Camazotz on Earth

Fordlandia: The Failure Of Ford’s Jungle Utopia

June 6, 2009, 2:50 PM ET

Henry Ford didn’t just want to be a maker of cars — he wanted to be a maker of men. He thought he could perfect society by building model factories and pristine villages to go with them. And he was pretty successful at it in Michigan. But in the jungles of Brazil, he would ultimately be defeated.

It was 1927. Ford wanted his own supply of rubber — and he decided to get it by carving a plantation and a miniature Midwest factory town out of the Amazon jungle. It was called “Fordlandia.”

Leonor Weeks DeCeco was 8 years old when she joined her father in Henry Ford’s jungle utopia. “We had everything that we really wanted. We had a swimming pool, tennis court, golf course, and I had my animals — my Chico, which was a rare monkey.”

“My dad was a construction engineer, and he was in charge of everything, and I enjoyed being down there with him,” she says.

But for pretty much everyone else, it was a green hell of riot and blight. Author Greg Grandin tells the story in his new book, Fordlandia: The Rise and Fall of Henry Ford’s Forgotten Jungle City.

The project didn’t start out well, Grandin says. There was a huge clash of culture between mechanized America, Ford’s utopian ideals and the way the indigenous people lived.

The first failure of Fordlandia was social. “The first years of the settlement were plagued by waste and violence and vice,” Grandin says.

“There were knife fights, there were riots over food and attempts to impose Ford-style regimentation,” Grandin says. “When people ask me what Fordlandia was like, I tell them to think more of Deadwood than Our Town.”

Things went bad over simple stuff, like serving food. “Ford had very particular understandings about what a proper diet should be,” Grandin says. “He tried to impose brown rice and whole-wheat bread and canned peaches and oatmeal — and that itself created discontent.”

But when a Ford engineer changed the way food was served — from wait service to cafeteria-style service — the workers rebelled. Angry workers destroyed the mess hall, pushed trucks into the river and nearly ruined the whole operation. It cost tens of thousands of dollars of damage, Grandin says.

But Ford didn’t just want to tame men; he wanted to tame the jungle itself — and therein was his next failure.

“Ford basically tried to impose mass industrial production on the diversity of the jungle,” Grandin says. But the Amazon is one of the most complex ecological systems in the world — and didn’t fit into Ford’s plan. “Nowhere was this more obvious and more acute than when it came to rubber production,” Grandin says.

Ford was so distrustful of experts that he never even consulted one about rubber trees. If he had, Grandin says, he would have learned that plantation rubber can’t be grown in the Amazon. “The pests and the fungi and the blight that feed off of rubber are native to the Amazon. Basically, when you put trees close together in the Amazon, what you in effect do is create an incubator — but Ford insisted.”

The resulting plantation actually accelerated the production of caterpillars, leaf blight and other organisms that prey on rubber, Grandin says.

Even when not worried about riots or leaf blight, the people running the plantation — brought down from Michigan — had a hard time in the rainforest.

“They succumbed to the heat, the oppressive humidity,” Grandin says. “Wives who accompanied the men down to Fordlandia had less to do. Men, at least, were charged with trying to build the town, trying to build a plantation.”

Fordlandia isn’t just the story of a plantation; it’s a story about Ford’s ego. As disaster after disaster struck, Ford continued to pour money into the project. Not one drop of latex from Fordlandia ever made it into a Ford car.

But the more it failed, the more Ford justified the project in idealistic terms. “It increasingly was justified as a work of civilization, or as a sociological experiment,” Grandin says. One newspaper article even reported that Ford’s intent wasn’t just to cultivate rubber, but to cultivate workers and human beings.

In the end, Ford’s utopia failed. Fordlandia’s residents, ever in hope their patriarch would someday visit their Midwestern industrial town in the middle of the jungle, gave up and left.

These days, Fordlandia is quite beautiful, Grandin says. The “American” town where the managers and administrators lived is abandoned and overgrown. Weeds grow over the American-style bungalows, and bats roost in the rafters, and little red fire hydrants sit covered in vines.



Peaceful Conflict Resolution

An article i saved from on February 28, 2016.

Peaceful Conflict Resolution

by Daniel Hertz

The practice of Yoga and Meditation allows us to learn and develop very useful relaxation and breathing skills. These skills facilitate the movement toward more inner awareness. When these same skills are applied to the external world, they can become valuable tools in helping others find peaceful solutions to conflicts. Mediation is a gentle approach for disputing parties to come together and discuss and resolve their differences. The most difficult and challenging problems can be resolved if each disputing party can slow their breathing, relax their shoulders, and let go of any tension in the forehead. As the Dalai Lama has said, “Peace does not mean an absence of conflicts; differences will always be there. Peace means solving these differences through peaceful means.”

Many people are naturally very good at finding a way to resolve conflicts peacefully.  But this skill of conflict resolution is also something that can be taught. Recently I was asked to train a group of students, 18-21 years old, in peer mediation.  It is in a school for new immigrants in Minneapolis, Minnesota.  Students from many different countries come together to form a school community.  Usually the incidence of behavior problems is very low.  Most of the students are there to make the most of the learning opportunity.  But occasionally the wrong mix of students gets caught up in a divisive way of thinking. This can result in conflicts between the different language groups that causes hostility and even violence.  The students need to be shown a method to resolve their conflicts peacefully.  I have witnessed many times that peer mediation skills can be taught to people of all ages and backgrounds.

A conflict between two people can either escalate or de-escalate. This depends on the reaction of each person involved in the dispute.  If someone directs their anger toward you and you respond with anger, the situation will escalate.   If you react to anger with a calm, caring, and compassionate tone, the situation will de-escalate.  This is always easier said than done, but it is possible.  Often our first instinct is to respond with anger when someone gets angry at you.  But we can learn from practicing Meditation that the reaction we have is a choice.  This choice does not have to be a reflection of what is coming at you.  It can be a reflection of what is inside of you.  We can also learn from Meditation that it is possible to detach, even just a little bit, from the hold that a strong emotion has on you.

Through experience I have learned that it is not possible to resolve a problem when both parties are at the peak of their anger.  It may be necessary to wait for a few hours or until the next day to begin a mediation.  Relaxation and breathing exercises can help speed up the process of coming down from the anger mountain. If the two disputants cannot resolve the problem on their own, it may take a 3rd party to mediate the situation. Someone who can remain calm, relaxed, and neutral in the midst of angry people can learn to become a great mediator. The practice of Yoga and Meditation gives us these skills.

Daniel Hertz (E-RYT 500) is an award winning teacher and counselor in the Minneapolis Public Schools and is on the faculty of The Meditation Center. He is the author of two Yoga-Meditation related books that benefit SRIVERM, the school in the remote Himalayas founded by Swami Hari.  Please see  for more information.

You Were Made For This by Clarissa Pinkola Estes

You Were Made For This

By Clarissa Pinkola Estes

My friends, do not lose heart. We were made for these times. I have heard from so many recently who are deeply and properly bewildered. They are concerned about the state of affairs in our world now. Ours is a time of almost daily astonishment and often righteous rage over the latest degradations of what matters most to civilized, visionary people.

You are right in your assessments. The lustre and hubris some have aspired to while endorsing acts so heinous against children, elders, everyday people, the poor, the unguarded, the helpless, is breathtaking. Yet, I urge you, ask you, gentle you, to please not spend your spirit dry by bewailing these difficult times. Especially do not lose hope. Most particularly because, the fact is that we were made for these times. Yes. For years, we have been learning, practicing, been in training for and just waiting to meet on this exact plain of engagement.

I grew up on the Great Lakes and recognize a seaworthy vessel when I see one. Regarding awakened souls, there have never been more able vessels in the waters than there are right now across the world. And they are fully provisioned and able to signal one another as never before in the history of humankind.

Look out over the prow; there are millions of boats of righteous souls on the waters with you. Even though your veneers may shiver from every wave in this stormy roil, I assure you that the long timbers composing your prow and rudder come from a greater forest. That long-grained lumber is known to withstand storms, to hold together, to hold its own, and to advance, regardless.

In any dark time, there is a tendency to veer toward fainting over how much is wrong or unmended in the world. Do not focus on that. There is a tendency, too, to fall into being weakened by dwelling on what is outside your reach, by what cannot yet be. Do not focus there. That is spending the wind without raising the sails.

We are needed, that is all we can know. And though we meet resistance, we more so will meet great souls who will hail us, love us and guide us, and we will know them when they appear. Didn’t you say you were a believer? Didn’t you say you pledged to listen to a voice greater? Didn’t you ask for grace? Don’t you remember that to be in grace means to submit to the voice greater?

Ours is not the task of fixing the entire world all at once, but of stretching out to mend the part of the world that is within our reach. Any small, calm thing that one soul can do to help another soul, to assist some portion of this poor suffering world, will help immensely. It is not given to us to know which acts or by whom, will cause the critical mass to tip toward an enduring good.

What is needed for dramatic change is an accumulation of acts, adding, adding to, adding more, continuing. We know that it does not take everyone on Earth to bring justice and peace, but only a small, determined group who will not give up during the first, second, or hundredth gale.

One of the most calming and powerful actions you can do to intervene in a stormy world is to stand up and show your soul. Soul on deck shines like gold in dark times. The light of the soul throws sparks, can send up flares, builds signal fires, causes proper matters to catch fire. To display the lantern of soul in shadowy times like these—to be fierce and to show mercy toward others; both are acts of immense bravery and greatest necessity.

Struggling souls catch light from other souls who are fully lit and willing to show it. If you would help to calm the tumult, this is one of the strongest things you can do.

There will always be times when you feel discouraged. I too have felt despair many times in my life, but I do not keep a chair for it. I will not entertain it. It is not allowed to eat from my plate.

The reason is this: In my uttermost bones I know something, as do you. It is that there can be no despair when you remember why you came to Earth, who you serve, and who sent you here. The good words we say and the good deeds we do are not ours. They are the words and deeds of the One who brought us here. In that spirit, I hope you will write this on your wall: When a great ship is in harbor and moored, it is safe, there can be no doubt. But that is not what great ships are built for.
Clarissa Pinkola Estes, Ph.D

Author of the best seller Women Who Run with the Wolves

The Art Of Loving

The Art Of Loving

by Erich Fromm, published 1956

Excerpts for Validation Day

The most fundamental kind of love, which underlies all types of love, is brotherly/sisterly love.  By this i mean the sense of responsibility, care, respect, knowledge of any other human being, the wish to further their life.  This is the kind of love the Bible speaks of when it says: love thy neighbor as thyself.  Brotherly/Sisterly love is love for all human beings; it is characterized by its very lack of exclusiveness.  If i have developed the capacity for love, then i cannot help loving my brothers/sisters.  In brotherly/sisterly love there is the experience of union with all humanity, of human solidarity, of human at-onement.  Brotherly/sisterly love is based on the experience that we are all one.  The differences in talents, intelligence, knowledge are negligible in comparison with the identity of the human core common to all humanity.  In order to experience this identity it is necessary to penetrate from the periphery to the core.  If i perceive in another person mainly the surface, i perceive mainly the differences, that which separates us.  If i penetrate to the core, i perceive our identity, the fact of our brotherhood/sisterhood.  …

Brotherly/sisterly love is love between equals: but indeed, even as equals we are not always “equal”; inasmuch as we are human, we are all in need of help.  Today i, tomorrow you.  But this need of help does not mean that the one is helpless, the other powerful.  Helplessness is a transitory condition; the ability to stand and walk on one’s own feet is the permanent and common one.

Concentration is by far more difficult to practice in our culture, in which everything seems to act against the ability to concentrate. … Indeed, to be able to concentrate means to be able to be alone with oneself–and this ability is precisely a condition for the ability to love. … Anyone who tries to be alone with theirself will discover how difficult it is. … It would be helpful to practice a few very simple exercises, as, for instance, to sit in a relaxed position (neither slouching, nor rigid), to close one’s eyes, and to try to see a white screen in front of one’s eyes, and to try to remove all interfering pictures and thoughts, then to try to follow one’s breathing; not to think about it, nor force it, but to follow it–and in doing so to sense it; furthermore try to have a sense of “I”; I = myself, as the center of my powers, as the creator of my world.  One should, at least, do such a concentration exercise every morning for twenty minutes (and if possible longer) and every evening before going to bed.

Besides such exercises, one must learn to be concentrated in everything one does, in listening to music, in reading a book, in talking to a person, in seeing a view.  The activity at this very moment must be the only thing that matters, to which one is fully given.  If one is concentrated, it matters little what one is doing; the important, as well as the unimportant things assume a new dimension of reality, because they have one’s full attention.  To learn concentration requires avoiding, as far as possible, trivial conversation, that is, conversation which is not genuine.  If two people talk about the growth of a tree they both know, or about the taste of bread they have just eaten together, or about a common experience in their job, such conversation can be relevant, provided they experience what they are talking about, and do not deal with it in an abstract way; on the other hand, a conversation can deal with matters of politics or religion and yet be trivial; this happens when the two people talk in cliches, when their hearts are not in what they are saying. …

To be concentrated in relation to others means primarily being able to listen. …

To be concentrated means to live fully in the present, in the here and now, and not to think of the next thing to be done, while i am doing something right now.  Needless to say that concentration must be practiced most of all by people who love each other.  They must learn to be close to each other without running away in the many ways which this is customarily done. …

One cannot learn to concentrate without becoming sensitive to oneself.  … One is aware, for instance, of a sense of tiredness or depression, and instead of giving in to it and supporting it by depressive thoughts which are always at hand, one asks oneself “what happened?”  Why am i depressed?  The same is done by noticing when one is irritated or angry, or tending to daydreaming, or other escape activities.  In each of these instances the important thing is to be aware of them, and not to rationalize them in the thousand and one ways in which this can be done; furthermore, to be open to our own inner voice, which will tell us–often rather immediately–why we are anxious, depressed, or irritated. …

To love means to commit oneself without guarantee, to give oneself completely in the hope that our love will produce love in the loved person.  Love is an act of faith, and whoever is of little faith is also of little love.

“You didn’t know i was watching through the eyes of every person you met, nor could you hear my voice in the wind.  But in your heart i await you, my love, forever.” –Drunvalo

6,000 ft. by Jessica Smith

6,000 ft.

I have come here to find
the quiet
like stacked tiles
that clings to mountaintops
and grows in fields

There is a taste of nothing,
the calming blankness of water,
a cold fire hanging from my ribs

The way small voices
pike, marmot, columbine
speak below our hearing
and blend into a song,
their descant
a pool floating above my head
The ripples are all I recognize

Improvised living

Yesterday a loved one requested dried fruit and nuts.

Stopped on a lark this morning and picked up a 5 gallon plastic water jug lying on the side of the road.  Tossed it in the back of the car.

Conveniently, a traveling salesperson came to work today selling candy, dried fruit, and nuts.  Emptied the wallet buying dried apples and pistachios.

Went to the local book store over lunch.  Got permission to drum in the lobby, using the water bottle as a drum.  Found a desirable book in the shelves afterward.  Alas, the wallet was still empty.  However, staff enjoyed the drumming so much, they gave the book free of charge.

What a fun way to be.

Bugs In A Bowl by David Budbill

Bugs In A Bowl


Han Shan, that great and crazy, wonder-filled
Chinese poet of a thousand years ago said:

We're just like bugs in a bowl.
All day going around
never leaving their bowl.

I say: That's right!  Every day
climbing up the steep sides,
sliding back.  Over and over again.
Around and around.
Up and back down.

Sit in the bottom of the bowl,
head in your hands, cry, moan,
feel sorry for yourself.


Look around.
See your fellow bugs.
Walk around.  Say,
Hey, how you doing?
Say, Nice bowl!