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Developing Naturally: An Analogy

Dave Ewoldt, July 2006

   When the cruise ship Titanic sank in 1912, the crew and passengers could be roughly grouped into four major categories. The First Group were those who could see what was happening and started to organize and cut the life boats loose.

   The Second Group were those who could tell something bad was happening, weren't too sure what to do, but were willing to pitch in and help the First Group organizers.

   The Third Group expressed themselves in two distinct ways: they either ran around screaming hysterically, or they joined the deck chair rearrangement committee.

   The Fourth Group were those who insisted there was absolutely nothing wrong, everything was going according to plan, and they invited everyone to join them in the bar for a drink.

   Today, our economy, way of life, and quality of life have either hit, or are on a direct course with no attempt to slow down or alter course, icebergs with the names of Peak Oil, climate destabilization, corporate globalization, and uneconomic growth in the form of sprawl and minimum wage no benefit service sector jobs.

   Here in Whatcom County the latter iceberg is the most visibly apparent. Development plans are being approved and vested to clearcut major areas of land, fill in wetlands, and build spec housing developments and shopping centers. Some of these are even being rather callously spun as "urban ecovillages." This is being done for no other good reason than to lure people into moving to this area. Specifically targeted are those who are desperately seeking to flee areas that have been destroyed by rampant growth and overdevelopment, and who have lost all sense of community.

   The big rush is to get this accomplished before there is no longer any difference between here and there. We've seemingly become too unimaginative to find any other way to create or maintain jobs. We've become blind to the glaring fact that we've already broken too much ground.

   Fortunately, there is a growing First Group of organizers and activists trying to develop a policy of relocalization in order to mitigate the coming crises and lay a foundation for a sustainable future that is both ecologically wise and socially just.

   Meanwhile, our city and county leaders and elected officials have given their sometimes grudging -- because they aren't aware of or don't believe that an alternative is available -- support to erect the equivalent of a flashing neon sign that proclaims, "The bar is open" at the entryways into Whatcom County. They are joining a well-funded and totally self-serving chorus of special interests shouting, "The first drink is on the house," which is being amplified by the vocal cheerleaders of the deck chair rearrangement committee (euphemistically referred to as the elected government of the people).

   What they don't want anyone to notice, discover, or even think about is that the rest of this bar tab will be picked up by the citizens of Whatcom County, and especially by their children. Assuming, of course, that the ecosystems necessary to support life don't sink like the Titanic after hitting a broken off chunk of the ice-shelf in a warming, increasingly acidic ocean that has been overfished and is covered by a layer of plastic detritus.

   Ignoring a hole because it's on the other side of the boat does not provide a shining example of human rationality, and is a good way to get short-listed for the Darwin awards.

   I have this sneaking suspicion we can do better. Join the First Group.

   If you would like to schedule an introductory consultation session or arrange a presentation or workshop for your group, please contact or give Dave or Allison, co-founders of Attraction Retreat, a call at (520) 887-2502.


"We must be willing to get rid of the life we've planned, so as to have the life that is waiting for us."
Joseph Campbell


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