WORKING ON A BUILDING

9 05 2015

citylimits2-1The Nashville Scene recently published the map above, along with a short article about the persistence, and spread, of poverty in Nashville. The map comes from the 114-page “executive summary” of Metro’s Social Services Department’s annual report, and has a lot of very revealing information about “the it city.”  Forget the hipster/country music glamour stereotypes–“it’s” about poverty.  While about a quarter of our city’s residents have incomes of $100,000 a year or more, another quarter are living at or below the poverty line, with incomes of less than $25,000 a year, including yours truly.  The maps show how poverty has spread in Nashville, moving into the suburbs.  They are also a good springboard for a discussion of housing policy and zoning.

Gentrification is a major issue in Nashville, often coupled with increased population density, as developers purchase small, older houses on large lots and replace them with structures, frequently duplexes or apartment buildings, that more nearly fill the lot.  Although I think greater urban density is a good idea, I don’t think this is the way to go about it, for a variety of reasons.  Some of these reasons are ecological, others are social, others are psychological.

Read the rest of this entry »





MORPHOGENESIS

9 05 2015

This is the 11th Chapter of Charles Eisenstein’s “The More Beautiful World Our Hearts Know Is Possible.  You can read the whole chapter here.  Please consider buying this book, which you can do here.

Sometimes when I encounter pioneers in a certain domain of alternative culture, I get the feeling that even if they are doing their work on a small scale, perhaps within a small ecovillage, an isolated prison, a single community in a war zone or gang zone, that they are doing that work on behalf of us all, and that the changes they make in themselves create a kind of template that the rest of us can follow, and do in a short time what took them decades of effort and learning. When I see, for example, how my friend R. has, in the face of near-impossible odds, so profoundly healed from being abused as a child, I think, “If she can heal, it means that millions like her can too; and her healing smooths the path for them.”

Sometimes I take it even a step further. One time at a men’s retreat one of the participants showed us burn scars on his penis, the result of cigarette burns administered by a foster parent when he was five years old to punish him. The man was going through a powerful process of release and forgiveness. In a flash, I perceived that his reason for being here on Earth was to receive and heal from this wound, as an act of world-changing service to us all. I said to him, “J., if you accomplish nothing else this lifetime but to heal from this, you will have done the world a great service.” The truth of that was palpable to all present……

musical interlude: Sweet Honey In the Rock, “On Children

So, whatever your reasons for choosing to do great things or small, do not let them be the urgent, fearful belief that only the big, public things have any chance of influencing the masses and saving the world. As I will describe later in the book, part of the revolution in which we are participating is a revolution in how we make our choices. To do the possible, the old way works fine. When we have a map from A to B, we can just follow the directions. Now is not that time. The calculable results are not enough. We need miracles. We have caught a glimpse of our destination, the destination that hope foretells, but we have no idea how to get there. We walk an invisible path with no map and cannot see where any turning will lead.

I wish I could say that the new story provides a map, but it does not. It can, however, remove the disorienting fog of habits and beliefs, leftovers of the old paradigms, that obscure our internal guidance system. The principles of interbeing do not, on their own, offer a formula for decision making. Even if you accept that “I and the world are one,” you will not be able to distinguish whether it will benefit all sentient beings more to stay home and reduce your carbon emissions, or to drive to the rally to protest fracking. To attempt such a calculation draws from the old story, which seeks to quantify everything, to add up the effects of any action, and to make choices accordingly. That way of making choices is useful only in certain, narrow circumstances—in particular, those in which cause and effect are more or less linear. It is appropriate for many engineering problems and financial decisions. It is the mindset of the actuary, weighing risks and payoffs. The new story is a much bigger change than to revalue the risks and seek new payoffs. It is not going to help you make choices from the calculating mind. But it will provide a logical framework within which our heart-based choices make a lot more sense.

music:  Pru Clearwater, “God Flow Through Me”

 

 





GREEN PARTY ANNUAL MEETING!

11 04 2015

field-of-sunflowers-gptn

Are you looking for an alternative to corporate “Earth Day celebrations” and corporate political parties?  Then come to The Green Party of Tennessee’s annual meeting this coming Saturday, April 18th, from 11AM to 3PM at Long Hunter State Park near Nashville, and help create a new vision for Tennessee politics!  Details at greenpartyoftennessee.org





HOPE

11 04 2015

This is a chapter from Charles Eisenstein’s “The More Beautiful World Our Hearts Know Is Possible.  You can read the whole chapter here, and buy the book here.

Another world is not only possible, she is on her way. On a quiet day, I can hear her breathing.

—Arundhati Roy

Hope has a bad name these days among certain teachers. On the one hand, it seems to suggest wishful thinking that distracts us from a sober assessment of reality and fosters unrealistic expectations. As Nietzsche put it, “Hope is the worst of evils, for it prolongs the torments of man.” Meanwhile, in the language of “spirituality,” hope implies a rejection of the present moment, or perhaps a taint of doubt eroding the creative power of one’s intentions. But let us not be so quick to dismiss this primal element of the human psyche. What does hope tell us, “springing eternally,” as it so often does, like a flower alongside the desolate byways of despair?….

When my children were little they attended a Montessori kindergarten. Never before or since have I encountered a school so vibrant with love, laughter, and gentleness. The teachers treated the children with deep, honest respect, never patronizing them, never coercing them, never manipulating them with disapproval or praise, giving them an experience of unconditional love. Those kindergarten days are now but a foggy memory to the children who went on from there into the harsh, degrading world of separation, but in my mind’s eye I see a small golden glow inside of them, and within that glow I see a seed. It is the seed of the unconditional love and respect they received there, awaiting the moment to sprout and blossom and deliver the same fruit that my children received to those they touch. Maybe a year or two of kindergarten isn’t enough to overcome the brutal apparatus of separation that governs modern childhood, but who knows when and how it might blossom forth? Who knows what effects it will bear? To be in a sanctuary of love and respect every day for one or two years during such a formative stage of life imprints a person with a tendency toward compassion, security, self-love, and self-respect. Who knows how that imprint will alter the child’s choices later in life? Who knows how those choices will change the world?

music:  Neil Young, “Who’s Gonna Stand Up?”

Talking Heads, “Nothing But Flowers” (first is the official video, second is homemade video for longer album version)

 

music:





A NEW VISION FOR NASHVILLE

11 04 2015

future-city-5-webWhat might Nashville be like in twenty-five years? While my friends and I have been seeking to answer that question through the lens of the “transition towns” movement, with what we have called “Transition Nashville,” Metro’s “Nashville Next” program has been the city’s attempt to answer that question, and, to a certain extent, the planners involved in Nashville Next have done a good job.  They have asked at least some of the right questions, and they have solicited, and elicited, a fair amount of citizen involvement in their visioning, but I think there are some unasked questions and misguided assumptions in their process. I think “the next Nashville” will be very different from what they envision, and that proceeding on their basic assumption, that the future will, overall, be a lot like the past, could produce some very unhappy results.  If we recognize these errors and correct our course, Nashville could still be a pretty nice place to live as we approach mid-century. I am going to start by quoting what Nashville Next’s website and then offer my own comments and suggestions. Read the rest of this entry »





WHEN THE CENTER CANNOT HOLD

7 03 2015

A couple of weeks ago, I was commenting in a discussion thread on Facebook that had started with a local, politically active friend bemoaning the abysmally low turnout in the last election.  Here in Tennessee, only 29.1 percent of the electorate bothered to show up at the polls, the second lowest turnout in the country.  This enabled the sixteen percent of Tennessee voters who actually support banning abortion and income taxes, and who approve of the mean-spirited program of the Republican Party, to feel as if they had swept like a mighty tide over the state.

Well, I pointed out, the Democrat Party hasn’t really put up much of a fight.  Their leadership is inextricably tied to the national DP leadership, which is, truth be told, “progressive” only in its rhetoric, and then only when it needs to attempt to motivate “progressives” to vote for Democrats.  The progressive rhetoric, which is never truly radical, certainly not anti-corporate, and absolutely never questions capitalism, is quickly cast aside once the election’s over, and, if they win, the Dems go back to being the same old imperialist, corporatist, center-right party they’ve always been.  So, I said to the folks in the thread, why don’t all you progressives come over to the Green Party?

stein_chanceResponse? He was shocked, absolutely shocked.  “When Greens run, Democrats lose,” wrote my friend.  Another commenter chimed in, “Nader cost Gore the 2000 election.  Look what that got us.”

It was late at night, I was feeling ill, and I was short on temper and brains. “You guys have drunk too much Democrat kool-aid,” I fumed, and quit the group in disgust.  It didn’t take me long to regret my grumpiness and haste, but they declined to let me back in the group. I had had a chance to unmask some of my friends’ illusions, and I had blown it.  What I am telling you today is for my own benefit as well as for the benefit of the many people who would have echoed their words, reminding me to be patient with those who have fallen for the Big Lie about Nader, and the many other big lies that, er, underlie our sociopolitical fabric. Read the rest of this entry »





DESPAIR

7 03 2015

This is a chapter from Charles Eisenstein’s “The More Beautiful World Our Hearts Know Is Possible.  Please purchase this book!  You can buy it here, and you can read the chapter on line here. While many people understand that the solution to climate change involves more than a disembedded choice of alternative technologies, few would say that those dedicating their lives to marriage equality for gay people, compassion to the homeless, or care for the autistic are doing something essential for the survival of our species. But that is only because our understanding of interbeing is still shallow. I would like to suggest that anything that violates or disrupts the Story of Separation will heal any and all of the consequences of that story. This includes even the tiny, invisible actions that our rational mind, steeped in the logic of Separation, says cannot possibly make a difference. It includes the kind of actions that get squeezed out by the big crusades to save the world…..

….Readers of my earlier books will forgive me for requoting this passage from “A Free Man’s Worship” by Bertrand Russell, one of the great minds of the modern era:

That man is the product of causes which had no prevision of the end they were achieving; that his origin, his growth, his hopes and fears, his loves and his beliefs, are but the outcome of accidental collocations of atoms; that no fire, no heroism, no intensity of thought and feeling, can preserve an individual life beyond the grave; that all the labors of the ages, all the devotion, all the inspiration, all the noonday brightness of human genius, are destined to extinction in the vast death of the solar system, and that the whole temple of man’s achievement must inevitably be buried beneath the debris of a universe in ruins—all these things, if not quite beyond dispute, are yet so nearly certain that no philosophy which rejects them can hope to stand. Only within the scaffolding of these truths, only on the firm foundation of unyielding despair, can the soul’s habitation henceforth be safely built.

As I have hinted, the story on which Russell bases his conclusions is no longer so certain. A philosophy that rejects them can indeed hope to stand—on the foundation of the quantum interconnectedness and indeterminacy, the tendency of nonlinear systems toward spontaneous organization and autopoiesis; the capacity of organisms and environments to purposely restructure DNA; and the proliferation of scientific anomalies that promise further paradigm shifts to come. Without attempting to make a rigorous philosophical case for it, I will observe that all these scientific revolutions lend themselves, at least metaphorically, to a very different Story of the World.

music:  Jane Siberry, “Gospel of Darkness

Tabla Beat Science, “Sacred Channel

Jane Siberry  “Then We Heard a Shout” (first link is album version, second is live performance w/ commentary)








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