Friday, January 9, 2015

Technological Lemonade

Here's another example of what to do when life hands you a mess, this time done by a whole society.

I've heard some of this before.  The movie The Power of Community: How Cuba Survived Peak Oil features a lot of examples of Cubans finding ways of achieving energy independence after the Soviet Union fell and stopped giving them oil and economic support.  The Cubans were dependent on that support because the US has a trade embargo on the country--only letting up now.  They embraced gardening and organic agriculture and even permaculture.

Further, when I saw the film it became apparent that, although in the end the government wanted to take credit for the creative plantings, most of the growing of food and the repurposing of things were done by citizens often in spite of discouragement by various officials.  The people needed food and they found ways of growing it.  The lack of oil meant there was little in the way of fertilizers or pesticides, so they were forced to embrace organic gardening.  I was very impressed with how communities rose to the occasion after seeing the film.

But apparently it goes deeper than this.  The embargo and collapse of the Soviet Union forced all kinds of creativity on Cubans.  People learned to figure out ingenious ways to make things that they wanted, often by repurposing techno trash.  They made dozens of wonderful inventions. Again, I'm not glorifying their pain or romanticizing their situation. I'm sure it was quite nasty.  But it's clear that the Cuban people found ways of turning all these problems into amazing solutions.  And there was even a name for this process: 'technological disobedience', rethinking what a particular device could be.

As the name of the film indicates, more advanced countries may be facing similar situations soon.  I hope that we can be as creative.

Quote of the Day: "Musicians, medical doctors, workers, homemakers, athletes and architects all had to dedicate themselves to making their own things and meeting the emerging needs of the family... The Cuban home became a laboratory for inventions and survival... Cubans dissected the
industrial culture, opening everything up, repairing and altering every type of object." - Ernesto Oroza

No comments: