Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Film 7 - The Power of Community



  1. The Power of Community, if nothing else was an affirmation of my choosing an urban planning project for studio centered on the goal of enriching a sense of community via interdependence among neighbors. It was really inspiring to see the Cuban people, in their recovery during the special period, come together in the midst of their own poverty to help one another survive. In my previous comments I have mentioned collectivist cultures as an example of one seeing one’s relationships with social groups, as an extension of one’s self --- fostering more responsibility among community members. The recovery of Cuba shows us how individualist cultures (USA) can redevelop a sense of community, interdependence, and above all relearn how to care for one another. “ It’s not the technology that’s going to save us, it’s the human relationships that are going to save us.” My project aims specifically to create and build relationships among neighbors. “Relationship building is how you survive.” To build neighborhoods of people, who care about one another and take care of each other, is to extend the concept of family. “What we need is more love, more friendship…because we have only 1 world for all of us.” Extending brotherly love to all of our neighbors is to also plant the social seeds of an “agriculture of survival” that ultimately yields the crop of a healthy community. That is what I think makes Cuba reaching peak oil a truly “special” period in modern history.

  2. I remember that time when the U.S policy was steadfast in refusing to help Cuba when it was so clear their people were starving. We like to think of this policy as our fight against the expansion of Communism, but in actuality we were protecting Capitalism. We do a lot of bad things for the sake of protecting Capitalism. When Castro overthrew the government his policies nationalized all the capital investments in Cuba. Many Americans lost their investments, and that is one thing Americans can’t tolerate. For that reason, they complained to Washington to invoke such a harsh economic policy against Cuba. This was not the first time we have implemented such a policy for the protection of Capitalism, and it won’t be the last.

    In the face of crisis, the Cuban people really rose to the challenge to help one another out of dire circumstances. They found their roots and reinvented themselves. I’m really proud of them. Can Americans do the same when we are eventually faced with the same adversity? I doubt it. I think our civilization will collapse. We see it here played out in our political arena as we pit one group against the other. We will not be able to have the tools to survive such adversity.

    That is the wonderful thing about being a designer. We can imagine a better world and create it. We are visionaries. We collectively communicated various ideas and choose the best ones to implement into a purposeful plan of design. It’s beautiful, and useful. Watching these sustainable films has invoked me to research better solutions to my designs. After watching on initial film on Thomas Berry, I incorporated his philosophy into my mix-use design of the community mill. I included an urban garden landscape, and education of the environment into my community daycare plan. I devised a program that would enrich a low-income community into an awakening of fresh new ideas of a business incubator with community engagement and an exchange of resources. What I developed was a small scale Cuban way of life without ever seeing the film. It was just a natural instinct, of me finding my roots of a human connection to nature.

  3. In spite of my aversion for overly used platitudes, I keep thinking of the one that goes “whatever doesn't kill you will make you stronger” while watching this film. The hardships that the Cubans endured when the Soviet Union's support and oil vanished seemed to not only make them stronger, but wiser as well. Their adaptation to life without an infinite power supply was impressive and we should pay attention to the lessons they have to share. So, here are the lessons that resonated most for me.

    “If we don't take care of the earth the earth will take care of us, by getting rid of us” is the big one. In our heads we already know this, but for most of us we have a ways to go before we are fully living in a way that demonstrates our awareness of the gravity, and immediacy, of the situation.

    “Let nature work for you, don't work against nature.” Become lazy farmers was good advice. I took away quite a few gardening tips that will work even in a space as small as the one in my yard. Observing how nature works when we do not interfere seemed to be the best technique the Cubans used to educate themselves about sustainable farming.

    “ It’s not the technology that’s going to save us, it’s the human relationships that are going to save us.” Kelly did a wonderful job in her post discussing the many advantages of interdependence. The cooperative measures that the Cubans used to survive reminded me of my mother's childhood during WWII. The scarcity of food, gasoline, and other products encouraged the same kind of sharing we saw in the film. She tells me about how everyone in her textile mill village would share or trade ration cards, vegetables from the small backyard gardens. House and automobile repairs were often a group effort. And each child expected to be nurtured (and corrected) by every adult in the community. Adults could also expect to be reprimanded if they were guilty of bad behavior. The community that they built with this behavior has lasted for decades.

    “Small solutions” can become significant contributions. When we get frustrated with the difficulty of getting Raleigh or Washington to respond to our requests for legislation to correct the unsustainable practices of our society, we should remember Teddy Roosevelt's advice “do what you can, with what you have, where you are.”

  4. Im laughing in my head as I am watching this movie. Lets be completely honest, in America there is no such thing as " the community". We are some of the most selfish, introverted human beings on the earth. The majority of our life and how we do things is based on individualism. So this so called "power of community idea" would never happen in real life. Well not in America anyways. We as Americans, even humans are taught, and raised to always or keep pushing the envelope. Find the newest trend, the greatest design or the latest fad. In the focus of moving forward we have no time or desire to move back. if we start telling people to use oxen to harvest the ground, and create these systems to work with the environment people would really laugh at you. People would see this power of community idea as a complete regression in life. And lets be honest people are scared to regress. This is an amazing idea and would really work if you could change the mindset of about 300,000 Americans or even the world. I really liked the movie and was inspired by it but I think that we are going to have to find a 21st century way to implement that plan so it doesnt seem like we are going back into the dark ages.

  5. When the Oil Era reaches a peak, a huge decline in the curve will experiment drastically changes of lifestyles and life as we know it know. This film makes me do a link with the previous talk ted we saw about Collapse, and relate the terms of the extreme use of resources making a great impact in the communities and societies in determinate points of life and when reaching those peaks, how entire societies fall apart for not knowing how to react and approach situations from a new point of view.
    Cuba had to struggle a lot before they found more sustainable practices to solve the oil peak. They undergo situations like no fuel, no food, and no energy; in consequence they had to limit the diet, and find other type of solutions to overcome this hard time. Babies were under weigh and the whole population had to react as a community to grow back again into a point of stability.
    Project Patio Comunitario was one of the programs developed during this moment. Solutions like planting more trees and collecting water from roofs helped to generate more conscious about the use of land. The top soil was the key, the first 3 inches of soils, but chemicals were another issue to solve. Rehab the soil, make land fertile again. Work for nature and not against nature, this logic is a very important point of the video. Most of times in production, processes that need a natural time to be completed are done faster in order to mass produce even fruit and make them bigger. The use of resources is more, and the final product is not as great in nutrients as it can be. Understand to take care of the land and earth helped Cuba survived the oil peak.

  6. The concept of Peak oil was for the first time mentioned by Hubert, 1955. “Peak oil is the point in time when the maximum rate of petroleum extraction is reached, after which the rate of production is expected to enter terminal decline.” Many people support this theory, in 2000 carter’s report about using half of the oil in the earth.
    This theory is an introduction for this movie, which talks about what can happen after we run out of oil and our sources. A very interesting example is Cuba after soviet union collapsed. The key point for that society was changing their habit and consequently changing their culture.
    The thing that happened after the soviet union were:
    • Losing pound
    • Black hours
    • Without electricity:
    • 1/5 of consumption
    • Agriculture to organic agriculture
    • Lack of fuel
    • Try and error
    This film mentions to the solutions that they found in Cuba by rethinking about these concepts: urban garden, sustainable practices, land distribution, education and health, transportation, housing, energy alternatives.
    It seems so hard to do these for our society but as a sample it shows that by small steps we can start and everything is the matter of change. Changing our lifestyle, changing our frame work, changing the culture and etc.