Laurence Gonzales on our culture of garbage
Laurence Gonzales won the 2001 and 2002 National Magazine Awards from the American Society of Magazine Editors for National Geographic Adventure Magazine. Since 1970, his essays have appeared in such periodicals as Harper's, Rolling Stone, Men's Journal, National Geographic Adventure, Smithsonian Air and Space, Chicago Magazine, San Francisco Magazine, and many others.
He has published a dozen books, including two award–winning collections of essays, three novels, and the book–length essay, One Zero Charlie published by Simon & Schuster. His latest book, Everyday Survival, published by W.W. Norton & Company, is available at book sellers now. His previous book, Deep Survival, is now out in paperback.
A subtle change in the way they view the world around them. And I’ll give you a perfect example. While I was writing “Everyday Survival”, I was taking the garbage out one day and I had this epiphany in which I thought, “Good grief! I’m carrying this sack full of manufactured goods that I have had in my possession mostly for at most a day or two and I’m throwing them into this container, they’re going to be taken out and dumped in landfill somewhere. What on earth am I thinking? What am I doing?” You know, I go to the grocery store and I buy this little glassine box of strawberries and I take it, open it, and dumped the strawberries out. And then I have this vessel that someone manufactured this beautiful, beautiful object that if you have given it to someone 10,000 years ago, they would’ve thought it was came down from the gods ‘cause it’s so special. It lasts forever and ever. You can see through it. It’s durable. It’s pretty. It’s got all these wonderful qualities and what am I doing with it? I’m keeping it for 5 minutes and I’m throwing it away. What kind of a culture do I live in that would dictate that I do that? Because if I don’t do that and if all my neighbors don’t do that, the economy comes through a grinding halt as we’ve all seen. You know, you don’t spend. You don’t have an economy. You don’t throw stuff away in this economy, you don’t spend. So it’s a culture of garbage. Well, that little insight changed the way that I behave. It changed the way that I recycle things. And it changed the way that I think of the objects in my life and which ones I choose to buy and which ones I choose not to buy. And so, if in reading this book people can have a subtle change in the way they view their world and not let this automated systems I talked about simply cause them to ignore everything around them ‘cause they’ve already seen it once, then I think I would have achieved something of my goal.
A culture based on the systematic disposal of potentially useful material items inspired Laurence Gonzales to ask some hard questions.
- A forensic artist in Scotland has made a hyper realistic model of an ancient dog.
- It was based on the skull of a dog dug up in Orkney, Scotland, which lived and died 4,000 years ago.
- The model gives us a glimpse of some of the first dogs humans befriended.
Some evidence attributes a certain neurological phenomenon to a near death experience.
Time of death is considered when a person has gone into cardiac arrest. This is the cessation of the electrical impulse that drive the heartbeat. As a result, the heart locks up. The moment the heart stops is considered time of death. But does death overtake our mind immediately afterward or does it slowly creep in?
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Lumina Foundation and Big Think have partnered to bring this entrepreneurial competition to life, and we hope you'll participate! We have narrowed down the competition to four finalists and will be announcing an audience's choice award and a judges' choice award in May.
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Finalist: Greater Commons - Todd McLeod
Greater Commons, founded by Todd McLeod and Andrew Cull, is an organization that helps people live happier, more successful and fulfilling lives through agile learning. The current education system is inefficient and exclusionary, in which many students who end up earning a degree, if at all, enter a career not related to their field of study. Greater Commons solves this problem and gap in post-high school secondary education in a variety of ways. Passionately and diligently, Great Commons helps others obtain skills, knowledge, wisdom, motivation, and inspiration so that they may live better lives.
Finalist: PeerFoward - Keith Frome
PeerForward is an organization dedicated to increasing the education and career success rates of students in low-income schools and communities by mobilizing the power of positive peer influence. PeerForward works with partner schools to select influential students as a part of a team, systemizing the "peer effect." Research in the fields of sociology of schools, social-emotional learning, adult-youth partnerships, and civic education demonstrates that students can have a positive effect on the academic outcomes of their peers. PeerForward is unique through its systemic solutions to post-secondary education.
Finalist: Cogniss - Leon Young
Cogniss combines technology and best practice knowledge to enable anyone to innovate and share solutions that advance lifelong learning. Cogniss is the only platform to integrate neuroscience, through which it solves the problem of access by providing a low-code platform that enables both developers and non-developers to build sophisticated education apps fast, and at a much lower cost. It addresses the uneven quality of edtech solutions by embedding research-based learning design into its software. App creators can choose from a rich set of artificial intelligence, game, social and data analytics, and gamification to build their perfect customized solution.
Finalist: Practera - Nikki James
Practera's mission is to create a world where everyone can learn through experience. Today's workplaces are increasingly dynamic and diverse, however, costly and time-consuming experiential learning is not always able to offer the right opportunities at scale. Many students graduate without developing the essential skills for their chosen career. Practera's team of educators and technologists see this problem as an opportunity to transform the educational experience landscape, through a CPL pedagogical framework and opportunities to apply students' strengths through active feedback.
Thank you to our judges!
Our expert judges are Lorna Davis, Dan Rosensweig, and Stuart Yasgur.
Lorna Davis is the Senior Advisor to Danone CEO and is a Global Ambassador for the B Corp movement. Lorna has now joined B-Lab, the non-for-profit that supports the B Corporation movement on an assignment to support the journey of large multi nationals on the path to using business as a force of good.
Dan Rosensweig joined Chegg in 2010 with a vision for transforming the popular textbook rental service into a leading provider of digital learning services for high school and college students. As Chairman and CEO of Chegg, Dan commits the company to fulfilling its mission of putting students first and helping them save time, save money and get smarter.
Stuart Yasgur leads Ashoka's Social Financial Services globally. At Ashoka, Stuart works with others to initiate efforts that have mobilized more than $500 million in funding for social entrepreneurs, engaged the G20 through the Toronto, Seoul and Los Cabos summits and helped form partnerships with leading financial institutions and corporations.
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