Forgotten Chicago

Forgotten Chicago is a new website dedicated to documenting little known elements of Chicago’s infrastructure, architecture, neighborhoods and general cityscape, whether existing or historical. I just had a nice little look around and will stay tuned, hoping the site will keep growing.

Inviting Email Subscription

A new toy …er, tool. I’m giving FeedBlitz a try. See the sidebar. For those of you whose primary web destination says “Inbox” at the top. Now you can read by email. Just enter your address in the box and click add. Your address will be used for NOTHING but delivering blog posts.

Inviting Again

To blog or not to blog? Well… okay… blog. It’s been a grand experiment, but there are things I put here now that I don’t have any other place to put. Much to my surprise, and chagrin, there is more to say. So without further ado, here is where I’ve been, mostly gladly, spending big piles of attention these last four months…

  • Four weeks of being very much out in the world, in India and Nepal, honeymooning, retreating, and training in Open Space (notes for the latter, totally redesigned, forthcoming)
  • Learning to use a cellphone. Yes I finally caved, converted my oldest landline, so the number remains the same. And yes, learning… still catching myself listening for the dial tone before dialing. (grin)
  • Rebuilding the best bicycle I ever had (1981). Photo forthcoming, when it gets launched on the first good bright sunny day of Spring.
  • Tearing around Lincoln Square area on foot and on my other bicycle, learning to ride in the cold again, for first time since high school — and looking for a HOUSE.
  • Learning to ride the bike and talk on the phone.
  • Long holidays with the WHOLE family.
  • Facilitating the 2nd Annual Chicago Area Food Policy Advisory Summit, especially rewarding as this is the most lively growing edge of what started in a statewide Summit I facilitated in 2001.
  • C3 summit project, C3 weblog, green dinners, WorldChanging, and Massive Change in the City.
  • Updates to MichaelHerman.com and OpenSpaceWorld.org
  • Opening Space projects, including one for the City of Aspen, a community-wide affair to cultivate broad community support to resolve a decades-old debate about what to do about inbound traffic there.

The Aspen events happen later this week, so I’m off to the airport. Inviting Again. Call me on the slopes, I’ll think I’m going to need the rest breaks!

Phone Tax Dead at 108

Imposed in 1898 to help finance the Spanish-American War, (one of the) taxes on long distance calls end today. You can even get a refund for taxes paid in the last few years. Don’t spend it all in one place.

via Mises.

Sleeping with the Lights On

It’s 2:30AM here in central Sweden, and I think it’s already starting to get light out. I’m not sure it ever really got dark. So strange to look out the window at in the middle of the night, and see all the way across the meadow!

Reading Iran

Iran Press Service is the oldest post-revolution English language Iranian publication outside Iran. Created in 1980 it is also one of the first Iranian Internet publications.

I don’t know if it’s more accurate or reliable than what comes through the mainstream media. I’m just glad to have an alternative source of information on Iranian nuclear diplomacy. Feels like I learn more reading Iranians on Iran, even when they report from Paris, than when I read Americans and Europeans, reporting from anywhere.

UPDATE: See also GlobalVoices for individual voices on Iran, thanks to Christy.

Skype me!

I’m just finishing the first wave of settling into a gorgeous new Powerbook, and OSX 10.4… so I’m finally Skype-able!

Skype me and tell me how it works! All versions of my name were taken, so my Skype name is globalchicago.

Open Question

Here are some musings from Doug Germann about OpenSpaceTech

I must confess to you that I am at a loss to describe to you this meeting. We come to it and meet in a way that shares more of us than we ever planned to share, and it makes us whole; it reveals our beauty-individually and as a community. It causes us to go our and do something we thought larger than us, beyond our reach, but there it is, being done. And when we come away, we come away changed profoundly and surely, and yet we are unable to put in words in what way nor prescribe a way for others to get there.

And yes, that’s pretty much how it is for me, too. It’s all the little aligning and connectings that take place that clearly, if still mysteriously, support new action. I like Doug’s line too, about “What if conversation is how we consciously evolve?”

At the Same Time!

In the course of conversation in the VirtualChautauqua with Michael Ray, he makes this observation, on his way to saying something else…

At the same time (or “that being said” as everyone seems to say in the media nowadays in the same place that before that they would say “at the end of the day” and before that would say “the bottom line is.”)…

Language, and the very subtle shapes we create with it, are so important. This progression he notes, this shift in reference from quarterly (bottom-line business focus) to daily, to just a moment ago, to at the same time, is so subtle and so important.

The capacity to be and do, to pay attention and attend to, many things, inside and outside, self and others, past and future at the same time must be our most important practice and learning now.

Highest Goal

Lisa Kimball sent an invitation yesterday for a new Virtual Chautauqua event, September 15 (now) though the 30th, with author and teacher Michael Ray. I”m finding his book, Highest Goal, to be both brilliant and helpful. Some of my favorite bits from Jim Collins’ foreword:

…the story of a businessman who visited a Zen master seeking enlightenment. They sat down for tea, the businessman blabbering on about all the issues and challenges in his life, and his quest for achievement and direction and meaning and purpose and . . . the master said nothing, pouring tea. With the cup full, the master kept pouring, the tea flowing into the saucer, onto the table, and finally into the man’s lap.

“Hey! What are you doing?” yelped the businessman, leaping up as the scalding hot water seeped into his pants.

“Your cup is too full,” said the master. “You add and add and add and add and add and add to your life. There is no room for enlightenment until you empty your cup.”

…I’ve come to believe that there are two approaches to life. The first, followed by most, is the “paint by numbers kit” approach to life. You do what other people say. You follow a well-traveled path. You stay within the lines. And you end up with a nice, pretty—and unimaginative—picture. The second, followed by few, is to start with a blank canvas and try to paint a masterpiece. It is a riskier path, a harder path, a path filled with ambiguity and creative choice. But it is the only way to make your life itself a creative work of art. To paint a masterpiece requires a concept, a place to begin, a guiding context in the absence of the comforting numbers and lines in the premade kit. That guiding frame of reference is the highest goal, and bringing it into your life with the help of Michael’s discoveries is what this book is all about.

…A core process—both in the course and in this book—is the idea of “live-with” heuristics. These are mantras of living that you implement for a period of time (usually a week or more), and reflect on the experience. At Stanford, we were challenged with such livewith assignments as: If at First You Don’t Succeed, Surrender. Pay Attention! Ask Dumb Questions. Destroy Judgment, Create Curiosity. Don’t Think About It. Be Ordinary. And the hardest livewith of all: Do Only What Is Easy, Effortless and Enjoyable.

You can join, or just read through, the two-week conversation with Michael at the VirtualChautauqua.

Happy Enough

Corrigan pointing to Tracy Gary today, who inherited a lot of money, but lives on $35-45K annually. She spends most of her time doing service work around the world and working to give away her money.

Seems to go with this Trix comment in Pollard

In Ojibway, the word ‘debiziwinan’ means both ‘abundance’ and ‘sufficiency’.

Oh, to have enough, and be happy with just that much.

Housing Perspective

This point comes from Martin Barnes at Bank Credit Analyst…

The current 11% year-on-year gain in real house prices compares to a 50 year average of only 2%. The current growth is three standard deviations above its mean, and historically, this has broadly been a mean reverting series. The odds are high that the growth in real house prices will fall below zero in the next few years.

via John Mauldin’s free letter, which I devour every week.

New Social Models

Dave Pollard posting some guiding principles for Next-Society Models. Among a nice round list of 11 principle characteristics, I especially like his suggestion that new social models should be replicable but not necessarily scalable:

If the model only works in special rare circumstances, it’s probably not a very useful model. But there is some evidence that small is beautiful, and some of the best models in the world just don’t scale. In that case, don’t make ’em bigger, just make more of ’em. The Waldorf schools might never scale to a centralized global system, but they seem to work very well as a replicable, tweakable model.

Was surprised to see that Dave had eluded the net of my blogroll. That’s been fixed, under Blogs. See also a whole new blogroll section called Gifts. Many of the things listed there are indeed replicable, if not scalable. Remarkable, as well.