Saturday, January 3, 2009


"OUCH! OUCH! OUCH!," is the sound feet make when the thermometer hits 120 degrees on an Arabian Gulf beach. But the tender toes of the cool clientele at the Palazzo Versace Hotel in Dubai will soon chill on refrigerated sand. It's one thing to cool your champagne in a bucket of ice. Refrigerating the grains of sand on an entire beach pops the cork on a whole new bottle of possibilities. This exotic cocktail of Nature, Imagination and Architecture may leave eco-minded tourists gagging. It does, however, deliver some juicy issues to consider.

None of us is immune from using nature for our personal pleasure. Every object we make to experience a bit more comfort is the result of human desire transforming Earth's raw materials into a new physical structure. The screen in front of you is made from the desire for a flat surface that transmits light images combined with sand (silica) and the manufacturing processes that transformed it into your monitor. All objects, from paper clips to skyscrapers to cities, are the result of this interaction. I'll talk more about this in coming posts. 

I want to focus here on how a refrigerated beach collides with the desire to reduce global warming by reducing energy consumption. We attempt to rectify this potentially devastating problem through equations that balance the number of carbon units. This is an essential start. The danger is that this approach uses the same old fragmented thinking that got us into the problem in the first place. Does Nature use calculations to balance itself? Does the Sky figure out how much energy is required to lift trillions of gallons of water into the air as vapor, turn it into clouds and release it as rain? Does a plant calculate how much of that water to draw through its roots? 

Imagining Nature's processes as linear equations will never reveal the secrets of dwelling in holistic, sustainable ways. The way beyond our fragmented, ego-centered mindset is to open to the eco-field mind of nature that is already doing it. Instead of pushing beach sand into ego-centered fantasies that protect my soft soles, we can open to the already flowing patterns of the sand and ocean that enrich the soul. A sage once said, "To avoid thorns, one can try to cover the earth with leather. It's more practical to wear shoes."

I'll explore details about seeing the world through more holistic lenses in coming posts. For now, send comments about what you think. And let me know topics you'd like to explore.


  1. Tony,

    Congratulations on your new blog! I love your musings in all the forms I've encountered so far and am thrilled I'll be seeing you on a more regular basis. I think your work and perspective is not only vital for us all, but it's really interesting, too!

    You ask what we'd like to hear about. I've thought a lot about the workshop I took with you a few years ago on sacred spaces (or was it sacred places? I forget...). I use some of that information in my own teaching. I'm taking a trip this spring to visit some sacred places in new-to-me parts of the world. I'd love to hear your perspective about the role of sacred places in today's world. Any updates since your video came out? What places have the potential to address humanity's/the planet's collective needs at this time? And, of course, what can we do to create sacred space in our own daily lives? That should keep you busy for a while!

    Alison Marks

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