Juliet Schor: Plenitude from toddboyle on Vimeo.

I just watched a talk by economist Juliet Schor, Plenitude: Building a Post-Work Society with Resilient Community Technologies, with some interesting thoughts about where things are and where they’re going. An overview:

There are a number of drivers and trends that are shaping the direction society and business is going – global recession, jobs created offshore, labor displacing technologies, and growing environmental costs that our economy is going to have to pay (scarcities of energy, erosion of ecosystems). Duration of unemployment is rising, and we haven’t created a solution. (In order to just get employment rates to pre-crash levels, we would need about 500,000 jobs created a month for 21 MONTHS.)

She asks:

“Can we continue with a “business as usual” economy driven by fossil fuels, consumerism, and a “hands off” attitude to market outcomes, or do we need another way?”

She posits the corporate sector is not the engine for wealth creation that is needed, but rather we need to create economic structures that are mindful of both wealth AND well-being – a new economy needs to create TRUE WEALTH, that actually improves lives and avoids top-down elistist solutions.


Schor says there is a trend towards “High Tech Self Providing” – a return to more “do it yourself-ism.” This is not a backward looking, back to the land luddite vision, but one in which we use high levels of knowledge and high tech methods for doing and making for ourselves. Our free hours can then be spent for self providing, leading to “green entrepreneurship,” a small scale green sector, cooperatives, self-employment, and small businesses – resulting in the release of individuals from corporations, building self-reliance and local resilience, and teaching individuals skills to enhance local community.

What industries are being highlighted as these values shift?

There’s a growing interest in: permaculture and urban agriculture, green production, self-reliance (using high levels of knowledege about natural systems to minimize human labor in the production of food and agriculture), micro-generation of energy (off the grid, small scale ways of generating electricity), DIY home building using natural low cost materials for individuals to build their own homes and structures, living without mortgages and high financial requirements for shelter, personal fabrication technology (“fab labs”) and 3D printers.

Big Picture Trend: People are de-linking from the market economy, then reengaging with the communities around them.

To watch her full talk, click here.

The points Schor covered in her talk made sense to me, and I was wondering about the deeper human values and beliefs that were underlying these trends and shifts. I was reminded of a recent slideshare presentation – Thrivability – which goes deep in identifying the qualities, values, cycles and actions of humans who yearn to not just survive, but to evolve themselves and thrive.

So we’re aware of the problem, and we know we want to thrive. But what are the working solutions that are proving that it’s possible to overcome the current structure of “the way things work?” What are the most interesting initiatives and projects that support a creative economy of change agents? What are the new business models that have a built-in mechanism to unleash human potential and create abundance? How can resources be redirected and channeled in ways that allow humans to create and grow? And how can the mindset be shifted so that the predominant beliefs are that “success” and “wealth” are defined by the health, happiness, abundance, and interconnectedness of a thriving human population?


I asked this question the other day to the twittersphere and was pointed to Zappos, Semco, Gore-Tex, WorldBlu, Corporation2020, B Corps.

thanks for feedback @valdiskrebs @jonhusband @AnalPoet @jenshoffmann @wwjimd @zaana @b2ix @orgnet @CoCreatr