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The STIR loop

Global issues, local solutions, global application
Redefinition of our system’s complexity: holistic, governance, technological and social innovation for sustainable human progress.

This documentary of Rebecca Hosking about the “farm for tomorrow” is a well worked out case and example of one of the challenges we face now and the coming decades: food and energy. This we call a “global issue” that needs local solutions. But there is more…

Food and energy is key but there is more. Air quality, climate change, pollution, migrations, rising sea levels, poverty, water shortages, etc. I refer to these as “global issues, local solutions, global application” as a transformative process.

Unprecedented complexity
(Introducing the Eindhoven precedent with sustainocratic ventures)
If we want to do something about it we face challenges that are unprecedented in human history. The documentary of Hostings is quite clear about this. Knowing this what can we do? Ms Hosking may have an idea on how to deal with it on her own territory. She can make her own choices. But how do we transform a country full of cities, people, culture, politics, economics, expectations, opinions and relationships? Even the most powerful, selfaware business, government or religious leaders tend to find themselves trapped in a system’s-culture. It takes a certain mentality to take on the challenge, another to avoid it. In any case, it involves us all.

But how do we solve the riddle? My own contribution is called “Sustainocracy”. As part of that I present the practical “STIR loop”. Let us go through it in a few steps.

Understanding where we come from and its shortcomings.
Look at this picture. This is how we have seen our reality for a long time. Our surrounding national systems provided us jobs, healthcare and other securities.

Systemleaders are blindfolded to reality

System’s leaders operate from their own perception of reality

The current national systems are mostly based on a culture of economies of growth, consumption and consequence solving. Inside the system we find a tremendous fragmentation of interests based on economic relationships. Business, government, science, population, etc all interact through an economy of mutual interdependence. “Nature” plays no significant role. Economic growth, efficiencies, relationships, protecting self interests through globalization are the key instruments. Humankind has never experienced a larger growth in population ever before in history. Many individual people experience a level of wellness and life expectancy that is equally unprecedented. It is mentally extremely difficult to place this all in the temporary context of a small time frame of several generations referred to as “the oil-people”. Most disturbing is that we, the current adult population, are probably the last of that unique group of generations. Our children and grandchildren will have to deal with change much more and intense than we. The more we can anticipate today the better.

What is the reality that we have neglected?

The human systems develop within the limited confinement of planet Earth within the universal laws of harmonic natural progress

The human systems develop within the limited confinement of planet Earth within the universal laws of harmonic natural progress

When we become aware of the huge unbalance between system’s dominance and universal natural leadership realities we need to “transform”. This means that we need to (voluntarily) let go of one system to co-create a new one that better serves our sustainable progress as a species.

But how can we transform when all human dependencies and securities seem to be firmly anchored inside the system? Within the fragments the issues that arise may be addressed as good as they can. But it is not just the fragment that causes the problem, it is the way the fragments relate to each other to form a destructive whole for humankind, while it was perceived and experienced as very constructive before. The current system’s executives trust they can get that back by applying the same measures that caused the problems in the first place. We are now even in the hands of speculative materialists that have dangerously changed from globalization of volume productivity and marketing into keeping shortages for inflation, debt exposure of the needed with control over the limited resources and those who get access.

One of the options individual people choose is to step out of the old system and start a new one of their own, facing problems and challenges like Ms. Hosking does in the documentary.

The STIR loop

The application of the STIR loop is relevant to complex transformations of entire communities. In 5 steps it can clean up systems, making them sustainable in progress again. The key is that every relevant person and institution needs to be involved. The whole loop is focused on the quality of sustainable life in a particular territory (a city, a province, an island, an autonomic region, etc.)

The 5 steps to get back into productive balance
Sustainocracy describes the process of taking multidisciplinary responsibility locally around global issues. This can only be done in a particular way:

Step 1: Awareness
In the picture I have drawn the two systems (local human dominance and leading universal natural responsibilities) next to each other. I place the human being in between, with active selfaware citizenship and productivity as choices between both systems. The human system has human hierarchical leadership, fragmented structures, relations based on money and transactions, etc.

Awareness means that we manage to place the human system as instrumental, not dominant in our human evolution

Awareness means that we manage to position the human system as instrumental, not dominant for our human evolution

As human beings we ARE nature. Everything we do that affects our environment negatively reflects in our natural systems of life. We show growing health problems that affect us much deeper than medically and scientifically (human system dependent) acknowledged. At one time I even wrote about the genetic anthropocene (the unprecedented damage we cause inside our genetic structures with lasting consequences). So it is not just food we need to take responsibility for. It goes much further.

When aware we face the tension between the old system and the new one we need to develop

Step 2: Choice of priorities
Within the context of global issues, such as food, water, health, security, self sufficiency or awareness, it is imperative to find local self supporting solutions. Rising seawater, food shortages, pollution, migrations, climate changes, dense populations, fossil energy disappearance, etc give rise to important local catastrophes, caused by globalized human systems, the local demographical situation, nature itself or a combination of all three. There is no generalized priority. Every territory has its own unique combination of threats. The local awareness has to have led to a generalized consensus “that something needs to be done urgently” and “we need to do this together”. This opens up for the initiation of the loop:

The need for action has to be acknowledged as well as the impotence of the fragmented parts to do this "alone".

The need for action has to be acknowledged as well as the impotence of the fragmented parts to do this “alone”.

In Eindhoven (Holland) by experimental persistence and chance I arrived at “air quality, public health, regional dynamics” in 2010. A financial threat from the European Union (air pollution norms) got the local government to open up to new experimental formats. AiREAS became the first precedent world wide of Sustainocracy. In other places around the world different priority choices can be made, not necessarily air pollution, in any combination of the key issues of sustainable human progress (health, safety, self sufficiency, awareness and food).

Step 3: Establish the Sustainocratic commitment within the system of nature.
The essence of this step is to take the priority outside the human system, away from politics, economics, justice, etc. into the area of natural responsibilities. It is the start of the loop. The only representative of both systems is the natural evolutionary human being. So it’s the biological human creature that invites the powerful instruments to unite in a multidisciplinary way. This inviting person is the Sustainocrat, a key independent player. It is referred to as “the world upside down” for the participants. They are forced to reason through the views of the paradigm of nature, harmony and change.

The group consists of the Sustainocrat, local citizens, leaders from science, business and local governance (see picture below). The group concentrates on all aspects of addressing the chosen issue:

  • Why are we starting the loop
  • Create a vision for change (dot on the horizon related to Sustainable Human Progress)
  • Initiate the stip-step process
  • Apply innovation (Social, technological and structural)
  • Develop the knowledge that can be implemented elsewhere
  • Contain the unique values for the stepping back process
Top down and bottom up processes come together in AiREAS "Healthy city"

Top down and bottom up processes come together in AiREAS “Healthy city”

Step 4:  the loop back
While dealing with the system from “outside” all the blocking bottlenecks and impediments become visible with each of the partner’s normal functioning as well as in their system’s imposed relationships.

The values that are co-created outside the system can be expanded again within. But also the many handicaps can be addressed and resolved in a documented, argumented and programmed manner.

The expansion of new unique values have an important economic potential that can be used to keep the loop going for as long as it is needed. In fact the loop itself becomes a competitive added value of a region and its local partners that make it happen. The values are always locally proven and then presented for world wide application.

Global issues thus have changed from a tremendous unsolvable problem into a local challenge and global opportunity. Local loops may seemingly get to compete with each other in the world wide context but always deliver uniqueness because of the diversity of local situations that each will have to deal with. Uniformity in the problem does not mean that uniformity will ever be found in the solution.

The loop back is significant as a transformative economy of change but also confrontational with the old system

The loop back is significant as a transformative economy of change but also confrontational with the old system

Step 5: local consolidation
For the partners this 5th step is perhaps the second most difficult phase, after the letting go phase of step 1. Consolidation means that adjustments described in step 4 need to find their way into the old system, change it up to a new workable situation. The process is well received in the relevant parties that are still part of the progress. Those that need to be phased out, or were part of particular context and loose that context in the new setting, will of course oppose. In some cases they are powerful conservative blockages that avoid no means to keep their interests alive.

It takes guts and leadership to do the mayor cleaning up. At least the STIR loop backs the leadership with powerful instruments and indisputable reasons to do what needs to be done.

Solutions are at hand. They have been described AND put into practice with early precedents. They are a new instrument in those areas where change is key but too complex to be dealt with in the traditional way. The STIR loop then become a powerful method to make change happen, gain support for it first as an experiment and assure that the right steps are taken afterwards. During the start of the loop “nature” leads, the return is in human leadership hands bringing it back into the practical human reality.

The STIR loop is educated through the STIR Academy and associated partners.

Jean-Paul Close


  1. […] authority within the system and use their position to provoke changes that are being caused by introducing the “STIR loop”.  The leadership of STIR is not personal but driven by the global issues of the times we live in […]

  2. […] The process has been given a new age educational name, the STIR loop. This tells about the loop directed out of the ruling system’s complexity to develop a […]

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