Guns, Germs, and Steel is a great documentary that talks about the relationship between race and superiority. Why is it that some races are seen, by people among them and outside that race group, as inferior or superior? I agree with the video in that if we measure superiority by technology advances then the superiority of a race is restrained by environmental and circumstantial factors. Access to certain resources aids certain cultures to advance. For example, access to water resources or gold mines. At the beginning I think that this factors, like stated in the video, were the ones to determine which group of people succeeded in certain areas. But I also think that after so long, when races are not segregated by geographical factors, the lower success rates of certain races has to do with the way we have been taught to think. We have come to think of our race as inferior to other instead of just different. And we are the biggest segregators among ourselves. I am Hispanic; both parents born in Peru but my mother’s family immigrant from Yugoslavia. That makes me…half white? to an extent. Living in Peru, I am considered part white…and because of that, there is many more opportunities doors that would open to me in that country. But why? because of the idea that since I have white blood in me that must mean I am smart and sophisticated enough to bring development like my ancestors had. A very ignorant view, that is secretly reigning in countries like mine. The saddest thing to me is that as aware as I am that that is in my advantage, so are people that are not white descendant. Knowing that they don’t have that advantage makes them feel inferior…and the superiority fever rises.
How does sustainability fit into my career? I am a Civil Engineering major, sustainable ideas fit everywhere. When designing bridges and structures I wish to use nature as a model, analyze how nature connects land, why certain plants and resources are located in areas and how this is helpful in my design. I am particularly interested in bio-mimicry. I think that by studying nature I could find answers to simple and complicated problems that we are bound to face. Specially regarding to global warming. I think it is important for people to emerge, people from diverse areas of studies. We can integrate our knowledge and find a solution or a way to deal with what is to come. That is why I find regenerative studies extremely interesting, I believe that to deal with the consequences of global warming and other environmental atrocities that we have committed, we need to come together and think like nature, analyze how and why things happened, and mend the problem from the roots and not just hide the consequences.
Are we part of nature or apart from it? In the required reading, chapter 6 from Jacob’s The Nature of Economies, different survival traits are discussed. It is curious that animal’s survival traits seem to be successful and embrace nature. Is it possible that we, humans, have these traits in us too but choose to ignore them? There is many of tribes around the world oblivious to new technologies and ”advances” that seem to have these animal traits. They breed and live in a peaceful habitat without interrupting nature’s course…but they chose to join in and create a relationship with their environment. So it is possible for humans. Then, why don’t we? We seem to instead embrace technology advances and industrialization as if it was the only survival trait that we have. It is embarasing that we instead of trying to acquire some of the virtues people on these tribes posses or mimicking animals survival traits, we decide to look at them as primitive. I hope we are not too far into industrialization that we can’t step back into what was our primitive nature, embrace our habitat as a survival trait.
That last thought brings me to the documentary The Take we watched in class. Could taking back pyramid-like-structured companies and converting them into a democracy-like company be the first step into going back? They wanted to be heard, to be respected, so they emerged to find a solution. They didn’t look up to one person to impose, but when the problem arose, they as a community emerge for a solution. And once they found a solution, they adapted to the circumstances. Maybe this is what nature looks from us. It wants to be respected and wants us to emerge and adapt to our environment. One of my classmates mentioned that it would be very difficult to do in America. And I agree that we may think of it as difficult but it may be just because of the linear way we think. A worker from the video said “I don’t know why the boss thinks it is difficult. It is easy, I just add and subtract.” I believe that if we are looking at the problem we will just see the problem, but if we look for a solution we will find it.
I read the Jacobs excerpt; Chapter 2: Back to Reality. From a productivity perspective, import replacement is beneficial. I think substituting imported goods for locally manufactured ones helps a community to emerge and produce. For example, when he said about the bicycles in Japan. By people emerging and starting to fabricate their own bicycles, they are opening a local market full of oportunities. Such as employment for fabrication, employment for repair, knowledge, and economic growth for the community…but probably most importantly the ability of an specific city to be sustainable and not dependent on outsiders. In my opinion, there is a great probability that by fomenting this local market of imported good, competency and productivity will rise. This consequently would result in more sustainable economies. I found it interesting how most of our solutions and processes part from a “given” point. An assumption to be taken as the sole truth; when in fact, that given point and our almost religious assumption of its correctness may be what the problem is. I found this chapter very mind opening.
I think our reality has more emergent scenarios that we normally think of. For example, people come together to redesign a part of our cultural, economic or political reality when natural disasters occur. When a hurricane or storm strikes so hard in an area of the globe, we see people from all different ethnic, cultural, economical and political backgrounds emerging to help. Among the types of help that come from this emergence is economical help through donations, people set up accounts to get money for victims and the city to be reconstructed. Another type of aid is blood banks, with victims in the hospital and all the affected on streets blood donations become important to help cure. Those tend to be more popular types of aid, nonetheless there is other people that emerge by actually going to affected areas. Nurses, doctors, engineers, among other volunteers emerge to go and practice hand-on helping. Treating the sick, providing care and advice, reconstructing schools, and roads. One of the most amazing qualities that humans posses, in my opinion, is empathy….and I believe it is from empathy that this emergence originates and transcends any cultural, economic or political reality to redesign .
The documentary RIP! A Remix Manifesto featured Girl Talk, an artist that creates new music tones by mixing up existing tones and rhythms; this is called mash-ups. Mash-ups no doubt reflect a challenging way to create music and a different way to express your ideas. The film explained how copyright laws affect us. For example, Girl Talk has infringed the laws by using other artists’ music without their concern and permission. Nonetheless, it also reflects on the meaning of copyright as an idea…is it better to share freely? why is it important to copyright ideas? Girl Talk is just an example of many many many people that practice doing remixes as a hobby. Should they be punished for using others music to create a mix that represents them better? I think copyright laws shouldn’t concern recreational usage. Consumers now a day are more likely to modify a product to make it more individual, personalized our things. A couple of years ago I made a home-made video featuring pictures and clips with my childhood friends. I used Michael Buble’s song Everything. Fascinated by the idea of sharing it with my friends, i uploaded it to YouTube. Some months later it was taken down. I had failed to state that I didn’t own the song being used, which goes against copyright laws. I was not planning to make any profit with the video, it was mere recreational purpose…are the laws being a little too harsh?
In class we watch the video Hemp and the Rule of Law. Although I understand that laws are meant to create parameters, order, and organization in a community….some laws defy their own purpose. My favorite hand cream has as a main ingredient hemp, it works wonders but has to be imported. Hemp has various uses unrelated to marihuana; it is sad that because we don’t want to legalize marihuana we feel necessary to outlaw hemp. Like we watched on the video, hemp was used by national companies like Ford as material. If hemp made the car’s exoskeleton stronger, why can’t we keep using it? It would make a great difference pertaining the quality of the product and maybe people would invest more in national cars than in foreign. I am sure there is other ways to deal with marihuana consumption and effects on people than eradicating the plant from the country.
The word emergence means to come together. On the excerpt of Emergence: The Connected Lives of Ants, Brains, Cities, and Software, Johnson flirts with the concept of a community without so-called ‘pacemakers.’ Pacemakers are the leading characters in our lives, that we instinctively seem to follow. For example crossing busy streets -like we watched on the class’ video- we tend to follow a person because it makes it easier to cross pass a crowd of people. Well, the extract points that it is not always what naturally happens. In the case of the slime mold; there is a coordinated group behavior, all cells are equally important and dominant. It made me ponder over the possibility of a community working as well. It is difficult to imagine the merging of a community without a leader, someone who tells us how to start and what are the rules…but is it possible? The answer was a little more simple than I had expected. We apparently are submerged in artificial emergence, in technology and modern behaviors.
In the article: The Next Industrial Revolution, Atoms are the New Bits, Anderson talks about an emerging (back in 2010) industry called Local Motors. This company is unlike any other, it works not based on potential demand but creates the car after the down payment is made. It builds cars with clean diesel engines that have a unique look. I believe that his view for the industry and community integration make it an ecological worldview. The community is invited to participate in the design so it involves the community; and at the same time he takes careful considerations when putting the inside of the car together; he makes sure it will be safe for the driver and the environment. Because he considers the future of the environment he follows an ecological worldview.
In the spirits of sharing, here is a video of Professor’s Jawaharlal at the TEDx (Technology, Entertainment, and Design) conference in 2010.
For those interested in biomimicry, we are fortunate to have him on campus.
He conducted research with two mechanical engineering students on the mechanism of limpets. They discovered how they attach and are currently experimenting with the discoveries to implement the mechanics of adhesives used in homes.
Here is a link to a little more information on it as well:http://polycentric.csupomona.edu/news_stories/2013/07/engineering-professor-and-students-explore-biomimicry.html
Figure 1. Butterflies Inspire Science. Picture obtained from http://inhabitat.com/finding-design-inspiration-in-nature-biomimicry-for-a-better-planet/
In The Nature of Economies (chapters 1 and 2,) Jane Jacobs presents the concept of biomimicry as understanding nature, respecting its processes, and working along with it. These chapters are written as transcripts of a conversation among friends in the science and law careers. The way this is written helps the reader get answers to questions we get as we read. Personally, biomimicry is the aspect of regenerative studies that I would like to focus on; as I gathered from Hiram, processes happen naturally will help us maintain an equilibrium of our resources.
On Wednesday we watch parts of The Next Industrial Revolution video in class. It is probably my favorite video shown in class so far. The concept of “Nature does it with sunlight …humans can too;” inspires me to look forward to a major change in the building industry. A revolution. It is a very expensive project to try to change every existing company to a more environmental conscious one but if we start by conscious small steps now, it can be achieved. As a prospective civil engineer, I can begin by designing buildings that embrace nature more, and benefit from it. For example, the building shown in the video. That building was designed under the concept of a ‘tree’ , something so simple yet complex. Letting natural light substitute most electrical consumption. It did take a lot of capital to build but it is an expense much worth it, if we remember that it pays itself more than twice a year. The video also talked about big organizations such as Nike that are becoming more aware of the small differences. How to make a shoe that not only delivers maximum efficiency of its purpose but leaves a smaller waste behind? All the toxins in the materials used in the making, can they be replaced? I think that the answer is in nature, going back to the Jacob’s reading, biomimicry should be consider…after all “Nature doesn’t do useless.”