Bill Demeter talks with Gerard Smyth, the director of the documentary "When a City Falls". This outstanding film is a must for anyone who has experienced the last few years in Christchurch, New Zealand.
Design is often characterized by its products rather than its processes. Tell someone you’re a designer, and the first question they’re likely to ask is: “What kind? A graphic designer? A fashion designer? Maybe an architect?” But the artifacts produced by these specialists are not what define design. Design is about problem solving and opportunity seeking, not predefined material outcomes. It’s about seeing problems as opportunities for innovation rather than obstacles to progress—and, as the Shareable community knows, simply creating more products isn’t the solution to all problems.
I had the pleasure of spending time yesterday with Eric Harris-Braun & Arthur Brock of the Metacurrency Project, sharing thoughts about the federation of tribes we are forming, and the principles upon which this type of living systems organization should be founded. Eric shared this excerpt from the book Sanctuary For All Life by Jim Corbett, which felt powerful and true to me.
The Simpler Way consists of a website and booklet which provide detailed practical advice on how to live a 'simpler life' of reduced and restrained consumption. More importantly, it invites readers to contribute their own thoughts, experiences, and practical tips, so that we can all share and expand upon our collective wisdom.
The Simpler Way represents a life with less clutter, less waste, and less fossil fuel use, but also a life with more time for the things that truly inspire and bring happiness.
This is a true story. Joshua Bell, playing incognito in the D.C. Metro Station, was organized by the Washington Post as part of a social experiment about perception, taste and people's priorities. This experiment raised several questions; - In a common-place environment, at an inappropriate hour, do we perceive beauty? - If so, do we stop to appreciate it? - Do we recognize talent in an unexpected context?
One possible conclusion reached from this experiment could be this: If we do not have a moment to stop and listen to one of the best musicians in the world, playing some of the finest music ever written, with one of the most beautiful instruments ever made... how many other things are we missing as we rush through life?
Peak oil isn’t all about Saudi Arabia depletion curves and what’s for lunch at the annual ASPO conference. In fact, may folks still don’t know much about peak oil. I didn’t know about it until recently. My casual online search for ideas about how to simplify my home led me, via Peak Moment, to so much more than I could ever have imagined. I found an episode about a couple who were simplifying, which was my introduction to Peak Moment, and also to the issue of peak oil. More than 200 episodes later, my life has changed focus in so many ways, which is similar to Janaia Donaldson’s guests on this episode, Logan Smith and Tammy Strobel, a 30-something couple whose lives took a dramatic u-turn.
-Urban Farming Takes Hold in NYC -The Potential for Urban Agriculture in New York City [report] -Sydney is buying back the farms at last -Breaking through the myths: New book seeks to redefine urban farming [interview with authors] -Urban ag before it was hip -New urban farming structure breaks ground
Summary Local farmer sells organic milk direct to locals using smart self service vending machine
Goals To create a viable farming venture providing people with locally produced healthy Organic A2 milk at the farm gate. Our district has a lot of dairy farms but all the milk we consume from the supermarket comes from a supply chain centralized 400 k away and comes to us in toxic plastic containers.
Outcomes Fitting the narrow government requirements that favour corporate monopolies, this model succeeds in allow each person to buy up to 5 litres a day from the farm gate using a really effective vending system as you can see in the photos. One vending machine allows you to buy a beautiful new 1 litre glass bottle for $2 that is totally reusable. The second machine takes money and dispenses milk. the dispenser steam sterilizes itself each time the door is shut. The farmer is well located near a school and between 2 populated parts of the district. The milk cost half what Organic milk costs in our supermarket.
The refrigerator is a paragon of modern convenience. A magic box that keeps your food so cold it doesn’t spoil. It’s a miracle. But it’s the kind of miracle that can make us a little lazy. You get home from the store and just throw everything in the fridge. But, in fact, many foods aren’t so happy sitting in the ice box, and would be tastier and last longer if stored on the counter. More importantly, nature has given us some helpful tips on how to get the most quality from our foods, if only we would listen.
The New Economics Institute is convening "Strategies for a New Economy," a conference June 8-10th at Bard College on the Hudson River in New York State. It will gather together what are often diverse and scattered efforts to reshape our economic system, place them under one tent, and raise the flag to announce that transitioning to a new economy will mean engaging politicians, researchers, media, educators, citizen activists, business leaders, financial experts, scientists, union workers, cultural leaders, advocates for the disenfranchised, and youth -- all working together to achieve a common goal.
A Village Reinvents Itself But down the road from me, in the tiny former mill town of Saxapahaw, North Carolina, is a gas station that is working hard on becoming more sustainable. And that's just one of the exciting, green and innovative things going on in this rural community that is working toward resilience in its truest sense. From local food to biofuels to renewable energy to serious rock and roll, a village that was once considered a bit of a backwater has become a hub for a new way of doing things.
"It is time to acknowledge an uncomfortable truth about the public status of economics as an expert discipline: it has grown to be far more powerful as a tool of political rhetoric, blame avoidance and elite strategy than for the empirical representation of economic life. This is damaging to politics, for it enables value judgements and political agendas to be endlessly presented in ‘factual’ terms. But it is equally damaging to economics, which is losing the authority to describe reality in a credible, disinterested, Enlightenment fashion."
Brilliant analysis in Open Democracy on the perverse power of economic technocrats on our democratic institutions.
Economists (with a few notable exceptions) have long behaved as though growth were synonymous with economic health. If the gross national product of a country increases steadily by 4 percent per year, most economists express approval and say that the economy is healthy. If the economy could be made to grow still faster (they maintain), it would be still more healthy. If the growth rate should fall, economic illness would be diagnosed. However, it is obvious that on a finite Earth, neither population growth nor economic growth can continue indefinitely.
In order to survive peak oil, climate change, economic failure, and ecological collapse we must make fundamental shifts in our collective way of life. Individual change is necessary but not enough because our means of survival are embedded in complex social and economic systems. On the other hand, direct change of the massive business and government institutions we now depend upon is unrealistic because the nature of all large institutions is self-perpetuation, not transformation. The practical domain in which we can effectively create a sustainable way of life is our local community.
Ooooby began in December 2008 on Waiheke Island, Auckland, as an online social network of food gardeners. An evolving project, it now also facilitates the distribution of locally grown food. Ooooby has (in May 2011) 3,600 members, 10,000 monthly visitors, 50 local suppliers and 150 weekly customers. Each month an Oooobyversity evening is hosted in Grey Lynn, Auckland, to share knowledge about food-growing and ways to enhance local production.
In my previous article, I recapped and built upon Nicole Foss’ (Stoneleigh of The Automatic Earth blog) presentation in Vancouver last week. The first part of her presentation, I noted, was about the current intractable economic (and specifically debt) problems we face at all levels (governments, corporations, individuals), and how neither of the most-supported top-down alternatives (austerity or stimulus) can hope to improve the situation or avoid total economic collapse.
A long term collaborative project, the “NZ Progress and Wellbeing Progamme”, (which was previously called "What Matters Most to New Zealanders") involves significant community engagement in the development of a national vision(s) and a set of wellbeing and sustainability indicators to measure progress on these visions.
As declining energy sources become more evident and food emergencies become more commonplace, governments will be looking to universities to find BIG solutions. Along with the hope of BIG solutions comes BIG money.
Permaculture may soon be looked upon as a potential big solution. So as we stand today on the threshold of increasing interest in permaculture, let us take a moment to discuss the potential pitfalls that come with the big money.
I wondered whether in seeing resilience just as something we do in order to be prepared for a crisis, we were missing a trick: that we might instead see it as an opportunity. How might our settlements look if we began to think in terms of resilient food, resilient energy, resilient economies? Might this shift in thinking actually contain the potential for an economic and cultural renaissance for the places we live? It felt to me to be a powerful question.
Brilliant analysis in Eurozine of the political and social implications of looking at mankind as part of the planet instead of its master.
Based on the works of Bruno Latour, Michel Serres and others, this new "more-than-humanism" can revolutionise our thinking about the economy, politics, culture and social interactions. A good example is the new constitution of Ecuador, which gives "nature" legal rights.
Connecting food to the local economy can provide more people with greater access to local foods. Making it happen is another story since the necessary infrastructure was gradually dismantled over the past 70 years in favor of a national/global food system that promises low prices, year-round accessibility of products and convenience.