Tuesday, December 7, 2010

In the trees

In the trees I see faces
Goblins, horned men
Bushes Glowering
Animal Spirits, Vegetable Valkyries
Waiting to take me
To the other world

In the trees I see symbols
Yawning mouth of Eternity
Turtles of time
A winged angel overhead
Doors, windows, and walls
Desiring participation

In the trees I see the cycle
Death and life, scarabs
Bats and anteaters
I see hands reaching up
Great Green eyes
Black Robes and open books

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Some observations.

It seems to me that in the coming years, humanity will need to evolve in order to avoid breakdown and dissolution. We need to inhabit a more interconnected and interdependent world space in our own local communities. We also must invest in local self-reliance and personal autonomy. The idea that America is a culture of consumers has to be challenged by emerging as producers again. We should produce for the needs of the community, with the idea that a consumer can knock on your door and work out a resolution is the product does not perform as advertise. A real world consequence of unethical business behavior would add a moral dimension to the workings of the market. Instead of an invisible hand, the market would be guided by qualities like craftsmanship, efficiency, durability and local sourcing. This would reward those crafters that are able to identify a community need, and fill the void with a product in which the proceeds are fed back into the community. It is not that we do not need corporations at all. The computer that I type this on is proof of that, but many corporations represent autonomy and self-reliance ceded by the community for temporary convenience. The more localized and interdependent a community economy is, the more distinct culture emerges. Many feel and think that many cultural traditions are dissolving in this new informational age, but with a new focus we could see a flowering of culture emerging not seen since the enlightenment. We can either choose to help birth this new cultural unfoldment through our participation or we can sit on the sidelines.
If we choose to participate the questions become simple.
1. What does the community need/want?
2. What skills do I have or could I organize that can serve this community need/want?
3. What's my plan to achieve this?

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Offshore Drilling and the Jerk of the Knee

President Obama recently announced a plan to open up huge areas of America's coastal oceans to offshore drilling. Almost immediately, and somewhat predictably the President drew the ire of both environmentalists and of the "Drill, baby drill!" crowd. However when looking at the stated motivation for Obama's decison, the realization came that this is an issue where educated, informed people can disagree. First it would be prudent to stake out the two hard-line positions on oil production in general.
There are those that want everyone to stop using oil immediately. This camp sees the long-term consequences of unlimited fossil fuel production and consumption as catastrophically threatening to our future on this planet. This position is right to an extent, as scientific studies increasingly paint a dire future connected to carrying on business as usual in regards to fossil fuels. The blind spot of this position is that transitions of such a magnitude take time, energy and massive investment. In other words, the transition will not happen by magic or by snapping our collective fingers and clicking our heels. The necessary changes will require rational, informed decision making by our leaders and creative engagement in solutions by the American public.
Also, There are those that think the fossil fuel party will never end. This camp sees a drive towards renewable energy as threatening to our economy and to our way of life. They are right to an extent, as radical changes that ignore that much of modernity that we take for granted has been built on the availability of cheap fossil fuels. The blind spot of this position is that America, and the world cannot thrive in the next few centuries without conceding to the reality that we have to live in balance with natural systems rather than living opposed to them.
As these are the two fundamental assertions that drive the debate, the question becomes, what is not being examined and what conditions on this plan should we as Americans push for? In other words, what can rational people on both sides of the political fence agree on? Here are three bits of gristle for the mind, that help to frame the debate more holistically.
1. In the current geopolitical situation, America needs to become more self-reliant in terms of energy production. We should be able to use our own resources and lessen our dependence on other regions of the world for our energy needs. Business as usual feeds our trade deficit and makes us vulnerable to even minor global supply disruptions. American becoming more self-sufficient allows us to transition to a clean energy economy without being at the mercy of global instability.
2. In America, we have some of the strongest environmental standards of any of the oil producing nations. This is good policy, and can always be strengthened. In real terms, as a result of our environmental practices with offshore drilling, the last major spill related to this method of development happened in 1969 off the coast of Santa Barbara, CA. Any new production must be done with the same attention to safety and standards that has allowed us the US to have such a good domestic safety record in regards to oil. Therefore, it is critical that any offshore drilling be done with the caveat that oil producers be legally and financially on the hook for any clean-up related to their activities. At the core of this is the assertion that we as a country do not want to export environmental damage to the rest of the world for our own gain, which is what we are currently doing.
3. The US President is ideally the servant leader of all Americans, not just his party and certainly not just one political interest group or another. So the question becomes, does Obama's decision fit this ideal? What is his motivation? After going through the rote responses of "He's in the pocket of the oil companies," or "He's just doing this to back Republicans in the corner", a more nuanced motivation becomes clear. Obama is working to chart the post-partisanship that he promised. He is pushing for a "Third Way" which is naturally going to make both sides not getting their full way very angry. In fact, the President directly spoke to this in announcing this decision, here are his words. “Ultimately, we need to move beyond the tired debates of the left and the right, between business leaders and environmentalists, between those who would claim drilling is a cure all and those who would claim it has no place," "Because this issue is just too important to allow our progress to languish while we fight the same old battles over and over again.”“There will be those who strongly disagree with this decision, including those who say we should not open any new areas to drilling, But what I want to emphasize is that this announcement is part of a broader strategy that will move us from an economy that runs on fossil fuels and foreign oil to one that relies more on homegrown fuels and clean energy. And the only way this transition will succeed is if it strengthens our economy in the short term and long term. To fail to recognize this reality would be a mistake.”
It seems that the President's motivation is clear and direct, and ultimately, this policy can be judged by whether or not it contains these three elements,
1. All oil produced must be refined and sold in the US.
2. Oil companies are on the hook for any damage because of spills, and they are held to strict environmental standards in setting up their derricks.
3. That this is the transition to a very strong renewable energy investment, production and distribution plan for the US. In other words, this oil is the concession to the reality that transformation doesn't happen overnight, but it is also the bridge to a future where such drilling is unnecessary.

Enjoy the cognitive dissonance!

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Libra Moon observation.

This president said, "We are the change we've been waiting for." and if we as a people can't look beyond our petty differences and find unity, we're not moving in the right direction. In other words, if we don't like our government, it's our fault, and it's our responsibility to correct it. But there's no way that we're going to do that standing on one side of a line and screaming at the other side. That's a diversion of energy. Figure out the solutions that serve the greatest amount of people. Enact them. Do it yourself if you need to. This is a period of rapid change, and we cannot deny that it is happening, but we can adapt, and the quickest way to adapt is to find a unity of purpose. We must value change and creativity in this world because these are the values that will lead us to solutions. Unity is better than division in almost all situations. Can we find a true third way?

Monday, March 22, 2010

Our Portland, Our Selves

I'm sure that you're aware in the U.S. we are in need of some more Unity. It seems like the division in our society has put us at odds with each other, each side screaming that their side has the answer and not listening to each other, except to repeat their ideological gospel. We need more Unity, and the only way that we can achieve that is to work to benefit all. But the place we start is in our own community. We are going through hard economic times, hard environmental times, hard power times, hard spiritual times and it is time for us to remember each other, remember the work that got us here, and work to help our community become stronger by helping each other to thrive. I feel that Portland is ready to do this work, and in the transformation, we will become a model to the rest of the country on how to turn things around. We need more local self-sufficiency, without sacrificing our global connections, but trade is not the only basis of global interchange. We can now through the Internet and in many cases in person see what solutions other countries have to problems and we could work to implement these solutions on a small scale in our own community. In the meantime, we will create work, by investing in new ideas with time, energy and money right here in our communities. Some of our efforts will bear fruit, and some will not. But we will be moving towards a more interconnected community and that will feed itself in the face of every success and failure.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

The Underthrow

Many people are wondering what comes next. I don't pretend to have the answer, but I do have an idea. The next step is community self-sufficiency. What I mean by that, is that all those things that are critical to survive and thrive should be produced by someone in your community. I don't mean high technology, I mean food, tools, water sources and necessary services. The longer we wait to become interdependent, the longer we will be dependent on global systems of trade that don't always hold to the highest ethical standards, and that rarely keep their systems of production within the limits of natural systems. If we do not live within the limits of natural systems, in the long-term we doom future generations to decades of preventable starvation, disease and conflict.
But we currently live in a time and culture where truly being self-sufficient is nearly impossible. Our food is shipped to us from across the world, often our water comes from a state away and the sources of water that we have near us are so degraded and polluted that they are unusable if any of these artificial systems of distribution break down. Without food and water, the veneer of civilization is stripped away and it is every human protecting their own. We see this played out in disaster after disaster across the world, yet we think we are different, when in fact, we are just lucky. Therefore self-sufficiency and a community that looks after their own and prepares to protect their own is a step ahead of the game if anything untoward should happen.
Even barring catastrophe, the current paradigm is unsustainable and every person paying the slightest bit of attention knows it. So what do we do? What are some possible solutions that build community at the same time that they make community more interdependent. Many of these solutions will sound and be familiar, but we've yet to link them all together and unify to make them the new reality.
1. Growing Our Own Food
As hard as it is to imagine, many of the key components of the US economy and distribution system are not guaranteed. We have a stockpile of oil, but not nearly enough to keep our distribution system running for long if there is a great supply drop. At this point in history, Iran, who the US keeps labeling a threat for what could be very good reasons sits in control of one of the most important chokepoints for Middle Eastern oil distribution. If the saber-rattling over Iran's nuclear program intensifies, Iran could very well work to cut the US off in the Straight of Hormuz. Obviously the US would respond to this, but as oil is a very critical component of our current armed forces, it could easily be that we are forced to severely ration our oil consumption in the US for the war effort. This is just one plausible example of one way that our supermarkets might not be able to magically fill themselves any more. If a community grows their own food, many of the possible negative effects, like food riots could much more easily be avoided. So much of our backyard green spaces could be converted into gardens, and fallow land nearby could also be so converted, but it demands the will and the shared labor of the community to make these gardens a reality. In World War II, American citizens were asked by the government to sacrifice their green spaces to produce food, and we did so. They were called victory gardens. There is no reason why this concept should not be implemented on a broad scale as soon as possible.
2. Buying Local
here are some very good reasons to buy local, but I'm going to ask that you step out with me on a limb to understand that buying local is one of the more radical things that you can do. But first, I'm going to explain why we should even care. Most of what we buy in American culture nowadays is made by multinational corporations. There is nothing inherently wrong with corporations, but many of them have decided to sell the American public down the river by shipping their production to places where human rights, worker rights, and children's rights are only a dream. By doing this, formerly American corporations have shifted the balance of production overseas, and the effects of this are staggering. In America we used to export much more than we import, now we are importing MUCH more than we export. The main country that has gotten our corporations business and factories is China. So American companies moved their production to Chinese factories, put millions of Americans out of work and now what country owns the largest percentage of American debt? China. We were sold out by our corporations, and almost every purchase that we make from these corporations puts us ever closer to the time where China calls in it's debts. Therefore, we need to start making the things that we need, and we need to invest our money in the people locally that are doing that. When we start moving in this direction collectively, we will start moving out of the spiral of debt that seems to go on forever. Plus, if the item that you buy is locally crafted, that means that people are working crafting them, and that you have an actual person to talk to if it doesn't perform as advertised, not a fifteen minute wait on the phone to talk to someone who can't answer your question. Local production will likely lean towards durability and quality and lean away from cheap and made to break so that you will replace them quickly products.

The Underthrow Part. 2 will be coming soon, but I'd love to hear any feedback or ideas on what building a more sustainable and locally self-reliant community looks like to you.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Mysteries of the Ineffable (A short poem)

I AM and Will be forever, but me, me is transitory.
A suit that I can wear if I Will.
I call the suit Michael, so... how do you do? From I to me to you.
I object never, me subject ever.
May I? Surely.
Will I? Perhaps.
Do I speak in riddles?
I'll get to the point, the point is the center, the circumference my grasp.
Am I talking in circles?
Indeed that's a fact, but the fact of the matter is that matter's not fact.
If you can't quite follow, I Will lead you there, but the I is not Michael, and the there is no "where".
For "where" is location in time and in space, Michael hangs out there, but I am no "place".
So...... How do you do?
Well, I wish you well if you Will it, don't you?

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Overthrowing the Tyrant

All things must change, because things are subject to change. That means that all of our creations, all of our bodies, all of our ideas must change. To resist this change is to be subject to the illusion of permanance. To find a way to help things change in rational ways is what many are being called to do at this time. 2010 could be a year of positive transformation, or it could be a year of negative stagnation. The choice is as it always is, up to the choosers. Most of us choose to not choose, in fact, we choose to not even educate ourselves enough to be capable of making the informed choice. This is why we are ruled by others instead of being the rulers of our selves.
An ego with a master is a tool, whereas an ego without a master tops from the bottom. When we are controlled by the machine of our automatic responses, by our pathologies, by our unconscious drives, we are at the mercy of a petty tyrant indeed. We all have the responsibility to overthrow this tyrant, before we move on to the other oppressive forces in the world. Otherwise we become what we beheld, we begin to live out the oppressive circumstances we attempted to conquer. We must empower our true selves, and overthrow the tyrant within, because we live in very interesting times. We test the limits of natural systems by imposing artificial systems on top of them. This leads to ruin, to deprivation, and to an unfortunately natural population loss. We can choose this path. But should we?
We are called to transcend the myth of the phoenix, by regenerating before the ashes of dissolution. The only path to do this that I see is by becoming agents of transformation. By internally bringing the tyrant of the ego to heel, to serve the true self, and through the freedom gained from smashing the shackles of our own limitations, using that freedom to help others free themselves. Liberty can move to the next level, but it will take all of us challenging ourselves to make it so.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

The Theory.

So, here's a blog, a chance to make my voice heard through the power of social connectivity. I'm excited for it, and for the first post I'll just posit a theory.

Humanity's next goal is to become globally interconnected, and focused locally on radical interdependence. This is real freedom, and leaves room for the true power of enlightened individualism, while recognizing the adage that "no person is an island". Let's break it down.

Global Interconnectivity- This goal is already in process, but will continue to unfold as time passes. This is the promise of the internet, that people all over the world will be able to understand each other to a greater extent and grow their own autonomy through seeds planted from around the world. We can actually as a species learn best practices, and radically improve our efficiency in the use of global resources. The long term goal here is simple and unassailable, and only seems radical if a person is wearing blinders. This goal is for humanity to live in balance with natural systems rather than living in systems that naturally oppose balance.

Local Interdependence- Local interdependence means that the fundamentals to life and society are home grown. Drinking primarily local water, eating primarily local food, and building and creating our own local products. The basics should all be sustainably made, and made close to home so that breakdowns in the global supply chain do not have the capacity to cripple local livelihoods. It also presupposes that the local community has to interact with each other to survive and thrive. Imagine the intensity of creativity that such a movement would engender. Also if you will, imagine the new cultural flowering that would take root from such a movement.

Enlightened Individualism- There is a simple tenet that many cultures have used throughout history. Do as you will, as long as you do not infringe on the rights of others. Individual freedom is an absolute pre-requisite to creative leaps into the future, it is the bane of all repressive systems as a free individual will stand up to preserve that freedom. This is not the petty individualism of "nobody tells me what to do" which judges the individual as perfect. This idea is very obviously and patently false. But full individual potential for freedom is the field where genius manifests most often. We can always use more genius.