More critical questions

Critical questions 3

I was just sitting down thinking about the difference between working artfully and passionately, and working for a profit. I think that being passionate about ones work is something that everyone wants, or that most people want anyway. Anyway I watched a couple dance videos this evening when I was procrastinating on working, one was “Break the Geometry,” the other was “Art of Krump: Journey to Heaven.” Both of them, “Break the Geometry” in particular discussed why the dancers danced. Some of the reasons that they gave were that it allowed them to become what they wanted to and that it allowed them to lose themselves in movement and lines. It was meditative for them. I find these reasons for doing very noble and primitive. I also notice that they seem to turn up more frequently in artistic professions, though many of the people that we’ve had the privilege to talk to and spend time with have also discovered how to integrate artistic passion into their work. I wonder if it was easy/natural for those people to come reach the point of successfully working passionately? I am curious about how to bring that creative primitive passion back into typically less artistic jobs and walks of life.

As we learn more and more about Maori culture I begin to further consider my own. The Maori culture is so intense and so rooted to the place that they live and find meaning. Its interesting to compare culture of the Maori to our culture in the United States, which seems to be packaged up and shipped around the world all the time. The United States is definitely connected to land but not at the same level, the majority of my culture looks to the land to make a dollar rather than for spirituality and sustenance. What would the American culture look like if we connected to the land we live on at a deeper level?

so low key that you probably missed it

About two weeks ago I arrived in Auckland New Zealand along with 19 other college students and our 5 teachers (Peter, Na, Charles, Ash, and Aga), to start our next three months together. We stayed in Auckland for two nights visiting sites of historical significance, one tree hill, and pikes point where many Mauri and Kiwi activists occupied land that the government was attempting to take from them to build new expensive housing developments. Starting now every week I will be doing at least two critical questions, on topics that we have been addressing in class. Here are the first few

1: Something that I’ve been wondering a lot about lately is just how ecologically sound agriculture can get. At this point in the semester we’ve seen a few farming ventures, from large-scale organic dairy farming, to Rick and Liz’s home based permaculture food-forest. For the most part all of these farming operations were awesome, but I’m curious if there are some simple ways that they could further improve.

The thing that bothered me about the organic dairy operation and a lot of agriculture in general (I should probably just get over it,) is that the place their cattle grazed was a drained wetland, which is not only un-natural, but likely magnifies many of the issues that currently plague dairy farmers, like erosion control and nitrogen run-off. I’m sure there is a way to tap into the natural state of the land, similar to Charlie 2’s eel farm operation, and am curious if there are other similar ventures into this new territory. Rick and Liz’s food forest was amazingly inspirational to see, and a great step towards perfecting agricultural practices. I’m interested if you could grow native crops with the agricultural model they’re using. I would likely create a great habitat for animals (which hopefully wouldn’t eat the plants,) and provide yummy food! Idk

2: Back home in Missoula I worked at a recycling center for a while and had a blast. It was great to have a job I could feel good about and I worked in an interesting environment with some funky, interesting people. On top of the normal recycling thang we worked on little side projects like up-cycling and booths to educate the public. Because of this background it was really rewarding to visit Rick at xtreme zero waste. It was inspiring to see how him and a few others had bought the land where Raglans old landfill was from the city for just one dollar a year to start their operation, and how they had got a hold of a recycling truck for next to nothing. They have so many great things going on at xtreme zero waste now, including glass, plastic films recycling, and a cool shop were they sell all the reusable materials; which is most of it. They are working on taking organic waste, permaculture, and restoration projects. They also have an awesome business plan: the best recycling company is one that doesn’t exist because the people will be well educated on reducing and reusing everything.

Because of the versatility of the Xtreme waste they are an important and appreciated part of Raglan’s community. I’m curious and hopeful that a recycling company might be able to attain this level of efficiency, versatility, and importance in Missoula, and what challenges may lie along the way to establishing this kind of company in somewhere with a different political structure that Raglan and New Zealand. Could it be attained in a large city such as Minneapolis or Chicago?

3: Something I’ve noticed during our time here so far was how most of the people that we talked stressed that no one makes any change at all no matter what the cause, unless it’s economically beneficial, and we should learn to except that. I don’t agree with that statement. I agree that economics currently play a core role in how the vast majority of people make their decisions. I disagree with the idea that we should accept that.

I think that it is a cultural issue that people factor economics so much into their decision-making, and that we should make efforts to change that, by learning from other cultures that don’t have such purely economic incentives, like the Maori and many other indigenous peoples, along with others such as hikers, and surfers. I’m don’t believe that we can eliminate the economic incentive entirely; or that it’s bad, and I don’t think we should; there is just too much of it right now. I’m curious as to what the right balance of economic incentive is, and how it changes.

sittin’ on a chair at the terminal, wasting time

wheeeew! these past few days have been a chaotic cluster of packing, and rushing around, but finally I’m laid back in LAX waiting to board the final flight to Aukland. I’ll be in New zealand for the next five and a half months participating in Hecua’s program: New Zealand Culture and the Environment: A Shared Future. upon arrival in Aukland i’ll join 14 fellow students traveling from Auckland to Wellington over five weeks. We will stay with different communities where we will learn about and discuss the history of New Zealand’s national identity and culture, and how that ties into sustainability and place. In Wellington internship with a l seven weeks I will also be working on an independent project over the course of the semester on a topic of my choice (likely something to do with community engagement and ecological restoration in an urban setting, I’m not sure yet.) Im exited to experience the great people, places, and challenges this semester holds for me, and to keep you (whoever ya are,) updated. But for now I’m just sittin’ on a chair in the terminal.