RE-INDUSTRIALIZING NASHVILLE

6 06 2015

southernbroomI drive through Germantown from time to time, and my route takes me past a small, warehouse-type building that bears the legend, “Southern Broom and Mop Co.”  There is never any sign of activity there when I drive past. It looks as if it must have been in existence for a hundred years or more, a bit of flotsam left over from our city’s industrial heyday in the late nineteenth century, when much of what Nashville needed for its daily functioning was manufactured or grown right here in middle Tennessee.  When I went to research this story, I discovered that, in reality, the company has only been in existence for about twenty years, and is a janitorial service, not a manufacturing enterprise.  What’s more,  the building has recently been sold–for nearly a million dollars–and will be turned into yet another trendy, high-end restaurant in this rapidly gentrifying neighborhood.  That’s too bad.  Even the wealthy can only eat so much–but everybody needs a mop and a broom.

In a recent post, I proposed that we re-industrialize Nashville, spreading new, preferably worker-owned enterprises throughout the city so that as many people as possible could walk to work, and thus lessen the pressure on our roads, and the pressure on low-income people to spend money on an automobile.  There’s two ways to increase peoples’ disposable income.  One is to pay them more, and the other is to lower their cost of living.  Even “cheap” cars–some would say, especially “cheap” cars–are expensive!

Today, I want to talk about two aspects of my plan.  One thing I want to do is explain the Mondragon Co-operative model, and examine how it could fit Nashville.  Another is to talk about what kind of industries would be suitable for the city, where they should be located, and how to raise the startup capital they will need.  I will outline some general ideas about appropriate manufacturing enterprises, but the amount of detail involved is more than I could cover here. I think that the Davidson County planning commission and the neighborhoods should work this out among themselves.  There are many variables and alternatives. I couldn’t possibly anticipate them all, but citizen involvement and an intelligent, responsive, well-informed oversight agency should be able to figure it all out over the course of a few years.

The first thing I want to say about this plan is that I am not proposing a return to the old industrial model.  The old industrial Nashville was a pit of pollution, its air filled with coal smoke, its earth and waters fouled. Nashville’s new factories should be, in the nonpolitical sense, green.  They should be quiet, nonpolluting, energy-efficient enterprises that will not detract from their neighbors’ quality of life.  Some things we may want to do are going to be loud and/or smelly, and we can find ways to buffer these from their surrounding communities.  Since community members, as employees, will also be owners of these enterprises, they will have the power to change things if they need to be changed.

So, what are the basic principles on which Mondragon factory co-ops are founded?

Read the rest of this entry »





NAIVETE

6 06 2015

This is a chapter from Charles Eisenstein’s book, “The More Beautiful World Our Hearts Know Is Possible.”  Please consider buying it.

I love those who yearn for the impossible.

—Goethe

We are entering unknown territory, in which we have glimpsed a beautiful destination but don’t know how to get there. It is inaccessible according to what we understand of causality. Things have to happen that we don’t know how to make happen. If you don’t “make” it happen, and it happens, then how does it happen? Obviously, it happens as a gift. You may have noticed that very generous people themselves attract more gifts. Therefore, if we are giving our lives in service, we will experience more of these fortuitous events. These are key to a creative potency beyond the old conception of causality.

Anything worth devoting a life to today requires some of these miracles, these things that we do not and cannot make happen, that come as gifts. Therefore, if you follow your heart’s guidance toward any of these worthwhile goals, your choices will seem to many (and sometimes to yourself) a little bit crazy…..

….

Reader, have you ever been part of something like that, where everything seems to flow, where you find yourself again and again at the right place at the right time to encounter exactly the right person? Where everything needed shows up, sometimes at the last minute, in completely unanticipated ways? Where an invisible outside power seems to be coordinating everything and everyone?

How and why does this happen? If we could somehow master the technology of being in the right place at the right time, if we could learn to ride the flow of synchronicity, then we would have accessed a power greater than anything the world of force is capable of.

music: Mike Kirkland, “Hang On In There”





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 »








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