Saturday, October 02, 2010

Willamette Quarterly, 2010

:: fall 2010 willamette quarterly @ mmm / unity ::

I've journaled about this event several times over the years. Last year I agitated to stage it here in Portland, at the meetinghouse, instead of trucking out to the Kiwanis Camp. The planning committee took up that idea, and so it came to be. We had over 109 people and brought in sufficient revenue to cover renting the Unity Church multi-purpose room and kitchen down the street, for meals.

I joined Nancy Irving's interest group. She was on vacation from her job in London as General Secretary of Friends World Committee for Consultation (FWCC), staying with the Abbotts. To the extent Quakers have a global office, this would be it. However, given it's a spirit-led faith without a credo, the central office is not expected to produce detailed statements regarding "what Quakers believe" that all faithful would sign on to. FWCC may know some of what's going on though, has some overview perspective.

[ In the meantime, Holly reportedly led a brilliant walking tour of nearby CSA sites (Community Supported Agriculture), an activity Lindsey had helped to organize (and would have led, if not for an illness). Larry joined this walk, and later showed me his new gizmo: a thin pocket sized access point, a wifi hotspot, through which his iTouch and laptop both connect to the Internet. Quakers are pretty up on this stuff. And wow Ron, congrats on losing 65 pounds! ]

As an example of sharing overview, Nancy talked about food insecurity in the Philippines, where the economic crash in the Middle East in 2008 resulted in many construction workers returning to the islands, with the resulting boom in housing construction wiping out enough cultivated land to create a deficit in rice production. Needing to import rice is a new phenomenon. In the meantime, there's an exodus of professionals with any kind of health care training, which contributes to poverty levels at home.

I did not attend Friday night's program on food issues (the theme of the quarterly). Instead, Patrick joined us on the back patio upon returning Tara from her babysitting duties. Lindsey, recuperating, joined us and we talked about food, the state of the world, social justice and all the rest of it.

I butted in a few times with some off the wall rants about how money isn't the problem, as Energy + Intelligence is pretty much all we've got. How does this relate to Geography + Geometry, my other unifying heuristic? I'm not sure we should get into that here. In the middle of our discussion, Simon showed up with a care package for Lindsey, lots of squash and kale, the kind of stuff she can eat.

Program Clerk Elizabeth Fischer and I went for a walk to get her photos at Walgreens. She didn't think food ethics had really percolated to the top of the interest group agenda. The recent April 2010 article on food issues in Friends Journal also seemed rather lame in her view (Applying Quaker Thought to Food by Shaun Chavis), with the author, who writes about food for a living, agonizing about whether he could live without lobster tails or pate foie gras.

There are those lobster tails again...

More permanent buildings are going up and some, already built by Afghans and deemed not good enough for American habitation, are scheduled for reconstruction. Even in distant FOBs like this one, the building boom is prodigious. There’s a big gym with the latest body-building equipment, and a morale-boosting center equipped with telephones and banks of computers connected to the Internet that are almost always in use. A 24/7 chow hall serves barbequed ribs, steak, and lobster tails, though everything is cooked beyond recognition by those underpaid laborers to whom this cuisine is utterly foreign. [source]
Welcome to the Global U, eh? The biggest educator on the block is the military, as I was pointing out on the Math Forum earlier.

People would ask me what I've been up to. Some had only vaguely heard about the Food Not Bombs group using the kitchen (a pet project of mine).

Those wanting more stories (true ones) got to hear about my ideas for GIS / GPS applied to trucking along various routes. Not everyone's cup of tea, I realize.

I forgot to bring along any Flextegrity but the guys in our Men's Group already know about that project, and some of the science fiction that goes with it (Project Earthala and like that).

Carol had a WILPF meeting downtown. Other friends, in the meantime, were busy downtown, protesting those FBI raids awhile back. Americans are nervous about their civil liberties going away.

Persecution of the undocumented ties in, as a kind of mean-spirited nationalism distracts people from developing positive futures, investing in workable plans. John Munson led a group on this topic, including references to AFSC's underground railroads.

I also talked to Gayle about my hopes for Havana, keeping it free from speculators who just want to recreate the casino culture of yore, bringing back organized crime and fast food.

The global university network might counter with some work / study programs that take advantage of the relatively unspoiled vista, giving students more opportunities to build on system architectures that reflect the ethics they study in philosophy classes.

That emerging vista may or may not include a Ben & Jerry's ice cream factory, with ties to Vermont and "hippie values" (such as open source) that have become incorporated as a part of The Grunch's legacy (my thanks to Laura for cluing me regarding The Hippie Museum in Tennessee).

A challenge here is to create branding opportunities sans the baggage of LAWCAP's antiquated notions of "corporate personhood" (aka Voodoo Economics). Land use planning based on GIS / GPS technologies is what future food security depends upon (satellites too!).

"Democracy" is not synonymous with "uncontrolled development", nor is "free enterprise". Lots of old timer capitalists believe in land use planning. Look at Disneyland: no KFC.

Nor need Mecca include any Christian churches.

The idea of a "theme park" transfers to both urban and rural settings. Like, why would Havana want to become a cheap carnival, given high literacy rates, refined tastes?

Back to Willamette Quarterly Meeting (WQM): I enjoyed connecting with Joe and Jane Snyder again.