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From Bill – Everything’s Connected

June 21, 2017

Once, we were two Bethlehems, and it was 100 years ago North and South realized the importance of working together and became “one” (and, we’re still working on it, really). Here’s an image of the two Bethlehems, in “the good ol’ days”, when “working together” may seem to us a remarkably less complex challenge, but back then was as “crazy hard” as anything one could imagine.


Touchstone is exploring a project called Festival (un)Bound, and to do it, we’ve got to get EVERYBODY working together to envision what kind of future we want for this city that today we call just “Bethlehem”.

The problem is, more and more, as we sit down and talk with folks, it becomes apparent that everything effects everything else.  Let’s say you’re homeless. One might be homeless because one is dysfunctionally dyslexic.  One might be dysfunctionally dyslexic because the educational system didn’t recognize it and teach good coping mechanisms.  The educational system may have failed you because you were living in a poor community and there weren’t funds for such things.  There weren’t funds for such things because the political system was too combative to achieve anything but band-aid solutions.  Combativeness got out of hand because of entrenched, old power structures and a media that feeds on sensationalism in order to sell information to the general public.  And… I could go on FOREVER!  Everything’s connected.  Still, there you are, homeless!

The important thing to remember, we’re learning, is that it’s not you that’s homeless, it’s us, you AND me.  We’re all connected.  When we begin to realize that, the net of connections begins to be healed.

One of the major movements in redesigning our culture is called the permaculture movement. Permaculture uses observation of nature to create regenerative systems. The place where this has been most visible has been on the landscape, but there has been a growing awareness that the principles of permaculture can be used as effectively to create vibrant, healthy and productive people and communities as they have been in landscapes.


The permaculture “flower” diagraming the connectedness of our multiple systems.

But, these days, it’s hard to believe we have any power to effect that “net” that holds all the pieces of the flower together.

(Special note, EVERYONE!!! Come see The Jakopa’s Punch Processional, a puppet parable about working together and making a difference! July 14 & 15, 2017 at 6:30pm – run time 60 minutes – on the South Bethlehem Greenway, meet us at the Chinese Harmony Pavilion between Webster and Taylor Streets. Tickets – FREE)

It’s tempting to despair at our social dysfunctionality, but if we look at the bigger picture, it’s clear we’re making great progress, folks! Here’s a fascinating article called: A History of Global Living Conditions in 5 Charts.  The conclusion of this article states succinctly: The successful transformation of our living conditions (is) possible only because of collaboration. Such a transformation would be impossible for a single person to accomplish. It is our collective brains and our collaborative effort that are needed for such an improvement.”

An NGO for the United Nations recently wrote: “If community is to further the progress of society in its own right – complementing the roles played by individuals and social institutions–a much more expansive conception of community life must be actively embraced. New patterns of action and interaction will have to be built, and new forms of relationship and association constructed. Experimentation, trial and error, and a robust process of learning about the nature of lasting cultural change will be vital – all of which require effort and no small amount of sacrifice… Movement in this direction will require qualitatively different approaches to decision-making than those adopted in the past.”

Festival (un)Bound is one of those “qualitatively different approaches”.

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