Tag Archives: sociology

A ”Closed Loop Economy”

I’ve been giving some serious thought to what kind of economy/society we could have to replace our current model of waste and exploitation that will soon be breaking down. (Please see earlier posts about why and how. In this post I want to focus on what could be next).

I think what we should have is a closed loop economy. This means that it will consist of closed loop systems which produce no waste because every output acts as an input to another system, creating a complex and interconnected web – much like a natural ecosystem. So for example, you would use the inputs of paper, wood, time and energy with a wood-burning stove to get the outputs of heat, light, ambience, smoke and ash. The first three are the desired products – but smoke and ash are not necessarily desired. However to close those loops you would need to find useful things to do with them. Ash could be added to a composting system (heap) to create highly useful compost. Wood smoke could perhaps be used to smoke foodstuffs in the chimney? This is only a basic example, and it would take more effect when applied to some thing like a manufacturing system. Every output is linked to a position where it can be a useful input, not just left in an inappropriate place to be a pollutant. Think of every by-product as an opportunity. Consider the most useful by-product in the world: Oxygen. It’s a side-effect of green plants’ photosynthesis, but does it go to waste? Hell no! Not only do the plants use it themselves in aerobic respiration, it makes the entire animal kingdom possible with this same essential function. I doubt we have any other things that have quite that much potential, but I guess you never know! The general principles of permaculture are highly relevant to this. The main idea is to let nothing go to waste, and to create as many links and relationships as possible.

And it’s not just connections between systems that we want, it’s social connections as well. Communities should be designed for as many positive social links as possible, making them more resilient. Lastly, diversity is paramount. In an ecosystem, the higher the biodiversity is the stronger the ecosystem is. This is the case pretty much across the board… Farms are more productive per acre if they have a wide diversity of crops and products, communities are more interesting and have a larger communal skill set if they have a diverse variety of types of people living in them.

My thinking behind all this is that wouldn’t it be good to base our human socio-ecosystems on  natural ecosystems? Nature has had billions of years to get good at design – much longer than us. Natural systems are cohesive, resilient and productive, and are obviously not hugely damaging to the whole planet like ours are. Please don’t confuse this for me saying we should all go back to being hunter-gather-ers or something. I’m all for civilisation! Like, real civilisation, where we create healthy and meaningful lives for everyone in the world (not just the top fraction), where we work with and in harmony with nature and act as stewards for the Earth, where we are bathed in rich and vibrant culture and have made peace among nations – focusing instead on developing our full potential. Civilisation which we are yet to know and enjoy, basically. So yes, I think it would be great to design our human systems to be as similar to wild ecosystems as possible. But of course we’re going to design them to suit our needs. Hopefully, in a way that meets them more fully than what we have now. We are a part of nature, but at the same time we can hardly ignore the fact that we’re different to any other creature, and so obviously have different needs. We need to just take the principles of design from wild nature and adapt them in ways that suit us. Our cities are not going to look quite like forests, although a lot more green spaces wouldn’t go a miss. We should celebrate our place in nature, and then also celebrate what makes us human. I mean, animals haven’t caused climate change, but they do kill each other’s babies on a frequent basis. We don’t go a bundle on that. So let’s take the framework of natural ecosystems, and then build on that with our positive human elements… Empathy, ethics, consciousness, art, music, culture, science, technology, curiosity…

Sooooooo… Your thoughts on my thoughts?

What about a Positive News program?

I don’t usually watch the news, but the other day I was watching TV and it came on and I didn’t do anything about it. I thought it might be beneficial to know about some current affairs, and besides I didn’t have much else to do. I can tell you I was struck by how inane and ridiculous it was. Their headline story was that some parts of the UK were going to have a hosepipe ban. Okay, thanks for the information. But they literally went on and on about it for so long, even showing exactly the same video clips twice. They showed grumpy gardeners talking about how it was ‘a complete disaster’ and middle class housewives exclaiming that they just didn’t know what to do about their lawn. Oh no. Poor them. Seriously, we just don’t know how lucky and spoilt we are, do we? I mean at least we have potable water on tap at all times!

After a surprising amount of time they diverted to quickly tell me about a rape case and one other thing I can’t remember, before going back to the hosepipe ban until the program was over. It really did feel like all the world events were being hidden from me.  That sounds like conspiracy-style rubbish but I do think this news program failed in its role of informing me about the world. They could have covered something like a hosepipe ban in a few moments.

This was a particularly un-informative viewing, but it reminded me that most news programs are not that great in general. And they are well known for pretty much only showing bad news. This made me think about my Positive Media – Positive Reinforcement post, and the newspaper Positive News. The latter is a quarterly newspaper aimed at inspiring it’s readers by reporting on projects and people who are working towards a happy and sustainable world. I think it’s brilliant. The magazine Inspired Times (I wrote an article for their next issue!) is along very similar lines. I’m happy to see that the publishing industry has some alternative beauties growing in it… But what about visual media? Especially TV.

Television is such a powerful tool – it reaches thousands and thousands of people everyday, it reaches all sorts of people and the combination of audio and motional visual stimulation is quite… Yeah, powerful. (Have you ever seen a kid glued to a TV screen as if they can’t move their head?) And yet it’s mostly complete rubbish. Of course you do get some interesting programs, some amusing comedies, etc etc. But in my mind at least, the vast majority of it just makes me want to claw my eyes out. Nothing else makes me wonder at our collective stupidity as much as watching the telly. Why should we be dummed down like this? I think it’s time TV was infiltrated by the likes of Intelligence, Wit, and Independent Thought.

And what about a positive news program for a change? I mean, it’d be better to just have balanced news programs, but seeming as the conventional ones only shows wars and rapes and gun-shootings and the occasional hosepipe ban, a positive news program would help to balance this out a bit. A while ago, when I was reading a newspaper I mused to my boyfriend who was sitting beside me ‘’why do they only write about bad things?’’ to which he glumly replied ‘’because there isn’t that much good news in the world’’. This made me incredibly sad. The truth is, there is so much good stuff going on! There really is, it’s just that often we’re not told about it! One of the reasons I liked working with Inspired Times so much is because I got to find out about some of these good and inspiring things. I think it’s really important for them to be reported as heavily as the bad stuff, so that we can be inspired to do more good things. If people turn on the news and just get bombarded with tragedies and nothing else, it’s bound to make them full of apathy. Some balance please. And a healthy dose of inspiration. How else can we be motivated to get up off the sofa and make the world a better place?

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Out of interest, if there was a positive news program on TV would you watch it?

On Environmental Hypocrisy and why it’s a Silly Notion

I really hate it when people discard other people’s efforts and label them as a hypocrite when they’re just doing their best. As you may guess, I’m talking specifically about people’s efforts to live a greener and more sustainable life. All too often I hear people saying stuff like ‘’Oh yeah, he’s such a hypocrite. He buys organic food because he thinks it’s good for the environment and yet he drives a car!’’They’re often all hot-headed and righteous, or subdued and accusing.

To be honest, and I’m sorry about the small rant – I shall get back to optimistic snippets soon – to be honest, it’s ridiculous. Environmental Hypocrisy is a silly notion. Who can be expected to do everything? There’s so much that individuals can do to make their ecological footprint lighter, but there is a limit. Due to the societies we live in and the systems that are not under our personal control, everyone will have some detrimental effect on the environment.  I like to think I have a pretty green lifestyle, and I could give you a long list of the steps I take to make this the case, but even so I would assume my net effect on the planet is, realistically, a negative one. Of course it’s more positive (and helpful) to not look at it like that and to instead focus on all the good things I have to opportunity to do while I’m here… But my point is that pretty much everyone harms the planet in some way, so if they’re working to minimize this then good for them! They should be praised!

Take the example from above. The fact that this guy buys organic food is fantastic and isn’t made redundant by his driving. Of course it’d be greener for him to look into other forms of transport, but that’s for him to sort out at a point when he isn’t being insulted by someone who most likely is just touchy because they’re not doing anything like this.

People need to know what ‘hypocrite’ actually means. If I lectured you about supermarkets and said you should never buy anything from them, only to go and do my weekly shopping in Morrisons the next day, I would be a hypocrite. I must confess I do actually sometimes buy things from Morrisons and this is partly why I don’t lecture people about it. This doesn’t negate the fact that I do my main shopping at my local market, health-food shop and organic food co-op, and it doesn’t mean I shouldn’t bother. It just means I’m doing pretty well but I could do better.

It’s not an all or nothing thing – if someone’s doing something good that’s great but you can’t expect their every action to be faultless. I’m all for high targets but that’s just unrealistic. And shooting down people’s efforts is not only rude and hurtful but also of no help to the general environmental cause. Encouragement is what’s needed!

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Rant over. Why don’t you have some tea and biscuits?

 

We’re Natural Too You Know!

Whether it’s ‘’exploiting nature’’ or ‘’getting closer to nature’’, the problem’s the same: we aren’t recognizing that we ourselves are a part of the natural world.

It’s easy to see why this assumption has come about… We’re so different to our Earthly cousins that the fact we’re animals too can easily be overlooked. I mean… Elephants have no opinion on whether facebook timeline is worse than facebook original. Mice don’t know much about the new Tax Budget. Crocodiles aren’t too fussed about the American election and owls don’t give a hoot about the rising price of petrol and Walker’s crisps. We have fast cars, iPhone apps and genetic modification. We’ve got the human genome sussed and we can eat strawberries at Christmas. We’ve been to the moon and back and we’ve seen atoms and galaxies and all this has gone to our head. We don’t just have useful opposable thumbs, we have the all important self-consciousness as well. We’re not content to merely go forth and multiply – we want to do all sorts of stuff that other animals seemingly don’t even consider. So it seems obvious that we’re somehow set apart.

Humanity has been described as the point in evolution where life has become conscious of itself. We can think about our own minds. I don’t have much experience of being any other creature so I can’t tell you for sure, but I think this is a trait humans hold alone. The victory of survival isn’t enough for us, we want more. We want meaning and something to work towards. Progress. Answers. Reasons. Improvement… It must have been our extreme curiosity that gave birth to those rivaling twins: religion and science.

But despite all these differences, we’re very much animals. We’re mammals. In fact aren’t we actually apes? We must eat and drink and breath to live. We respire. We still fight for mates . We get broody even though with all our intelligence we know we collectively have plenty of babies and the race is in no danger of extinction (at least not through lack of breeding!) We have a pack mentality and crave a place in a social circle. We hate being excluded.  We have a flight, fight or freeze instinct. The list goes on and on and on. Biologically, we’re not really set apart from other creatures. It’s mainly our thumbs and big brains that are relevant. 97% of a human’s DNA is the same as an orangutan’s. Ninety-seven percent!

I think this common idea that there’s the ‘natural world’ and the ‘human world’ is not only ridiculous but damaging. It oozes disconnection. It makes looking after our environment seem like a charitable cause. And it isn’t. If we could see that we’re all part of the ‘environment’ rather than cut off and separate from it, then we’d see that it’s just looking after ourselves. No one gets all righteous about doing their own cooking and cleaning do they? That’s all environmental work is. Global housework.

Humans aren’t haughty super beings with the right to exploit all lowly creatures for our own ends. That much is true. But we needn’t put ourselves down either. . . I’ve heard people liken humanity to ‘a cancer of the Earth’ and I think that’s a horrible sentiment. We’re not evil by nature.

I think we need a balance…

Humans are unique and conscious animals. We’re natural. Nature includes and envelopes us. The natural world is the only world, and human society is a part of that world. We have a right to live on this Earth, and a responsibility to let other life-forms live here too.

10:10’s where it’s at

I’ve come onto my new-post screen today to wax lyrical about something cool.

It’s not a new thing (I believe it was born in 2010) but the other day I was wondering how they were getting on, and it turns out they’re doing swimmingly. They’re now global and have success stories from all over the world. This cool thing, lovely reader, is 10:10.

Have you heard of it? I hope you have. It’s an organisation encouraging people to cut their carbon emissions by 10% at a time. I think it’s name relates to ‘cutting your carbon emissions by 10% in 2010′ – but that year has obviously passed now and, understandably, they  wanted to carry on their work.

It was founded by Franny Armstrong, director of The Age of Stupid, and is based on the ethos that climate change is a big scary problem and what we need are bite-size, tangible and achievable targets to tackle it. The concept is definitely popular – it’s had loads of press coverage and buckets of high profile celebrity support. The website proudly proclaims that at this moment, 77,556 individuals, 3,121 businesses, 1,710 educational institutions and 1,514 other organisations are signed up. Pretty impressive! The website lets you sign the 10:10 pledge and then offers helpful advice on ways to cut your carbon. They also run political campaigns such as Lighter Later, and support schools buying solar panels with their Solar Schools project. They even have these cool little necklaces made of a crashed aeroplane (really!) that you can wear to advocate your pledge. I have one and it’s actually one of my favourite pieces of jewellery.

By the way their website is http://www.1010global.org/uk – you should really take a look.

Something I think is noteworthy about 10:10 is their fantastic graphic design and PR. Their website is easy on the eyes, is clean, cool and easy to use. I can tell you their email newsletter is the same. Their textual style is chatty and casual. All their promotional materials rise to the occasion of you know, promoting them. They have a cohesive house style.

Now of course the fact that it’s a great and timely idea, the team are obviously passionate and the whole thing is full of heart, can account for a lot of their success. But I think it actually takes more than that. The attention to detail with the aesthetics is more important than one might think, and I feel this is where many projects with a great ethos fall on their faces. In today’s hectic world, most people only have time for stuff that is pretty and convenient, and this is probably why 10:10 seems to have reached out to not just the hard-core greenie but the Jo Bloggs as well. The importance of that achievement can hardly be stressed enough.

Congratulations 10:10!

Images from the 10:10 website. (Linked above) 

The Big Bumper Book of Solutions

In my last post, I talked about the importance of looking at the positive. On that note, I sat down and tried to scribble in my notebook as many solutions for implementing a sustainable human society as I could. These are solutions that have already been invented, are being practised or researched, and which I feel have some place in a positive future. Notice the sheer diversity in solutions to single problems – for example at the beginning of the list there are many solutions for sustainable and ethical food production. I think it is incredibly important that we employ a diverse array of solutions for every one issue – just as in wild nature biodiversity makes an ecosystem more resilient, the same is true of our own socio-eco systems. No one tool is sufficient, we must go at things from all angles. With international and national legislation, community projects, green business endeavours, family habits and personal values ALL shifting together.

So here’s the list I came up with. Naturally, it’s not exhaustive.

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Permaculture, Transition Towns, community gardens and orchards, community supported agriculture schemes, allotments, productive gardens, small holdings, organic farming, pollytunnels, free-range, localisation, urban trees and green spaces, gorilla gardening, green roofs and roof farms, window-box gardening, hydroponics, vertical farms, veg box schemes, farmer’s markets, town markets, independent shops, forest gardens, edible landscapes, plant-based diets, WOOFing, home preserving, seed-saving, seed swaps, hedge-laying, nature reserves, conservation, habitat-restoration, protected sites and species, biodiversity indicators, ecologists, nature-stewards, re-forestation, coppicing, sustainable woodland management, FSC, natural materials, natural paints, dyes and inks, green chemistry, industrial ecology, recycling, re-using, upcycling, cradle-to-cradle design, replaceable parts, modular design, extended producer responsibility, made-to-last, high energy efficiency, smart metres and grids, localised energy production, off-shore wind farms, wind farms, domestic solar panels, sun farms, hydro-electric power, tidal power, wave power, geothermal heating, efficient wood stoves, passive-houses, strawbale building, cob building, low impact dwellings, eco-houses, eco-villages, eco-cities, composting toilets, community composting, rainwater harvesting and use, reed-bed water purification systems, carbon sequestration, landfill methane collection, hydrogen cars, electric cars, car-share clubs, rentable cars, high-speed rail networks, waste-oil fuels, cheaper buses, internet-conferencing, boat and ship travel, staycations, community volunteering, apprenticeships, internships, place-based learning, holistic education, home education, free education, alternative schools, sustainability literacy, The Great Reskilling, sustainability education, life-long learning, Permaculture design courses, community teaching, Centre of Alternative Technology, ecological research, ethics-based science, natural law, international summits and conferences, international legislation, The Earth Charter, the Green Party, NGOs, true democracy, transparency in government, transparency in business, green businesses, community enterprise, social enterprise, pollution taxes, shorter work-weeks, carbon rationing, litter-picking, local currencies, time-share groups, LETS, Freeconomy, resource-based economy, happiness-based economy, gifting, pass-it-on, ethical banking and investment, credit unions, co-operatives, Fair Trade, international aid for sustainable development, positive media, truthful media, peaceful protests, activism, animal rights, human rights,  eco-fashion, swishing, make-do-and-mend, hand-made clothes, slow-fashion, upcycled fashion, organic fibres, ethical production, natural beauty, herbalism, ayurveda, meditation, tai chi, yoga, nature-spirituality, self-awareness, World Cafes, Open Space technology, political art, petitions, campaigning, celebrating.

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And that’s just stuff we’ve already come up with! There’s so much scope for innovation in the near future that these solutions are probably just the tip of the iceberg.

Let’s be inspired.

Positive Media, Positive Reinforcement

Conventional environmentalism relies on persuading people not to do things, or to do things so other things don’t happen.

People don’t seem to be responding to this “we need to do this quickly to avoid disaster” approach, at least not with the scale and speed required. Of course it’s ridiculous, and we really should, but we’re not. And we don’t have time to fit society to a solution that doesn’t work; it’d be way more effective to use a solution that is right for our society and the challenges we face.

The disciplines of sociology and psychology are key here.

Of course it IS necessary to educate and inform people about current and pressing problems. Problems need attention so that appropriate solutions can be designed. I’m not saying  that a positive-only approach is a good idea – we need balance. If problems are not known then there’s no supposed reason to change.

What I’m saying is, once problems have been studied and solutions designed, those solutions need to be promoted using positive reinforcement rather than negative reinforcement.

We need dreams to strive towards. In modern culture, we need the Arts to paint pictures of sustainable, happy and beautiful futures… It’s much easier to get to the right place if your map tells you where to go, as opposed to where not to go.

Apocalyptic future scenarios presented in films such as 2012 and The Day After Tomorrow show a sensationalised glimpse of what we could be facing if we don’t change our ways. However, they don’t actually help us to change our ways. We require some positive imagery to inspire us.

Modern global challenges like climate change, peaking resources and species extinction are big and scary, and thus inspire apathy rather than action. Many people simply don’t know a lot about these issues, and of the people that do, many more are overwhelmed. We need to collectively inspire each other, not tell each other off.

So we need ideas to strive towards. Imagining desirable futures is a key concept of the Transition Movement, and I think it is a crucial tool for our times. Truly thinking about what you want your future to look like, and then thinking about what steps need to be taken to move closer to that future, is a very empowering exercise. This is not the science of sustainability – which is of course equally important – but the art.

For this task we don’t need to be rational, we need to be idealistic. “Idealistic” seems to have got rather a bad name, but how are you supposed to know if you’ve done well if you don’t know what you’re aiming for? Imagine attempting a jig-saw where the picture on the box is unrelated to the puzzle-pieces, with the apologetic caption: “This is the wrong picture, do not create it”.

Now imagine a film that’s set say, 20 or 30 years into a more sustainable and desirable (but not perfect) future. The plot line could be sustainability based, or it could be an unrelated tale of romance or etc, but with a sustainable setting  presented as if it’s the norm. Such a film would attract mixed responses for sure, with plenty of people having complaints as well as compliments to voice. But the very discussion generated would itself be a helpful effect. It would sow seeds of thought in people’s minds. Most viewers probably wouldn’t ring up a solar installation company the minute they left the cinema, but they would at least have an alternative mental vision of the future to mull over, discuss with friends, and keep in their sub-conscious.

Art and media are hugely powerful, and its time they’re properly put to the task of transforming our society to one of sustainability, happiness and beauty.

The Psychology of Change

Since the ‘70s, a growing body of people around the world have been sensing and observing that the way we treat our home planet is wrong. Unethical, unworkable, unfair, unsustainable… At first a trickle, then a stream, now a fairly hefty current of “alternative” or “ecologically minded” people are pushing against the mainstream.

What I’m thinking about is, when and how will the balance be tipped?

When will it be normal to live your life within its natural limits, taking the other people, animals and ecosystems around you into careful consideration? When will it be weird to fly to another country for a business meeting? When will coal-fired power stations be the stuff of history lessons? When will it be unusual for a family to have two cars? When will it be weird to cover your garden with gravel instead of raised beds? When will consumerism peak? When will it be seen as uncivilised to waste food? When will it be uncool to wear clothes made by five year olds?

And how will all this come about?

Well, let’s think about human psychology. People copy each other. We copy our friends, and we copy people whom we admire. We admire people who live their lives in a way we would like to, which is of course personal, but in general it’s safe to say we admire people who are successful, beautiful and happy.

We gravitate towards happy people like bees towards flowers. Happy people are more popular, because people enjoy their company. Happiness is contagious.

We also have the mysterious but highly valuable “cool”. Coolness can’t be measured… It’s a slippery notion that can easily slide away if you try to pin it down and study it. However, there’s not much need as what’s cool and what isn’t is generally easily understood by your social circle.

Sustainable lifestyles will become normal lifestyles when people believe that living in this manner will make them look cool and be happy.

Look how happy this nice lady is, doing her gardening...

That’s really what people want. We just want to be happy. Being cool and popular is really just one part of that, because humans are highly social and positive interaction with others helps to make us happy.

So perhaps the way forward is to promote “green” activities not as acts of charity, or righteous self-deprivation, as they often are shown to be in the media, but as normal, positive lifestyle choices that are seen to improve people’s lives.

I’ll admit I’m no wiser as to how to accomplish this, other than that the media has a large role to play as it wields such an influence over society.

The collective ingenuity of the human race is surely sufficient for the challenges we face… It’s just harnessing that ingenuity that’s the problem. Team work, people, team work!

More thoughts on this at a later point…

What’s Wrong with Money?

What’s wrong with money? Nothing, intrinsically. But it gets in the way. The monetary system is a system based on debt,  scarcity and never ending growth. The first two aren’t very nice and the third is impossible, so it strikes me this isn’t a very good tripod to place our lives on.

I’m no economist, it really isn’t my forte, so I’m treading carefully here. Don’t expect expert opinion from me. What I want to say is nothing more than common sense.

The most common form of banking in the world today is called fractional reserve banking and I suggest you look it up yourself. But in a nutshell, it allows banks to create new money out of thin air. This is because when you deposit money into a bank, they only need to keep a percentage of it as a reserve, and will lend the rest to someone else. If everyone tried to withdraw their money at the same time, there would be nowhere near enough cash.

This means that most of the money in the world doesn’t exist; a pretty weird concept. Also in America (and probably other countries) every dollar bill that is printed, is actually leant to the country with an added sum on top, to pay back. This is of course impossible as to pay the money back, more must be printed, which comes with more debt, and so on.

World wide, governments are always borrowing and lending, with the poor Third World countries the worst off, spiralling into more and more debt as they are bullied into taking on more loans to pay back earlier ones.

I always get infuriated when the government’s excuse for not doing something important is “we simply don’t have the funds”. Yes you do! You have the funds for anything you actually want to do!

I read a statistic a while back claiming that the money the UK and US governments spent on bailing out the bankers when they crashed could have fed the entire world for 80  years.  World hunger and poverty could be eradicated. We have the technology and the resources, it’s just the money that’s the sticking point.

In the monetary system, scarcity is a good thing, because it keeps value up. There are actually places where diamonds are incinerated to keep them rare and expensive. But in terms of you and me, in terms of reality, scarcity  is bad because there might not be enough to go round. This shows that what’s good for the economy and what’s good for the people is not always the same thing.

But it should be. Money is a tool to oil the cogs of civilisation, a more sophisticated form of bartering for the modern day. It’s meant to sit around passively helping us, like washing machines and toilet paper, but instead we’ve somehow got into a situation where it has priority over humans.

This is insane.

The concept of never ending growth is also ridiculous because however technologically advanced we may be, all human-made products and services – without exception – rely originally on natural resources and natural processes. And the planet simply isn’t getting any bigger. To expect that it is, is an illusion too fanciful for anyone who has ever attended a geography lesson. For our world leaders, who to my knowledge are all over the age of 5, to base world economics on this assumption…

Is also insane.

A resource based economy 

I think we need a new type of system. A system where the focus is on the most efficient and beneficial (to all parties) management of the Earth’s natural resources. Something that’s based on reality.
This is still pretty hazy in my mind’s eye at the moment but I’m gradually working it out. I’ll keep you up to date.

In the mean time, take a look at this. There’s also something related called The Venus Project which is very interesting. However two sticking points for me are that I think having too much of our world automated will not be sustainable, and that I am very strong on culture and I hate the idea of having the world run by one central group, whatever that group may be. It is a little overly futuristic for me, but still fascinating to be sure.

 

Hip-Hop and the sustainability of youth?

KMT, a London-based hip-hop artist and DJ  is using his musical powers for good by running youth workshops in which he teaches on the subjects of lyric writing and the like, but also brings in more overarching issues such as racial cohesion and sustainable living. He says music is a messenger, a tool with which education and positivity can be encouraged.

He has been working in his field for over 12 years, with international audiences.  You can read an interview with him with Positive News here. (I also give them credit for the above photo – it certainly does not belong to me).

This story has got me thinking about how the youth population can be engaged in the issues of today and the task of creating a more sustainable future for this world. It’s sad but true that I am very much in some kind of minority group, caring as I do about these things and being an 18 year old girl. Most teenagers, for whatever reason,  just don’t particularly care. I find this very worrying to be honest. But with our infamous rebellious nature, our tantrums and our misunderstood ways, it’s hard to get us to do anything.

In my town’s transition group for example, I’m the only member below their mid twenties, making me feel it’s somehow my job to reel in more youthful involvement. But I’m really not sure how to reach out to my peers in a way they’ll enjoy. KMT seems to gain respect, possibly because a successful black hip-hop artist with a heart is (with good reason) one of society’s favourite personifications of Cool. And it is true that music is a powerful way to get across a point, slicker than any powerpoint presentation has any hope of being.  I also remember reading that pretty much the only thing Transition Totnes did for youth involvement was a music festival. Maybe this is the key to our hearts.