Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Walking the Talk

I asked a friend who is 21 what he thought needed to be done, and we agreed on a few very important things:

A. We need to curb wanton consumerism
B. We need to feed the desperately poor
C. We need to decentralize government, limiting it to the state level of maximum oversight.
D. Energy needs to be made and distributed locally.

I thought to myself "Man O Maneschevitz!" how can it be that I beat my head nearly everyday on what needs to be done with the world to make it a place where we all can live relatively peacefully, and this guy comes up with these gems in a short evening?

Tie it together with some obvious stuff like making sure we don't blow ourselves up with nukes, and the idea of making sure fresh water is equally distributed, and you have yourself a pretty good start to World Peace.

Decentralizing government is a pretty excellent leap that I hadn't made very directly until just now. National government is an increasingly untenable idea. Each state in the USA is already a government nearly in total for its citizens. Obviously, we need to move freely between states, those states can't take up arms against each other, and we have to have an agreeable set of laws that work for as many states as possible, but I think we can pretty much get by without the mammoth Federal Government As It Is.

Feeding the desperately poor is a huge task, and it must be taken up directly by the richest nations. It's how we will remove the attractive forces of lawlessness and pillage-style governance. If the poorest are fed, you pretty much have a population that is a great deal less likely to kill its own members or neighboring areas.

Making power locally must happen in conjunction with all of the above. Either solar, wind, or eco-friendlier combustion to begin with must be accessible by huge numbers of communities. Community-generated and distributed power will go a long way to reducing warfare on a global scale.

The WORK for me ends up at point B: The creating of a system by which local communities can assess their real energy uses and drains, then install their own energy generation systems and distribute their own power to themselves in a safe, low-carbon, low-emission, low-waste way.

Point A is where I am right now: I am right now using only two incandescent bulbs in our house which contains around 50 bulbs. The rest are compact fluourescent bulbs. We have Energy Star appliances: Refrigerator, Washer/Dryer, Dishwasher, high-efficiency Gas Furnace. We got rid of our TV, DVD player and VCR in favor of a 23 inch all-in-one LCD computer.

We installed a new recyclable PVC roof with an R19 insulation value. We put UV blocking skylights and covers for our porches. We installed a 20-tube solar hot water system on our roof. We drive a biodiesel in our 2004 TDI Jetta and our 1984 Mercedes 300TD Wagon. I often commute to work on my electric assist bike.
We have a deposit down on a 3.5 KW solar electric array for the roof.

We have solar path lighting. We have a lot of windows so we rarely need to use lights in the daytime. We have no air-conditioning, but our single operable skylight in the study has made a huge difference in summer months' cooling.

I am trying really hard to walk my talk. I sell biodiesel-ready VW diesels for a living. I fully plan on pushing the boundaries of what can be sanely done in terms of local energy production and use in the city. Urban Greening is something that needs to be pursued vigorously, and I am starting with myself and my own family's energy and working outward.

Much more work is yet to be done. Stay tuned.

Saturday, June 09, 2007

Vulnerability =/= Manhood

Perhaps the cultural mavens out there would disagree, but I'll go out on a limb and say that it's traditionally not a manly characteristic to be vulnerable. It's about time we change that perception.

It's actually more studly to see a problem and correct it than to ignore the concept of problems. To assume that if one makes a mistake that one is weak overall is itself a mistake. The true Man is a Righter of Wrongs. Internally and externally. We fix. In order to fix something, it must be somehow broken or in need of improvement at least.

Being vulnerable is essential to growth. Being vulnerable is essential to internal progress. It's a bigger man that says "I've got some issues and I need help". It's a stronger man that does this in front of women as well as men. The beautiful thing is when men get together and admit their vulnerability, and they follow it up with manly actions of change.

I see this all the time in my Junto, and it empowers each and every member to simultaneously allow more personal vulnerability AND help others grow in strength. Show what you might consider a weakness, gather with people who see it for what it really is: a place for growth.

The seeds of all change occur in the vulnerabilities.

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Healthy Obsessions

Watching a woman spinning flaming swords to improvised synth drum music, I realized that the real deal involves cultivating healthy obsessions.

Not addictions or passing fancies, but a lifelong struggle to know as much about something (either specific or broad) as you can. This can also be spread around to a few different healthy obsessions, but certainly at least one.

"Talent" can be innate, but what seems to really show up is the obsession. It's the little things, the big things, and all the things in between in any given topic or category. The people who know this see this in other people. The people who know this well recognize it in everyone, to one degree or another. They see the obsession engine as much as the thing that's being obsessed upon, or the person themselves.