Sunday, August 23, 2009

Planning for a sustainable future

Planning for an energized, intelligent and sustainable future
A new and vital project by FRA > Field Recording Activists

As we have seen in the recent debate regarding Health Care in America, it is nearly impossible to make a smooth transition from old, inefficient models of civic and social structures to intelligent, comprehensive
models no matter how obvious the potential advantages are. In the end, money, power and the ruling classes make up our minds for us.
Health care is only a tiny piece of the giant riddle we must find solutions to in the coming years in America and the world beyond. As I see it, we cannot hope to build a sustainable society if we are planning to rebuild it on a rotten foundation which is our land, environments, farming communities, water resources and wildlife, most notably now fish. I propose a simple action. Bring together representatives from as many social groups and political parties as there are in our country and exhaustively discuss and plan out the best methods for dealing with every major problem the world is facing now, then discussing which solution is the most viable and finally instituting the plans. We must put out the challenge to every country and person on Earth and allow everyone to understand it is our one and only chance for reordering and strengthening the planet. I like to view it as a kind of exploded Global New Deal that takes into account the opinions of everyone.

How would this work? How could this be afforded?
The simple answer is…DEMAND IT. Offer up the alternatives. There is nothing more important and
A good way to begin this effort is to start small, intelligent and precise. A good grassroots movement is ideal. To make this happen, WE MUST NOT ALLOW MONEY TO STAND IN THE WAY ANYMORE. Instead of buying the next pair of shoes or second I pod, please consider how it could be better spent. Type and print and distribute. Make a poster or a flyer that expresses your ideas. (we have to also think about the most efficient way to do these things without using up a ton of paper, ink and gasoline while getting out the message. Probably the most efficient way is to just go out and yell into a bullhorn.)
everyone must know it.

I would like to hear your opinions on any of or all of the points listed below.
Any quick statement will do, as long as we can understand your concerns about the problem as it is now and ANY potential solutions you may have been thinking about.
Please send anything you come up with back to me where I will be starting a well organized file of entries and ideas. Any thoughts about good methods for organizing data like this would be appreciated.
Please add to the list of topics if you feel they are missing and important.
Also, anyone who would like to become part of this project, please contact me.
Jason Estrin >Field Recording Activists FRA>>631-574-7380
When replying, you may want to just add/insert your comments directly alongside the topic areas you are interested in below. Do not worry about neatness or adhering to a method, just get the ideas down.

Most Important areas of Consideration:

• Population, birth
• Family issues
• Violence culture
• Counterculture, youth culture
• Leadership, icons, social figures
• Education
• Media/ entertainment, news, film, advertisement, internet
• Water use, management, waste
• Global Warming
• Changing weather
• Food Production
• Food Consumption
• Housing
• Product Production
• Product Consumption
• Waste management
• Energy Resources
• Transportation
• Urban planning/Community planning
• Home, Business, Urban energy
• Natural Resource Sustainability
• The Ocean, fishing, reefs, erosion
• Forests, Trees, timber, logging
• Rainforests
• Wetlands
• Mountains, glaciers
• Natural Parks
• Wildlife
• Habitats
• Migratory Paths
• Land Use
• Pollution/ Air, water, land
• Medicine, Health
• Political, Government Action
• Laws, Treaties, Protocols, fines, regulation
• Famine, Drought
• Disease, epidemics
• Catastrophe planning
• War and Peace

• Educate the masses about population problems/overpopulation and all the negative aspects concerned,
Sex education, birth control, child care.
• Consider the efforts other countries have made to deal with population problems; example: China, Japan efforts to convince people to limit families to one child. CheckFact
• Institute systems which monitor the waste, energy consumption, food consumption, product and services consumption and use or every family. This will provide a way for people to view and acknowledge their lifestyles and the impact they have on the environment and the system they live in.

Monday, August 3, 2009


“In the modern era, humanity forfeited its laboriously acquired traditions of craftsmanship [examples: craft guilds, illuminated manuscripts, hand carved furniture, elaborate architectural detail, weaving, embroidery, mosaic murals and decoration, glassblowing etc…]which represented the acquisition of culture as a second nature.  In the process of modernity, we first became denatured, cut off from our original relatedness to the natural world, and then decultured, amputated from the skills and artifacts we had created in place of nature.  What counts now are the valueless facts, the material and the rational.  All else is regarded with condescension as being of only sentimental value.  With the rise of the bourgeoisie, we attempted to make the private sphere of intimate experience and family life into a new value to replace those we had forfeited.  This has not proved satisfactory.” *


The issues discussed in the above passage, from the writing of Daniel Pinchbeck in his forbidding book 2012, the Return of Quetzalcoatl, are the same kinds of issues I have witnessed but have not been able to assemble a philosophy or a personal statement about.  It is because so many of the important, critical problems and paradoxes of our time have to be viewed in the context of history and evolution, not looked at critically as one would a film or a neat subject to be dissected.  Our culture/craft degradation, especially in the West is easily dismissed and rarely comes up in conversation.  It is only when one is presented with facts and examples that we can see the sadness of it, and the sickness in it.

While we amass newer, faster, more beautiful, more expensive electronic/digital devices and seek out time to use them, we exhaust time which was once spent out of doors, engaged in games and sports, exploration, conversation, social activities and on and on.  I don’t think this is a novel thought in our society. Most educated folks most likely have sensed this, but choose to follow the paths that lead to prosperity.  What is prosperity but the ability to afford products, services, vacations, food, clothing, shelter and entertainment?  While I admit these things appeal to me as well, I cannot help but feel that our necessity of material items is constantly expanding to include the newest technology.  In order to compete with the woman or man next to us we must possess and use our personal computer, cell phone, I pod, Blackberry, I phone and Kindle, which we must fill with music, ringtones, videos, images and stories.  Entertainment is quite important, as to utilize each device we must glean the internet, mall and megastore for that which will fill our itunes accounts, DVRs, cell phones and closet shelves, petroplastic storage containers and injection molded compartments.

In our homes we also strive to outfit our kitchens, dens, bedrooms and garages with shiny new inventions.  A flat screen TV is essential, including the various machines one may attach: Tivo, DVD player, Wii/Playstation.  In order to enjoy the wonders that these machines create, there must also exist a healthy assortment of games, films, and favorite programs scheduled and saved.  The clothes must be bright and crisp and smell of lavender or vanilla. This can be accomplished in short order thanks to our newest high capacity washing machines and dryers, as do our dish washers spit out piping hot, reflective, dry dishes, glassware and knives and forks quickly.  There must be a shelving and sorting machine on the way.

All this must we do in garments befitting the season and trends of the day.  That is why we are spirited catalogues, emails, and text messages which describe the sales we are missing which we best hurry to in our cars or hopefully trucks, as trucks allow for more cargo room.  Once at the strip mall or megastore it is hard to contain ourselves because everything looks so good at H&M.  We can picture ourselves in so much of it.  The Apple Store is winking at us from across the escalator chasm as we hold denim and cotton twill up to our body.  The colors of each new machine are like new young birds that we want to set free by purchasing them and plugging them in.

What is the truth behind this ridiculous example?  Though it may seem like exageration, hundreds of millions of folks think and live just that way.  My family and friends think and live this way.  Want and waste is our way of life. It is encouraged as our economy is dependent on citizens constantly buying, discarding the obsolete and buying newer models.  It is built into the business models of our favorite companies.  What would they sell if folks kept and became attached to their i pod, cell phone or laptop?  It was once expected that expensive objects, and possessions were held onto, polished, kept in wooden cabinets with the family heirlooms, possibly inscribed and passed on to the kids.  We keep our expensive possessions just long enough  to fill up the memory before we trade them in or throw them away. 

This brings us back to craft.  When a skilled tradesperson or artisan works their trade on good materials like wood, glass, clay, ceramic, metal or plant fiber we can appreciate the effort that went into creating a vessel, utensil, machine or piece of furniture.  It is the physical and mental exertion expended, the creative output that is evident in an object of good quality which reminds us that there is value in a trade which has been passed down in families and communities.  It should also remind us that once humans decide to cut off that line, we will lose that beautiful heritage of craft and design  that identifies cultures, communities, nations and eras. 

We can view Apple products as the good design esthetic in business of our generation, much like Braun, Olivetti and ________ designs were the design icons of a past era and generations.  The difference is, while a Braun electric Razor or coffee bean grinder, Olivetti typewriter or ______________ is was used often, cleaned, fixed if need be and stored, a Motorola, AT&T or Nokia cell phone is used for a short period of time and discarded like a disposable razor.  It has become so ludicrous and wasteful that old models are viewed as an embarrassment and something to be ridiculed and laughed at.