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Rabbit Holes 🕳️ #39
◉ Sustainability vs. Nature-Love ◉ The Planet Is Now Making Decisions For Us ◉ Communitecture ◉ Bioproductivity: A Higher Kind of Productivity ◉ Swaraj: Nourishing Collective Autonomy
Hey! We’re back with the usual and popular Rabbit Holes format. In case you missed last week’s deep dive into the religion of capitalism, click here. It’s a long read, but I promise you, you won’t regret it!
I am still working on a second part of it, which will highlight new narratives for a better future. The positive stuff! 😁 This will basically be the first step toward a sort of innovation methodology I want to develop – turning the positive stuff into useful stuff! Stay tuned for that! But now let’s check out this week’s Rabbit Holes:
THIS WEEK ◉ Sustainability vs. Nature-Love ◉ The Planet Is Now Making Decisions For Us ◉ Communitecture ◉ Bioproductivity: A Higher Kind of Productivity ◉ Swaraj: Nourishing Collective Autonomy
Rabbit Holes 🕳️
As always, five perspective-shifting ideas that I’ve come across lately, plus some fun extras. Enjoy!
#1 🌳 Sustainability vs. Nature-Love
Within my social bubble I am seeing an increasingly bigger shift happening, away from the concept of sustainability and toward something that doesn’t really have a name yet, but is characterised by holistic thinking and aspects of regeneration. And no, it’s not de-growth, post-growth, wellbeing or doughnut economy, or even the regeneration movement. It’s a concept that’s still work in progress, but is much more systemic and goes even deeper.
“A veteran activist once told me of a meeting he attended in the 1980s in which a group of leading environmentalists decided to adopt the term “sustainability” into their core lexicon. “We wanted to sound scientific,” he said. “We didn’t want to use words like ‘love’ or ‘precious’ and be dismissed as tree-huggers. We wanted to give people a rational, hard-headed reason why we should protect nature. We thought that appealing to the beauty and sacredness of nature wouldn’t reach the people who were destroying it, so we tried to make it about their self-interest instead.”
[…] The result is that environmentalism has been hijacked by people and institutions who are not nature-lovers. We see where it leads: nature dies in the service of “sustainability.” Forests are cut for solar farms. Landscapes are sacrificed to pit mines to extract lithium, cobalt, silver, rare earths, etc. for decarbonization. There is an awful lot of money in the sustainability industry. It is the same story as before. Meanwhile, we neglect the priorities that are highest from the Living Earth perspective. The energy and funding and attention goes toward “saving the world” by reducing CO2. Neglected in comparison are the sea grass meadows. The peat bogs. The mangrove swamps. The beavers. The elephants. The whales. The sharks. Yet all of these are vital to planetary physiology.
All is not lost. There is in fact a way to “save the world.” I put it in quotes, because ultimately the choice we face is not about our survival, it is about what kind of world we choose to live in. One vibrant with life? Or a gigantic strip mine / waste dump / parking lot? So let us say instead, there is a way to regenerate a world vibrant with life. The way is to enact a reverence for life in all its forms. This translates to three priorities for environmentalist attention and funding.
The first recalls traditional conservationism. […] The second priority is regeneration. […] The third priority is detoxification […].
I do not worry that our system is not sustainable. I worry that it is. I am afraid that we can continue to lay waste to the living earth, indefinitely, ending up on a concrete world, so chronically ill physically and mentally that we must incorporate technological assistance into our very brains and bodies. I am afraid we will compensate for the lost connection to a living world with a burgeoning array of virtual substitutes, digital realities, and online adventures, tragically seeking something that we come to forget we ever had.”
#2 ⬇️ The Planet Is Now Making Decisions For Us
I loooove ’s writing! This piece expresses something that I think lots of people have started to think but maybe haven’t had the courage yet to declare openly: the era of growth is over. Yes, we might get a few more years of Dow Jones and GDP growth excitement due to some technological breakthroughs here and there, but in general we’ve reached the planets limits to growth, as predicted by the Club of Rome around 50 years ago.
“Everyone from economists to bankers have been scoffing at the idea of degrowth and steady-state economies for years now.
Here’s the thing about that: It’s happening.
It’s happening whether they like it or not. It’s happening no matter how loud they complain about hippies and socialists. Nature doesn’t care about their ideologies. It doesn’t care about their feelings.
[…] If western governments and corporations keep fighting for endless growth, it’s going to result in a lot more pain for everyone in the end. The record profits won’t last. Eventually, demand destruction will set in. In other words, stuff will get so expensive that everyone stops buying it. Resource depletion will continue until we run out of the energy to produce anything efficiently, including the solar panels and wind turbines that are supposed to save the planet. Everywhere you look, it’s becoming financially unfeasible to operate on the economic models that prioritize growth and profits. Climate change is forcing adaptation.
The argument between endless growth and steady-state is already over. It wasn’t decided by humans. Since the majority of westerners failed to listen to scientists, the planet is now making decisions for us.
Nothing can grow forever.
It never does.”
» | Everything is Shrinking Now by
#3 📐 Communitecture or How To Revive Neighborhoods
There are a couple of Rabbit Holes in here actually: I am a big fan of Andrew Millison’s YouTube channel and his videos on permaculture – they are soooo good! And then there is the work by Mark Lakeman, the founder or Communitecture Architecture and The City Repair Project. If you, after watching the video below, wanna see in more detail how a finished communitecture-based neighborhood looks like, then watch this.
#4 🌱 Bioproductivity: A Higher Kind of Productivity
Love how Umair Haque reframes our idea of productivity here, basically asserting that what we deem as productive is actually a lower kind of productivity, or even a totally destructive form of productivity. One thing I would add though: Even our limited idea of productivity is actually not that “productive” for us. While we are producing things solely for us, what we produce for us often ends up also being destructive for us (e.g. social media, work optimization vs burnout, materialism,…). It reminds me of my piece about the indigenous concept Wetiko.
“Orthodox economics tells us that the most productive things on planet earth are…us. We make computers and cars and rockets and so forth. Productivity is the lodestar of an economy. […] But all that elides — avoids — a very simple question. Useful to whom? The insects and bees and forests and rivers don’t care about our computers and cars and batteries and so forth.
Our civilisation is only productive for us.
You might say: “Well, so what? Are you an idiot? Of course it is!!” But that is very, very different to the way the rest of the entire planet works. The entire rest of the planet is productive in a higher, better, deeper way. Let’s call that “bioproductivity”, if you want. What does that mean?
The rest of the world is “producing” stuff — goods — too. Unlike us, though, they are producing goods for everyone, not just us. Everyone as in “all of life,” not just “us humans.” Think about the fish. They clean the rivers — from which everything drinks. Or think about the trees — they are happily producing air, which everything breathes. The soil is helping produce plants and other organisms, which are eaten by all kinds of life. The worms clean the soil, which benefits much, much more than just the worms.
The rain falls, not for the sake of the rain.
Do you see the point I’m trying to make? Our civilisation is “productive” for us. And so economics as it stands simply calls that the only kind of productivity there is. But there’s a much higher kind of productivity, in which things are produced for the benefit of all, or at least many more species than just the producer. […]
We don’t produce anything for anyone else.
In fact, the only thing that our civilization produces for anyone else — any other kind of species, or even biotic matter — is death. I’m not saying that to be dramatic or hyperbolic. I’m stating it because it’s an astonishing and terrible fact.”
#5 ✊ Swaraj: Nourishing Collective Autonomy
In a world in which everyone is seeking more connection and community, where people are eager to become more resilient, autonomous or self-sufficient, where people feel ignored by politics (or decision-makers overall) and feel a lack of purpose in life, the ancient Indian concept of Swaraj seems as relevant as never before.
"[Swaraj] is loosely defined as self-rule but it actually goes much deeper," says Kothari, who has written extensively on Swaraj and the ecological crisis. "It means my own autonomy, self-reliance, self-sufficiency, my independence, both as an individual and as a community. But it's not the American notion of individualism that I can do what I want."
Rather, it is a collective kind of autonomy that recognizes our reliance on, and responsibility to, other human beings and other species. As such, living harmoniously with nature is central to Swaraj, Kothari says.
[…] "One of the fundamental tenets of eco-Swaraj is radical democracy, which means power at the level of ordinary people," Kothari says. "It's not about a government laying down policies. It's really about everybody. Every person in a village builds the capacity to be centrally part of decision making." […] "Before, citizens were limited to voting for elected officials and thinking that they will take decisions about the city," says Aseem Mishra, program director for Homes in the City. "We are trying to change citizens' mentality that you are part and parcel of city development."
[…] One of the advantages of localized, grassroots initiatives over top-down organization is that it is shaped by local traditions, and local ecology.
"Every region and every culture has its own tradition and understanding of nature," says Brototi Roy, a PhD candidate researching environmental justice movements at The Autonomous University of Barcelona. Eco-Swaraj recognizes that this diversity means adapting to local contexts rather than imposing one-size-fits-all solutions.
[…] With shared values of autonomy, social justice and living in harmony with nature, these frameworks are being used to challenge a mainstream approach to environmental problems rooted in "development" — the idea that the Global South should strive to emulate the richer economies of "developed countries" in the Global North.”
💡 The Circadian Office - Finding the ideal rhythm for a chronoconscious workplace
🖼️ Creative Wildfire supports artists and grassroots organizations to create art that fuels our movements and imagines the world we need to thrive. Meet their 2021-22 artist cohort.
📚 The Good-Enough Life - How an acceptance of our limitations can lead to a more fulfilling life and a more harmonious society
📺 Farting Cars & Mopeds - Cities Aren’t Loud, Cars Are
🚿 Shower Thoughts
That’s it for this week!
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