Monday, July 9, 2012

detroit summer update #7

have you ever had anything approximating free reign to make something you wanted? i mean with the tools and the community support to do it? well today, in the basement of the church of the messiah in detroit, i saw a space where children and adults alike are welcomed to imagine their hearts' desire. it is called the mt. elliott maker's space, and it is ALIVE. there were about 5 or 6 adults taking a computer class, while a group of children, aged from around 5 to around 13, made things. on this day their project looked like a fort, though there is a bike shop, a wood shop, soldering stations, spare computer parts, and windmills strewn about. i happened upon them as one child was using a digital camera to make a film. she walked around interviewing the other children and i couldn't resist joining in. these babies were so fresh, so open-eyed and EXCITED! the overwhelming thing that i noticed among them - and i hung with them for a while - was the cooperative nature with which they approached one another. i really noticed the older ones looking out for the younger ones, and yet they all seemed to be really letting themselves do what they truly wanted to do. they were so good at working together. i absolutely believe that these are the building blocks of peace. every workplace could benefit from watching them work together so well and so joyfully. 

also, yesterday there was an excellent discussion between frithjof bergmann, the austrian philosopher behind "new work, new culture," and juan martinez, a bike lover and innovator in detroit. bergmann argues that the very nature of work has got to change to accommodate for a world in which  we have literally "peaked," in terms of jobs and growth, and that we are never coming back from it. i know that he is right, but both he and i  think this is a good thing because it means we get to start fresh. it means that we can re-imagine why it is that we work so that we can finally quit doing everything we do for a low-down, dirty dollar. it means we get to put people and communities back at the center of our value system, just as it is for the children in the maker space today. it means, in short, that we are freer than we think. hallelujah! let THAT soak in for just a minute.

some notes from the conversation:
  • the economists are saying some really stupid things. "what you hear about unemployment is bullshit. they are trying to put you to sleep and keep you from thinking." -FB.  we don't even count the people who have given up hope for finding jobs - it is a farce.
  • there are 3 major factors that have led to the disappearance of jobs: globalization, automation, and the unprecedented move of people from farms to cities (80% used to live on farms, and now only 4-5% do!). this is the "tyranny of the free market"
  • there is something wonderful  happening - it's not all bad.
  • the alternative to having a job (of course) is needing much less and simultaneously making your own things/food/etc, in community so as to derive the most value, meaning, and pleasure from having made them. community production is what we should be focusing on growing instead of trying to stimulate the economy. what is emerging as the work of the future is community production. this is our opportunity to re-fashion how we think about work so that it becomes something to bring us into our aliveness.
  • "the big corporations are not omnipotent - only god is." - FB.
  • a reminder that we have not always worked 40-80 hour work weeks. it does not have to be this way.
peace and love,

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