Who is Erik
I've been a DIY entrepreneur for 30 years. I've been a cook, a schoolteacher, and a wooden fence builder. Most of my practical experience is related to marketing and e-commerce.
I like to explore ideas, learn about the world, create cool new things, help friends to monetize their projects, climb on rocks and spend more time in nature than among people.
I enjoy organizing events that help to foster the development and nourishment of communities.
I grew up in a town of 100 people in Minnesota farm country. I was the first person in my family to go to college, after dropping out of high school for a year because it felt like a creative prison.
I studied history, politics, leadership, management, educational theory, law and economics in college and graduate school. I interned at the Minnesota House of Representatives and was very involved with local electoral politics with the Minnesota Green Party and DFL Party.
I won writing awards for my studies on the rise of neo-fascism and white nationalism, and for research I conducted on the Rondo neighborhood in Saint Paul.
I studied and visited ecovillages and traditional building methods, seeking a quieter and healthier life.
In terms of politics and ideology, anarcho-primitivism is the closest match to my belief system. My friend Ran Prieur and I share a similar aspirational worldview.
My basic premise is that powerful non-human actors (both government and corporations) should be limited in size and scope, and religion/faith should not be used as a basis for public policy.
The contrast with liberalism is that liberals tend to believe that institutions like public schools can be perfected, given enough time and money (which has not proven to be true in ~120 years of trying to reform and perfect public education).
The contrast with libertarianism is that I trust large corporations even less than I trust entrenched government bureaucracies. Governments can be voted out of power. How does one vote Koch Refineries out of power?
After college, my research shifted from the academic to the practical. I rebooted a distance learning program for at-risk high school students. My program offered flexible curriculum that students could complete at their own pace.
My work was successful enough to create net positive revenue for the school district, and helped a lot of students to catch up on credits so they could graduate on time.
I was a proponent of student-centered methods of education, such as those promoted by John Taylor Gatto, Deborah Meier, Wayne Jennings and John Holt. I attended graduate school in Public Administration in the hopes of opening a charter school at some point in the future.
My distance learning program ended when the school district's HR director threatened me over my disability accommodations, and sought to end my employment and my successful & popular program.
My mentor and my friend on the school board who urged me to pursue a career in education both stood silent, so I left education to work on web design, ecommerce and digital marketing.
During my senior year of college, I was diagnosed with multiple chemical sensitivities. I saw a series of doctors and specialists over the course of 10 years to understand and cure my ever-increasing sensitivities to chemicals, allergens and food.
My sensitivities increased substantially after the stress of losing my teaching job, and so I needed to reboot my career. Not having a boss was important to me after my experience with the teaching profession.
After a decade of painful tests and a steep decline in health, the doctor's conclusion was that there was no cure and my sensitivities were high enough that I probably wouldn't live much longer. I didn't accept this as an answer, and spent 15 years testing various methods to heal myself via trial and error.
I learned a lot about nutrition, exercise, biorhythms, neurofeedback, mediation, and integrating all of the above into effective self-healing modalities. Each forward step helped me to reclaim more of my life and health, but it was a very difficult road that can be fairly described as tortuous.
In total, I was in some form of emotional and mental fog for 25 years. 4 years of that time were spent in near-complete monastic isolation in the northern Wisconsin forest.
When I was at my sickest, I nearly died several times. The only thing that carried me through was a determination to heal, to improve, to tell the doctors to fuck the fuck off with their fucking drug pushing, and to reclaim my freedom.
I remain sensitive to a variety of things, my sensitivities are still occasionally life threatening. I have little to no trust in modern medicine, my process of self healing involves isolation meditation, neuro-linguistic programming centered on the amygdala, lots of detox-specific vitamins and Chinese tea.
My doctors told me I'd be dead by now, so I'd consider that a win.
I've found that conventional modern wisdom is seldom accurate, and that people tend to get grumpy when you don't believe the same silly ideas that they do.
Silly ideas like modern medicine is a replicable science, that Marbury v Madison was a legitimate use of court power, that capitalism is incompatible with humanitarianism, that public schools are the best way to educate children, that police are trained to protect and serve, that environmental science models are worth more than the paper they're printed on, that people are inherently broken or evil.
The Revolution of Lowered Expectations
There are many brilliant people doing creative and cutting-edge work in the world, building technologies that can revolutionize the world.
But we promote and follow leaders for whom there is never enough status and gold, never a corner that cannot be cut, never a self-serving lie that goes untold, never a corruption of meaning that cannot be signed off upon.
We scold them when they get caught, but reward their ingenuity with our attention and dollars and votes.
Anger can arise when a person’s basic needs are consistently unmet.
Anger can arise when every attempt to live a better life hits the walls of self-serving, venial corruption and lies.
This anger can lead to disappointment, juvenile nihilism as public policy (Idiocracy), despair, cartoon leaders who promise cartoon solutions, the celebration of dishonor and lies, depression over the lack of progress, division, and then more anger.
This process can create a self-reinforcing revolution of lowered expectations.
It can also create a motivation to create something better, and to replace what's most broken -- our broken and corrupt leaders.
We can stop rewarding their companies with our money, their politicians with our votes, their celebrities with our time, and their poisonous corrupt ideas with the benefit our of minds.
Calico Hills Cleansing
The Path of Most Resistance
Have you noticed that many people get mad at you for not agreeing with their specific interpretation of news and events? They want you to reinforce their ideas, to their tribal specifications, or they'll label you as 'not one of my tribe' and treat you differently. Does this remind you of third grade?
Have you noticed that the loudest voices are the ones that do the least amount of work to fix things? They want you to reify their dreams, to their precise specifications, and they'll shit on you if you deviate from their dreams by 1%.
The easiest thing to do is listen to these loud and very sure-of-themselves voices, to silence your own inner voice, and surrender to the un-wisdom of the crowds.
Change is difficult. It requires strength, bravery and hope.
Change requires doing difficult new things, and sometimes (or often) failing.
Sometimes the hardest thing you can do is pick yourself up off the floor and crawl an inch, after the world has kicked you down.
Sometimes the bravest thing you can do is to is pick yourself up off the floor and crawl, after you’ve gotten knocked down for the fifteenth time in a row.
Sometimes this requires telling the naysayers and doubters to fuck off -- to disconnect from their poisonous, limiting ideas that they insist you believe in too.
My answer to the vagaries of life lies in existentialism, the creation and reification of dreams from a state of disorder towards a state of beauty/truth.
It also lies in the Buddhist concept of attachment, of not attaching emotion or weight to the actions words and decisions of others. I've found that it is a practice, not a solution :)
(Note: the scar near the center of my forehead is a reminder of how badly my head swelled up the last time I trusted modern medicine to push their drugs into my system. My tetracycline-stained teeth are a lifelong reminder of how doctors tend to prescribe drugs without reading the adverse effect warning labels).