MarkZen’s post at The Cleanest Line about the UK Little Big Voices conference brought to mind the Alloy 1969 conference (pictured above) recorded in the 1972 edition of The Last Whole Earth Catalog. Alloy was a gathering of “outlaw designers” who came together to hash out the realities and possible futures for intentional communities. Much of the discussion involved alternative building techniques, money and and processes for creating coherent action. Here are some thoughts from the Catalog:
You can study the evolution of man by the evolution of his tools. You can study the evolution of tools by the evolution of man.
There’s a paradox. Isolation leads to over-specialization. But you have to isolate yourself somewhat in order to make your scene different than the others. Maybe it’s a balance. Maybe discrete mixing events like Alloy can help.
Intention is a wierd thing in evolution. I don’t think anybody understands it, but we’re doing it a lot. We’re increasingly putting out finger in the pie, and we are the pie, and the finger, and the putting.
In the background of some of the Catalog pictures you can see Robert Frank filming the event. It’s not clear to me what became of this footage, though shots from another Stewart Brand “happening” eventually became a short film named after the event, Life-Raft Earth.
As we approach the 40th anniversary of the Summer of Love it is good to know that “happenings” like Life-Raft, Alloy and more recently, Little Big Voices are still carrying on. Maybe it’s the pinch-point of growing environmental catastrophe combined with a failed military adventure that brings out this sort of brainstorming. Maybe this stuff simply goes on all the time and some of us don’t know about it.
Almost 40 years after Alloy, a group of people gathered in Wales to explore the use of media to promote action. And here’s some of what they said:
There’s a kind of family feeling here
Always take a hot water bottle when camping
Organic food in my belly, Wise words in my head, T-shirt for my body, Tipi for my bed
I just want enough honey to barter for the things I need. Sustainable development is an oxymoron? Small is beautiful anyone?
The sensibilities are different but the spirit is the same. Almost as if kindred spirits were holding hands across the span of two continents and four decades.
A couple more references to Alloy 1969:
Cultivating ecological design intelligence
Bateson and Me (part one)