In Search of Integrity

In Search of Integrity

by Greg Watson

 

SCHUMACHER CENTER ESSAY
FEBRUARY 2017

 

 

“Power without love
is reckless and abusive,
and love without power
is sentimental and anemic.
Power at its best is love
Implementing the demands of justice,
and justice at its best
is power
correcting everything
that stands against love.”

Martin Luther King Jr.

 

 

From 1980-1983 I held the envious position of director of education at the New Alchemy Institute.  New Alchemy was an amazing “think-do” tank operating on an abandoned 12-acre dairy farm on Cape Cod. Inspired by the likes of Rachel Carson, Wendell Berry, E.F. Schumacher, and Buckminster Fuller among others, the institute emerged from the protests in the aftermath of the first Earth Day in 1970 as the premier agent of change to a sustainable future. Its landscape was dotted with raised bed organic gardens, fiberglass tanks filled with tilapia, and strange looking structures including a state-of-the-art Bioshelter greenhouse called The Cape Cod Ark and iconic geodesic domes.

The journey that led me to the New Alchemy Institute was guided by my discovery of the insights of Fuller. A freshman at Tufts University in 1967, I was engaged in a personal struggle to reconcile the goals of the civil rights and environmental movements.  My African American colleagues considered the latter to be irrelevant at best, and downright counterproductive to the goals of blacks in the eyes of many. Limited-growth slogans rang hollow, suggesting the door was closed to those still struggling to achieve economic equality.

Bucky’s discovery and physical modeling of Nature’s exquisite coordinate system/design strategy that optimizes life support while minimizing the expenditure of energy (“doing more with less” as he was fond of saying) pointed to a way out of my conundrum. 

It was the construction of an innovative “Pillow-Dome” that brought Buckminster Fuller to New Alchemy in 1982. Bucky, as he preferred to be called, was, in my opinion our 20th century da Vinci.  At 92 years of age, this true Renaissance Man took a red-eye from California in early June.

I accompanied J. Baldwin, design editor of the innovative Whole Earth Catalog, student and friend of Bucky to Boston’s Logan airport to pick up Bucky and drive him to New Alchemy. Fuller could clearly sense that I was in awe of him but his gentle manner made me feel totally relaxed.  That was until we drove over the Bourne Bridge and were within minutes of New Alchemy.  At that point he reached inside his worn briefcase and pulled out a folder. 

He turned and handed the folder to me and said “Young man, this is the working manuscript of a book I am currently writing.  When we get to the Institute I’m going to take a nap before the formal program begins.  I’d like you to read this and tell me what you think of it.”

My hands shook as I cradled the folder that contained his draft of what would be his final book “Grunch of Giants”.  When we arrived at New Alchemy I bolted to my office, locked the door and read through the book, as time seemed suspended.

In the early afternoon before the formal dedication of the Pillow Dome was to take place, the New Alchemy staff gathered to have a conversation with Bucky. As we were concluding he announced to everyone that he had given me his manuscript to read.  Then he looked at me a asked “Master Watson, what did you think of my book?”

“Grunch” really was a profound book. In it Bucky described what he called “The army of abstract legal entities (called corporations)” that control the economic and political future of humanity. I was particularly struck by his powerful prose poem entitled “Integrity”. 

He paused and said that he was particularly pleased with that as well.  Then he asked me if I would read it aloud to everyone.

Flash forward to 2016. While in the process of cleaning out my files, I came across a Xerox copy of “Integrity”.  I must have asked to make a copy of it when Bucky was at New Alchemy, but I can’t say for sure how I came to have it.  It was a rather poor copy and a couple of words were obscured by the holes created by a three-ring binder.  As I thought back on that wonderful day in 1982 it dawned on me that “Integrity” was not included in “Grunch of Giants”.  I contacted folks at the Buckminster Fuller Institute (BFI) to see if they could tell me why that was so and where the poem may have been published.

And that’s when things got very interesting.

No one at BFI had ever seen “Integrity”.  In fact, no one was even aware that it existed. They checked the archives.  No “Integrity”.

I did a bit of sleuthing. The copy I had is dated May 28, 1982.  Bucky visited New Alchemy and shared his draft manuscript with me in early June 1982.  This couldn’t be a forgery. I mean, I read it in front of Bucky and the New Alchemy staff.  For a while I had this awful feeling that maybe I had inadvertently scoffed the only copy of the piece and that’s why it didn’t appear in the book.  I realized that that was really not possible.  Bucky’s mind was razor-sharp and he surely would have noticed its absence.

Watching Donald Trump’s deplorable performance during ceremonies allegedly to celebrate Black History Month, I was compelled to take another look at “Integrity”. As I pulled out my copy, I thought I’d contact BFI one more time to see if they may have uncovered some information about it. 

Nope. The mystery surrounding “Integrity” remained intact.

At this point I called a friend and told him that I really needed to re-read the prose poem very carefully.  When I did, something pretty amazing occurred.  I realized that one word that I at first thought was a typo was actually one of Bucky’s linguistic inventions.  It took our unfolding political melodrama for me to see it and grasp its prescience.

The word was hypocracy. Bucky did not really define it, but its meaning is now clear to me:

The power structure’s forbiddance of error-making has fostered cover-upping, self-deceiving, egotism, false fronts, hypocracy, legally enacted or decreed subterfuge, ethical codes and the economical rewarding of selfishness.

Selfishness has in turn fostered both individual and national bluffing and vastness of armaments.  Thus we have come to the greatest of problems ever to confront humanity – What can the little individual human do about the supranational corporate power structures and their seemingly ungovernable capability to corrupt?

I Googled “hypocracy” and there was not a single entry.  Of course it was common practice for Bucky to invent of a word when one does not exist that adequately describes a phenomenon or event. Hypocracy, I surmised, is a hybrid of democracy and hypocrisy.

Democracy is defined as:

Government by the people: a form of government in which the supreme power is vested in the people and exercised directly by them or by their elected agents under a free electoral system.

The definition of hypocrisy is:

 The contrivance of a false appearance of virtue or goodness, while concealing real character or inclinations, especially with respect to religious and moral beliefs; hence in general sense, dissimulation, pretense, sham.  American political journalist Michael Gerson says that political hypocrisy is "the conscious use of a mask to fool the public and gain political benefit."

In the short period of time since his inauguration, Donald Trump has effectively hijacked and corrupted our democracy, shamelessly transforming it into a hypocracy.

What else should we call an Administration that attempts to build a team composed of:

  • A President who doesn’t see the difference between real estate deals and international negotiations
  • A Senior Advisor who is a self-avowed white supremacist
  • An Attorney General who, three decades ago, was deemed too racist for the Senate to approve as a federal judge
  • A Secretary of State who avoided answering if he had ever lobbied against sanctions on Russia while he was CEO at Exxon
  • A Press Secretary who knowingly lied to the pubic during his very first press briefing
  • A Secretary of Energy who previously ran for president promising to eliminate the Department of Energy
  • A Secretary of Education who never attended public school and seems determined to undermine the public education system
  • An Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency who has been one of the loudest opponents of the EPA, suing the EPA over clean air and water rules
  • A Secretary of Health and Human Services who, as a member of Congress invested up to $15,000 in a health company before introducing a bill that benefitted it

We are being taken for a ride and we best open our eyes to see where the road we’re traveling on is heading. The sham is not the end game (see “How to Build an Autocracy” in the March 2017 issue of The Atlantic).

The main strategy for perpetuating the hypocracy is to overwhelm the electorate with chaos.  There’s no question that many of us feel that we are facing the gravest political crisis in our lifetimes.  In the face of this onslaught we have demonstrated our ability and willingness to organize and mobilize marches, demonstrations and protests. But the sheer volume of executive orders, controversial appointments and outrageous statements pouring from the White House has led to paralysis as we attempt to prioritize our efforts.

Meanwhile, Democrats are frozen by a lack of leadership, vision and political courage.  Perhaps the best thing we can do to help bolster their backbones is to offer them a menu of alternative solutions that can address the legitimate fears that people have while being true to our values.

Those solutions do exist. Bright, experienced and committed folks have been developing and refining them for a very long time: solutions waiting for the general populace to acknowledge that the nature and urgency of the crises that threaten our existence requires systemic change.

 

The Emerging New Reality

Donald Trump’s chaotic slash and burn strategy since being sworn into office is an attempt to make good on campaign promises that, in fact can never be fulfilled.  Early “successes” like convincing Carrier Corporation to keep its manufacturing facility in the U.S. was accomplished via economic blackmail— reminding their CEO’s of the 10% of their revenues come in the form of federal dollars. Threats and bullying tactics are key to achieving Trump’s “America First” goal.  But as Robert J. Gordon points out in his exhaustively researched book The Rise And Fall Of American Growth:  “The life altering scale of the innovations between 1870 and 1970 can’t be repeated.” His conclusion combined with the accelerating pace of automation suggests that irreversible structural changes in the American economy are well underway. Our period of growth may be over, but our opportunities to develop are infinite. Growth is quantitative and linear.  There are, in fact, limits to growth.  Development, on the other hand, is qualitative and offers endless opportunities for synergy.

The geopolitical system that gave rise to the current world power structure based on colonialism and built with the sweat of slave labor is crumbling before our eyes.  That system is morally, ethically and economically bankrupt. It has been from the beginning and feedback loops are finally coming home to roost with a vengeance.

Geoeconomics is poised to supplant geopolitics.  Geoeconomics differs from globalism and geopolitics in that it acknowledges the truly devastating nature of nation states. Its advocates argue persuasively for why an integrated global and local economic strategy based on cooperation and collaboration is humanity’s best chance at preventing worldwide environmental and economic calamity.

 

Global currency

Energy is the common currency linking the natural and built worlds.  That is a fact. The “alternative fact” that gold bricks stored in vaults or pieces of paper with the portraits of dead politicians are what drive economies is a capitalist myth.

Nothing happens without energy.  We have come to think of energy in the form of fossil fuels like oil, coal and natural gas or renewable sources like solar and wind. That is, however, a very limited view of Earth’s energy resources. The 92 naturally occurring elements are actually tightly bundled patterns of energy. They are the wellspring of the physical world, composing everything from water, minerals and DNA to automobiles, suspension bridges and computer clouds.

This illustrated periodic table of the elements (elements.wlonk.com) contains the basic building blocks of our world.  It is a deceptively powerful image.   Nation states have spent trillions of dollars and millions upon millions of lives to gain access to and control over them. Nation states engage in viscous cycles of acquiring these elements to fuel their economies. Because the elements are not evenly distributed around the Earth, sovereign nations often feel compelled to use them to build weapons to forcibly acquire those not found within their politically defined borders.

The Cloud Atlas and “Raw Minerals” maps below depicts where the materials critical to the computer and cyberspace infrastructure are located. The Raw Minerals map shows where the mineral resources critical to many industries— including solar and wind energy— are located.  The question is: must nation-states of the world continue to wage war over these resources, or is there another alternative strategy?

The concept of a world electric grid provides insights into a viable alternative geoeconomic (as opposed to geopolitical) strategy that accommodates both global and local perspectives. The key lies in disregarding political boundaries in order to achieve a solution that works for everyone.
 

Profile of the Industrial Revolution as exposed by the chronological rate of acquisition of the basic inventory of cosmic absolutes – the 92 Elements (1943) | R. Buckminster Fuller

 

 

American technology giants have established data centers in about two-dozen countries, and electronics manufacturers draw on materials fraught with ethical and environmental concerns. (Jessica Benko. The New York Times. June 7, 2015)

 

 

 

The average American has become highly dependent on Rare Earth Metals for many aspects of their daily life.  However, the future availability of these metals may be at risk due to a variety of factors including consumption rates of an increasing global middle class as well as geopolitics.

 

This map depicts the trans-Atlantic movement of slaves from Africa to the Americas between 1500-1900.  The energy provided by these captive humans was largely responsible for building the U.S. economy.

 

During the Jimmy Carter Administration when the U.S. and the then Soviet Union were still very much engaged in the Cold War, Buckminster Fuller became aware of a technological development that provided an opportunity to optimize the generation of electricity.

Having just gained the ability to economically transmit electricity across distances approaching 1,500 miles, Fuller proposed creating an integrated world electric grid by connecting the U.S. and Russian systems via the Bering Straits.

“We must integrate the world’s electrical-energy networks. We must be able to continually integrate the progressive night-into-day and day-into-night hemispheres of our revolving planet. With all of the world’s electric energy needs being supplied by a twenty-four-hour-around, omni-integrated network, all of yesterday’s, one-half-the-time-unemployed, standby generators will be usable all the time, thus swiftly doubling the operating capacity of the world’s electrical energy grid.”

"In the early years of Trudeau's premiership of Canada when he was about to make his first visit to Russia, I gave him my world energy network grid plan, which he presented to Brezhnev, who turned it over to his experts. On his return to Canada Trudeau reported to me that the experts had come back to Brezhnev with: "feasible . . . desirable."

R. Buckminster Fuller. Critical Path. Page xxxi

 

In 2003 Wired Magazine ran a story entitled "Power Up!" That piece noted that:

Some 30 years ago, Buckminster Fuller came up with a plan to plug all the world's continents into the same electrical grid. The idea was to let power flow between, say, Siberia and the northwestern US, or Norway and Laos. Energy companies dismissed the notion as pie in the sky - and then proceeded to build such a grid. To get the most use of their generation capacity and to maintain an emergency reserve, power companies found it efficient to connect their grids to their neighbor's, who then connected to their neighbor's.

 

Nation states are not a given.  They only came into existence some 350 years ago in the midst of chaos and disorder.  Global Chaos and disorder have been re-established. Greed and fear are the only things preventing humanity from realizing this level of unprecedented global synergy.

Biomimetics or biomimicry is the imitation of the models, systems, and elements of nature for the purpose of solving complex human problems. Bucky discovered that Nature’s design strategies are scalable.  What works at the global level can also be implemented in local communities.  In fact, one can think of the global electric grid as being modular. Instead of going to war to take another country’s resources to meet one country’s needs we would share resources as part of a system that meets the needs of all.

A global electric grid would also generate benefits at the local level where similar opportunities for cooperation and collaboration between municipalities and regions would become apparent.  The system would have to rely upon standardized parts that would be readily available for replacement and repairs.  This in turn, would encourage the establishment of local supply chains and robust local and regional economic development.

 

The global energy and environment challenges cannot be addressed through a local, regional, or even a national approach. They require a global outlook and a much broader vision, a Global Renewable Energy Grid [GREG]… If we are to address the rapidly deteriorating climate due to fossil fuel power plants, then creation of a Global Renewable Energy Grid is critical enough to warrant our highest priority. (“Global Renewable energy Project:  Integrating Renewables via HVDC Renewable and Centralized Storage.” Energy World, 2014)


 



 

 

Another critically important operating principle of the Comprehensive Design Science approach to problem solving is its emphasis on how integrating polar opposites/extremes is integral to achieving sustainable, regenerative solutions.

Earth’s critical energy flows are generated by the temperature differentials that are a direct consequence of the fact that the planet is always half in darkness and half exposed to the sun.  The Earth’s shape and its relation to the sun create dynamic system that sustains life.

The structural integrity of the geodesic dome is a result of the integration of the properties of the sphere and the tetrahedron. Spheres have the greatest volume to surface area ratio (spheres enclose the maximum volume with the minimal amount of material needed) while the properties of tetrahedra are just the opposite: the volumes they enclose take the most surface area of any shape. Spheres are the most efficient envelopers of space but they are inherently unstable.  Tetrahedra are very inefficient space enclosures but they are exhibit maximum structural integrity.

 

Evolution as a Guide to Revolution

Natural, societal and technological evolution should serve as guides for a peaceful political and design science revolution.  Fuller often asked, “Where is evolution trying to take us” as a way of calibrating his work.  For instance it seems clear that technological innovation and economic trends point towards a path of total unemployment. This obviously flies in the face of conventional political wisdom. Consequently elected officials have no idea how to cope with this or communicate this to their constituents.  To do so would, in their view, amount to political suicide.

Instead, we ignore the trends and continue to promise what can’t possibly be delivered— a return to the good old days of a strong U.S. manufacturing sector that will bring lots of well paying jobs.  Meanwhile we are doing nothing to prepare for the future that we know is actually on the horizon. Elected officials on all sides of the aisle continue to practice hypocracy.

In a recently televised CNN “Town Hall” House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi responded to a question from a millennial who asked if the Democrats were willing to adopt a more progressive agenda more in line with Bernie Sanders and admit the shortcomings of capitalism including economic inequality.  Ms. Pelosi was taken aback by the question and suggested the way to deal with inequality was to close the income gap between corporate CEOs and their employees, noting that the CEOs were “earning” 350 to 400 times more than the workers.

There was no mention of worker ownership or cooperatives.  These concepts are, for all intents and purposes, totally absent from the U.S. political lexicon.  A growing number of citizens are not waiting for our elected officials to see the light or feel confident that the system will ever allow such a discussion to take place.  These enlightened individuals and communities are undertaking their own experiments in establishing a new economics.

In many African American communities the origins of this movement can be traced back to community gardening organizing efforts dating back to the 1960s -70s. Residents were introduced to the power of cooperating and working towards a shared vision.  Residents realized that they could depend on one another even when those in political power – at all levels, greeted them and their ideas with hostility.

Back then community organizers had little choice but to be extremely resourceful. They were operating with meager financial resources.  There was a lot of door knocking, face-to-face networking and creative approaches to “scrounging” and “hustling” for seeds, access to water, gardening tools, technical assistance and most importantly – land.

The value of these kinds organizing skills will only increase in value in the coming years. They will prepare communities to take advantage of the opportunities that the Trump presidency will provide for affecting systemic change.

 

The Periodic Table of Civic Synergy
 

The Periodic Table of Civic Synergy builds on the Periodic Table of the Elements. It attempts to illustrate the building blocks capable of facilitate the ongoing development of communities and their citizens.  Acknowledging the limits to growth is not a negative or defeatist perspective, it focuses our gaze on the opportunities for improving the overall quality of life of our communities.  Development is potentially synergetic: generating system-wide benefits that exceed expectations.

In order to realize this potential, citizens need to take stock of both their God-given and Constitution-given rights.  “Humans did not invent the 92 regenerative chemical elements or the planet Earth with its unique biological life supporting and protecting conditions.” (Fuller)

The Periodic Table of the Elements can help buffer organized citizens from the arbitrariness, uncertainty and ineffectiveness that too often plagues partisan politics. Certain aspects of community and community building are as well. No political party can prevent us from caring for our neighbors or having one another’s back. 

 

The Power of Cities

Where does true economic power reside?  Surprisingly to some, not in nation states or states according to Jane Jacobs and Richard Schragger.  Cities are the real seat of economic power they argue.

Jane Jacobs was arguably the most thoughtful and insightful observer of cities and city life.  Her books, including The Death and Life of Great American Cities, The Economy of Cities and Cities and the Wealth of Nations, changed the way we think about cities and moreover, how we approach urban planning. She was a passionate champion of neighborhoods and was the first writer to describe the pivotal role that import substitution/replacement plays in building strong, local economies.

Richard Shragger is a professor of law at the University of Virginia.  His recently published book City Power supports Jacobs’ assessment of the power cities possess.  He points out that there are powers that people believe cities have that they, in fact, don’t, but, more importantly, there are many powers that cities do have that the public as well as elected officials are unaware of. He describes the latter as legal powers that may not have been translated into political power.

In the past decade, city leaders across America have raised the minimum wage, expanded social services, put conditions on incoming development, and otherwise engaged in social welfare redistribution. These cities have not suffered from capital flight - in fact, many are experiencing an economic renaissance. [T]he range of city policies is not limited by the requirements of capital, but instead by a constitutional structure that serves the interests of state and federal officials. Maintaining weak cities is a political choice.

From a review of “City Power: Urban Governance In A Global Era” by Richard Shragger.

 

City residents and officials should reach out to other cities and rural communities to discover, enable and reinforce their latent powers.

With Trump in the White House and GOP majorities in the House and Senate, we must look to cities to protect civil liberties and build progressive alternatives from the bottom up.

“America needs a network of rebel cities to stand up to Trump”. Working Families Party

 

Import Replacement

Vishan Chakrabarti. A Country of Cities. Metropolis Books. 2013​

 

 

Integrity

(Thanks to David McConville for tracking down the following: “Integrity” first appeared in in The Review, November/December 1982, p. 3 – 5. It also appeared in Humans in Universe that Bucky co-authored with Anwar Dil published in 1983. “Integrity” was also later reprinted in Buckminster Fuller: Anthology for the New Millennium.")

 

A very large number of Earthians, possibly the majority, sense this increasing imminence of total extinction of humanity by the more than 50,000 poised-for-rocket-delivery atomic bombs. Apparently no one of the 4 ½ billion humans on our planet knows what to do about it, including the world’s most powerful political leaders.

Humans did not invent atoms. Humans discovered atoms together with some of the mathematically incisive laws governing their behaviors.

In 1928 humans discovered the existence of a galaxy other than our own Milky Way. Since then we have discovered 2 billion more galaxies, each averaging over 100 billion stars.  Each star is an all-out chain-reacting atomic energy plant.

Humans did not invent the gravity coherring the macrocosm and microcosm of eternally regenerative Universe.

Humans did not invent humans, nor the boiling and freezing points of water. Humans are 60 percent water.

Humans did not invent the 92 regenerative chemical elements or the planet Earth with its unique biological life supporting and protecting conditions.

Humans did not invent the radiation received from our atomic energy generator, the Sun, around which we designedly orbit at a distance of 92 million miles.

The further away from its source, the less intense the radiation. With all the space of Universe to work with, nature found 92 million miles to be the minimum safe remoteness of biological protoplasm from atomic radiation generators.

Humans did not invent the vast distance-spanning-photo-synthetic process by which the vegetation on our planet Earth can transceive the radiation from the 92-million-miles-away Sun and transform it into the hydrocarbon molecules structuring and nurturing all life on planet Earth.

Design is: both subjective and objective, exclusively intellectual, mathematical conceptioning of orderliness of interrelationships.

Since all the cosmic-scale inventing and designing is accomplishable only by intellect and it is not by the intellect of humans, it is obviously the eternal intellectual integrity we call God.

All living creatures including humans have always been designed to be born unclothed, utterly inexperienced, ergo absolutely ignorant.  Driven by hunger thirst, respiratory requirements, curiosity, or instincts such as the reproductive urge, and guided only by their sensing devices, creatures are forced to take individual speculative initiatives or to “follow the herd.”

Ecological life is designed to learn only by trial and error.

Common to all creature experience is a cumulative inventory of only-by-trial-and-error-developed problem-solving reflexes.

Unique only to human experience is the fact that problem-solving leads not only to alternative “pastures,” but sometimes to ever more complex, incisive, comprehensively significant, metaphysically generalized and intellectually challenging problems.

Humans have had to make trillions of mistakes to acquire the little we as yet have learned.

The greatest mistake we have ever made is to assume that the supreme authority governing life and Universe is not God, but is either luck or the dictum of the humanly constituted and armed, most powerful socioeconomic systems and religions. The combined human power structures – economic, religious, and political – have compounded this primary error by ruling that no one should make mistakes and punishing those who do.  This deprives humans of their only-trial-by-error learning.

The power structure’s forbiddance of error-making has fostered cover-upping, self-deceiving, egotism, false fronts, hypocracy, legally enacted or decreed subterfuge, ethical codes and the economical rewarding of selfishness.

Selfishness has in turn fostered both individual and national bluffing and vastness of armaments.  Thus we have come to the greatest of problems ever to confront humanity – What can the little individual human do about the supranational corporate power structures and their seemingly ungovernable capability to corrupt?

A successful U.S. presidency campaign requires a minimum of fifty million dollars, senatorships twenty million, representatives two million.  Through big business’ advertising placement control of the most powerful media, money can and now has bought control of the U.S.A. political system once designed for democracy.

Without God, the little individual human can do nothing.  However, in addition to brains, God gave humans mind.  Human mind alone has been given access to some of the eternal laws governing physical and metaphysical Universe, such as the laws of leverage, mechanical advantage, mathematics, chemistry, electricity, and the laws governing gravitational or magnetic interrattractiveness, which varies inversely in respect to the second power of distances intervening.  Halve the distance and double the interrattractiveness as is manifested by the progressive terminal acceleration of Earthward traveling bodies or by the final “snap” together of interapproached magnets.

It is clearly evidenced that God must have included humans in the design of Universe for very important reasons else we would not have been given exclusive, objective-use access to  some of the eternal laws governing the physical and metaphysical Universe.

Employing those principles humans have been able to illumine the nights of all humanity with electricity and to intercommunicate with telephones and to integrate the daily lives of the remotest from one another humans with the airplane.

As a consequence of human mind’s solving problems with technology, within only the last three-fourths of a century of our multimillions of years presence on planet Earth the technical design initiatives have succeeded in advancing the standard of living of the majority of humanity to a level unknown or undreamed of by any pre-twentieth century potentates.

Within only the last century humanity has grown from 95 percent illiterate to 65 percent literate.  Preponderantly illiterate humanity needed literate leaders.  Now, preponderantly literate humanity is capable of self-instruction and self-determination in major degree.

Clearly humanity is being evolutionarily ejected ever ore swiftly from all the yesteryear’s group-womb of designedly permitted ignorance.

Regarding the power-structure-supported scriptures’ legend of woman emanating from a man’s rib, there is no sustaining experiential evidence.

Humanity now knows that only woman can conceive, gestate, and bear both male and female humans.  Women are the continuum of human life.  Like the tension of gravity cohering space-islanded galaxies, stars, planets, and atoms, women are continuous.  Men are discontinuous space islands.  Men, born forth only from the wombs of women have the function of activating women’s reproductively.

The present evolutionary crisis of humans on planet Earth is that of a final examination for their continuance in Universe.  It is not an examination of political, economic, or religious systems, but the integrity of each and all individual human’s responsible thinking and unselfish response to the acceleration in evolution’s evermore unprecedented events.

These evolutionary events are the disconnective events attendant upon the historic termination of all nations.  We now have 160 national economic “blood clots” in our planetary production and distribution system.  What is going on is the swift integration in a myriad of ways of all humanity not into a “united nations”, but into a united space-planet people.

Always and only employing all the planet’s physical and metaphysical resources only for all the people, this evolutionary trend of events will result in an almost immediately higher standard of living for all than has ever been experienced by anyone.  The higher the standard of living, the lower the birth rate.

The population-stabilizing higher living standards will be accomplished through conversion of all the high-technology now employed in weaponry production redirected into livingry production, blocked only by political party traditions and individually uncoped-with, obsoletely conditioned reflexes.

A few instances of persistence misinformedly conditioned reflexes are: the failure popularly to recognize the now scientifically proven fact that there are no different races or classes of humans; or failure to recognize technological obsolescence of the world-around, politically assumed Malthus-Darwin assumption of an inherent inadequacy of life support, ergo “survival only of the fittest”; or failure to ratify ERA, The Equal Rights (for women) Amendment, by the thus far in history, most crossbred-world-peoples’ democracy in the U.S.A.; or, with ample food production for all Earthians, the tolerating of marketing systems which result in 75,000 humans dying of starvation each and every one of the 365 days of each and every year.

Carelessly unchallenged persistence of myriad of such misinformed brain reflexings of the masses will signal such lack of people’s integrity as to call for the disqualification of humanity and its elimination by atomic holocaust.

You may feel helpless about stopping the bomb.

To you, the connection between the Equal Rights Amendment and the atomic holocaust may at first seem remote.  I am confident that what I am saying is true.  The holocaust can be prevented only by individual humans demonstrating uncompromising integrity in all matters, thus qualifying us for continuance in the semi-divine designing initiative bestowed upon us in the gift of our mind.

 

                                                                                                                              Faithfully,

                                                                                                                              Buckminster Fuller

                                                                                                                              May 26, 1982

 

  

 

Appendix

Boston Farmers’ Market

"A farmers Market is an organized activity occurring multiple times per year for the purpose of personally connecting and mutually benefiting local farmers, communities and shoppers. It consists of at least two local farms selling items that they have produced directly to the public. Farmers Markets have rules of vendor acceptance and participation that provide a general preference for local farmers above all other vendors. These rules determine the definition of ‘LOCAL’ as it pertains to that market, and may allow for other types of vendors depending on the needs of that community."  (Federation of Massachusetts Farmers' Markets)

In 1978 Susan Redlich, director of the Massachusetts Division of Agricultural Land Use, hired me as a consultant charged with organizing urban farmers' markets in Boston. At that time there were no urban farmers' markets in the Greater Boston Metropolitan Area.  In fact, there were less than a handful to be counted in the entire state.

I did not know it at the time but came to understand that thoughtfully designed farmers' markets can serve as powerful trimtabs in support of local agricultural systems.

There was no budget. However I had the great fortune of being approached by a high school senior named Michael Grunebaum from Buckingham Brown & Nichols who was looking for a summer internship.  He worked with me to establish a network of markets located in several Boston neighborhoods. We developed a farmers' market newsletter ("The Stalk Exchange"), flyers and met with community groups in a number of neighborhoods.  It was my job to recruit farmers to come into the city-- a very tough sell at the time.

Two of the original three markets (in Dorchester and the South End) were wildly popular. The Fields Corner Market in Dorchester celebrated its 38th year of continuous operation at the same site. The third (in Roxbury) suffered from an unfortunate siting mismatch.  The markets accomplished what they were designed to do. However, they did a lot more as well.  We didn’t do a good job at anticipating nor documenting the beneficial unintended consequences.  Consequently many of the organizers, farmers and residents who participated in the creation and running of the farmers’ market never realized the full impact of their efforts. The graphic on the following page attempts to illustrate (in hindsight) the breadth of the markets’ influence on the Massachusetts food system.

 

There was an unexpected “cascading” of beneficial effects in the aftermath of the establishment of the Boston farmers’ markets in 1978.  We assumed that farmers and consumers would benefit from the elimination of the middlemen (wholesalers, distributors, packagers, processors, supermarkets, etc.).  However, farmers became more responsive to consumer demand because of their direct contact with them.  Some farmers began to adopt more diversified practices in the field as they adapted to the new retail opportunity where product variety attracted customers. Environmentalists had been encouraging this for years. 

 

 

Dudley Street Neighborhood Initiative

The Dudley Street Neighborhood Initiative (DSNI) is a nonprofit community-based planning and organizing entity rooted in the Roxbury/North Dorchester neighborhoods of Boston. DSNI's approach to neighborhood revitalization is comprehensive including economic, human, physical, and environmental growth. It was formed in 1984 when residents of the Dudley Street area came together out of fear and anger to revive their neighborhood that was devastated by arson, disinvestment, neglect and redlining practices, and protect it from outside speculators.

DSNI was able to leverage one of the “unknown legal powers” available to cities when it asked for and was granted the power of eminent domain over all abandoned vacant land within its boundaries in order to execute a revitalization plan that was created by residents.  Working with a team of progressive lawyers, the resident board requested and was granted the power of eminent domain over acres of land that had been abandoned by land speculators and slumlords when city officials took their urban renewal plans off the table.

The land was purchased and placed into a community land trust.  Guided by the thinking of Jane Jacobs and E. F. Schumacher, a resident-led planning process led the creation of a revitalization plan that was successfully implemented including an innovating “Gentrification Without Displacement” strategy. They thus achieved something that scores private sector and city planners were unable to accomplish. DSNI designed and realized one of the first urban agriculture initiatives in the country that has become a pillar of their overall economic development plan.

 

 

 

Cuba-U.S. Agroecology Network

Integrating Seemingly Diametrically Opposed Perspectives

The Schumacher Center for a New Economics launched the Cuba-U.S. Agroecology Network (CUSAN) in 2015 following a week-long visit to Cuba in October 2014. We went there to have a look at their agroecology system up close.

The primary goal in establishing the Network was to connect sustainable agriculture stakeholders in the United States with their counterparts in Cuba for the purpose of exchanging information and providing mutual support in their pursuits of agroecological farming practices. We anticipate the development of collaborative education, research and/or marketing initiatives emerging from many of these relationships.

 

Lessons the U.S. can learn from Cuba

We discovered many things that we in the U.S. can learn from Cuba about organizing and preparing for a transition to a new economic system.  Cuba’s small farmer agroecology movement emerged out of dire necessity during the country’s “Special Period” following the collapse of the Soviet Union.  Farmers were faced with the challenge of finding ways to grow food for Cuba’s starving population without the use of petroleum inputs— their primary source of oil having been the Soviet Union.

The farmers mounted an unprecedented organizing effort including a strong urban agriculture program and an effective farmer-to-farmer network for sharing information, ideas and technical assistance.  With the permission of the Cuban government they formed highly successful cooperatives.  Cuba’s farmers in effect were allowed to become the early explorers in search of a new economics to replace the failed socialist economy.  They are searching for a system that can improve the overall economy while preserving the impressive social advances in health care, education and the environment— an economics that promotes and enhances social solidarity.

Capitalism is not an option.

 

Lessons Cuba can learn from the U.S.

Urban academics, activists and organizers in Massachusetts and elsewhere are experimenting with developing local solidarity economies building in part on fledgling urban agriculture initiatives.  They are shifting from the capitalist system to something more progressive along the spectrum— stopping short of socialism (or at least one would imagine, given the Cuban experience).

U.S. urban farming advocates are facing a number of challenges, most importantly how to provide healthy and affordable food to urban residents and at the same time create and sustainable an economically viable farm business.  Three variables that are being pursued in attempts to balance that equation are scale, volume and efficiency. Three examples of design approaches to examine the ability to take advantage of these variables include freight farms, vertical farms and food systems “smartgrids”.

 

 

Taking us Beyond Hypocracy

 

Buckminster Fuller Institute

For 30 years, BFI has supported a growing international network of Fuller-inspired innovators through the maintenance of a comprehensive Information Clearinghouse on R.B Fuller.

www.bfi.org

 

Civic Synergy

Creating social trimtabs to steer systemic change:  the collective power of people in organized networks to transform the systems that affect their lives.

www.civicsynergy.org

 

Cuba-U.S. Agroecology Network

Connecting sustainable agriculture stakeholders in the United States with their counterparts in Cuba for the purpose of exchanging information and providing mutual support in their pursuits of agroecological farming practices.

www.agroecologynetwork.org

 

Dudley Street Neighborhood Initiative

Empowering Dudley residents to organize, plan for, create and control a vibrant, diverse and high-quality neighborhood in collaboration with community partners.

www.dsni.org

 

Schumacher Center for a New Economics

To educate the public about an economics that supports both people and the planet We recognize that the environmental and equity crises we now face have their roots in the current economic system.  

www.centerforneweconomics.org

 

 

 

 

Greg Watson has been involved in the environmental and food movements ever since his college days in the late 1960s at Tufts University. Early in his career he taught environmental science to inner-city youth and worked with Boston Urban Gardens.

Watson served as Commissioner of Agriculture for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts (1990 to 1993) under then Governors Dukakis and Weld and again (2012 to 2015) under Governor Deval Patrick. Prior to his term in the Patrick Administration, he was appointed Assistant Secretary for Science and Technology with the Massachusetts Executive Office of Economic Affairs and served concurrently as Deputy Director of the Massachusetts Centers of Excellence Corporation.

He was a member of President-elect Obama’s transition team for the Department of Energy. More recently, on loan from the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center, he was engaged as Senior Advisor for Clean Energy Technology within the Executive Office of Environmental Affairs.

In addition to his tenure as executive director of the Dudley Street Neighborhood Initiative, Watson was on the board of the Buckminster Fuller Foundation and headed the Nature Conservancy’s Northeast office. He was education director and then executive director of the New Alchemy Institute (1980 to 1984), an applied research center that practiced organic agriculture as well as aquaculture and did pioneering work in bio-shelter design. In 1980 he co-founded Cape & Islands Self Reliance, a nonprofit that educates residents about energy conservation, energy efficiency, and renewable energy technologies.

Currently, he is Director of Policy and Systems Design with the Schumacher Center for a New Economics. 

In 2006 The Boston Globe Magazine named Greg Watson as one of eleven “Bostonians Changing the World.”

 
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