GREEN/Nature

Seeing and Knowing

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Or, you might be thinking, “seeing is believing.” Any survey of Politicolor quickly reveals a certain fascination with SEEING. But, here, seeing is not constrained by our… but is something of another (grey) matter. Our posts have asked what we know from what we see and how seeing changes how we think about what we know. That sentence could make you dizzy but that’s the point. There is an inextricable bond between what we see and what we know. Our previous investigations have involved reference to Cicero and Scipio’s Dream or Carl Sagan and astronauts. And sometimes both. We have…

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Detroit’s Hiedelberg Project: Questions of liveliness at the edges & organized complexity

Detroit’s Hiedelberg Project: Questions of liveliness at the edges & organized complexity

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It was like walking through a graveyard. We found ourselves talking in hushed tones or, mostly, not talking at all. Spookiest of all was the hope that still occupied the hollow spaces of the Hiedelberg Project. Horror and hope. Calling out from the empty houses, there was at once a community abandoned and a community committed to persevere. A four minute intro to the space that includes community voice and the artist, Tyree Guyton, who grew up in the neighborhood: Keith (Hobbes21), his family and mine walked through the Hiedelberg Project in Detroit enjoying the whimsy of giant polka dots…

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A Theory of American Identity: Or the Radical American Exceptionalism: Or Why Baseball is Better than Soccer?

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An abstract submitted for you consideration. Your questions and assistance in refining the ideas presented here would be greatly appreciated. (Submitted by Todd, National Academy alumni, 2001) Over the last year I have been contemplating the notion of American identity, and what that means.  As I contemplated the bounds of this notion, I began formulating a rather extreme form of American exceptionalism.    I see no way to avoid getting there, so I ask that Politicolor readers will help dispel it or create a more construct for this idea. I begin with a basic premise that the American founding experience is…

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Seeing America

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The second week at Montpelier concluded Friday with this question… What do you SEE when you say AMERICA? As the American public celebrates independence through fireworks, BBQ and pool parties, the 80 teachers who studied constitutional citizenship at Madison’s Montpelier know we must keep the future as well as the past in our mind’s eye. There’s no reason to skip the fireworks but let’s consider what that particular moment in time reveals to us about our present and our future. If America is an idea rather than a place, it’s essential that we share our ideas about what America is…

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Cicero’s View from 100,000 Miles

Cicero’s View from 100,000 Miles

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How is the first picture of Earth from space the most powerful political picture ever published? Marking the 40th anniversary of the famous picture, a British newspaper, The Independent, remarked that the three astronauts of the Apollo 8 mission “went to the moon, but ended up discovering the Earth.” The British cosmologist, Sir Fred Hoyle, had predicted the first image of Earth from space would forever change how we view the planet. Reviewing a photo of the Earth brought back from the Apollo 11 mission, Carl Sagan explained just how our perspective had changed, “Look again at that dot. That’s…

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The Wave, Human Nature, and Our Radical Evolution

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Published in 2005, Joel Garreau’s Radical Evolution offers multiple perspectives on the future of human kind.  Interviewing world-class thinkers, engineers, and philosophers, the author examines not only our decisions, but our decision making process—for the heart of Garreau’s thesis maintains that human nature changes. We’ve all wondered whether we’re still part of that process.  Over the years, our species has gradually removed ourselves from the brutality of natural selection.  Americans, especially, have enjoyed long periods without significant culling; so do we yet evolve?  Garreau thinks so.  Physically, we create medicine that can alter our appearances and heal our wounds, while…

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Project Citizen

Project Citizen

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Having been briefly introduced to Project Citizen at the National Academy, I decided to try it out this year.  It’s an ideal, outcome-based activity as much about the journey as the finish.  And the great thing about the finish is that it’s really just the beginning, for students receive the tools to research and formulate public policy.  In the end, it is incredibly empowering for the kids to discover the pathways through which they can enact change. A few words from my fourth-graders (non-speakers) when asked today by the panel what they had learned from the experience: “I learned what…

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Wall-E: Perfectly Constituted Disorder

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I saw the most frightening childrens’ movie this weekend, Pixar’s “Wall-E.” The child in the row behind me squealed with delight over every adorable character. She punctuated each screen debut with the character’s name. She faithfully announced Wall-E and Eve each time, convinced we were as excited as she was. She had no idea I was simply horrified. The shrill screams seemed appropriate. The giddy enthusiasm did not. Humans have left the Earth behind in an their never-ending trail of trash. While one solitary robot, Wall-E, continues the clean up effort on Earth, Eve comes to scan the planet for…

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Federalist Thinking: Karl Iagnemma

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As I returned to my too real world, I clicked through my Tivo playlist over breakfast this morning and found Karl Iagnemma on an episode of NOVA Science Now. One of the country’s top scientific inventors and an award winning author, Karl is presented as a man at work in two very different worlds. Picture a fiction writer and you’re likely to imagine a creative and erratic spirit. Picture a scientist and you see a methodical and analytical thinker. What does it look like when these two worlds work together in the life of Karl Iagnemma and what does this…

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