Importance of Context


I have seen on Ted, about Allan Savory, then the photos Before/After about holistic management, that make me feel better.

By miraculous chance, I discovered those articles on PRI written by Dan Palmer about holistic management.

Therefore I started to work on those articles. I studied, summarized, in a mind map way, all the questions I’ll have to ask myself to define my holistic context : The Savory way, and the Palmer way. At this time, I was understanding that I was very interested and at the same time, I was struggling on two points.

First, that the way we make decisions involves environment degradation. The response is in the first pages of Allan Savory book.

Here is the link :

The second point I really struggled with, was about context and holistic context. From the work of Dan Palmer, I was undertanding how it was defined (in thee parts…). But I was obsessed, by the fact that this context was so important, to change our way to make décisions.

First, I thought context was not the same thing in french and in english. Yes it is. So as a serious student, I flipped through a dictionary to look up the meaning of a context. Somewhat desperate, I asked to my online instructor at the Savory Institut :

I struggle with the word “context”. In holistic management, a question we have to answer is : How do you want your life to be ? Is it the same to say : In which context you want your life to be ?

The idea perhaps I struggle with is, there is at the moment a certain context. So we are in the present. And I have to establish a new context, so the new context is in the future or now for the future ? You can see, how lost I was.

Later on, I got the bug.

This year my daughter tries to complete their secondary school exams. And I was a bit stressed, for next year. What will she do ? Where will she go ? And so on. I wondered : What is the context ? The context is : I am a father, I look after my children. And for the next year, I will look after my daughter, that I have always done. Stress disappeared, I am in a context I know for seventeen years now.

Then I played the Geoff Lawton video : Permaculture in Paradise

At the end of the video (15min30), Dano Gorsish says : “It’s easy to do smart things, just think of something stupid and do the exact opposite.”

So here is a context in which I don’t want to live for sure, I hope, it is a wrong one.

  • I like to see my children to be seek when they drink the water from the well.
  • I am happy when I have conflict with my neighbours.
  • I like to see on TV wares, starvations, floods.
  • I waste a lot, to be sure the new generations will be in trouble…

Ok Dano Gorsish, thank you for your help.

Now, a holistic context, I think really at the exact opposite.

We want stable families, living peaceful lives and prosperity, security, free to pursue our own spiritual and religions, beliefs and a good nutritous food and clean water, enjoying good education and health in balance life with time for family, friends and community and leisure for culture and other pursuit, all to be for many generations to come on the fondation of regenerative soil and biologicaly divers communities on Earth Land and in our rivers, lakes and oceans.

This context was defined by the “Maestro” Allan Savory in a conference in London 2014 : Putting grasslands to work

It is about at 1h05 of the video, and I think you can see all of it. (I think, I played it 20 times).

Before to show you, how I did to start and define my holistic context, I would like to talk about something we could call ” Thinking in a context way”.
Imagine there is a war, so what is the context ?

They are two populations suffering. Men, women, children die. People are living in fear. The seeds of hate find their way. We easily find people which have lost a son or a daughter, a mother, a father, or both. I think we do all agree on this context. And I think it is easy for human beings to all agree on context.

So if we agree on a context, then it will be simple to make decisions together to change it or to enhance it. For me it is the subject of holistic management.

How I define my holistic context.

First, I reviewed the articles of Dan Palmer, and the proposed questions, and I made mind maps.


To read the mind maps, you have to read following the lines and from left to right.

Then, I went for a walk with my notebook and a pen with all the questions in mind.


During the trekking, I recorded in my notebook my ideas


I continued to write down and I arrived there


La Côte des Basques in Biarritz, France : A nice place to define my holistic context isn’t it ?

At the end of the walk, I have written many ideas.


I realize now, that what I did, was the most important thing to do to begin in holistic management : To write down ideas, values, objectives on a sheet of paper. I am emphasizing this point : The most important thing to do to begin in holistic management : Write down ideas, values, objectives on a sheet of paper.

Here are a few examples of my notes :

  • I like to sow, plant, harvest and cook my own vegetables.
  • I like to work in a collaborative way.
  • I am very interested in permaculture and holistic management, rocket stove…
  • I listen to my footstep when I walk.
  • I like friendliness.
  • I like non violent communication and I try to use it as frequently as possible.

Then I came back to my mind map and the guidances of Dan Palmer :

Present tense

  • Not to be, we hope
  • We are such and such
  • Write them as if happening now
  • Make the quality of life so active

Ok Dan I rephrase

  • I sow, plant, harvest and cook my own vegetables.
  • I work in a collaborative way.
  • I have a meaningful work in permaculture and holistic management.
  • I listen to my footstep when I walk (This sentence was ok, I think).
  • I live in a friendliness way.
  • I use non violent communication as defined by Marshal Rosenberg to speak with others.

I am on track now with my holistic context, sure it is a rough one, but I know now a bit more about how I want my life to be, in which context I want to live.

So I noticed Permaculture, so what can I do, as I live in a flat, with a balcony. Of course I can sow, plant… I can’t make compost pile 1,5 meter high. But as I am a cook at the moment, I can make worm compost with vegetable peels and brown corrugated paperboard. I developed a recipe and the other cooks keep the peels for me and call me “el compostador”.


As Allan Savory says : “The rest will flow.” I am sure of that now, the rest will flow.


  1. Hello Vincent, Thank you for sharing your personal story and continued learning around your context, so well put and penned.

  2. Thankyou for reminding me to direct my life the way in which I want to live it, by sorting out my thoughts, planning for the future while being present and focussing on Positive outcomes (love). The process simply puts what you will focus on, and what you will do in a world that wants to overwhelm.

  3. Hi Vincent, I really enjoy mind maps and find they are fantastic for stimulating creativity and helping recall. They also create a great visual link between your feelings/values in the Quality of Life statement and the Forms of Production in the Holistic Context. For myself though I find I like the flow and connectedness of sentences to create phrases of meaning. I also like to create a fairly detailed Future Resource Base description and again having it in a paragraph makes it easily mentally and visually accessible for myself and the first question in the testing matrix when testing decisions. I also find when helping others with their Future Resource Base creating vision boards with pictures that stir emotions and feelings help develop those deep connections between the environment around us and our feelings which drive decisions – enjoy the process!

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