Speed of Life

July 9, 2015

Read our Chief Exec’s column in this month’s Forever Now here…

Just like Manchester, San Francisco has a justifiable reputation for being at the forefront of cultural change and has long been at the heart of counter-culture – Jack Kerouac and the Beat Generation in the 1950’s, the Hippies and the Summer of Love in the 60’s and Harvey Milk and the Gay Rights Movement in the 70’s. Today it’s home to a completely different but no less significant cultural institution – the Long Now Foundation.

Established in 1996, this organisation aims to provide a unique contrast to what it sees as today’s “faster/cheaper” consumer driven culture and to promote “slower/better” thinking. They talk about civilisation having a ‘pathologically short attention span’ driven by our addiction to constantly evolving technology, by market driven economies and by the short-term nature of elected governments and their focus on winning and keeping votes . Speed, greed and need – an unhealthy combination.

We live in a find it, fund it, fix it culture. A culture dominated by a glass half empty mind-set that assumes we’re all too dumb or incapable of sorting things out ourselves and by government policies that consign people to being passive recipients of state funded services, creating more dependency than empowerment.

And if this is currently the norm then just think what the immediate future might hold – life expectancy rising faster than imagined, with people expecting to live until they’re 90-years-old in some areas of the country by 2030, research suggesting that most students will still be paying back loans from their university days in their 40s and 50s and inevitably more austerity measures.

Life is going to look very different if we carry on hurtling forward at this speed without stopping to take stock. Unless, like the Long Now Foundation we start to ‘creatively foster responsibility in the framework of the next 10,000 years’. In other words we need to start thinking about the future in far longer terms than we currently do, recognise what might lay ahead and understand the implications and start to put the building blocks in place now to ensure that society is in a fit state to look after itself.

This is Charity the Mancunian Way, it’s about a hand up, not a hand out, it’s a particularly Mancunian attitude, one which has always seen us trail blaze, pioneer and forge new ways of doing things. It’s about recognising that we’ve all got assets, skills and talents and that if we pool them all together we can change the world again.

Read more about the Long Now Foundation www.longnow.org

Follow Nick on Twitter @MasseyManc

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