Monday, October 29, 2007

Before the Metro Council

I had 5 minutes to make my remarks before the Metro Council. They interviewed 8 people on October 25th. These were my prepared remarks which I delivered pretty much as written. UPPER case denotes verbal emphasis.

Good Evening... I'm John Miller.

I would like to commend you on the OPEN NATURE of this process! Thank You.

I live at the Northern end of Boones Ferry Road in Southwest Portland.

My day job is System Architect in Information Technology at Metro. I love my Job, but, I would GIVE IT UP if appointed. The Metro attorney here can address this if needed.

When I came to Portland in 1972, I got interested in the Neighborhood Associations (..CPO's), and a Colorful Map of the DOWNTOWN Comprehensive Plan. My eventual involvement in The Collins View Association (next to Lewis & Clark College) LED TO Southwest coalition board which led to chairing the Multnomah County Citizen Involvement Committee which led to serving on the Metro RUGGoS committee (Held up the Metro certificate).

In 1990 I started a family, and stole time only to make or write public comments.

[The Metro Regional Transportation Plan (RTP) draft was on the meeting agenda earlier, so I used it here as a springboard.]

I would like to use the transit component of the RTP as the basis of my remarks today...

[HELD UP] Here are my written comments about the RTP in 1999. In 1992 (fifteen years ago) I also commented on Region 2040. [Held up GRAPH OF NODES] There are circles and arrows on that one. In 2007, I will submit similar comments on the draft RTP Transit plan, introducing a PATTERN LANGUAGE that matches the patterns in 2040 plan.

For example, this RTP has "Radial Community Bus Service". That's Good! But I really think we need to implement these new concepts, indeed even the TOTAL SYSTEM, from the ground UP. TRIMET says that building the TOTAL SYSTEM means providing shelters and information like the TRACKER -- and the PLANNER, and providing adequate SERVICE. But our transit system of the FUTURE should be INTUITIVE to use, connecting adjacent towns and communities so that a person can GET AROUND without having to consult a Trip Planner all the time.

We've got a long way to go... (Held up #39 poster) Here is a project that I recently co-ordinated to connect Lewis & Clark College with Hillsdale, previously STRONGLY DISCONNECTED communities. The new route works well, but this needs to be done all over the region.

I recently heard a rumor -- There's a BLUE SKY project at TRIMET... a total redesign of the system map. What does the public know of that? When I came to Oregon.. the OPEN meetings law had just passed, which was a radical departure from back room deals and such. [Hold up WIRED magazine] This guy, Linus Torvalds, (who lives in District #2, by the way) is on a lot of magazine covers. Here they characterize him as LEADER OF THE FREE WORLD. (The world of Open Source Software Development).

This new form of COLLABORATION is being applied in MANY areas. Metro's MetroScope model should be OPENED. The R.E.I.N. website is a kind of OPEN DATA project. We have Open SPACES... even Open FOOD. How about if we APPLY some sort of Open METHOD to the design of a TOTAL TRANSIT SYSTEM, on the assumption that the people in their own communities know how best to serve and connect their own places?

[Timer runs out] In closing,

Why do I want to be a Councilor? I would have more of an opportunity to be involved in all kinds of Metro projects, and that would be a step UP for me. We are facing some hard problems.

Thank You.

That Long Break

I admit that I was chagrined by the treatment that World-Remixed got in the Oregonian compared to the other blogs that got more prominent mention. One of the blogs ran out of things to say after two days. In another guy's blog, all the postings were dated March 10th. It was basically a promo for his consulting business.

I pointed these things out to Steve Woodward, and he wrote back:

On the other hand, that's pretty much a reflection of the real blogging world. Many, if not most, blogs ARE abandoned in real life. And a very high percentage of blogs are commercial enterprises. So I think the readers got to see a representative slice of what's out there. I wish I'd been clear, though, about the nature of those blogs.

Having said that, I would do it differently if I had it to do over again. So please accept my apologies for not featuring your blog more prominently. It really did deserve better.

When lots of family and personal business ensued, I dropped the blog for the summer.

I will get back to my theme after documenting one of the reasons that I continued to take the long break... I applied to fill the vacant seat on the Metro Council created when the incumbent resigned!

The Ghosts of Celilo

On October 5th, we went to see The Ghosts of Celilo, which takes place in the time just before the falls are inundated.

The play was visual and musical. The story was as much about the children placed in boarding school, having their cultural heritage suppressed, as it was about the river being harnessed for "progress".

The play was well-written, fairly representing the mindsets of the time. It had a mythical feeling to it. The staging, lighting, acting, and singing was all very good. It has all the qualities a good play needs, well-crafted throughout.

A group of high schoolers attended from Chemeketa High School in Salem. They particularly enjoyed the well-delivered inside jokes, such as the use of "inn-it", slang for "isn't it?".

There were several dramatic lines and scenes that drew their responses, such as a racist remark from the school headmistress. But there were plenty of cheers as well. Overall, the effect for them must have been tremendous. I was happy that this story was being told to sold-out crowds.

I mention this here to re-start World-Remixed where I left off.

The Ghosts of Celilo website.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

A Reflection on Celilo Falls

In The Oregonian on February 18, 2007, Kara Briggs wrote:

The place drew Native people from as far away as the Great Plains and Vancouver Island. Season after season they came to fish and trade for hard-to-get goods at the village, which spread out on both sides of the river. Young women helped haul the fresh catch. Older women cleaned the salmon to dry, sell or cook for the masses that gathered when the fish ran.

The whole village came alive and smelled of ocean. "I always heard the old people say 'this is our center of the earth right here.'" -- Olson Meanus, Jr.

At 10:00 a.m., March 10, 1957, the gates of The Dalles dam closed and by three in the afternoon, Celilo Falls were under water. Thousands listened to radio and watched TV. The ancient ones stood by in horror, as a place known for ten millenia disappeared.

I was not yet eight at the time. We sang Roll on Columbia in school. I later learned that my parents witnessed salmon fishing at Celilo Falls on their 1937 Honeymoon. Looking at it as an adult, I thought — it's only flooded, maybe it will return some day. But the Oregonian article shocked me. We had blasted the basalt land forms so barges can pass where Salmon once jumped.

We destroyed a way of life and fish, just 50 years ago this day.

More reading:
Umatilla recall the ending of a way of life at Celilo Falls

Friday, March 9, 2007

General Systems Theory meets Ecotopia

Thanks to The Oregonian for listing WORLD REMIXED in the Living section today.

I hope you'll consider going back to #1 remix on February 21st, where I took up Steve Woodward's challenge to become a rookie blogger. In any case, Welcome!

As an amazing co-incidence, 30 Years ago this day I sent the following memo.

TO: All faculty and Students
FROM: John Miller, Mathematics Department

The following is a description of a course that I am offering this
spring term at Lewis & Clark:

Math 298 General Systems Theory

The purpose of this course is to have the student momentarily
eschew the role of a specialist to confront real world problems
from a comprehensive viewpoint. Working as an organized team,
the class will define a large scale problem, a set of mutually
agreeable assumptions, and a direction toward some goal. The
course will consist of several lectures, guest speakers, a film
or two, join problem solving sessions subgroup problem solving
sessions, and hopefully much dialog and exchange. The magnitude
of the problem to be viewed in on the order of:

1) A model of a capitol city for Alaska, or
2) A model of a self-sufficient Utopian colony.

The end product of the course cannot be known at this time. However,
a term's worth of thinking should lead to realizations about the
nature of comprehensive problem solving.

Your contribution and/or contributions will be appreciated.
Students from all Majors are encouraged to take the course.
The class will meet Period 10, 7:00-9:30 pm on Mondays and Wednesdays.
I wish to speak with each prospective student sometime before registration.

I had a reading list prepared, but somebody stopped by my office and told me about Ecotopia, by Earnest Callenbach, so I scratched the list, order copies for the bookstore, and made Ecotopia required reading for the course.

The blog entry on February 23 describes a little more about how the "class" went. We got a good start on a world model.

Thursday, March 8, 2007

A Virtual Community - Beacon Hill Village

Suzanne Stark, 79, lives in a book-lined apartment in central Boston's lovely Beacon Hill neighborhood. Independent and active, the author and freelance writer nevertheless acknowledges there are times when problems arise and she needs help. Like when her beloved cat Zenobia became suddenly, violently ill, and Stark couldn't get her into a carrier to take her to the veterinarian.

"I tried everything, and then I called Beacon Hill Village," she says. "I said, 'I know this is weird, but can you send someone to help me get this cat in the carrier?' And they did."

Beacon Hill Village is a revolutionary, all-encompassing concierge service created by residents who want to grow old in the homes they have lived in for years.

I read about Beacon Hill Village in the December 2005, AARP magazine, in an article by Barbara Basler, entitled Declaration of Independents, Home is where you want to live forever. Here’s how.

The concept was developed in the MIT AgeLab. They have put together "HOW TO" documentation so that the nonprofit association can be duplicated anywhere.

Services available with a subscription to the village include: Home repair and adaptation, Household cleaning, Errands, computer problem solving, bill paying, Transportation, Weekly grocery shopping, Home-delivered meals, Regular trips and events. The association also organizes dining groups, free lecture series, and tracks opportunities for members to help each other and local non-profits, and so on.

The village can be whatever the association want it to be. They just contract for services and hire a manager.

Beacon Hill Village is hosting a two-day national conference, The Building Blocks: How to Make Your Neighborhood into a Village, designed for community leaders and professionals interested in creating and funding living alternatives. April 30 and May 1, 2007 in Boston.

Virtual Communities

We are no longer in Medieval Times, when there was one church in the village where everyone belonged. People drive across town to church. In the countryside, people drive to one another's town to church. The members of each church form a community, without a doubt, and yet they live in different places.

'Community' in the vernacular can refer to sets like all the families who have students at a particular school.

People organize for just about any reason at all, forming social and cultural communities that may meet once a week, or only once a year, communicating from afar. These communities can be of any size and there can be an unlimited number of them, unconstrained by time and space.

Labor Unions can be a brotherhood. Software developers work on 'Community Source' projects. Others have embraced Community Organizing as a way of life. Grassroot movements hope to form a united front on issues of common concern. Grass roots are often seen as the foundation of our democracy.

So let's not discount these virtual, social, and spiritual communities. Virtual communities can and do exist independently from the community level of the world model.

And so the term 'community' can be usefully applied to the physical world. Consider the cloud of homes and people that surround a given main street or business "district", and the businesses themselves, and business owners. If they are all lucky, they make a community. This is closer to the sense of community that we need to recognize in our new world order.

Therefore, in the World Remixed world model vocabulary, I use 'community' to refer to a collection of villages plus a certain level of amenities and services, together with the schools and so on that make up a physical community. This will be useful.

In the next remix, I'll give an example of a virtual community, although it has the name "Beacon Hill Village". Later in this introductory series of entries, we'll come back to more fully define community.

Wednesday, March 7, 2007

A Global Address Space?

Zoom in:

Planet —> Continent —> Nation —> Region —> Area —> Town —> Community —> Village —> Neighborhood —> Watch Group —> Dwelling —> Person.

You have arrived, but you are likely skeptical. Did you have a sense that these words were in order?

The world is not wholly man-made or natural, but a combination of both — to us humanoids anyway. Who knows what the animals think of what we've made, like the deer that tries to cut through my "yard" every spring. Like the deer, I think a good many people are bewildered by the array of jurisdictions and systems we have made. So let's just look at the basic model for awhile. Don't worry about islands, oceans, or moons.

This remix will focus on a couple aspects of the 'Area' level of the model.

A Region is a collection of various Areas. 'Area' is the only level in the model where there are different instances possible, Urban or Rural.

Obviously, an Urban Area is a city or a constellation of city and town centers - The Tri-Cities, Twin Cities, Dallas-Fort Worth. Note that there is no "City" level in the Zoom List above. Metro(politan) area is an urban area is a metropolis may be a city the world around. They can be interesting structures in themselves, but for the sake of naming in the model, let's use the term Urban Area.

A Rural Area can contain Towns and smaller entities, but not a city — that's why it's rural! A Rural Area can also be a wilderness, a forest, a desert, and so on, things with little or no "built environment".

In rural areas, you may find an isolated dwelling or village. A rural community can exist with a town 50 miles away. In rural areas, any number of levels might be folded into one. A rural community might consist of a single village with one or maybe two neighborhoods. All depends on size.

We know the world isn't just geographic — there's a human dimension. Families live in dwellings. People form nations and tribes. So, to begin there, we'll introduce the notion of virtual, spiritual, and cultural communities, in the next World Remixed.

Tower of Babel

According to the Old Testament, the Tower of Babel was a tower built by a united humanity to reach the heavens. God, observing the unity of humanity in the construction, resolves to destroy the tower and confuse the previously uniform language of humanity, thereby preventing any such future efforts. —from wikipedia.

I've always thought something was screwy that we can't get our act together.

Consider this babble: area, arrondissement, borough, circumscription, canton, city, commune, community, country, county, department, district, emirate, enclave, hamlet, league, megalopolis, metroplex, metropolis, municipality, nation, neighborhood, parcel, parish, place, precinct, prefecture, province, region, republic, section, shire, state, subdivision, territory, town, township, tribe, vicinity, village, ward, zone. Don't get me started on acronyms.

To be fair, some of the above name different kinds of political units, e.g. emirate vs parish. You can bet definitions of the same word vary from country to nation, city to state. Even if we define a set of "regions", we can't agree on the same set. Every company in America has their own set.

But, a geo-gazetteer shows quite a number of countries (?) having similar kinds of political divisions, and interesting variations on a few themes. We'll remix nations later. For now, let's consider some Portland Babble.

What is a region? The Oregonian refers more often than not to the Metro Area. Maybe they like to use Region to refer to the Pacific Northwest. In other words, "Regional" issues affect a larger area than an area. Mixed up yet? "Metro Area" nicely describes the, uh, urban area. I agree with these uses.

So, can we say that Metro is not a "regional" government? Can we say that Metro is a (local) area government? Can we say (consistently) that our region is the Pacific Northwest? If not, why not? (Hint: Tower of Babel)

Consider neighborhoods. To me, a neighborhood is the domain of a child, Mr Rogers, and families. Just a small number of houses. Not thousands of houses. Some so-called "neighborhoods" in Portland have 20,000 people in them. That's larger than a small town! What if we call these larger things "Villages" instead... and Villages can be associations of neighborhoods (smaller things). And a neighborhood can be a collection of .... watch groups. Communities and continents zooming in and out.

I'm Babelling toward the one, big, remix.

Thursday, March 1, 2007

Blah Blah Blog (Remix)

On February 9th, The Oregonian wrote: "If this article inspires you to start your own blog, we want to know about it. E-mail the name and Web address of your blog to living@oregonian... Include your full name, location, and what you hope to accomplish with the blog." So, this is what I sent on Sunday, February 25th.

World Remixed - Toward an Organic World Model.
John Edward Miller

My Location:
     PERSON         John Miller
NEIGHBORHOOD Boone's Ferry Road
VILLAGE Collins View
COMMUNITY Burlingame
TOWN Southwest
AREA Portland
REGION Pacific Northwest
NATION America
CONTINENT North America

What I Hope to Accomplish: To Stimulate myself and others to think about how we might re-design and re-align our "man-made" systems, to Motivate myself to continue work on my own incomplete world model, and to Accumulate a body of writing on the application of that framework to real world problems.

Unsolicited Comments: Thanks for the challenge. My toughest job wasn't coming up with ideas and words. The Title took days, then figuring out how to serialize material into blog-sized chunks — offering something discrete in each entry and making it rewarding to read. Developing a blogging style seemed to be a challenge, but I'm finding it similar to sending well-written e-mail messages to groups of people. My first blog entry was February 21, 2007, after mulling over your challenge.

Steve Woodward responded:

Thanks for letting us know about your blog. I really like the thoughtful content. By sheer coincidence (or maybe not), "Communication Defines Community" addresses the very issues The O is grappling with right now. Your concept of a distributed news system is fascinating and, I think, new.

On March 9th, 2007 WORLD REMIXED will be listed in the Oregonian. Look for a special entry on that day!

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Some Civic Brainstorming

On September 28th, 2002 The Oregonian published an essay by Carl Abbott, a well-known PSU Professor. Here is a snippet:

Portland could build stronger connections with the lower Columbia and the northwest quadrant of the state. Tillamook, Astoria, Hood River, Redmond and Portland all share a common market for many goods and services, ranging from fresh food to medical specialists.

Voters in this larger area are often in tune with those in Clackamas and Washington counties, and sometimes even Multnomah County. Let's think of a regional economy where these smaller cities develop specialized manufacturing and services that dovetail with the metropolitan core.

As a way to kick-start this process, let's return the Columbia River to its natural role as a unifier by redrawing state boundaries.

Why not pretend we're Bob Whitsitt and pull a three-way trade? Give the Idaho panhandle to Washington (and unite Pullman with Moscow, Lewiston with Clarkston). Compensate Idaho with the Snake River counties of Oregon (Malheur, Baker, Wallowa, Union) and shift Washington's Skamania, Clark, Cowlitz, Wakiakum, and Pacific counties into Oregon. With this new map, we might leapfrog the fruitless debate about port investments in Astoria versus Portland by creating a unified Port of Portland-Longview to better satisfy environmental and economic needs.

I salute Professor Abbott's creative ideas! He closed his essay with:

As much as I value Portland's history, we need some civic brainstorming. We can't rely on a reputation forever. It's time to extend the legacy of the past 30 years with a new generation of creative ideas.... Who'll be the first?

A sidebar indicated HOW TO RESPOND. I wrote a response, limited to 500 words. It finally appeared as an on-line Guest Commentary, on October 28th, 2002. Carl & I corresponded a little on this — the more ideas the better he said. Here is an un-edited snippet of my 4-year old response to the above:

We need a new pattern language in order to express our unique Northwest culture. We suffer daily from jurisdictional confusion and inefficiencies — fighting fires and building byways across arbitrary straight state and county lines. Portland is surrounded by four contending counties complicating the simplest planning efforts, perhaps the worst such situation in the Northwest.

Why not do away with states and counties altogether, instead of trading counties between states? We are the Northwest, a region of distinct rural, marine and urban areas. For example, we have the Columbia Gorge, the Cascades, and Willamette Valley rural areas. The Puget Sound islands make up a marine area. We have the Portland-Vancouver urban area.

Urban areas are, in turn, constellations of towns, towns have communities, communities have villages, and so on, down to the grass roots of home and business.

Why not morph our man-made mess into a natural pattern of geography and demography? We should re-organize all appropriate systems (schools, libraries, courts, emergency services, transportation, and so on) along these geographic scales, from the local watch group to the regional or national level.

End of what I wrote in 2002. Carl threw out a number of whacky ideas in that essay — buying a University from Russia and putting it in the Hayden Meadows shopping complex. He was really "mixing it" up!

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Transit (System Map Mix)

A transit system map should be so strikingly familiar to anyone, that their gut-level response to it would be "I could use that system!" This is not the case with our current transit systems.

What would an optimum transit map for an area look like? — Can a new system map be designed from scratch? — Would any local agency propose, or any grantor fund, such a wholesale remix of an operating transit system? — Even if funds were available from somewhere, would anyone do it? — Can transit systems be based on "regional", town, and community centers?

If there is such a long ranging plan somewhere, Show me the Blueprints!

Planning a complete new system doesn't imply that you have to implement it all at once. Once we knew what an optimal system looked like, we could roll it out over time. Changes made would be toward the overall plan, not ad hoc adjustments.

In Portland, TriMet just changed the whole Transit Mall alignment last month, affecting most every route, without screwing up. They'll change it all back again in less than two years. I know transit riders are intelligent enough and patient enough to weather a well-thought-out change for a well-defined result.

Note that I didn't say that the construction project wasn't disruptive, or that the Portland Mall project was the optimal thing to do! (I won't say it wasn't either.) Let's think outside the Mall, way outside.

This is just a short description of an large problem. We'll look at Curitiba, Brazil and how that system differs from a web of transportation, and I'll lay out more about the public, planner, and computer interactions that might produce an "optimal" system map in future transit remixes.

Monday, February 26, 2007

A Problem With Technology

In 1976, Joseph Weizenbaum, wrote:

It may be that social services such as welfare could have been administered by humans exercising human judgment if the dispensing of such services were organized around decentralized, indigenous population groupings, such as neighborhoods, and natural regions. But the computer was used to automate the administration of social services and to centralize it along established political lines. If the computer had not facilitated the perpetuation and "improvement" of existing welfare distribution systems — hence of their philosophical rationales — perhaps someone might have thought of eliminating much of the need for welfare by, for example, introducing negative income tax.

Weizenbaum was also critical of the application of computers to social and military problems, among others. The theme being that it would have been better for some bureaucratic systems to collapse under the weight of their paperwork, than for the computer to have come to their rescue, just in time.

This will also be a theme in World Remixed.

For example, computers on the web can help plan a trip from A to B on TriMet, or give us the next arrival time of any given bus at any given stop. This is certainly better than nothing, but it doesn't mean that we have designed the best possible transit system routes or web of transportation. It also increases our dependency on technology. You need a computer with you to plan your trip, or tell you when the bus might be along.

Imagine instead a system that is intuitive to use. No route-finding computer would be needed. I will expand on this in the next remixed entry.

Joseph Weizenbaum is professor emeritus of computer science at MIT. The quote appears in the chapter On Tools in COMPUTER POWER AND HUMAN REASON, FROM JUDGMENT TO CALCULATION. You can see him on wikipedia.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Communication Defines Community

Consider the problem of neighborhood newsletters and community newspapers, and online (web) presence for the same. Content for web sites can be maintained by various systems with strange names like joomla, plone, django, and drupal. What the web site should look like is another question. The community site might host the various neighborhood web pages in distinct way, in addition to having content common to all the hoods.

Another problem is producing a community newspaper that includes news from each neighborhood association. In southwest Portland, content is currently collected via email and paper copy, and then put into a layout program like InDesign for the print edition. Neighborhood meeting dates can clash with newspaper publishing deadlines.

But much of the same information should be in both media.

What if the community newspaper used a content management system that allowed it to maintain the on-line edition, while also being capable of exporting the articles for that particular edition into a rough first whack at the print edition? That is, the newspaper production would begin with content derived from the web edition. For an example of this, see the Lawrence Journal-World, in the hip town of Lawrence, Kansas.

So, that is easy enough. Now leap ahead. What if all the recognized levels of the world used a distributed news system, that allowed 'local' articles to appear on a local paper or web site, while the next larger entity could automatically pull up articles flagged as having larger scope? A regional newspaper (say for Northwest America) could draw from articles aggregated from the areas (urban and rural) within the Northwest. This is not to say that The Northwest American couldn't have articles from The Eastern Seaboard, The MidWestern, or The World. (Different proposals for bio-geo-cultural regions of America will be the topic of future world-remixed entries).

This all is not to be confused with Charles Foster Kane, Ted Turner, or Rupert Murdoch. In the future, there will be citizen-driven open news systems.

The title for this entry is from the late Professor James Carey of the Columbia Graduate School of Journalism. I hope he would approve of this message.

Friday, February 23, 2007

World Model Web Pages

I continued to develop and refine the model after the 1977 class. By 1988 the Macintosh was 4 years old. I used it to create a one page printed summary of my "World View". I distributed that World View at a BioRegional conference in 1988, where I was unable to get a word in edgewise. By 1992 the View had expanded onto a second page. With the advent of the WWW, the View was a natural candidate for my personal set of web pages.

The World View grew and eventually sprouted sub pages. I made a major revision in 2002, branding it a "wOrLD mODeL". My unconventional capitalization may be enough to scare some folks off. Loosen up folks!

Much work remains, describing the levels and developing models for taxation, transportation fares, and so on. But the FrameWork is there. In March, I will begin updating each of the Level pages on the web site (a link is in the sidebar) and writing a little bit about them here, in world-remixed.

Where the Model came from

In Spring 1977, I offered and voluntarily led a course General Systems Theory in which I secretly hoped to: (a) disprove that a sustainable city was possible in isolation; (b) demonstrate the multiplicity of interconnections in such a system; and (c) expose students to comprehensive problem solving, broadening their specialist (major) roles as economist, chemist, philosopher, an so on. About 30 Students signed up for the class.

After 14 weeks we concluded that cities are inter-dependent. We developed interesting systems for transportation and distribution. We developed a world model. Papers were written individually and in teams. I wrote the distribution section, and helped with a couple other sections. I was pleased with how well the students rose to the challenge. We made their set of papers into a book and the college covered the reproduction cost.

After it was over, I knew something was missing. Driving home from Spokane the following summer, I realized we'd left out "Area" -- I had grown up in the enigmatic "Inland Empire"! (A similar personal revelation is described by Donald W. Meinig in The Great Columbia Plain; a historical geography, 1805-1910.) I realized there were many other areas around the world, and they seemed far more important in the scheme of things than states or counties. This was a real breakthrough for me. The Bay Area, Puget Sound, the Columbia Basin, and so on.

Sometime later, I made a popular calling card with a person-to-planet hierarchy to give people whenever I might comment on a presentation (Neal Pierce for example). I hoped to at least encourage people to apply such a framework whenever something was being reviewed or re-structured, creating incremental, rather than revolutionary change. Or, simply to raise consciousness here and there.

We'll revisit the GST class in a blog entry on March 9th. If any of the GST students reading out there, I'd love to hear from you!

Thursday, February 22, 2007

All Different Places

He opened the geography to study the lesson...they were all different places, that had those different names. They were all in different countries...and the countries were in continents, and the continents were in the world, and the world was in the universe.
He turned to the flyleaf of the geography and read what he had written there: himself, his name and where he was.
Stephen Dedalus
Class of Elements
Clongowes Wood College
County Kildare
The Universe
A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man (pg. 15) ---James Joyce

Here was a young man having this sort of thought for the first time, his place in the universe. When learning about atoms and galaxies, a child spontaneously zooms out of the solar system and beyond to imagine that our whole universe is just some substance in a test tube on a bench in the next higher dimension.

We have a sense of scale for places large and small -- dreaming of a new room or traveling to a foreign country. My model of the world has 12 levels of scale between a person and the planet. (Consider an animal or a business to be on the same level as a person -- more on that later.)

Dedalus's model had County Kildare in it. My model has no counties or states in the USA or elsewhere. We'll see that they are problematic in many places, not so much in others. You'll see that we can replace them with more appropriate structures. In the Portland Oregon area we have (at least) three counties coming together within the urban area, and we blow a lot of time and money duplicating effort (and worse). Now consider that Clark County is only across the Columbia and we might wonder what good a state boundary is, going down the middle of a river. There is no proof here, just zooming out a bit.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Blah Blah Blog

The Oregonian printed an article (with the above title) about how easy it is to start a blog, challenged everyone (OMG) to start one and to send them the address by Feb 28. They'll publish a list of the "most interesting ones" on March 9th. So I here I am.

I may comment on a news article in the Oregonian, Tribune, or Mercury; a Letter to the Editor of one of the local papers; a news story from OPB radio or TV, or perhaps MSM.

I may report on a domestic project or issue, a neighborhood project or issue, a city project or issue, a metro area ..., a regional ..., a national ..., a continental ..., or a world project or issue. (I left out village, community, town, and a couple others.) I want to comment on these projects and/or issues to raise awareness of the possibility of a world where solutions are obtainable because they fit into a common framework. (I don't have all the answers yet, just an inner-credo, and a positive attitude!)

Most of the projects will likely be local, but I reserve the right to comment on any situation anywhere in the world. I promise not to just spout opinions as you can find plenty of them other places on the Internet. I will only create an entry about a problem or issue if I have an idea for a solution. If you come back from time to time, I hope that you will not find me bombing other countries, and so on.

To bootstrap the blog, I will make a couple dozen entries about the notion of remixing the world. Then I will make entries as above, or to report on some new aspect of my world model, or some reflection upon it.

I assume my style may vary until I figure it out. I edit and preview each entry multiple times... but I still keep tweaking an entry the first day as it settles in, so don't be surprised to see it change a little from one viewing to the next.

I may add a quote or poem or lyric from time to time. Many days from now, I may get to adding small graphics, after I win the lottery and retire.

I deliberately don't intend this to be a forum, at least in the beginning, while I establish a positive space. Let me tell you an idea I have for an ultimate world wide wiki of sorts, in a future remixed entry.

Nice Place

Paradise is exactly like where you are right now, only much, much, better.

--- from Language is a Virus by Laurie Anderson.

This blog is about re-designing, re-aligning all of the world's systems. We can re-mix the components, incrementally. This process is happening all the time. The knee-jerk reaction to a radical proposal is often "You can't do that!" or "You'll never be able to change that!". Time and again, I've seen this not be the case. Old systems die easy.

Who decides what changes and who guides it? We are beginning to create open systems and data. This is an unstoppable force. All natural systems converge toward optimal solutions. (This must be the case with limited energy and finite resources.)

World-Remixed will not be an economics lecture! I don't want this to be a chore to read, or for you to continually have to question weird or dubious, unfounded statements such as those you just read. So, I may also disclose my sources from time to time, and be clear about what what I know first hand, and what I read elsewhere. See you next time.

Questions: Who said: "It'll be a nice place, if they ever get it finished."? In what context?