by Jim Drescher
This is a quick sketch of a process developed at Windhorse Farm over the past decade or so.
The “Five Filters Analytical Process for Decision Making” is a fancy name for a common sense technique. In working through this process, we ask questions relevant to each of five filters (ecological, social, economic, cultural, and magical). Although this can be a subtle and complex enquiry, a few basic questions can be asked quite simply. The following are examples drawn from a much more extensive list. The details will depend on the specific proposal being considered.
1.Ecological Filter: Will this proposed activity cause harm to the non-human beings in this place or elsewhere? Is there tangible enrichment of the lives of other beings?
2.Social Filter: Will this proposal contribute to community harmony, or to its opposites --- divisiveness, animosity, and territoriality?
3.Economic Filter: Will this proposal tend to build economic stability for this community or will it pose undue hardships or financial risks that are likely to destabilize the local economy?
4.Cultural Filter: Can we expect an increase in kindness, compassion, and wakefulness among the humans involved? Alternatively, do we see risk of an increase in covetousness, aggression, and ignorance?
5.Magical Filter: Will the human beings here be more connected to the peacefulness, as well as the hair-on-end zing, of forest energy, experiencing each tree and rock as alive and distinct, or will they tend to be isolated, dulled out and cut off from that “direct knowing” or “non-conceptual” experience of forest mind?
Going through this process in community, we sit in circle, each person having as much time to speak as necessary, everyone else listening as deeply as possible (and all the other circle practice etiquette). Often there are very different initial opinions about expected effects and therefore what should or should not be done. It is important to get them all into the centre. This is best done by consensus, or an agreed-upon modified consensus. We never have encountered a situation where we were unable to reach consensus; sometimes it takes a while. As you can imagine, we learn a lot about the subject, the filters, and each other.
Each filter has “veto power”. For a proposal to go ahead, the expected results for every filter must be positive or neutral.