I’m going to write down some thoughts regarding the last meeting, and I encourage all of you who attended to do the same in the comments section below. You may also comment on comments. As always, please remain civil—people often let loose in an online forum. This is not that kind of forum.
A Mixed Bag
For me personally, there was much of interest in this meeting, but in the end I felt that we spent too much time straying from the evening’s topic, namely the causes of the financial collapse and what we might do to address them. I felt as though we got lost in some abstract territory regarding our process, and this led me to feel impatience, frustration. I envisioned these meetings as a chance to drill down deeper into various topics of importance, as opposed to meandering around into this and that. Not that I expect ultra-rigid structure—just more of a middle ground than we had at the last meeting.
As co-moderator I take full responsibility for this. Once the conversation begins to flit around all over the place, I lose track of where we are, and it becomes difficult for me to even follow what’s being said. I definitely could have been more vigilant in terms of keeping us on-topic, and I think the meeting would have been more productive. Certainly, I don’t expect our humble group to solve the problem of the banking crisis, but we could have certainly benefited from deeper exploration of the crisis in our own lives and the lives of others in our community. In my opinion, this crisis is far from over, and we would do well to devote serious attention to our relationship with these “too big too fail” Wall Street banks and brokerages.
All that said, I’d like to add that while hiking the following morning I found myself smiling as I pondered our meeting. Such a diverse and colorful group of folks with so many interesting things to say! I feel happy and grateful to be on this journey with all of you!
Three Treasures & One Recommendation
But I admit that I lost patience (see quote above), and I know that others did as well. This is fine, it’s part of the process, it will happen often. But I’m thinking it could be a good exercise if each of us wrote down three treasures that we gleaned from each meeting, in order to remind one another what was said and learned. And then a recommendation as to how we might improve the next meeting. Or a good topic for an upcoming meeting. Here are mine—please leave yours in the comments section below:
- Treasure #1: I was intrigued by Jeffrey’s explanation of how societies reach an apex and then three things can happen: they fall backwards, they explode, or they transform into something new. We are doing all three, Jeffrey said, and I can see this. Moreover, I value what he intimated about the importance of a small group such as ours, that something new could spring up from our midst without us yet being aware that it’s there.
- Treaure #2: I hope I’m right about the meeting here… I think Conor’s idea of sponsoring debates outside of our group is a wonderful one. And it got me thinking that for the meeting on 10/19 it could be good to watch the movie Food, Inc. Then at a subsequent meeting we could invite local food providers (owners of the Fairway, Mtn Harvest and perhaps some restaurants) to join a roundtable discussion about local food quality and other issues that arise when we watch this powerful film.
- Treasure #3: I loved the moment when Puri stated powerfully: ‘We know that crimes have been committed, and that they have gone unpunished. And something should be done about this!’ Yes, indeed Puri!
- A piece of advice: more focus and a clearer agenda would be good. Consider restricting length to 90 mins. Less abstract discussion of process. More drilling down into the issue at hand.
Afterthoughts, Links & Resources
In hindsight, it seemed to me that some of the trouble we ran into was a result of the BIG subject matter. It really is overwhelming, especially if you’ve not been following it closely for the last several years. With that in mind I’d like to provide you with some links that you might find useful. If any of you have links you’d like to add, include them in comments below. Or email me, and I will add them here.
Refund California: “A state-wide coalition of homeowners, community members, faith leaders and students working to make Wall Street banks pay for destroying jobs and neighborhoods with their greedy, irresponsible and predatory business practices.” Check out their events section—you’ll find they have some good ones coming up in the next couple of weeks in conjunction with the Occupation of Wall Street, including next week’s “It’s Time For Wall Street Banks to Pay Week” in Los Angeles. It’s part of the ongoing New Bottom Line campaign to hold banks accountable.
Move Your Money: You may recall I mentioned this in our meeting. “A nonprofit campaign that encourages individuals and institutions to divest from the nation’s largest Wall Street banks and move to local financial institutions.”
Center for Economic Policy Research: I also mentioned the economist, Dean Baker, from this nonprofit organization that “was established in 1999 to promote democratic debate on the most important economic and social issues that affect people’s lives.” Check out Dean Baker’s blog and explore the site. Among other things you’ll find a home ownership calculator that enables you to compare the true cost of buying a home vs renting.
Post-Carbon Institute: No discussion of economics is complete without an exploration of the underlying energy issues that affect us more than we’d care to believe. For a quickie primer on the post-carbon argument, see this five minute animation by Richard Heinberg. If it strikes you as reasonable you can also check out the first chapters of his book, The End of Growth.
Finally, if rebuilding the economy seems like an overwhelming task, check out David Korten’s work, for example his Agenda for a New Economy blog at Yes! Magazine. His book by the same title is available at our local branch of the public library system, and it offers a balanced view of the historical roots of the current crisis, what’s happening now and what we might do to move from a system based on “phantom wealth” to one in which we invest in “real wealth,” in other words: our communities, education, natural resources, sustainable agriculture, etc. To get a taste check out his 10 Common Sense Economic Truths.