Building With the Future in Mind Since 1955

Rick Dubrow’s “On The Level” Column in the Cascadia Weekly; Published 7-25-07

My last column created a lot of heat.  I supported City Councilwoman Barbara Ryan’s statement, as reported in the Bellingham Herald, that she and others would like to see an end to the publicity about this great place.  Why?  Because such publicity fans the growth flame.

I am one of these others.

The least we could do is to take our foot off this growth accelerator.  Think about your car…… lifting one’s foot from the accelerator is the first action one takes to slow down or stop.

Readers challenged me with this question:  “do you really believe, Rick, that organizations like the Bellingham Herald, the Building Industry Association, the Board of Realtors or the Chamber of Commerce can be convinced to stop fanning the growth flame?”

Not a chance.

Let’s save our energy, and our sit bones, for something effective.

The paradigm shift I seek is one aligned with the laws of nature. Laws that promote sustainability;  laws that embrace the fact that the economy is a wholly-owned subsidiary of the environment; human laws that are in synch with natural laws.

Conversely, the assumptions underlying our dominant culture run counter to nature:  unlimited and unconstrained growth is not just acceptable but desirable; buy more stuff than you can afford; rent a storage unit for the overflow; build a second master suite if your spouse snores too loudly.

Our unconstrained growth mimics cancer cells — growing at all costs, even if it means destroying the host – in this case, the earth’s life support systems.  In response to this dire threat, the host’s  immune system kicks into gear by attacking the malignant growth with an explosion of white blood cells.  Sometimes the good guys, i.e. the white blood cells, actually win the battle, but they need to get there before the disease has spread too far.

I guess that makes me part of the immune system for this great planet earth, standing up to fight this malignancy of unconstrained growth.  I, for one, am proud to be a white blood cell, amidst an army of other environmentalists. And while the development community may label us as ‘anti-everything’, I choose, instead, to label us as being positive.  Working towards health is a very positive path.

Albert Einstein said that “we can’t solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.” So why approach the development community and ask them to consider rewiring themselves?  Their very mission is growth oriented so, they conclude, we can grow our way out of any problem.

It’s like offering the next size larger pair of pants to an overweight person who’s complaining about how tight their pants feel!  God forbid they entertain losing weight and becoming healthier!

Now, ye’ fellow white blood cells, we know better.  We know that our neighbors and our environment are profoundly affected by growth.  We know that growing for growth’s sake does not sustain life.

If, as Einstein implies, fighting against the voices for unconstrained growth is unlikely to yield change, then what should our army of white blood cells do for a living?

We can make sure that the things we do keep us alive.  We can become, or continue to be, a white blood cell.  We can work with, and for, organizations who seek the paradigm shift that supports life and its complexity. Charlie Maliszewski, my dear friend, Board President of RE Sources and immunologist, says that “…. there’s hope in action.  Action can be a very positive step to counter despair.”

“Two things are infinite,“ said Albert Einstein, “the universe and human stupidity; and I’m not sure about the universe.”  Unconstrained growth is about as stupid as it gets.  So get out there and fight for what’s right.  We need a very healthy host.

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