Epistle to the Ecotopians by Ernest Callenbach

This document was found on the computer of Ecotopia author Ernest Callenbach (1929-2012) after his death. It was originally published on TomDispatch and I read it on Climate Progress. I found these words to be utterly moving, much like his other works, and could not resist re-posting it. Please share this piece (with proper citation and credit to the above) to your friends, family and others.

Ecotopia CoverTo all brothers and sisters who hold the dream in their hearts of a future world in which humans and all other beings live in harmony and mutual support — a world of sustainability, stability, and confidence. A world something like the one I described, so long ago, in Ecotopia and Ecotopia Emerging.

As I survey my life, which is coming near its end, I want to set down a few thoughts that might be useful to those coming after. It will soon be time for me to give back to Gaia the nutrients that I have used during a long, busy, and happy life. I am not bitter or resentful at the approaching end; I have been one of the extraordinarily lucky ones. So it behooves me here to gather together some thoughts and attitudes that may prove useful in the dark times we are facing: a century or more of exceedingly difficult times.

How will those who survive manage it? What can we teach our friends, our children, our communities? Although we may not be capable of changing history, how can we equip ourselves to survive it?

I contemplate these questions in the full consciousness of my own mortality. Being offered an actual number of likely months to live, even though the estimate is uncertain, mightily focuses the mind. On personal things, of course, on loved ones and even loved things, but also on the Big Picture.

But let us begin with last things first, for a change. The analysis will come later, for those who wish it.

Continue reading “Epistle to the Ecotopians by Ernest Callenbach”

Free Money Day: Sharing Is Common Cents

Free Money Day Logo
Sharing Is Common Cents

It’s one of the most basic relationships most of us interact with on a daily basis: money. Just like anything else, if you love something set it free (or even if you don’t love it, just value it or put up with it). It’s time we started to challenge our perceptions around money. That time is nearly here – September 15th.

In just a few days you could be giving away your money to start a discussion about sharing economies, community, cash and alternatives to our unstable, unsustainable growth economy. It’s Free Money Day on September 15th, directly from the source:

What Is It?

On September 15th, at various public locations worldwide, people will hand out their own money to complete strangers (two coins/notes at a time) asking the recipients to pass one of these coins or notes on to someone else.

The Aim?

Raise awareness and start conversations about the benefits of economies based on sharing, as well as offer a liberating experience that gets us thinking more critically and creatively about our relationship with money and how we could have new types of economic activity.

The purpose of Free Money Day is to re-engage with money, re-exploring the way we relate with it and use it, and the possibilities that exist outside of it, in order to reinvigorate some of these democratizing ideals and bring them into practice.

You can register to host your own Free Money Day event here, and sign up to receive updates here. All the information you’ll need to organize a fun and successful event is posted on the Free Money Day website. And don’t forget to join the discussions leading up to and following September 15th.  We hope you’ll agree that this provides a great opportunity for us all to have some courageous conversations with the bonus of some fun added in!

Also, check our the Free Money Day video on YouTube:

This is a project that we’ve been working very diligantly on over at the Post Growth Institute (an international collective identifying, inspiring and implementing new approaches to global well-being without economic growth, co-founded by yours truly). I’m incredibly excited about this project and I hope you will join in!

Happy Birthday Yes! Magazine

Yes Magazine Cover
Yes! Magazine Celebrate's 15 Years

I just returned from a great evening with the folks at Yes! Magazine celebrating their 15th anniversary at Town Hall Seattle. In case you haven’t read Yes! Magazine, they are a leading sustainability-community-new-economy-social-justice – okay, progressive – media outlet. Their website is a constant stream of free (and ad free) content ranging from articles on social justice and sustainability to the new economy and happiness. I’ve been a big fan of them for some time, and privileged enough to be connected with Yes! through previous events, blogging and twitter friends (check out their issue #56 on “What Happy Families Know” my family is on page 52).

I’ll be adding the video of the speakers once it’s up, but wanted to give a quick run-down of tonight’s events, which included Van Jones, Bill McKibben and David Korten. For being a “humble writer,” Bill doesn’t give himself enough credit for his ability to inspire with his speaking as well as his writing. Van’s words were able to move the audience greatly with what appeared to be almost effortless charm – he had us hanging on every well-executed pause and perfectly timed joke. David gave credence to the progressive movements he’s helped to form and be part of with his piece, as well as highlight some of the great work being done to create a better world.

Yes! Magazine started in a basement on Bainbridge Island and is now a world-wide media outlet for progressive, positive stories and action-oriented motivation. They still function on the island, but their offices are a bit bigger. Of course, being a non-profit, community-supported magazine gives their voice even more validity (always good to walk the talk), but it also means they need support to run such an amazing publication. I highly recommend you becoming a subscriber, or read them online and donate. I’m a very satisified dedicated friend (read: monthly donor) and you might be too!

Happy Birthday Yes! Magazine, here’s to another 15 (or 500) years!

UPDATE: Here’s the video link where you can watch each speech separately or the whole thing.


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.

Attack of the Vampire Squid

The newest video from the new economics foundation (nef), titled “The Vampire Squid” takes the title from commentary on our banking system by Matt Taibbi, writing in Rolling Stone back in 2008, referring to Goldman Sachs as “a great vampire squid, wrapped around the face of humanity, relentlessly jamming its blood funnel into anything that smells like money.”

Watch the video here:

Also, check out the campaign website and briefing (pdf).

Two Years Later…

Two years ago I started blogging on a small blogger account, ranting about the economy and ecological limits. Since that time I’ve seen this blog blossom until a larger medium for discussion and broadcasting. I’ve really enjoyed the connections made, the on-going research and opening this topic up to others. You, my readers, have been a constant inspiration for me – the comments, emails, and feedback are always great! I am looking forward to the next two years, especially in light of the coming challenges (and opportunities) our world faces.

There are a few of us post-growth bloggers and activists that are working on a project. It isn’t out yet, so I can’t say much about it just yet. Between my work with that, having a wife in college and having a toddler who refuses to sleep through the night I am pretty burnt out right now. So, for the next week or so I will be taking a little mini-vacation from the blog world. I’ll be back (with a vengeance!) hopefully a week or two before the holidays.

In the meantime, please check out the work going on at The Daly News, Make Wealth History, Post Growth, Cruxcatalyst, Growthbusters and nef’s Blog. I hope these guys (and girls) can keep your sustainable economics hunger satisfied for the next few weeks. And to have something to look forward to here, these are some of the drafts I’ll be working on turning into upcoming posts:

  • How To Tell Your Growth Friend’s They’re Crazy (working title),
  • The Economic Hierarchy of Needs (economics through maslow’s viewpoint), and
  • The Universal Law of Diminishing Returns (no, really, think about it: this law applies to nearly everything!).

And, please feel free to comment, suggest/request on post topics. Lord knows sometimes I could use the motivation.

Have a good couple of weeks, my friends!

Enough Is Enough

Enough Is Enough
Ideas for a Sustainable Economy

This year we saw the first Steady State Economy Conference held in Leeds, UK and hosted by the Center for the Advancement of the Steady State Economy (CASSE) and Economic Justice for All. While the reports from conference goers afterward were good, for those of us that couldn’t attend there was hope for something tangible to come out of it. Luckily for us, that happened to be one of the goals of the event.

Today is the release of a seminal paper, Enough Is Enough: Ideas for a Sustainable Economy in a World of Finite Resources, a 130 page report that not only addresses why we need an alternative to growth, but outlines policies to achieve such an alternative: a steady state economy.

Part One of the report covers the problems with growth, and the concept of enough. It open’s with a great quote from Tim Jackson, author of Prosperity Without Growth, and keynote speaker at the conference:

“Here is a point in time where our institutions are wrong. Our economics is not fit for purpose. The outcomes of this economic system are perverse. But this is not an anthem of despair. It’s not a place where we should give up hope. It’s not an impossibility theorem. The impossibility lives in believing we have a set of principles that works for us. Once we let go of that assumption anything is possible.”

Part Two of the report contains the real guts of the report, outlining the most complete collection of policy ideas, tools and reforms in one place. This section has the most weight to it and will make the biggest splash, but Part Three helps to combine these policies with the reality present in Part One: how to get the economy functioning and transitioning to a steady state economy.

The problems are real, the studies numerous, and the evidence richly points to the need for an alternative to growth. A steady state economy represents the best of many solutions: providing a sustainable scale to the economy, as well as providing more prosperity for everyone. This report states the facts, outlines the way out of our economy of “more” and into an economy of “enough.”

Check out the Enough Is Enough page, download the report pdf or the report summary, and watch the many videos also available from the conference.