Tuesday, January 1, 2008

After Growth - what is our wealth? Community.

Gregory Wendt, CFP

The premise of Bill McKibben's new book "Deep Economy: The Wealth of Communities and the Durable Future" is that the economic axiom "growth is good" is no longer true.

In a recent article from Mother Jones he states:
"Growth no longer makes most people wealthier, but instead generates inequality and insecurity. Growth is bumping up against physical limits so profound -- like climate change and peak oil -- that trying to keep expanding the economy may be not just impossible but also dangerous. And perhaps most surprisingly, growth no longer makes us happier. Given our current dogma, that's as bizarre an idea as proposing that gravity pushes apples skyward. But then, even Newtonian physics eventually shifted to acknowledge Einstein's more complicated universe."

Well, then the question arises if growth is no longer desirable, nor even possible, then what is good? What is the measure of true wealth and well being for all of us?It's in Bill's title - the wealth of our interconnectedness, our community.

I find the analogy of a forest very helpful. You can have a monoculture agri-forest with one type of tree, and very few other species. With the same amount of land, water and sunlight an old growth forest has many, many species of plants. A whole community of beings interacting. The same amount of input of resources generates a community of interaction.

In the same way, if you go to a local Megamarket there are typically one or two convesations and interactions - "paper or plastic?", "credit or debit". On the other hand, a farmer's market provides the same amount of groceries, yet you have interactions with many farmers, neighbors, children, and you're supporting a local food system.

Josh Mailman, a serial eco-entrepreneur and massive sustainable business instigator speaks on his views on the matter.

"I'm much more sanguine about the impact that we've been able to have, but I don't want to discount the small acts. We have a need for small acts, and I consider the things I have done small acts, hopefully compassionate acts. To the extent that I've been able to make a contribution, it's been out of a desire to build community, realizing that I'm no more important - and I think in many ways less so - than some local activist. The real leaders are the people that are in there day after day, slugging it out, who have chosen something other than monetary gain, who are there because they are fed by the experience of community that they have."

Barbara Marx Hubbard said "If you do a planetary scan, you'll see that communities are forming everywhere, and these communities are each holding the collective coding as well as the blueprint for a specific mission. I think these communities as separate yet interactive organs in the social body. And the potent interaction of these organic communities assure that the larger social body will be far greater than the sum of its parts."

Our community is our greatest wealth, I would add. And we are the leaders of this movement. Each and every one of us.

As I reflect on my life, I see that my life depends on a vast network of people 99% who I don't event know, literally. Just think of the number of people it took for you to have your daily cup of tea or coffee, or piece of toast, or oatmeal, or electricity... and that's just people. Add layers of animals, plants, earth, energy, air and water, and the community you live in expands exponentially!

Think about that today.

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1 comment:

Warren Wojnowski said...

What a terrific reminder that our wealth and prosperity are entirely determined by our mindset.

And of course it's our mindset that determines how we feel.

Powerful stuff. Thanks for the post.