Steeple-houses may have a built-in advantage after all, one the early Friends did not foresee. 

No matter, we'll make up for it in other ways. 

In the meantime, if you're a steeple-house in a religious network, here's another way you might be of service to your neighborhoods:

Profit-minded cable guys may control your neighborhood's access to the Internet, pricing many families out of the homework / homeschool market.

Some guardians drive their wards to the nearest McDonald's parking lot, just for the bandwidth, helps Uncle Ronnie if they buy a few fries, have a healthy salad.

Churches, though, with their tall steeples, are already doubling as cell towers in some cases, we have an example in our neighborhood. 

That suggests a way to bypass the greedy cable guys and bring bandwidth directly to your parishes, or whatever your religion calls them (zip code areas?).  Microwave is line of sight.

Something to think about, if you're a church.



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We picked the wrong architecture. I remember a fascinating article about the churches that were funded by cellphone companies. Quaint old New England churches were the best off: located at the top of hills in the middle of town, with big wooden steeples that didn't affect the cell signal, they were the perfect place to put an antenna. Old steeple-less brick meetinghouses on country lanes can't compete. :)

Most the articles I've found on the topic are cynical, not seeing that churches could be banding together to compete with greedy private sector ISPs.  (cynical)

We have this cultural bias keeping us thinking of religion and engineering as separate compartments. Is that an Anglo thing?  A legacy of the old science versus religion wars?

I imagine a Quaker meetinghouse with rack space in the basement (yes I know that sounds grim).

I'm just talking about hosting listservs and databases and such, on behalf of the many committees, programs and even schools.  Renters could share the cyberspace with us.

Where religion meets IT:

Hi All

various reflections, some more holy than others.

--One way SOME places might interact with the world of telecomm is just to excuse me pimp the rooftop for cell towers. I tend to think it's nicer if that comes with WIFI for the congregation and the neighborhood too. And revenue is never the only consideration, but a revenue stream sometimes enables other missions.

At "my" Meeting in Seattle, we have several longterm renters and use of space by our version of QVS, QuEST. Quest has their own Wifi router, I think behind a password so they do not have to deal with the driveby lurkers.

Another tenant has their own Wifi conveniently located downstairs from our worship space. This is especially convenient because many in the self-managed homeless community that sleep in our worship space have laptops and REALLY appreciate the Wifi. I wish I could say whether or not the Wifi helps folks in the SHARE group move out of homelessness, but it is VERY popular.

I too think having congregations badn together to treat broadband service as a utility would have interesting and practical ramifications.

You don't "move out of homelessness". You get a place, if you find a relatively unprejudiced landlord who isn't out to rake in maximum bucks, & have sufficient income (Down here in San Diego, working full-time doesn't guarantee that for a significant number of people There's been massive gentrification, over the years.) --

and presto-chango, one is magically changed into a real live homed person! I've seen it happen now & then.

To clarify: "homelessness" is not a personal attribute; it is a socioeconomic institution that's found in societies with inadequate & dysfunctional social/political/economic policies. It was virtually nonexistent in the United States in my day, though we did have poor people whose rent at Hotel Wino occasionally ran short. People needing to live full time on the streets was something that happened in India...

With Comcast at maybe $100/mo in some neighborhoods, it's not just homeless who appreciate when a church cares about them in some practical way. 

Leaving the Wifi open to families in cars in the parking lot, just trying to Google and get homework done, sounds more friendly to me, though I could see some Clerk of Communications (we have that) needing to load balance, giving priority to paying customers (we have two channels, one for guests). Actually I don't think our signal reaches the parking lot, which doesn't belong to us anyway (goes with Mazama's building, formerly Mason).

The WiFi Church I'm location-scouting, still Methodist-owned, could help kids in their study cubbies wanting to escape the tyrannical Church of TI, regardless of their socioeconomic class.

Oregonians live in something of a thralldom, much of our rightful heritage denied us, in American History courses especially (if they even teach those). They make the kids buy crappy old calculators to hammer on, don't teach coding, and pretend that's "math" (guffaw).

Helping kids become more serious students, and helping families navigate a future, would be consistent with its religious mission, when still a church, in its previous incarnation: to champion "the little guy" (like Jesus was) and defend him or her against the oppressive tyranny of various priesthoods, speaking truth to power.

On a related topic that's getting some focus in this discussion:

Some folks are homeless by choice, lets remember, intuitively aware that high living standards and a nomadic lifestyle may in fact go together, depending on one's line of work-study.

A few are honestly pathologically claustrophobic and prefer to tent outside, and why should that be a crime, in North America in particular? 

Living outdoors is one of the oldest and most perfected ways of life around in these parts.  Needing to burn gas to do anything and everything is hardly a step up.  Great way to become a dinosaur, through over-dependence on fossil fuel. 

We just need more serious lines of nomadic gear is all, North Face and REI both steps in the right direction.

Our family moved from base to base and never owned a lot of real estate (by "base" I don't mean "military base" though in the Philippines we did have access to those (Clark and Subic, also officers' digs in Baguio), and took full advantage -- like we shopped in the Px for inexpensive scuba equipment.

We even lived in a tent as our only home after many years in a swank apartment, previously owned by Rod Steiger (movie actor) we were told, not officially confirmed (on Viale Parioli). 

That was prior to relocating to Palestine in service of AFSC, where we again lived in a tent in Ramallah.  In Italy we used our nicer German one and stayed in a camp ground by Lake Bracciano.  As a kid, I was lovin' it, didn't think of myself as "homeless" then. 

The Thomfordes, another Quaker family (FAO farmer transplants from the mid-west) let us borrow Sailbad the Sinner, their little sailboat.

Yes, I have a house now, but I'm 58 and it's the first house I've ever owned.  We're told the "American dream" is all about home ownership, but then we're told a lot of things, aren't we?  What if ya just wanna AirBnB it your whole life?  Shouldn't that be allowed?

In the course of several years pretty close acquaintence with a great many homeless people hereabouts, I met two people who were definitely homeless as a religious choice.

For the overall population, the Musical Chairs model is a pretty good predictor of how many people will "choose' to live on the streets. If one is old, or handicapped by some other condition, one will be just that much slower in grabbing a seat when the gong bongs.

But if you count the number of chairs available (keeping in mind that the expensive ones will be out of reach for a great many people) and subtract that figure, suitably adjusted, from the number of butts to be seated, that will be your figure.

Some will say they're 'choosing to live this way' because they're hopelessly addicted to alcohol or some other debilitating, but emotion-mitigating drug. But that factor is so utterly dependent on how much pain they have to cope with, & how secure an emotional foundation they have for supporting it, that it's a real stretch to imagine that many if any have much choice in the matter.

Keep in mind also that becoming dishoused is in itself traumatic and alienating for most people, something like undergoing a public degradation ceremony followed by severe physical insecurity; also that the only way to qualify for some forms of aid is to have, or at least to claim, some kind of addiction or mental disorder.

Further, you often find programs like the largest one in this city, which a local veteran described as follows: "I think they do help a lot of people; but I've been in a POW camp and I don't want to live that way again." Is that 'a choice'?

Now this is an area where the indigenous people often camped out in pretty minimal shelter, and lived comfortably; but they had plenty to eat & knew where & when they could find the foods of the season -- and there were no police officers waking them in the middle of the night to take even their tents away from them (sometimes, their sleeping bags if an officer finds a reason to arrest them.) They could usually put some kind of barrier between them and anyone who might wish them harm. I heard "I never thought this would happen to me" much more often than I heard stuff about "choosing to live this way."

Police? I talked to a great many, most of whom sincerely wanted to help more than hinder; but they get their orders from people who think of anyone homeless not as a fellow human, but as a threat to the sale & rental value of their properties.

Forrest Curo said:

I heard "I never thought this would happen to me" much more often than I heard stuff about "choosing to live this way."

Lots of good anthropology, the POW quote was poignant.

Yes, the "houseless by choice" voice is relatively rare, but not unheard of.  You'll find an example curated in this collection of houseless voices, recorded, edited and archived by my housemate Linsdey, and Jordan, just down the street.

That goes 7 minutes 22 seconds into it, finding just the right spot.  She only talks for a little while, but may reappear.  The editing is fairly brilliant on all this, my respects to the filmmakers (I played no role other than maybe providing bandwidth).

You'll hear these people speaking in terms of "Occupy Portland" still ongoing, however for those of us who lived through the finite period called OPDX, this looked more like a lingering eddy in the wake of something big; the ship had already been through. 

Just a difference in vantage point.

From my blogs:

Think of this SNL skit: zoom in on some cute uniformed Chinese girl, propping up an SWI (slumped while intoxicated) in some Gotham, USA. "What are you doing?" the curious camera man asks. "I'm assisting a victim of western capitalism" she replies calmly, and flashes her badge: Communist Chinese Peace Corps. Scream!

I suppose you're one of many people reluctant to think that the political/economic system people often misleadingly call "capitalism" has become a dysfunctional Rube Goldberg machine, profitably generating empty housing and displaced people.

The arrangements in China are more overtly tyrannical, but basically similar. People there profit from government subsidies that encourage building housing units in places no one lives; while people displaced from the countryside show up in big cities where they need to live squalidly & work under the table in horrendous conditions.

Here, people profit from indirect government subsidies that make it advantageous to hold property empty, write any interest they pay off their taxes, sell it for capital gains and buy more. Housing funds pour through local governments into the hands of contractors who get all sorts of perks for "increasing property values" aka "making rents and housing costs higher" in an area -- brokered by agencies that get funded on the basis of how much they increase the net property taxes on their turf -- Then some of the contractor profits come back to local government officials in the form of "campaign contributions", which keep them and their small circle of friends gainfully employed as local government officials.

Thorsten Veblen used to say you could understand an American town's government perfectly through knowing how the local real estate market was set up; the system has merely gotten more perfectly tuned over subsequent years -- but it's gotten less & less effective for housing the population since sometime in the 1970's.

I appreciate your exegesis. Some in our meeting have bought and sold houses a gazillion times compared to me. My late wife Dawn was a bookkeeper and understood finances well.  I do OK, but have not studied the culture through the lens of real property anywhere nearly as closely as you have, nor my friend Matthew (we bonded at age six, he become an attorney, since retired, me a math teacher type, still working, mixed with software preacher / coder from many years of free-lancing for NGOs, mostly).

I'm not a defender of status quo "capitalism", a word invoked in some geriatrics' battle with "socialism" equally ill-defined (are the military bases not socialist then, everything "people owned" -- certainly totalitarian, maybe Stalinist?).  I'm closer to libertarian though my tweets say #Singularity for president #transhumanism and stuff like that.  I actually find Ray Kurzweil to be talking quite a bit of poetic sense, compared to most people spouting thoughts (so-called "pundits") on television.

Anyway, remember my transcendentalist lineage.  That doesn't make me a staunch defender of LAWCAP as Fuller called it.  I still keep these static HTML pages around from the 1990s for archival purposes:

So again, my autobio would not suggest I'm trying to defend "white man economics" from GST.


Forrest Curo said:

I suppose you're one of many people reluctant to think that the political/economic system people often misleadingly call "capitalism" has become a dysfunctional Rube Goldberg machine, profitably generating empty housing and displaced people.

Classic capitalism works well in economic niches that satisfy the right conditions: small scale owner-operated businesses, none of which is close to dominating the market for their product.

As Galbraith said, in the tiny business niches that work that way, owners survive by "self-exploitation", because that sort of competition tends to lower profits to minimal survival levels.

But then (as Adam Smith said) no sooner do you get two tradesmen meeting on the street than they've formed 'a conspiracy in restraint of trade' -- that is, a price-fixing scheme to keep them from getting locked into a beggar-thy-neighbor price war. Professional associations, licensing requirements and labor unions tend to fulfill the same function for many occupations.

If you have really large concerns producing the same basic product, whatever competition obtains will probably center on irrelevancies like packaging, scale of operations (whether a few firms in colusion hold a near-monopoly for example), large resources for surviving slow periods in which larger firms squeeze out competent (but smaller) competitors -- and on reputations gained in previous years under other managers & policies. (A manufacturer's reputation doesn't collapse the minute he fires his quality-control department, but only later, after he's sold the business (very profitable, now that it doesn't need to support a quality-control department) to the next fool and taken his money home.)

Once you get into joint-stock corporations (which Smith didn't think would function well, because the operators were using other people's money to produce & sell things as employees, not owners) the scale starts  affecting things badly, like building a three-story mouse and finding that its little legs won't hold it up.

When it's big enough to buy a government of its own (or share one with its friends) a corporation becomes a formidable tyranny in itself; Libertarians don't have a clue where the most unmitigated power is concentrated.

And once you've got government support for private financial manipulations, all sort of nasty positive feedbacks set in...

I got involved in "worker-owned company" model / theory in an earlier chapter, with retreats and planning meetings and such.

Oregon has or had some companies built that way e.g. Burley which until 2006 was like that, making those trailers for pulling children behind bicycles. 

My friend David Koski, Finnish heritage, was into co-ops as well (he's in Finland now, having attended the Bridges conference -- bridging art and math).

I've also had several meetups with "Henry George school" economists, a branch of econ we don't hear about much, but with interesting theories, sometimes tried with good results.  They seem to acknowledge the Sun more, as an ultimate source, which is an old idea, but sometimes missing from economics texts.

That new book Quakernomics (not by Quakers) studies what we might call Quaker Utopianism in the late 1700s. The company coal towns of West Virginia were still in the future. "Company town" didn't yet have all the connotations it would later developed, of human exploitation and union busting (ala Pinkerton detectives etc.). 

Lets also remember monastic sects and their long history of engaging in cooperative living based on cultivation. Even monasteries with the "begging bowl" as an institution are engaged in reciprocation on many levels.  I'm not one to condemn such lifestyles as "parasitic" especially if they're pacifistic and not just about rewarding the bully-warlords.

Apropos of this thread, I'm foreseeing religious communities embracing IT as a way to contribute, much as the Vatican already contributes to astronomy.

Cadbury et al, riding the wave of an industrial revolution in England, thought they could foresee a time when a village-sized campus, harboring numerous enterprises, might offer sustainable, eco-aware, high living standards to its denizens.

Quaker values and testimonies might be upheld and this could still be a viable business.

But in saying "business" I presume very little -- "people staying busy" is what that means i.e. "doing stuff".  I'm not equating "business-oriented" with "capitalist" in too axiomatic a way. 

I've suggested elsewhere that maybe "capitalism" could refer to a Game of Cities (known as "capitals"). So am I a "capitalist" then, for boosting Portland and questioning the wisdom of DC (aka "City of Morons")?  That'd be stretching it I guess.

Also on this topic of defining one's terms, "enjoying high living standards" does not mean "suffering from a terminal case of Affluenza" lets be clear.

If our fellow humans are starving by the million then, lets face it, our living standards aren't all that high. We currently live in a poorly-managed ghetto called Planet Earth, a bit of a hell hole. Student housing is the pits in many cases.

Be that as it may, could we self-organize more successfully and get our Global U into better shape?

A key question is how Malthusian one thinks we need be. That's a question worthy of serious study. Malthus lived a long time ago.  Club of Rome was more recent (Jay Forrester et al) but is still not the last word in global modeling.

Certainly I don't see everyone needing a suburban home in a cul-de-sac to be happy and secure, or needing to drive everywhere for supplies.  Having greater freedom to participate in critical cleanup work -- stuff that actually needs doing, versus "make work" like in so many military jobs -- would add a lot to life's quality. 

What college major leads to decommissioning nuclear weapons for a living?  Do we see those ads on television?  Not yet?

I've satirized "white man's burden syndrome" in some writing... (example)

...but elsewhere I've accepted it's still "touch and go". I don't think I'm too pollyanna.

Theorists offering believable positive science fiction in the direction of a better tomorrow definitely get my attention, above and beyond those easier-to-find "great tragedy" screenwriters and their "I told you so" agendas.  I have this diagram about that here:

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