Thursday, February 26, 2009


Global Protectionism
Entry Beyond This Point Remains Prohibited.

The Fine Art Of Reindustrializing America’s Dream.

What would happen if every American became a carpenter?

What would happen if our nation’s entire socio-political focus hinged upon the viewpoint of a nation of carpenters? What would happen if American carpenters used nothing but American raw materials, products and tools to reindustrialize our American economy? What would happen if virtually everything that was made in America was made in local shops, sold in local stores, consumed in local communities while the skills required to make all of this happen were taught in local schools as well as national universities?

What would happen if as a result of becoming a nation of 21st century carpenters, everyone else in the world became hopelessly confused? What would happen if as a result of such global confusion our nation re-established its industrial center? What would happen if in finding that center every nation in the world were to come to America and ask with great fascination, just why there are so many men and woman running around in nail aprons and steel toed boots?

Think about this for a minute. I mean, think about this for a very long minute and while you are doing so, think about the nail apron you own that is locked away somewhere in the basement or garage of the home you own. How long has that apron been there? Did your father give it to you or did you buy that apron just after you received your degree in electrical engineering and bought your first home? Even though you became a dentist or a lawyer or a politician or an educator, there is more than a better chance that you do have a nail apron and you do have a pair of old work boots stuffed into some cubby hole that is located either in your home or office or perhaps the trunk of your car.

So, the question is, what would happen if everyone in America took the time to find that apron and those boots and in doing so, also took the time to fill that apron with the home improvement tools that were tucked away with that apron and those boots many years ago?

I’m going to suggest that the moment America does become a nation of carpenters, more than likely the rest of the world will breathe a collective sigh of relief. No longer being victimized by the global spread of the dreaded “Jones Disease”, the world will instead of panicking, become overwhelmingly thankful that the American Jones’ finally went home and in doing so realized that they as Americans had been keeping up with one another for all the wrong reasons for the past fifty years. No longer wanting to suffer the consequences of either Jones Disease or Big Chevy Syndrome and as the inhabitants of the rest of world were quietly polishing the leather of their own nail aprons, all nations were in fact preparing their individual cultures, their industries and their economies for the technological transformation represented by the universally known concept of environmental sustainability.

Not to be confused with issues surrounding the vague concept of global warming, not to be anchored to the equally vague language of environmental stewardship, the universally known concept of environmental sustainability was a conscious and clear headed blueprint designed to transform an overly cloistered 20th century industrial mindset into the much broader industrial mindset of our 21st century. And, yes, retrieving ones long ago forgotten tool belt was indeed a crucial aspect of retooling our nations overly lethargic industrial work force.

In the aftermath of a global economic melt down, America re-adopted its historical hands on approach to American ingenuity and in the process found those nail aprons to be slightly more practical and far more productive than laptop computers. Not that laptops were abandoned, but by picking up the tools that undoubtedly were left to us by our fathers, we began to build the missing links to a new age economy we once thought would only be found if we traveled and invested our greatest national assets abroad. Plugging old fashioned tools into that laptop, using that laptop to facilitate the renovation of the very basements, garages and car trunks those tools were mistakenly tucked into decades before, not only were we becoming a collective nation of carpenters, we were as well becoming a nation of highly evolved industrial artisans fully supported by a vast network of environmentally sustainable technologies.

Indeed, as our penchant for nail aprons grew and word of our inventiveness spread, the trunks of old Chevrolets were transformed as the historical paths we once traveled in those old Chevrolets were re mapped. No longer needing to build bridges to new lands, remodeling the trunks of our cars went hand in hand with dismantling bridges and turning the lands beneath them into fertile regional industrial parks filled with the products we knew were essential to the development of local American economies. Regional airports became far more important than international airports just as regional public transit systems became far more important that interstate highway systems. The development of regional agricultural farming became far more effective than farming to feed the global food bank. As such farming became a fine balance of growing grains for biofuels and growing healthy regional food products for those who lived in that region, both leather nail aprons and laptops became the essential tools of the 21st century American carpenter who had successfully reinvented himself or herself.

In that reinvention process, the obscure nail apron eventually became known as the pouch of 21st century American motherhood. As it held the secret ambitions of the engineer and dentist, it held as well the documents of the lawyer, the policies of the politician and the essays of regional educators all of whom were focused on a single and remarkably transparent national agenda. As that agenda was to nurture the remarkably brilliant inventiveness of our collective 21st century American industrial potential, the nations that once welcomed our departure from their soil began to take notice and of course, as the word spread of our collective national penchant for protecting our own industries on our own soil, leaders from other nations began to wonder why we Americans no longer traveled to Bermuda or France for vacations. As we were so happily and productively engaged in the pouch of our collective American motherhood, we hardly took notice.

Being so busy, being so productive, being so personally and nationally fulfilled now that we had become once again the proud owners of our renewed national creativity, American architects who once traveled abroad for the recognition and profit that came from building fantasy kingdoms for fantasy global governments were instead working out of the trunks of reinvented Chevrolets. Building regional castles of corn silos, solar and wind farms it was discovered that the trunk of the Chevrolet was in the 21st century, just as functional as it was in the 20th century.

As within that function came the pride of ownership of the almost forgotten American nail apron, the American Institute of Architects developed a new blueprint for our nations industrial future. Together with the guys and gals who were busy reinventing the Chevrolet trunk, a new line of car trunks soon sprouted from the dormant factories of American carmakers. As word of the success of these trunks spread, other organizations began to contract with The Big Three. Low and behold, the American Medical Association and the American Bar Association soon found themselves in the business of making and marketing Chevrolet car trunks to the doctors and lawyers who belonged to their once separate but now unified tribes and who had invented new uses for their own highly specific collection of 21st century carpentry tools.

One of the many beneficiaries of this national wedding of separate professional wisdom and insight was the American Lung Association. Long the premier American advocate of breathing fresh air, the ALA combined with the UAW, the AMA and the ABA as well as the EPA came to the conclusion that the notion of air quality had the distinct capability of being redefined and in fact such redefinition was the benchmark from which new industrial momentum flourished. Now that those in America who once suffered from the side effects of smoking and the side affects of breathing within the constraints of diminished environmental air quality and who once lived in American houses filled with stale air had together with the above mentioned tribes, strapped on their nail aprons, the subsequent environmentally sustainable, clean interior air quality residential building boom the NAHB and the U.S. Green Building Council predicted, actually began to happen.

As time went by and within the context of time America was finding itself becoming more and more consciously invested in the development of sustainable industries on its own soil, something else quite remarkable in nature also began to occur. As it had been years since an American had been noticed on foreign soil and our global neighbors were becoming more and more curious as to what it was we as American carpenters were actually up to, people from afar began once again to fill the concourses of our nation’s international airports.
Yet as America had long ago stopped promoting itself as a destination for global travelers and the melting pot that had greeted members of other nations for decades had somehow been left in the dust of the closed kitchens of our forgotten international houses of pancakes, world travelers none the less continued to come. Realizing that regardless of our current fascination with rebuilding our own nation, we were still the Ellis Island for the world, we were faced with finding a solution to the overcrowding of our international airports once again.

Being the inventive bunch that we have always been, and, realizing that our attention and fascination for air travel had for years been shifted to the development of regional airports and flights that took us from neighborhood to neighborhood here in America as opposed to nation to nation flying, we were in a quandary as to how to deal with the remarkable overcrowding of our sleepy international airports. How would America once again turn on the lights of its international terminals, its Ellis Islands and its international houses of pancakes? How would America produce a source of heat that would once again serve the meals of freedom from the melting pots of its remarkably diverse and equally scrumptious menus of ethnic cuisine?

Where in our past, such discussion would be filled with contentious political debate as to whether or not we should involve ourselves in the issues facing other nations, now that we had been so busy productively rebuilding our nation from within and no contention remained, provocative caution did.

Realizing that we were simply being faced with writing yet another chapter in our remarkably storied history of welcoming the people of many nations to our soil, we of course were being challenged this time to define that welcoming gesture anew.

And so, within the terms that stated we as a nation had found a path through our own tangle of 21st century technological riddles and in doing so were able to reclaim not only our own global economic self identity but an appreciation of the fact that our global partners had most likely done the same, the question became – what is an international airport?

The larger question of course was – how do we monitor the revolving door of global commerce that in the past was represented by the traffic that came and went through the concourses of our international airports and in that same past depleted our capacity to sustain ourselves in a global economy?

As we as a nation had long ago installed technology that was capable of seeing inside the luggage of world travelers and we as a result of an awakening of our national pride had collectively become highly skilled American carpenters, we as a nation of carpenters collectively concluded that if the technologically scanned global traveler did not despite his or her desire to enter our country posses within the confines of his or her luggage, a well oiled nail apron – ENTRY BEYOND THIS POINT REMAINS PROHIBITED!

The Blue Collar Industrialist

M. Patrick Dahlke

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Sustainable American Shopping Malls


Shopping Malls And Dysfunctional
American Consumerism

Dear General

I’m writing you because I want to work for you. I mean I truly would like to have a forward thinking conversation with you that might result in a future successful business relationship.

I am aware of the fact that your company, General Growth Properties is clearly between a rock and a hard place when it comes to its financial future these days. I’m aware of the fact that shopping malls across our nation are more or less all in the same economic boat as those owned and operated by your company. I’m also aware of the fact that while shopping malls are experiencing tough economic times so to is virtually every American consumer who shops at shopping malls. As I am a builder and master carpenter, my own trades are experiencing every bit the financial hardship as the rest of the country. We as a nation are simply stuck and in a manner in which we have never been stuck before, virtually every one of us are trying to figure out just exactly how to get unstuck.

Having said this, I’m writing you because I would like to become involved with a corporate entity the believes it is time to wholly redefine the socio-economic make up of retail malls throughout our United States of America. The failure of shopping malls is no different than the failure virtually every sector of our American economy is facing. As each and everyone of these failures represent a fundamental need to restructure the manner in which we approach 21st century economic problem solving, it is my hope that this letter will serve as a means of informing you as to how I view such restructuring taking place.

While you certainly possess a brilliant mind and when it comes to the successful development of established retail trends you are a genius, tuning to the far more imaginative, future oriented and truly visionary part of our collectively creative minds is now paramount. As any genius idiot can in our America today claim what he or she has accomplished as pertinent to their historic professional resume, historic entrepreneurial resumes are virtually meaningless when compared with the monumental changes that are occurring today in our nations rapidly evolving 21st century socio-industrial and entrepreneurial economy. In as much as we may all think that we have some license to justify our past entrepreneurial accomplishments, it is our capacity to clearly define the potential we have for future accomplishment that will determine our future entrepreneurial success. I simply think my visionary thoughts will benefit the future plans you may have for General Growth Properties.

First of all, American shopping malls have, over the course of the last three decades become synonymous with what I define as capitalizing on extremely short sighted ten year sociological trends that have virtually no bearing whatsoever on the much larger twenty, thirty or forty year techno-industrial trends that have quietly been developing and quietly taking shape over the same period of time.

Ten year sociological trends essentially state that what was socially popular in San Francisco or Boulder or New York ten years ago will eventually find the same popularity in other regions of the country. As more forward thinking ideas have historically come from these urban centers of commerce, eventually the uninspired social consciousness found within the heartland of America will eventually catch up to the leading edge thinking found in such areas. As those who are not from the heartland of America have up until now been able to envision such trends and in doing so capitalize on their more forward thinking portraits of what Americans both need and want, ten year sociological trends are simply not any longer an accurate measure of what the now evolved consumer throughout America actually needs and wants.

The trendy and more enlightened home furnishings, designer clothes, gourmet food products, American wines and off the shelf home improvement technologies that have historically provided mall owners with a strong retail tenant base buttressed by an equally strong consumer demand for the products sold in those retail environments has simply dwindled to nothing. The reason this is happening is that for the most part, the vast majority of the products retailed were, in spite of their ten year popularity cycles, more or less useless to the consumer another ten years later. The bottom line today therefore, is that the American consumer is not looking at what is sold in malls any more favorably than the trip they have to take to get to the mall.

Seeking a more tangible and long term return on what is purchased, the American consumer is looking upon the overall function of our nation’s entire industrial structure before he or she even for a moment thinks of simply going to the mall. What does a mall actually provide me with is now the question occupying the mindset of the consumer and unfortunately that answer is for mall developers today, absolutely nothing. Trendy products from trendy stores simply do not address the larger structural economic deficiencies making themselves known loud and clear to the highly frustrated, confused and entirely disenchanted American consumer.

Having said this and feeling quite confident that the typical American mall will most certainly be going by the wayside, something must emerge to replace the mall or more to the point, the old world economic consciousness the American mall has come to represent to Americans. While what that something might be is currently an illusive essay as much as it is statement of quandary over the collective failure of our entire American economy, within the context of that quandary is the definition of a new world American mall consciousness. To capitalize on the long term potential growth of this consciousness, mall developers simply have to tune themselves to that new consciousness. How they go about doing this is then crucial to understand.

Using the unprecedented growth of the California wine industry over the course of the last three decades as a potential model for new mall development is then a prime example of how redefining the social footprint of the American mall will enable the tenant retailer, the retailer’s consumer base and the mall developers themselves a set of much more dynamic options.

American wines benchmarked by the initial popularity of California wines, have become a celebration of the fact that regional vineyards have sprouted in virtually every geographical sector of our nation today. In spite of our nations current economic morass, regional vineyards are producing American labels that are consistently recognized as being world class in stature. Thus, in as much as the American economy is in turmoil, certain sectors of this economy are indeed thriving. The American wine industry is the perfect example of one sector that is.

Winemaking is a culturally advanced industry. Within the philosophical context of a culturally advanced industry is the remarkable understanding of the culture of the land and in turn the culture of the people who inhabit the land such an organic industry is grown in and around. As the development of a regional vineyard represents the evolution of the culture surrounding the vineyard, America today is rapidly becoming a nation filled with many nations which are in turn filled with many truly diversified cultural expressions that define a nation of many nations seriously focused on the regional maturity of thought and wisdom for the nation as a whole.

While this maturing process began some time ago and has been historically represented in our nation by the remarkable growth of the California wine industry in particular, the fact of the matter is that the American wine industry today, represents the advanced intellectual dreams and ambitions of a nation seeking a far more substantial and organic relationship with its larger eco-industrial potential. As the cultural art of winemaking has indeed become regional in America, the advancement of cultural economics in far to many other sectors of this economy have unfortunately not or at least not to the extent to which these sectors either could or should.

If regional wine making is a wholly advanced expression of what we as a nation of regional nations have the capability to produce for ourselves, the question is and remains why aren’t we actualizing those capabilities in all other economic sectors? To put this question into context, let’s move beyond America’s vineyards for a moment and turn to a discussion of American architecture.

Considering that American architecture is every bit as organically relevant as American winemaking, both of these industries are cultural industries. In other words, those who take the initiative to build architecturally significant homes for themselves are not building these homes for the same reasons that those who sign contracts to build and live in tract homes devoid of architectural significance do. As the tract homeowner is in the process of living the honorable and fatally stoic American dream, those that take the time to build architecturally significant homes are the same as those who take the time to fill the wine cellars of their homes with culturally significant regional wines.

While tract homeowners have come to be known as the American HGTV Group and this group is made up of millions of would be do it your self architects and home renovators, they are not master winemakers any more than they are master carpenters. In fact and in spite of their quest to be recognized as such, all they have really mastered is the ability to go to shopping malls and purchase via credit, the home accessories and interior decorating items made popular by HGTV. While the American economy has in the past fifteen years thrived upon the notion that wanna be architects are in fact nothing more than frustrated accountants or misplaced social workers, dysfunctional college professors and real estate agents turned interior decorators, the fact that this economy is no longer thriving is indeed an admonition that all we have done in our America for the past fifteen years is eek through another popular yet hopelessly impotent short term socio-economic trend.

Yet with all of these forays into short term economic prosperity, today the development of highly personalized regional architecture resides in the same vein as regional wine making which in turn resides in the vein of what regional shopping malls plagued by socio-economic redundancy have the potential to become. As on one hand only the few have the insight and self fortitude to realize the dreams that many share, the many do indeed have the same dream. Unfortunately today however, is the fact that the dream for all is benchmarked in wide spread organic economic inconsistencies. As a result, no dreams are forthcoming as regional winemakers and regional architects remain plagued by the economic obesity of national inorganic consumerism.

If you do not go to a mall and buy blue jeans sold at the Gap while sipping coffee from Starbucks after shopping for designer toilets at Home Depot, the organic potential of truly cultural commerce that separates the regional nuances of America’s many separate nations into dynamic hubs of new age commerce reside instead in piles of failed cookie cutter versions of failed organic economic visions.

In as much as it has unfortunately come to be known as such today, American architecture cannot be defined nor has it ever been able to be defined by what is store bought off the shelf of dime store architects turned quasi retailers of interior decorator designed gadgets. Instead, it must be defined within the historical definition of what it has always represented. American architecture has always represented “bloody knuckled inventiveness”. That inventiveness has always been embodied by the belief that change comes not from someone who hands us a free $100.00 dollar bill or a credit card and tells us to be free to shop for what is popular but by our reaction to the fact that if we were working from within the right industrial mindset, we in turn would produce the right industrial products for the right economic reasons.

As such reasons have within the history of our constantly evolving industrial economy really never been frivolous in nature and it has only been in times of both rare and extreme industrial transformation that we are able to see that our purchasing of illogical products are leading us nowhere, when we take the time to realize that we simply are no longer producing products that represent actual need, we also take the time to realize just how remarkably important it is for us to entirely redefine need. In today’s world, people who shop within the entrepreneurial environment of pure organic creativity shop because they are tuning themselves to that organic creativity and in turn tuning out anything that does not nurture that creativity.

Why aren’t American automobiles selling? There is absolutely no one in America who can justify using the automobile in the manner each and every one of us have for so long done. It is not that the American worker does not need the automobile, it is that the American worker is redefining his or her job description and that description does not include the same definition of transportation it once did. Yet without the same definition of transportation running through our economic heads, many other definitions of transportation are and it is these definitions finally understood by car manufacturers that will again find throngs of new car buyers flocking to their showrooms. This logic is precisely the same for shopping malls, if car manufacturers begin making the right kind of cars the right kind of consumers employed in the right kind of industries will in turn shop at the right kind of shopping malls they drive to in those cars.

Whereas today there is virtually nothing right about anything we are currently doing and it could be and has been said that it will take decades to understand what we are doing wrong, the question I pose is this; if all of our social, industrial and economic motivations are indeed organic in nature, shouldn’t all stores in every mall throughout America be organic in attitude as well?

As shops of this nature conjure up images that are absolutely non-generic and clearly community oriented in both scope and content, such organic economic images are today simply essential to define.

Within that definition, recognition must be given to the fact that what shops actually produce is key to the economies of the communities such shops reside in every bit the same manner the economic growth of those communities are key to the economic growth of our nation. As there is virtually no more validity to the economic argument that national chains only have to open up new regional outlets to remain competitive only to offer the same nationally redundant product line, on the heals of this redundancy is the overwhelming diversity of new technologies that if not manufactured and sold nationally will thrive even more so regionally due to the fact that we as a nation have finally come to understand regionalism in organic terms. As a solar collector might not sell in Minneapolis, Minnesota for the same reason it would sell in Tempe, Arizona, the solar collector does none the less sell in both places.

In other words, if a traditional national interior home accessory retailer such as Pier One Imports, or a traditional national home improvement chain such as Home Depot have reached a point of total market saturation (and they have) while at the same time still offering a somewhat viable national product line, new age mall shops that blend technology with both national and regional product needs as well as services that install and maintain product lines associated with those needs become far more effective retailers as they as well become far more effective as community based educators of new sustainable technologies and new sustainable organic life practices that are born from those technologies.

In essence, as Americans simply have no more patience with stupid impersonal retailers selling ambiguous product lines that have very little relevance to their actual life needs, as the American consumer has grown weary of entering into a mall retail shop only to be met with an uneducated and highly bored staff of dysfunctional human androids who are as disconnected to the human element of caring as they are the equally human need to educate the consumer, new age mall environments that firmly place such social emphasis into tenant lease agreements and the broader cultural philosophy that benchmarks that mall’s whole life regional marketing plan will indeed become the malls that mirror the emerging industrial consciousness moving quite dynamically across America’s entire retail sector.

As Americans have no more patience to deal with national retailers housed in impersonal shopping malls, they as well have no more patience with the local merchants in their own neighborhoods who for decades have complained that national retailers are driving them out of business when in fact local retailers deliberately blind themselves to the evolution of the very same technologies national retailers are also blind to. Within the context of this perfect21st century economic Catch 22, our nation wholly devoid of a rational economic growth policy sits economically idle at a time when the need to define something so far beyond idleness is desperately apparent to all.

So how does this portrait of industrial impotence come to an end? And, more to the point, how does applied industrial inventiveness turn into applied growth of the retail sector that is crucial to the growth of the broader and much more advanced industrial sector we as Americans clearly have the potential to create?

The answer is really quite simple and can be characterized by a portrait of yet another cultural economic anchor.

Shopping at a garden center whether it be locally owned and operated or a national or regional chain that serves as an anchor tenant for a regional mall (such as Frank’s Nursery And Crafts) brings to the consumer a sense of organic calm that at the very least is an escape from the chaos associated from shopping in any other retail environment. In a garden center one does not have to look at the label sewn into a hemline, the logo stamped into the leather of a trendy shoe or graphic signage that reminds the shopper that they are purchasing a product that has through mass marketing become the thing to purchase and of course the thing to wear or drive or the thing to place on the mantle of a designer fireplace. In a garden center, what draws the consumer into a state of organic calm is a simple plant, row upon row of simple plants and an entire architectural structure absolutely filled with simple plants. As if it is not even a store, the garden center is a sanctuary for the weary consumer whose only real desire is to buy a plant.

Once purchased, the plant is taken home and placed among other plants either inside of or outside of the building the garden center shopper calls home. A purchase unlike any other, the plant becomes an expression of the shopper which more or less states that they have purchased this product to not only grow but to grow with. Unlike groceries that are consumed or blue jeans that fade or cars that loose value and break, the plant grows and of course as the plant grows so to does the idea of expanding the personal garden of the consumer who purchased the plant at the architecturally significant garden center. As the plant is not affected very much by external marketing trends that can serve to place other retail products at the top of any niche market, the plant’s market and intrinsic value is just as all forms of art are, in the eye of the beholder and within the eye of the beholden gardener, that plant represents an investment into the gardeners cultural and personal future.

Due to the timeless and endearing qualities of both a plant and a garden, one might think that due to its product line, the garden center is more or less impervious to the market forces that affect the outcome of any other retail environment. In good economic times people buy plants. In bad economic times people buy plants. In good economic times people have the time to plant, sit and enjoy their gardens. In bad economic times people still have the time to plant, sit and enjoy their garden. While their temperament might be somewhat different during both good and bad times, none the less they garden and in doing so find themselves constantly investing in their organic future.

The dynamic elements of today’s economy, just like the dynamic elements of the current recession that is preventing the expansion of this economy are however, significantly different than all other dynamic elements of all recessions up until this point. Due to the complex nature of these elements, in today’s economy, people are not focusing on the purchase of plants, the growing of gardens or the peace of mind they would normally experience when doing so. Instead, they are focusing on their jobs and incomes. They are not however focusing on their jobs or incomes for fear of loosing both. They are instead focusing on what they clearly see as a remarkable transformation of their view on life and the subsequent yearning to create a job description that is, in many more ways than not, less to do with income or busyness and much more to do with personal productivity and the financial prosperity that comes from living in an organically active economic community.

As people who are gardeners simply like plants and as the vast majority of Americans are in one manner or another gardeners, when plants supplied by garden centers don’t sell any better than the automobiles that carry the gardeners to the garden center sell, something is clearly amiss. What is amiss is that people truly want to garden more in our America today than they are currently able to do, yet due to extraordinary industrial disconnect, the environment in which they envision gardening in is not within their realm of affordability.

They cannot garden in a greenhouse because they can’t afford the greenhouse to garden in. They cannot build a green interior environment inside their home because doing so is cost prohibitive. They cannot launch new careers in gardening, environmental healthcare, architecture or education because the homes they reside in don’t reflect the technologies that would create the jobs that would afford them the financial freedom to thrive in a new age green economy with these new age green careers.

They can’t do any of this because the stores that are going bankrupt in malls that are going bankrupt still possess a retail consciousness that suffocates the inherent brilliance of genuine American consumer inventiveness. By all means, go to the store and purchase something that distracts you from that brilliance but don’t in any manner whatsoever suggest to the shopkeeper that perhaps you may have an idea that would benefit the shopkeeper, yourself or the larger community from which all of you can collectively thrive if indeed you collectively diversified not only your conversations but the very careers that could easily spawn from such conversations.

As America today is locked into a deadening creative industrial silence, the progressive mall environment orchestrated by visionary developers is most certainly a place if not the only place that will serve to break the contemporary Da Vinci code of that silence. Whereas for decades corporate heads have within their narrowly defined market strategy convinced employees to view these strategies as the corporate mantra for success, today such strategies, due to what I would define as overly insular corporate protectionism has done nothing other than serve to drive the otherwise positive family dynamics of a forward thinking corporate entity into the tangle of economic confusion America currently and quite sadly has come to represent.

Why aren’t managers of national retail chains asking their customers what they really want?
Why aren’t customers able to speak to the corporate executives who hire these managers and share with them not only their future vision of the store they shop at but also their future goal of being employed at such a store because their new age career path has brought them to realize just how much they can contribute to that store’s whole retail diversity and in turn just how much that store can contribute to their own professional regional and national organic economic goals?

What would happen if all stores within a given mall re-adopted the once sacred social philosophy of “the customer is always right”?

What would happen if today as we are on the threshold of the most dynamic industrial transformation the world has ever experienced, the notion of the customer being always right were to be replaced with the much larger notion that the customer is actually a damned industrial genius who has spent the last several decades realizing the potential America has to move forward but has had virtually no avenue to express that genius.

What would happen if instead of conducting mindless market research over whether or not a certain pair of blue jeans may or may not sell in any given retail environment, a clothing retailer would instead ask the question why people actually wear blue jeans to begin with? While the answer to such a question might on one level appear to be rather obvious, on another level, the question placed into the dialogue of today’s highly contextual economy and amidst the remarkable cultural and regional/industrial transformation taking place is anything but obvious.

As the most compelling aspect of this transformation is the monumental loss of jobs in virtually every industrial sector, this job loss reflects an overall resurgence of old fashioned values benchmarked by the fact that the customer is indeed always right.

Within this rightness, people across America are clearly rededicating or realigning both their personal and professional goals with basic community goals. In turn they are in the midst of losing jobs at national or international companies, finding jobs or starting new careers within the regional consciousness growing throughout America. If a store that has historically done well selling blue jeans is fully conscious of this remarkable evolution of American industrial thought, the evolved sociology of a stores culture will reflect this evolution.

I am an engineer working in the field of solar energy. My job description demands a certain professional clothing mix. The vast majority of the clothing that I purchase is utilitarian based clothing that must be rugged in nature while being culturally elegant in style. Whereas I might at one moment be on a rooftop overseeing the installation of solar panels being installed at a regional winery, I will in turn find myself in that winery sipping the product the winery makes and I consume. If I am not on a rooftop or at a winery, I’m in my office working at my computer.

As opposed to working in a suit and managing from afar the installation of solar panels on the rooftop of a distant winery, I am, in my new age career role and with my new age wardrobe becoming actively engaged on several organic social levels with the growth of the regional economy myself and others throughout America are now quite optimistically inheriting.

Once again, if every store in every mall were to refocus its national retail mindset towards proactive regional economic, environmental and social activism, the makers of the blue jeans once considered social icons of previous ten year trends would come to evolve themselves toward the makers of entire lines of blue jean fashions that up until today have never even consciously considered and of course would come to represent much longer and much larger and much more diverse industrial trends

If every store in every mall was filled with consciously considerate employees who worked for consciously considerate corporate leaders, if every consumer that came into that store came knowing that their needs were being consciously considered equally by corporate leaders and employees, what would the outcome be?

The outcome would be that every garden shop would along with selling plants and flowers also sell greenhouses. By selling greenhouses and interior plant irrigation systems controlled by computers, they would also be selling accessories and component parts to greenhouses and interior plant irrigation systems. In turn they would leave themselves open to purchase specialized hybrid plants grown in the greenhouses that inhabit the region surrounding the mall. In turn again, those that shop at garden centers would be recognized for their expertise in the broad ranging field of American horticulture. In turn again the consumer would as a result of having a job, also have the financial wherewithal to afford to walk across the mall to the blue jean store and purchase the clothing they would need to wear as they worked in their greenhouses.

As all of this might very well sound like a utopian dream, the very technology we as an American society have been diligently perfecting in the last thirty years clearly suggests that it is definitely time to take the responsibility to actualize that dream as opposed to letting it languish in the abyss of economic uncertainty. As I began this essay to you with an expression of a wish that we work together, it is the work of disciplined dreamers turned visionary entrepreneurs anchored to a remarkably well-grounded insight into the structural elements of socio-economic change that assures that change is prosperous to those who take the risk to explore it and undertake the self discipline to perfect it.

As a master carpenter, I bring to you a most comprehensive structural insight into the inner workings of American architecture, American industry and American urban planning. Within the content of my mechanical knowledge lies the context of my insight into behavioral economics, fine wine, organic gardening and the intrinsic love I have for doing each and every aspect of what I do very well and very thoughtfully.

Developing a mall today requires the collective insight of a team that is fully conscious of future opportunity and fully aware of the stale mindset that has unfortunately rendered such opportunity socially and economically null and void. I’d love to sit down and have a chat with you and your team.

The Blue Collar Industrialist

M. Patrick Dahlke

Public Electric Utility Grids


Electrical Mindsets
Roast Beef Sandwiches

Picture yourself comfortably sitting in your favorite easy chair or snuggling into your favorite couch in the intimate setting of your favorite room. As you sit there reading the book that has captured your imagination or you are lying and listening to a particularly poignant piece of music or perhaps resting upon one knee the journal you intently write your most personal thoughts in, the world that exists within the walls of that room is indeed your creative, inventive and intellectual sanctuary.

Beyond that room are of course other rooms. These rooms are the life support facilities that in one manner or another, tend to nurture the whole life you celebrate within your “central room”. While each of these rooms are designed for specific purposes all of them are designed to support the larger purpose of that central room. In the kitchen, you prepare food that nourishes you while living in that central room. In the dining room you enjoy the fruit of your kitchen labors. From that central room you access the space you exercise in as well as the room you bathe in. Off of that central room is of course the bedroom that allows your body and mind to rest. There is as well the office and/or library that allows you to expand the intellectual and creative aspects of your mind. You leave the central room to go into your shop or studio to express your artistic skills. You leave that central room and your house to get to your garden. Beyond the garden and the house is of course the garage and in that garage is of course the vehicle that takes places well beyond the land your house and your central room rest upon. Yet no matter where you go beyond the walls of that central room, you ultimately come back to the good book, good music and the interesting journal you write while sitting in the easy chair of life that enables you to do reflect upon all of who you are as that chair resides in your central room.

As a house is a house and as such it has doorways, many of those doorways enter into your central room. Adjacent to each of those doorways are switches that you can operate and allow you to enter into that central room or enter into rooms adjacent to that central room you use to light your way as you move freely about your house. The placement of these switches is more or less based upon some rather common sense assumptions. One such assumption is that you simply need to see where you are going as you move from room to room. If you have a switch strategically placed so that such movement is made easy, all the better it is for you. If on the other hand you don’t have such a switch, you improvise and in doing so still move from room to room knowing that eventually you will end up back at the central room that is so dear to you.

The reason I am bringing this whole subject of central rooms and light switches to your attention is on one hand quite simple. As a builder and master carpenter who has spent years designing and building homes for others, I know that virtually every house has a central room. I also know that for every person I have ever designed a house for, access to that room was made easier due to the fact that light switches were placed in places that enhance the movement of the individual(s) who I have designed that central room or that entire room for. While one would think that having such a job is quite rewarding and that being wholly immersed in the field of architectural design for as long as I have, I would be happily singing the praises of building central rooms and installing many light switches in the process, unfortunately, this has not been the case. Unfortunately, the real reason behind talking about central rooms and light switches is that in our America today, a great deal of us cannot afford either central rooms or light switches. While this may sound somewhat ridiculous, the lack of affordability is at the heart of what is wrong with our nation today and is of course at the heart of the rationale for writing this essay. So, in hopes of switching some light on this lack of affordable and efficient housing and in doing so shedding some light on the reasons why affordable, energy efficient housing has become such an illusive part of our equally allusive American dream, I’m going to devote this entire essay to the subject of four way switches. More to the point, I am going to devote this entire essay to switching ancient electrical mindsets.

There is one reason and one reason only why we can no longer afford to live in the central rooms of our pleasant American dream. That one reason is our inability as a nation to afford the electricity needed to power the light switches we would like to be able to reach for and turn on each and every time we leave our central rooms. Having said this, I need to present a few generic electrical questions all of which begin with the word why.

Why do we automatically reach for a light switch when leaving our central room and entering into another room?

Why do we hesitate when it comes to turning that light switch on when in fact we have moved through the doorways that lead from that central room literally hundreds if not thousands of times over the course of time we have spent living in our house?

Why is it that when we do pass through a doorway and do use a light switch to facilitate our movement, we immediately turn it off once we are done doing whatever it is we were doing in the first place?

Why on the other hand do we at times choose to leave the light on in one room even though we are doing something else in another?

Why on still another hand, do we choose to not turn any lights on when we move from one room or another in our home and choose instead to stumble around in self afflicted darkness, blindly searching for something that would be much easier found if only we either turned on the light switch or indeed had a light switch to turn on in the first place?

The answer to all of these generic electrical questions does in my view have to do with the fact that we as human beings are on one hand quite familiar with our central rooms and the various rooms attached to those central rooms and within that familiarity we have simply grown accustomed to the behavioral economics we display in our homes as that behavior is associated with the manner in which we consume electricity. As we are ultimately creatures of habit and within the context of our habits, we grow accustomed to the life patterns we form, wanting and needing light is one of those habits whereas realizing we actually have to pay for that light is another. In the midst of the ongoing battle between lightness and darkness is the pleasure we realize from having light and the pain we realize when we fear we no longer will have light. The problem we collectively as Americans are experiencing today is the realization that the utility that has historically provided us with light has become entirely un-utilitarian. To the point where today our public electric utility infrastructure is crumbling is then the same point that so many of us simply cannot afford to pay the utility bill is then the same point we can no longer afford to upgrade our homes with the modern electric technologies that would help us reduce our monthly electric utility bill.

With such a remarkable set of wholly disconnected dynamics coming into play against one another, the very electricity that we obviously need is rapidly becoming something that we simply aren’t going to have if indeed we continue to think in the manner we have come accustomed to thinking. If we don’t collectively change our view of electricity, we cannot collectively prosper from the new technologies that can and must help us not only produce it much more efficiently but manage what we produce in a manner will enable each and every one of us to have strategically located switches that anticipate our truly modern movements in our truly modern homes that hold the truly modern dreams and peace of mind we should expect to realize and enjoy while sitting in truly modern central rooms.

While I am not saying anything that has not already been said and virtually everyone in America is fully aware of the fact that our public electric utility infrastructure is obsolete, I have always found it necessary to view obsolescence for what it actually is – an obsolete thought process benchmarked much more so by complacency than urgency.

Yes, I know I need to have more light switches and I know I need to manage the use of my own electricity more efficiently and I know that I would like to have much more advanced technology monitoring the physical functions of my home but. Oh well, there’s only so much that I can do on my own. While this argument anchors us to a certain national camaraderie and there is a certain amount of truth attached to the notion that one person can only go so far on their own, we have not yet reached a point where urgency of change overshadows complacency. While I am absolutely certain that such urgency is quite near on our national economic horizon, I am not at all certain that those who are actually supposed to be putting the puzzle of our 21st century portrait of electrical generation aren’t just as complacent as those who struggle to pay their monthly electric utility bill.

In my hyper-imaginative mindset, I am able to envision public utility executives across America wringing their hands with an odd mix of anxiety and excitement as I am sure they are fully aware of the varied forms of electrical generation that must ultimately be integrated together if we are to produce an American economy that enables both public affordability and corporate profit of electrical generation. In that same mindset however, I can easily envision these same public utility executives that just like the consumers of the electricity they produce walk from their central rooms in the same darkness as everyone else and as a result trip over the flashlight that sits on an end table next to the doorway that leads to the refrigerator that holds the midnight roast beef sandwich they snack on trying to escape the stress of their job at two am in the morning, six days a week.

As complacency is complacency and virtually no one has been able to figure out the great electrical riddle of our 21st century, when does urgency replace complacency and more to the point, when does stumbling in the dark and hoarding pennies to pay for light bulbs instill in the minds of all Americans neither complacency nor urgency but good old fashioned inventiveness and team work?

I am a United States Navy trained electrician and I am a builder and master carpenter. The technology I have been exposed to and worked with over the past four decades has to say the very least, absolutely fascinated me. What I am capable of doing with a spool of electrical wire, a handful of electrical devices and another handful of technologies linked to those devices is to say the very least, quite extraordinary. I am not stating this fact to simply impress my readers, I’m stating this fact to really impress my readers. The reason I am is that in all of the years that I have been working with electricity, I have also been working within the realm of complacency. If I had a dime for every time my electrical suggestions were met with responses from my client base with words like “that would be nice, but”, I’d be very wealthy.

In no uncertain terms and regardless of either the level of education or income of my client base, complacency has always overruled imagination. As a result of national complacency, what would be nice has virtually always been over ruled by complacency that has been benchmarked by “common sense”. Yes it would be nice if at two in the morning and I could walk to the refrigerator without either holding a flashlight or tripping over it so that I could eat a roast beef sandwich. Uneducated common sense however almost always over rules the larger notion of placing a motion sensing light switch that would automatically come on as I walk from my central room into my kitchen at two am in search of that sandwich. Uneducated common sense tells me that I should not even be awake in two in the morning let alone be eating a roast beef sandwich. Uneducated common sense also dictates that if I were to walk into the offices of my local bank and ask the loan officer for a loan so that I could install a two am roast beef eating light sensor, I would be met by stares of astonishment by the loan officer and other bank executives listening to my request.

The loan officer would go to the loan committee charged with approving my loan, share with that committee my penchant for two am roast beef sandwiches and conclude that while my idea was interesting it was not anchored to anything even remotely related to “common sense”. Thus my loan would be denied, the manufacturers of motion sensor lights would loose business, the manufacturers of energy efficient refrigerators would lose business, makers of roast beef and pumpernickel rye bread would loose business, the makers of horseradish would loose business and of course the bank and the electric utility company would loose business as the light that could be placed into the passageway leading from my central room to my kitchen could be powered by micro solar powered two am, roast beef utility grids managed by public electric utility companies that were financed by loan officers who for one reason or another don’t seem to like roast beef sandwiches at two am.

Complacency is hands down the killer of inventiveness and in our America today and as we are on the brink of economic redundancy benchmarked by overwhelming complacency, through our collective penchant for worshiping the false Gods of uneducated common sense we are in turn bringing about the urgency of panic as opposed to embracing the far more advanced logic of applied new age techno-industrial and socio-economic prosperity.

Electric utility grids are today the answer to that prosperity as they unequivocally imply that as hopelessly bored industrial geniuses who get up at two am to have roast beef sandwich conferences calls with our creative self for no other reason than no one else seems to be listening, we as a nation are more than ready to embrace a far more advanced and organic relationship with the electricity we have invented and once again must come to realize as being essential to our combined economic growth. Just as the hydroelectric dam projects of yesterday enabled a nation to prove to itself that channeling the course of water through a turbine could produce organic electricity, a new and far more dynamic set of organic electrical technologies sits waiting for integration into our common sense electrical psyche.

As our population grows and inhabits (or embraces) more and more the consciousness of sustainable energy sources, electric utility grids are indeed the definition of the problem just as much as they are the definition of the solution. Whereas the use of hydroelectric power moved certain river regions of our country forward economically in the past, this organic form of power did so in conjunction with all other forms of power utilized to generate electricity at the time. While hydroelectric was and remains to be considered as a remarkably organic and of course constantly renewable form of electrical generation, all industries (with the exception of the industry of human labor) that went into the construction of these dams were not the least bit organic. None the less, with the aid of heavy equipment fueled by oil, turbines manufactured in plants powered by coal, this renewable form of energy came on line and in doing so spawned the growth of a collection of industries so diverse that our entire nation thrived both socially and economically for decades.

Now we have the technology to produce electricity from the sun, the wind and of course the hydrodynamic forces of geothermal energy produced from deep within our earth. Yet because of complacency, the electric grids that should be forming to take advantage of these technologies are still more or less held captive in two am roast beef conference calls that we arrive at only after tripping over a flashlight whose batteries are no longer included.

Going back to the dialogue about four way switches that power lights that light our way from our central room to the rooms that support the central theme of living a comfortable life. I’m compelled to place the application of these grids into the context of both the architectural and electrical needs of a single house.

Given the fact that every house in America is actually built on American (earthly) soil, more than likely, geothermal forces exist beneath that house. Given the fact that a good percentage of the architectural footprint of these American homes built on American soil are above ground, more than likely each of these homes are affected by the sun that moves across the sky in our America on a daily basis as well. Given the fact that some days the sun is blocked by clouds that are formed by the geothermal currents that rise from the earth around these houses and in turn produce winds that move the clouds in and out of the geographical regions these houses are built in, wind, solar and geothermal energy are more or less constant.

Given the fact that solar collectors, wind turbines and geothermal heat exchange units are as well somewhat or at the very least have the potential to be constant in this day and age, what would happen if these technologies actually became the norm? What would happen if these technologies were to become just as hydroelectric power ultimately became, fully integrated into our national public electric utility grid?

The not so comical answer to this question would be that when the electric meter reader came by to read our electric meter, he or she would be wearing a most unusual uniform and of course would be required to display an equally unusual form of professional identification as he or she would also be outfitted with an array of technologically sophisticated gadgets. In turn, he or she would more than likely be accompanied by a team of experts who on a monthly or quarterly basis would collectively convene on our property for the singular purpose of interviewing our house to determine its overall technological relationship with the earth, its financial relationship with the town it was built in and the overall strength of the investment portfolio we as homeowners have developed as a result of upgrading both our house and our professional careers with these new technologies.

To put this thought into a not so comical perspective, when was the last time you had a good conversation with your electric meter reader? If you are like most people, the last time you had such a conversation, you tried talking about two am roast beef sandwiches devoured in the darkness of technological dysfunctional kitchen and were met with the same blank stare as the one given to you by the loan officer when you asked them to help you install a roast beef sandwich motion detector switch. But for the sake of this particular essay, let’s assume that the conversations you had with the meter reader turned out to be just as productive as the conversation you had with your loan officer and indeed you were living in a house that was equipped with technologically enhanced, state of the art two am roast beef sandwich motion detectors. Let’s assume also that accompanying your electric meter reader on a monthly or quarterly basis was your loan officer as well as your investment banker. What would happen if this all came to pass?

First of all, your monthly electric utility bill would probably come to reflect the geothermal effects the earth has had on your house in the last thirty days. Next, an assessment of sun days compared to an assessment of non-sun and non-wind days would come into play. Then of course an assessment of actual wind days would be entered into the equation. Adding to all of this information would of course be the amount of electricity consumed by fossil fuel electrical generation plants as well as bio fuel electrical generation plants. In the end and as a homeowner of a state of the art American residential architectural masterpiece financed by your involvement with the larger energy grid that serves your home and the homes of your neighbors, roast beef luncheons at two pm would ultimately replace flashlight tripping two am self inflicted roast beef séances.

In the many years that I have been so proud of the fact that I chose the field of home building as my career, it has been the reward of talking to clients about their dreams either fulfilled or unfulfilled home building dreams that have compelled me to pose the questions I have in this essay.

As I have had the privilege of witnessing both the joys and sorrows of families forced to live within the realm of uneducated common sense and those families have just as my own gone through the socio-industrial transformation every other American has gone through, I think of all of the experts I have met who just as myself have walked blindly at two am in the morning to the kitchen for nourishment. When in my dreams I think of this and I think of the volume of technologically advanced meter readers dressed in unusual uniforms and carrying sophisticated forms of professional identification, all who should be visiting and interviewing the technological performance of my house on a monthly basis, I think of pitching horseshoes in an American economy that allows me the luxury and affordability to do so.

If as the horseshoe flies past an array of solar collectors and wind farms and above geothermal or natural gas pipelines I know that the executives running my nations utility grids or the loan officers assuring that American commerce remains benchmarked by our collective self discipline and combined ingenuity, I am at the end of a horseshoe tournament free to sit in my central room that is fully equipped with the state of the art technologies all of us as Americans have produced, I will be both happy and proud to pay my electric utility bill.

The problem we in America have with our electrically switching mindsets is that complacency is unfortunately still awaiting urgency when in fact real common sense comes from pitching real horseshoes and eating real roast beef sandwiches.

The Blue Collar Industrialist

M. Patrick Dahlke

Sustainable American Health Care

Eliminating Confabulation
From The Issue
Of Sustainable
American Health Care

I am sick and I don’t want to talk about it, I don’t want to hear you talk about it and I don’t want to hear anyone else talk about it. I don’t want to hear experts on health care talk about. I don’t want to hear medical financial analysts talk about it. I don’t want to hear medical lawyers and medical lawmakers talk about it. I don’t want to hear medical educators talk about it. The reason why I don’t want to talk about it or hear anyone else talk about it is that for the many decades I have had to deal with my illness, virtually no one in the medical industry ever listened to me in the first place.

As I have come to realize that I know my body just as well as I know myself and part of what I know is that I actually do need professional medical assistance to solve what I consider to be the physiological problem I have with my body, those who think they know my body better than I have more or less come to the conclusion that while they may be medical experts, the capacity they have to actually celebrate that fact is hopelessly fumbled by the obsessively short sighted financial and legal bureaucratic expertise they were trained to focus upon instead of the actual medical needs of those they were supposedly trained to care for as medical architects whose entire life purpose is supposed to be dedicated to finding the solutions to the physiological problems I and many others have with our bodies here in America.

Why the practice of medical law and the practice of medical financial management has become more dominant than the actual provision of medical care is of course the dominant question driving America towards a much more conscious approach to holistic environmental healthcare, but, the fact that environmental healthcare continues to be only half heartedly addressed clearly suggests that we as a nation have many more miles to travel before we come to the realization that such concerns properly addressed will indeed reshape both the legal and financial management of our national health care model.

Having said this, I honestly don’t want to hear old ladies talk about their medical problems any more than I want to hear old men talk about theirs, I don’t as well want to talk about what is wrong with my penis and I don’t want to talk about what is wrong with a woman’s breasts. I also don’t want to talk about Medicaid. I don’t want to talk about childhood immunization programs. I don’t want to talk about A.I.D.S. I don’t want to talk about strains of influenza. I don’t want to talk about cancer. I don’t want to talk about Alzheimer’s. I don’t want to talk about exposure to radon. I don’t want to talk about upper respiratory ailments. I don’t want to talk about hip replacement surgery. I don’t want to talk about emotional problems. I don’t want to talk about psychological problems. I don’t want to talk about anything at all even remotely related to conventional American health care concepts as virtually everything that is discussed has absolutely no bearing whatsoever on the dynamic future potential of American healthcare.

In fact, until the dialogue on American healthcare invokes a remarkably broad and engaging conversation about the future of American architecture, the American medical community will remain an insolvent essay on its own financial and legal incapacity to view itself as a driving force behind that future. As within the future of American architecture is indeed the ultimate prescription for American industrial health, the moment we choose to view American healthcare professionals as the architects of applied and sustainable 21st century American industrial health will be the moment when we also focus on the construction of healthy American architecture. In turn, the moment we focus on the construction of healthy American architecture, we will as well focus on the sustainable physiological home environments that assure Americans that health care lawyers and health care financial analysts have successfully moved themselves away from institutionalized thoughts about health care.

In other words, the moment we remove lawyers and financial analysts as well as doctors from the hopelessly sterile, institutionalized environments of hospitals and allow them to walk freely into the communities they serve for the singular purpose of enabling them to become architectural advisors who are intimately involved with the design and construction of the very homes their patients live in, will be the moment we realize just precisely how mobile American health care can actually become.

As the real problem with talking intelligently about the ultimate portrait of 21st century American healthcare we as a nation are most capable of painting is of course the fact that portrait is still so remarkably intertwined and suppressed by our views on both 20th century healthcare and 20th century architecture, the real solution is indeed having a conscious discussion about how technological advancement in both the health care sector as well as the residential construction sector have moved both discussions into a far more advanced industrial and economic realm. Whereas our 20th century American healthcare model more or less embodied a refusal to address the positive physical lives we had the potential to live within 20th century architecture, the fact remains that living behind the closed doors of that architecture more or less assured that we would as well live behind the closed minds of American healthcare. As 20th century healthcare became the foundation from which our refusal to acknowledge we actually had bodies prevented us from creating architectural environments that would enhance the physical health and performance of our bodies, examples of forward thinking, technologically advanced and economically as well as environmentally sustainable American architecture were none the less brewing and maturing in our collective architecturally closeted mindsets.

Due to the unfortunate fact that the vast majority of American healthcare professionals still today don’t physically live in such forward thinking 21st century expressions of American architecture and the vast majority of their client base does not as well, we as a nation are collectively plagued by the much larger American social disorder of “mass erectile dysfunction”. As this disorder (dysfunction) is characterized by a monumental fear on the part of us all to embrace technology, our medical community does not in any manner whatsoever understand how to see the human body as a wholly organic physical mechanism that is of course intricately tied to the equally organic body of organic, manmade architecture we as an American society are capable of producing.

American architecture today is just as American healthcare is today, a field of remarkably diverse and remarkably broad and dynamic portraits of our equally remarkable capacity to see ourselves as master carpenters, master surgeons and master caretakers of an organic health care concept we as compassionate master visionaries are fully capable of producing for ourselves, our families, our communities, our nation and our industrial economy. Yet before we can collectively come to realize and embrace as a nation the remarkably positive dynamics of our collective potential, a blueprint that enables us all to see ourselves with all of our potential for actualizing industrial brilliance must first enable us to see ourselves as a society that is simply living an ordinary life. Benchmarked not by the extraordinary technological knowledge we have amassed but by our larger social ability to convey ourselves as simply ordinary, the moment we see ourselves as ordinary is indeed the moment when introverted social dialogue will be replaced by extroverted social, economic, industrial and technologically based medical accomplishment.

As far as I am concerned, architects from a variety of professional fields began the process of defining the organic mission of national healthcare more than forty years ago here in our America. Although we collectively today are seemingly in the midst of chaos when it comes to defining for ourselves such extraordinarily simple essays on our collective vision of health care, it is the complexity of varied architectural mindsets seemingly unattached from one another that are creating this chaos. Hell bent on defining what we as obsessively compassionate architects have mastered in our isolated fields, this chaos is a direct result of how hard we as isolated dreamers have unfortunately kept our selves isolated. None the less, conveying to all others in their own isolated architectural fields is today in 2009 paramount in finding an opening as opposed to a closure to our non isolated dreams.

In a nation of such remarkable potential, why now as we are upon the threshold of such remarkable medical and environmental breakthrough, do we consistently pester ourselves with the future portrait of Medicaid? It is because we have the potential to do so.

As I am one with a penchant for seeing how words play upon words and as I view all words as socially active architectural elements, within the footprint of remarkably brilliant examples of down home dialogue is of course the architectural dialogue of national healthcare.

Medicaid is an architectural word. In and of itself, this word has very little significance and in fact has come to represent here in our America a term that represents nothing other than a definition of social architectural confusion over the future of national healthcare as opposed to representing either a positive concern or proactive prescription for long term national healthcare policy. When the word Medicaid is included with other contemporary and socially relevant architectural words or terms such as health information technologies, or health facilities and applied medical research, this word takes on an entirely new architectural meaning. When the word Medicaid is combined with the word infrastructure, the meaning of healthcare takes on an entirely new architectural context and in doing so, a much more dynamic architectural element.

Within that architectural element, other words such as education and energy also come into play and in doing so serve to add highly specific architectural detail to the concept of national healthcare.

National healthcare does not in our nation today have anything at all to do with providing healthcare for every man, woman and child in America. Instead, it has to do with an evolving social consciousness that is more or less benchmarked in our ability to combine various architectural terms for the singular purpose of removing the concept of national healthcare from the mindset of being fearful of becoming sick and attaching it the much broader concept of both staying well and living well. In as much as each and every one of us do have or are fully aware of all sorts of health problems, the vast majority of these health problems have solutions due to the remarkable advancements in applied medical research. All of these advancements are most clearly environmental in nature.

While in the past we felt comfortable going to our doctor to complain about a certain physical ailment, today, the vast majority of these ailments do have a unique blend of medical, financial, technological and of course purely human architectural remedies all of which are quite monumental in scope as they are, purely human in nature.

If you were suffering from upper respiratory breathing problems in the past, a visit to your doctor would provide you with a pill or a medication that would relieve the symptoms of that ailment. While the symptoms would persist, there would be found a certain amount of emotional comfort in the act of being prescribed a pill by the doctor you had come to trust. Today however, the prescription of a pill has as much validity as financing a new car or refinancing an old home. As the pill is a panacea designed to hide a larger architectural (physiological) ailment, so to is the car an escape from that ailment as the old home refinanced for the umpteenth time, is not a remedy for the deeper longing we have in our American hearts to do something much larger with that home, something other than use its supposedly increased property value to pay for yet another pill.

Medicaid as the word actually implies, aids medics. It does as well provide some sort of aid for those in need of medics. Although it has certainly come to mean so in our America today, Medicaid is not medicine aid. As much as the larger goal of Medicaid was to provide some relative form of national healthcare, today it is nothing other than a convoluted set of revolving doors that once entered, bring to the hapless soul unfortunate enough to be caught in them, a lifetime devoted to the addiction of pharmaceuticals derived in large part from ancient architectural blueprints. The mantra for this ancient system of national health care was simple, spend enough time living on pills within the confines of your equally ancient architectural dwelling and sooner or later you would become healthy.

While living in such an environment you were essentially abusing your body, although you never actually knew you were. None the less you were financing a national health care system that rewarded you for doing so. As long as you went to work in an industry that was in all likelihood contributing to that illness it was okay just as long as you went to work, visited your doctor on a regular basis and of course, paid your taxes. In the 20th century, you were motivated by an assurance by your government, your employer and your doctor that eventually you would be able to retire. Once retired, you would be able to reflect upon the fact that the industry you worked in and the government you worked to support would indeed continue to support you as your doctor would in turn continue to assure that your health was in order. Abusing your body in the first half of your life was at the time, the American thing to do and you like everyone else did it well all the while knowing that in the second half of your life you would be rewarded with a retirement plan that was for a lack of a better term, made in heaven.

As time went on and the golden years began to actually reveal themselves, your government and your employer together with your doctor all of whom had been working diligently to assure that these years were going to be great, began to evolve their collective vision of that greatness and low and behold, life long prescription of pills and a subscription to Dysfunctional Architectural Healthcare Digest, the retirement magazine that highlights the potential of your 20th century American retirement dream were sent to you once a month in the mail.

The glossy pages of this magazine would of course be filled with all the remarkable architectural embellishments you had spent your entire life dreaming of but living entirely without in your 20th century home. Yet as the retirement dream of a retirement home went by the wayside of idle pill popping while sitting in overstuffed recliners, you found yourself becoming a medical statistic with an age stamp plastered to your forehead. Eventually, your response to taking pills and reading glossy magazines would be studied more than the actual physical illness that was ignored and the actual architecture you were capable of creating but failed to create in the first half of your life.

Alas, as your health diminished, your overstuffed recliner began showing signs of flat lining and those glossy magazines you had been collecting for years were now used as insulation stuffed into gaping cracks in your 20th century home, your journey beyond that home was always done in disguise. Heading out to see the doctor dressed in a trench coat and hiding behind dark sunglasses for the singular purpose of leaving your architecturally dysfunctional home only to restock the bathroom medicine cabinet, you none the less continued to contribute to the growth of America’s 20th century industrial economy. Fueling that growth was of course the home improvement items you read about for years in that glossy magazine that were now readily available for next to nothing in the discount stores America had come to worship. Residential home improvement products such as pill boxes, disposable diapers, light weight aluminum walkers, plug in electric foot massager’s, fully adjustable vibrating electric beds and plastic vases filled with plastic flowers sprouted across America’s bizarrely forming green economy.

At the same time all of this was happening to you the same was happening to your children and low and behold, due to your remarkable insight into America’s equally remarkable human condition, you were able to convince your children to invest in these home improvement projects knowing full well that if they did, the future of your good health as well as the future of the industrial economy you believed in would continue to flourish and all once again would be well in your America.

In your altered state of social overconfidence you decided that it was time to become a writer and of course, what you began to write about was sociology and genealogy. In journals purchased at the same stores that you purchased discounted home improvement products you began to essay the discounted versions of American life you and your ancestors were unfortunately forced to live but were none the less proud of. As time went by and you began to share with your children what it was you were writing in your journal, they began to use the insight into the words you had written for their financial gain. In no time creative commercial ad campaigns began to sprout up enticing an entirely new generation of home improvement consumers to shop for toothpaste, plastic sandwich bags, feminine hygiene products, aluminum walkers with built in cup holders, plug in room deodorizers and of course an entirely new generation of vibrating electric gadgets designed to alleviate everything from gallbladder surgery and kidney stones to sexual dysfunction.

All the while this was going on, the 20th century house you had built for you and your children and your grandchildren was being filled with more and more pages of glossy magazines that were continually being stuffed into the ever widening structural cracks that essentially turned your castle into an environmentally unstable wind tunnel through which radon, carbon monoxide, odors from deodorizers would blend with genealogical mildew growing for decades inside the walls mixing with the human sweat that dropped from bodies exercising once every nine months on electric treadmills tucked secretly away in closeted basement work out rooms collecting even more genealogical dust while also serving as convenient coat hangers for multiple generations of pillbox holding trench coats.

Watching the remarkably dysfunctional state of our American healthcare system and the economy that is supposedly designed to support our national healthcare policy continuously deteriorate, I often wonder what it would be like if people in America as a whole would begin to author journals filled with essays on growing organic tomatoes in one’s greenhouse, or living in a physical environment fully supportive of one’s whole life or whole health medical consciousness. What would it be like if the time spent in a doctors whole health medical clinic was spent exchanging recipes for eggplant and ideas for improving the air quality inside the kitchen where that eggplant recipe is prepared? Would such efforts serve as a viable economic model for the future funding of health care?

Unfortunately in our America today, such recipes for healthy living have been relegated either to the wealthy who can afford such technologically monitored enhancement of their whole personal healthy home environment or to the anti-establishment based self preservationist who lives on the land as an albeit physically healthy but socially introverted survivalist suffering from border line schizophrenia. Yet within the social chasm made up by these two extremes there remains a virtual encyclopedia of medical terms and conditions that would in all likelihood serve to create a broad spectrum of new medical industries if those terms and conditions were wedded to the architectural terms and conditions that make up an equally broad spectrum of industries that have the very real potential of diversifying America’s residential construction trades as well? With universal applications that would clearly enable every American the physical and financial prosperity to live in environmentally sustainable homes, would not these very same industries create legions of new age job descriptions and in the process create a that much more dynamic and sustainable 21st century industrial economy?

When this thought is actually considered and a variety of architectural terms are actually applied to a variety of more or less separate American industries, the notion of redefining the function of Medicaid not only becomes quite attainable but imperative as such application is simply the next step in the growth of our 21st century economy. As today we have doctors who have been trained to respond to the psychosomatic symptoms of an individuals ailments just as much as they have been trained to correct the body through truly advanced surgical procedure supported by even more advanced medical technologies, we quite sadly remain a nation who responds to a medical situation only after it has been allowed to become one as opposed to responding to the creation of an environmental situation that in all likelihood could have prevented the medical situation in the first place if that environment had actually been built in the first place.

Having said this, the question becomes what is a doctor? In the same breath, the question becomes why do we need lawyers who defend doctors who practice medicine in a nation that creates its own psychosomatic healthcare problems. “I am a person who has spent my entire life being entirely unconscious of the fact that I have a body that I am actually supposed to be taking care of on my own. Even though I have been exposed to thousands of informational bits and pieces that could have made my body and my life healthier, the only time I have ever gone to a doctor is when I have noticed that instead of having ten toes, I for some reason now have eleven (or maybe nine).

In spite of the fact that I was fully aware of the many risks associated with living my life in the manner that has allowed me to grow this extra toe (or having that toe removed), in spite of the fact that I ignored all warnings, now that I have this extra toe (or am short one), I have a distinct advantage over my doctor. If he or she decides to tackle the removal of this extra toe (or reattachment of the detached toe), chances are pretty good that he or she will fail. As I have come to shop for doctors in every bit the same manner as I have come to shop for everything else in my life, my shopping knowledge allows me to think that if the product is not satisfactory to me, I can return it for a full refund. If for one reason or another I don’t get that refund, I can refer to the abused life reference manual published quarterly by Dysfunctional Architectural Healthcare Digest and use the information found within this manual to find an attorney more skilled in medical malpractice than the doctor who is less skilled in residential architecture”.

As ridiculous as this all may sound, Medicaid allows for this cultural anomaly to thrive here in our America. Knowing full well that we have a valid license to whine, the fact that we have lived our life physically unconscious up until the moment we actually do get sick allows us to think that someone else will eventually take the responsibility for our own laziness. And of course, the moment they do we will still not respond to their advice for we know more about our own bodies and our own mental illness than anyone else.

To move a nation away from such nonsense, to move a nation away from the concept of “healthcare because I deserve it regardless of how much I abused myself” might on one hand seem to be an unattainable goal. Yet when we consider the many and varied architectural terms that are today commingling with healthcare for the singular purpose of evolving our consciousness to respond environmentally as opposed to responding reactively to our national healthcare needs, developing a truly gifted nation of healthcare architects is in all certainty, the only answer. When a given patient has known full well for years if not decades that their lifestyle was detrimental to their physical health, the question has to be why we as a nation have allowed such unconsciousness to perpetuate itself?

In a much more baited question, why have we as a nation not addressed our collective housing crisis anymore comprehensively than we have addressed our collective healthcare crisis? Aren’t both of these crisis’ one in the same? Of course they are and of course the reason we are collectively in such a state of financial chaos in our nation today is that we have failed to address either issue for far too long. In turn, we have as well entirely failed to address our collective educational crisis.

In an accurate assessment of both our nations’ public and private education system, in as much as education has fostered the concept of higher education for quite a few decades and has as a result succeeded in producing a vast network of scholars absolutely brilliant in their specific fields, the networks formed by such insular scholars has not produced a dialogue from which educational cross training is the norm. While we as a nation of interrelated architects are moving closer and closer to the realization that such cross training is essential, until national health care does indeed come to reflect entirely the potential of such cross training, quite simply, no other industry will realize its true potential until healthcare does and America will of course remain entrenched in an economic downturn representative of nothing other than our collective trench coat fear.

In such an emerging and remarkably exciting national scenario of combined socio-economic potential that is in virtually all ways anchored to our capacity to comprehend solar electric and wind energy grids, in some ways it might appear as if characterizing old portraits or negative stereotypes of antiquated 20th century social health care models might seem either socially inappropriate or politically incorrect. The fact of the matter however, is that until we drive the final nails into the coffins of those who have used our ancient perception of Medicaid to their own selfish gain, we simply will not as a nation find the wherewithal to take out the trash that serves to perpetually contaminate our nations’ much larger and much more dynamic healthcare potential.

I honestly am not impressed with old ladies who stop traffic as they hobble across the street aided by aluminum walkers as I see them as interfering with the normal and evolutionary life momentum of others. While this statement may appear cold and discriminatory in content, the only reason why I am making this statement is that the old ladies I know who do cross the street in walkers are just as angry with our system of national healthcare as the rest of us. While they may express their anger through overly animated, theatrical street walking, they are as well expressing their frustration over being victims of a Medicaid system that does not afford them the luxury of having a personal fitness trainer working with them daily in the privacy of their own homes to overcome the disability this very system has brought upon them.

In what can only be viewed as impotent and regressive multi-generational medical dialogue and while the vast majority of these old ladies have undoubtedly given birth to children they raised to become educated enough to overcome this regressive dialogue, within the isolated realm of today’s hopelessly separate fields of expertise is our collective failure to view these woman as the health care prodigies they are and not the statistics we choose falsely to examine.

Constantly being mothers, constantly seeing within their motherhood the future of their children and their country, they are forced to sit like angry idiots in homes devoid of the very technologies that would benefit their health and in turn benefit their nation if the whole picture of what they envisioned for themselves and their offspring actually came true.

On their occasioned walker aided walks in which they deliberately stand in traffic for the singular purpose of demanding from society that they be recognized for their contribution to society, it is remarkably sad that when standing there, they are viewed by others as an obstruction to socio-economic progress as opposed to being considered as the architects and engineers who created the foundation from which younger generations ushered in a new generation of socio-medical progress.

While their only maternal shortsightedness may have been a lack of future vision as to how the medical profession would ultimately evolve, their insistence that their offspring must become engaging medical practitioners is indeed their acceptance of the fact that their insight was limited but their dreams of progress were most certainly not.

Unfortunately today, the obstructions to medical brilliance are still benchmarked by the aluminum walker and the guilt associated with the fact that some of our mothers and fathers must rely upon such archaic attempts at getting personal attention as opposed to getting specific medical attention. But again, as we are a nation of architects rapidly reaching a point where aluminum walkers are being replaced by a league of conscious walkers, national healthcare must address the technologies that assure aluminum walkers are left in our collective medical past.

The Blue Collar Industrialist,

M. Patrick Dahlke