Building the World

January 1, 2018
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2018: Celebrate the 8’s

“Green 8 in a Sea of Blue.” Earth Observatory Image: https://eoimages.gsfc.nasa.gov.

Seen from space, the Americas look a bit like a green 8 in a sea of blue. One glance reveals our planet is made of regions, not nations. Rivers do not stop at lines arbitrarily drawn on a map: transboundary waters are shared resources. Another interconnection: land use, including transport. Great rail systems of history such as the Trans-Siberian or Canadian Pacific railways redefined connection through rapidly advancing transit technologies. Now, electric highways, autonomous vehicles, and hyperloop transit could link continents in innovation.

In 2018, Canada, Mexico, and the United States debate the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). Negotiations should include transboundary water resources; legal precedent of the Colorado River Compact may help address current considerations. Nafta truckers could pioneer automated highways that might steer negotiations. But Nafta may be too small to address macro issues.

Is it now time to extend the north american discussion, to a broader regional scope? Afta Nafta. Decisions about water quality in one nation may impact another; transit links continents, not countries. Oceans may ultimately determine the fate of cities: from Natal to New York, many are coastal. What if everyone in the Americas learned at least one of the languages of their neighbors? Language-based education and cultural exchange might stir innovation in areas such as shared water resources, intelligent highways, public health, and rights. Could there be a regional tour of beauty, instead of a tour of duty? Xchange students and volunteers could form corps maintaining readiness for disaster response (by definition, regional) while practicing environmental service, in an updated CCC of the Americas. Potential logo? Green 8 in a Circle of Blue.

It might be noted that 8, viewed on the horizontal plane, is the infinity symbol. System scientists may suggest that two interconnecting loops could form a renewing system. The infinity symbol was the creation, in 1655, of John Wallis (he also served as chief cryptographer for Parliament). Whether it remains infinite or not, our shared environment depends upon our actions. Perhaps it is time to dedicate at least one year, per decade, to improvement of our shared resources: celebrate the 8’s by honoring interconnection.

“Infinity Symbol” Image: wikimedia commons

Building the World Blog by Kathleen Lusk Brooke and Zoe G Quinn is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License

September 23, 2016
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Welcome

How can the world welcome 65 million people in new settings? Image: wikimedia commons.

The United Nations reports that 65.3 million people are refugees, asylum seekers or displaced: 1 in 113 of all the people on the planet. In the year 2015, every minute saw 24 people forced to flee; half under 18 years old. Conditions for millions are perilous. The first-ever United Nations Summit for Refugees and Migrants this week produced a Declaration, building upon the 1951 Refugee Convention that defines ‘refugee’ and the rights of the displaced. Education and employment are urgently needed. Can macro-scale infrastructure projects offer an opportunity? After World War II, Australia invited displaced skilled people to join the Snowy Mountains Hydroelectric Project; over 100,000 moved to a new land. Housing for families included schools where children learned together, adding diversity to the curriculum. How can the world welcome 65 million new arrivals today? Will Alex set an example of welcome?

Building the World Blog by Kathleen Lusk Brooke and Zoe G Quinn is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

April 23, 2014
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Take Five

Dave Brubeck: Image courtesy of wikimedia.org.

“Take Five” is the best-selling jazz single in history; the song is written in quintuple time, hence the name of Paul Desmond’s jewel performed by The Dave Brubeck Quartet. Five is also a lucky number for Singapore: Buddhist, Christian, Hindu, Muslim and Taoist houses of worship have graced the city since the 1800’s. In Singapore, music of five languages syncopates the air: Chinese, English, Malay, and Tamil are official, but some say Mandarin might be the most heard. Multiculturalism may be encouraged by educational standards: English is taught as lingua franca but each student in primary and secondary school also certifies in another of Singapore’s official languages. Should North America follow a similar policy regarding: English, French, Nahuatl, Navajo, and Spanish?

For more on Dave Brubeck, whose landmark album Time Out was the result of an international exchange in Turkey, and to hear “Take Five,” please see: http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/arts-post/post/dave-brubeck-take-five-and-his-longtime-collaborator-credited-with-the-jazz-legends-biggest-hit/2012/12/05/6ae17f16-3f19-11e2-bca3-aadc9b7e29c5_blog.html

Building the World Blog by Kathleen Lusk Brooke and Zoe G Quinn is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

January 1, 2014
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2014: Tlcan-Alena-Nafta

 

North America. Image courtesy of wikimedia commons.

January 1, 2014 marks the 20th anniversary of the North American free trade agreement, joining Canada, Mexico and the United States in partnership. While the original accord focused on economics, now it may be time to expand the focus to shared resources including, but not limited to: water, energy, transport, public health, communications, employment and education. Charlemagne has been called by some the father of the European Union because of early efforts to draw people together through shared systems respecting the richness of diverse languages. Who is the Charlemagne of the North American continent?

Building the World Blog by Kathleen Lusk Brooke and Zoe G Quinn is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

 

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