did! And many of his customers pay more to help keep it going. I never paid him much attention before I heard of the restaurant (different genre to my usual stuff), but now I follow the restaurant on twitter and retweet the posts. So people who follow me are introduced to ‘New Business’.

      • I agree about revolutions, but I do think we are capable of more organic change; we just need (collectively) to grow up. It seems like there are two realities going on; one power-based, where people work to have more than others and to have power over them; the other where people are evolving, co-operating with each other and with the earth in new, healthier ways.

        I get caught up in being oppositional often, but am working on more positive thinking and acting. You’ll likely see both here for some time; growing isn’t as quick as I’d like, sometimes, anyway. 🙂

      • Yes, I see that too, the two different belief systems and yep agree with everything you say. We will grow as humanity over time, we are forever evolving and only time will bring about the changes needed. We all have to do what we can in our own little corners of the earth.

        We all have different areas of interest too and I enjoy reading what is important for others. We donate to a school breakfast program and take some of our extra garden food to a foodbank, many of our friends and family live in total ignorance of the need of others….prefer not to see…I sometimes think (for most) not until you experience certain things yourself do you have compassion for others living it.

      • It’s interesting to see how many ways humanity is developing, even as the news shows mostly ways in which we are ‘stuck’ or spiralling downward . . . You’re so right (meaning I agree with you LOL) that we need to do what’s ours in our own corners. That’s the idea behind my yeast analogy. We are all in the midst of various groups and have a chance to learn from them and to teach them. Sometimes it’s hard to tell which is which . . .

        I like what you do with your extra food. When I was living with an elderly aunt of one of my brothers-in-law, I had a small garden out back. Didn’t get much, but I did have a lot of zucchini . . . hard to keep those in check! Anyway, Chilliwack has a group that call themselves ‘the Gleaners’; they will come and pick up any excess produce and take it to a food bank or soup kitchen. They got my extra zuccs.

        I wonder if we go through various trying experiences so that we do learn compassion and patience . . .

      • I think maybe we do….I know even out of my worst experiences has come growth in some area for myself, even if it’s had to be putting myself back together correctly at times lol.

        I guess that’s why I search around on the net for different stories, if I stuck to television I would feel little hope but there are so many amazing people out there doing little things, great things, everyone of them mattering a good deal to those they help. And yes, we learn so much from others….so easy to get stuck in our own little mindsets without that. Still haven’t had time to read your links, however did join Bon Jovi’s on Facebook, I had no idea he did quite so much…now he isn’t just a pretty face with an awesome voice! What a great guy.

      • Oh, me, too! The putting back together bit, as well. I’ve been so lucky to come across so many inspiring sites; it’s very easy as you say to feel little hope if we only watch tv news. Have you read the “Homesteading on a One Dollar Dream” blog? How they got their house and then fixed it up is very heartwarming.

        Yeah, I saw Bon Jovi in a movie (Moonlight and Valentino) a while back and was more impressed than I’d expected. So not just a pretty face . . . not sure I’ve listened to his music; will have to check out some of it.

        But the best thing is the restaurant, in my opinion. Well, it was, ’til I found out about this: The Foundation’s motto is “Rebuilding pride in one’s self and one’s community – one soul at a time.”

        On the website, it says:
        “We thank you for your interest in our work in communities throughout the US. Our Mission is to combat issues that force families and individuals into economic despair. We invite you to join us in our fight against hunger and homelessness and support our desire to provide safe and affordable housing options in the communities in which we work. We are committed to rebuilding pride in one’s self and one’s community.
        Together, WE can make a difference…. One SOUL At A Time”

        Definitely a great guy!! Instead of whinging on about the difficulties of being famous, he’s put it to use . . .

      • Absolutely he has, that’s the one I joined, was very impressed that he does so much when it would be easy, like others in his position, to just get on enjoying what he has made of himself.
        No, I haven’t read that blog, that sounds like me…will have a look at it, thanks for that 🙂

      • You’re welcome! And I was thinking of others in his position or even better off, who just don’t seem to see what they could do with their fame and money (and I don’t mean they should just give it all away, either), so they end up hurting themselves and others. Wonder how I’d do in the same situation. Easy to judge, not so easy to pass the same test . . .

Thanks for stopping by my blog! I look forward to reading your comments. ~ Linne

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