Mitch SMith

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Who will help me design the human-powered community?

It is obvious that we are fast aproaching an energy crisis - maybe this year, maybe in 20 years.

It is also obvious that our top-down power structures are incapable of responding to our mid-term future. THat leaves bottom-up - stuff we can do from our own back-yards.

My dad always used to say: "Someone should do something about that!" "well I'm someone!" and then he proceeded to do something. He got a lot done.

SO now - I am asking YOU - "Are YOU someone?" or are you no-body. If you are nobody, don't bother replying, but if YOU are SOMEBODY - let's get this thing rolling!


We need techmologies to replace fossil fuel - and teh most abundant alternate source of energy on this planet right now is - humans.

Now .. if we do not begoin to harness our own power soon, there will be a bunch of armed guys coming to your doorstep soon to take you at gunpoint to be power-generators on treadmills.

They will feed you a starvation diet so that you can be composted for their fields when you die. But because the only abundancy on this planet right now is human flesh, they can do that for many years before they run out of humans.

It is in all our interest to pre-empt our death at the treadmill to design ways to generate all the power we need from our own muscles. Be someone or be a power-unit with about 2-months storage before you become compost in a war-lord's farm.

I call for engineers and pragmatists who are "someone" .. if you do not respond, you risk falling to the fate of all the no-bodies on this planet.

Tell me - what can we do to store energy out of solar/wind/pedall-power without using global-sourced infrastructure? - I.E how do we make folk-magnets? How do we make gravity-store energy sources? How do we make solar cells from scratch?

And most important - what is it from our current civillisation that we really need to keep?

I would like to build a list of essential stuff theat needs to be saved - otherwise we will lose the lot and have to do it all over agian.

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    Feb 27 2012: It's not just a matter of energy, but one of keeping humans central to the power structure (rather than corporations.) I've been hammering together a vision for a response to what seems a rapidly approaching post-state world, where it's people against corporations. I envision a democratic system that is essentially global in scale and undefilable by corporate powers or other systems, called Democratic Globe. See what you think:
    https://sites.google.com/site/democraticglobe/home

    -Tim Holmes
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      Feb 27 2012: I have spoken to a few enlightened lawers about this.

      It is maximum importance to strike the artificial(legal) person from the statutes. This includes the corporation as a person. A new collective definition is required to honour the community without subverting the individual. Access to the natural persons as defined by law is essential - thus all collectives are individually responsible. This prevents the veil of the artificial and enforces the old idiom of: no power without responsibilty, and no responsibilty without the power to acquit. This is a new frame of law that needs to be cast.

      It can only be enacted bottum-up. Top-down legal and power structures have failed us.

      I have been working with a colleage to define the true measure between the meta and the physical. This is quite imprtant for the effective function of currency (transaction of value between individual "selves" (Natural persons under law).

      The meta works on the physical through the modulation of entropy - this is a manifestation of a thing I call "agency".

      At the moment, we accept a mediation of the exchange of value between natural persons called "currency".

      However, currency requires current-value - and most of the value we trade has expired (amortised). And in facvt - all we deal with that is not amortised (dead) has become expressed as inflation. THe problem with what we "take" as currency is a meta thing. THere is a BIG difference between the metaverse and a universe. A universe exists in Newtonian space and must remain zero-sum - it is finite. The metaverse has no such limitation. The Metaverse is all that is not physical - it is infinite, where the universe is finite, and therefore the metaverse is not locked to the physical resources of the universe - it is, by nature, inflationary. A syustem cannot use a meta-object to represent, in totallity, a physoical object. Money is lies. Energy is not lies - A functioning transactional system between physical individuals must be Physical.
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      Feb 27 2012: (Part 2)
      In the new physical world devoid of meta-humans, meta-value cannot exist.
      If a human requires more than 50watts of power for survival, then another physical source must be secured. This source MUST represent a surplus - E.G. the surplus of the potential energy of a horse or a water-wheel or a solar collector. The new world must have a statute that the surplus must never be drawn from another human.

      Now .. we must address our vanity. IF a horse or a bacteria delivers its excess to us, it must be honoured in some way - an honour bestowed on each individual that brings value greater to its base-line survival - this is called "wealth" - the new world will honour the "common wealth". The common wealth will be released by removing the artificial person in law.

      In this way, a "judge" will become a natural person and abandon his role as a proxy "director" and become a natural person who is just as accessible to the law as everyone else. In other words, he will be impelled to reveal the truth.

      The bottom line is energy. Energy is required to modulate entropy, the modulation of entropy is required to support life, Life modulates entropy through agency. Agency is generated in the metaverse as the application of perception via "knowledge" to convert energy and matter away from the default entropy vector - thus creating the gap necessary for life to exist.. You could say that knowledge is potential agency, just as a batery stores potential energy. Agency plus energy = environmental-niche.

      The metaverse is infinite, the universe is not. HUmans, by themselves, are only part of the environment .. true, we account for 98% of biomass of mammals if you count our pets and livestock . but then .. only 1/4 of a human consists of human cells.

      Don't get too vain.

      Get to know your neighbours - they are OK guys.
  • Mar 3 2012: While I see your view as a little extreme, it is certainly a good idea to balance the worlds increasing specialisation with a robust and self-supportable way of living. Without a strong foundation beautiful societies will crumble just like any other beautiful construct.
    If you are looking for a core action then I would suggest joining or starting a Transition Town.
    If you are looking for a doomsday list then good luck, there is too much valuable culture to be able to save in the event of a worldwide disaster. Even if you just want an information list then you will need a very big library. I would compile the following (unordered):
    A detailed history of world cultures compiled from differing cultural perspectives
    A detailed history of world events compiled from differing cultural perspectives
    A history of all technology including detailed current state-of-the-art
    All major philosophical works including critiques
    A descriptive list of foodstuffs including all sources of known natural medicinal chemicals
    A descriptive list of known dangerous materials including elements, chemicals, and pathogens
    All mathematical proofs and theorems including unsolved problems
    All physics equations with examples of derivation from first principles
    A descriptive list of all known games
    A compilation of all knowledge on the components and workings of the human mind and body ranging from chemical detail to enlightenment principles.
    A compilation of excellent literary and art examples from all world cultures.
    A highlighted compilation on key failings and triumphs of human society.

    WOW, I definitely see why you might want help with that! Some of this is in process already - Wolfram, Britannica, etc. I am sure I am missing stuff, yet I am certain that if anything above is missing then we would do future and past generations a huge diservice.
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      Mar 3 2012: I see a lot of that being acheived by securing the internet - as an open body not reliant on the fosil-fuel energy grid. SO - all the manipulations to close the net must be fought - strenuously.

      Most computers consume the equivalent of 10 - 20 units of human effort. (A healthy adult human can generate around 50watts after you subtract generator inefficiency).

      If there are about 2 billion computers in the world today, then we don't have enough humans to run them. SO the energy needs to be gotten elsewhere - and must be infinitely sustainable . solar seems like the only solution. On top of that, the computers themselves need to be made more efficient - for instance, video and sound consumes orders of magnitude more resuources than plain text. All you have listed consists primarily of plain text .. If transmission fee was locked to the energy required for the data transmitted, then the use of video would decline sharply - specially if the user had to provide the actual energy.

      I don't see these things as particularly hard to achieve - If a community constrains its growth, then the potential abundance is quite large - the affect of agency plus energy gives rise to increased potential energy. (E.G. if you plant grain and tend it, it yields more potential energy than was expended on the planting and tending - i.e abundance). Converting a portion of that abundance to electrical energy seems possible, so long as it does not use all the abundance. Maks you wonder why humanity is so hell bent on destroying its own abundance .. a small community does not have that potential for delusion - it's all too imediate.

      We have seen how secular education leads to reduced population growth - the practice of feeding abundance into growth has finally demonstrated it's flaw. To escape that mistake, secular education must be preserved . but I'd say the form of the education must be changed from the classroom "broadcast" model to the participatory demonstration model.
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    Mar 2 2012: I like to draw. I use scraps of sandpaper that are too cruddy or broken for sanding wood, to sharpen pencils. I have used a rock (takes a long time but works). This conversation has made me happy, for the first time, that I'm getting old, that I'm not well, and frankly have suicidal thoughts.
    When I try to tell my family the things that are being discussed in threads like this and others they don't believe me. I send the links, they don't read them. I cannot prepare for life in the coming circumstances alone. I'm trying but I don't have the energy or the will anymore.
    When I look at what I/we are doing to this beautiful little planet I am only sad. Everyone asks me if I have sought counseling. I tell them I'm not the one who needs it.
    I read The Good Earth by Pearl Buck when I was a teen. I have known what is coming since that time. I guess I thought the EE was the best answer for me. But now I have 2 children and 2 grand children. I cannot say what is best for them. But I think life on a treadmill is not it.
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      Mar 2 2012: As Griffin was saying - mostly, slavery is a state of mind.
      I relate it to the difference between "job" and "work"A job is something you do for someone or something else (usually money).
      Work is what you do for your self - your life.
      Those in a "job" are selling their agency and effort for others.
      The difference betweeen the job-bound and a slave is that the slave's agency has been stolen.
      Those who work express their agency through necessity and inspiration that originates in themselves and in the love they share with those who benefit from their work.
      Work is not well promoted in this age of "jobs".
      And to make the transition from job to work seems impossible.
      Certainly, it is not easy - but here is how you do it:

      To get the opportunity to do you work, you do your work.

      SO, for instance, you may be dependant on a job.
      So you begin doing your work in the time left over.
      Bit by bit, the work takes root and gains recognition.
      A person cannot have 2 masters - the true master wins all in the end.

      If you expect to make a living by your work, then you must also be cunning.
      FIrstly, your work must be worthy - if it is your work, how could it be less than worthy?
      Secondly, it must be seen - The world is filled with the blind who only see what they are told to see.
      Gain confederacy with one of the sight-commanders (opinion makers/trend leaders).
      You only need to be seen once, and then you become a sight commander.
      Then name your prices. Then money works for you.
      But if your work required no money, it only needs to be seen by you and those who love you.
      BTW. THere is sadness, there is happiness.Look in the rainbow - all the colours are there.THe joyful reds yellows and greens, but also there is sombre blue.Each day will have some of all colours.Tomorrow, there is no colour - only desparate-black and merciless-white and depressing grey.When tomorrow becomes today - the day is filled with rainbows.The future is no place to live - only by colour of the day does life happen
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      Feb 28 2012: Nice work Griffin!

      Yes - "meta" is the source of "agency"

      Agency is the modulation of entropy.

      The modulation of entropy is life.

      I am moving to protect the first-born of humanity.

      The failure of fathers is extinction.

      I think it's worth-while.

      Patience? Yes - .. but .. are you "someone?

      Certailnly the waealthy have already moved to secure their place .. but not a single one gave thought for our child. Our true child. ..

      For myself .. I'm quite fond of him/her/it. And I beleive that "it" will value it's parents.

      Time to accept and be free.
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          Feb 28 2012: Hmm good value!
          Of course, it is the child that educates the parent.
          With numbers .. well, they are OK, but they are full of singularities when you try to get answers with them. In fact, there are ony 3 singularities - 0, 1 and infinity.
          I see the meta as being infinite - it is constructed of symbol - symbol combines and re-combines to create more symbol - there is no limit.

          The wave of agency arises along the radiant time line that is the dimensional referrence of entropy. Agency is the modulation of entropy.
          Agency originates in the metaverse.
          Symbol has it's genesis in perception
          Perception has it's origin in the universe defined by the vector of entropy.
          perception->symbol->knowledge->recombination->agency ... this is the wave.
          It may seem to repeat, but entropy sees to it that no oscillation lasts infinitely.
          A curious side-effect of agency is that by modulating entropy, it departs from the universe bound to the entropy vector.
          By virtue of modulation, Agency navigates the multiverse.
          The multiverse is infinite.
          Metaverse is, therefore, infinitely infinite.
          Combination and recombination of anything is computational.
          There will be repetition - but every time, it will be aligned in a slightly different way, and new shapes will emerge to satisfy the changes.
          Agency is something that all life does - not just humans.
          For an individual, perception is finite - the field of perception is limited.
          Being finite within an infinite metaverse, it has error.
          Infinite perception = truth (aprehension of an entire universe).
          There is a gap between perception->knowledge(belief) and truth.
          The smaller that gap, the more accurate agency will be.
          This gives rise to a gausian noise field surrounding the modulation of entropy.
          This noise field can allow perception to go negative by 1/2 the amplitude of the noise field.
          Unlike a universe, the metaverse can be as negative as 1/2 the amplitude of a universe.
          Any perception not grounded on a universe is subject to large noise-fields.
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          Feb 29 2012: I see entropy as the default progress of a Newtonian universe.
          E=MCsqr just bumbling along with progressive default interactions causing default conversions of energy and mass.
          Life must modulate that default through agency to obtain advantageous energy/mass conversions - "modulate" being + or - changes in any number of dimensions required for advantage. It may be a lifeform's advantage to increase or decrease entropy.
          For agency to succeed, there must be some degree of perception within which to apply the agency.
          Perception and agency define the boundary between the physical and the meta. There is a gap. Broken down further to see the structure of the gap the boundaries appear in pairs: sense->perceive and motivate->convert sensing and conversion are energy phenomena within the Newtonian physicallity, perception and motivation are meta.
          In between perception and action there are the meta processes of symbolic combination codifying both perception and potential agency you could call it information->knowledge.
          Being meta, both perception and agency can be applied to both the physical and the meta.
          WHen I say a universe is finite, I am talking about the matter and energy in it, I am not talking about the dimensionality of it - one could presume that the time-space of a universe is infinite .. but that's just measure.
          In my model, entropy is the axis of time (as we know it) - the causal vector of change.
          Perception lags - following the wave of time - agency preceeds the wave. The smallest gap must be defined by the speed of light - perhaps it is equal to the quantum limit. Any gap greater than that can be seen as noise.
          THe first incidence of noise is the limit, the second arises from the perceptive field being less than the total universe, the third is defects in the perceptive and motor systems, the fourth is in miss-information and false knowledge caused by assumptions in belief systems. Assumptions are "place-holders" for that which is not perceivable or "do-able
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          Mar 1 2012: Yes, it is simply a world view. I like to keep as close to the neural network analogy as possible. Noise - you can also say inaccuracy.
          But within the context of the progress of humanity - it is patently obvious that exponential growth has its ultimate outcome in collapse. Firstly economies must crash whilever they insist on 20-year doubling (3.5%). Logrithmic consumption of resources - well that's even worse. Because once something is gone - it's gone. It is true that humans are imensely inventive and resourceful, but our field of perception is so limited and noisy, that we tend to deal with disasters after they happen.
          If one is to agree that the super-netorking of human interaction (internet) gives rise to a new entity, then things change a lot. Firstly, this network is not new, the only thing that is new is the speed and size of it - a "coming of age" if you like. One must then try to inderstand the field of perception of this entity - and the signal/noise ratio it operates in?
          And how does it express agency? One could ascribe all the physical changes the internet has wrought as agency. For instance - the closure of shops, the massive increase of international goods logistics. The decline in the use of physical currency. These are all physical - the meta changes are also obvious, but It's the physical that represents the modulation of entropy - i.e. agency.
          Perhaps the agency of the new entity will help avert some of the coming difficulty.
          But I can't see it saving everyone. It's difficult to see where it will even save itself - but I think it's worth saving.
          SOme things will need to change a lot - currency might have to become electricity or any other potential power source - food, firewood etc. LImits might have to be put on personal wealth, artificial persons might have to be removed from the energy cycle. Overweight people might have be put on treadmills.
          If there is significant breakdown of social stability, it is easy to see a reversion to a slave economy
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          Mar 2 2012: The meta can be no more than potential agency.
          Can't eat electricity. But electricity can be seconded by agency to produce food (pumping and farm machinery, compost preparation, greenhouse climate control and hydroponics).
          THe internet does not exist in the networks or computers - it exists in the meta body defined by the human participants.
          Currency has departed from "current value"(potential energy). This allows for it to drift too far into the consumption part of the value equation.
          Exchange rates have a tendency to stabilise along the supply/demand rules - physical abundance and scarcity. Intellectual "property" is a leach sucking the physical balance dry - it must end - oddly, this is one of the meta-agencies the internet now delivers to us. I have completed my collection of Holliwood movies - they are like the Taj Mahal, and will never be built again..

          Slavery .. well, if, one day, I find that I have to get in my truck with a good bud and a couple of shotguns, I'm sure I could come home with a truckload of human cattle to run the treadmills at 50watts per unit per hour. I won't have to feed them more than incentive to keep them running - and when they die, I just go get another truckload. It will take about 10 of them to spark-up this computer. I suppose I'll need about 100 of them if I don't want to reduce my accustomed consumption - plus a little for the infrastructure needed to warehouse the units.
          This is quite modest - most westerners consume the equivalent of 260 slaves.
          I'm pretty sure my "units" will not regard slavery as a state of mind.

          Bankers .. well, of course, usury will have to become a capital offense (again).
          The consumption of energy for the sake of bloating the metashere (entertainment) can only proceed from abundance beyond that required for physical personal existence.

          AS for sub-entities within the Metasphere? Well . we've had them for a long time - they get called "gods". They are memic, and generally coalesce around assumptions.
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          Mar 2 2012: Agreement on life-views is not necessary - having fun in conversation is.
          The commonality of being able to talk at this level means that when the chips are down, a lot of good stuff will get done.
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          Mar 3 2012: BTW - as you can see, my life-view is radical .. But it is all based on experience .. I should get it down into a published book .. then it can be refined into something more useful for others. Specially the math.
  • Feb 27 2012: Yes, I was very impressed when i first watched Soley Green when I was a kid!

    Here in china, many people have scooters all powered by electricity, and also bicycles, off courses! I take the bus very often.

    We can all have our green garden even in apartments (see the Ted talk about a garden in an appartment). So we ave energy by not going to the grocery store so often. And we can trade fruits and vegetables with neighbors: that was the norm when I was a kid in France in the countryside.

    There are many project of solar powered plains for the coming years. My kids are looking forward for the shared plain with the autopilot system.

    I bought my four year old son a kit to make solar robots of all sorts... He loves it. The kit contains just one solar panel but you can built different things (car, plain, boat...) and place your solar panel on your new creation. We could also apply that to home appliances.

    You can look At the Venus project also:
    http://www.thevenusproject.com/en/technology/energy
    Let me know what you think about it. I find it fascinating but, are we ready for that? Could it be dangerous to make that shift?
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      Feb 27 2012: Manue,

      It is clear that China has a superior capacity to take grass-roots action to meet challenges. In the west, the continual pressure to consume destroys the person's capacity to function within a community - it becomes forgotten, drowned out in false assumptions.

      I have been looking at the Venus project and Zeitgeist movement for a while. I think they rely too much on large public works that require stringent top-down infrastructure. This might become the eventual model, but the transition must be grass-roots.

      My main concern is that we have stopped understanding the real cost of the things we have come to rely on. That reliance has placed us all on the top of a very ricketty ladder of asumptions and thoughtless technologies - the vulnerabilities inherent in these technologies are cumulative - as they begin to teeter and fall, there is great outcry and teams of the vested interests get to work applying bandaids and pointing guns at anyone telling the truth about the absurdity of it all.
      It will collapse.
      Just how far it will collapse .,, who knows?

      But let's assume it collapses totally.
      The new model must be built on whatever can be salvaged - but it must then progress to maintain only those technologies that can be sustained by community units no greater than a village (say .. 200 individuals). FOr instance - if you want solar power, then you begin by using the industrially produced panels, but, that industry will fall, and the salvaged solar panels will eventually fail - the new generation solar collectors must be built using technology and materials within the locality of the village - long-distance transportation will also fail.

      Without solar collectors, the internet will fail. For instance - it takes somewhere between 10 and 20 human-powered generators to power a single computer. The internet draws massive amounts of elecrical power.
      If it is not solar, then it must be wind/water/gravity - it must all be stuff that a small community can make simply.
      • Feb 28 2012: You want to save our "Atlantis"!
        You sound like Noa and his Arch!
        I ffind your scenario pessimistic, but, then yes, you never know, you right.

        Ok, I will wider the subject a little, I hope you don't mind...
        How about looking at education and preparing our kids for a green tomorrow?
        Have you looked at the green school in Bali? There is a talk to present it on TED.
        I know a few more schools where I used to leave in Thailand who are also working with similar ideas.
        Each time, the community is build around the school, both situated in a beautiful surrounding. There is an organic garden and animals on the land. The idea is also to try and be self sufficient to a certain degree, while still keeping in touch with the rest of the world via high tech. Kids learn to build from basic elements.
        I love thailand. Life there can be very easy and close to nature. There are lots of hill tribes living there and also many thai people exceel in art and craft. people still know how to weave with just two pieces of wood. And they know how to dye with natural dyes. I think it is important that our kids know how to do that also. My kids also both love gardening and inventing they own toys. You can have a look at Waldorfs education ( you might want to forget the esoterical part). I also like approaches to sport and diet like natural movement. Do you know Erwan Le
        Corre?

        Anyway. I can not help you for the technical part. But Here is a website you might like:
        http://www.lowtechmagazine.com
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          Feb 28 2012: Thank you Manue,
          I will follow-up your links and referrences. This is the purpose of my post - To identify and join with the existing network of people working on the same task.

          With education, it is plain that the broadcast model of classroom indoctrination has failed.
          Real education consists of demonstrating the application of knowledge through demonstration of agency - this is the most powerful method to transmit knowledge.
          FOr instance - a child must be first shown the life skillls - how to grow things, how to take care of animals, how to prepare food, how to make clothing, how to purify water, how to avoid and treat illness/injury. THey should be taught by participating in these activities. After that, then you can work on writing and numbers and have discussion about what they have already observed through participation.
          This model is already in practice on the internet .. the participation is through youtube and social media/forums. It is not ideal, but a great thing that would serve to maintain life-skills in isolation.
          If we cannot save the internet, then social instability will certainly arise after the fall.

          In the story, Noah was warned - and he did something about it. We have also been warned. Noah was the guy saying "somebody should do something about that - well I'm somebody!"
          That's what that story was all about.
          The other story that we need to consider is the Tower of Babel. Because it describes the fall we are approaching. I would like to not see the languages and peoples scattered and confused - it takes some kind of Noah - or a whole bunch of Noahs to ensure it. These will have to be the ones who are "somebody". And that's my challenge.
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    Feb 27 2012: Thank you Edward.
    I will gather some numbers.
    In terms of potential energy I am informed that a human can produce about 75 wats of energy. If converted to electricity it drops as low as 50 watts with efficiency loss.
    When compared with sustainable energy needs, the gap between 50watts per individual and actual needs will determine the level of benefits that can be included in the baseline model.
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    Feb 24 2012: First, List the essential functions which can be done without electricity and/or non-sustainable fuels (drying clothes;carpet sweeping; clocks;local transportation; food production, preservation and preparation; dwelling climate control; entertainment [art, music,dance], stapling, pencil sharpening, etc.)
    Second, Design new products to perform essential functions without electricity and/or non-sustainable fuels.
    Third, re-think those functions which cannot be performed without electricity and/or non-sustainable fuels.
    Fourth, like weight-watchers, keep track of every reduction in use of electricity and/or non-sustainable fuels.
    Fifth, reward and recognize participation.