Sustainable Infrastructure

Posted in: Pandora's Box

Infrastructure is a term that many have remixed for their own needs. Most originally and generally it is and was used to talk about the military or societal structures. For my purposes the common discourse on business infrastructure is more useful. However, I remix and sample it to create discourse and concepts for sustainable infrastructure. For me, it is a journey of decolonization and ritual of remembrance to think about sustainability along this path.


Infrastructure is the basic physical and organizational structures needed for the operation of a society or enterprise, or the services and facilities necessary for an economy to function. It can be generally defined as the set of interconnected structural elements that provide framework supporting an entire structure of development.


Business Infrastructure (within capitalism) “ensures the proper coordination of all human resources, processes and other operational tools necessary to ensure manageable [and] profitable growth. Business infrastructure provides you with a solid foundation, a replicable platform, a model and a formula that makes each time you do something, easier than the time before. Business infrastructure ensures consistency in your delivery of customer value and it is the key to reaping the benefits of economies of scale.” (Equilibria, Inc. 2009. 2/21/2014)


Sustainable Infrastructure, as I am considering it in this moment, draws from these concepts and from my research on Yoruba culture and If a spiritual traditions. Sustainable Infrastructure integrates resources and actions to maintain balance and support abundant life. In terms of the business language, one could also say that Sustainable Infrastructure supports the coordination of human & spiritual resources, processes & rituals, and tools necessary for the maintenance of balance, peace and abundance.

Sustainable infrastructure builds on foundations that have been previously laid. Like rituals that grow in power overtime but do not stagnate but rather transform and evolve in a natural flow of consensus, efficiency and consistency are maintained and enhanced each time you do something. Sustainable Infrastructure allows all involved to benefit from collective wisdom and collective knowledge to achieve common goals.

For example, every morning I make myself tea. I noticed one morning that I seemed to go to the cabinet and back to the counter where the kettle heats up four times – one time for the cup, and again and again for the tea bag, the plate to steep the tea and the spoon. That 3 additional trips. I decided when I opened the cupboard I would get the cup and a bag, then go to the next cupboard for the plate and the silverware drawer is underneath that cabinet. So, 1 time around the kitchen and ending at the kettle vs. 4 trips back and forth. This is now my morning gathering ritual.

This example is slightly representative of the work we do in community. Sustainable Infrastructure meets at the intersection of the 1) people involved, 2) the tools and tangibles involved and 3) the steps or rituals involved. They all must be in balance with one another to achieve the intended and highest good. Therefore, in considering what is needed in order for me to finish the short films I have in the queue I must consider 1) who is involved or needs to be; 2) what are the tools involved or needed; and 3) what are the steps and rituals necessary to reach the goal.

This is where I started to determine that 1) I am involved as the editor and I need at least one other film literate person to consider my work along with the feedback that I have gotten in the past from colleagues and instructors. Also, I need for their NOT to be other people around while I am editing. 2) the tools involved include a computer, audio and video monitors, headphones, hard drives, office supplies (for me that includes: pen/cil, paper, notecards, tape, etc.), internet, neat snacks, a space to work in that is private and accessible 24hrs a day. 3) Gathering materials, setting goals and intentions, JUST DO IT. Sleep when sleepy, eat when hungry.

Obviously, this could be much more detailed. And there are things that have to do with the people involved that are additional. For example, if I am stressed about money I may not edit consistently. If I feel like I am being judged for not finishing, I may not edit consistently. It does not matter that these things may make no sense. What matters is what is needed to accomplish the goal in balance. No person should be expected to work well with the pressure of providing for themselves and their family is looming over them. No person should be expected to work without some forms of validation, if that is what they need. In both cases there is a balance that is necessary that has to do with the “people involved”. This is not an obstacle to overcome it is a indication of where balance is needed.

What about one more weighty (touchy feely) example, like what needs to be done to allow an elder access to the wisdom of their years; even the wisdom that they came to through struggle. What is needed to create a space where they can share with us (as Mobile Homecoming), sometimes as strangers, from a place of love, peace and power as we sit reverently listening? We have discovered a process that works well for us. A ritual. It has evolved several times from it’s creation to arrive at it’s current form and I am sure it will evolve even more.

Sometimes, the situation or the space does not allow for us to do every step. We can see the difference. But, we do what we can. Our ritual(s) includes:

  1. Communicating exuberant excitement and anticipation of the meeting (we share love because we feel love).
  2. Greeting with hugs (when possible) and gratitude.
  3. Sharing a meal or edible treat.
  4. Offering a poem written in honor of the person and their journey
  5. Drumming and dancing improvisational based on the persons name, energy and our own gratitude.
  6. Listening
  7. Asking
  8. Listening
  9. Reflecting
  10. Gratitude
  11. Connecting to community (we share our people with each other)
  12. Keeping in touch (as much as we can)


Infrastructure”“Hard” infrastructure refers to the large physical networks necessary for the functioning of a modern industrial nation, whereas “soft” infrastructure refers to all the institutions which are required to maintain the economic, health, and cultural and social standards, such as the financial system, the education system, the health care system, the system of government, and law enforcement, as well as emergency services.” This is a useful way for me to think about the necessary elements for any group or goal. More on this later.

“Viewed functionally, infrastructure facilitates the production of goods and services, and also the distribution of finished products to markets, as well as basic social services such as schools and hospitals; for example, roads enable the transport of raw materials to a factory. In military parlance, the term refers to the buildings and permanent installations necessary for the support, redeployment, and operation of military forces. There is social importance of infrastructure is clear and there are multiple ways that infrastructures shape human society and vice versa.”


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  1. Infrastructure, American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, (accessed January 17, 2009)
  2.  Infrastructure, JP1-02, Department of Defense Dictionary of Military and Associated Terms, p. 260, 12 April 2001 (rev. 31 August 2005) January 17, 2009)
  3. Harris, Marvin (1968). Cultural Materialism. Altamira.
  4.  Dalakoglou, Dimitris, The Road

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