Posted in city, Ecosphere, tagged albatross, copper sky, environment, Midway Film, nature, plastic, pollution, sustainability, water on March 2, 2012 |
2 Comments »
Come with me on a journey through the eye of beauty across an ocean of grief … and beyond.
Filmmaker Jan Vozenilek of Copper Sky Productions shared one of the most moving stories of human-caused assault on the natural world at the Building Sustainable Communities Conference (BSC) in Kelowna. I have just returned from there and am still assimilating BSC’s ultra-intensive agenda connecting sustainability perspectives, people and planet.
Jan is part of a crew making a film on the plight of the albatross that nests on Midway Island in the middle of the Pacific, 2000 miles from other land. The birds are horrifying ambassadors to the human species of the bio-cide our manufacture of plastics and how our careless disposal of everything from bottle caps, to cigarette lighters, to plastic straws imperils other species. The Midway Film shows the life-decimating graveyard of these plastics is not the apocryphal plastic island swirling in the gyre of the Pacific but the guts of the baby sea birds who ingest the plastic as food – inedible food that fills their guts and guts their life.
Jan shared the advice of the Hawaiin elder who warned him not to feel sorry for the albatross – but instead to take their story as a gift to us – a message to change our ways. Jan told us that the plastic killing the sea birds is sourced from the casual disposal of plastic along the river banks of the world. He demonstrated this uncomfortable truth by collecting a box of plastic junk from the city of Kelowna, along the shores of Lake Okanagan – (where our conference hotel was located - 1000 km from the ocean). Like the canaries in the coal mine who save miners from poison gas, or the bees dying of colony collapse disorder, the albatross has a message for the human species.
Jan is a modern day Goya (who with his painting of the Disasters of War documented the brutality of war and the atrocities that mankind inflicts upon itself). Jan is holding up the horrifying beauty of the dying colony of albatrosses (whose plastic-filled skeletons are unnervingly beautiful sand paintings with their feathered bright and pastel shades of plastic entrails). The man-made guts are literally gut-wrenching – an atrocity we can take as an object lesson of the (unintended?) consequences of our irresponsible polluting behaviour. The film enjoins us to steward nature and respect other species, by first taking responsibility for our actions. Clean up our mess wherever we are so we don’t spoil nature for others – who might be half a world away. You can support Jan and colleagues work by contacting him at Copper Sky Studios.
Read Full Post »
Posted in Building - Structures, Emergence, Inner, Lifecycle, Panarchy, tagged communication, ecology, multiple cities, sense in the city, water on January 24, 2011 |
2 Comments »
I have just finished editing an interview I did with one of Integral City’s Advisors, Will Varey, of Emergnc in December, 2010. It will be posted for readers’ listening pleasure on Meshcasts later today.
We had a most wide-ranging dialogue that explored cities as living systems. Will’s grounding in sustainability provided a “pingable” trampoline to explore the ecology of the city’s values, perspectives, experiences, cultures, healths and wellbeing.
We shared the discovery that a city is not just one simple location. Rather it is one location that is experienced differently by every person in the city, because each person has their own unique values, worldviews and perspectives. They may be influenced strongly by the family and ethnic culture to which they belong, but essentially, each citizen is walking around with their own distinctive inner map of the city. This is mind-boggling to consider. I imagine everyone’s inner lives floating above and around and through each person like cartoon balloons. They are constantly bumping into each other, overlapping, dissolving, being assimilated, re-forming, shape-shifting. They are invisible fields of inform-ation that become accessible when we communicate. Is there any wonder we have such a need to communicate? Isn’t it a wonder that we can make meaning of these myriad versions of the city at all?
In fact Will pointed out a major dilemma of these multiple cities in one location is that they have to make use of one infrastructure – like a water system. The location and its outer infrastructure tend to be a singular reality on which the multiple inner cities must come to agreement on how to share. It is the job of policy developers and administrators to frame and manage such agreements. And when you paint the challenge that faces these (often faceless) managers, that they must make sense of multiple inner cities to operate a single outer city, it ought to call forth from us a new respect for every city infrastructure manager (think water, waste, transportation, communications) who does their job well.
One of the great advantages of the Integral Model for the city, is that it helps to notice the patterns in the multiple cities that people experience and make sense of them in this one location. As you negotiate your city today, be curious about the multiple cities that surround you and appreciative of the one location (and its managers) that supports you (with a little help from its imported footprint of resources).
Read Full Post »
Posted in Building - Structures, Ecosphere, Navigating - IVSM, tagged accountability, floating city, fuel, navigating, ship, transparency, water on January 7, 2011 |
One of the things I like about the Holland America cruises is the ship’s log they give at the end of the voyage. It is an interesting accountability document for key resources, especially water and fuel.
My recent cruise on the MS Rotterdam used 120 tons/day of fuel to travel a toal of 3529 nautical miles, moving a 780 foot vessel weighing 59,885 gross tons with a total of 1910 people for 12 days. While ships tend to be one of the dirtier transportation systems in use, what matters here is that the fuel consumption is reported.
More encouraging are the figures on water production — the ship produced 700 tons (185,000 gallons) of potable water per day. And we consumed 600 tons (158,000 gallons)of potable water.
That is what interests me — that the ship is generating usable resources — and that it is being transparent in the usage of both fuel and water. The floating city offers a useful template for shoreside cities to adopt as navigational tools for resource transparency and accountability.
What if cities reported household, business and total city resource consumption per day? How would that help us to become aware of how many planets our resource demands were consuming?
Read Full Post »
Posted in D. Strategic Intelligences, Ecosphere, Inquiry, Level 4 Blue, Level 5 Orange, Level 6 Green, Level 7 Yellow, Navigating - IVSM, tagged food, sustainability, water, whole systems thinking on January 5, 2010 |
If you want to find out how complex the relationship between ecology, water resources and human food supplies is becoming, check out this item on Endangerd Species Act Ruling and food production in California. In order to even grasp the players in this scenario one has to gain some altitude and look at it systemically. It is interesting that nowhere in the article is there an exploration of the assumptions about the rights of humans to populate requiring the responsibility of understanding the carrying capacity of the eco-region for all life. This article seems locked into post-modern (green) worldviews of entitlement.
Read Full Post »
is the story of water (rights) being privatized by Big Biz – esp. Suez, Vivendi and Nestlé (interestingly enough all European). These companies are all portrayed as vulture captilalists who are buying up water properties around the world and privatizing water as a commodity that is being re-sold at prices higher than oil. This is an ethic – or unethic? – rooted in Beige values, water being the most basic requirement of life.
I found it politically intriguing that a city in India had been successful at obtaining an injunction which shut down the local private water corporation (in this case Coke). While a county in Michigan was unsuccessful at sustaining an injunction to prevent Nestlé from eroding water access from neighbouring properties. No wonder the UN wants to pass Article 13, making access to (clean) water a basic human right. We have the technology to make that happen. It seems to me that the rights to clean air, water and basic food should be considered along with Lester Brown’s 4 Responsibilities (reducing Co2 emissions to =<350; population control; eradicating poverty; restoring natural systems). Each list provides constraints for the other.
Read Full Post »