the slippery slope

to a town planner friend–

yeah, i avoided urban planning 30 yrs ago cuz i read the job satisfaction was really low. for your sake, i hope it’s improved. but what i heard the other night wasn’t encouraging.

otoh, the world is changing; times of transition (there’s that word) are hard–nobody really knows what’s going on. mike nickerson says it’s a question of direction; thomas berry says we’re entering a new era, but do we choose the complicated, biodiverse ecozoic or the relatively simple monoculture of the technozoic?

people around us in comfortable huronia seem to think technology will save us. but even without the twin barbs of peak oil and climate change, we’re in over our heads technologically–plastic and less benign persistent chemicals, nuclear waste, overpopulation, to name but a few of the challenges we have in the years, decades, and centuries ahead.

but people don’t know. after all, for example our way of dealing with our waste is to not deal with it, but to put it on a barge or train and externalize it. but we can’t do that anymore in a global world, on a finite planet.

you write, ‘policy direction should go from the residents of the community directly to Council (and then to staff)’, and i agree, except that that takes time and we may be running out of time; also people in our culture tend to be anthropocentric, instead of biocentric–but impatience and hubris are my banes and sometimes i’ve been pleasantly surprised by being wrong!

for the future (which, as a planner, you know, both never comes and simultaneously is here now–in fact geneticist theodosius dobzhansky said our choices for the future are neither random nor determined, but are creative responses to past conditions; furthermore, there really is no future tense in english. futurity is signified by ‘will’ (or the semi-formal ‘going to’) which really is not a verb, it’s an aspect, it’s modal–bottom line, the future doesn’t exist, at least not in the english language. but it does in the language of quantum mechanics, where it’s just a dimension, part of the space-time continuum. but i digress from the ordinary, everyday, garden-type of future), i’d put my money on less energy inputs, less technology, less complexity, and more what homer-dixon calls ‘shocks’, which i think means resource–energy, food, water–wars. time frame? tho coal and peak oil and nuclear may extend the horizon to the 23rd century, paul chefurka thinks it may come to pass in as little as 75 years, ie, 2087. better get cracking!

that’s what i find disheartening about cop17: even with our future in peril, we couldn’t set aide our differences and pull for the common good. as elizabeth may writes from durban, ‘the realization that we will leave here with something that is better than nothing but inadequate to the threat is sinking in.’ and things get harder, the more we delay (see ‘impatience’).

that’s why it’s so wonderful to go to the karma marketplace and the grounded coffee company where people get it, know something’s fundamentally wrong, and are determined to do something about it–not just throw up their hands, say ‘oh well’, and watch ‘wheel of fortune’. and people like you, in the town apparatus and leading transition town huronia (tth).

i’ve got my personal demons to fight, but who doesn’t and who cares? i wanna increase the joy in my heart and in my community, now and now and now. for starters, i guess i can read the sustainability plan. and the transition primer. it’s a slippery slope from there!


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