I am sitting at my kitchen table wondering. Today I have no answers, only provocations. My muse must be busy helping the deer find creative ways to get in my garden, or telling the new woodchucks where the old woodchuck holes are.
I have a dozen topics in the hopper. Some are only cool titles I know will carry good ideas behind:
Resilience in the Face of Creative Destruction
How the Titanic’s Bow Broke Off
Advocacy and Inquiry
Others are half-developed essays:
Searching for Synthesis
Density as a Trailing Conversation
But none speak to me today. Most will exist as they are for a while, floating around and coming up in conversation here or there. Waiting for their spark.
The biggie is Anitha’s, Nick’s and my editing of the Overlap book, which is turning out to be looooong. I can’t help but to ever drift back to thinking about how unique where we are, is. Our place in time; the Overlap. Cognitive dissonance, think about it:
I am drinking water that was pumped 20 miles to the tap. It rained 2” last Tuesday.
This morning I drove a 3400 pound piece of machinery 200 miles round trip for a 1½ hour long meeting. In that one act, I consumed more stored sunlight than my great grandfather did in traveling 1 year of his life (or something like that!).
Yesterday I bought onions from an 8th grade urban farmer.
Last week I saw a hillside being blown away to replace a traffic light.
Last month I flew 500 miles to a conference about low-energy living, where I received a thumb drive of conference proceedings wrapped in bamboo.
Just a snapshot, written one day while I was at work in Syracuse. Weird what we find to be rational action these days, and odd how old and new overlap. I find it stranger every day, stepping out of our experience and looking at what we are talking about (just everyday conversation), and what we are spending money on, and why. Where do our priorities come from? How do we reexamine them? I have two analogies:
The Iceberg: Much scurrying around to satisfy what is seen on the surface. A poor lever for change, evolution, proper fit, whatever. Building a school? Naturally you start with what and how many rooms are needed, cost, and site. But really??? Aren’t these the end results of a deeper need? Shouldn’t we explore those deeper things first, and let “school” be a product? Isn’t school about place, community, learning, children’s sense, and the future? Reply (usually): “Oh yes, we know all about those things, just build us a school like our neighbors’.” No you don’t know these things! Know: no one can tell you these things! The answers are changing: what is rational and passionately appropriate is unique to you and your community! What you need is not a good program, site, and budget, but rather a good question-asker. Be explicit. Be fearless. Irritate some people. Everyone needs a little sand in their shorts from time to time.
Infrastructure: Scale beyond anyone’s sense. I saw a hillside being blown away to replace a traffic light, downstate on Route 17. The hillside was in the way of building an off ramp to a four lane highway. How many $,$$$,$$$’s? And what else could be done with those $,$$$,$$$’s? Is a hillside worth a traffic light? Isn’t money in short supply these days? Should we be moving away from adding to our burden of infrastructure? Just asking. I know many answers to these sorts of questions, and question them all. Yup, people need to work. Yup, infrastructure spending can put people to work. Yup, people need to have safe roads. And yup, we are slowly collapsing under the weight of our infrastructure. How much does a mile of road cost? How much money do we spend pumping water and treating sewage in huge centralized systems? How much energy do we waste transporting electricity over long distances? Our shovels were ready but did we dig the wrong hole? Something’s gotta’ give.
Hmmm…Provocation seems to be good business these days. Maybe we need more provokers, question-asking, and “I don’t know-ers.” Too many people telling me they know the answers, too few willing to quietly settle in with the questions. Maybe I found my calling…at least until my muse gets back.