It has been great to get a chance to experience Europe once again. The last time I was in Europe was with my political science advisor in college (1995) as part of his month long class trip to Europe (he was from Switzerland). During that experience I travelled to the UK, France, Belgium, Amsterdam, Germany and Switerland as part of a focus on the EU which had just expanded into the EuroZone.
The trip was not just for fun (as is the case for this one), I was expected to write a report/research paper to get college credit. What I realized from the process was that essentially the dichomy between Europe focusing on the quality of the human experience and the USA moving towards a desire to express success and meaning through the consumption of a high quantity of things. In particular I focused on the difference in transportation systems noting that Europe had a sophisticated, well connected mass and intercity transit system and the USA did not. I considered that this difference may be a major factor in evaluating the ecological, social and economic sustainability of the two cultures/societies.
This time I get to explore some of what I missed the first time including my time here in Vienna at the Hotel Karolinenof. The hotel was first built in 1911 and has been run by the same family up to now. Franz Nahrada is now the person in charge. Franz has been an advocate of more sustainable grassroots development for many years now. He and I converged by way of our mutual interest in the work of Paolo Soleri and Arcosanti/Arcology.
Earlier this week I had a chance to present at Linux Woche (Week) in Vienna (May 2-4) about the emergence of Open Source Hardware (OSH) and the results I gathered from a conference I had attended earlier in that week – The Open Source Hardware Documentation Jam in New York (April 26-28).
I attended this event at the request of Franz who wanted to consider how the information and proceedings at the event in New York might be relevant to share with folks who have a similar mindset and vision in Europe. As a result of my attendance I put together a presentation for the Linux Woche event that put forward some of my perspectives about OSH and its potential larger social implications. After the presentation I was interviewed by Anna Masoner who was a reporter from Austrian Public Radio.
Today is the Global Villages meeting. Franz is considering how a shift can be made in his life so that he can support the development of a Global Villages movement that leads to local village empowerment as an alternative to corporate globalization. His vision is expressed here at the Globally Integrated Village Environment (GIVE) website.