Protecting Our Future

The children are our future, the popular song tells us.  But as the fabulous Riane Eisler so accurately points out, why then do we pay our child care workers less than $10 per hour?  Where are our values really? Because that is where our money goes.  And isn’t it so often that our money goes out to pay for convenience? 

The pride of do it yourself, of crafting something by hand, and of eschewing waste with re-use, refurbishing or re-purposing has gone out the window with do more faster and even better, have someone else do it for you.  With just about everything.  When was the last time you grew your own food or churned your own butter – like so many did not too many generations ago?  When was the last time you bought your food from someone who still does these things, as opposed to from a more convenient factory farm to big box store arrangement …?  Heck, when was the last time you cooked your own meal — from scratch without opening any pre-mixed packages?

Two words come to my mind whenever I think about the future: clean and renewable.  Of course, I speak of energy production because it is the one thing behind our culture of convenience that seems the most at odds with my version of the future as an environmental activist – a truly healthy planet.  What if we all valued that a bit more and were a bit more concerned about how healthy the planet is that we WILL be leaving our children? 

How would what you do have to change?  Because it WILL take all of us.  This isn’t just about the utility companies or the government making decisions and changes to better our lives.  After all folks, we are the government and we are the utility companies as well as all the other businesses we patronize.  As Walt Kelly put it so well: “We have met the enemy … and he is us.”

How’s that you say?  Well, at least here in the U.S., we have the right and opportunity to vote the bozos in or vote the bozos out – or participate as one of them by being involved in government at any level.  That includes everything from writing to or calling your local, state and federal representatives all the way to, if you were born here, being the president (otherwise, the governor of some great state).  Isn’t that what we teach our children – that you, too, dear Johnny or Jayne, can grow up to be president of these United States? 

And you know that “market” they are always talking about?  Right again – that’s us, too.  We can vote with our dollars.  Instead of getting the lowest prices for the most amount of stuff, how about we cut back a little and maybe pay a little more for one or two items of higher quality: organic produce or fair trade clothing made from natural fibers not produced in some sweat shop overseas?  Can you say more with less?  And then how about using and reusing those items and making them go as far as we possibly can before they become disposable? Or even running our businesses in a more socially responsible way …?

(I’m thinking here of my dear husband, whose brimmed cotton canvas bucket hats become compass covers – he works on boats – when they no longer protect his lovely cranium … and then the shreds of what’s left of that natural cotton can be recycled.)

In my mind, we’ll have to gear up considerably to begin mastering alternative energy production methods that are, well … clean and renewable.  But I for one, think we are up to the task.  We, the voters and the market.  We will have to return to playing the role of citizens and conservationists, rather than consumers.  We have plenty of history and plenty of role models to teach us how … and we have technology to help.  At least until the oil runs out (if we don’t do something soon about that because we are really fouling this beautiful planet with what remains of the remains of dead dinosaurs).

If greenhouse gases – like auto exhaust and that from factory smoke stacks full of carbon dioxide and all the other chemicals we spew into the atmosphere – were a color rather than invisible, I think more people would notice and be appalled.  Hey, what if it looked like what’s spewing into the Gulf of Mexico from the Deepwater Horizon oil rig and killing the marine life that will end up in our food chain?  (Oh, and not to leave out the children … their food chain too, since these toxics persist and are multiplied as big fish and big bird eat little fish …)

Well, if you’ve got the picture now … here’s the good news.

We can return quickly to being citizens and conservationists – proud contributors and preservationists – with just a little added consciousness (and conscientiousness).  Along with clean and renewable, I’d simply ask that you add these words to your daily vocabulary as you exercise greater awareness about every thought and every action you take, every moment of every day.  I full well know that while simple, this level of consciousness is not easy to master in practice.  So that’s why it becomes a practice. And that practice can become a movement.

While they may sound like small things, even seemingly insignificant (“who am I, I’m just one little guy”), these things all add up.  Shifting to this way of being and doing is actually a BIG job if you’ve ever tried it.  None of us will be perfect at it, but if you do it best as you can each step of the way with your life and work, and all the other people in government and industry do it best as they can each step of the way in their lives and work, or at least enough of us get it going so others can catch on and join in, then things can change significantly for the better.  And quickly … exponentially.

Then, if we use the intelligence and technology we have to focus on the production of clean and renewable energy sources, then we can be living in harmony with the planet thereby truly protecting our future.  (And no, nuclear is not among them until we can get beyond nuclear fission to nuclear fusion … and I think we can, eventually, if we’re consciously focused on that … but that’s much longer term, down the line.)

We’re at a point in a new era where this shift can happen.  It must happen.  As aptly noted recently by Maldives President Mohamed Nasheed, at the EEPC India, Export Award Presentation Function, we did not leave the stone age because we ran out of stones …

Another great quote further illustrates:

“Memo to oil apologists: When VHS supplanted Betamax, nobody shed a tear.  When word processing software replaced typewriters, nobody shrieked about a socialist revolution in the steno pool.  And when the jet engine replaced the propeller, there were no protests on the Mall in Washington about a vast supersonic conspiracy. Face it: Technology changes.  And the petroleum-based economy is dead. It’s built on antiquated technology that’s killing us and our planet.  Oil has served its purpose.  It was great while it lasted, at it got us to a point where we have the industrial and technological wherewhithal to chart a new course.  But we’re no longer primitives who need animal fat to light our evening meditations, or chase away evil spirits.”  ~ Martin Luz in HuffingtonPost.com

Indeed, the universe has been beautifully set up for us humans by putting the biggest nuclear reactor we’ll ever need perfectly positioned at the center of our solar system, which in my humble opinion at about 93,000 million miles away, is about as close to nuclear technology as we humans need to be at this stage in our evolution.  But beautifully, that sun-reactor shines on this planet all day every day.  All we have to do is rotate around and collect it, store it and share it. And the rotating is already being done for us! (Think about how big that part of the job would be if we had to do it …)

With the brilliant minds of our leaders in technology and elsewhere, this is totally doable.  Just ask the children who draw pictures of this concept every day in grade schools around the world, and who are learning how to play nicely in the sandbox with others and to share their toys (then pass them down to the younger kids …).  That sunshine is in everything we know as life that is on the planet today.  It is begging us to be more consciously engaged with it.

And so is the earth.  Since we cannot see the dinofuels we’ve gassified and put into the atmosphere, it is now giving us a glimpse of what we’re doing by pumping millions of gallons of pure black crude into our oceans (and we have underwater cameras so we can watch it happen with full awareness).  I say oceans rather that Gulf of Mexico here because in their fluid state, the tar balls that have been put into circulation can now go everywhere on the planet to be cleaned up by everyone – after we focus on the massive efforts needed currently on the U.S. Gulf Coast.

What’s one thing you can do each day to make a positive difference and help return us to a world that’s clean and renewable?  Whatever you do will be your contribution to protecting our future.  And whatever it is, it is a valuable contribution.

Blessings for your efforts, Dolly

Innovation As Legacy

PBS has amazing programs!  We all really need to watch that channel more often!

In celebration of being on the air 30 years, PBS through its Nightly Business Report (NBR) program,  collaborated (one of my favorite words!) with the Wharton School of business at University of Pennsylvania and its Knowledge@Wharton website on innovation and entrepreneurship.  Their goal: to identify the 30 innovations that have changed life most dramatically during the past 30 years.

The resulting program, the Top 30 Innovations of the Last 30 Years, is also featured on both the Wharton and PBS websites.   NBR program viewers in over 250 markets across the U.S. and Knowledge@Wharton readers from around the world submitted some 1200 suggestions for the best innovations they thought had shaped the world in that time.  A panel of eight judges from Wharton selected the top 30.  A fascinating list to check out — true legacies all.

This got me to thinking about my favorite teacher R. Buckminster Fuller, the man who coined the term “Spaceship Earth” and the phrase “doing more with less.”  He encouraged people to create artifacts – very much a personal legacy concept.

Bucky’s stated intention – as a lifelong experiment with his own life, made as a conscious decision in his early 30’s – was “to make the world work for 100% of humanity, in the shortest possible time, through spontaneous cooperation without ecological offense or disadvantage of anyone.”

He answered the question of why there were humans in the universe, with the notion that we are basically local information gatherers and problem solvers.  While we are more complex than that, it is an accurate observation.

Bucky focused his life on solving complex problems through an approach he called “comprehensive anticipatory design science.” The approach emphasized individual initiative and integrity, whole systems thinking, scientific rigor and faithful reliance on nature’s underlying principles.

He thought it was not helpful to try to change people, but rather important to change the context in which they operate, by providing innovative solutions to the problems they face.  That way, ultimately no one would have to work to ‘earn a living’ (we are, after all, already alive), but we would each contribute what we’re good at to positively impact the world around us: gathering information about and solving the problems that presented themselves uniquely to us.

What if we did more of that?  What if you took a look at what you do well and easily and even take joy in doing, and looked around to see who you could assist by creating something that would benefit them in some way?

If your brain is already spinning with ideas, you are developing a legacy consciousness.  Building anything from that thinking would make the planet a bit better place.

If what you build happens to answer Bucky’s urgent call for a design science revolution to make the world work for all.  If it:

  • “emphasizes a new design, material, process, service, tool, technology, or any combination”
  • “is part of an integrated strategy dealing with key social, economic, environmental, and cultural issues”
  • “present[s] a bold, visionary, tangible initiative that is focused on a well-defined need of critical importance [and is]
  • regionally specific yet globally applicable, and backed up by a solid plan and the capability to move the solution forward”

Then you might even win the Buckminster Fuller Challenge, as stated on the Buckminster Fuller Institute’s (bfi.org) website.

My ultimate joy at Creating Legacy would be to work side by side with you in helping you do just that, or even some fraction of that, which, in your own unique way “makes a difference now that lasts for generations.”

I’d love to hear your ideas.