Human endeavour wheel

A Wholly Owned Subsidiary – September 20, 2012

Recently, two people have turned my thinking around. One, on a beautiful Galiano Island summer morning, said, ‘You know that triangle thing, it’s wrong. The environment is not a point on the triangle along with ‘social’ and ‘economic’. It’s the ground on which the triangle rests.’

My eyes widened as I stared at her. I was astonished that I had accepted that ‘three pillars’ idea–hook, line, and sinker. But that model was a step; the best thing we had at the time. Now it seems downright misleading.

I thought for a few weeks. How would we properly diagram the relationship? It’s not about being ‘fair’ to nature; giving it a look in. It’s about maintaining our source of everything: oxygen, water, food, health, metals, minerals, fossil fuels, climate…

Next, I heard that beautiful quote of Gaylord Nelson, founder of Earth Day (first celebrated in 1970) and former Governor of Wisconsin, who died in July 2005: ‘The economy is a wholly owned subsidiary of the environment,’ he said, ‘not the other way around.’

I tried an equilateral triangle sitting on a line. It didn’t have much pizzazz. Then I thought of Leonardo Da Vinci’s diagram, the Canon of Proportions, with the man inside the circle.

How about bending the environment line into a circle that contains the triangle? The three enclosed angles—which are all social— needed different names: economy, culture, justice—three interwoven human constructs which emerge from environment. How about calling it the Human Endeavour Wheel? –CG-W




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