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Brainstorms on Earthfair, and on A larger vision of what our group could be

This was a post to the San Diego Ishmael yahoo group. The most memorable thought in here may be, ". . . what is more important than the relationship then, than _any_ relationship, is the community in which it occurs." This relates to a comment I made in an earlier paper, "In this tradition, which is founded upon belief in the independence and self-reliance of the individual, it is individual success, not community or family visioning, planning, and development, that is the means of resolving the problems of life." How can we raise a community culture in the manner others attempt to raise themselves or their relationships? Currently, for many people, work and church may provide their "patterns for living" (Clyde Kluckhohn). Can we make our own? What are the needs a successful pattern for living must address?

Added by colin #442 on 2006-02-11. Last modified 2006-02-12 00:55. Originally created 2006-02-05. F0 License: Attribution
Location: World, United States, California, San Diego
Topics: Ishmael (Daniel Quinn), Our Culture, personal, Vision, women
: Ishmael, vision



to: sdishmael, ourcultureourcapitol

asunto: Brainstorms on Earthfair, and on A larger vision of what our group could be, plus commentary.


I typed in the thoughts I had and written down on the first and second of February, last Wednesday and Thursday morning.

I don't expect the rest of you to embrace these ideas, but they could help lead to ideas and plans of action that would interest you.

The first part of this focuses on what we might do at the SD EarthFair, if we decide to have a table or booth there. The idea was partly inspired by what I found on Myspace.com.

The second part focuses on a larger vision and philosophy of what our group is doing and what it means. This was partly inspired by the fact that almost all of the women who have attended our meetings have myspace pages, and they all seem to be in various stages of defining themselves and their lovers in a world that has been hostile to them, making it harder for them to love themselves, life, and the world, and making it harder for them to find the ones they can love and who will love them.

If it isn't apparent, that statement about them is a statement about me, and may be (or probably is) only accurate about me--and what they would say they are doing may be entirely different. . . . I don't expect you to have studied my web pages. . . but reading their stories about themselves has helped me fill in missing parts of my story.

In particular, if you read vision002 , one of the first things a speaker says is:

 3 Where are the women?

 4 I've not been introduced 
     to one
     who broods
     in this way,
     and who wished to be here,

I knew they existed, but I didn't know any personally, and that vision002 is essentially a dialog with myselves.

So here is my story about women in the United States, and why the US Culture is dying, and why by the dialogue we may have in the future in this group we may have the opportunity to create great love.

For gays & others representing varying points on the gender and orientation scale (like all of us, I'm willing to bet), I still think this is relevant, though I use a heterosexual frame.

I like to be grandiose, but I'm sure what I'm saying here has been said by others, and rebutted and redefined by other women, and that for many of you this will seem old news, stereotyping, over-simplified, . . . but we all need to do this again and again until we're all clear on what the new story (Our Story) is, and until that new story becomes tacitly understood by anyone raised in our culture--so that there won't be people like me who remain ignorant.

The Story

  1. More women are more free and empowered in the US than have ever been before.
  2. With their new power, the women seek success--in many cases far more successfully than men now do.
  3. This success, for the most part, but certainly not entirely, they seek within the same channels that men had established for centuries before them.
    • (All the women (but one) about my age I have had close longer-term relationships with are in this category, though I have had glimpses of the others here and there.)
  4. Now the younger women, having seen the traditional success the older women have achieved, are questioning that path. . .
  5. Following neoprimitive/#conform, The greatest force in our lives that causes us to conform to existing culturally-channeled behavior, instead of developing creative approaches to love and living, is our desire for (after survival, sometimes) relationships with others--coming down to, in the end, love relationships, but extending to all relationships, including employer-employee relationships.

In other words, and to use Ishmael vocabulary, what keeps Taker culture in place is our desire to love and to be loved.

Here, in this group, we already have at least two examples of people who have attempted to define--for the public--who their lover will be. And, in doing so, the writer also tries to define who s/he is.

It is, perhaps, the traditions surrounding the female-male love relationship that lock so much of our consumer, taker culture in place, preventing or hindering the development of new, creativity-, and life-enhancing alternatives.

I have the sense that some men are ready to act more creatively, but persist in trying to fit themselves into a mold that they think good, successful women will value. But on both sides of that relationship many characteristics of that mold are just a guess!

And vice versa.

And I feel like mentioning now (at this point only to recognize their existence) the people who call themselves Asexual--not desiring and not missing an intimate physical relationship, but still having friends and people they can love.

Personal Example

I, for example, am doing what I do: going to school, so I could make money as a teacher (perhaps--who knows?), in a large part so I could be a potentially attractive mate. Nearly penniless and living with my grandmother, with no immediate plans or desire to try to earn enough to support an independent household for me and a wife, I know I can't top anyone's list, however much she might like me as a person. There are practical impossibilities.

My only hope is that by doing what I like (more or less), money (survival success) will come without much compromise on my part (more or less), so that a woman could see me. . . (but this may be only wishful thinking as survival is based in the Earth, ultimately, not in teaching writing composition to a dying culture. . . so I can see already that what I want/like may take me away from where I appear to be headed).

On the other hand--I may just keep doing what I like and being poor, and I do have women friends, and I do remain skeptical of the ideal of the husband-wife or other partnership relationship--while also appreciating the immense value it has for some. And the value and longing the Ideal often retains for me when I get the feeling or the hint it might be possible with someone.

On yet another hand, it seems I have lived half my life with old, elderly single women, and one woman with six cats headed that way. I know how life can be and end for many of them. And how they too sometimes find love.

Before that, I lived with parents, who are not divorced. . .

Now, I visit once a month with my mom's parents who are not divorced. . .

And I think that what is more important than the relationship then, than any relationship, is the community in which it occurs.

And so, asking myself what is the greatest possible change for the better that could occur in the world to make better communities, more responsive environments in which to love and live. . . and my answer is that we not arrange our communities around the car. (There are other elements to a great community, but that is perhaps the one element we are most missing).

I have the following faiths:

  1. I can create love with almost anyone who has at least some interest in spending time with me.
  2. I am broken and need help growing and in our love and friend relationships we are helping each other heal and grow.
  3. I live in a broken community with broken people, but by living carfree in it, and working with the friends I find there, I can help heal the others, I heal myself, I heal the community. (communication, community = making common, sharing).
  4. We all, even an evil person, do the best we can with what we're given (socially, biologically), and our lives are very often made from decisions (or non-decisions) about how we can best cope as individuals with a past of harm and a world that may continue to harm, rather than from decisions about how to create a world in which people can grow from joy rather than from a need to cope with harm.

The characteristics of today's American urban and suburban landscape which lead us to want to isolate & insulate ourselves are a product of individual coping, rather than creativity- & joy-enabling community design.

Why American Culture is Dying, and why Mormon culture is strong, and also, perhaps, dying. Why Our Culture is strong.

Mormon culture is strong because it empowers each man to be a priest in his own house. Mormons believe in continuing revelation and vision. Joseph Smith was a prophet, and there have been and will be more.

Our culture is strong because it believes in continuing revelation. Sacred texts continue to be written, again, and again. Many timeless ideas and some new ones are re-presented by the great teachers of the day, some of whom become great teachers of the century, some of whom become great teachers of millennia.

Our culture is strong because it embraces the spectrum of gender and sexual orientation. The homosexuals (and other non-heterosexuals) are among those contributing the most creativity and energy to the new culture because they, as individuals and as lovers, have had to redefine and create new traditions, new cultural practices, new ways of loving and of fostering love.

Mormon culture is strong because it creates a belief framework and social environment where men and women can mate, love, and raise children with joy, as, and since, they are raising souls for God's kingdom.

American culture is dying because it has succeeded in creating environments people are ashamed to love in and to raise children in and to grow old in. There is little love inspired by the suburbs surrounding San Diego State. There are few places you would want to walk and linger with a lover or with your children or by yourself. But I do, any way, find those times and places and people with whom that love is possible even though we are hindered by our environment. (and sometimes helped--there is good and bad).

Mormon culture is strong because it encourages propagation of the culture and preparedness and survival for the future.

Our culture is strong because because it encourages creativity and questioning about how to live best in tune with timeless principles.

Our culture is strong because it is creating beautiful places and new cultural ways that foster life and encourage feelings of love and community, on ecovillages and in cities, through permaculture design, Open Space Technology, and many other new approaches.

I don't want to shut down debate--I encourage critical responses to what I have written here--and I also encourage you to consider the appreciative approach suggested by Peter Elbow in his Writing Without Teachers. Appreciate the good parts of this story, and write a better story with the weakest parts of this one remedied by better visions.

The Augie March quote: “. . . he was really singlemindedly and grimly fixed on the one thing, ultimately the thing, for which men and women came together. . . He looked and hoped for this in every woman.” (The Adventures of Augie March by Saul Bellow p. 78 -- not entirely appropriate, but definitely related)

My Death of a Salesman paper on the individual. And on women of substance.

I also recommend The World's Religions by Huston Smith. The chapter "Confucianism" at least is relevant to this discussion.



Vision for EarthFair (brainstorm)

What we communicate:

  1. We are supporting each other as we question how to live more timelessly.
  2. Display & focus:
    • Each of us (sort of following myspace) has a photo and a short statement of ways we address and approach the question of how to live more timelessly.
  3. Goal:
    1. To increase people in local network--to have more local/neighborhood meetings.
    2. To each develop in our own approach to timeless living.
    3. To further develop the communication and social support that helps us to lead ourselves (and, thereby, to lead others).

II. Improve communication and encouragement in group. Appreciative approach to evaluation of alternatives. (from Elbow, Writing Without Teachers.

III. Limiting to focus on personal/individual change as catalyst for social change. . . the search for individual voice . . . can be limiting and disempowering. (larger cultural and institutional change, and working together with focus on creating a quality community and social environment is necessary).


  • Print and fill out paperwork.
  • Money?
  • Creating the display.

To ask: What lasts? and live consistently with our answer and our conscience.

"We know that more than individual change is necessary. Institutions and cultural practices and traditions need to be redesigned to be consistent with a long-term vision.

"Our group supports institutional change by encouraging individuals to become leaders of themselves and others in addressing the areas of cultural change they find themselves most passionately motivated to work within.


The contrast of our timeless and universal goal

with the time/place-bound and unique manners of approaching the universal and timeless. (of our individual statements)

A list of the timeless and universal that this group came up with.

The booth as a Show & Tell--something we may learn more from creating than many of those seeing it might learn. . .

Vision for group (brainstorm)

Life as placeholder for new energy channels.
The most important things we work on are those that 
establish frameworks for channelling of human energy 
that did not exist before. [?] 
Keeping our eyes and ears open - using existing 
energy-channelling frameworks to support ourselves 
and help us grow.
So that we are able to create the new ones (the new 
energy frameworks).
Relationship & marriage, angst---
Strengths, weaknesses of American culture, Mormonism.
Creating the people whom you will love, and who will 
be able to love you.
Creating your lovers, and environment for love, & why 
US culture dies, & Mormonism, too.
Coping vs. Living
Is the US Cult really working for some ?
on love, coping, love & ideals -
Rewriting our Ideal love relationship
Continual ||  In culture reinvention?
Gov't the last to change. ??
Creativity infusing more
self love
Love of being human and of having a body
Yoga ballet ITP
no talk
bodymind that can act, witness.

Colin Leath <>    

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