USA Trip May-June 2016

My USA trip was a real zinger.

Coming on the beginnings of a new relationship with a generous, caring, successful, playful and creative woman, conferences, courses, projects, visiting with my son, and chilling out, was interspersed with lengthy viber or skype conversations that were flirty, jokey, intellectual, dissonant, honest, vulnerable, happy, and teary.

The Landmark Global Transformation conference, my entry event in San Fransisco, rode on the theme of ‘Wonder’. One of my all time favourite topics, wonder would anchor the whole trip and come back, specifically, again during the Alba Emot Course in Asheville, North Carolina, a couple of weeks later.

Although Global Transformations took the ‘Wonder’ theme, it was a wondering about leadership that took my ear. Gladly, presenters I had met a couple of year ago, facilitated a couple of beautiful engaging structural movement communication work. I attended those sessions for my work in dance and it gave me another access to my hearing on leadership. Initially that hearing on leadership was all about what I need to be a leader of my rEvolve project. As my trip comes to a conclusion, that has transformed into rEvolve being the possibility of a leadership training program, ‘Moving into Leadership’.

The idea of moving into leadership is a more clear consolidation of the work I am doing around sustainability and climate change, men’s culture, and dance, into an integrated work, a leadership training program.

From San Fransisco, I flew over to Denver, Colorado, for a few days, to catch up with my friends in Art as Action. Staying at an Air BNB nearby, I was able to ride a hire bike into the city, and even on the light rail to Jefferson County where I could ride to hiking paths. As with my previous experience in that part, life at one mile high can make the legs ache in bike riding unusually earlier than at my home altitude in Australia of half a mile. I learnt how to use Lyft.

It seemed that each time the past two years I’ve seen my friends in Art as Action they have been grieving over the loss of a loved one. Last year the grandfather of the director had passed away. This year one of their music/dance colleagues and his partner were killed in a car accident. I want to make some bigger sense of this coincidence. It only mattered that I could be some community of listening around the grief. Sarah Leversee welcomed me into her Reconnect Class based on Dance for PD and it was wonderful to see the liveliness of that ‘older’ dance class.

It was a special treat to spend a few hours over lunch with Wayne Gilbert, performance poet, retired literature teacher, and recent (having Parkinson’s Disease) dance performer with Art as Action. Wayne is a volunteer poetry teacher to the State prison to the north of Denver. His experience of the attraction of poetry to some hard men, has been profound. At one of his earliest classes, having delivered a poem on Parkinson’s Disease, he was astounded that a hand immediately shot up. The owner said, “Yeh, I get that poem. It’s like how I feel about being in this prison.” I find myself amazed by the nature of the human being around their limiting circumstances, their authentic relationship with those limitations, the access they find to some expansion of those circumstances and they contributions they choose to make, nonetheless. There is some inspiration there, for all of us, and I store that idea away for a way to provide access to that inspiration for everyone.

It was great to spend a week chillin’ at my son’s place in Riverside, California. We had a number of social outings together including a Baha’i meeting. We played an hour of table tennis every night. I got a little heat stroke doing a hike in the desert hills at the back of his place, and the effects of that took quite a few days to remedy, reminding me, among other things, that I’m not as young as I used to be. It was lovely to spend a sedate four hours with my son in the UCR library while he played with an assignment for his masters degree in social work. Sometimes I think I should be in conversation with my son, seeing that we can’t see each other much across the seas, but I profess one of my greatest joys is just to be in proximity.

The next phase of my travel was to spend a few days with Sue Blythe on the Sustainable Farm, Hampton, Gainesville, Florida, around her Future Flash Climate Change Project. Sue’s work has expanded to engage commitments from some fabulous environmental players in Florida, including the manager of the ‘Sustainable Floridians’ volunteer training program out of Florida University, Lanny the Earthman, Actor Jan Booher, and Dave Room San Fransisco based creator of Pacha’s Pyjamas. As I write this I’ve just finished a Skype conversation with Dave Room, opening the way for his work to find expression for children environmental education in Australia.

From Gainesvile to Asheville to the Alba Emot course with Laura Bond. What a fantastic 9 days, learning and training in primary emotional expression, Feldenkrais movement, and exploring related experiments in life story, text, voice and dance with an extraordinary teaching team. So much to bring back to my dance and theatre work but also into the possibility of leadership training.

And so, this week another chill out and exercise at my son’s place in California. It’s a hot summer week in the desert, 113 F early in the week. Time to meditate, play with movement training (God I need it), and have dozens of small conversations with him around his life. He became an American citizen while I’ve been here. Looks like another feather in his global citizen’s cap.

Two nights ago I woke in sadness. My time here is slipping away. Today, I’m prepared for a great weekend with my son, at the beach, in LA. It is time to go home.

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USA overdue and Under prepared for a Big One

The western United States is overdue for a huge earthquake and tsunami and is nowhere near ready to cope with the disaster, experts say.

A volatile, horseshoe-shaped area known as the Pacific Ring of Fire has recently erupted with quakes in Chile, Japan, Mexico and New Zealand, and seismologists say it is just a matter of time before the next big one hits.

Twin fault lines place the US west at risk: the San Andreas fault that scars the length of California and the lesser-known but more potent Cascadia Subduction Zone off the Pacific Coast.

A 9.0 quake in this underwater fault that stretches from the northern tip of California all the way to Canada’s British Columbia could simultaneously rattle the major port cities of Vancouver, Portland and Seattle, unleash a massive tsunami and kill thousands of people.

“From the geological standpoint, this earthquake occurs very regularly,” says engineer Yumei Wang, who is the geohazards team leader at the Oregon Department of Geology.

“With the Cascadia fault, we have records of 41 earthquakes in the last 10,000 years with an average of 240 years apart. Our last one was 311 years ago so we are overdue,” she says.

Records from the last Cascadia quake in 1700 AD show that the tsunami it generated was so powerful that it killed people in Japan.

“Geologists can’t predict exactly when the next earthquake will be but engineers can predict the damage pattern,” says Wang.

Buildings at risk

Major efforts to retrofit buildings have been underway for decades in western states, but many coastal schools, hospitals and fire and police stations are still housed in older buildings and remain at risk.

In the case of a tsunami, experts are also concerned about old structures and elderly or ill people who may live near the water and may be unable to escape a swelling wave.

“Quite frankly some of our coastal communities are extensive enough and flat enough that moving inland and uphill is not possible. It is just too far to go,” says Wang.

Engineers have devised a concept for a tsunami shelter where residents could seek higher ground without travelling far inland, but none have yet been built for public use.

“All preparedness is local and it varies dramatically over the length of the coast,” says Tom Tobin, president of the Earthquake Engineering Research Institute.

“We are not at all even close to being as prepared the way the Japanese were, and yet you can see the devastation that occurred,” he says.

“I think in the United States we have a hard time convincing people there is a real danger that lies out there on the Pacific northwest coast.”

 

Hurray for the Hung Parliament!

A while ago, I suggested that, worse than 20th century wars, will be the economic crisis of the 21st Century. Today’s ABC podcasted presentation of Professor Niall Ferguson, on ‘Big Ideas’, still managed to chill me to the bone. It is noted that Australia hasn’t had a hung parliament since WWII. After listening to Ferguson, it occurred to me that, we have indeed, since the beginning of the GFC, been at war, war with the economic system, WWIII, the biggest collapse of national equity and human sacrifice, across the world, ever seen.

So, why I am enthusiastic about the disastrous mismanagement of politics by that, at least mildly delusional group of people who support political parties, and those king capitalist goof balls who don’t give two hoots about the state of nations. I am enthusiastic because their antics, exposed as they are to the community at large, may create a series of slow reforms in democratic governance in Australia over the course of the next 40 years, that might mediate the effects of the empire collapse following hard the heels of the USA, Europe, and China. I hope the irritation that Australians feel about the pluralist, partisan system will establish new modes of governance that can absorb the shock waves of the collapse of the great empires.

As my children are now reaching adulthood and have to traverse the potential great crises of this century, I pray that these great empires find a cause celebre to change their course in fundamental ways. There is no doubt we need new governance systems and methods throughout the world, if we are to be a successful global society in the 22nd century AD. I fear for the lives my children and grandchildren will have to live, because delinquent capitalists and titillated party operatives cannot subvert their ego for the greater good.