This stirs me to at last offer my contribution to the Metaphorum, after long silence, because apart from Stafford's connection to Chile, as many Metaphorum members know, my good friend Manfred Max-Neef is also Chilean. He lives in Valdivia, which is very much in the heart of where the destruction is.
Enrique, do you know Manfred perhaps? You will surely know about him, for having contested the 1993 Presidential elections to try to infuse some sense of reality into the discourse. Strangely neither Stafford nor Manfred were aware of each other's work, leaving me in the extraordinary role of trying to connect them. Sadly Stafford passed on before my ambition to get them together in the same room was realised.
He called me two days ago to reassure me that he and his family were fine, and asked me to put word to all our mutual friends, some of whom intersect with the Metaphorum network. I couldnt resist adding some commentary, because of the serendipitous coincidence that I discovered. Charles Darwin, experienced an earthquake in Valdivia as well, which he reflects upon during his Voyage of the Beagle.
I reproduce my message to that network below. I dont know if Stafford ever visited Valdivia, during his time in Chile, or whether he ever reflected on the geo-physical systems that collide along the Chilean coastline, but my closing comment could equally include Stafford, together with Darwin and Manfred Max-Neef, as rare geniuses shaped by the tumultuous political, geo-physical environment of Chile.
On a more serious note, I heard on Aljazeera TV last night (after sending out the message) that the Chilean Navy has acknowledged it made a big mistake in cancelling the Tsunami warning. The spokesperson tried valiantly to give a coherent explanation, but I couldnt help thinking that the ensuing deaths from the tsunami that was 'officially' not supposed to have occurred would have been avoided if Stafford's contribution had been more deeply entrenched in Chile's governance systems.
Enrique, I would value your thoughts on that, besides any other thoughts. Chile is very close to my heart.
Hi friends and friends of Manfred.
We recently had a call from Manfred Max-Neef, phoning from Valdivia to Johannesburg to reassure his friends with whom I have contact in South Africa and elsewhere who may be concerned about his well-being due to the earth quake, aftershock and Tsunami that has struck Chile.
“We are dependent on telephone and word of mouth, because the internet based communications have been disrupted” he told us.
He asked me to put the word out to his many friends around the world that he and his family and are so far well. But there is much suffering and hardship.
Chile has experienced several very large earthquakes over recorded history. The most severe earthquake in the 20th Century happened in 1960 which devastated the city of Valdivia. When I visited Manfred in Valdivia in 1996 there was still evidence of the impact of that earthquake.
CNN is reporting tonight that the death toll would have been higher had residents followed the official urgings of government officials for people to return to their homes, because the region continues to experience large aftershocks.
One woman interviewed said “We followed the guidance of our parents and grandparents instead, who experienced earthquakes before. If we had done what the government had told us we would have been dead.”
I cant resist commenting that this reliance on indigenous understanding passed on at the ‘human scale’ rather than the abstract knowledge passed down the line of government officials is of course exactly what Manfred has sought to encourage.
Taking the advice of that resilient survivor filmed by CNN, I have been re-reading the reflections of that ‘Great great grandparent’ of evolutionary theory Charles Darwin.
Ironically I discovered that in 1835, Charles Darwin experienced an earthquake while ashore in Valdivia during his historic Voyage of the Beagle.
I was fascinated by Darwin’s account of his direct experience in Valdivia.
February 20th 1835. – This day has been memorable in the annals of Valdivia, for the most severe earthquake experienced by the oldest inhabitant. I happened to be on shore, and was lying down in the wood to rest myself. It came on suddenly and lasted two minutes...
(I have a photo of Manfred from my visit with satisfying his need for idleness after lunch, in much the same posture as Charles Darwin).
Further into the chapter Darwin reports on the scenes of devastation cum fascination that he and Captain Fitzroy encountered when sailing further to the towns of Conception and Talcahouna, again hard hit by the latest earthquake.
“Both towns presented the most awful yet interesting spectacle I ever beheld.... for the ruins were so mingled together, and the whole scene possessed so little the air of a habitable place, that is was scarcely possible to imagine its former condition.”
And then, later, a comment on the less savoury responses to such misfortune shown by some members of our human species.
“Those who had saved any property were obliged to keep a constant watch, for thieves prowled about, and at each little trembling of the ground, with one hand they beat their breasts and cried ‘misericordia’ and then with the other filched what they could from the ruins”
The CNN report of widespread looting suggests that in 2010 the human species has still got a lot more evolving to do.
But to end on a hopeful note.
The fact that I have had the privilege to know as a friend a man whom I regard as every bit an intellectual genius as Darwin, and who has also contributed I believe, to further understanding the evolutionary path of the human species, leaves me pondering that there must be something about the particular geography and geology of Chile that, as much as it is prone to earthquakes favours the evolution of geniuses like Darwin and Manfred Max-Neef.
This is how Darwin reflected upon his experience in 1837.
.... A bad earthquake at once destroys our oldest associations: the earth, the very emblem of solidity, has moved beneath our feet like a thin crust over a fluid; -- one second of time has created in the mind a strange idea of insecurity, which hours of reflection would not have produced. In the forest, as a breeze moved the trees, I felt only the earth tremble, but saw no other effect.”
I will leave Manfred to add his own reflections of his current experience when communication lines are up again.
John G I Clarke
Consultant Social Worker, Development Facilitator, Writer.
Tel: + 27 83 608 0944: Fax 0866842405
Email: [log in to unmask]">[log in to unmask] <mailto:[log in to unmask]>
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Connecting People.... Managing Ideas.....Choosing Life
----- Original Message ------
Sent:Thursday, March 04, 2010 00:38
To: [log in to unmask];
Subject:Re: Chile Quake
Thank you for reporting your whereabouts and relative safety in Santiago as we were immediately worried not knowing where you were. Hopefully all of your family and loved ones are also safe and accounted for.
I think your idea as it develops with Roger, Russell and others is worthwhile and deserves Metaphorum's attention. Count me in. As you know, Stafford would be at the front of the line leading the charge for your country and el pueblo he so loved.
If we can get our act together, maybe we can present something about it at the ISSS conference July 18 -23 in Waterloo, Ontario. Allenna is president this year and actively involved with the conference. She is travelling now but hopefully will be able to advise us as to the possibility soon.
Here is one example of the social network activity going on, I'm sure we could collaboratively come up with some interesting analyses.
Personally Enrique, if you need other forms of assistance please contact me directly - I'd be honored to help in any way I can.
Abrazos a mi hermano,
Joe (and Chris)
Team Syntegrity International AG/ Metaphorum / Abbey North Drummers
From: russell_c <[log in to unmask]>
To: [log in to unmask]
Sent: Wed, March 3, 2010 5:47:00 AM
Subject: Re: Chile Quake
I am also willing to help in any practical way, but perhaps Roger's questions need clarification first.
One theme for reflection this forum could be postulating how, in a possible alternate scenario model, a fully functioning and mature Cybersyn system in Chile would have functioned in this situation and what difference it would/could have made.
1973 may seem a distant past, but with 9 billion people due to be settled here on earth by 2050, there is surely going to be more need for coordination systems as natural events like this occur in populated areas.
With the recent destruction in Haiti and now your Chile, there must be increasing risk in California? Or does the stress relief reduce the risk elsewhere on the fault line?
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On Wed, Mar 3, 2010 at 4:54 PM, Roger Harnden <[log in to unmask]>
I sincerely hope that yourself and those close to you are safe.
I think your invitation on the 'reflexion forum' is extremely interesting from a cybernetic point of view. But let's be clear what you mean, rather than jumping to any conclusions.
I take it that this is not a request for aid as such (which is being addressed for better or worse by others), but a request to use the 'opportunity' (I use the word carefully and with respect for the many tragic human realities of the situation) to 'experiment' with the potential of tools such as social networking - in particular to experiment with the impactl of feedback into the social network (and thence beyond) to investigate whether this is positive, negative or neutral in its impact on how human beings approach such matters or integrate the lessons of such matters into their ongoing social human-ness. Hence your comment about "how the internet is use beyond as a comercial and academic tool?"
If my instinct is correct, I conceive a Luc/Russell- type 'story-telling' forum which records the differing perceptions of 'the world' to such an event, and how or not this perception impacts on the everyday life (and understandings) of those observers.
Is this the sort for thing you mean, Enrque?......or have I stated the issue in a too-academic jargon??
On 2 Mar 2010, at 23:51, enrique rivera wrote:
I am writing you from Santiago, Chile, still in shock because of the quake.
I want to ask for your help in this situation, bringing some attention to this situation. Inestability and chaos are predominating, and social change is happening in the most sad way.
The idea is to create a reflexion forum about how society reacts in this situation (Chilean and global), and how you percibe this from your different countries. In this sense the social web will be key in order to capture the information.
All this information will be use to create a thinking frame and a source to understand from a cybernetic point of view what is happening here after this natural disaster.
How can organizational cybernetics can help in this situations, and how the internet is use beyond as a comercial and academic tool?
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