Posted by steve on August 21, 2013
Reflections on my experiences at this year’s Future Perfect festival that brings does and thinkers of sustainability together
Arriving on the island
The Future Perfect Festival, held on the Stockholm archipelago Island of Grinda, wrapped up recently. The event, now in its third year, is designed to provide a space for those engaged emotionally and professionally in sustainability; a space where they can gather, engage in dialogue and co-create.
Future Perfect, the brainchild of John Manoochehri, is a unique kind of festival, and it is badly needed. Even if, like myself, you are engaged in sustainability on an almost daily basis, the topic is far too wide for any one mind to take in. We need to listen to each others perspective. If we as a species are going to successfully transition away from the present counter-sustainable culture we live in we need to do it together. This means talking, listening to each other, sparking ideas off each other, trying ideas out, coming up with ideas together, and developing our perspective by reflecting in the company of those who both agree and disagree with us.
To me it means engaging in double -loop learning. Single loop learning assesses the strategies being used by looking at outcome and trying corrections and then assessing the outcome, trying new corrections and so on. Double-loop learning is to look at outcomes and assess assumptions behind strategies and the values of the outcomes. Just now there is, for example, a huge debate about economic growth. Instead of using the single loop mode of changing taxes, negative incentives to get off unemployment and tax breaks for corporations, the double-loop mode questions (for example) whether economic growth is desirable at all, and if there should not be a minimum wage paid to all regardless of if they work or not.
A fascinating comment on this topic came up in one of the evening debates: one speaker suggested that the transfer of money from one person to another is an expression of that person’s appreciation of the other, and that we did not want to see a reduction in economic transactions as that would mean a reduction in the love and appreciation each of us share.
Anyway, if we are going to have dialogues that move deeper into double loop mode, we need to get to know who we can talk to, and we need a space, even if it is just once a year, that facilitates that. The Future Perfect set-up manages to do just that always in a comfortable, open setting surrounded by the Swedish countryside looking its summer best.
Just a few moments after arriving I was plunged into a fascinating dialogue experience What do young people want? With Kim Jakobsson, Magnus Åkerlind who have toured Swedish Schools to engage youth in sustainability. The session was expertly facilitated by Per Hörberg from http://www.navigatororganisation.se/ and Gustav Elmberger http://www.samutveckling.se/ who got us to sit in a circle, and reflect on the idea that if we were all-powerful, what would we do to connect youth to sustainability.
The breadth and depth of ideas was impressive. It was great to be reminded that it’s is not the lack of solutions, tools or ideas that is stopping us creating the future we want, but the lack of concerted action.
JAK’s Tom Strömberg
After lunch it was my turn to participate in a panel meeting with representatives from JAK bank, including the bank’s ethics representative, Tom Strömberg. I represented the Swedish Transition movement. Transition is a network of people working locally to make their communities resilient to energy shortages, climate change and economic downturn. For me, when asked about local production and consumption I identified three good sustainable reasons to do it:
- The money stays in the community and goes around again, and jobs stay in the community. As money leaks out for the community, for example when you buy fossil fuel, jobs leak with them.
- Producing locally requires less transport and therefore the transport footprint is less
- Doing business with people you know is far different from doing business with strangers from far away: it builds community and community means resilience.
The other things is it is easier to get away from being just a consumer. We all need to be owners, producers and consumers.
It is in the dialogue that you develop your own arguments, and it is fascinating when you think something is self evident and you find yourself finding new ways to explain them. Take the issue of us always having traded with each other. We have had global trade for thousands of years. Would it not be better just create an app that trades everything all over the world? Not so fast. The heavy things in your life are also the basics: a roof over your head and food on the table and social cohesion: a community of 100 or more. The heavy things require fossil-fuel (and cooled) transport. The lighter things that you do not need everyday can of course much easier come from afar. Or heavy things that you only purchase seldom.
Space to book conversations
In my consulting I help with framing strategy that gives real value back to people and the environment while ensuring financial stability. I see how it is getting harder and harder to take on the leadership role, as the challenges mount. I think that the Future Perfect set-up is a good one for leaders. There are several things that Future Perfect does well.
- It creates a space for dialogue. Not just the “mental space” but also the way the programme is organised and the physical meeting spaces encourage dialogue, structured and spontaneous.
- It gets people excited about working on solutions together. Of course we live in a competitive business environment, but true cooperation between government, civic society and business is needed if we are to find ways forward.
- It hosts dialogues well, bringing out the best in its speakers. Future Perfect has knack of identifying just the right speaker and combination of speakers to quickly get to the heart of the matter. And the dialogue forms they have been using and developing – including the quick presentation in the panel and the probing follow-up questions – are enlightening and stimulating to follow.
- It brings people together. As guest speaker Internet Philosopher Alexander Bard said in an interview for the Web-TV channel that broadcast from the festival “I like to see other people involved in the ecological to movement to discuss how we can avoid disaster”.
In grammar, Future Perfect is the name of the tense that I usually explain as “standing in the future looking back”. In English it is expressed in the form of (point in time) + (actor) will have +(event expressed in past tense). This is my “future perfect statement”: In 2030, society will no longer use fossil fuels or emit greenhouse gasses. Future Perfect will have made a pivotal contribution; it will have brought us together and will have helped us have those difficult reflections and conversations that gave us insight and resolve to make the change. What Future Perfect statement would YOU like to make?
Posted by steve on August 1, 2013
Journalist BirGitta Tornerhielm shows off her vouchers for ITK
A summary of the recent trial in Sweden, published at Resilience.org , presents a hopeful development with complementary currency as a driver of community development.
As economies fail throughout Europe it is becoming clearer that communities should come together to provide the security and safety that neither businesses or local authorities have the capability to provide. Rather than driving globalisation, the money system should encourage these communities to become more self-reliant and resilient. WAIT! There is more to read… read on »
Posted by steve on June 13, 2013
Stephen Hinton will address students and guests at Copenhagen Business School on the 19th June. A fellow of the ISSS, Stephen has been supporting the Humanitarian Water and Food Award (WAF) with selecting applicants.
In collaboration with WAF, Copenhagen School of Entrepreneurship is inviting to CSR 2.0 conference: “Water and food for all – A challenge of business thinking and the general assembly of the humanitarian food and water award.”
Stephen will speak from his experience of selecting applicants for the awards from the 100s of leading –edge initiatives from around the world. And he will present what he sees as the opportunities for businesses to play their part in creating a new, resilient and sustainable prosperity that feeds everyone, takes care of the planet and houses thriving businesses.
Find out more about the event here.
Find out more about the Water and Food Award here.
Based in Stockholm, Sweden The Institute of Swedish Safety & Security (ISSS), is a registered non-profit institution. Founded in 2010 by individuals committed to working towards a peaceful, safe and secure environment, members have significant and diverse backgrounds from security risk management consultancy, law enforcement, intelligence, military, government, Counter Terrorism Units and ‘Special Forces’.
The institute provides both research and an advisory capacity in risk management and crisis preparedness to stimulate sustainable living, resilience and ensure the well-being of communities. The mandate aims to bring awareness to lead to the development of enhanced processes to ensure the integrity of critical and second tier assets during the event of natural / man-made crisis, disasters or act of terrorism in addition to potential ripple effects from conflicts in the global arena and, therefore, promote resilience through preparedness.
Posted by steve on May 27, 2013
The present economic system is a patchwork of taxes and subsidies and ideas that have been around since at least the 1800s. Tax upon tax has been added trying to bring control and equality to the system.
The picture here shows just the CATEGORIES of transactions involved and then just the most common. If we are going to create a sustainable way of life, to transform to where we need to go to ensure food and water and a roof for all, we need to make some sweeping changes.
Looking at it like this, it may not be too difficult: We could start by not allowing any poisoning of the commons, and planning a fast phase-out of externalisation in all forms. Putting a tax on what we don’t want, and making the things we do cheap is another strategy.
Trying to be sustainable without reforming the economic system is probably a waste of time, as it presents a compact wall of resistance to any move to sustainability. And it is so complex no-one seems to have a clear of idea of how it works anyway!
Webinar on flexible emission fee mechanisms
White paper on externalisation
Posted by steve on February 10, 2013
This new design (Click on it to see a larger image) is a first sketch for the assignment to design a village layout for a project in Brazil, a village that will house a conference centre in the middle of six sustainable farms. The centre and village will get its food (and coffee) from the neighbouring farms on subscription, and the farm will produce biogas and biochar, combining the char with the organic leftovers from the gas process will produce a soil enhancement that goes back to the farmers.
The design is based on the idea of radiality, from my book “Inventing for the Sustainable Planet”. Radiality is the design approach of living arrangements, villages or even cities, being designed in circular form.
Some things to note:
The technical park houses toilets showers and laundry to separate urine and grey water for use in the market garden. The toilets are between the large meeting place and the central plaza.
We put the parking lot outside the area to make the place car-free, and designed it using the permaculture idea of zones to minimize walking. The areas that people would like to be private are separate from the public areas and to keep noise interference down, farthest from the meeting centre.
The central plaza houses a cafe and restaurant, a place to pick the food up (using the eco- unit concept of food subscription) and a place to hang out. Being in the centre it is a place for chance meetings and to catch people as they go past.
This is just early stages, but to secure a time-share in the village investments are starting at around 20,000 Euros. Contact me if you are interested in getting in at this early stage!
Posted by steve on May 15, 2012
People seek a sense of connectedness to nature. Many want to live in a way that is light on the earth and does not require huge amounts of debt and energy to function. They want to invest in a way of life that they can believe in, economically and morally. Since the 1980’s, systems ecologist Folke Günther has been developing a sustainable living concept called eco-units to do just this.
Eco-units answer the question of how we can create sustainable resilient communities that provide a standard of living whilst ensuring future generation can enjoy the same.
This workshop aims to provide you with sufficient insight into eco-units to enable you to convene a group and start your own project.
DATES: Thursday, September 27, 2012 to Sunday September 30, 2012 at 2pm
LOCATION: Conference Center, Södra Rörum, HÖÖR, SWEDEN.
Posted by steve on April 17, 2012
A recent report from The Nordic Council of Ministers ( title: Flexible emission fees
An incentive for driving sustainable production and consumption) is optimistic that growth and environmental goals can be reconciled. If the conclusions of the report can be implemented, it could set a new direction towards sustainable development.
The starting point for the investigation that forms the basis of the report is an economic innovation from Swedish engine innovator, Anders Höglund, from the Swedish Sustainable Economy Foundation.
Höglund postulated that the principles of control engineering that he had applied to make diesel engines burn clean could be applied to the economy.
Control technology is the application of control devices to a process to ensure it performs to requirements. In the case of the engine, advanced micro-processor and sensing technology is applied to a rather “dirty” invention like the diesel engine. Fast feedback, computer control and some final stage cleaning ensure that the combustion in the engine is controlled precisely.
The height of control technology is possibly the modern fighter jet that is unstable without the help of the advanced computer control.
In the old days, the economy was paper-controlled; it could take a long time to obtain an accurate picture of the state of the economy as reports needed collecting and summing by hand.
This is not the case today. Stock prices, oil prices and sales figures are available almost in real-time. Höglund saw that this fast feedback of the economy could form the backbone of a system that forces the economy to “run clean”.
Especially the old criticism that emission fees hold economic growth back is negated when the money from fees is channeled back into the economy as a general tax rebate. And no physical money changes hands. The fees can be distributed electronically to tax payer’s accounts as a credit at digital speed.
The other bugbear of emissions fees is that they are not effective: polluters continue to pollute and producers are slow to introduce clean-tech. Höglund’s innovation solves this by raising the fee at regular intervals until market behavior complies with requirements. Höglund says that market behavior will change as the fees become sufficiently high. As the fees are channeled back into the economy there is an equivalent amount of money available to either purchase the “dirty” service at higher prices or alternatives at relatively lower prices.
The Nordic Council investigation engaged a researcher to review economic literature. The idea of flexible control fees seems to have been sparsely investigated. A workshop involving some of Sweden’s leading sustainability experts and authorities focused on finding ways to drive sustainability into the economy utilizing market forces. The workshop looked at two emission problem areas: carbon dioxide and phosphorous. Most participants were positive to the idea of testing flexible fees in a limited area.
Karl-Henrik Robért, founder of the Natural Step, said:
– Hence, flexible fees offers an elegant pragmatic means for policy-making to support strategic sustainable development.
To download the report visit the Nordic Council’s website.
For more information on the workshop see the Swedish Sustainable Economy Foundation’s website.
Posted by steve on April 6, 2012
Anyone intereted in understanding the complexities of sustainable world food and water situation should watch this film. It carefull goes over the importance of theat which we give a negative namen to – dirt that may well be the most important piece of technology we have available to us!
Follow this link here for a fuller explanation
Posted by steve on November 23, 2011
The vision is simple: if everyone lived in intentional, sustainable communities – villages, city/town blocks – then the whole world would be sustainable. Supporting that vision is the Open World Villages networking site, newly launched by the Open World Foundation.
Based on the powerful NING platform, the site is bringing together experts in their field (called Academy fellows) with existing villages and initiatives as well as individuals longing to get in contact with like-minded souls to create villages or move into expanding initiatives.
Open World Villages is looking into ways of purchasing land to create a portfolio of initiatives to drive the move to sustainable, intentional living.
But there is more: the site wants to bring together village-scale technology and service providers with people who want to promote and sell what they produce. The vision is a world not of business to consumer or business to business but villager to villager (V2V).
Read more on the Open World Villages site. Membership is free.
Posted by steve on December 2, 2010
I enclose my presentation from the Water and Food Award day on the 25th November 2010 (with soundtrack) explaining the Award’d sustainability approach.