Friday, March 03, 2006

Communicating the Vision


*
This week, I'm working on a speech for a gathering in the Northeast.

This particular group will be a good group of sustainable types.

There will be sun people and shelter people.

There will be policy makers and enviro-social activists.

There will be water savers and water collectors.

There will be new, perhaps kookie, building products

that the daring and innovative might be tempted to try.

There will be timers for your house, efficient new lighting ideas,

and a bunch of other cool, and to some degree passe things displayed.

But by far, at least in my mind, the most important thing,

is not the things, (even though I am a confessed gear queer)

it's the people.

The section that Oz of earthfamilyalpha will be speaking in,

is the "Communicating the Vision" section on Wednesday.

Now, I'm not going to give the end of the movie away here,

but, I have been thinking about this vision thing more than

just a little while.

Last night at dinner, I kept trying to articulate what I'm thinking,

But it just wasn't sounding right when it came out.

I have been in the business of "groovie green" for almost 30 years.

I have seen it grow through nomenclature after nomenclature.

We have been unconventional, thus defined by convention.

We have been alternative, thus defined as another, possibly better way.

We have been solar, thus defined by the fuel source itself.

We have been renewable, thus defining the others as not.

(I like that kind of shaping)

And equally adept in shaping skill,

for the last 10 years or so, we have called our "thing" sustainable,

thus defining the others once again as not being so.

That worked so well, you started hearing sustainability all over the place.

But in this coming world of Climate Change and Peak Oil,

What is our vision?

Will a vision of clean renewable energy that can join the pantheon

of mature energy sources capable of meeting the needs of today

cut it?

Will a vision of creating sustainable communities

that flourish in the midst of unfathomable chaotic acres of car communities

have credibility?

Will a vision of biomass fuels and alcohol fuels grown from our rich earth,

so that we can continue our unlimited unrestrained mobility madness,

when billions upon billions on this earth go to bed hungry,

seem fatuous?

Will a vision of a better way to do something very wrong

be a vision at all?

Or will it just be a continuation

of the Nightmare?

If you are close to or can get to Boston next week,

Come Join Us.

And let's talk about it.

Then, let's take it to the streets.

Your're looking at a picture,
I'm looking at it too.
Do you see what I see there?

Let's talk about the difference,
find out what's in the way,
open up our eyes,
and see the same way.

Bruce Hornsby

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*"Broadacre" by Frank Lloyd Wright

5 Comments:

Blogger StagirasGhost said...

This is absolutely the best post to date.

It is well-defined, all-encompassing without communicating a broad stroke. It is non-partisan, thus visionary.

Thanks for a great pre-cursor to the weekend.

9:38 AM  
Blogger OZ said...

thanks SG.

your comments, although often a bit more lengthy, are always welcome and appreciated.

and jeesh who knows, one of these days, I may even figure out what in the sam blazes consilience means.

1:53 PM  
Anonymous Gaianna said...

A post filled with hope and optimism, a joy to read. Thank you.

1:51 AM  
Blogger StagirasGhost said...

On consilience:

Edward O Wilson popularised this rare word when he used it in the title of his best-selling book Consilience: the Unity of Knowledge. It means “a jumping together”, and in his book he encourages those who study the sciences, the humanities and the arts to bridge the gaps between their narrow specialisms and so link together all the branches of learning, an aim which goes back to the thinkers of the time of the Enlightenment. Professor Wilson is trying to bring together what three decades ago the late C P Snow called “the two cultures” in what he calls a “dream of unified learning”. Wilson argues that all fields of study have a common goal, to give understanding a purpose, and to lend to us all “a conviction, far deeper than a mere working proposition, that the world is orderly and can be explained by a small number of natural laws”. But Wilson didn’t invent the word: that honour belongs to the nineteenth-century philosopher William Whewell (who also gave us the word scientist), who used it in his book The Philosophy of the Inductive Sciences in 1840 to describe the interlocking of explanations of cause and effect between disciplines. He seems to have derived it from the Latin word consilere, formed from con-, “with”, and salire, “to leap”.

The trend cannot be reversed by force-feeding students with some of this and some of that across the branches of learning; true reform will aim at the consilience of science with the social sciences and the humanities in scholarship and teaching.

[E O Wilson, Consilience, 1998]

What prevents us from coming to grips with environmental decay or the rest of our social bedevilments has less to do with a lack of consilience in learning than with the interplay of interests and power.

[New York Times, Apr. 1998]

from wikipedia:

Consilience, or the unity of knowledge (literally a "jumping together" of knowledge), has its roots in the ancient Greek concept of an intrinsic orderliness that governs our cosmos, inherently comprehensible by logical process, a vision at odds with mystical views in many cultures that surrounded the Hellenes. The rational view was recovered during the high Middle Ages, separated from theology during the Renaissance and found its apogee in the Age of Enlightenment (beginning more or less around Bacon;s birth circa 1560.) Then, with the rise of the modern sciences, the sense of unity gradually was lost in the increasing fragmentation and specialization of knowledge in the last two centuries. The converse of consilience is Reductionism.

The word consilience was apparently coined by William Whewell, in The Philosophy of the Inductive Sciences, 1840. In this synthesis Whewell explained that, "The Consilience of Inductions takes place when an Induction, obtained from one class of facts, coincides with an Induction obtained from another different class. Thus Consilience is a test of the truth of the Theory in which it occurs." The Scientific method has become almost universally accepted as the exclusive method for testing the status of any scientific hypothesis or theory. "Inductions" which arise out of applications of the scientific method are, by definition, the only accepted indicators of consilience.

Modern views understand that each branch of knowledge studies a subset of reality that depends on factors studied in other branches. Atomic physics underlies the workings of chemistry, which studies emergent properties that in turn are the basis of biology. Psychology can no longer be separated from the study of properties emergent from the interaction of neurons and synapses. Sociology, economics, and anthropology are each, in turn, studies of properties emergent from the interaction of countless individual humans. Their limits have constrained history.

The word had remained shelved until the end of the 20th century, when it was vividly revived in Consilience: The Unity of Knowledge, a 1998 book by the humanist biologist Edward Osborne Wilson, as an attempt to bridge the culture gap between the sciences and the humanities that was the subject of C. P. Snow's The Two Cultures and the Scientific Revolution, 1959. Wilson's assertion was that the sciences, humanities, and arts have a common goal: to give a purpose to understanding the details, to lend to all inquirers "a conviction, far deeper than a mere working proposition, that the world is orderly and can be explained by a small number of natural laws." This is the essence of consilience.

The idea of consilience informs contemporary studies in complex adaptive systems, as being presented in a seminar (see links).

A parallel view lies in the term universology, which literally means "the science of the universe." Universology was first advocated for the study of the interconnecting principles and truths of all domains of knowledge by Stephen Pearl Andrews, a 19th century utopian futurist and anarchist. Compare the concept of Holism.

SG's comments:

I've petitioned wikipedia to give etymological credit to Francis Bacon. Wilson even alludes to Bacon as the "consilient pioneer" in his development of the Scientific Method in the first chapter of his book.

In addition, in keeping with the denotative meaning of the word, I employ consilience for sociological and political reasons, too, which I more or less explained in previous posts.

The mission defined in the "preamble" of the earthfamilyaplpha blog lends well to consilient thought. Despite that we may be motivated for different reasons everyone here is progressively turned toward the same finish line, in this life, headed towards the same direction, in future lives, infinitely. We should focus on the unity of this direction, the consilience, without stopping to kick every partisan dog. In other words, the anarcho-capitalist, the christian communitarian, the Marxist, and (in some cases) the [n]eoconservative can find common ground in advocating and promulgating a paradigm shift where resources are concerned.

Innovate the source, the alpha point, and change the future, the omega point, only to find the consilience in the journey.

11:52 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

When you keep stating the vision in such a creative way, it give me hope that we might begin to get the idea and insist on a change. This is a terrific post. It is clear, encompassing and as always a pleasure to read.

11:54 AM  

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