Thursday, 17 April 2014

Which LEPs are developing resilient local economies?

neil strelka photo 2by Neil McInroy, NewStart: http://newstartmag.co.uk/your-blogs/which-leps-are-building-resilient-local-economies/

Neil McInroy is chief executive of the Centre for Local Economic Strategies (CLES).

Ed Miliband recently announced plans to devolve more resources to cities and local areas including support for the 39 local enterprise partnerships (LEPs) - the key vehicle tasked with local economic growth.

However, recent work by the Centre for Local Economic Strategies (CLES), highlights how LEPs have some work to do before short term economic growth priorities translate into longer term social improvements.

In an investigation into the economic resilience of the 39 LEP areas, the report reveals that many lack a social focus and have generic plans and narrow perspectives in terms of the inputs needed for economic and place success.

In short, many LEP areas lack long term resilience in the face of ongoing and future social, environmental and economic challenges.

The work, which uses a variant of the CLES resilience model, ranks all 39 LEPs according to their ability to adopt a ‘whole place’ approach, which advances both economic and social growth.  They do this by assessing the strengths of networks between public, private and social sectors and how far social priorities - as well as economic ones - are met.

The work reveals that most LEPs have a short-term narrow economic growth focus, overly driven by ideas that an ‘economic tide will lift all boats’, or ‘trickle down’.

For CLES, a resilient local economy does not just create business growth and private gain, but it also strengthens local economic infrastructure, builds enduring social and civic institutions for the future and helps provide a decent standard of living for all. LEPs can also be used as part of the process of public service reform.

But the analysis found that many LEPs are failing to build this form of resilience.

Using a four point scale (resilient, stable, vulnerable, brittle) the work reveals that, of the 39 LEPs, only eight take a resilient ‘whole place’ approach.  These areas have good economic and jobs performance alongside decent inputs from the wider social sector and small business, and a significant focus on local social issues.

Nine areas were defined as brittle - with poor performance, a narrow LEP composition and lack of focus on social issues.

The work analysed the composition of LEP boards based on the level of representation, from the public sector, community and voluntary sector and from small and medium size enterprises (SMEs) - a key source of locally rich jobs. On average, only 30% of the private sector composition of LEPs came from the SME sector.

The report showed that 56% of LEPs had at least one community and voluntary social sector representation on its board, with the Marches LEP having the largest social sector representation.

CLES also identified that in the proposals to allocate European funding to social inclusion, no LEP had more than 50% of funds allocated to social inclusion projects, with Liverpool the highest at 34%.
The work also found that many of the LEP strategies are generic.

Recently the government wrote to all 39 LEPs saying that their EU structural and investment fund strategies were too ‘generic’ and should be made more ‘distinctive to local areas’. This is a reflection of the narrowness of the LEPs.

The government is partly to blame for this, as it has been too prescriptive, tram-lining the composition of the LEPs and detailing what should be contained within their plans.

Furthermore, cuts to local government and public sector more generally has served to reduce capacity and hollow out knowledge.

Economic development staff have been made redundant and knowledge and skills have been lost. As such a number of private consultancies have been used, often working on more than one LEP area.

Social issues, standards of living and poverty have hitherto not been a primary focus for many LEPs - but for local economic resilience it is essential. Addressing poverty and improving the lives of local people is what economic development should be about.

Social progress should be seen as both an outcome and an input to economic success. A resilient approach to local economic development is about appreciating how developing skills for the future, addressing social issues and building people’s self esteem are inputs to economic success, empowering them to grab employment opportunities - or even create their own job.

Without these social inputs, local economies are brittle and not resilient.

For greater local resilience, LEPs and wider partners need to have greater flexibility to move beyond
economic growth and job creation, addressing social issues and poverty. LEPs must build local economic resilience.
  • A full copy of the report can be downloaded from CLES here

Friday, 11 April 2014

A Framework for Articulating City Resilience

book cover
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)
by Nancy Kete, The Rockefeller Foundation: http://www.rockefellerfoundation.org/blog/framework-articulating-city-resilience

In 1958, a little-known community activist named Jane Jacobs received a Rockefeller Foundation grant to expand upon her ideas about how a city should look, feel, and work.

The book she published three years later - The Death and Life of Great American Cities - transformed how city dwellers, urban academics, and policy-makers think about cities and urban planning.

Jacobs challenged the prevailing assumptions of what makes a city thrive.

Over the past five decades, the values and ideas put forward by Jacobs and others have been profoundly important as questions of identity, voice, inclusion, access, and opportunity have been negotiated in the context of dynamic urban growth and globalization.

This legacy of forward-looking urban thinking becomes even more crucial as we look to the future. Just as cities are hubs for innovations and investments that expand opportunities, they are also living laboratories forced to confront challenges of increasing complexity.

What, and who, makes a city resilient - and not just livable in the short-term - has become an increasingly critical question, one we set out to answer in late 2012 with our partners at Arup through the creation of a City Resilience Index.

Before jumping immediately into metrics, we wanted to understand what does and doesn’t contribute to urban resilience.

We wanted to integrate perspectives that were siloed, shaped by experience and expertise in one or another aspect of resilience, disaster risk reduction, infrastructure resilience, climate change, national security or business continuity.

Arup has brought thought-leadership to the effort, as well as the capacity to create a comprehensive framework that reflects a city’s lived reality: resilience depends not only on physical assets, but also policies, social capital, and institutions.

City Resilience Framework Report [PDF]
Download the Report


The Rockefeller Foundation-Arup City Resilience Framework delivers on that promise: by presenting an inclusive method for articulating city resilience, the framework underpins and reinforces the City Resilience Index’s full suite of indicators and variables.

The framework has already proven useful in the agenda-setting workshops in cities across the globe that are participating in the 100 Resilient Cities Challenge - it will also form the basis of a tool that should enable all of us interested in city resilience to convene around a common understanding of that idea, and begin to ‘baseline’ what matters most for making cities more resilient, facilitating a process of engagement with and within cities that generates dialogue and deeper understanding.

Ultimately, this will lead to new ideas and opportunities to engage new actors in civil society, government, and business on what makes a city resilient.

We are actively seeking comments and feedback on this framework. Please join our discussion as we share the City Resilience Framework at the World Urban Forum on Friday, April 11, and let us your thoughts on the framework via the open commentary platform on Arup Thoughts.

Download the Report
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Thursday, 10 April 2014

Sharing Cities Network Launches Online Hub with Over 30 Cities

by Mira Luna, Shareable: http://www.shareable.net/blog/sharing-cities-network-launches-online-hub-with-over-30-cities

We are proud to introduce a new resource to support local sharing initiatives, co-created by leaders from around the world.

Welcome to the beta version of the Sharing Cities Network online hub, which you can find now through the new “Community” tab in the main navigation of Shareable.net.

The site will continue to be developed as we receive feedback and we welcome yours.

When the Sharing Cities Network concept began to emerge from conversations with grassroots organizers and community groups, we had no idea of the groundswell of support it would receive. 

After 60 map jams, $50k raised through our crowdfunder, more than 30 communities planning ShareFests and the over 30 initial cities that helped create their own city pages, it’s clear that the time is ripe for the Sharing Cities Network!

Over the past few months, we've hosted calls with local groups, sent out surveys, and started conversations on the Sharing Cities Facebook group (with over 1,000 members) to find out what sharing activists needed most. We are beginning to answer that call. The new Sharing Cities Network offers ways to collaborate and learn together.

Just as important, it provides tools to support local community organizing in a way that reflects your goals, vision, and values. 

The city pages are fully customizable to add: photos, text about your local movement, unique action buttons that you can tailor to your needs, links to get involved, events, news, shared resources and a sharing city map.

An overwhelming request from local sharing groups was to develop a central tool for sharing information among cities. We have been assessing various peer-to-peer learning and communication tools for the last 6 months and are open to suggestions. 

In the meantime, while we continue our search, we have integrated a simple solution into SCN on the “Learn Together” page. This is where we've begun to collect resources for: Sharing Cities Organizing, Community Action Guides, Legal and Advocacy Resources and Sharing Economy Presentations. 

We will use this until we further assess about how members communicate and share information. If you want to help with either the technological or resource research side of this project, please email us

After completing the virtual infrastructure, we put out a call for 20 cities to join the Sharing Cities Network and were thrilled to receive over 30 requests to create pages for the initial launch. 

In the next two weeks, we will host tutorials on how to customize and edit the pages and then hand off control of local pages to local organizers. 

In the coming months, we will bring more city pages online on a rolling basis and continue to receive feedback about how this network can best be of service before updating the platform to better fill those needs. 

If your city is on it's way to becoming a sharing city, you can fill out this application to get your city on the SCN in the next round.

If you aren’t ready to create a community page yet, don’t worry! Some cities are just getting started. Some easy ways to grow a young local sharing movement are:
It's a very exciting time as we move towards a new shared world together - protecting our commons, instituting collective ownership for an equitable economy, and creating new ways to thrive in community. A cultural revolution is in the air.

Thanks so much to all our generous contributors listed below, including our sponsors: Seats2Meet, Freelancers Union, My Turn, Mesh Labs, Near Me, the New Economics Institute, and the patient and skilled Objective Consulting development team that helped support this project, as well as everyone who helped spread the word, especially the OuiShare crew!

Contributors

Adam Berk, Adam Spector, Aleece Germano, Alessia Fascina, Alex Stephany, Ali Hart, Alvaro Saco Fortuna, Amy Love, Anake Goodall, Anasha Cummings, Andrew Nash, Andrew Racine, Angel Mesado Jardí, Angelo Meuleman, Anita Roselius, Anna Erkinheimo, Antony McMullen, Director, Creative Ministries Network, Antti Virolainen, April Rinne, Arno Hesse, Aurélien Marty, AutourdeToi.com, Barbara Pantuso, BeAGift.net, Belén López de Armentia, Ben Harper, Benjamin Bradley, Benjamin Wells, Betsy VanLeit, Beverly Markiewicz, Birte Berté, BlaBlaCar, Brenton Gieser, Brett Jones, Brian Freedman, Brian Skeele, Brian Tracey, Brigham Johnson, Børge Roum, Carol Brouillet, Cassandra Ferrera, Caterina Rindi, Catherine Sutton, Cat Johnson, CDJ Wilcox, Cecile Andrews, Cecilia Gamba, Cecilia Tom, CEOs for Cities, Chelsea Souter, Chris Diplock, Chris Haller, Chris Lindstrom, Christine Jacobs, Christophe Egret, Christopher Cain, Christopher Stammer, Cjay Roughgarden, Claire Felong, Claudia Gasperi, CommonSpark, The Community Commons Working GroupCristian Fleming, Cristóbal Gracia, Cynthia Wineburgh, D'Lynda Fischer, Daniel Bartel, Daniel Demmel, Daniel Verinder, David Anderson, David Harris, David Hawthorne, David Stanley, David Van Seters, David Wilson, David Witzel, Debbie Ramirez, Debra-Ellen Glickstein, deeliva, Dena Glazer, Deseray Dolan, Devita Davison, Diego Gutiérrez Marañón, Domenico Di Siena, Entorno ColaborativoCercamia.com, Donnie Maclurcan, Dublin Favour Exchange, Dylan LeBlanc, Elektra Grant, Elizabeth Douglas, Elizabeth Fein, Ellen Friedman, Ellen Prokopow, Ellisa Feinstein, Erica Etelson, Erica Harrold, Eric Poettschacher, Eva Markiewicz, Evelyn Jackson, Fabian Oestreicher, Francesca Pick, Fran Cooper, Frédéric Morin-Bordeleau, Freelancers Union, Gary Tuerack, Gene Homicki, Genevieve Vaughan, Gordon Steen, Gozde Okcu, Grace Taylor, Guy Fraker, Harald Sando, Heather Glick, Helene Finidori, Helen Hyatt, Hilary Henegar, HomeExchange.com, IRentShare, Ivana Pais, Ivana Verle, Jacques Williamson, James French, James Huth, James Kozlik, James Stanek, Jamie Shea, Jane Neve, Jane Neville, Jane Robinson, Jane Robinson, Janice and Brian Igoe, Jared Smith, Javier Creus, J Connolly, Jeff Edwards, Jeff Hutner, Jeffrey Andreoni, Jennapher Lawson, Jennifer O'Brien, Jenny Loda, Jeremiah Owyang, Jeronimo Suarez, Jesse Alexander, Jessica Conrad, Jessica Warren, Jessica Watson and St. Louis Ecovillage Network, Jessy Kate Schingler, Jill Epner, Jill Suttie, Jim Buss, Jim Buss, Joahna Rocchio, Joel Dietz, John Abbe, John and Debbie Igoe, John Bailey, John Massie, John Smart, Josef Kreitmayer, Joseph Elliott, Joseph Smith, Josh Wilson, Joy Waters, Joy Waters, Juho Makkonen, Julian Nachtigal, Julianne Waters, Julie Petrie, Juliet Chen, Justina Hayden, Jyoti Shankar, Katherine Wires, Kathryn Sipp, Kathy Huntington, Kathy Killinger, Kelley Rajala, Kendra Shanley and Bay Bucks, Kenneth Mahaffey, Kevin Bayuk, Kevin Jones, Kevin Krejci, Kimberly Sloss, Kim Brady, Kim Gibson-Newton, Kristin Wolff, Kurt Grela, Lauren Wetherbee, Lawrence Bird, Leslie Dubbin, Lieven D'hont, Lila LaHood, Linda Atkins, Linda Shewan, Lisa Brukilacchio, Lisa Renstrom, Lisa Smith, Liz Branch, Liz Cable, Lucile Crémier, Lynda Smith, Maëva Tordo, Mara Balestrini, Maria Carmen Rodriguez Alvarez, Marianne Dickinson, Mari-Lyn Harris, Mario Zelaya and Karmahelp.org, Marissa Feinberg, Marius Torenga, Mark Gorenflo, Marko Peterlin, Martijn Arets, Marvin Brown, Marvyn Morrison, Mary Roscoe, Matt Dillon, Mattia Bernini, Matt Mattila, Max Anderson and ExtendedRelative, MBO Partners, Megan McLaughlin, Melissa Kinnear, Melody Hunsinger, Mesh Labs, Michael Bennett, Michael Brown, Michael Carrillo, Michael Day, Michael Keating, Michael Stoll, Michelle Miller, Mike Steinhoff, Miki Johnson, Milicent Johnson, Minsoung Jo, Mira Gartz, Mira Luna, Miriam Miller, Mobilinet GmbH, Modo The Car Co-op, Mogan Brown & Mitch Rudominer, Molly Cohen, myTurn, Nancy France, Naomi Schultheis, Natalie Foster, Neal Gorenflo, Near Me, Nicco Mele, Nikos Salingaros, Nina Ignaczak,http://www.mbopartners.com/ Noah Heller, Noah Karesh, Noemi Giszpenc, Odile Beniflah, Olga Novikova, Open Shed, Pascal Verwaerde, Patrick Dunn, Patrick Marchman, Paul Blundell, Paul Higgins, Peg Powell, Per Grankvist, Peter Clausman, Peter Smith, Peter Wippermann, Philip Snow, Phoebe Sinclair, Randal Thompson, Raphaël Dard, Ray Tobey, Régine Thienhaus-Wippermann, Remi Dion, Rena Basch and Locavorious, Rhonda Fabian, Richard Lovejoy, Robert Gaddis, Roberto Hernandez Renner, Robin Chase, Ronald Caballero, Ronald Javet Pleguezuelos, Rosalba Zaldatte, Ross Chapin, Ross Marlow, Ruth Held, Ryan Conway, Salish Sea Trading Cooperative, Samantha McCarthy, Sara Crouse, Sarah Noyes, Sarah Ruzanov, Scott Ballum, Scott Bechtler-Levin, Sean Gorenflo, Seats2meet.com, Sebastian Dehling, Seokwon Yang, Sergio Lub, Seth Schneider, Shabnam Anvar, Shane Hughes, Shara Alexander, Sharon Ede, Sharon Hoffman, Sharon McMillion, Shaun Quirk, Shawn Gregory, Sheila McDonnell, Shelley Fishkin, Silvia Candida, Sonia Marcus, Spacerent, Stephen Zavestoski, Steven Vargas, Stina Heikkilä, Sune Larsen, Susanne Kahle, Susie Mckinnon, Suzanne Lindgren, Syleta Harkins, Tamara Hartl, Tanya Yordanova, Thomas Greco, Thomas Llewellyn, Thomas Malbaux, Tim Bonnemann, Tom Brown, Tom Wenzel, Tree Bressen, Tristan Copley Smith, Trustcloud, Trustribe, Vaalea Darkke, Vesa-Matti Lahti, Victoria Thompson, Victor Vulovic, Vincent Dussault, Vivian Wang, WeekendHouseSwap, Wendy Whiting, William Eggers, Wolfgang Hoeschele and The Common Abundance Network, Yelizavetta Kofman, Zay Thompson, Ziba Cranmer

Volunteers

Albert Cañigueral, Cristóbal Gracia, Eric Poettschacher, Odile Beniflah, Simone Cicero

Measuring Wellbeing and Happiness

Nic Marks
by Rob Hopkins, originally published by Transition Culture 

Nic Marks founded the Centre for Wellbeing at the London-based think tank New Economics Foundation and also more recently founded Happiness Works

Much of his work has focused on measuring wellbeing and happiness, as captured in his excellent talk from 2010.

Your current area of work is around wellbeing at work. What have you learnt from that and from your previous work that could help measure wellbeing at a community scale?

The first thing to say about measuring happiness and wellbeing is that we can create measures of them but you’re never going to precisely measure them. You’re asking people to assess their experience of life really when you’re into the realm of wellbeing. What’s the quality of their experience of life?

We use structured questionnaires to do that. There are lots of different precise methodologies, but basically you’re asking people their feelings on a daily basis or over the last month, and you’re asking them to assess the quality of their life and use those to create measures of happiness and wellbeing. There are some standard scales that people use and we also create them specially for the workplace. 

So what does wellbeing look like at a community scale? What would a happier, more resilient community look like and how might we be able to measure that?

At a community level, probably the best measure is something called the Warwick Edinburgh Wellbeing Scale. This is used to ask people both their feelings and also how functional they are; whether they’re able to make decisions, whether their relationships are strong and things like that.

What would it look like? Well, the currency of wellbeing is time and relationships. A community with high levels of wellbeing and happiness is going to be one where there are strong relationships, where people get along well, accept each other’s differences, are able to be themselves, and they have time to nourish those relationships in both ways really. You have to give as well as receive in relationships.

The heart of happiness and wellbeing is relationships. There are obviously other things, particularly personal things about how much we’re learning, how much we’re able to spend time in nature and how active we are. But the core of it really is relationships.

For groups who are doing Transition who want to in some way monitor and evaluate the work that they’re doing, what would be the useful places to start? Obviously if you’re a university department and you have a big research budget you can do much more extensive research, and if you’re a community initiative you don’t want to spend all the time you would otherwise spend actually doing things just measuring stuff. What would seem to be a doable place to start in terms of measuring your impact?

As I said, the Warwick Edinburgh Scale does a short version, I think it’s 8 or 9 questions and the longer one does about 14. It’s free to use, you can download the questionnaire and you just tot up the score.

Really you want to be tracking the same people through time to see whether they get happier through the project. Unfortunately there aren’t very strong online tools you can use. I’d like to build them one day. We’re building online tools for businesses at the moment, but it would be nice to be able to give something free away to communities which is an ambition but right now we don’t have that.

The other thing to frame it with is some work we did at the New Economics Foundation called the Five Ways to Wellbeing

This is something we did for the UK government office of science, their Foresight Project, which was basically trying to identify positive actions people could take to promote wellbeing. Like a piece of social marketing in a way, they’re an invitation into a wellbeing space.

And they are:
  • Connect: because social relationships are the strongest part really of happiness and wellbeing
  • Be active
  • Take notice: noticing what’s going on around us and within us
  • Keep learning: learning through your life course
  • Give: volunteering, generosity, altruism are all really good for our own wellbeing as well as other people’s.
Those five things I think are just enough unpacking of the idea of wellbeing and happiness to not over-confuse but to open up a space. If people are doing projects they might like to think, are they taking the boxes of connect, keep learning and give. 

Maybe they’re got something focused a bit more on activity or mindfulness and taking notice, or one on learning, one on volunteering, on making relationships. It can help them bring the energy of the others into those projects. So that’s a useful tool but it’s not really a measurement thing. It can guide. A lot of local authorities, local projects use the five ways as just a way to inform their wellbeing work.

Quite early on in the life of this government they announced they were going to be taking wellbeing and happiness and using indicators around wellbeing and happiness. Is it possible to have an austerity agenda that actually increases happiness? How do the push to save money on such an urgent, profound scale run alongside the need to build happiness? Are the two inherently mutually incompatible or could you have a happy version of austerity?

[Laughs] It’s unfortunate timing that that’s what the coalition government was doing, as they started to introduce wellbeing. It does feel like "we’re going to fob people off with the idea that we’re going to have austerity but they can be happy". It sound rather a disastrous combination.

What is sure is that once you’ve got past financial insecurity which is probably more due to the level of indebtedness than income. If you’ve got high levels of debt that’s really troublesome for wellbeing. Obviously low income doesn’t help at all. 

You have to have enough money to enter into the space that you can participate in society and there are lots of people that are excluded, so that is very problematic. But if you can get into the space of thinking about those five ways then money, as in more income, doesn’t become exceptionally important.

There definitely is a way and there definitely are people who are living on not exceptionally high incomes and are happier than people on much higher incomes. As a general rule of course, having income protects you from particularly bad things. It’s a difficult nuance to strike there without sounding very paternalistic and very cut off from the difficulty of some people’s lives.

To go back to the question, is it possible to have an economy which is contracting and cutting back on public spending and one that is growing in happiness at the same time?

Theoretically. To give you an example, Iceland which has gone through a much tougher transition than we have, actually Icelandic people got happier during that, and I think that had a lot to do with the fact they were living in a bit of a stressed out economy. 

They had 15% unemployment almost immediately. Because everybody was in the same boat together there was a community spirit around unemployment.

The real problem is if you were made unemployed and had high levels of debt, then you were really suffering. If you didn’t have high levels of debt then people actually got happier, probably because they were spending more time with loved ones and relationships. 

How long that would last it’s difficult to know. The economy’s obviously picked up again. But there definitely was evidence that people got poorer and happier in Iceland over the last 4 years.

Do you find that the concepts of happiness and wellbeing cut across the political spectrum? Are they something that appeals as much to the left as to the right?

The biggest takeup’s been in the centre. But there are interesting ideas from the left and the right that meet the happiness agenda. 

So from the right, what’s classically called the Right, family, autonomy would be things that are really important for happiness and wellbeing. On the Left fairness, justice, respect, tolerance all are. So in some ways it’s not a left-right agenda.

I think in some ways the way that we at the New Economics Foundation and at Happiness Works think about happiness and wellbeing is a mix between individuals and the environment they find them in, the context they find them in. 

The Right places more emphasis on individuals and the Left places more emphasis on conditions and so how they come together is a new way of thinking about a synthesis between those two things.

The point really is some people do thrive in difficult circumstances, and people do sink in benign circumstances so there’s two things going on. But it’s also clearly true that more people thrive in good circumstances and more people sink in bad circumstances so you can decide where you put your emphasis. There are things that can appeal on both sides.

Our theme this month is around the impact of Transition. What’s your sense, from where you’ve sat over the last few years of the impact that Transition has had?

I see Transition popping up with interesting groups saying things and I’ve been to a couple of Transition meetings and talked to people, but I haven’t been deeply involved with the Transition network. What I’ve seen when I’ve been in Totnes or once when I was in North London groups is a very vibrant community where a lot of people are passionate about it.

Not always in the mainstream, so I would think the challenge must be - Totnes less so, in Totnes it is fairly mainstream - but in lots places how to get more involved with the mainstream I’m sure is a challenge.

That’s a challenge we all face in this agenda of getting people to take climate change seriously and to take social challenges seriously, how do we take them mainstream.

In the Happy Planet Index, Costa Rica had the world’s highest score. What have they got that we haven’t?

First of all, Latin American cultures generally do pretty well on happiness and wellbeing. 

They have a similar level of life expectancy and a similar level of GDP per capita as the Eastern European transition countries but they have much much higher levels of happiness and that’s really to do with their attitude, their joie de vivre rather than a more Eastern downtempo sort of thing, but most importantly they have very strong communities, very strong social connections, social participation which simply isn’t present in central Eastern Europe. 

So they’ve got these very strong relationships which is one really important thing.

Costa Rica specifically has done some very interesting things. It abolished the army in 1947 and has invested that money in social projects so education and health are really good and that’s shown in their life expectancy, which is higher than the USA and their literacy rates are spectacularly higher than the USA so they’ve actually got really good social and health outcomes there. They also have a geographical strategic advantage in that they have hydro.

From a carbon perspective they can be much more renewable than many other places. Iceland is the same, having geo-thermal energy.

Where I live part of the time, Norway, similarly has hydro so their actual use of energy themselves is more sustainable. I call them fossil fuel pimps because they basically live off the earnings of fossil fuels in Norway. So Costa Rica does have a strategic advantage in that way. It all adds up really.

If you think of the Happy Planet Index really as saying what’s the environmental efficiency of delivering wellbeing, as they end up delivering higher life expectancy, more happiness on a quarter of the carbon footprint of the USA. That’s interesting.

Kevin Anderson is often heard to say that staying below 2°C and economic growth are incompatible, but at the same time the push is always for more and more growth. Is there any way you see that we’ll ever choose as a society, as a culture, to leave the growth-based economy behind and if so, what role might a narrative based around happiness play in that?

In a sense that’s been the thrust of my work over the last 15 years, which is that I started working on alternative measures to GDP in 1992-93.

Me and Professor Tim Jackson at Surrey University who wrote Prosperity without Growth, we worked on an early version of something called the Index for Sustainable Economic Welfare. Basically we were trying to add up the cost of climate change and the costs of other things and take them off GDP.

For me, that is the point of wellbeing. It has to change the discourse which is to say that economic indicators of progress are always saying more is always better.

Actually I think we need to think about the quality of the experience we have and that’s why I’ve got interested in wellbeing. It was my driver. My driver was a sustainability driver to get into happiness and wellbeing in the first place. Humans are the problem in the system, so how do we think about that.

It becomes an intractable problem. If you think that GDP growth is a measure of the wellbeing of society, we all know that if you grow GDP you grow the throughput of materials and resources through the economy which is going to inevitably create sink and source problems - where does the carbon go and where do you get it from.

That throughput is hugely problematic and I think the only escape out of there is quality of life, and not thinking that quality of life is everybody on the planet having Mercedes and widescreen TVs and all of that.

How do we actually do that in a way that is sustainable? It’s this tension between good lives now, because everybody wants quality of life now. No politician can go to the poll and say we’re going to make life worse.

Perhaps they’d do that in a war scenario, maybe Thatcher managed that a little bit, but you can’t really do that. The tension between quality of life now and quality of life in the future - it’s too easy, particularly with our short-term cycles of government, to avoid issues.

The governmental equivalent of nimbyism, not in my back yard, is NIMTFO (not in my term of office). Climate change gets pushed off into the future, it’s someone else’s problem.

Regrettably, that’s where we remain stuck, and that’s why I’ve certainly been dedicating most of my adult life to thinking of new ways of measuring progress because I think we get it wrong.

I think if we got it right we wouldn’t be so frightened of having to not have future gains in consumption. That’s probably the way to think about it, rather than giving up consumption. It’s actually how do we stabilise it first and how do we de-carbonise it.

There’s relative poverty and there’s absolute poverty, the relative poverty would get less bad if we didn’t have people who were super rich at the top of the income spectrum. The absolute poverty absolutely needs dealing with.

For the rest of us, money only buys us a bigger car and a bigger house and a dew holidays, but actually if we had less and we had more time then it probably would be a better life. People hang on to what they’ve got. They hang on to what they know, and it’s quite difficult to move beyond that.

Lastly do you think there is an evidence base building now that more localised, more resilient economies would be happier economies?

I don’t know of very specific studies that show that absolutely, but if you take a reading of the literature of it, everything about wellbeing and happiness is proximal, is close to us.

So the logic of everything being local is absolutely playing into the logic of happiness and wellbeing. I can’t believe that that is not a good outcome and not a good possibility. There definitely are big differences between communities in terms of happiness and wellbeing. Even independent of things like the Index of Multiple Deprivation and things like that.

There are places where things are going great and things that are going less well that are independent of financial matters. There’s lots and lots of potential to do things independently of that, for sure. 

About Rob Hopkins:  

Wednesday, 9 April 2014

VIDEO: Dr. James Garbarino Talks about Resilience, Hardiness, and Compassion Toward the Human Experience

by PsychAlive: http://www.psychalive.org/video-dr-james-garbarino-talks-resilience-hardiness-compassion-toward-human-experience/

Watch an excerpt from PsychAlive’s exclusive interview with Dr. James Garbarino.



Well, I think, as I see it, there is resilience, which is a sort of description of a situation that a person has faced adversity and has been able to recover from it.

The danger comes in making that into a trait.

Now, there are people whose research suggests that it is fair to talk about something called “hardiness,” which is much more a trait that you bring to situation.

And that’s fair enough, that, having at least average intelligence and having a sort of positive outlook, these things that contribute to hardiness.

And the research shows, for example, that soldiers who score high on the Hardiness Scale, when they go into war in Iraq or Afghanistan, they’re less likely to come back traumatized by their combat experience.

But the danger about making resilience into a trait is then you quickly move into when you observe somebody who is overwhelmed, you attribute it not to the overwhelming nature of the situation, but to a deficit on their part. And I like to joke that, you know, there will be a new diagnosis soon of resilience deficiency disorder.

And then some kids will have RDD, you know and then they’ll have ADHD too, and then they’ll have excessive alphabet syndrome, you know, too many names after it.

Now Harry Stack Sullivan, the great psychiatrist, who mostly studied schizophrenics wrote, “Human beings are more simply human than otherwise.”

And partly what I take that to mean is that, so if you strip away labels and diagnoses, you look at the actual person in front of you and say “What can you understand about their life?” Understanding they’re trying to make sense of their life from their prospective.

Now if they have schizophrenia, they’re looking at the world through a sort of distorted lens, but it’s still a person looking at the world. And I think that general orientation will help in this.

When I see somebody who’s drowning in their lives, my first thought is not “What’s wrong with them that they’re drowning?” but rather “It must be a really difficult sea they live in and maybe nobody ever taught them to swim. And maybe they’ve got one hand tied behind their back so they can’t swim anyway.”

So that sort of compassion about trying to understand the legitimate human experience of the other is a way to recover from this resilience as a trait and get back to resilience as a celebration of a particular success without implications that it implies the failure of somebody else.
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Tuesday, 8 April 2014

Resilience Within: A Short Guide to Resilience for NGOs

by Council of Social Services Dunedin: http://www.councilofsocialservices.org.nz/news/2014/04/07/resilience-within-a-short-guide-to-resilience-for-ngos/

Resilient Organisations has published a guide to resilience for NGOs. It’s a quick read at only 20 pages and includes a tool to measure your resilience. There are links to more guidance and tools too.

The emphasis is on being a great organisation, able to deal with both threats and and opportunities - including funding cuts.

You can download the guide as a PDF from www.resorgs.org.nz/Resources/resources-for-business.html

Resilience Within - A short guide to resilience for NGO's

Resilience Within - A short guide to resilience for NGO’s

Monday, 7 April 2014

Global Economy Sidelines Those it Needs Most: Young People

Innovative arts programs help grow young artists
Innovative programs for young artists (BC Gov Photos)
by Mark Esposito, Grenoble Ecole de Management and Terence Tse, ESCP Europe

Fears for the so-called lost generation look more valid by the day.

Britain’s chancellor might have the confidence to target full employment, but the problem of getting young people into work is a genuine challenge and one which we cannot afford to leave to market forces alone.

The latest numbers out of the eurozone bear this out. The youth unemployment rate may have dipped a little but we are still close to record highs. The pattern is repeated worldwide.

Our pursuit of a recovery has given us a form of growth, if not the illusion of it, which sidelines the people we need to build a post-crisis economic model that works for everyone.

So why is our timidly recovering economy failing to drag youth employment along with it?

Looking at global trends between 2008 and 2013, it’s easy to see the world is once again becoming a busy producer of goods and services and maybe we are tempted to believe that some kind of “second chance” is also being produced.

Exports are on the rise, and with them global GDP indicators, so if the world was one system (it is but we decide not to acknowledge it), the overall trend would be slightly positive.

But productivity-driven growth is coming at the expense of direct investment across national borders, which is shrinking. Foreign investment may still be playing an important role in contributing to national GDPs, but the actual inflow of capital has been negative.

Countries around the world are experiencing declines - with the exception of Africa and some economies in Latin America which are gearing up for significant economic growth in the years to come.

Chasing growth

The lack of incoming capital reveals a gap between investments and the real economy. It means, in other words, that the growth of capital is faster than the growth of the economy, and this is usually demonstrated in wealth accumulation towards the upper 25% of the wealth distribution chain.

The consequence is fewer high-end job opportunities and more labour-intensive jobs aimed at a less skilled workforce, which is what produces visible incidences on national GDPs.

Governments are subsidising low-end jobs at the expense of genuinely value-creating businesses. Skilled workers are becoming unemployed as the economy fails to provide them with suitable jobs because we are simplifying our value chains. 

It means we structurally reduce high-end, well-paid jobs in exchange for fast-moving, low-end, consumer-linked roles. This is a recipe for disaster, given that the only way we can achieve real social and economic progress is by raising our productivity standards, not our speed.

If the above graph presents a picture of private-sector growth, what about the governments? How are they coping with the challenges of the 21st century? So far, they have reacted to increased socio-economic pressure by lowering interest rates and implementing austerity measures.

Worse yet, the unemployment crisis, especially among the young, is just the tip of an immeasurably large iceberg. It indicates an underlying problem in the way our economies function: growth. As we continue to expand, unemployment will only get worse.

It’s a problem that spans all countries, regions, markets and democracies, whether old or new. Yet, at the same time, we do not have a solution - certainly not a universal one - to tackle this problem.

Beyond GDP

All of this comes at a cost - one that has been building over the past 50 years but is only now becoming apparent: more pressure on the middle classes, which form the majority of most advanced economies.

The world’s middle class is being squeezed by a lack of innovation, investment and skilled jobs on one side, and harsher cuts to public spending and the prospect of higher borrowing costs on the other. Inefficiency has crept into the economy and with it the threat of social instability.

Not all is lost, however. The world economy may still find a way to adapt to its new circumstances. From a fragmented and unequal world, we have become a hyper-connected collection of economies - albeit thwarted ones - united in our search for a new business model.

This new model is right in front of our eyes. The world’s millions of young people, with their talent for innovation and ease with radical disruption, find themselves excluded from the workforce. They are naturally versatile and restless; young people could be the antidote to our poisoned economic systems.

If governments and the private sector could co-ordinate their efforts to capitalise on this overlooked generation, everyone would benefit.

It’s not simply about boosting entrepreneurship or even innovation-driven start-ups; it is more fundamental than that. We need to allow young people a stake in our collective future by respecting their abilities, giving them a say, encouraging them to vote and providing them with quality education and the right training. Only this can make them feel less disowned.

It will take a change of culture; a little imagination, a tiny bit of decency and a softening of the dogmatic assertion that quantifiable growth is the only worthwhile measure.

Quite simply, we need governments, companies - and people - to upgrade their mental model to one of inclusiveness, beyond GDP.
The Conversation

The authors do not work for, consult to, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organisation that would benefit from this article. They also have no relevant affiliations.

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.
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Saturday, 5 April 2014

Birth of Thanaticism

by , Public Semimar: http://www.publicseminar.org/2014/04/birth-of-thanaticism/#.Uz_OD6KWf5N

I don’t know why we still call it capitalism. It seems to be some sort of failure or blockage of the poetic function of critical thought.

Even its adherents have no problem calling it capitalism any more.

Its critics seem to be reduced to adding modifiers to it: postfordist, neoliberal, or the rather charmingly optimistic ‘late’ capitalism. A bittersweet term, that one, as capitalism seems destined to outlive us all.

I awoke from a dream with the notion that it might make more sense to call it thanatism, after Thanatos, son of Nyx (night) and Erebos (darkness), twin of Hypnos (sleep), as Homer and Hesiod seem more or less to agree.

I tried thanatism out on twitter, where Jennifer Mills wrote: “yeah, I think we have something more enthusiastically suicidal. Thanaticism?” That seems like a handy word. Thanaticism: like a fanaticism, a gleeful, overly enthusiastic will to death. The slight echo of Thatcherism is useful also.

Thanaticism: a social order which subordinates the production of use values to the production of exchange value, to the point that the production of exchange value threatens to extinguish the conditions of existence of use value. That might do as a first approximation.

Bill McKibben has suggested that climate scientists should go on strike. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released its 2013 report recently. It basically says what the last one said, with a bit more evidence, more detail, and worse projections.

And still nothing much seems to be happening to stop Thanaticism. Why issue another report? It is not the science, it’s the political science that’s failed. Or maybe the political economy.

In the same week, BP quietly signaled their intention to fully exploit the carbon deposits which it owns the rights. A large part of the value of the company, after all, is the value of those rights.

To not dig or suck or frack carbon out of the ground for fuel would be suicide for the company, and yet to turn it all into fuel and have that fuel burned, releasing the carbon into the air, puts the climate into a truly dangerous zone.

But that can’t stand in the way of the production of exchange value. Exchange value has to unreel its own inner logic to the end: to mass extinction. The tail that is capital is wagging the dog that is earth.

Perhaps its no accident that the privatization of space appears on the horizon as an investment opportunity at just this moment when earth is going to the dogs.

The ruling class must know it is presiding over the depletion of the earth. So they are dreaming of space-hotels. They want to not be touched by this, but to still have excellent views.

It makes perfect sense that in these times agencies like the NSA are basically spying on everybody. The ruling class must know that they are the enemies now of our entire species. They are traitors to our species being. So not surprisingly they are panicky and paranoid. They imagine we’re all out to get them.

And so the state becomes an agent of generalized surveillance and armed force for the defense of property. The role of the state is no longer managing biopower. It cares less and less about the wellbeing of populations. Life is a threat to capital and has to be treated as such.

The role of the state is not to manage biopower but to manage thanopower. From whom is the maintenance of life to be withdrawn first? Which populations should fester and die off? First, those of no use as labor or consumers, and who have ceased already to be physically and mentally fit for the armed forces.

Much of these populations can no longer vote. They may shortly lose food stamps and other biopolitical support regimes. Only those willing and able to defend death to the death will have a right to live.

And that’s just in the over-developed world. Hundreds of millions now live in danger of rising seas, desertification and other metabolic rifts. Everyone knows this: those populations are henceforth to be treated as expendable.

Everybody knows things can’t go on as they are. Its obvious. Nobody likes to think about it too much. We all like our distractions. We’ll all take the click-bait. But really, everybody knows. There’s a good living to be made in the service of death, however. Any hint of an excuse for thanaticism as a way of life is heaped with Niagras of praise.

We no longer have public intellectuals; we have public idiots. Anybody with a story or a ‘game-changing’ idea can have some screen time, so long as it either deflects attention from thanaticism, or better - justifies it. Even the best of this era’s public idiots come off like used car salesmen. It is not a great age for the rhetorical arts.

It is clear that the university as we know it has to go. The sciences, social sciences and the humanities, each in their own ways, were dedicated to the struggle for knowledge. But it is hard to avoid the conclusion, no matter what one’s discipline, that the reigning order is a kind of thanaticism.

The best traditional knowledge disciplines can do is to focus in tightly on some small, subsidiary problem, to just avoid the big picture and look at some detail. That no longer suffices.

Traditional forms of knowledge production, which focus on minor or subsidiary kinds of knowledge are still too dangerous. All of them start to discover the traces of thanaticism at work.

So the university mast be destroyed. In its place, a celebration of all kinds of non-knowledge. Whole new disciplines are emerging, such as the inhumanities and the antisocial sciences.

Their object is not the problem of the human or the social. Their object is thanaticism, its description and justification. We are to identify with, and celebrate, that which is inimical to life. Such an implausible and dysfunctional belief system can only succeed by abolishing its rivals.

All of which could be depressing. But depression is a subsidiary aspect of thanaticism. You are supposed to be depressed, and you are supposed to think that’s your individual failing or problem.

Your bright illusory fantasy-world is ripped away from you, and the thanatic reality is bared - you are supposed to think its your fault. You have failed to believe. See a shrink. Take some drugs. Do some retail therapy.

Thanaticism also tries to incorporate those who doubt its rule with a make-over of their critique as new iterations of thatatic production. Buy a hybrid car! Do the recycling! No, do it properly! Separate that shit!

Again, its reduced to personal virtue and responsibility. Its your fault that thanaticism wants to destroy the world. Its your fault as a consumer, and yet you have not choice but to consume.

“We later civilizations …  know too that we are mortal,” Valery said in 1919. At that moment, after the most vicious and useless war hitherto, such a thing could appear with some clarity. But we lost that clarity. And so: a modest proposal. Let’s at least name the thing after its primary attribute.

This is the era of the rule of thanaticism: the mode of production of non-life. Wake me when its over.

Friday, 4 April 2014

The Price of the Recession: Social Resilience and National Resilience

by Katherine Carter, Fund for Peace - Global Square Blog: http://blog.fundforpeace.org/blog-20140403-socialresilience

The Failed States Index (FSI) uses political, economic, and economic indicators to determine the relative stability of a nation state and its resilience to potential unrest.

The FSI examines how successfully states maintain legitimacy and cohesion in the face of internal or external pressures, but does not speak to how social trends in particular countries change in response to those pressures.

In contrast to national resilience, social resilience refers to a community’s capacity to adapt and cope with significant adversity and to prepare for future challenges.

As a ranking of states’ fragility, the indicators used in the FSI enable us to track countries’ progress from year to year, but do not easily convey the human cost of instability and how societies cope with instability on an emotional level.

When the fortunes of countries are discussed in a policy context, the real pain experienced by real people during periods of national turmoil is often overlooked.

While a nation state could emerge from a disaster or period of upheaval politically stable and essentially unchanged, how does the psyche of its population fare?

One such example of this is the social effects of the so-called “Great Recession” of 2008 and the turmoil it has caused primarily in European societies and those of other developed economies.

In analyzing these we chose to examine how individuals in particular countries reacted to the recession of 2008, in contrast to how their nation fared as a political and economic entity.

Given the subjective nature of such an analysis, allow us to begin with a necessary disclaimer: the effects of the recession will continue for several years as countries recover, and as yet we cannot substantiate any conclusions or determine how long the social trends we are witnessing now will last.

Nevertheless, the trends discussed below - suicide rates, fertility rates, divorce rates, and emigration - surfaced as the most commonly observed social effects, but we welcome comments about other social effects not mentioned here.

Suicide

While we recognize suicide is a very complex issue that can never be attributed to a single factor, the correlation between the recent recession and rising suicide rates merits discussion.

Perhaps rising suicide rates during this recession speak not simply of the economic hardships people faced, but the absence of social resources and support networks available.

Moreover, it can be difficult to verify statistical accuracy because of issues associated with coroners’ reports and national data collection. Most of the statistics currently available are accurate to 2010 and other countries do not tally the numbers every year.

Across the world, countries with high youth unemployment rates are demonstrating parallel spikes in youth suicide rates.

According to the World Health Organization, suicide is the third leading cause of death for 15-44 year olds and the second leading cause of death for 10-24 year olds in many developed countries.

Suicide rates tend to be much higher among males, up to four times the rate of female suicides in some countries. Furthermore, recorded statistics do not include attempted suicides, which some estimates place at 20 times more frequent than statistics indicate.

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, in 2009 suicide became the tenth leading cause of death in the U.S. Recent news articles published in New Zealand, Canada, the UK, and India demonstrate rising fears of increasing suicide rates among youth.

A 2005 Study by the New Zealand Ministry of Health found that in the 1990s,the country experienced economic decline and rocketing suicide rates, especially in males between the ages of 15-24 and those living in rural areas.

News articles have tended to focus on youth suicides, however suicide rates across the board have increased in recent years.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention conducted a study, “Impact of Business Cycles on U.S. Suicide Rates, 1928-2007,” in which it concluded that suicide rates correlated to the business cycle.

The highest rates of suicide were recorded during the Great Depression, and other spikes occurred during the 1970s oil crisis, and it fell during profitable periods such as during and after the Second World War and the 1990s.

That study also found the highest correlation between economic cycles and people aged between 24 and 65.

Researchers at the University of Cambridge, the University of Bristol and the University of Hong Kong found that in 2009 alone, higher unemployment rates coincided with a 3.3% rise in global suicide rates [1].

The researchers also found the recession specifically caused an increase in U.S. male suicide rates, in particular in the 45-65 year old age group. In Europe, suicide rates among men jumped significantly during the recession; in Greece, male suicide rates rose 24% between 2007 and 2009.

In Europe, however, the greatest increase in suicide rates occurred in the 15-24 year old age group, coinciding with high youth unemployment in those countries. Small business owners have been especially hard hit by the recession, a correlation demonstrated in suicide statistics.

Fertility

The 2008 recession is believed to have produced a short-term but significant drop in fertility rates in developed countries.

A 2011 study conducted by the Vienna Institute of Demography at the Austrian Academy of Sciences concluded the global birthrate has been in decline since 2000, with some variation, and sharply declined between 2008 and 2011.

In general, developed nations tend to exhibit lower fertility rates than the global average. One reason cited for this difference is easier access to family planning resources, including contraception.

The study attributed decreased fertility rates during the recession to several primary factors: high levels of unemployment and job instability, trouble securing housing, and spending more time in education.

The drop in fertility rates witnessed in Europe is expected to be temporary; couples tend to postpone giving birth for more prosperous periods.

Historically, these swings last between two and five years, so it is possible a spike in fertility rates will occur in the next few years if the global economy recovers.

The 2008 recession hit young job seekers hardest, thus decreases in fertility rates were most pronounced in couples under 28 years of age.

In the European Union, 14 countries demonstrated a decline in birth rates in 2009 and overall birthrates decreased. Belgium, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, Norway, Portugal, Romania, and Switzerland all showed a steady decline in birth rates.

German birthrates are usually one of the lowest birth rates in the EU, averaging around 8.2 births per 1,000 people over the last five years. It actually increased slightly in 2012, however, after dips in 2008 and 2009.

The United Kingdom witnessed a significant increase in birthrates between 2009 and 2010, jumping from 10.65 to 12.34 births per 1,000 people. On the other hand, Greek birthrates have been steadily declining over the past decade, falling to a low of 9.08 in 2012.

In the United States, fertility rates dropped significantly between 2008 and 2009, from 14.18 births per 1,000 people to 13.8 and have continued to fall. In 2012, the U.S. experienced its lowest fertility rate on record, sinking to 13.6.

In Australia, birthrates have been in gradual decline since the recession, following a slight rise between 2007 and 2008, to a low of 12.2 in 2012. It is certainly telling that the most dramatic fall in birthrates occurred in the youngest demographic.

Young parents appear to be the quickest to postpone baby plans when the economy recedes, perhaps as they, in general, have the luxury of more time to wait to have a family.

Divorce

Changes in divorce rates as a direct consequence of the global recession have proven harder to corroborate than other social trends in this period.

Some countries have witnessed rising divorce rates, which experts attributed to increasing debts compounding already stressed marriages, while other countries have not demonstrated significant change.

In 2010, the U.K. saw a 5% increase in divorce rates. Divorce rates declined by about 7% in the U.S. between 2007 and 2009, but began to increase in 2011 as improving markets enabled couples to pay for legal costs and sell their homes.

Some experts have discussed a ‘delayed impact’ of the recession, in which couples stayed together or separated but did not divorce during the recession due to financial constraints.

Several countries in Europe reported an upturn in divorce rates during 2010; a result that could be interpreted as consistent with the ‘delayed impact’ theory.

Emigration and Immigration

Immigration rates in the European Union over the past couple of years reflected the perceived stability of particular countries. Immigration within the EU increased, as workers from countries with higher unemployment rates sought to move to more stable economies.

The U.K. reported the highest immigration rates by far, with approximately 420,000 people settling between 2011 and 2012. France and Germany held the next highest immigration rates, with about 320,000 and 166,000 respectively.

By the same token, Greece reported higher levels of emigration, with many university-educated Greeks heading elsewhere in the EU in search of work, especially newly qualified medical practitioners.

Approximately 370,000 people emigrated from Spain last year; most were immigrants from Latin America returning home, while about 50,000 were native Spaniards in search of work.

A slightly different trend emerged in the United States, where few U.S. citizens chose to emigrate during the recession, but immigration to the U.S. dropped and more immigrants chose to leave. After a peak in 2006, the U.S. immigration rate has fallen steadily.

A 2010 study conducted at the Migration Policy Institute at the University of California, Davis, demonstrated that immigrants react more quickly in times of economic recession and job loss, tending to be among the first to leave a country or state.

Between 2007 and 2009, the estimated number of unauthorized immigrants in the United States fell from 12.2 million to 11.3 million.

Conclusions

While the full psychological and societal effects of the global recession of 2008 have yet to fully manifest, it is clear very few of them will be positive.

Rises in suicide along with declines in global birthrates will most likely not remain at their current levels, but they illustrate how bleakly many young workers envision their futures in current conditions. Whether we will see a delayed effect in regards to divorce rates is uncertain.

Some psychologists believe couples tend to stay together more fiercely during hard times to protect whatever financial security they might have, while others think the added stress of a recession can easily push a tenuous relationship over the edge.

Recovery from increased emigration/ immigration is perhaps the most difficult social trend to predict, and possibly more permanent. The point at which workers will feel secure to return home or at which immigration rates will return to previous levels depends both on renewed economic prosperity and on perceptions of economic security.

Thus, while it appears many developed governments weathered the recession in terms of their FSI rankings and relative national security, the health and well-being of their people may not have fared so well.

Endnotes

1. URL located at http://articles.latimes.com/2013/sep/18/science/la-sci-sn-great-recessio...

Thursday, 3 April 2014

Pay It Forward - This Video is Worth Watching!

Redesigning Civilization - With Permaculture

by Toby Hemenway, Pattern Literacy, Resilience.org: http://www.resilience.org/resource-detail/2124479-redesigning-civilization-with-permaculture



Modern agriculture, industry and finance all extract more than they give back, and the Earth is starting to show the strain.

How did we get in this mess and what can we do to help our culture get back on track?

The ecological design approach known as permaculture offers powerful tools for the design of regenerative, fair ways to provide food, energy, livelihood, and other needs while letting humans share the planet with the rest of nature.

This presentation will give you insight into why our culture has become fundamentally unsustainable, and offers ecologically based solutions that can help create a just and sustainable society.
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Tuesday, 1 April 2014

Cocreation: Beyond Collaboration

Creativity is an essential ingredient in cocreation - photo and workshop by Carolina
(Co)creativity workshop by Carolina. More pics on FB
by John Baxter, Realise: http://realise.jsbaxter.com.au/beyond-collaboration/

I’ve just touched down in Adelaide from my South-East Asian trip, including the Ci2i Global Lab.

There are too many ideas and amazing experiences to share, but I can offer a few thoughts before I launch myself back into it all.

In particular, there were some insightful discussions at Ci2i about the Great Big Question - what on earth is this ‘cocreation’ thing anyway?

I don’t bring back clear answers - but I can report strong agreement in thinking about cocreation. This surprised me, given our diverse projects and backgrounds, from Ugandan community projects to the boardrooms of McDonalds.

You can see this common ground for yourself by looking through the session notes, exploring cocreation vs collaboration and the core values of cocreation.

I loved the way that Nathalie described cocreation. She worked for decades in knowledge management, enabling collaboration in organisations. She watched collaboration spread through management practice (and theory), taking the way we work up to a new level. And she has the feeling that now, cocreation is the next level.

But it’s early - we are still trying to understand what that really looks like, and how it differs from the present.

That’s certainly not the only way to think about cocreation though. At other times the discussion was not so much about methods as about philosophy. We talked about things deeper and more fundamental, intricately interlinked, and much more global that I had realised. This will be worth writing about when I get the chance to process thoughts.

Whatever way you look at it, there is definitely something ‘to’ cocreation.  It might not be a silver bullet, but it definitely has deep implications.  Ci2i has given strength to my conviction that it is worth the effort. Which brings us to next steps!

As we wait to see what formal plans emerge for the Ci2i network, I am focused on articulation. Even those who ‘get it’ use the word in different ways.

It’s harder still for those for whom cocreation is just one potential concept among many relevant to their work. I don’t want to try to be definitive, but something useful is not too much to ask. Right?

I need to do this for the sake of my own business and the people I work with, but if there’s interest I’d be pleased to facilitate collaboration on something that represents a broader articulation. So I am waiting to see what people say. ; )
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