October 9, 2006


Filed under: Shout out — Tony Bridge @ 7:58 am

Kia ora tatou:

I promised no more Shipping News posts for a while and a post that would take some nerve for me to put online. Well, here it is. I am going to put it up because I feel it is important. It is a work in progress and subject to revision as I ponder on it, and you comment. Think of it as discussion document and a start point for something. If there is something you think should be in there, write it in a comment and I will rework the document to include it. If it becomes a group statement, so much the better.
It came about from my travels, from seeing a world under stress and wondering what can be done about it. They say that evil only flourishes when good men turn away. Individually it may seem we can do little. Collectively much can be achieved. The roman fasces really sums up what we can achieve when we work together.
If you disagree with this post, please comment. If you feel as I do, please email it to all the people you think might be interested. There is a small envelope symbol at the bottom right of the post that, when clicked, makes it easy to do so.

Imagine a world. Imagine a world without hatred and fear. Imagine a world where people lived together, working for the common good, in tune with and respectful of the planet, aware of the amazing biosphere on which we stand and determined to allow it to continue, to allow it to support us.

It is possible.

It is a Dream. Granted it is a dream, but the world needs dreams, especially now. Now, as the Earth’s resources become increasingly finite, and the dour self-absorption of the Industrial Revolution’s consumption-driven Age draws to a close. As the well of the planet begins to run dry and the pressures come on, we need to take a different direction. If we are to avoid extinction as a species, then we need to find a New Way.

For how much do we really need? Do we need as much Choice? Do we need supermarkets packed with different answers to the same question? Do we need chain stores filled with substandard answers to a need more imaginary than real? Do we really need price-driven solutions any more? How many different sets of clothes do we really need? Will another suit or a tenth pair of jeans really advance Humankind? All these perceived needs embrace Choice and worship at the Temple of Choice, the god of our age.

We have grown arrogant and disrespectful as a species. We have squandered the Earth’s resources and we have become blinded by perceptions of progress; we have confused Greed with Need and Need with Greed. And the account is about to be closed, unless we find another Way. We need to find a way through the Slough of our own Despond, to find a way to a state of Harmony with our environment.

It is there.

It begins with Education, the treasure only those without access appreciate. It begins with Understanding. It begins by recognising that Knowledge is the new Currency. We have all the pieces of the puzzle. Now it is time to bring them together, to weave the Old and the New into a tapestry for the Future of Humankind.

It is time to change the old model of learning. No longer can we sit in rows, being told what we need to know by people who were told what they needed to know by people who were told what they needed to know. The model must be rebuilt from the ground up, using the wisdom of the ages. Let us openly reconsider what has worked (and what has not), acknowledge what needs to change and move forward. Empowerment effects Change. We must empower people to learn for themselves, to acknowledge their own sovereignty and culture. We must move beyond the social strictures of an education model developed in and for the Industrial Age to one that acknowledges that education is the Right of All and the path to understanding and self-respect. That the learner is centric to the paradigm. From acknowledgement of the individual comes self-respect. From self-respect comes respect for those nearby and an awareness of their needs. We must change the model.

Before we destroy ourselves.

It begins with a willingness to acknowledge that our civilisation is under threat, because growth, the cornerstone of our economic system relies on limitless resources. And the Earth is a closed loop. The resources will not last forever. They need to be treasured, to be husbanded and used wisely, with a view to the needs of future generations.

Now is the Time for Art and Science to come together, to remarry and bear children for the Greater Good. For too long they have walked and lived separate lives. Now they must join hands and work together. Our survival depends on it.

Imagine if you will a community where the two work together, scientists alongside artists. Science explores and discovers. Art’s mission is to explain, to clarify. It is an old paradigm, but one which needs to be rediscovered to be brought back into the light.
It is time for a Community to form. And where better to begin than in New Zealand, the test bed of the world. Imagine a community where scientists and artists work together, sharing knowledge and understanding. Imagine a facility where Understanding and Acceptance are encouraged, explored and explained; where people are brought together to work for the Planet. For what is good for the planet is ultimately good for Humankind.

Our survival depends on it.

The facility must acknowledge that we are all one species, that we are one village. What were separate houses in the Darkness have joined together to form a large village. But the community must begin somewhere. And why not in New Zealand, one of the youngest countries in the world? We have the expertise, the knowledge and the skill base. We have a proud history of achievement. But we cannot ever claim ownership, for that is an Old Way.
The idea must not be limited to New Zealand. The community must be global. It must bring together people from different cultures, people with a different language paradigm, to share knowledge and vision. Artists and scientist working together. Bring discussion and debate to the table for the betterment of all. Let others see work in progress. Let others learn how things can be changed and want to effect change.

Before it is too late.

Then, as the facility becomes functional, it must be spread to the world. The model must be repeated in different countries so that the idea flourishes. The network must be global. What better way than online? Use the matrix of the Internet to disseminate ideas and understandings. Use a freely accessible network to spread information. Use Technology to change the model and you accord Technology the self-respect it deserves.
For the networks are there. As an example, consider the open-source community. People working together for a common purpose. Let us use what we have and improve on it, rather than going out to buy a new suit, because the old one bores us.

For the Earth is a finite entity. If we take, we must put back. If we use, we must use wisely and with an eye to the future, to the needs of those who will come after us. It is time (it is past time) for a new line in our economic balance sheet. Global responsibility. Those who have taken freely must be prepared to give back to those yet to receive. We must look beyond the short span of our individual lives, our personal balance sheets to the needs of our communities and those who will follow. A willingness to use wisely and, where possible, to put back benefits everybody.

As ye give, so shall ye receive.

As photographers, we use resources provided by the Earth to record our vision of the Earth. Photography can do more than that. We can use it to effect change. We can use it to bring to people’s consciousness what is happening. And what needs to be done. It is not a new idea. Ansel Adams’ images brought an end to the destruction of the wilderness areas in the United States. Lewis Wicks Hine used his talents to bring about the introduction of child labour laws and an end to the exploitation of the young in factories and mines. Both made a difference. Photography has the power to bring about a change.

Let us use it for that purpose.

In my workshops and travels I have met many of you who make truly beautiful images. I have also met and talked with photographers and artists looking to make images for a reason.

Here is one possibility.

Ka kite ano.

Tony Bridge.
Ranfurly, New Zealand
Saturday October 7, 2006



  1. roman fasces? I hadn’t come across the term before so I googled it – Wikipedia came up with it as the root of the word Fascist. They also wanted to take over the world.
    Seriously, you shoud join the green party and check out green dollars in Canterbuiry and also the Tui Community in golden bay. There are many like minded spirits on the planet but the movement must be led not driven.

    Start an old persons hospital, and employ organic gardeners to feed them. Eat local. Mountain-bike to Dunedin or live in a mid-city apartment..

    What should we do with our phots?

    Comment by Anonymous — October 9, 2006 @ 7:22 pm

  2. WHEW! Let me get my breath back. That was some post, Tony! Far too much to consider all at once. I’m glad your intention is for it to be an on-going and growing document incorporating other people’s thoughts and considerations. Other people’s ideas, whether for or against, can stimulate the sparking-off of ideas in one’s own mind. Shared widely enough they just might help bring about your Dream. The world needs it, goodness knows, and now even more since the latest Madness was announced yesterday, the very day of this post.

    Not having had a classical education (in spite of my name), the term “Roman fasces” was – er – Greek to me and I even wondered if a typo had slipped in. The dictionary wasn’t very helpful so, clued up as to where to search by a previous commenter, I tried Wikipedia. Yes, it has a fascist connection, but I was surprised to see that the symbol is still in present use in a number of ways with decidedly non-fascist connotations. It’s the idea of strength through unity that you intend, I guess – the bundle of rods bound together symbolising the power of the people. Being of a non-violent disposition, I was glad to read that in normal political circumstances the blade of the central axe was removed!

    This post has triggered a number of buttons that send me jumping onto my soap box. It really resonated with thoughts that have been occupying my mind quite vigorously in recent months, thoughts I’ve had off and on over the years, but perhaps brought to the fore by recent public discussions I’ve heard or read, and also by some of Pete McGregor’s postings in the few months since I discovered his blog through your Links list.

    I, too, hope this takes off and flies the way you yourself hope it will.

    Comment by Peregrina — October 10, 2006 @ 9:41 am

  3. why is it that when somebody wants to make a difference for all of us… all anonymous can say is “start an old peoples hospital.” GROW UP. when we have exhausted all our natural resources such as water & the price to buy a bottle of chemically altered water is astronomical I’m sure anonymous will be among the first to complain about the price & wish that “somebody” had done something earlier. If anonymous needs any suggestions about what to do with his photos……

    There are many issues facing the peoples of this planet but if we have no planet… We can all do something about saving the planet but it needs to start at home rather than pointing fingers at other countries. In New Zealand we have the idea that we are clean and green… no way. Our efforts at recycling are token at best, our farming methods are not sustainable, we don’t want/can’t meet our Kyoto targets etc.

    For local & central govt to impose levies & taxes to implement these things would be extremely unpopular & lead to an uproar about how people can’t afford it.

    But can we afford not to change our ways? It’s only our future we’re dealing with.

    Comment by garry — October 12, 2006 @ 3:48 pm

  4. “Imagine a world without hatred and fear. Imagine a world where people lived together, working for the common good, in tune with and respectful of the planet, aware of the amazing biosphere on which we stand and determined to allow it to continue, to allow it to support us.”

    It is possible, yes. Still people say “what can I do, I’m only one?”

    The journey of 1000 miles begins with one step.

    Still, we are driven by fear. We are lazy. We are driven by greed. My friend, Ydimduma Bill Harney, is an Elder of the Wardaman People in the Northern Territory, Australia. Bill says that when the Aboriginals die, the earth will die.

    I take it to mean this: we are all Aboriginal people at heart. But we’ve lost our way. At heart, we are to take care of our home, our earth, and we have lost our way. We are confused and distracted by glitter; by fears; by any variety of means and we have to find our way again.

    In the United States, we are off course in every arena: politically, morally, socially, economically, environmentaly, artistically. We have been hijacked by a group of people who care only for Big Oil, and it has brought us to the edge of disaster. When I say “us” I mean all of us, world-wide.

    Still, a world without fear, where we work toward the common good, is possible although the window of opportunity is closing quickly. And still, I am not without hope.


    Comment by DivaJood — October 20, 2006 @ 10:21 am

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