June 2, 2009: Diversity as a Survival Tool

Last night I went to my first Transition Somerville meeting. Still a little unclear on the concept, I’m pretty sure this group is concerned with the peak oil crisis and climate change and living gently on this earth and, my personal fav, building community to  collectively create a brave new post-peak-oil world. (I’ve ordered the Transition Handbook so will be way more informed after I read it.)
It was the kind of meeting where people dared to say things like, “This is just my intuition but. . . ” and then saying something right-on/brilliant or “I read this thing in a novel which has nothing to do with climate change but I think one thing in this book might be a good idea for our ArtBeat table.” And it was. It was the kind of group that wondered if using either  Google or Yahoo to keep in touch wasn’t relying too heavily on computers and what if power failed—in other words, allowing the possibility of all hell breaking loose down the road informing the group’s decisions here and now.
I loved it.
Coming home, the much-repeated words of diversity and resiliency very much on my mind, I read of the Air France Airbus jetliner presumably lost in the Atlantic. Not sure why—maybe it was intuition—but Something moved me to read the NYT’s comments re this tragedy. Here’s the one made me sit up and take notice:
I always had concerns about Airbus design of their aircraft. They use fly by wire technology. They have 3 redundant computer systems to control the airplane including flight controls. It is nice on paper and very efficient, except a systemic failure like getting hit by lightning fries all the computers.

Boeing still uses a combination of mechanical and hydraulics. Take a little more weight and not as efficient… but much more reliable. It goes back to the tradition from WWII with the B-17 Bombers. It would take something like 25 direct hits on the average of 20 mm cannon from German fighters to bring one down. The Germans had to go to the MK-108 30 mm cannon and then it would need 4 direct hits on the average . . .

— Buba2000, USA

Ohmygod, I realized. Diversity isn’t just about justice and racial equality and, as Reverend Cardwell says, “Being equals at the table.” (BTW: the TS group acknowledged its lack of diversity and took a couple of “baby steps” to address that. And promises to do more.) Collectively creating a resilient web of support is how ALL of us will survive “direct hits.” Which are coming.