All yesterday, I kept mistaking squirrels for owls. That sounds like impossible, but if a squirrel is sitting high up with its back to you and tail bushed out – you know -you too might think it for a moment. It was an odd day of isolated animals. A crow here, a crow there, an owl – no wait – a squirrel.
And yesterday I finally rounded that corner I had been sitting in front of for two weeks and made a commitment to a project that is just daunting in its size and speed. Its called “Blood, Soul , and Purpose: Reinventing an American City” and it is a blueprint for changes that need to be made on several levels to redeem a city from budgetary problems, illiteracy, homelessness, crime etc and so forth. I have been working on it for month, using Providence, RI as the example city. While there is theory behind it all, the goal is to create a practical model that can be implemented within 1 to 2 years. Less time is spent explaining the whys then holding up the current budget or charter of the city and saying “now if we do this…”
Because one of the things that I (and others like me) have noticed is a major woe in the world, and particularly in America, is we no longer have people who make plans any more. We have oodles of policy makers, theorists and critics – but some where along the line we lost the people capable of doing the kind of practical planning that encompasses the all rather than just a specialized corner of the world.
Truly, Chesterton was correct when he said that the downfall of civilization would come with the rise of the specialist and specialism. What is needed, in times of emergency, is not the highly educated specialist in a specific field who can say, fix an established telecommunications system that keeps breaking – but the unspecialized creative genius that can look at a string and two tin cans and imagine communication being possible. In other words, we need the person who can imagine and then create something that does what it was not intended to but what is needed in the moment.
I have just been steeping myself in budgets, economics, trend data and you name it for months. Now, it is time to step forward and put it out. It may not be 100% the way to go, but, I will tell you one thing – no one else has bothered to put the time into creating a plan so at least it will give someone a point to start from rather than this spastic jumping and patching that is being done.
I also, in betwixt and between my things yesterday, broke loose on that poem for Nigel Cox’s painting of John. I had spent a few weeks picking at it, writing down thoughts on the theme, feelings about the painting, about that man’s face and then – there it was – the voice that starts the poem. I wrote for an hour straight and then read it over and realized I had written it all wrong. Not wrong, but as soon as I saw what I had written, especially in that first stanza, I saw it was only skating on the surface of the kind of imagery and phrasing needed to convey the meaning. I had an entirely pleasant groan and bitch session about the work it will take to be able to bully the writing up to that level – but I wouldn’t have it any other way.
And then, I had the opportunity of sitting and meeting an artist and writer whose work truly embodies the sublime. Plus they were good, kind and funny and that was an enormous lift.
But now, on a dreary, rainy but warm, Monday, it is time to begin again.
c.2011. Cassandra Tribe. All Rights Reserved.