Category Archives: Storytelling

52 WoLP #16: Saturday in The Park (can you dig it?*)

This Saturday, in the Park, 10:30 – 2:30: first ever Celebrate Lincoln Park event! Here’s what you do: come to the park, at the entrance there will be an enticing menu of activities for everyone, kids to big kids and the biggest kids of all–adults.

click here for the deets.

It’ll be a low tide and the Aquarium will have a couple naturalists on hand to explore the tide flats; we’ll have resident experts leading walks through the park exploring the flora and fauna (that’s trees, flowers and birds to the rest of us:-); we’ll have sketching and writing in nature sessions, and down in the driftwood, sculpture making, and more. Go here for more, but be sure to get your beautiful nature-self to the park this Saturday!

*Saturday in the park (can you dig it?) by the Pleistocene era rock band Chicago.

52 Weeks of Lincoln Park is a year long exploration of the beautiful gem of West Seattle, it’s history, nature, essence and presence.

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Take the time: Nick Werle on Free Markets and Nature

We tell ourselves stories, and sometimes we can see with frightening clarity the impact of those stories on our behavior.

A recent essay in 3 Quarks Daily by Nick Werle (Competing to Live: On Planet Earth and Being in Nature) takes a careful but wide ranging look at the many stories we tell ourselves about Nature.  He looks at David Attenborough’s Planet Earth series and the focus on the delicate balance in nature…and its requirements.  He looks at Darwin’s story in The Origin and sees similar threads regarding competition and the urge to survive. They both have a keen interest in understanding the mechanism of competition.

“In the rain forest, which we have seen has both high productivity and unceasing conflict, ‘competition for resources ensures that no one species dominates the jungle.’”

David Attenborough, Planet Earth

All of Nature is Regulated and Interconnected…and we are part of Nature

At the end he raises the obvious question of how we humans, the closest relative to the marauding gangs of chimpanzees that are depicted wrecking havoc in the jungle, care or alternately don’t seem to care about our place in the balance of nature.  Deregulationism has at its core a willful faith that the market will balance out all transgressions, that it is a marvelous–nay, Magic–self-regulating machine that is well within the bounds of Nature itself. It is a faith that ignores the obvious issue of interconnectedness.  Witness the global concern over Japan’s under-regulated, under-managed, growth focused nuclear program in the last month.  Earthquakes and tsunamis are natural disasters; nuclear meltdowns as a result of deregulation are not, and no market forces  can adjust the damage done.

As we have seen with increasing regularity, our wave of deregulation–from bubble to bust, from drilling and chemicals to “clean-ups,” implosions,  and overpopulation, we are not living in balance with the planet we call home.

We have managed to upset the balance of so many systems that it seems to me we are now living well outside of nature.  Plastic may well be the iconic metaphor for all we have become. The story we tell ourselves, and what we are actually doing, are not concordant, even as they could be.  Attenborough makes an argument that yes, we are part of Nature, and our particular playing field is uniquely human, but is nonetheless part of the large balance we would do well to have an interest in. The point Attendborough makes is more subtle than those put forth by deregulationists:

It positions humanity not as an alien force superimposed on an independently existing natural world but as a part of the same precariously balance system. The argument is so affective because it refuses to plead. Instead it suggests that we reconsider the boundaries we draw between systems we hope to keep in balance.

Instead of defining the jungle as the wild and unthinkable state of nature, this naturalist approach seeks to fuse man’s understanding of himself with the complexities of Nature in order to ensure that Planet Earth never becomes a stunning monument to irrecoverable beauty.



Day 150 & 151: MLwC and green films

I love a good movie–when it’s raining in Seattle, there’s nothing better than a good movie and a bowl of popcorn. Random and Sundry Things highlighted a Grist article on Hollywood’s 15 greenest movies a couple of weeks ago, you can find it here.

Chinatown, movie–for the full article go to seacat.wordpress.org

Random and Sundry was surprised that Chinatown was included in the list which pleased me in a weird way. It pleased me because it shows that the plot was so well crafted that the issue of overdevelopment in Southern California, the rerouting of water from the more fertile valleys to the Los Angeles basin was part of the backdrop–vs. a clunk on the head type plot, a plot with an agenda. Chinatown actually has a lot in common with Cadillac Desert, a documentary and good book, though you wouldn’t know it on the surface.

I like a good story, and I hate it when a good story is sacrificed for an overbearing agenda, even though entertainment is often a good way to spread real information. So, even though the true story is hugely important and captivating all on its own, Chinatown is a movie, it’s fiction that is meant to bring the historical facts to life. The greed, the ruthlessness, the corruption.

One film that would have been interesting to include, and which any discussion of Chinatown always reminds me of in terms of period and plot is…oddly enough: Who Framed Roger Rabbit. Why? Because the murder in that animation film, and the whole plot, is based on the idea of removing the existing and beloved Red and Yellow Street Car lines from the Los Angeles basin, in order to put in thousands of miles of freeways–the current freeway system that L.A is famous for. It was a true event and was chronicled, and as the basis of a Disney animation, make for a good story as well as a commentary on choices made out of greed, corruption, and ruthlessness.  Highways mean cars, cars mean gas, gas means money, and money means business.

What other Green Films would you like to see on the list?

Daily Stats (Sat and Sun)

Car: 0
Bus: 0
bike: 0
Ped: approx 2 miles

Day 114: MLwC, my car in a pinch and Paul Hawken

I had a situation on Monday wherein I learned to appreciate my car. Alas.

I’d scheduled a shared ride pickup with a local Shuttle service to the airport for 7 am. At 7am I was out front waiting patiently. 7:10. 7:15. By now I’m getting nervous because our house is a little hard to find and we’ve had problems before….

At 7:20 I estimated the time needed to get to the airport, check-in and out to the gate. I needed to leave now. So, guess what: I hopped in my car and drove out to the airport, double checking my decision all the way. Could I have asked a neighbor? They were all on their way to their own Monday morning schedules. How about a bus? I didn’t even know the schedule or the route. It’s funny: I used to drive to the airport and park a few days all the time and never gave it another thought, but things are different now and I’m just not used to driving as much. What a thought–I’m not used to driving! So, okay, I drove, I parked, I caught my plane. I was grateful I had a car in this instance–what can I say? It’s true.

Completely unrelated (or maybe not so…), a thought from Paul Hawken’s new book, Blessed Unrest, related to our growing connectivity–on the web and otherwise:

“This movement is a new form of community and a new form of story. At what point in the future will the existence of 2 million, 3 million or even 5 million citizen-led organizations shift our awaremness to the possibility that we will have fundamentally change the way human being govern and organize themseleves on earth. What are the characteristics of leadership required when power arises instead of descends? What would a democracy look like that was not ruled by a dominant minority?

“…What if some very basic values are being reinstilled worldwide and are fostering complex social webs of meaning that represent the future of governance?”

Hawken’s thoughts on the growing movement of social webs of awareness are hopeful. And I have to believe he’s right. We are connected in new and amazing ways, and stories are being shared at a mind-boggling pace–we are creating new, shared vocabularies and priorities…and not waiting for a stamp of approval. Badges? We don’t need no stinkin badges. We will find a new way that works.

Daily stats: (Tuesday)
Car: 0
bike: 0
Bus: 0
air: 0

Day 100: WLwC, Lucinda Williams and Mytechvision

I was listening to Lucinda Williams’  new album “West” the other day, after talking with my partner about getting rid of my car–we’ve kind of decided that I should go one month without usage at all and see how that works before taking that step. Anyway, later I was humming along with the song Learning to Live Without You:

I’m learning how to live
without you in my life.

…and I laughed out loud: that’s how I’m feeling about my car!  It’s a learning process, there’s some grief, there’s some wistfulness but dang if there isn’t a whole lotta relief, too. Anyway, it’s a good old fashioned break-up song that took on a whole new meaning for me: I’m going to break up with my car.

Couple of speed links:

  • Great blog about all kindsa environmental activism and information all around the world. Nice job, Lazy Environmentalist!
  • World CarFree Day--not too early to check it out and join–every Sept. 22nd is a dedicated day to be free of your car–all around the globe!

Tom @ Mytechvision wrote a great comment on the Top 5 list, regarding #3 where it’s suggested you talk with your friends and everybody about your process of changing your transportation styles (ie, Learning to Live without Car). Tom tells a sweet story about item #3 (share your thoughts about alternative transportation) which I hope he won’t mind if I highlight here:

“I love point three and have living breathing example of how something like this works.
One of my students graduated from university recently and found himself out of work. When I asked what he did with his time he was ashamed to tell me that he didn’t do much. H helped his Grandmother (definitely commendable in this day and age) but not much else.
In a later class we were discussing the benefits of walking and the hassle of the car (It was like talking to a brick wall — a class of financial advisors with company cars and company fuel bills paid).
Anyway, something happened that class.
My student came back the following class announcing he had walked to school (3 hour walk)! I obviously congratulated him. I then thought nothing else about it as it was obviously a one off … right?
Wrong. He has been waking to class ever since. AND BACK!
I was very touched by this story.
Here was a student who used to drive to college every day. He now walks to and from English class (6 hours in total because he has little else to do) and he thoroughly appreciates it .
I am happy to say he has recently found a job with a marketing firm as a trainee. He mentioned that his car is going to stay in the garage. He might not be walking anymore but he will be catching the train.
This is clear evidence that “coming out” as a non car user can help others overcome their fears of not driving -)

Cool! Here’s my story: I’m not a hard-liner about driving/not-driving but I have a growing preference, for sure, which I’ve told my friends about. Tomorrow I’m having a birthday celebration with these friends and we’re all going downtown in the bus–we’re catching a movie, hanging out a little, and then back home for cake and treats and such. Our big birthday bus adventure!

Another story: my pal Bri (excellent new vid on his site, btw) is now discussing with his wife how to reduce their two cars to one and possibly make that one car a Prius. They’re figuring the logistics to make it happen and feel it could work. Also very cool.

So, the social network one creates around thinking differently about transportation –what’s your story?

Daily stats:

Car: 5 miles (2 people, 2 tasks)
Bike: 0 miles
Foot: massive yard work but not much else 🙂
Bus: 0

There’s a buzz out there

Seems like wikidom is reaching critical mass–you can just feel the buzz.  The other night, just after I’d finished a day of exploring various corporate examples of wiki implementation (and there are a too many examples to choose one–here’s a sort of ugly example of a big entrenched company that’ found it way to wiki), I turned on the Cobert Report and there was Stephen giving his “Word of the Day” schtick.

What was the work of the day?  Wikiality.  As in Reality but Wiki style.  And on the air, he pulled out his laptop and changed an article about Oregon in Wikipedia.  I thought: this is now officially Critical Mass.

Course, he was having some fun with it and I suppose some of the more serious guys at Wikipedia didn’t care for it when it finally came to their attention…about 3 or 4 minutes later.  He is now banned from using Wikipedia.  Still, he declared his love of Wikipedia on prime time TV and that can’t hurt traffic any.

Strangers to Ourselves

I’m reading Strangers to Ourselves by Timothy Wilson and trying to digest what he’s getting at with his discussion of the “adaptive unconscious.” His theories don’t sound new or ground-breaking at first–after all, notably Malcolm Gladwell has raised the discussion to a more popular level with “Blink,” but Wilson’s approach is a deeper dive with a lot of science behind it.

lobes of the brain

Wilson is interested in finding out what the vast unconscious world in our brains is up to with the 10 million bits of information it’s absorbing every second. That 10 million bits covers everything from making your fingers coordinate with the keyboard to hearing the fan in the background to considering if the scorching sun is frying the vegetable garden out back. In this last instance, it appears that when the unconscious mind has decided that the vegetable garden is indeed at risk, it will hopefully manage to get a message to the conscious mind, even if it is non-verbal and just a “have-to-go-water-the-garden” impulse, one that make me get up and go outside…sometimes before I even realize that I’m out there for this very good and time sensitive reason.

So, like Gladwell, Wilson is giving us lots of reasons to clear defensive thinking, conscious perceptions, pre-conceptions and the like out of the way so our great big unconscious can get some timely information to us on a regular basis.

process-information.jpg
In amongst the studies he cites is this one about people who have suffered damage to left and right lobes, destroying communication between the two. The left lobe controls the right side of the body, the right controls the left. The study involved showing pictures to each eye, with the other one covered, and seeing what information could be communicated about the picture. To the right eye (left brain) they showed a picture of a chicken claw; the participants associated that picture with a chicken.

Next they showed the left eye (right brain) a picture of a snow drift and the participants associated that picture with a shovel. After this, the participants were given their associated results but since the right brain cannot communicate the association of the snow with shovel, the participants didn’t know why they had chosen a shovel.

Here’s the kicker: in the blink of an eye, the left brain (story-telling, conscious part of the brain) came up with a story for the selection of the shovel that combined it with the chicken: the chicken lives in a chicken coop which needs to be cleaned with a shovel. Is this really what happened? No. Is this now what the participant thinks happened? Yes. And that story will be the official story until such time as the individual finds out differently.
Wilson’s point again and again is that the conscious mind is way more fallable than we ever thought and that fallability can lead us as individuals and a part of the collective group to make assumptions and decisions based on information that is simply not correct. The conscious mind’s drive to create a story for what it perceives, whether or not that story is in any way true, is its raison d’etre. And doesn’t every successful marketer and lawyer out there know this instinctively!

The ability of the conscious mind to create stories without getting input from or listening to the unconscious is a bit of a design flaw, it seems to me. It inhibits us from perceiving correctly AND from getting, trusting and using information from our unconscious minds.

Strangers to Ourselves is full of good studies that cause one to consider how we get and process information. Few of us are willing to really listen to our “intuition.” It can’t be measured, it can’t be controlled, its processes are vast, random and unexpected. But when Jack Welch popularizes the notion of managing “from the gut,” whether he knows it or not, or even cares, he’s talking about getting information from the adaptive unconscious.

The more I allow myself to draw from my unconscious, the more interesting my solutions become.  The more spot-on, the more creative, the more unexpected and exciting.  Bringing intuitive solutions into a corporate setting is edgy and exciting!  And often just what’s needed. Dump the old stories.  Allow a new story to emerge!