Wednesday, March 25, 2009




When you find yourself with the time, take a very slow and thoughtful walk through the woods along the creek, stream or river nearest your home. As you do so, focus on the geography of the earth you are walking upon. Focus also on the quality of air you are breathing and the manner in which you breathe. As you are walking, breathing and focusing on the geography you are walking upon, look up into the canopy of trees above you, and in doing so look even higher and study how the trees above you filter and eventually project in quite the prismatic manner the sun as its spotted rays bounce lazily upon the forest floor you are walking upon.

As you walk, ask yourself a few questions. The first question you might ask is, “Why am I walking through the woods?” If you are like most people, your answer to yourself is that you enjoy the tranquil nature of the walk. If you are like most people, your answer is experiencing such tranquility enables you to regain your perspective on a life lived outside of that woods that is at times rather stressful. If you are like most people, that forest walk is a time of personal renewal. And if you are like most people, the time you have for personal renewal is quite limited.

While the time you spend walking through the woods is relaxing and while doing so you are feeling somewhat relieved and thankful that you have allowed yourself such a personal luxury, thoughts beyond the woods you attempt to escape to, none the less invade your contemplative, organic experience. Thinking that without the stress of the daily world staring you immediately in the face and thinking that without that stress you can simply breathe easier while walking in the woods, you none the less experience breathing difficulties.

As your organic surroundings appear to be so tranquil, as the sight and sound of a bubbling brook appears at least on the surface of your walking experience to help wash away your anxieties, you none the less still experience breathing difficulties.

Continuing on with your walk, your gaze at the bubbling brook is replaced by your gaze into the canopy of trees above the path you are walking upon. Within that canopied gaze, you find yourself experiencing another level of tranquility as you walk upon the trail. At that level and although you cannot actually physically do so, you imagine yourself walking among the limbs of the trees some fifteen feet above the forest floor you are actually walking upon. At that level, the stress of the every day world becomes even less burdensome and you of course find yourself with the ability to breathe in a much more relaxed state than you did while walking upon the forest floor that is now in your imagination fifteen feet below you. None the less, as you walk within your imagination, limb to limb from one tree to another fifteen feet above the forest floor below, you still experience difficulty breathing.

As your time spent walking in the forest enables you in so many different ways to expand your imagination and in turn release yourself from the world that seems so determined to remind you that your imagination is far less important than your responsibilities, you walk in the woods takes you to another level of thought.

On this level, you are not walking on the path or limb to limb attached to tree to tree fifteen feet above the path, but you are walking instead upon the tree tops, seeing and feeling the sun and breathing in with quite exquisite ease, the fresh oxygen that exists “beyond the land of negative economic moss”.

From this elevation and this perspective, your walk upon a forest path takes on an entirely new meaning and in doing so enables you to see just exactly why you take the time to walk to begin with. Your walk in the woods is driven by the sense you have inside of yourself to get away and simply breathe. From the perspective of the tree tops however, your sense that the forest you walk in is but an extension of the house you live in troubles you. As neither of these environments are actually providing you with what you really need and what you really need is oxygen, you know that the quality of air that resides inside of your home is as polluted as the air that comes from the garden that surrounds your home and the quality of air that exists in the forest alongside the brook that bubbles adjacent to your home. Your walk in the woods then becomes a not so subtle reminder that air quality is sorely lacking in both your manmade and natural environment. Your sense that the internal environment of your home, the external environment of your garden and the forest you walk in, all of which have historically allowed your most peaceful and productive thoughts to flourish are turning those thoughts instead into an accumulation of truly unhealthy and haunting thoughts.

As mounds of negative economic moss thoughts begin to invade your otherwise proactive environmental consciousness, the dreams you have of remodeling your home, growing organic gardens around your home and walking upon brook side forest paths take on a certain sense of futility and within that futility, you are left with the realization that until you can actually breathe fresh air, all of those dreams are in jeopardy.

But, are they?

As moss only grows on the north sides of trees and houses and garden rocks that do not have adequate natural ventilation and so to do upper respiratory ailments grow and attach themselves to the lungs of those who live in houses surrounded by trees, garden rocks and brooks deprived of adequate ventilation, what would happen if proper ventilation was provided in each of these environments? What would happen if naturally occurring winds were free to blow unstrained by communities over stuffed with too many houses? What would happen if naturally occurring winds were free to blow across the surfaces of residential gardens and through the canopy of trees that shade the paths of the forest floors we walk on? What would happen if those same winds were free to blow through the walls of the homes we now live in but cannot breathe in?

What would happen is that our communities would flourish economically as a result of applying a broad spectrum of environmentally sustainable micro technologies that are designed to micro-manage the wind and sun and water that moves constantly above and between the rooftops, treetops and gardens of our nation’s communities.

In as much as our larger national industrial focus has been and is currently centered on coming to terms with how a broad spectrum of 21st century alternative energy technologies will successfully come on line to produce a cohesive and sustainable nationwide public utility grid, are we within that pursuit barking up the wrong tree?

Do we actually need a national public utility grid put in place? Do we actually need a new generation of electrical transmission lines stretched across our nation to connect those grids together? Haven’t we already done that in our 20th century? Haven’t we in the process of being visually and physically trapped beneath the wires of our 20th century utility grid come to realize that the removal of those wires altogether might just enable us to focus our 21st century industrial inventiveness on an entirely new thought process? Could that process be benchmarked upon the improvement of the quality of air that surrounds any given home in any given community anywhere and everywhere in America? Would the development of community based public utility grids more quickly and efficiently enable us to develop regional utility grids? Would the grass roots development of locally managed energy companies become the model or blueprint for nationally based 21st century public utility companies? Are we thinking entirely too big when in fact we should be thinking small? Will small thinking produce a much more dynamic set of answers to our nation’s larger alternative energy public utility riddle?

If we collectively were to acknowledge that the typical American home was technologically obsolete, if we were to acknowledge that the unhealthy moss that grows on the north side of these homes was growing due solely to the fact that air was not properly directed in and around these homes, would we in the process of incorporating micro-solar and wind systems lay the foundation for the development of micro-municipal public utility grids? Would the utilization of these technologies serve to eliminate excessive moss and mold build up? Would the adoption of such preventative environmental health initiatives serve as the foundation for an entirely new generation of community healthcare standards? Would the adoption of such standards serve to broaden the funding horizons for 21st century, technologically enhanced community healthcare?

If local air quality standards were met at a house by house level, would we not effectively create a municipal public utility financing mechanism quite capable of being paid for on a homeowner’s clearly articulated monthly public utility bill? Would that monthly utility bill come to reflect our collective ability to manage through technological monitoring the sustained growth of virtually all alternative energy resources? Would such monitoring serve to enable our nation to mend a host of environmental problems that have been steadily growing out of control in our nation for far too long?

As a rolling stone gathers no moss, unfortunately in our nation today, far too many of our stones, particularly the stones or the potential building blocks of our public utility industrial infrastructure, are sitting idle and abandoned and in the process gathering negative economic moss. While we seem hell bent on solving this problem on a national level, while we think that the application of alternative energy technologies must come from the top down, this approach entirely overlooks the fact that before we can put an energy efficient roof on our house, we must first build the foundation that is capable of sustaining the technological future of that roof. If the stones that are supposed to build that foundation are covered in moss and the tradesmen and women who are capable of resetting those stones are sitting idle and out of work while continuing to suffer from negative economic upper respiratory breathing problems, how can we as a nation reconcile waiting for another set of above ground electrical transmission lines to be strung across a nation that simply doesn’t need them?

The Blue Collar Industrialist

M. Patrick Dahlke

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