This year is all done.
That’s good. I feel like I’ve “been rode hard and put away wet.” I’m ready for the New Year. Here are some random things I hope for in 2011:
• Health in my house. . . and yours.
• To remember that there are two parts to a crisis – reacting to the immediate with urgent solutions, and adapting long term to the new reality that results from the initial crisis.
• Rewarding work for all. Paul Hawken once said, “We are the only species without full employment.” Isn’t there anything that needs to be done?
• That our work will be driven by “humbition” – a subtle blend of humility and ambition.
• An epidemic of “Backshoring” as companies faced with high transportation costs, quality control issues, rising wages in developing countries, intellectual property protection problems, and maybe even moral persuasion, bring some of their outsourced manufacturing back to this country, where that sector has gone to hell in a handbasket.
• Continuation of the wave of community-friendly company designs—like cooperatives, social enterprises, and employee-owned firms—that have been appearing in ever-greater numbers, creating, ultimately I hope, a new Moral Bottom Line.
• Bold decisiveness from the Obama administration. Hey, it happened at least once in 2010, when Interior Secretary Ken Salazar announced his positive decision about Cape Wind, and added, “This is the final decision of the United States of America.” Final Decision of the United States of America – we need more of that.
• Inspired people-picking from the Obama administration – as they re-constitute the administration, can’t they find somebody other than another batch of Clinton administration re-runs?
• Environmental groups, having failed to pass meaningful climate change legislation in a democratic congress, will localize tactics now that there’s an even-less sympathetic one, and will concentrate efforts on stopping dirty coal projects through direct action and starting clean energy projects. Lobbying isn’t it – for now.
• Americans will come to realize that our economic troubles didn’t just happen by accident, but rather that Wall Street investment banks concocted the “equivalent of a hostile takeover of [our] . . . commercial life,” as Matt Taibi puts it in Griftopia.
• And finally, I hope that this year we, at South Mountain, can find some new ways to design and make things well, maybe even, in some cases, as well as nature does them.
(I was recently reminded of the disparity between our way and nature’s when I was scraping the leftovers out of a skillet with a spatula after dinner. I couldn’t get them all so I switched to one of those rubber squeegees. Better, but I still couldn’t get it all. As I was doing this, my tongue was clearing out the remains of dinner from my mouth. It cleaned out every morsel; when I was done my mouth was clean as a whistle. My tongue had even extracted each bit of pork and broccoli from my teeth, which are as craggy as the Wasatch Mountains. And cleaning is only one of many functions of this extraordinary tool. It tastes, it organizes food for chewing and swallowing, it helps us whistle, it’s good for kissing, and it has been used by children – forever – to diss others.
But let’s just stick to cleaning. The combined ingenuity of humankind has been unable to make a kitchen implement as effective as our tongue. Never will. Yes, I sometimes do resort to a toothpick, but only in extreme conditions.
Other parts of us work exceedingly well, like the means by which we keep stuff out of parts of our body where we don’t want it. In our work we go to great lengths to keep unwanted air and water out of buildings. And sometimes we don’t succeed. But go for a swim. Gently close your mouth, go under, and no water will come in. Not a drop. Come up for air, open it, breathe in, put your lips together, and go back under. Not a drop. Close your eyes. Same thing. Just plain old good design I guess.)
So yes, maybe we could do some of that in 2011. Seems doable, anyway.
And we might as well, because other things just aren’t doable. We won’t enact the four amendments to the US Constitution that Kurt Vonnegut once proposed:
Article XXVIII: “Every newborn shall be sincerely welcomed and cared for until maturity.”
Aticle XXIX: “Every adult who needs it shall be given meaningful work to do, at a living wage.”
Article XXX: “Every person, upon reaching a statutory age of puberty, shall be declared an adult in a solemn public ritual, during which he or she must welcome his or her new responsibilities in the community, and their attendant dignities.”
Article XXXI: “Every effort shall be made to make every person feel that he or she will be sorely missed when he or she is gone.”
But there’s always next year (2012). When the time comes to get serious about this, let’s add a few more. About other species, and about the planet itself.
So anyway, that’s the stuff I’m hoping for. I’m also hoping to dig my bare toes into warm sand often (and drift through some deep powder sometime soon).
What do you want for 2011?