Oct 4, about 40 people gathered in the Community Room in the Basement of St. Andrew’s Church to participate in Creative Capital’s #DinnersProject. We were one of several hundred diners happening across the nation from Oct 4-7. This event was co-hosted by many of the Arts Organizations and Businesses around the community and was attended by artists and art supporters alike. We even drew in a few passers-by who smelled the food and heard the discussion.
Not only did this turn out to be an opportunity for folks of a variety of beliefs to share and discuss both local and national political issues without vitriol or posturing, but it also turned into something even bigger for the community.
Annie Lightsey, who runs Sol House locally and is involved with Create2030 globally, volunteered to lead the planning and coordination of topics for anyone who wants to use art as activism. Based on the UN SDGs , she will create a calendar that gives a topic for artists and organizations who want to raise awareness or help to educate each quarter. Since we have also agreed to come back together once a quarter for a dinner ( we do carry-ins like experts around here), we will also use part of that time to collaborate and coordinate efforts for the coming quarter.
The group also acknowledged that we can get so heads down busy working in and supporting our individual organization or business that we forget to look up and around. The #kokomoartsmatter hashtag was created and all in the room agreed that anytime we see it on an event or art posting, we will all share it. Hopefully, in the near future anyone looking for insights on the Kokomo/Howard County art scene will just be able to google #kokomoartsmatter and find all the hidden corners of our rich art ecosystem. We hope each of you will participate in this coordination of information.
Listen for more information as new projects and collaborations evolve out of this community wide effort, and plan on joining us in January for the next amazing arts community pot luck dinner.
Although the quote goes back into the 1300s, we know best the phrase “of the people, by the people, for the people” from Lincoln’s Gettysburg address.
If we look back to the occasion of the Gettysburg address, you might remember that he was talking that day because they were dedicating the battlefield to the fallen soldiers of the civil war. He was admonishing those gathered to work hard so that the loss of those fallen would not be in vain.
Just like at Gettysburg, it often feels today that it is uncertain if our democracy will survive.
Just like at Gettysburg, the only way this will happen is if all of us work to ensure we have a democracy “of, by and for” the people.
Of the People-– This means that the people who make up the government come from the people. That people like you run for office or serve in appointed roles to make the government work.
By the People- This means quite simply, that the people vote. To vote for representation, to vote for leadership, to vote to settle issues. If the people are not informed and making decisions, democracy fails.
For the People – There is an implied “the benefit of”. As in “For the benefit of the people”. Too often today, people read “for” and think – “instead of me”. This is not “here- let me do that for you”. As the first two clauses try to make clear, the people must act- Sometimes within the government and sometimes outside of the government- to get things accomplished and keep democracy healthy. This was a warning not to let the interests of other entities come before the interests of the people. Instead, what has too often evolved out of this means that people have great ideas and then try to find the person/department in the government to do it “for them”, instead of acting themselves.
What steps are you taking this fall to ensure that our democracy thrives and government stays “of the people, by the people, and for the people”?
Zoom in on the parts on the welding bench.. what do you think is about to emerge?? @cogbots creativity about to go into overdrive (at Kokomo, Indiana)
The layout worked through, now to dream up the wire wrapping design. The big piece is actually shaped and polished Kokomo Opalescent Glass oven slag. #makermayhem (at SHAK Makerspace)
For the majority of the 20th century, the US economy was based around consumption. Somewhere in the late 1960s to early 1970s, that percentage began to decline. It is not a phenomenon unique to the US, it is part of an overall global decline in % GDP contribution globally. A decline in GDP % does not mean we are manufacturing or producing less, it just means that the profits from Manufacturing…
For the majority of the 20th century, the US economy was based around consumption. Somewhere in the late 1960s to early 1970s, that percentage began to decline. It is not a phenomenon unique to the US, it is part of an overall global decline in % GDP contribution globally. A decline in GDP % does not mean we are manufacturing or producing less, it just means that the profits from Manufacturing make up a smaller percent of the revenues in a country or world wide. One natural conclusion of this is that manufacturing is less profitable. But this is not the simple truth. The revenue per share for Apple, which manufactures computers, tablets, ipods and phones have increased in a graph that is the inverse of this. Certainly, some manufacturing areas ( automotive comes to mind) have struggled- but overall this is not true. The number of small to mid manufacturers making a happy profit continues to grow.
The other way to have your percentage decrease is to have some other area grow disproportionately. And there is an area that shows this very clearly- the financial industry. ( Graph from Professor James Kwak)
A year ago, Bloomberg gave us some more insights into the growth of the financial sector.
“Let’s start with the question of why finance has grown so much in recent years. We can get some clues to this by considering which parts of finance have grown. Financial economists Robin Greenwood and David Scharfstein took a look at this back in 2013, and found that the acceleration since 1980 has come from two sources: 1) asset-management fees, and 2) lending to households.”
That is, the largest area of profits for the Financial Sector are coming from everyday people- the households who pay what seem like small fees ( 1 or 2 % management fees here and there that add up) and the households who use credit more and more.
Why is this interesting and important? What is the link to “compliance”?
In Requiem for the American Dream, Noam Chomsky looks at the impact of the concentration of wealth and inequality , and how it is both a natural progression/cycle and a backlash to the movements in the 1960s that increased democracy. He shows how some of this was even seen as an “excess of democracy” by the people threatened by it. This is cyclical, a teeter/totter seeking a balance point and often tipping from one side to another. But every teeter totter only changes position when force is applied to it.
When the GDP ( and the profits of the super rich) were significantly made up from the profits of manufacturing, then the people had easy pressure points. Strike, Sit in, Slow Down, Destroy property– all of these were easy physical actions that had an immediate bottom line impact and quickly built of pressure that required a release of power and an increase of democracy.
We are now playing a different game. If you are a worker trying to get concessions from a single production company, a strike may still make sense. But when are are trying to make wide sweeping changes, to put overall general pressure on the pockets of the super rich so that they have no choice but to relieve their pressure by decreasing inequality just a bit, general strikes and the destruction of property have little impact at all.
Let’s go back to those two points where the financial industry makes a profit. Management Fees and Credit. Management Fees will require shopping around and pressure on the asset managers. For the most part, 401K investments and the like are chosen by companies, not by individuals. We can and should make sure we are informed and put pressure on people making the choices to make the choices most in our favor, this is a long game.
The second was credit. Yep, that percentage you pay on your credit card(s), the interest and fees on every loan you take. This becomes more of a psychological battle than a physical one. The pressures put on the market place by advertising are powerful and designed to make you feel unhappy and dissatisfied– and to spend to feel better. I am not saying “Do not buy things”. That is an absurd statement and would quickly fall apart. But what if we really focus on “Only buy within your means”? Some would argue that for them, this equals “Do not buy things”, but I say this is where we need to gather together and make this possible. Everyone has something to offer– there are ways to get those birthday presents or other necessary luxuries that do not always mean going into debt. Exchange of services or products without exchange of cash can assist in lowering credit usage in some of these cases.
How we can we collectively work to drop the profit out of the credit economy? How can we force the market out of being a credit market and back to being more of a production market, where the pressure points on our economic teeter totter are more accessible to all?
For me, this means consumption that I am in control of- and not something that is an impulse that continues to drive profits into the pockets of the super wealthy. It also means careful monitoring of the data to watch for the right pressure points to move the teeter totter back into balance. The actions of a single person will be close to meaningless. But the actions of a single person multiplied across millions can be a driving force.
What changes will it take for you to not contribute to the profits generated by credit?
For years, GearLab ™ has been gathering crowds at Maker Faires, Art Galleries and Conventions. One of the things we love most about it is the seemingly magical attraction that brings together total strangers to work cooperatively , exploring gear interactions and kinetic art. However, when the group of strangers includes small children, at some point during the day there would come that moment…
I had a really bad night last night. And by really bad I mean easily the worst night I’ve had in the last 12 months. I’m not going to get into details but I am gonna say that I indulged in some self care and had fast food. This is super uncommon for me, I rarely have it. But my point is that it was necessary. My soul and my heart needed to be fed last night and I so I listened to my body and my mind and let myself enjoy some super shitty food. And I don’t at all feel bad for it. And you shouldn’t ever either.
It’s so important that we go easy on ourselves. If you’re hurting and in pain it’s not fair to be extra tough on yourself and deny yourself having a good cry with a box of cookies if that’s what you need at that moment. And it’s not fair to yourself to feel bad about it later. On that same note, this is where the key difference of binge eating and self care come into play. If you allow yourself to just have what you need and not feel badly about it, a once in a while shitty self care meal will stay a once in a while thing. It’s only when you beat yourself up over it that it becomes a consistent thing, because you feel badly so you continue the cycle of those negative emotions. And if you struggle with binge eating, those negative emotions turn into more binging episodes.
Feed your soul. Listen to your mind and body, don’t hold yourself up to unrealistic and unfair expectations. Allow and welcome self care and deny yourself of feeling badly about it.