The Economics of Happiness Conference and The Rise of The Localization Movement
My wife Jamie and I attended The Economics of Happiness Conference sponsored by The International Society for Ecology & Culture (ISEC) which also produced the film of the same name. We were not able to attend every lecture and workshop, but the following speaker notes may provide you with a good sense of what these passionate visionaries shared. I have included links to their websites should you wish to investigate their work further.
This was not an easy conference to attend as it brought home the sharp contrast between the positive spin of globalization’s benefits and the serious consequences of it’s negative impact on the environment and the quality of many local and indigenous people’s lives that have been disrupted, displaced and often destroyed by “progress.” We must embrace the good, the bad and the ugly if we are to re-imagine and recreate a world that works for everyone that begins with each of us taking back the power we and our communities have given away by relying on “the authorities” to fulfill their mostly empty promises.
If you find this report educational and empowering, please feel free to pass along the link to alert your tribe to the critical importance and power of the localization movement.
Please visit ISEC to order a copy of their excellent and vital film The Economics of Happiness that features Vandana Shiva, Bill McKibben, David Korten, Michael Shuman, Juliet Schor, Richard Heinberg, Rob Hopkins, Andrew Simms, Zac Goldsmith, Samdhong Rinpoche, Clive Hamilton, Mohau Pheko, Keibo Oiwa and many other leaders of the localization movement.
Richard Heinberg: The End of The Line
Richard is the author of ten books including The Party’s Over and is a Senior-Fellow-In-Residence at the Post Carbon Institute and is the leading educator on Peak Oil.
World economic growth as measured by GDP was relatively flat till 1800 during the start of the Industrial Revolution. In the last 200 years, it grew to 7 trillion as we gained access to fossil fuels, energy supplies created over millions of years. This energy dense source was inexpensive compared to its benefits. In simple terms, energy is the economy and created economic growth greater than in all human history. But nothing grows forever. There are limits to growth as outlined in Donella Meadows book of the same name published 40 years ago which became the best selling environmental book of all time. It outlined the unsustainable track of population growth, pollution, food consumption and projected their limits. Debt, energy and the environment all have limiting factors built into them.
As the Industrial Revolution gained momentum, over production became a problem so advertising was enrolled to convince people to buy things they really didn’t need with easy consumer credit. This resulted in the dictum, “buy now-pay later”. An interesting metaphor for all our current problems.
Globalization began in the 80′s and was a turning point. Wages stagnated and the financialization of the economy mushroomed. All money is debt first and then becomes money with interest attached. Therefore, the total amount of debt continues to grow in order to grow the economy. Salaries do not increase. How can they increase when debt increases faster than income? They can’t.
In 2008, the government became the borrower and spender of last resort when the economy reached a natural top and consumers couldn’t borrow any more. That’s where we are today. Another limit is that world oil supplies peaked in the 70′s. World oil production that is happening now has been stalled since 2005 even though added production comes from the ocean, shale and tar sands because the costs are much higher than from low hanging fruit. We now rely on the last of the old reserves and these super low quality fuels. Globally, oil prices are high and need to be to justify low grade sources. When oil is high it acts as an economic brake since it is such an essential part of what drives the economy and moves us into recession.
Environmental impacts like climate change, with its huge storms and droughts, are another brake as are oil related industrial accidents like Horizon that cost a lot to clean up. Total cost to insurance companies by June, 2011 was $250 billion, increasing their costs without counting air pollution and soil degradation.
We can all sense that the quality of life is getting worse in many ways. We work harder to keep in place while costs continue to rise and because of the depreciation of the dollar caused by printing ever more of it, the cost of things has and will continue to rise and accelerate. In the face of the end of economic growth, what we need to do is build resilience for the inevitable shocks that are coming. We need redundancy through localization to make communities more resilient in all ways. A few of the potential benefits include satisfaction from honest work, intergenerational solidarity, and cooperation.
The system is becoming more dangerous and opportunities exist to create alternatives in the form of relocalization, which is the incoming tide of history. It has an inevitability that will be resisted by corporations and national governments. We must find the cracks where seeds can be planted as well as the organizations helping us get by in tough times using local resources.
For more on Heinberg’s current work visit www.post carbon.org
Sulac Sivaraksa: The Structural Violence of the Global Economy
Sulac is an activist and social critic and the author of more than 100 books in Thai and English. In 1995, he was awarded the Right Livelihood Award, also known as the Alternative Nobel Prize. He works to revive the socially engaged aspects of Buddhism
The global economy displays its imperial powers through Britain, the U.S. and China in its effects on a country like Greece in which its citizens are asked to bow to austerity programs to help pay for the mistakes and overspending of the banks and government. This is a good example of structural violence.
Ghandi understood structural violence and started writing on local economy explaining that empire has military power and media on its side but no spiritual legitimacy. They don’t have the power of truth on their side. He succeeded non-violently by and large but still faced failure because people refused imperial education and power, yet still failed to make any lasting change. His successor,, Nehru, did not believe in the power of the truth and so India while free of British rule is now heavily influenced by America.
Ghandi’s second failure was that he was a one man show. If there were enough people around him, the movement would have lasted. He tried to understand the global structural violence like the caste system in India that stratified people from the top to the untouchables but did not tackle that issue. What is necessary is to challenge national and local structure and our own personal structures as we create violence ourselves as we destroy our body, mind and spirit. We must grow our spirit. Non violence creates peace first inside, then out.
Rebecca Tarbotton: Globalization as a Driver of Environmental Decline
Rebecca Tarbotton is Executive Director of Rainforest Action Network (RAN) and former Project Coordinator at ISEC. Under her direction, RAN challenges corporate power in order to protect endangered forests, transform dirty energy expansion into a clean energy future, and combat global warming.
Palm Oil is an ingredient in 50% of all manufactured goods in supermarkets today. 90% comes from Indonesia which is home to some of the last remaining rain forests.
The company, OIO is bulldozing rain-forests and ancestral lands. How can we help them? We can tell their story through photographs and video and get their quotes out to the media in Indonesia and around the world; make sure IOI’s customers know what is happening. She called customers and told them “a company you are doing business with is doing illegal human rights violation. Cargill ignored the warning. Kraft said “oh shit” and put a contract on hold. Safeway told OIO, “if you don’t stop this practice, we will stop doing business with you. OIO was ejected from the sustainable palm org roundtable and deforestation stopped. A great victory!
How many communities in Indonesia and around the world are threatened and what gives these companies the power to bulldoze rainforest and ancestral lands, steamrolling over local communities? This is antithetical to life. The economic and political system has been rigged to favor the large at expense of the small. The economic game is now set up to benefit the large corporations and disincentivize local communities. Cargill controls 25% of the market for palm oil and is the largest importer in the US, thanks in part to huge subsidies from the WTO which were written by a VP of Cargill. Local communities had to become part of the system or see their lands stolen. It’s the same in the US. Cargill spent $1.5 million last year for lobbying to keep rules and subsidies on ethanol in their favor and pay a lower tax rate. Cargill took the State of Massachusetts to court to lower their tax rate by 1%. Iowa took a $600k write off on a $1 million loan to Cargill.
Palm oil is being marketed as a heath product with no trans fats and as a result 50% of the rain forests are gone. What can we do? Firefighting is good but we must also work everyday to change the structures that allow them to dominate. Look and reveal how these companies are destroying our democracy. Support local livelihoods and build alternatives. Resist and renew the current system.
Manish Jain: Modern Schooling and The Corporate Agenda
Manish Jain is founder and coordinator of Shikshantar, The People’s Institute for Rethinking Education and Development. He has worked with UNESCO, Learning Without Frontiers transnational initiative, UNICEF, UNDP, USAID and the Harvard Institute for International Development.
Vedanta Resources is traded on the London Stock Exchange and is selling happiness in it’s ad campaign. The shadow side of the story is quite different.
Bin is a bright and obedient girl going to school but not visiting the forests any longer. She is sent to town for further studies and told “you are poor”. Education will help you and your family. She lives in a hostel and can’t visit home. She can’t speak the local language and receives physical punishment and emotional abuse. The school is sponsored by a division of Monsanto and studies eco-liberation and is told that the enemy is Pakistan, all about the IT revolution, that India is on the verge of being a superpower and that she has a role to play. Her father takes on debt for a scooter and makeup and Bin gets into an engineering college. Her father sells his land to pay for more education and a better job for his daughter which will mean more stuff.
She goes to work for Vendanta Mining and does not know they have plans to ruin her ancestral lands. She buys a car. Her father comes to visit her with a marriage proposal from a local boy. He goes to her office where people have been schooled to see him as different because he speaks his local dialog. He shows a fellow worker her name and number an asks him to call her. The worker tells the father there is no Bin there. She has changed her name to Brenda. Brenda comes out to meet her father. When people ask who this man is, she says, “he is not my father. He is my servant.” Her father goes back home in deep shame and commits suicide. He is not alone. As they are increasingly unable to support themselves, farmer suicides are increasing in many parts of India. Monsanto has forced them to buy their seeds and pesticides leaving little if any profits top live on. This is nothing less than the genocide of community.
Manish grew up in India and his family moved to the US after his father became an engineer. Manish grew up in the US and was embarrassed by his mother wearing her sari and developed a sense of shame for his community. He learned it was important to to be a winner. He left his parents, returned to India and went to live for 9 years with an illiterate grandmother. It was there he learned that localization was not about a power point of UN research, but about being in the world. It was an unlearning journey. During the past 14 years he has tried to understand the surge of education’s dominion over self-autonomy and conviviality and committed himself to dismantling the industrial education system. There are lots of well intentioned educators who believe that education will solve all our problems. However, the truth is that factory schooling is a vehicle for control through intellectual and moral indoctrination, a trojan horse to get a foot in the door of the global economy.
There are many forms of resistance: service programs, community gardens, visits to old age homes, or bringing babies into the classroom. Schooling can’t be fixed. We must re-imagine education and its hidden curriculum. Its structure is about the hierarchy of knowledge. Education means more than peoples knowledge and sorting and ranking of students. There are hidden costs to students associated with winning their support of this technological utopianism. Academia supports the global industrial system and to the best of its ability silences dissent. No degree. No voice. We have commodified learning just as we have nature, yoga, play and water. They have all become commodities that started with education. Believing we are owners of the earth comes from the fragmentation of knowing. Thus graduates from many disciplines are produced who are fragmented from their heads, hearts and hands as well as being segregated from the richness of interacting with a variety of age groups. We are fragmented from land, work, education, play, and family. Separate is the norm where, in competition, my winning is your losing. The conclusion is that people can’t learn without education. Decentralized education is a must. We have to raise the bar around our conversation around education and celebrate experiments in non-cooperation with traditional teaching curriculums and methodology and walk out on formal education and become part of their own learning process.
Ross Jackson: Occupy World Street: Questioning the Capitalist System that is Ruining Society and the Environment
Ross Jackson is an economist, chair of Gaia Trust, cofounder of the Global Ecovillage Network and Gaia Education, expert on foreign exchange markets, owner of organic foods wholesaler Urtekram, and author of Occupy World Street: A Global Roadmap for Radical Economic and Political Reform
Capitalism is the commodification of labor and depends on a framework of economic and institutional elements. The neo-liberal economic model suggests that everyone benefits if we have an unrestricted flow of money and goods through institutions including the WTO, IMF and World Bank.
Economist Hazel Henderson tells us that economics is politics in disguise created by the 1%. What is needed is a redesign – a Gaian Economics that operates as a subsidiary of the eco system based upon physics and biology. The three above mentioned institutions are designed to do just the opposite. We need a new trade organization to replace WTO, a Gaian Bank to develop local systems and a Clearing Union to settle trade with all currencies on equal footing. How do we get there when no existing power will do this?
We need a breakaway strategy: small independent countries forming a new world order that adopts ecological economics that benefit all seven billion citizens rather the few at the expense of the many. It must be scalable and ultimately invite the rest of world to join. The Occupy Movement can play a part as well as the Cultural Creatives (24 million men and women with eco-spiritual values) who are ready to back up this idea if a scalable prototype is on the ground, an alternative operating system others can get behind. At that point, each country might have a referendum and ask “should our country join the Gaian League?”
More and more countries could join. In an ideal world we would end up with small sovereign states in control of their economies. This would change the way international trade is organized. Civil society and a small group of states could plant the seeds of a new civilization that works for everyone.
The values of ownership, interdependence and balance are critical parts of the conversation. How can we all become the people whose lives are based on values interdependence andbeing an owner of their lives. What are the terms to take ownership? One man shows like Gandhi and Martin Luther King are always a failure. To succeed we must have leadership at all levels. Buddhists build good friendships that tell others what they don’t want to hear and include voices of conscience and community that work together. A lot of vocabulary has been colonized. Self-education is not part of institutionalized education. We need to develop and use new words and stories like un-schooling and develop a community of learning. There are thousand year old stores about self designed learning and the excellence that can be achieved. We are told you should go to school. We must not let others rule over our self-mastery and awareness. We are interconnected individuals and should explore non-ownership and attachment. Education uses the word dropouts to humiliate. We should use the word “walkouts” indicating personal choice and power.
We should build more eco-villages that teach Gaian Education and promote a common hopeful feeling that we are all one big family and that we belong.
How do I construct a social reality that unites the world?
Find community. Start small. Find what you are passionate about in your local community that is scalable like Transition Towns. (a grassroots network of communities that are working to build resilience in response to peak oil, climate destruction, and economic instability. Visit www.transitionnetwork.org. Stay informed and attend workshops.
How do we transition the way money is created so it works for society?
Money has always been debt. Interest is the key. With it, there is a wealth pump operating to benefit the 1%. We must continue to create alternative currencies from global to local nested systems that operate to fulfill genuine needs with no interest. Many systems have been created that fit that description.
Examples include money without debt. When a government is running a deficit, public money creates new assets not based on debt. Today banks create loans but you can do the same thing by creating public works through public banks. North Dakota is a prime example and has largely survived the economic devastation because they did not play the derivitives game. It’s time to take back money issuance from private banks and organizations like the Federal Reserve.
Helena Norberg Hodge: Global to Local: Personal and Political Dimensions
Helena Norberg-Hodge is the founder and director of the International Society for Ecology and Culture (ISEC) and its predecessor, the Ladakh Project. She is the author of Ancient Futures: Learning from Ladakh and producer and co-director of the film, The Economics of Happiness.
In order to see localization, we must start with the big picture looking at the whole globe. When she started working on this issue, more than 1/2 of the population was still on the land in small villages or towns. During the last 40 years, the globalizing economy has pushed them from the land to bigger cities. What will it take to rebalance urban and rural for survival. The current system is destroying biodiversity. In the industrial world our economists have been pushing to have us behave like factory production cogs. Their assumption is that we need to push the world to have standard products. Perfect apples rather than unique and different. What we need is a pro-life, pro diversity economy. The current system is anti-life. It’s central acupressure point is global vs local. The separation of production from consumption is fundamental to the growth of giant banks and their clients that are an empire we must show not as bad guys but as mainly as ignorant speeding systems that have come to dominate. The empire of individual nations is part of this. Can we see how that growth is the same as multinational growth? Enslavement and genocide are it’s tools in a new incarnation that seduces us through media and brutal education.
We must shorten the distance between the food producer and consumer who is every person that needs to eat three times a day. It is insane that government policy separates us from the food we need daily while talking about reducing CO2 emissions. Buying local does not reduce CO2 say the corporations. We must focus on the big picture in educating the 99%. We must ask how does this support wealth accumulation by the 1%. They have sold education, especially for women, as the answer. But what they are actually selling is a curriculum of empire. What this kind of education really does is create the cheap labor pool they need. USAID was a way for US corporations to get the labor they needed.
Localization is a systemic grass roots shift that says the shorter the distance, the better for us and the planet. A local food movement is gaining momentum not through academia or the media but through the volunteerism of consumers and brave farmers. We must increase diversity, abundance, and wealth. Indigenous cultures that had local food, developed abundance and lots of leisure. We are part of a new experiment that is vastly more successful. Farmers who were growing two crops, are now growing 20. Another shadow aspect is the buildup of imported monoculture. We must use nation states and democratic structures to take control of corporations, the banks and government. We must scale down to control and regulate business and banking. GM needs to stay American.
Our biggest obstacles are the myths that prevent change. One of the biggest is that we believe third world poverty is bad and needs to be improved when, in fact, it is produced by the global economy. People must be able to provide for their own needs locally. You don’t need to buy other countries products, but empower them to grow their own. Another myth is that in the name of justice third world countries should not be asked to reduce emissions. Where labor is cheapest, they want fossil fuel consumption. They are our dirty laundry. We are getting sustainable. Out of sight is not sustainable. Let us prioritize clean food, water and air. Economics must support that.
A related myth is that after giving women a good education it is good to give them a loan. For 20 years, I have been trying to clear the myth about women and microcredit. Give grants rather than loans. Schumacher said small is beautiful. Don’t give aid that builds dependence rather than empowerment. In the slums of Calcutta or Mexico it’s fine. But 90% has gone into rural areas pulling women away from local to producing products, like fashion, for Western consumption with new tv’s that push consumerism. It’s part of the avalanche of movement to big cities. If it continues, it will sink Planet Earth. And it’s all linked to the increase in fossil fuel consumption.
We must focus on the economy as leverage. Change brings opportunities to move your savings as well as saving the earth. Our tax dollars are subsidizing exporting jobs and polluting the world with manufacturing waste. Products are then shipped back to the US using more oil. In the US, interest in global warming has plummeted. People are running faster to pay their mortgages and, at the same time, being told they are responsible to change things We need to focus on legislating a sustainable path. We need 2 track activism: 1. Reach out to friends and neighbors emotionally and support de-commercializing life with singing, dancing, hiking and making things together without spending money. 2. Build the fit economy relatively quickly and combine that with helping ourselves feel, be and connect with the living natural world. Spend time in stillness, appreciation and joy. That is localization. It’s economics, education and activism and you should consider spending 10%-90% of your time there. We must shift taxes, subsidies, and regulations to create the Economics of Happiness. This is the time to build the movement and hit the streets in non-violent demonstrations. Make education your priority. Connect minds to bodies. Let’s use our joy, power, and energy to make change.
Annie Leonard: The Story of Stuff
Annie Leonard is author and host of The Story of Stuff and director of The Story of Stuff Project. She has also worked with the Funders Workgroup for Sustainable Production and Consumption, GAIA (Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives), Health Care Without Harm, Essential Action and Greenpeace International.
At storyofstuff.org, you’ll find seven informative films about stuff, what Annie describes as “a better world buffet”. It includes ideas on local and gift economies, better ways of doing business, rethinking education, the occupy movement and love.
Annie asks why we seem to be losing even though lots of good work is happening. On a lot of environmental and social fronts, things don’t look so good. Do people not know or care? The truth does not set us free. We have the data and people do know. The vast majority know we have an environmental problem. They want a fairer world, a clean environment, safe energy and healthy jobs but don’t see these values reflected in mainstream culture. We are the 99% that think corporations have too much power, the 74% who want stricter regulations on toxic products and the 73% who want cuts from carbon emissions the EPA demands. Major social movements never had these kinds of numbers. The abolitionists, the suffragettes, the civil rights movements all had lower numbers. MLK had 30% ,but he acted.
What is the problem? We have bad problems, good solutions and lots of people. We are forgetting how to make change.
The #1 question is “what can I do?” What can you think of doing?
I can recycle, compost, bag, eliminate bottled water, use greywater, use a clothesline which are all good ideas that align actions and values so we are in a place of greater authenticity, but do not facilitate us working together to make systemic change.
We each have two parts of ourselves, consumers and citizens. We are related to and are very good at being consumers. But our citizen muscle has atrophied. We recognize more corporate logos than plants or local council members names.
The fact is that infants have 250 toxic chemicals in their blood. Although worthwhile, we need to do more than carrying cloth bags to the store. When we focus on what we can do differently in our homes, it distracts us about what we need to do differently in the world. We must begin to focus on the structural drivers of the problems. The real source of change is working together to change the current dysfunctional system in its myriad forms.
Whatever we choose to work on, its crucial that we include a way to work together for systemic change. By struggling together we learn to make change and win. This reinvigorates our democratic process and helps transform a world hijacked by voracious corporations that only think about profits while excluding conscious people and the planet from their balance sheets. The new mantra is socially unconscious corporations out, people in, which creates and leaves a more responsible world.
By working collectively we build community, and gain meaning, joy, and happiness that feeds our souls. Happiness science reveals that our happiness is not based on things and is consistent across all domains. Once basic needs are met, what makes us happy is leisure time, community, purpose, shared goals, and active citizenry. This is not a way to get rich, but to be rich. If we come to this understanding and begin living from it, we will live rich meaningful lives and transform our culture.
It’s the story of change, to move beyond a green lifestyle to systemic change.
Regarding Fair Trade, we must label products to insure that producers are also diversifying so they have their own needs met. Fair Trade can also be part of the problem if farmers are producing mono crops rather than many crops that can be used to fill local needs rather than exported for profit by individuals and large corporations. Fair trade represents a small percent of the toal market. Why should anyone be able to sell exploitive products? They should be banned.
Annie suggested supporting California’s SB 375.
California’s Sustainable Communities and Climate Protection Act, or SB 375, is the nation’s first legislation to link transportation and land use planning with global warming. SB 375 is an important step toward a cleaner, healthier, and more prosperous California. This groundbreaking measure shows us that where we live and how we get to work, go about our daily business, and take our kids to school matters a great deal in the fight against climate change. In fact, household transportation in California is the single-largest and the fastest-growing source of global warming pollution in the state.
Locating housing closer to jobs, transportation choices and creating walkable communities can reduce commute times and cut millions of tons of global warming pollution, while improving quality of life.
Countless diverse interests have a stake in the creation of sustainable and livable communities. The incentive-based approach of SB 375 encourages citizens and local leaders to shape the sustainable future of their communities through a participatory process. Changing political leadership, market demand, and public opinion mean that the time is right for a new approach to land use planning. SB 375 provides a new paradigm, putting California on the path to a more sustainable prosperity as well as a cleaner environment. Download NRDC’s Full Report on SB375 here.
Stacey Mitchell: Local Revival: Building a Decentralized Economy
Stacy Mitchell is a senior researcher with the Institute for Local Self-Reliance, directing initiatives on community banking and business. She is author of BigBox Swindle: The True Cost of MegaRetailers and the Fight for America’s Independent Businesses and chairs the American Independent Business Alliance.
There is a shift from globalization to localization in the US which is home to hundreds of thousands of local enterprises and growing. 16,000 people moved their money from big banks to small banks and credit unions last year. Over 110,000 small farms were added added. Farmers markets doubled to 6000, and independent retailers are making a comeback. Local represents an interaction between local and the larger economy. Since 2002, small grocers and specialty shops are up by 1400, 476 independent book stores financed by the local neighborhood are doing well, sewing shops and fabric shops on the rise. Over 150 communities said no to Time Warner and built their own fiber and cable phone networks. We are not starting from scratch. Local business represents a political constituency.
Large companies have gobbled up small biz or put them out of business. We have the growth of local on one side and simultaneously food consolidation, 300 million consumers and the food processors.
Nationally, WalMart has 25% of the market for food and up to 50% in some places and are trying to win over liberals with an ad campaign. They are running a lot of the food system and as a result, food prices going up and the share of dollars going to farmers is going down. In 2007, the top four big banks held $4.5 trillion or 37% of all banks assets. Today it’s 45%. The financial crisis was good for them. They got bailed out and were too big to fail while 400 community banks failed, customers lost jobs and fell behind on loan payments with no public help.
Amazon pays no sales tax which has fueled their growth. They have 69 largely subsidized warehouses while locals receive nothing. At their present rate of growth Amazon will be bigger than Wal Mart by the end of this decade. The system is rigged vs small business. The story large companies tell is that small and local is inefficient. In many cases, this is simply not true. Big banks charge 20-30% higher fees, pay lower interest on deposits and charge higher interest on loans. Peak efficiency is $5 billion in assets which is 450 times smaller than Bank of America. The large banks do a bad job of financing the local economy. Mid size banks with 60% of assets provide 25% of small biz lending. The credit crunch will continue. Small farms have the best yield, independent pharmacies are better than chain. Over 50% of pharmacists working for chains said working conditions undermined safe and effective care.
N. Dakota passed legislation fifty years ago that bars corporations from owning pharmacies. None are allowed and as a result there are more drug stores in ND providing better healthcare and lower drug costs.
Buy local is a theme and an indicator of interest but not real change. We must act. Check out the Institute for Local Self Reliance. Develop policies that can be good working models and provide a website of best practices at local and state levels. States have deposit caps way to high with loopholes. We need laws that diversify capital so that no bank can have more than 1% of total deposits. We can tap dormant antitrust power at the local level over land use. How do you engage small business owners to speak out? Chambers don’t really represent them.
Michael Shuman- Local Dollars, Local Sense
Michael is the author of Local Dollars, Local Sense: How to Shift Your Money From Wall Street to Main Street and Achieve Real Prosperity. He is also the director of research and economic development at The Business Alliance for Local Living Economies (BALLE)
Our job is to spread local globally. My first job was working for David Brower at Friends of the Earth. Helena Hodge is bringing the world together, alerting us to local movements. Richard Douthwaite wrote Short Circuit that provides local economy templates of how we can work harder to spread the word. In the US, a four year study of the three largest economic development programs counted dollar for dollar how much went to local businesses. 80% were giving money to attract or retain non-local business with some at 90%. I would suggest we need to abolish economic development. To save it, imagine us as one big family trying to perfect the best business locally in particular segments. The Small Mart Revolution. Economies of scale in 1100 sectors of the US economy. In 1093 categories, we had more local.
In the missiles and rockets category there were 10 companies. Three were local. A clever economic developer can find economies of scale locally. The percentage of jobs in large vs small companies has been stable for the last 20 years ranging between 40-50%. Home based business has grown even though big business has tried to eliminate them. The profitability of small business is three times C corporations.
Quality and better food
Aggregation: producer co-ops help farmers do what they could not do on their own.
Distribution: local is a more efficient distribution system than large. In the old days, for every dollar spent on food, 40% when to farmer. Today the farmer receives seven cents with 73 cents going to distribution. Here’s the math. If you grow and buy local, you get cheaper food with a distribution cost of around eighteen cents.
The next challenge is to take this learning into the world of money and break the Fortune 500 monopoly in banking and pension funds. Cities of the world unite. You will lose your slums and military expendability.
Low Income Outreach
Azby Brown: Lessons from Pre-Industrial Japan
Azby Brown, a native of New Orleans, is an artist and designer who has lived in Japan since 1985. He is the author of Small Spaces and Just Enough: Lessons in Living Green from
Traditional Japan. On the faculty of the Kanazawa Institute of Technology since 1995, he is the director of the KIT Future Design Institute in Tokyo.
is an artist and green designer who grew up in New Orleans and lived in Japan for 30 years. He met a master carpenter who always talked about trees and nature and understanding it. He talked in time scales of centuries. One thousand year old trees. He discovered an environmental soundness in all their thinking. He talked about the Edo period from 1605-1868 in a book, Just Enough. They established a sustainable society when 30 million people were reduced to 1.3 million people with few resources, little arable land and mostly mountains. What they had was a good agricultural climate, a literate citizenry that was well organized by a military dictatorship that ruled with a light hand. The Samari class were educated and 40% of farmers could write. The oral traditions were helpful and they were skilled at design.
Edology: What is it about the society that made it unique?
1. A de-growth economy that was shrunk by policy. The developed very local food, agriculture and building. They were inventive people with low impact technologies and the villages had autonomy.
2. They frequently used tasks for cross generational cooperation. Everyone could make what they need. They had a long term perspective thinking in generations. They were robust and resilient. Coming out of challenges, they created 250 years of sustainability. Water, food, waste, and energy were all linked. Any challenge can be catastrophic or virtuous with multiform solutions that effect all interconnected pieces. They planted trees after they took a tree census and designed transportation to protect the trees. Only dead wood was used for fuel. Cutting trees was not permitted. They understood the natural carrying capacity of their community. Restoring forests solved many of the other problems they faced.
Maria Gastelumendi: Indie Business Perspectives on Occupy Oakland and Beyond
Maria Gastelumendi is originally from the Highlands of Peru and now owner of Rising Loafer Cafe and Bakery in Oakland, California, which hosts regular Occupy Oakland meetings. She is active in the Occupy Local Business Liaison Committee and the NonViolence Caucus of Occupy Oakland.
Maria grew up in Peru surrounded by nature and became concerned with the environment through economic and social conflicts that involved human rights and politics. She quickly understood the value of education and worked with Amnesty International traveling Latin America where she saw similar struggles. As refugee came to US, she looked for places she could used her skills and became an interpreter in the courts. In the early 80′s she became disappointed with the lack of results and felt she was not really helping the refugees. She chose not to go to law school and instead got degree in the political economy of natural resources. She graduated during the Bush recession and thought that the best way to give was to open a restaurant as close as possible to the local refugee community producing local bread, dressings, and other recipes. She heard about the Arab Spring toppling bad regimes and heard the same voices outside her cafe-young people who she thought were only interested in money games and discovered they were resourceful and intelligent. They organized kitchens and made drug dealers cooks. The homeless slept in tents and were part of the social group. They moved money locally with 600,000 moving money from big banks to small ones and credit unions. Occupy helped unions speak and closed the Port of Oakland twice. They promoted Oakland grown to support indie business. When Delores newsstand which had operated at 14th and Broadway for many years was served an eviction notice by new owners to allow a 7-11 there, Occupy mobilized, spoke with City Hall and stopped it. Castlewood workers who clean rooms were a striking force for 2 years. A month ago, Occupy found attorneys and created materials that may turn the issue. They are working to reverse the Supreme Court’s Citizen United ruling. Corporations are not people and money does not speak. One hundred and twenty years will not change with Citizens United. The local library is being served eviction by City Bank. The Brooms Collective has cleaned an area park, the community is supporting the effort and priests are offering their churches kitchens. The jails are full and privately financed. Occupy is the voice of young ideas and we all need to participate.
Zac Goldsmith is an outspoken Conservative Green MP for Richmond Park and North Kingston in the UK. He was not at the conference, but his video was screened and impressed me so much that I’m sharing it here. We could use a lot more intelligent, articulate, and ecologically wise politicians. Perhaps he will inspire others. Here he discusses the government’s record on the environment; the ministerial ambitions of backbenchers; and David Cameron’s appointment of Andy Coulson as his chief spin doctor.
Judy Wicks: An Entrepreneurs Perspective on Building the New Economy
Judy Wicks is the founder of White Dog Café and an international leader and speaker in the local living economies movement. Judy is co-founder of the nationwide Business Alliance for Local Living Economies (BALLE). She also founded the Sustainable Business Network of Greater Philadelphia and Fair Food.
BALLE is a vehicle by which we “pursue small on a large scale,” as Schumacher would say, by building throughout North America local economies where small is beautiful and where people and all of life matter more than material gain and profits.
As the former owner of the White Dog Cafe in Philadelphia Judy thinks of goats, organic crops, breads and pies in the oven, and Chiapas farmer’s coffee beans. Business for her is about relationships with people and the planet and a way to express love. She helped save row houses that were destined for demolition to build a mall. She bought a house and started her cafe in 1983 and ran it for 40 years choosing and taking responsibility for that place. She lived above the shop. Her work and family life were separated until she brought her daughter to work and realized she had the same value system at work and home. At work, gold rules. At home, the golden rule.
Living and working in the same community, she saw people who were affected by her decisions made from both her head and heart for the common good. When business grows larger some CEO’s never see the people their decisions affect. What was most important to Judy were the quality of relationships. She grew by deepening relationships, growing community, increasing well being and health. Rather than expand through franchising or new outlets around the world a la Starbucks, Judy made the decision to stop growing the business physically and she and her business grew deeper, educating customers and the community about sustainability, energy audits, farms, prisons, Cuba community gardens, and Chiapas. She brought in speakers on climate change,. David Korten hosted a service day for Katrina and converted a culture of innocent customers with good food into activism including a green business model to restore the environment, community compost, solar hot water and more.
Through local living, she asked what does my community need to be more sustainable? She opened the Black Cat, a retail store stocked with locally made ceramics, candles, other crafts and artistic expressions. Collective joy is missing when our drive is simply to have to have a lot of money. What we really long for is dancing in the street, block parties and a local farmer buffet where we can connect to place and each other and have fun working together toward a shared vision.
A turning point in her career came in 1986 when she bought pork from organic farmers and discovered the cruel treatment of sows. This was a violation, a betrayal of sacred trust and of stewardship. She took ham, bacon, and pork chops off the menu and found a good source of cruelty-free pork creating a cruelty-free menu. Then she thought to herself, if you care about the pigs and the environment, the workers and farmers, rather than keeping this for your own market niche, give this information to your competitors and work in cooperation with the White Dog community. She ended up starting Fair Food Philly that visited other restaurants and taught them how to buy from organic providers.
The driving theme of her life is non-cooperation with an evil system. The localization movement is essentially about decentralization and the freedom that comes with it:
- decentralizing the economy by spreading ownership more broadly to bring economic control back to communities;
- decentralizing our source of energy so that we’re not dependent on oil from far-away places and every community has energy security that’s sustainable;
- decentralizing our food system so that we have food security–as Chief Lyons has said, in order to have freedom we must have access to food;
- decentralizing communications, which promotes independent media (the internet has been helpful in decentralizing the media);
- decentralizing culture in order to protect local cultures because corporate globalization has created a mono-culture, bringing Western culture to the rest of the world.
In describing the local-living-economy movement Judy contrasts what it is and is not and what it does and does not do:
- maximization of relationships, not of profits;
- growth of consciousness and creativity, not brands and market share;
- democracy and decentralized ownership, not concentrated wealth;
- a living return, not the highest return;
- a living wage, not the minimum wage;
- a fair price, not the lowest price;
- sharing, not hoarding;
- simplicity, not luxury;
- life-serving, not self-serving;
- partnership, not domination;
- cooperation, not competition;
- win-win exchange, not win-lose exploitation;
- family farms, not factory farms;
- biodiversity, not monocrops;
- cultural diversity, not monoculture;
- creativity, not conformity;
- slow food, not fast food;
- our bucks, not Starbucks;
- our mart, not Wal-Mart;
- a love of life, not a love of money.
Her forthcoming book is Good Morning Beautiful Business. Some of it’s ideas include:
Happiness comes from protecting what we love; Business has become greed oriented rather than service oriented; Materialism desensitizes us to problems; We must bring forth goddess care and compassion to our economy; We must hear the cry of animals, feel the suffering of children, the exploitation of migrant workers and the loss of whales and songbirds; We are all relatives and must love and protect what we care about and find our place in the family of life; Helping every region achieve food, energy, and water security builds the foundation for world peace. Self-reliant societies are less likely to start wars than those dependent on long-distance shipments of oil, water or food.”
For a more expanded view of the preceding ideas, click here.
Join the movement: www.livingeconomies.org
Carol Black: Occupy Your Brain, Education’s Necessary Structural Changes
Carol Black is an Emmy-Award-winning writer/director/producer of both entertainment and documentary television and film, co-creator with her husband Neal Marlens of the television series The Wonder Years, noted for its portrayal of the American public school experience. She studied education and literature at Swarthmore College and UCLA, and after the birth of her children, withdrew from a successful career in the entertainment industry to become involved in the alternative education movement. Her films, Schooling the World is the culmination of many years of research into cross-cultural perspectives on education.
Structural changes are necessary and require walking away from institutional schooling. The standardization of education promotes the idea that everyone should be the same and was created using an industrial factory model. That same hierarchy and ranking is reflected in the economy. Grades correlate to wealth and maintain or intensify disparity. The logical conclusion from this mindset is that poor means one is less intelligent.
The deeply democratic idea of free education has been ruined by centralized administration and control as well as the escalating cost of education as the vast majority of colleges continue to raise tuition to cover expenses. You can replace the word school with radio. Who is in favor of centrally controlled radio?
Underlying all structural features is the way we view the world and nature which is characteristic of left-brain, narrowly focused, analytical, and the non-living, inorganic. mechanistic world. This creates systems that reflect that kind of thinking and manipulates it to maintain itself and is blind to its flaws.
A fully functional system and integrated brain is grounded in experience, sensation, compassion, empathy, beauty and the sacred interconnected relationships of life. The right brain should primarily be used for evolution. The left brain has taken over in a coup in Western society and is reflected in the manipulated economic and educational systems. Our educational system divides children and knowledge through objectification and quantified and standardized test scoring.
In an experiment the right side of a test subject’s brain was inactivated and when told all monkeys climb trees, a rabbit is an animal and therefore rabbits climb trees, the subject was not able to grasp the wrong logic. The right side would have simply said, “that’s ridiculous.”
Our right brain functions as our bullshit detector. The left is a circle in an abstract system with authoritarian sureness like a Harvard economist. So sure were they that free markets are good, Harvard lost a large portion of their endowment because they didn’t see an economic meltdown coming.
Today, all children are being measured against their left brain mentality. Carol was not a creation of a schoolmaster. Children are not numbers and they naturally fight the mechanical control of their minds. No matter how they are controlled with drugs, they will fight it, but feel powerless to do anything about it.
For a wonderful expansion of these ideas, read Carol’s blog post, Occupy Our Minds here, http://schoolingtheworld.org/blog
We must occupy our brains and do something about this terrible situation. What are people doing creatively around the world? To learn more about examples of breakthroughs in global education, consider purchasing a copy of Carol’s powerful and insightful film, Schooling the World. http://schoolingtheworld.org
I just discovered an excellent radio show and resource devoted to new paradigm education, www.stevehargadon.com and his social network, www.futureofeducation.com that provide access to a wealth of information on Educational Technology including Web 2.0, Educational Social Networking, Free & Open Source Software and The Future of Education. Included in the archives is an interview with Carol.
Gustavo Estiva: Collective Awakening
Gustavo Esteva cofounded several Mexican, Latin American and International NGOs and networks, and received Mexico’s National Prize of Political Economy for his contribution to the theory of inflation. He is active in Zapatismo, a movement for protecting the rights of indigenous peoples.
Jobs and assets are gone and the powers that be are making things worse rather than better. There is a crack in the dominant culture. There is nothing more important than to challenge “the truth” that is put out as reality. Today we live within a domination of consciousness wherein the truth becomes assumptions, myths and ultimately the ways we behave. We are told to help Africans build 1000 schools without thinking because that is how domination instructs. We don’t see what’s happening, but are trapped. We have been waiting for the old way of revolution, but it’s no longer viable. We, the educated and conscious should lead the masses and bring the right message to mobilize them. The Zapatistas tell us “we are ordinary men and women, non-conformists, rebels and dreamers”. They are not overweight women buying shit at WalMart.
A fresh revolution started when a peasant refused to bow before the Lord. What are we seeing but not seeing? What kind of change can we expect when global fear dominates? Some people go to bed hungry and fear it will continue as a way of life while others are afraid to eat bad food. Where is our hope? Is it with the Chairman of a UN agency or the youngest CEO at IBM? Will WalMart have a moral epiphany? We could not stop the Iraq war. Nothing happened to help undocumented workers. Even smart black leaders are frustrated with what’s happening. When he was a candidate, Barack said, “Don’t believe in me. Believe in you. You can fix things. Not me.” We cannot wait for him or anyone else to fix things. Hope lies with the people. Ordinary men and women will change things. The campesino movement is 800 million strong with no leaders.
With food sovereignty, we define what we eat and who produces it. 70% of the food we eat is produced by people on lots and small farms. In Peru, 40% of all food is being produced in this way. In Pasadena, California, three tons of food in 400 varieties are being produced from a small lot.
The Zapatistas are creating a new world beyond post modernity, an economic system that eliminates the condition that makes us producers and consumers. Just human beings. “We can’t be happy with capitalism and it’s negative consequences, so we’re constructing a new world beyond capitalism and socialism. What we have is democratic despotism. We see the tyranny of freedom. We fear government and government fears freedom”.
What we have now is savage capitalism with military control. Lets celebrate the new world. On October 28th, Greece had a national holiday with students marching. This month they turn to teaching the people how to organize a revolution and stop the powers, through civil disobedience, that act like they are beyond them. They are saying “We reject the rules and no longer recognize them. We are turning ourselves toward ourselves.”
Yoji Kamata: Powering Local Economies: Decentralized Renewable Energy Paths
Yoji Kamata is the founder and chairperson of the Ancient Futures Association Japan. He is the representative of the 1st and 2nd Ecovillage Design Education in Japan and Practical Peace Education Project in Nepal. He is also the advisor to the Himalayan Amchi (Doctor of Traditional Tibetan Medicine) Association in Nepal.
Yoji heads the localization movement in Japan and The Ancient Futures Association.
There is a deep feeling when we reconnect to something long forgotten but intimate. There is a social, ecological, cultural movement in Japan that started in 2001 with 30 members that has grown to 1200. The Economics of Happiness has been screened in 113 venues and broadcast on national television.
EDO: Spirituality, autonomy and an ecological life with mutual help.
70% of radioactive waste went into the ocean. We must take responsibility for life on earth and what we give. The first lesson of Fukushima is that the family can be destroyed and that nuclear power is not compatible with localization or life.
Japan is not democratic. Corporations and government control things. We were told that radioactivity does not immediately affect health. People do not trust government and are beginning to think for themselves. Localization is regaining power. The consumer culture is a vampire that sucks energy, time, and money and dismantles the local economy.
The localization movement in Japan is reflected in farmers markets featuring local varieties of locally produced and consumed vegetables, a totally converted organic town that makes organic tofu served in a community restaurant, a free market as an expression of the gift economy where you can bring and take anything free, free lunch in exchange for work, a biogas project, the reintroduction of efficient stoves from the 40′s, the reemergence of traditional houses using earth walls that can absorb the shock of an earthquake and are easy to repair and originally made 200 years ago, the use of 662 local Japanese currencies, increasing study of locality, communities based on half farming and half based on personal interests and talents, revival of old earth calendar, local school programs, Rural Institute participants from Africa and Asia, the eco village movement with medical practitioners and doctors from around the world, a city eco-village and ones in rural areas, about 20 Transition Towns
There are 54 nuclear plants in Japan. Many people have fasted and prayed in front of these power stations and most have shut down for checking. There is no democratic nuclear plant. People should have the power to make decisions about what affects our lives.
Prof. Charles Simmons: Reweaving the Fabric of Hope
Charles Simmons teaches journalism and media law at Eastern Michigan University. He is the Co-Chair of the Committee for the Political Resurrection of Detroit and is on the board of directors of Detroiters Working for Environmental Justice. He writes for national and international media and academic journals.
We are fighting to make changes that lead to a sustainable, fair, and globalized justice for humans and other species. We are creating a liberated zone of mental and spiritual liberation in which we put neighbor back into the hood. My grandfather was an activist in the trade union when it was illegal. Companies hired goons to assassinate union leaders. He learned about social justice and composed poetry for the struggles of abolition, lynchings and civil rights. Many of his family members came from farms to work for Henry Ford who sought to break the strikes which marked the beginning of industrial racism. Blacks had to take on companies and unions.
Charles joined the Air Force based on the hype of the Cuban revolution but refused to fight against Cuba and Vietnam. He saw Malcom, joined a student organization Yahuru (freedom) and went to Cuba where he meet Che. He felt excited and told Che, ” I’m a revolutionary from Detroit and I want training in guerilla warfare.” They exchanged stories of injustice in the US. Che told him, “There is a CIA agent in this group that is doing medical studies, so let it be” Today, Cuba’s Medical University welcomes people of color with scholarships. Charles focused on humanity building, socialism, the new human of the 21st century and the long process of transformation of cities and values. He promoted a fundamental change of the structure in the US. In Detroit, he saw neo colonialism, the downward spiral of the capitalist system and its brutal effects including closing schools and libraries, a transportation system closing down, 45 minutes to get an SUV rather than an ambulance, the police shrinking, budgets for wages slashed and still people resisting. Protests in the tradition of social justice are building because of increasing police brutality and militarization of the school system. The only extra curricular activities are military and foreclosure.
In the face of all this, food security is big with 1200 gardens, 800 family and 400 community, in addition to 60 schools, churches, and greenhouses. Kids are receiving agricultural training. There is an arts renaissance with positive hip hop, digital justice, educating the community about using computers, and the birth of community radio stations. In the face of cultural imperialism, black community training is emerging. Hush House is a women’s center for compassionate communities working in Africa to promote sustainable communities and re-imagining what can be done in the city despite what’s happening.
Charles Eisenstein: Sacred Economics as a Means of Restoring Lost Community
Charles Eisenstein is a teacher, speaker, and writer focusing on themes of civilization, consciousness, money, and cultural evolution. Called “one of the up-and-coming great minds of our time” by David Korten, he is author of The Yoga of Eating, The Ascent of Humanity and Sacred Economics
Money is a social agreement about what’s valuable and what we want to reward. Why encourage what destroys? There is a felt sense of wrongness in the world. The world should be more beautiful than it is. So kids rebel but don’t have a framework that gives voice to that knowing and supports their dreams. Charles had validation for his knowing and became more aware of globalization. He asked, why is it like that? What’s wrong? Is it greed? I have greed. I need a strategy to conquer evil and greed and overcome it out there and in my self. He became dissatisfied because it did not work historically. Stalin and Hitler thought they were on the side of good.
The problem is in the money system itself and the myths that create our world. The money system is falling apart and so is the rest of the system that supports it. Money is created as debt. A bank lends $1 million and receives back $2 million. They sell that debt to others to get the extra dollars so everyone becomes a competitor. If you refuse to compete, you become destitute. To prevent mass defaults, the banks and governments lend more money to pay back the first debts based on the premise that the economy must grow in a never ending game of musical chairs and money exchange. But what we are doing is migrating things from the gift economy to money.
The game is simple. Find something that someone does for themselves, take it away and sell it back. Schools and medical clinics sell consumerism. Find land, make it property, and sell or rent it. Soon there will be nothing left to convert into money. The cost of conversion gets higher and higher and we can’t create growth and money fast enough to pay the ever rising debt and the system falls apart. More than the money system, the crisis goes all the way to the bottom. Money = separation from each other. The current story of self is that what you are is separate, floating in an external more for you is less for me world. In a gift economy, if you have more than you need, you share it with someone else because that will be good for you too. Others good fortune is yours.
We currently have no community because community is woven from gifts and stories. We are going through a transition from separation to an inner beingness. To make it happen faster, one thing you can do is re-establish gift relationships of all kinds. The current money system depends on infinite growth. The gift economy depends on re-skilling, community gardens and by doing anything you can to deprive the growth machine of food, hastening its collapse and maximizing the puncture of the sense of a separated self. Connection means you don’t need to buy things to make you feel better.
When rendered small and cut off in a world of strangers, you want to grow the separate self rather than commit small acts that connect. You could, for instance, be a secret Santa paying down another’s layaway. How do you explain that when people believe we are in it for ourselves? The demonstration of love weakens the shell of the old worldview and helps deconstruct the paradigm of scarcity and fear.
The world of the gift is an anomalie that doesn’t fit. Community means gifts. To be dependent means to be alive. We must admit we need each other rather than pretend we can make it on our own.
In his workshop, Charles added the following ideas:
Charles is the Archetype of the story teller. We are all story tellers of the new world. He disagrees with having to sacrifice the luxuries for others to have the necessities. There is a form of wealth that money can’t buy. For example, you can buy a performance or someone singing just for you. When they sing to you or it feels like it, no amount of money can compensate.
The knowledge of the gift cosmology has always been with us. It’s obvious. We didn’t do anything to earn the sun or water or seeds or being nursed as a baby. You don’t owe anyone for that. The universe meets all our needs. There is no primordial debt, rather primordial gratitude. You have received and the desire to give comes in return. We have developed a society and mythology that makes it very hard for us to give. Lending and debt often stand in the way We can’t pay back, especially if we’re not converting nature into goods and services.
In his monumental work, The Ascent of Humanity, Charles points out that for years, humanity’s driving mission was to conquer nature. And we did conquer so much 100 years ago through our belief that our human gifts would enable us to become the lords of nature. But it’s not working any longer. It’s not where our gifts are meant to go any more. That’s what soulless jobs reflect. We should be saying, “I wasn’t put on earth to do this.” We would much rather give but there is no social vehicle to do so. It’s even awkward for many.
Gifts create ties today. We aspire to financial independence with no obligation. Poor people are actually happier. Poorer societies build their own houses and grow their own food in addition to many other community building activities. Economic growth is becoming obsolete because monetarily and spiritually there is no room to grow. Our consciousness has shifted but our institutions have not and there is a conflict.
What would money look like if it expressed the new defining myths we are moving into? As the old stories fall apart, we enter a bardo, the space between stories. We don’t create the new stories. Stories are greater than human beings. It’s a group project. Everyone Charles meets has something to teach him, a piece of the new story. We need each other in a gift based world. You are not financially independent. It’s like an ecosystem. The new story of the self is the connected self. So your enlightenment is my enlightenment too. This is something we’ve always known.
Why did it hurt when we saw the diagram of the Fukushima radiation earlier? Not rationally. It’s because it really does hurt all of us and registers on our brain’s mirror neurons. We’re in an adolescent growth spurt. Would Charles want his 16 yr old son to keep growing beyond 6 ft? To where? Like economic growth, all growth must have an end. A child is supposed to receive from his parent. As an adolescent you want to give to your sweetie rather than just receive or that would be like a baby. We have taken and taken and now we are falling in love with the earth as an adolescent.
In the transition to adulthood we receive two things: the gifts from childhood play are turned towards their intended purpose, and, you go through an ordeal, an initiation, where your identity is removed. Humanity is going through that ordeal right now. Then you become a full member of the tribe and humanity becomes a full member of the tribe on earth. The falling apart marks this transition between stories.
Work to be done:
Restoring the commons: We can’t walk anywhere without seeing “No Trespassing” signs. The only place we’re allowed is on the road. We have to pay to be anywhere public. We must restore other kinds of relationships besides monetary growth. There will be some wealth left over when things do fall apart.
Mitigating the damage: of privatizing Yosemite, gold mines etc. If we stop that, then we have some biodiversity, skills and gratitude left.
Economic growth: The question has always been how do we boost growth? What insanity when there are so many empty big houses and so many labor saving devices that no one uses like Stairmasters. We were supposed to enter the age of leisure, but that never happened.
How do we help people overcome the fear of sharing? Block parties? It’s difficult because the monetized life is still working for people. It probably won’t come from the “I’m too busy” middle class. The greatest change is really happening in the smashed broken neighborhoods like Detroit. The inner cities with their community gardens and other self generated projects.
A therapist commented that people fear they don’t have the skill base, that they have been trained for other skills. They fear not having these new relationship and other skills. Psychology started out okay, but was given a Madison Ave spin, capitalizing on what we’ve lost. The split between private and public healing is over. The new paradigm is that they are one and the same.
We are afraid to share because we are afraid to trust which is needing relationships and you do this by first having fun together.
Charles on trust: See evil corporations as giving, as they are pressured to do it. But they are not evil and we are not and we need to exert a force on them. People don’t like being treated as evil and they resist it, even if they are the chief lobbyist of Monsanto, they bring a gift. You can’t change the man for whom you have contempt.
But lack of trust is real, people have lost their homes. You can’t trust everyone equally. You can’t have a block party with certain types of people. There’ s a lot of trauma in the world. Charles is talking about a basic trust in humanity.
The therapist says “the level of wounding by those that are supposed to love and protect others is significant. We need to honor those that were wounded and heal them. Not everyone is a psychopath. But who and how do you trust?
Charles: The need calls the gift. Everyone has a natural proclivity especially for child rearing.
Myth: You only work if you’ve got somebody really special making it happen. We should look to each other beside leaders like Charles.
Charles: There’s lots of despair in the world; one third of all children and battered women are sexually abused, the decimated rain forests of the world, nuclear waste sites (no one knows where some of them are), torture and murder of loved ones in front of their relative’s eyes. All horrors, but that despair comes from the same mindset that creates the problem in the first place. ”I’m just one little person, dependent on the amount of force I can exert” is the old mindset.
With an awareness of our interconnectedness, despair becomes action. Charles has experienced miracles. That way, what one person does can make a difference, like miraculous healings or a Dianne Wilson who stopped the petrochemical company in the Gulf. Even if it’s saving a puppy or working with a dying person, its just as important as working with the new generation of children. Every act makes a difference when it’s interconnected. We must be there for each other. We’ve all felt so alone, many of us for 30 years or more. We’re no longer alone. We’ve reached critical mass.
Megan Bachman: The Power of Community
Megan Quinn Bachman is a peak oil writer and educator who serves on the board of the Association for the Study of Peak Oil – USA and teaches global ecology at Antioch University – Midwest. She also co-wrote and co-produced the award-winning documentary, The Power of Community: How Cuba Survived Peak Oil.
Megan went to Cuba to make a film and cut off from global institutions, learned about resource and population problems. Fossil fueled consumer society has allowed the empire to go global, colonize the planet and people with slavery and control over nature. The agriculture transition went from solar to living off fossils. The largest man made thing from space are deserts. We are now tapping millions of years of fossils. If we look at historical time, agriculture developed in the last three months and industrial society in the last three seconds. The pie is shrinking and if we don’t forego luxuries, others will miss the basics. We have consumed 260 billion barrels of oil in the last 10 years which equals 20% of all the oil there is.
Localization in most people minds means buy local. Transformative localization transforms us. Local investment is a key. We invested with our lives in the global economy. One effect is the privatization of water. The limits of renewable energy will not run industrial society. There is a false hope that somehow we can continue it by both environmentalists and those on the left. Andrew Farmer feeds 50 people, makes $10k a year and lives in a yurt. If you tell people, this is your hope, they get frightened and say I can’t do that. The goal is to make less and less money as peak oil provides less and less. How would you survive without money? We think we need it to live. We think we must get horrible jobs or we we cant eat. In fact, we need habitats that support us, the resources and skills to create them and neighbors. Can you name what watershed you live in or five bird and plant species? Fact is, we don’t rely on nature. We live on the land but not from it. We need to focus on our habitats. Local farmers markets provide 2-5% of year round consumption. Local baker ingredients come from far away. Reforesting chestnut trees means that when they get going, we have access vs ownership. Imagine local honey and flour and a move to meaningful work with one another. We are living an absurd life. We have great resiliency-if we live it.
Joanna Macy: The Great Turning
Joanna Macy is a scholar of Buddhism, general systems theory, and deep ecology. As the root teacher of the Work That Reconnects, she has created a ground-breaking framework for personal and social change. Her work helps people transform despair and apathy into constructive, collaborative action. She is also the author of several books including Coming Back to Life, The Work That Reconnects, Dharma & Development and Active Hope: How to Face the Mess We’re in Without Going Crazy.
We are blessed by straight talk about the absurdity, cruelty, and inhumanity of the system within a suicide economy. We must be willing to see what’s really happening and what we are experiencing and explore the new understandings with fresh eyes and an open heart. Think of what we will be seeing in the next few years and facing it is beyond our capacity to imagine. The great turning to a life sustaining society is a spiritual adventure bringing new forms. It is the great unravelling and destruction of the globalizing economy with its wasted and contaminated cultures, seas, and forests and it is accelerating. In our lifetimes we won’t know which way it will go.
The burning question is can we save our world before it self destructs and how do we live like that?
Here are her five guidelines:
1. Come from gratitude to be alive at this time and have the power to choose where we put our attention. With all the massacres Native people have endured, their self respect is linked to thanksgiving which is far better than self pity.
2. Link arms. Don’t think of doing it alone. No single mind can handle what is asked of us. We must use the synergy of linking in a neighborhood or walking down the street telling the truth. We must embark on a collective social technology journey as a steady action group. Choose a theme and don’t be time defined. Try a month or 6 weeks. We teach each other and build our own authority using our ignorance and experiential learning. Testify, leaflet, petition, run for city council. You will discover exhilaration, trust and support.
3. Do not be afraid of the dark emotions of grief, hopelessness, and despair within you. It’s only a probable when you pretend its not there. If you don’t speak about whats wrong, you close down. A climate scientist on environmental leadership says when you open your eyes, are not afraid, and can be real, the landscape you’ll find yourself in is different. Diaper helplessness, sadness, and dislocation are the result of denial. To take leadership, you need to speak to what is and what may come. When you can name what you feel and face it, it cuts through the confusion and fog people are in when they deny, rattle and scapegoat. We can live with what we have done. Our pain for the world arises not from personal craziness but from connectedness to our oneness. Our power to take part in the great turning comes with standing and living with open hearts and speaking the truth with courage to political repression. In this state, can we grow up. If we stay blind to official complicity in 9-11, timidity infantilizes us and makes us obedient, lonely, and stupid. Loyalty demand dissent.
4. Make friends with uncertainty which is a feature of our time. Adventure is not knowing the outcome. Joyous adventure is not needing to know the outcome. Bring all you know about courage and interconnectedness. Our intention for the healing of our world is the one thing we can count on. A firm yearning and choosing for the welfare of all is like a flame in the heart. Love it and breathe on it. It will never go away.
5. Act our age. It is time for that now. The universe is 13.7 billion years old and lives in you. It’s being remembered. Draw on that no matter the size of the challenge. You belong here. You are part of the great story that has brought you here. Notukashi-miri is the intimate feeling for what has been forgotten. We can remember that again. We have come a great journey. We don’t approve of all the conditions. Live it fully for the welfare of all beings.
Active hope and wishful thinking. We must face the pain we are in before we can go to joy. There is acceptance of what is, before action.
What do we need to carry forward from here?
From the audience flowed the following ideas: Curiosity, creativity, friendship, music, compassion, love, singing, trees, sharing of gifts, kindness, fun, awareness, sex, beauty, gardens, awakening, listening, memory, story-sharing, laughter, generosity, forgiveness, veganism, raw-foodism, letting go, cultivating skills, bicycles, community, growing food, honoring indigenous wisdom, less harmful technology, making things, local everything, silence, knowing when to stop.
It’s time to embrace our spiritual lives and detoxify our minds and history.
Additional Economics of Happiness Book List:
A Practical Guide to Discovering Your Place in the Universe and Crazy Wisdom Saves the World Again DVD by Wes Nisker
Civilizing the Economy by Marvin Brown
Local Money by Peter North
The End of Money and the Future of Civilization by Thomas Greco
Small is Beautiful- E.F. Schumacher
“Home” CD by Jennifer Berezan (As much as anyone, Jennifer sings from her heart and reflects the soul of the world in her music. Following is her collaborative video)
To learn more about Jennifer’s music, visit (www.edgeofwonder.com)
POST CONFERENCE NEWS…
U.N. HAPPINESS AND WELLBEING CONFERENCE
A conference on “Happiness and Wellbeing: Defining a New Economic Paradigm” was held earlier this week at the United Nations in New York. The Kingdom of Bhutan that developed a GNH (Gross National Happiness) Index hosted the gathering. More than 600 participants, among them scientists, politicians, religious organizations, academia, as well as members of civil society attended the gathering.
“We need a new economic paradigm that recognizes the parity between the three pillars of sustainable development. Social, economic and environmental well-being are indivisible. Together they define gross global happiness,” the Secretary-General told the meeting’s participants.
“It is imperative that we build a new, creative guiding vision for sustainability and our future,” Mr. Al-Nasser said. “One that will bring a more inclusive, equitable and balanced approach that will promote sustainability, eradicate poverty and enhance well-being and happiness.”
In a recent interview with the UN News Centre, Bhutan’s Prime Minister, Jigme Thinley, said that GNH is a paradigm that has guided Bhutan’s development for several decades and that he hoped Monday’s meeting would result in recommendations which governments can act on. “I hope that by 2015 the international community will have adopted a sustainability-based economic paradigm, committed to promoting true human well-being and happiness, and ensuring at the same time, the survival of all species with which we share this planet,” he said.
At the conference the Prime Minister of Bhutan, Jigmi Y. Thinley, pointed out that “the GDP lead development model that compels boundless growth on a planet with limited resources no longer makes economic sense.”
Representatives of the Blue Economy together with other experts were asked to elaborate the economic mechanisms of this new paradigm that incorporates social and environmental progress in efforts to achieve sustainable development. Anne-Kathrin Kuhlemann, CEO of Blue Economy Solutions GmbH, reminded the participants to consider resource efficiency and resource effectiveness as a basis of new business models. “Innovative and prosperous technologies have to be both supported as well as required in order to encourage the business world to adopt this new paradigm.”