Saturday, December 31, 2011
REMEMBERING SOME OF MY PAST,
DREAMING ABOUT THE FUTURE
How I Came To Be Here
And What I Am Seeing Ahead
For Us All
When I was a youngster in Viers Mill Village, Maryland, virtually in the shade of the Nation's Capitol, I used to occupy parades. Or at lease hang close to the curb and soak it all in! Then again when I became 20 and my daughter was one year, in the District of Columbia we took in a Springtime's bouquet of civic and popular parades and street celebrations.
Like Santa Cruz, Washington DC is a Garden City. I haven't visited those National Parks and Monuments since Mitch Snyder died. It was great for learning about society's values and having fun at the same time, when I was younger. Because I lived near two different states and the quasi-state 'District of Columbia', there were almost THREE of every majorly supported holiday -- Parades and Festivals -- and often triplets of associations of folks doing such civic things.
I *loved* being a walker in Washington DC, when I worked and lived there in my twenty's, tho' never enough free time to fully absorb the history and beauty and spirit of such a low-rise, partially intentional, city. Despite the palpable prejudice and racism and caste-system housing policies, it was really a "welcome to the big World" for me. Didn't know back then how rarely a whole City organizes it's architecture around aesthetic values in this Country; do you know DC law forbids building hi rises that obscure the Washington Monument and other landmarks?
When the Cherry Blossoms came in, it seemed like everybody went out walking the City's downtown parks. Suddenly even the quiet, benched bag-lunch folk felt like having a festival. I think back, and yet can't quite attune whether most of those other ped-cruising folks were tourists, or were local workers on break like myself, just unusually open, an enchantment by the Cherry trees in bloom?? Felt like spring fever, times one hundred.
We need to care as much about how people's concourse is restricted or commercially defined as we do about our families' viability or about how to outgrow our automobile dependence. "Our Government Our Selves," may be my new motto for twenty-twelve?
Representative Democracy - what's the challenging hex about that? Yes, there's need for fixing those mega "train wrecks" (infrastructure) now falling from neglecting our civic duty of vigilance. What has already been done in our names, it seems to me, is a DIFFERENT problem from that of beginning to share power and make decisions together as a People. Repairing the broken and neglected systems, and adopting new ways of sharing power, both important. Can we not lift and enlighten each other in the heft of this work? If only enough of us can work together and keep on learning to share moreso as we go, including new and more effective ways of communicating.
Democratic workplaces, Town Meetings, intentional households, we can do this! Maybe the dream of the 1950s is going or gone: but sharing power with everyone instead of just financiers is one of those "ideas" who's time has come. Let the breaking down of California's, and the Nation's, safety net become seeds for learning to appreciate and find ways to tend this (perhaps inevitable?) civic transmigration.
But perhaps this thought's a sweeping digression?
One person, one vote ~~ we may have to scramble with the learning curve, but I'm betting on a future wherein we will have managed all that. And a future wherein registered lobbyists within the Beltway either starve, get a job at the Food Court, or find another Country to cheat on.
Now that the state and it's courts have turned their mostly-elected backs on local 'Redevelopment Agencies' -- what's to stop regular ol' people from having an even more civic, more culture-friendly, more aesthetically-driven; even more intentional, more inclusive, public, collectively run, redevelopment body to plan and promote our own 'populist' agenda?Let us create and restore access to each other -- it may have to be in real time -- and invest ourselves through neighborly and community management systems, into an infrastructure we put together ourselves? We need to keep from losing more of our natural, systemic and potential treasures?
Don't let the Body Politic hemorrhage further. I mean this as a deeper question, not a recommendation nor suggestion.
We are taught to believe that everyone who possibly can must have a JOB unless wealthy or totally disabled; even in prison we are extruded into assembly line functionaries rather than evaluated for potential talents and special skills. I believe we need to dump this shared assumption ~~ one's job status or employability is no longer the standard of what makes a whole and contributing person in our world.
In our minds it is, but when we test real information against our assumptions we find that people's imaginations, their resourcefulness or lack of it, their ability to turn a sow's ear into a silk purse, their knowledge about where things come from and where things go, this stuff all proves way more important than whether they're getting paid for a structured performance or production goals until the next company or agency downsize. In the near future as we can so far glimpse it, these more INHERENT abilities will prove meaningful more and more.
Our habitat continues to change -- fast now, right before our noses -- and our capacity to maintain civil society continues to become stressed within and without. We are finding that a person's integrity means more than how much silver he's carrying in his pocket or whether he belongs to a family or system that has health care benefits. In short, maybe we are finding our true selves erupting through cracks in "the system" we have almost all (RIP Richard Quigley) been depending on.
I'm going out to plant a Cherry Tree, to remember my past, and to put my own leetle pawprint into our future. There's plenty to do, and I'm sure tired of leaving the form and shape of everything around us up to the insurance companies and consumption-pushers. Ready to put some live current into a new democracy of action. Happy New Year, whether you come and play with me or not!