Endangered species

The Creative Economy and a Living Earth

Here’s how the earth came to be alive up on the hill.


Spider Making the Most of Invasive Knapweed

Here’s how the earth came to be dying up the hill. An investment company hoping to transform a section of living earth into a piece of “land” which could be sold socially blasts it to bits to make roads and building lots. Now that a rare remaining grassland was a part of social life and no longer a part of the living earth (it was now “land”), the company could sell it as a cost to society. To make this cost as large as possible, a vineyard was planted. Its presence made the earth around the development seem like a piece of Provence (a social image) and the “land” seem like a piece of New Mexico (a social image of a hot place). These attractive social ideas were incorporated into the architectural and landscaping plans of the development. They had the potential to increase the land’s cost to society, which would then be private profit for the developers. For complex reasons to do with global economic factors, a collapsed real estate market, and so on, the development went bankrupt. At that point, the final phases of the vineyard development were abandoned, although the sagebrush and native plants had already been scraped off of them and piled up to the side. In other words, it had already been transformed from life into “land”. At this point in the development of a piece of living earth into a monetary engine, the project’s capital investment was written off, and the developers moved on, free of encumbrances. Well, almost. They left behind a life-debt, from the earth’s perspective, and a creative debt. Here’s what the creative debt looks like:

P1600827 Bamboo Stakes, Rotting Away

These stakes were likely harvested in China and bundled and shipped at great expense. As this creative input and the life-debt behind it was never put to use to help raise young grape vines (by saving on labour costs — another social cost contributing to greater profit for the development company) it was ultimately wasted. Instead of leading to social life, as a substitute for original earth-life (which would have preserved and expanded the creative capacity within them), these stakes became only capitalized objects, discarded as easily as the capital debt. Unlike the debt washed clean by the bankruptcy process, however, this debt remains. Here’s some more of it…


Vineyard Infrastructure … Mostly Ruined Now

Strangely, the laws around private property are so strong that the banking companies left with the abandoned project never sold off this material (while it was still useful) so that the creative input that went into it could be used, to help clear its life-debt. Instead, it was treated like the capital that invested in it. Capital, though, is a social concept. The earth’s debts are not so easily erased. There is, however, a way to do it, that gives some hope for the future. For one thing, the wire still holds its creative potential. In the bank of creative potential, it still has a positive balance in its account.


The rest of the story is what is happening around that stack of wire. Here’s a closer look …


Yes, humans are messy, and this form of economic organization is messy, but that’s not the point. Look more closely …


Yellow Clover!

You see that? The “land” creation process made a desert of blasted bedrock, yet life is establishing itself there. Not social life. Not human life. Not the original grassland. Not a vineyard. But life. New life. With new goals. In this case, the great debt this “development”  created within the living earth can be partially erased by observing that in what is supposed to be “Provence” and “New Mexico” and “hot” and a “desert”, new crops are showing up, capable of living on dead land without irrigation or soil and making it alive. The creative potential of the bamboo has been wasted.


The removal of the slopes from the earth to create a vineyard to increase property costs was a waste. The death of the land and its now-rare grassland was a waste. All of these wastes are debts. Nonetheless, the earth can be returned to this place, and it can be alive again, with the input of human creative energy. In other words, by giving human social energy to the earth (rather than using the alienation of a living earth to create social debt which can then be turned into private profit), humans can help the earth give them a creative profit: a living development, with an economy of life stronger than the life that was here before, and a social life in tune with the earth. There can, one day, be profit here again, but it will be in the life created out of developing human error and transforming “land” back into living earth, complete with new crops, new reclamation strategies, new systems of earth-based economics, and new lifestyles. It is too late to go back. We can, however, go forward with hope. If we chose not to, we are choosing death…

P1600646 Death

Transformation of a Living Earth of 1000s of species and great water efficiency into “Water Smart” Rock Landscaping and invasive knapweed and a few strands of cheatgrass, and nothing else.

…instead of life …

P1600627 Life: Beautiful Natural Grasses (Foreground)

Doing a better job of aesthetic gardening than the “Provençal” plants in the back.

I mean, look at the beautiful colour of this stuff…P1600625Lavender looks no better, but this stuff can grow here without water, and can host insect worlds. Of course, even the knapweed, for all its sinister, hellish qualities, does a better job of that than lavender…


Crab Spider, Nicely Camouflaged

Let’s work with the earth. Let’s live.

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