Caribbean Diversity

 

How about a little break from the American electoral intensity?

In the past I had been posting about the Caribbean. I thought I might now share some experiences and information about some of the islands. It is an amazingly diverse universe. We tend to think of them as just a collection of palm tree covered islands with beaches and numerous large resorts. Not so.

Martinique

This island is a possession of France and therefore has a large French population. The island itself is gorgeous. In the south it is relatively flat with some hills but as you proceed north you arrive at two large mountains, one of which is an active volcano. The rain forests on them are lovely. In that area is one of my most favorite resorts. At the edge of the rain forest sits a restored plantation house with a large pool area in front. We went off season and it was quiet. One evening we had dinner in the main area all to ourselves. Habitation LaGrange was a treat.

The grocery stores feature French delicacies and a luscious array of wines. There is an array of small and larger French resorts. Since the French treat their colonies as if they are in France proper, the roads are excellent and everything is up to date. Since we were looking for properties to rent for our business we got  acquainted with the Beké who are the descendants of the original planter families. We made some good friends.

Highly recommended. If you speak a little French it is better but not essential. Almost everyone speaks English. But you must say Bonjour! My joke is that if you speak no French, they speak no English. If you speak a little French they speak perfect English.

Barbados

A little further out in the Atlantic is an island which is a part of the sea floor that got pushed up long ago. Its fairly flat but has truly lovely beaches. It is English speaking with some wealthy English in residence. We found restaurants very much to our liking. There are no mountain vistas but if you want to hang out at the beach it is quite nice. Very comfortable villas and hotels.

St. Martin/Sint Maarten

For a reason I never understood this island is half French and half Dutch which gives it diversity. Again, everyone speaks English and there are really nice small hotels to choose from if you aren’t interested in a large chain’s resort.  With the French influence the dining out was quite nice. It is much favored by Americans.

The Cayman Islands

Very well known by the scuba set. Everything is air conditioned and you can see screens on all windows. That is because sometimes there are a lot of mosquitos —not always. It is generally best to stay in a beachfront resort on the beach because it is a coral island and less well tended beaches have sharp coral in the water. Best to wear booties. The center of the island is scrub and not very attractive. Look out to sea and go scuba diving.

Turks & Caicos Islands

A huge attraction is that they are not far off the Florida coast so they are easy to get to. Not highly developed oddly enough. Nice resorts and villas. The water colors are magnificent and the beaches absolutely lovely. Uncrowded and laid back. Just below the Bahamas. If there have been recent hurricanes check it out carefully to know if things have been repaired.

An Array of Other Islands

The islands listed above are the ones we handled to rent villas but there are many others such as the Netherland Antilles just off the coast of South America, tiny islands like St. Vincent and Dominica. If you like to move around year to year the Caribbean islands offer a glorious display.

Gaia’s Majesty-Mission Called: Women in Power by Roger B. Burt

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Creating Characters and Plots by Roger B. Burt

Stepfamilies: Professionals and Stepcouples in Partnership

Whatever Happened to Community Mental Health by Roger B. Burt

Women in the Gaia’s Majesty Trilogy Pt 2

Chasing Women Warriors

Being Human

There was a huge tug of war going on as I was writing the Gaia’s Majesty Trilogy. Something was stirring inside of me and characters were showing up demanding attention. I also knew that what I was writing had a deep contact with what we call reality but there was a fantasy element as well. After all isn’t that true fundamentally about our lives? If nothing else we have dreams and hope they will transit into reality.

And so the first book opened and over time the fantasy element was to grow. But in some ways I was having a struggle with the women in the books. And so I found myself chasing women warriors. I have to admit there was more than a little naiveté. I had heard of the Amazon women but it was only later that I ran across Adrienne Mayor’s book The Amazons. Then I learned they weren’t fantasies at all, but real courageous women at war and with family all at the same time. The revelations expanded my dedication to supporting the empowerment of women by example with the women in the books.

Came a Problem

At once there was an essential problem. I do like fantasy, but don’t like it if it is too fantastic. In this instance I felt we needed to be close enough to reality to make an important beginning and identification. And so I did something some early readers of Gaia’s Majesty-Mission Called: Women in Power didn’t like. I made them not just strong and resourceful but also their early engagement was as consorts to greedy, power hungry Overlords. But in that place they reflected the reality of some brave and steadfast women who, in our world, take dangerous and seemingly compromising positions in behalf of missions that are essential and to serve their country. And that is what these Andromeda women were doing. And I must add, in this day and age, I did not see them as having been defiled because of what they had committed to do. And I have to admit I had to have darling Luisa enjoying some of it even as she understood her risk. This shows the world as it is. Fantasy sometimes is less fulfilling than reality.

A Matter of Power

And then there is the matter of progression. In fiction there must be progression just as there is in life. As the story grew it became clear that these women were demonstrating what was happening in what we call our real world. Their roles broadened and they took on power and the new risk that came with it. This is the world I feel that is opening before us.

In the cities in the sea we could see women of immense power scanning human history and seeking out both revelation and inspiration. Some of it was what they divined and some of it was inspired by another powerful woman, Gaia. And so fantasy and reality was woven over and over. At base the intention is to inspire by demonstrating alternatives as our world and the power of women changes.

Challenge

And so in the core themes are seen major elements of what is before us, not pure fantasy. Certainly there are those who will take offense whether they dislike the roles the women may take or whether they resent the idea that women can hold such power. (Get a grip guys!) I’m enjoying writing these books partly because the challenge is considerable but also because I look forward to controversy and the potential for us to examine where we are going and what the possibilities may be. We have entered a new challenging time in human history and it poses opportunities as well as danger. Perhaps this time we can find a new form of challenge and future.

Gaia’s Majesty-Mission Called: Women in Power by Roger B. Burt

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Whatever Happened to Community Mental Health by Roger B. Burt

Magical Tour

 

Where have you been that enchanted you?

Making a Beginning

In St. Lucia we had found a glorious lot with stunning views and a builder. Now it was time to focus on what to do. We thought to build a modest vacation cottage and found a Canadian builder by the name of Wayne who had come to the island and ended up marrying a St. Lucian woman. He stayed and built a business. For us it was like having an American colleague to plan with. After all Canadians were just like us except they said ”aboot” and “eh”. (No offense Canadian friends.) Wayne suggested we go on a tour to look at various types of homes and to get to know the island. It sounded good to us.

Beyond Belief

When you come to a tropical island like St. Lucia, very often you station yourself in a large resort, maybe take one tour and there is no in depth exposure. Since we had been looking at land we were already beyond simple tourism.

Wayne had just imported a Mercedes sedan from Martinique and we set off. Since St. Lucia had been a British colony, they drove on the wrong side of the road. Wayne was then on the wrong side of the car as he drove. But then a little disorientation helps break people loose from tired perspectives.First we toured houses on the more developed north of the island. He barged in and we looked around. There were many different types of houses.

Into Another World

Then he took us south. The north is lovely, with wonderful beaches, a myriad of restaurants and all manner of resorts. It is much more developed and the capital, Castries, is nearby. But when we went south we went into the lush interior which includes the rain forest and toured the area of the Pitons, They are the two towering mountain remnants of the volcano that once ruled the island.

We passed through banana plantations and the lush quiet of the rain forest. From time to time we passed a man carrying a machete. We had to get used to it because that is their primary tool in agricultural work. They nodded and usually gave us a shy smile. If we were walking, a man might gently come forward and softly ask “May I speak with you, Sir.” At first we thought they probably wanted money, but, in fact, they just wanted to meet these venturesome strangers.

I was utterly enthralled by one lush mountain valley. There were huge boulders on the plain clearly indicating the monumental volcanic explosion millennia ago. At the end was one small house. Wayne took us in to see it for our thinking. There was a woman inside tending a fire. He talked to her briefly. She seemed to accept our presence without comment. On we went through plantations and one mysterious valley after another. The quiet was notable and it never felt threatening which was surprising given that it was a strange new world.

A Brief Stay

Later Wayne took us to Stonefield Estate which was his plantation. The pool had a stunning view of the pitons and it came complete with a parrot. Mac was the plantation manager and when we asked the parrot where he was the bird would crane his neck and scan the area. There were so many endearing features and we were being drawn in deeper.

Upon Return

When we returned to the north of the island we settled down with Wayne to talk construction. We told him we only wanted a starter cottage we might expand later. He nodded and then suggested we might want something a little bigger because we might want to rent it out when we weren’t there. That was intriguing. He suggested three bedrooms, each with their own bath. And then of course to rent it we would need a pool. And how about putting a cottage with a pool in the plans. Just in case—for the future.

Gulp! He said we didn’t have to do it all at once. He could begin and as we found funds he could continue. We were hooked on the island and the developing adventure. We purchased the land, went home and began to send money. This was just the beginning.

Gaia’s Majesty-Mission Called: Women in Power by Roger B. Burt

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Creating Characters and Plots by Roger B. Burt

Stepfamilies: Professionals and Stepcouples in Partnership

Whatever Happened to Community Mental Health by Roger B. Burt

Opening Our View of The Future

Being Humble and Hopeful

What do you think your future holds?

Most animals forage for food and the human animal seems to forage for dreams. It is probably more than a little pompous for us to say we have our dreams because of our higher intelligence.

For the longest time we declared that we were the only animals to use tools. Then we found out differently. And there are night dreams and there are dreams we harbor. Have you ever watched your dog dreaming as he sleeps. We have to wonder what forms the dreams of other animals take.

Broadening Our View

What’s the point? It seems we humans get so caught up in how special we are that we tend to define ourselves in ways which separate us from other animals. And then there is the matter of life. For the longest time we believed we were the only intelligent animals and life existed only on this planet. Now we find that there is water in asteroids and within the water is salt and amino acids. It now seems life exists throughout the universe and that raises the possibility that the universe itself may be a living thing.

These thoughts may seem to have no point in themselves but such thoughts are the bedrock of our opening the possibility for what may be to come for humankind. Our darkest visions say nothing good but out of each dark age has come an enlightenment.

Clues to Our Future or Futures

Certainly we have our dark side and too commonly we kill others and inflict pain. But there is art, there is love, there are waves of hope. I created the Gaia’s Majesty Trilogy to have a story of exploration of future possibilities. Just as we have made foolish mistakes such as assuming we alone possess tools and this planet alone has life, we also may be overlooking the clues which exist and point to future possibilities.

We find those clues in our myths, in our struggle, turning to stewardship, in the meaning of the empowerment of women and in every unexplored parts of our existence. Is there a spirit world? Our senses have specific purposes. We can’t know for sure. What comes after capitalism? There are some intriguing speculations with some hard data behind them.

Making the Choice

As difficult as the world is now, we have the option of exploring alternatives and dreams and giving ourselves the option of transformation or at least a beneficial and unexpected future. We have come a long way and the potential in front of us is truly exciting. Among us are people who would have us turn inwards and back on ourselves. The future points in another direction. The choice is ours.

How would you describe what you have chosen for yourself?

Gaia’s Majesty-Mission Called: Women in Power by Roger B. Burt

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Creating Characters and Plots by Roger B. Burt

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Whatever Happened to Community Mental Health by Roger B. Burt

Inner Life and Dreams

 

Where does fiction lead you?

Life Transitions

Generally we don’t question our relationship to reality. So long as things are going well, we are best engaged in other pursuits. Of course, when we find ourselves in a life transition, we may decide what we saw as reality is open to interpretation. We tend to explore ourselves at times such as when we embark on adulthood, experience a love relationship or enter middle age. We seem to have no trouble with exploration when we are deep in fiction precisely because we call it fiction and it need not be personal. But, in fact, fiction is often a reflection of facets of our personal reality. The fiction which attracts us surely has something to do with our inner lives.

Avenues for Exploration

Inner lives serve purposes. These lives may be numerous and tumultuous but generally are kept in bounds until there is a crisis whether it is something like a job change or a marital failure.

These lives may include quite a number of alter egos with which we flirt.
Perhaps we experience them as moods. They may be defined by our enduring personality. That is not to say they are real and active personalities but we do have a life within in which we cavort and seek alternatives. Certainly they are testing grounds for who we think we might be or who we might want to become. They are probably more publicly visible in childhood but as adults they may become private and secret. Sometimes though, in our later years, we feel the need to assess what we have done and how we leave our life.

Enhancement of Existence

Most of us have some valuable inner lives which enhance our overall existence. Wouldn’t it be unfortunate, even stultifying, if we did not have such richness which we harbor.

And then there is the matter of our dreams. We nurture them through our years and often share them with friends but, it is to be hoped, they are shared and enhanced in our love relationships. It is my suspicion that dreams are much more prevalent in younger people but I suspect that there may be people who maintain rich and active dreams well into late life.

Dreaming of Eternity

We tend to think that people resign themselves to the end of their lives but I doubt it is universal. Who might not dream of an extension of some form? Part of the reason I believe this is that there is almost a universal belief in an afterlife. Isn’t that a dream which is widely harbored? Why would we ever want to give up the precious dreams of what we might become or with whom we might bond some day in a far off future of some sort? We may want to reunite with a current loved one because it is a precious relationship. Or we might know someone we would want a relationship with some day in the future.

Individual to Universal

The point of this exposition is that as individuals we are not static and that at many levels our lives are complex. Each life has a wave pattern in which we experience some form of an upwelling with attendant changes. That period may be followed by a consolidation as a wave subsides. Then comes preparation for the next period. We can see these processes in human development. But we are beginning to see that such processes occur socially, in the life of a nation and even for humankind in general. What fascinates me is that the examination of these waves is becoming more intense and more public. More on this shortly.

Can we truly separate personal development from the development of humankind in general?

Gaia’s Majesty-Mission Called: Women in Power by Roger B. Burt

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Creating Characters and Plots by Roger B. Burt

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Adventures in the World Pt 1

 

Engaging Europe

About here I thought a change of pace and focus might be desirable. And so let me begin with some observations from times my family visited Europe when I was young. It began just after World War II. I was very young during the war and could not grasp the horror. I saw films but in person it was quite different.

Awakening

Of course there were no Nazis goose-stepping around. There were people working to put their lives back in order. In London we had dinner with a doctor friend of my father and his family. It was cold cuts. There was still rationing and meat was precious.

London itself was a shock. Yes, I had seen pictures, but walking through cleared streets with great piles of rubble on all sides was humbling.The people were pleasant and welcoming but, even after all these years, I have to say there was a sense of silence as if they were trying to regain a view of what the future might be.

Rather than go into greater detail and sequence, let me just touch on some recollections.

Vignettes

Paris was pristine and beautiful. I mentioned earlier seeing a haunted shop girl and I’m sure there was an undercurrent I could not appreciate. It has to take time to recover from such a dreadful occupation. I know the answer but thought about the absence of a statue in a square to thank the German general who declined to act on Hitler’s orders to destroy Paris.

In a later trip we went to Germany. By then repair was well under way. The people were generally welcoming. I think the fact that the Marshall Plan helped them recover must have been crucial. In Munich I saw my father talking at length with a man he was buying a camera from who was deeply scarred. He had been a tank commander during the war and was forthright. Outside I could see deeply scarred buildings sitting next to glossy new buildings. Scars of all kinds were everywhere.

We encountered another component of lasting conflict. We went to a restaurant for lunch and were seated. Nothing else happened. We were ignored. We finally simply left understanding that not everyone was going to be welcoming after such a conflict. Devastation of all kinds can be enduring.

Dreams

Looking back I can see that those trips were unlike anything else I experienced. Too often we simply go somewhere and hang out at a resort. On those trips we had in depth experiences for ourselves and those around us. We could not know the full extent of the personal suffering nor did we really want to know.

But the richness of cultures in Europe ofter lead us to dreams. Depending upon your age there will be dreams which are touched and enhanced. In Rome I loved to see the Alfa Romeos streaking around the streets. Their guttural sound was stirring. Of course there were the romantic films at the time. And so at night I could lie in bed listening to the echoes of the sounds of these sprightly cars and dream of driving one someday while I appreciated the lovely young woman next to me.

I’ll leave it there. I just seemed to have needed to share a little of things from long ago which give glimmers of our lives, who we are, and instruct us. They deserve gathering and consideration.

What are your most precious memories?

Gaia’s Majesty-Mission Called: Women in Power by Roger B. Burt

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Creating Characters and Plots by Roger B. Burt

Stepfamilies: Professionals and Stepcouples in Partnership

Whatever Happened to Community Mental Health by Roger B. Burt

 

Who Cares About Reality? – Just Live Your Life

 

Do you find yourself ever considering the meaning of reality?

Inspiration and Personal Growth

It sounds so simple to forge ahead in life and find inspiration and personal growth as it materializes. But we do not proceed that way and there is this thing called planning and preparing for the future.

Inevitably we have dreams and one of the ways we pursue our dreams is to read. My personal choice has always been speculative fiction, fantasy and science fiction. I want to be intrigued and want to explore. Certainly stories of romance can be enchanting but I usually want to explore more deeply. If a romantic story or movie involves the theme of women rising I am strongly engaged. Something amazing is happening for women and for our partnerships and I want to explore it.

Colliding with Reality

Speculation often leads us into a collision with reality and may hint at what is to come. Let me give two examples. George Orwell’s novel 1984 was published in 1949, shortly after World War II. My takeaway from the book was that we should be alert to the coming power of totalitarianism. Certainly his projection of the future was born out in the growth of communism and more recently we can see his themes in the intrusion of information technology. It seems we are never alone.

And then there is Arthur C. Clarke’s 2001 a Space Odyssey (published in 1968). There are fascinating themes but my personal love is Hal, the onboard computer. I don’t know about your experience but I am convinced that Hal or a descendant is alive and living in my computer! How else to explain its behavior.

Interacting with People’s Lives

In my office, interfacing with people about their lives, I could not simply focus on the here and now. I needed to sight where they were going and how that might interact with where we were going as people. The lives of people became a collage of who we are and what was happening to us collectively.

Being free to explore and to be a free spirit is delightful but inevitably we run into what we call reality and what kind of reality is being created around us. The reality of hippiedom in the 1960s and 1970s was engaging and entrancing. And now the reality and richness of computer based games opens whole new worlds.

An Enchanting and Expanding World

For me though, living on the cusp of reality permits a jump from the cusp of reality into a glowing and growing movement in a new world. It’s the exploration which is so exciting and, by the way, I want my partner with me. In the end it is she who especially enriches my world and my life.
Where do you think humankind is headed?

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Dreams Versus Reality

 

 

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Your Dreams

Do you dream? Oh no, I’m not talking about those things that crop up at night. I’m talking about the dreams you have for your future, your desires, what might be. How much of a hard edge do they have? Do they involve mysticism? Do they lead you into a spirit world of your own? What do they say about you and your life?

Questioning Reality
I’m a clinical psychologist and have spent a lot of time talking with people about their lives. Often we talked about what we call reality but as the decades passed I came to question the meaning of the word. Do our hopes and dreams fall outside the realm of reality? Of course not.

Fiction Choices
And when you read, what are your choices? Do you gravitate toward apocalyptic fiction, dystopian fiction, romance or simply something which advances a “what if”? Are you engaged by ancient mysteries or are you looking for inspiration in how they may emerge in the here and now.

Relating to Reality
At once I have to say that the title of this blog reflects my core belief. I do not believe in a fixed reality. Reality is ephemeral and subject to our own interpretations. We live on a cusp and reality is often something which emerges and recedes into a mist. We take up a station of beliefs and surround ourselves with family and friends who reinforce something stable enough to be called reality.

Myth and Mysticism
And then there is what lies out there in the mist of the past. We enjoy myths and may recognize that they may offer prophesy and be visionary. Yet, we may fail to recognize that they can convey a stark and important reality of their own. And myths do not just speak to the past but also may relate to the future as it is emerging and how it may be.

Conclusions
Assuming we live on the cusp of a changing reality, then we have to wonder what we are to do with that reality. Naturally most of us take hold and fix a reality of sorts which works for us. But then there is the matter of the emerging world. That is where speculative fiction and such things as dystopian fiction, science fiction etc. come in. We can explore with them. And my considerations have led me to the writing of the Gaia’s Majesty Trilogy. (The first book will be published in February.) It asks what ifs and comes out of my life experience. The trilogy relates to stewardship in a world in crisis. Women are central because it is apparent that they are emerging as a much greater force in the world. Certainly women have always been important but they are coming into power and partnership with men in new and important ways. And we have to wonder if there is a transformation of some form in our future.

A Dual Pathway
The possibilities are fascinating in a world which appears to have gone asymptotic in many ways. And so I’ve chosen to explore through this blog and through fiction in the Gaia’s Majesty Trilogy. Stay tuned.

Surely, regardless of your age, you have dreams, if not for yourself, then for someone in your life. What are those dreams and who are they for?

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Writing – Its a Personal Process

 

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What do you believe about writing fiction?

Differing Essentials

In creative pursuits there are some does and don’ts but one of the traps is to feel that there is only one way. In fact, we all have our own process. Our writing and the process of it is affected because each of our lives and stories are unique. That means it is useful to follow established practices which will serve us well but we must also give ourselves the space to be who we are.

And Then There Is Where We Are Led

I’m a clinical psychologist which means I have spent decades relating to the personal lives of people. Inevitably it has its effect on me. Helping people with the difficulties in their lives and how they manage them means, in part, attending to possibilities. In writing then that means to me the story as it develops may not be laid down in hard type. We have to find out what being inspired means and what the effects are. And so for me, the novel is a search because it is born of the author, not just what is brought in from what we call the real world.

Life, Dreams, and Myth

Our stories are often born of both our experiences in life and our dreams. And then there are the fundamentals of life which for me involves my love of myth. To me myth is riveting and more than merely meaningful.

That being said, I can see a melding process in the Gaia’s Majesty Trilogy I’ve written. The three books of this trilogy reflect decades of experience and development deep in my brain. Often it seemed I was on autopilot as the characters and their stories wove together to bring the story to life. At times it felt overwhelming. I found refuge in music which runs constantly while I’m writing. I prefer women jazz singers, romantic piano and technodance. Yes, technodance. I refer to my brain as still adolescent because I can do my homework and listen to music. When I turn the music off I find my energy flags. In short it is energizing me.

The Real World

And then there is the world as it is currently around us. Over the decades I found the stories in my practice led to a particular high regard for women. And currently we are seeing women rising in the world. These elements were brought together with many others in the Gaia’s Majesty Trilogy.

The process fascinates me as I found myself bringing discipline together with inspiration. Some of it related to established principles and some of it reflected an idiosyncratic process. The stories are all around us and within us and bringing them out and together is fascinating and fulfilling.

What leads and inspires you?

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A Vision For Appalachia

 

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Where should we apply our resources?

In this political season there is vision coming from some quarters and none from other quarters. One of the saddest things I am seeing is the complete lack of vision in regard to the future of the people of Appalachia and the victims of the coal industry.

Beauty at Our Doorstep

Appalachia is one of the most beautiful areas I have ever visited and its people have been treated terribly. We now have politicians claiming they are going to save the coal industry and the reality is that it cannot be saved. The corporations have found ways to decrease the labor needed and the coal is running out even while it is clear that we have to turn to renewable energy sources.

The Meaning of Help

So what of the people of Appalachia? Are we to do nothing for them, for their future. They have a very high opiate addiction rate partly because of the injuries so many have sustained in the coal mines. Addiction is not a simple matter. One thing that must be done for addicts, as we attempt to help them with the addiction, is to move them toward hope and purpose. We are not doing that.

We hear that their future is dim, that other forms of energy must be used but we hear nothing of how they and their communities may have a new and brighter future.

Other Models

Recently I spoke with someone who also attended Duke University and he had made a visit to the Research Triangle (Raleigh, Chapel Hill and Durham area). He said everywhere he turned he saw thriving startup companies. It made me think of Appalachia.

The mountains and the valleys are lovely, graced with streams and glorious seasons. Each of these little areas can be homes to the right businesses. Of course, there is snow which has a beauty of its own and then there is spring and a brilliant fall. The summers, because of the mountains, are more muted.

New Possibilities Being Born

We have entered the technological future and are seeing the possibility of something called post capitalism. We no longer are inclined to build huge industrial complexes. Instead we have pocket industries of a wide variety of sorts. Where California is lacking in water, Appalachia has abundant water.

Taking the Challenge

Because of history, the eastern mountains have many problems and change will not come overnight. But with vision we have an area which has tremendous potential. The beauty of it can help build a future but it will have to be a very different kind. It will take considerable resources, including health resources, patience and offering something to younger generations among many other things. At present I hear nothing of vision for them and their area.

We have been mired down in obstruction and lack of vision. Maybe I can raise the hope that we can begin to focus on constructive action and many shades of vision. In that we just might be able to develop the potential of Appalachia and to give the people hope and purpose. I can dream can’t I?

What visions are found in your dreams?

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