Manifest destiny, restoration, and “the effort to speak honestly”

In speaking of lies, we come inevitably to the subject of truth. There is nothing simple or easy about this idea. There is no “the truth,” “a truth” – truth is not one thing, or even a system. It is an increasing complexity. The pattern of the carpet is a surface. When we look closely, or when we become weavers, we learn of the tiny multiple threads unseen in the overall pattern, the knots on the underside of the carpet.

This is why the effort to speak honestly is so important. Lies are usually attempts to make everything simpler – for the liar – than it really is, or ought to be.

Adrienne Rich

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Social dreaming

Octopuses dream, and cuttlefish too. In sleep they scroll through the colour changes of the day, the equivalent of your dog’s twitching forepaw.

Trees communicate by neural networks in the soil, developing sophisticated relationships and nurturing allies.

Felt experience – consciousness – permeates the family of sentient life (by definition, really) and maybe even “brute matter itself”.

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It really does seem these days that Science, in its plodding, methodical way is unpicking civilization’s last great taboo – the myth of ‘nature’, the myth of something non-human and other-worldly that surrounds but does not include us.

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Ramp Hollow: The Ordeal of Appalachia

What makes for a healthy rural community? Is there even room for such a thought in this world where it sometimes seems that any truly rural community is by definition under-developed, deficient, abandoned, lacking in dynamism, behind the curve, back-ward, almost horrifying to the sensibilities of the global capitalist elite. Its inhabitants are the subject of barely concealed scorn, or perhaps ambiguously romanticized as throwbacks to a kinder, gentler, less complex time. Either way they are not seen as full citizens and actors in the present political and economic moment, and often rural communities are seen as white savior projects – they must be saved from their truculence by some kind of development or program.

Or, if a rural area is fully integrated into the global economy, this has occurred, all too often, at the cost of its habitability. Giant fields or greenhouses tended by immigrant workers or, increasingly, robotic machinery. No one lives there. Not even the managers of workers or machinery, who commute from a nearby city perhaps. Different kinds of dystopia. Continue reading “Ramp Hollow: The Ordeal of Appalachia”

Resilience Hub

Hi everybody! I’ve been silent for a while. I’m not sure exactly why. Part of it is that I’ve been absorbed in a few projects, one of which has been standing up a resilience hub in my little town.

What is a resilience hub? It’s a kind of commons or community space: a place for people to get some help and to give some help to others. We are open three afternoons a week. We provide a free meal for whoever wants one, as long as supplies last, as well as a food bag of locally grown produce once a week. We provide access to laptops, internet, and printers, both 2-D and 3-D. We are starting a community garden. We hold classes in 3-D printing, gardening,  saving/investing and calligraphy.  We help people to access resources on the internet.

The hub is funded by Vibrant Hawai’i, a local non-profit, and our local Buddhist temple was kind enough to let us use their hall to house the hub. All of it came together, somehow, in confusion, haste, optimism, and utter chaos in September as part of the response to Covid19. We struggled for the first few months. It’s hard to start an organization from scratch, even with the best intentions and a source of funding. Luckily I had terrific co-conspirators – most of them people that I had never met before but who made a perfect team. Slowly we’ve picked up support and engagement from the community. People come by and donate produce, groceries, funds, and their time almost every day. It’s becoming a bit of a hangout for teens and for old folks, and a place for bit of help for the folks struggling on the margins.

Restorative revolution

Our ancestors fought through genocide, they fought through that trauma. And not only did they survive this trauma they passed down knowledge that built the societies that we are built on today.

So this knowledge, that has been passed down for thousands of years, can be accessed and it can be applied to a daily life no matter where you are, no matter where you are from. Because industrial revolution is over now if we want to survive, if we want to carry on life on earth we need to be a part of the restorative revolution. And whatever that looks like for you – just make sure you get your hours in.

These words are spoken by Sammy Gensaw in the documentary film ‘Gather’, one of several individuals featured in the film who are, in their various ways, reclaiming food sovereignty – traditional food culture and life-support systems tied to the land – for native peoples of North America. He also says at one point, the apocalypse has already happened. He’s a young man, a sequoia sapling in the clear-cut devastation of an old-growth forest, and his words carry authority. As does his call to action.

The film gives us a glimpse of how Sammy and the others are carrying out restoration. It moves, inspires, and sometimes hurts to watch — and it asks: what does the restorative revolution look like to you? What will your work be? Continue reading “Restorative revolution”

yet another something to think about

After 49 years of going offshore fishing or working out of doors in the buiding trades have come realize that an old addage does indeed apply. There are many days when the sun rises so beautiful that you have to stop and just look, thank the cosmos for being allowed to see something special. Offshore there are days when the gods of the wind are kind, the seas are calm, the gods of machinery are happy, the gear comes up like clockwork and full of the finest kind of fish, scallops, shrimp, or lobsters. The gods of the hunt are favorable. Ashore there are days where the gang and materials show up on time, the weathers are good, people know what they are doing and do it, and the job comes together, again just like clockwork. The building gods are happy.

Then there are those days when you call the gang out of the bunk at 0300 after a loud bang and jolt because because the gear is hung down on a old wreck or a giant boulder, and it takes half the day to try and work it free before finally having a wire part off and only one door and half a net comes up, and most of all no fish. The gods of machinery and navigation were sleeping. Or the electrical gods are arguing and a generator goes on the fritz, or it starts snowing hard and the radars or the GPSs go down. Or the wind gods decide to blow and all of a sudden you are banging through 20′ seas hanging on with one hand and trying to do your work with the other.

Some days you get the bear, and some days the bear gets you. All in a days work they say, the good with the bad, the way it has always been. At the end of the trip or the end of the year you add it all up and pay the expenses and share up whatever is left. Nothing’s easy theory, or if it was easy, everyone would be doing it.

Dear reader if you are anything like me, or if your approach to living on this earth is anything like mine and those i see up close around me, then most of one’s energies have been focused on earning a living, raising and teaching a family, trying to be a good friend to those around you, generally trying to be a constructive responsible citizen. That’s how you do it, or at least it was until recently, because it may not be enough. Collectively the way we live has second order effects that are the opposite of the things that even the most aware, careful, and pono of us strive for.

In early February a new report came out from the UK Treasury – “Final Report – The Economics of Biodiversity: The Dasgupta Review”. Now there are so many papers, studies, and plans that get published every single day that it is near impossible to keep up with reading even the headlines or the abstracts. But this one might serve to truly change the way we need to think about our relationship to the world around us. And just maybe it should.

Here is a link to the main UK website:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/final-report-the-economics-of-biodiversity-the-dasgupta-review

There you will find both the short versions and the full report (26 MB) in pdf and html formats, and i believe it helpful to start with the basic outline “Headline Messages” (10 pages, 1.84 MB). I submit the link to this report in hopes that it may spark comments and insights from our loyal local readership, but make no mistake it is not for the fainthearted.

Ennui, anomie and the attention economy

Like cats mesmerised by laser pointers, our attention is easily hijacked. Not surprisingly, given the kind of world we live in, it’s a trait which often gets exploited. The three-card trick; bared flesh on a magazine cover; rumours of immigrant takeover. As the internet commercialized it quickly diagnosed our readiness to give and call for attention, and accelerated the exploitation process (cunningly disguised) to supernatural speed and intensity. We hardly even had to pay for the privilege, except in something called personal data which we barely knew we had in the first place. But something else is going on too, massively amplified by the internet though not necessarily created by it.

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