The zoönomic annual cycle is an ongoing, structured learning process that Zoöps go through. Through this learning process, a Zoöp discovers step by step how to function symbiotically in the ecosystems it participates in.
The annual cycle works with five questions, which a Zoöp answers each year. They are variations of the basic questions any ecologist asks of an ecosystem or habitat. Who lives there? How are their habitats structured? How do they provide for each other’s livelihoods? Specific to Zoöp is that these questions are asked not only about the plants, animals, microbes and geological formations, but about all the bodies that make up a Zoöp. The buildings, fences, paths, tiles, lighting, water management, energy supply, suppliers, rules and contracts and so on are also viewed as participants in ecosystems.
By using the same word – bodies*- for all these different kinds of things present, it is easier to see that they are part of the same reality. Although all those bodies may have very different properties, they are related to each other in one big way. Bodies are always themselves composed of other bodies, and all participate in large bodies. In other words, in a Zoöp, all bodies are assumed to be collective bodies*.
The five questions of the annual cycle are:
- Identifying: which bodies make up the Zoöp?
- Sensing & listening: What are the lifeworlds of these bodies?
- Characterising: Do these bodies form degenerative, regenerative or neutral bodies?
- Focusing: which of the degenerative* relationships should we focus on, to turn them into regenerative* ones? Which ones are most urgent? Which ones can we work on effectively with our organisation? (on its own, or in collaboration with other organisations)
- Intervening: Where, when and how should we intervene in this degenerative relationship to change it into a regenerative one?
Question 1 – Identifying
What other-than-human life lives in or visits the Zoöp? Trees? Birds? Ground life? Insects?
What human artefacts form the structure of the Zoöp? Fences? Buildings? Roads? Underground infrastructure? Soil layers?What legal entities make up the Zoöp? Contracts and contracting parties? Owners/landlords? Tenants? Laws and municipal regulations? Fire regulations? What organisational bodies play a role? Governance? Production teams? Management? Communications team? What other human social clusters are relevant? It is important to note that it is impossible to answer this question completely. However, it is quite possible to see where to start – in other words, which bodies are important in the shape of the Zoöp. By following the annual cycle, the knowledge of a Zoöp deepens and refines each year.
Question 2 – Sensing & Listening
How do the bodies that make up the Zoöp perceive their world? What is their living world or Umwelt? What are their sensory capacities and what are the main signals they respond to and base their choices (if any) on? In other words, what do the bodies that form the Zoöp, note about their external worlds? Can they perceive each? Do they interact directly or indirectly? The human Zoöp participants learn to see their Zoöp from a whole range of other perspectives.
Question 3 – Characterising
Do these bodies form degenerative relationships, in which systematically some bodies benefit, and other bodies are harmed? Or do they form regenerative relationships, in which all bodies involved thrive? How do the different bodies act towards each other? Do they support, obstruct or ignore each other? This question involves aspects such as emissions, waste flows, light pollution, noise pollution, retaining or allowing water to flow through. For living bodies, it also involves questions related to housing/habitat, safety, food, the possibility of forming relationships and reproduction, and freedom of choice in this regard.
Answering this question constitutes a first critical diagnosis of the ecological integrity* of the Zoöp. This reveals the pain points in the organisation and its operational sphere, and also the pressure points: the aspects in which can be intervened to alleviate the pain points.
Question 4 – Focusing
Which of the (clusters of) degenerative relationships will we work on this year (and possibly longer) to transform them into regenerative relationships? Which ones are most urgent? Which ones can we deal with within our own organisational capacities? For which relationships do we need to collaborate? With what other parties? This will often involve some research.
Question 5: Intervening
To achieve the goals, specific interventions are planned in the doings of the Zoöp. Intervention is the process of actually making changes in the Zoöp’s spatial planning, management practices or relational fabric. Each year, a Zoöp will make several interventions to transform degenerative relationships into regenerative ones. By having mapped out which bodies have which types of relationships with each other, the range of possible choices for interventions becomes clear.
The Speaker for the Living helps the Zoöp go through these steps and assists the Zoöp with needed knowledge and expertise. A Zoöp is committed to multiple annual interventions, but is also committed to striving for greater ecological integrity in all its functioning.