06 November 2010

The Power of Enough - Free Seminar Series

The Global Sufficiency Network invites you to participate in a unique tele-seminar series entitled The Power of Enough: Embodying Exquisite Sufficiency in Your Life and in the World.

This powerful and interactive event features key experts and luminaries sharing their wisdom about creating a life and a world of having, doing and being enough– and it’s all for FREE.

Register here: http://maestropath.com/poe

This FREE tele-seminar series will explore:

  • How to set yourself free from the unconscious, relentless context of scarcity, lack and limitation. Learn why you feel like you never have quite enough or even more importantly, why you feel like you are not (good, rich, thin, pretty, etc) enough as a human being.
  • Why a paradigm shift out of the global cultural context of scarcity is vital for creating a just, sustainable and fulfilling world.
  • How to experience yourself, your time, your money, your work, your families, your communities and all of the crises in the world from an empowered view of “enough”.
  • Why sufficiency is an exquisite experience of fulfillment, peace, gratitude, generosity, flow, courage, possibility and joy.

The Power of Enough Series offers seven separate 90-minute interactive tele-seminars.

The seminars will occur each Tuesday 9-10:30 am PT November 9- December 21. Here is the list of leaders in this series. As you can see, we have a large ensemble of powerful visionaries and movers and shakers:

Nov 9 - The Power of Enough: Why Sufficiency Matters with Vicki Robins, Jennifer Cohen and Kay Sandberg

Nov 16 - A life of Having, Doing and Being Enough with Wayne Muller and Claire Zammit

Nov 23 - The Sufficiency Movement and its Role in Changing the Course of History with Lynne Twist, Marilyn Levin and Miriam Hawley

Nov 30 - The Currency of Sufficiency: Having an Empowered Relationship to Money with Nogie King and Joel Hodroff

Dec 7 - A New Paradigm for the Business World – Why Enough Works with Gina LaRoche and Mike Anson

Dec 14 - Transforming Scarcity Conscious into Sufficiency Consciousness: The evolutionary context of a world that works with Victoria Castle and Craig Hamilton

Dec 21 - Sufficiency 2.0 with Joshua Gorman, Samantha Tan and Lora Lyons

Please do share this invitation with friends and allies - all are warmly welcomed to participate. If you can’t make the live calls, register anyway and the organisers will send you the recordings.

Co-sponsors: MaestroConference, MaestroPath, Global Sufficiency Network and The Currency of Connection

The Lesson of Kansas: Change Outcomes - Minds Can Follow

Reposted in full [because its so important] from Campaign Strategy newsletter, November 2010

'On October 18 New York Times reported [1] a remarkable success in cutting carbon in the USA. Under the heading 'In Kansas Climate Sceptics Embrace Cleaner Energy' it succinctly describes a major achievement in getting cities and communities to cut carbon by saving energy and using renewables. Not through advocating 'action on climate change' or by trying to change people or their values but through propositions that start from where people already are - in this case clearly Security Driven Settlers*, safety-oriented, authoritarian, mainly right wing, traditionalist and identity seeking.

In other words, by matching the asks and offers to unconscious values and the attitudes and beliefs that flow from them, the project succeeded in getting people we know from many surveys to be the bastion of 'climate scepticism' (eg [2]), to do exactly what legions of climate advocates want: to cut carbon.

Common Causes of Failure

So will climate campaigners learn from this? Some will - others won't, because they are bent on trying to also get people to act for "the right reasons". In other words, they are intent on trying to change people first, so that they become like the campaigners, and want to cut carbon for "ethical" reasons, rather than for instance to save money or because they find instruction in the bible (are told to by Authority) or because it helps protect them from foreign threats (oil imports).

I would call this the ‘ethical fallacy’. The latest and most elaborate exposition is in WWF UK's report Common Cause [3], of which more below.

In essence, the Common Cause argument is that people like us do the right thing, so we need to make other people into people like us. And they propose doing this, in essence, by talking to them, persuading, cajoling and arguing them into being "like us".

Common Cause states of ‘global challenges’ like climate change:

“It is increasingly evident that resistance to action on these challenges will only be overcome through engagement with the cultural values that underpin this resistance. It also seems clear that, in trying to meet these challenges, civil society organisations must champion some long-held (but insufficiently esteemed) values, while seeking to diminish the primacy of many values which are now prominent – at least in Western industrialised society.”

To ‘champion values’ is a notion which seems logical and greatly appeals to some inner directed Pioneers - especially the Concerned Ethicals, who have a dominant unmet need for ethical clarity. This they apply to any social problem, advocating that if only we explained the problem more clearly, fully and holistically, and got people to think ethically, they would change their minds and change their wrong behaviours.

In its recommendations, the largely theoretical Common Cause makes numerous suggestions for a form of political correctness in communications: ‘a series of principles that could come to inform civil society campaigns and communications’. For example it says:

‘Civil society organisations should lead the way in openly discussing the values that a campaign or communication seeks to activate, presenting for public scrutiny both the evidence that these values will help to achieve the aims of that campaign, and the ways that the frames they deploy will help to strengthen these values’.


‘Starting with civil society organisations themselves, all organisations should openly scrutinise the values that their activities promote, draw public attention to these, and outline the justification for working to strengthen these values’.

The only problem is that, for most people, this approach doesn't work. It’s a common cause of campaign failure, which the Common Cause recipe would only make worse. Forcing your values upon an audience which doesn’t share them, will only enable them to find more satisfying reasons why you are wrong, and whatever you proposed as an action will then be more deeply framed as ‘wrong’.

If it did work then Security Driven Settlers and Outer Directed Prospectors would long ago have swung into line with the bulk of Pioneers and agreed with the propositions of (Pioneer led) climate campaigns. For climate is a "mature issue": it's not new, people have heard about it, they have taken positions, they have made up their minds, and they have armed themselves with rationalisations about it which match their behaviours.

Indeed it is climate-campaigning and the media debates which it generates, that have mainly moulded these views. No values group was born with an in depth understanding of emissions scenarios or climatology. Their opinions on climate, which are so important politically, have been principally framed by the public politics provoked by campaigns, filtered through their values. And as those campaigns are primarily versed in universalist terms, with a heavy dose of non-acquisitiveness (giving stuff up or going without), they have succeeded admirably in provoking a response from 'people': A broadly positive response from other Pioneers; a mainly negative one from Prospectors and Settlers.

Similarly, we (my company CSL and KSBR) have found in focus groups across all values segments in the UK that the very word “environment” no longer denotes “your surroundings” but is interpreted as a political cause, and one that Pioneers tend to embrace and Settlers and Prospectors tend to reject.

The engagement of the Kansas Settlers by values-matching of propositions shows that it doesn't have to be like this. If we start from where other people are, and propose action which resonates with their attitudes and beliefs, it is possible to get 'climate action' but we have to accept that for many, it won't be for "ethical reasons".

Global Cool Shows How To Engage Prospectors

Of course the Settlers are only half the picture in terms of the conventionally ‘disengaged’. The other problem group for climate campaigns is the Prospectors. These are the people who the Concerned Ethicals love to blame the most. Fun seeking, hedonistic and fashion following, the Outer Directed Prospectors don't just look conservative and head-in-the-sand like Settler denialists, they positively revel in getting the latest must-have thing. If you've got, flaunt it, is a Prospector reflex.

This deeply dismays the Concerned Ethicals and they tend to respond by lecturing Prospectors about 'over consumption', and the need to lead better, more ethical lives. They often fail to connect with Prospectors because their favoured channels of communication are used mainly by Pioneers (eg the current affairs sections of 'serious' newspapers) but when they do connect, the effect is often to annoy.

Hence, as I've reported before in this Newsletter, the reactions to environmental campaigns from Prospectors along the lines of "if I hear one more thing about what I shouldn't do - my next car's going to be a Ferrari", or "I know we've got to save the planet but there's more important things as well" [verbatims].

Fortunately we also know how to get Prospectors to take 'climate action' by matching asks and offers to their particular values. The best example is the work of Global Cool [www.globalcool.org]: motivating the uber-Prospector 'Now People' group to turn down their central heating by following fashion and wearing jumpers, avoiding flying by using Eurostar for hedonistic holidays, incentivizing bus travel with lessons in how to chat up strangers, and cutting embedded carbon with Swishing parties.

Caroline Fiennes, Direct of Global Cool points out that it sells the action, not the problem. Unlike conventional ‘climate campaigns’ it doesn’t take you through the problem to get to the action.

At its ‘public engagement’ or front of house website, Global Cool describes itself as a ‘green lifestyle’ organisation. Not a ‘campaign’. See www.globalcoolfoundation.org for a more ‘rear of house’ website which gives a more conventional NGO explanation of the organisation.

So as this works, whereas preaching ethics doesn't, should more climate communications resources be targeted in this way? Obviously yes (as I have probably bored you with for years). But WWF UK disagrees.

Why Common Cause is Wrong as a Strategy for Campaigns

In Common Cause, Tom Crompton and others argue a form of moral hazard, in other words although this values-matching might work, it will have a perverse effect of reinforcing a bad behaviour because of its motivation, even if it's a good one in terms of outcomes. It's the motivation that Common Cause authors dislike: the desire for more, latest stuff or trendy behaviours. This, they argue, is a weaker basis for a good behaviour (eg which cuts carbon) than an ethical, internally driven or "intrinsic" one. They reject the pragmatism of Saul Alinsky who noted that the ‘right things’ are rarely done for the ‘right reasons’. Consequently there is nothing for it but a crusade to change the people.

This argument is fundamentally flawed for a number of reasons.

Reason One - Un-Met Needs Give Way Once Met

First, Maslowian needs are not conscious but unconscious, and the sequence of needs identified in Maslow's Hierarchy is not just a segmentation of needs but a sequence of un-met needs . We cannot change them by asking people to reflect - we cannot get Prospectors to become Pioneers by talking to them about it.

By the same token, once the underlying dominant unmet need is met, a new one takes its place. So if Settlers meet their needs for safety, security and identity, they become Prospectors seeking esteem of others, and then self esteem. If meeting a need (eg to belong or to be safe) simply reinforced that need, we would have a uniform population of security driven Settlers - they would not have developed a desire to find the esteem of others. It is this search for esteem which drives them to acquire and display symbols of success, which in our society has long taken the form of material goods and services, and which so annoys the Concerned Ethical subset of Pioneers.

So, if Prospectors meet that need by getting enough stuff and following sufficient fashion etc, they do not stay Prospectors but develop other needs - ie they become Pioneers. Does this happen? Yes - otherwise where did the 41% of the UK population currently inner directed (Pioneers) come from? Unless, as is not apparently the case, Crompton et al think Maslow was wrong and some people are born with these values. There is also substantial evidence that Maslow was right and that if conditions allow us to have the right experiences, we meet previously unmet needs and new ones emerge.

For example: - The attitudes and beliefs mapped in huge detail in CDSM's British Values Survey (1,000 questions put to 8,500 nationally representative adults) clearly map into the three main Maslowian Groups. Very similar systems have produced the same results in many other countries: for example the work of Shalom Schwartz in the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Sociovison in France, and Environics in Canada.

- numerous cases of individual values transitions can be seen in everyday life, eg the fashionista celebrities and serial achievers who suddenly decide that "there's more to life than this" and get into ethical causes (ie have become inner directed Pioneers)

- in the UK there is a preponderance of Settlers and Golden Dreamers (entry level Prospectors) amongst younger teens, and the increasing number of Now People and Tomorrow People (later sequence Prospectors), and Pioneers, at student age. This is consistent with needs groups emerging as the population reaches adulthood and some move on from being Settlers, which all start as (ie all children are initially Settlers)

- inter-generational shifts in values have been mapped across whole societies, from Settler to Prospector and then to Pioneer, as socio economic change has improved conditions, as predicted and charted by Ron Inglehart [4] and others, and, eg in the UK, the recent drop-back of some Prospectors to Settlers in circumstances of recession**

So there is no reason to think that the dominant Maslowian needs of a person are immutable, and as meeting them causes new needs to dominate, that is not ‘a problem’. At any event it is infeasible for any campaign group to exert enough influence over existential conditions for any conceivable campaign plan could affect the unmet needs of large audiences. No campaign group is likely to have the resources to meet individual psychological needs - which requires providing people with experiences that have that effect - for any significant number of people.

Even so, do social conditions make it harder than is desirable for people to meet needs? That's a huge political question as it presages fundamental social engineering. Might for example it be that advertising and product development makes it harder for people to satisfy the need for stuff? Possibly so - and that might be one of a number of reasons why the US is a Prospector dominated society than those in NW Europe.

Yet even if this were the case, it is going to be far easier and so more practical to get Prospectors to undertake low carbon behaviours by making those behaviours generate esteem, as Global Cool do, rather than to try to change the entire commercial culture of a society to remove all products or services which are associated with environmental damage. Nice perhaps but wishful thinking.

In values terms that is the root of the debate over use of values - between what would be ideal and what can be achieved. I am obviously in the latter camp.

So, to revert to the case of Kansas, the Common Cause approach would say no, this is wrong - instead of getting Settlers from Kansas to cut carbon for their own reasons, we should be trying to convert them to universalist, ethical, holistic thinkers of the sort that you might meet at a Schumacher College seminar or in a Deep Ecology retreat. The Common Cause approach would also say it is wrong to be getting sociable, esteem seeking predominantly female, young and fun loving fashion followers to adopt green lifestyles, as Global Cool does, because they should be somehow educated out of their extrinsic motivations and persuaded to act for ‘intrinsic’ reasons. Common Cause doesn’t give any suggestion of exactly how this will be achieved.

Reason Two - Taking No Account of Strategy

The second main reason why I think Common Cause is wrong as a guide to campaigning is that it draws conclusions without taking account of strategy. Strategic change can be used to lock off the opportunity to undertake ‘bad’ behaviours in outcome terms. Indeed the whole point of campaign strategy is to get a big result with the greatest efficiency in terms of effort, assets and resources.

There is, for example, no reason why esteem-generating behaviours cannot be decarbonized. For instance, getting a car is obviously a status enhancing event in many places because it enables you to do many things, including social activities that are otherwise more difficult or impossible. That is a 'problem' if cars emit carbon but not if they are made electric and run on renewable energy.

Similarly, campaigns might aim to change markets so that ‘market forces’ drive a desired change. For example if the price of a product like a solar electric panel was dependent on scale, a campaign to drive down the price by market building and upscaling production, or to ensure a new technology was applied by breaking a new entrant into a market, might create a new market leader whose product would then dominate the market. If that was cheaper to own than other forms of power, it could then crowd out other sources of (more polluting) energy. Here the strategy would not involve changing decisions by all consumers but only a certain group, whose actions were enough to bring about the change in commercial activity which had the inevitable consequence of changing the market for good.

Electric Cars - Potential Perfect Storm

In fact of all the carbon-transition developments which we can now see are likely to happen anyway - that is, the opportunity will be created for campaigners rather than them having to initiate it from scratch - the entry of affordable, performance-comparable, conventional-brand electric cars onto developed-country markets is probably the most important. In a country like the UK, it is also imminent: electric cars are going to be on the mass market soon.

It is salient - as cars are ‘in my life’ for many people in a way that power stations or sea level rise is not - and it is tractable because cars are consumer purchases, and understood. It is clearly strategic as widescale adoption of electric vehicles forces or is constrained by power infrastructure and/or policy, and fiscal policy and interacts with mass popular culture. It has the potential to make oil look and feel un-necessary. The transition to electric vehicles has the potential to be a perfect storm of change in decarbonizing economies - all without having to ‘change people’. It is an example of how campaigns could bring about lock-in or close off options for behaviour, and to create aspiration, recommendation cascades and norms, if the campaigns are designed and targeted strategically.

In terms of achieving change therefore, even if it were possible, trying to ‘change the values’ of someone who might at some point buy a car, as a way to change the outcomes of car buying and use at a population level, would come way way down the list of strategic options for campaign design.

A strategy to exploit that opportunity means looking at and understanding the dynamics of car buying, and the commercial interests in play within the market and understanding how that interacts with government tax and subsidy and what signals will have an effect on politicians, officials, manufacturers, distributors, the business press and so on. We already know what social signals would best motivate Pioneers, Prospectors and Settlers to go out and get an electric car, and who to start with and how not to talk about the behaviour as well as how to do it.

Carbon itself could also be made unfashionable - desocialised. If carbon slimming became as aspirational as being physically slim, it would soon spread amongst Prospectors. Not easy to start but possible to achieve.

And most obviously but apparently ignored by Common Cause , no decent campaign strategy should set out simply to convert an entire population, one by one, as in the manner of government social marketing schemes. Indeed if that is the thinking behind Common Cause then WWF UK and its partners might better ask themselves why they are not more successful in engaging the 41% of the population who are not esteem-seeking Prospectors or security driven Settlers but Pioneers who are much more willing to think about ‘issues’ and accept personal responsibility for taking action on them.

It was once said that capitalism is the operation of the market without the intervention of human intelligence. To try to initiate campaigns without strategy is the equivalent in NGO terms - a broad brush crusade which will soon squander its resources and exhaust its assets.

Reason Three - Practical Politics

The third practical reason why campaigns should not be modeled on the Common Cause formula is that they won’t generate political space for population-wide measures. Politicians in government are only too aware that governance is the art of the possible and that they must bring along or gain consent from constituencies far wider than those who may have elected them.

Even if they are unaware of unconscious motivational values, and have never heard of Maslow, almost any politician, and even more a government with many officials, departments and agencies, is going to sense whether or not a proposition has broad support. That’s not just a question of numbers but of qualitative evidences - signs that ‘different types’ of people will accept it or want it. Which means that any campaign designed to sell a big political idea, as many (probably too many) are, needs to have some sort of support base amongst all three Maslow groups - Prospectors, Pioneers and Settlers. Politically and socially these people tend to look different, sound different, act different and think differently.

It is clear therefore that if your project sets out to tell Settlers and Prospectors that they are wrong to hold the values (expressed as attitudes and beliefs) that they do, and instead should think like Pioneers, you are going to generate rejection and debate rather than signs of agreement and support. Politically you will simply create evidence that your idea is not a flier, has no legs and is a difficult political cause, best avoided.

If you doubt this and sympathise with the sentiments in Common Cause, then try a simple thought experiment. You will probably have heard of the Tea Party. They scarcely could have had more publicity than they have in the past year or so. So you will have become at least as aware of their values, attitudes and beliefs, as they will be of yours. And most Tea Party approved candidates at the recent US Elections were hostile to the ‘global challenges’ embraced by the authors of Common Cause, eg climate change. So are you persuaded? They have been vocal in promoting their ‘values’. Did it make you agree with them? Think they are right? If so, then maybe Common Cause is correct but I find that unlikely.

As it happens, we do know something about the values of the Tea Party. A recent US study using samples gathered via Facebook and asking questions which enable mapping of values in terms of the ‘Schwartz dimensions’ (much discussed in Common Cause), surveyed supporters of the Tea Party, the Democrats, and the Republicans, and can be compared against UK political affinity results (previous CDSM surveys reported at www.campaignstrategy.org and www.cultdyn.co.uk - CDSM pers comm).

If you take Universalism for example, which most strongly correlates with the values championed by Common Cause, the proportion of the total US population aged 18-60 in the top quintile on that value is 20.3%, and the UK figure is 19.6%. These people are most like those who Common Cause would describe as having ‘helpful’ values. But if you look at the Libertarian wing of the Tea Party, only 6.7% fall into this bracket - an astonishingly significant result, and an even more microscopic 1.4% of the Religious wing of the Tea Party do so. A pretty steep hill for the Common Cause approach to climb then - as opposed to going the Kansas route. In communications terms it might be a noble endeavour to try and change these people into ethically minded greenies but it is a futile exercise.

(By comparison the UK (affinity to) Conservative Party score is 11.4%, Labour 22.9%, and the Liberal Democrats 25.4%. Only the BNP at 4% look similar to the Tea Party in this respect). Tea Party adherents from the two wings of Libertarians (angry Prospectors) and the Religious (scared Settlers) themselves are split by a values antagonism from stimulation to tradition and conformity but that is another story, which Cultural Dynamics will tell.

The Minds Will Follow

There are also intensely practical reasons to believe that it is more effective to change outcomes in order to lead opinion, rather than to try and ‘change minds’ at the level of deeper attitudes and beliefs. These apply even if you not fully accept the above arguments about values.

An article [5] in Organizational Dynamics recently triggered a round of confused debate about values and behaviour but in two respects the author (Andrew Hoffman) is certainly right. As he said in an email "We live in a world where scientists can talk until they are blue in the face ... but if businesses pay money on it, people will think it must be true". That particularly applies to the way Settlers and Prospectors construct proofs and truths, as has been seen in countless qualitative research and framing projects. It’s the same rationalisation reflex which led many people to conclude after the ‘failure’ of world leaders to agree much at the Copenhagen climate talks, that there couldn’t after all, have been much to agree (or worry) about.

As Hoffman says, like cancer and smoking and the abolition of slavery, an issue, a contested topic, has to mature into ‘social fact’ for wholesale change on it to be acceptable. This is why campaigns ‘on climate’ should, as argued in previous editions of this Newsletter [6], focus on generating those signs, of showing that the response is real, happening now, and mainstream. The material is out there - in the burgeoning ‘green’ industries and jobs (particularly renewable energy) - it needs to be made to resonate and connect with people’s realities, especially Settlers and Prospectors, to be opened up and laid out to see, to be felt and experienced, to be made to count in daily life, so that it becomes experienced as the norm. This is not what conventional campaigns do but it is what they should do now.

It’s the consistency principle or ‘heuristic’, also described in earlier editions of this Newsletter [7], which lies at the heart of this process. Opinions change to stay in step with behaviours. Life and lifestyle has to make sense for it to be tolerable and satisfying, so what you do must make sense, so if government and business are doing renewable energy, and if you are using it yourself or you know a friend, relative or neighbour who is working in it, then it becomes a reality “that works”. The connection to the underlying cause then comes not analytical and reflective and open to debate but accepted as the way things are. Up until recently this worked in favour of fossil fuels, the oil industry and the “climate problem”. Every time you filled up your car with petrol or diesel you were reinforcing the notion that we need to keep on using this stuff. Now there is the potential to make it work the other way around.

* See www.cultdyn.co.uk and Using Values Modes at this website for an introduction to Maslowian values analysis, or http://bit.ly/asEXdn

** but not from Pioneer to Prospector, as consistent with a one-way transition on achieving self-esteem

[1] http://bit.ly/aBvPY8 New York Times article, In Kansas Climate Sceptics Embrace Cleaner Energy

[2] www.campaignstrategy.org/whogivesastuff.pdf

[3] www.wwf.org.uk/wwf_articles.cfm?unewsid=4224 Common Cause: The case for working with our Cultural Values, Tom Crompton et al 2010

[4] Ron Inglehart and Christian Welzel, Modernization, Cultural Change, and Democracy: The Human Development Sequence published Cambridge University Press, 2005

[5] Climate change as a cultural and behavioural issue: Addressing barriers and implementing solutions, Andrew J. Hoffman, Organizational Dynamics (2010) 39, 295—305 www.eenews.net/assets/2010/10/28/document_cw_01.pdf

[6] See for example Campaign Strategy Newsletter 57 and www.campaignstrategy.org/climate_campaigns_keep_calm.pdf

[7] www.campaignstrategy.org/articles/VBCOP_unifying_strategy_model.pdf

Steady State Alternative to Endless Economic Growth

Geoff Mosley, former CEO of the Australian Conservation Foundation and steady state economics advocate, has released a book available through Envirobook

Steady State, Alternative to Endless Economic Growth

Author : Geoff Mosley
ISBN(13) : 9780858812390

The economic growth obsession that dominates our lives cannot go on for ever. Our world is finite and has limits. Sooner or later, one way or another, this way of life must end. But what is to replace it and how can we make the change?

Geoff Mosley describes the making of the change to a creative and dynamic steady state economy as the most important in human history. In this book he makes the case for an alternative offering a future characterized by fairness and freedom, outlines its main features and discusses the steps we need to take to make the transformation. In the last part of the book he provides campaign advice for the emerging steady state movement.

RRP AUD$21.95, 136pp, pb

In the author's own words:

'Most people are aware that the condition of the global environment is rapidly deteriorating but what is to be done about it? The reality is that there is a common cause of this situation – the commitment of our societies to endless economic growth. For many years Dr Geoff Mosley has been considering how best to attack this problem at its heart - by dealing with the cause and not just the effects. His ideas are now available in his book Steady State Alternative to Endless Economic Growth. Published by Envirobook the book is available for $21.95 either from the publisher (sales@envirobook.com.au) or, from the author (jandemosley@bigpond.com).

Geoff Mosley is probably best known as the former long term CEO of the Australian Conservation Foundation. In 2008 the United Nations Association of Australia selected him as their environmentalist of the year for work which included his efforts to promote the steady state economy alternative. He is the Director of Operations, Australia for the Center for the Advancement of the Steady State Economy.

Geoff believes it is time to choose – to stop the make believe and start to work for a better world. His book is a practical navigation guide to another country – our own future – and the target audience is YOU. Not only that but when you have read it the author would welcome your own ideas on how to chart our way through the difficult terrain which lies ahead in the long journey to sustainability, justice and peace.'

04 November 2010

Design for Life - The Food Forest Story

Filmed in and around Adelaide, South Australia, 'Design for Life - The Food Forest Story' tells the compelling story of two young baby-boomers who travelled the world questing for a sustainable way for humans to live on the planet. They adopt the Permaculture design system and build an amazing organic home, farm and lifestyle.

The World Premiere will be held in Gawler on 15 November at 7.30pm, and a city screening will be held on Tuesday 7th December at 5.30pm at the Mercury Cinema, 13 Morphett Street, Adelaide (actual screening at 6.00pm), price $20 per ticket - including drinks and nibbles from The Food Forest.

Tickets and further info from The Food Forest

The Food Forest is being developed by Annemarie and Graham Brookman and their children Tom and Nikki, to demonstrate how an ordinary family, with a typical Australian income can grow its own food and create a productive and diverse landscape.

Symbionomics: Stories of New Economy

Check out what the creator of The Money Fix, is up to with his new film Symbionomics - stories of a new economy...

'Is the economy just in a recession or is their a bigger transformation afoot? Symbionomics is a media project about the new economy.

Symbionomics is a media project about the new economy. As we face unprecedented global challenges, people all over the world are fundamentally reimagining economics. We’d like to capture visions, ideas, and experiences that tell a new story.

Part of the new economy is about working in an open and collaborative way, so we’re taking that to heart in our approach. We are creating an online space that is like a virtual campfire where people around the world can share their stories and ideas. To seed this space, we will gather ten high quality interviews with leading experts in the field. We will release these videos under a Creative Commons Attribution Share-Alike license so that anyone can remix them...'

31 October 2010

'Shrinking' the Climate Problem

Reposted in full from the New York Times, 28 October 2010

'I’ve written here before about the substantial part of the climate challenge that isn’t out in the world of greenhouse gases and coal furnaces, but within the human mind.

Still, I was intrigued earlier this month when I heard from Renee Lertzman, a research fellow in humanities and sustainability at Portland State University, that she was speaking on “the myth of apathy,” the subject of a book she’s writing, at “Engaging With Climate Change: Psychoanalytic Perspectives,” a meeting of psychoanalysts and behavioral researchers in London.

In regarding the polarized, confused, paralyzed discourse around global warming for more than two decades (including my own focus on the field for so long), I’ve sometimes thought that Freud would have had a field day in this realm. Now his successors may be starting to dive in. (The photograph below is from the Freud Museum in London.)

Lertzman sent a link to the “Beyond the Couch” Web site of the Institute for Psychoanalysis, which held a fascinating list of talks at the meeting, including “Unconscious obstacles to caring for the planet,” “Engaging with the natural world and with human nature” and “Climate change denial in a perverse culture.”

I invited Lertzman to send a Dot Earth “ post card,” which you can read below, followed by a brief set of followup questions and her replies:

I’ve just returned from speaking at the international headquarters of psychoanalysis, the Institute of Psychoanalysis, established in 1913 in London…. I imagine this was the first time eminent psychoanalysts, environmental professionals, activists and scholars have gathered within these hallowed halls to contemplate our current environmental predicaments. For two full days, almost two hundred people came together to “shrink” the climate change crisis….

Psychoanalysis may be most popularly known as an insular and esoteric relic of the Victorian era. However, it’s come a long way since Freud; this event ably demonstrated that psychoanalysis is an essential voice on these matters. At least it is, if we want to address the messiness of how the human mind can cope with such overwhelming issues.

What are the unconscious dimensions of climate change? Is it possible that anxiety and fear are profoundly impeding our abilities to respond proactively and creatively to our impending crises? How can we explain the inertia and paralysis on the part of both the public and our politicians?

While most psychological research on climate change is fixated on attitudes, behavior and cognition (i.e. barriers to action), psychoanalysis is mainly concerned with the ubiquity of the unconscious in everyday life. The concept of a “barrier” or “apathy” dissolves, as it’s assumed we all have conflict, ambivalence, contradictions — the bread and butter of psychoanalytic theory.

Topics ranged from consumption, identity and our disavowal of the human dependence on nature to issues of loss and mourning as we face a new relationship with oil, and the psychic complexities of inaction.

I was delighted to witness this historic event and the sense that finally, after much time, psychoanalysis was finally able to take stock of its environment and life outside of the consulting room. The psychoanalyst Hanna Segal wrote two decades ago about the insidious silence in the psychoanalytic community on political and social travesties.

Now it appears the silence may be breaking, and we can glean what we can from those whose work is about resistance to change, loss and mourning, anxiety and denial. We need these perspectives. I hope this signals a shift in the right direction.

I followed up with some questions:


So what is the “myth of apathy” in the context of human reactions to the science pointing to a building risk from human-driven climate change?


The myth of apathy is the idea that apathy itself is a misleading and damaging concept, and tells us nothing about why people may find it difficult to take in, or respond to, human-driven climate change threats. The label of apathy presumes “what you see is what you get.”

Those working in psychotherapeutic fields know that nothing can be further from the truth. So reframing the myth of apathy presumes care and concern. The mantra in environmental sectors is, “We have to get people to care.” The “myth of apathy” presumes people do care but we need to consider how to support, channel and foster that care. This means investigating what may be complicating our creative and reparative impulses.

This includes recognizing that how we manage anxiety, particularly unconsciously, can lead to numbing, denial, projection (it’s all their problem), victimization (and I am not speaking of actual victims here) and so on. Psychoanalysts called this “splitting” — the ability to split up the world and our internal experiences so we don’t have to feel anxiety, pain or fear. If we leverage tools from the psychotherapeutic and psychoanalytic disciplines — such as how to support people in facing the truth about ourselves and our lives without “splitting” — we begin to see that what we may need to be doing is attending primarily to anxiety and loss first and then figuring out how to change behavior, second.

At the moment, we seem to have it the other way around, and are focused mainly on engineering human behavior, without consideration of unconscious, affective dimensions of these extremely challenging and often frightening problems. We need both: attention to “barriers” to action, and acute sensitivity to what may be happening emotionally that makes this so difficult. A psychoanalytic perspective places these dimensions in the foreground, and assumes that if we get to the root of the matter, behavior change will follow. Psychological work in this area, while important, continues to focus on conscious dimensions and behavioral change.


Were there any powerful take-home points from the session on unconscious obstacles?


The most powerful take-home points were John Keene’s comments concerning anxieties when faced with actual limitations that climate change and other serious environmental issues present (i.e. our exploitation of non-renewable resources). Keene joins this up with how humans behave in groups, and how groups function to help manage our anxieties. Keene noted, “Many commentators are surprised at how difficult humans find it to change their behavior on the basis of sensible advice or of learning from experience. Facts are troublesome – stories and ideologies are easier.”

We often turn to others in social settings for stories and ideologies to help manage anxieties and seek comforting answers. Keene contends, “While thinking is hard enough for an individual in quiet contemplation, thinking clearly and acting in a group setting generates anxiety roughly in proportion to the size of the group. Here the individual is exposed to the risks of shame and criticism, isolation, fears of loss of one’s identity or at worst losing one’s mind. Our moral functions (super–ego functions), which push us to act in accordance with our ideals, and guard us from self-harm, operate largely out of awareness but become conscious as the voice of conscience or a sense of anxiety or alarm.”

Keene continues, “As I have suggested there is a universal tendency in group life for individuals groups and cultures to find people, structures and ideologies into which they can project their responsibilities in order to return to a childlike state. The cultural expectations that we grow in are the medium in which our individual super-egos swim and develop. As the world economy and its dominant business models drive the present surge towards growth with increasing pressure on the earth’s resources, this is probably the place to start to look at hope for the recovery of the world patient.”

All of this speaks to the fact that guilt, blame and moralizing don’t get us very far; that groups can actually hinder constructive environmental action; and that anxiety may be the largest unconscious obstacle to action (which is the theme of my work as well).


What was your reaction to the session on climate denial in a perverse culture? what was the nature of the “perversion”?


“Perversion” here means something entirely different from what we commonly think of as perverse (i.e. “perverted”) — and is apt for thinking about how our culture is responding to human-driven climate change material. Paul Hoggett discussed how perversity (as a psychoanalytic concept) is a form of cultural behavior that functions in preventing coming to terms with loss — where outright rejection of reality becomes tenable. It is related to denial, but more insidious as a mode of conduct that is pervasive in corporate culture and particularly the financial institutions.

Hoggett drew on Susan Long’s work, The Perverse Organization and Its Seven Deadly Sins, as it applies to how we are dealing with climate change. The “sins” include prioritizing individual pleasures, instrumental relationships, and the collusion of others in the denial of reality. This is considered “perverse” behavior and has become normalized in our culture. At its essence it is an avoidance of reality on a massive scale, and an indulgence in omnipotent fantasies in order to avoid any sense of loss or sacrifice. Less clear is the antidote to a perverse culture — but we can imagine it relates in part to the support of intrinsic values, constructive group discussions and a recognition of the problem.


My sense is that real action to change course on trends that matter (energy choices, balancing engineered and ecological systems) will only come if humans move away from “woe is me” and “shame on you” in considering environmental challenges and look inward for the source of problems — and solutions. Does your work, and the discussion at this meeting, reinforce or challenge that view?


These perspectives certainly reinforce the notion that we must look “inward” for the source of the problems: how we got into this situation in the first place, what sorts of mental, emotional, social and cultural forces shape our relations with nature, and what may be impeding our capacities for creative, reparative responses. A psychoanalytic view accepts that taking a moralizing or punitive tone supports the super-ego — our internalized task master — which leads usually to outright rebellion, and doesn’t get us very far. The same goes for using scare and alarm tactics.

My work, and the views reflected at this meeting, advocate both acknowledging the frightening or difficult aspects of these issues, and finding techniques to help people tap into our huge creative capacities. It’s a solutions approach but recognizes the emotional aspects of how we get to solutions. Our technological innovations require “engagement” — and “engagement” is about our emotional and affective investments in the world. The British psychoanalyst Donald Winnicott wrote about our capacity for concern as the basis of an ethics; that we have these capacities but they are fostered through creativity (and what he calls “play”).

So yes, it’s about looking inward with as much compassion as we can muster. Think of the therapist and the patient; does the therapist admonish the patient? Or provide support for facing the difficult truth? And then setting about finding creative avenues for action and collective responses.'

Are Accountants the Last Hope for the World's Ecosystems?

First thoughts on this article's headline - heaven help us!

Second thought - have we lost the ability to make decisions on ANY basis other than a monetary/financial basis? Are we seriously going to have to try to value nature in order to be able to afford to save ourselves?

Third thought - we do need bean counters...but the ones who count the REAL beans, the people from Global Footprint Network, who maintain national biophysical accounts with thousands of data points using FAO and IPCC data that track human demand on natural capacity...it doesn't give us the whole picture (no one indicator does), but its an existing, robust data set.

Reposted in full from The Guardian, 28 October 2010

'So it has come to this. The global biodiversity crisis is so severe that brilliant scientists, political leaders, eco-warriors, and religious gurus can no longer save us from ourselves. The military are powerless. But there may be one last hope for life on earth: accountants.

Ecological bean counting may not seem to hold much power in slowing the massive loss of the world's species, but it appears to be moving up the agenda of the UN biodiversity conference in Nagoya as the economic implications of losing ecosystems becomes more apparent.

On tables covered in press releases and briefing papers, the references to "natural capital", "biological resources" and "eco-financing" outnumber images of flora and fauna. It feels as if biodiversity is now attracting as many money men as nature lovers. That can't be right, can it?

One of the major challenges facing the natural world is that its services have been taken for granted, economically speaking. We don't adequately value fresh air or clean water. The destruction of lakes, grasslands, forests, marshes, mountains and wildlife populations rarely appears on corporate or national balance sheets.

Addressing this problem through smarter eco-accounting has been the goal for many environmentalists for several decades. But progress has been slow because it is extraordinarily difficult to measure the value of nature.

But that is starting to change as tools and techniques are developed to assess "environmental services" such as carbon sequestration, water cycle regulation and – to a less clear extent – climate maintenance and habitat provision.

In Nagoya, there has been a concerted attempt to promote, extend and improve environmental economics and to draw more financiers and business executives into biodiversity valuation and protection.

In the past week, we have seen the most comprehensive UN estimate yet of the worth of nature – The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity (Teeb) – which calculated the global impact of biodiversity at between $2-4.5 trillion (£1.3-2.8tn) annually, up to 7.5% of global GDP. A separate study noted the importance of ecological risk assessment by financial institutions. Today, we also saw the World Bank president, Robert Zoellick, talking of the need for businesses to be involved in conservation and, most intriguingly, launching a new programme to embed environment costs into national accounts.

The five-year pilot project – partly funded by the UK and backed by India and Mexico – would use new accounting tools to measure the value of ecosystems so that, theoretically, there would be more of an incentive to protect them.

A myriad of other initiatives are under way. The accountants PwC unveiled a study today on "habitat banking". The Global Canopy programme, which is an alliance of scientists, has been issuing "Little (pink) Biodiversity Finance books" which show ways to invest in natural capital. China is also working to recalculate the value of its environment as I reported this year.

Such experiments are both thrilling and disturbing. For those who cherish the natural world regardless of its price, the idea of eco-accounting may prompt unease. Similarly, it will stir up suspicion among people who believe nature should be left as a public resource. But current conservation strategies are not enough. New ideas are needed.

Eco-accounting alone can't solve everything but I will watch with great interest how these initiatives develop. Making them work will require boring things like measuring, standard setting, regulation and checking. But the potential consequences are enormous. Done badly, they could mean the natural world is further commodified, priced, sliced and sold to the highest bidder. Done well, they could reset human values and, who knows, perhaps transform capitalism more than they change the natural world.

Accountants as agents of revolution? Now there's a thought.'