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Raising the Goal Posts - the challenge of expanding our world vision farther still

Are we using imaginative creation to its fullest extent, or are we pulling back, even shrinking from the actual challenges of facing an interactive relationship with our planetary environment?

Everywhere, the urgency of seeking sustainability is becoming an issue of growing concern. As global communication increases our awareness of problems, almost to the exclusion of other vision, I encounter article after article imploring humanity to reduce its impact footprint by conserving, and using less. This is important - I do not intend to demean the exigency of decreasing waste, or condone a retreat from the mindful examination of humanity's excessive use of resources. This writing is not to demean the worthy goal of streamlining for maximum efficiency.

But I contend that an endgame pointed to efficiency can only take us so far. The basic paradigm by which we live needs to evolve to another platform of vision.

This persistent bandwagon on efficiency eclipses a larger picture, and nearly always, narrows our view by focusing on less. The pernicious insistance that humanity must crowd itself into a corner to make room for the inevitability of more growth in turn demands that we restrict ourselves, and decrease the vitality and richness of our lives. We are offered what are touted as "green buildings" that still look like strip malls, and, while models of "sustainable use of resources" such structures still don't give back anything whatsoever to the natural world. They may use less, but they subscribe to a creed based only on taking, still.

I postulate here, that this obsession with efficiency is only a part of true sustainability. Could a truly enlightened use of our resources flower if we raise the bar higher, and view the value returned from a wider vantage point? What if humanity dared to envision an environment in which our species' footprint actually extends itself by seeking to work in harmony with the natural world? What if our buildings gave back green space, and aimed to blend our needs in a manner that stood for the benefit of all beings?

The seeds of this movement are already apparent. A striking few visionaries and municipalities are now working to make buildings fit more seamlessly into a green environment - specifically, green roofs with a living, turf cover that can support native habitat. Also, grounds in public areas that have planting geared in accord with native species. This lends the foothold to support our region's biodiversity. We have the engineering ability to make our buildings into a living greenspace - what's needed is an increased accessibility, that more people can take the choice to impliment this next step. Just as arts programs in schools have been statistically proven to raise students' attention spans, and increase learning ability and academic scores, so green space in urban environments revitalizes neighborhoods, puts people in touch with their community, and inspires them to hope and connect. If the actual buildings within our urban areas also functioned to increase the living footprint of the natural world, how could we lose? We are faced with an envirnmental makeover, in any event. The added concept of building space that can share might yield an untold range of benefits. Not only would we be providing an increase in habitat for other species, but their very presence and proximity would come to work for us.

Green roofs, and buildings with design for living green space, would increase the filtration of harmful pollutants. Plants are natural purifiers of the air, and soil captures and cleans our water. I cite as example a recent article on a survey finding that plants decrease chemical irritants in the atmosphere of buildings. Storm water runoff also would become cleaner, which would improve the water quality in our rivers and bays that flow through settled areas. Greenspace lowers the ambient temperature, and turf roofs reduce heating and cooling cost. More, children who are now growing up disconnected would gain contact with the life cycles of nature, and have a more vibrant curiosity and appreciation for the mysteries of life itself.


If we might stretch our focus beyond what we lack, and dare to dream past present paradigms that emphasize nothing else but our current limitations on resurces, our picture might embrace the opportunity of cultivating more room for life itself to thrive. Wider vision could spur action, not just accounting for our human needs, but for the needs of all living things. Nature holds the potential for healing the ills of our times, tenfold. More, the aesthetic benefits would bring a richness to our everyday, urban experience beyond our current imagining.


If healing our cities also encorporated the concept of healing of our environment within the same interactive space, we might initiate a major step forward in realizing the concept of a renewable sustainability.

2 Comment count
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So Far . . . So Good -- and THEN!

What you say,  Janny, makes perfect sense, and multitudes are beginning to wake up to your logic.

  The problem, it seems to me, is that our system encourages fads.  Ten years ago, it was, "No blee-e-ping liberal is going to make me give up my SUV!"  Now, it's, "Green --Green -- GREEN, I want to be GREEN! Enfold me in my Prius, and send me to forth to the pea patch!"  Global Corporate Headquarters knows what will be next!

[I know:  "Atomic Energy is good for you.  Eat plenty of it!" 

   The real problem, going forward, is that our system runs a quarter at a time.  And whatever will turn a profit, six months from now, is what will be pushed.  However, the fact that we have a fatally insatiable greed, stimulated by all the corporate and political forces, for more things, more energy . . . and more babies, can never  be freely stipulated nor denied.  

   If the PR apparatus of the planet, as an article of faith, would get behind the idea that we should reduce by normal, humane means the population of the planet, there might be real hope for us.  As it is, we require holocausts, disasters, great depressions, epidemics, and huge wars to reset our commercial clocks.  That way, of course,  will lead eventually [in a short while, now] to annihilation of the race.

   How, Janny, do we change that? 

 Alex - Macresarf1 -- Glenn Anders -- Alex Fraser

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How do we change?

Hi Alec - I appreciate your question.

I submit the idea that change happens in all directions. The catalyst comes when there is a focus of awareness, leading to vision, and, most importantly, when people hold the belief in the possible. When they realize the fact that they matter.

I don't see the whole pie as human drawbacks, like runaway greed, or name the list of any other galloping detriment. This very focus on what prevents change just causes our minds to bring up all the images that match that scary future, and what we see are the barriers against change, and more and bigger problems.

If the awareness is already raised --(change we must), what needs to shift is to change the focus of the vision - not by looking at what will prevent more of it, but instead by looking at what kind of ideal future we want to have. Everyone will want a different version. Everyone wishes to hold different life styles. Some can't see past today's survival - I see that variety as an advantage, because, at the core, certain things will be in common: we want a healthy environment in which to raise a healthy next generation. If we envision what that might look like, in whatever individual form that takes, then individually, we will see what looks "something like that" in our current range of choices. Individually, they may be little tiny choices (start a windowbox garden for butterflies, buy a more efficient lightbulb, or recycle something, or take a canvas shopping bag). Don't laugh. The tiny change in our behavior triggers more personal awareness - because we saw a personal future we visioned, we took a miniscule personal step - and another step will show up, because now we are "tuned in" to the new vision. We have picked a present that takes us closer.

Then in steps the magic of inspiration - because we chose a tiny change, the mind gets the message we are serious about this vision, and bang! - new ideas spring up. Or we see, or notice that somebody else has had a new idea, springing up, and somebody is acting on it. The snowball rolls. We have changed the focus, and now are changing our perception of what is available.

It has been proven that the mind eliminates 50 percent of the raw data available, then, our conscious thought discards, again 25 percent MORE of that data due to the focus of our awareness. The vison we hold drives what we notice, and drop, unseen and unregarded.

But without the vision changing first, (from problem to wished for solution) we never begin to see the like to like correlation we want, and we don't train the mind to look for the desired pattern. We fail to vision, often, because we forget to shift focus toward what we want to see in the future, and we fail at that because somebody taught us one person could not make any difference, and somewhere along the line, we bought the lie.

Survival instincts naturally turn our awareness toward what may threaten. We forget to notice all the things in play that do NOT threaten, and our visioning/imaginative focus slips into the red, as it were, and suddenly the world looks hopeless.

We lose hope because we are conditioned to believe what we choose does not matter, when in fact, it matters the most.

If Imagination has the power to erase boundaries, and create vision, then the little choices each day have to count. Corporate greed could not exist without the consumer spending the dollar in the first place. We are many, to the corporate few in charge, and even a tiny change in our spending habit, spread out over the many, sends a massive message. If you can't spend differently, even by a few cents, you can respond to a customer service hotline or website. (Products have these printed on labels). It has been my experience that every time I wrote to one of these, or called, I've seen a change result. Somebody does listen to customer input.

Yes, there are real ugly messes to be shifted in new directions. Some appear to be insoluble, except by the ugly means you named - but I submit that I have never before seen such reason to hope. The internet has created an information stream that is unstoppable, therefore, awareness is rising, fast. Women are seeking education as never before, and when they get educated, they stop overpopulating. As the balance shifts toward more gender equity, enormous changes will result for the better - and already are. If you have looked at the various village banking systems, it doesn't take high investment to change at the grass roots. Education grants empowerment, and empowerment changes belief from can't do, to let's try.

There are so many examples in history of humanity focusing on a common goal, and achieving the so called impossible. It begins, always, by recognizing the need to move, but the focus is the critical attractant.

I am calling for a change in focus, in the awareness that the rest can follow if we have the courage to take the little steps that are available to us, now.

I hear a lot of people talking about the speed of change in the world, at this time, and it's only increasing exponentially. That very shift holds the power to move things in the right direction, exponentially. Vision is key to that, with the acceptance that everyone is a participant, and even the tiny steps count.