Palm Springs I

     "There was once a Garden.  It contained many hundreds of species.  There were two anthropoids who were more intelligent than the other animals.  On one of the trees there was a fruit very high up, so they began to think.  That was a think purposively.  The he ape, Adam, went and got an empty box and put it under the tree, and second box and put it on top of the first, and finally he got the apple.

     Adam and Eve then became almost drunk with excitement.  This was the way to do things.  Make a plan, ABC and you get D  They then began to specialize in doing things the planned way.  In effect, they cast out from the Garden the concept of their own total systemic natures and of its total systemic nature.  Pretty soon, the topsoil disappeared.  After that several species of plants became weeds and some animals became pests and Adam found gardening much harder work.  He said, “It’s a vengeful God.  I should never have eaten the apple.”  Eve heard a voice say, “In pain shalt thou bring forth...”

     These opening words are from Gregory Bateson:  Conscious Purpose vs. Nature from “Steps to an Ecology of Mind.”

     When we become drunk with the excitement of eating the apple, with the possibilities of making a plan, of carrying it through and of achieving an objective - with the Power of the knowledge of good and evil, we sometimes tend to pile the boxes a bit too high and our careful plan comes tumbling down.

     Is this an abstraction?  Yes, but it is also, in a sense, the story of the 1987-1988 fiscal year.  Let me touch on some of the problems in the garden in the past year, although some of them had their roots going back over an earlier time.

     The result was that we borrowed funds, first from the bank which added interest costs to our budget.  We ultimately decided we were better off for a number of reasons to borrow from ourselves, although this has the effect of reducing our income from those funds previously invested.

     We also determined we needed to increase our unrestricted capital by repaying out of our budget at a faster rate, a number of costs we were writing off over time.  These actions taken together put pressure on our budget and we had to make a series of retrenchments, but no programs were cut nor staff let go.

     Charles Hampden-Turner in the “Maps of the Mind’ says, “The tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil was but one tree in the Garden of Eden.  In modern terminology, we may call it a “decision tree,” one sub-assembly of thought and action in the midst of an ecological network and balanced environment of the Garden.  Whenever man (according to Hampden-Turner) acts purposively, one part of the total system is arbitrarily made into a subject and other parts into objects or means for satisfying desire (or reaching fruit).  This has an inherent tendency to upset the balance of the whole.”

     We have been upsetting the balance of the whole over the past ten years with respect to our record keeping and internal communications, acting purposively, trying to reach the fruits of contemporary electronic data processing.  In those ten years we have spent over $2.5 million on computerizing our record keeping and operations .  Further expenditures will be required to bring our systems to current levels of technology and to integrate them with each other.  This effort haas been the major draw upon our unrestricted capital in recent years, the tantalizing serpent of the financial pressures of the past years. 

     Through the end of last year we had recovered through changes to the operating budget approximately $800,000 of the $3.5 million.  The accumulating costs grew significant more rapidly than we were charging them off, or to put it another way, Adam and Eve and Bob and others were piling the boxes a little too high.  By itself this situation would have been manageable.  Taken together with other things which have been happening, the pressures were great on the stack of boxes.  We have now speeded up the write-off.  We have stopped capitalizing for the computer costs, and beginning in the 1987-1988 fiscal year, we have budgeted $190,000 per year to pay down computer costs not covered by prior year budgets.  This is part of our program of restoring working capital.

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