October 19, 2005


I've fallen quite easily into being mired in everything I dislike about America, since being back from Shanghai. (Maybe this goes back to my borrowed-American paranoia and, for the lack of better judgment, being overly impressionable!) But, looking at the world outside of the Atlantic/Pacific coasts proves that the bad news you hear doesn't need to overshadow your optimism and good intentions.

For example, Engineers sans Borders -- a nonprofit group of civil engineers (like Doctors without Borders) that will provide emergency (infrastructure assessment and redevelopment) aid to countries hit by disasters.

Another optimism is our parallel across the Pacific: the future of the EU. I was listening to Forum on KQED this morning, a discussion with two American economists on Germany's (and the EU's) future. The clarity of their analysis (particularly Jeremy Rifkin's) was stunning. (It's amazing the kind of perspective you gain from being an outsider.) What was particularly heartening: repeated mention of a new generation of youth leaders with a focus on civil society and environmental sustainability, inclusivity and global peace. (I'm wondering -- have the future leaders of America lost sight of these things? Or are just utterly jaded, fragmented, and resigned to commercial?) You can hear this forum tomorrow here.

And another: despite overall poor urban environmental quality, efforts are being made in Shanghai (and other cities across the country) to build Green Cities -- sustainability has been a concept a lot of Chinese policy-makers have latched onto, although partnerships between researchers, developers, architects, and energy experts ought to run even deeper. I hope, here, we can see some landmark policies on the environment over the next half century.

And there must be some good news within the US. (please insert here) :) ... (Um, Congressman Richard Pombo will be called out on his unethical behavior? ... that ESA-gutting bastard)

The lesson? Even though there's a lot of awful awful stuff this world, you gotta remember there are a billion good intentions / actions as well.


bach said...

yes! if there's one, there's always an other. and that goes for everything.

jean said...

so true.

i wanted to add this link to an interview by the author of "thumbsucker" ... walter kirn, on fresh air. his new book is about the story of two door-to-door evangelists; but instead of being christian, they're pagan. and everyone they try to convert is christian. i really want to read it!

andrea said...


médecins sans frontières, engineers sans borders, architects for humanity... what else should be added to this list?

i guess the thrill of the construction of New China includes the thrill of building a new society? gotta do some more research on this.. in the meantime, check out a cartoonist named Feng Zikai!

see you soon!

you guys should just come over to my co-op for Los Sharing. my room is disgracefully spacious.

ben said...

i might have to take you up on that offer!

not quite sure what you mean by new society per china -- shiny utopianism enlightenment style or a new brand of market socialism for all?