Maybe this is a good time to tell you about an idea of mine, one which I have been thinking about for a long time. It is called “Real Projects.” RP, which I will explain here, came as a second idea actually. But now I see that I had them reversed. For the sake of clarity , I’ll present the plan as a given, as if RP exists already.
Two years ago it occurred that the term “green” is a fragile term in great danger. In late capitalism it is never the idea that gets exploited, it always the term, and consequently the term gains status and the idea falls away.
This is close the all too familiar concept of “commodification,” which had already been written on in the 30s and 40s in Europe (by Walter Benjamin in his famous essay “work of art in the age of mechanical reproduction” and by Horkheimer and Adorno in “the culture industry”).
Although these were based largely on the effect of the metro on the human psyche and on post fascist pop culture, the basic idea is still there: we don’t consider the reality of an object, and the object is devalued through other, nonrelated enterprises (ie.. the Industrial Revolution).
A failed tram for Orlando
The precepts of industry as we know them from the start of the revolution on through to pop culture are at odds with sustainability as we understand it now through this new wave called “green”. The contradiction is apparent in almost any industrial endeavor.
For example, in my town of Orlando, there were deliberations about a public tram. It was exactly what Orlando needed to push it beyond mediocrity. But trial lawyers, once they exacted the deductible on liability costs for a single injured passenger (about $80-$100K), recoiled in selfish fear and of course now we are not going to have a tram. What the lawyers have failed to realize is that it is the community at stake.
The benefits of mass transit are enormous, incomparably so when you think about safety in general. OK, so here we have pinned the real issue, which I don’t think takes too much thought; it is greed. So what is Real Projects?
Above all, it is a mission statement. But, as I said before, this came as a second idea that became the primary one.
The original concept is in keeping with the last paragraph, and I first named it CACG (Communities against the Commodification of the term “green.”)
The idea is very simple: we DO NOT want “green” to have the same communal value as the now 20 year old “fat free” hit. Of course, at the start, “fat free” is not as significant as “green.” However, when it indeed became a craze and began to pop up on nearly every food package, it was a formidable cultural ideal.
It was a purely American invention. Ironic that in the last two decades we have become the indisputable fat champions. Perhaps “fat free” actually applied to some of the food labels when it first became a household terms, but I can’t imagine that the term isn’t totally meaningless now; dead, in fact. IT WILL happen to the term “green,” which is now the selling point on almost any item, not just food.
Wary of the term “green”
CACG is a wonderful idea, but I got wary of the term “green” even as I thought about it. Should the term even be promoted? Pragmatically, I would say yes, but only as a temporal hinge, if you will. Societies latch onto key terms and overarching concepts. The over said (and in my opinion, amazingly vacant) term “values” is a good example.
My hope would be that RP would be devoid of selling points. I never want to have a “main attraction,” embedded within RP. Again, it is above all a mission statement, an understood concept always in radical development. Surely a high degree of organization is in order, but does that require bureaucratic snares? I don’t think so. When people have the community in their hearts and minds, many internal complications fall away. A good business is one whose members always realize that one area affects another implicitly.
RP has to have parts, but the fundamental endeavor is UNITY, unity in the spirit of its adherents and unity in the world. I come back to the divisive issue of the tram; the community in that instance lacked the resolve to fight for their right to mass transit, and it was worsened by the greed of the lawyers. Any way you slice it, there was a lack of unity. People were not on the same page.
Cars on a zip-line
Suppose I presented an idea to a committee.
The idea is called a “zip car.” A zip car is an idea I discovered when I was thinking about ways to improve long distance transit. Here’s the blueprint: a zip car can be manufactured by any major motor company. It is a regular car, but it has an effective clip on its top. The clip may be either a powerful magnet or a kind of “jaw.” This is intended for a thin track that is likened to a zip-line and is smaller and more convenient to build than a bulky rail track.
Docking stations are set in strategic locations, and the car pulls up the ziptrack, clips in by virtue of being under the hoist, and it is hassle free (the driver must not get out of the car). Of course then the driver becomes the passenger, and time that would otherwise be spent driving can be used for work or rest. Any number of practical additions may be added. For instance, it may be in the interest of crops under the passage of a 4 hour trip that water be released from the cars on a timer.
The driver could volunteer this or decline to pay the extra fee. All tracks may have wi-fi receptors installed inside the actual rod that composes the track. A charge is generated from the very fact of the vehicle giving friction to the track, and the charge can be distributed to any number of auxiliary uses: electricity, water facilities, the battery in a fuel cell vehicle, etc.
Now it can only be expected that such an idea would come under fire.
Any reasonable idea does. But I dream that we would not place too much doubt on these things, and rather that we might think “YES! now, how to do it?.” If only 50 percent of the plan is executed, that is 200 percent better than what we had before. If it proves to be unattainable, then new ideas are birthed from discussions around it.
A huge yes
RP is just that: RP is a huge YES. It is imagination, knowledge, reason, and community. Efficiency and conservation should not be discussed too much in RP because they are already understood. They are the belly of the organization. Everything that is discussed should be in the interest of harmony. I hope Real Projects will be a reality one day. I will keep thinking about it and amending it until it is something very succinct.
I have a lot to learn from the people around me, from my father especially who is a real estate developer. I know that he too has begun to think about the world differently since green came out. Today, as we walked down a beautiful mountain road together, we picked up trash dumped carelessly into the pristine forest.
He also wondered what happened to the tram, what will happen to our future generations, and how we can begin to work together to meet these issues without fear and with a great amount of humility.