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by Pablo Neruda

To whomever hears not the crashing of waves
this Friday morning
who being locked in a home or office
factory or coal mine or side street
romance or dry prison cell: to them
unspeaking and blind the poet attends
opening the door that has shut them in
where endlessness can be heard vaguely insisting

a long fragmented thunder adding its weight
to the planet and the foam
hoarse rivers emerging from the ocean
a star breakneck vibrating amid thorns
while the sea pulses and dies and goes on.

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Unselfish excellence & a commitment to always-active learning

The Historic 2016 Season

The Villanova University men’s basketball team not only won the 2016 NCAA National Championship; they did so with elegance, grace under pressure, and a deep commitment to quality ethical play. The easiest thing you can say about why the Villanova Wildcats are a fun team to watch is that they give you a riveting, energetic, and beautiful display of how the game is supposed to be played.

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We make our way in the world through individual choice and group dynamics, but we don’t make everything we experience. Much of what we call our “world” is inherited—some good, some bad. We have inherited from the evolution of a brilliantly complex cosmos natural systems that sustain life. These include local ecosystems, regional watersheds, and a planetary climate system spanning the atmosphere and oceans. Some of us are lucky enough to have inherited open democratic political systems. 

These political systems don’t run themselves, and they are not guaranteed by any physical law to continue being open and democratic without impediment or interruption. They require our constant attention and participation, and they demand that we take seriously whether or not we are putting in and getting out something that can justly be called democratic republican liberalism—liberal meaning a system that recognizes foundational rights and liberties. 

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In October 2015, during the Annual Meetings of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, the Managing Director of the IMF, the world’s most powerful fund for stabilizing national budgets, announced that “anything that is macrocritical is the IMF’s business”. This was an historic shift from a view that all that mattered was the hard arithmetic of a given budget to a view that the math could not be honestly rendered without accounting for policies that create ripple effects and feedbacks throughout the entire macroeconomy.

Even as the world’s leaders are moving toward a commitment to sustainable development, climate-smart future-building, and civics and business-ready education for all people everywhere, Donald Trump alleges that “fiduciary responsibility” to his businesses and investors requires him to dodge taxes. The best way to talk about how wrong Mr. Trump is will be to leave him and his bombast out of the story, except to say his ideas about fiduciary responsibility and tax dodging are wrong in every sense of the word.

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A city is a constellation of forces, a map of relational dynamics tracing human need, aspiration, action, and invention, a wager against bleak limitation, and a beacon in the darkness that shows a network of souls have gathered to pool their imaginations. A city can be of any size; it is a polity—a civic space where people come together to make the world they will inhabit.

There are cities of 20 people with the ambition to reach other worlds and the wisdom that comes with knowing deeply the limitations of place, and there are mega-cities of tens of millions who will never know how so many people came to live so near to them, because the reasons are all so different and the personal interests so divergent. And sometimes, these megacities are more local in their focus than anyone in cities large or small could imagine, that focus driven by the sheer time-cost of even thinking beyond the city limits. In one after another study, we are hearing that urbanization is the great challenge of the first half of the 21st century.

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A Talk on Climate Geopolitics, hosted by Global Minnesota, based on the Great Decisions Program of the Foreign Policy Association

  • Presented: August 10, 2016 — 6:00 pm – 7:30 pm

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“A republic… if you can keep it…” 

The work of building up to a better outcome has always already begun, before we have a chance to think about the work itself or its necessity.

The act of leading, then, is a recognition of the forces that are converging and a conscious understanding of how to work with them, when and to what purpose.

Having just arrived back from a journey to the heart of our democracy, I am again affirmed in the feeling that our democracy is deeply personal. And so, the success of our democracy depends on the intimate experience each participant has of the democratic process.

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Historically, when observers to the Bretton Woods institutions would raise issues of macrocritical value distortion, they were generally told “That’s not our business.” The common practice was to treat environmental damage, the degradation of basic rights, limited access to education, as “unquantifiables” or as “social issues”. IMF leadership would refer to the founding mission as dealing exclusively with the health or unhealth of fiscal math in a given country—its budgetary solvency. At the World Bank, the mission of ending poverty was not seen as directly linked to the building of basic civic and economic infrastructure required for sustained human development.

So, for a long time, macrocritical considerations would make their way into analysis and reports, but global economic leaders went on about their business without worrying too much about environmental impacts, gender inequality, or systemic multi-directional feedback loops like the climate system.

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by Joseph Robertson and David Thoreson
Published in The Guardian, June 6, 2016

The climate system is a unifying ethical field that extends from the physical to the metaphysical and connects your actions to my well-being, and vice-versa, no matter how remote your life is from mine. The Golden Rule we have always treated as an abstract moral recommendation is now visibly playing out its logic in the physical world.

This period in history must be about useful innovations that rescue Earth systems from collapse and dignify human beings everywhere. We must dare to imagine, explore, and remake the limits of our experience, together.

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