A new day

I woke up last Monday and discovered that we were almost done with our Rocket Hub campaign and we were less than 1% through our goal.

Not only did it bum me out but it made me think long and hard about where we had failed or if in fact we actually had failed.

The idea is as follows: This past July as we were making our way up the East coast of the United States under sail we noticed a tiny page posted by NOAA that had some truly alarming information on it. Simply put it said that our Earth was sinking.

Of course we’ve all heard the gloom-n-doom sci-sayers of the past tell us that our planet was undergoing a radical climate change and for the first time in Earths history that change was being caused by one of its own species, us.

From what I understand the Earth is constantly undergoing change in its (her? nah, not here…) environment and through the eons that change has been slow and deliberate according to the needs of the planets bio-regions. In other words the Earth knows what it needs and changes itself through the redistribution of natural resources according to its own bio-regional imperative. It’s a closed system that is continuously recycling itself. That all makes sense to me so I chose to believe it. Well, about 15,000 years ago along comes a hyper-lobed ape with opposable thumbs that is truly full of itself. This creature ignorantly decides within the last two centuries to make massive, lop-sided, redistribution choices in the bio-regions of its host planet without truly understanding the ramifications of such changes. And what do you know ,the planet changes back, only this time it has to change at an accelerated rate that is even more dramatic than the ignorant ape’s comprehension…

Blammo! Along comes global warming, and I mean with a vengeance.

Arctic Greenland has (for quite some time) an Icecap that is self regulated by extreme cold temperatures and this in turn helps to maintain the more temperate southern environs that are good for evolving egotistical primates. If it gets too warm at the top of the Earth, say by Greenland, that aforementioned icecap starts to melt, raises the level of the oceans (dude, it’s a fuck-load of ice!) and the next thing you know all of “Smart-Monkey’s” prime real-estate goes in the drink. In other words, the Earth sinks.

So anyway, there we were in East Greenwich, RI, heading toward Greenland this past summer when we see that post from NOAA telling us that the big melt is on. The post showed in graphic detail that the entire continent of Greenland was above the freezing level for about four days in July of 2012 causing a massive melt that has never been seen by any primate in the history of the planet Earth, ever! And now we hear that as a direct result the ocean’s water levels are rising 60% faster than even the gloomiest of the gloom-and-doomers predicted and we decided to do something about it. But what?! What could a couple of salty anarchists bloggers do to help alert their species to the coming flood while at the same time heightening awareness on how we got ourselves in such a fucked up mess to begin with… Exactly!!!

While we were sailing around in the northern latitudes from Rhode Island to Maine we came up with this big idea to collect stories of observed proofs from around the world by the very beings that observe them. The humans we’d listen to and write the stories of their observations, while the other species we’d take pictures of and tell our own stories about our own observations on how we saw their lives changing as the waters rose all over the planet.

And of course, we’d do all this from our boat, S/V S.N. Itinerant while making our own power and dealing with our own wastes.

It seemed to us to be an amazing idea, it was interesting, green, timely and relevant to everyone on the planet while at the same time being beautiful and artistic in nature. How could we lose?

So I contacted the one guy I know that has a history of polishing turds and told him about the idea… Well, I wrote him what I considered an epic proposal and in return I got… Static.

Of course the dude is in the 21st century entertainment industry so I had to guilt him into a simple response and when he did respond he gave us an idea we already had.

Crowd Sourcing!

What a great idea! (!?duh).

He told me to use the available crowdsourcing media such as Facebook, RocketHub, et-all and then e-bomb all the incredible connections I made through out my tenure in the entertainment industry to fund this “no really, I think it’s a good idea”. Wow, thanks dude.

To give my “buddy” all the credit he deserves, he did put things into perspective and kind of guided me in, if not the right direction, a direction and then after all that great (totally free) advice the dude didn’t even donate to our cause. That was, pretty much, on par with my history with him so, whatever.

We cleaned up the proposal, posted it on RocketHub with some pretty pictures and then both of us re-re-re-re-re-re-posted that mother fucker all over facebook… And guess what? It didn’t work for shit.

A few of the great, totally poor, friends we have gave us what they could riddling us with guilt for taking money from people that could seriously use it, a few pretty well-off friends/family gave us what they could and the rest was left blank. When it was all said and done we made about $450.00 USD in 90 days and put in dozens of hours of time writing people over and over again trying to promote an idea that people, for the most part, could give a fuck about.

So I got mad… I got mad at the fact that I begged from my friends. I got mad at the fact that all those “incredible connections” I thought I had through all those years turned out to be mere acquaintances. I got mad at the fact that people, even the people I know, for the most part don’t give a fuck about anything. But most of all I got infuriated by the fact that social-media is nothing more than a big fat lie. Millions upon millions of people all over the world doing nothing but wasting time perpetuating mediocre ideas through soundbite links, food photos, cat pictures and images of their ugly be-shat children while their world sinks around them!

It’s nothing more than an addiction and like most of the stupid addictions I’ve had through out my life I quit.

…But today is a new day.

We will travel around the world documenting global tidal change and we will do it exactly the way we’ve been doing it for the past 13 years, one step, one knot, one photo, one penny at a time and it will be…




  1. James, you are correct. I never had a doubt that you & Dena wouldn’t sail around the world. And it will be beautiful. I’m sad that you didn’t get the funding you asked for.I’m sorry that I was one of the people,that didn’t put any money into it.I’m not sad that I can still call you a friend. I do really enjoy reading about your life and tales of S/V SN Itinerant. I think it’s in your nature to make changes , when life takes you on a different course. Do me a favor , don’t quit. Keep the pace thats working for you. In the meantime “Have some fun” Also, Happy Birthday Dena. Love you guys. Aloha & A HUI HO

  2. Oh man. Am I going to say this? Yes, I’m going to go ahead and say this.

    James I was with you almost till the end, then I got super annoyed with you in this post. I respect you immensely so I’m giving you the gift of candor. Here’s how this hit my ear.

    1001 Nights of Tidal Change is a beautiful idea, a splendid idea. I’m so proud to know the people who are going to do this. But dude, it’s *your* idea for *your* mission which allows *you* to go on living *your* life the way *you* prefer to live. Expecting it to be a priority for other people was always a long shot.
    I do think – I BELIEVE – your journey will end in a product that’s genuinely valuable to our world. I find these images and words compelling every time I come check you out. With your vital purpose behind them I know others will be moved by the stories you tell. But even if everything goes as planned and a gorgeous book or installation or web project comes out of it, it will have the limited reach so many wonderfully world-healing projects do in our media-saturated world.
    Perhaps the biggest impact will be on the people you document, giving amplification to their triumphs and struggles. But there are so many people who are hurting around the globe that it’s hard to see how this specific intervention will help more than the efforts other people of conscience are making through their good work.
    The value to your journey might be that you leave behind an example of one extremely low-impact way to live. And how elegantly you have constructed that sustainable life! I have personally been inspired to make small changes in wasting fewer resources by your example, actually, for real. But the way you live, totally off the grid, calls for an ascetic lifestyle that’s no more attainable or desirable for most of us than a monk’s cloister. Not many folks are going to have the wherewithal follow your lead.
    That payoff versus the time and money it takes to accomplish is a hard sell in the Return On Investment world. As you discovered.

    Maybe I’m cynical and short-sighted, you are the visionary who can see what you’re set to accomplish. My intent is not to attack or disillusion you more than this process already has. My issue with this post isn’t your vision at all, it’s the fuck all you fuckers anyway sour grapes tone. It’s your blog, you’re allowed to use this platform as you wish — but it’s public and your words do have power. You’re probably not reaching the industry people who disappointed you through this channel, so all that snark just lands on the good citizens of your blog.

    Ok I’ll be real, what really set me off was your facebook comment. Didn’t appreciate that. I see that facebook is often a silly place with lotsa meaningless white noise. But it’s been a crucial tool to me in several directions. It’s a good way to get the word out about local activist, performance, and arts events and share intelligent writing from lots of sources. It’s helped keep me in touch with a huge number of people, including real connection with deeply loved ones who live far away, and provides me with genuine social support. I’m mildly agoraphobic; I rely on facebook to help me manage my social isolation. It’s not for you, fine. It’s a stupid addiction? That hurt my feelings.
    I miss you on there, where I had private or casual access to your quippy funny day-to-day and I got to see more photos and faster than this blog. It’s one way I enjoyed your friendship that’s now blocked because you got mad. I’m bummed and I have a little bit of grief over your departure. The choices we all make have impact, isn’t that your point? I want to make this impact visible to you.

    James, I admire and care about you. I’m sorry that RocketHub went down this way. I hear your anger, disappointment, frustration and feeling of abandonment. You got dissed hard core and I’m chalking your tone up to that. If that’s the case, I hope you worked it out here, shook it off, and have moved on clean. I hope it really is a New Day. Don’t take your bitterness on the journey with you. You’re better than that.

  3. In a lot of ways, James is more idealistic and hopeful than I am. Even when he doesn’t believe fully that it can happen, he feels the need to inspire people to change the future that is coming down on us. For me, the ascetic lifestyle we live is almost completely unconnected to the idea that we can save this planet by changing behaviors. It’s far more about getting settled in a lifestyle that we can maintain over the long haul.

    I really believe that the desirability of our lifestyle has nothing to do with its attainability. The resources that allow the standard lifestyle are dwindling and I see dramatic life changes being forced on people within the next 30-50 years. As a matter of fact, I believe that we are preparing ourselves to be among the most comfortable of the people outside of war-bands and fiefdoms. The comforts that others enjoy will disappear, violently. They will be ripped from desperate hands, leaving desperate people who will try to cope with the new rules using old tools. Who will try to earn to spend in a world where you make or steal. Who will try to replace rather than repair. Who will – this sounds so melodramatic that my own sense of the ridiculous makes me smile, though when has history eschewed the ridiculous? – adapt or die.

    For me, the project was a siren, warning of a fire already in progress. The change in sea level and how people do or do not experience the changes in their direct environment – these are fascinating to me and I was hoping to get support on that level alone. It felt like a long shot to me the whole time, since sirens are stressful. On the other hand, there are some people in our lives who could provide a significant chunk of the funds and we had a second level PR plan for leveraging a donation of that kind into more.

    I loved the donations given as a thumbs-up, a sign of support more than an attempt to send us on our way. So cool that some of our friends wanted to say that.

    What disappointed me most was the lack of engagement with the idea. Of the hundreds of people we’re connected to, I would have loved to see a conversation. Either about why this effort was misguided (difficult to do in a way that’s not inflammatory, I know) or why it was only part of a good idea that could be fleshed out (easier and so helpful) or why the description wasn’t working or why it’s better not to engage with things we can’t change or…

    One person suggested we turn it into a grant proposal. Helpful idea, and it’s on a back burner for now.

    I decided, as the days flowed on, that most of my friends must be like me. Uncomfortable in the presence of money talk. But it is sad to me that a snide bit of gossip can get dozens of comments while this topic got static. Yeah – it’s something that sparks a chord in me. Yeah – I failed to spark that chord in others. There it is.

    Facebook, meh. I’ll probably sign off too someday. I rarely go there because I find it more white noise than applicable. I don’t trust the sense of intimacy that is fostered in that environment. And I hate the idea that I am the product, that with every post I create value for FB. So yeah, not a fan.

    James, I know what you mean about being mad that we begged from our friends. It’s partly the middle-class desire that money be invisible and the ways we support each other equally so. It’s partly just that it failed. But mad plus embarrassed is uncomfortable, and that’s where I am. I’m pretty sure you’re there with me and that’s part of why you wanted to cut ties with the format that wrapped those emotions up in a little bow and put them on display.

    You said it right, though. That’s over. And there’s no reason to rewrite what you already said so well, so here it is again, in your words:

    “We will travel around the world documenting global tidal change and we will do it exactly the way we’ve been doing it for the past 13 years, one step, one knot, one photo, one penny at a time and it will be…


    1. Did not know you were on Facebook. We are kind of doing the same thing…but on mostly my dime with a little help from my friends.

  4. Wow, Thanks Dena & Kate, This is some thing that the world has faced before . Without the Mass Media factor. We are all the ” Product” no matter where it is.
    I am truly wondering why you ( DENA) diss work ethic? It is what got us all here. We are born to do our best. No matter what is on the horizon.
    We have different paths , but strive for the common goal. It’s called LIFE
    I believe in James , as do you. But it is work and that is something that we strive to “obtain” every day. I wish the best for the earth and it’s people. But , it’s fucking crazy. Do you see the world news ? Shit is happening that could fuck us up worse that the ice is melting.
    I do understand your point. But Damn ….
    As always,
    LOVE & Aloha’s

  5. It’s not just money that’s weird. In this kind of context I think of life like a big house and we’re all looking out of different windows at the meanings of life, our place in reality, what the future will be like, and what we need to do to bring about or change that future. So many people have a negative view of the future, and I don’t just mean they believe in global warming. I believe in global warming, I believe non-renewable resources are being squandered at an alarming rate, I believe there is an alarming increase in the gap between the haves and have nots, but I also believe all that we see is only a blip on the radar our story. If we don’t get wiped out by an asteroid or neutron star burst I believe these smart monkeys will figure our how to handle all the rest. I believe the intelligence contained in the human brain will find solutions to all these problem even as new problems arise for us to solve. For a long time in mankind’s history people were so caught up in just staying alive, feeding themselves, and hopefully any children they had that they didn’t have time or mental energy to spend on worrying about how the future will turn out. We have continually made progress, solved so many problems, but yes there are still more than enough to worry about. But the fact that more and more of us have the luxury and extra mental energy to think and worry about the world’s and the race’s problems is proof we are making progress. And I agree that this progress is so damn slow it seems it will never happen, but it does. We live such a short time that the Juggernaut that is humanity can’t change course fast enough for us to really be aware that the view out the front window is changing but it is.
    And this doesn’t mean we should stop trying to make our own changes, it’s the compilation of all our personal changes that is the steering mechanism for humanity. You can change the world but the only way to do it is one person at a time and that change must begin with yourself. You are part of humanity so if you have faith in yourself have faith in humanity. As we each make mistakes so does humanity but also as we learn and grow so does humanity.

  6. @Tom – I was really surprised by your comment about dissing work ethic. A huge part of my hope for humanity is our need to be productive and the work ethics we create around filling that need. Then I went back and re-read my comment. Is this the part you were reading as dissing work ethic? “try to earn to spend in a world where you make or steal”

    If so, I meant the opposite of how it sounded to you. I think that most people think of work as something they do to earn money so that they can spend money. That way of thinking removes the ethic from the work and makes it all about the paycheck. Then people do the bare minimum they can get away with and not get fired. Or slide from job to job because they don’t care about any of them.

    Also, so many jobs – especially high-paying ones – involve no productivity. When a person thinks they deserve a lot of money for shuffling paper while bossing around the people who actually make things…that’s the kind of person who’s going to have a hard time in the future I see.

    By the way – you are the complete opposite, Tom. You are a productive person, one who makes things and repairs things and creates beauty and utility all around you. You’ll make it – I believe that. In a lot of ways, you are the model of the person who will continue to be successful as resources dwindle. I know you can keep old machinery running longer than anyone else!

    Meanwhile, a lot of the people who have been siphoning money from the productive people all along will move to more direct stealing in a post-industrial economy. They will become warlords or gang bosses or whatever.

    And the middle managers, wage slaves, and people with no work ethic, with no drive to power, and no usable skills? They’re the ones who will be screaming about there being no jobs. They’re the ones who will be desperate.

  7. @Dad – that is, indeed, a very hopeful view of the future. I like the idea that these monkey brains can run fast enough to keep up with the changing conditions. I can’t quite bring myself to believe it, though.

    This is a bit of a side-topic, but…I’m fascinated by how well we mirror the trends in science fiction. You were raised and came to maturity in an age when sci-fi showed humans being flexible and creative and coming up with answers to every challenge. I was raised and came to maturity with sci-fi that showed dystopian futures where we succeeded only in remaining but failed to improve ourselves in meaningful ways.

    Very interesting to me. Are we products of our reading or is our reading a product of our times, with those times being the cause? When the overall tone of a genre changes, it must reflect something in the real world, right?

    Whether we live or die as a species, I think we’re headed toward a dramatic change in the way we live. Here’s another person who thinks so, with a blog post that is partly on this topic and partly on another: http://thearchdruidreport.blogspot.com/2012/12/consuming-democracy.html?m=0

  8. I understood exactly what you meant by “try to earn to spend in a world where you make or steal”. Yup. That sounds like a totally possible world. I can speculate my place in that world. I probably won’t get far.
    “…middle managers, wage slaves, and people with no work ethic, with no drive to power, and no usable skills…” I’m in that group. No work ethic to speak of. (Really. Don’t try to blow me sunshine on that, Dena. Really.) Minimal drive to power. Some usable skills, sure. I’m good at making stuff. But I’m also WAY too good at using stuff. Dependent upon the teat of capitalism, I have reveled in these excesses too long to know how to manage without them.
    Like a turtle without a shell, I’m soft-bodied and barely a vertebrate when it comes to self-sufficiency. I figure what will save me in the dystopia of Dena’s future is that I’m good at people. I will make it on charm, as I do in the world of the present. I’ll found a cult and live off the protection of people who take comfort from my charismatic leadership.
    Or I’ll die. Shrug. A lot of people will die. I’m super extra easy to overpower. Not much to do about that.

    I’m able to be casual about that future because it’s not real to me. Dean told my point of view with precision, nicely said. “I also believe all that we see is only a blip on the radar our story. If we don’t get wiped out by an asteroid or neutron star burst I believe these smart monkeys will figure our how to handle all the rest.”
    Yes, maybe the big melt will get us. Maybe one of a hundred other doomsdays. Maybe nothing. I’m entirely unequipped to evaluate these risks so I go about the work I’ve been called to, to heal the people who hurt now, in front of me, make my day-to-day as rich and colorful as I can and let the future stay foggy.

    Maybe 1001 Nights of Tidal Change can make the spectral shadows of James and Dena’s premonition palpable in a way I will internalize. Or maybe you will show me the realities of that future and I will be unable to adjust anyway.
    That’s what makes this project seem like it will have limited impact. It’s a siren, says Dena. Ok, alarm is called for, good idea to sound it. But never underestimate the ability of people to ignore what they don’t want to hear. Even if we know for 100% certain that we will have to live in a new way or die, I don’t trust humans to get it together and prepare.
    Do you? And if it’s inevitable that most of us will die in misery, why should we hear the warning? No one wants to go to the guillotine face up.
    I don’t mean to undermine you, I do wish you well. Sound your warning, please! I’m open to hear it, and I’ll signal boost you all I can. But prepare yourselves that it may not have the impact you hope.

    Let me be frank: I fear you are undertaking the Cassandra Project, my dears.

  9. Dena,
    Actually a large part of my sci fi reading as a teenager was post apocalyptic stories. Early Andre Norton used this in a lot of her stories, and there were many others.
    Yes we seem to be in a vehicle headed for a thousand foot drop off and you can’t steer it alone. So you yell and scream, trying to get others to help you steer it away from disaster. The problem is though you think you see that cliff no one can see with complete clarity that far ahead, and your fellow passengers can see even less than you. So, while a few believe you (and others who are telling/yelling the same thing), most either don’t believe it could happen or actually laugh at you for being so negative. And that’s what I think irritates both you and James the most, that some actually laugh at you when you feel so sure of yourself. You’ve both had multiple time through life where you’re superior intelligence let you see and understand situations so much clearer than those around you. And how many times did they all listen to you in those instances? You’re dealing with humanity and just like those groups you’ve worked with you can’t convince them all. As I said, ‘if you want to change the world you have to do it one person at a time, starting with yourself’. There are a lot of people out there who believe as you do and they are slowly changing others, day by day, a few here and a few there. If your vision of the future is correct the question is will enough believe, esp those in power, in time to make a difference.
    My hope is the power of intelligence will overcome, or offset, the political power and they will be the ones who find the solutions to our worlds problems. Soon enough to save us all? Maybe not but I believe solutions will be found. The universe, time, and possibilities are endless and somewhere out there are the answers we need, the possibilities that will save us as a species. And if we don’t find the answers maybe we don’t deserve to continue and the earth will go to those who can survive the apocalypse we bring on ourselves. As individuals we all die, maybe all species eventually die also. Just as I would fight for my individual life I’ll try to save the species but the true end of negative thought is death for us all.
    But still each day I make the conscious choice to try to see the positive, to believe we will be OK if we don’t give up and destroy ourselves.

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