The worst-case scenario for Detroit would be that the architecture of the Internet as it is now continues, and Detroiters’ stories, voices, lives, are absent. And the New York Times story about the creative class saving Detroit, or the documentary about the abandonment and wholesale destruction of Detroit that portrays it as a wasteland and a blank canvas ready for entrepreneurial exploitation, that those stories are defining the national, the global imagination of what Detroit is. And that those stories, they don’t use influence people’s desire to come here and do those things and live that life, though that’s part of it, but it also shapes the perception of people inside the city.
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When the public cannot prove that the oil company is going to cause damage, then we’re not allowed to say, “Nevertheless, the risk is not acceptable.” So we have turned it over, the decision, to the expert. We have taken it out of the hands of the community. And then when we say we want community input, we hold a public hearing, and the experts sit up at a table. And then the grandmother who does not have a graduate degree, she’s not allowed to say, “Here’s what I’ve seen. Here is what’s happened in my community. And that’s not acceptable.” Her view is not taken because she’s not an expert. And so we’ve taken away the right for self determination and for community determination.
I like to think that we are an intelligent species. I mean, actually the people that often get this most quickly are the people who are poorest, because they know the system doesn’t work. But so many of our supposedly brightest people pick this up and don’t question it. And then we have the all the whole field of economics, which is an ideology built on assumptions that if you examine them are absurd. Because you know, economists simply look at the economy as a pricing system. They’re not system thinkers. Part of the cause our crisis is that we’re not educated to think in terms of systems.
What’s key…is that we all need to work together. There’s no way for all of us to know about each other. We’re in that part of this new way of being that there’s too many players. It’s too chaotic. There is no center, there is no hub. But we need to find ways to work together, and to lose the idea that any one of us is the solution. Because if any one of us were the solution, we wouldn’t be where we are now.
In the future, we have to change the way we look at consumption. That’s why I’m such a big proponent of the sharing economy. Because it’s not an issue of if it’s going to happen, it’s when it’s going to happen. And I’d rather people voluntarily adopt it now and start realizing the benefit of it now while we’re still in this kind of relative land of plenty, than be forced into it later when all of a sudden there’s not enough water to cover Phoenix anymore because it’s a huge city in the middle of a desert and they have to go on water rationing.
The question that philosophers have asked since antiquity is how should you live? What is the good life for a human being? And the two answers that have repeatedly come back time and time again are that there are two things that matter. One is agency. That’s to say being in control of your life, actively, creatively engaging with the world. And the other is community.
I’m interested in what happens when artists who are used to being artists decide that the best place for a work is within a space that seems to require an entirely different method of construction. And of course, there’s no harsh line between forms, and plenty of people exist both as highly-proficient working artists and exceptionally skilled programmers. Tons of them, right? But I’m not talking so much about the skill or even background. Instead of I’m interested in mentality.