Assignment #10: Guns, Germs, and Steel & A New Story of the People

The documentary Guns, Germs, and Steel shows Jared Diamond’s journey as he tries to answer a New Guinea residents question about why white men have more cargo (evidence of white man’s power) then they do. Through this question Diamond questioned why did some societies progress faster than other? Using this question as a basis Diamond looked into where it all began. From his findings he found that it first started in the middle east where they first began to farm foods rather than foraging or hunting. By farming these people were unknowingly learning to control nature and from there countries like China began doing the same thing. The reason why the people of New Guinea didn’t progress like other countries was due to the inequality in the crops they produced. The New Guinean people ate seigo trees which took longer to farm and harvest and were far less nutritious than crops like wheat and rice. Another instance that was against them was the lack of domestic animals that they could use to eat left over crops and their dung for fertilizer. By spending too much time feeding themselves New Guinea wasn’t able to advance like the rest of the world and caused them to fall behind the rest of the world. With enough food many civilizations were able to take their farming methods (wheat) and animals (cattle) to new countries and develop what is today’s power. The hand they had been dealt is another important factor that determined how much easier it was to develop, but definitely didn’t make it impossible to advance. In relation to sustainability this conclusion might show us that we should be taking advantage of our environment and fixing our food system since those are the main factors that have created power in the first place. What next would be how we should be going about creating a more regenerative food system.

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In the TEDx Whitechapel on A New Story of the People, Charles Eisenstein gave a talk about how we “know that more beautiful world is possible; but our minds do not know how it’s possible”. Talking about how life runs like a story and that in our mindset the small things we do won’t make a difference, however our hearts know it’s possible, but don’t know how it can be possible. Through the pain of existing in our culture sometimes it’s hard to believe stories when everything is falling apart. Eisenstein then went to talk about how people can disrupt our story of separation and competition to act on a different story that then becomes our alternative. As we’ve realized that the world’s story is doomed we’ve become more and more open and in this transition there is a reunion of the heart and mind. So by affirming each other in what we already know and empowering us to instill the doubts we hold we can then accomplish the impossible. It was a very inspirational speech and did bring up many points that I’ve thought about to myself.


Assignment #9: The Double Nature of Fitness for Survival & The Take

After reading Chapter 6, The Double Nature of Fitness for Survival from the book The Nature of Economies it was interesting to see a different view on Darwin’s theory of natural selection. Within the reading it described fitness at habitat maintenance and how genes are driven to survive and propagate as well as the habitat’s role in providing the necessary conditions. I thought it was very interesting to read how Darwin’s social context probably influenced his theory and how his “identification of altruism with the willingness of soldiers to sacrifice their lives” to be a factor in his theory. Overall, I thought the reading to be very unique in that it took a different approach to Darwin’s famous theory about natural selection.

In the film The Take workers in Argentina are taking back their jobs. Since the closure of factories they used to work at workers have reoccupied these factories in an attempt to start working again and make money so they can feed their families. With plenty of corruption within the government and factory owners, factories like Zanon Ceramics have emerged as a leader within this new movement. Having factories run by workers seems ideal in that everyone gets paid the same amount and democracy is the main source of control in the workplace. However, I wonder what would happen if some workers who weren’t so in-tuned with this type of control might do. There could be problems with maintaining this type of democracy.

Assignment #8: Warsaw Climate Summit & Voices of the Founders

I watched some videos on The Warsaw Climate Summit, COP19 and found it disappointing that developed nations were not taking more responsibility for issues on climate change, especially since it is so apparent and irrefutable that global warming is causing huge environmental impacts. Which in turn can be largely seen in recent, highest recorded, stronger, and more dangerous natural disasters the lack of initiative and ability to take control of the situation has in my opinion made it appear that countries are acting irresponsible for their own doings. With negotiations for a global climate treaty this summit has not shown much progress about finding a solution or an agreement because of a lack of commitment. In order for environmental issues to be improved upon large steps need to be taken now and by now we definitely can not afford to continually drag out this plan because climate will only continue to worsen until the point in which it becomes impossible to fix.

The reading Voices of the Founders by John Schwarz, chapter 2 describes the basis of our democracy as independence, freedom, virtue, moral integrity, social equality, and opportunities. Independence was not something that was deserved to all, but something that people were entitled to the opportunity to attain. Through virtue and independence an individual citizen was to be thinking within “the public interest and for the good rather than out of private and narrow interest.” Opportunity for advancement and independence was a principle which many other political values rested. Living standards needed to be earned through an individual’s own skill and effort. While inequality on the other hand was something that was a concern the founders thought ample opportunity was much needed in order for people to achieve what is now the American Dream and not become jealous of immigrants. With equality of conditions Jefferson thought the moral and independency would still be possible as long as there were vacant lands. Through the fundamentals that democracy is based upon our founding fathers did their best to create a basis towards issues that they had earlier recognized. 

Assignment #7: RIP! A Remix Manifesto & Battle in Seattle

The video RIP! A Remix Manifesto was a different take on its relation to sustainability that we’ve been watching and mainly focused on copyright laws that are very apparent in our current society. Many consumers are now demanding to be producers through their own music that they’ve put together and promote it largely through social media sites like YouTube. They’ve passed up these large publishing companies and made “covers” or their own versions of songs as a way to promote their music and be noticed. By not using typical means of promotions for music we have created our own culture in that consumers prefer something more relatable to their own lives and not something that is strictly corporate and controlled. There still needs to be a limit that protects artists, but it shouldn’t be so controlled that it hinders the creation and development of newer and refined designs.

I thought the film Battle in Seattle to be a very powerful movie of the WTO Conference in 1999. It really seemed to capture the struggle of the protest and the differentiating sides. At times it was very intense and it was interesting to see the civilian’s point of view and how they were dragged into the conflict. Whether it was the way the film portrayed it or not I disliked how the police handled the protestors. I think a better alternative to handling the violent protestors was to pick them out and handle them accordingly because they were vandalizing which is still a crime. Then the peaceful protestors could have still continued their protest with minimal injury and uproar.

Assignment #6: W. Edwards Deming & Dan Pink

W. Edwards Deming’s used a system that was sensitive to people and quality. In the video it’s mentioned that what Deming was saying was 180 degrees different from what the business schools were teaching and stems for his respect for his fellow people. Through emergence Deming focused on quality as his main way of thinking and that it was a different way that couldn’t be achieved just over night. Nature as a model can be seen in Deming’s attribute of cooperation rather than competition. By enacting fear in a companies’ employees it suppresses worker’s innovation and doesn’t allow them to grow and develop. Like the way a group of fish gather together to avoid being eaten by bigger predators people need to work together to improve camaraderie and create a more peaceful workplace. Although Deming has created a very nice methodology towards how a company should be run many companies through the U.S. still don’t exactly follow his teachings, but there has definitely been a change in how many of them are run.

Dan Pink’s video on Drive was a really fascinating look at what actually motivates us within the business environment. It was surprising to hear that money isn’t always the best motivator when it came to more creative tasks and that by offering more money it can actually lead to poorer performance. I personally thought just the opposite would happen and I really liked Atlassian’s (Software Company) approach to getting better results out of their workers. By allowing their employees to relax and do whatever they wanted it took them out of that strictly structured environment and allowed them to be creative and innovative through their own means. Pink brings up many interesting facts and it was truly a unique insight into what really drives people to work.

Assignment #5: We Feed the World & In the Next Industrial Revolution

In the We Feed the World documentary I’ve never seen so much what looks to be good bread thrown away. It’s quite shocking to see that much good food go to waste when so many people don’t have food at all.  If somehow that kind of food could be given to populations who need that food many of the world’s hunger and waste of food could be greatly improved. Same could be said for an average grocery store. From what I’m aware of, produce and such have to be thrown out after a certain time on the shelves even if it’s still good food, but I would think a better way is donating it to some local shelter that could use what is still edible food. If issues of the food being old come into play it could be made aware to consumers that the food was on the shelf for however long and that it is up to them if they want to eat it. Because if I was starving I wouldn’t really care if it was on the shelves for a long period of time as long as it’s edible and looks good to eat.

In the Next Industrial Revolution, Atoms are the New Bits article they talk about the Local Motors company and their niche vehicle. Since they only build the cars after buyers have made a down payment and a reserved build date it does prevent excess cars from being produced and then wasted, however it still doesn’t quite fall under the ecological worldviews. This is because it’s still a car that uses gas and is a product that is open sourced to companies in China where they produce the pieces cheaply and most likely unecological. Sure it does allow the average individual to create their own product, but I also doubt most people consider the ecological impact their product is going to make. On the other hand products like the MakerBot could be useful in that it could allow an individuals to make their own prototypes instead of constantly crowdsourcing to other countries where it wastes resources in order for the item to be shipped to their door. All in all the terms used in the article are not really characteristic of an ecological worldview, but more in terms of the exploration of an average person’s ideas.

Zorthian Ranch Tour- 10.27.13

Zorthian Ranch Tour- 10.27.13

The Zorthian Ranch was a really interesting place to visit as there were lots of different projects going on and so many unique things to see. Such as the llama and artfully unique walls made of re-purposed items. It was also fun to ride in the back of Professor Yuhasz truck (it was like a Indiana Jones ride).

Assignment #4: Benyus, Janine Videos & The Next Industrial Revolution

I thought that the ideas of waste in The Next Industrial Revolution was intriguing. Rethinking waste as food and allowing waste to become a system that goes back to nature would make less unused items and less chemical pollution within our environment and the products we use. It would ultimately become a win, win situation for everyone involved within this system. I also found the product of service concept and idea of a subscription for products to be a very unique idea that would be not only good for less parts being thrown away, but good for companies because it would encourage repeat customers and a less expensive product because the parts that are returned can possibly be re-used. I agree that the world is becoming more involved with what is the next industrial revolution of sustainable living and that as we strive to improve the knowledge and products we use we will eventually achieve a better health and future.– The Next Industrial Revolution

Like many of the videos and information we’ve learned Janine Benyus points out that we have to change the lens we see the world. She points out many ways we are already learning from nature and how we can continue to improve and redesign the world that we make. By learning from life and how it makes the most of things I liked how she said to always remember spring and how complicated its organized. Lately, I’ve honestly never really noticed spring too much because I’ve been stuck inside doing work, but maybe this year I’ll try and go hiking to appreciate it more. Asking the question “what would nature do?” is also another interesting approach to solving complex problems. I was especially fascinated about her reference to the Galapagos shark that has a particular pattern on its skin denticles that prevents bacteria from landing on it and how it’s starting to be used in hospitals. Innovations like these really makes you think of all the possibilities that can be achieved just by observing nature.– 12 Sustainable Design Ideas from Nature– Biomimicry in Action

Assignment #3: Surviving Progress & Changing the Dream

The Surviving Progress documentary was very interesting and unique in that it raised many interesting points in how we’ve grown as human beings. One instance, was when they talked about the difference between humans and chimps. Humans ask the question of “why?” and question what unobservable phenomenon is occurring, while chimps do not. This reminded me of how I’d always used to ask my mom questions as a kid and she would get at me for asking so many questions. But, now that I think back to it I could’ve told her that it was all part of my progress and growth as a human being (too bad I didn’t see this documentary then). Another interesting point was the one about progress traps and how making too much progress can actually be bad. It was very fascinating to see how growing too much food and manufacturing too many items can cause so much unnecessary waste. This makes me wonder what would be the best better solution that would still allow us to progress, but keep the environment safe at the same time. Overall, I really enjoyed the film and it was definitely worth spending a little extra time after class.

After reading Changing the Dream: How Civilizations Reinvent Themselves I completely agree with it’s view on change and how it’s a learning process through a “progressive alliance aimed at preserving past societal lessons, while working past the limits and distortions of the current age”. Next, the reading talked about change and how western civilizations have always undergone great change to rethink and rearrange our conventional wisdoms for effective alternatives. I also agree with this view on change and how this current generation has become far more aware of our impact on the environment. Through the Internet and our connectivity to the world people in today’s society can better understand events that are happening not only in our own backyard, but in the backyards of someone in another country. Another part that stood out was that “there is order in chaos”. This brought to mind about how we were talking about systems in class. Everything is connected and complex making the article’s reference to our history and Galileo an interesting approach to how humans are changing. There were many points mentioned throughout the article that were equally as engaging as to why we have changed and what has caused so many of our problems.