September 15, 2012


Ashleigh shoveling rock for a concrete pour

I started reading Cradle to Cradle before I came up to Windward and I found it to be an incredibly practical and greatly applicable book. From what I understand, the general intention is to show the reader, and hopefully to spread the philosophy, that we all can find more beneficial and more productive ways to meet our modern needs. Machines can be developed better, packaging can be produced to eventually biodegrade, and there are several natural truths to which we should, and maybe must, apply to our general routines and all of industry for the sake of our survival and ability to continue living on this fragile planet.

And maybe all of life is fragile. There are services, not necessarily goods, that are essential to keeping something, or someone, healthy and well-balanced. The book could be categorized as a helpful guide to determining what could and should be restored and adapted in order to become a more eco-efficient community.

A great description from the book on modern structures is that many "might have been well designed for machines, not humans" (p29). Crude lighting, artificial air-flow, and inhumane scheduling guidelines repress and constrain the nature of the individual. They are structured workers, not passionate and complex people. And it seems to be that these structures are built to withstand the "worst case scenarios" and are therefore built to prevent any and all "disturbing" elements.

A building described in Cradle to Cradle was noted to contain a courtyard area within it so that employees could lunch and break in a fairly open space. It sounds lovely but I can imagine the 101 Reasons why most companies would object to building a structure with that kind of detail, mostly due to legalities and liabilities. For example, the wildlife that would be tempted to congregate in the courtyard may result in a hazard. Imagine the legal suit that could develop if a bird and an employee were to collide! Or a stolen lunch by a daring squirrel!

But maybe it's worth it. Maybe there is a something more satisfying to be gained by connecting ourselves to an environment more saturated with nature instead of working so hard to oppress and oppose the complex characteristics of our Earth. It seems to have been ingrained in our culture, particularly the Western, to consider the outdoors as a nuisance and sometimes even a threat.

And yet many of us pay to camp and stake claim on an extremely modest piece of land for a weekend in hopes of "leaving it all behind" temporarily. The bustle of cities can be overwhelming, whether we acknowledge or are aware of it or not. Being reminded of our rural "roots" can be a deeply moving experience. To me, a daily dose of nature sounds like a therapeutic endeavor. We could use that, maybe even need it, for the sake of our humanity. And a very thorough examining of what many of us think we need and want could be a necessary task as well.