nora on finding a way

nora bateson (@NoraBateson) tweeted at 7:39 AM on Thu, Jul 16, 2020:
An article w wonderful Mamphela Ramphele (anti-apartheid activist, author & co-president of Club of Rome) -this is the think piece of our project.

Finding a way. Will People’s response to the emergencies of the coming decades be Warm? or Cold?


15 min read on medium – by nora and mamphela

People are not numbers. Numbers are just numbers, they cannot source possibilities from each other, they cannot find a way when the basic arithmetic says there is none. People can. t.. Abstracting the solutions to numbers inherently dehumanizes, and unnecessarily constrains, the spectrum of possibilities. The metric logic removes the human breadth of experience and relationship. ..This is the magic of being a living organism. 

free/alive people can.. organism as fractal

literacy and numeracy both elements of colonialism/control/enclosure.. we need to calculate differently and stop measuring things

People are not roles. A word of warning: collaboration can easily become a mechanistic allocation of effort according to roles. ..This is not a matter of assessment of who is good at what and assigning roles according to expertise. On the contrary — ‘finding a way’ is about the unique possibilities that occur in relationship between particular people, in that particular water, on that particular day. There is no formula, no method, this realm of possibility is accessed through a sentiment of human care and imagination..t

imagine if we just focused on listening to the itch-in-8b-souls.. first thing.. everyday.. and used that data to augment our interconnectedness.. we might just get to a more antifragile, healthy, thriving world.. the ecosystem we keep longing for..

what the world needs most is the energy of 8b alive people

We are all capable of different things depending on who we are with and what they are finding themselves capable of. Capacity cannot be front-loaded, it is emergent. But it is possible to front-load a baseline perception of self, others and world that assumes the inherent multitude of stories and draws from them.. t With care and imagination the possibilities are endless.

ie: cure ios city

Particular Complexities “find a way”: The possibilities for “finding a way” in emergencies are not countable, controllable, nor predictable. ..The solutions to the situation are completely contingent upon detail and they are accessed spontaneously, iteratively and simultaneously. They are as infinite as the combinations of people.

humanity needs a leap.. to get back/to simultaneous spontaneity ..  simultaneous fittingness.. everyone in sync.

The cold questions are compelling, even though they are the wrong questions. These questions are a distraction from the process of perception of the complexity of each person, and tuning into the alchemy they produce. As such they can easily hijack the limited time and morale needed to ‘find a way.’

spinning our wheels looking at whales in sea world

The dark history: As it turns out, there is a reason this type of approach feels so cold. The creator of the “lifeboat ethic” Garrett Hardin actually was a eugenicist, nationalist, and white supremacist. Hardin was an important figure in the history of environmental solutions, especially known for his popularizing of the idea of the “Tragedy of the Commons.” The history of Hardin’s eugenics and nationalistic thinking have been known all along, it was never a secret. But those ideas and the sentiments under them, came to set the tone for how response to complex crises is imagined and managed. And, that is something which requires a sobering wake up, learning, and new attention to the ways in which that genre of thinking sneaks in.

today .. even by those thinking we’re commoning when we’re still just tragedy of the non common ing.. so many red flags.. and we’re missing them..  part\ial is killing us.. for (blank)’s sake.. there’s a nother way


1\ undisturbed ecosystem (common\ing) can happen

2\ if we create a way to ground the chaos of 8b free people

While there are cries for collaboration and unity, they are often founded on the grounds of competition, roles, and mechanistic notions of who does what. This is not collaboration, nor is it a living response.

red flags..

A pre-scripted and rigid set of roles is a harbinger of an era of errors in thinking in which most aspects of daily life were modeled into industrial patterns.

let go.. of that hard won order

And now, People NEED People. But to get there a starkly different approach is needed. And an honest look at current approaches is at hand.. the need to address the hidden agendas, the blind assumptions and the ways in which elitism and control keep manifesting as eco-idealism — is a requirement. Like a detective with a black light, it is time to look at where the blood is, to check for fingerprints.

yeah.. i think that’s a useful approach.. ends up being an energy sucker.. we can let go of all that if we want.. and reset.. (maybe i’m misunderstanding.. requirement to check for fingerprints?)

So where is the commons? And how can the communities be allowed to learn in mutuality from within and between the many forms they live within? Community is complex.

ie: cure ios city with 2 convers as infra

The eagerness to define community and to define set formulas for responding to the needs of community are creating a blindness to the necessary complexity, perpetuating the elimination of contexts and failing to perceive the uniqueness of the ways in which communities are alive and entangled..t

yeah.. that..

‘in undisturbed ecosystems ..the average individual, species, or population, left to its own devices, behaves in ways that serve and stabilize the whole..’ –Dana Meadows

Dangerously the notion of creating solutions for the commons is often inherently infected with the thinking that the ‘lifeboat ethic’ was forged in. The eugenics is there, implying control, implying scalable solutions, implying that people are numbers, that communities are equations to be solved, measured and managed. This is Newtonian physics misapplied to living systems.

tragedy of the non common rather than organism as fractal

The idea of the garden needs to be homegrown, not implemented by planners, no matter how altruistic..t

curiosity over decision making ..beyond finite set of choices et al

Solutions to scale defy the complexity of the people, the places, the ideas and the situations. Scale is a trendy concept, and one that must be used with extreme caution. Some *projects and products do scale, others do not. The distinction is badly needing attention and articulation..t When is the urgency to scale a project a form of colonialism? And when is it not?

i’d add *infras.. we need an infra to scale to the root of all of us.. today.. (no prep, training, et al needed) ie: maté basic needs

and we need a means to do that (scale) all in sync.. across the board [to get to the roots of healing.. it has to be all of us]


nora on ed change

nora on finding a way

nora on healing

nora on voice change




short findings restate

most of what’s in deck:

[short\est restate of findings-in-failings/findings-abstract.. from 5ish years of live people trying/experimenting with a nother way to live and then 5ish more years deepening that listening]

what we found/lived:

1\ an *undisturbed ecosystem (common\ing) is legit.. (can be true/actual).. if we create conditions/space/time where people feel free enough (unconditional – if we think we need incentives/reciprocity/et-al.. red flag we’re doing it/life wrong) to be true to themselves (which is what we focused-on/practiced/did in that 5ish years)

*‘in undisturbed ecosystems ..the average individual, species, or population, left to its own devices, behaves in ways that serve and stabilize the whole..’ –Dana Meadows

2\ in order for an undisturbed ecosystem to happen/dance/keep-on.. we need to figure out *a way to hasten detox and daily interconnectedness.. (ground the chaos of 8b free people) so that everyone is in sync (which is what we focused-on/listened-for/practiced/figured-out in the following 5ish years)

*find problems/desires/holes/missing-pieces/needs deep enough (found 2) to resonate with 8b people today.. and create a daily infrastructure (around those 2) simple enough for 8b people to be able to follow/live/be.. every day.. using tech as it could be (listening to every voice everyday.. ai as augmenting interconnectedness via nonjudgmental expo labeling)..


thinking restate/update 7.18

(for me/us) the curiosity/experimentation we did was really about how to set people free.. and what we found was that curiosity penetrates deeper than decision making.. more of an offense/aliveness than a defense/responding (to a finite set of choices et al) and it is at this core where free\dom (getting/letting the whales out of sea world) can begin (again)

decision making’s finite set of choices are too entwined in supposed to’s

we need to org around legit needs


(short summary)


1\ undisturbed ecosystem (common\ing) can happen

2\ if we create a way to ground the chaos of 8b free people


findings abstract


same on issuu:


copied pages from slidedeck above:

findings: from 5+ yrs of experimenting

(more details/graphics here: storyboard; and much more details/videos here: findings-in-failings; and shortest version here: short findings restate)

abstract: as in summary

(not as in existing in thought or as an idea but not having a physical or concrete existence .. rather a summary from live people experimenting)

– – –

1\ (2008-2009) – in the quiet of the noise

in some deep conversations

(200ish local and 200ish global – mostly youth in school settings)

we noticed a situation..

most people are stressed

(from all the things ie: grades; money; life; death;.. how people are suffocating from the day in many different ways)

most can’t wait till 3/5pm and/or the weekend.

we’ve got to change up how we’re spending our days.

we wondered if there might actually be a way to change how we were spending our days.. we asked permission to experiment the next year with self-directing.. within a space we already had (had to have) ..a math class

2\ (2009-2010) – in a math classroom

we (30) experimented with all the ways to self-direct in a school math setting.. but most weren’t in love with school math enough to self-direct w/o some reward.. and that reward compromised free time/thinking (ie: many ended up with a bunch of free time to pursue curiosities/interest.. but there was always a looming ‘is this free time legit in math class?’.. so the grade, other classes, the raised eyebrow,.. kept trumping energy)

people aren’t hungry for school math

for ie: school math..we’ve got to question all assumed agendas.

we asked permission to experiment the next year with self-directing something that mattered to us

ie: each wrote own curriculum, got it pre-approved to fit within the credentialing system we already had (had to have)

3\ (2010-2011) – in a tech building

we (50ish) experimented with independent study

but even writing our own curriculum compromised daily curiosity (ie: pick something that mattered like hebrew, soccer, human trafficking.. then life/death happens..and other things matter like cancer, homelessness, treehouses, ..)

people crave daily choice

curiosity drives choice.

we’ve got to let go of our control issues and listen.

ie: if i offer you spinach or a rock, and am happy you picked spinach, that’s control, not choice.

so we asked permission to experiment the next year with following our whimsy/curiosities .. and to declare learnings (if we desired credit) at the end of the year

4\ (2011-2012) – in a house downtown

we (50) experimented with what it might be like to live in a wealthy unschooling home

we felt that we were getting closer to following curiosity/whimsy but further away from people.. we craved other people to explore/build/be with..

people free to follow daily curiosities.. crave people

following/facilitating whimsy gets us to a natural/sustaining/thriving energy.

we’ve got to find the bravery to change our minds. everyday.

we wondered why more people didn’t feel free enough to follow daily curiosity (because of all the detox it took for us..we thought maybe most of us don’t think it’s legal/legit to listen to and think for ourselves)

planned to spend the next year in the city.. as the day .. figuring out and experimenting with..   a narrative/means to free all people

wrote booksish

5\ (2012-2013) – in coffee shops, library, ..

we (not enough) experimented/listened with city as school   

since all people matter to the conversation/dance/ecosystem ..we had to find a way this would work for 100% of humanity even the inspectors of the inspectors

The center of the problem is that none of them knew the center of the problem. – Taleb

we need a nonnarrative (deep/simple/open enough) for 100% of humanity.  re\wire

perhaps 2 conversations could work as an infrastructure to free/detox us all at the same time – because sync matters

6\ (2013-2014) – everywhere and nowhere

we (never just me) listened some more

until everyone can play/dance.. none of us really can

None of us are free if one of us is chained.  – Solomon Burke

perhaps networked individualism ness. an authenticity/attachment dance.

perhaps if a mech/tech could listen to our daily self-talk as data to connect us to locals with the same daily curiosities – we could settle back into an undisturbed ecosystem (ie: sans supposed to’s)

7\ (?) – anywhere – to model a means for 7bn people to leap

perhaps what has not yet been experimented with:

1/ a city-wide experiment, to provide an ecosystem of eclectic people/resources;


2/ an as-the-day experiment, rather than adding something on after hours (after school/work).

aka: in the city.. as the day..

perhaps tech as it could be (listening to and facilitating 7bn voices everyday) could free us all

perhaps 2 conversations as infrastructure could be a means for 7bn to leap to a nother way to live.

mufleh humanity lawwe have seen advances in every aspect of our lives except our humanity – Luma Mufleh

we’re suggesting we try something really different for (a) change.. 

– – –

So wait.. what have you been doing?

from what:

on working toward a global systemic change..

1\   we hacked away at unwanted stresses until we got to *two that 7 billion people could maybe resonate with.

2\   we prototyped several iterations until we  came up with a **means that might address those *two (see #1), and that 7 billion people could actualize.

3\   we fine-tuned that **means (see #2) so that it might be both, easily accessed/open, and sustainable.

[disclaimer: we didn’t actually come up with anything.. we just listened to tons of really smart people.. and then tried what they suggested… remixed/reshuffled…]

what now?   i‘m still experimenting with this site as prototype to app/chip output ness, but visibly (ie: like the experimenting with humans 2008-2013) not much.. be\cause: Costello screen/serviceness

what next?  next experiment.. be\cause: Graeber model ness (ship\ables)

why that?  betting on modeling the sync of a fractal.. so that the whole (7 bill+) might then leapfrog to betterness. be\cause: Graeber min/max ness..

– – –

conclusion: what we need most is the energy of 7bn alive people

and today that is doable

not esoteric  (has to be for everyone..key focus.. thoughts on esoteric ness)

not abstract (thoughts on abstract ness)

not ridiculous (actual ridiculous things)

i’ve seen too much to not give it a go (also glad others are working on other ways) thinking-restate-update-7-18

finding(s) the missing pieces – a quiet revolution


historical research fractal to what we found and basis for commoning thinking (sans money/measure and 100% trust): Jason Hickel‘s first few chapters of the divideJames Suzman‘s affluence w/o abundance

psych/neuro research fractal to what we found and basis to roots of healing (two needs/convers as infra): A H Almaas and Gabor Maté (mostly almaas holes law and maté basic needs law and maté not yet scrambled law) and ..gray and gopnik and carhart-harris and alexander and..


basically we found that telling people what to do ness is keeping us from us.. and perhaps a means/way to undo that hierarchical listening is via cure ios city ie: 2 convers as infra


findings in failings


What about findings in failings?


maybe i'm wrong ness..

This is huge.

I swear – these kids are nobel peace prize worthy for their efforts to make a difference via redefining public ed. Living on the edge, trying out new things.. isn’t always easy.

Here’s Gus, helping us through it:

I find it interesting – that with this title.. the slidedeck above was one of the least viewed.

Findings in failings – isn’t that what it’s all about?

Not a focus on a failure.. but a – oh – that’s what happens… cool.. so let’s try this.

One of the results stemming from – findings in failures – was this page: the it is me.

Being less hung up on end products, on finishing things (as if we ever could), and more focused on – what didn’t work, so we can learn from it.

It’s like – all these (assumed) failings are the little/big (assumed) messes in a Thomas Edison – ish space. no? The unassuming and often unsightly trail to greatness.

Here’s our brief lowdown (see *updated version here 2008 to present and findings abstract and short findings restate):

findings each year

findings overall

And here are 3 powerful pages from the deck above:

findings deck findings in failings deck findings via deck

guardian article on learning from failure

recent post on the failures of Sugata Mitra’s work.

avoid the vagaries of child-centred behaviour.
oh my.
failures.. not.
the it is me..
it’s a trail of finding outs… 

*sept 2014 – restating findings as problem found:

0 – (the situation yr) – people are stressed (ie: waiting for 3\5pm, the weekend)
1 – (pilot math yr) – content imposed (ie: pre ap alg 2 – aka school math = essential)
2 – (own curriculum yr) – timeframe assumed (ie: ok – so pick your own topic – but you’re held to it for 1 yr – aka potential whimsy/curiosity killer)
3 – (follow your whimsy yr) – community deprived (ie: free individual – yes – but then he/she craves their tribe. currently – not enough people set free for serendipity to work)
4 – (in the city yr) – focus blurred (ie: most of us are beholden to and/or blinded from – the too much policy/myth – aka: consumerism/competition/work = life, blurs the equity/systemic vision)
5 – (still yr/s) – mechanism lacking (ie: listening to/for and mapping of systemic mechanism elements)
– – –
what i’ve seen
storyboard 2008 to present
what (what have you been doing – what’s next)
collection of intros

richard feynman – pleasure of finding things out

richard feynman

found picture on this post

From brainpickings post – sharing Feynman’s little-known sketches and drawings.. here he explains why:

I wanted very much to learn to draw, for a reason that I kept to myself: I wanted to convey an emotion I have about the beauty of the world. It’s difficult to describe because it’s an emotion. It’s analogous to the feeling one has in religion that has to do with a god that controls everything in the universe: there’s a generality aspect that you feel when you think about how things that appear so different and behave so differently are all run ‘behind the scenes’ by the same organization, the same physical laws. It’s an appreciation of the mathematical beauty of nature, of how she works inside; a realization that the phenomena we see result from the complexity of the inner workings between atoms; a feeling of how dramatic and wonderful it is. It’s a feeling of awe – of scientific awe – which I felt could be communicated through a drawing to someone who had also had that emotion. I could remind him, for a moment, of this feeling about the glories of the universe.

In the introductory essay, Feynman also considers the differences in teaching art and teaching science, a disconnect Isaac Asimov has famously addressed in his passionate case for creativity in science education. Feynman writes:

I noticed that the teacher didn’t tell people much (the only thing he told me was my picture was too small on the page). Instead, he tried to inspire us to experiment with new approaches. I thought of how we teach physics: We have so many techniques—so many mathematical methods—that we never stop telling the students how to do things. On the other hand, the drawing teacher is afraid to tell you anything. If your lines are very heavy, the teacher can’t say, “Your lines are too heavy.” because some artist has figured out a way of making great pictures using heavy lines. The teacher doesn’t want to push you in some particular direction. So the drawing teacher has this problem of communicating how to draw by osmosis and not by instruction, while the physics teacher has the problem of always teaching techniques, rather than the spirit, of how to go about solving physical problems.


falling in the love with the man.

as he shares how he falls in love with – the pleasure of finding things out..


[below – random posts from my – crazy journal site – back to 2008?]

_  _  _  _  _  _  _  _  _  _

more from richard feynman

the pleasure of finding things out.
this one is a little longer – 49 min.
i’m feeling like a kid in a candy store – discovering all these interviews.
and wishing my students could/would feel this way.oh the pleasure
of finding things out.
quote shared on fb:
Fall in love with some activity, and do it! Nobody ever figures out what life is all about, and it doesn’t matter. Explore the world. Nearly everything is really interesting if you go into it deeply enough. Work as hard and as much as you want to on the things you like to do the best. Don’t think about what you want to be, but what you want to do. Keep up some kind of a minimum with other things so that society doesn’t stop you from doing anything at all.         – Richard Feynman

richard feynman

i haven’t watched this in like 2 years.
i love richard feynman.
i have a limited intelligence – so i kept pretty focused
we used to translate everything we read..
his father translated everything in all different languages… when you finished, you know nothing about the bird, but only what different cultures call them
he (his dad) knew the difference between
knowing the name of something
and knowing something..  he always left conversations open for noticing,… no pressure, just lovely interesting discussionalgebra – a series of steps where you could get the answer if you didn’t understand what you were trying to do.
trig for the practical man.. soon forgot it again, because i didn’t understand it very well.disrespect for things that are respectable..
his father was in the uniform business.. so he knew the difference between a man with the uniform off and the uniform on.. it’s the same photon bag in an atom
he sent me to all the unis to find out things and i never did find out.. could never explain things to my dadwhat i did immorally is not to remember the reason i said that i was doing it.. so that when the reason changed, not the single thought came to mind that that meant i had to reconsider why i was doing it… i simply didn’t think
he wanted to play more than look at use.. when in this relaxed function... working things out poured freely – after that is when he won the noble prize

i don’t like honors … i notice others use my work… i don’t need anything else… i’ve already got the prize:

1) the pleasure of finding things out

2) the kick in the discovery

3) the observation others use it

honors is uniforms… it bothers me
when i got into the aritstar – what i found out is what they did in their meetings was sit around and decide who else gets to become one of them, who is illustrious enough
purpose was mostly to decide who could have this honor.. he doesn’t like honors

to figure life out.. imagine – we are in a big chess game but we don’t know the rules..
so you try to figure out what the rules are..
the thing that doesn’t fit is the thing that is most interesting, the part that doesn’t fit..

laws sometimes look positive.. they keep learning until something doesn’t work – then we figure it out

unlike the chess game – were rules become more difficult as we go along
but not in physics – they become simpler..

if we expand out experience into wilder and wilder regions of experience, every once in a while we have these integrations in which everything is pulled together in a unification (fractal) which turns out to be simpler than it looked before.

if you are interested the ultimate character of the physical/real/complete world.. at the present time – our only way to understand that is through mathematical reasoning..  (and we’re missing it – let’s go wolfram’s computer based)
if we’re talking about physics… then not knowing mathematics is a severe limitation
need to get a qualitative idea of how the problem works before i can get a quantitative one
that rough understanding can be defined… later
in science – we’re stuck in seeing what the consequences are.. have a theory that you can’t work out the consequences of

i’ve invented a myth for myself – i’m actively irresponsible – i take the view – let george do it…

i’m selfish – i want to do my physics…

the best way to teach is to have no philosophy.. to be chaotic and confusing… use every possible way of doing it..
how do you direct them to become interested..
1) by force – works for some
but after many years – feynman says – i don’t know how to do it.. (hook everyone at the same time or even just one)

they follow the forms,,… but they haven’t got anywhere – yet.
we get experts on everything that sound scientific.. they’re not scientific.. they sit at the typewriter and make up stuff as if it’s science.. but hasn’t been tested yet.
there’s all kinds of myths and psuedo sciences all over.
i may be quite wrong.. but i don’t think i’m wrong
see i have the advantage of having found out how hard it is to get to really know something… how careful you have to be about checking yours experiments, how easy it is to make mistakes and fool yourself.
i know what it means to know something..
i see how they get their info
i have a great suspicion that they don’t know.. they haven’t done the checks,… the care..
and they intimidate people by it..
i think so.. i don’t know the world very well.. but that’s what i think

people say.. are you looking for the ultimate law of physics and i say – no i’m not, i’m just looking to find out more about the world..if it turns out there’s something that explains everything, so be it
nature is going to come out the way she is
therefore – when we go to investigate it – we shouldn’t pre-decide what it is we’re trying to do except try to find out more about it
if you say, why do you find out more about it.. if it’s to find some answer to answer some deep philosophical question.. you may be wrong.. you may never be able to find out
….those are mysteries i want to investigate without knowing the answer to them..

how do you find out if something is true..
once you start doubting like you’re supposed to start
as soon as you do that you start sliding down an edge that is difficult

it’s a very fundamental part of my soul to ask

i can live with doubt and uncertainty and not knowing..

much more interesting to live in doubt than answers that are wrong
i don’t have to know an answer

i don’t feel frightened by not knowing things

richard feynman

via leonard susskindDick Feynman always made me feel smart. always made me feel we could solve anything together.
he would always win.. but if he lost, he would always laugh and seem to have just as much fun.a feynman sandwich had a ton of ham but absolutely not baloney.
he hated false pretensefeynman thought it was a necessary part of being a great physicist.. having a father like he hadhist scientific style was to find the simplest solution. he believed if you couldn’t explain it simply – you didn’t understand it.feynman diagrams to understand particleshow to honor feynman? by getting as much baloney out of our own sandwiches as we can.

Richard feynman

I love this think Richard would too.
is that really him playing the drums?this reminds me of Shadyaks I Am
Jun 28, 2009
check out these videos – interviews of richard feynman (amazing physicist) · ways of thinking – part 1 · ways of thinking – part 2 · magnets and why questions he’s adorable. i wish he were still alive. how did i miss him? Share | 
Nov 24, 2012
Richard Feynman The Richard Feynman Series 1: Beauty…… love the man.. Mary Loftus (@marloft) 11/24/12 4:06 AM The always-brilliant Vi Hart teaches you #maths via mashed potato 
Jan 20, 2012
Richard Feynman danced to the pleasure of finding things out. Lisa Gansky says we’ll have more if we share. Jane McGonigal says we crave hard work. James Bach advices to try to ignore something to see how much it 
and the bongos…


about algebra..



Michelle (his daughter) and Christopher Sykes – on the making of the films (pleasure of finding things out) tedx 2011:

again – toward the end.. the prize – is the pleasure of finding things out..


letter to his dead wife.. opened 1988

from Maria

yes i said yes i will yes ness


from Maria

ode to a flower

universe in a glass of wine



For Richard Feynman’s birthday, @JamesGleick on the source of The Great Explainer’s genius…
In his taxonomy of the two types of geniuses, probability theory pioneer Mark Kac distinguishes between “ordinary geniuses” and “magicians,” pointing toRichard Feynman (May 11, 1918–February 15, 1988) as a rare example of the latter. One of the most celebrated minds of the past century, Feynman was a champion of scientific knowledge so effective and so beloved that he has generated an entire canon of personal mythology. And yet he held uncertainty at the center of his intellectual and creative life. The pursuit and stewardship of knowledge was his life’s work, but the ecstasy of not-knowing was the wellspring of his magic. “It is imperative,” he wroteto have uncertainty as a fundamental part of your inner nature.”



Many people who do work that matters “have work habits that seem downright lazy by the standards in their field”…

As Feynman admitted in a 1981 interview: “I’m actively irresponsible


this generic notion of work that we spawned the culture of busyness that afflicts us today, where the measure of your success becomes synonymous with the measure of your exhaustion.


asked why/how magnets repel

how does a person answer why something happens..

when you explain a why.. you have to be in some framework that you allowed something to be true.. otherwise.. you’re perpetually asking why..

2 min – you begin to get a very interesting understanding of the world and all its complications.. if try to follow anything up.. you go deeper/deeper in various directions..

3 min – ie: you ok with.. because you slip on ice.. or go deeper as to why.. is ice slippery.. to why does water expand when it freezes and other substances don’t expand.. et al..

i’m not answering your question but i’m telling you how difficult a why question is.. you have to know what it is that you’re permitted to understand and allowed to be understood and known.. and what it is you’re not.. the more i ask why.. it gets interesting.. that’s my idea that the deeper it is the more interesting it is

4 min – when you ask why do magnets repel.. there are many diff levels.. it depends on whether you’re a student or an ordinary person that doesn’t know anything about it.. if you’re somebody that doesn’t know anything at all.. all i can say is that there’s a magnetic force that makes it repel .. and that you’re feeling that force

5 min – it turns out the magnetic and electric force with which i wish to explain these things.. is what ultimately is the deeper thing.. that we have to.. that we can start with to explain many other things that looked like they were.. everybody would just accept them.. you know you can’t put your hand thru the chair.. that’s taken for granted..  but when you can’t put hand thru chair.. you look more closely.. why.. that involves the same repulsive forces that appear in magnets.. the situation you then have to explain is why in magnets.. goes over a bigger distance than an ordinary (chair) … it’s a force that is present all the time.. very common.. a basic force.. almost.. i mean i could go a little further back.. more technical..

6 min – but in the early level i am just gonna have to tell you.. that’s going to be one of the things you’ll just have to take as an element in the world.. magnetic repulsion or electrical/magnetic attraction..

i can’t explain that attraction in anything else that’s familiar to you..

ie: if i would say magnets attracting as if by rubber bands.. i would be cheating you.. because they’re not connected by rubber bands..  and i’d soon be in trouble.. you’d soon ask me about the nature of the bands.. and secondly .. if you were curious enough you’d ask me why rubber bands tend to pull back together again and i would end up explaining that in terms of electrical forces.. which are the very things i’m trying to use the rubber bands to explain.. so i have cheated very badly you see..

so i’m not going to be able to give you an answer.. to why magnets attract each other.. except to tell you they do..

and to tell you that’s one of the elements in the world and diff kinds of forces in the world.. electrical/magnetic/gravitational forces.. and others.. and those are some of the parts..

7 min – if you were a student i could go further.. that magnetic forces are related to electrical forces very intimately.. that relations between the gravitational forces and electrical forces remains unknown.. and so on..

but i really can’t do a good job.. any job.. of explaining magnetic force in terms of something else that you’re more familiar with.. because i don’t understand it in terms of anything else that you’re more familiar with

thinking: idio jargon ness keeps us closer to truth further from cheating.

if we weren’t dealing with diversity and too much to know ness.. then maybe we could do legible as pre-req.. but we are.. we’re swimming in it (uncertainty).

thank goodness.. because that’s what’s changed.. we now have a means to facil that choas.. eagle and condor ness



“impossible to say anything with absolute precision, unless […] so abstracted from the real world as to not represent any real thing” — RF


“…it is important that we do not forget this struggle and thus perhaps lose what we have gained.” — Richard Feynman…


“There is no such thing as consensus science. If it’s consensus, it isn’t science. If it’s science, it isn’t consensus. Period.”-M. Crichton


a bit more on nobel peace prize here (on Maria‘s post about Jean-Paul Sartre refusing it):

Maria Popova (@brainpicker) tweeted at 6:01 AM – 22 Oct 2017 :

This is the moral courage of conviction: On this day in 1964, Sartre became the first person to decline the Nobel (

physicist Richard Feynman — who won the Nobel Prize himself a year after Sartre — put it best in his eloquent denouncement of awards:

I don’t see that it makes any point that someone in the Swedish academy just decides that this work is noble enough to receive a prize — I’ve already gotten the prize. The prize is the pleasure of finding a thing out, the kick in the discovery, the observation that other people use it — those are the real things. The honors are unreal to me. I don’t believe in honors.

Making a fuss out of declining an award seems not much different from making a fuss over accepting it — both make the award more real than it need be if one were truly interested in breaking free from the system. Why can’t the private pleasure of finding things out be enough, award or no award?

award ness messes w us

someone rt d this today

If you cannot explain something in simple terms, you don’t understand it.

Original Tweet:

simple terms doesn’t mean terms you can understand..

ie: from above when asked why/how magnets repel

so i’m not going to be able to give you an answer.. to why magnets attract each other.. except to tell you they do.

but i really can’t do a good job.. any job.. of explaining magnetic force in terms of something else that you’re more familiar with.. because i don’t understand it in terms of anything else that you’re more familiar with

again.. thinking: idio jargon ness sets us free from demanding a ..simplicity.. in which we really mean..makes sense to me.. idio ness could help us to see that if people can’t sound bit an answer that makes sense to us.. it doesn’t mean they don’t get it..

less about not getting it and more about not getting me.. not getting the verbiage that makes that connection for me


richard on knowledge

Richard Feynman (@ProfFeynman) tweeted at 11:30 AM – 7 Aug 2019 :
Don’t get frightened by not knowing things. I have approximate answers, and possible beliefs, and different degrees of certainty about different things, but I’m not absolutely sure of anything. There are many things I don’t know anything about. It doesn’t frighten me. (


dougald on a way out

dougald hine on a review his book – at work in the ruins – by john foster – beyond the fish tank – via dougald fb share []:

As a writer, you count yourself lucky when you have made a reviewer think and they make you think in turn. This essay from John Foster has given me a great deal to think about and connects with various conversations I’ve been led into since writing At Work in the Ruins:

“Hine’s instinct for where renewed creative life-energy to dislodge scientism must come from feels broadly right … but he has left out what has been since before Aristotle the only reliable means of getting conceptually upstream of science’s assumptions about reality: he has left out the metaphysics.”

also .. via comments on that post:

Elizabeth Slade: Reading that review, I’m left with the feeling that what he points to you having left out, is not left out of your work at all, but what you’re pointing to all along. So it’s interesting to notice that he didn’t find it in the book – I guess I read it there between the lines

Dougald Hine: Thanks, Liz – your “pointing to” feels like significant wording, along the same lines as “gesturing towards (decolonial futures)”. As you say, it’s not left out of my work as a whole, but there’s a sense in which this book leaves off at the place where a plunge into the metaphysical is called for. Alastair said something along these lines when he read the first draft, encouraging me to pick up on the “surrender to the mystery” passage near the end and take this further. (Funnily enough, another of the book’s most generous reviewers was a specialist in Kierkegaard, from whom we get the idea of the “leap of faith”.) So yeah, reading Foster’s review, I don’t feel like, “Oh dear, I’ve not thought about metaphysics at all!”, so much as, “Ah yes, you noticed”, and I’ll take that as further affirmation that this is the direction to head out into, while retaining a sense that “pointing to” may be the limit of what we can achieve in such deep waters.

if only we let go enough.. ie: has to be sans any form of m\a\p.. and to me.. via ai as nonjudgmental expo labeling

Elizabeth Slade: there’s probably something along the lines of writing books about metaphysics being like dancing about architecture, too

notes/quotes from article:

John Foster considers the illuminating thought-experiment and homely but compelling analogy in Dougald Hine’s book ‘At Work in the Ruins: Finding Our Place in the Time of Science, Climate Change, Pandemics, and All the Other Emergencies’.

It (dougald’s book) poses a question which the climate and environmental movement, as leading edge of humanity’s deep instinct for self-preservation, ignores at its peril: what do we do when the recognised ways of addressing our predicament in fact serve to reinforce it – or, more bluntly, when the offered routes out of insanity are themselves insane?..t

As he presents the issue, his thought-experiment reveals that we have landed in our present plight ‘because of an approach to the world, a way of seeing and treating everything, that would always have brought us to such a pass, even if the climate system had been less sensitive to our industrial emissions’ (p.42).. t

nothing changes till we find a way out of sea world

In characterising this dislocated and dislocating approach, Hine does not *explicitly diagnose insanity. He has, however, a striking image for modernity’s loss of touch with the reality of its human-natural situation, a condition in which (just insofar as it is a loss of touch with reality) insanity is plainly incipient. This is the homely analogy which I mentioned at the outset. It is what, prompted by a friend’s thoughts on the experience of keeping cold water fish, he dubs the ‘fish tank world’. **A surprising amount of work, his friend observes, is involved in keeping a handful of such fish alive in their tank: ‘“the rituals of cleaning and water change, the electric filter with its own maintenance cycle, the whole chemistry kit that goes into testing and adjusting half a dozen key indicators of the condition of the water. All this to do a small part of ‘what a river or a lake does for free and with ease’ .. t(p.147)

*this is sea world ness

**this is where takes a lot of work ness comes from – cancerous distraction

Now of course, as the analogy is also meant to bring out strongly by contrast, the Earth is not a fish tank, and being unable reliably to see this is a dangerous form of derangement – precisely, an incipient insanity. It is especially dangerous because, while the project of making the Earth into such a controlled arena, deploying along the way systems thinking often presented as a source of hope, is really “a road to hell”, he takes that project to be “the default future, seen as both necessary and desirable by those we have been calling ‘the adults in the room’” (p.152). But by the same token, and here making plain its essential congruence with the ‘resources’ model,: ‘“the fish-tank mindset is only an extension of a logic that goes deep into the history of modernity, an approach to the world as a mechanism to be optimised for particular human ends”‘ (ibid)

to date.. all of us.. always been in sea world

His motivation for writing the book at all, so he tells us at the beginning, was recognising that after fifteen years of talking to a wide range of audiences in order to raise awareness about climate change, he suddenly realised that the words which he had been using were failing him. This, he now sees, was because *to talk about climate change – and indeed, to take climate change as the principal ‘environmental’ issue needing to be talked about – is to enter into a conversation framed by science:.. t the concept itself is of a set of processes which can be neither objectively identified nor described in detail except by the natural sciences. Many issues then arise as it were downstream of the science: those about what to dowith the information which it provides must call in engineers, economists, psychologists and a raft of others, not least the politicians who are now being so relentlessly urged by activists’ placards and Ms Thunberg’s speeches to ‘Unite Behind the Science’. As that slogan makes plain, however, the scientific framing of all this is just being taken for granted. But: “there are also questions that lie upstream of the work of science and take us beyond the frame it draws. These are not about what needs doing and how, but about how we got here in the first place, the nature and implications of the trouble we are in” (p.16).

*whalespeak ness.. no idea what legit free people are like

These will be, in his terms, attempts to step back critically from the prevailing fish-tank world-model and challenge both its necessity and its desirability. But science cannot deal with such doubts, indeed it cannot even raise them, because they put in question the grounding assumptions on which science itself operates, and those assumptions – this was the insight which came to silence him – already firmly commit us to the fish tank model, so that “any conversation about climate change that stays within the frame of science will lead towards this future” (p.152). And what all this means is that, insofar as any such dialogue purports to offer escape routes from insanity, they will have an essentially insane world-model coded into them...t

so ie: this is ridiculous as cancerous distraction

An account of why a scientific framing of our plight commits us to the fish-tank model would be a cameo history of modernity. While again Hine doesn’t offer this explicitly, it is strongly implicit in much of what he does say about the relations between human judgement and what he calls ‘calculative reason’, and about the lapsing of alternative narratives and visions of nature. *Science, as understood since the Scientific Revolution, deals only in the measurable, ..t Hence the scientism of taking the real to consist only in what science can talk about secures itself against ‘realistic’ challenge, and the fish-tank Earth-model closes round us..t

*literacy and numeracy both elements of colonialism/control/enclosure.. we need to calculate differently and stop measuring things.. any form of m\a\p

.. when the urgency of Extinction Rebellion and the school strikers at last revolted against this complacency, their core demand to ‘tell the truth’ was still a call to acknowledge the real state of those indicators: not, that is, a breakout from the scientific framing leading us into world-fish-tank management, but a cry of rage at the framing’s not having been taken more seriously.

then covid (et al) .. whatever efforts get made will be all about maintaining in operation as much as we can of a world which we are losing the language for asking whether we actually want..t

unjustifiable strategy ness et al

*So how do we break away from the fish-tank model as world-paradigm? An important resource would seem to be re-acquiring the skills in key areas of life – **education, food production, health care, dying…– which have been lost, both collectively and individually,  through that learned general helplessness and subjection to experts which the counter-cultural guru Ivan Illich was calling out fifty years ago. Hine notes this possibility approvingly, but he is also keenly aware that before such pragmatic options can take significant hold, ***we need to get away from the fish tank conceptually – to free ourselves from the embedded scientism which keeps it dominant in our minds and imaginations..t The trouble is that he wants to undermine a culture of scientism by appealing to alleged insights from older and alternative cultures, and this is where the book is at its least satisfactory. But it is still very interestingly unsatisfactory, and given the vital importance of the issues it is worth, even in a review, stepping some way back from the book itself to consider how and why.

*need 1st/most: means to undo our hierarchical listening to self/others/nature so we can org around legit needs

imagine if we listened to the itch-in-8b-souls 1st thing everyday & used that data to connect us (tech as it could be.. ai as augmenting interconnectedness as nonjudgmental expo labeling)

**cancerous distractions.. need to go deeper..

ie: org around a problem deep enough (aka: org around legit needs) to resonate w/8bn today.. via a mechanism simple enough (aka: tech as it could be) to be accessible/usable to 8bn today.. and an ecosystem open enough (aka: sans any form of m\a\p) to set/keep 8bn legit free

***need 1st/most: means to undo our hierarchical listening to self/others/nature as global detox/re\set so we can org around legit needs

what if we quit pretending

myth of normal ness et al

There is no escape from scientism in ditching science, any more than one could escape from one’s sexist outlook by forswearing sex.

yeah.. need a legit alt.. that 8b people can leap to.. for (blank)’s sake

Hine’s instinct for where renewed creative life-energy to dislodge scientism must come from feels broadly right, that is, but he has left out what has been since before Aristotle the only reliable means of getting conceptually upstream of science’s assumptions about reality: he has left out the metaphysics.

Metaphysics means fundamental thinking about the nature of the ultimately real, including critique of the assumptions which science has to make about that reality in order to be able to function. While a necessary intellectual condition of re-awakening human life-responsibility from its scientistic paralysis, however, it is very far indeed from being a sufficient one. For one thing, metaphysics as such can hardly hope for widespread attention, even in the revived ad hoccommunities of the imagination which Hine projects as his sites for ongoing retrieval. ..We desperately need to recover the idea of the world we inhabit as a human world, a world of real values and significances of which science is one expression; and we need to recover it in such a way as to put at the centre, not humanity but the deeper, species-transcendent, biosphere-pervading life..t which humanity expresses in its unique, species-specific life-form, and only lives meaningfully by serving.

in undisturbed ecosystems ..the average individual, species, or population, left to its own devices, behaves in ways that serve and stabilize the whole..’ –Dana Meadows

And then, as I have argued elsewhere, we are going to need a robustly therapeutic politics – a politics for assisted emergence from insanity – to answer to that recognition. It would have to envisage the inevitable and by no means wholly unwelcome cumulative breakdown of the civilisation which has been built on denying our creative relation to the world. It would also have to commit itself to the unflinching demonstration of life-responsibility in the practical commandeering of power, by a revolutionary vanguard taking its acting from human wholeness and creativity as its full legitimation..t

Because Hine’s thinking goes only as far as it does, stopping short with essentially socio-cultural reconstruction work among the ruins, his book does not itself get near to broaching the idea of such a politics, and so does not succeed in charting a credible route out of the fish tank world..t But it has the very great merit of making these difficult issues much harder to ignore.

humanity needs a leap.. to get back/to simultaneous spontaneity .. simultaneous fittingness.. everyone in sync.. possible today via ai as nonjudgmental expo labeling








toma on communal

via toma bedolla fb share ( Here’s our piece on Forbes where we’re recognized for trying to do something about locality and turning people who share a zip-code into thriving communities.) – may 2023 forbes article on toma & communal – No Matter How Advanced Technology Gets It Won’t Overcome Our Need For Human Connection – by Joe Toscano @realjoet (author of Automating Humanity and featured in the social dilemma) – []:

In understanding *what robots will never be able to do it is essential we revisit the things that give us purpose in life—human connections and the essence of community..t To do this, I spoke to local Canon City, Colorado resident, Toma Bedolla, Co-Founder and CEO of Communal, about what drove him to move to rural Colorado and what he’s been up to that makes him so excited about Canon City.

*huge.. what they can’t.. but also what they can.. to me what we need for legit global detox/re\set.. (because to me.. has to be all of us for the dance to dance.. otherwise 1\ perpetuate myth of tragedy and lord and 2\ takes a lot of work ness)..

ie: tech as it could be.. ai as augmenting interconnectedness as nonjudgmental expo labeling)

mufleh humanity lawwe have seen advances in every aspect of our lives except our humanity– Luma Mufleh

Take Canon City, Colorado for example, a small town with a population of roughly 17,000 that possesses walkable access to white-water rafting, mountain biking, and world-class bouldering, among other attractions. Local business owners and service providers are the foundation of this little town. A stroll down Main Street at 8:00 am and you’ll get to see the people who make this city click come out to wake up with each other, catch up about their families and life, then go out to their storefront or hop in their truck to turn on the lights of Cañon City.

nice.. adding to suggested cities.. year ? – a people experiment et al

“While small cities often bear the stereotype of feeling limited and disconnected, they possess the untapped potential to redefine themselves and embrace their unique qualities,” said Bedolla..t It’s why his new company, Communal, described as a community engine, *aims to catalyze the collaborative collisions of people and businesses that share a zip code with events and experiences to transform the city into a thriving community..t

*need 1st/most: means to undo our hierarchical listening to self/others/nature so we can org around legit needs

ie: imagine if we listened to the itch-in-8b-souls 1st thing everyday & used that data to connect us

Bedolla described the motivation driving him, “The bunker mentality that was amplified by the pandemic has far too many of us living life through Amazon delivery and social media timelines. We’ve all been pushed into a techno-utopia that’s been great for Big Tech’s stock prices but has, ultimately, dislocated the heart from our humanity—the warm, human connection that is community. That can’t be the final destination of humanity’s evolution. Can it?”

actually two missing pieces that we need in order to org around legit needs

Embracing Human Connection and Community

We’re entering our third epoch of an Internet-enabled world with the introduction of AI. The first was the introduction of the world wide web. Businesses and individuals established their presence with e-commerce websites and personal blogs. This initial establishment of the web led us into what Bedolla calls “the social phase” where we started to create a second life online. “We revealed how we are all connected or wish to be connected on various platforms and networks. The divisions and tribalism that were already present were amplified and reinforced. We found ways to fit in and validate our ways of thinking, our ways of living, and our need to be validated. What’s next? Understanding who and what to trust.”

*The importance of human connections, inclusivity, and collective well-being cannot be understated, especially in an age of dis- and misinformation. If we head into a world where we can’t trust anything that’s not in front of our face, we will **struggle to maintain a democracy across nation-states and large populations. But this isn’t as true for small towns and local communities that have lived with, and by, each other for millennia. As Douglas Rushkoff recently stated in his book Survival of the Richest, “Being human is not about individual survival or escape. It’s a team sport. Whatever future humans have, it will be together.”

*1 of 2 maté basic needs – we need to org around those 2 legit needs

**cancerous distraction.. any form of democratic admin.. any form of m\a\p

douglas rushkoff.. et al

*To foster strong community bonds and prioritized human-centric development, Communal is bringing events to rural communities like Canon City that are focused on food, music, and experiential education.. t—things machines won’t be great at for some time to come, if ever—to showcase the best of our humanity, **things we mutually need or crave, to turn our connections into engagement and shared experience..t ***Technology connects without bias and so should we..t

*need a legit diff experiment

 seen advances in every aspect of our lives except our humanity– Luma Mufleh

**need 1st/most: means to undo our hierarchical listening to self/others/nature so we can org around legit needs.. that 8b people already crave

we need a problem deep enough to resonate (we already crave) w/8bn today.. a mechanism simple enough to be accessible/usable to 8bn today.. and an ecosystem open enough to set/keep 8bn legit free

ie: org around a problem deep enough (aka: org around legit needs) to resonate w/8bn today.. via a mechanism simple enough (aka: tech as it could be) to be accessible/usable to 8bn today.. and an ecosystem open enough (aka: sans any form of m\a\p) to set/keep 8bn legit free

***huge.. that’s the thing we need tech for .. tech w/o judgment et al .. ai as nonjudgmental expo labeling so we can have a legit global detox/re\set


1\ undisturbed ecosystem (common\ing) can happen

2\ if we create a way to ground the chaos of 8b legit free people

Kicking Off The Connection

Beginning in June, Communal will start hosting weekly farmer’s markets and gatherings that showcase local farmers, ranchers, and service providers that exist in and around Canon City to enable the locals and visitors there to get everything possible, locally, before they have to search elsewhere or lean on the Amazons of the world to meet their needs. The goal is to start in rural but to build a system that can be applied to urban areas just the same through a system Bedolla is Communal is defining as a Locality Score™, a score that resembles the FICO model we all use for financial credibility. The idea is to give the community something to make informed decisions on what businesses they wish to engage and support in the spirit of local vitality.

perhaps let’s try/code money (any form of measuring/accounting) as the planned obsolescence w/ubi as temp placebo.. where legit needs are met w/o money.. till people forget about measuring

ie: ubi as temp placebo.. (people thinking they have money when really just getting whatever they legit need.. till they forget about measuring)


In so doing, Communal hopes to empower each city or urban borough to be sustainable both economically and in terms of quality of life for everyone. Communal wants to turn connections into engagement. To bring a sense of belonging to everyone. If successful, Communal may very well validate the farm-to-table or farm-to-fork, local-first branding that taps into our emotional loyalty to the places we choose to live and call home.

In a world captivated by techno-solutionism and a relentless pursuit of post-human transcendence, small cities can serve as beacons of human connection, community resilience, and collective well-being. By embracing their unique identities and harnessing the power of technology in a human-centric way, these cities can create an atmosphere that captivates both residents and visitors alike. As we navigate the future, it is essential to remember that our shared humanity and the connections we forge are the true drivers of a fulfilling and sustainable society.








are we good enough

(1888) – Are We Good Enough? – pëtr kropotkin – via anarchist library []


*One of the commonest objections to Communism is that men are not good enough to live under a Communist state of things. They would not submit to a compulsory Communism, but they are not yet ripe for free, Anarchistic Communism. **Centuries of individualistic education have rendered them too egotistic. Slavery, submission to the strong, and work under the whip of necessity, have rendered them unfit for a society where everybody would be free and know no compulsion except what results from a freely taken engagement towards the others, and their disapproval if he would not fulfill the engagement. ***Therefore, we are told, some intermediate transition state of society is necessary as a step towards Communism.

*depends how we define/practice communism.. needs to go even deeper than anarchist communism.. ie: legit trust in devijver assume good law and nationality: human ness et al


1\ undisturbed ecosystem (common\ing) can happen

2\ if we create a way to ground the chaos of 8b legit free people

**any form of m\a\p put/keeps us in sea world

***today have means for global detox/leap/re\set.. for (blank)’s sake

need 1st/most: means to undo our hierarchical listening to self/others/nature so we can org around legit needs

imagine if we listened to the itch-in-8b-souls 1st thing everyday & used that data to connect us (tech as it could be.. ai as augmenting interconnectedness as nonjudgmental expo labeling)

Old words in a new shape; words said and repeated since the first attempt at any reform, political or social, in any human society. Words which we heard before the abolition of slavery; words said twenty and forty centuries ago by those who like too much their own quietness for liking rapid changes, whom boldness of thought frightens, and who themselves have not suffered enough from the iniquities of the present society to feel the deep necessity of new issues!

Men are not good enough for Communism, but are they good enough for Capitalism? If all men were good-hearted, kind, and just, they would never exploit one another, although possessing the means of doing so. With such men the private ownership of capital would be no danger. The capitalist would hasten to share his profits with the workers, and the best-remunerated workers with those suffering from occasional causes. If men were provident they would not produce velvet and articles of luxury while food is wanted in cottages: they would not build palaces as long as there are slums.

for this today.. need to try gershenfeld something else lawpossibly one of the best/most significant impacts of tech is tech that gives people something else to do – neil gershenfeld

If men had a deeply developed feeling of equity they would not oppress other men. Politicians would not cheat their electors; Parliament would not be a chattering and cheating box, and Charles Warren’s policemen would refuse to bludgeon the Trafalgar Square talkers and listeners. And if men were gallant, self-respecting, and less egotistic, even a bad capitalist would not be a danger; the workers would have soon reduced him to the role of a simple comrade-manager. Even a King would not be dangerous, because the people would merely consider him as a fellow unable to do better work, and therefore entrusted with signing some stupid papers sent out to other cranks calling themselves Kings.

*But men are not those free-minded, independent, provident, loving, and compassionate fellows which we should like to see them..t And precisely, **therefore, they must not continue living under the present system which permits them to oppress and exploit one another..t Take, for instance, those misery-stricken tailors who paraded last Sunday in the streets, and suppose that one of them has inherited a hundred pounds from an American uncle. With these hundred pounds he surely will not start a productive association for a dozen of like misery-stricken tailors, and try to improve their condition. He will become a sweater. And, therefore, we say that in a society where men are so bad as this American heir, it is very hard for him to have misery-stricken tailors around him. As soon as he can he will sweat them; while if these same tailors had a secured living from the Communist stores, none of them would sweat to enrich their ex-comrade, and the young sweater would himself not become the very bad beast he surely will become if he continues to be a sweater.

*rather whales are not.. we have no idea what legit free people are like

**true.. hari rat park law.. but again.. if thinking not good enough as human nature.. then will just perpetuate myth of tragedy and lord ness et al.. any form of m\a\p will keep keeping us from us

We are told we are too slavish, too snobbish, to be placed under free institutions; but we say that because we are indeed so slavish we ought not to remain any longer under the present institutions, which favour the development of slavishness. We see that Britons, French, and Americans display the most disgusting slavishness towards Gladstone, Boulanger, or Gould. And we conclude that in a humanity already endowed with such slavish instincts it is *very bad to have the masses forcibly deprived of higher education, and compelled to live under the present inequality of wealth, education, and knowledge. Higher instruction and equality of conditions would be the only means for destroying the inherited slavish instincts, and we cannot understand how slavish instincts can be made an argument for maintaining, even for one day longer, inequality of conditions; for refusing equality of instruction to all members of the community.

*ed ness part of the problem (rather symptom of missing pieces).. supposed to’s of school/work et al.. no train..

Our space is limited, but submit to the same analysis any of the aspects of our social life, and you will see that the present capitalist, authoritarian system is absolutely inappropriate to a society of men so improvident, so rapacious, so egotistic, and so slavish as they are now. Therefore, *when we hear men saying that the Anarchists imagine men much better than they really are, we merely wonder how intelligent people can repeat that nonsense. Do we not say continually that the only means of rendering men less rapacious and egotistic, less ambitious and less slavish at the same time, is to eliminate those conditions which favour the growth of egotism and rapacity, of slavishness and ambition? The only difference between us and those who make the above objection is this: We do not, like them, exaggerate the inferior instincts of the masses, and do not complacently shut our eyes to the same bad instincts in the upper classes. We maintain that both rulers and ruled are spoiled by authority; both exploiters and exploited are spoiled by exploitation; while our opponents seem to admit that there is a kind of salt of the earth – the rulers, the employers, the leaders – who, happily enough, prevent those bad men – the ruled, the exploited, the led – from becoming still worse than they are.

*yes.. both spoiled.. all of us forever in sea world.. but again.. it will just be perpetuated if we think that is human nature..

There is the difference, and a very important one. *We admit the imperfections of human nature, but we make no exception for the rulers. They make it, although sometimes unconsciously, and because we make no such exception, they say that we are dreamers, ‘unpractical men’.

this is huge/important.. and we’re missing it.. imperfections (that you’re talking about) are not human nature.. they are whale nature..

An old quarrel, that quarrel between the ‘practical men’ and the ‘unpractical’, the so-called Utopists: a quarrel renewed at each proposed change, and always terminating by the total defeat of those who name themselves practical people.

Many of us must remember the quarrel when it raged in America before the abolition of slavery. When the full emancipation of the Negroes was advocated, the practical people used to say that if the Negroes were no more compelled to labour by the whips of their owners, they would not work at all, and soon would become a charge upon the community. Thick whips could be prohibited, they said, and the thickness of the whips might be progressively reduced by law to half-an-inch first and then to a mere trifle of a few tenths of an inch; but some kind of whip must be maintained. And when the abolitionists said – just as we say now – that the enjoyment of the produce of one’s labour would be a much more powerful inducement to work than the thickest whip, ‘Nonsense, my friend,’ they were told – just as we are told now. ‘You don’t know human nature! Years of slavery have rendered them improvident, lazy and slavish, and human nature cannot be changed in one day. You are imbued, of course, with the best intentions, but you are quite ”unpractical”.’

Well, for some time the practical men had their own way in elaborating schemes for the gradual emancipation of Negroes. But, alas!, the schemes proved quite unpractical, and the civil war – the bloodiest on record – broke out. But the war resulted in the abolition of slavery, without any transition period; – and see, none of the terrible consequences foreseen by the practical people followed. The Negroes work, they are industrious and laborious, they are provident – nay, too provident, indeed – and the only regret that can be expressed is, that the scheme advocated by the left wing of the unpractical camp – full equality and land allotments – was not realised: it would have saved much trouble now.

About the same time a like quarrel raged in Russia, and its cause was this. There were in Russia 20 million serfs. For generations past they had been under the rule, or rather the birch-rod, of their owners. They were flogged for tilling their soil badly, flogged for want of cleanliness in their households, flogged for imperfect weaving of their cloth, flogged for not sooner marrying their boys and girls – flogged for everything. Slavishness, improvidence, were their reputed characteristics.

Now came the Utopists and asked nothing short of the following: Complete liberation .. t of the serfs; immediate abolition of any obligation of the serf towards the lord. More than that: immediate abolition of the lord’s jurisdiction and his abandonment of all the affairs upon which he formerly judged, to peasants’ tribunals elected by the peasants and judging, not in accordance with law which they do not know, but with their unwritten customs. Such was the unpractical scheme of the unpractical camp. It was treated as a mere folly by practical people.

this is why we have not yet gotten to legit global equity/re\set.. we’ve not yet tried complete lib.. sans any form of m\a\p

But happily enough there was by that time in Russia a good deal of unpracticalness in the air, and it was maintained by the unpracticalness of the peasants, who revolted with sticks against guns, and refused to submit, notwithstanding the massacres, and thus enforced the unpractical state of mind to such a degree as to permit the unpractical camp to force the Tsar to sign their scheme – still mutilated to some extent. The most practical people hastened to flee away from Russia, that they might not have their throats cut a few days after the promulgation of that unpractical scheme.

But everything went on quite smoothly, notwithstanding the many blunders still committed by practical people. These slaves who were reputed improvident, selfish brutes, and so on, displayed such good sense, such an organising capacity as to surpass the expectations of even the most unpractical Utopists; and in three years after the Emancipation the general physiognomy of the villages had completely changed. The slaves were becoming Men!

The Utopists won the battle. They proved that they were the really practical people, and that those who pretended to be practical were imbeciles. And the only regret expressed now by all who know the Russian peasantry is, that too many concessions were made to those practical imbeciles and narrow-minded egotists: that the advice of the left wing of the unpractical camp was not followed in full.

We cannot give more examples. But we earnestly invite those who like to reason for themselves to study the history of any of the great social changes which have occurred in humanity from the rise of the Communes to the Reform and to our modern times. They will see that history is nothing but a struggle between the rulers and the ruled, the oppressors and the oppressed, in which struggle the practical camp always sides with the rulers and the oppressors, while the unpractical camp sides with the oppressed; and they will see that the struggle always ends in a final defeat of the practical camp after much bloodshed and suffering, due to what they call their ‘practical good sense’.

If by saying that we are unpractical our opponents mean that we foresee the march of events better than the practical short-sighted cowards, then they are right. But if they mean that they, the practical people, have a better foresight of events, then *we send them to history and ask them to put themselves in accordance with its teachings before making that presumptuous assertion.

biggest reason perhaps.. we keep missing it.. we keep going/sending to history ness for refs/guidance/presumptions.. et al.. when to date.. none of it is legit.. all like data from whales in sea world








sam on structure

sam chaltain on structure (sam on freedom)

7th/last feature via sam tweet []:

The Seventh Feature of a Flourishing School Life is complicated. So nature makes it simple(r) . . .

notes/quotes from post:

Measuring complex systems will always be imprecise. 

more important to humanity.. measuring things kills whatever it’s measuring

literacy and numeracy both elements of colonialism/control/enclosure.. we need to calculate differently and stop measuring things

mufleh humanity lawwe have seen advances in every aspect of our lives except our humanity– Luma Mufleh

Certitude is a chimera. 

graeber can’t know law.. graeber unpredictability/surprise law.. et al

And the Butterfly Effect — or the notion that a butterfly’s wings in Beijing today could shape next month’s weather patterns in New York City — was more than just idle chatter; it was the natural order of our natural world.

thurman interconnectedness lawwhen you understand interconnectedness it makes you more afraid of hating than of dying – Robert Thurman 

In time, Lorenz’s accidental discovery helped launch an entirely new scientific field: Chaos Theory, or the idea that simple systems can create extraordinarily difficult problems of predictability — and still give rise to a spontaneous sort of order.

graeber unpredictability/surprise law.. fromm spontaneous law.. murray on spontaneity.. et al

humanity needs a leap.. to get back/to simultaneous spontaneity ..  simultaneous fittingness..  everyone in sync..

Structure, in other words, is a prerequisite to freedom — but only when it is a function of engendering order, as opposed to ensuring control..t

yeah.. i don’t know.. pre req?.. perhaps for detox.. but to me.. not for legit freedom.. carhart-harris entropy law et al

need: infinitesimal structures approaching the limit of structureless\ness and/or vice versa .. aka: ginorm/small ness

sam replies w/this tweet []:

I have found that this is one of freedom’s most interesting (& surprising) paradoxes — that it is inextricably linked to structure, albeit just enough . . . tell me more about why you think entropic brain theory rebuts this?

i reply: experience (didn’t send but ie: findings abstract et al)

also didn’t send but thought this: we referred to that ‘albeit just enough’ ness as a raised eyebrow in the lab

also thinking: since to me.. we have no idea what legit free people are like.. no givens about your paradox of a freedom/structure link.. as well as about my thinking freedom has to be sans any form of m\a\p..

and then: just googled ‘entropic brain theory’.. don’t think i’m referring to that (too much structure)

one of google links – The entropic brain: a theory of conscious states informed by neuroimaging research with psychedelic drugs – [] has robin carhart-harris as one of authors: ‘At its core, the entropic brain hypothesis proposes that the quality of any conscious state depends on the system’s entropy measured via key parameters of brain function. Entropy is a powerful explanatory tool for cognitive neuroscience since it provides a quantitative index of a dynamic system’s randomness or disorder while simultaneously describing its informational character, i.e., our uncertainty about the system’s state if we were to sample it at any given time-point (Friston, 2010)‘.. and ‘Importantly, this functional centrality of the DMN is not shared by other brain networks (de Pasquale et al., 2012; Braga et al., 2013), implying that, as the highest level of a functional hierarchy (Carhart-Harris and Friston, 2010), it serves as a central orchestrator or conductor of global brain function.

to me.. this is too much structure.. too much focus on thinking we can and have to define something (that’s alive).. naming the colour ness et al.. i was referring to robin’s phrase in particular: letting go of ‘hard won order

back to sam’s post:

This feels like a vital insight for a modern world torn asunder by a seemingly endless list of things to fear, and a similarly desperate effort by all of us to keep the various boogeymen at bay. 

“We seem hypnotized by structures,” writes Margaret Wheatley, “and we build them strong and complex because they must, we believe, hold back the dark forces that threaten to destroy us.”

Yet even in this digital age, one in which the meaning of ‘social network’ has taken on both new and added meaning, there can be great comfort in recognizing the ways a well-calibrated living system actually works. 

“The observation that the bio-logic, or pattern of organization of a simple cell, is the same as that of an entire social structure is highly nontrivial,” Fritjof Capra explains. “It suggests a fundamental unity of life, and hence also the need to study and understand all living structures from such a unifying perspective.”

organism as fractal et al

This notion of unity, James Gleick adds, reveals a universe that is “rough, not rounded, scabrous, not smooth. It is a geometry of the pitted, pocked, and broken up, the twisted, tangled and intertwined.” And yet “the pits and tangles are more than blemishes distorting the classic shapes of Euclidian geometry. They are often the keys to the essence of the thing.”

of math and men et al

These sea changes in scientific thinking illuminate an enduring truth of the natural world — one that we, too, can heed in the human realm: 

It is identity, not structure, that must drive our designs..t

rather.. we need to let go of id (it too begs to be infinitesimally temp ie: the it is me ness), structure, design, any form of m\a\p

“What occurs in living systems,” Margaret Wheatley explains, “is contrary to our normal way of thinking. Openness to the environment over time spawns a stronger system, one that is less susceptible to externally induced change. What comes to dominate over time is not outside influences, but the self-organizing dynamics of the system itself. .t Because it partners with its environment, the system develops increasing autonomy from the environment and also develops new capacities that make it increasingly resourceful. 

‘in undisturbed ecosystems ..the average individual, species, or population, left to its own devices, behaves in ways that serve and stabilize the whole..’ –Dana Meadows


1\ undisturbed ecosystem (common\ing) can happen

2\ if we create a way to ground the chaos of 8b legit free people

wish you could hear

“We usually act from the reverse belief. We believe that in order to maintain ourselves and protect our individual freedom, we must defend ourselves from external forces.”

yeah.. to me.. that’s whalespeak (only need to say that because we’re in – and until we get out of – sea world)

Indeed, this is the surprising twist of it all – that the primary role of structure in the natural world is not to be eternal, but temporary; and not to guard, but to share. . t

ok.. let’s try this structure..

imagine if we listened to the itch-in-8b-souls 1st thing everyday & used that data to connect us (tech as it could be.. ai as augmenting interconnectedness as nonjudgmental expo labeling)

Using nature as a model, therefore, means doing almost everything differently in our schools and our organizations. . t

rather.. it means letting go of schools and orgs.. and just doing everything differently

graeber make it diff law et al

This, then, is the work.

And this is how we can build a better world — by ensuring that all living systems, from our schools to our companies to our homes and communities, are designed to affirm each person’s inner spark, not dim it.

schools and companies aren’t living systems..

yeah to inner spark.. but this way.. ie: imagine if we


Your final challenge is to (re)design a current physical space of your school in a way that embodies your most aspirational future. 

Use the seven principles of a living system as your design drivers, and then draw a picture or make a collage of the space itself:

  • IDENTITY: How can I create a space that helps reinforce who — and why — our school is what it is?

perpetuating myth of tragedy and lord if any form of m\a\p.. ie: school, id, et al

  • INFORMATION: In what ways can my space invite people to pay close attention to what matters most?

need to quit inviting ness.. dave’s campfire analogy et al

what matters most (to 8b legit free people) ..the itch-in-8b-souls 1st thing everyday & used that data to connect us via ai as nonjudgmental expo labeling

  • RELATIONSHIPS: How does my space encourage people to relate to one another? How does it help trust build and flow?..t

to me.. not trust if it has to build.. be built.. et al.. space can’t encourage it.. space needs to be about listening to what is already in each soul.. this is why we think we need ie: structure, id, design, et al.. because we don’t grok the unconditionality of legit trust

pearson unconditional law et al

  • EMERGENCE: What behaviors ought to form the atomic units of this space? What is seeking to emerge?

? we have no idea.. otherwise not legit emergence..

  • PATTERNS: What norms ought to govern our behaviors in this space? Which patterns do we want to see showing up over time?

none.. myth of normal et al..

  • PROCESSES: What rituals, routines, decisions, and rewards is this space for?

none.. any form of m\a\p is killer to alive ness.. esp those.. ie: decision making is unmooring us law; gabor on validation; all the red flags we’re doing it/life wrong

  • STRUCTURES: How does this space place human beings at the center of the experience?

need 1st/most: means to undo our hierarchical listening to self/others/nature so we can org around legit needs








child in the city

(1978) by colin ward – child in the city – (actually just foreward & ch 5&6.. rest of notes from reading hard copy ages ago from a post: child in the city on my old/1st blogging site) – via kindle version from anarchist library []

notes/quotes from 17 pgs:



This book is an attempt to explore the relationship between children and their urban environment. It asks whether it is true, as very many believe it to be true, that something has been lost in this relationship, and it speculates about the ways in which the link between city and child can be made more fruitful and enjoyable for both the child and the city.

But the title, and perhaps the very concept, are open to criticism because they imply that it is possible to speak in general terms about either children or cities. We need to be reminded, as *Margaret Mead never fails to remind us, that “It’s a good thing to think about the child as long as you remember that the child doesn’t exist. Only children exist. Every time we lump them together we lose something”. It is not just a matter of the enormous differences between individuals. Every child is in a different state of being or becoming. The legal definition of childhood varies from one place to anther, and according to the kind of right or obligation we are discussing. In Britain a whole series of laws, or rather a random accumulation of laws, grants rights or imposes duties at different ages, which in very general terms define the status of childhood. **This book is concerned broadly with people within the age-range of compulsory schooling in Britain: five to sixteen. But many would claim that, in terms of life-chances and formative experiences, the most crucial things have already happened to us by the time that as five-year-olds in Britain, or as seven-year-olds in many other countries, we first attend school. ***The most important thing of all is the accident of whose children we happen to be.

*meg wheatley.. brown belonging law.. maté trump law.. supposed to’s of school/work.. et al.. need discrimination as equity et al

**adolescence ness and peter on childhood and gabor on childhood trauma.. et al

***perhaps by degree .. but all mess up.. ie: maté parenting law; graeber parent/care law; et al

Similarly in most parts of the world it would be foolish to describe a fifteen-year-old as a child. We may adopt the word adolescent to describe those fellow-citizens who are between puberty and the age of full adult rights, an age which, without much debate or opposition, has been lowered from 21 to 18 in many countries in the last decade. *But is adolescence simply a creation of society? Frank Musgrove, in a memorable phrase, claimed that “the adolescent was invented at the same time as the steam engine. The principal architect of the latter was James Watt in 1756, of the former Rousseau in 1762.” Today not merely adolescence, but the self-evident condition of childhood is under questions as a timeless and universal concept. The work of sociologically-minded historians like Philippe Ariés and Peter Laslett has made us realise how recent is our concern for childhood as such. “Children are a modern invention,” remarks the playground pioneer Joe Benjamin. **“They used to be part of the family.

*yes.. any/all stages/categories.. creations in sea world.. marsh label law et al.. need our only label(s) to be daily curiosity (itch-in-the-soul) ..

ie: imagine if we listened to the itch-in-8b-souls 1st thing everyday & used that data to connect us (tech as it could be.. ai as augmenting interconnectedness as nonjudgmental expo labeling)

**need them simply to be part of all of us.. part of nationality: human ness et all

needs to be all of us legit free.. in the city.. as the day..


1\ undisturbed ecosystem (common\ing) can happen

2\ if we create a way to ground the chaos of 8b legit free people

The family is almost always a more crucial element in a child’s destiny than the city, and in diagnosing the social ills of the city moralists point to the high incidence of “broken families” and *lament the death of the “extended family”, but the social historians point to the mortality statistics. **A walk through any old graveyard supports the view that in breaking families the divorce court has simply taken over where the funeral undertaker left off, and explains a great deal about our ancestors’ attitude to childhood. ***By selecting the evidence we can show that the child in past societies was accorded something of the dignity that accrues to someone with an economic role in this world, or we can exhibit the child as the victim of grotesque exploitation, or we can show that the history of childhood, as Lloyd Demause argues in the opening chapter of his book of that name, “is a nightmare from which we have only recently begun to awaken.”

*never has been a legit ideal/model (of an undisturbed ecosystem).. to date all have been like whales in sea world.. as long as any form of m\a\p.. we can’t dance the dance

**divorce ness just shows us .. never has been a legit free people/fam.. nika & silvia on divorce et al.. marriage\ing et al..

***we can show anything we want – gray research law et al.. all data/history ness to date non legit.. data ness (naming the colour ness) itself non/legit/dead/twistable

and again.. gabor on childhood trauma et al

Mr Demause believes that the history of child-rearing can be seen as a series of six overlapping modes, of which the newest, *the “helping mode” begins (he thinks) in the mid-twentieth century and results in a child “who is gentle, sincere, never depressed, never imitative or group-oriented, strong-willed, and un-intimidated by authority.” Few adults would deny as individuals that they sought to adopt a helping mode in relationships with the children who share their lives and their cities, even though they might feel less confident that it would produce this particular combination of attributes. But our question in this book is whether the city, as a human institution, adopts a helping mode towards its young citizens, or whether Paul Goodman was right when he declared years ago that “the city, under inevitable modern conditions, can no longer be dealt with practically by children” because “concealed technology, family mobility, loss of the country, loss of neighbourhood tradition, and eating up of the play space have taken away the **real environment”.

*on help\ing ness et al.. oi.. fits with safety addiction and steiner care to oppression law et al..

**hasn’t been ‘real’ to date.. always been in sea world

paul goodman


A child is… well, a child is what you recognise as a child, and I am going to be equally evasive in defining the city. Traditionally there are differences between the British and American usage of the word. The expansive founding fathers of some Western town may have named it as the city it never quite became. Sleepy British towns that happen to contain an Anglican cathedral are called cities and indeed this may be just for as Leslie Lance once remarked, “Canterbury and St Davids are cities in a way that hundreds of large nineteenth and twentieth century towns are not.” A city is loosely defined as a human settlement larger than a town, and there are already seventy-five cities with populations greater than a million. Soweto, whose children were provoked into revolt in June 1976, has over a million inhabitants, but is known as a township. It is estimated that by the end of the century the greater part of the world’s population will be living in million-sized cities.

for in the city ness.. just meaning.. wherever you are.. no numbers, comparisons, just your current locale

*But the distinctions between city, suburb, small town and village, grow less tenable as the years go by. In what sense is the village-dweller who commutes to the city, and whose children commute to the nearest urban school, to be thought of as a villager? Claus Moser and William Scott in their study of British Towns warn us that “One is all too ready to speak of the urban dweller, the urban pattern, the urban way of life without appreciating the variations found both within and between the cities.” There are more similarities between urban and rural life in Britain than between urban life in Britain and urban life in Burma. **THere is much more in common in the experiences of children in affluent families, rural or urban, than in those of rich and poor children in the same city. In practice it is more sensible to think of the city region than of the city itself and it is only fiscal and administrative realities that persuade us that the city as an entity still exists. These considerations profoundly affect the viability of cities but our considerations of the lives of children should not be limited by some obsolete political boundary.

*to me.. size/label irrelevant.. what matters is all/any form of m\a\p

**so too.. degrees of commonality or whatever.. matters little to a legit global re\set.. because none of us are legit free (aka: ourselves) until we all are

As a third disclaimer I should warn the reader that this book is not the product of interviews in depth with a random sample of a thousand children in a hundred cities. Much might be learned from such an enterprise, but not acted upon. I have met a great many people who have found fulfilment in trying to meet the needs of city children, from Alex Bloom to Marjorie Allen of Hurtwood. *Their motivation came, I am convinced, not from statistical surveys, but from empathy, from their own and other people’s recollections and from sympathetic observation of what children actually do. Everyone has been a child, and the philosopher **Gaston Bachelard devoted a book The Poetics of Space to evoking, through daydream, meditation and the resonance of the evocations of others, the newness of childhood experience of the environment.. t “After 20 years,” he says, “in spite of all the other anonymous staircases, we would recapture the reflexes of the ‘first stairway’, we would not stumble on that rather high step. The house’s entire being would open up, faithful to our own being. We would push the door that creaks with the same gesture, we would find our way in the dark to the distant attic. The feel of the tiniest latch has remained in our hands… We are the diagram of the functions of inhabiting that particular house, and all the other houses are but variations on a fundamental theme. The word habit is too worn a word to express this passionate liaison of our bodies, which do not forget, with an unforgettable house.” It is with this kind of experienced reality that I am trying to entice the reader to stand in the footprints of the contemporary urban child.

*to this.. graeber model law.. plus.. to me.. seeing what they do in sea world.. not helpful to seeing what legit free people/children are like.. so a cancerous distraction

need to read this book

wow.. and found a pdf of it [].. yay oh yay oh yay..

bachelard oikos law is huge to global re\set

oikos (the economy our souls crave).. ‘i should say: the house shelters day-dreaming, the house protects the dreamer, the house allows one to dream in peace.’ – gaston bachelard, the poetics of space

notes/quotes will be here: poetics of space


There is a final apology to be made. I have referred to the generalised child as he, when I meant he or she, since I can scarcely use the word it. But even granted that it is conventional to use the male pronoun to subsume both sexes, and granted that my own experience as individual, as parent and as teacher has been confined to boyhood, I have been made conscious in compiling this book that very often when I use the word he, this is what I mean, Boys do experience, explore and exploit the environment much more than girls do. They are also, in all but one vital respect, much more exposed to its hazards. Some of the implications of the differing environmental experiences of boys and girls are discussed in this book.

In attempting to convey the intensity, variety and ingenuity of the experience of urban childhood, the photographs are probably more effective than the text, and I am especially indebted to Ann Golzen who instantly grasped what pictures were needed and went out and took them. I am grateful too to the other photographers and especially to Becky Young and to Sally and Richard Greenhill. I also have a debt to innumerable children and adults who have talked to me about their environmental experiences and to all those people whose written accounts I have gratefully looted. Anyone writing on a theme like this must be conscious of an indebtedness to Iona and Peter Opie. It’s hard to imagine that they have not said the last word on children’s games. I am certain too that Paul Goodman was the first to articulate the misgivings of many who have been concerned with the obstacles faced by the children of our cities in attempting to grow up. John and Elizabeth Newson’s long-term study of children growing up in an English city is going to be increasingly important for anyone examining urban childhood, as is the National Child Development Study directed by Mia Kellmer-Pringle of the National Children’s Bureau. I must also acknowledge my indebtedness to the work of Kevin Lynch and his colleagues.

Godfrey Golzen first suggested this book, and I owe much for particular insights and items of information to Eileen Adams, Joe Benjamin, Jeff Bishop, Pauline Crabbe, Lois Craig, Felicity Craven, Aase Eriksen, Anthony Fyson, Roger Hart, Muffy Henderson, Brian Goody, Robin Moore, Rose Tanner and David Uzzell.

It would be impossible to write about childhood without exploiting one’s own family and I am conscious of what I owe to my wife Harriet War, and to my five children of the city, Alan Balfour, Douglas Balfour, Barney Unwin, Tom Unwin and Ben Ward.

5. Privacy and Isolation

”At some stages parents are aware that their children would *dearly like a room of their own. At yet other ages children may appear to create separate places for themselves and their friends, places into which the intrusion of an adult is a profanity. To my knowledge, no researcher has attempted to trace the development from the den made with a cardboard box under the kitchen table by the three year old, to the den made at the bottom of the garden out of branches by the nine year old, to the ‘private´ room of the teenager, to the study, library or den of the adult. There are clearly similarities in these different uses of space but differences in the way in which these places take on their form and meaning at the different **stages in development.”


*woolf room of one law.. quiet in room.. quiet enough.. pascal quiet law.. et al

**oi.. stages ness.. whalespeak


The quest for personal privacy and the sense of social isolation are not opposites in the experience of the urban child. *The same child who is most deprived of a private and personal place is likely to be the child who is most isolated socially. Inner city teachers, even very experienced ones, are so accustomed to mobility, freedom of access to transport and social competence in getting around, that they are continually surprised that so many of the children they teach lead lives confined to a few streets or blocks. A survey conducted for the Community Relations Commission found that just under half of the children under five in the Handsworth district of Birmingham never went out to play. “They have no access, either exclusive or shared, to play spaces at the front or back of the house and their parents feared for their safety if they let them out.”

*to me.. none of us have legit quiet/private/et-al space

oikos (the economy our souls crave).. ‘i should say: the house shelters day-dreaming, the house protects the dreamer, the house allows one to dream in peace.’ – gaston bachelard, the poetics of space

Describing an infant´s school in Islington in North London, Sue Cameron remarks that “The experience of many of these children during the first five years of their lives has been so limited that they come to school like so many blank pages. Near the school is a park and a busy Underground station, but many of the children have never been inside the park and some of them don’t know what a tube train looks like. Asked what they did a the week-end, they usually say they just stayed at home.” Even when we assume that they must have been around by the time they reach thirteen or fourteen, we find that such children´s world is fantastically restricted. Teachers in a school on a housing estate in Bristol told me of the shock with which they learned that some of their teen-age pupils had never been to centre of the city. Teachers in the London borough of Brent told me of 13 and 14 year olds who had never seen the Thames; teachers in the boroughs of Lambeth and Southwark, in schools a few hundred yards from the River told me of pupils who had never crossed it.

again.. to me.. all this is irrelevant and cancerous distraction if we’re still all in sea world

It is difficult to convey the psychological isolation of the deprived urban child, though readers of George Dennison´s account of the First Street School, may gather something of its implication, and of the paradox that many city children are just not hooked onto those “educational networks of fantastic riches and variety” that the city through its very existence provides. The hero of Vittorio de Seta´s Diary of a School Teacher found that his pupils in a working-class suburb of Rome “did not feel that the belonged to the big city” and when he took the class to explore the ancient heart of the city, they were “like tourists in their own town.” Even the adolescents of Kevin Lynch´s UNESCO study, were, in his view, the victims of “experimental starvation”. He found that distance is not the essential restriction on the movement of young adolescents away from their local areas. More important is the mixture of parental control, personal fear and a lack of knowledge of how to get about, as well as the availability and cost of public transport. “*It is thus not surprising that many of the children speak constantly of boredom. There seems to be little to do or see that is new.”

*to me.. lack of new ness.. et al.. not why we speak of boredom et al.. it’s about missing pieces..

graeber unpredictability/surprise law et al

also resonating with revolution of everyday life premise et al

Innumerable studies of delinquent or potentially delinquent children in the world´s cities stress their insecurity and isolation. Aryeh Leissner, with experience of both New York and Tel Aviv, remarks that “street club workers were constantly aware of the feelings of isolation which pervaded the atmosphere.” He says of the latter city that “the young, as well as the adults of these poor communities identify themselves as inhabitants of their own immediate neighbourhoods. But they say that they are ‘going to Tel Aviv´, when they leave their own areas to attend to some business in other parts of the city, sometimes only a few minutes‘ walk or a short bus ride away. They distinguish between shops, cinemas, cafes, etc., in their own neighbourhood and ‘in Tel Aviv´. Although their own communities are geographically and administratively integral parts of the City of Tel Aviv, the people who live in the these communities do not seem to feel as if they are.”


In Chicago, J. F. Short and F. L. Stodtbeck noted that “the range of gang boys´ physical movements is severely restricted” not only for fear of other gangs, but also because of a “more general lack of social assurance.” James Patrick found the same “social disability” in the Glasgow boys he observed.

The lack of social assurance certainly does amount to a social disability for many city children. *Some children steal, not because they have no access to the purchase money, but because they find it a less arduous transaction than the verbal encounter with the seller. They move like strangers through their own city, so that one is forced to admire those cheerful rogues who know every inch of it backwards and get involved in much more serious and sophisticated offences, **just because they have absorbed the structure and functions of the city.

*resonating with talks w people who were homeless.. that having to transact w the Bs/strings of sea world/system is not worth it.. and to many.. not possible

homeschooling’s invisible children.. unauthorized home less ness.. $2 a day et al

**just because have voluntary complianced et al

The poor child, who is usually the most isolated from the life of the city as a city, is also, paradoxically, the child who is denied the solace of solitude. He is seldom alone; he is the child who is least likely to have a bedroom or a bed to himself. In many of the cities of the world, the very concept of privacy for the child is meaningless. What sense does it make in Hong Kong or Manila to speak of the child´s right to privacy? We may suggest that people don´t miss what they have never experienced, and there is evidence that different cultures have different concepts of personal space, though even the poorest of cities, one of the things that wealth buys is privacy. Gaston Bachelard pitied those children, who lacking a room of their own to go and cry in, had to sulk in the corner of the living room, though the boys interviewed by Florence Ladd, because their bedrooms were shared, mentioned the living room or sitting room as a place where one might be alone.

What does privacy actually mean to the child? Maxine Wolfe and Robert Laufer of the City University of New York have been investigating the concept of privacy in childhood and adolescence, by questioning children aged between five and 17. Not surprisingly, they found that the idea became more complex with age, but they found four major meanings at all ages. The first was that of being alone and uninterrupted, or of being able to be alone. The second was that of controlling access to information – being able to have secrets. Once the child goes to school, he is able to reveal some things to one set of adults, the parents, and other things to others, the teachers, and to differentiate between siblings and other children in the disclosure and withholding of information. The third meaning was that of “no one bothering me”, and the fourth was that of controlling access to spaces. Three of these four meanings were given more frequently by those children who had their own rooms – being alone, no-one bothering me, and controlling access to spaces (“no one being able to go into my room; no one can come in unless I want them to”). Keeping secrets, and not telling what you are thinking, were available to all groups, though this aspect of privacy, the control of information, is obviously important to those children who were not able to secure it physically. The researchers point out that “a child who has never had a room of his own may not define privacy as a physical separation from others but may develop techniques of psychological withdrawal. A child in a small town, once aware that control of personal history is impossible, may not see this as a relevant aspect of privacy.”

again.. matters little if all in sea world

privacy ness et al vs.. brown belonging law and olivier wrong about you law and cummings art\ist law.. et al

The comparison with the situation of the small town child raises the question of the relative isolation and privacy of children, all along the rural-urban continuum. We assume that the country child is more isolated, but he is usually part of a far more homogeneous community, just as he was in the “village in the city” when urban communities were more stable. We assume that he had more privacy, but as Maxine Wolfe and Robert Laufer suggest, “if city children walk around the corner or a few streets away from home there is a high probability they will not be known. The child living in a small town may have to go further (i.e. into the woods) to achieve the same type of privacy.”.. t

to me.. none of us can go deep enough into the woods.. until we’re all legit free

humanity needs a leap.. to get back/to simultaneous spontaneity .. simultaneous fittingness.. everyone in sync..

let’s do this first: free art\ists (aka: all of us)


*The isolated child in the city is unfamiliar with the public transport system, with the use of the telephone, with the public library, with eliciting information from strangers, with the norms of behaviour in cafes and restaurants, with planning his activities an advance, with articulating or responding to requests outside the immediate family circle. The reader might well ask whether such a child really exists, and the answer from any inner city teacher would be that **children as isolated as this from the mainstream of urban life, exists in very large numbers. Various attempts are made to provide an explanation for their isolation: the idea of a “culture of poverty”, the idea of a “cycle of deprivation”, and the idea of a “restricted language code.” Each of these explanations has its passionate opponents, who see them as modern versions of the Victorian equation of poverty with sin, the idea that the poverty of the poor is their own fault, or as an assumption of the superiority of middle class values.

*myth of normal et al.. oi

**again .. unauthorized home less ness et al.. and reasoning.. to me is rather.. that raised eyebrow ness of any form of m\a\p

But if we simple want to know why so large a proportion of inner city children grow up unable to manipulate their environment in the way that is taken for granted in the middle class home, we are bound to look for explanations in the social isolation of the home of the modern inner city child, soberly analysed by Martin Deutsch in these terms: “*Visually, the urban slum and its overcrowded apartments offer the child a minimal range of stimuli. There are usually few if any pictures on the wall, and the objects in the household, be they toys, furniture, or utensils, tend to sparse, repetitious, and lacking in form and colour variations. The sparsity of objects and lack of diversity of home artefacts which are available and meaningful to the child, in addition to the unavailability of individualised training, gives the child few opportunities to manipulate and organise the visual properties of his environment and thus perceptually to organise and discriminate the nuances of that environment…. It is true, as has been pointed out frequently, that the pioneer child didn´t have many playthings either. But he had a more active responsibility towards the environment and a great variety of growing plants and other natural resources **as well as a stable family that assumed a primary role for the education and training of the child.”

*these are all irrelevant s.. schooling the world ness.. et al.. cancerous distractions until (and after as well) we are all legit free (ie: missing pieces uncovered/restored)

need 1st/most: means to undo our hierarchical listening to self/others/nature as global detox/re\set.. so we can org around legit needs

imagine if we listened to the itch-in-8b-souls 1st thing everyday & used that data to connect us (tech as it could be.. ai as augmenting interconnectedness as nonjudgmental expo labeling)

**oi.. stable fam ness.. oi

The tragedy of the isolated city child, and the dilemma of all our efforts to alleviate his deprivation were most poignantly expressed by John and Elizabeth Newson as they reached the third stage of their long-term study of child-rearing in an English city. *They remarked that they are continually asked to specify how children should be brought up, while they have never claimed to be capable of giving such advice. They have, however, reached a conclusion: “Parents at the upper end of the social scale are more inclined on principle to use democratically based, highly verbal means of control, and this kind of discipline is likely to produce personalities who can both identify successfully with the system and use it to their own ends later on. At the bottom of the scale, in the unskilled group, parents choose on principle to use a highly authoritarian, mainly non-verbal means of control, in which words are used more to threaten and bamboozle the child into obedience than to make him understand the rationale behind social behaviour: and this seems likely to result in a personality who can neither identify with nor beat the system. In short, privileged parents, by using the methods that they prefer, produce children who expect as of right to be privileged and who are very well equipped to realise these expectations; while deprived parents, also by using the methods that they prefer, will probably produce children who expect nothing and are not equipped to do anything about it. Thus the child born into the lowest social bracket has everything stacked against him including his parents´ principles of child upbringing.”

to me.. wilde not-us law.. all of us need detox/re\set.. no ie’s/advice of how to parent et al.. as long as in sea world.. wording/whalespeak ie: raise/bring-up a child et al as cancerous distraction as well.. oi


This is a bleak conclusion, made all more pointed by the fact that it is the outcome of many years of investigation and reflection. It underlines the vital compensatory role of nursery education, of efforts to improve the quality of child-minding, and of all those attempts, in and out of the schools, to enlarge the environmental experience and capability of inner city children. But it also leads us to speculate on the difference between the “slums of hope” and the “slums of despair”. Oscar Lewis, who invented the concept of the culture of poverty, remarked that in Cuba, or in the squatter cities of Peru, Turkey, Athens, Hong Kong and Brazil, there are millions of poor people, but little sign of the culture of poverty. For the child in such places there are few of the blessings of privacy, but we may speculate that there is little of the crippling isolation that envelops the poor child in the rich cities.

all so infuriating/frustrating.. oi

6. Adrift in the City

“In the meantime I wait for my clients. Let the children – our examiners – come with their hot hands and fragrant round heads, their laced shoes that swing like pendulums, and the smiles they display like medals, their atavistic fears and amazing ability to learn, their obsessions and cajoleries, their relentless selfishness and irresistible weakness, their vulnerable docility and their mirror images of our own depravity…

“Let the runaways come, those caught after nights spent in the woods, in confessionals, cotton bales, sandboxes, or empty pigsties; the boy who is inconsolable because his mother has moved him to the floor to make room in bed for her new lover; the girl who was going to put her half-sister´s eye out with a red-hot poker but dropped it at the last minute; the youth whose father chased him around the yard with a knife and almost caught him when a pious widow next door tripped the father up with her broomstick, pulled the boy in, and laughed and cried, and covered him with kisses while he ate and sleet…

Let all the others come, those whom no amount of candy, tears, and toy trains can keep at home, who climb out of the window, toss their school bags into the cellar, hide stolen money under their inner soles, arm themselves with compass, kitchen knife, paper mask, and flashlight, and set out for the border, for new worlds across the sea, but end up un jail…”


The city is an irresistible magnet. For the young in small towns and villages where nothing ever happens, it pulls with the promise of variety and excitement. It draws those who chafe against the daily round and common task, those who feel that they can no longer stand Mum and Dad and the constraints they represent, those who know that back there in Deadsville there are going to be no jobs and no prospects, that nothing is ever going to happen.

rather.. a khan filling the gaps law ness et al

When Theodore Dreiser was a child in Evansville, Indiana, his older brother came back from Chicago and declared, “You never saw such a place!…. that´s the place for a family, where they can do something and get along! Not stuck off in a little hole like there! Why, say, there must be four or five hundred thousand people there! And the shops! And the high buildings!”


Literature, tradition and the conventional wisdom have sanctified the small town, in Europe, America and the rest of the world. The town was small enough to be home: “not just the house but all the town. That is why childhood in the small towns is different from childhood in the city. Everything is home.” To Eric Sevareid everything was home, and for Page Smith, even the “bad boys” of the small town were pranksters rather than delinquents, and to his eyes the town “offered the boy and extraordinary degree of freedom within the security. A suburban neighbourhood might rival the town in the secure world that enwombed the growing boy, but it was generally a world of barriers, of barred exits, of nurses and solicitous aunts.”

He goes on, “In every recollection of the town we find the symbol of water. In its classic form it is the old swimming hole or the broad Mississippi of tom sawyer or Huck Finn. It is the symbol for freedom and also for mystery and perhaps for something deeper. In the swimming hole, clothes and the conventions of the town are discarded. The adult world is rejected in this unique arena which custom has allowed as the American boy´s special preserve. The pond, the lake, the river, the swamp, the stream; it is as though here the small- town boy is dimly aware that he touches the source of life – dangerous, strangely loving and enfolding.”

cold (naked) swim.. naked streets.. et al..

Dangerous and enfolding, but tolerating rather than loving, the analogy of water fits the city too. Town Swamps was the title George Godwin gave to his study of the city in the eighteen-fifties. Immersed in the city, symbol too, of freedom, mystery and the discarding of small- town conventions and assumptions, you sink or swim. The thoughtful youngster in a small or provincial city, unless he has a foothold on the escalator of higher education, knows exactly the job prospects awaiting him if he stays at home. Armies are recruited this way. For the boy from an Egyptian village the army is an education, an initiation into sophisticated urban habits, an opportunity to acquire saleable skills. But you don´t have to go to collapsing traditional societies to see the same phenomena. A young soldier from South Shields said to me, “ I reckoned I had only two choices: to become a hippy or to join the army. When I go home, not that I always do go home when I have leave, I meet the boys who were at school with me. The ones who are still there are drawing social security and I just have to buy them drinks. The others have gone to Newcastle or London.”

khan filling the gaps law et al

As juvenile unemployment grows, the flight, not only of the young who have left school, but of those who simple abandon school, home and parents, because these seem no longer relevant to their needs, set out for the big glowing city, like moths fluttering towards the light. In the late nineteen-sixties they came from the stricken cities of Northern Ireland, from Scotland and the North East. By the mid-1970s they were coming from a much wider and more dispersed series of home towns. What jobs are open to the school-leavers of Herefordshire, for example, in the summers of the late seventies? In the hinterland of other world cities, the same juvenile migration is far more obvious.

Their elders, from Italy, Spain, Portugal, Greece, Yugoslavia, Turkey, and North Africa, flocked to the industrial conurbations of Western Europe to provide labour for the jobs the natives were no longer willing to undertake themselves. Those who returned, bringing the hard-earned consumer goods of the big city, showed those who remained, as well as their children, what thy had missed. The situation was beautifully and bitterly described by Guy de Maupassant in his story of the peasant families who “laboriously tilled the unfruitful soil to rear their children. All of them were brought up with difficulty on soup and potatoes and fresh air.” A rich lady seeing the youngest of the Tuvache children grubbing around in the dust, took a fancy to him, plied him with pennies, sweets and kisses, and finally sought the reluctant parent´s agreement to his adoption. Indignantly they refused, but she was more successful with the Vallin family next door. Little Jean Vallin was adopted, and years later returned to visit his parents, who proudly displayed him to the priest, the schoolmaster and the mayor. Charlot Tuvache watched sourly from the doorway of his parent´s cottage, listening to their tut-tutting about the family next door. “Fools” he said in the darkening porch, “it´s parents like you who bring unhappiness to their children.”


The rich lady, Mme d´Hubiéres, is the city beckoning the young, for opportunities, experiences and joys thy never thought could be theirs. Everything, from hoary traditions like Dick Whittington to the latest tv advertisements, persuades the present day Tuvache kids that the big city is where the action is and every kind of change and excitement is to be found.

The reality is totally different of course, but perhaps the surprising thing is not how many young people make the enormous emotional and psychological leap to the big city, and with such inadequate preparation for experience, but how many resist its magnetic attraction because the ties of family and familiarity, of place and reassuring routine are sufficient to hold them in an environment which has pathetically little to offer. Spend an afternoon on early closing day in an English or Scottish provincial town, and ask what it has to offer for the young. A hundred years ago George R. Sims (author of Christmas Day in the Workhouse) met a hopeful pair at Highgate nearing their destination as they saw the city lights, and wrote the ballad that brought him, but not them, fame and fortune:

O cruel lamps of London, if tears your light could drown,

Your victim´s eyes would weep them, O lights of London Town!

Its American equivalent, from 1877, had words and music by the Rev. Roberts Lowry, pastor of Plainfield, New Jersey. Kenneth Allsop called it the song that impaled America, because it “stated a commonplace truth a precisely the emotional pitch a which it is felt by us all.” It was “Where Is My Wand ‘ring Boy Tonight?” and considering the vast numbers of children in the United States who leave home every year, its success was predictable. “In 932 a Chicago University research team reported for the Children´s Bureau that there were probably 200,00 juvenile hobos then in movement on America´s highways and railroads – and then apologetically adjusted their estimate to that appalling sum of half a million… “Most of those interviewed by the busy sociologists of the day said they had left home so that there would be one less mouth to feed. More than half came from homes broken by death, separation and divorce. Most of them, Thomas Minehan found, remained within five hundred miles of home doing the circuit from city to city, forced to keep moving by relief policies which were harder on juveniles than on older vagrants. Allsop says that “Where an adult was given six meals and two nights´ lodging, the boy tramp got one of each. (A girl tramp was sent to jail.) By forcing the youngsters out of town and onward, the relief men argued, they were forcing them back home. In reality, because few had homes, they were being forced into beggary and theft.”

Over forty years later in the mid-1970s there were estimated to be not half a million, but a million runaway children in the United States, with an average age of fourteen. Few were driven by hunger or poverty. Indeed, the motives they reported to solicitous interviewers – usually a mild parental rebuke – seem a trivial reason for finding one´s way thousands of miles to the cities of the West Coast just to hang around begging for change from passers-by. The issue only gets highlighted because of some tragedy – the murders of missing girls in Tucson, Arizona in 1966 or of missing boys in Houston, Texas in 1973 – when weary policemen explain that in any city there are so many child runaways many not reported to the police, that it is pointless to investigate each case, when the child is probably somewhere in the San Francisco Bay waiting for, or perhaps ignoring the message on the pin-board: Come home. All is forgiven.

such pain.. again.. his motivation for writing revolution of everyday life ness


It is easy to homilies about the decline of family solidarity, and to stress that one sixth of the children of the United States are growing up in one-parent families (as are one tenth of the children of Britain) but the American child is also the heir to an immense and exhilarating tradition of Get Up and Go, Go West Young Man, folklore which is reinforced every decade. Apart from the rags to riches myths of the 19th century there has been the romanticised legend of the hobo, the vast migrations of the depression years, On the Road in the fifties, the pilgrimage to Haight-Ashbury in the sixties, and a great chorus of railroad songs, folk, rock, country-and-western and pop which cry out that to have beat one´s way from Frisco Bay to the rockbound coasts of Maine, is a kind of wanderjahre or initiation rite which everybody goes through. Everybody doesn’t of course, and perhaps we should wonder, not at the numbers of American children who take off, but at the number who resists the pressure to do so in favour of the daily round, the common task, the ordinary domestic affections and local ties.

If you´re not involved, if the parental heartaches are not yours, you wonder, not only at the foolhardiness of the kids in taking off, but at the independence and intrepidness that leaves them as survivors in the city thousands of miles away. The children we never hear about are those who make out on their own, the ones who don´t fall into the hands of exploiters, the police or the social agencies. “The Helping Hands Strikes Again!” as John Holt remarks, and wanting to stress the competence of children, he tells us about the Italian twins who came to the school in Colorado where he first taught. “When they were very small, at most four or five years old, during World War II, their parents had disappeared – killed or taken prisoner. Somehow these two small boys had managed to live and survive for several years, in a large city, in a country terribly torn and dislocated by war, in the midst of great poverty and privation – all by themselves. They had apparently found or made some sort of shelter for themselves in a graveyard and lived by begging and stealing what they needed. Only after several years of this life were they discovered and brought under the wing of the state.” The twins were not like those feral children found in the woods. When an American adopted them and brought them home, Holt found them “friendly, lively, curious, enthusiastic” and “quick, strong and well coordinated, by far the best soccer players in the school.”

John Holt has to emphasise, for the sake of idiot readers, that he is not in favour of infants living alone in graveyards, but the story is worth considering in the light of those pampered children who can stand everything except being pampered..t It was, curiously enough, a pair of twin boys, aged 15 not five, who made headlines in the British press because they succeeded in “evading” help from the social services department of an English city for more than a year. Their borough´s assistant director for casework whose office was 200 yards from the boys´ home explained “We were told these boys were living alone and even their teachers did not know. The boys have admitted that they used forged notes to explain why they were not at school. The neighbours were apparently aware of the situation but nobody told us.” And the chairman of his committee complained that the boys “deliberately and successfully avoided their situation becoming known to the council.” Nobody mentioned the thousands of pounds the pair saved the council by refraining from being taken into care or suggested that they were entitled to some kind of pay-out as a reward.

ward (holt) pampered law.. huge.. parents pamper/help\ing ness ie: steiner care to oppression law.. maté parenting law.. graeber parent/care law.. graeber violence in care law et al.. (sorry boy).. to red tape pamper ness of utopia of rules ness et al.. and graeber fear of play law.. et al.. batra hide in public law et al

john holt – trust – thinking we need to help because we don’t get the unconditional ness of legit trust et al


The drifting child population always was considered a menace to the city. In 1703 and 1717 vagrant, begging and thieving boys in the streets of London were rounded up and shipped off to Virginia, following the precedent of a century earlier when, Joseph Hawes tells us, “The Virginia Company made arrangements with the Common Council of London to have 100 young vagrants collected from the streets of London and sent to Virginia in 1618. The Virginians were glad to have the children, and in 1919 they persuaded the Common Council to send a hundred more.”

Henry Fielding, in his capacity as a London magistrate, remarked of the children who had come before him in in the year 1755–6 that “these deserted Boys were Thieves from Necessity, their Sisters are Whores from the same cause; and having the same education with their wretched Brothers, join the Thief to the Prostitute… The lives of the Father being often shortened by their Intemperance, a Mother is left with many helpless Children, to be supplied by her Industry: whose resource for maintenance is either the Wash Tub, Green Stack or Barrow. What must become of the Daughters of Such Women, where Poverty and Illiterateness conspire to expose them to every Temptation? And they often become Prostitutes from Necessity before their Passions can have any share in their Guilt….”

Mr Hawes carefully follows this theme through the cities of 19th century America. The Common Council of New York City were begged by the Rev. John Stanton in 1812 to “make an attempt to rescue from indolence, vice and danger, the hundreds of vagrant children and youth, who day and night invade our streets,” and in 1826 in Boston, the Rev. Joseph Tuckerman complained about the “hordes of young boys who thronged the streets and at times disrupted the operations of the city market” while by 1849, George W. Mansell, chief of police in New York, reported to the Mayor calling attention to “the constantly increasing numbers of vagrant, idle and vicious children” who swarmed in the public places of the city. “Their numbers are almost incredible…”

In the same year in London, Albert Smith reported in a graphic vignette not on the attractions of crime and vice for the horde of children adrift in the city, but on the magic of show-biz:

“As you pass through one of those low, densely-populated districts of London you will be struck by the swarms of children everywhere collected. These children are not altogether the result of over-fecundity of the inhabitants. Their parents live huddled up in dirty single rooms, repelling all attempts to improve their condition and, whenever the rain is not actually pouring down in torrents, they turn their children out to find means of amusement and subsistence, in the streets. Picture such a bit of waste ground on a fine afternoon, alive with children. Among the revelers there is a boy, who for the last five minutes has been hanging by his legs to a bit of temporary railing, with his hair sweeping the ground. On quitting it, he goes to a retired corner of the plot, and, gravely putting his head and hands upon the ground, at a short distance from the wall, turns his heels up in the air, until he touches the house with his feet. This accomplished, he whistles a melody, claps his shoeless soles together, goes through certain telegraphic evolutions with his legs, and then calmly resumes his normal position … This boy is destined to become an Acrobat-at a more advanced period of his life to perform fears of suppleness and agility in the mud of the streets, the sawdust of the circus, or the turf of a race-course. The young Olympian gradually learns his business. He first of all runs away from home and joins a troup of these agile wanderers to whom he serves an apprenticeship. It is his task, whilst sufficiently light and slender, to be tossed about on the elevated feet of a ‘Professor’-to form the top figure of the living column or pyramid, or to have his heels twisted round his neck, and then to be thrown about or worn as a turban by the strongest man of the party. Next, in his hobbledehoy state of transition — when he has grown too big for the business just named, his office is to clear the ring with the large balls at the end of a cord, and to solicit the contributions of the spectators. And finally, he proves his fibres to be as firmly braced as those of his companions and comes out in the ocre cotton tights, the rusty-spangled braces, and the fillet of blackened silver-cord, as the perfect Acrobat.”


To a child’s hopeful vision, the myth is true. Mayhew found that the children of the street could not bear the restraints of a more secure existence, and Sarita Kendall writes today of the real life Copetinos of Bogota that “freedom and adventure are the chief attractions of the streets -gamines who have described their lives to me emphasise the excitement and the independence above all, dwelling on the misery only when they expected to get a tip,” while a present-day Indian social worker, Jailakshmi, says “slum children are free birds, they want to be free all the time.” Well over a century ago a 12-year-old street trader answered Mayhew’s question with, “No, I wouldn’t like to go to school, nor to be in a shop, nor be anybody’s servant but my own.”

The Victorians respected this fiery independence, except for the convicted child who was to have his spirit crushed in prison or reformatory, because it fitted the ideology of self-help. Thus the Children’s Aid Society in New York, which disapproved of indiscriminate alms-giving as perpetuating pauperism, provided a Newsboys’ Lodging House for paperboys and shoeshine boys, with evening classes as well as beds and meals, for which the boys were obliged to pay. James McGregor set up a Shoeblack Society in London in 1851 to house the boys who supported themselves by cleaning the shoes of visitors to the Great Exhibition, and in 1868 Dr Barnardo organised a Woodchopping Brigade. Such occupations for vagrant children were more susceptible to literary romanticisation than the more characteristic trades of begging, crossing-sweeping, theft, prostitution, or the variety of “street- finders” listed by Mayhew: the bone-grubbers, rag-gatherers, pure-finders, cigar-end and old wood collectors, dredgermen, mudlarks and sewer-hunters.


The visitor to the cities of Asia, Africa and Latin America, swarming with children, scratches his head and wonders why the scene has a kind of familiarity, Slowly it dawns on him that he has been prepared for the scene by Tom Jones and Oliver Twist. When he doesn’t get this feeling he knows he is in a police state, and the children are out there in enormous black townships like Soweto, or that they dare not show themselves for fear of the police. The late Robin Copping went to Ecuador to collect zoological specimens and found that the authorities in Quito and Guayaquil imposed a 9 pm curfew on unaccompanied children. He set up clubs for the street children where, besides meals, they were paid to attend classes, to compensate them for loss of earnings. When Richard Holloway went to Addis Ababa he found that the boys of eight to fourteen who throng the city from the countryside perpetually “live on the defensive”, but that “when the possibilities of attending school were presented to them these were eagerly accepted, They tended to identify themselves as scholars and therefore a cut above their former associates still on the street. “ When Mike Francis of International Children’s Aid sought in Dacca to provide facilities for some of the hundreds of children thrown out on the streets as a result of social upheaval and poverty, and living at the mercy of gangs specialising in prostitution and slavery, he found that much of his time was spent in trying to secure the release of untried children from the Central Jail, where their lives were even more perilous than in the streets.

In the cities of the poor world, it is, Richard Holloway remarks, “important to understand that street boys are extremely realistic about the world they live in. However wretched life is on the streets they are keenly aware that the city holds the promise of much more for them than their original feudal farms.” But it is also important to understand that the runaway children of the rich world have the same conviction. And in the tightly organised Western city they are obliged to disappear into one or other of the urban sub-cultures. Imagine a runaway child from Strathclyde who had the naivety to present himself at a London comprehensive school to ask for an education. In the first place he wouldn’t be wanted, and in the second, the initial telephone call made on his behalf would be to the police. The example never actually arises because the first thing the child has discovered is that the system is something to be avoided, or at most exploited, rather than to be used.

A variety of networks are at the disposal of the runaway child who knows the passwords and links. Those who don’t know them learn very rapidly, or fall very soon into the hands of the police. One is the world of squatting, which in London has become absolutely essential to the young incomer of any age since the cheap rented room has disappeared. Another is the drug subculture, another is the world of clubs and discos, and the final one is that of prostitution. The migrant juvenile has pathetically few assets to exploit, so it is not surprising that one of them is catering for minority sexual tastes. The prostitution of young girls was one of the unmentionable commonplaces of the Victorian city, made mentionable by the trial of the crusading journalist W. T. Stead in 1885 following his series of articles “The Maiden Tribute of Modern Babylon”. Kellow Chesney says that “According to the chaplain of Clerkenwell Jail, the appeal of immaturity had so increased by the early ‘eighties that) where it had once been common for child prostitutes to ape the appearance of adults, it was now grown prostitutes who got themselves up to look like children.”


The event which brought home to a wide public in Britain truths known to any observer of the city scene, was the Yorkshire television programme “Johnny Go Home”. This grew from the experience of two members of the firm’s documentary team who, leaving a film cutting room off Wardour Street in the early hours of the morning, stumbled over two young boys asleep on the pavement. Asked what they were doing there in the depth of winter, the boys replied, “We live here”. John Willis, who eventually directed the programme, recalled that “Next day, everybody at the documentary department had nagging doubts. Everyone knows about winos, squatters and tramps. But these were healthy young boys, and although only half a dozen sentences had been exchanged with them, what struck us was their acceptance of the essential normality of their existence.”

The situation in British cities is that hostels run by official or reputable voluntary bodies are not available for “children”, which in the legal sense means anyone under seventeen. It would in fact be illegal to make such provision. The large number of vagrant children, many of them runaways from Scotland and the North-East, have no official existence in London. There was more provision for them in Victorian times than today. Then as now, they arrived at the main line stations which were the hunting ground of the charitable organisations then, and of “Bishop” Roger Gleaves and his assistants a hundred years later.


In all the acres of sanctimonious comment that the episode provoked, the wisest summing up came from Don Busby, the editor of a homosexual newspaper who remarked that the more sheltered members of the viewing public “would be very likely to identify the monster Gleaves with all those men who befriend boys. Indeed one of the major effects of the programme is that it has now made it difficult for anyone to befriend these boys apart from the authorities. In fact the greater percentage are running away from local authority ‘Care’ homes because they are unhappy there … Why do so many boys run away? This is the question which should have been asked. Almost all boys run away because they are starved of affection. It is not surprising that they will respond to the affection offered by the first stranger who comes along. The social services attempt to ‘look after’ their economic and moral needs, but are incapable of satisfying their basic emotional needs. Johnny doesn’t want to go home.

khan filling the gaps law et al