Saturday, September 06, 2003

A while back I mailed something to the Buddhist Peace Fellowship mail list concerning the new upwelling of collaborative solutions for homelessness, and got a fairly substantial suggestion (shortened here; it had nothing to do with buddhism or alternative thinking per se).

to, "Bernard D. Tremblay" wrote:
> > "Facing rising health care costs, and a shortage of affordable
> > housing, some people in Washington, DC are coming
> > together to form cooperatives.

JFN replied
> Since this morning, I have come up with two versions of a
> first approximation of a plan which could accomplish much in this
> area.
> There are people putting shipping containers on forest properties as
> cabins - and they meed building codes.


> In general, since families with quite low incomes could afford to own
> outright shipping container housing, they would be able to continue
> onward without haveng to pay rent.So something like this might be
> considered by low income families.
> ***To leave not a single being twisting in the wind***

Here's the reply I sent to the Buddhist group list:

So heartening, to find the question engaging someone! I needed that just now.

A short reply, as my supper cooks, to capture the multiple aspects of my
reaction. (Hoping to reply with regards to specifics directly to you very

I find myself wondering where a sub-group of sangha such as BPF fits in the
scenario of societal collapse and environmental degredation ... once upon a
time it was the monastic sangha's responsibility to inform administrators of
proper concerns.

The degree to which you've developed your idea is I think representative of
how people of good will can synthesize. Self-interest, the good of others;
"enlightened" self-interest ... when we are healthy and oriented to the
actualities of our space and the others who inhabit it, the product of our
thought will necessarily be at least a step towards beneficial development;
the process of implementation, of actually and really taking those sane steps
... can there be a better form of practice?

I find it entirely appropriate that individuals who've investigated
abhidharma, even if only theoretically, should derive partial solutions that
are in any number of ways beneficial; perhaps our tentative efforts reveal a
faulty assumption or or bring to light some deep-seated predisposition, or
perhaps they will revisit some concept that has been overlooked or ignored.
What are the consequences of action, and what determines those consequences
... doesn't the dharma equip us to know the dynamics of co-emergence
im-mediately and intimately?

The proposals you've made here strike me as very problematic at a technical
level, and terrifically interesting as a plausible project!! "Habitat for
Humanity" is a responsible organization, and has taken a very different tack.
I know there was some activity with a slightly similar tactic in Toronto,
where there was a sudden need to provide short-term shelter.
But I'm not sure that BPF is the forum for discussing the logistics and
socio/economic aspects of this. [nuts&bolts reply to James Newell sent

(Is anyone familiar with _Sarvodaya Sramadana_ in Sri Lanka? It was a
paradigm of alternative thinking in the early 70s. And what of Paolo Friere,
has his "non-patronizing" thinking evaporated?)

Given my own context, and hovering thoughts concerning the social construct
of currency and its alienating effects (we forego the social good in order to
optimize ROI and maximize profit, and then use financial gains to procure the
good ... with devestating effects on the fabric of our communities and our
ecology / environment!) I'm very attentive to the group's response to this.

Does the BPF concern itself directly with matters of lodging? with the
personal aspects of ambition and possessiveness? with the peculiar (and to my
way of thinking, pathological) appetite for and clinging to privacy?

*The koan arises naturally in daily life.*

The stormy waves of life, disease, old-age, and death ... the richly complex
tableaux of our lives ... can I allow my acquisitive tendency to distract me
from this? Shouldn't that tendency and others like it be my objects of

> ***To leave not a single being twisting in the wind***

Yes, yes!! Just so! /That/ smacks of bodhicitta and loving-kindness to me!
(I'm surely not the only person to have had Fudo as well as Manjusri and
Kanzeon on the shrine?)

Technology based on a narrow use of Newtonian science is characterised by its
reductiveness ... complexity attends to edge cases and border conditions, as
would a sane and healthy community.

thanks to you
regards to all

p.s. the more I ponder it, the more it seems to me that communal life
(neither yogin monastic nor "nuclear family" householder ... sannyasin?) is
both the practice and the solution.
From my LJ this afternoon:
crashing ...

... visited a friend's bio lab (she's writing a thesis on neural cresting). It was fun to talk nuts&bolts science again. That, and US$200, will get me a home.

It's sunny. It's saturday. I should be out and about, if only to try busking. I'm exhausted (horrible horrible long detailed nightmare last night ... first in 40 years!!?)

I'm practically immobile ... incapacitated ... numb. Not good. Must find housing for October.

and a bit later, in reply to a reader's reply that they'd had a nightware "like some godawful RPG":

Noooooooo kidding ... mine was somewhat similar; like this post-apocalyptic pirate ship, a huge clunker with all sorts of alleys and bunkers and huge spaces and tight confines and mad-men and shiet ... and being caught in something like a cage as it slowly submerged ... remember Alien? ... violence and rage and fear and desperation and disgust ... the absence of any elemental warmth, and certainly the absence of human warmth. Life in Babylon ... I'm so sick of glad-handing yuppies and pseudo-sensitivity ...

I drilled down through my fear concerning homelessness (3 weeks and counting) ... part of it is my physical problems (my left foot packed it in this afternoon ... kind of like having a tire go flat very suddenly ... pretty wierd to be suddenly stranded in the middle of a downtown sidewalk!) and found the big thing: I'm infected by the bourgeois concept of privacy. This, to my way of thinking, is /modern/, and entirely optional.
Oh! To share a house with individuals who are interested in their interior processes!

I'm thinking of running a "Shared accomodation" ad that includes "Are you grown up? and are you also a mature adult?" ... but that phrase has come to mean something negative, whereas it actually means capable of interdependence, beyond the hang-up on independence (grown-up means just "beyond dependence").:

Friday, September 05, 2003

Waking the Sleepwalkers; CBC Ideas - William Rees (UBC; he brought forward the idea of "ecological footprint")

[roughly paraphrased]
We appropriate energy flows from nature (we eat almost everything, from the most delicate marine life to insect grubs; what we can't eat, we redirect, such as cactus: we feed cactus to the goats and then eat the goats); our environmental problems aren't problems in the environment, but how we exploit it: we harvest faster than it can produce, and discharge waste faster than it can recycle.

Further, we have turned away from direct sources of social good in favor of maximizing income, which we then turn towards purchase of those goods. The culturally mythic economy disregards our physical environment and our actions result in the problems outlined above.

Seperating reason from emotions makes it impossible to think these problems through. But they are only tendencies and predispositions, so we can think them through and find other ways.

Rees - Aurora Online
Rees discussing energy, oil peak & the future of human ecology (Global Public Media)
Ecological footprints: Making tracks toward sustainable cities (Linkages | Sustainable Consumption)

CBC Radio One: Ideas [features in 2003]
The Halifax Herald Sunday, March 30, 2003
TV critic finds American war coverage 'morally repugnant'

In a war where spectacle is taking precedence over information, Judy Rebick, a teacher of media democracy at Ryerson University, says she can barely watch the U.S. TV coverage.

"The thing that I find most troubling is this kind of excitement about the bombing, you know, almost sexual excitement," she says. "I find it deeply disturbing, really morally repugnant, this thrill over the technology with no comprehension that people are dying."

Rebick says the public can understand more about this war, however, than the '91 Gulf War thanks to Al-Jazeera - the Arab TV network - and a more advanced Internet.

"So we have everything from blogs from Baghdad to alternative media there putting out reports every day."


Still there's evidence of a media variation of the Stockholm syndrome with these reporters understandably absorbing the gung ho nature of the soldiers they are covering.

Rodgers, who has boasted of the "wall of steel" he is accompanying, is the former Associated Press reporter who gained fame with his on-the-spot radio coverage of the 1981 assassination attempt on then president Ronald Reagan. He's been travelling with the U.S. 7th Cavalry, a name that ironically, thanks to Custer, is forever associated in U.S. history with battlefield disaster.

If a hero must be identified, perhaps it should be veteran war correspondent Terry Lloyd of Britain's ITN, who along with his crew died, apparently at the hands of friendly fire, although even that event remains shrouded in war fog.


Thursday, September 04, 2003

*Decades ago my vision was to leave off the careerism in order to drill down, letting the accumulation of wealth to my peers. I did just that. And now? My peers are idiuhts (the consequence of years mindlessly acquiring and accumulating) and I am as though a friendless stranger ... pushers, pimps, and abusers have more actual community!*

A couple of items relating to the Rainbow Family of Loving Light:
from 14850 Magazine's "Woodstock at 25":
For all the great music-and it was truly one of the greatest musical events in all of rock 'n' roll-it was a thorough mess in the down to earth details, reflecting frightening implications for a hedonistic future of anarchistic chaos. Interestingly, away from the madhouse of humanity swarming over the hill surrounding the stage, through trails in the woods and along some of the roadways, the Hog Farm and other communal groups had set up camp kitchens, water stations and areas of relaxation and friendship.

It was these quiet, unheralded moments that's the real legacy of Woodstock. Those camp kitchens and water stations evolved into the annual Gathering of the Rainbow Family of Living Light, which has been bringing tens of thousands to the National Forests every summer since 1971. These annual Gatherings embody the true spirit of the Hippie thing: peace and love and sharing-and the Gatherings are entirely free, no admission charged.

So, while a quarter of a million revellers head to Saugerties, forking over their $150 ticket price-the original costs was $18-for "Woodstock II, the Re-union," the real reunion already took place at the Rainbow Gathering in a forest in Wyoming... but that's a myth for another time."

From "Food Not Bombs and Rainbow" on the Homeless People's Network archive:
"... check out Rainbow - it can really challenge your assumptions in a good way. Stay awhile - it takes me a while for the mainstream wage-rent culture to wash away - I've been working way to hard and I can hardly imagine ...
Rainbow is great. My first gathering I carried water and gathered wood for a couple kitchens and hung out and listened. This cool guy asked me "what I wanted" when I asked him what Rainbow was all about, as if anything was possible - it's pretty mystical over all.

The mundane issues of shitting, eating, first aid, keeping an eye on drunks (alcohol is only allowed by the cars, if at all, which are way away from the circle), watching the kids, etc. are definitely real and need to have their weight shared, and then everyone has time to explore and meditate and talk and work together in great ways. Rainbow has no amplified music and no alcohol so there are lots of times when it's just wind chimes or just the wind and you. This is vastly different from concerts, dead parking lots, urban gatherings, earth first rendezvous, etc. and all those things have value for other reasons. Activists may find Rainbow to be annoyingly apolitical, but under the surface are a bunch of radicals.
Not so many folks figure I'm sympathetic let alone a supporter / defender but I definitely think Rainbow is great, and I will always take the time to explain the magical good part of Rainbow when people want to talk about the wierdness of it."
*Welcome Home!
“You ‘know’ in your limbic brain. The seat of instinct. The mammalian brain. Deeper, wider, beyond logic. That is where advertising works, not in the upstart cortex. What we think of as ‘mind’ is only a sort of jumped-up gland, piggybacking on the reptilian brainstem and the older mammalian mind, but our culture tricks us into recognizing it as all of consciousness. The mammalian spreads continent wide beneath it, mute and muscular, attending its ancient agenda. And makes us buy things”
( William Gibson in ‘Pattern Recognition’)


A herd of buffalo can only move as fast as the slowest buffalo. And when the herd is hunted, it is the slowest and weakest ones at the back that are killed first. This natural selection is good for the herd as a whole, because the general speed and health of the whole group keeps improving by the regular killing of the weakest members. If the elite moves the herd faster, it seperates from the slowest. And which are then attacked? Apparently altruistic behaviour propogates itself by perpetuating the rich set of interactions that give rise to it.
What happens when we slip into bureaucratic spreadsheet think?

In a discussion of Bush's face concern and actual hard-hearted disregard of soldiers' well-being and suffering, and painfully conscious of how poverty is a slippery slope *3 weeks to homelessness, and counting ... gawd I hate this!* I happened to quip "gadd, I can just imagine ... a vet, PTSD and maybe physically disabled, homeless, female ..." Well, someone pointed me to
Battle continues for veteran home from war
by David Abel, Globe Staff, 8/21/2003

"Three months ago, Vannessa Turner was in charge of a small unit, drove a 5-ton truck through ambushes, and wherever she went in Iraq, the Army sergeant held her M-16 at the ready.

The single mom's war ended in May, when she collapsed in 130-degree heat, fell into a coma, and nearly died of heart failure.

Now, after more than a month recovering in Germany and Washington, D.C., the muscular Roxbury native spends her days riding city buses to ward off boredom, roaming area malls looking at things she can't afford, and brooding over how she and her 15-year-old daughter are suddenly homeless, sleeping on friends' couches and considering moving into a shelter.

''I almost lost my life in Iraq -- and I can't get a place to live?'' said Turner, 41, who Army officials say is the first known homeless veteran of the war in Iraq. ''Yeah, I'm a little angry. Right now, not having a home for my daughter is the greatest burden in my life.''

Though Army officials said they're trying to help, Turner, still wearing a leg brace and limping from nerve damage in her right leg, blames the service for not doing more.

When she went to the Veterans Administration Medical Center in West Roxbury after coming home last month, officials there told her she had to wait until mid-October to see a doctor. When she asked the Army to ship her possessions from her unit's base in Germany, where she lived with her daughter for more than a year, they told her she had to fly back at her own expense to get them herself. And when she sought help to secure a veterans' loan for a house in Boston, she said mortgage brokers told her her only real option was to move to Springfield or Worcester.

The Army acknowledges ''mistakes were made.''

''The Army can be a bureaucracy, but there are people in the bureaucracy who want to help,'' said Major Steve Stover, an Army spokesman. ''I don't think it's acceptable for anyone to be homeless, and I believe most people in the Army want everyone to take care of each other.''

Unfortunately, Turner is unlikely to be the last soldier serving in Iraq to return without a home.

Although veterans make up just 9 percent of the US population, they account for about 23 percent of the nation's homeless, according to the Washington-based National Coalition of Homeless Veterans. In a given year, of the 2.5 million people who become homeless in the United States, about 550,000 are vets, many of whom served in Vietnam and suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder."
Posted on LIveJournal for discussion at
Don’t Be an Idiot!

By Jim Hightower

The Greek word 'idiotes' referred to people who were so self-involved they focused on their own life and were ignorant and uncaring about the common good.

The greatest offense against our society these days is not any one law or a particular assault on our freedoms. Rather, it is the persistent, insidious effort by those who shape our culture to reduce the American citizenry to idiots. From corporate advertisers to political sermonizers, from boards of education to the entertainment programmers, their goal is idiocy.

By 'idiots,' I’m referring to more than the constant charge that we’re all a bunch of dummies. That’s just manufactured media fluff. Far from being a nation of numbskulls, people (and especially young folks) are smarter than ever. But to what end?

The original Greek word 'idiotes' referred to people who might have had a high IQ, but were so self-involved that they focused exclusively on their own life and were both ignorant of and uncaring about public concerns and the common good.

Such people were the exact opposite of the Athenian democratic ideal of an active citizenry fully involved in the civic process, with everyone accepting their responsibilities to each other and all of humankind. This is the ideal that Jefferson and Madison built into our nation’s founding documents, the ideal that Lincoln embraced when he spoke of striving for a “government of the people, by the people, for the people,” the ideal that Justice Louis Brandeis was expressing when he wrote that “The most important office” in our land is “that of a private citizen.”

Be an involved citizen? Forget about it, Jake. Don’t waste your time. Get a job, keep your head down, play the lottery, don’t be different, take a pill, watch “reality TV,” buy things, play it safe, live vicariously, don’t make waves, pre-pay your funeral. Oh, and on those big questions—such as economic fairness, going to war, “rebalancing” that liberty/security equation, and the shrinking of democracy itself—don’t hurt your little gray cells by focusing on them, for there’s not a lot you can do about them, we know more than you do, and don’t worry … we’ll take care of you. Go about your business—be a good idiot.

[ ... ]

Found on alt.gathering.rainbow

There, I replied as follows:
"Awesome synchronicity, skye ... see and ... what I created yesterday, the end result of years in the field (who else stays back to organize /something /locally// on the week of July 4th? is that perverse and self-destructive?), and the product of abandonment: I am /surrounded/ by idiots ... blank-eyed and busy, pleasant and superficial, self-protective and narcissistic.

There are two basic drives, and one of the is all about doing the good. (Yes, the second is self-interest ... it's the other one that makes this "enlightenened".)
"The pursuit of happiness" ... and what's happier that enjoying the good that we have brought about with our brothers and sisters by sharing it in their company? We're a gregarious and social people; "I am because we are!"

I am alone because we are lonely idiots."


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