Mindful Metropolis October 2011 : Page 14

green city | diversity in green Diversity Awareness Month by eriKa Harris left the theater with my notions shaken and twisted. I love when that happens (eventually). Todd Logan, the Evanston, Ill., playwright who scripted Defamation , is quite a provocateur. His play “is a take-no-prisoners courtroom drama about a South Side African-American woman who sues a North Shore Jewish real estate developer.” This is an in-your-face mashup of race, class, religion and law that gives you a view of two very different worlds…and then enlists you to take a stand. Right then and there as the jury! We need the frank conversations this play fearlessly ignites. I highly recommend it ( defamationtheplay.com ). I set apart from each other in a world-class city Where do you live? Do most of your neighbors look like you? I have lived as far north as Rog-ers Park, as far south as South Shore and many spots in between. But most Chicago residents typically do not span as broad a range. In fact, you might say that most Chicagoans “know their place.” In 1959, the United States Civil Rights Commission declared Chicago the most segregated major city in the U.S., and according to data from the 2010 U.S. Census Bureau, Chicago continues to hold that title. As much as diversity is lauded as an ideal, in practice, we still seem to find comfort, secu-rity and preference in sameness. We may have certain pet areas in which we’re radically open, but at some point our sense of self usually be-comes agitated or threatened when a world-view departs too drastically from our own. Ecosystems require diversity in order to thrive and flourish. Biodiversity isn’t a mat-ter of justice or nicety. It is, rather, a sign of health and longevity. Even though hu-mans have achieved unmatched heights of development—technology and culture, for example, we are also the only species mal-adaptive enough to possibly source our own extinction! I’d like to be sorry for making such an alarmist statement, but I’m not. I am alarmed. And I’m also confident that we can surely match the social intelligence of coral reefs and the gorgeous multitude of fish that symbiotically live among them. Agriculture has also shown us that mono-culture crops are vulnerable to disease, while polyculture crops are heartier and more ro-bust. The same is true for crops of people. october is diversity awareness Month And October 7 is National Diversity Day, but what does that mean, exactly? I confess that writing about the intersec-tion of diversity and sustainability in Chi-cago is a major challenge for me each and every month. Despite being a black woman, it’s not my natural orientation to see things from the viewpoint of “what’s different?” My baseline question is “what’s beautiful?” So I always try to smuggle that in. Now is no ex-ception. I searched my heart for a personal understanding of “diversity awareness,” and here’s what I got: We are not mass-produced like an IKEA lamp or a pair of lululemon yoga pants. We are designed so uniquely as to be like no other, yet so similarly as to all spring from the same womb-lineage. We are breathing paradoxes that way. Full of complexity, contrast, contempt and com-passion. Let all that do its thing, like wine in a vat. Aging, bubbling, fermenting into some-thing intoxicating. Full of flavor. Broken open because we didn’t take our precious self so seriously. Sure, we’re different. Like a cloud is differ-ent from the sun. But do you see clouds quibbling, judging, suspecting, attacking? They just share the sky, and get along rather nicely. Birds, too. And rainbows, and stars and the moon. There’s quite a lot of diversity overhead, now that I think about it. Peacefully coexisting all this time. Whoever you love, whoever you worship; However you vote, however you get around; Whatever you eat, whatever you earn, whatever you believe; Wherever you came from, wherever you lay your head; Whenever you found yourself, whenever you lost your way; I esteem you as high as the peace-filled sky, because in the Grandest Scheme, there really is no difference. And in the Lesser Scheme, the distinction is Divine. Erika Harris writes to create more empathy for Earth and its inhabitants. You can con-nect with her at empathicwriter.com and lifeblazing.com. as usual, nature has something profound to teach us 14 october 2011

Diversity In Green

Diversity Awareness Month<br /> <br /> Ileft the theater with my notions shaken and twisted. I love when that happens (eventually). Todd Logan, the Evanston, Ill., playwright who scripted Defamation, is quite a provocateur. His play "is a take-noprisoners courtroom drama about a South Side African-American woman who sues a North Shore Jewish real estate developer." This is an in-your-face mashup of race, class, religion and law that gives you a view of two very different worlds…and then enlists you to take a stand. Right then and there as the jury! We need the frank conversations this play fearlessly ignites. I highly recommend it (defamationtheplay.com).<br /> <br /> set apart from each other in a world-class city<br /> <br /> Where do you live? Do most of your neighbors look like you? I have lived as far north as Rogers Park, as far south as South Shore and many spots in between. But most Chicago residents typically do not span as broad a range. In fact, you might say that most Chicagoans "know their place." In 1959, the United States Civil Rights Commission declared Chicago the most segregated major city in the U.S., and according to data from the 2010 U.S. Census Bureau, Chicago continues to hold that title.<br /> <br /> As much as diversity is lauded as an ideal, in practice, we still seem to find comfort, security and preference in sameness. We may have certain pet areas in which we're radically open, but at some point our sense of self usually becomes agitated or threatened when a worldview departs too drastically from our own.<br /> <br /> As usual, nature has something profound to teach us <br /> <br /> Ecosystems require diversity in order to thrive and flourish. Biodiversity isn't a matter of justice or nicety. It is, rather, a sign of health and longevity. Even though humans have achieved unmatched heights of development-technology and culture, for example, we are also the only species maladaptive enough to possibly source our own extinction! I'd like to be sorry for making such an alarmist statement, but I'm not. I am alarmed. And I'm also confident that we can surely match the social intelligence of coral reefs and the gorgeous multitude of fish that symbiotically live among them.<br /> <br /> Agriculture has also shown us that monoculture crops are vulnerable to disease, while polyculture crops are heartier and more robust. The same is true for crops of people.<br /> <br /> October is diversity awareness Month <br /> <br /> And October 7 is National Diversity Day, but what does that mean, exactly?<br /> <br /> I confess that writing about the intersection of diversity and sustainability in Chicago is a major challenge for me each and every month. Despite being a black woman, it's not my natural orientation to see things from the viewpoint of "what's different?" My baseline question is "what's beautiful?" So I always try to smuggle that in. Now is no exception. I searched my heart for a personal understanding of "diversity awareness," and here's what I got:<br /> <br /> We are not mass-produced like an IKEA lamp or a pair of lululemon yoga pants. We are designed so uniquely as to be like no other, yet so similarly as to all spring from the Sme womb-lineage.<br /> <br /> We are breathing paradoxes that way. Full of complexity, contrast, contempt and compassion. Let all that do its thing, like wine in a vat.<br /> <br /> Aging, bubbling, fermenting into something intoxicating. Full of flavor.<br /> <br /> Broken open because we didn't take our precious self so seriously.<br /> <br /> Sure, we're different. Like a cloud is different from the sun. <br /> <br /> But do you see clouds quibbling, judging, suspecting, attacking?<br /> <br /> They just share the sky, and get along rather nicely. Birds, too.<br /> <br /> And rainbows, and stars and the moon. There's quite a lot of diversity overhead, now that I think about it. Peacefully coexisting all this time.<br /> <br /> Whoever you love, whoever you worship; <br /> <br /> However you vote, however you get around;<br /> <br /> Whatever you eat, whatever you earn, whatever you believe; <br /> <br /> Wherever you came from, wherever you lay your head;<br /> <br /> Whenever you found yourself, whenever you lost your way; <br /> <br /> I esteem you as high as the peace-filled sky, <br /> because in the Grandest Scheme, <br /> there really is no difference. <br /> And in the Lesser Scheme, <br /> the distinction is Divine. <br /> <br /> Erika Harris writes to create more empathy for Earth and its inhabitants. You can connect with her at empathicwriter.com and lifeblazing.com.

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