Wednesday, April 23, 2008

A Building Lovely As A Tree?

From this month's VF article on Cradle to Cradle design:

Jefferson . . .wrote to James Madison in 1789. “They were deciding the term of the federal bond,” says McDonough, “and Jefferson’s conclusion was that a federal bond should have a term of only one generation. And his logic was this: The earth belongs to the living. No man may, by natural right, oblige the lands he owns or occupies to debts greater than those that may be paid during his own lifetime. Because, if he could, then the world would belong to the dead, and not to the living.”

McDonough discusses the Industrial Revolution and notes that:

Consider looking at the industrial revolution of the 19th century and its aftermath as a kind of retroactive design assignment, focusing on some of its unintended, questionable effects. The assignment might sound like this: Design a system of production that

• Puts billions of pounds of toxic material into the air, water, and soil every year
• Produces some materials so dangerous they will require constant vigilance by future generations
• Results in gigantic amounts of waste
• Puts valuable materials in holes all over the planet, where they can never be retrieved
• Requires thousands of complex regulations to keep people and natural systems from being poisoned too quickly
• Measures productivity by how few people are working?
• Creates prosperity by digging up or cutting down natural resources and then burying or burning them
• Erodes the diversity of species and cultural practices

Does this seem like a good design assignment?

Even though none of these things happened intentionally, we find this "design assignment" to be a limited and depressing one for industries to perpetuate — and it is obviously resulting in a much less enjoyable world.

And, of course, McDonough's discussion of building buildings as lovely and safe as cherry trees in bloom reminded me of a poem:

Joyce Kilmer. 1886–1918

119. Trees

I THINK that I shall never see
A poem lovely as a tree.

A tree whose hungry mouth is prest
Against the sweet earth's flowing breast;

A tree that looks at God all day,
And lifts her leafy arms to pray;

A tree that may in summer wear
A nest of robins in her hair;

Upon whose bosom snow has lain;
Who intimately lives with rain.

Poems are made by fools like me,
But only God can make a tree.


Sandy-LA 90034 said...

Thank you. Lovely.

Aquila ka Hecate said...

I remember visiting the Joyce Kilmer Oak when I was -oh, must have been four or five.
It's one of those memories which stays with you forever.And the poem.

Terri in Joburg