Friday, July 29, 2005

Paradigm Shift, the Duck Pond vs. swimming pool


In the old paradigm, we see “problems,” we panic and we throw a lot of force “against” the “problem.” If illness comes, we throw a drug against it. If a sore shoulder appears, we give it a shot or a massage or a physical therapy workout. If insects visit the garden or field, zap them with pesticides. If some person is "bugging" us, we get angry at them, or wish they would disappear. At the social level, “liberals” like to throw money at social “problems,” with little success, and “conservatives” like to throw money into war, with even less success.

In the new paradigm, we use our intelligence instead of our anxiety, and look for the systemic ways that the “problem,” now seen as an indicator of the malfunctioning of the whole, can lead us to upgrade the entire system. For dis-ease, we look for food, mental health, fresh air, happiness, and breathing to create well-being. In Feldenkrais, a sore shoulder is not a “bad” shoulder, but evidence of a stuck brain, unable to see the connections that a healthy shoulder needs to have with the ribs, spines, neck, pelvis, even the feet. Insects call for rich and healthy soil. The "annoying" person is an opportunity for us to get clear on how to be happy with ourselves and another when we aren't controlling the world. And social/political problems in these times when oil is going to run out and climate warming is happening (Katrina, 20% of North Pole ice cap gone) call for a bigger understanding.

While small potatoes (or peaches) compared to these issues, here’s a set of problems at the local level in Sonoma, California, and one possible non-paradigm set of solutions. At least it illustrates bringing a larger set of variables into the proposed change. The problems: 1) no pool for kids, 2) duck pond overflows poop into creek in winter (via storm drains), 3) Garden Park back orchard languishing, 4) airplane travel creates a huge CO2 debt ( a couple flying to Europe and back over 8 trees to the Earth).

The old paradigm solution for the duck poop problem is to throw money at it, a lot, almost $700,000. Wow. This route might even eliminate the once a year cleaning of the duck pond and taking of nutrients to the Garden Park, where it hasn’t made it to the back orchard the last two years.

The new set of possibilities: clean out the pond at least 4 times a year, so when the winter rains come it won’t be at its dirtiest. Take this tree food to the back orchard and copy one of the core principles of Nature: one organism’s waste is always food for others. Put the duck pond swimming pool money to use for a pool for kids and assisting the garden be a place where people can learn to grow their own food in the times ahead when everyone will need to know this. Have a voluntary self-tax of lucky far traveling locals to buy trees for their CO2 debt and contribute these trees to the garden and to local schools, so kids can begin to taste food grown close at hand. Charge people twice as much to use the pool if they drove there instead of walking or riding a bike. The big picture is big, and full of possibilities and is always more economical, since one part is helping another.

Chris Elms

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