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Friday, October 20, 2017

Join the Imagestreaming Workshops in Stockholm

Posted by steve on August 16, 2010

The evenings of Thursday 2 and 9 September, Open World Café , Stockholm hosts an exclusive Imagestreaming training with Stephen Hinton.

(The book Inventing for the Sustainable Planet was written using Imagestreaming)

The workshop is designed to give you the latest ” behind the eyes” techniques to access your hidden creativity to apply to problem solving and inventing.

You will leave with a tool-box of ways to come up with and implement innovations. And, depending on what you choose to work on during the workshop, maybe a whole new innovation.

WAIT! There is more to read… read on »

How to run a financial permaculture session

Posted by steve on August 12, 2010

This is a method for using the cafe method with financial permaculture. It can be used to plan a start up sustainable community or to develop a more resilient local business.

It has one major element: The object worksheet

For the first use, start by asking participants, in an open space setting, to identify which objects they think would be included in their sustainable community. Each object then gets one large paper with the worksheet printed on it, and participants group up to work on the object of their choice.

(examples of objects: housing, boiler rooms, community farms, ponds, greenhouses, shops)

For each object, they need to identify its function and output. Then they need to estimate inputs and outputs as well as costs. One way to do this is to ask yourself

1. What is the lowest it could be?

2. What is the highest it could be?

This gives you an estimating range. The next question

3. Is it most likely to be in the lower, middle or higher end of my range?

Provides the answer to where to estimate costs. This of course works better as group discussion.

They then need to think about where income and capital can come from, how to reward output and where to find capital.

Before all of this is given over to a group to collate to create a summary budget, groups need to put together each sheet so input and output match. One “waste” might be another’s input!

The final posting of all sheets might give you something like this:

Finally, with all the sheets up and connected you need to regroup to go through the permaculture questions for the whole system:

• Can you use more renewable energy in the steps?

• What waste is produced. Can one object’s waste be another’s raw materials?

• Where nature can do the job, can we let it?

•  Can we make solutions smaller and slower?

•  Can we produce a wider variety of solutions/products for resilience

•   How can we ensure the network of objects survives scenarios we expect like financial stress, higher energy prices, impact of new technology?

The next step is to suggest projects to realise the opportunities identified in the first part of this session.

In order to ensure continuity you will need to ensure that you as facilitator do not get the job of following up. So for each suggested project you will ask for one organisation/individual to act as project owner and ask workshops delegates to sign up to participate in each project.

This voting with the feet will most likely result in some projects continuing and others just fading away.

The next step could be to present the opportunities at the Green Expo. See my post about that.

Differences between this and traditional financial approaches

There are some subtle differences, just as the permaculture way of producing vegetables and plain old gardening have commonalities and differences.

1) One of the aims of FP is to retain money as long as possible in the local community (See all written on “slow money“)
2) The aim of financial permaculture is to obtain a yield of “money’s worth” rather than money itself
3) The idea of interest does not fit FP in fact, one of the aims of financial permaculture is to find alternative sources of capital to bank loans.
4) FP seeks to get nature to do as much of the work as possible. Traditional financial approaches do not encompass this, in fact they try to get fossil fuels to do as much of the work as possible.
5) FP puts a value on waste and pollution. Traditional finance sees the cost of getting rid of them. That gasoline was early on conceived as a fuel in automobiles was something Rockefeller was interested in as gasoline was a messy by-product of his cooking and lighting oil business.
6) FP is more about asset based investment, valuing labour and nature whereas most traditional accounting models treat these as commodities
7) FP looks at an ecology of functions. This would be more like looking at how a supply chain worked rather than focussing on a specific business.
8) Financial permaculture (permanent culture) seeks to create infrastructure that will produce a standard of living over time with minimum impact on nature. Again similar to business modelling but within another context.

I joined the Earth Charter today

Posted by steve on

The Earth Charter is a declaration of fundamental ethical principles for building a just, sustainable and peaceful global society in the 21st century. It seeks to inspire in all people a new sense of global interdependence and shared responsibility for the well-being of the whole human family, the greater community of life, and future generations. It is a vision of hope and a call to action.

The Earth Charter is centrally concerned with the transition to sustainable ways of living and sustainable human development. Ecological integrity is one major theme. However, the Earth Charter recognizes that the goals of ecological protection, the eradication of poverty, equitable economic development, respect for human rights, democracy, and peace are interdependent and indivisible. It provides, therefore, a new, inclusive, integrated ethical framework to guide the transition to a sustainable future.

The Earth Charter is a product of a decade-long, worldwide, cross cultural dialogue on common goals and shared values. The Earth Charter project began as a United Nations initiative, but it was carried forward and completed by a global civil society initiative. The Earth Charter was finalized and then launched as a people’s charter in 2000 by the Earth Charter Commission, an independent international entity.


We are in dire need of a paradigm shift to bring us into sustainability

Posted by steve on June 16, 2010

We are in dire need of a paradigm shift. One that brings us into sustainability. Before I explain what this shift could entail I need to spend a short time talking about paradigms.

The word first entered more general use in 1962, when Thomas Kuhn released the book The Structure of the Scientific Revolution. For him a shift of paradigm was a change of one way of thinking to another when “one conceptual world view is replaced by another”.

In business, the concept has been used to explore ways of thinking and working that are so common and ingrained in the organization that staff probably do not know they are using them. In this respect, a paradigm gives a HOW often phrased in everyday terms as “the best way to…… is to ….”.

Consultants work to identify the paradigm and bring it to the surface, to examine how functional is it given the new business reality.

So a paradigm shift occurs when there is a major change in circumstances or attitudes.

Take the paradigm “The best way to calculate sums is to use one of our mechanical adding machines”. This paradigm became obsolete when they invented electrical calculators.

Here are some other paradigms that have shifted

  • The best way to discourage murder is to hang murderers. (Changes when taking human life is valued differently and research into prevention reveals other possibilities.)
  • The best way to keep in contact electronically is by e-mail. (Changes when social networking sites blossom.)

What situation do we have today that is different from say, ten years ago? Well, we have a growing awareness of the downsides of environmental depletion and destruction caused by our way of life. Emission of carbon dioxide are over the 350 safe limit and oil production has probably peaked. For more on this see my “back of the envelope” explanation of the end of the oil age. We have to explore the paradigms underlying the set-up.

The following text borrows from work done by SURE on the Krakow declaration, soon to be released.

The current paradigm holds that the best way to provide daily needs is via a system that stimulates global human attachment to consumption and to economic growth (as measured by GDP and other indicators). We are convinced that this paradigm is essentially unsustainable and counterproductive.

The system involves human actions that contribute to climate change and to the drawdown of the world’s limited resources. This further limits the capability of ecosystems to provide valuable services for future generations and reduces their access to mineral and biological resources as well.

The application of this paradigm results in:

• Unlimited emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases

• Unrestricted depletion of non-renewable (fossil and nuclear) fuels

• Deforestation

• Reckless management of water resources with scarcity of drinking water on one hand and accumulations and flooding on the other

• An economic system that invests in operations with high amount of external burden on the environment

If this paradigm continues to be the main driver of human activity, it will lead to continuing acceleration of climate change, to devastation through flooding, weather extremes, rises in sea level, loss of biodiversity and desertification; to the drawdown of natural resources of all kinds. Furthermore, and equally important, it will not deliver that which it is set up to do, failing ultimately to tackle widespread poverty and human suffering.

Moving towards a sustainable Europe in a sustainable world

We offer a new paradigm: the best approach to providing daily needs to citizens is to configure the system so its capacity to provide services increases whilst at the same time biological and mineral resources stay available, and ecosystems that provide essential services remain intact.

This paradigm is characterised by

• High and visible degree of social equitability

• Limiting emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases

• Limiting depletion of non-renewable (fossil and nuclear) fuels

• Forest cover preservation and regrowth particularly of tropical forests

• Sustainable management of water resources throughout the world

• An economic system that enables investment in creation of daily needs services that work without unsustainable external effects

The Units of Trust scheme investing in local, sustainable enterprises

Posted by steve on June 7, 2010

Units of trust are simple investment devices based on preferential debentures. Put simply, you invest money in a company you purchase from regularly. You do not get back money primarily from the company, but you get what money can buy – goods, services, or use of physical assets. When you wish, you can get the original investment back.

Of course, any company can issue an investment instrument like this, but we believe a local scheme has several advantages.

1) Education: the effort needed to explain to the public and to entrepreneurs is shared amongst those companies participating

2) Recognition. Local consumers will recognise the scheme and a shared scheme carries more credibility

3) Comparison. If units are valued similarly across the board, investors will be able to compare and contrast offerings from local companies.


Vouchers are one way for business owners to clarify and concretize the benefits of investing in a unit. The vouchers can illustrate usufruct benefits like the use of premises at cost, or a share in the normal production of the company at reduced costs. It can be a good idea to show vouchers to prospective investors so they can quickly grasp how their investment will affect their economy.

The voucher design can vary between companies, but the logotype for the scheme shows how the offering is part of a local business development initiative. As units are initially all for a standard sum, vouchers help investors compare opportunities.

Example #1: investors in sheep get one free meat delivery a year and free sausage making courses

Example #2: investors in a Market Garden get 30% off purchases

Example #3: investors get free help with setting up a local Unit of Trust scheme as well as marketing help

The following is a voucher from Austria. Investors in a solar power project get a certain free allowance of electricity.

Read more here. See the film here. Read the white paper.

Fours years. GO!

Posted by steve on May 29, 2010

Four years Go is campaign to change the course of history. Really.

The impetus and initial stewardship for Four Years. Go. comes from a core group of four organizations. The Pachamama Alliance, as part of that group, has provided the funding for the initial development of Four Years. Go. and is acting as the initial fiscal sponsor for the initiative. As soon as sufficient funds have been secured, and momentum achieved, a new legal and organizational structure for Four Years. Go. will be created—one that is global in scope, with an internationally recognized and respected group of trustees. Learn more.

As the Chinese proverb says “If we don’t change our direction, we are likely to end up where we are headed” and in humanity’s case where we are headed is clearly some type of ecological and social collapse.

So the question is “what will it take to change our direction?” The conventional wisdom seems to be that humanity can’t be expected to do anything until the effects and pain of the collapse are so intense that we are shocked into action. And so, we wait to be forced to act. However, even in the best case, where we are shocked into action in time, we’ll still be scrambling frantically out of a breakdown in search of a new direction. In the worst case, where we don’t act in time, we’ll go over the edge and into the abyss.

The stakes are too high and the risks from waiting too great. We must act now. As Paul Otellini, CEO of Intel Corporation points out, “It is a lot easier to change when you can than when you have to.” Four Years. Go. intends that humanity motivates itself and gets into action now, when it can, and thus consciously chooses and participates in the design of its future.

Four Years. Go. is a rallying call asking us all to…

* Wake Up to the enormous harm we are doing to Earth and ourselves
* Wake Up to the profound opportunity we have now to create a future to match our deepest longing and greatest dreams
* Become change agents in redirecting humanity’s current path from self-destruction to sustainability
* Do it now. Don’t wait for any one or anything. And complete it by 2014.

Sustainable provision of water and food – the Water and Food Award

Posted by steve on March 8, 2010

This is an extract from my  presentation as Application Manager of the Water and Food Award at  the recent Ambassadors event at the Marriott hotel in Copenhagen on 2 March 2010.

They say that at the beginning of every century, major changes, inconceivable in the previous century, manifest themselves. In the last century few thought man could fly, but here we are! What are the inconceivable changes awaiting us in this century? We hear people saying that feeding everyone on the planet is one of these grand challenges that we inconceivably can win over. At present, over one billion are starving and the population is set to increase in our lifetimes, or the lifetimes of the generation after ours, to nine billion.

Our task at WAF is bring attention to the situation and the challenge in a way that offers a message of hope. That means promoting sustainable solutions to feeding the planet. But what is a sustainable situation? WAIT! There is more to read… read on »

AVBP launches executive briefing: Develop towards sustainability

Posted by steve on February 8, 2010

Sustainability, it seems, costs money.  I have heard that business leaders have been bombarded with in-depth training lasting weeks, costing thousands and deflecting a sizeable chunk of your attention from focus on results.

Sustainabilty is something built in to every human as a survival tool. Most need a quick sharp introduction to get up and running. And we need to get running, the Industrial Capitalism models of doing business, temporarily made possible by cheap energy, are starting to show their age.

If you are an executive responsible for guiding your organisation through today’s choppy waters you need to have good insight into sustainability. We believe it  is either the future your organisation is going to develop into or the “black swan” of unexpected surprises that upset the apple cart of a cherished Buisiness as Usual.

Our short briefing will get you started on charting your organisation’s path into the future and actioning what needs to be done in a timely fashion

Order an in- house session or attend one of our scheduled briefings, lasting from one to three days.


Let EARTHSHIPS inspire you!

Posted by steve on October 28, 2009

Self-sufficient, off-the-grid housing.

An earthship is a building that not only provides shelter, but produces heating, electricity and drinking water, cleans waste water and provides food as well!

The brainchild of architect and innovator, Michael Reynolds, these buildings have been appearing for more than three decades, many from recycled material. While others see “waste”, Michael sees raw materials for sustainable living – structures that might someday shelter large numbers of people. Earthships are now in all fifty US states and around the world. Mike says that these Earthships are not only homes but symbolic ships that sail on the seas of tomorrow.

Mike has built earthships in disaster areas where water has been scarce, teaching local engineers the skills to build their own.

Earthships from whatis waste on Vimeo.

Leonado daVinci imagestreamed!

Posted by steve on October 6, 2009

I saw an exhibition of Leonardo daVinci’s notebooks. His sketches looked very much like he was imagestreaming. They seem to just come from nowhere. A program on TV shows how they tried to take his drawings and build full scale models. One comment was that he often got things “the wrong way round” or “purposely put mistakes in” to confound people who would steal his secrets. For me, I believe they were more like “right brain copying errors”. When I review the process for Unit of Trust, I see that I haven’t quite got the whole thing right. Parts of it do not “hang together”.

This is not to say that the insights are not deep:, they are. I met a standard methodology, based on what can be done today, using pre-committed resources, maximizing effect through cooperation – the whole thing seems to be extremely powerful. And definitely a good tool for communities who have decided to go down the energy reduction/sustainable development path.

What you need to do is to work hard on verification, and recreate every detail, then test it and try again. Just like they are doing with daVinci’s models.