Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Transportation policy discussions in the United States -2009
(Collaboative problem-solving with Bill the Lizard - 1865)

Looking from afar at the transportation policy discussions currently sputtering on at the level of the federal government, in most states and in many cities in the United States -- what to prioritize and fund in the face of combined climate urgency and the need for sustainable and fair mobility? - one is reminded of an earlier tale of tangled collaborative problem solving many years ago in England, which ran like this:

Fresh out of "Alice in Wonderland" where a rapidly-expanding Alice gets stuck in the chimney. Bill the Lizard -- the guy seems to do all of the hard work for The White Rabbit and the denizens of the community -- is the one who gets nominated to be the point man in their team problem-solving process, much against his better instincts.

Here is the well-thought out process that this team engaged in the face of their problem.

. . .

Where’s the other ladder?

Why, I hadn’t to bring but one; Bill’s got the other

Bill! fetch it here, lad!

Here, put ’em up at this corner

No, tie ’em together first.

They don’t reach half high enough yet

Oh! they’ll do well enough; don’t be particular

Here, Bill! catch hold of this rope

Will the roof bear?

Mind that loose slate

Oh, it’s coming down! Heads below!’ (a loud crash)

‘Now, who did that?

It was Bill, I fancy

Who’s to go down the chimney?

Nay, I shan’t! you do it!

That I won’t, then!

Bill’s to go down

Here, Bill! the master says you’re to go down the chimney!’

# # #

Am I the only one who sees a parallel here?

(And if only our American friends were the sole example of this "energetic problem-solving" technique. Have a look into the mirror and see if this fits in with the state of play in your country. We are not alone. Sob!)

Source: "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland", Charles Lutwidge Dodgson , (1865). W.W. Norton & Co.; Upd Sub edition (November 17, 1999). ISBN-10: 0393048470.

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