...and speaking of trees: bonsai forests!

Last night I was in the kitchen, cooking up some radicchio for dinner* (Liver loves those bitter chicories!) and listening to "Marketplace" on NPR. I don't know why, I sort of hate NPR and Capitalism, but I have a soft spot for "Marketplace." Maybe it's because they talk about international events and ecological issues through the lens of macroeconomics; I guess it's nice that they're not pretending that that's what the news is mostly really about. (And last night they really won me over by using New Order and Siouxie for their interstitial music.) Anyway, this show inclulded a commentator, Charles Handy, talking about the obsession businesses have with growth. He argued that many organizations (schools, orchestras) get to the size they should be, and then just try to do what they do BETTER, not bigger; and that there's a sort of natural limit to the size an organization can be before it doesn't feel appropriately scaled to the humans working in it (I'm very strongly paraphrasing here). The part I really liked was this: "An executive in the project I am working on at the Drucker School in Claremont, California calls the business he created a "bonsai" organization, after those small Japanese trees. These trees need to be trimmed and reshaped, but they don't grow beyond their ordained size. So it is, he says with his organization, and if you really have to be bigger, then maybe the challenge is to create woods of bonsai trees. This way, the economies of scale and the personal ambitions of our leaders won't run up against the constraints of human nature, because if we aren't careful, organizations can become the prisons for our souls." (full text is at http://marketplace.publicradio.org/display/web/2008/02/25/bonsai_business/) Acupuncture clinics are sort of unlike mainstream businesses in that we really need to remain human-scaled. CAN seems to me to be the kind of bonsai forest this fellow describes: each clinic human-scaled and locally-rooted, but connected to other similar organizations for support. *Preheat the oven to about 400 degrees. While it's heating, brown about 2T of butter in a pan, and slice a few small heads of radicchio vertically through the center, into sixths or so (trim the very bottom off first) and put them in a baking dish or tray. When the butter is slightly browned, pour it over the radicchio, and toss a few tablespoons of balsamic vinegar into the still-hot pan to reduce for a sec. When that's done, pour that over the radicchio as well, toss it all together, and roast it in the oven, turning a few times till it's tender (about 20 minutes or so). If you really want to gild the lily, crumble some blue cheese over it, or some hard grating cheese, parmesean or romano; and if you don't do dairy at all you could make it with olive oil instead of butter. Delish with polenta.

This story was posted on February 26 2008 by Nora.
Tags: economics

Comments

  • February 26 2008 at 6:17 PM
    Nora writes:

    ...and speaking of trees: bonsai forests!

    Last night I was in the kitchen, cooking up some radicchio for
    dinner* (Liver loves those bitter chicories!) and listening to
    “Marketplace” on NPR. I don’t know why, I sort of hate NPR and
    Capitalism, but I have a soft spot for “Marketplace.” Maybe it’s
    because they talk about international events and ecological issues
    through the lens of macroeconomics; I guess it’s nice that they’re not
    pretending that that’s what the news is mostly really about. (And last
    night they really won me over by using New Order and Siouxie for their
    interstitial music.) Anyway, this show inclulded a commentator, Charles
    Handy, talking about the obsession businesses have with growth. He
    argued that many organizations (schools, orchestras) get to the size
    they should be, and then just try to do what they do BETTER, not
    bigger; and that there’s a sort of natural limit to the size an
    organization can be before it doesn’t feel appropriately scaled to the
    humans working in it (I’m very strongly paraphrasing here). The part I
    really liked was this: <!—break—>

    “An executive in the project I am working on at the Drucker School in
    Claremont, California calls the business he created a “bonsai”
    organization, after those small Japanese trees. These trees need to be
    trimmed and reshaped, but they don’t grow beyond their ordained size.
    So it is, he says with his organization, and if you really have to be
    bigger, then maybe the challenge is to create woods of bonsai trees.
    This way, the economies of scale and the personal ambitions of our
    leaders won’t run up against the constraints of human nature, because
    if we aren’t careful, organizations can become the prisons for our
    souls.” (full text is at http://marketplace.publicradio.org/display/web/2008/02/25/bonsai_busines…)

    Acupuncture clinics are sort of unlike mainstream businesses in that
    we really need to remain human-scaled. CAN seems to me to be the kind
    of bonsai forest this fellow describes: each clinic
    human-scaled and locally-rooted, but connected to other similar
    organizations for support.

     

    *Preheat the oven to about 400 degrees. While it’s heating, brown
    about 2T of butter in a pan, and slice a few small heads of radicchio
    vertically through the center, into sixths or so (trim the very bottom
    off first) and put them in a baking dish or tray. When the butter is
    slightly browned, pour it over the radicchio, and toss a few
    tablespoons of balsamic vinegar into the still-hot pan to reduce for a
    sec. When that’s done, pour that over the radicchio as well, toss it
    all together, and roast it in the oven, turning a few times till it’s
    tender (about 20 minutes or so). If you really want to gild the lily,
    crumble some blue cheese over it, or some hard grating cheese,
    parmesean or romano; and if you don’t do dairy at all you could make it
    with olive oil instead of butter. Delish with polenta.

      0 likes
  • February 26 2008 at 6:26 PM
    lumiel writes:

    Tying the last 2 blogs together

    ...and mostly because of Nora, I’ve started listening to Democracy Now.  Just after reading the last post by Blythe, I began wondering if Nora and I should nudge her over to the children’s bookpile and recommend that she begin collecting the Frances books (the girl badger).  I would also add Frog and Toad (if you can still find them), Sylvester and the (Magic?) Pebble, the E.E.Milne Pooh book, the Wind in the Willows….Velveteen Rabbit….I’ll bet the rest of you have favorites to recommend. There’s a whole bunch of new ones I know nothing about, but I must confess that if I hadn’t had children, I would have missed the great writing and art of children’s literature that really speaks to the heart.   Maybe Blythe could ask for them on Freecycle.  I started reading to my first one before she was born, and perhaps that’s partly why she is so unusual.

     What a delicious-sounding recipe.  Now if only I had time to cook.

    Lumiel

      0 likes
  • February 26 2008 at 6:30 PM
    Nora writes:

    Sorry for the redundancy

    Sorry for the redundancy gang; I’m a little feverish today and having a hard time with the new formatting!

      0 likes
  • February 26 2008 at 9:18 PM
    Guest writes:

    as i was reading this post

    as i was reading this post and amening its content, i was at the same time wondering, “hmm…i wonder how that radicchio was cooked?”.  sounds like a good recipe. npr is also great for searching out old interviews, i just listened to one with leonard cohen that was REALLY good.

    hip hip!.........

      0 likes
  • February 27 2008 at 2:04 AM
    itayneta writes:

    I loved that nor piece, too!

    I tend to listen to npr whenever I’m in the car since the music on the radio these days leaves a bit to be desired (if you can actually get any between the commercials). That bonsai piece really resonated with me. Especially since I’ve thought for a while now that people are not meant to live so closely together and in such large groups. Large groups tend to bring out the worst in people (long lines, traffic, soccer fan violence, riots…) whereas small groups often bring out the best. (stopping to help someone in need when you know that there’s no one else around who would do it).

    One of my favorite things about being an acupx is being my own boss. Having been employed for a few years beforehand, I know what he means by “groups of more than 10 or 12 tend to lead to bureaucracy.” And who likes that?

    Small businesses, small farms, small stresses (on ourselves, each other, and the environment).

      0 likes

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