Last updated August 10, 2007
August 7, 2007
Local environmentalists dissolve alliance
Thinktank cites "creative differences"
By Rob Harolding, BT Features Reporter
A long-standing -- if intermittently-functioning -- local environmentalist thinktank announced earlier this week that they are dissolving their partnership. The Wind Horse Alliance (WHA), first formed in 1982 and re-formed in 2002, was responsible for the highly-respected Eric Nolan Lectures at IU, bringing in such luminaries as Al Gore, Lester Brown, and Naomi Klein to Bloomington over the last five years, as well as promoting its own brand of future studies locally.
WHA Co-founder Mike (LAST NAME REDACTED) told The Bloomington Times that "creative differences" were the motivation behind the dismantling of the organization. Co-Founder Carl (LAST NAME REDACTED) agreed with Mike's assessment in a separate interview, adding "We tried to reconcile our differing world views, but in the end we could not come to Consensus."
Indeed it's been a bumpy path for the Alliance. After a multi-year hiatus (1985-2002), the group of seven reconvened and found that despite growing public awareness of the destructiveness of human consumption patterns on the planet, obstacles lay strewn in their path. Efforts to establish a "Post-Apocalypse Studies" chair in the Interdisciplinary Studies department failed in 2006, as did an initiative to reposition their communication strategy via the launch of a "Survival Aptitude Quiz" on their web site.
The latter seems to have been a particularly sore point within the group, as they found themselves unable to come to consensus regarding their approach and attitude toward public presentation. Some felt that a serious line of attack was essential; others believed humor and japery a must.
For example, Co-Founder James (LAST NAME REDACTED) recounted his vision of the Survival Aptitude Quiz: "It should tell you whether your chances of being eaten in a PostApocalypse are high or low." He added that "Some folks are highly skilled, can stay calm in a crisis, and would be thus highly valued in any PostApocalypse; others would just be, well, meat."
Carl, when asked about James' angle to the project, blurted "This isn't funny! Why does he always think it has be funny."
Other disputes followed a more methodological line. Some in the group thought "Confluentialism" was the ideal model for assessing environmental impacts -- that is, that scenarios of "PostApocalypse" living could not be considered in isolation, but as combinations of forces -- for example, "Climate Warming" and "Peak Oil" and "Species Collapse" would be "confluential" factors. Others believed that considering the "Scenarios" in isolation was necessary to come to a full and multi-dimensional understanding of the forces impacting the earth. Mike called this theoretical approach "Confuturism," which comes with humorous bells and whistles.
As if these stresses weren't enough, a frightening set of confluences came together in the first half of this year. Their former mentor, Dr. Eric Nolan (a former professor in the IU Biology Department; Nolan died in 2000), had provided "as a parting gift" to each class, a dittoed sheet of "threshold events" that would indicate dramatic danger to the global systems. "Watch for these," he'd say on the last day of class, in the early 1980s. "If they happen in your lifetime, it's time to do the things you were meant to do, because you won't have much time left to do them."
Some of threshold events, like the decline of amphibians, the Alliance had been watching with alarm. Others, like "The Colorado River no longer reaches the sea" and "The Northern Cod are fished nearly to extinction" had happened so long ago that they almost seemed normal.
But then four of Nolan's "twenty threshhold events" were crossed by mid-year of 2007:
Because they couldn't find agreement on moving forward, they agreed to a dissolution of the Alliance. As described in their Dissolution Agreement, each went his or her own way to fulfill Nolan's dictum.
For Co-Founder Omar (LAST NAME REDACTED), the next step is clear. "Eric Nolan had a vision and a mission. Though the Wind Horse Alliance is no longer together, I know we'll all be taking up that mission, albeit each with a different vision."
Co-Founder Frank agreed: "I've got a lot of things left to do!
And on this point, even Mike agreed. "The point is to move ahead. We were slowing each other down. Consensus does that to a group sometimes. So what if WHA went extinct. New species will emerge."
Editor's note: Other members of the WHA, Beverly (LAST NAME REDACTED) and Mitsu (LAST NAME REDACTED), did not respond to our requests for interviews.
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WHA Founding Directors