We are a bunch of people deeply displeased with recent public events. We’d like to create our own, more positive events, because it’d be the best way to build for ourselves the futures we’d like to live in.
We’re embedded in a badly ossified society — one can’t get anything done without pushing through an immense pile of social inertia. We as individuals can be extremely quick — but to move anything that large we need mass, also, which we’re short on.
To take advantage of what we have, we make our own plans for how to be a functional society, and pursue them. The decade I’ve spent as a local freelance political activist taught me that in the US, politicians aren’t in the business of leadership — they’re professional placators and deal-makers. So when crises peak and vision is necessary, having nothing of their own to offer, they grab whatever’s lying about that might fill the need. We aim to have something lovely for them to grab, and to bind it to our own plans such that when they pick it up and run with it, we come too.
We can succeed without them entirely, and it’d be foolish not have a contingency plan in case that turns out to happen. But that’s getting too far down into the weeds; what we need to do is decide what we want, make plans to create it, and then implement and complete those plans.
If one doesn’t have training in planning, it’s far too easy to conceive of plans as bureaucratic straitjackets. Good plans are flexible, dynamic, and have fundamental structures for goal modification. (Corporatese for this is “change orders”. The client can have anything they want, as long as they’re willing to sign off on a contract to pay for it.)
So, how do we build that plan? The first step is to create a specification for it: What is the plan supposed to accomplish? (This is also called a “success condition”: How do we know if/when we have succeeded?) So, what do we want?
The first error we need to avoid is that of binding ourselves to obsolete labels. All such labels become banners for “Team Sports Politics”, making people want Their Team to win because it’s Their Team, regardless of what that means for or does to the humans involved. So we will not here think or act as liberals, conservatives, progressives, capitalists, communists, Marxists, Randists, socialists, popularists, fascists, royalists, or whatever “ist” anyone comes up with that I failed to include. We are Humans. That’s the only team to be concerned with.
Trying to plan for All Humans is a scope too great for us to encompass. We have to build our specification based on “the team” being just whomever we have here that have agreed to commit to such a plan, and “the target” being a human social entity we have fair odds of having material effect on. I’m defining the latter as the population of the city of Portland as it will exist in 2040, which I estimate to be 5 million people. I am here defining “the population” as anyone who lives or does business here, or wants or plans to. So we can’t know whom they all are, and many of them probably don’t yet know themselves. (Afghan refugees, anyone?)
What does it mean to ‘Solarpunk’ a city? It means we want to build a rosy, positive, optimistic, environmentally wise and socially-just technological future for us and our city. And if you’re in our city and don’t want to be a part of us, we’re fine with that. We’ll try to include you in whatever plans you don’t mind, and if feasible shield you from the aspects of our plans you object to.
Each of us decides for ourselves what we as individuals want and need. There are also a large number of values we wish to hold in common and needs that we all share. Individual and common needs are both vital and we want to pursue them and aid each other in so doing. So we develop. monitor, and maintain a list of common needs, and meet them to the best of our abilities, while also making as much room as we can for people to pursue their individualistic desires. We’ve compiled an ever-growing list of generic human needs, and another list of things to do to meet those needs. Our lists and procedures for maintaining and changing them will be a later post.
So please take a look at our project list, and see if there’s anything you want to do. And if you have any ideas for something that would be useful at achieving the goals described above that isn’t there, please propose it — and take ownership of it and start doing it if that’s your desire. The rest of us here will try to help you however we can, and also keep you informed about what you might do to help us, if you have those spare resources and are so inclined.
So that’s us. What do you think?