John G Bell


Spring '03 - Hill

Book Response: “The Cultural Creatives” (1st half) by Ray and Anderson

A. Important things about ...

  1. the power and limitation of dialogue


  2. American or world society


  3. these specific groups

There needs to be a movement to reclaim the words “conservative” and “protest” from the way that they are used now.

Firstly, the word “conservative” should be taken over to mean a kind of Muirian conservation of the environment. In the words of Dan Swecker, a conservative is someone that has something to conserve, and the web of nature is certainly something worth of a Muirian conservative attitude.

Secondly, the idea that a “protest movement”is defined by what it is against doesn't match the word itself. A protest is in the dictionary ( as “to object to” and “to promise or affirm with earnest solemnity” which is a clear confusion. The archaic meaning was “to proclaim or make known.” The root is from Latin meaning “to testify forth” and goes back toward indo-european for “witness.” Clearly, the word needs to be reclaimed as a systemic proclamation of what is wanted, not what isn't wanted.

  1. myself

Well, I'm clearly one of these people. I have to admit that I still find it hard to believe that there's a lot of my kind of people in the world even after being told so in this book. I've definitely felt for as long as I can remember that there's more of them than there are of me and that I'm surrounded. This book has given me a large number of ideas about things I wish to develop as part of my Activismworks project. I don't know how I'll get a chance to really focus on those ideas in the near future, but I'm charged up by some of the ideas that I've gotten for where I want to go with that project.

B. Talking points

  1. Satisfaction model

p16 “They need living images to be anchored in their bodies, so they can be anchored into life and can trust their connection to each other and to the great round of Being.”

p16 “... the Village is giving them a way to get both inner support and community support for their life's journey.”

p63 Alacarón “I recognize myself as a complete being who is connected with the wholeness.”

p93 “The Cultural Creatives are about leaving that dichotomy behind and integrating the evolution of the self and the work on the whole.”

This is a satisfaction model based on the ecology of the individual and the community, of disconnection and connection. The further satisfaction gained from realizing that the individual has gifts to give to the community is a third form of satisfaction which makes the connection to others bidirectional. Is there an additional level of satisfaction that makes the connection to the individual bidirectional?

I keep wanting to find a satisfaction model that talks about the kind of triangle I see in stories of people like Sister Helen. There's a triangle where there's connection to the self, to the community and also to a community that is beyond the self, but can exist when there's no one else around. This is the kind of satisfaction that is sustained by ideas of spirituality, religion and in the Alice Walker poem from this book that really speaks to my sense of connection with the Earth.

I'm coming back to the ideas of conflict in Theatre: interpersonal, intrapersonal, extrapersonal and superpersonal. There's conflict with the self, with others, with things beyond the human, and a ritual conflict with the audience. Each of these conflicts is satisfied in the theatrical experience in a different way, and could be a more holistic model for satisfaction in general. In the Theatre, this satisfaction model is highly formalized as a flow from para-theatrical experience; through gathering, development, conflict, climax to dénouement; and finally a return to the para-theatrical with critique of the experience.

  1. The third way

p93 Sarah van Gelder “Don't just do something, change your mind.”

Don't just do something, don't just stand there, change your mental models, which informs your future self and action. Don't just stand there as an individual or take action as a connection with others, but examine, evaluate and exchange (then don't forget to exhale as a return to the beginning of the cycle) the relationship between the self and others.

  1. Organizational safari?

On p109, there's a model of the way that activism ripples out form the visible active center. The idea is that there's concentric circles with the visible activism or leadership in the center, surrounded by the active supporters of the work, then a further outer circle of those sympathetic or touched by the work.

This concentric model seems to match the ideas of the willing and able circles of the Safari. I think there's something here to be said about the way that the Safari relates to organizational structure and a model for Meerkat leadership, that's about inviting people to an ecology of the center. There's also inherently a sense of both balancing the qualities of the outer circles with the ability to create an imbalance when necessary to meet the needs of the group. This imbalancing is a way of talking about shifting strategies for the leader, to take up the role that's necessary within the group to create a balanced ecology.

I think this model also has something to say about how the Safari relates to the ideas of mediation.

C. Outrageous statement or claim

p84 “The traditionalists innovated by inventing fundamentalism, which hadn't existed anywhere in the world before the early nineteenth century.”

How's that possible? I really should read the Armstrong book “The battle for God” before jumping all over this, but this just seems to be a ridiculous statement. The region of validity for this must be that I'm using the word fundamentalism in a different way because everything that I have come in contact with about history suggests that there's been a strong current of atavistic, authoritarian spirituality, not to mention that fundamentalism is more than just religiousness, somewhere in the world for at least as long as the age of empires, if not before.