Sunday Open Thread — October 29, 2006

Amy Allcock Royal Bank Plaza
Royal Bank Plaza Toronto by Amy Allcock

It’s been a tiring week — lots of work, lousy weather, and everyone around me seems to be suffering from colds, allergies etc. My stress level is rising, because after weeks of improvement in my health, my fatigue level has risen (and my running performance dropped) this week — the last time this happened was just before the onset of my colitis. Plus, my first out-of-country trip in months is coming up next week, and I find flying to the US gets more stressful with every new xenophobic regulation. And, just to make things worse, my laptop monitor has shorted out (HP Compaq this time, not a Dell — nine months old). So if my blog posts suddenly stop for a few days, you’ll know why.

This coming week, I’ll be writing about Kathy Sierra’s brilliant suggestions for engaging presentations and conversations, about Jeff Vail’s rhizome theory (the state of my computer permitting), and, in a multi-part article, about George Monbiot’s important new book Heat.  

I’m getting increasingly concerned about the (apparent lack of) scalability of bottom-up, networked actions — having seen the ultimate failure of the Dean campaign, the hopelessness of the US political situation when the only alternative (the Democratic party) shows it cannot offer any real alternative to the worst administration in the history of the US, and the struggle to get Intentional Community, community-based energy and food co-ops and other community-based models to catch on. It seems partly to be a matter of attention (not getting enough of it, thanks to the corporatist media and the general attention deficit, ignorance and cynicism of the public), and partly a matter of lack of urgency and lack of resources. We seem to be suffering from terminal inertia at a time when we are running out of time.

The floor is yours. Tell us what’s on your mind, and let’s have a conversation about something you care about.

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11 Responses to Sunday Open Thread — October 29, 2006

  1. YM says:

    any thoughts on Obama? Seems to be making a lot of waves . . .

  2. Damn it, don’t give up, we need you, Dave. It looks darkest just before the dawn.

  3. Valla says:

    Dave,I am sorry to hear that you are worried about your health. I have no clear answers on how to prevent a flare. I am asuming that your are off the steriods now but it is still very soon to have another attack. my best advice is to keep a symptom log (include the smallest things) my sons doctor says the best thing to do at this stage is to pay attention to your nutrition. oh and try to get some rest..Oh did you hear the “Ray of Hope” this week about the new identified gene connection?Valla

  4. David Parkinson says:

    You’re right to be concerned about the fecklessness of our world these days. I finally saw The End Of Suburbia this weekend: someone from the Council of Canadians was showing it here in Powell River. Granted, it didn’t get a lot of publicity; still, only about 30 people showed up, and about half of those left when the presenter convened a post-film discussion. Some of the people who stayed for the discussion had some good things to say about ways that our community could start addressing some post-peak issues; but when the time came to put money (time, really) where the mouth was, I & only one other person were volunteered to start work on an energy descent committee. So many years of ‘apathetizing’ the population, and what you get is this: at the time when everyone’s energy is most needed, people are just too fractured and stressed out to think about committing time, energy, imagination to better things. Even at this event, people were talking about how our local government should be doing something… talk about an obvious fact of life cleverly hidden in plain sight: governments are not in the business of solving people’s problems out of some spirit of altruism or common good. Rarely in the past, & decreasingly so nowadays.<br/><br/>And yet, I refuse to get down about this. It’s clearly going to be a long haul to break the spell of common wisdom & careless thinking. Bottom-up change will be slow at first, but I cling to the belief that nothing is more important than educating oneself & preparing to step into the void left when the current structures are suddenly revealed to be worse than useless… & that moment of clarity is coming sooner than I feel ready for.<br/><br/>Let’s hope that revolutionary change is hiding its light under a bushel these days, too busy sharpening the blades to do PR.

  5. I think we can start learning how to do a lot with a little. Like the example in The Tipping Point where the woman wanted to tell others about breast cancer and had a great idea: instead of the church, she used beauty shops. Small things can have a huge impact.I understand your anxiety about the possibility that the planet might be doomed. But if we haste people, it could get worse. Love them, care for them, help them.Dave, just notice how many people are carrying these ideals around. What if we need just a little more to reach critical mass?

  6. Jon Husband says:

    It seems partly to be a matter of attention (not getting enough of it, thanks to the corporatist media and the general attention deficit, ignorance and cynicism of the public), and partly a matter of lack of urgency and lack of resources. We seem to be suffering from terminal inertia at a time when we are running out of time. Yes .. and we can’t and shouldn’t stop, just because.

  7. Thomas Watson says:

    Well, this week I’ve been thinking about the Stern Report, a huge admission from one of the more conservative western governments around. Hah, things must really be bad if Blair and co are saying we have only 10 years to avoid the worse of it. This maybe Blair’s only hope of overcoming the smear the Iraq War has left on his political career.Reactions to the report in Australia have been the typical. The prime minister, John Howard, has stated that we needn’t be so worried about these things and that the report is overly pessimistic. He’s dismissed it without even trying to discredit its economics or science.Hope the Stern report gives some momentum for environmental issues, such as the national “Walk against Warming” that is happening this saturday. I’m organising my own little bunch of people to come along, hope its a bit of fun and demonstrates to the government that there is mass appeal for the policies that would go some way to improving the situation.I’ve been involved in forming the ANU Greens club on campus here at the ANU. Should be interesting to see how it develops.

  8. Wendy Geise says:

    I didn’t even make the connection when I read this entry last week, that you would be speaking at the KM conference in San Jose this week. It wasn’t until this morning when I was reviewing the list of sessions I had planned to attend for the day that I recognized one of them was yours. It was great to see the environmental information incorporated into your examples in the presentation about making information more meaningful. You should give the same presentation at conferences for environmental scientists, NGO’s, activists and news writers. It can help them understand ways to translate complex scientific data related to the state of the environment and present it in a simplified way that can be understood by a larger audience. Now I have a task to start thinking about how to integrate some of the tools for delivering more meaningful content on my blog sites.

  9. Dave Pollard says:

    Thanks everyone, especially Wendy for your kind words on my presentation. Tiago, this is an issue that concerns me a great deal — what is the Tipping Point for bottom-up models and experiments, and at what point does the increasing sense of urgency of individuals (pushing them to braver actions) synchronize with the increasing success and knowledge about intentional communities and other sustainable ways of living, to the point they take off? There are so few models to draw on –entrepreneurs who started in their garage, churches that started with a handful of people, political parties that started with one important idea. What are the essential ingredients?

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