Alex Blanes

Marketing Specialist & Community Manager, THNK, Institute for Creative Leadership and Entrepreneurship
Vancouver, Canada

About Alex

Bio

Geek, a poet, an idealist, a philomath, humanist. I love nature, paradox, entelechy, and ataraxia. I love living and the uniquely human experience of distance. I revel in the verity of human nascency. And if you couldn't tell, I'm happily addicted to words.

An idea worth spreading

"In that first hardly noticed moment in which you wake,
coming back to this life from the other
more secret, moveable and frighteningly honest world
where everything began,
there is a small opening into the new day
which closes the moment you begin your plans.

What you can plan is too small for you to live.
What you can live wholeheartedly will make plans enough
for the vitality hidden in your sleep.

To be human is to become visible
while carrying what is hidden as a gift to others.
To remember the other world in this world
is to live in your true inheritance."

- David Whyte, excerpted from "What To Remember When Waking"

I'm passionate about

human potential, the human condition, nature, education, philosophy, music, writing, language, poetry, sailing, hiking, spirituality, liminality, mythology, activism, sustainability.

Talk to me about

Whatever sets your heart on fire.

Favorite talks

Comments & conversations

176235
Alex Blanes
Posted over 3 years ago
Nate Garvis: Change our culture, change our world
Very much enjoyed this talk, especially the way in which he articulated "technology". Mr. Garvis, you hit the nail on the head (or any other appropriate tool metaphor): in this day and age, values are what we need to pay attention to. They are the atomic structure of our institutions, our relationships, our belief systems; taken economically, values can be seen as the 'invisible hand' in directing cultural change and the creation of "habitats". As Nate alludes to in his conclusion, being able to see and access the many 'tools' that surround us is essential to creating a better world. In order to achieve what he describes—the creation of "built-in designed values" that are "purposed for the common good"—I think we'll need active and conscious participation in culture. This requires well-developed, individual cognitive toolkits to "interface" with the civic institutions that surround us. A liberal education is one way of developing such a toolkit, but there are many others. I'm glad to see such holistic mentalities emerging from TED. Thanks for the wisdom, Mr. Garvis!
176235
Alex Blanes
Posted over 3 years ago
Sandra Fisher-Martins: The right to understand
This is one of the best TED talks I've seen. Defeat at the hands of incomprehension is not a personal failure, it is a failure of communication—as a university student, I know of countless instances where I or someone I know has "put on their clever face". But such pretence doesn't get us through the material, only the situation in which we're expected to understand it. We're left both hungry and out of the loop, which renders us vulnerable to people who would take advantage of that. I must express my gratitude to you, Sandra. What you describe is exactly the kind of "media literate", civic engagement campaign that I strive to see happen in my lifetime. Truly empowering stuff.
176235
Alex Blanes
Posted over 3 years ago
Justin Hall-Tipping: Freeing energy from the grid
I do not wish to assume in the slightest that our present level of prosperity can be taken for granted. I fully acknowledge, despite admittedly not fully understanding, the benefits of the market system and exchange in general (among others, Matt Ridley explained them very well). I also appreciate your rational optimism, and your compliment. My primary dissatisfaction is with the decoupled nature of economics to natural systems and their processes. Economics today is so abstract, so distant from the physical reality, that value has become distorted. To expand on these thoughts, I highly recommend this presentation on Sustainable Economics by Dr. William Rees, an ecologist and professor of Community and Regional Planning at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver. He is also the creator of the "ecological footprint" concept. http://ineteconomics.org/video/talk/sustainable-economics-3-5 I apologize if this reply doesn't satisfy you; I recognize that I didn't exactly address the concept of profit or self-interest. I will in the future.
176235
Alex Blanes
Posted over 3 years ago
Justin Hall-Tipping: Freeing energy from the grid
I agree with you. Entirely. Your suggestion of Mr. Hall-Tipping's goal of appearing attractive to investors is sensible and most likely true. I also agree that it is a very big misconception to think that money is evil; to demonize it this way provides an easy scapegoat for our problems, and misses the point that we created it for a purpose. Everything else you said about priorities and markets and greedy dudes, concurred in full. Lastly, I would agree that we very much need to have a collective think about what economics actually are. Engaging in a collective dialectic on our current economic system has been my goal all along, not convincing others to share my personal opinion. Whether or not people agree with my views is entirely up to them, and cannot be any measure of success.
176235
Alex Blanes
Posted over 3 years ago
Justin Hall-Tipping: Freeing energy from the grid
Matt, it's hard to quantify my gratitude for your comment. Though I am young and idealistic, I refuse to ignore the ground beneath my feet for the next exciting horizon—it's that ground that will take me there, after all. You've hit the nail on the head; individual struggle will do nothing towards solving this problem. This is a cultural issue, and it is very much socially and structurally ingrained. As part of my schooling, I've been studying humanity's ideological history from the Age of Reason to modernity, and unfortunately (a surprise to me), the idea of profit goes hand-in-hand with a Pandora's box of problems we've been dealing with for a very long time. You are right—it's mostly fear that keeps us contributing to the structure. But shouldn't we be asking ourselves: what kind of society are we perpetuating by allowing a fear of loss to become our guiding compass? What kind of healthy, whole society are we abandoning in order to erect an structure that sees itself (and that we often see) as immortal? I guess that's my main issue with it all. The system's logic has become so convincingly "ouroborean", it has shut out the vital reality of fragility, uncertainty, and eventual decay. We live within the immortal game it has set out for us, and we accept its fantasies as realities. Where is there room for novelty in a system that self-abstracts itself to the point of asserted completion? None. It was just 45 years ago when Robert F. Kennedy announced to the student body of the University of Capetown, "It is your job, the task of the young people in this world to strip the last remnants of that ancient, cruel belief from the civilization of man". He was, of course, referring to racism and "the illusion of differences". But is not it always the task of the young to strip away old assumptions about human nature—to ask new questions, and to question old answers? What if profit and self-interest are such answers?
176235
Alex Blanes
Posted over 3 years ago
Justin Hall-Tipping: Freeing energy from the grid
Howard: My position in this argument is that the idea of "millions of dollars" simply doesn't make sense anymore. It used to, surely, and it still does in our current socioeconomic paradigm. But it is my opinion, simply, that this paradigm is in transition—therefore "the real world" you refer to will eventually be replaced by a new, yet realer world. Such is the way of human progress. The institution of money is currently experiencing a kind of creeping irrelevance, as its disconnection with real value in all the world's reserve currencies becomes increasingly visible. I see something fundamentally more novel and external to those normative economic frameworks in its emergent beginnings, and it's not just me. Such beginnings can be found in the works of many media and technology theorists, such as Douglas Rushkoff (http://bit.ly/r8CVcE), but they are incomplete without incorporating knowledge from the burgeoning field of ecological economics, along with many, many other fields. This is a system, after all. Such a topic is far too large to enter into here, fascinating as it is. As I am already running out of space, let me address "risk" and "expense": Creating an environment of positive risk, i.e. where one can make mistakes, is essential to learning and exploring different avenues of production. The profit motive undermines this by demanding results and efficiency. While this is the "reality" now, is it the best reality? Can't we do better? As for expense, those large sums of money you mention are large because they are assumed by the system to be venture capital in pursuit of personal profit. What if you wanted to develop an invention for the benefit of other people, or the earth? You would still have to spend exorbitant amounts of your own money. Sure, you could get grants, or garner other forms of capital, but that's beside the point: our entire system stifles a more collaborative economy with the assumption that all humans act from inherent self-interest.
176235
Alex Blanes
Posted over 3 years ago
Justin Hall-Tipping: Freeing energy from the grid
Brendan, I found your concept of "the real question" here to be quite astute. Weighing the costs and benefits in this situation, particularly long-term vs. short-term, should be an effective way to appeal to the reasonable among us, regardless of which side of the political/economic spectrum he or she aligns themselves with.