Three Dutch events in two weeks time show a trend toward a YES…but…..
Event 1: Innovation Estafette 2013 (12.11.13): This gathering in the RAI in Amsterdam was organized by the ministry of Economy Innovation. It’s message was that “the entire population should be actively involved in the issues of the nation”.
The question then arises: “What is the issue of the nation? Money? Technology? Pollution? Health?” Different opinions show during the conference.
Event 2: ROET conference 2013 (13.11.13): This gathering in the High Tech Campus of Eindhoven was titled “Air quality, are we done?”, referring to the efforts of the Dutch government to comply with standards set by Brussels.
The question arises: “Are we just to comply with norms? Or do we need to invest in responsibility?”
Event 3: Half year members meeting of AiREAS (27.11.13): This event took place in Eindhoven where this global citizen’s initiative for healthy cities was started.
The question arises: “How can we manage the citizen’s leadership relationship with dominant institutions?”
It is interesting to note the built up of the events. Event 1 is calling for responsibility, event 2 is taking responsibility from a political, economic point of view and event 3 is turning the paradigm around to take responsibility from a humanitarian citizen’s perspective.
It shows a clear tendency towards a new global standard of awareness, responsibility and co-creative action in favor of environmental and human health. The “but” refers to the underlying stress between the reigning system of economic and political compliance and the universal system of nature that reacts to unbalance.
The real turn around is in event 3, helped by the awareness and commitment offered through the first two event. Even though event 3 is still minute, vulnerable in the magnitude of the old lobby of system’s dominance, it is extremely significant. It is not just a bunch of citizens that are standing up. The memberships contains global institutions such as Philips, ECN, Imtech, intellectuals and researchers from the Universities of Utrecht, Amsterdam, Twente, Madrid, Eindhoven and Delft, as well as local governmental officials from the city of Eindhoven and province North Brabant. All professionals interact as citizen’s first.
The three events show the usual human inner conflict:
Do we sell or buy responsibility (economics)? If so, who takes final responsibility for the “healthy city” if we prioritize our economic options (politics)?
Or do we take responsibility our selves as human beings before even considering our professional priorities (sustainocracy)? If so, are we in the ability to take responsibility in the complexity of our city development?
The duality can be clarified when we look at the way we deal with it in our homes. A family is the smallest human community in pursuit of sustainable human progress and securities. The society of which we are member is expected to provide the same, just a size bigger.
How do we deal with health at home? Who is the boss? What happens when someone gets sick? Do we go to work (economics)? Do you prioritize our sickness with other issues (politics)? No, we deal with health first.
So: Will “health” become a standard? Yes!
BUT: We all need to give it the same priority as at home.
When I saw this short video I could not resist to create a mental analogy with the fragile societies we build and how we deal with them in the different phases…….enjoy and comment if you like……..
Our ability to design complex structures, our fear for collapse, the beauty of fragile sustainable harmony, the art of creation, the collapse and our self confidence and reassurance that we can do it again, over and over……
and above all – the excitement contained in each of the phases (initiation, growth, harmony and collapse) for those who create and those who participate…….
One of the citizen’s sustainocratic initiatives that we initiated in Eindhoven (Netherlands) is the co-creation of the healthiest city of the world using air quality as guiding principle. We invited the local government, business enterprises and scientific researchers to take responsibility with us. That is how the formal Local AiREAS Eindhoven was born in 2011. Air pollution is one of the most deadly problems that we face in the world. Since mid October this year the World Health Organization recognised it to be level 1 cancer producing.
Now what? How do we deal with it as a citizen’s cooperative with institutional memberships? We seem to know that pollution comes from high level concentrations of burning stuf (fuel, wood, waste, etc) but our entire lifestyle depends on that. Mobility, heating, industry, logistics….if we want a healthy city we would need to change everything, from design to culture.
Where do we start? No one wants cancer and no one wants to give up a wealthy lifestyle. The consequences however do not just show in economics due to illness, lack of productivity or costs of health care. They also show in quality of life, global problems and huge amount of people with chronic diseases. This mismatch suggests a transformation process. But how do we choose our priorities?
The first project of AiREAS was to create a backbone infrastructure of measurement equipment to visualize our air pollution in the finest detail. One of the most modern requirements is to analyse the ultra fine dust that we create through combustion of fuels or wood and friction. These particles are smaller than a virus and settle in our arteries, creating infections that can give rise to all kinds of health problems, even cancer. Larger particles may be captured by our natural defences, such as nose moisture and small hairs. But the smaller ones go straight through.
Measuring such minute air particles in the open air in a city is very difficult. Expensive technology so far only reached to a certain point of detail. At AiREAS we managed to cocreate much less expensive equipment that measures a vast amount of variables, and in real time. In Holland we say that “measurement is knowledge”. But what do we know when we measure?
Just imagine this little red dot:
This represents a particle in the free, open air in your city. Now we want to know what it is and how it affects our wellbeing? One way to do this is to filter the air through a membrane. We can then analyse the membrane and whatever it has captured. This did not work for us because we wanted to measure in real time, all the time, without having to go to the measurement station (normally hung up on a light post or so) to change filters or tubes. Another technique is with to measure with light or laser. Air in an air chamber of the measurement station is analysed by the way light is distorted by air particles.
Now we know the quantity of particles per cubic “something” in space somewhere in the city in close to real time. We also know the size. We can distinguish particulate matter (PM) from below 1 micron to the traditional 2.5 and 10 PM.
This is great and already a huge advantage over other measurement techniques in the world. Scientists helped define the location of the measurement equipment so that information could be interpreted with some degree of reality. But what reality? We are interested in human health. So where can we measure, link with the respiratory reality and health consequences? Why would the measurement at 2.5 meters above a sidewalk under a light post be representative for what happens with people who live in the area? Scientific research talks about modulation. This is a mathematical technique to extrapolate our knowledge at the point of measurement and its validity for interpretation at a certain distance.
Modulation has to do with smart guessing based on behaviour models that take all kinds of variables into account. Every situation is different. Think of the way the wind affects the particles, or rain, gravity, temperature, turbulence around buildings, etc. Should we measure at the light post close to where pollution originates or at home of a local resident where people spend most of the time? Is the health hazard related to what we ingale while on the move or when we are at home? Or is it the accumulation of both. How then does pollution spread? Are our modulation models correct for interpretation? Do we measure at the right places for correct judgement.
These are relevant questions because based on the answers we influence policies on where roads should be changed, how traffic is routed, what needs to be changed in our lifestyle by law or suggestion, etc. These are big responsibilities.
The second backbone we put in place in the city is a health measurement infrastructure with real doctors measuring heart, lung, arteries. By choosing the spots right we could get to see if adjustments in the city or our behaviour would prove to be successful, not just by showing an improvement in air quality but also in related health and quality of life.
Linking public health and air pollution in true real life research with the involvement of the entire city population is quite unique. It is a living lab that teaches us as much as the rest of the world, especially because we do it with all participants at the table, not just fragmented research topics. That is also why we can react instantly on impulses that occur and surprise us. We become aware and conscious as we move.
Recently for instance we had a huge storm, up to hurricane power. This sucked all the polluted air right out of the city. The measurements however did not show uniformity. Strange things happened. The particles did not behave the same way and certainly not the way we would have expected.
Going back to our red dot we realize that we know only the size and quantity of particles. We do not know their weight, mass or properties. So in reality we know very little. These properties behave differently in different circumstances where gravity, climate, weather, electromagnetism, turbulence, etc influence them all the time. How can we interpret air pollution and attach values to it if we have so many doubts? How can we communicate pollution to the public if we don’t even know what kind of pollution we are talking about? How can we take measures in the city if we don’t know how the particles behave before they even get to our lungs and arteries?
We concluded that we need to initiate a new scientific project just to focus on “interpretation” of data.
We decided two things:
1. With two years of citizen’s cooperative work at AiREAS we have accumulated much awareness and experiences to share with others. We will get people to visit us for regular seminars that will allow them to do the same in their home town.
2. We will establish a research team to see how we go about interpretation and communication. We will finance the research through the income from education. Like this we keep ahead of the crowd so to say but let the others in on all our experience building through the trainings.
If of interest please mail. You can also forward this initiative and progress to people in your network who deal with this complex issue.
We are always in search for harmony. The unconscious challenge we face when we live our life is that our world is constantly on the move. Change is the big constant we need to deal with. In order to get what we need to live we need to be on the move too. We tend to feel a constant drive as if we are in permanent disharmony. The 5th level is an awakening into the understanding the mechanisms of harmony, beginning with our own selves.
The underlying 4 levels are mere experience building exercises of our consciousness. When we are acting within the fields of growth, competition, change or organisation we feel occupied, challenged, maybe even powerful. We tend to feel that winning, more and more, are our purpose in life. We act short term, fearful to what we can loose, worried and influenced by all kinds of external powers. We only seem to be happy when we have things, preferably a bit more than others, and we do anything to achieve it. Balance and harmony are just temporary moments of rest before a new burst of energy sets us out to combat our surroundings for more. A new job, a bigger house, a new car, better wages, a holiday further away, etc.
The day we realise that all this is just part of a permanent natural search for harmony our life changes. We start consciously thriving for harmony instead of growth or competition. The 5th level has nothing to with intelligence or education. It has to do with deep inner understanding, a sense of harmony that starts within one self. This strange fearless feeling of trust and confidence comes at the strangest moments, normally when one has to let go of everything (possessions, feelings, beliefs, etc) and becomes aware that grows and competition brings instability while harmony brings piecw of mind and true progress.
One comes to terms with the idea that it is not what one has that matters but how one uses the abilities and resources to achieve progress through harmony.
Societies and communities behave like human beings with the same characteristics of consciousness. A business or country that is managed for growth behaves different than one focused on sustainable development through harmony.
With climate change, pollution and global warming we see that the overall tendency is towards this 5th level of awareness. We need not just consider harmony with our own selves but also with our environment.
It is all about harmony. At molecular level we recognise our physical living complexity through harmony. At biological level we see ourselves in harmony with all kinds of minute species that help us live by dedicating their life’s to ours in reciprocity. I refer to the bacteria and virusses that live on and inside our body supporting our own life system.Over 3 billion shape this living universe called “me”. Non of these species probably even consciously knows that I exit. For them I am their planet or universe.
Level 5 is inside all of us and we show the ability to deal with it on a daily basis. We just need to arrive at a point of conscious awareness about it. Harmony made our molecules unite into a unique new creature that needs to learn to arrive at a point of harmony with itself and surroundings. This harmony is not a final position of a fixed nature. Not at all. It is a new beginning. We stop fighting and start connecting in purpose driven processes that just have to do with life’s essentials:
* food (including water)
* applied consciousness
* applied freedom
We place growth, competition and adaptability in evolutionary context and apply change to adjust to harmony using our awareness and consciousness to guide us.
Arriving collectively in the world at this point of consciousness is a breakthrough of understanding life and the universe providing sustainable human progress for all. A lot needs to happen still but the signs are all over not because we have become so smart, just because we become aware.
Level 4: community
We learn how to deal with non competitive relationships. Community building has to do with “securities” and “progress” for the participants. A community can provide protection but also new possibilities for growth and competition due to differences in size and abilities. A community introduces the complexity of self awareness, relationships, co-creation and progress. Growth, competition and adaptability applies to communities too just like individuals yet they develop in different ways depending on the purpose and size of the combinations.
The diversity has grown very large and forms a new, modern type of dynamics. Communities of the same type tend to clash in competition (eg business or countries) or search the diplomatic interaction, for instance between communities within a community. It can get as complex as we want and shows the same natural dynamics as individual identities. On a regional level we often refer to this as “the system” (the economic system, law system, political system, the competitive system, etc).
At the level of consciousness of the human being we can reflect about us within communities or dealing with communities from an outside perspective. Within the community we are participants and do this for a reason. Outside the community we use it as an instrument just like a football player uses a ball or a carpenter a hammer. It are two different levels of perception and consciousness.
When we look at society we see that the basic tradition of humankind to build communities has always been the bonding between man and woman to form a family. We are capable of living the bondage individually (husband, wife, parent, son, daughter, grandparent, etc) and as a whole (family). In other communities this does not work like that. It is often either-or.
The many social, production, combat, religious, political, etc types of communities have a long evolutionary history too but shorter of course than our family based experience. We call these larger community complexities the “system complexity” which tends to live a life of its own. To make it even more complex we created a parallel universe to connect these human communities and call it “economics”. This abstract term has as many meanings as our consciousness and is often confused with it, refering to money as the spirituality of community development.
At this level of awareness we find people who develop a very special nature to use community building out of self interest. They manipulate reality in such a way that only they benefit. Think of the banking families around the world that have created an enormous imperium around money which provides them with an enormous amount of power as long as we attach value to money and create systems based on the invention. The same occurs with other abstract systems around the spiritual bondage among people. Banks work like religions. Money is a system of debt and religion too. Both demand loyalty to the system in exchange for safety through absolution and securities like food, shelter, luxury, healthcare, peace of mind, the eternal life, etc.
The day we put our energy in creating other types of relationships instead of property and debt the entire old money or belief system collapses and is replaced by something new. Power of control is hence extremely relative to the surroundings we build for ourselves. One minor change (s.a. giving a sense of value to tokens instead of money, or knowledge instead of belief) can change everything.
Most people are not aware of this. They act self aware about their daily needs of food, shelter, clothing, etc but have no perception of the overall reality, just some fragmented pieces and interpretation. We place our trust in the community and offer our loyalty as long as we gets what is needed in our daily existence.
Consciousness is not built when daily needs are served, it is built when communities do not serve in the daily needs anymore and one falls back into reflection and awareness through purpose driven knowledge building and usage.
Then sustainable leadership appears at random among the individual people that step out of the old world to produce the new values that become the basis of new community creation. The complexity simplifies just to become complex again based on different values.
Level 3: adaptability
The third level of consciousness has to do with our ability to experiment with alternatives. Our awareness arrives at a point that we realize that we cannot win every competitive battle. When the complexity of our surroundings and interaction increases we need to become smart rather than fast or strong. At this level of consciousness we become aware of tools that help us reach our goals. Growth and competition are still driving forces but our instruments, wit, creativity, diplomacy, manipulation, communication, etc become important tools for sustainable development and self interests.
Adaptability at individual level is seen as an adventurous virtue. Young people who free themselves from the authority of their parents tend to become true experimenters of life. They search the boundaries of their existence in every possible way. In this phase the learning process includes the letting go, accepting and introducing change while experimenting with new realities. This is important for our consciousness to reassure ourselves continuously as a self aware identity in the complexity that humankind represents as a species. We become aware of ourselves (the “I am” experience), ethics and responsibilities by experimenting with exactly the opposite.
Leadership develops and people follow and unfollow their idols and influential examples. The “alternative” tends to reign as opposed to conservative dogma’s imposed by the elders and surroundings.
This video clearly shows how level 3 interaction works:
Level 2: Competition
This level of consciousness arrives when we need to learn how to survive in a competitive world. A child will enter this phase as soon as he/she is relating to other children of a similar age “this is mine!!!”. The child compares the own abilities with those of others trying to emulate behavior, experimenting to do things too and trying to do it better. “Look what I can do!”
Entering the consciousness phase of competition does not stop the phase of growth. It simply adds a new dimension to it. Competition is a key vehicle of inner and group chaos that initiates the Darwinistic selection processes of the quickest, smartest, most likable, etc. Our consciousness evolves by learning how to find out about our own strength and abilities through interpretation and relativation. Life and survival become significant and relevant to the evolution of our understanding. At the level of childhood we do this under the protective guidance of adults. When we are adult we are expected to do it by ourselves. Establishing communities helps us by agreeing to common values and rules (culture), also for competition (You will not kill. You are faithful to your partner. Etc).
How we deal with the community and its functioning individually in a conscious way is level 4. Before that we deal with society as if it were the only reality of life without consciously questioning it.
This short video shows competition in the wild in a natural way. We see both growth and competition interact beautifully with different community cultures interacting and a courageous community driven outcome.