Practicing an Alternative
How Real People in Local Communities
Are Helping build Ecological Civilizations
Practicing an Alternative: Real People, Good Work
"Transition Network supports community-led responses to climate change and shrinking supplies of cheap energy, building resilience and happiness...The Transition movement has grown from just two groups in 2006 (Kinsale, Ireland and Totnes, England) to over 1,107 initiatives in more than 43 countries across the world. And those are only the ones registered on the website. There are many more." For more information: http://www.transitionnetwork.org
We offer the examples below, which are from Europe and the United States, but celebrate that there are vital experiments in 43 countries. Our hope is to profile those experiments, too, in months to come.
Why the need for an alternative? Click here.
What to transition communities do? Click here.
How do you start a transition community? Click here.
What about the arts and creativity? Click here.
What about inner transformation? Click here.
SEIZING AN ALTERNATIVE: TOWARD AN ECOLOGICAL CIVILIZATION
John B. Cobb, Jr.
We live in the ending of an age. The age that ends may be just the modern period. But the ending of the modern period differs from the ending of previous periods, such as the classical or the medieval. The amazing achievements of modernity make it possible, even likely, that its end will also be the end of civilization or even of the human species. At the same time, there are many new beginnings that give promise of an ecological civilization.
There have been numerous conferences devoted to finding a way to sustain civilization, and many promising practical responses have been proposed. There have also been conferences showing how the modern world has led us to the brink of catastrophe and calling for changes in basic attitudes and orientations. We support and celebrate much that has been accomplished.
June 4-7, 2015 we will hold in Claremont the Tenth International Whitehead Conference.... We plan to build on the work of previous conferences and on the widespread cultural changes that are already expressing an ecological sensibility. We are responding especially to the growing sense of urgency, on the one hand, and, on the other hand, to the deepening awareness that the changes must be radical, that is, go to the roots of what has led to the current threat of catastrophe. Some of these roots go even deeper than the assumptions of the modern age into the rise of civilization itself. The current interest in indigenous cultures expresses a profound insight.
The “we” who are planning this conference belong to a group of thinkers who have long believed that Alfred North Whitehead provides the best alternative to the Cartesian understanding of the world that grounds and pervades modernity. We have been working in many fields, often encountering in those fields others who share most of our concerns and insights. We do not, however, know of any other thinker who offers so comprehensive a vision. We find in Whitehead a conceptuality that can ground and unify the creative and promising work that others are already doing. We believe that Whitehead offers not just an alternative to the modern organization of thought and life but the most promising one. We invite those who know that the transformation and survival of civilization require an alternative to join us in considering this alternative....more
Ten Ideas for Saving the Planet
John B. Cobb.Jr.
1. Reality is composed of interrelated events.
2. There are gradations of intrinsic value.
3. God's aim is to help nurture the well-being of all life.
4. Humans are uniquely (but by no means exclusively) valuable and uniquely responsible.
5. Education is for wisdom.
6. The economy should be directed toward flourishing of the biosphere.
7. Agriculture should regenerate the soil.
8. Comfortable habitat should make minimal demands on resources.
9. Most manufacturing should be local.
10. Every community should be part of a community of communitie
Click here to read the whole article; here is an excerpt from the tenth idea:
The collapse of the global economy and all the institutions connected with it will force people to make do with local resources. If they approach this task with the same mindset that has created the unsustainable global economy and the overshoot of the earth’s resources, the future for humanity is very bleak indeed. This paper is written to encourage an alternative. Humanity will have the opportunity to construct local communities.
A community is not automatically generated by people living in close proximity. Most suburban neighborhoods today are not communities. A community gives identity to its inhabitants. That is, I identify myself as a “Pilgrim” because my participation in the life of my retirement institution, Pilgrim Place, is part of who I now am. It is a community in which I participate. Pilgrim Place is a community because participation in it means sharing in concern for the well being of other Pilgrims and taking some responsibility for the whole. We work all year to raise money for those whose funds are exhausted. We are committed to preventing anyone from having to leave because of financial problems.
When nation states arose, they intended to be communities. Their citizens identified themselves in large part by their nationality. They expected the nation as a whole to take some responsibility for the welfare of all its citizens and were willing to make some contribution to enabling the nation to do so.
The organization of Europe in terms of nation states was part of the rise of modernity. It weakened local communities and communities based on religious identity for the sake of strengthening the national community. Nevertheless, much of the economy remained local, and local community remained strong. The industrial revolution greatly weakened local economies and increased mobility within the nation. Local communities lost much of their importance and often ceased to function as communities. This whole process was strengthened by the individualism that was encouraged by Enlightenment thinking.
This individualism has now been turned against the national community as well. The economic elite no longer identify themselves particularly as American. If they belong to any community, it is a transnational one of wealth and power....
The now developing global crisis can lead to fresh reflection that will make people aware of the importance of community. If it does so, this will express itself most clearly at the local level. Confronted by acute shared problems, we may hope that people will agree that they need to work together for their solution and to build a new life...more
If you like this article you might also enjoy:
The Milky Way: Journey of the Universe and Process Thinking (also in Chinese)
Theology of Gardening
Savoring, by Patricia Adams Farmer
Replanting Yourself in Beauty, by Patricia Adams Farmer
The Numinosity of Rocks, by Patricia Adams Farmer
Nature is My Bible, by Stephen Hatch
The Challenge of Hyper-Individualism, by Stephen Hatch
Turtles and Whales, by Rabbi Bradley Artson
Trust in Beauty, featuring time-lapse photography by Louis Schwartzerg