This mandala represents the web of altruistic human organizations spread out across the world, all working together in a vast invisible network. Despite their broad diversity of size, focus, and geographic location, they are all united around core values that place compassion and stewardship as highest priorities. The hundreds of millions of individuals who are creating and running these organizations bring a nourishing culture of imagination, citizenship, and love to this process. In that way I think of this piece as being like a compass rose, pointing toward a true source of hope and inspiration for our times.
The image is constructed around a circle containing 108 equally-spaced points. Each point is connected with the other points by a straight line of organization names. All of the curves and shapes in the image are created by intersecting vectors of straight lines. If stretched out into a single straight line, in a 12-point font, the million names would stretch 67 miles. The mandala was designed and rendered with the help of my friend Craig Kaplan, who is a software engineer at Waterloo University in Ontario, Canada.
The organization names were provided by Paul Hawken and his visionary Wiser Earth Project. The global number of these kinds of organizations is unknown, but in 2010, Paul and his team estimated that the number is between one and two million. Since then, environmental and social-justice activism has increased radically; a recent estimate indicates that there may be more than six million environmental organizations alone. To err on the conservative side, I chose to represent the lowest estimate of one million.
The soundtrack was recorded by my friend Jim Hurst (sound recordist) and me (chanting), on Midway Island, inside a decommissioned 5-million-gallon fuel storage tank, at midnight on the autumnal equinox in 2010.
The Latin title, E Pluribus Unum, means “From many, one,” or "The many become one." This was the official motto of the Seal of the United States from shortly after the founding of our country, until the 1950s, when the national motto was changed by the Eisenhower administration to “In God We Trust.”
This piece is available as a high-resolution video projection, and also it can be printed in any size. I hope eventually to make a two-story-high print on interlocking panels, to be hung in a public place. The image also could be etched into metal or ceramic tiles and made into a plaza that could be walked on. Printed in a microscopically small 4-point font, the diameter would be 24-feet; in a 16-point font, the diameter would be 200 feet.
~cj, Seattle, 2010