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.)
“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
Jeff Mowatt said:
I believe this is what we’ve been heading towards, based on the arguments above and where our advocacy began for reforming capitalism. Today it seems the mainstream has joined up.
Also our work on transformation economics offers some arguments.
Joe Corneli said:
I was just at WikiSym 2010, where invited speaker
Cliff Lampe https://www.msu.edu/~lampecli/ talked
about his projects to build regional (not just “local”)
economies in Michigan, using social media.
Venessa Miemis said:
thanks for the resource, joe!
Pingback: Storytelling Social Media Marketing PR Business & Technology Curated Stories July 13, 2010
I see many more people decoupling from rigged markets as their online communities build gift economies and reputation-based currencies.
As they create alternatives, their exodus from the traditional economy may well cause further deleveraging and bankruptcies among once-trusted corporations and governments.
On a virtual level, trustnets can respond to shrinking public services through co-creation of new online learning, wellness/health care, and other self-help solutions. The latter may include governance (including eGovernment systems) and dispute resolution systems worthy of trust.
My guess is that we’ll see actual partnerships emerge between social networks and resilient communities, if incumbent institutions prove unable to rebuild public trust.
Through such partnerships, innovative communities will be able to tap a range of talent to apply gift economy, on-demand learning, “homeshoring” (3D printers/fabs), transparent governance, and other innovations.
The emerging resilient communities will also be in a position to promote in-migration and/or ‘crowdmoves’ by people who wish to see such forward-looking systems flourish. As their alternatives outperform the incumbent systems, resilient communities will become more attractive – and valuable.
Rising land values in resilient communities, in turn, can be a source of ongoing revenue for community benefit. Hong Kong and Singapore – the world’s freest and most transparent politices – have applied value capture innovations (such as auctions/tenders for lease of public lands) to fund common infrastructure and services through land value gains. Their “geoist” precedent offers a potentially replicable model to unleash human potential and create abundance.
Venessa Miemis said:
thanks mark. didn’t you say there is a big movement in your area for creating infrastructure and resilience? is any of that being tracked online, or just quietly done in the community?
Here in the Shenandoah Valley, a community of ‘Old Order’ Mennonites has been using resilient approaches to farming, transport, and energy for around two hundred years. We see horses and buggies in our town every day.
A local group is exploring art and “design economy” opportunities to learn and earn (http://www.abcdayton.com ). We hope to launch an art studio/coworking center soon, and are looking into a project on “homeshoring” via 3D printers/fabs.
I’ve learned a lot from recent visits to Asheville, NC’s River Arts District, Torpedo Factory in Alexandria, VA, and the Beahive coworking center in your neighborhood. We’d love to exchange ideas and experiences with a range of resiliency-oriented doers and innovators in coming months.
Ned Kumar said:
Interesting points for thought.
@Mark – I agree with you on partnerships emerging between social networks and communities.
My simple take is that many of the existing corporations will never completely “switch” over to the new biz model. Some might phase into it slowly but for most the mindset & other changes needed will be too much of a barrier to circumvent. Instead, what I think will happen is the sprouting of new entities (similar to corporations) that will have fluid boundaries and span of life and an environment where people move in and out of these entities on an as needed basis. I am making it very simplistic but there is definitely a trends towards fluidity & flexibility in today’s culture across the continents.
Of course, as we have discussed in some of your previous posts, a shift in this direction also means that the criteria and skills for success in this new world will be quite different from today’s world.
One of the more exciting aspects of the future is that people can truly follow their passion and love — whether it is ‘Green’ or ‘Education’ or something else — as newer technologies, tools, and resources will allow them to instantly connect with like-minded individuals to form a dynamic ‘corporation’. This will create a surplus of happiness (to use economic speak) and we all can agree that happiness is core to our well-being and health :-). I think this decade will see the transitionary phase where the past and future biz/economic/cutlural models will coexist and eventually cross the threshold to delink completely from today’s models.
Venessa Miemis said:
i’m wondering if there are going to be big shifts with people relocating and going where the like-minded individuals are. i know you can “be the change” from anywhere, but some opportunities just don’t exist in certain places, and the mindsets of communities totally influence what’s possible there. i mean, you can do your best to live in a certain way, but then it gets frustrating when it’s not the norm. (like having a local farmer’s market that people are committed to buy from instead of purchasing from walmart, or supporting the local hardware store instead of home depot, or walking and riding a bicycle more than using a car, or not throwing trash in the streets, etc etc). sometimes it feels like a losing battle, and maybe it would be more powerful to unite with those who are already on your page and see what you can create together, verse trying to “convert” others who don’t want to change. what do you think?
Ned Kumar said:
You bring out a lot of valid, thought provoking, and complex points to the fore. I don’t think we can do justice to those in blog comment. Still, here are my summary thoughts.
Relocation might or might not play that big a role depending on how our society, work practices, and technologies evolve in this decade. Also, it might play a bigger role in certain verticals and not as much in some. And lastly, we might see a trend in relocation that is distinct for the various generations (Gen X, Y, Z..).
I think in the immediate future, the desire to relocate to a like-minded community is going to compete with the desire for a good life (for self, family, kids etc.). Eventually, I am sure communities will spring up among cohorts of individuals, but what remains to be seen is how those will impact other personal domains like relationships, marriage, education etc. I do have a little concern about living in a community that is very homogenous (people liking the same thing, working at the same place, doing the same stuff etc.). I feel that consciously or unconsciously our lives are enriched by the diversity around us (good or bad).
Now having said that, I do see your point of fighting a ‘losing battle’ sometimes. This is where I think that the present generation of kids and the ones coming up are going to play an extremely critical role in how we might shape up as humans for the next few centuriees. Depending on how things evolve in the coming years, I am optimistic that we might not have to “convert” the vast majority – they will already be converts growing up in a tech-incubated society. In our lifetime however, I do see a see-saw battle between those who want to move to the next step and those who don’t (or don’t care).
Anyway, sorry for my rambling – we definitely have our work cut out for us being in the transitionary phase between the past and the future.
You should also read Isaac Getz’s book : Freedom,Inc
It documents very well revolutionary companies like Gore-Tex who free their employees and systems for true creativity and ownership.
Venessa Miemis said:
thanks for that reference, i will check it out
First thanks for the Junto project.
The SYSTEM (Us) is always wiser than the leader or the leadership team that leads it.
The link that I am forwarding you below together with the work that you are doing right now is about to shape the present and the future of your nation.
* * *
Measurement matters, If you can measure it you can manage it.
The answer to this blogs question as you know are held in the collective intelligence of the system (organizations/nations).
2 years ago, a national values assessment has been done in your system (USA as country).
Please have a look what are the emerging values in your country.
This assessment also shows what are the current values in your system, which is very important because if you want to arrive somewhere you need to know where are you now. https://www.valuescentre.com/docs/USA2009.pdf
This document without the open space inquiry is like a raw diamond.
The instrument used above is called National Values Assessment. It is part of the cutting edge Culture Transformation Tools (CTT). These tools are used to measure the culture within a system. This measurement is the first step in the process called whole system transformation.
Some 60 countries on the planet have done exactly the same kind of measurements. It started 10 years ago by measuring corporate values. 2000 organizations all over the world are doing this today.
We still don’t have a global measurement but I feel it will happen very soon. Its inevitable.
The end result of this evolutionary process will be global alignment and full spectrum functioning that will bring sustainability and balance on our planet.
Venessa Miemis said:
thanks for the link
Let me #synapse this with a piece from
We Just Went Through 200 Years of Radical Economic Upheaval — The Next Economic Era Offers Us a Chance to Control It