Wednesday, August 27, 2008

When you observe the interplay of development and culture, for example the situation with Arrowmont and the negotiation with Saudi investors wanting to buy the property and turn it into a major new Gatlinburg development, you see that things are played out in both the micro and macro worlds, and as human beings, to quote Joni Mitchell, "we don't know what we've got til its gone," and are put in the difficult situation of reclaiming lost culture and identity.

The big buzz concept in the world right now is "sustainable development" and people look at the term primarily from an economic standpoint. How do we continue the growth of resources, power, water, raw materials, without self-destruction and pushing our small planet to environmental collapse.

When you think about biological resources, the key is bio-diversity. A richly diverse biological environment appears to be a stable and resilient one. But what about cultural resources? Oh sh-t, we didn't think of that! Inherent in the ways we make things are millions of small decisions and expression of relationships with the broad range of available materials.

They say that if you take a native out of his or her own habitat and immerse that native in an urban environment, the basic sensitivity to native habitat diminishes significantly within days and weeks.

So an important key to sustainable development is the sensitivity to the environment expressed at least in part through native crafts and the exploration and manipulation of commonly available materials. Oops. Oh sh-t! You don't know what you've got til its gone.

Just as the diverse tropical rain forests are a wealth of unexplored plant-based chemical compounds that may one day cure cancer, the craftsmen throughout the world are the vast storehouse of problem solving patterns and behavior expressing relationship with the material qualities of the natural environment. Kill the diversity inherent in human culture and destroy the planet. We have a world of people out there who just don't get it. Join me in being a force for human cultural renewal. Make something.

1 comment:

Dana Jones said...

I always think the ones who preach sustainable growth must be forgetting something else. When do consumers finally say, "I have enough?" We are programmed to be constant consumers, even told we are helping our economy if we spend spend spend. W e are even encouraged to spend money we do not have, to keep the growth rate going up. But at some point we have to stop and say we have what we need, we no longer need to trade our wealth for more crap.

The same dollar keeps spinning round and round. We make more, we spend more, we collect more useless stuff that we replace when a newer version comes out. If we really want to create sustainability, then we will learn to reduce our lust for more and retain our individual and national freedom by retaining our monetary resources as well as our natural ones.