• The Four Projects

    by  • November 1, 2010 • Everything Else • 0 Comments

    My life has grown through increasingly wide circles of concern. It can roughly be divided into four parts.

    1. Meditation is largely my focus on myself
    2. The Hexayurt Project is about the poor and those affected by disaster
    3. The Institute for Collapsonomics is about the rich and our global scientific/technical capacity
    4. The Future We Deserve is for everyone, a universalist vision of the world made right

    I’ve done a lousy job of balancing all this and covering my bases, but I’ve produced some good stuff along the way. I still haven’t figured out a business model to support me doing this work – a lot of it is long bets which exist in the psychological (and therefore funding) shadows of large organizations. The hexayurt, for example, should have been developed out of Buckminster Fuller’s work by the NGOs doing sheltering. The need for a cheap, durable home for poor people has been there for decades. Billions have been poured through the NGO funding apparatus, but (for some reason) nobody ever got around to doing the R&D required to solve the problem. A lot of this falls to me because nobody else will do it.

    The Future We Deserve is a conscious effort to change tracks. On the work front I’ve been well wedged into Lone Genius for years. London has been bringing me into more and more collaborations, and I’ve been observing and thinking about the meaning and extent of peer governance. I wanted to see what we could do together, on cognitive surplus, and the raw materials of the book are extremely impressive. Over and over again I’ve read pieces that were genuinely startling, things I’d never imagined, thoughts completely unthinkable to me. I have been inspired. This is good.

    I’ve also been thinking about how to rebuild my consulting practice. My previous effort, Buttered Side Down failed because we over-estimate the readiness of large enterprises to deal with their real risks – not fire and flood, but environmental, economic, governance and currency. I think we can all see in the papers the consequences of that blindness.

    Blindness, however, is protective and creative. Much of life grows in the shadows – much of our collective future will be grown underground in the collective blindnesses of our species. With clear foresight, would we run our lives, and the planet, like this? I want to do something about it, but I’m at a loss to know what the next steps are in illuminating the darkness.

    So, for now, I’ve done what I can to fight the darkness, the institutional blindness which has brought us to the brink so many times, and is hurling us over it in some areas.

    On the other hand, I can see vast landscapes of potential to cohere and cultivate what is good, to form some of the positive vision required to move us forwards from where we are to where we want to be.

    From this realistic platform, it is possible to build a map of how to move forwards. Those old stalwarts about peace and truth and love and justice are all true. Trying to live by them is hard in a world in which our collective failures to govern correctly, particularly in matters of peace, environment and social justice, place all of us in deeply compromised personal positions.

    So perhaps that’s the place to rebuild a consulting platform from next year – helping people and organizations bridge the gap left by ineffective global governance of the critical ethical issues around poverty, environment and technological responsibility. It’s about addressing the vacuum of meaning: where we can win the local game, yet remain painfully aware the world is losing ground. A lot of people, some of them very successful, are grappling with those issues.

    Perhaps together we could do something about it.

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    Vinay Gupta is a consultant on disaster relief and risk management.


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