Thursday, May 01, 2008


I'm required to take an applied science class while at Stanford--yes, me, the mathematical dunderhead. I was able, by dint of blather, to talk my way into a lovely mechanical engineering class: "The History & Philosophy of Design." This week we are to bring a 'design manifesto' to class. I don't know what all the engineering students around me will be aiming for, but the following is my go at the assignment.

“What will you do with your one wild and precious life?”
--Mary Oliver

I am the designer and architect of my one wild and precious life, arbitrary and oppressive interference by a corrupt and corporate mindset in the greater community not withstanding. In recognition that I have a moral responsibility to myself and my fellow sentient beings, I choose to base my designs in the following Twofold Consideration: How will my design increase happiness in my life and the lives other sentient beings? How will my design reduce, prevent, or eliminate suffering in my life and the lives of other sentient beings?

A single life, vibrating in the web of the space-time continuum, has a vast influence for good or ill in the universe. This influence is precipitated by the decisions of the individual. I choose to recognize the power and value of my individual decisions and to become more deliberate and conscious in my life designs.

In keeping with these observations, I will take the following specific steps toward accomplishing my living design:

I will adhere to Michael Pollan’s An Eater’s Manifesto: “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly Plants.” I will abide by the Twofold Consideration by purchasing locally-grown, organic, fair-trade food whenever possible. To maximize my ability to grow my own food, I will begin the conversion of my front lawn into raised garden beds, with a sustainable irrigation system.
I will avoid product consumption whenever alternatives exist that honor the Twofold Consideration. I will subject all product consumption to the most rigorous interpretation of the Twofold Consideration.
I will conserve financial resources in order to begin converting my home to sustainable energy sources. I will make concrete steps toward living a carbon neutral life, in particular, the purchase of a veggie-oil vehicle.
I will interact with other humans by following the prescription of the Golden Rule and the proscription of the Silver Rule. I will approach my fellow life travelers with kindness, courtesy, and a sense of humor. In this way I will strive to live gently with my fallible nature and the fallible nature of others.
I will write a poem every day and I will read a poem every day. I will remind the most important people in my life that I love them and that they are the central focus of my dearest thoughts. I will allow the natural world to instruct me on my place in life. I will meditate on the fact that I am a carbon-based life form, existing in an essential mystery.


Carson Park Ranger said...

Thanks for sharing your assignment. I'm going to adopt your food rule to the best of my ability.

I'll share my beer rule with you:
Always drink the beer which has been shipped the shortest distance.

Good luck with the math. I took an algebra class several years ago. It reminded me that one may fail at arithmetic and still be good at math.

Carla Baku said...

I like that beer rule. And it is so easy to adopt in Humboldt County.

I took an algebra class last year that reminded me why my GPA will never be 4.0. :) I have to take a Stanford math class next year, but it looks like it will be a lovely class on the history of mathematics. Which is good! After all, we don't make the math people take advanced comparative literature. Fair is fair...

Hill Muffin said...

That is an inspiring manifesto! Thanks.