map of a few steps back

October 24th, 2010

start: as a liason for this: The Living Principles

which leads to: needing to do a heck of a lot more research into who’s doing what in Santa Fe; how many different groups are already active in the area?

[was going to start by listing organizations here, but there’s a good reason not to…]

There are a fair number of groups in Santa Fe that could benefit from a gathering, reorientation, or clustering of their goals. With the large number of groups and efforts around, it seems that a more principled approach would lead to consolidation and collaboration; That of course requires more work, diplomacy, and strong intellectual leadership.

There also appears to be some phenomenon mucking about within the area that affects the groups (and individuals) ability to change or strive for a broader, more far-reaching goals. I’ve been asked countless times to design something that is short-sighted, or so narrowly focused that it quickly becomes ineffectual. Arguing otherwise amounts to trying to consolidate budgets, broaden perspectives and timelines, or work your way through the ranks to a more responsive or understanding leadership. Projects become institutional and bureaucratic—overall goals getting spliced up into more minute and inept portions so that more individuals are put to work and government budgets can be spent.

The already many-faceted problems then continue to spread and become ingrained into other aspects of our economic, cultural and social systems. This phenomenon necessarily requires more work, more collaboration and cooperation from other specialists and leaders—not, as the response seems to be, fracturing or sequestering into special interest groups. The problem solving has to become broader, more inclusive and a hell of a lot less political. I seriously doubt that our current city government has the ability to do this.

all of which led to finding this: an animated video, The Secret Powers of Time, Professor Philip Zimbardo’s presentation on individual perspectives of time. In that video, Prof. Zimbardo mentions Robert Levine’s book, A Geography of Time that explores (and quantifies apparently) the idea that we take time for granted. Travelling around the world, Levine, tests and catalogs cultural perceptions and relationships to time. I believe that cartography may explain the proliferation of non-profits here in Santa Fe.

How is that? Partly explained a bit through what I found this morning: an analysis of our present day culture through the eyes/viewpoint (?) of the 70s. A present day critique from a past-perspective. Somewhat unsettling for its degree of truth. One post in particular describes the United States’ [people? individuals? dominant culture?] fascination with Hollywood, Pulp Fiction, bygone era/period movies—easily digestible, and oft-recycled means of presenting a mental theme park the masses can live and play in. Gil Scott Heron points out that we’ve convinced ourselves that we’re living in a B movie.

And partly explained through the next post reviewing The Limits of Growth, published by the Club of Rome back in 1972, and other books from that decade trying to re-orient our approach to industrialization, the environment and technology. There are, and have been, many advocates of responsible, ecological growth, and sustainable solutions to social problems. But our society as a whole hasn’t learned much from them. Why is that? Partly a result of who can yell the loudest and carry the biggest stick—oil and gas industry colluding with politicians and lobbying to support their own future against any sort of long-term, or sustainable practices. (Where’s that article about the Exxon Mobile board of directors meeting: the majority shareholders didn’t care about the effects of global warming at all—just the immediate profitability of the company. Not to mention the $25B in profits they had that year.) Partly, the propagation of the consumerist myths. Spend more now for a prosperous economy. The hedonistic approach to time that Zimbardo describes in his short film. An easy manipulation by advertisers when average individual incomes haven’t increased since the 70s. Americans should have been cutting back since the oil crises and savings and loan scandals of the 70s and 80s, but instead of being educated or warned about the dangers of their decrease in income (with the manipulations of the consumer price indexes since the 70s, true inflation and the cost of living is being hidden), the messages being pumped out are that our culture is remaining as prosperous as ever.

Portions of the population have been more prosperous than ever. This isn’t rich bashing, or some liberalistic, communistic display. It’s evidence of actual events based on actual policies. Revealing these events in the news and using them to educate individuals, should not be politicized. But since it already has been, discussing them in everyday conversations is probably the only means of acquiring a healthier culture and more sustainable economy.

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