Conversation on Sustainability

I Donít Want To Hear About Green Buildings Any More

December 2003

 

 

This conversation on the topic of sustainability took place almost a year before Chris gave the Schumacher Lecture (October, 2004), ďSustainability and Morphogenesis,Ē which provides a scientific basis for the issues discussed here.

 

MAGGIE: How would you say your work relates to sustainability, and the ways in which people have been working toward sustainability for the last 10 or 15 years?

 

CHRIS: I think Iím going to start on a rather negative note because, as you know from our conversations, I donít really like the way sustainability has been considered. What is currently dreamed of and spoken about and carried out is hardly a beginning. It is simply an extension of the technocratic society we find ourselves in, not what it pretends to be. I find this quite upsetting. I think sustainability has become more and more of a buzz word. Everybody wants to get on the bandwagon by saying that what theyíre doing is sustainable. And even at the best of times, what it means is using certain kinds of products and materials while leaving the social, ecological and emotional structure largely unchanged. Maybe thatís not quite so with regard to ecology. There are efforts being made there to deal more seriously with wetlands and forests and so forth, but itís so much one little thing at a time, completely missing the larger context of life on earth.

 

Financial arrangements, for example is a major issue that has not been dealt with. Any serious treatment of sustainability would have to deal with money flow. Although you occasionally see it referred to in the literature, people who are touting sustainability as the hallmark of their big new development projects have not carefully considered how prevailing financial systems compromise these efforts, and they may well not wish to.

 

A case in point: the whole thing reminds me of a very similar movement that existed around the late 1960ís Ė people became very interested in solar energy. This was, of course, perfectly reasonable: trying to get energy from the natural circumstances of the earth rather than having to burn up non-renewable resources. Very, very sensible as an idea, but what was the consequence of it?

 

It was a bonanza for manufacturers of certain kinds of high tech panels to jump in, sell solar panels, selenium and so forth at high cost. Thatís arguable: maybe the high cost was OK because thatís just the first stage in the development of a new idea. But the form these panels took were very rigid pre-fabricated panels which crucified the roofs of the buildings they were put on. First of all they are incredibly ugly, a significant issue in itself, which ought to be addressed within the boundaries of sustainability but isnít. More important, they interfere grossly with adaptation. In other words, the more high tech the panels and materials are, the less possible it is to fine tune the shape, geometry, slope, modifications and extent of any given roof that they are put in. Suddenly youíve got the very ugly and biologically dangerous phenomenon of the part driving the whole, rather than vice versa, wherever those roofs are built. However, it became a social statement Ėif you were ďwith it,Ē you had to have solar panels.

 

It died away in large part, I think, because people began to understand intuitively the kind of thing Iíve just said. In the sustainability movement, though, people at the forefront are still talking about high tech solar panels, only these are bigger and better and more expensive and more rigid. That kind of earth is not a sustainable earth. This is incredible to me: they donít understand that they are being co-opted by the very thing they view as the enemy, and that people in a world-wide movement of this sophistication can be so short-sighted. Thatís just a cameo of what I object to about sustainability as it is practiced today.

 

Another example is the very interesting experience that I had at Fairview in Salem, Oregon. Theproject, that I had some small role as an adviser to, began by saying that this was going to be the first massively wonderful demonstration of sustainability from soup to nuts. They had incredible aims including the idea of economic sustainability which was sophisticated. This is one of the first times that I know of where it was really being thought of seriously. But when it came down to it, the idealists who created this company put the company in the hands of people who were not idealists. They just didnít understand sustainability as an idea, in my view. They began thinking about around 1200 houses or dwellings. Instead of considering the land and working out, from the point of view of the land, how to distribute these dwellings so that people had a natural relationship to land, to small town agriculture, to the natural flow of water on the land, to the naturally beautiful sacred spots on the land, and so forth, instead it was absolutely business as usual. They wanted to ďpreserve the landĒ in some pointless fashion, and then build all the buildings close together entirely for economic reasons, though they pretended that it was for architectural reasons. They handed the whole thing over to large-scale developers to try to work out what would have become simply another big post-modern bunch of buildings tied together on the land, pretending to be like an Italian hill town, but not in the least bit like an Italian hill town.

 

They requested my assistance. The first thing I did when I visited was to spend a day walking about on the land. The director/originator of the project, to my astonishment, said he had never walked about on the land before to that extent. Itís not a very big bit of land. He was amazed by what I pointed out that needed to be protected and repaired. Every few hundred feet, Iíd talk about that in detail. I said a proper plan, that has respect for the earth and nature, needs to weave what is built into what must be protected in the land itself. He acquiesced completely with his lips and in his actions did nothing about it Ė forgot about it virtually as soon as it had been discussed.

 

Here again youíve got technology driving a deeper sense of things. The one thing which I believe they were doing correctly in that project, at least in part, was the issue of wetlands. They were being very careful to protect the small riparian area on that land. It just so happens that wetlands and the ecology of riparian areas is something that can be studied from a purely technical point of view. Therefore itís OK to introduce it. All of the things that I observed on the land and showed them Ė this little level spot is a wonderful place to put a building, this piece of land just next to it is a wonderful place to leave absolutely alone, etc. Ė which I did yard by yard, wascompletely inaccessible to the technical discussion that revolves around wetlands. Therefore it had no place in the sustainable plan as all those wise and intelligent people saw it. Again, this illustrates how extremely narrow, and often quite wrong headed, the sustainability movement is. That kind of thing can once again be co-opted even though it has a sound moral and scientific basis. Wetlands encompass I would say about 3 or 4 percent of what is important about land. But because wetlands happened to be the bit they could technologize, thatís the bit that found its way into their plan.

 

If the promise of a sustainable earth Ė that is, a living earth and the construction and continuous re-construction of a living earth in and around habitats Ė is to be taken seriously, it needs to start over. You cannot start from a technological base like that and expect to get anywhere sensible. Such a base doesnít have anything to do with the human heart. It doesnít have anything to do, really, with the precious nature of the land. It violates by its very definitions the right kind of relationship between buildings and land in which the sacred nature of both is preserved and protectable.

 

MAGGIE: So, it seems we have lost our sensibility about the land to the degree that technology can overwhelm whatever intuition we might have about it. That would seem to connect with what you said weíve not attended to Ė the societal issues and the emotional issues relative to land. Can you say more about each of those, first the social?

 

CHRIS: Well, one of the first things that I did when I was invited to Fairview was to meet with a group of people who were excited about being part of such an important, genuinely sustainable thing. We had an evening together. I explained what it was like to build houses so that they had a real relationship to one another and to the land they were on, and how I would do that by working with them, in small groups and individually, to place each house with care. The emerging neighborhood they themselves would essentially fashion by walking on the land and choosing spots. Some of them were very moved by this approach, which was then presented to the hierarchy of this organization, who again ignored it completely. The enthusiasm that people had felt was essentially whacked on the head. This was reported by several disappointed people who called me afterwards. What I was talking about was a form of organization of construction where people had the ability to find their spot on the land the way a cat finds its spot in a room when it wants to go to sleep. That ability was offered to every household, every family, every individual. In a realistic and practical way, that can be done without increasing the cost of houses, and without increasing the cost of infrastructure. This is a social revolution because it creates genuine fibers of connection between people, human groups, community and the land.

 

What a developer does is wholly unlike this Ė well, I should say a standard, commercial developer as we know that term today. Such a developer has no model of operating to make it possible to do this. The models exist. Theyíre feasible. Theyíre cheap. But they donít fit into the current models of sustainability. The sustainability movement, as far as I know, has not attempted to grapple with these models or to point the way to making the huge changes that must gradually be made.

 

MAGGIE: I was there that night. I agree that many of the people in the room were moved, including myself. There were also people who intended to build homes at Fairview who raised the technical issues almost immediately. ďWill you use composting toilets? You havenít mentioned that. What about solar energy? You havenít mentioned that.Ē Itís so easy for us to land on the technology aspects of sustainability without looking inside ourselves to find what we long for, which leads to the emotional connection that you mentioned. Iíve now learned something about this because weíre here at Meadow Lodge (West Sussex, England), and I feel an emotional connection to this land. I donít know how to express it, though.

 

CHRIS: Itís not very difficult to express actually. Of course this place that weíre sitting in has been here for a long time. This particular bit of land is not now so different from the way it has been for about a thousand years. What happens during a long period of time like that, if things are being taken care of, is that the sanctity of every hedge, hummock in the land, fence post, and chestnut tree is cherished. A relationship of respect between the person and the hedge develops. You donít necessarily do very spectacular things, but gradually that respect makes itself felt in ecology and sustenance and surroundings of the hedge, and then the hedge plays the respect back to you so you feel it in your bones. You feel love for the hedge and you feel well- being in yourself because you have that relationship with that hedge. If you multiply what I just said by 10,000 in a place like this, you have a massive connection to the land which can only really be achieved in that way.

 

MAGGIE: If we were serious about sustainability, weíd be attending to all of these things. What you just described means healing myself in connection with healing the land. The practice of generating life is all that could really achieve sustainability. Otherwise it and we will die.

 

CHRIS: Right. Yes, and the most basic lesson in biology is that no system is isolated, so a person cannot be healed if the world around that person is not being healed, and vice versa. Itís a completely cooperative phenomenon among the different levels of a systems that exist, of which weíre one level, our organs are a lower level, and the room in which you sit, or the field that you are next to are larger levels. All of the levels have to be healed in order to have any part of it be healthy. So itís a perfectly straight forward biological and probably medicalidea. Itís just that no one is really paying attention to it.

 

I think itís OK to talk about what you just said because it has to do with the healing of people. I think itís very important not to put too much weight on that expression of it because it really is the healing of the earth that is the most significant aspect of it, of which we are only parts. It wouldnít be good to subscribe to the view that man is the most important entity on the planet Ė a Judeo-Christian ethic which has ruled commerce for so long and isnít all that helpful. I think the sustainability movement knows that.

 

MAGGIE: You say there are models for doing this. There are some old models that have not been very successful Ė sustainable. One was something we used to call back-to-the-landers where people formed communities and did without technology in order to recover something more wholesome in terms of relationship with the earth, food, health and so forth. They have not been especially successful. Would you say thatís because they did not embrace technology?

 

CHRIS: Well, itís just not realistic. There something quaint -- annoyingly quaint -- about it. In buildings, for example, which is my profession, Iím not generally very interested in using ancient techniques of construction because, for very good reasons, ancient techniques are not consistent with the state and emerging state of our society. I think they cannot be. One reason is simply labor cost. It used to be the case 1000 years ago and 500 years ago that labor was typically about one tenth of the cost of a building. When a building was built, only 10% went to pay labor and 90% went to pay for the materials. Under those conditions where labor is that cheap, you can do all kinds of things that are labor intensive and itís not a problem. A few decades ago labor cost Ė just taking a very rough average Ė was about 60% of the cost of the building. Introducing labor intensive methods, letís say of laying out stone walls, cannot be done in the way it was done in ancient times. You can very carefully isolate a few operations which are so labor critical Ėwhere the human touch must be there Ė as long as it is within the budget of a particular building or development project or neighborhood. But to go for it wholesale Ė itís just a funny idea which warms the cockles of your heart, but is out of touch with economics and technology, so itís not really helpful.

 

Most of my own building uses rather advanced techniques, although they resemble the adaptive capacities of ancient techniques to be able to make continuous small course corrections while a building is being built. But they do it by methods that respect technology, and do not rely on labor intensive processes. In fact on the contrary, I try to use high speed techniques to save labor so as to permit more time for making subtle decisions. Thatís a very different approach. Itís an entirely new configuration in the relationships between money, technology, speed, process and adaptation.

 

MAGGIE: How would you advise us to work with technology and make it useful so that it doesnít overwhelm our need to get back in touch with land, or the need that most of us have to be connected socially? How can we work with technology and find a way of life that is satisfying?

 

CHRIS: Thatís a huge question. I donít think thereís any one principle that answers that question. But, I can show you how dramatic the issue is by means of an example. If youíre laying a new neighborhood or community on a greenfield site, the current conventional wisdom is to put in subdivision roads and sewers first across the board, and then make everything else fit that flat. It fundamentally does not work. It has a very expensive up-front cost. Itís intended to save money for the developer in the long run, but actually itís a very expensive way to do it. More significant, itís putting things first that are not first. I mean no one in their right mind thinks that a sewer is the most important thing in a community. Few people in their right minds would say that the road was one of the most important things, not unless someone has been technologized out of all proportion.

 

Of course, the most important thing for community are places where people go, stay and connect. Those places are essentially pedestrian. The proper way to start a development like that is to settle the pedestrian places by reference to the land first. Give the pedestrian places and paths, lines of movement, priority over everything, so that already Ė at the moment youíre doing that Ė your heart is connected to the land directly through the medium of these decisions about what is going to be pedestrian and how the pedestrian structure is going to be. And then put cars, trucks, ambulances and fire equipment in second place, not in first place. Then say, OK, how can we now move cars, park them, and allow emergency vehicles access in such a way as not to violate that precious thing that has already been established? This is a huge change. If you talk to a conventional developer about this, they just about fly off the handle because it challenges everything they know. What it does from the start is create a solid relationship between human emotion, concern, respect, and healing, to use your word, and puts the cars in second place. We all love our cars and benefit from them; the economy benefits from them. Our access to people not within bicycling distance is colossal and most people wouldnít give it up for anything. Iím not advocating removing cars or reducing their role. Iím simply saying their role is vital, but it must be kept in balance. It cannot be allowed to disturb the far more critical organization of pedestrian space that actually becomes the glue that binds the houses and other buildings together.

 

My guess is that if we were to embark on a number of examples like this, they would all be different, but in every case it would turn out that the thing which is emotionally precious comes first, and the thing which is less emotionally precious comes second. This is very often the clue to making these changes correctly.

 

MAGGIE: For the sake of readers who may be in the following situation, Iíll ask you for one more example. What if I have a bit of land that I love and Iím going to build on it Ė a house or an outbuilding, or whatever. The first thing I do is understand what is emotionally precious to me there and then, as I proceed, I can still use green building materials, technology, etc., that the sustainability movement loves. But I would do this putting first things first.

 

CHRIS: I would say largely so. Iím not against any of theÖwell, I canít say that. I was going to say Iím not against any of the technical changes being advocated by sustainable thinking, but actually I am to some degree because of the technological twist they have taken. But I would say in general straw bales, earth walls, solar collectors, rainwater collectors, all these things have their place. I think many of them are positive. Small scale food production very close to the home has its place. I think these things make tremendous sense. For each one you have to be watchful that the technological version doesnít take over on the one hand, and on the other hand, that archaic reconstruction of ancient techniques doesnít take over. Because both those things have their dangers. But in principle I think the answer is yes. These things will weave together quite successfully. There are no inherent contradictions at all.

 

MAGGIE: Given this critique of the sustainability movement, how do you think we can develop a sustainable world?

 

CHRIS: The too highly technological view of sustainability, the inadequate view of community and human emotions, and the real quality of the land Ė all that isnít going to be corrected unless itís done within the framework of the whole thing as a living system. Even that cannot be conceived, I believe, in the current view of what a living system is. People feel that it is getting more sophisticated, which it may be, but it is still very far from the actual essence of a living system. Without having a foundation in that, I donít think the whole sustainability movement could become anything except just an appendix to technology. And I think there is a serious danger that that will happen. People who care so much about these things could wake up 25 years from now and find that theyíve been betrayed: the place where they wanted to go has been taken over by technological corporations, and the beauty of the land, the actual sustainability of the land, water, cash flow, and human community has been really left to one side. That would be a pretty sad awakening, but it very easily could happen unless people begin now to build an adequate platform from which to do this kind of work. That is very, very hard to do.

 

I donít think it can be done unless we have a picture of the world in which every part is personal. Why I have come to believe this is a very long and complicated story that is developed in Book 4 of The Nature of Order. I am quite certain of it, not the least bit doubtful. My problem is not Is that true?, but How do you actually achieve this? It means building a picture of the living fabric in an ecological way, but where itís not just a bunch of machines that are transacting energy flows, water flows, and nutrient flows. Rather, itís a question of having that picture, those things that have been learned, built on a foundation in which every sheep, every fence post, every blade of grass is viewed as a personal thing. In other words, itís a huge revision in cosmology to recognize that this is so. And itís only when that has been done that you can then achieve a view of the whole which is even faintly what people are dreaming about now when they talk about sustainability. I donít think people have realized, yet, that this is where it has to go.

 

Thereís another way of describing the whole thing, a complementary way. The current view is extremely fragmentary. Youíve got various fragments that people have thought about, whatever they may be Ė solar energy, animal and plant life around water Ė fragmentary things that have become somewhat understood as popular bits and pieces of the sustainability movement. They are not the whole. There is no such picture. People talk about the whole. There was a very ambitious attempt to treat the earth as a whole with Lovelockís Gaia Theory. But it is actually an equation system. Itís an attempt to put scientific reliability on an intuitive idea. Even that was thought to be too wacky an idea to be entertained by science when it was first put forward, though the equations that have been put in place to make it understandable are quite respectable. What Iím talking about is far more dangerous, and far more likely to be viewed as wacky. But itís also much more true.

 

There was, also,the idea that in a whole, you perceive parts which resemble the whole. That idea became popularized in a bit of mathematics surrounding the idea of fractals. So you have self-similarity at differing scales. That is interesting, but again it is not the essence of what wholeness means Ė that each part resembles the whole. It is still deeper. If you understand what the whole is, it is congruent with the self, the human person, and each person is participating in that whole because it really is there. Then of course, the fence post which resembles the ď I Ē, which deeply contains it, is the same as a field which does so, or as a region which does so because there is only one ď I Ē (reference Book 4 of The Nature of Order). Itís not as if there are millions of them. Only one. Then you have a foundational idea in which pure unity is the basis of everything. Everything is understood to be a reflection of that one thing, the I, the whole,which is coming through or taking form in its particular way.

 

Well, these poetic ramblings, which is I suppose is what they sound like, can very easily be dismissed because the fragmented and technology-oriented view of the world that we have is so far removed that it sounds silly. So, thereís a fairly sharp divide, because Iíve got absolutely no doubt that the real issues of sustainability cannot be dealt with except in the framework of a view of land, people, individual, animal, plant as a reflection of the underlying ďIĒ.

 

Thatís a pretty big mouthful to swallow. Whether the proponents of sustainability will have the nerve to address this and take it on, I have no idea. What I can say, as a scientist, is that when you do, you do finally get a picture that makes sense. I believe that is what I have to offer in The Nature of Order. It provides a view in which all these things do make sense together. Therefore you have a platform from which you can go on, and in which the human being matters, and all the other things matter. You donít have to be apologetic about the fact that things matter. You donít have to cook up vague techno reasons as to why they matter. They matter because itís in the essence of this picture of things.

 

The scientific understanding of the situation is enormously increased when you take this apparently daring step which will appear insane to some. It is a huge step. Understanding what is loosely termed sustainability at the moment must reside on the large idea of creating life on the planet and that every action has the responsibility to add to that created life, never to detract from it.

 

MAGGIE: Something you can count on from the sustainability community is that they feel a responsibility to do something very personally, very deeply. Now, thatís different than the way you describe making it personal, but itís something to work with. I also think that in the sustainability community in general, when they experience nature, they feel very much a part of it. For instance, going into the forest, watching a river, realizing that youíre in an ecosystem and that itís enveloping you. At those moments, when we have that consciousness, it is very personal and how it connects to our well being is obvious. When we go back to the regular world where technology reigns, itís easy to loose sight of that. Then we long to go back because we miss the personal connection. I wonder if thereís a way to build on what is already a felt personal connection and help us make steps toward what you describe.

 

CHRIS: Thereís a problem with the word ďecosystem,Ē which the language itself tells you. You say ecosystem when youíre talking about flowers and raindrops and trees. The moment you call it an ecosystem, youíve technologized it. Itís apart from you. So although you described a situation that intuitively many people in the sustainability movement have rejoiced in Ė the feeling of being one with some place or some part of nature Ė the form of description tears it down rather than builds it up. One does it in desperation because ecosystem is the only kind of word at the moment that even vaguely points in that direction. But itís a crooked finger thatís pointing. Letís say a concept like ecosystem that wants to give an orderly picture of how things interact to reveal the nature of the thing, that concept has to be rebuilt so that it is built out of things that are person-connected -- all the elements are person-connected. The tree and the raindrop need to be person-connected. This tells you how big a leap it is because oneís first reaction to that is, Well, thatís fine but how is it going to help us study the interactions, which led us to use the word ecosystem in the first place? I think this is a very hard task. Iíve made some steps toward a solution, but they are by no means adequate. It would need many people thinking about how to make this work.

 

MAGGIE: Another word that comes to mind is ďbelonging.Ē Somehow I feel closer to the tree and the raindrop when Iím in a place that I feel I belong to, or that belongs to me. That also holds true when we think about a community that we want to live in, or a society that we want to be a part of Ė that we belong to it, or it belongs to us. Thatís a very personal connection. I wonder if that is another step toward what youíre talking about.

 

CHRIS: This is a huge topic. As you know, Book 3 of The Nature of Order, starts with exactly that idea: that weíve lived in a world where what pervades is not belonging. It provides a description of belonging, in the sense that you just spoke about it. So what does it mean to create that in buildings, streets, fields, gardens? I completely agree that there is a need for that. I think itís a very important clue because itís sointuitively clear if one hangs onto it. You say, Weíre just not going to let anything into this model unless it is clearly rooted that way. You might say that the elements of the whole model, if I could use that word, are bits of belonging. If you have a picture of all these elements and systems, all of them rooted in our own belonging right at the forefront so that itís extremely visible in every single description that is given, plus the paraphernalia that describes the interactions, then I think you have the beginning of a viable model that will not play tricks on us and not deceive us and not allow it to be co-opted.

 

MAGGIE: How do we add this most recent part about being personal and belonging to what we do now, which we talked about earlier in a more step-wise fashion. If I go from the way you were describing what ecosystem is, to the idea that belonging is the first thing, then Iím looking at a system Iím part of and my assumption is that everything belongs here. The task isnít to describe an ecosystem thatís different from me. The task is to understand how everything that belongs here fits together, including me.

 

CHRIS: Right.

 

MAGGIE: I think that very much describes a lot of people in the sustainability movement. It certainly describes me. Iím part of a system that I donít like, and I know it. Iím trying to figure out how I behave differently in that system to influence it in a direction that seems to be better, though I donít understand an lot of whatís going on or how to influence it, or whatís good and whatís bad. My intuition is still telling me to do whatever I can do, and thatís one of the ways itís easy to fall into technological traps. For instance, I can recycle if I learn enough about how to recycle well. At least Iím doing something. Basically, the need Ė the longing Ė to do something to move toward healing, not only the system I belong to but also myself, finds forms that I can grapple with. Thatís one of the reasons we end up in that trap. Suppose you say to me, You belong in this town or this neighborhood or this house, and I try to grapple with what to do. What direction does that give me? If I let myself live in that question for a while, I do get answers that donít come to me from technological solutions, green building, or various latest and greatest sustainability initiatives. It becomes extremely personal. And doing that Ėallowing myself to live in that question -- also puts me in touch with the ache I have, the sadness I have, because I am a part of this system, and it needs ĖI need Ė healing so desperately. I wouldnít want to overlook that part of whatís going on in people who care about sustainability. I think that is a huge motivation, and also worthy of acknowledgment.

 

CHRIS: I think itís incredibly worthy of acknowledgment. My point throughout what weíve been speaking about here is that exactly: the mismatch between the inner knowledge, or longing or intuition, about how things are and ought to be, compared with the models and tools that people have grasped at like straws in the hope that these straws will save us from drowning. My point is simply, so long as the tools are of the type that exist at the moment, they will not save us. That frustration you are describing and that sadness, almost desperation of sadness I would say, will continue unless these models are replaced. The fact that such models are possible is very important. As long as a person does not know that good models are possible, that person will grasp at, as you say, green building, solar panels, or wetland flows, as ways of satisfying that inner yearning. Itís the only kind of model currently available so youíd be stupid to pass it up. Itís better than nothing, or seems that way. Iím not sure it is. But if, as a result of just reading this conversation, people begin to see that there might be a model of a different kind that covers the territory in a unifying way, which leads directly to the human heart and is linked to the human heart, it doesnít pretend not to be in order to get credibility in science (which isnít going to give it credibility for very much longer if I am any judge), if they see models that are capable of going that much deeper and reconnecting them to the earth, not in this mechanistic fashion, but in terms of inner knowledge of who they are, then they will be much quicker to say, I donít want to hear about green buildings anymore unless it is expressed in this way. Or even as sensible as it is to talk about fish and water birds and riparian areas, they might say, I donít want to hear about it anymore unless it is directly connected to what I feel about those things when Iím there, and what my part is in them. Then you have the chance to really change the world, and by definition, it will be something that canít be co-opted. If it has its anchor in the individual human heart and that commonality of feeling that we all experience at that level about these matters, it would be very, very difficult to co-opt it.

 

MAGGIE: The words that label the great departure that you describe is ďgenerating life.Ē As I look at different sustainability initiatives and am aware of technologies that have come to the forefront, Iíve begun to ask myself, do they generate life? I think thatís the way The Nature of Order can help redirect our energies, because its purpose is to show us how to generate life. The terrain is vast. There are so many things that each individual could choose to do. Itís hard for me to imagine what that looks like in motion on a grand scale. But at least for now itís a way for me to double check myself about my assumptions. Do the solutions that have been put forth in the last 15 to 20 years contribute in that way? If they donít, they are highly suspect.