this map of online communities, c.2007, definitely needs updating; thanks to Howard Deane for the link
PREPARING FOR CIVILIZATION’S END
Can Communities Collaborate?: Harold Jarche argues that in complicated environments (like groups of people in a company working on a shared objective) collaboration is possible, while in complex environments (like most social and ecological ones) the best that can be hoped for is cooperation, because in these environments there can never be truly shared objectives. In the comments thread, Nancy White says she’s not so sure. If Harold is right, is this why communities struggle to really collaborate? And, tying this back to my earlier post on individual vs. collective intentions and objectives, does this mean we’re doomed to failure because communities (the only sustainable, resilient form of social organization) will forever have their effectiveness and energy drained by squabbles over diverse personal intentions and objectives? This is an important question I intend to write more about.
Sovereign Nation Defaults in 2010?: Jim Kunstsler predicts that after 2009, the year of “extend and pretend” we will see 2010 as the year of realization of the functional bankruptcy of the US, with consequences including the Dow at 4,000, anti-government rioting by mostly right-wing elements culminating in a resurgence of Republican strength in Congress, and massive sovereign national financial defaults including almost all of Europe (except Scandinavia, Germany, France and perhaps UK). He also sees crises in China and Mexico. My prediction is that Kunstler, author of The Long Emergency, is right in his forecasts but wrong in his timing — what he sees happening in one year will, I think, take five, or maybe even ten, and occur in waves not all in one collapse.
How to Prepare for Collapse: Keith Farnish and Carolyn Baker discuss how they’re preparing for the collapse of industrial civilization. Excerpts:
What I will be doing as collapse takes hold is what I’ve been doing for many years. The first activity and the one that started my awakening was and is to become and remain informed about what is actually happening as opposed to what the media of civilization is telling us is happening. I have done many things logistically to prepare–things like food storage, creating a community of allies around me, and of course, relocating to a more sustainable and conscious part of the United States. My most significant relationships are with people who are collapse-aware and with whom I am able to talk about the inevitable–people who are also preparing. Above all, I see the world these days through the lens of collapse which causes me to appreciate all of the modest comforts I have, the supportive people in my life, the food I eat, the clean water I drink, and the health I’m privileged to enjoy. I am consciously preparing myself emotionally and spiritually for the unraveling… Civilization has robbed us of our intimate connection with our own humanity–something that I sometimes call our “indigenous self”, and like indigenous people revolting against colonization, collapse is offering us the opportunity to uncolonize and reclaim the indigenous self within us.
Another part of preparation – and it is of course fundamental to the reconnection of which you speak – is my connection with nature. That connection, if deeply felt and viscerally experienced, will inform our priorities, our relationships, our parenting, how we eat, travel, spend our time–virtually every aspect of our lives.
Transition Training: Transition US is now offering training in the transition to post-civilization culture. Thanks to Paul Heft for the link.
Confronting Collapse: Collapse, the movie based on Michael Ruppert’s book Confronting Collapse, is now out. Watch for it in your area. Ruppert’s prescription for coping with the collapse of oil is radical, and improbable, but he has an almost unblemished record of being right.
Bill McKibben on Copenhagen: McKibben acknowledged what everyone except the mainstream media already knew: Copenhagen was a total disaster, producing essentially nothing. What I am hoping for now is a radicalization of the scientists and environmentalists, combining to work for non-political change to combat global warming, now that political action is clearly not going to happen (thanks to David Hodgson for the link):
The Guardian quickly declared the whole thing a Failure, in large point type, followed by most of the world’s other newspapers, though the American press was a little kinder. Kumi Naidoo, the wonderful head of Greenpeace International, said Copenhagen was a “crime scene.” The leaders of the global youth movement gathered under the Metro station outside the Bella Center to chant: “You’re wrecking our future.”
James Hansen, the great climate scientist who started the global warming era with his 1988 testimony before the U.S. Congress, and whose team provided the crucial 350 number that now defines the planet’s habitability, refused to come to Copenhagen, predicting it would be a charade. He was correct. On Sunday he predicted a greater than 50 percent chance that 2010 would be the warmest year ever recorded. If you want to bet against him, you can. If you want to argue that this non-agreement will help Obama get something through Congress, it’s possible you’re right. If you want to despair, that’s certainly a plausible option.
Psst, Wanna Buy $2.2T in US Debts, Cheap?: Ilargi points out that in 2010, over two trillion dollars of US federal debt (plus tons more at lower levels of government) will come up for renewal. Who’s going to buy it at current interest rates of 1%? At 5%? At 10%? Well if all else fails, maybe the US government will buy its own debt, under cover, just to show someone has faith these debts can be repaid. Oh, wait, they’ve already been doing that. Just don’t tell China.
Does Innovation Start with the Customer?: An interesting NYT piece on customer-centric innovation. This is one of the key messages of my book Finding the Sweet Spot — that natural enterprise starts with meeting an unmet need, not with hawking me-too products developed in a lab. But these corporations still don’t get it — you don’t bring the customer into your innovation centre and show them what you’re doing. You ask the customer open-ended questions that surface needs, and then through creative conversation you co-develop new products and services with your customer. You know you’re there when the line between supplier and customer is so blurred you can no longer tell them apart — they just become colleagues, collaborators, partners.
Four Important Trends in US Consumer Behaviour: Is the consumer becoming smarter? Maintaining more liquidity/resilience, more ethical purchasing, looking for more durable goods, relying more on community purchases, collaboration and recommendations. Thanks to tree for the link and the one that follows.
The Ultimate Alternative Currency: The hour in now being used in some places as a unit of currency. Give an hour of what you do best, take an hour of what you need that someone else does best. Everyone’s time is valued equally.
Ten “Rules” of Homeschooling: Sharon Astyk explains what she’s learned homeschooling her kids. Most important: “The best thing to teach them is how to learn [for themselves]“.
POLITICS AND ECONOMICS AS USUAL
Ten Worst Things About the Bush Decade: A smart summary by Juan Cole. What’s scary is that nothing has been done to prevent a repeat of all these atrocities by the next wingnut president. Thanks to Stephen Downes for the link:
- The constitutional coup of 2000, in which Bush was declared the winner of an election he had lost, with the deployment of the most ugly racial and other low tricks in the ballot counting and the intervention of a partisan and far right-wing Supreme Court (itself drawn from or serving the oligarchs), and which gave us the worst president in the history of the union, who proceeded to drive the country off a cliff for the succeeding 8 years. And that is because he was not our president, but theirs.
- The September 11 attacks on New York and Washington by al-Qaeda, an organization that stemmed from the Reagan administration’s anti-Soviet jihad in the 1980s and which decided that, having defeated one superpower, it could take down the other.
- The great $12 trillion Bank Robberry, in which unscrupulous bankers and financiers were deregulated and given free rein to create worthless derivatives, sell impossible mortgages to uninformed marks who could not understand their complicated terms, and then to roll this garbage up into securities re-sold like the Cheshire cat, with a big visible smile of asserted value hanging in the air even as their actual worth disappeared into thin air.
- The Iraq War, in which the US illegally launched a war of aggression that killed hundreds of thousands of Iraqis, displaced 4 million (over a million abroad), destroyed entire cities such as Fallujah, set off a Sunni-Shiite civil war, allowed Baghdad to be ethnically cleansed of its Sunnis, practiced systematic and widespread torture before the eyes of the Muslim Middle East and the world, and immeasurably strengthened Iran’s hand in the Middle East.
- The Bush administration’s post-2002 mishandling of Afghanistan, where the Taliban had been overthrown successfully in 2001 and were universally despised.
- The Katrina flood and the destruction of much of historic African-American New Orleans, and the massive failure of the Bush administration to come to the aid of one of America’s great cities.
- The imperial presidency was ensconced in ways it will be difficult to pare back.
- The environment became more polluted.
- Health and food insecurity increased for ordinary Americans.
- Stagnating worker wages and the emergence of a new monied aristocracy.
The Fastest Depleting Resource: … is credibility, according to George Monbiot, reporting on the claims the International Energy Agency has been inflating oil reserve data to avoid “frightening markets”. Thanks to tree for the link and the one that follows.
Jeff Luers Finally Free: The man who was sentenced to 22 years in prison for blowing up three SUVs in a protest against fuel waste (no one was hurt) is finally free after nearly 10 years behind bars.
FUN AND INSPIRATION
Knowing the right time to die: If only we were this sensible, respectful and caring with humans we love.
A helicopter “blows” a deer frozen in the ice back to safety. Thanks to prad for the link.
A bit belatedly, an engineer’s christmas card. Thanks to tree for the link.
THOUGHT FOR THE WEEK
From Thomas Traherne (thanks to Sheri Herndon for the link):
You never enjoy the world aright
Till the sea itself flows in your veins
Till you are clothed with the heavens
And crowned with the stars.