November 2, 2010 > Editorial: Extremes
Although many voters are facing extreme choices this Election Day, generally the sentiment of many is in favor of reasoned action rather than fanatical slogans and emotional, knee-jerk reactions. Extreme politics finds success at times but generally runs out of steam when the mainstream refuses to continue along precipitous pathways unless practical progress is the result. However, consideration of extreme proposals is merited since at their roots is a sincere and valid concern demanding resolution. Solutions can take many forms including some that are intense and excessive. To simply discard wild and crazy ideas without sincere investigation is wasteful and can be counterproductive.
In the sciences, advances have benefitted from unconventional thinking. At times, radical new thought resets conventional thinking and exploration leading to great discoveries. However, although science welcomes new ideas and theories, it also demands reproducible evidence in order to give credence beyond basic interest. As society expands its technological reach, opportunities abound to make use of additional information in a virtual sense and even test the effects of practical applications. Medical and transportation models, for instance, can often be examined in the virtual world long before application is considered in the physical realm.
As cities scrutinize growth patterns and implement their response, the inclusion of extreme models along with the mundane is not only beneficial but can lead to nonconventional, yet spectacular and iconic results. Virtual visualization is possible and can lead to innovative results. Discussion of the large study area in the Warm Springs BART/Tesla area is a case in point. While much information relayed at a recent Fremont City Council meeting met standard outlines of growth patterns, economic models and such, it lacked flair. The conversation at the council meeting reminded me of a gathering of corporate executives primarily concerned with safety and security, not originality.
It may be that unconventional approaches are waiting in the wings for their grand entrance but, so far, there has been no hint of their presence. As with all extreme ideas, introduction relies heavily on those outside mainstream thought and "practical" responses. Visionaries Christo and Jeanne-Claude whose curtain wrap works are weird but stimulating or well-known masters such as Picasso whose paintings reveal an interesting but strange and confusing mindset have lived beyond conventional boundaries, provoking unusual reactions. Even a glimpse into their world can inspire departure from the ordinary. These creative sparks are often the genesis for noteworthy and inventive direction. When considering a blank canvas, limitations only emerge with the first stoke of pen, pencil or brush. Prior to that, the possibilities are endless.
The same applies to development in the Warm Springs study area. If those hired to construct a framework are totally confined by "practical" limitations, are there others who can be introduced into the discussion to test and stretch our thoughts and plans beyond the ordinary? This is a time and place when extremism can and should find a place at the table.