Welcome to EarthConnected!

This blog is part of a conversation with other people who want a radically changed culture. Are you working towards a practical collaborative sustainable way of living? Looking for ways to create an economy run not for financial gain but for quality, social need and a healthy environment? Exploring ways in which we could grow community based economies?

I think there are practical routes through to it, using communications technologies and systems principles. I spell out all of this in my book eGaia, Growing a peaceful, sustainable Earth through communications.

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A Labour manifesto for the next election!

“The ‘Wellbeing of People and Planet’ (WPP) is the right driving force for a society that actually works, and is sustainable and robust enough to survive the coming social and environmental crises. Growth in WPP needs to replace economic growth (i.e. in GDP) as a social goal, as that is what is causing the problems.”

I have sent the message below to several Labour party politicians: Jeremy Corbyn, John McDonnell, Emma Rees (Momentum), Clive Lewis and Danielle Glavin (local Labour candidate in the recent election).

What do you think?

A Labour manifesto for the next election!

I imagine you are now working on the next manifesto for the moment when the Tories come unstuck. I hope the ideas below resonate with your thinking, and would be happy to meet with you or your advisors or colleagues who think similarly, if you think it would be helpful.

I was very pleased with the Labour Manifesto and especially with its reception at the election. Traditional Labour values – about building a society that looks after people not profit – are what I grew up with. After a few decades of a Labour party that is really Tory-light, it is great to see this in favour again.

Now that you will have a little more time to prepare, you might be considering the change from ‘traditional Labour’ to ‘21st Century Labour’, which for me and many I know, means looking after the wellbeing of people and planet, not just people. It goes way beyond ‘business as usual but with more renewables’. This actually means a substantial extra layer of policy and effort: towards a really decentralised, cooperative, less wasteful, low consumption but high wellbeing, community-based society that will massively reduce the load on central government services, and provide the resilience an environmentally-friendly society requires.

The ‘Wellbeing of People and Planet’ (WPP) is the right driving force for a society that actually works, and is sustainable and robust enough to survive the coming social and environmental crises. Growth in WPP needs to replace economic growth (i.e. in GDP) as a social goal, as that is what is causing the problems. Wellbeing of people incorporates the traditional Labour values of treating people with respect, paying employees and suppliers fairly rather than as little as possible, charging customers fairly. Wellbeing of planet means being aware of and using environmental best practice.

Practical steps are to promote WPP for people, organisations and businesses through regional and community suppport organisations, through public reputation (Which are the firms that best support WPP?), and financial incentives.

The Magic Money Tree: making it work for WPP. The Magic Money tree is a very useful metaphor. It certainly exists (see this), and is the main driver of social inequality, but we can plant a new forest of Magic Money Trees that support communities and WPP.

The current Magic Money Tree can be partially bent/trained towards WPP through conventional means like closing tax havens, tax loopholes, transaction taxes, wealth taxes, etc. raising very large sums.

However, bringing money creation under government and community control is much more powerful still. (ex. Bailing out the banks cost more than 10 times as much as the proposals in the Labour manifesto.) The key is giving people access to credit, which is really all that creating money is. This means forming/supporting regional and community banks, under local control, where profits go back to the community, bypassing the conventional financial institutions.

Money is needed to help people exchange with each other where there is limited trust, but within communities (not just local ones), where trust exists and can be nurtured, gift economy practices are much more powerful. We can build community exchanges based on a mixture of money and favours to provide much of life’s basics: food, services, caring, transport, energy, accomodation. These can get people (at least partially) off the money hook, providing not so much jobs, as numerous opportunities to give and receive from their community. This can create opportunities for people to give and receive who can’t otherwise contribute much (housebound, disabled, youth, elderly, etc.).

There is much about ideas like this on my website, but I can give you links and references to many people, organisations, books, etc. who are currently working on starting points to this kind of society.

I hope you find this is in line with your own thinking, and would be happy to work with you on furthering it.

Yours,

Gary Alexander

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My ‘Radical Technology’ talks are now online

I’ve been recently told that the very interesting Radical Technology Revisited conference held in London last September has now put all the talks online. I gave two talks, and so I’m very happy to give the links.

My first talk was called “Radical Communication Technology“. (View it as full screen or it cuts off the top of my head.) I was presenting a quick summary of a transition to a cooperative, sustainable society,  where we are with it now, and how communications technologies are one key to it. It lasted for about 10 minutes. I didn’t use slides but here are my notes as a one-page pdf:  RadTechTalk1Comms.

My second talk was called Green Growth: Contradiction or Necessity?   as part of a session called “Is small still beautiful?” I argue that if we mean by ‘green growth’  continued GDP growth that is somehow greener, that is indeed a contradiction, but if we mean ‘growth in the wellbeing of people and planet’, then it is a necessity, and it is growing now. The form that is becoming clearer is a cooperative society with environmental care at its heart. I list lots of starting points, and show very brief videos introducing three of them: Transition Network, Enspiral and Ecobasa. The talk lasts about 20 minutes. Here are my slides for the talk, as a pdf, which includes my presenter notes and clickable links for the video extracts.

Hope you like them. Let me know what you think.

 

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Don’t ditch Corbyn

Corbyn did well in the referendum. Trying to sack him is just opportunism by the New Labour/Blairite faction, and is suicidal for the Labour Party.

Rather, the Labour Party should be jumping at the opportunity to sweep up the Leave and Remain voters with a new vision: People taking back control of their own lives, not just from a bureacratic EU, but a controlling Westminster, and especially from banks and big businesses.

Lead a partnership to set up an economy that really works, that serves people and planet, is controlled by local communities working collaboratively. Set up networks of co-operatives and ethical businesses, stabilised by public reputation, not wealth.

Help us enjoy the mixing of cultures that is sweeping the world. They are not a threat, if we work to serve each other, not compete with each other. You don’t need to be in power to do this, but it will put you in power.

Top tip: IT tools make this possible for the first time.

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Toward Regenerative Society: Plan for Rapid Transition

I’ve just read this excellent paper Toward Regenerative Society: Plan for Rapid Transition, from the Center for Planetary Culture. It gives an excellent overview of the kind of society so many of us are seeking. Here’s the table of contents:

Planfor RapidTransition paper ToC

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Cameron: Another financial crash coming?

On Monday, David Cameron wrote in the Guardian:

“Six years on from the financial crash that brought the world to its knees, red warning lights are once again flashing on the dashboard of the global economy.

As I met world leaders at the G20 in Brisbane, the problems were plain to see. The eurozone is teetering on the brink of a possible third recession, with high unemployment, falling growth and the real risk of falling prices too. Emerging markets, which were the driver of growth in the early stages of the recovery, are now slowing down. Despite the progress in Bali, global trade talks have stalled while the epidemic of Ebola, conflict in the Middle East and Russia’s illegal actions in Ukraine are all adding a dangerous backdrop of instability and uncertainty.”

The article is mostly political posturing, but it is really quite frightening. Cameron clearly wants more of the same measures that have been creating the financial instability:

“…it is more important than ever that we send a clear message to the world that Britain is not going to waver on dealing with its debts.”

But it is the debt-fuelled financial bubbles that are creating the instability.

“Our long-term plan is backing business by scrapping red tape, cutting taxes, building world-class skills and supporting exports to emerging markets.”

What about building a society that looks after people and planet?

“I brought together a crucial meeting between President Obama and fellow European leaders to insist on urgent progress on a comprehensive EU-US trade deal that could add £10bn to the UK economy alone.”

He has no doubts about the TTIP! Pursuit of profit rules OK!

Fortunately, other visions are growing too, if still mostly below the radar. New visions of community-led economies, co-operative commons, the solidarity economy, a global family that looks after people and planet.

After the Crash video

After the Crash video

My short video After the crash, from chasing money to choosing community, introduces this vision in 10 minutes and its supporting website points to lots of starting points.

eGaia, 2nd editionFor a fuller description of the vision, see the new second edition of my book, eGaiawith a free eBook version available for download, and two sample chapters, one giving a fictional vision of a sustainable future, and the other suggesting the next big steps for people already involved in building this new vision. It is all about joining up to create the new vision now, within the existing society.

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Naomi Klein at Central Westminster Hall

 

Naomi Klein at Central Hall

Naomi Klein at Central Hall, Westminster

Yesterday, Naomi Klein spoke before a packed Westminster Central Hall, and I was there. I wasn’t expecting such a large and grand hall (seats 2,300), and the enthusiasm of the crowd, frequently breaking into applause was wonderful.

The deep importance of stopping climate change is truly breaking into the mainstream. The radical changes needed to our economy and political system, which Naomi Klein documents so thoroughly in her book and sketched in her talk, were clearly music to the ears of the audience.

I had read some reviews beforehand, and have now bought the book (signed copy!) and have started to read it. She spoke about how the present economy has failed the vast majority of people, and really benefits only a small minority. She sees climate change as “the big tent” that will unite many movements for change and provide a counter power to that of the big corporations and financial organisations and the governments that are largely under their control or at least under their influence. Her starting issue is money in politics!

She proposes a “global Marshall plan for Planet Earth”, which will need a lot of government investment and will create a lot of jobs. The big problem at the moment is that the dominant idea is that governments should not regulate businesses. This key idea is what is now being questioned by many people.

Naomi Klein is excellent in her diagnosis of what is going wrong, and her clarity and marshalling of evidence is stunning. Where she is less strong is on the vision of what the alternative economy and political system would be like. She does like community control and Transition Towns. She is clear that for productive organisations, goals of serving the community and planet should take precedence over profits.

From my initial browsing of the book (around 500 pages) she sees this climate change movement protesting and lobbying government on a large scale, for example, to stop more extraction, and to promote divestment from fossil fuel companies.

That could be an effective way of galvanising people, but the key is the new social and economic structures we set up. That isn’t what governments and corporate leaders spend their time thinking about, so the good ideas aren’t likely to come from them.

I think that gives all of us who have been thinking about the alternative an urgent task: to catalyse broad discussion within the growing movement about what we would all like and how we might start to get there. Naomi refers to some of these areas: community control, new forms of co-operative that include all affected, new approaches to ownership (ex community land trusts), commons, gift economies and new forms of money, and much more.

From what I have seen, This Changes Everything is already becoming a very important book, and there are many others filling out this vision in lots of ways.  I will end by mentioning my recent contributions: Our video: After the Crash: From Chasing Money to Choosing Community and its website, is a 10 minute introduction to this growing vision. My book, eGaia, Growing a peaceful, sustainable Earth through communication, gives a vision of a peaceful, sustainable future. The eBook version is free, and their are free sample chapters, one a light, fictional vision (Chapter 3 A taste of an eGaian future), and my current personal guess as to  The next big step(s) (Chapter 15).

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eGaia 2nd edition and also new video!

eGaia, 2nd edition

eGaia, 2nd edition

After the Crash video

After the Crash video

Hello friends,

This is a big day for me. After a long gestation, I’m releasing the second edition of my book, eGaia, Growing a peaceful, sustainable Earth through communications, and also a 10 minute video, After the Crash: From chasing money to choosing community. The book is available in print (eco-friendly print-on-demand publisher), FREE as an eBook.

Everyone who knows me, knows I’m always enthusing about this new vision that I think is growing rapidly all over the world, of a new community-oriented, but globally connected, environmentally-sound society. I’m always meeting people who share this vision, going to places where they are trying out beginnings, and events where people are figuring out how to do this.

The video, After the Crash: From chasing money to choosing community is a short, entertaining introduction to this vision. Please let me know what you think about it. Would you be willing to host a showing to friends with a group discussion of it?

The new edition of eGaia is heavily updated, because the world has moved strongly in its direction since the first edition was published in 2002. We are far more closely connected now through social media, phones and tablets, and the starting points – projects and organisations – are far more developed. At the same time, with extreme weather, melting of the Arctic, and major financial problems, the need for radical change is much more obvious to people.

I have tried to pull together the latest and best people’s work I could find on the problems, the starting points, the solutions, and key issues: is a collaborative world possible? How could it work?

I invite you to help promote the ideas here. I keep meeting people who say that now is the time for the coming together of the starting points. Do you agree? Read eGaia or just the sample chapters Chapter 3 A taste of an eGaian future and Chapter 15 The next big step(s)? and help spread the word as widely as possible.

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