Moving Meditation Workshop: Soul in the Machine

Moving Meditation Workshop:
Soul in the Machine

This was created in 2011 and was supposed to be included in a workshop at the AMC that year, but time was challenged and we only discussed it briefly. 23.

A series of guided journeys that explore the relationship between humans and “smart” technology/media. Based on B. Fuller’s conception of Energy Slaves. This explores environmental justice/digital justice/undoing racism issues through the creation of a personal strategy and “tools” to respectfully, mindfully and more intuitively connect, not only with our technology, but also with the world around us. Includes Yoga specific to unplugging from technology, reclaiming our senses, undo aggressive ergonomic design.

I tend to relate to software and applications more intuitively if I interact with them as though they were sentient tools. With that in mind, I want to share a concept that I’ve been working with since I was tuned into it by FIRST EARTH-Uncompromising Ecological Architecture. <> I submit this as a point of sharing more with the group and for accountability sake. While I find this to be a valuable tool in reframing, I know others could take it in very differently.

I’ve been meditating on the Buckminsterfullerene expression of Energy Slaves and have been “trying it on” as a respectful and just frame for my interaction with technology and resources. You can read extensively about it at the Encyclopedia of Human Thermodynamics site <> but here are a few quick quotes from the site.

“In culture, an energy slave is an abstract conception referring to the technologic-mechanical energyequivalent that a healthy human youth could do. [1] The lifestyle of any person, in this logic, can be equated with a certain number of “energy slaves” equivalent to the number of human laborers required, measured in human labor power energy units, to mediate that person’s way of life. The term was coined by American energy philosopher Buckminster Fuller in about 1944. [2] Fuller proposed the term based on the average output of a hard-working man doing 150,000 foot-pounds of work per day and working 250-days per year.”

“In 1987 commentary on Fullers energy slave theory, author Stephen Boyden commented that “in the USA, the daily use per capita of energy is around 1000 MJ; that is, each person has the equivalent of 100 energy slaves working 24 hours a day for him or for her…. In some developing countries, the rate of energy use is less than the equivalent of one energy slave per person.” [8]”

This Energy Slave abstraction is helping to inspire within me a greater awareness of just how powerful these tools are, and most importantly, that they exist due to blatant and organized violation of the Earth. I share this as I feel it has the potential to become an important part of navigating my environmental justice work while utilizing resource and soul depleting technologies and platforms. 

Workshop Learning and Practice.
These can be offered as breakouts or be imbedded within an agenda

  • Learning Circle – Energy Slaves using the information above.
  • Practice – Eye Health Exercises
  • Tool share – Deprogramming Apps
  • Practice – Undoing Aggressive Ergonomic Yoga Asanas (seated or floor)


Imagine No Robocop  

Many across Detroit and the world have tuned into the latest Detroit Kickstarter kitsch, a proposed Robocop Statue across from the (in)famous Michigan Central Station. You can learn more about it and take in some of the feedback the project is getting from Detroiters at the Imagination Station’s Facebook page. The statue has been written about extensively, but I’d like to shift the focus from Robocop to some blind spots that many white artist/entrepreneurs often succumb to while striving to engage Detroit’s diverse communities and respect its rich history. 

First, I’m not a fan. Just to get it off my chest, I’ll share that, if this statue gets built, I’m really not looking forward to going to the park, which is right across the expressway from our home, and explaining to my son the who and why of Robocop. I’ll have to share the dystopian and dysfunctional narrative, mediating culture being a part of my role as a parent, but I’m not a fan of carceral robotics and would like to have that conversation a little later in his life. Though this isn’t my main thrust, I share it in the hope it may reframe the statue for some from the eyes of our city’s youth.

And really, that just leads up to some big questions for me, and they are part of a greater issue that I’ve spent the past five years trying to mindfully navigate, yet still barely grasp. What we’ve been striving towards is the ability to see the work Angela and I share from different perspectives. We do this because Angela and I value perspectives outside of the highly influential circles of predominantly white artist/entrepreneurs that gather and organize Detroit’s return to what we consider to be a rather sterile version of a “world class” city.

We seek these perspectives because we believe that racial disparity is the greatest threat to succesfully co-creating sustainable communities in Detroit. So, how can we, as white artist/entrepreneurs, truly engage? How do we not only share with, but also learn from the communities around us? Is it possible to even take the lead from the communities that we profess to be in tune with?

And most importantly to the here and now, for Robocop and the folks at Imagination Station is, how do we navigate community dissent? Due to the defensive nature of some of the facebook posts I’ve read, I’ve gathered that, with Robocop, the organizers at the Imagination Station have received their first opportunity to hold themselves accountable to community members who have expressed dissent to a project. That’s a tough one. It’s the point where your community engagement policies and procedures are put to the test, or it’s the point where you discover they were there simply as a symbolic green light and good PR.

It’s really a pickle that I’ve been in for the past few years. At Detroit Evolution we’ve made mistakes that we are still striving to amend. I don’t have the answers, but I do know that it takes a great deal more time to engage at the level I feel is requisite to build something that is not only meaningful, but sustainable. Taking time really isn’t celebrated in crowd-based funding circles. And really, it’s the last thing that anyone attempting to get a project off the ground wants to hear, especially white artist/entrepreneurs, who are used to being able to do what they please without being held accountable to anyone.

Here’s an approach: the physical infrastructure in Detroit is broken, which many outsiders consider to be a green light. Projects are planned, funded and executed under the assumption that the community infrastructure is broken as well. If people tried to do half the things that have been done in Detroit in a place with a recognizable community infrastructure, they would be blocked. The issue here is that Detroit’s community infrastructure is not broken, it has simply taken on forms that many don’t see.

This isn’t a radical idea; if the community center is blown out, it doesn’t mean that the community doesn’t gather, they just gather in places that many wouldn’t consider valid spaces. After that it comes down to the fact that many don’t want to see or hear from the community, because it means they need to slow down and not only listen, but possibly stop or shift their project or idea.

Co-creating within a community can be hard on your ego and even harder on your art project. I know, I’m recovering from a poorly organized Kickstarter project that brought our values about community engagement into question as a half-finished Dome. Heck, I’m a white guy who opened up a “Laboratory” in a predominantly African-American city! I’m learning, or unlearning as I’ve come to frame it. 

We all have a great deal of work ahead of us if we are going to step into the future in a meaningful, mindful and equitable manner. I think that it can be done and believe that, if we are able to pull it off, it will not look like anything we have seen before. It will take Real PR, real public relations, not marketing or pushing flavor of the week memes. 

I encourage the organizers of this project and The Imagination Station to stand strong on their touted commitment to the community. I highly recommend trying to listen to the voices that can’t yet be heard, the ones that you don’t want to hear and, even if it means stepping down or shifting gears, following the community’s lead. I think a great deal of relationship building could be facilitated by mindfully stepping down from this precipice. I wish the organizers all the best in mediating this challenge.


I am an anomalous amalgamation

1/29/11 6:01 PM

I am an anomalous amalgamation.  An independent agent, born in captivity, attempting to return to a hive that has no means to integrate me or desire as I smell like the enemy. I want to be in the hive, to share, to support, to be a part of. 


Ah D______, when hasn’t lex parsimoniae come into it? 🙂 Good to see you and some of the others here. You? a ———? I’m just going to put that down next to my hippie. 

I’m glad you keep popping up here. I’ve been internally mediating my past and my current uber public working mode and would like to use this as an opportunity to tells bits of my story and perspective that I’ve wanted to share. I hope you don’t mind my taking you along for the ride. 

Delete if I outstep any utterly valid public boundaries. One of the reasons Angela and I have been successful in Detroit is that we we try to wear our shit on our sleeve. I still find it odd that the most intuitive things, like sharing our resources and our stories, are twisted up and distorted so they can never threaten the status quo. I try to share a great deal, but I don’t get many opportunities to carry on about my personal evolutionary path, a great deal of which, I’m honored to have walked with you.

Brother, I know it’s perspective, but this paradigm seems more intense than many of our excursions. (that doesn’t decrease the value or extremity of our shared moments screaming through the void) The boy may induce this, but the intensity was here before his manifestation. Ha! maybe its age. 

When last we met I was holed up in Compuware drinking my face off and going into massive debt. 

Actually, you helped send me in this direction with that catholic wedding. I thought I had the will and reserve to successfully navigate corporate America and the suburbs and, frankly, got trapped. Well, is it really getting trapped if the process of escaping gives you the tools requisite for the next chapter? 🙂 

It took yoga three times a day, a series of ceremonies, a journey to India to study with my now passed Guru, a NASTY divorce, and a summer of trying to rub up against anything that would stand still to break out of it. Though I wouldn’t change anything I made some poor choices there that I’ll most likely have to navigate through a few more cycles. 

Two things happened in that process that actually set the stage for the current paradigm, I met Angela (you’ll flip when you meet her, amazing being) and the City of Detroit started to talk to me. 

Recently though, the City stopped talking to me and in its place I began to hear the voices of the people who live here. To my own amazement they sounded like some of the voices I heard on our intense excursions. I’m now dedicated to the the sometimes painful never-ending process of aligning myself with those voices in real time. You know the depths of my misanthropy and I’m sure you can identify what a mf this is. 

But I think I save the rest for another. This should be just the right amount of information to raise eyebrows at the next community potluck. 🙂 Love to you and yours Brother!