Tuesday, September 20, 2011
Tuesday, September 13, 2011
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tuesday, September 13, 2011
Contact: Alysha Shaw
Coming soon: http://www.houstonforsantafe.
HOUSTON JOHANSEN ANNOUNCES CITY COUNCIL CANDIDACY IN DISTRICT 1
Johansen Challenges 17-Year Incumbent Patti Bushee, Offers New Ideas and Proactive Participation in Politics
SANTA FE-- Santa Fe native and lifelong city resident, Houston Johansen announced his candidacy for City Council in District 1 on Tuesday, offering a new perspective on politics and a plan for increased civic participation and responsibility.
Johansen (age 25) is especially concerned about the lack of opportunity for young people in Santa Fe, and wants to focus on building an economy that restores opportunity for working families and addresses the mis-trust in elected officials.
“I want to be the next City Councilor in District One. Santa Fe is the only home I know. I love Santa Fe, but I think we can do better,” Johansen said. “I hope to raise some important issues in this race – such as: where are the economic opportunities for young people? Why do young people flee the city to find jobs? And how can we do better by working families?”
Johansen will spend the coming weeks talking to voters, listening to their concerns, issues, and experiences living in Santa Fe. The campaign will periodically host public forums online and in-person that provide unprecedented venues for Santa Feans to publicly express their concerns during an election cycle. Constituents' issues will form a significant part of the campaign and its platform.
“I’m going to do this the old-fashioned way – listen to the concern of voters in my district and share my ideas about how to make Santa Fe better. Basically, I’m going to work really hard and talk to every voter I can. A lot of candidates make the rounds and chalk up constituent visits, but the lessons learned and the concerns confided in that process seem to vanish after election day. Again, I think we can do better. ” Johansen said.
With this voter feedback, Houston will release his campaign platform in the coming weeks.
Houston was raised in Santa Fe, and attended Rio Grande Elementary and Santa Fe Preparatory schools. At the age of 19 he opened One World Coffee, a fair trade, sustainable, education-oriented coffee house. One World gave young people hands-on experience running a business, helping to inspire a generation to think creatively about their ability to affect change in the world. After stepping down as manager, Houston left Santa Fe to pursue a degree in political science at Creighton University in Omaha, NE. During that time Houston interned for Governor Richardson’s top water policy advisor, Bill Hume. He also worked to raise money for Creighton’s scholarship funds and worked on President Obama’s Omaha campaign.
Johansen is the son of Carl Johansen and Mary Lattimore, long time residents of Santa Fe. His father is a well-known local artist who taught Johansen the power of art, and the importance of creativity. Houston's mother raised him in a house that is completely off-the-grid, which helped him develop a deep passion for sustainability and innovation. Together they taught him early on that if you work hard and play by the rules, you should be able to find a good job and be a part of something bigger.
I picked up Saul Alinsky's Rules for Radicals, hoping to frustrate myself to sleep with his freakishly pragmatic and manipulative book I haven't read in a few years. I opened to a page where he begins to list "the ideal elements of an organizer" (pages 72-80, if you're curious), and I was surprised by what I read.
Here are some excerpts (bold is added):
"Curiosity. What makes an organizer organize? He is driven by a compulsive curiosity that knows no limits. Warning cliches such as 'curiosity killed a cat' are meaningless to him, for life is for him a search for a pattern, for similarities in seeming differences, for differences in seeming similarities, for an order in the chaos about us, for a meaning to the life around him and its relationship to his own life-- and the search never ends. He goes forth with the question as his mark, and suspects that there are no answers, only further questions. The organizer becomes a carrier of the contagion of curiosity, for a people asking "why" are beginning to rebel. The questioning of the hitherto accepted ways and values is the reformation stage that precedes and is so essential to the revolution. [...]
"Actually, Socrates was an organizer. The function of an organizer is to raise questions that agitate, that break through the accepted pattern. Socrates, with his goal of 'know thyself,' was raising the internal questions within the individual that are so essential for the revolution which is external to the individual. So Socrates was carrying out the first stage of making revolutionaries. If he had been permitted to continue raising questions about the meaning of life, to examine life and refuse the conventional values, the internal revlution would soon have moved out into the political arena. Those who tried him and sentenced him to death knew what they were doing.
"Irreverence. Curiosity and Irreverence go together. Curiosity asks, 'Is this this true?' 'Just because this has always been the way, is this the best or right way of life, the best or right religion, political or economic value, morality?' To the questioner nothing is sacred. He detests dogma, defies any finite definition of morality, rebels against any repression of a free, open search for ideas no matter where they may lead. He is challenging, insulting, agitating, discrediting. He stirs unrest. As with all life, this is a paradox, for his irreverence is rooted in a deep reverence for the enigma of life, and an incessant search for its meaning. It could be argued that reverence for others, for their freedom from injustice, poverty, ignorance, exploitation, discrimination, disease, war, hate, and fear, is not a necessary quality in a successful organizer. All I can say is that such reverence is a quality I would have to see in anyone I would undertake to teach.
"Imagination. Imagination is the inevitable partner of irreverence and curiosity. How can one be curious without being imaginative?
"According to Webster's Unabridged, imagination is 'the mental synthesis of new ideas from elements experienced separately... the broader meaning... starts with the notion of mental imaging of things suggested but not previously experienced, and thence expands... to the idea of mental creation and poetic idealization...' (creative imagination). To the organizer, imagination is not only all this but something deeper. It is the dynamism that starts and sustains him in his whole life of action as an organizer. It ignites and feeds the force that drives him to organize for change. [...]
"it is also the basis for effective tactics and action. The organizer knows that the real action is in the reaction of the opposition. To realistically appraise and anticipate the probable reactions of the enemy, he must be able to identify with them, too, in his imagination, and foresee their reactions to his actions.
"A sense of humor. Back to Webster's Unabridged: humor is defined as ' The mental faculty of discovering, expressing, or appreciating ludicrous or absurdly incongruous elements in ideas, situations, happenings, or acts...' or 'A changing and uncertain state of mind...'
"The organizer, searching with a free and open mind void of certainty, hating dogma, finds laughter not just a way to maintain his sanity but also a key to understanding life. Essentially, life is a tragedy; and the converse of tragedy is comedy. One can change a few lines in any Greek tragedy and it becomes a comedy, and vise versa. Knowing that contradictions are the signposts of progress he is ever on the alert for contradictions. A sense of humor helps him identify and make sense out of them.
"Humor is essential to a successful tactician, for the most potent weapons known to mankind are satire and ridicule.
"A sense of humor enables him to maintain his perspective and see himself for what he really is: a bit of dust that burns for a fleeting second. A sense of humor is incompatible with the complete acceptance of any dogma, any religious, political, or economic prescription for salvation. It synthesizes with curiosity, irreverence and imagination. The organizer has a personal identity of his own that cannot be lost by absorption or acceptance of any kind of group discipline or organization. [...] The organizer in order to be a part of all can be part of none.
"A bit of a blurred vision of a better world. Much of an organizer's work is detail, repetitive and deadly in its monotony. In the totality of things he is engaged in one small bit. It is as though as an artist he is painting a tiny leaf. It is inevitable that sooner or later he will react with 'What am I doing spending my whole life just painting one little leaf? The hell with it, I quit.' What keeps him going is a blurred vision of a great mural, where other artists-- organizers-- are painting their bits, and each piece is essential to the total.
"An organized personality. [...]
"A well-integrated political schizoid. The organizer must become a schizoid, politically, in order not to slip into becoming a true believer. Before men can act an issue must become polarized. Men will act when they are convinced that their cause is 100 per cent on the side of t angels and that the opposition are 100 per cent on the side of the devil. He knows that there can be no actio until issues are polarized to this degree. I have already discussed an example in the Declaration of Independence-- the Bill of Particulars that conspicuously omitted all the advantages the colonies had gained from the British and cited only the disadvantages.
"What I am saying is that the organizer must be able to split himself in two parts- one part in the arena of action where he polarizes the issue to 100 to nothing, and helps to lead his forces into conflict, while the other part knows that when the time comes for negotiations that it really is only a 10 per cent difference-- and yet both parts have to live comfortably with each other. Only well-organized person can split and yet stay together. But this is what the organizer must do.
"Ego. [...] Ego is unreserved confidence in one's ability to do what he believes must be done. An organizer must accept, without fear or worry, that the odds are always against him. The thought of copping out never stays with him for more than a fleeting moment; life is action.
"A free and open mind, and political relativity. The organizer in his way of life, with his curiosity, irreverence, imagination, sense of humor, distrust of dogma, his self-organization, his understanding of the irrationality of much of human behavior, becomes a flexible personality, not a rigid structure that breaks when something unexpected happens. Having his own identity, he has no need for the security of an ideology or a panacea. He knows that life is a quest for uncertainty; and he can live with it. He knows that all values are relative, in a world of political relativity. Because of these qualities he is unlikely to disintegrate into cynicism and disillusionment, for he does not depend on illusion.
"Finally, the organizer is constantly creating the new out of the old. He knows that all new ideas arise from conflict; that every time man has had a new idea it has been a challenge to the sacred ideas of the past and the present and inevitably a conflict has raged. Curiosity, irreverence, imagination, sense of humor, a free and open mind, an acceptance of the relativity of values and of the uncertainty of life, all inevitably fuse into the kind of person whose greatest joy is creation. He conceives of creation as the very essence of the meaning of life. In his constant striving for the new, he finds that he cannot endure what is repetitive and unchanging. For him hell would be doing the same thing over and over again.
"This is the basic difference between the leader and the organizer. The leader goes on to build power to fulfill his desires, to hold and wield the power for purposes both social and personal. He wants power himself. The organizer finds his goal in creation of power for others to use.
"These qualities are present in any free, creative person, whether an educator, or in the arts, or in any part of life. [...] Why one becomes an organizer instead of something else is, I suspect, due to a difference of degree of intensity of specific elements or relationships between them-- or accident."
And now, weirdly, I think I can sleep. I find Alinsky very problematic in terms of the nitty gritty of his organizing style, and perhaps the fact that organizers who were influenced by him were for the most part men (including our President), but he does articulate the tactics and processes of his style of organizing quite effectively. He's worth revisiting for that alone. Parts of this excerpt also encourage me to consider the similarities between this definition of "organizer" and some definitions of "artist."
Tuesday, September 6, 2011
So then I asked him, "well, what do you call yourself if you are studying art?" He replied that he was studying other things as well, and that he said he would probably die and be forgotten.
The notion of ideas outliving "the death of the forms in which they are represented" seems to have curious implications for art and culture.