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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Losing our religion? Or growing a new global one?

In an article in this week’s New Scientist, “Losing our religion” by Graham Lawton takes a rather narrow, but quite common, view of religion as mainly determined by active membership in a traditional religion and a belief in a God, especially one that judges and punishes. (But what about Bhuddism or Taoism?)

I was very interested to learn that, on this definition, the late 20th century resurgence of religion, and especially fundamentalism, seems to have reversed in the past two decades, even in places like the US and Ireland, known for their religiosity. Is this true for Islam as well as Christianity?

We now separate religion from the rest of culture, while in earlier societies, particularly before civilisations, but also until the rise of industrial society, there was no little or no such distinction. Within each culture, there were a range of customs and beliefs that gave people a sense of identity and connection to each other and the wider world, and told them what behaviour was appropriate and inappropriate. In Lawton’s telling of it, these were arbitrary superstitions. While this might be true of some parts (human sacrifice?), overall, religions were the glue that held societies together and were highly functional, at least within if not between cultures.
Now, the dominant so-called ‘rationality’ often includes a belief that the best economic system is the market in which all are fiercely competing against each other, that the best political system is one with political parties competing against each other, that evolution is a random process of survival of the fittest. There is no sense of connection or suitable behaviour in this. The result is a global culture rife with wars, corruption, crime and destruction of the environment.

It is no wonder that many people look at the world and say “this is wrong!”. Many turn to the only alternatives they know, which are traditional religions and/or fundamentalism.

But there may be another explanation for the decline in ‘religion’ in the past two decades: a new rationality that embraces the social strengths of traditional religions, that provides a sense of connection, identity and a guide to appropriate behaviour. This can live alongside traditional religions that will come to be understood as metaphorical rather than literal.

Our communication technologies are linking us as never before, and globalism has reduced the differences between cultures. Thus we empathise with people around the world in their tragedies and oppressions. It is harder to believe that the traditional religion of your own culture applies to everyone. As our destruction of the natural world is now hitting home, a strong sense that we are all in this together is growing. More and more people are coming to see that the financial system that underpins our economy, and our political systems are dysfunctional.

Through thousands of projects and groups worldwide, it is becoming clear that appropriate behaviour includes re-inventing community for bottom-up governance, creating new enterprises for providing food, transport, energy, etc. that are based upon providing well-being for people and planet, not making money.

For many people, the hazy outlines of a new global culture is growing under the radar: locally based but globally co-ordinated, co-operative but locally autonomous, with central emphasis on the health of the natural world.

This can perhaps be summarised as the growth of a global family that looks after people and planet.

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You’ve heard of Slow Food, now there’s Slow Money!

I was intrigued by an event I saw listed in the Transition US newsletter, Essential Knowledge for Transition: Financial System and Local Investing which was “the first in a 3-part series of teleseminars on economic transformation by Marco Vangelisti”.

I downloaded Marco’s slide show to accompany the seminar, and was very impressed, so I signed up for the teleseminar and participated in it yesterday evening. It described itself as:

Financial system and local investing

How can the stock market reach new record highs when the economy is still sputtering and the middle class is fading away? What role do our investments play in shaping our world? We will look at how financial capital has been transformed from a tool fostering economic growth to a self-perpetuating pool growing through trading activities progressively divorced from productive economic activities. We will talk about the importance of divesting form the old economy and the emergence of four powerful trends that will transform the world of investing. We will look at ways communities at the forefront of this transformation are democratizing and relocalizing investments and building a world that is more equitable and sustainable.

Much of this was familiar to me: how limited and destructive it is to see the world though a financial prism that excludes social and environmental effects, his “What you Need to Know About Money and Banking in 3 Minutes”

  • All money is created as debt
  • No money is created to repay the interests on the debt
  • The private banking sector has the monopoly on money creation
  • Money is an agreed upon fiction

An amusing cartoon:

cartoon for Slow Money

But I was particularly struck by the innovations in new approaches to money that have been growing in the USA in recent years. There was only a little on new currencies, but a lot of emphasis on ways for people to pool what money they have to invest in community enterprises and other socially and environmentally positive initiatives.

It was ‘Slow Money‘ that really appealed to me, probably because I had been very active in the Slow Food movement a few years ago. From Wikipedia

Slow Money is a movement to organize investors and donors to steer new sources of capital to small food enterprises, organic farms, and local food systems. Slow Money takes its name from the Slow Food movement. Slow Money aims to develop the relationship between capital markets and place, including social and soil fertility. Slow Money is supporting the grass-roots mobilization through network building, convening, publishing, and incubating intermediary strategies and structures of funding.”

It has only been going since 2009 but “more than $30 million has been invested in 221 small food enterprises around the United States since mid-2010. Seventeen local Slow Money chapters and six investment clubs have formed. Slow Money events have attracted thousands of people from 36 states and 9 countries.”

Great stuff!

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Building a Global Family that looks after people and the Earth

To my friends and family:

I’ve just written this as a ‘Farewell Essay” for my last meeting of the Board of Trustees of the Transition Network, but I would like to send it to a much wider audience too. You can download it below.

What do you think of it? Is the vision clear? Do you agree with it? Any serious reservations?

The  ‘global family’ metaphor is relatively new to me. It was enthusiastically adopted at the Transition National Hubs meeting (that is, people representing different countries around the world) at the Transition Network conference in 2012. It featured strongly in the 2013 National Hubs meeting, and is now well embedded in the Transition community. In this essay, I put it together with my visions of a co-operative local and global economy from my book eGaia, where I used a ‘global nervous system’ metaphor in much the same way.

Here’s the first real section as a taster.

Essence of the vision

We are a global movement of people who are coming to see ourselves as part of ‘the family of humankind’, who are learning to collaborate to look after each other and the natural world. Moreover, it is only now that this is becoming possible, as we have the communications technology, the ideas and the need.

This is in contrast to mainstream views, where the market is king, where we are all against each other in every way: nations and firms competing economically, national, religious and ethnic groups opposing each other politically.

For me, this is the key innovation of the Transition Movement and like-minded people although it is rarely the ‘one sentence summary’ of what we are doing. (From here on, when I refer to the Transition Movement, I will use it as a shorthand for the vast number of groups and projects with an overlapping world view and purpose.)

Often, when I meet people at Transition or like-minded events I feel this immediately. These people are my ‘family’ in a new sense.  We are those who care about  the Earth and all its peoples. It is a change in our sense of who we are, such that those who join this see themselves firstly as ‘people of the Earth’, with our nationalities, ethnic backgrounds, sense of sexual or gender identity, as important but secondary.  This is truly a practical, non-mystical ‘change of consciousness’.

This is essentially a positive image as in the title of Charles Eisenstein’s  new book,  “The More Beautiful World Our Hearts Know Is Possible”. I will sketch my version of it below and there is much more detail in my book eGaia, Growing a peaceful, sustainable Earth through communications,

This vision is not a defensive or frightened reaction to climate change, peak oil, or possible economic collapse. It isn’t just that we must change because we are destroying the world or that our current ways of living can’t continue much longer (although that is true). It really is that we are building a world that will work much better and make all of us happier, that actually would be much better even for those who are now ‘privileged’ and ‘wealthy’ although they might not see it that way at present. So, yes, we can criticise the current economic system for its destruction of the environment and for what it is doing to people, but we are also developing and presenting an alternative that is better on its own terms.

My hope and dream is that this could be the ‘killer meme’, that once this vision is established to some critical level it could catch the imagination of humanity, and take the Transition Movement to the next level and beyond.

…[later sections describe my best guess at how a cooperative economy might work, and some big next steps towards it.]

What do you think? Could this be the killer meme?

Download as 8 page pdf:   GlobalFamilyEssay.pdf  or as ePub format for an ebook reader: GlobalFamilyEssay.epub

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