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Human Scale and Pace, anyone?

 
gardener
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If you look at the bottom of my posts it says, "Passionate advocate for living at a human scale and pace."

I wondered if anyone knew what that meant. It's deeply connected to a book I've been writing for quite some time. I put it here in religion and spirituality because so much of the research I collected came from people of faith, and much of it came from Catholic sources, so "my faith."

If you're interested in reading and critiquing the chapter on human scale and pace, here's a link to a shareable Google document where you can do just that. I'd love feedback!

Click here to go to the document.

Thanks!

j
 
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Hi Jim,
Thanks for your thoughts, I did read your chapter, and appreciate the burden you are trying to convey. I hesitate to offer any critique, as I don't know where your whole book is pointed, its desired audience, or other details like your intended authorial voice, plus there are so many threads to weave into the rope of "be human-sized"! Your opening quote from John Senior was very well taken. There is a rich literature on the topic, too, so rather than any critique, I'll offer a complementary poem (which I suspect you know):

The world is charged with the grandeur of God.
It will flame out, like shining from shook foil;
It gathers to a greatness, like the ooze of oil
Crushed. Why do men then now not reck his rod?
Generations have trod, have trod, have trod;
And all is seared with trade; bleared, smeared with toil;
And wears man's smudge and shares man's smell: the soil
Is bare now, nor can foot feel, being shod.
And for all this, nature is never spent;
There lives the dearest freshness deep down things;
And though the last lights off the black West went
Oh, morning, at the brown brink eastward, springs —
Because the Holy Ghost over the bent
World broods with warm breast and with ah! bright wings.
God's Grandeur - Gerard Manley Hopkins

In the use, overuse, and abuse of creation, it is we who have lost the most, though we've caused a lot of other losses too.

I hope your efforts in IN go well!
Mark
 
J Garlits
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Thanks for the post, Mark.

G. M. Hopkins is one of my favorite poets, and God's Grandeur is one of his finest.

I also love The Hound of Heaven and Pied Beauty.

I hope to have the whole book edited and published by the end of next year, so it is still a work in progress.  If you would like to be a beta-reader, let me know and I'll throw chapters at you occasionally.

j
 
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Mark Miner wrote:Your opening quote from John Senior was very well taken.



Y'all have read Dr. Senior?!?!? My mom, sister, and I are just diving into one of his books this week--we are huge fans. His books are part of what inspires me to build forward every day in spite of the odds arrayed against what I cherish most.
 
Rachel Lindsay
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I've just finished reading your document. The topics you will address are some of the most highly interesting to me, and I devour books on these topics. (There's a new book on Localism by Ahlquist et. al. that I will be getting soon!)

Among many other interesting topics, I do hope you devote a whole chapter to housewives, and share your thoughts on how they affect a culture.
 
J Garlits
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John Senior got me started down the path to writing this book. I started it more than 15 years ago and am still researching...

I haven't just read him, I created a digital library of his recommendations on "the thousand good books" everyone should have read.

https://thousandgoodbooks.com

And a magazine based on those books: https://goodsoilmagazine.substack.com which I have been negligent on updating for several weeks.

j

Rachel Lindsay wrote:

Mark Miner wrote:Your opening quote from John Senior was very well taken.



Y'all have read Dr. Senior?!?!? My mom, sister, and I are just diving into one of his books this week--we are huge fans. His books are part of what inspires me to build forward every day in spite of the odds arrayed against what I cherish most.

 
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Interesting to see this topic come up. I had just been sent a video link from my son, and been pondering how much it supports the permies concept of "Gert."



Some of the parts of Jim's linked document also reminded me of A Pattern Language by C Alexander which I read decades ago. I truly feel that even though it was written in 1977, it is still relevant today. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A_Pattern_Language  If his views on what makes a good community had been more widely instituted, I feel we'd be better off today.

Although very few of our cities are truly walkable, and don't get me started on housing... at least where I'm currently living, there is *much* more talk and at least token efforts to transform the current infrastructure to what they've coined as "active transportation". We definitely have many more bike lanes than 20 years ago, and for the most part, they're bike lanes that genuinely go where people want to or need to go.
 
Rachel Lindsay
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Jay Angler wrote:
Some of the parts of Jim's linked document also reminded me of A Pattern Language by C Alexander which I read decades ago. I truly feel that even though it was written in 1977, it is still relevant today. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A_Pattern_Language  If his views on what makes a good community had been more widely instituted, I feel we'd be better off today.  



Yes. I have been thinking the exact same thing, having recently spent a week looking through A Pattern Language. I have to believe that each one of us can apply some of these solutions in our lives and networks and help everyone shift upwards.
 
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This seems like something that a lot of people (myself included) have been realizing lately. But so far it has been kind of quiet, since the idea itself lends to quietude and humility.

I like how it’s going so far! If I were to suggest something it might be to include some more anecdotes, stories, extended metaphors, etc. I feel like these lighter can help a lot with letting new ideas sink into the mind and giving space and memorability to each of the ideas, like how oatmeal can be a very heavy and dense food and can benefit from other ingredients added in.

I especially relate to the soft edges paragraph. I know that when I walk by a house and it has hard edges, I get a bad feeling and hurry past it as if it’s the Devil’s own dwelling-place. There is one place on one of my walks where a certain monolithic-looking house gave me this bad feeling, and I ended up recently having a negative or at least very cold first interaction with the dwellers while I was passing by. Whereas when I see soft edges I feel that I can wave if I see someone there. And forests and meadows near human habitation, pasture land, and old growth or older forests that grew up from pasture, seem to always be the most welcoming and uplifting and alive-feeling, whereas the ones touched mostly by chainsaw, tractor and forwarder tend to universally have a neglected and unwelcoming feel to them.

There is a Tolkien quote from Bilbo Baggins and his ring-induced longevity, something about feeling like butter stretched thin over too much bread. This seems a very apt metaphor for modern life, one that I feel every time I walk through a machine-scraped forest, crop-field, or hay-field.

And there does seem to be some spiritual component to me that maybe (like life itself) can’t be justified adequately with rational argumentation, as if when we act in accordance with our own natures, the entire community of spirit beings somehow smiles and welcomes us in. And something changes with them, too, as if our presence is strangely powerful and radiant—a spiritual power born despite, and because of, our apparent smallness.

Sitting under the stars before going to sleep in the open air seems to break, both literally and metaphorically, the barrier between heaven and earth. Once I felt the presence of numerous forgotten ancestors in the sky; another night I was there, counting on my fingers in a certain way as advised, and suddenly had the feeling that the community of deities and spirit beings was all rapt, their attention fixed upon my voice, and that as I was lying there counting, something was inexplicably reverberating through the universe.

The following, I’ve noticed through observation in my own mind and those of others. I’m not trained in psychology or psychoanalysis so a grain of salt may be helpful.

Maybe part of the society’s grandiose tendencies has to do with this sense of inadequacy and stress that is so common today. If we want to transcend them then it helps to understand how certain thoughts are produced by particular mind-states, and that when these mind-states fade, so do the thoughts which are produced by them. For example, “What is the meaning of life?” is a good example of a question aligned with the mind state I call “craziness”. When we feel constantly stressed and threatened but can’t get away from the stressor, this mind state of “craziness” emerges. And this is now getting to be thought of as the normal state of mind, since living against our nature, at this bizarre and gigantic scale, is inherently stressful. “Craziness” to me is when you are distressed but forget or perhaps disregard or disbelieve the cause of this distress, characterized by unending hunger, like nothing is never enough, a feeling of being cut off from others, and sometimes self- (or other-)hatred and a desire to destroy or manipulate nature, whether your own inner nature, or outer nature. The latter manifests itself at one extreme as asceticism, self-mortification, and—just maybe—drug abuse, and on the other as the incessant greed for power and ownership: to control others, to shape nature into one’s desires, keep lawns dandelion free, invasives and weeds to be exterminated; to cut down the chestnuts and plant wheat where they stood. And either way, we do even more harm to our own nature. The only way out which I know of is to be out in outer Nature for long enough that our inner Nature is reignited. And even that cannot fill in some of the missing pieces of our nature which must be fulfilled in relation with others.

Then when we are in good relation with inner and outer nature, eventually our mind settles out into a calm / natural mind state, which isn’t perfect or universally blissful, but infused with meaning and a kind of goodness.

I hope this wasn’t too much of a digression… maybe it’s something to make a separate thread on.

Someone with a lot more experience in this regard is Miriam Lancewood, who lived in the wilderness for eight years and talks about the calm/wild and crazy mindstates extensively on the interview linked below.

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=t9qdRFCV65U
 
Mark Miner
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Hi Jim,
I'd be interested to read more bits and bobs as you wish to make them available, and perhaps privately communicate more back-and-forth if you find it valuable. Feel free to Moosage me if you would like.

I also find much to appreciate in A Pattern Language, it is reaching at many things that used to come quite naturally, and which we are now in a position to have to work to reclaim. C. Alexander is also way more excited than I am about lightweight concrete, but I've only done one Perlite-crete project, so maybe I just haven't been convinced yet ;-)

Finally, C.S. Lewis' discussion of the bulldozing-plan for Cure Hardy in That Hideous Strength is a sort of accelerated depiction of all these processes. If you've read it, you will know quite what I mean. If you haven't, the Space Trilogy is one of his more fascinating works, and is well worth a read.
All best,
Mark
 
J Garlits
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Wow, thanks Maieshe.

I appreciate the time and thought you put into this post.  I'll certainly look into adding more examples and stories to break up the heavier thoughts. That's a great idea. Up to now, I've been focusing on getting the meat on the plate, so to speak. I realize that it needs veggies, a salad, and desert, too! But it is coming together...

j

Maieshe Ljin wrote:This seems like something that a lot of people (myself included) have been realizing lately. But so far it has been kind of quiet, since the idea itself lends to quietude and humility.

 
J Garlits
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Mark,

I'm going to have to read A Pattern Language now. It hasn't been on my radar. And revisiting Lewis's space trilogy is a worthy goal. I read it in ninth grade, I think. Friends were passing the books around. Of course, I read it with a teenager's mind. I need to read it from an adult's perspective.

The book has taken shape from an introductory set of chapters focusing on Human nature, the human needs that flow from it (based primarily on Manfred Max-Neef's fundamental human needs framework, then the chapter on human scale and pace. I've probably been tinkering too much with the first two, and probably need to go back and cut out the fat. What follows after those intro chapters are essays on different aspects of life that we've sort of messed up, with strategies on correcting course.

What I'm trying to weave into those chapters is Max-Neef's identification of human needs violators, pseudo-satisfiers, satisfiers, and synergistic satisfiers. I'll see if I can make my writing software push out a PDF with some of the more polished chapters. Bits and bobs, as you say.  Look for a PM soon with that attached or linked.

I appreciate the interest.

j

Mark Miner wrote:Hi Jim,
I'd be interested to read more bits and bobs as you wish to make them available, and perhaps privately communicate more back-and-forth if you find it valuable. Feel free to Moosage me if you would like.

I also find much to appreciate in A Pattern Language, it is reaching at many things that used to come quite naturally, and which we are now in a position to have to work to reclaim. C. Alexander is also way more excited than I am about lightweight concrete, but I've only done one Perlite-crete project, so maybe I just haven't been convinced yet ;-)

Finally, C.S. Lewis' discussion of the bulldozing-plan for Cure Hardy in That Hideous Strength is a sort of accelerated depiction of all these processes. If you've read it, you will know quite what I mean. If you haven't, the Space Trilogy is one of his more fascinating works, and is well worth a read.
All best,
Mark

 
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