Tag Archives: future

remembering Henny Penny

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the lobby of the Agricultural Center for Community Gardening in Jerusalem

As I mentioned in my previous post, it’s tiring listening to the political messages we keep getting from the news media. Thinking about it, and in discussions with friends, I realize that it’s not just politics. Something has changed in the way that news is offered us. Maybe it’s been a long process, starting with the more subjective approach to journalism, called the ‘new journalism’ in the 60s, and reaching the level of an hysterical rant in recent years. The way issues are presented reminds me of ‘re-education’ in China during the cultural revolution there. The news media, having taught us politically correct discussion, are now trying to move us into action. I haven’t joined facebook but every now and then, the various movements or causes that reach prominence on that social platform are reported in the news as well, and it’s not clear whether these reports are meant to point fun at the social media or whether they’re considered important concerns for all of us these days.

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the old nature museum

Of course, there are also the real world social movements, like the ‘me too’ revolution, the anti-smoking movement, and the warnings of climate change on the planet. I feel obliged to mention that I oppose the abuse of women, addiction of any sort, and have believed all my life that pollution of the environment is an affront to nature and a terrible abuse of the general public. All the same, I don’t like to be preached to constantly. And I’m disturbed when I see a large portion of the public resorting to extralegal means to influence the processes of government or the courts.

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There has been quite a bit of controversy regarding the climate warming issue. The big question seems to be not whether the planet is warming, but whether man is responsible for this change. But it should be pointed out, that even if we human beings are not responsible (and we know there have been ice ages and scorching periods on the planet before man took over), we still have the same interest in trying to prevent a world disaster, whether it be a critical change in climate or an asteroid that comes crashing into our world. DrBob sent me a very interesting article recently which suggests that there may have been some very sudden climate changes in the past as a result of a reversal of the magnetic field of the planet.

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Yet what is to be gained by scaring ourselves and our friends with extremely pessimistic forecasts regarding the future? I too have my doubts about the future. I am convinced that we are watching the dawn of a new age that will be different from anything that has come before. We can expect changes just as radical as those that came after the development of sophisticated tools by cave men. I don’t believe that we can stand in the way of such change, even if we disapprove the path that society seems to be taking. Virtual reality might be a preview to an entirely different attitude towards sensual awareness. And we have yet to see what computers can do when they’re designed by computers.

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inside of the hot house

So, in an effort to find a balanced perspective regarding our relationship to nature and the environment, I visited the Agricultural Center for Community Gardening of Jerusalem this week. What impressed me the most was the ‘hotel for insects and bugs’. I had some expectations before I visited the place, but this was something I hadn’t even imagined. A home built by humans to offer insects and bugs a little comfort in this world. Usually we are just killing them or banishing them from whatever space we seize. And this was just the sort of thing I had been wondering about… is there a positive way to deal with the phenomena that disturb us, rather than just complaining or crying about it?

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Another thing that impressed me profoundly was hearing that there are 70 community gardens in Jerusalem, including allotments and wild flower reserves. I wrote about the allotment in my neighborhood a while back. You can find it here: http://tinyurl.com/y9c673o6

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the hotel for insects and bugs

The agricultural center is manned by some very talented and schooled volunteers. They are situated right next to the nature museum. They build a lot of their facilities and furniture themselves from recycled wood, sponsor a free library, lend tools to amateurs, hold seminars and cultural get-togethers. There is the Saturday ‘garden meet’ every week featuring lectures and cultural events. A photography exhibit was still on the walls when I was there. They have a very professional looking compost facility, conduct experiments in growing plant life on water without earth, and rely on an exceptionally well designed nursery to provide plants to all the different community gardens in our city. Quite a few of the many plant species native to our region have become extinct, and the botanists and green thumbs of the agricultural center are doing their best to prevent the extinction of such endangered species today. As I wandered around the grounds, there was no end of delightful surprises and a great variety of sights and smells.

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a demonstration roof garden

There was a fascinating roof garden, with huge wooden plant pots in which you could grow your own food, even if you lived in an apartment house. I think it would be hard for anyone to visit this center without catching a bit of the excitement about what is going on and the enthusiasm of the volunteers of all ages. The attitude among the workers and visitors is one of encouragement and friendship.

for more pictures from this visit see:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/shimonz/albums/72157668282675148

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freedom or framework

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I am about to head out this morning, for a huge family get together in the town of Siliyt, a bit to the north. I was going to leave early in the morning… because there is a general strike going on here in Israel, for good reason, I believe. I’m not sure. Because I haven’t really studied the issue. And I know that sometimes the media misrepresents what’s going on… But my impression is that this strike is justified. Even so, I don’t identify with it so much that I wouldn’t mind crawling through tedious traffic jams in its honor. And though it’s Friday today, and that is the first day of our weekend, and therefore, a day on which there usually is only minimal traffic; since the train is on strike too, in all likelihood a lot of people who don’t usually get out on the road, will be using their cars, or will take a bus. And so, I was going to leave early.

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But I was also going to write a post on the blog… yesterday, according to plan. My intention was to write it yesterday, and then post it today… so you wouldn’t even notice the difference. But things came up. And as they say, time moves quickly when you’re having fun. The reason for the gathering, is a very important birthday that Roy, my grandson, is going to celebrate this weekend. I don’t usually celebrate birthdays. When I have a birthday of my own, it’s my custom to hide away, and fast all day, occupied with soul searching. But if someone is celebrating, I try to join in the spirit of the occasion.

And so, I’ve been thinking about what I could say to a young man at the start of his life, that might add something to the day.

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Sometimes I read a piece of writing, or look at a work of art, and I am struck by the disparity between the talent of the individual, and their obvious lack of self discipline. My guess is that it’s a sign of the times. If someone was born in Butte, Montana, and had the English language bubbling around him all the days of his life, he might just think that nobody should tell him how to speak or write, and that grammar and spelling are for those who don’t feel as comfortable with the language as he does. And likewise, in other forms of art, if someone has been blessed with a natural talent, and is able to translate a vision, captured in his or her mind, on to paper, canvas, computer or a structure of any sort, and thus share his or her vision with countless others… who remind this artist with regularity, that he or she is a hell of a good fellow, and touches the hearts of the public… of what importance is studying the conventions of the art world, or art history for that matter? What could possible be gained by spending long hours in trivial considerations of rules invented by academics, or masters long dead?

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But strangely enough, this attitude of laissez faire creativity has not been universally accepted in other fields of human endeavor. If a person gets it into his head that he wants to climb mount Everest, he doesn’t usually go to the nearest sports depot, buy a walking stick… and then go off to conquer the mountain. Nor does a person who has had the luck to inherit a large sum of money, start investing on the stock exchange, without first studying a bit about trade and tendencies, and observe with great intensity, what has happened to others who invested before him. I am not speaking of those occupations in which one cannot find gainful employment without producing some sort of evidence of having studied the profession and having received accreditation. Even on the open market, , and in the purchase of a home or a car, people usually wish to learn quite a bit before plunging in. And in sports, as in music, it is generally accepted that a devotion to practice, and long hours of developing skills, is essential to succeeding in the field of one’s choice… So, what is it about the arts?

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On the other hand, is there any point in an old grandfather giving advice to a young man about to discover the world? Some of us still chuckle over the line in ‘The Graduate’, when that young man was advised to go into ‘plastics’. Now if it had been computers, we might think that there was a telling hint of what the future had to offer. But plastics… we are still trying to figure out how to recycle that material before we all choke on the disposable utilities we so enjoyed.

The photos above are of almond blossoms.