From the Open-Publishing Calendar
From the Open-Publishing Newswire
Indybay Feature
Related Categories: Santa Cruz Indymedia | Education & Student Activism | Labor & Workers
RETHINK Leadership in All our Designs, Endeavors and POLICY
by dogwood
Thursday Jun 8th, 2017 6:06 PM
For too many decades our union and other leaders have not done enough to educate themselves and the union members or the general public about the general problems and structures of capitalism, and other modes of design. Now we are very far "down the pike". Solutions abound, if we allow for real problem solving methods without preconceptions. Will the earth be virtually destroyed before the so called, union leaders get real.
Here, in Santa Cruz, the local union leaders, such as, political office holders, and most all of our institutional, business, political and educational leadership (yes, even and especially at UCSC), act as if we do and did not have the many hundreds of solutions that already exist- and existed- in the not too distant past, to build a blue-green local and thriving economy, such as a thriving bus and public transportation system. Although I use the term, "solutions" I am really referring to a more apriori idea of problem solving method(s), that give rise to the solution(s). That is the reason that union leadership, institution and METRO board member leadership here in Santa Cruz took us down a very old and decrepit pike when they endorsed (and spent a lot of money and effort on it) Measure D in the last election. They thought it was the best we could do.

It was not. We could do much better. Measure D, like so much that is being touted these days in terms of solutions, was sold to us by John Leopold and others in our unions and institutions here in Santa Cruz, and it is typical of the kind of mediocre type of problem-solving of the old style, and of political leadership that runs power and most politics and policy here in Santa Cruz, and in the United States these days and apparently has done so for a very long, long time...since the 1030's, maybe? But a few decades ago, back when UCSC really was a more true and original and avid pioneer in organic farming and other areas of education and development leading toward sustainable designs, these kinds of truly helpful solutions and ideas were on the table. There was a break from the more corporate modality of thought that business usually promotes and it led away from the mundane, property mode of little-think and it oriented itself toward the greater good, true environmental-harmonious design and true problem-solving methods, without preconceptions.

In my life, over the course of time, I have seen these kinds of environment-friendly solutions, designs, ideas about our lives and the structures that support our lives virtually disappear. Here in this short rant, I am only using phrases and nouns that name names as referents, in order to make the larger points.

What I want people to understand is that: we have the ability to really solve our problems, even big problems, such as how to deal with climate change for the greater good of all, and not just by selling out to be with the fabulously wealthy in their gated communities on the peaks of mountains as the waters rise. We have had and taught truly problem-solving designs for the good of the public, at some of our colleges in our country in the past. Now, we are down to mostly talking about window dressing such as promoting "saving" our bus lines while retaining our current METRO CEO, who is loving the privatization of our local bus company.

We need leadership in our colleges, our city governments, our unions and all over Santa Cruz, that is well educated about the truly environmentally-sustainable, earth friendly designs, solutions, possibilities, and ideas and structures, as well as concepts about transportation and housing (and education and everything else) that were being developed, discussed, modeled, taught and sometimes, even built back in the 1960's and into the 1970's that were taken off the table back in those times, as well...and were completely removed from the discussions in the 1980's, and into the 1990's. So, now we are allowing illegal company tactics to build pipelines for oil to be built in sensitive cultural and environmental habitat, and most of our students fight for a position on the conveyor belt to get into debt as they become glorified vocational operators for technical companies in Silicon Valley. While they are given fewer and fewer buses and tacitly encouraged to go and get a car to drive up and down the hill.

It is as if we never had, for example, local recycling centers, and many, many other options, and solutions that seem to have disappeared. As Alex Clifford, CEO of the METRO takes us down a road where our bus company is being privatized and ailing buses are being left to fail. Many drivers are over fifty and know that they will not see the worst of the labor situation that Mr. Clifford is encouraging. While students, activists, bus drivers, in conjunction with the community, came together in a terrific effort that originally had everything to do with rank and file activism and little to do with union leadership- although the union leadership dragged itself along after the driver's showed the willingness to fight...our community had to fight hard and we did. We fought to save ourselves from the onslaught of cuts that Clifford proposed, and we were successful, and I now ask people to take this same "fight", the moxie and the spark and the desire to do better than the powers that be, currently hold out to us as the best we can do, and we, I hope will do the research on what we used to be discussing in the past in terms of solutions to our energy problems, design in harmony with nature and other innovations that seem to be gone, but are not gone. Of course, as well, we may come up with entirely new solutions. The point is we must have visionary leadership that is also logical and educated in the important and relevant areas of life, such as problem-solving design without order to achieve the solutions we could attain.

Our METRO problems, and so many other problems, such as the lack of housing in our town, affordable housing yes, and also simply a supply of basic and free housing for the completely poor and indigent, and housing on campus, and many other problems and needs that I am merely alluding to in this post, that I will not name in a vast delineation right here- all of which are existing- in actuality right this moment, but are not being "allowed" to see the light of day, or actually, the solutions are not enacted or existing now, because of the more foundational problem, real problem solving methods, without preconceptions such as super-capitalist notions of profit and waste, property and tax sheltering, and many other ideas are being treated as if they were necessary and even divine instead of being treated for what they are: concepts that influence problem solving design and solution-development to problems and needs.

Basically the foundation-problem that gives rise to the many faux and psuedo-solutions that we are surrounded by in our culture, that we get by our restricted and faulty thinking, such as, expensive electric cars and Measure D, for example, stems from a foundation-problem of later-stage capitalism in general. We need leaders who are really mavericks, deep and creative and very intelligent, empathic for the public good, courageous and innovative thinkers (with other qualities that I am also not enumerating here). And we do not have these kinds of leaders, except perhaps among the ranks of the rank and file-grass roots stock of people, such as some of those activists who comprise and are in the group which is called, "Campaign for Sensible Transportation" here in Santa Cruz. Again, there are other people who are truly creative and courageous people, with heart and brains who are solution oriented, and their numbers are numerous, but I need to simply outline the problem here, and I am just pointing to the wider solutions by naming examples of the problem and the solutions, in order to show different, "kinds" and "types" of both problems and solutions.

Many days as I look around and do not see the kinds of problems and solutions that we were discussing in the past, during more revolutionary times (like the 1960's and 1970's and the 1930's, in some ways, for example, and in some aspects, such as in the 1930's, with the worker-centered revolts), I realize that the conservatives, the reactionaries and the hard-hard rightists, in our political venues and institutions (who want to pretend they are liberal and moderate and democrats, often), in coordination with the capitalist elites, and their many agents existing through out all the classes, have, in general, made sure that we are fighting over paltry and band-aid solutions, when it comes to problem solving and we get a world that looks a lot similar in kind to the world that we were building here in the states in the 1950's, when the corporate mindset, the glory of the expanding multi-national and our empire was in it's glory days in some ways. When, the advertising for and about the fossil fuel burning and combusting car reigned supreme, and talk of empire was usually restricted to empires like that of ancient Rome.

Instead we could have had the real deal, truly wholistic designs that assisted the public good, we could have developed environmentally-friendly design that is and was environmentally harmonious with the systems of the earth, or "sustainable" design, and innovative solutions on a mass scale, oriented and developed for our times and policy and political economy that actually addresses problems that we currently have, such as an energy crisis, which is now called, "Climate Change". We pollute way too much, we are now altering our climate. We used to discuss how to live with alternate energy and design, now we fight over Trump's withdrawal from Paris climate conference.

Let me drop one name, as an example, of the kinds of thinking and problem-solving that I am alluding to, I name; Buckminster Fuller, who thought up and promoted an idea for creating buildings and housing that was flexible and easy to build, as well as inexpensive to make, called, "modular housing and design", here I name only an informal referent to his ideas. I am really just attempting to point at one kind of creative idea out of hundreds of thousands, that we have all but shelved. So, instead we end up discussing "solutions" like, for example the car-garage-library, to be promoted heavily by the politicians in power and their agents, and the Dakota Access Pipeline. They are similar solutions, as was Measure D in a policy sense.

So much is at stake. Yet, our union leaders, local politicians and other leadership in our town and region simply do not seem to know enough about contemporary solutions, or kinds of thought that are now not as visible as they were a few decades ago. Maybe they do know more than they let on, but if that is the case, we can not know this from the facade of their behaviors. In this local area, where we used to build our own more local alternatives that were truly more environmentally harmonious, or at least we discussed these kinds of solution, the "no vision-no real fight" of the local labor leadership when it comes to blue-green solutions and campaigns and fights- is reactionary or has a more or less, "go-along attitude with the elites that give us co-opted environmental groups here in our town.

The state of our union and blue-green campaigns and movement put me in mind of how Karl Marx stated that American organized labor was often very conservative. For example, our the union leadership of the METRO supported Measure D, and went along in a lot of ways with Alex Clifford's and the METRO board leadership's ideas of what kinds of solutions were really helpful. We got mediocrity at a time when we need strong environmentally sound direction.

We need leadership that is well educated, not just psuedo-educated and superficially educated about alternative energy and related solutions, in architecture, design, and for all kinds of public need areas in the public sector, such as, but not limited to: housing and transportation, land use and wealth creation and utilization in times when the well is dry in Washington DC and often not much better at the state level.

We are still debating solutions that are old fashioned, even before they even get talked about and promoted in public. We have been fully put into a reactionary mode of living, thinking and doing business and politics when it comes to examining environmentally-friendly and harmonious solutions, and public policy around these possible, yet not-talked about solutions and approaches. But there was a better set of solutions being considered in the past. We need to re-educate ourselves. We need new and different and differently-educated leaders and educators. We will have to demand this ourselves. Therefore, we will need to re-educate ourselves, first. There was a hopeful conference that I attended recently up at UCSC that developed the kind of solution, problem-solving orientation and creative ideas that I am referring to here in this article. The conference was called, "Questioning the University", and was put on by students up there and presented at Stevenson College in May of this year. It was refreshing and it gave me hope. It happened on a Sunday morning and therefore, was not well attended. I went because I am encouraged by people questioning. Thank you, faculty of UCSC and students who did the work at thinking, evaluating, re-thinking and coming up with the fresh and truly innovative kinds of solution(s) that were presented at that event. We do need to RETHINK.

We should already have local businesses that are thriving in all kinds of structural areas, such a, but not limited to; public transportation, recycling, composting, food harvesting from the many restaurants, vast bicycle and road sharing with a robust public transportation system and integrated earth-friendly and labor friendly designs that consider all of our current limitations and problems, such as space and land utilisation. Instead the oil companies, software companies, car companies, the multi-nationals and their lackeys in offices here and all over the nation, seem to tilt the entirety of our endeavors toward redoing a car-and war and monolithic corporate-capitalist environment where the word, "sustainability" gets thrown around like trash. By the way, what are we doing with our, so called, "trash" nowadays?