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The Dr. Rich Blundell | Uncommon Convos | Episode 019

The Dr. Rich Blundell Interview

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Dr. Rich Blundell talks about the interconnection between nature and creativity.  The Surfer Dude Scientist.  Watch or listen to this interesting and entertaining podcast now.

In This Episode

Dennis talks with Dr. Rich Blundell about his life, experiences and lots of interesting bits of information.

Full Episode Transcript

Stick around to learn about the interconnection between nature

and creativity as well from other intriguing notions.

Our discussion with Dr.

Rich Blondell coming up.

Hi, I’m Denis VanDerGinst join me in a series of entertaining

and interesting conversations with entertaining and interesting people

will explore various aspects of the human experience and what makes life more fun.

This is Uncommon Convos.

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Com. Our guest today is Dr.

Rich Blondel. Dr.

Blondel is an ecologist working

at the interface of art, science, nature and culture is research examines

how transformation happens across the skills of person place in planet.

Rich tells a scientific story.

He tells the scientific story

of the universe that includes art and human creativity as natural phenomena.

He is an ecologist and cultural communicator.

I’ve heard him describe himself as

a surfer dude scientist, and I think he kind of defies definition.

He certainly doesn’t fit into one box.

I think you’re going to listen to a fascinating discussion today.

Dr. Rich, thank you for being here.

So as I had mentioned to you before,

I wasn’t really sure where to start with this interview because in kind

of digging in, it appears that your mission and the things that you do.

First of all, there’s some very different yet

distinguishable and similar things

that you are doing simultaneously, but they don’t seem to necessarily be linear.

But I was very glad when I dug in to start

to get a better idea of what it is that you do and what your mission is.

What I’d like to do is have you briefly describe what it is that you do?

And then we’re going to drill down to talk about some of the specifics,

including I want to talk about the fish story that led to your epiphany.

Of course, I want to talk about Oka,

ecological intelligence, the Earth theory, Earth stories, creativity,

the Surfers guide to the universe, and then anything else we can fit in.

And before we get to some of those things, I think it’s important that the audience

knows where you’re coming from, where you came from so that they can have

an insight into your perspective on things.

So can you give us some sense of where you

came from and how you arrived at where you’re at now?



But I’m forced to kind of go pretty far back to childhood, really, where

what might be becoming a rarer and rarer kind of upbringing.

And that is to say that I was given a lot of freedom as a child

by the time I’m the third line of three children.

And by the time I was coming of age,

my parents had been put through the Ringer with my older siblings.

And so by the so they had essentially just said, go out,

figure it all out on your own, rich in a loving way, not a neglectful way.


I went about doing that and explored where I was and where I was was

New England coastal habitats, forests, swamps, bays, estuaries.

And those were the places that really defined who I am.

And one of the things that I’m only now beginning to really understand is that I

was a very sensitive kid, the kind of thing that you can deny it.

But at some point,

you have to take ownership of the fact that you have a certain temperament.

And my temperament as a kid was like dreamy.

But I wasn’t dreamy in a spaced out way.

I was dreamy in a very tuned in way.

In other words, the world was constantly sort of speaking to me

in the way that the world speaks to children.

It was really a wonderful world.

And I mean, that literally was full of wonder.

And that’s who I was as a child.

And then as I grew up, I got into the whole high school thing,

which is traumatic, I think, for everybody.

And that had a profound impact on me.

It was a time to sort of hide that part of myself that sort of sensitive

child within.


that the culture of high school can be very traumatic for people.

I know it doesn’t seem like it could be,

but the lived experience of that can be quite dramatic.

Anyway, that because I didn’t,

Ironically or maybe totally understandably.

I utterly failed at school.

Throughout high school, I

pretty much removed myself from the

educational system and started going out fishing.

Every day. I got hooked onto lobstering.

And it’s a big thing in New England, as you may know.

And so every day I was out there lobstering.

And by the time I was done, it was halfway through the school day.

And so I figured, what the heck?

I’m just going to stay out.

And so by the time I got to be a senior in high school,

the guidance counselor called me in, and then I was like, rich there’s 180 days

in the school year, and you’ve missed about 100.

So how do you explain this?

And I said, Well, I was out fishing and I was out doing my thing.

And so what they said well, we’re going to have to keep it back.

And it was this big ordeal.

And it was

it was

a big failure, basically.

And with that as my history at that point,

the only option I really had was to go into fishing, to commercial fishing.

I was just talking to somebody other day,

and they said, Well, how did you get into fishing?

I said, I failed my way into it.

That’s not to say that commercial fishing is a failure as a career.

I’m just saying for me that given the circumstances of who I was

and where I was, that fishing culture, that was the perfect fit for me.

That’s what I’m saying. And so I started doing that.

And as I as I got more and more into it, I got more and more commercial about it.

And what the trajectory is that you start on the inshore waters and then you work

your way out into bigger and more lucrative fisheries offshore.

And I did that.

I ended up going for blue fin tuna off the coast of Mount.


These days, there’s a lot of cable TV shows, you know, like Wicked Tuna.

And I forgot that other one.

But, you see, it was most dangerous.

Most dangerous or something like

a dangerous as it was before any of that sort of thing.

I was into it before any of that came onto the scene.

But if you look at it today, especially the tuna fishing shows,

it’s all about the money that the fisherman, you know,

earn. It’s about a competition.

And it’s about they put the graphics up on the screen.

It’s X dollars.

And they’re just all competing for more and more money.

And that’s exactly the kind of culture that,

you know, it didn’t really jive with me.

I was out there because I love the fish.

I love being out there.

I love, you know, I loved handling the fish

with the mud and the seaweed and the algae.

And just the sensory parts of fishing is what I really loved.

That sensitive.

And I realized now that that sensitive kid was

that’s who was present in those years.

But I could feel this tug of commerciality and extraction of resources,

adversarial relationships with environmental

organizations and things like that, law enforcement.

And I I don’t know, at some point,

it just came to a head one day when it was actually the first tuna I ever caught.

And it was actually the last tuna I ever caught.

We were out on Stelwagen Bank and back in those days, we used hand lines today,

they use these really expensive high tech gear.

But when we caught the tuna

finally got it up to the boat and you take the fins off and you bleed it and you

try and keep it cool and rushed it back to the dock.

And when we had tied up to the dock and I

was taking a rope that had been handed down from the dock.

We were going to hook it around its tail

and hoist it up onto the dock and put it into a freezer truck.

I leaned over and I bent down and I was handling the fish.

And as I was doing that,

I suddenly had this flashback of being a kid handling fish.

And I guess it must have been something

about how different it was, how this fish had been down in the gunnel

and the side of the boat now for an hour and a half 2 hours as we motored back

and we never even looked at it, we never even sort of thought about this creature.

And this is the only word I can describe is magnificent animal.

It’s 800 pound

solid piece of muscle and it’s just this huge animal and we never even noticed it.

We were all congratulating ourselves

at all the money we were gonna make and DA DA DA.

And as I was down there in the gun

with the fish and I felt that the sort of rush of memory came back to me and I

looked at the fish and I was looking at its eye.

And then I realized that it was just dying in that moment.

So it had been down there that whole time.

And right as I looked at it and made contact with it, it died.

And I watched it sort of just transform from this thing.

That was just this beautiful creature into something else.


that moment, all of the congratulation

and the celebration and the happiness about catching the fish flipped and went

into sadness and sort of in a bit of regret and not regret that I had caught

it and killed it, but that we hadn’t actually noticed it,

that we hadn’t actually seen what we were doing.

So this is to say I’m not against fishing and I’m not against what fishermen do.

I still fish.

I just think we do it in a way that has lost connection to what it is we’re doing.

I think we’ve lost that sense of reverence.

We’ve turned it into a commodity.

We’ve turned it into this thing that isn’t even alive.

And it was that moment out on the deck

of that boat that I decided that I was going to change my life.

And what’s interesting is that sorry,

I know this is running a little long, but what’s really interesting is that up

until that point, I really didn’t want to engage with the educational system.

You know, like I said, I was a horrible student,

but in that moment, I realized that I had missed an opportunity and that fish had

given me this opportunity to re engage with learning.

And so I did.

I enrolled in a marine biology program

because I figure that’s the most logical thing to do.


my point is that was a turning point not

only in my career, but it was a turning point in my relationship to learning.

There’s a philosopher named Michael Pollan

is deceased now, but he coined this term tacit learning,

which would never have made sense to me.

I would not know what that means if I had not gone through this experience.

But what it means is that it’s a different kind of learning.

When you go and learn from books, you get book learning.

But when you learn from experience,

when you learn from things happening to you, those things that you learn

through experience become embedded within who you are.

This is what he meant by test learning.

And when that happens, because it becomes a personal

because it becomes part of you as a person,

suddenly, every opportunity to learn becomes an opportunity to grow yourself.

And you feel like

there’s this mystery out there and that everything you learn

is a way of engaging with that mystery and participating in that mystery.

And then it’s like a steam roller.

It starts to pick up speed.

You begin to learn more, you begin to be more and more fat.

And then what I realized that kid was coming back.

This was the adult form of that kid that I was coming back through this.

And then that just set me on this this

trajectory of just absolutely trying to consume all kinds of knowledge.

And that’s why that’s why I think if you look

at the trajectory of my career, it’s all over the place, because I’ve been just

have just been in love with learning ever since.

And so, yeah, the tuna was a big moment,

and I should just mention, too, that, you know what I ended up studying.

I didn’t quite know this was happening as I was going through.

But what I ended up getting a PhD in is

how could that communication have happened?

That wasn’t my research question,

but it was it was like my background research question.

I wanted to know,

how could that tuna communicate something, the profound importance to human being

that would change the trajectory of their life.

And I wanted to understand that.

And I think I have I don’t

mean to make exaggerated claims, but I think I figured it out.

I think I figured out how that communication happens.

So, yeah,

I’m not sure if we’re where you wanted to go, but that’s sort of story.

No, I think it’s I think it’s important for people to understand where someone’s

coming from in order to see where they’re going.

And you’ve set the stage by telling us that story.

The first time I heard what I referred

to as the fish story was actually on your website.

And you do an incredible job of painting this picture.

And the imagery that you invoke

on the video that describes that situation is just beautiful.

It’s poetic.

And I think a lot of what I have seen on the website is very poetic and certainly.

And we’re going to get to OK.

And the relationship between nature and art and creativity, etcetera.

But I think it’s important to upset the stage the way you have in order

for people to understand how you’ve come to where you’re at.

And you definitely pointed out that you continue to learn.

You have very eclectic

background and interests that are apparent with everything that I’ve seen thus far.

So I certainly am happy to let you just

take the reins and run with it as we explore some of these things.

So I wanted to mention, though,

because I think it’s important for this, given the time that we’re in right now

and the situation that we see as a society and politically speaking, etc.

I’ve read or heard you say that you feel

there’s a systemic dysfunction within our world, and that the thinking

that disconnects us from nature also disconnects us from each other.

Let’s start there.

What do you mean by that?

Well, what I mean is that in

much the same way that I became disconnected from the child that I was


as a species or at least as a culture.

This Western industrialized culture have

become disconnected with the Earth in a lot of ways.

And I’m not necessarily critical of this.

I think it’s just sort of an accident of history that we find ourselves here.


what I mean by that is,


believe one of the things that I’ve discovered in my learning in my life,

the exploration of my life is that I deeply belong to this world like I am.

I’m embedded within this world and the world is also embedded with me.

And there’s this real sense of entanglement that feels good.

You know, it’s not so bad entanglements.

It’s a sense of belonging.

And then that belonging comes with a sense

of gratitude, and that gratitude comes with a sense of contentedness.

And the contentedness goes a long way toward

swaging anxieties.

It puts a sort of check on my desire to consume things and pursue other things

because I feel this deep sense of beauty that feels good.

And I think that

in many ways we’ve either forgotten or forfeited that that sense of belonging

that comes from interacting with nature and with the natural world.

And I think that the fact that we’ve given that up creates a kind of kind of

I don’t want to use the word pathology because that sounds really negative.

It creates a void within us that we seek to fill, and we seek to fill it

in the most immediate ways which are normally usually material or.

And I think that those ways of feeling

in those ways of being manifest not just an environmental

environmental degradation, but also in how we treat each other.

You know, I think I

just think that so many of these so called

social problems and cultural problems of our time

are connected to this sense of disconnection that we all carry around,

and we can regain that sense of connection and then suddenly or gradually let’s say

those other problems will tend to resolve themselves.

It’s called healing

will start to heal, just like I healed from the trauma of high school.

I know how trivial that sounds, but.

But I think we can begin to heal from this other kind of underacknowledged trauma.

And then these these things that are

consuming us now, rightfully so social, racial, economic, the xenophobia,

all these things that are sort of the divisiveness of our politics.

All this stuff will

tend to get attenuated

or a swage.

I don’t want to keep using these foreign words.

Webegin to heal.

And so that’s what I mean.

When I say that the sense of disconnection

from the world disconnects us from each other.

That’s what I mean, because there is a category.

There is a category of being.

There is a political identity that’s

bigger than the ones that we currently identify with.

It’s called being an Earthling.

And we’ve just completely forgot what that means.

For most of us, that means take me to your leader.

It means something alien.

Seeing us.

What it actually means is being of the Earth.

And if you look at the history of human

beings, if you look at the history of this planet,

and if you look at the history of human beings on this planet, the inescapable

realization that comes from that is that we are of this Earth,

everything that we are, our creativity are our intelligence, our bodies,

everything that we are comes from this Earth.

It’s a gift. It’s an endowment of the Earth.

And why we have forgotten that or why we

fail to recognize that is, I think something that needs to be addressed.

And I want to address that a little bit more in a bit.

The Earthling theory that you’ve alluded to.

But before we get there, this is probably a good a good time to introduce a.

By the way, I have a question about the origin of the word itself.

So when you explain to us what is, can you tell me where the word came from?

Does it have a specific meaning?

Meaning is OK, a philosophy, a project, a campaign.

How would you describe it?

How do you define it when somebody asks you what is OK?

Yeah, it’s a good question.

Well, I should just say the term came to me one day when I was riding my bike.

I could just see it.

The word CA is a play on the word ACOs.

Cos I-K-O-S is an ancient Greek word that meant basically home.

So the ancient Greek had this conception

of cos as home and home consisted of person place and property.

Those three things made up the ICOs.

But because ancient Greece was patrician

was very hierarchical, society, male oriented.

The person meant the man, and that place meant the house.

And the property was everything

in the house that includes the furniture, the wife, the slaves, everything.

And so that really wouldn’t work as a sort of philosophy for OK.

So what I did was I just kind of feminized the word ICO and made it OK.

Now the thing you need to know about

the word eco is it’s also the root of the word ecology.

So our modern word eco as an ecology comes

from that word ICOs, which makes sense because ecology deals

with the home, the home habitats, home planet.

Well, it’s also the root of the word eco as an economy.

And I think this is a really important thing that’s been forgotten is

that economy and ecology share the same fundamental root of meaning.

And I aim to re couple those two things.

The economy and and ecology need to be

reconnected in some way that works right now.

We have an economy that’s completely divorced of ecological concerns.

And somehow we believe that. But that’s a myth.

And it’s also a fiction.

It’s wrong.

And so OK, which is the word that I sort of used to describe.

This is the organization that I started just to launch projects

that that can cultivate that reconnection of economy and ecology.

And there’s some really, really interesting ways to do that

that are now emerging because of the new economic

systems like cryptocurrency, decentralized finance, all that stuff.

I don’t think we’ve quite grasped the profundity of these new,

consensus based, transparent

economic systems to realign ecological concerns with economic concerns.

And I’m really excited about that particular part.

But that’s what that’s where the word comes from.

I also used the term OK to refer to

the intelligence of nature has expressed through human thought and action.

So so, in other words, as a noun,

Oka means that when you feel the intelligence of nature operating

within you and you act accordingly, that’s a that’s kind of an academic description.

There’s another way that I think about it in terms of the feeling of Aka,

when you feel the intelligence of the Earth within you, that’s OK.

So there’s a few different ways.

And lately another thing that I’m really excited about is OK as a form of beauty.

I use this little catch phrase a lot,

which is the future is beautiful or there isn’t one.

And what I’ve been using that for a while.

And what I’m now beginning to realize is

that if I’m going to use that, I’m going to save that in such

a provocative way, I better be ready to define what that beauty is.

And so I’ve been thinking a lot about

what OK means as a form of beauty,

because I think right now, like in our time,

we’re beginning to be able to see this new kind of beauty that there is this new kind

of beauty that we’re just getting glimpses of it now.

And I think Oka refers to that beauty, too.

So that’s a lot. But

that’s what is.

Well on your website.

By the way, I should mention that you have

Oka courses that you offer where I assume you delve deeper into all of what you’ve

already introduced to us here and on the website.

It says that the OIC courses and I’m going to read this.

All courses are grounded

in the fundamentals of ecological intelligence as defined by Dr.

Glendale’s Earthling theory.

And again, we’ll circle back

to that Earthling theory, and we’ll talk some more about the courses

and how you get funded and things like that.

But what is ecological intelligence and

and how does that, I guess, interact with the idea of OK?

Sure. Well, in some ways,

Oka is synonymous with ecological intelligence, because, as I said,

CA is the intelligence of nature expressed through humans.

Right. So that intelligence is ecological.

But I think we need to do is back up

a little bit and understand what ecological means.

Most conceptions of ecology think you

tend to think about trees and squirrels and Rivers and grass.

You think of nature when you think about ecology.

But all ecology really is is the study of relationships.

That’s what ecology is.

And that could be any relationship.

It could be the relationship between me and you, right.

It could be the relationship to me.

And this pen there’s an ecology of those are horrible examples.

But the point is that ecological relationships are in social systems as

well as nature systems, because society is.

So you’re talking about relationships.

Relational is talking about relational dynamics here.

Yes, it’s a relational intelligence that comes from nature.

Nature is built on relational intelligence.

And I can tell you the story

of the universe that goes all the way back to the beginning.

And to show you where this relational

intelligence originated in the early early universe, the early universe, 3800 years.

Absolutely. Bang.

Which is like if you buy into this whole thing, which I do as a scientist.

But what you realize is that I do to all

of this, all of this complexity, all of it is a function of relationships.

It wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for relationships.

And so understanding those relationships takes ecological intelligence.

That’s what ecological intelligence means.


should say that even though I call it ecological intelligence,

it’s really just intelligence because all intelligence is ecological intelligence.

Is it fair to say, first of all,

I guess that Oka is about restoring ecological intelligence.

Well, that’s one way to say it, but it didn’t go anywhere.

It’s just that we’re not using it.

It’s about reminding us about where our intelligence comes from.

And this is what the course that you mentioned seeks to do.

Specifically, I seek to remind artists,

people who create art, that their creativity is a function

of ecological intelligence and and what’s real.

And let’s talk about that.

I’m sorry. I’m talking over you.

I think we have a little delay,

but I would like to talk a little bit about that relationship between ecological

intelligence and creativity, art, et cetera.


this is one of those

sharp turns in a learning trajectory that my life has taken in the last few years.

You know, I came up through the ranks

of the Sciences, never even gave a second thought to art,

just was never asked to take an art course or study art history or to understand

the economies of the philosophies of art until about a couple of years ago,

when I realized that artists have this in a lot of artists, I don’t speak for all

of them, but have this intrinsic sensitivity.

And that’s a key word, because I’m actually talking about that thing.

I had a child that sensitivity artists have cultivated a sensitivity

in an awareness of the world which they draw upon for creativity to create art.

So it is fundamentally ecological.


if they’re creating stainless steel modern

sculptures, they’re still cultivated sensitivity, and they still ask the world

to participate in their creativity in some way.

And so the a great candidate for exploring ecological intelligence.

And so

the primary message that I try to convey

through an of course, it’s actually aka for artists.

The primary methods that I try to convey

through that course is that there creativity isn’t just theirs alone,

that when they create, they’re creating in an alliance with nature.

And when they realize that when they have

that relationship with nature, when they can establish a collaborative rapport

with nature, it just ramps up their creativity.


because if you enter into an alliance with.

Nature for as your source of creativity,

you’re teaming up with a pretty creative source.

It’s the source of everything that is all

of the beauty and complexity and not just the nature but the cultural

artifacts and the mystical traditions and the religious impulses.

All that stuff is part of nature’s creativity, too.

And so when artists tap into that,

they just my proposal is that they will have a new ally to create.

And here’s where I get here’s where Oka

fulfills its mission, which is to realign our culture with nature will.

When artists are creating art in alliance with the intelligence of nature,

then the art they create contribute to the culture we collectively create.

Then what we’ll end up with is a culture that’s more aligned with nature.

And this is how we cultivate ecological intelligence in our culture.

And, you know,

pro or a side effect of that is a better society, a more caring,

more open, more curious and more creative society.

So, yeah,

that’s what the course is all about.

I’m also developing one or just for what I

call for Earth links, which is a little more general.

And I want to kind of circle back to that some place.

And I don’t even remember where it was,

but I heard you talking or read somewhere about your background

in big history, which in general terms, I guess, would be

kind of an interdisciplinary focus on things.

It involves physics and chemistry and biology, geology, astronomy, etcetera.

And human history.

How does that if at all, I guess that in human history.

And I was going to say, how does that all influence if at all your Earthling theory?

And then since you mentioned the Earthling

theory, how does that interplay with the idea of creativity

and what OK is doing in general, not necessarily just for artists, sure.

Well, you know, big histories.

It’s kind of an emerging field

that started back in the 2015 or something like that 14

basically, it came about because if you

study history and I think you’ve studied history, your undergraduate in history.

So if you study history and you ask questions about what happened,

what is the context in which this historical event happened?

That means you have to go a little further back to establish the content.

If you want to understand the American Revolution,

you have to understand, you know, the expansion from Europe

and the colonization of the on the continent and the westward

expansion, you have to understand the context of these things.

So if you want to understand the context that you all have to understand

the context of the context, what’s the context?

You could you could follow this back in an endless regression.

And so where does human history start?

In the past, we’ve just set up.

Well, it starts with agriculture.

It starts with the first time, the first modern human skeleton

200,000 years ago or whatever it is.

But those events had context, too.

There’s a there’s a natural history that bleeds into human history, right.

Which bleeds into today.

And what the big historians did

to establish this field was to say, well, let’s not be stuck within any particular

domain of knowledge, human history versus biology.


And let’s just keep following the story back.

Where does it go? Like, where does this story go?

And it goes all the way back to the Big Bang.

And then I add a little prefix onto it,

which actually explores before the Big Bang as a way of

bringing some humility to the science because, you know,

the days when science knew everything are gone, the days when scientists could claim

to have this privileged knowledge that put all of their knowledge made all

other knowledge obsolete is an absurd thing that is no longer the case.

The point is, if we if we study all the way back, we get to the Big Bang,

and then we start looking at what we know about the way the universe evolved.

How did this complexity start?

This is what big history is.

It’s an account of the entire spectrum of knowledge,

historical knowledge that leads up to this moment without any arbitrary boundaries

in between any of these what you would call thresholds.


that’s what it does.

It basically tells the biggest story you can tell, which is the story

of the universe and the story of us within the universe.

There are some really profound realization that come from doing that.

And this is what my research

was really all about was to really

articulate what are the transformative qualities of knowing this story?

And this is why this is essentially

the mission of voice is to tune us into our story of continuity with the world

and then enjoying whatever side effects that may have.

The point that’s what Big history does is it traces the history of the universe

and includes human history as an integral part.

And this is where Earthling theory comes from.

So you ask me about Earthling theory, right.

Well, this is a completely

as far as I can tell,

the scholarship that I’ve done and the research that I’ve

the investigations that I’ve done completely miss this idea.

In other words, so you can it’s an age old question, what makes us human?

And you can have an answer for that.

There’s a million different qualities

of us that set us apart from anything else in the world.

But what that overlooks is if you

trace the history and I’m going to pick an arbitrary date, I’m going to pick

7 million years ago as an arbitrary

divergence point when the dominant primate

organism on the planet was called what we now call Helen Tropes cadences.

So what is this pre human primate

that lives in the trees in Africa, West Africa?

That’s why it’s called Cadenas and that species for some reason.

And we have ideas about what the reason might be.

But for some reason, that species diverged into two species.

One of the lineage of that divergence went on to become modern chimpanzees.

So there is no longer cadents.

So, Helen, this dentist in the world, the other lineage of that split became us.

And there are a lot of little side splits

that went off to do gorillas and other hominid species that have gone extinct.

But the point is, today we have two descendants of that 7

million years ago split on this planet, the chimps and us.

We both represent

the last common ancestor.

Now, if you look at the history of chimps

since that split, they haven’t really diverged.

They’re almost indistinguishable from the Ventus.

But if you look at us, oh, wow.

And it’s great that Dolphins squeak

and bees dance and bears have kinds of communication.

But none of these species do anything on the scale that we do.

What is it that this is the question, what makes us human?

Well, if you trace the history of us, when

that band of primates left the trees in Africa to set out across the world,

they encountered every habitat that this planet has to offer.

In other words, they crossed savannahs.

They crossed forests, they lived along Rivers,

and then generation after generation after generation.

They lived with in mountain ranges.

They lived along the shores of estuaries.

They lived on bays, they crossed oceans, they skirted glaciers.

And over that 7 million years between that split, and today,

only our species, only the species that went on to become

us, Homo sapiens, has had that kind of intimate, sustained

relationship with every habitat on this planet.

The chimps didn’t do that.

And they’re still in the trees doing what the hell anthropos did.

We had every,

in other words, every habitat on this planet over that 7 million years imprinted

its ecological intelligence onto our species.

And what do we do with it?

Well, look at what we did 20, 17,000 years ago.

This intelligence that had been imprinted

on us suddenly emerges as cave art and other art forms.

There’s this explosion of creativity

that only our species has done only because our species has this deep,

intimate and sequential relationship with every habitat on this.

Does this make sense?

Like every habitat has imprinted its ecological intelligence on to us.

This is what makes us human.

This is what gives us art.

This is what will will

determine our future if there is one, it’s whether or not we

remember that intelligence.

And I know this all sounds very grand OS.

And in some ways it is.

But where we got to lose.

So that’s what our fling theory is.


it’s a theory of humanity.

Humanity is of the Earth.

And the sooner we get to really own that

that endowment, the sooner we will create a better future.

We’re not going to get off this planet by destroying it.

We’re going to get off this planet

by tapping into the intelligence that it endowed us.

With I studied the Cosmos.

The Cosmos doesn’t need another parasitic species to go and let TerraForm Mars.

What we need is a species that can tap

into the intelligence of nature in order to propagate it.

It’s beauty into the universe.

And I’m not like a futurist.

And I’m really not a science fiction person, but I’m just saying,

destroying the planet to the point where

we need to get off of it is not a viable option now.

It may be painful.

In other words, it may take some

challenge in some

strain to get us into the future, but I’d rather see us do it as

an intelligent species as opposed to a parasitic one.


And by the way, yes, there’s a lot there that you’ve thrown

at us, and I had the good fortune to have already

heard some of it, so I’ve been able to absorb it and process it.

And probably

well ahead of some of the listeners

who are thinking, what the hell is going on here.

But it

does make one question that occurred to me that I did not see

addressed in any of the materials that I’ve looked at or listen to online,

which is what, if any interplay or intersection,

might there be between Earthling theory or, for that matter, OK,

or ecological intelligence and say, spirituality or the idea of a creator?

Are they mutually exclusive? Are they just not even considered?

Nor can there be overlap? Or how do you address something like that?

They are utterly consistent

when you break into a way of thinking that

tends toward inclusion as opposed to exclusion.

Suddenly, those things that you’re

referring to, these sort of mystical traditions or spiritual experiences or

even the divine, they’re completely accessible.

They’re completely accessible through this

openness to a bigger relationship.

In other words, you know, the big history narrative,

although its scientific and science has its problems in science,

is worthy of deep criticism, and I’m perfectly willing to do that.

However, once you get beyond that and understand that science is imperfect,

I’m not saying that opens the door to dogma.

What I’m saying is that

when you practice inclusive thinking, which is what big history does,

you suddenly see how these inherited stories about profits or gurus or

divine interventions, all of those things become completely

rational and completely part of this big, beautiful story of the universe.

Those aren’t. Those aren’t outside of nature.

That’s nature telling those stories through our creativity,

through our imaginations, which are purely part of nature.

And there used to be this big thing back

in the 90s about, well, that’s a God of the Gaps argument.

And I was never satisfied

with that critique because, you know, there are gaps in our knowledge.

And where else would you put God?

I mean, of course, I

think that’s a pretty good good.

I’m okay with that.

If somebody claims the God of the Gaps

argument, in other words, we put God or let’s call it mystery

in the gaps in our knowledge, which is really just a motivation to get

more knowledge, to get closer to that mystery to get closer to.

So I guess all I’m saying is I find this view of the world this way of being

in the world completely consistent with the experience of the divine

every day.

I feel it.

And it motivates me to do all those things that typically motivate an experience

with the divine to care for one another, to put myself in someone else,

use all these wisdoms that come out of these scriptures.

They’re completely consistent with the ethos of nature.

So I’m not sure if I’m answering your question.

I agree. But there’s no you are.

And I think we could.

Well, sorry, this a little bit of I’m sorry.

I’m going to keep going.

I guess what I’m saying is

this form of beauty that I think I’m referring that OC is trying to refer to.

I somehow speaks to that question that there is this

new kind of beauty that transcends all these old divisions,

these old inherited fictions that the divine and nature are separate.

This beauty somehow reveals that thing.

And in another call,

maybe we could get into what are the qualities of that beauty.

But I guess I’ll just leave it at that that I just don’t see any

adversarial relationship between what a stands for and what,

say religious traditions or spiritual wisdom is referring to.


And I think we could probably have an entire podcast devoted to discussing

the relationships or the consistency between Oka and

religion or spirituality or metaphysical practices, for that matter,

any number of things along those lines.

But that, of course, could take an entire podcast to do that.

And I do want to touch on what you mentioned as this emergent beauty.

And I know that I had seen

somewhere you had said that there’s this emergent beauty that can be disclosed

to humans through art that abuse three intelligences.

And I think that you were just alluding to that which would be nature’s,

intelligence, human intelligence and technological intelligence.

What do you mean by that?

And I know that of itself could be another entire podcast, but just

as a precursor to maybe another

discussion, maybe you can tell us about that.

Sure. It’s funny listening to say that

automated, just like your audience probably does.

I started to tune out like, what is this guy talking about?


I think that this beauty, this that we’re referring to is and this is fairly new.

So I’m still sort of developing the language for this.

But what I’m beginning to see as

I spent the first,

you know,

four fifths of my career studying nature took me a long time to figure out nature.

Then I switched to art, and I started learning about art.

And I was on this real fast track to learning about art and also technology.

And then finally, the one thing that I never really was interested in.

Which is economics like money.

I’ve just never really cared about money.

And in the past three months, I’ve suddenly gotten really interested in it.

And the reason is because I see these new technologies

specifically blockchain technology and what that means.

And nonfungible tokens and all these sort

of hyped up code words for what’s going on in cryptocurrency.

But when I see all these things start

to coalesce, these things that I know about nature, about art.

And now about economics, I’m seeing this

is the landscape in which this emergent beauty will appear.

This is what I’m saying.

And so.

So we’ve already talked about what natural intelligence is.

And ecological intelligence and human

intelligence is an offshoot of that intelligence.

We talked about that’s Earthling theories is articulating,

that our intelligence is the intelligence of nature through the Earth.

It’s an Earth flavored natural intelligence.

And now we havehere we are.

We find ourselves in this moment where

technology is becoming this incredibly potent part of the conversation.

It’s entering in, and it’s starting to shape our relationships.

It’s an active participant

out in the matrix of ecological intelligence that we find ourselves in.

And so so what I’m seeing is that as we shift towards

more virtual forms of value, I’m not going to say currency, but value virtual forms.

In other words, ideas away from our old dependence on material forms of value.

Then suddenly we’ve created a new niche.

This is an ecological term.

Well, we haven’t created it.

We we’ve partly created it.

But a new niche has suddenly appeared

where artists who tap into natural intelligence, ecological intelligence,

creating art and culture that has embedded within it.

The value that comes with this

relationship to nature suddenly becomes I’m going to use the word commodified.

Here’s the breakthrough.

Okay, Dennis, here’s the breakthrough.

If we could somehow

re couple

our concerns with personal wealth

to planetary health would have the problem solved.


If we could put the energy that we put in to generating and accumulating

and extracting wealth for ourselves and our families.

If we could somehow couple that energy, couple that to the healing of the planet

and the healing of the social injuries that we’ve all experienced,

then we’re really on a path toward the beautiful future that I’m talking about.

Right. I

think it’s a subtle Jedi mind trick, but I think if we can pull that off

and my proposal is that we can do it through art.

So in this case, art becomes the Trojan Horse.

It’s actually a Trojan unicorn.

If we could embed ecological intelligence

in art, that is a nonfungible token and use that as a form of currency

in an open market with all the same open market rules.

And if that NFT is somehow,

if it validates planetary healing and there are ways to do

this, there are technologies now emerging that allow us to do this.

Then we are suddenly in it.

We’re suddenly in a new game starts and the new game is your personal well being.

Your personal happiness is tied to the happiness and well being of the planet.

Then, you know,

we’ve game the system in a whole new way.

I’m not sure if this is the question you asked.

I’m sure it wasn’t, but this is what I’m currently thinking.


yeah, I think that’s the trajectory that I’m on.

Yeah. No.

You definitely responded to my query here.


once again, I think there’s a whole other

podcast that we could get into specifically about that topic,

but obviously we’re running a little short on time at this point.

I do want before we

say goodbye for the day to have a little bit of a discussion about

the Surfers Guide to the Universe and what that is and how it came about and what

your I guess what your goals are with respect to that.

And what if any, in a relationship is there between that and OK?



I’m not going to deny it.

I spent a lot of time surfing

it’s for decades.

It’s been a kind of Church for me.

There’s much to be learned by sitting

in the ocean at the interface of water and sky,

because it trains you to tune into subtleties

that wouldn’t be visible from just sitting on the beach, drinking a beer.

Not that there’s anything wrong with that,

but I guess what I’m saying is that being a surfer, especially a surfer

with the kind of sensitivities that I happen to have,

it teaches you to be very tuned into,

like, for example, really subtle shifts in the horizon.

So next time you’re watching surfers from the beach,

you pay attention to the way they move, because what you’ll see if you’re really

paying attention is some of those surfers will move.

They’ll move in a sort of unspoken, coordinated way.

And what you’re seeing is that people

who have been out there a long time doing that they’ve developed.

They developed a kind of intelligence, a sensitivity to what’s going on just off

the horizon by looking, I can see it in my mind right now.

I can see the way that the horizon

shifts when there’s a big set coming, when there’s a set of big swells coming.

And if I’m really tuned into it,

I can be the first one to get in position, the right position to catch the wave.

And then that comes with this whole other

reward, this whole other ecstatic sort of moment that you’re rewarded with.

These are the lessons that surfing has taught me about that.

So the Servers Guide to the Universe was an early project, a voice.

Well, the other thing I should mention,

I have another career as a wooden surfboard maker.

Back in the early 2000,

I started a company that created hollow wooden surfboards, which became really


as part of this sort of sole surfing crowd.

Not the whole not the other kind that’s at the Olympics now.

But there’s this other kind of surfing, which is much more

old school.

I guess

it was a project to use the beautiful

parts of surfing to help communicate

this message.

This thing that Oak is about, and it was a lot of fun.

We ended up creating some really beautiful

art, and there’s a couple of pieces back there on the wall that you can see,

maybe just sort of show you that sort of samples of the kind of thing

that’s a Cedar tree that was needed to be cut down.

And so I

created some surfboard art.

So that’s what the Surface Guide

to the Universe is using wooden surfboards as art

as an opportunity to talk about these things that we’ve been talking about.


Well, and I want to encourage everyone that’s listening or watching.

First of all,

if you’re watching the video, you want to check out the surfboards

that Rich is referring to, and whether or not you’re watching

the podcast or just listening, please check out Oka.

Com. So you can,

first of all, learn a little bit more, absorb more about what Rich has been

discussing with us today and take a look at some of the images of the surfboards

and the art that he’s referenced right now.

Rich, I want to shift the tone a little bit because with all of our guests before

we let you go, we play a little game called would you rather I know this is

going to be a silly compared to the depth of our conversation.

No, I think we need this.

No, I think it’ll be perfect.

We probably. Yeah.

So would you rather and I try to think of some questions or find some questions

that were a little more in in tune with what I knew we’d be discussing.

So would you rather have a time machine or a teleporter?

And why?

Well, a time machine is a teleporter.

So I think I would

when you see these supposed to be like, really quick answers.

Whatever you want to make of them.

I would say a time machine because

in my conception of space, time are continuous.

And so

a time traveling machine is, in effect a teleporter.

And of course, it’s because I’d be able to get firsthand all this stuff that I

teach about, which, by the way,

we can we have telescopes that look out at the Cosmos and they travel.

They essentially travel back in time.

So we can do that already.

But I would love to have time machine, for sure.

Absolutely. Okay.

So would you rather have a lot of mediocre friends or one really good friend one?

It doesn’t surprise me.


Think a lot of people would feel that way. Would you rather be able to talk

to animals and understand them or speak all human languages?

Those are the same question.

I would rather be able to speak to animals,

but I should also mention that I do think that there are forms

of communication that happen that we overlook.

And so I think we have a greater capacity

to communicate with animals and the natural world in general than we know.

But it would definitely be to know how to speak with animals.

Okay, last one.

And this is a little bit similar to what I previously asked.

But if you were reborn in the new life,

would you rather be alive in the past or the future?

Oh, man.

Oh, man.


guess the past just because I know what

to do, but I was sure would love to see what’s going on in the future.

I I hope.

I hope.

Yeah, that’s it.


Well, I appreciate you being here today.

As you didn’t let me down.

I knew it’d be a really interesting conversation.

Uncommon convo, and I hope

uncommon combo.

And I hope we can have another Uncommon

combo in the future and talk about some of these other things.

Thanks a lot, Dennis.

I think you’re doing wonderful work.

I can see that you’re a very empathetic

human being, and I know your profession may

take a beating sometimes, but you are an exception and maybe not an exception.


thank you for being and doing what you do.

Well, I definitely appreciate that to everyone else out there.

My thanks again.

Obviously the doctor rich Blondell for being here.

Be sure again to check out Oka.

Com to learn more and thank you all for tuning in today.

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