Happy People, a Better World:
How to Get From Here To There

Well-known engineer and philosopher Buckminster Fuller was often quoted as saying that in order to change something we need not focus on changing the existing model, but rather we should create a new model that makes the old one obsolete.

Nothing has ever been created that was not first an idea in someone’s mind. If we can imagine something, we can create it. We can imagine a world which works for the highest good of all life, rather than for a select few, at the expense of all the rest. For example, we can imagine a world where self-responsible human beings live in sustainable communities within one Global Commons.

However “a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step”. How do we start on the journey to manifest our stated vision? We start where we are, here and now. Let us use Santa Barbara as the example of how we can apply these tools and implement them so that this region can become a global sustainable community.

Santa Barbara: A Global Community

Let’s start with tool 3) Bio-Regions as the basis of World Political Organization.

In each bio-region, the people tend to drink water emanating from the same source, eat food grown on similar soil and breathe the same quality of air. These create a commonality of interests. The people band together, forming their own culture and language. There is a commonality of interests here in Santa Barbara reflected in the progressive thinking of most inhabitants, blessed as we are by a good air quality, healthy food and water and a gentle climate.

Unlike most geographical areas of the planet, the geophysical and cultural identity of Santa Barbara is not defined by its watershed, but rather by its situation between the Pacific Ocean and the coastal mountains that meet the ocean just before Gaviota and just past Carpinteria. This mile wide oasis contains some springs and numerous creeks, originating in the mountains and running through our homeland to the ocean, but it is not defined by them. The identity of Santa Barbara and those who live on this small coastal plain is created by this fertile crescent.

It is this Crescent which has the potential to become the world’s first sustainable Global Community. How can this happen?

In order for a people to thrive, their basic needs must be met. These needs are: healthy food and water, non-toxic clothing, sustainable shelter, love, energy (including power, transportation, and money) and the beauty to hold it all together in a way that feeds the soul. The question then becomes: can Santa Barbara Crescent meet the needs of its inhabitants in such a way that it can become a sustainable community (within the context of a Global Commons)?

Lets take a look at these six needs individually within the Santa Barbara context.

1) Food and Water - Does anyone doubt the capability of our Crescent to be able to produce enough quality food to feed us? This will involve the re-organization of existing land uses, but clearly this is within the bounds of the possible. We already have many working organic farms here as well as an organized and active permaculture movement, college level agricultural programs and the will to make it happen.

A potential challenge is water. We have the ocean of course. We also have several creeks and springs here. As we come to recognize that water is a living, breathing, conscious entity present in all life on this planet, we will move to create of our creek beds and springs the sacred shrines that they truly are.

So the issue is not so much access to water as it is an issue of water quality. We have the knowledge and technology to create our own functional water. The intellectual resources within our community are immense in almost all areas and water is no exception.

2) Healthy Textiles - Hemp is an amazing plant, a weed which will grow almost anywhere and whose properties are legion. In keeping with the Deep Spirituality which is the basis of the Vision being presented here, again we can note that if the Creator allowed the existence of such a versatile and ubiquitous plant, who are we to condemn its existence? We can use this plant to weave our textiles and make our clothes.

We can imagine other means to create the textiles and fibers we need. We already have the intellectual resources and physical knowledge/experience to make this a reality.

3) Green Building - This area of expertise is well developed within Santa Barbara. We have the knowledge and resources to provide for our community here.

4) Love - No human being can survive without physical touch or thrive without love, care and attention. We are blessed on the Crescent with an abundance of people versed in the healing arts, multiple medical modalities, caregiving, psychology, spiritual awareness, emotional intelligence, etc. We have the ability to meet the physical, mental, emotional, spiritual and social needs of all members of our community for the mutual benefit of us all.

5) Beauty - Beauty is the food of the soul. Human beings cannot thrive without the balance, harmony and resonance that we call beauty. Santa Barbara Crescent is home to artists of all types; musicians, painters, poets, sculptors, writers and so forth. We already live in an incredibly beautiful place, gifted with a magnificent climate. We already integrate beauty into much of what is created here. The Way already exists.

6) Energy - People survived on this planet for eons using simple tools carved of stone or forged from simple metals, to augment their own personal energy expenditure. However, to advocate returning to this level of energy simplicity now would be unacceptable. Thus, even though we could not only survive, but thrive without current forms of energy, they are nonetheless essential.

There are three forms of energy - power, transportation and money - which must be considered here.

Power: In 2000 local architect and then city council member Gil Garcia sought to bring together a group of concerned citizens to research the possibility of creating our own locally generated clean and green energy. This group came to be known as the Santa Barbara Regional Energy Alliance. Research was conducted into all areas of energy creation, both traditional and alternative. The one most suited to our Crescent was solar, augmented by biomass, anaerobic digesters, perhaps some forms of hydrogen technology, geo-thermal and wave power. The mere fact that such a group existed is proof of the technological expertise already available to us. UCSB is a tremendous resource here. And there are others. Once the societal emphasis shifts from a profit motive to a service motive, other forms of energy, including zero point energy, will also be available.

Transportation: A few years ago I had the privilege of spending time in the French city of Strasbourg. I was especially impressed with the system of tramways there. They were right at ground level, with large doorways and spacious interiors. I immediately saw the possibility of trams like these running up and down State/Hollister Street and creating a gridwork throughout our Crescent.

I am a firm believer that people should work where they live if at all possible. We could transform many of our business buildings into additional living space. Instead of individuals going to the stores, we could develop a gridwork delivery system. More neighborhood stores would allow people to walk instead of drive. The point is, there are many alternatives to the way we currently get around. These could be powered other than by fossil fuel consumption.

The work of Jacque Fresco and the Venus Project reveals the possibilities of train transportation, worldwide. The Chunnel, under the English Channel, already exists. The technology to build a global network of high-speed trains is within the realm of the possible. Santa Barbara would not be isolated.

Money: In part one of this essay, we discussed the premise of a global currency to remunerate every individual’s human energy output. As a way to move toward that ideal, we could create a system of community currency here on the Crescent. By meeting our own needs within the Crescent, we would already be keeping much of our money here. Locally generated energy would be paid for here and the money kept here: same thing for food, water, clothing and shelters constructed from local materials. We could create our own health and dental insurance system for the Crescent, paid for by the people who live here. A local currency could go far to meet the needs of all who live here.

It is clear therefore, that Santa Barbara Crescent has the ability to meet the essential needs of its inhabitants, certainly within the terms of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. What are the responsibilities that would accompany these rights and could they be met sustainably within Santa Barbara?

Self-responsible Santa Barbarans

As human beings in community we have three basic responsibilities. The first is our personal and collective responsibility to meet our own and others needs in ways which will allow individual communities and the planet to thrive. The second is our personal responsibility to recognize the innate gifts we have each been given and then use them as a way to contribute meaningfully to the wholeness and well-being of our community and the planet (our service). The third duty is to care for our own bodies so that they can produce the energy required for us to be able to do our service.

Each person who lives in Santa Barbara is a microcosm of our community, just as each drop of water is the microcosm of the ocean. The human body is only as strong as its weakest organ and so too is Santa Barbara only as viable as our weakest inhabitant. For the Crescent to be sustainable, it must be composed of sustainable individuals: people who are self-regulating and self-healing, wholly responsible for their own being and doing at the physical, mental, emotional, spiritual and social levels.

For people who do not have the knowledge or the skills to do this, they can be taught. We can imagine the establishment of what I have come to call Self-Healing Education Centers; neighborhood community centers which offer the tools, techniques and support necessary for Santa Barbarans to care for their own bodies. We can learn how to clean our bodies inside and out, how to feed and nourish them, how to maintain emotional balance and spiritual awareness. This knowledge already exists. In a for-profit society this has to be purchased. In a service society this knowledge and support are given, so that all may benefit.

Just as there is a need for Self-Healing Education Centers, there is also a need for Entrepreneurial Schools, where people can learn how to serve their community in meaningful and worthwhile ways. This is known as the art of right livelihood. Each of us has been endowed with at least one God-given gift. The challenge is to recognize what is that gift and then use it as a way to contribute meaningfully to the wholeness and well-being of Santa Barbara.

People need to know how they can best give to their community so that they can then receive back what they need in a balanced and harmonious way. This giving must meet the self-esteem of each individual as well as serve the totality of the community. In other words, people must be empowered to do what they love and acknowledged with love for what they do. A few years ago I spent several weeks at Findhorn, a conscious community in Scotland. There I experienced first hand the power of gratitude. I was cleaning toilets for a whole week and was made to feel as if the job I did was the most important thing in the whole world. I WANTED to clean those toilets once I realized the amount of praise and love I was receiving for doing so!

We have the collective knowledge, technology and skills to make ourselves and Santa Barbara sustainable. What is really required is a change of attitude from taking (often at the expense of others) to giving and then receiving. Meeting our personal and collective needs will involve initiating things such as urban organic gardening practices, sustainable textiles, green building techniques, alternative energy sources and implementation, emotional intelligence, techniques of health and healing and spirituality.

Just as a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step, so does our journey to a sustainable Santa Barbara begin with us taking responsibility for our own health. As more and more of us take on the responsibility of healing ourselves at the physical, mental, emotional, spiritual and social levels, this will affect our community. We learn to harness our personal energy and skills to give to Santa Barbara what we have best to offer, knowing our personal needs will be met in exchange.

Assuming therefore that Santa Barbarans have the will to become self-responsible, it is clear that the Santa Barbara Crescent has the ability to become a global sustainable community within the terms of our stated vision.

Here is a little story to help our citizens commit to do their part:

When I was a young man, I wanted to change the world.

I found it was difficult to change the world, so I tried to change my nation.

When I found I couldn't change the nation, I began to focus on my town.

I couldn't change the town and as an older man, I tried to change my family.

Now, as an old man, I realize the only thing I can change is myself, and suddenly I realize that if, long ago, I had changedmyself, I could have made an impact on my family.

My family and I could have made an impact on our town.

Their impact could have changed the nation and I could indeed have changed the world.

There is always still time to change oneself.

One of the interesting things about this story is the recognition of different levels of political organization (family, town, nation, world). In our stated vision, we mention three levels - individual, community and global. Different concepts have different economies of scale. That is, certain things are best and most efficiently dealt with at, say, the neighborhood level as compared to the planetary, bio-regional or continental levels. Sometimes, however, in order to simply institute a new idea, it is necessary to work at a less efficient level, just to get started. So it is that we can, individually (where possible), start to grow our own food, provide our own sources of power, make our own clothes, recycle our own water. Gradually each of these needs will be met at the level best suited to them, whether that is individually, within our own neighborhood or at the level of the Santa Barbara Crescent. Eventually some needs will be best met globally, which is the concept of the One Global Commons.

What is being offered here are the proposed steps to make the transition from the current political system to a new one that will work for the highest good of all. Provided the will exists within each person on the Crescent to do their part, it is possible for us to make that transition here. Currently, politics is the handmaiden of the monetary system. We can free ourselves from both by learning to live outside the current monetary system. What we have been describing up until now is the means to do just that - live outside the current monetary system. We can also create a new political system (one that will work for the highest good of all). Here is how.

The Power of Declaration

The way to start moving towards a world that will work for everyone is to create sustainable communities. True power always lies at the local level. Human beings are tribal people - none of us can thrive living on our own. Tribes seek self-determination, the right to decide their own future. A tribe is defined by its language, culture and geophysical boundaries. Santa Barbara Crescent is such a tribe.

In 2006 a referendum was held in the current Santa Barbara County concerning a county split. North County would have become Mission County and we here on the Crescent would have remained Santa Barbara County. At that time I came up with a four-part plan I called “Steps to a Sustainable Santa Barbara”:

  1. Santa Barbara County separates, with North County going its own way.
  2. Santa Barbara County, City and Crescent become one political entity.
  3. Santa Barbara emancipates itself from the state of California and the nation of the United States - it becomes self-governing.
  4. Santa Barbara recognizes three political entities each taking responsibility according to economies of scale:
    1. Santa Barbara Bio-Region – transportation, external    relations, neighborhood coordination
    2. Individual neighborhoods –energy, food, housing, clothing, love and beauty
    3. Self-governing individuals – health and well-being, self-responsible, service to community.

I knew this was a radical plan and at the time I shared it with very few people. I did, however, write a letter to the editor of both the Independent and the News Press urging people to vote for the split. My letter was published in neither paper. The Measure died on the vine and things have continued in their usual insane way. Yet the reasons I gave in my letter are still valid. Bio-region is destiny.

The referendum process is unwieldy at best. It is still an option, but there is another. Especially for people whose identity is tied to the political creation known as the United States of America, it will be easy to understand the principle of the power of the Declaration. This is the fourth already existing premise of this essay. It constitutes the doorway through which the transition to our stated vision can pass. This is the premise that we can use to create a Sustainable Santa Barbara.

The first Declaration of the Western world was probably the Magna Carta, signed in Britain in 1215. This was a Declaration of basic rights that the British people demanded be recognized and honored by their monarch. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which we have already cited here, is another example. The best known one today is the American Declaration of Independence. I’m sure you know well the second paragraph, wherein it is written:

 That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends [the guarantee of Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness], it is the Right of the people to alter or abolish it and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.

And I shall add…the safety and happiness of the Planet.

On a peaceful planet, power will be exercised at the community level. Nation-states create war and we will not find peace until each of us collectively stops delegating our personal power to fictitious levels of government which only have power over us because we have allowed this. They no longer serve a positive purpose. In order to create a new system that will make the old one obsolete, as well as work for the highest good of all life on the Planet, we must separate ourselves from this negativity.

And in so doing, we will of necessity have to learn how to take care of ourselves within the confines of self-sufficient sustainable community. Here on the Santa Barbara Crescent we have the ability to do just this. Do we have the collective will to be the first through the doorway to a happy people and a better world?

Final word: “All truth passes through three stages. First it is ridiculed, second it is violently opposed, and third, it is accepted as self-evident.”  Arthur Schopenhauer

The Big Picture

  1. There is a Great Organizing Design created out of the union of the Grand Old Duo (the coming together of the masculine and feminine energies).
  2. Life operates at simultaneous levels of existence, each organized according to the same principles.
  3. Our bodies operate like an interdependent web to create a functioning whole, as does the Universe.
  4. The Earth is a part of the Universe.
  5. Earth is not happy. She is stressed. She has made a call for help.
  6. We are the answer.
  7. We are also the cause of the problem.
  8. We developed an attitude of greed and exploitation based on a profit motive, each person for themselves.
  9. We must change our attitude to one of service, each giving to the whole.
  10. In order to adopt a service motive we must first know that our basic needs will be met. Once these needs are met for each person (and this can be done) then people are freed to give of themselves to the whole.
  11. Each person has received at least one God-given gift.
  12. Our individual job is to discover what is that gift and then offer it to our community and our planet.
  13. The discovery of our gift opens our passion.
  14. Passion is the driving force (not money).
  15. Passion is human energy output.
  16. In order to give out our energy, our bodies must be capable of producing it. This is called good health.
  17. Our first duty is to care for our own bodies so that they can produce the energy required to drive our passion, to give our service.
  18. Our collective service meets the needs of all of us collectively.
  19. We do not need to exploit Earth in order to meet our needs. We can work along with her and assist her in her healing.
  20. By recognizing and honoring the Earth-web created by a spiritual power greater and wiser than the human collective, we can know “whatever we do to the web, we do to ourselves.”
  21. We are free.
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