Archive for village

Resume

Posted in Lucerne Village with tags , , , , , , on May 30, 2012 by javedbabar

Things were looking up for Danny. He had recovered from his depression, met a woman, had a small lottery win, and felt ready to find a new job. He didn’t want to go back to pumping gas, so asked around. He heard that Lucerne Village was looking for more staff so made an appointment with the Village Recruitment Officer (VRO). Danny tried to find out what jobs were available, but the receptionist wouldn’t say. She said discuss that with the VRO.

The VRO was a tough, red-haired man who Danny imagined had once been a police officer or soldier. “Sit down!” he said in the way he may have said in his previous jobs, “Put your hands up!” or “Put it down!”

Over a cup of coffee, he scanned Danny’s resume. “So, you’ve never really settled down, have you! What’s with all the moving around? It says here that you are an ‘enthusiastic individual’ who has a university degree and has worked in fancy companies in the City. How did you end up pumping gas here?”

Danny was a cool headed person; not easy to rile. He said, “Life doesn’t always work out the way you imagine. I’ve had some tough times.”

“You’ve had tough times?” said the VRO. “I don’t think you even know the meaning. Have you been on the battlefields of Afghanistan? Or on the mean streets of Detroit? That’s where I did my service. I’ve earned this padded chair here.”

Danny thought it best not to respond. He awaited further orders.

“Okay, the Village is a progressive employer and welcomes all kinds of people, regardless of their drawbacks.” He began with questions of race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, mental illness, and physical disability. “Okay, good,” he said. “Now we have your basic details. I am required to complete this grid of personal metrics. It will reveal what jobs you are suited for. Answer all of the following questions, based on dualistic paradigms, which we will integrate holistically. They may seem strange, but answer them as best you can.”

“What is your essential nature?” Danny told him it was peaceful.

“What is your culture?” Danny said it was North American, Judeo-Christian, white Anglo-Saxon Protestant, free-market capitalist, representative democracy.

“What is your hardware?” Danny said it was a skeleton, vital organs functioning synchronously, and a central nervous system, and blood and skin.

“What is your software?” Danny said it was a sense of personal selfhood, which was part of a communal self, whose edges were permeable, and touched upon other beings.

“What are your skills?” Danny mentioned interpersonal skills, commercial skills, and common sense.

“What are your feelings?” Danny mentioned an appreciation of beauty, and compassion, and truth.

“What is the influence of your genes?” Danny said it had made him tall, white, blonde, fairly handsome, and predisposed towards diabetes and dementia.

“What is the influence of your environment?” Danny spoke of his early years in foster homes, where he had been beaten and abused. That was why he never settled. He didn’t feel safe or comfortable anywhere. He moved around.

“Ok, that’s it,” said the VRO. Please wait outside while I analyze the results. Ten minutes later he called him back in. “Welcome to Village Hall,” he said. “We have a very special job for you. Do you believe in Karma? Good. Well there are people in the Village who are not conducive to its welfare. The kind of people who beat and abused you. Wouldn’t you like to create a better environment for kids here? With the job comes an unregistered gun.”

New City

Posted in Conceptual Art, Lucerne Village, Mystical Experience, Unknown with tags , , , , , on May 8, 2012 by javedbabar

They had come a long way since the original jungle. In four hours of drawing together, Bobby and his niece Naomi had created a well established village with roads, railways, power lines, factories, local media, and telecoms. They could remain outside the drawing, designing it like architects, or go within it to finish it as fine artists. Large scale changes were made quickly from the outside, but they also needed to pop in for experiential quality control.

They had four more hours till Bobby’s sister came to collect Naomi. After a short break, listening to ambient tunes on Naomi’s iPod, she said, “Let’s draw a city!” Then she became pensive. “Is it just like a big village really?”

Bobby smiled. So she didn’t know everything. Two hours ago she had lectured him on hard and soft infrastructure, and now she was asking him this basic question. It was nice to know that adults were still required in this youthful world where industries and jobs, and even countries, could transform overnight.

He said, “It’s a large permanent settlement and has complex systems.” She looked at him wide-eyed. “Things like industry, housing, transportation, and utilities, and sanitation.”

“But how many people live there?” she said. “More than a million?”

He said that there was no fixed number, but a million sounded about right. Why did she choose a million?

“Because that’s the biggest proper number that I can think of,” she said. “After that you just start counting again – one million, two million, three million, four million, five million…” She stopped at ten million and said, “Why did people start living in cities? Why didn’t they just stay in villages? Aren’t they nicer? There’s no millions, just people.”

Bobby took his role as Uncle seriously. Despite his niece sometimes knowing more than him, he did his best to educate her. She knew more about games, apps, and social media – O.K., technology in general, the area increasingly required for you to function in this world, and without whose competence you were handicapped.

He told her what he recalled from school. The Neolithic revolution was when hunter-gatherers began to grow crops in an organized manner, and created permanent settlements. Agriculture proved to be an efficient method of food production; instead of say eight hours, each person could produce the food needed in four hours, and spend the time saved pursuing crafts, or producing twice as much food, and trading it for other goods they desired. Such an economy would draw other people into it, and as it grew, the settlement grew, usually on grid plans or as radial structures with central temples.

“But you’ve only told me how the cities grew. Not why people live in them. Why did you live in the city? I mean before you…” Her sentence trailed off, as she knew that this was a sensitive topic. The first part of the question was O.K. though.

Bobby said, “It’s mainly because of concentrated facilities. Everything is close by, so people can share knowledge and develop new ideas. The best thing about cities is that you can get many things done there. They are places of creation.”

Naomi looked perplexed and said, “But don’t you have all those things in a village too? In Lucerne we have people close by, we have knowledge of things like farming, construction, and mining, and people have lots of ideas and time to develop them.”

Maybe she was right, thought Bobby. Was it only a matter of scale? You could do all of those things in a small place too, on a smaller scale. Wasn’t quality better than quantity? Cities had higher population density and labour differentiation, higher taxes paid to The Authority, monumental buildings, welfare systems, information recording systems, writing systems, symbolic art, extensive trade, huge consumer choice, and specialist craftsmen. Lucerne village had low population density and every person bore a range of skills; there was an informal economy, modest buildings, and families relying on each other rather than the state; knowledge was transmitted orally, and there was appreciation of natural beauty rather than conceptual art; there was more gifting than trade, and people were generalists holding a wider world view. Lucerne was geared towards independence rather than the city’s dependence.

Bobby had failed in the city. He’d aimed too high, got too greedy, and spun out of control. He’d lost his job and money, and fallen into depression. And now he was here where everything was possible again. He could stand on his own two feet in the village. It was human scale.

He said, “Naomi, do you mind if we don’t draw a city?”

Community Resources

Posted in Conceptual Art, Lucerne Village, Mystical Experience, Unknown, World Myths with tags , , , , , , on May 7, 2012 by javedbabar

Bobby was still in the drawing with Naomi. His niece’s jungle had come to life, and whatever they added manifested in her parallel world. They could draw things whilst they were inside the drawing, but this was a laborious process as each item had to be detailed individually. It was much better to draw whilst outside the drawing, where large changes could be made easily. They had already drawn roads, railways, power lines, and factories. Their Village was coming to life.

“Let’s build some houses now,” said Naomi. “Everybody needs somewhere to live.”

“What kind shall we have?” said Bobby. His hand was beginning to hurt from all that drawing. Who used a pencil these days? They were awkward to hold. Why did they have hexagonal profiles? Wasn’t it easier to cut and paste images?

Then he felt inspired. He took terms he’d overheard – smart growth, green building, small footprint, and airtight – and strung them into a sentence. He wasn’t quite sure why he did it. Did he really need to impress his ten-year-old niece?

She frowned as he drew the houses. Each feature he added elicited a new twist to her facial expression. There was something on her mind. “Well, what do you think?” he said, proud of his compact, low-rise, transit-oriented, walkable, bicycle-friendly, mixed-use development based upon principles of urban intensification, and championing long-range, regional sustainability over short-term parochialism.

“I don’t like it,” said Naomi. “I want a nice house with a pretty garden and fences around it, and lots of open windows for sunshine and breezes. I don’t want to live in a small, sealed-up box with other boxes above it, and below it, and on both sides.”

Naomi wasn’t in tune with the new guard of urban planners, innovative architects, visionary developers, and community activists. She was a traditionalist, a reactionary, an enemy of resource stewardship best practice.

She had told him off already for using up all the trees in the drawing to make electricity poles and railway sleepers, and made him draw new trees for lumber to build her extravagant residences. He didn’t like what she was doing but couldn’t stop her; she had a right to manifest her own world. So he said, “Okay, Naomi, why don’t you draw big houses, and I’ll draw apartment blocks.”

“Okay,” she said, having started drawing before he’d finished the sentence. “The happy families can live in my houses, and the lonely people can live in your boxes.” She looked up from her drawing. “Is that all right?”

Housing, however, was not just made of wood. They’d also need metal. Bobby drew in some mines – surface mines for minerals, and sub-surface mines for ores. He included protestors at the former, and trapped miners in the latter. Even drawings must be realistic.

Once the ores and minerals were extracted, they were sent to factories in the industrial park at the edge of the Village. Nails, screws, nuts, bolts, beams and girders were produced to build the housing, and extra metal was cut, machined, turned, threaded, ground, filled and fashioned into other useful goods. They were simple things initially like tools and weapons, then jewellery and engine parts, and later boats and rockets. Their village transformed quickly from a low-tech to a hi-tech society.

As Bobby and Naomi continued drawing, their new world’s elements increased and connections multiplied exponentially. Soon their Village was a place of televisions, radios, newspapers, and books; then landlines, cellphones, workpads, laptops, and desktops. Everybody was connected to everybody else. Each object was manufactured, distributed, marketed, and sold, before becoming obsolete, disposed of, repurposed, or recycled. Nothing was just what it was in the drawing. Everything was something else.

“Uncle Bobby, I’m getting a headache,” said Naomi.

“So am I, sweetheart. Shall we take a break from drawing?”

“Yes, let’s listen to my iPod. You can have one earphone, and I’ll have the other.”

They needed to disconnect from this crazy world they’d created. Naomi clicked through the screen menus, selecting Ambient>Instrumental>Nature>Jungle Sounds.

Village People

Posted in Conceptual Art, Mystical Experience, Unknown, World Myths with tags , , , , , on May 6, 2012 by javedbabar

“Okay, we’re in the jungle now,” said Bobby. “What shall we do?”

“Let’s make a village,” said Naomi. “Like the one we live in. We’ll make it really nicely.”

Bobby wondered if he was really here. It seemed so real, but where was he exactly? The last thing he knew for sure was that he was babysitting his niece Naomi, who was making a crazy drawing, and then somehow they were in that drawing. She seemed to think that this was quite normal, and the obvious result of “colouring it in nicely.”

The jungle was overwhelming. Thick green and deep browns filled his vision. There was only one gap, containing a large tree that he’d drawn himself and in whose roots he’d become entangled until rescued by Naomi.

How do you start building a village? How did pioneers pick a good place to plant their seeds of habitation? The obvious answer was to steal it from the extant inhabitants, smart people in touch with the earth, who knew a good game trail or a clean water hole when they saw one. So why not just give them a little push and take their spot?

The problem was that there weren’t any natives in Naomi’s drawing. Or maybe there were and they’d seen settlers already – the usual parade of explorers, missionaries, and traders, performing cartographers’, God’s, and kings’ works. They bore gifts for natives, always undesirable ones, as there was no great demand for bullets, beads, or smallpox. The natives here may well have disappeared.

The village would need some basic services. “Shall we put a shop here?” said Bobby. “And a clinic, and a jail?”

“No!”said Naomi. “Those come later. We need infrastructure first. We want a village that will survive.”

Bobby asked how she knew about infrastructure.

“Every place needs it. We need hard infrastructure like roads and railways, and soft infrastructure like education and health systems.”

“How do you know that?” said Bobby. He was in an imaginary jungle talking to a child about industrial organizational structures. He shook his head in disbelief.

“I go to school, Uncle Bobby. Didn’t you?”

I guess my school wasn’t as good as yours,” he said. “Well, what shall we start with? A road?”

Naomi’s expression showed that she took pity on him. “First of all we need to name the Village. I think we should call it Lucerne. I know that might get confusing for you because there will be the real Lucerne and the one in the drawing, but you’ll get used to it. It’s just like the difference between home and wo…. school.”

He knew that she was about to say “work” but didn’t, knowing that it was a sensitive topic.

She said that to make big changes they needed to get out of the drawing. Trying to build infrastructure while in there would be really hard, as they must do it step by step. For a road, they would need to draw a quarry, then an excavator and crusher, dump trucks to transport the rocks, another excavator to dig the road bed, rolls of filter cloth to line it, then large, medium, and small sizes of gravel, and a compactor and grader to finish. That’s just for a rural road. To seal it would need more machines, tarmac, road cones, construction signs, and traffic personnel. To make it from outside the drawing required you to just draw a road – the quality of the road depending on the quality of your drawing.

To make sense of his situation, Bobby thought back to a seminar he’d attended about the Law of Attraction. It’s obvious really; focussing on positive thoughts causes you to manifest positive outcomes. Like attracts like. The process was popularized by the New Thought Movement of the early 1900’s, but its origins are ancient. Prophets of God performed miracles, and the Law of Attraction has been visible throughout history in the practice of magic. Many are illusionists rather than true magicians, but even they make things appear from nowhere.

“Uncle Bobby, now you can draw a road,” said Naomi.

He drew a paved road a hundred kilometre long, heading along a fertile valley, with a dark volcano at one end, and a white mountain at the other.

“Uncle Bobby, draw a railway,” said Naomi.

He drew parallel tracks running along rivers, creeping around hills, and snaking through mountain passes.

“Uncle Bobby, draw power lines,” said Naomi.

He made poles and pylons, and sub-stations and transformers. Even bright yellow “Danger of Death” signs. Then he drew what he had first wanted to – a store, a clinic, and a jail. Naomi drew factories.

“What will they produce?” he asked.

She said, “I haven’t decided yet. Now can you please draw some more trees? Your poles and sleepers have used up all the jungle.”

Oxygen

Posted in Lucerne Village, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , on April 5, 2012 by javedbabar

Adam and Lucy arrived at 9.30am to ensure a good spot at the front of the crowd. This was so exciting! Their first Canadia Day, in their first home together, in their new Village; somewhere where people actually knew each other, and made and grew things, and came together as a community. “The happiest, healthiest place in Canadia,” they’d heard it called.

Every resident of Lucerne was present. The street was filled with red and white balloons and flags. Red and white children chased each other through crowds, with silly spotted dogs running after them. It was a celebration of all that was good about this Village: happy children, uniformed and helmeted heroes, profitable, job-making businesses, lovers of cats, fish and, birds, First Nations singing and drumming, Seniors still rocking and rolling, the noble mayor-farmer and wise council, fifth-generation potato growers; those enthused by motorcycles and bicycles; and those who tinker with engines to make them roar like castrated dinosaurs.

Adam and Lucy cheered every float passing. They were confused however by the approach of an industrial fuel tank which caused the crowd to hush into reverential silence. Why had everybody gone quiet? Adam said, “They’re looking at us.”

“No they’re not,” said Lucy. “They’re looking at the fuel tank.”

“Well why are they looking?” Now people really were looking at them, as the only ones talking among the crowd of two-thousand. The sea of hush. They became self-conscious, looked at each other, and hushed too. As the tank drew closer, they saw that it was not borne on the back of a truck, but on the backs of people. A hundred of Lucerne’s residents carried it proudly.

Being new in town, they hadn’t heard the Story of Shirley. She was born to farmers in the Lucerne Valley, and her parents had both died in a horrific agricultural accident. Despite being “safe” in the house, noxious fumes affected her young lungs, which suffered irreversible damage and degeneration. They didn’t really fail, just fell apart gradually. She tried not to exert herself and stayed in the house as much as possible, but when she hit nineteen, like any young lady she wanted to get out. However her lungs couldn’t extract enough oxygen from the atmosphere and needed constant topping up, so she couldn’t go anywhere without an oxygen supply. A small water bottle sized container was adequate.

This proved to be an issue at the Lucerne Hotel, which had recently been fined for liquor licence infringements. The doorman had been instructed to be extra tough on customers. He said, “Sorry love, you can’t bring that in here.”

“Why not?” said Shirley.

“You can’t bring in bottles from outside. That’s the rules.”

“But it doesn’t have any liquid in it. It’s just oxygen.”

“Even if it doesn’t have any liquid, you can’t bring it in.” She could tell that the doorman was not being mean deliberately,  just following orders. “You could fill it with liquor and take it out.” He seemed relieved by his invented justification.

“Why would I do that?” Shirley said. “I could buy some from the bottle shop. It’s cheaper there. It even comes in its own handy bottle already.”

“Very funny,” said the doorman. “Ok, let’s just take a look at the bottle.” Shirley handed it over, and he twisted it open before she could stop him. He was surprised by its hiss, and peered inside and said, “Ok, you were right, it’s only air. I’ll let you take it in this time.”

Shirley teared up. It was impossible to enter now that her lifeline was gone. Her mother had taught her to not complain in life, and there was nobody alive to complain to. She returned home immediately.

Shirley’s lungs worsened and she needed more oxygen. A bar visit now was out of the question. She decided to visit the library, carrying a large Coke bottle sized oxygen container. But health and safety rules at municipal facilities forbade people to bring in unchecked containers. The security guard insisted that she open it up. Shirley cried at the hiss that once again forced her to go home.

Kind neighbours did her shopping, but sometimes she had to do it herself. As her lungs deteriorated, she wheeled around a bucket sized oxygen container. The grocery store guard repeated the all too familiar procedure. He said that Local Food Laws did not permit noxious gases near fresh produce. “But they sit in it for months in shipping containers,” she said. “This is just oxygen, you know, what we breathe.” He insisted on checking. She went home without food.

Eventually Shirley needed to push around a dustbin sized oxygen container. The coffee shop guard said its contents may ruin the roasting process. “But it’s oxygen,” she said. “Like the bubbles in froth.” But he needed to check this.

The Lucerne Hotel’s doorman found Shirley crying in the car park one day. She told him about her failing lungs and her need for ever-more oxygen. He sat with her for a while, and asked for her to accept his apology. The next week he went to visit her home. She now needed a twin bed sized oxygen container. He called six of his buddies and together they lifted it up and followed Shirley around town. Word got around quickly, and she was welcomed everywhere. New laws were passed. No smoking, no cell phones, and no electricity were to be live anywhere near her, as the risk of pressurized gas igniting was too great. The true measure of any society is how it treats its weakest members. Lucerne passed with honours. It became a quiet reflective town, where people listened to and helped others.

Adam and Lucy saw a weak, smiling girl walking before the industrial tank borne aloft by Lucerne’s citizens. When she raised her pathetic hand to wave, everybody began cheering. She seemed embarrassed, but also the proudest girl in the world.