Editor’s note: Bill Howard’s idea of re-purposing the former Charles Joseph building at 514 S. Church St. into the new Amtrak train station was featured in the Aug. 20-26, 2014, (“City mulls Amtrak options, public meeting set for Sept. 3”) and Aug. 27-Sept. 2, 2014, (“Amtrak station proposal aims to springboard local deconstruction industry”) issues of The Rock River Times. Howard’s hope is that such a project could launch a local effort to re-purpose Rockford’s downtown.
By Bill Howard
The health of a social system is dependent on utilizing the energy of the human content to benefit the “good of the whole.”* History shows us that the ability to adapt this energy to the changing dynamics of a social system will determine its continuation.* To this end, it is time to recognize the current unemployment reality. In the last century, we adapted to the changing energy needs by leaving the farm and occupying the factory. Now, human energy is no longer needed in the factory. As with farming, the human energy required is being replaced by the energy of machines: PROGRESS.
Progress in a modern social system understands the “good of the whole” is a necessary part of a healthy structure, i.e., a healthy economic system in a democratic society requires a rising middle class.* A rising middle class is a product of full employment with equitable wages. The need then becomes to utilize the talents of the human content to benefit the “good of the whole.”
Any study of our current social system will reveal two pressing problems confronting the “good of the whole”:
1. Energy consumption/carbon footprint; and
2. Unemployment/idle hands.
History should be viewed in the current context as something to be learned from so as not to repeat the negative.* We should henceforth understand the need for energy efficient structures: constructed by craftsmen trained in the skills and aesthetic values of antiquity earning a living wage.
With the above axioms (*) in mind, let’s examine the effects of RE-PURPOSING the abandoned and obsolete structures in our town, as follows:
1. Improves neighborhoods: Addressing blighted properties;
2. Eliminates landfill obstacles: No longer a throwaway society;
3. Addresses carbon footprint: Do more with less energy;
4. Utilizes existing human talents: Humans work with their hands to re-purpose;
5. Teaches and reaffirms valuable skills: Craftsmen earn equitable wages;
6. Preserves raw materials: Save our children’s trees and mountains; and
7. TRANSFORMS** CITIES: Full employment of human potential.
Add RE-PURPOSE to our vocabulary, and the potential of a modern society becomes visible: Healthy, energy conscious homes and buildings as a component of “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”
**TRANSFORM: (1) change, alter, or be changed in nature, form, or appearance
(2) recharge the batteries!
From the Sept. 3-9, 2014, issue