Paul Gilding At Town Hall Seattle

In a two short weeks Town Hall Seattle will be hosting Paul Gilding, author of The Great Disruption. Paul will be discussing the now unavoidable consequences of climate change and the challenges humanity will face. But in the face of such great challenges Paul envisions it will bring out the best of us: compassion, innovation, resilience and adaptability.

Paul will be in Seattle giving a talk about his new book and I will be introducing him as the Washington State Chapter Director of CASSE. The event will be at 7:30pm on Friday, May 6th at Town Hall Seattle. I hope you can make it!

Here’s a short description of his work:

“It’s time to stop just worrying about climate change, says Paul Gilding. We need instead to brace for impact because global crisis is no longer avoidable. This Great Disruption started in 2008, with spiking food and oil prices and dramatic ecological changes, such as the melting ice caps. It is not simply about fossil fuels and carbon footprints. We have come to the end of Economic Growth, Version 1.0, a world economy based on consumption and waste, where we lived beyond the means of our planet’s ecosystems and resources.

The Great Disruption offers a stark and unflinching look at the challenge humanity faces-yet also a deeply optimistic message. The coming decades will see loss, suffering, and conflict as our planetary overdraft is paid; however, they will also bring out the best humanity can offer: compassion, innovation, resilience, and adaptability. Gilding tells us how to fight-and win-what he calls The One Degree War to prevent catastrophic warming of the earth, and how to start today.

“The crisis represents a rare chance to replace our addiction to growth with an ethic of sustainability, and it’s already happening. It’s also an unmatched business opportunity: Old industries will collapse while new companies will literally reshape our economy. In the aftermath of the Great Disruption, we will measure “growth” in a new way. It will mean not quantity of stuff but quality and happiness of life. Yes, there is life after shopping.”

Get your tickets here and check out Paul’s site for more locations on his tour.

Enough Is Here

Jeremy over at Make Wealth History just posted a video by Conspiracy of Freedom, a Christian response to consumerism from the Breathe Network. The recent video, Home, questions our fragmentation of community and the importance of local. This let me to their previous video, Enough Is Here that questions growth and the mysteriously forgotten concept of “enough.”

It is incredibly refreshing to me to see a Christian group that campaigns for issues that are (dare I say it), actually values of Christ. Too often I am overwhelmed by the media-frenzied far-right Christians who are poster-boys for big business and Tea Parties. Thank you Jeremy for post this video and helping this group.

Ten Things That Will Build The New Economy

Out of the Old Economy of big-business, inequality, wall street over main street, oil & gas, environmental destruction and social degradation will rise the New Economy of small business, fair distribution, local systems, renewable energy, environmental restoration and protection, social renewal and strong communities.

The term “new economy” is broad, but its definition is gaining a more solid footing in the grass-roots of localism, communalism and post growth(ism). When I hear the term I think of an economy based on people and planet, not greed and growth. It is one that focuses energy on resilient local communities and businesses. It embraces the knowledge that small is beautiful. The New Economy is not just a rebooted version of the Old Economy – it is a drastic reshaping of the economic landscape. (I also believe that the New Economy is a post growth economy)

Out of the Old Economy of big-business, inequality, wall street over main street, oil & gas, environmental destruction and social degradation will rise the New Economy of small business, fair distribution, local systems, renewable energy, environmental restoration and protection, social renewal and strong communities.

The path ahead is not entirely clear, there are many opportunities to improving our social fabric and strengthening our local economics, but I believe that certain ideas will shine above the rest. Most of the change will come from the bottom up. This is true not only because the viability of anything getting done at the top of the political spectrum is practically non-existent, but also because the local movements will out-pace the movement of congress any day of the week. Here is my list of Top Ten Things That Will Build The New Economy (in no specific order):

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PARK(ing) Day: A Celebration of Public Space

Park(ing) Day
Park Space > Car Space

Today is Park(ing) day, a day where hundreds of parking spaces in cities around the world will be overtaken by the people, turned into public, park space. This is a wonderful idea – taking back car space for the people and the planet.

As the campaign website states it, “PARK(ing) Day is an annual, worldwide event that inspires city dwellers everywhere to transform metered parking spots into temporary parks for the public good.”

From the press release (pdf): [emphasis/links added]

Originally invented in 2005 by Rebar, a San Francisco-based art and design studio, PARK(ing) Day is a grassroots, “open-source” art project that challenges people to rethink the way streets are used. “In urban centers around the world, inexpensive curbside parking results in increased traffic, wasted fuel and more pollution,” says Rebar’s Matthew Passmore. “The strategies that generated these conditions are not sustainable, nor do they promote a healthy, vibrant human habitat. PARK(ing) Day is about re-imagining the possibilities of the urban landscape.

Since 2005, the project has blossomed into a worldwide grassroots movement: PARK(ing) Day 2009 included more than 700 “PARK” installations in more than 140 cities in 21 countries on six continents. This year, the project continues to expand to urban centers across the globe, including first-time PARK installation in Tehran, Iran.

More information regarding local PARK(ing) Day activities and a global map of all participating cities are available at

Similar ideas have been taking form around the world in the last decade: reclaiming areas of the city for nature, converting roadways into pedestrian-only areas and making cities more people-friendly. I hope that someday all our cities will look more like the people are the dominate species, not cars.

Resiliency & Peak Oil

Something I have been thinking a lot about lately is resiliency, both personal and communal. It’s a main topic in the book of the month, The Transition Handbook, too. What is resilience? It is the ability of a system to absorb or adapt to external changes and shocks. Essentially, it’s the ability to roll with the punches. This seems to me to be an incredibly valuable trait to have as a strong, independent human being. More importantly, it’s something we should instill in our communities and the systems upon which we rely for sustaining and enriching our lives.

We seem to be talking a lot about climate change lately, yet we should be just as worried about peak oil. I am begining to think we should worry a bit more about it, actually. Oil is in everything. Either directly or indirectly, oil rules our lives and touches everything we rely on. So what happens when we run out? Well, it’s not as important as what happens after the peak. After we cross the point of less supply yet increasing demand.

After the peak prices go up, quickly. The rise in oil prices will result in a rise in food prices, clothing prices, transportation costs, and just about everything else. This wave of cost increases will make it very difficult for everyone who is not extremely rich, especially those of us in the middle class, and even more so for those near or just under the poverty level.

Watch this little video and think about how your community. Are you fostering resilience? Perhaps you should investigate the Transition Movement, too.

Oh, a site note: I am officially a licensed professional engineer. I passed my exams. Cheers!

One Family’s Commitment to a Better Economy

This appeared in my inbox this morning, from CASSE Executive Director Rob Dietz. I’m the first official monthly donor to CASSE, and I suggest you think about doing the same thing – for the price of a couple lattes a month you can help support the fight for a sustainable, socially just economy. What a great way to honor the one-year birthday of my son (yesterday)!


How about an economy built for the little guy?

How can we build an economy that supports our children?  How about one that doesn’t undermine the earth’s natural systems?  CASSE is one of the only organizations in the world tackling these questions head-on and providing hopeful and truthful answers, a fact that Josh Nelson appreciates.

Josh (pictured with his family) just became our first monthly donor online.  He visited our website and arranged for his credit card to be billed $10 per month to help us promote a sustainable and fair economy.  The most touching part about Josh’s gift is that he designated it in honor of his young son, a wonderful tip-of-the-hat to our role in safeguarding the well-being of future generations.  If you want to see CASSE continue doing what we do, please follow Josh’s lead.  Visit our online donation page and give a recurring donation that feels right to you. We consider all recurring contributors to be official CASSE members.

Donate now and join CASSE’s David vs. Goliath struggle against the powerful array of pro-growth fanatics.  We need funding from citizens like you to keep this struggle alive.

Thank you,
Rob Dietz
Executive Director, CASSE

Thoughts on Money, Wealth and Value

I might be amongst a rare few who believe that the real worth of a person is based outside of material possessions and economic status. Perhaps our society is right to place value in material wealth and pull away from centuries of teachings valuing integrity, ethics, and community (see valuing what matters). There is strong argument that this skewed approach to valuing material wealth is, in part, why our generation is suffering from a rising “social recession.” What we value, how we value, and where we place the concept of wealth are drastically important parts of our lives and our society.

The chemist turned rogue economist Frederick Soddy was one of the first to lay out the difference of real wealth and, what he termed, “virtual wealth.” Today, “real wealth” is a term being used by the planners of the coming “new economy” to represent physical wealth in the real world. “Phantom wealth” (or Soddy’s “virtual wealth”) is the monetary representation, or store, of real wealth. It is being described as phantom because we have inflated our system to allow money to make more money – money out of thin air is virtual, phantom wealth. But isn’t that money is a store for real, physical value?!

So if we create new money, either by printing it, loaning it into existence, speculative trading, or some other devilish creation of the private banking system, do we also create correlating real wealth? No. This means as we allow money to earn more money, without ever being traded for a real, valuable good or service, we are devaluing those real goods. Banks are essentially stealing real wealth by creating more phantom wealth for themselves. (All the more reason for a Robin Hood Tax)

I just picked up one of Soddy’s books that outlines these concepts: Wealth, Virtual Wealth, and Debt. Soddy set a lot of the ground work for today’s ecological economists and his work was greatly expanded upon by Herman Daly, Richard Douthwaite and Nicolas Georgescu-Roegen. I am excited to read some of Soddy’s work and in researching his (spot-on) views of money, debt, and the banking system I found more great quotes on the subject I wanted to share.

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The Money Fix

Debt-money creates competition and scarcity
Debt-money creates competition and scarcity

Money. We use it everyday yet our concept of it is limited. When we talk about money, we talk in terms of what it does, not what it is. Despite our ignorance of money it rules most of our lives. I recently finished a great documentary about money that I would like to share with you. “The Money Fix” goes into the detail of money and describes how our system creates money out of thin air, embeds each of us with a “scarcity complex” and incites competition instead of cooperation.

I described in a previous post how money is created by banks out of thin air. We exist in a debt-money system, using bank account ledgers more often than paper money. The way I had previously explained the concept of money creation the banks create money out of thin air through interest on debt. “The Money Fix” describes this differently. The money of the loan is created – all of it, be it $500 or $5 million – while the interest is “earned” money. When the loan is paid back the created money is canceled by the payment on the principle. But where does the interest come from? More debt.

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