DT logo
my VCFA mfa work:

1st sem—oct12–apr13—pkt#1 <
1st sem—oct12–apr13—pkt#2 <
1st sem—oct12–apr13—pkt#3 <
1st sem—oct12–apr13—pkt#4 —
1st sem—oct12–apr13—pkt#5 <

2nd sem—apr13–oct13—pkt#1 <
2nd sem—apr13–oct13—pkt#2 <
2nd sem—apr13–oct13—pkt#3 <
2nd sem—apr13–oct13—pkt#4 <

3rd sem—oct13–apr14—pkt#1 <
3rd sem—oct13–apr14—pkt#2 <



email —{ darlene.town@gmail.com
ph —{ 816.682.4438
fb —{ facebook.com/dtown65
li —{ darlene.town


Packet #4:

art making:

:: I started this packet with art making. This piece is an up close look at "my island." This place I call "mine."

I have taken pictures of my place from the beginning when I moved here. It will be 12 years in April. That is the longest I've lived anywhere.

I've dug in. I'm making it mine. It was pretty raw and broken when I moved in. It had been neglected and unappreciated. I saw a space where I could stretch my arms and not touch anyone else. I place where I could breathe and reconnect. Rebuild myself.

I'll show you some of the original images and the smaller compositions within them that I used.

Acrylic paint, inkjet printed images manipulated in Photoshop, artist' black permanent pen, acrylic stamping, acryilic paint squirted through a bottle, on 185# acrylic paper.

across the road

burn barrel

chairs waiting


chicken dusting

chicken house

concrete shadows

Dad's Oak tree

deer tracks by garage

door bells


egg cartons - getting ready for spring


frosty weeds


gnarly roots

grass tuft

kitchen window




walnut log

snowfall in the woods

woody sprout

Printed b/w with high contrast. Adhered to the 185# acrylic paper. Gel medium coated.
There are 80 compositions from the larger images with 20 abstract fillers. These fillers are simplified in structure but continue the same palette. They give a little breathing room between what would otherwise be a very busy collection of compositions in the grid.

starting squares

Here are some of the little corners of "my island."

"My Island":

finished "my island"
[ double-click on it to see larger view]

All of these little pieces, and so many more, are a part of my space which I include as part of me. I've touched all of it, manipulated much of it, smelled mosted of it, listened to it, cared for and nurtured most of it, used all of it. I've seen it all change with time, with the seasons, it comes and goes, expands and contracts, warms me and chills me. It nurtures me.
It is so much a part of me and represents the larger worldview I hold. "My island" is sacred, yet it can't go with me. It is here to remind me that all is perfect in its inperfection. I can't protect or save anyone else's island, but I can care for mine.

jump to topup

reading ::

Obsessive Consumption: What Did You Buy Today? - Kate Bingaman-Burt

:: excerpts I found interesting:

Obsessive Consumption: What Did You Buy Today?Parking tickets, coffee, packs of gum, shoes, electricity bills, and burritos. I have been drawing something that I purchase every day since February 5, 2006. Obsessive Consumption represents a selection of these daily drawings. I draw objects that are rather ordinary: Coke cans, Post-it notes, toilet bowl cleaner–sundry items that a lot of consumers have a shared experience with; items that we interact with, but don't really think about. I love documenting the mundane and, in turn, putting a personal face on something that is mass-produced.

I make work about personal consumerism, market economies, guilt, joy, excess, more guilt, gifts, celebration, repetition, and the community of these shared experiences. Why focus on consumerism? Money and purchasing and the problems with money and the emotional connection to buying products have been a constant in my life.

I did an exercise similar to this last summer. One that many are familiar with, that of journaling everything I ate/drank. It was part of a larger weight-loss program that included chewing tediously slow, drinking lots of watered-down orange juice, journaling what we ate/drank, and tracking steps. The first part took a lot of effort. I'm so used to eating on the run that I don't pay attention to tempo. We were instructed to eat (slowly) for 10 minutes, take a 5 minute break, then continue that cycle until "full." I was only able to do that at dinner, but I'll lie and said I did it all the time. My schedule didn't change because the trainer entered my life. I did the watered-down orange juice for a couple weeks, but it started hurting my teeth. I went to all water. I was honest about writing down all that I ate. This part I could see the value in. It makes sense to hold a mirror up once in a while to see the truth. Since this occurred during summer I was able to eat better (lots of vegetables from my garden and fruits) and had a more stable eating schedule. Of course, the biggie, less stress—unlike fall/spring semesters with all the job responsibilities. Any teaching I do in the summer is financial gravy. If the nutritionist, who worked with me after we discovered I was hypoglycemic, saw a journal of what I eat during the year, she'd not be happy. The erratic eating schedule I have I'm sure is stressing my pancreas. I've tried a lot harder this last year to be sure to eat during the day while I'm teaching.

pg170My first venture into documenting what I call Obsessive Consumption began in 2002, when I started photographing everything I purchased. This project lasted for two years. In the fall of 2004 I began to hand draw my credit card statements. I'll continue drawing them until they are paid off. The drawings in this book started as a guilty pleasurea break from drawing those statements, which are not too enjoyable to draw (which is the point, of course).

When I first started making work about consumption I altered my purchasing habits. I was worried that viewers would judge me for what I bought...But soon, documenting my purchases became second nature to me. I don't censor, I just construct a narrative through my everyday objects.


The point for me WOULD BE to alter purchasing/spending habits. I've kept an obscured view of my financial situation until recently. Out of shear frustration with myself and the company I have timeshare with (yeah, I'm one of those idiots), I flat out stopped paying maintenance fees. I was able to do this by closing my checking account with one bank and moving to another. I intentionally failed to notify the timeshare company. This was the only way to stop paying monthly what I could not afford. Don't get me wrong, I pay my bills, but this outfit should be considered predatory. I had tried several times over the last 11 years to get rid of this albatross around my neck, but couldn't. It has been a year now and these folks are determined to get me to pick up the phone. Thankfully, I didn't give them my cell number. They fill my voicemail. I finally found a company to help. Oh yeah, it's going to cost me, the equivalent of 3 years maintenance fees. But, the bleeding will stop after that. It better...or you'll be reading about me in the news.
I've now looked seriously at my finances. It's dismal.
I have to develop a plan. Just drawing the credit card statements won't work. This demands serious, serious, planning...and self-control.
I did my tax returns (first draft) last night. Thank you Obama for keeping the tax credits for continuing education! Fuck you Republicans for trying to take it away! I will be able to see the surface of the water again and occasionally pop up to catch a breath. I will work my ass off every summer until this is under control.
Last night, my mother suggested we move in together. She's on fixed income, we both have houses and all that comes with that.
She made compelling arguments.
But, it would have to be a really big house. And, I'd have to give up "my island."January is the small paycheck. It didn't go far enough.
Result: gas and groceries for the rest of the month have to go on plastic. It's a vicious cycle.


No, that's not what I was really thinking. It was much worse. R-rated.

(I get angry when I feel cornered.
That's when I usually figure out a solution to the problem.)

jump to topup

reading ::

Process; A Tomato Project


All Messed UpFirst of all, I had to figure out who/what tomato is.
Per Wikipedia:
tomato is an art design collective founded in 1991 in London by John Warwicker, Steve Baker, Dirk Van Dooren, Karl Hyde, Rick Smith, Simon Taylor, and Graham Wood. Tomato's work includes television and print advertising, corporate identity, art installations, clothing, and of course (because of the shared members) the design for Underworld's various channels of output. In its existence, tomato has built an international reputation for working across different media, creating designs for all manner of clients such as Reebok, Adidas and Levi's; and identity for museums and cultural centers. Tomato partnered with Believe Media as their United States representatives in 2008.

:: excerpts I found interesting:

the first few steps: the first few words: the first moment when a line crosses a line and suddenly you can never stop seeing. this changes – seeing more, seeing less, seeing better, seeing worse; but seeing is the first stone in the pond, and as the ripples spread they alter everything they touch, fundamentally, everything takes on meaning – a look, a touch, a motion, a sign, all seeds growing. seeds that never stop growing because you just never can stop them.

how can it be explained? think of the one thing that you've always wanted – then think of it existing within you, as a part of every day, like breathing. then think of the breathing as a living thing that begins to change, obeying only those elemental forces which we sense but can never see and then it disappears. and then what? once you get it, what then? you just go on and on until you become what you always were – something simple and human, rememberit's not what you do, but the way that you do it.

so why all the worry? why the need to possess, the need to claim, the need to feel like the one and only, the need to be 'I', the need to decide one thing against another, the need to sit on the top of the heap, the need to prove...? the fact of our individuality resides in us like the facts of our biology, and yet the hardest thing is to move on, to put this to one side and to be there for others, understanding and, finally, communicating. this is what makes us human, but still we want to be islands.

Ironic the third paragraph of the first page ends with the phrase 'but we still want to be islands.' For those of you who know how I started this MFA journey in Vermont, you know I'm all about "my island."

I love how this book includes various papers. Once I got past all the typographical infractions, I was able to enjoy the words and images for what they were. I love how this book includes various papers. I hate poetry. On those pages I had to stand back and look at the arrangement of elements on the page (text as an object block, image placement, spacing, proportions, color, texture,...). I was annoyed by the pages that allowed blocks of text to run into the gutter–beyond readability. The page with the 3pt type, also annoyed me. Maybe it's just me. Maybe they just weren't really concerned with me reading it?

I think that we are all on a journey; all work is about experience and the mapping of that experience, and for us, tomato is where we go to compare these maps. In effect we bring a map (or maps) from one territory and overlapping one upon another to see what happens. This is how our individual work evolves, and how we work together.
We are in it, part of it, and we are always trying to name it; our work is the evidence of this (the process of process). —Rick Poyner

What a cool group to imagine working with. It would be kind of tough if you thought of yourself as an island. Huh?

I've had the great opportunity to work in collaborative groups on projects, but never on design projects. They were always administrative teams. I still got a sense of satisfaction from constructing solutions to those problems. They were complex human/systems problems. When the plans were implemented, many benefited from it. Makes you feel good when you can do good.

Historically, my creative projects were small—didn't require a creative team beyond the client and myself. I want to work on a big collaborative project. I must make that happen one day soon.

The creative process is itself a fragile thing. One moves in a direction hoping to find something, both recognisable and at the same time unrecognisable, something comforting but exciting.

This weaving within and without oneself can be ultimately rewarding if one is brave enough to follow this fluid path.
As to the question what computers were used to achieve this? I always wonder why anybody asks this question. Nobody asks a painter what make of paint brush he uses.

This question cracks me up. It is so true.
We use what we use because it executes our vision/message most effectively.

mainstream histories of art, architecture, culture and literature have until recently fixated, quite naturally it seemed, upon the progress of a particular style, or the output of an individual. The result is that in mainstream analyses of our cultures, little thought or credence has been given to the idea of process. this is primarily because the mystique of making has remained largely in the realm of the unknowable for theoreticians, while doers have been loathe to explain or illuminate the means by which their doing continues to be done, preferring instead to keep working, and at some point issue some form of of summary catalogue. those who make are seldom encouraged to articulate the fact of their making beyond the physical fact of their 'having made'. the job of illuminating the essence of making has yet to be subsumed into the canon of methods by which we present ourselves to ourselves via those who actually manufacture our visual culture.

Whew! A mouthful said there, but I'd have to agree to some extent. Not only do most of us loathe writing about our work and process, but we struggle to put into words that process. A lot of it just happens, or we push it around until it does. Luckily for society, there are graduate programs that require the artists to articulate their process.

I make my students articulate their process on most of their projects now. It used to be only in my foundation studio classes (2-D Design, Color Theory,...), but I'm including it in the graphic design classes as well. Not because I like to torture them, but I understand how easy it is to have 'happy accidents' on the computer and a new student can't replicate it. The folks who hire them want to know if they are capable of creative thinking and problem-solving.

OK, I have to rag on the typography in this book again. See the image below with the stretch of small images across the page and the tiny type below it—going through the crack of the book no less. And the pages above—same thing, text running into the crack. Seriously, I have to assume they didn't care if I read this.

And these folks have something against starting a paragraph with a capital letter. But it is still beautiful to look at.

tomato contributors: alex karg, anti-rom, aya nishimura, barry viney, colin vearncombe, c.p. sun @ little more, curious pictures, dirk greene, dylan kendle, helen langridge associates, hiromi aihara, ian greatorex, junior boys own, john hollis, julian bryant, karen rainford, kazuya kitaoka, lindsey jones, mitsuaki ando, maru @ urban action, matt broad, matthew wood, morianga hiroshi, naomi troski, nick parrish, shipley's, smoke and mirrors, the mill, tomas roope, tracey smith, unified future organisation, underworld, yuri shimojo

jump to topup

reading ::

Thriving Beyond Sustainability: Pathways to a Resiliant Society
— Andrés R. Edwards


Thriving Beyond Sustainability: Pathways to a Resiliant Society  — Andrés R. EdwardsIn the foreward by Bill McKibben (Dec. 2009):

There's a critical mass out there—it just hasn't coalesced yet into something powerful enough to challenge the status quo.

After Copenhagen we're faced with the fact that our leaders will not solve this problem for us. We're going to have to do it, one place and one country and one planet at a time. Let's get to work.

Sign me up!
This rationale has motivated me for a while:

If you save the living environment, you will automatically save the physical environment. Omit the living and you lose them both. Our relationship to the rest of life can be put in a nutshell: The biosphere is richer in diversity than ever before conceived. Biodiversity is being eroded. If we continue this way, it is estimated that we will lose half the plants and animal species (on land) by end of century. That loss will inflict a heavy price in wealth and spirit. — E.O. Wilson

In 1997 Samsø won a Danish government competition for its plan to shift from its reliance on fossil fuels to 100 percent renewable energy sources. The residents, known as Samsingers, launched a renewable energy program that has attracted the world's attention. Over the last decade, Samsø's wind turbines, solar panels, biomass projects and district heating systems, owned either individually or collectively by Samsingers, have made its communities fossil-fuel free and renewable energy exporters to mainland Denmark. In the process, the island has cut its carbon footprint by 140 percent. As community leader Soren Harmensen says, "We are not hippies. We just want to change how we use our energy without harming the planet or without giving up the good life."2

The stories of Easter Island and Samsø Island highlight divergent destinies for the future of the world's civilization—our Earth Island. One is marked by overconsumption, ecological decline and social chaos while the other is built on the inspiration and self-determination of individuals committed to making a difference in the world.

Every day on our Earth Island, with its 6.7 billion people, on average 5,000 children die from waterborne diseases (one every 15 seconds), over 70 species become extinct (one every 20 minutes), 85 million barrels of fossil-fuel-based oil are consumed and 23 million metric tons (about 28 pounds per person) of carbon dioxide are emitted by human activities into an already warming atmosphere.3 Although the daily snapshot of Earth Island is indeed bleak, from isolated villages to major urban centers there are beacons of hope from thousands of large and small initiatives taking place.

I can only imagine the sense of empowerment and independence these folks feel. I learned back in corporate that if you want to get things done, you start at the root levels. Once you are able to convince those folks and give them the tools to build with, they take off and typically disprove the doubts of the upper levels of management.

Notice how he's using the term "island" in his phrasing ("Earth Island").

...exploring the value of Traditional Ecological Knowledge from indigenous societies including the Tibetans, Balinese, Inuit and Kogi. These cultures, which have survived for millennia, serve as a mirror to the world's peoples, reflecting practices that balance their well-being and that of the natural world. We then examine the flourishing of local efforts to become more self-reliant in energy, food, transportation and other areas. These efforts are being made by groups including Transition Initiatives in the UK and the US, Sustainability Street in Australia, Salmon Nation in the Northwestern US and ICLEI-Local Governments for Sustainability in conjunction with communities throughout the world.

This feels like a launching point for further studies. As part of my study plan, I wanted to explore peoples who display and promote hopefulness and act to impact the world in a positive way. Just looking up Traditional Ecological Knowlege opened Pandora's box. I'm eager to start that research.

Our Earth Island is experiencing five interrelated global trends: ecosystem decline, energy transition, population growth, economic disparity and climate change. These enormous challenges are converging, with potentially devastating consequences. We face an unprecedented crisis—and a unique opportunity for a brighter future.
The bedrock of successful initiatives is captured by the SPIRALS framework, a set of criteria for thriveable initiatives that are Scalable, Place-making, Intergenerational, Resilient, Accessible, Life-affirming and involve Self-care. These criteria provide a compass to orient us to our new map.

Instead of just sustaining ourselves through incremental improvements in our technological and social systems, thriveability calls for a vision based on possibilities for change, which, like our dreams and imagination, are limitless. This new thriveable future is one in which we show respect for ourselves, for our neighbors and for the limits of nature. The essence of thriveability is a belief in the capacity of the human spirit to collaborate in creating new possibilities for lasting solutions. This thriveable attitude shifts away from scarcity, loss and volatility and toward abundance, prosperity and equanimity. We must celebrate being part of the natural world and acknowledge that, in geological time, we are newcomers with much to learn.

I get this, but I have friends and know people who act as though it is their (God-given) right to live the way they do. That we were given the right of "dominion" which, I guess in their minds, means we can exploit this divine gift and if the Earth comes to ruin and the end of days comes, they don't care because they'll be taken to a new paradise. This one's only temporary anyway.

And when I talk to them about the finite resources and inequities of these resources, the look at me like some pinko Commie. I'm just one of those hippie radical liberals. Well, I guess I am.

This just goes to show that the entire message of preservation needs to be re-marketed. The story needs to turn from existentialism to personal independence/freedom. Somehow it needs to become "fashionable" to live green. I'll have to agree with those conservatives that what evidence they've seen on living in a closed loop system has typically been very radical and eccentric. To a bunch of folks who live in tract housing (yes, if your house looks like most of the other houses in your neighborhood, it's tract housing) who fear stepping outside the "norm" to much at risk of being outcast from their "tribe," this stuff can be a turn-off. I'd like to work with a residential developer to create a "stamped in patties" neighborhood that is green. I wish a ton of money would fall out of the sky and I could go totally green.

The notion of abundance I've read before. It's interesting to compare the idea that there IS enough on this planet to sustain all life with the message that we are running out of resources and polluting the natural system which will later collapse on us. It takes some real thinking to understand what those two ideas actually have in common vs. their contrast at first glance. There IS enough IF we choose to use it wisely and not wastefully.

I'll bet those reading this think I'm wearing hemp clothing and raising/growing my own food and living in an all eco-efficient dwelling. No....I'm struggling to get to a better place in my consumption and replentishment along with everyone else. I've just chosen this time to articulate it in words and images.

If you have knowledge, let others light their candles with it.

Living close to nature, indigenous peoples learned to adapt to and coexist with other species and the land, gaining what scientists and anthropologists call Traditional Ecological Knowledge: an understanding of ecosystems and their interrelationships. Traditional cultures can teach us about building resilient communities that can adapt to change. Thriving for millennia in habitats with limited resources and severe weather calls for a thorough understanding of the rhythms of natural systems and the creation of social structures that support long-term settlements.

The impacts of climate change in the last decade serve as a powerful reminder that, as has been said, nature not only "bats last" but in fact "owns the stadium." Our stadium is not merely a venue visited seasonally for entertainment but is instead our permanent home planet.

Great phrasing...she "owns the stadium." Makes me laugh.

The loss of Traditional Ecological Knowledge, including the rapid extinction of native languages, diminishes the cultural diversity of the planet and erodes the knowledge base for living in balance with the natural world.

Prior to 1959, when the Chinese took control of Tibet, nomads used a pasture-book system, which regulated the number of animals in the fields. The land, typically owned by aristocrats or monasteries, was divided into sectors for use at different times by nomads, who paid for the use of the land by offering meat, wool or butter to their landlords. This system protected the land from the overgrazing that affects many rural areas of the world,5 ensuring the health of the livestock by protecting the "carrying capacity" of the fields upon which both the nomads and their herds depended for their survival.

Unfortunately, the traditional knowledge from Tibetan nomads is being lost as the land comes under the forces of full-scale development. China's economic explosion in the last 30 years has severely undermined not only Tibet's biological diversity but its cultural diversity as well.

I've got a neighbor who could learn a lesson from the Tibetan nomads about "carrying capacity" for his cattle.

...the north polar region, where Inuit knowledge of their environment is under siege from the impacts of climate change. The Inuit culture represents the Earth's cultural "canary in the coal mine" as the warming climate is forcing numerous Inuit communities to abandon their settlements because of disappearing permafrost.

Traditional knowledge is often dismissed as unscientific and anecdotal because it is qualitative rather than quantitative and can be enmeshed in spiritual beliefs, but its strength lies in its endurance over millennia. The Inuit, as well as thousands of other traditional cultures, have managed not merely to survive but to thrive by adapting their way of life to environmental changes over time. Through observation, they have developed pattern recognition useful in understanding animal health, migrations and seasonal weather changes.

TEK has been lost in modern societies. My great-grandparents worked closely with their land and harvested and ate from it. They were strategic in how and where they built their home. They lived the reduce/recycle/reuse lifestyle. My own family stayed in touch with the land by gardening; we kids lived in garage sale/second hand clothing and my mother made clothes for us; we rode our bikes everywhere because we only had one vehicle for much of my youth; we reappropriated items (found or unused) into other purposes; we were creative. Somewhere through time (probably in the 80s) we lost sight of some of it. My family never stopped gardening, though. The gardens got smaller and we didn't can the fruits any more. Mine now is starting to get bigger. I have room for diversity in flavors and different vegetables are ready at different stages of summer/fall. I've re-learned the seasons living where I live now. I listen for the peeper frogs in the spring (they're coming earlier each year), I watch and listen for robins (many of which are no longer migrating and hang around), I watch for the first blooms (today, Feb. 3rd, I saw Crocus flowers which don't normally come out until mid-March), I listen for the spring songs of the wild birds. I can feel the difference in the sunlight on my face each season. I know that if the birds begin to gorge on birdseed, the weather will probably be bad soon. I pay more attention now.

One of the most isolated tribes on Earth, the Kogi of South America, sends a warning of the irreparable ecological damage modern society is causing to their homeland. The predicament of the Kogi tribe in Colombia brings to light the importance of maintaining a spiritual connection with the natural world and preserving the integrity of natural systems. The Kogis' close connection to the natural world highlights the vast chasm that exists between humans and nature in modern society. The Kogis' message to us in the modern world, known to them as the Younger Brothers, is to stop destroying the natural world.

Noticing changes over several decades, the Kogi priests, or Mamas, decided to come out of isolation in 1991 and declare their warning to the world. They see themselves as the Elder Brothers who live in the Heart of the World and have a responsibility to maintain a balance with nature. We in the developed world are the Younger Brothers who are unwittingly destroying the planet out of ignorance of our interdependence with natural systems. As the Mamas point out:

Because Younger Brother is among us,
Younger Brother is violating
The basic foundation of the world's law.
A total violation.
Building highways,
extracting petrol,
Younger Brother thinks,
"Yes! Here I am! I know much about the universe!"
But this knowing is learning to destroy the world,
to destroy everything,
all humanity.17

The Mamas envision the world as our Mother — a living organism we are damaging through deforestation, mining and development practices.

Aluna is the Mother who represents the life force that engenders beauty in the world. The Kogi enter Aluna through deep thought and meditation, seeking the deeper interrelationships of natural systems. They understand the connections that underlie the fabric of life, which we often dismiss or do not see.

We have achieved a great deal through our technological advancements, but we have disconnected from the life force that is at the core of our existence. In the Kogi creation story, humans are an integral part of the Earth, and we will therefore suffer the consequences of our actions. What we do to the Earth we do to ourselves, and for their sake and for ours the Kogi feel compelled to warn us about following this destructive path. We have the choice to listen or not.

The Tibetan, Balinese, Inuit and Kogi cultures possess traditional knowledge that forms part of the cultural DNA of the planet. This knowledge has been passed on from generation to generation through laws, stories, songs, folklore, rituals and art forms. Because their teachings are often embedded in belief systems, values, indigenous practices and specific places, Western scientists have had difficulty fitting the knowledge into the scientific process.

Here lies the rub (in my opinion): Our technology has evolved faster than we have. We've lost touch with these foundation belief systems as we've accumulated the power and knowledge science gives us. The new challenge is to continue the technological growth with greener intentions. We don't have to have state-of-the-art replacements come at us every month. If the greed subsides, we could focus on creating what we "need" collectively, in the quantities we need, using the materials we should, and for longevity. [Speaking of longevity...like the '72 Polara I bought my senior year in college ('86) that later became my '92 S-10 Blazer which I begrudgingly gave up in the "cash for clunkers" deal in '09 when I traded for a Jeep Patriot. That Blazer had 302,000 miles on it and I know it would have lasted another 20,000. I parted it out a bit so she would't be totally wasted. I see some advances in these efforts, but they are subtle. It's sneaking in, with whispers, not shouting from the rooftops like I'd like them too. How many people know that the new TVs are Energy Star rated? They don't care. My brother is mad that he'll soon be forced to buy only energy efficient light bulbs. Come on, really?

This book offers so many resources and suggestions. There are "Taking Action" sections that offer amazing ideas for furthering your understanding of the various topics covered (which is a LOT!).

Here are some examples:

To help my research, I might have to try out some of these suggestions. There are a couple of known Native Americans in my family tree but we don't know what nations. I'd be curious to know the history of the area I live in now. I think I overheard, in a neighborhood gathering, talk of a cemetery or burial ground close to me. That would really be groovy. When I was a kid, I was totally fascinated with "indians." I wanted to be one. I probably checked out every available book on the subject in elementary school. Then I moved on to science fiction—go figure. Shiny! But seriously, when I watched cowboy and indian movies, I didn't see the indians being displaced or exploited. I noticed their connectedness to nature, just in the way they dressed and lived. I would make tools out of sticks and rocks and string in the backyard. When I was 5, I told Mom that I wanted to join an indian tribe—because they didn't have to take baths.

We can no longer import our lives in the form of food, fuel, and fundamentalism. Life is homegrown, always has been. So is culture, and so too are the solutions to global problems.

In 2007 New Zealand's Prime Minister Helen Clark announced her nation's intention to commit to 90 percent renewable electricity by 2025. In addition, Clark outlined a target for reducing by half the per capita emissions from transportation by 2040. She also set a goal of a net increase in forest area of 250,000 hectares by 2020. As Clark pointed out in her address to the nation, "Sustainability is a key competitive advantage. In today's global marketplace consumers are increasingly concerned about ethical and environmental issues, and the carbon footprint of products and services is becoming an issue. To protect our markets and our nation's reputation, we need to act preemptively." 26 New Zealand's leaders have seized on the economic advantages of reinventing their economy for resilience and thriveability.

In 2000 the Lisbon European Council set the EU a goal of becoming "the most competitive and dynamic knowledge-based economy in the world, capable of sustainable economic growth with more and better jobs and greater social cohesion."33
... (meeting their targets) would increase the EU's economic competitiveness, provide jobs, support innovative technologies and improve the quality of life for European citizens.34

The US Green Building Council's LEED for Neighborhood Development (LEED-ND) rating and certification program, launched in 2009, is becoming a widely accepted standard for sustainable communities interested in green building, new urbanism and smart growth.

These things exist, why does it seem like other countries are kicking our butts on this subject?
Maybe they aren't, it just isn't talked about much in the media. Here's what I found for Kansas City:



Also on their website, I found and registered for a webinar that features a couple of speakers discussing the SunShot Solar Outreach Partnership (SolarOPs), ICLEI's technical assistance program that provides support of local government initiatives to remove barriers in local markets and increase installed solar capacity.

(Yup, I'm a geek.)

Kansas City, MO, Adopts Gold LEED Building Standard

The City of Kansas City, Mo., has adopted revised construction standards for City projects based on the leadership in Energy & Environment Design (LEED) Gold rating from the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC). This change recognizes the increasing trend of Kansas City area architectural projects to adopt LEED certification standards, and builds upon the success of many recent City building projects that have exceeded the requirements for a LEED Silver rating.

"The architectural community's response to sustainable building design in Kansas City is very encouraging, as it demonstrates this region's commitment to thinking beyond today," said Councilwoman Cindy Circo. "By adopting the higher

LEED GOLD Standard, the City sets a great example that increases momentum for responsible design that benefits generations to come." LEED certification standards are aimed at improving performance with metrics for energy savings, water efficiency, CO2 emission reductions, construction waste management practices, improved indoor environmental quality, on-site storm water management, and stewardship of resources and sensitivity to their impacts.

"This modification makes Kansas City one of just three cities in the United States that has formally adopted this level of building standards for its own construction projects," said Bob Berkebile of BNIM architects. "It sends a clear message the the City is serious about building practices that increase performance, including human health and productivity, while reducing costs for the City. This is smart government at its best."

The revised City standard, adopted through Ordinance Number 110235, clarifies that all City projects are required to achieve LEED Gold rating and be certified by the USGBC unless there are compelling reasons for the City's LEED standards Committee to grant an exception.

The LEED Silver rating was initially adopted by the city in 2004 and has been achieved or exceeded in numerous City projects including: the Vehicle Impound Facility (Gold); the Bartle Hall Ballroom expansion (Silver); and the Southeast Community Center (Silver). Additional projects currently under construction and are anticipated to achieve a LEED certification include the Metro Patrol Police Station, the Public Works' Traffic Signal Synchronization Center and the Police Headquarters.

Information and media requests about the City's adoption of the LEED Gold Standard or the City's environmental programs should be directed to Dennis Murphey, the City's chief environmental officer, at 816-513-3459.

Our personal consumer choices have ecological, social, and spiritual consequences. It is time to re-examine some of our deeply held notions that underlie our lifestyles. — DAVID SUZUKI

We need to move from capital markets based on consumption and extraction to capital markets based on restoration and preservation...

Here's another link this book took me to: Annie Leonard's Story of Stuff (http://www.storyofstuff.org/movies-all/story-of-change/)

story of stuff project story of stuff project

I've found my people!
They've been hiding for so long (or my head has been up my butt).

Implementing Nature's Strategies:
Our economy depends on Earth's life support systems that provide us with clean air and water, healthy soil and nutrients, making possible the production and delivery of goods and services. This shift in perception is essential for building a thriveable economy. The ecological systems often referred to as nature's services include pollination, erosion prevention, water filtering, soil fertilization, ...

Janine Benyus, a biologist and leader in the biomimicry field, says we have to slow down, observe closely and ask the right questions: What would nature do? How is this done in nature at ambient temperature with no waste? The challenges, currently being studied through Biomimicry Affiliate programs at the Universidad Iberoamericana in Mexico City, the Ontario College of Art and Design in Toronto and Arizona State University in Tempe, may include devising new food and energy production methods, building organically-based shelter structures and selecting new materials or health treatments.11 Green commerce is raising possibilities for reinventing how we live on the planet.

I have some books that I'd like to read on this and similar subjects:

Biomimicry: Innovation Inspired by Nature – Janine M. Benyus
Natural Capitalism: Creating the Next Industrial Revolution
– Paul Hawken, Amory Lovins, L. Hunter Lovins
Green to Gold
– Daniel C. Esty, Andrew S. Winston

I'm not sure I'll get to them before the semester's over. I'm currently reading A Beginner's Guide to Constructing the Universe: The Mathematical Archetypes of Nature, Art, and Science – Michael S. Schneider.

Thriveable business practices also are based on nature's principles. Three concepts promoted by designer Bill McDonough and entrepreneur Paul Hawken are cradle to cradle (a complete life-cycle approach that regenerates itself), waste equals food (waste from one system is food for another) and solar income (using the sun's energy to sustain the planet). As Hawken suggests in Blessed Unrest, "The trilogy of concepts — cradle to cradle, waste equals food, and stay within current solar income—lays out the basic tenets of the greening of industry and elimination of pollution, waste and toxins."12

These concepts focus on the primary issues that begin at the design phase, move through the manufacturing process and "end" with the product's life as the beginning of a new cycle. Through education, consumers can more easily find information about products in order to make informed decisions about their purchases.

The cradle to cradle approach mimics nature's life cycles. Like decaying leaves that become nutrients for organisms in the soil and thereby replenish the tree,...

For starters, I love Tom Friedman. I've read a couple of his books, mostly related to politics and economy. I think he's accurately stating the questions. I know that I've personally plateaued (at least for a while) on my income (resources available to me) while outgoing resources are increasing (some by choice, some by external forces out of my control). Change is definitely in my current state of mind.

As Bill McKibben reminds us, our current economic growth model is associated with environmental decline, limited happiness and social inequality. In the US between 1997 and 2000 the top 1 percent of wage earners claimed more of the "real national gain" than the bottom 50 percent.20 On a worldwide scale, the richest 1 percent of people (50 million households), with an average income of $24,000 per capita, earn more than the 60 percent of households (2.7 billion people) at the bottom of the income distribution. In terms of global income, 84 percent of the world's population receives only 16 percent of its income.21 These statistics underscore the gap created by our global economic model. This gap affects political stability and highlights the importance of social justice in the greening of commerce. There is not enough energy or raw material to sustain the world's economic growth at the current rate. The Global Footprint Network's research shows that our world's ecological footprint has tripled since 1961. By 2006 the world's footprint exceeded its ability to regenerate resources by 25 percent. In addition, the steady decline of the planet's biodiversity, including the loss of one third of the Earth's vertebrate species since 1970, indicates the limits of the Earth's ability to support hyperconsumption. To maintain the North American standard of living would require three to five Earths.22

The growth-dependent economic system we have built has led to a cycle of consumption.
Thomas Friedman describes it:
We have created a system for growth that depended on our building more and more stores to sell more and more stuff made in more and more factories in China, powered by more and more coal that would cause more and more climate change but earn China more and more dollars to buy more and more U.S. T-bills so America would have more and more money to build more and more stores and sell more and more stuff that would employ more and more Chinese...We can't do this anymore.24

The book does provide several initiatives and alliances that are trying to address these issues. Very inspiring but too many to put down here.

The sustainable building plan for the city of Greensburg, Kansas, emerged from catastrophe. On May 4, 2007 a Force 5 tornado ripped a two-mile swath of destruction through the city, leveling 95 percent of its structures and killing 11 people. Recovering from this tragedy, Greensburg established the goal of becoming the first city in the US to set a LEED Platinum level of green construction for all its new city-owned buildings. It hoped to serve as a model sustainable rural community.

Soon after the tornado, Greensburg residents, "blessed with a unique opportunity to create a strong community devoted to family, fostering business, working together for future generations," adopted The Greensburg Sustainable Comprehensive Plan. The planning process involved hundreds of citizen stakeholders, architects, planners and city staff. Community leaders set up a Public Square process involving hearings in four sectors: government, business, education and health and human services. Greensburg GreenTown, a community-owned nonprofit organization, was established to help residents and merchants embrace green practices in the rebuilding of their city of 1,389 residents.

This town is just over the border into Kansas (about 1hr west of me). They really embraced this concept and opportunity. They were all over the news, all the time. I need to get out there and meet some of those folks.

Joplin, MO, recently had half of it's town wiped out by a tornado and the GreenTown folks are making a push to get the same initiatives started there like they did in Greensburg. I've not seen anything on the news. I doubt they've jumped on the green wagon as much as Greensburg. It's awfully close to "God's country."

What is Nature Worth?
There are three ways of looking at the value of land. In the first way, natural resources represent the value of what we can take from the land. In the second, real estate represents the value of what we can build on the land. In contrast, in the third way ecosystem services represent the value of what the land gives us if it is protected and restored to health.

I'm in the third camp. In case you were confused.

All progress is precarious, and the solution of one problem brings us face to face with another problem. — MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR

Action is rooted in the identification of achievable objectives. Then the complexity of global issues can be tackled at the personal level where we each can make the biggest difference.

Malcom Gladwell's bestseller The Tipping Point describes three factors influencing social transformation: change is contagious; numerous little causes can have big effects; and change happens not slowly but in one dramatic moment. Gladwell defines the tipping point as "one dramatic moment in an epidemic when everything can change all at once...the moment of critical mass, the threshold, the boiling point."2

Aren't we there yet?

The shift toward local, organic foods is precipitated by an unsustainable fossil-fuel-based agribusiness system that is taking its toll on the environment and on our health and well-being. The costs of the industrial food system are unsustainable as agriculture is overwhelming Earth's life-support systems. It is also responsible for 15 percent of all energy consumed in developed countries.

Efforts such as the Slow Money Alliance, led by Woody Tasch, support local food systems and local economies through a network of institutes throughout the US. Tasch describes his vision by asking, "What would the world be like if we invested 50% of our assets within 50 miles of where we live? What if there were a new generation of companies that gave away 50% of their profits? What if there were 50% more organic matter in our soil 50 years from now?"25

How profound. I'm going to try and consciously invest more of my money locally (what's left after paying bills). I'll need to record it to see how much I'm currently doing and what changes with new focus. Maybe throw in a doodle or two of these said "local" purchases. ;)

The future is not someplace we are going to, but one we are creating. The paths to it are not found but created, and the activity of creating them changes both the maker and the destination. — JOHN SCHAAR

Like my MFA.

The intergenerational aspect of initiatives emphasizes their long-term benefits. This perspective is often at odds with society's need for instant gratification, 24-hour news cycles, Twittering, e-mails and other technologies that increase the pace of everyday life. Daily stock fluctuations and quarterly returns from publicly traded companies add to the short-term, quick-profit mentality of much of the business sector. An intergenerational initiative is based on enduring principles that will support the well-being of future generations. The traditional Native American time-horizon evaluates current actions by their impact to the seventh generation. Similarly, we might ask, "What is our vision for our community in the next 100 or even 500 years?"

Resilience implies recognizing that change is inevitable and that adapting our economic and social systems to it is key to surviving and thriving.

Accessibility in initiatives focuses on developing tools and job opportunities that incorporate social and environmental justice. Social entrepreneur Van Jones champions government, business and nonprofit ventures with training programs in areas such as weatherizing homes and commercial buildings, installing solar panels, manufacturing wind turbines and making organic foods available to inner-city neighborhoods. Such programs can extend green initiatives beyond people who can presently afford them to include residents of communities in need of stable and dignified jobs. As Jones points out, "Our business and political leaders will launch tens of thousands of new green enterprises and initiatives. Each time they do, they must ask the question: How can we make this effort inclusive, ennobling and empowering to people who are disrespected in the old economy? How can this effort be used to increase the work, wealth, health, dignity and power of our society's disadvantaged?"18 Jones emphasizes the need to expand access to thriveable initiatives to people from all socioeconomic backgrounds if the initiatives are to have a lasting impact.

There are so many people out there doing amazing things. Inspiring.

(California) Berkeley's Sustainable Energy Financing Program eliminates the upfront costs, one of the main barriers to the widespread adoption of solar installations. By raising capital through a bond or loan fund, Berkeley provides homeowners with the necessary funding, which is paid back over 20 years. This financing program is gaining national attention. Boulder, Colorado, and Sonoma County, California, have implemented similar programs and other municipalities are planning to follow suit.

Awesome! I want in!

Life-affirming initiatives support long-term, regenerative activities. Biologist Janine Benyus says that "life creates conditions conducive to life." As part of the web of life, we can develop initiatives with life-affirming values: The first step is to learn from nature's evolutionary experience of 3.8 billion years. We can ask questions such as "How does nature gather energy, produce food and store water?"20 Just as importantly we can ask, "How does nature not gather energy, produce food or store water?" Before we move forward with new products and technologies, we can examine the potential repercussions of our actions. The Precautionary Principle helps us evaluate these.

This takes me back to the list of books on my "to read" list mentioned earlier.

In nature, ecotones are the boundaries of habitats, such as the transition between a meadow and a forest or between the ocean and the shore. These zones can be very rich in species diversity and host thriving ecological communities. Similar to biological ecotones, social ecotones provide us with opportunities to flourish through our interactions with friends and colleagues. This is where our ideas meet and evolve into possibilities for change. Here we thrive through interactions that nourish our human connections. Designing spaces and activities that promote social ecotones builds community and improves our quality of life. Such ecotones include farmers' markets, festivals and gatherings with friends, neighbors and colleagues.


The SPIRALS framework for thriveable initiatives describes a new way of meeting the challenges we face. The environmental, social and economic predicaments we find ourselves in call for a movement from sustainability to thriveability, shifting from a model of scarcity to one of abundance that taps into the spirit of possibility. Instead of a net-zero energy home, the thriveable goal is a home that generates more electricity than it uses; instead of restoring an ecosystem in decline, the thriveable goal is to regenerate it so that it teems with diverse wildlife and is integrated with flourishing human settlements. The thriveable perspective asks, "How can we satisfy basic human needs such as food, water, shelter, education, healthcare and love for all people on the planet while creating a meaningful life?"

Thriveable = off the grid. My January electric bill took my breath away. I thought it would be lower because I burned more fires in the stove. Apparently, last year was warmer and electricity prices went up.

If anyone is interested in reading more about solutions that are taking place, this book is a wealth of resources. Literally, the last third of the book is all resources, with descriptions and hyperlinks. I'm so glad this book fell into my world.

jump to topup