Foundation for Change
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So "change" is the buzz-word in this presidential campaign season.   And, as the name suggests, people who think of ourselves as "progressive" are people who want to see progress, which is to say: we are naturally itchy for change.

But what kind of change are you hoping for?  What would that change look like here in San Diego/Tijuana?

Do you believe that presidential politics is the best way to make this kind of change happen?   Why?  Why not? 

Here at the Foundation for Change we are working on the assumption that change at the grassroots can have a lasting impact on culture/politics/etc. Do you believe that?  Why?  Why not?

Looking forward,

John Fanestil

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[This has also been posted at SD/TJ Design, Plant, Harvest.]

John, thanks for hosting Salon Pro Cambio last night.

For those who weren't there, these questions were handed out at the gathering:
  • Imagine two people living in San Diego 25 years from now. One of them says, "I can't believe the world was like that 25 years ago." What are they talking about?
  • Which presidential candidate, if elected, would bring about the greatest change for good in the world? What change do you hope that will be?
  • Which candidate would bring about the greatest change for the bad if elected? What change do you fear that will be?
  • When was the first time you crossed the U.S.-Mexico border? When was the last time you crossed the border? What do you feel when you cross the border?
  • Do you consider yourself part of a movement? If so, which one? What is a social "movement" anyway? How can you know one when you see one?
Marnie and I did get around to addressing the first question.

I had already done something similar to this for the Car Busters Post-Petroleum Writing Contest of 2005: "Some things don't change at all."

The main idea from that I'd carry forward to this conversation is:

"I can't believe that people 25 years ago didn't live and work in the same neighborhood--I can't believe they used cars (or even public transit) as part of their daily lives."

(I believe that community land trusts--which do involve waiting lists and exclusion of people that way--are a part of this vision, as a way to remove land from being (1) seen as investment income and (2) a slave to "highest and best use". Could cities become composed entirely of community land trusts?).

There are increasing numbers of people outside the carfree movement who are coming to believe that carfree living is a central solution to many environmental and social problems. As only a few examples of new(er)comers to this focus, we have:
I think where the foundation for change discussion is headed though is: "I can't believe there was a border 25 years ago", along the lines of the vision of the Organic Collective and Delete the Border.

As for the questions on presidential politics, how about this:

"I can't believe that 25 years ago some people still thought US presidential politics mattered."

Although, more realistically, I would look for reforms such as those called for by George Monbiot in Manifesto for a New World Order (a world parliament, for one) and by Michael E. Arth.

I found something in Yes! magazine (Winter 07-08) to be encouraging:
"The leadership of ordinary people" is what is needed now.
"The best antidote to the fear, helplessness, and isolation that drives people into apathy is community and joy." Gelder, Pibel. 19.
Regarding the border, I haven't crossed it for a while. But I recently was in the Pine Creek Wilderness (PCW) for a week. And many border crossers pass through there. I've been eating some cans of chipotle tuna some of them left behind. PCW is a very interesting place--it contains one of the few wilderness pedestrian trail networks in the US that is used primarily for making a living rather than for recreation, and it is perhaps the future location of a section of an historic continental migration trail.

I'd love to cross the border in the wilderness, or by walking through the spaces in the pylons on the beach, and not go where all the cars go through and where pedestrians are funnelled like cattle.

As for movements, I consider myself part of the carfree movement. I have followed this movement to where it has led me--to learning about Buddhism and meditation, among other things, and to wanting to help people to make their neighborhoods places worth staying in. I think movements just have individuals who self-identify as being part of a movement. And it was a significant moment when I went from non-identification to identification with the movement (see the bottom of this page). Please note I aim to be open to moving beyond/ transcending all my earlier statements and identifications.


Near the end of the gathering, Zach put the question in the air of whether the mixer should be more or less formal in the future. Here's some ideas.

Next time, perhaps have a go-around for each attendee who wants to to briefly share a vision or a project.

If it's a huge group, a volunteer can time things and tell people when some interval has passed -- 15 or 30 seconds or whatever amount of time seems reasonable.

If people have trouble speaking, or even if they don't, they could first pair up with a partner they haven't talked to and share in small groups. Later, people could share what they heard from their partner, as above (this makes us practice listening).

Two more personal notes:
  • "Salon" and "Mixer" seem a bit too snooty for me, but I suppose it fits with the Urban Solace vibe, and the need of the foundation to bring in donors--not just to be a gathering place for eccentric activists.
  • I didn't get around to meet everyone. I didn't feel a great need to get around and network with every person. A go-around would have helped me at least get a message out and hear messages I wouldn't otherwise get. Maybe in the future I will focus more on getting the word out about the things I work on.

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