Tag Archives: imaginement

Pope Francis’ Ecological Conversion

In a 2020 meeting with a group of French environmental activists, Pope Francis went off script telling them the inside story of his own journey of having an “ecological conversion.” In his meetings and conversations between 2007 and 2015 with several chieftains from different indigenous cultures of the First Peoples of Puerto Maldonado in the Peruvian region of Amazonia, he recounted how his eyes were opened to “the harmony of wisdom.” His conversion was the impetus that led to his writing the acclaimed encyclical “Laudato Si’,” On Care for Our Common Home and that at the urging of the French minister of the environment, Ségolène Royal, he completed his encyclical ahead of the 2015 United Nations–sponsored Paris Conference on Climate Change. Pope Francis also told the activists that he saw on display before him the very “harmony of indigenous wisdom,” that brought him to the realization of the poverty of the “heirs of liberalism and the Enlightenment” in that “we have lost the harmony of the three languages: the language of the head—thinking—the language of the heart—feeling—and the language of the hands—doing.” In a forthcoming post I will give an account of an art historian on how he views nature and art as needs of the mind.

“Pope Francis on the ‘ecological conversion’ that led him to ‘Laudato Si’”. Gerard O’Connell, America, Sept. 3, 2020.

“Laudato Si’” https://www.vatican.va/content/francesco/en/encyclicals/documents/papa-francesco_20150524_enciclica-laudato-si.html‘Laudato Si’

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Revisiting Tom Friedman’s book [AMERICA] That Used To Be Us

Unpublished blog dated September 2011 is still a prescient warning today:

A recent discussion on museums being in the hospitality business on the American Association of Museums LinkedIn group sent sparks flying.  Yet other current cyberspace hot topics that may pertain to the museum field, either directly or indirectly, provide important crossover perspectives. First, museums collect and preserve the best of the past and Tom Friedman’s about to be released book, That Used To Be Us, reflects upon America’s former  innovator/inventor world role. Also, Forbes magazine ran a two-part article on K-12 education reform contributed by Steve Denning, a management consultant, highlighting lifelong learning;  and, a current Harvard Business Review article touts, of all people—museum curators! 

If the world was flat just a few short years ago, then it has morphed into something entirely different, according to author Tom Friedman in his new book That Used To Be Us— How America Fell Behind in the World it Invented. Less one think this is a maudlin trip down “memory lane,” Friedman insists he just wants to wake up and Americans and get them moving. Maybe Stella lost her groove for good, but Friedman and coauthor, Michael Mandelbaum end their book on an upbeat note and with a charge, hence the rest of the subtitle …and How We Can Come Back. Both authors are foreign affairs specialists: Friedman is columnist for the New York Times, and Mandelbaum, Professor of American Foreign Policy at Johns Hopkins University. The wake up call: don’t wait for the jobs to come back, because they’re not. It will take an idea that will start a small business and hire a few people, replicated over and over in towns and cities across America. Hierarchy, as we have known it, can no longer exist for it is not just leadership that can be the sole source of ideas and innovation—everyone is needed to contribute to the new global knowledge economy. As future Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, Martin Dempsey tells Friedman, the future  isn’t going to be about men and women who are physically fit and follow orders but individuals who are willing to play an integral role in “a values-based group, who can communicate, who are inquisitive, and who have an instinct to collaborate.” Another writer attracting attention is Steve Denning, a management consultant and author who was asked to contribute his thoughts on the single most needed idea to reform K-12 education. In the first of his two-part article for Forbes magazine http://tinyurl.com/4xsgdxe, Denning writes of education’s roots in factory processes for efficiency. “The single most important idea for reform in K-12” for Denning is that “education concerns a change in goal that needs to shift from one of making a system that teaches children a curriculum more efficiently to one of making the system more effective by inspiring lifelong learning in students, so that they are able to have full and productive lives in a rapidly shifting economy.” Denning develops his argument thoroughly and provides what the implications would have to be to effect change: the changing roles of parent, teachers, administrators, overhauling tests and shifting the focus from command to conversations, and finally from outputs (factory) to outcomes. In the second part of his article, Denning responds to comments from readers which include those of national educational reformers http://tinyurl.com/3tqjk4e. Another education reform under discussion since the 2008 financial market meltdown is business school curricula and what MBA education lacked in preparing its graduates for the workplace. Obviously, ethical behavior and corporate responsibility are being taken into account. Another is what in addition to financial analysis skills what are ways of producing more creative and innovative thinkers. One approach cutting-edge business schools such as Case Western University, Rotman School in Toronto and others is the addition of design laboratories in their -schools to encourage “design thinking.” The next blog installment is my open-source article of a “case study” from Yuan Dynasty China (1279-1368).

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Understanding by design. First in a series

In June, I attended 2009 Global Forum of the Business as an Agent for World Benefit at Case Western Reserve University. The conference centered around 3 themes: management as design; massive innovation; along with design education practices. Design is an interesting concept: painters contend with two-dimensional design, sculptors with three-dimensional design and architects with the virtual design of space. So in this series I want to explore different approaches to design: topics covered at the conference as well as from other sources. A recent column written about golf spurred me to begin this series–that’s right, golf. NY Times columnist Tom Friedman wrote in “59 Is the New 30″ about Tom Watson’s historic performance at the British Open at age 59 who tied for lead for four rounds in a playoff to 36-year old Stewart Cink but ultimately lost unable to par on the last hole. What does it have to do with design? Well, Friedman notes how baseball, basketball and football are all played on flat surfaces designed to give true bounces. Not so with golf. The uneven surfaces instead pack surprises which Friedman likens to life. But it also likens to art and design. I am suspicious of artists or designers who “control” their process from start to finish and inhibit that “bounce” from entering their work. That is where the rubber meets the road on how well you can think on your feet, persevere, be surprised, be flexible, seize an opportunity, and see until now, “unseen” worlds. Watson was rueful afterward on the hard lesson of learning from defeat not victory. But as Friedman concluded, Watson gave all who watched an “incredible lesson in possibilities” and that is the mark not only of a gentleman golfer but a true artist-designer. Read Friedman’s column: http://bit.ly/XTJXL

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