Those who are mindful are beginning to realize that only an entirely
new operating system can prevent the collapse of civilization. However,
to date, no one has presented such a system. This presentation outlines
a system that has the potential to serve as a viable replacement for
the current paradigm.
Upon this gifted age, in its dark hour, Rains from the sky a meteoric shower Of facts…they lie unquestioned, uncombined. Wisdom enough to leech us of our ill Is daily spun; but there exists no loom To weave it into fabric.
--Edna St. Vincent Millay (As quoted in A Bridge to the 18th Century)
I am currently reviewing a book by Amartya Sen entitled Development As Freedom. According to the publisher: "This is a landmark work that shows how in individual human freedom -- the exclusive possession, Sen shows, of no particular nation, region or historical, intellectual or religious tradition -- lies the capacity for political participation, economic development and social progress." In my opinion, this process of individual human freedom -- it is rare here in the U.S. -- has to be supercharged and a "loom" must be developed to integrate existing wisdom. Developmentally, as a society, we are not even to the stage that the founders of the U.S. were in the 1700's. (Wilber, 2000)
We have to create a new loom/institution that enables us to live in a way that provides quality and reverses the destructive course of humanity.
What would the physical infrastructure look like? While the physical structure of a village may be fine, no one has ever claimed that a village is innovative and encourages personal development. Quite the contrary, many find village life stifling. When I think about village, gossip springs to mind. We need to inject a new element into the village. That new element is the university. Another way to look at it is to talk about injecting the university into the village. Most individuals leave the university and their personal development stops. They enter into structures that have boundaries: religion, family, and work/corporations -- just for starters. (It should be mentioned that the corporate infiltration of universities has served to impose boundaries in that institution as well.)
Any new institution -- or re-tooled institution -- must be interdisciplinary.
There are many ideas out there that have merit. However, they do not address the personal development that is necessary in order to lift the world up and reverse the current, widespread destruction that is occurring.
Guiding premises and goals:
All life is important
Reduce suffering/Eliminate empty bedrooms (there are more empty bedrooms each night in the U.S. than there are homeless individuals)
Development is only possible though dropping the desire to acquire
Draw from the wisdom of all religions and traditions
Create an environment that can provide a way for bright, young people to envision a fulfilling life without producing offspring
Institutions must encourage and facilitate lifelong development
Physical infrastructure might physically resemble the villages envisioned here. The creator of the site wisely counsels us that cars need to be banished to the periphery.
Operational structure would resemble a university. Trustees who serve without pay. Researchers/fellows who work a baseline of 20 hours per week in hands-on productive activities. Gardening, Cooking, etc. Home Economics in the sense that this is work that is done anyway by someone in the household. What we are doing is incorporating all the elements of living into one institution that is far more comprehensive than the cobbled up mess that we currently pay homage to.
Improving local sources of food is key to thriving in the coming decades. (See this Richard Heinberg transcript for an explanation of the importance of local and labor-intensive agriculture.) However, if someone is working on an important project, other fellows who recognize the value of their work may step in and "cover" for them in their labor obligations. Fellows will be free to come and go at the end of the "quarter."
Capital will come from patrons who deposit money in an institution account that is drawn down as they use the services. First class accommodations in a university village.
I just came across the December/January issue of dwell magazine. They profile a project in Japan that represents the spirit of the projects that I have in mind. The owner -- and and an occupant -- of the project is described as "a very private individual with a powerful social bent." Maybe a better physical example of the concept is Sooke Harbour House.
Again, what I have in mind -- ever evolving -- is a membership club that owns facilities that promote the art of living (culinary/gardening/lively discussion) and sustainable living (local ingredients/local building materials/100% occupancy). The centerpiece will be a gourmet kitchen that will be open to the public for both of the dinner seatings, subject to reservations by members. The owning entity will be structured much like a private/public golf club. In return for a membership fee and dues, members have access to the facilities. If space -- living or dining -- has not been reserved by a member, it will be available to the public.