An open space for global conversation
Our Connect 2012 conversations focus on ways to build and weave the Occupy Cafe community. We use this forum thread to capture key aspects of our Cafe Call conversations (Tuesdays 1-3p Pacific/4-6pm Eastern--register here for the ongoing series) and to continue the dialogue in between our calls.
Our inquiry on Sept 11: how does the idea of "a Global Brain awakening" (explored on yesterday's Vital Conversation Cafe Call) inform our work to build and deepen the Occupy Cafe community?
Inspiration drawn randomly from the GroupWorks deck:
If it's possible that the global brain could awaken in a state of rage or shock or neurosis or even schizophrenia, what might we do to encourage the psychological health of the brain as manifest in the Cafe?
Found myself musing about the mycelial mat again yesterday as I watched the crowd of Occupiers disperse from Battery Park, each one a strand in a web of communication and a movement for change.
Inspiration drawn randomly from the GroupWorks deck for the 9/18 call:
Speaking of embracing dissonance and difference, Daniel briefly brought his friend John, who is a "fracker" working the gas and oil wells in Montana, onto the call. Reminded me of the Scientific American cover story from November 2009 that argued we could go 100% renewable in 20 years with today's technology, and also Amory Lovins' new "Reinventing Fire" initiative.
Makes me think about whether or not we want to strive for greater ideological diversity among Cafe participants.
Digging up and burning the deposits of ancient sunlight stored eons ago in primeval swamps has transformed human existence and made industrial and urban civilization possible. However, those roughly four cubic miles of fossil fuels every year are no longer the only, best, or even cheapest way to sustain and expand the global economy—whether or not we count fossil fuels’ hidden costs.
Those “external” costs, paid not at the fuel pump or electric meter but in our taxes, wealth, and health, are not counted in the Reinventing Fire analysis, but are disturbingly large. Tens of billions of taxpayer dollars each year subsidize America’s fossil fuels, and even more flow to the systems that burn those fuels, distorting market choices by making the fuels look far cheaper than they really are. But the biggest hidden costs are economic and military.
America’s seemingly two-billion-dollar-a-day oil habit actually costs upwards of three times that much—six billion dollars a day, or a sixth of GDP. That’s due to three kinds of hidden costs, each about a half-trillion dollars per year: the macro economic costs of oil dependence, the microeconomic costs of oil-price volatility, and the military costs of forces whose primary mission is intervention in the Persian Gulf. Those military costs are about ten times what we pay to buy oil from the Persian Gulf, and rival total defense spending at the height of the Cold War.
Any costs to health, safety, environment, security of energy supply, world stability and peace, or national independence or reputation are extra. Coal, too, has hidden costs, chiefly to health, of about $180–530 billion per year, and natural gas had lesser but nontrivial externalities even before shale-gas “fracking” emerged.
All fossil fuels, to varying degrees, also incur climate risks that society’s leading professional risk managers—reinsurers and the military—warn will cost us dearly. And even if fossil fuels had no hidden costs, they are all finite, with extraction peaking typically in this generation. Yet “peak oil” is now emerging in demand before supply. Thus industrialized countries’ total oil use peaked in 2005, U.S. gasoline use in 2007. Even U.S. coal use peaked in 2005, and in 2005–10, coal lost 12% of its share of U.S. electrical services (95% of its market) to natural gas, efficiency, and renewables. This is not because these fuels’ hidden costs have been properly internalized yet into their market prices, but rather because those market prices today are too high and volatile to sustain sales against rising competition. (bold/underlined emphasis added)
That seems to me to be a very striking, and excitingly optimistic thesis, coming from a man--Amory Lovins-- who I respect as really knowing his stuff.
To listen to a 27 minute TED talk by ;Amory Lovins, go here.....http://blog.rmi.org/blog_ted_reinventing_fire_an_idea_worth_spreading
To read the entire executive summary.... 2-3 pages... go here, http://www.rmi.org/rfexecutivesummary
Scribing the call....
Mushin: "I feel very optimistic, even though it appears that everything is crashing down around us..."
I like the idea of evoking that feeling of possibility among our participants--i.e. telling that "story"-- as a core "job" for the Cafe.
Scribing the call....
Anita: "We're all part on one Story." Talking about coming from Love, and the importance of talking to strangers... To have our hearts grow, we need to include everything in our story, even the things that make us angry or uncomfortable.
Our Connect2012 conversation for 10/2 continues the theme of Commitment. Cross-posting from the thread for Monday's Vital Conversation, I wanted to bring over to this discussion Peter Block's writing on "Expanding our Idea of Action" (Community: The Structure of Belonging, pp.80-81) and the thoughts I added below it.
Of course, just coming together has to provide some movement toward
the future. Every time we meet, we want to feel that we have moved the
The question is, what qualifies as action? Traditionally, we want a strategy,
and a list of next steps and milestones, and the knowledge of who will
be responsible for them in order to be satisfied that we have spent our time
well when we are together. Any change in the world will, in fact, need this
kind of action. To say, however, that this is all that counts as action is too
If we are to value building social fabric and belonging as much as budgets,
timetables, and bricks and mortar, we need to consider action in a
broader way. For example:
Would a meeting be worthwhile if we simply strengthened our
Would a meeting be worthwhile if we learned something of value?
Suppose in a meeting we simply stated our requests of each other
and what we were willing to offer each other. Would that justify our
Or, in the gathering, what if we only discussed the gifts we wanted
to bring to bear on the concern that brought us together. Would that
be an outcome of value?
Saying yes to these questions opens and widens the spectrum of what
constitutes action, and this is the point. Relatedness, learning, requests, and
offers of gifts are outcomes as valuable as agreements and next steps.
It is not that we are gathering just for the sake of gathering. Or gathering
to get to know each other. We come together for an exchange of value
and to experience how relatedness, gifts, learning, and generosity are valuable
to community. When we name these as outcomes, it allows us to get
completion for the investment we made without having to leave with a list
for the future.
With this expanded notion of action, we can bring visioning, problem
solving, and clearly defined outcomes into the room––and in fact we need
them to sustain us. People will meet to learn and connect for only so long,
and then a task is needed. The task doesn’t have to be the main point of the
gathering, but it is an essential point.
Jitendra, Pia and I are quite taken with the idea of the cafe as a place where we are all invited to "live into humanity's New Story." Do you find that possibility inspiring and compelling, or is it more "New Age nonsense" to you? If it does resonate, let's think about some tasks we might undertake collectively.