Friday, August 03, 2007

The Art of Conversation

One of the leading organizations advocating renewable energy and other clean energy strategies is called the Apollo Alliance. This group calls for a greening of America and uses JFK's call to go to the moon as a mental springboard to call people to action.

I have done the same thing in my book Silver in the Mine.

However, here is part of a piece called "Memory and vision: The Apollo Alliance and eco-apartheid" by Jerry Silberman that suggests that the Apollo model may not be right for the times or for the problems that we must face.

"The prevailing public values of the United States today are empty of concerns other than the accumulation of money. They equate accumulation of wealth with moral good, conspicuous consumption with personal prestige and social status, and competition in all things to the exclusion of any sense of community and social responsibility.

Privately many of us reject these values. Collectively they make us unhappy, and contribute (along with racism and the polarization of wealth) to the excessive levels of violence in our society.

Yet politically, we do not have the courage to confront them programmatically.

Any effort at confronting global warming or racism without confronting these values head on is an exercise in frustration. It is indeed difficult to go against the grain of the social environment and insist that quality of life does not depend on quantity.

It is considered unsexy and impractical to suggest that families can be happy in 900 square foot rowhouses, in neighborhoods free of violence, with community garden plots and public parks, but no lawns requiring power mowers is the alternative to inner city poverty, (and suburban sprawl).

Nor is the suggestion greeted with enthusiasm that the good jobs we seek should be accessible on public transit, and that we do not need automobiles, or vacations by airplane to be happy, if we live in a community with a vibrant, volunteer cultural life.

To demand quality public education and national single payer health care aren’t as sexy as talking about energy independence or new opportunities for green entrepreneurs and investors, but they in fact are much more important to the value shift we need.

And no effort at confronting global warming or racism can succeed without rejecting the blind faith in technology to let us have our cake and eat it too. The economics of declining access to cheap energy and rising commodity prices will hit soon in the US with a vengeance.

Sectors of the now fairly comfortable middle classes will fall into real poverty. We are already seeing the increasing collapse of the housing market. Many economic indicators are pointing toward serious downturns. (clip)

Rebuilding local communities, generating our wealth in human interaction and our economic and social security by recycling and redeveloping local resources, including, as a leading edge, urban agriculture is an essential element of meeting the challenges of global warming and peak energy.

Decentralizing our movement to both liberate creative energy and allow leadership from people of color, working people and women to emerge is essential to shifting our values. The Apollo Alliance, with its top down, non-democratic structure, and overwhelmingly white male leadership cannot address this agenda." more

Silberman closes with this:

"Its time for those networks to come together, and recognize that our agendas must converge and learn from each other if any of us are to succeed."

And that is exactly what we need.

We need leaders at the national level who promote the economic value of clean energy, and we need leaders at the local level who will help make our communities livable in the coming decades as we adjust to the new realities ahead.

And they should and will converge.

The Apollo Alliance is a creature of the dominant economic super ego of our culture, and therefore cannot be too far outside of the bell curve of our dominant group think, if it is to be successful. Likewise, the thinking inherent in this critique, as eloquent as it may be, is in its own way, just as antiquated.

Liberating creative energy is not necessarily a resultant of decentralization. If the decentralization is not integrated into the whole, just the opposite may occur. (the deliverance effect).

When we truly liberate our creative energy,

we may find new solutions,

new inventions of social contract,

new ways to build community,

new ways to join forces,

new ways to wage peace,

new ways to identify ourselves,

new ways to find union,

as we slog through this dark jungle of greed,

to the golden green meadow of a new mind,

and the gentle breezes of the open heart.


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