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Conformity and Independent Balance in New Urban Villages

Number 3 in a series of articles about Hive Tech Living Environments and Urban Villages

By Angela Conte of the Axis4 Group, December 2, 2013

Herzog & De Meuron / kmoma museum of modern art . kolkataDesigning a community, first and foremost, is about bringing people and families together so they can live comfortably with economic stability and to thrive. And, if you want a stronger community than you need to work at bringing people together and out of isolation through your design plan. Here are some often overlooked suggestions for how to connect people and places:

  1. Green space is not just about creating earth friendly environments, it’s about getting people to come outside and away from their electronics into open, safe, well maintained public areas that offer diversity of sizes, uses and configuration.  There are people who will want some privacy in open spaces and some who love the crowd; some who want to enjoy the beauty of the outdoors and those who want to play.‘Garden Bridge’ by Thomas Heatherwick « World Landscape Architecture – landscape architecture webzine
  2. There shouldn’t be any neglected travel paths between public spaces.  Everything needs to be well lighted day or night; clean and maintained; have visual clearance for safety; places to stop and things to see when walking.  It’s also important to think about where you put your travel paths in relationship to businesses and their hours of operation, the local residents and the green space so everyone always feels connected and a part of the  larger community. You definitely won't see cops on bicycles in most of the United States, but Copenhagen is a different place. They even make bicycle helmets (which cops for sure wouldn't have here) look great and not nerdy.
  3. It’s nice to have local police who positively engage and blend with the community as ambassadors while being safety officers, such as pedestrian and bicycle patrols so that they and their community can stay connected with each other. protesters
  4. Cities should encourage an easy system for all types of business sponsored community activities plus non-profit citizen organizing and free speech participation.  Know and treat all your business owners, citizens and visitors with the same respect; and don’t bring in the heavy guns and artillery over a few people holding up signs because other cities are doing it.  These other cities are taking political sides and not showing respect for everyone’s rights and/or trying to show strong leadership but instead are showing that they are in over their heads and a community that’s out of control.  If you treat all of one group of people like trouble makers, whether they intended to be or not,  you’re encouraging people to behave badly.  If you have a vocal community,  choose a nice specific areas for protesting so that those who want to take part have a designated place to go and those who want to avoid them can.The Psychology of Urban Planning
  5. New urban-ism is about every neighborhood in town having:

1) People who work there and bring in new and exciting things from the outside.

2) People who live there who feel responsible for the care of their home community.

3) Easy accessibility to food and basic everyday dry goods at a fair price.

4) Small clinic based medical services with other health care options.

5) Lots of entertainment and cultural activities.

6) Public transportation within walking distance to everyone and everything.

It’s  not about isolating each of these into separate zones throughout the city.  Besides being infrastructure inefficient, this type of zoning keep people and places separated into different economic and social classes,  making some accessible only to those who can afford to get to them.  It is about making a complete and balanced community in every neighborhood.  And it’s about building a community of people through a balanced and cohesive  infrastructure.

.         6.  When you allow the build of housing, there should be a strong level of quality structural development    for all. Whether it’s a single family homes or a multifamily complex, the quality  standards  should be the same for everyone, not cheap and shoddy for the poor and a higher quality for the rich.  The level of financial diversity can come from how and what the resident puts into the building.  If a contractor can’t afford to build at a minimum standard of structural integrity for every person in your community, than wait until someone comes along who can.  A builder’s quality is not in how wealthy they are or how much money they make, it’s in the standards of their work.  Anyone can get rich building bad quality buildings that they latter over price, but the best of the best can build structurally superior projects for everyone every time and still get a fair price point, if well planned out.  So be very picky about who builds in your community. Chic offices - jade lamps, antiqued desk, gold.  seriously lux eye at work here.

The more balanced and equal your community’s economic, social and structural foundation that allows for diversity and freedom to be unique, the stronger a community you’re building.

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What’s Different about Hive Tech Living Environments?

Article #2 in a series by Angela Conte of the Axis4 Group, November 24, 2013 http://www.axis4group.com

Hive Tech Living Environments are about combining residential and commercial spaces within a larger walk-able community.  Its creating a living, working and playing environment so that people have more freedom to get more out of life.  Its seems counter intuitive to think that people can get more work done if they live where they work, or have more fun if they work where they live, but Hive Tech Living Environments are designed to do just that.

‘Alphabeta’ Creative Workspace / Studio RHE

Living near where you work means not having to spend as much time driving between work and home.  If you want to take a break you can walk to your home and have your lunch; or take a run on your break without having to shower at the office; and if you want to grab something you left at the office when you’re at home, its right there.  The freedom comes from less wasted time and more convenience.

How To Manage “Work From Home” Efficiently Work at Home Customer Service with Vertex - Work at Home Mom Revolution

There’s a lot of disagreement as to whether the new open office workspace is as productive as individual offices because of the lack of privacy, but if it saves companies money by putting more people into a smaller area, this trend is here to stay.  With Hive Tech Living Environments you and your employer can set up a work at home system that works for both of you.  You can take advantage of working on you and your family’s schedule; and if its privacy that you need, you have that too while still taking advantage of the easy access to the office setting for team projects, group meetings and shared office resources. Life becomes richer with convenience while leaving you more time to get your job done and have time left to enjoy your it. 

Park Hyatt Beijing Hotel 

Hive Tech Living Environments is about having more resources and activity options in a smaller foot print. With the world population growth that we’re experiencing, it’s this kind of innovative thinking that’s necessary to create more healthy social communities that you can share live in.  Somethings that HTLEs offers are:  1) More affordable modern efficient easy maintenance home; 2) access to in-house cleaning and babysitting services; 3) huge beautiful pools, gyms, spa services and health care options that’s more affordable to all; 4) arts, cultural and hospitality opportunities that you might not get in a traditional apartment, and definitely not in a typical suburban neighborhood, without using up more space and time driving around. .

The 100 Best Places to Work: 75-51 | The 100 Best Places to Work in 2013 | OutsideOnline.com

Let’s face it, people who love what they do, do it when ever they can and they benefit from being around others focused on the same things they are.  HTLEs  are about creating an environment where you get to live around people you work with and enjoy being around. There maybe people at work that you don’t want to see this much, but there are probably people in your current neighborhood that you feel the same about. At least with HTLEs you have the building management and human resources working together to resolve problems that normally go unresolved and make life miserable. If it’s the boss you don’t want to see on your days off, they’ll probably be living in their McMansion in the burbs anyways. This isn’t a lifestyle for everyone, or every company, but it’s a great affordable option for those who want it; and it’s going to become the-way-of-the-future and an awesome way for the (*) best employers to entice new employees to come work for them.

 3D Architectural Visualization

Then there is all the green and sustainability advantages to Hive Tech Living Environments. If you combine infrastructure technology within enclosed buildings, you’re able to conserve more energy and save money:  It also improves air quality by combining internal with external plant-scaping and filtration systems. 

*The 100 Best Places to Work 2013:  http://www.outsideonline.com/outdoor-adventure/best-jobs/best-jobs-2013@gpkg/the-top-100/The-100-Best-Places-to-Work-75-51#gallery-photo-24

Future Trends and Work Living in HTLEs.

by Angela Conte of the Axis4 Group,  November 22, 2013

Skydeck of the Willis Tower in Chicago Illinois

With the economy picking up and construction getting back on track, exciting things are starting to happen..  Here are some of my favorite statistics, trends and some ideas brewing at Axis4 Group

NATIONAL INDUSTRY MOVEMENTS:

Top US States for Doing Business in 2013, according to Area Development online, Read more at: http://www.areadevelopment.com/Top-States-for-Doing-Business

  1. Texas
  2. Georgia
  3. South Carolina
  4. Alabama
  5. North Carolina
  6. Louisiana
  7. Tennessee
  8. Florida
  9. Mississippi
  10. California

The States Leading the U.S. Manufacturing Resurgence,

 Area Development Online at: http://www.areadevelopment.com/RegionalReports

_Image

America’s Top 10 Engineering Capitals, from Forbes, http://www.forbes.com/sites/joelkotkin/2013/07/31/americas-engineering-centers

  1. San Jose, CA
  2. Houston, TX
  3. Wichita, KS
  4. Dayton, OH
  5. San Diego, CA
  6. Greenville, SC
  7. Albuquerque, NM
  8. Boston, MA
  9. Bakersfield, CA
  10. Denver, CO

INDUSTRY EXPANSIONS AND MARKET SHIFTS:

  • Additive Manufacturing, (AM) also known as 3D printing.  A rising star in manufacturing is moving from prototype production to end use production. Unfortunately it is starting to lose ground in the US to overseas rapid expansion in the new technology.
  • Out sourced jobs returning to American shores. Primarily due to rising labor costs overseas and poor quality manufacturing, traditional off shoring sites are returning production to America. This is showing in the automotive industry and other robotic and automation manufacturing industries where quality of work and worker training is necessary to compete.
  • Life science industries are moving from chemistry(*pharmacology) to biotechnology (multiple product developments that include any new solution for better health, food production and medical devices). With biotech expanding primarily in and around higher education centers where top skilled and trained people can be found.
  • Environmental Molecular Diagnostics (EMDs) and Bioremediation.  EMDs are biochemical microbes used to measure levels of site contamination and degradation using DNA.  These biomarkers are new supplements to traditional site analysis for understanding ongoing site contamination, degradation and remediation problems that might develop after the sites been cleaned.  Site specific Bioremediation treatments such as oxygen or other natural microbial food sources can then be applied to completely destroy any future stages of embedded contaminants.  This means much more opportunity for retrofitting sites and urban renewal.
  • Business Infrastructure Development, such as:
    • Information and communications trends that allow higher speeds and tech accessibility in: internet, software, wireless technology, fiber optics and telecommunication industries that will need more localized data centers and shared services facilities.
    • Transportation and rail shipping. This includes getting passengers on board and out of their cars, off the roads and out-of-the-way of business transport. And all this rapid transit will require development in and around station stops.
    • Higher quality training and STEM educational programs:  With a focus on localized community and technical college programs.
    • Innovation on the forefront of Green energy technologies such as new battery and energy storage solutions; national bulk-buying and bundling packages to lower energy expenses and the hundreds of sustainable and non fossil fuel based alternative energy sources and technologies.  It all leads to better more efficient development for our communities and the economy. View dozens of new technologies at: http://www.pinterest.com/axis4group/sustainable-building-and-green-technologies/

Note: The mass expiration of pharmacology patents is creating a negative impact on the industry’s income potential on many levels, but adding to this are problems in Washington, which is leaving a large opening to other countries who are more willing to invest in research.

WORKPLACE PLANNING AND HIVE TECH LIVING ENVIRONMENTS:

With all the new activity happening in business thee are great prospects for Axis4 Group projects and their development.  At A4G its not just about building traditional mixed use real estate developments but also being focused on what is the future of urban design such as green and sustainable, mixed-use, mixed-income, live/work and workforce housing that we call Hive Tech Living Environment, (You can get more info on HTLE at:http://www.axis4group.com/#!properties/ctzx )

They include:  Residents, offices, retail, hospitality and cultural centers all within a walk-able healthy green environment at the center of business and technology sectors.  I look for locations that have, (or are planning to have), optimal public transportation systems and alternative energy sources that allow for retrofitting existing properties or building new ones.  By partnering with start-ups, local area businesses, and large relocating companies we can build to suit for the needs of partner’s businesses and their employees.  This means moving more rapidly into the future of home based workforces and saving on time, cost and the environmental hazards of commuting. This saves money for businesses that will have to only build minimal shared office space for group activities and office based tech resources.  This allows workers the freedom to work from home or walk into the office depending on their needs and work styles.  Another benefit to developing Hive Tech Living Environments is larger employers can offer these affordable housing options to their employees as a benefit to joining their teams.  Businesses can partner in the  development then bring in an outside management company to run the facilities while receiving a financial return on ownership of the property as a held investment while securing efficient productive affordable housing for their workforce at the same time.  It’s a great win/win situation for everyone.

Business  incubators and business clustering centers are popping up all around the country.  Two of our favorites are the RocketSpace Corporate Innovation Program in San Francisco, http://rocket-space.com/  and Galvanize in Denver http://galvanize.it/.  RocketSpace says, “We believe that you’re a product of your environment: so RocketSpace surrounds its members with a perfect ecosystem of resources that they need to grow including unique access to corporate brands, venture capital, partnerships, speakers, mentoring, and talent”; and this is on top of the full cadre of tech resources the independent and small company could want to keep their workforce operating, organized and a part of the larger community.  At Galvanize, they say they are: “…creating an “innovation ecosystem” designed to give entrepreneurs and innovators the best chance of success at the start of their next (or first) big thing.”  They too offer access to office based resources, capital funds, community events, courses and lectures.   This kind of business support system is the kind of environment I envisioned for public spaces in our HTLE, but  a bit more casual  so anyone can  grab something to eat or drink at one of our hospitality or retail outlets, get some fresh air or just hangout. *(1)Research shows that people are actually more productive and get more work done in these types of creative and inspiring work environments that allow for more work freedom and personal autonomy.

The thing is, I believe that if people love what they do, then they will want to do it all the time and these are the kinds of people I’m building Hive Tech Living Environments for, people who: Love what they do; need private space to work in and community space to stay connected with other people in; also, somewhere to unwind and get some exercise on the fly or catch a show without having to drive all over town or miss a work deadline.  And I believe by combining what people really want today with the benefit of cost cutting for partners, I’m creating a healthier more vibrant and sustainable community to live and work in for everyone.

Notes: 

 

Saving Space with Hive Tech Living Environments

First in a series of visual articles on Hive Tech Living Environments

by Angela Conte of the Axis4 Group, October 24, 2013

overview  micro-loft

Designing HTLE’s is about designing for small spaces in a way that creates density living without sacrificing style. Packing more in a smaller foot print, you’re emphasizing quality space over quantity space.

Architects: Carles Enrich

Pic 1

Make every inch count. Don’t fill the space with lots of clutter and instead have plenty of built-in storage to hide all the stuff you don’t use everyday and find unique places to store things that you do use often, as in pic 1.

Create the illusion of more space by keeping things open and airy through the use of thin materials like steel; see through stairs and glass partisans pictured in image 2 and 3.

House in Showa-cho by Fujiwaramuro Architects.

Pic 2

Fujiwaramuro Architects

Pic 3

Bring the outside in with large windows to the outside world and by having outdoor seating areas like those in pictures 4, 5 and 6.

Barcode House | David Jameson Architect.

Pic 4

Pit House / UID Architects

Pic 5

rustic house :: UID architects

Pic 6

Define public areas and rooms with levels without a lot of walls. This means you’re packing more activity area in a smaller foot print and creating a more interesting and creative environment:

Lattice / APOLLO Architects & Associates

BB by Yo Yamagata Architects.

Skate Park House / LEVEL Architects

Get more interior design ideas at Axis4 Group on Pinterest:  http://www.pinterest.com/axis4group/hive-tech-living-environment-interiors/

Chaos, Elite Theory and the Economic Ways of the Universe, (Read at your own risk)

“The lifetime student seeks to grow;

the lifetime ignorant seek others to agree with them.”

Elite theory: From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. In political science and sociology, a élite theory is a theory of the state which seeks to describe and explain the power relationships in contemporary society. The theory posits that a small minority, consisting of members of the economic élite and policy-planning networks, holds the most power and that this power is independent of a state’s democratic elections process.

If Earth is so beautiful, then I can’t wait to see how much beauty is still left for us to explore!

We learned in physics about cosmology theories of inertia, kinetic energy and metric expansion of space and how the universe is always expanding. Then there is the theory that “Everything flows, nothing stands still”, first quoted by Plato in Cratylus. The universe is a dynamic moving system subject to forces of constant instability that push us towards chaos, and if you want to have a happy, peaceful existence, you better maintain your chaos. Just think about house cleaning: as soon as you finish doing it, the home begins to deteriorate into chaos again; especially if there is more than one person. If you want to stay healthy, you can’t exercise one day and be done with it; you have to exercise every day, or you’ll immediately reverse back to that couch potato. If you want to avoid mental deterioration in old age; you’d better keep your brain cells active and working every step of the way. Life’s like that: We have to stay in control of all the change that’s hitting us or chaos ensues. Want a happy marriage: you have to work at it; Want successful children: you have to keep on top of their behavior and work ethics. There is nothing in life that comes to you that will not take work to maintain. That’s why I like rituals and habits: I can do them without thinking about them and enjoy the moments of peace and serenity that they create for me; but rest on my laurels, I can’t do for long.

At work, our main priority is to deal with constant oncoming chaos because that’s what we’re there for: to carry out the task of producing something for ourselves and others that corrals our socially shared chaos, and we do it in exchange for economic rewards that help us wrangle our chaos of living. Then there are the cities that we live in that need us to wrangle their natural chaos through constant planning, design, technical, infrastructural maintenance and general government operations. These civil services overlap with social and political systems such as judicial, police and fire chaos controllers. Could you image if we didn’t have laws and peace officers to maintain our communities? It would be a third world state of constant confusion.

North America has come a long way in a short time, and the United States has created one of the most stable chaos free civilizations on earth that many other nations envy and sometimes admire, so who would we want to live any other way? The thing is, to maintain this peaceful chaos free life in the US, we have to maintain it constantly just like we have to clean our homes and get off the couch and exercise. A nation doesn’t run on its own, it takes effort, and in America the system that we created is one where democratic participation is and honor and a necessity. Unfortunately, the people are losing control, and I have a theory of how we got to this point and what we need to do to fix things.

Business used to be mostly independent family owned. Now corporations are king. In the past, businesses were started up just where they were needed; then a couple of them would have a bit of competitive rivalry but everyone got by and the competition made everything a little bit better. Then advances in transportation created larger territories where national chains took over, and all businesses were in a game of survival of the fittest and whoever grew the most substantial faster could devour their competition rather than have to compete with them. Today, corporations are more like machines than human beings, even if people run them. In our global world, American companies have been devouring business overseas. To do this, they have to make deals with whoever is in charge, good or bad; and if they can’t make the deals with regimes in the open, they’ll use backdoor deception to get the right guys into power who’ll work with and for them.

As this happened for decades around the world, Americans we’re happy with comfortable chaos free lives and with cradle to grave corporate jobs with benefits. No one had a reason to challenge the status quo, because it was believed to be working for the people, including the little guy. So while Americans slept in their comfortable beds, the corporate machine kept working, and now it’s all coming back to haunt the US as other countries start to rebel.

As the corporate machine learned to control whole nations overseas, they also learned to control local, state and federal governments in the U.S. by using their growing wealth to put politicians in office that would protect them and create laws, even if these laws infringed on the rights of the people. That’s how they took over; they bought their way into office and made laws that protected their corporate rights and removed the rights of the American people, as the American people slept in their comfortable beds believing their companies would take care of them. Then the inequality of wealth started to destroy the economic system, and people started to come out of their slumber and wonder what was happening. So the businesses bought the control over the media and shamed the people into staying silent, or frightened them against imaginary forces that were working against them while they the corporate heroes were still the great protectors. Today, the government is full of politicians who are working for the corporation and against the people, and media pundits are paid to keep the people out of their hair as they do what the want in the name of American Patriotism or Religious Elitism. Another way of looking at the problem is through the economic numbers. The 40% of the wealth is now held in the hands of the top 1%, and these people bought the legal right to pay 18% to 0% taxes while the middle classes pay 30% and above. At the same time, they acquired the legal right to pay themselves 300% increases in tax-free income while middle-class incomes decreased 20% in the same timeframe. Then they say that it’s the fault of the people that they have to take their business overseas while they pay themselves hefty multi-million dollar severance packages. And they complain it’s the people’s fault that they had to take away the middle classes right to unionize or to protect themselves from unfair employment practices because it took money out of their pockets. Then they purchased the right from a politically biased Supreme Court to call themselves Human Beings so they could give as much as they wanted to the campaigns of those politicians who would continue to work for them. These are some of the things that have happened while Americans slept in their chaos free beds. Then America woke up to war because other countries got mad when things went too far with the American Corporate giants taking away their livelihoods too. It didn’t help that America went into multi-trillion dollar debt to pay for these wars, but then it was great for the weapons manufacturers and war mongers. To pay this massive debt, the American middle classes then had to pay more in taxes, (while the wealthy continue to pay less). And they’ve had to give up things like educations for their children, affordable medical care and security in their twilight retirement years, and food and housing for the needy who are mostly women struggling to raise hungry children. The American people are no longer thriving in their country while corporations and the wealthy 1% who run them, get richer and richer. And the people bought the story from the bought and paid for media that it’s the old, the indigent and the hungry women and children who are causing all the problems, not the ridiculously imbalanced wealth distribution. Do you see it? Snap out of your sleep and see the reality that all the wealth is now in the hands of a very tiny minority who have taken over our government and the media and while the middle classes are the majority of the population, they work longer hours for less pay and zero job security. Now fewer and fewer Americans have basic benefits while the millionaires turn into billionaires. Simplified it works like this:

1) The upper class, super wealthy, 1% that holds 40% of the money; money that is doing one thing: bringing them tax-free dividends that create more money in their bank accounts, not economic sustainability. The economy is stable when more people have money to put into it, not when a few people hoard the money in bank accounts to make more money while starving the economy.

2) Then there is the upper class 6% who are doing pretty good and living comfortable like their parents and grandparents did in the 1950 and 1960’s. Even though their incomes are much lower compared to the current cost of living and they are working more hours than their parents. They have a job, so there are no problems and no complaints from them.

3) Then there is the middle class who are becoming more and more the “working poor” because they are just getting by with paying the bills. Anything other than the necessities of life that are needed can go on credit where huge interest payments go into the pockets of the super wealthy again. They have jobs, sometimes 2, 3 and four jobs and are often one job or one illness away from total destitution.

4) Then you have the poor class that are working but who are not making enough to get by. Their children are going many hungry days, and they won’t get a chance to dig their way out of destitution and will most likely need government assistance the rest of their lives just to survive. While the wealthy elite continues to say, they are the enemy of a working system.

Which category are you in? Most of us are in the middle class and one job, one day or a retirement party away from destitution. Don’t fool yourself that things got better while you slept, thanks to corporate America, and if things aren’t working it the fault of lazy people. The only thing that happened was the wealthy elite took over the government, your lives and the resources needed for 90% of the people to thrive and survive.

The worse part of it all is we’ve found ourselves in such a mess today because we let them convince us that we, the people who are just trying to fend off chaos and get by, are the problem. The truth is, our economy is dependent on people, lots and lots of people buying things and investing back into the economy and as long as the wealthy keep taking all the money and keeping it for themselves nothing is left to be put back into the system. The poor don’t have any money to put into the economy, nor will they get the chance to better themselves. Their lives are full of hopeless chaos. The middle-income earners are making less and less and working more and more, so their lives are becoming more stressful every day while the wealthy elite’s money is rotating in hedge funds instead of going back into the economy. This chaos is happening, and it’s happening because the American people decided their lives are better and less chaotic if they don’t pay attention to politics, or question authority, or demand quality educations for all and a medical system that is equalized. Sorry, but that’s not how the universe works. You can’t just bury your head in the sand and trust the super wealthy will have your back because they don’t. They see the chaos coming at them, and they are stocking up and taking care of themselves, and the only way to keep a handle on your mess is to face it head on every step of the way.

Addendum

9 Out Of 10 Americans Are Completely Wrong About This Mind-Blowing Fact:

http://www.upworthy.com/9-out-of-10-americans-are-completely-wrong-about-this-mind-blowing-fact-2?g=3&c=bl3

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“An old friend who has been active in politics for more than thirty years tells me he’s giving up. “I can’t stomach what’s going on in Washington anymore,” he says. “The hell with all of them. I have better things to do with my life.”

My friend is falling exactly into the trap that the extreme right wants all of us to fall into — such disgust and cynicism that we all give up on politics. Then they’re free to take over everything.” Robert Reich

2 Minutes to the Truth about the Economy:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=JTzMqm2TwgE

 

The Easiest Free Way to Find True Happiness

finding happiness

Have you heard about the recent research that found that a person’s quality of life is improved up to a $75,000 income and after that it goes flat or begins to descend?  I’ve heard this three times on different NPR shows, (National Public Radio in the US), but that’s all they say about it. This only creates questions for me, such as: Where do they live? What GNP period did they use? Are their earners credit users? Do they own or rent their home?  Is their income secure? How many people are they supporting in their household? What is included in their definition of a quality lifestyle? A statement like this just needs so much more clarification before it can be taken at face value and yet those who are forwarding the message seem to want just that: that we take this number at face value. Assuming that I do accept the premise of their conjecture that quality of life, when it comes to money, is limited and you don’t need to be a billionaire to be happy: I get that. It’s something that I have always felt an intuitive vibe with, and why money and income has never been important to me unless the lack of it stopped me from doing what I wanted to do in life, and what I want to do rarely requires me to make huge amounts of money, so most of the time my quality of life is pretty good. I spend my days doing what I love most and I rarely have to put up with unpleasant people. I eat well and get lots of exercise. I live in a nice place and most of my basic needs are taken care of. What I don’t have and don’t miss are lots of unnecessary: electronics, TV, latest blockbuster movies, fancy new cars and computers every ten years, nor have I gone on that trip around the world yet. Okay that last one is still on my wanna do list. What I do have in my life is far better than what I don’t and that’s what counts when it comes to quality of life for me.

What has led me to my better quality of life has more to do with taking the time to carefully think about what is really important to me and following through on what I find. Thinking carefully and behaving right doesn’t require money: a person just has to do it. If you think about it: 20% of that $75,000 a year in America is spend on finding the time to just get away from all the mind noise and employment work that takes you away from thinking about and enjoying your better life. How? Like this: The generic US citizen grows up; takes a job that is similar to their parents or is what their parents want them to do; then accepts the job offer that is prevalent for their generation and which is offered when they go job hunting; then works hard without asking too many question, doing what their bosses tell them to do; spends their life building the type of lifestyle that is not too much different from their friends and neighbors, (more on this later); then, if they are lucky, will retire with enough income to not have to work into their old age, allowing them to sit around doing nothing. At no point in there is anyone required to stop and really think about what they want from their one and only life because they believe its easier to follow the path set for them and be done with it. Besides if you want to be different, you can just watch others take risks and be different on TV and the more different and outlandish the better. Watching different people’s lives fall apart just proves that being different and not following your socially acceptable preformed path will only lead towards devastation and unhappiness.

When I think about what matters more, I think about how comfortable people lived before the industrial revolution. Sure they had to make and wash their own clothes by hand which made them sleep like logs at the end of the day; grow and prepare their food from scratch so they didn’t have room for lots of junk food; walk long distances through lush landscaping, putting them in the middle of nature and changing seasons all the time; and their idea of holiday travel meant visiting their neighbors in town or going to a church gathering; and the rest of the time they had to keep their hands moving and their minds occupied with thinking because their consciousness wasn’t filled up with a constant media blitz in a totally commercialized world wanting them to buy, buy, buy stuff. Let’s face it, in the world of today, every economist, politician and business person has one role and that is to keep the growing population of human beings avoiding starvation, financial collapse and civilization’s stagnation by keeping people always: working, shopping,  fantasizing and never stopping long enough to think about how their quality of life could really be improved by doing less and not more: Through quality over quantity.

What if that generic Westerner decided to stop spending their money on anything that didn’t contribute to their true quality of life?  How much money would they then need to live on?  How much time would they need to spend working at a job for that amount of money?  How much time would they have doing what they truly wanted to be doing, if they didn’t work all the time trying to keep up with the Jones or watching the Jones on TV, so they knew how to keep up with them? And finally how would this impact the quality of life for the rest of the world?

Let’s look at a typical modern day suburban American family who has two working parents and 2.5 kids. Dad is full time and mom part-time: Dad works for corporate Honcho making $55,000 a year; gets medical and dental and two weeks off a year after 10 years of employment; mom is part-time so she doesn’t have any benefits but she has the time to drive the kids around and do the shopping, so they don’t have to pay someone else to do these things but they probably spend that much on gas anyways.  They rent their home, drive two fancy looking cars with not very good track records on value that were bought from an over priced used car lot that gave them 19% financing that they are still paying the interest on after four years, but they look good driving around in them when they are not in the auto shop. Dad has about a dozen credit cards, and can get more any time he wants so when mom really wants something, which is all the time, she buys it without thought, without consideration and their home is filled with so much stuff bought spontaneously that it looks like an episode of Hoarders. When dad isn’t working he’s buying manly stuff like big screen TVs for every room, wall size fish tanks, DVD players for the cars, expensive games and toys that he gets tired of after a couple days just like a child. They have no life insurance, are not saving for retirement, are way too far into debt to ever buy a home; but mom, dad and the kids can buy whatever they want spontaneously when they are in a store and feel like they are keeping up with the Jones.  In reality they owe three times their income and they have nothing to show for it but a beat up rental and two cars full of garbage. After work hours laboring at jobs they hate they drink booze and give big lavish adult filled birthday parties for their small children. Oh and where are the children when not at school or sick at the doctors from all the crud they eat?  Running around the house unsupervised, unabashedly breaking stuff until after dinner when it’s then about bad adult TV. When they get old enough, they can run around someone else house or around town where mom and dad don’t have to think about them. This may not look like your family picture but it’s probably close to many of the American families today.

Now, what if the same family stopped and didn’t spend money except for things that are 1) completely necessary; 2)  that contributed to making their life truly run more efficiently so that they had more time to do things that really mattered to them; and 3) saving for a proverbial rainy day that could include a job change, a long term illness or death of an income earner, or educations that improved the quality of life for other family members?  The necessary stuff is pretty much the same for everyone: food, hygiene, clothing, shelter, medical, communications and transportation. The second set of investments that contribute to a more efficient life are a little more individual and may include things such as: the home computer, internet and other work implements not covered by the employer, house keepers if it frees up time to do other things, a garden to grow some fresh food while getting free exercise and fresh air, or owning your home so you can put in a granny unit out back and have free live in childcare. These life easing conveniences in the second group are different for each of us and our families but if more of us get focused on what matters most for a quality life, I bet there will be more things that we all appreciate than we don’t; for example: more time with family and friends, time to travel, eat healthy quality fresh foods, play and be active;  have time to stop and think and enjoy the good lives that we are free to  create for ourselves.  The material things that are meant to impress others are not on the list for those who are thinking straight because why spend your life trying to impress others, if it means your quality of life suffers?  Some people with really low self esteem may still prefer to live to impress rather than live for oneself but these people don’t have to be you if you’re conscious about who you are and what you really want in life that makes you happier.

Its not that hard finding true happiness in life, all you have to do is avoid the trap of going after the material stuff that “might” impress someone else;  take the time to stop and think about what truly brings you happiness and then plan your life around these meaningful things and time well spent. Once you discover what makes you happy and you spend your time doing it for yourself, all the other wasted miserable time falls away and you no longer have the reasons to keep that meaningless job for meaningless money to pay for meaningless junk. Find meaning in your life and I guarantee you will find happiness.

Keeping the Green Tech Industry Thriving, Part 2

How do we maintain the clean tech industry so it thrives now, when we need it the most? By looking at who is doing well or failing; how they are different from us; how we can learn from them so we can take control of our own economic and environmental destinies.

Let’s compare America, China and Germany. Who is doing best? Some would say China because their GNP has been expanding astronomically and experiencing very little of the global economic impact that befell western countries after the 2008 economic collapse; while America and Europe have been suffering in multiple sectors-one of the worst being hit: the construction industry, which has a significant impacted on the green tech industry. So how is China doing it?

China’s government is focusing on one economic infrastructure: manufacturing; and they seem to have no rules, values or morals when it comes to what they produce and how they distribute it in a global trade regulated world: even going as far as under-cutting their own people’s compensation and health to make a profit for their top party elite. Marx would be turning in his grave. They don’t hesitate to steal other countries ideas because they have little internal innovation going on themselves. What they do have is an extremely large population needing to survive anyway they can. Compare them to Germany which is a much smaller country.  Germany’s GNP is lower but more valuable and stable because their economic infrastructure is based on an educated, well compensated and healthy workforce who enjoy their productive, comfortable lifestyles at work and at home. As a well paid and stress free workforce, Germany is able to produces much higher quality products which is envied all over the world; and in turn brings in a higher price from those who appreciate a higher standard of quality.  Unlike China: with their unbalanced income levels, Germany’s profits are shared  equally with its  workforce. In America we’re somewhere between China and Germany and getting much closer to China everyday in that both in America and China, a few at the top have a hold of all the power and insist in keeping the income for themselves and expecting the workers to be happy with minimum survival crumbs. Believe anything else then your not paying attention.

Germany’s economic structure maybe much smaller in stature but it’s much healthier and stabler than either America’s or China’s and its green technology industry could easily outlast both. How did Germany do it? By investing in its workforce from cradle to grave. It invested in educating its young people, (German high school grads leave school with educations equal to or better than American college grads); They invested in their workforce by not destroying unions, (They have 40% unions while American is somewhere around 6%); They supported their technology industries, (Their sustainability industry have been government subsidized from the beginning and are now strong enough to survive on their own, where as America is still fighting over whether climate change exists and complaining when President Obama sees the need to rescue our automobile industry from complete collapse). In the same amount of time it took Germany to take control of the sustainability industry in Europe, China has gone from an agrarian society to a factory manufacturing one by cutting off countryside jobs and forcing simple farmers into inner city factory jobs. Most are uneducated; They work long arduous hours for tiny wages; They don’t get time off or enough money to feed their families a healthy diet even if healthy natural food was available to them; Most live in small city apartments with large extended families while the rich party officials and business directors at the top make multimillion dollar incomes that allows them to live luxurious lifestyles. Who does this sound like? Germans are happy to go to their productive jobs and make a good living and view the natural environment with open eyes. Chinese, are miserable, barely surviving, have no control over their lives and their health is failing fast as they destroy the environment in order to make a profit selling cheap substandard green technology to Americans who believe in Walmart and Home Depot pricing over their own countries economic survival. Oh, and more about Americans: we are also over worked and under paid while a small few capitalist elite at the top get richer; the quality of our educations have plummeted; our health has deteriorated while access to healthcare has been reduced; we have less satisfaction in our work lives, (if we’re lucky enough to have a job); we said goodby to collective bargaining a long time ago, leaving us with less control over our lives; and if any of our taxes are going to subsidize energy, its going to cheap fossil fuels that damage the environment, before clean healthy technology will be publicly supported. The Chinese have no choice about what their government does but in America we have the freedom to stand up and change the system; so why don’t we?

If America wants to survive as a global nation we have to embrace green technology and our workforces in the way Germany has. We need to stand up against the powerful fossil fuel establishment and demand that our government shift direction and subsidies to the development of carbon neutralizing renewable solar power and electric cars rather than fossil fuels and gas car makers whose time has come to an end. Okay, we have fracking, but rather than it being our future savior, it should be how we reduce gasoline costs while we rapidly transition into a sustainable energy infrastructure by 2030, not 2050. We need to encourage government incentives towards capital financing for early-stage clean renewable energy technologies that support the long haul. We need to start the conversations and planning with public utilities about rethinking our systems to change accordingly, rather than wait until another catastrophe forces us to make bad decision in a panic. And if private companies won’t play ball than we need to go towards supporting local public utility systems even further. We need to reconsider our trade with China and let them know that we will be reducing the imports of all competitive industries such as: green technology, non-renewable construction materials and processed food and any other important life sustaining products that have to be healthy and well made or environmentally sustainable before we accept them into our market place over our own home produced products.  (FYI, Solyndra failed, not because Obama was a liberal green crackpot and was always a bad idea, but because China drowned the American market place with cheap solar panels and we allowed corporate businesses to buy China cheap and kill our own growing government subsidized products like those of Solyndra. And we have since let these same corporate companies use the miss information to embarrass the President and the green tech industry, rather than stopping this from happening again.)

So back to the cradle to grave of a green economic infrastructure. We need to change our government perspective on its educational system, its manufacturing development focus and its human workforce support. We also need to fight the myth makers out there who have financial incentives to lie to us as a means to filling their pocket, and we need to get real about climate change, our energy use and the health of the environment in order to change the view of the industry by the public; and in turn, encourage capital investments now for the long haul. In our return to supporting innovation again, (That which made America great), we need to support new and innovative ideas for green tech financing such as: public crowd funding, private B Corp capital networking groups, industry technology connecting where sustainability sectors and technology developers can combine resources to get the sustainability industry up and moving and staying strong together: not as competitors but as partners. We need to compete as one American company to another through higher standards and quality production, not through things like marketing finger pointing and sabotaging each others developments. We’re all in the same economic climate change boat and there are lots of things that have to happen, but as long as we allow the few at the top to continue to sabotage productive change to pad their own pockets, the longer it will be before we can start to focus on finding solutions to our shared global, national and local problems.

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