Small Players, Big Changes

The minutiae of daily life can be a formidable barrier to thinking beyond the afternoon, but fortunately we have a group of people whose quotidian mission is to posit the next 10,000 or so years of existence. San Francisco’s Long Now Foundation hosts monthly seminars about such long-term projections and brainstorming, hosted by founder Stewart Brand, who also started the vital old-school virtual community The Well and edits the Whole Earth Catalog. June’s subject, If Mayors Ruled the World, features guest speaker Benjamin Barber, political theorist and author of Strong Democracy: Participatory Politics for a New Age and Jihad vs. McWorld: How Globalism and Tribalism Are Reshaping the World. Barber explores the notion that mayors — who oversee relatively small political and social structures — are the most effective political pragmatists in office, and how much more might get done with them exercising broader political power. “Cities can make themselves global guarantors of social justice and equality against the depredations of fractious states,” Barber says. When our own Mayor Gavin Newsom instructed workers at City Hall to start issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples, he cited basic civil rights as his reason — and set in motion a debate that quickly reached the state level. Imagine what other change might come of such rationale.
Tue., June 5, 7:30 p.m., 2012

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