Monday, April 28, 2008

Sustainable Wealth Creation - within environmental limits

Downloadable ebook (16 pages)

Leading companies and public sector organisations now see sustainability concerns as a key source of both risk and opportunity, but many are not sure how best to respond. This report offers a six-step plan for sustainable success.

At its heart is The Natural Step (TNS) Framework, a unique, science-based approach to sustainable development, which combines a rigorous understanding of natural systems with practical management techniques. The TNS Framework has been used by leading brands and public sector organisations around the world.

Wealth creation within environmental limits also shows how social concerns and environmental limits can be addressed in the same framework.

The report was sponsored by Defra, as part of the ‘Sustainable Development Dialogues’, which took place following the 2002 World Summit on Sustainable Development.

Download now: Sustainable wealth creation within environmental limits

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Building a Low Carbon World

Web Seminar - 2007

Video streams, each containing content from this year's Building a Low Carbon World conference which was held at the Royal Geographical Society in London. Together these video segments form a complete record of the event and its outcomes, including the results of the interactive voting sessions which were degned to provide a "roadmap" for action in the industry.

Design for Abundance in a World of Constraints - Bill McDonough

Bill McDonough speaks about his Cradle to Cradle philosophy and design practice. This vision of the hopeful, positive, and inspiring possibilities of an environmentally and economically intelligent future by design draws inspiration from the astonishing effectiveness of natural systems. Cradle to Cradle Design as opposed to ³cradle-to-grave² offers a new paradigm for human activity that creates a sustaining relationship with the natural world by emulating living systems are effective, cyclical, synergetic, and regenerative.

Google goes Solar - Robyn Beavers

Google are completely committed to corporate sustainability. Their strategy and practical implementation of this ethos is an example to all responsible corporations.

In 2006, Google announced it's plan to install 1.6 MW of photovoltaic solar panels at it's Mountain View headquarters campus. Robyn describes the reasoning behind Google's decision to implement the project. She also describes the benefits resulting from the effort, including financial payback.

London's plan for tackling climate change - Ken Livingstone

The Mayor recently launched his London Climate Change Action Plan - the first comprehensive plan of any major city on how it will cut carbon emissions. He argues that Londoners don't have to reduce their quality of life to tackle climate change, but we do need to change the way we live. Reducing carbon change is about improving efficiency and we need to move from a high energy usage, high waste economy, to one that conserves energy - and puts money back into people's pockets in the process.

Why a Developer should help Save the Planet - Adrian Wyatt

Case studies on UK’s first zero carbon projects and how emerging technologies can be applied to work in harmony with nature.

Energy efficiency in Buildings - David Symons

Creating energy efficiency in the built and urbanised environment is the responsibility of all - Planner, Architect, Developer and Occupier.

Debate - Low Carbon Priorities for the Built Environment

This debate examines how the industry as a whole should start to plan and implement reduction in Carbon emmissions and the roles each sector of the industry will take.

Accounting for the Environment - Lord Michael Hastings

Fact or marketing fiction? Can sustainability accounting methodologies for both property owners and tenants deliver meaningful reductions in carbon emissions.

Debate - Integrating Sustainability into the Investment Process

Achieving the needs and returns for investors is key to reaching a truly sustainable development strategy. This Debate explores the different needs of investors and how to ratify the needs of all parties in the development process.

The Role of the Occupier - Stuart Rose

A tenant case study:
What is Marks & Spencer doing to make its new stores and current portfolio more energy efficient as part of Plan A, its eco-plan? What are the benefits of energy efficient buildings for occupiers and how can they co-operate in managing them efficiently?

Debate - Joined up thinking for the Built Environment

It is the responsibility of the each entity and individual involved in the development cycle to ensure that Carbon emissions are minimised. This debate examines the role of each party at each stage of the development cycle.

Planet Earth - Jean Paul Jeanrenaud

A candid analysis by Jean Paul Jeanrenaud, Head of Business and Industry - WWF International, of the current precarious stability of our climate and the ecosystems it supports. The presentation focuses on the danger we face and the need to react immediately to climate change if we are to be confident of leaving any positive legacy for future generations.

Interactive Survey

A review of the interactive survey conducted amongst the 600 attendees at the event.


A review of the day's proceedings and outcomes by James Naughtie.

Making the Commitment - Adrian Wyatt

A call to action in the industry.

Response from the entertainment industry - Harvey Goldsmith


Our addiction to oil is not inevitable. We can all take steps to kick the habit:

Link source:

What you can do:

1. Walk, cycle, take public transport or consider a car-pool whenever possible.

2. Reduce your travel by air.

3. If you need a car, buy the most fuel-efficient (currently Toyota’s Prius and Honda’s Insight – both hybrid cars that use petrol and electricity) or one that runs on bio-diesel or natural gas.

4. Service your car regularly – keeping the engine tuned and your car tyres at the maximum recommended air pressure saves petrol.

5. Live as close to work as possible.

6. Shop locally rather than in out-of-town superstores.

7. Buy regionally and seasonally produced organic food whenever possible.

8. Switch your investments away from fossil fuel to renewable energy companies, or exercise your right as a shareholder to pressure energy companies to make the transition to renewables.

9. Boycott the products of companies like Esso that are obstructing the transition to renewables.

What the government can do:

10. Lobby your political representatives to press them to act, and vote accordingly.

11. Accept a target of phasing out oil & gas use within 50 years.

12. Discontinue all direct and indirect subsidies to the oil & gas industry.

13. Refuse licenses for the exploration and development of new oil & gas reserves.

14. Provide investment, grants, and tax breaks for the development and purchase of clean renewable alternatives to oil and for energy efficient vehicles.

15. Increase investment in public transport.

16. Pedestrianise city centres and introduce congestion charges in cities.

17. Require car makers to ensure an escalating proportion of their vehicle fleet sales consists of petrol-free vehicles.

18. Increase minimum energy efficiency standards for vehicles.

19. Change tariff policies on imports to support the local consumption of goods (particularly food) that have been produced locally.

What businesses can do:

20. Phase out subsidies to industrial food production, which is petrol-intensive, and support conversion to organic methods instead.

21. Oil & gas companies should commit to converting themselves into renewable energy companies, and redirect their investments accordingly.

22. Car makers should commit to mass-manufacture cars now that run on hydrogen fuel cells or other renewable fuels, and that use lighter materials.

23. Companies should convert their truck and car fleets to the lowest petrol-consuming vehicles available.

24. Companies should provide incentives for employees to leave their cars at home and use public transport instead, reduce air travel, and promote telecommuting.

25. Companies should site their offices close to public transportation.

26. Retailers should adopt a purchasing policy that provides preference to goods from short supply routes and regional markets.

27. Companies should shift freight out of trucks and onto rail and waterways.

28. Farmers should convert from industrial to organic farming methods.

29. The plastics & packaging industries should replace their use of oil with corn, soybean, potato starch or limestone derivatives.

30. The clothing industry should use vegetable starch and natural fibres, such as wool and cotton, instead of oil derivatives in their products.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

8 Ways to Green Your Technology

Technology is a HUGE part of our daily lives. We carry around cell phones and media players, work all day on a computer and come home to watch television.

But electronic devices make up 70 percent of the toxic waste in our landfills. Here’s eight ways to make sure your need for information doesn’t compromise the environment.

1. E-cycle

Keep your electronics out of landfills at all cost. If they still work, donate them to a second-hand store for reuse. If not, use Earth 911’s recycling locator to find a place to recycle them. It could be a community event, a retail store or even a manufacturer take back program. All of these are better than your trash can.

2. Provide a Second Life for Electronics

Recycling electronics is important, but only if they no longer work. Consider options that will reuse this technology again and keep it out of the waste stream.

  • Trade in video games and movies for credit at stores that sell these items
  • Donate your televisions and computer monitors to Goodwill; you can find second-hand store locations using Earth 911’s recycling locator
  • Offer your old cell phone to a service provider so it can be refurbished

3. Reach for the Energy Stars

Electronics use up a lot of energy. ENERGY STAR products can cut energy use by 50 percent. If you’re shopping for new electronics, check for an ENERGY STAR label. This covers computers and monitors, televisions and even battery chargers.

Some other energy-related notes for when you’re purchasing:

  • Notebook computers use less energy than desktops
  • LCD TVs use less energy than plasma TVs

4. Use Rechargeable Batteries

You already charge batteries for cell phones and laptops. So why are you buying disposable AA and AAA batteries for other products? Rechargeable batteries last up to three years longer, and are accepted by more recyclers than other batteries.

5. Power Down Inactive Electronics

Why keep your TV on when no one is in the room? Booting up a computer may take a few minutes, but at the very least turn off the monitor when it’s not used. Also, unplug chargers that aren’t in use. They still use energy even if they aren’t charging anything.

6. Lay Off the Heavy Metal

Deep inside our electronic devices lie potentially hazardous materials like lead and mercury. These metals are not only a health hazard to you, but make proper disposal of electronics a necessity for the environment. Manufacturers are beginning to respond to this by producing devices with less/no hazardous materials, so look for these in the future.

7. Be Responsible With Packaging

Electronics are fragile, so they come with lots of packaging. Whether it’s cardboard boxes, Styrofoam or plastic bags, all this material should be recycled. Cardboard can be recycled with your paper, and all plastic should have a number on it (e.g. Styrofoam is #6) used for recycling. Use Earth 911’s recycling locator to find out where you can recycle all your packaging.

8. Spring for the Warranty

Warranties allow for your electronics to be fixed instead of replaced, meaning they stay out of the waste stream. They also encourage you to keep products for longer, which is better for the environment.

If you are looking for new electronics, consider an upgrade instead of a new purchase.

  • Use the same case for your computer, with a new motherboard and more RAM
  • Get a digital converter to modernize the picture of your analog TV

This story is part of Earth 911’s “Green Eight” series, where we showcase eight ways to green your life in various areas. Click here to see Earth 911’s “Green Eight” archive.

Earth Day 2058: A Vision

From: Tensie Whelan, Rainforest Alliance

Here is an educated guess at what the world might look like by Earth Day 2058 -- not a prediction or a warning, but more of a natural extension of current trends, some of them hopeful ones:

The hot job is that of sustainable design engineer. In 2058, all products, processes, services, packaging have to be designed to sustainable standards —minimal use of water in production, manufacturing and export, minimal use of petrochemicals due to limited availability and high price, minimal use of energy inputs, and so on.

The myriad products that were once made from petrochemicals, including formerly omnipresent plastics, are being phased out. The focus is on products made from renewable resources that can be used for longer periods and recycled. This gives rise to a very lucrative market in reclaimed plastic scavenged from garbage dumps, ocean beaches and elsewhere, and recycled into essential products.

The so-called Green Revolution that produced big agricultural yields through chemical-intensive farming has now unraveled, propped up as it was by unsustainable inputs of water and and petrochemical fertilizers. The focus is now on genetics, but no one knows if humankind has opened yet another Pandora's box.

Water shortages are causing local and national conflicts, some escalating into war. All uses of water not essential for survival are now heavily curtailed. Naturally arid lands that had once been transformed by irrigation into productive farmland now lay fallow.

Farmers are learning how to farm in ways that protect water sources and wildlife, guard against soil erosion and find productivity in better treatment of labor as well as more efficient practices. Technological and chemical inputs are extremely expensive, so heavily mechanized farms are the exception, and many people are returning to farm jobs, which by law provide excellent wages and safe working conditions.

While some very large farms still exist, smaller farms are well organized into networking groups whose members exchange best practices and work on finding markets together.

In the developing world, population growth has slowed because the land simply can not support huge increases in human population, a fact that has become so apparent that people have responded wisely. Meanwhile, in some industrializing countries, massive pollution and destruction of natural resources as a result of rapid growth has caused massive social upheavals.

In response to this havoc, people in the middle and upper classes across the globe, have shifted their outlook and practices away from HAVing more, in favor of BEing more. As a result, service economies are booming. The popular businesses are training schools, trip organizers, retreats, spas, cooking classes and so on. Nearly everyone has a volunteer job in addition to their salaried employment.

The patterns of urbanization and suburbization are shifting. Cities are greener -- urban infrastructure now includes roof gardens, more energy efficient technologies, better waste management and extensive mass transport systems, both intercity and intracity. Suburbs have become part of the cities and exurbs have become depopulated due unacceptable travel time to jobs and the high cost of fuel for cars.

Climate change has forced tough choices on individuals, nations and the global community. Oceans are rising, trees are dying, insect infestations are common, species are shifting their ranges—life is in flux. Mapping and climate scenario technologies allow us to plan some of our future, but the rapid rate of change is creating severe hardship for many. The most adaptable wild species are able to respond to these changes, but conservationists are laboring to better protect the most vulnerable plants and animals, a response strongly supported by a public that has come to understand the link between healthy ecosystems and their own well being.

The nation-state continues to evolve as borders and cultures become more porous. The United Nations has evolved into a multistakeholder group of governments. Civil society and the private sector have created an international council that tackles global problems with a combination of research, policy and implementation mechanisms.

Bright, committed young people who previously avoided government service now view it as an opportunity to have an impact. A new, talented and committed generation of stateswomen and statesmen emerge.

Life is difficult but the human spirit prevails as we nurture the spirit of the planet, allowing us to survive and evolve together.

Tensie Whelan is the president of the Rainforest Alliance,

Urban Development Conference

February 29, 2008

Untangling the Web of Urban Development: The Challenges and Opportunities of Mixed-Use Projects


Untangling the Web of Urban Development

"Live here, work here, play here" say developers promoting urban mixed-use projects. But in reality, putting these projects together presents new legal, land use, financing and environmental challenges for which many lawyers and related professionals are unprepared -- especially in urban areas where they are most needed for core revitalization. This seminar will feature many of the best known practitioners in the mixed-use area to help prepare the region's lawyers to better handle the challenges of mounting these projects in urban settings.

Audio Podcast



8:00am- 8:30am

Registration and Continental Breakfast

8:30am - 8:45am - listen

Welcome Remarks
Steven J. Kaminshine, Dean
Georgia State University
College of Law

Colin Crawford, Associate Professor of Law and Co-Director
Center for the Comparative Study of Metropolitan Growth

8:45am - 9:00am - listen

Urban Development – Due Diligence and the Added Costs of Developing Today
Patti Pearlberg - Coro Realty Advisors, LLC

9:00am - 10:15am

Entitlement – Winding Through the Approval Process for Mixed Use Developments
• Mixed use zoning–what does it mean?
• Infrastructure requirements
• Design issues Master Planning
• Growth Management strategies
Laurel David - Dillard & Galloway, LLC
David Green - Lord, Aeck & Sargent Architecture
Julian Juergensmeyer, Professor of Law and Co-Director, Center for the Comparative Study of Metropolitan Growth
Carl Westmoreland - Seyfarth Shaw, LLP

10:15am - 10:30am

Break sponsored by Coro Realty Advisors, LLC

10:30am - 12:00pm - listen

Structuring the Mixed Use Development
Linda Curry - Weissman, Nowack, Curry & Wilco
Clay Howell - King & Spalding, LLP
Abe Schear - Arnall, Golden & Gregory

12:00pm - 1:15pm - listen

Equitable Development (1 ethics hour)

Carlton Eley - U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

1:15pm - 2:45pm - listen

Project Financing
• Construction financing for infrastructure
• Bonding issues and alternative financing methods, TAD, TIF
• Permanent debt – separate loans or master loans
Moderator Basil Mattingly - Associate Professor of Law, Georgia State University College of Law
Janice Griffith - Professor of Law Georgia State University College of Law
Mike Rodgers - Seyfarth Shaw, LLP

2:45pm - 3:00pm

Break sponsored by Kazmarek, Geiger and Laseter LLP

3:00pm - 3:45pm - listen

Environmental Considerations
• Pitfalls of urban sites
• Brownfield development
• Building "green”
Moderator Colin Crawford - Associate Professor of Law and Co-Director, Center for the Comparative Study of Metropolitan Growth
Skip Kazmarek - Kazmarek Geiger & Laseter, LLP
Scott Laseter - Kazmarek Geiger & Laseter, LLP
Carol Geiger - Kazmarek Geiger & Laseter, LLP
H. Lee Walker - Alston & Bird, LLP

3:45pm - 4:30pm - listen

Construction Contracts
• Contract considerations in densely populated areas
• Considerations in a mixed use environment with multiple contractors
• Warranties
Jeffrey A. Belkin - Alston & Bird, LLP
Jeff Plowman - Weissman, Nowack, Curry & Wilco

4:30pm - 5:00pm

Closing Remarks
Patti Pearlberg, Esq.

David Suzuki - Climate Solutions

Greenhouse gas emissions can be greatly reduced many different ways. Most of the solutions involve increasing the efficiency of our energy use to reduce fossil fuel demand, while maintaining - or improving - our lifestyles.

Many of the potential solutions have benefits beyond greenhouse gas reduction, such as increased employment, stimulation of the high-tech manufacturing sector, and reduced urban air pollution.

A combination of public interest and government sponsored programs can make these solutions a reality.

Industry: Industry can reduce emissions in flexible, cost-effective ways that reduce waste and enhance long-term profits.
Transportation: A reduction in automobile use, improved fuel efficiency standards, and better public transit would reduce greenhouse gas emissions as well as urban air pollution.
Urban Planning: Learn about the benefits of sustainable urban design, and how you can stop sprawl in your community.
Buildings: Effective building retrofits increase energy efficiency, save consumers money on heating and electricity bills, and are available today.
Green Leaders: Some businesses and municipalities realize the sound economics of climate solutions and have embraced innovation.

Learn More:

Energy: Learn more about clean, renewable energy, as well as conservation and efficiency.

What You Can Do: Simple changes in our everyday lives can make a big difference.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Save the world


1. Plant a tree in your yard or start a garden. Plants and trees help clean the air, are visual expressions of nature's beauty, and uplift us. Even something as simple as growing herbs in a garden can provide nourishment and delicious meals for the family.

2. Simply stop using pesticides on your lawn. Pesticides contribute to the pollution of the Earth and poison our water supply, endanger human health, and sicken wildlife. There are many effective, natural alternatives available, or even simpler, allow nature to take over the growing of your lawn, creating food for bees, birds and animals.

3. Support a local, organic farmer or CSA. Some farmers require your active participation, some deliver to urban areas. The food is nutritious and delicious, and uses less of our non-renewable resources.

4. Buy organic. Look for – and ask for - organic produce wherever you buy your groceries, or even better, shop at your local health food store which carries only organic produce. Buying organic reduces pesticide exposure to the land, farmers, harvesters, and your family.

5. Spend time in nature. Taking a walk, having a picnic, or simply sitting outdoors and watching the sky, deepens our connection to the natural world , thereby motivating us to be better stewards of the Earth.

6. Buy energy-saving, compact-fluorescent light bulbs and other energy efficient products. When your next bulb goes out, replace it with a compact fluorescent light bulb. They last 10 times as long, and over their lifetime, use 1/4 the energy of an incandescent bulb, saving you $30-$40 on your electric bill. When replacing major appliances purchase energy efficient ones - look for the government's EnergyStar label.

7. Recycle. The old adage “reduce, reuse, recycle” still works very well today. Many large waste disposal companies have an at-your-curb recycling program. Check your own local disposal company.

8. Shop Green. Be a consumer that uses your dollars to support companies and products that are better for the Earth. By simply clicking to ( you will find a directory that features hundreds of companies that offer everything from organic and hemp clothing to non-toxic cleaners and solar energy products.

9. Join or make a donation to any organization that supports the environment. There are numerous worthy organizations that work hard for the Earth and are in need of our support. If the aforementioned tasks seem to require too much effort or time, simply write a check to those who have integrity regarding the Earth and make a meaningful contribution to the Earth’s health.

10. Create good thoughts. As Franklin Delano Roosevelt said, “All we have to fear is fear itself.” By creating the awareness that we can heal the Earth - that it is not too late, we combat the paralysis that fear often produces. So if all you can do on this Earth Day is think one good thought about the Earth, you will have contributed to a changing of the fear-based mentality.

Since its launch in November 1994, the EcoMall has provided educational articles, a comprehensive selection of environmental companies, products and services, exclusive interviews with celebrities and more. The EcoMall offers a voice to America's sustainable business industry, featuring over 300 retailers and wholesalers in over 70 shopping categories, links to government education, non-profit groups, environmental news, activism alerts, as well as the EcoMall’s popular “Green Living Magazine”.

Friday, April 18, 2008


Walking away from Empire
Living Community into being

A PCDF Web Essay

by David C. Korten

Part I: Introduction

The great work of humanity at this historic moment is to negotiate a transition from an Era of Empire to an Era of Community. Economic transformation from a global suicide economy to a planetary system of living economies is an essential centerpiece of this transition.

Part II: Corporate Pathology and the Suicide Economy

The publicly traded, limited liability corporation is the defining institution of a suicide economy driven to destroy life to make money for those who have money. It is by design an institution of domination and the champion of a materialistic consumer culture that has no evident place in healthy societies.

Part III: Natural Succession and the Step to Maturity

Living systems are self-organizing, emergent, and predominantly cooperative. Transformative change in ecosystems commonly occurs through processes of succession and displacement that offer important insights into the processes of economic transformation toward the healthy, mature societies of the future.

Part IV: Awakening Consciousness and the Human Possible

Humanity is experiencing a deep awakening of cultural and spiritual consciousness that opens the way to a conscious recreation of human culture and institutions. This awakening opens the way to human possibilities that the culture and institutions of Empire have long denied.

Part V: Mature Communities and Living Economies

The step to the cultural and institutional maturity of an Era of Community has become a human imperative. The living economies of the new era will be comprised of life serving living enterprises that function as communities of people engaged in the creation of meaningful livelihoods.

Part VI: Living the Future into Being

Millions of life serving, community rooted for profit enterprises, nonprofit organizations, and public programs already exist as potential building blocks of living economies. Many are reaching out to one another, growing into being the webs of relationships of emergent living economies. This is a key to transformational change.

NEXT: Introduction

See also The Path to Living Economies
A collaborative working document of the Social Ventures Network

Economies For Life

by David Korten

Enron. Accounting fraud. Mad cows. Wal-Mart. Monopoly. Political corruption. WTO. Disintegrating schools. Downsizing. WorldCom. Tax havens. Cancer. Hostile takeovers. Channel One. Harken Energy. Climate change. Corporate welfare. Temp workers. Economic refugees. Arthur Andersen. Hidden partnerships. Billionaires. Money laundering. Citibank. Financial bubbles. Prison crowding. Insider trading. Infomercials. Halliburton. Price gouging. GMOs. Terrorism. Malnutrition. Monsanto. Uninsured workers. Nike. Sweatshops. Maquiladoras. Trade wars. Homelessness.

Welcome to the world of the suicide economy.

The language of economic dysfunction has become so common that when I use the term “the global suicide economy” in my talks, I rarely need to elaborate. Most people are now aware that rule by global corporations and financial speculators engaged in the single-minded pursuit of money is destroying communities, cultures, and natural systems everywhere on the planet. Until recently, however, most people responded with polite but resigned skepticism to my message that economic transformation is possible.

Now, with the revelations of high-profile corporate fraud and corruption, I sense a dramatic change. While the political power brokers talk of new rules and penalties to restore confidence in financial markets, members of religious orders and congregations, community groups, city officials, business people, and young activists are talking about the possibility of far greater changes—of creating truly new economies. They speak of real wealth as a sense of belonging, contribution, beauty, joy, relationship, and spiritual connection. They share their dreams of a world of locally rooted living economies that meet the material needs of all people everywhere, while providing meaning, building community, and connecting us to a place on the Earth.

Many are acting to make their dreams a reality. In late 2001, the Social Ventures Network, an alliance of socially committed entrepreneurs, responded to this upsurge in civic innovation by launching a new nationwide initiative—the Business Alliance for Local Living Economies—to encourage, strengthen, and facilitate the interlinking of these initiatives with the aim of creating a cohesive national movement. (

The suicide economy is a product of human choices motivated by a love of money. It is within our means to make different choices motivated by a love of life. We have created a suicide economy based on absentee ownership, monopoly, and the concentration of power delinked from obligations to people or place. Now we must create living economies based on locally rooted ownership and deeply held American ideals of equity, democracy, markets, and personal responsibility.

In the place of a suicide economy devoted to maximizing returns to money, we can create living economies devoted to meeting the basic needs of people. In the place of a suicide economy in which the powerful reap the profits and the rest bear the cost, we can create a system of living economies in which decisions are made by those who will bear the consequences.

In the place of the suicide economy's global trading system designed to allow the wealthy few to control the resources and dominate the markets of the many, we can create living economy trade through which each community exchanges those things it produces in surplus for those it cannot reasonably produce at home on terms that support living wage jobs and high environmental standards everywhere.

Under a system of relatively self-reliant local living economies, communities and nations will not find themselves pitted against one another for jobs, markets, and resources. In the absence of such competition, the free sharing of information, knowledge, and technology will become natural, to the mutual benefit of all.

Locally owned, human-scale enterprises
Living economies are made up of human-scale enterprises locally owned by people who have a direct stake in the many impacts associated with the enterprise. A firm owned by workers, community members, customers, and/or suppliers who directly bear the consequences of its actions is more likely to provide:
• Employees with safe, meaningful, family-wage jobs.
• Customers with useful, safe, high-quality products.
• Suppliers with steady markets and fair dealing.
• Communities with a healthy social and natural environment.

One of my favorite prototypes of a living economy enterprise is Philadelphia's White Dog Cafe. (See YES! Spring 2001.) Founder, owner, and proprietor Judy Wicks buys most of her food from local organic farmers, serves only meat from humanely raised animals, pays her workers a living wage, devotes 10 percent of profits to local charity, and has mobilized other Philadelphia restaurants to join in rebuilding the local food production and distribution system. Wicks is also former board chair of the Social Ventures Network and a founder of the newly formed Business Alliance for Local Living Economies.

Living economy enterprises may be organized as partnerships; individual- or family-owned businesses; consumer- or producer-owned cooperatives; community corporations; or companies privately owned by
workers, other community members, or social investors. They may be for-profit or nonprofit.
There is no place in living economies, however, for publicly traded, limited liability corporations, the
organizational centerpiece of the suicide economy. This corporate form is legally structured to allow virtually unlimited concentration of power to the exclusive financial benefit of absentee shareholders who have no knowledge of, or liability for, the social and environmental consequences of the actions taken on their behalf. It is a legally sanctioned invitation to benefit from behavior that otherwise would be considered sociopathic—even criminal.

Life-serving rules
In the suicide economy, the success of an enterprise is measured by the financial return to its investors. The corporate media cheer when stock prices rise, increasing investor wealth, but sound the alarm when wages rise. Information on the price of a corporation's stock is available on a minute-by-minute basis, but information on its social and environmental impacts is rarely disclosed.

Rule-making in the suicide economy focuses on enforcing contracts, providing incentives for investors, and protecting the rights of property owners. Government intervention to protect workers, the environment, and consumers is denounced by corporate elites as an infringement of market freedom. Trade agreements like NAFTA and institutions like the World Trade Organization open countries to unbridled competition for investment and jobs that creates a race to the bottom in terms of labor, health, social, and environmental standards.

When Mr. Bush spoke to Wall Street bankers on July 9 on the subject of corporate accountability, his remarks centered on restoring investor confidence by increasing financial integrity and transparency. He made no mention of corporate accountability to workers, communities, the environment, or any other larger public interest. Follow closely the policy debates between Republicans and Democrats on financial fraud, and you will find they center on the competing private financial interests of managers and shareholders—with Republicans generally favoring the corporate managers and Democrats favoring the Wall Street financiers.

The primary purpose of a true market economy, however, is not to make money for the rich and powerful. When Adam Smith conceptualized the idea of the market economy in his classic The Wealth of Nations, he had in mind economies that allocate human and material resources justly and sustainably to meet the self-defined needs of people and community.

In order to allocate justly and sustainably, a market economy requires enforceable rules. Because markets respond only to the needs of those with money to pay, there must be rules to assure an equitable distribution of income. Because markets respond to prices, a just and sustainable allocation of resources depends on public regulation and user fees to assure that market prices internalize the true cost of a product or service—including the social and environmental costs otherwise borne by the public. Public oversight is also needed to assure that common heritage resources essential to the survival and well-being of all—like land and water—are protected and equitably shared.

When enterprises are locally rooted, human-scale, owned by stakeholders, and held accountable to the rule of law by democratically elected governments, there is a natural incentive for all concerned to take human and community needs and interests into account. When income and ownership are equitably distributed, justice is served and political democracy is strong. When workers are owners, the conflict between labor and capital disappears. When needs are met locally by locally owned enterprises, people have greater control over their lives, money is recycled in the community rather than leaking off into the global financial casino, jobs are more secure, economies are more stable, and there are the means and the incentives to protect the environment and to build the relationships of mutual trust and responsibility that are the foundation of community.

Quality of life
Our quality of life would be stunningly different if we based economic decisions on life values rather than purely financial values—a natural choice if owners had to live with the non-financial consequences of their decisions.

Full-cost pricing of energy, materials, and land use could expose the real inefficiencies of factory farming, conventional construction, and urban sprawl and make life-serving alternatives comparatively cost-effective. Much of our food could be grown fresh on local family farms without toxic chemicals, and processed nearby. Organic wastes could be composted and recycled back into the soil. Environmentally efficient buildings designed for their specific micro environment and constructed of local materials could radically reduce energy consumption. Much of our remaining energy needs could be supplied locally from wind and solar sources. Local wastes could be recycled to provide materials and energy for other local businesses.

Compact communities could bring work, shopping, and recreation nearer to our residences—thus saving energy and commuting time, reducing CO2 emissions and dependence on imported oil, and freeing time for family and community activities. Land now devoted to roads and parking could be converted to bike lanes, trails, and parks.

By reducing waste and unnecessary use of energy and other resources, we in America could reduce our need to expropriate the resources of other countries. We could quit allocating a major portion of our
national treasure to the large military required to secure our access to those resources. The world's poor would regain access to the resources that are rightfully theirs to improve their own lives—and the threat of terrorism would be greatly reduced. The elimination of global corporations with their massive overhead, inflated executive compensation packages, and myopic focus on short-term profits would free still more resources. Together these savings could provide workers with family wages and finance first-rate education, health care, and community services for all.

We would expect to see the effects of living economy institutions ripple out across the social landscape. With ample living wage jobs, educational opportunities, and essential services, crime rates would drop, and prison and other criminal justice costs would fall.

An economy that responds to rather than creates demand diverts fewer resources to advertising. Fewer ads mean less visual pollution and wasteful consumerism, an improved sense of self-worth, and still more resources freed up to be converted into shorter work weeks and more leisure time. We would work less and live more. Our lives would be freer and richer. Our environment would be cleaner and healthier. A world no longer divided between obscenely rich and desperately poor would know more peace and less violence, more love and less hate, more hope and less fear. The Earth could heal and provide a home for our children for generations to come.

Awakening majority
The ideal of a living economy might seem an impossible dream, except for the fact that so many of its
elements are already in place. There are millions of for- and not-for-profit enterprises and public initiatives around the world aligned with the values and organizational principles of living economies. They include local independent businesses of all sorts from bookstores to bakeries, land trusts, local organic farms, farmers' markets, community-supported agriculture initiatives, restaurants specializing in locally grown organic produce, community banks, local currencies, buy-local campaigns, suppliers of fair-traded coffee, independent media, and many more. Indeed, independent, human-scale businesses are by far the majority of all businesses, provide most jobs, create nearly all new jobs, and are the source of most innovation.

It is clear that living economies are a viable alternative to the suicide economy. Nonetheless, the suicide economy continues to dominate our economic, political, social, and cultural lives. So how do we get from a few million living enterprises that are struggling to survive at the fringes of the global suicide economy to a healthy planetary system of thriving living economies? The answer is, “We grow it into being.”

No one planned the suicide economy. It is what organizational consultant Margaret Wheatley calls an “emergent system.” Those responsible for corporate interests grew it into being through their day-to-day effort to increase profits and market share. Step by step over the last several hundred years, they reshaped politics, the legal system, and modern culture to create the interlocking systems of interests and mutual obligations of what has become a suicide economy.

The complex, self-reinforcing dynamics of an emergent system make it virtually impossible to transform from within. Those who attempt to do so are almost invariably marginalized or expelled. When environmental writer Carl Frankel set out to write the book In Earth's Company on corporate environmentalism, he looked for true environmental champions within the corporate world. He found three. By the time his book was published, all three had been fired.

An emergent system that no longer serves can be displaced only by a more powerful emergent system. According to Wheatley, “This means that the work of change is to start over, to organize new local efforts, connect them to each other, and know that their values and practices can emerge as something even stronger.”

This insight is critical to the work ahead. The most promising approach to ridding our societies of the pathological culture and institutions of the suicide economy is to displace them—an idea that at first seems hopelessly naive. Consider, however, that the institutions of the suicide economy are animated by our life energy. They have only the power that we each yield to them. Each time we choose where we shop, work, and invest, we can redirect our life energy from the suicide economy to the emergent living economy.

Choosing living economy enterprises may appear more expensive. Organic produce may cost more than non-organic; a bar of soap may cost more at a local store than at a big chain. That greater expense disappears, however, when we factor in such benefits of the living economy as improved health, caring communities, shorter commutes, meaningful work, cleaner air and water, free time, economic security, and hope for our children's future. Employment in a smaller enterprise may pay less, but be more secure.

When top mutual funds were returning 20 to 50 percent a year, putting money in a community bank that pays 4 or 5 percent seemed an expensive choice. In a period of market decline, however, an insured CD with a community bank that makes loans to local businesses begins to look like a smart, as well as ethical, choice.

Making it happen
Those interested in helping to grow a living economy in their own community might start with a few simple questions. What do local people and businesses regularly buy that is or could be supplied locally by socially and environmentally responsible independent enterprises? Which existing local businesses are trying to practice living economy values? In what sectors are they clustered? Are there collaborative efforts aligned with living economy values already underway? The answers will point to promising opportunities.

Food is often a logical place to start. Everyone needs and cares about food, and food can be grown almost everywhere, is freshest and most wholesome when local, and is our most intimate connection to the land. In many communities, a farmers' market or a restaurant serving locally produced organic foods provides a focal point for organizing. In some communities, clusters of businesses devoted to energy conservation, environmental construction, and the local production of solar, wind, and mini-hydro power are forming
living economy webs devoted to advancing local energy independence.

Many groups are working to create the financial infrastructure for living economies. Some are creating interest-free local currencies that encourage and facilitate transactions among local people and enterprises. Others are establishing community banks dedicated to financing local enterprises. The ShoreBank is one of my favorite examples of a living-economy financial institution. The bank is privately owned by a number of individual investors, foundations, and nonprofit organizations dedicated to its social and environmental mission. It finances enterprises and projects that provide jobs, contribute to environmental health, upgrade low- and moderate-income rental housing units, create affordable home ownership opportunities, and develop and staff day-care centers and job-training programs. (See “A Founder of the Next Economy,” YES! Fall 1999.)

A number of groups are developing a “fair trade” infrastructure that seeks to improve the conditions of low-income producers of coffee, handicrafts, and other goods. Still others are mobilizing political action to eliminate public subsidies, tax rebates, sweetheart contracts, regulatory exemptions, and giveaways of public resources on which the profits of otherwise inefficient corporate monoliths often depend, and to put in place new rules that favor local independent businesses, stakeholder ownership, living-wage employers, and environmental responsibility. (See the “New Rules Project” of the Institute for Local Self-Reliance,

Countless local living-economy initiatives are being launched all across America and around the world, including some by former corporate employees who have chosen to walk away from the suicide economy to start new businesses aligned with their values. The greater the number and diversity of such initiatives, the more rapidly the web of an emergent planetary system of local living economies can grow, and the more readily each of us can redirect our life energy toward living economies in our shopping, employment, and investment choices.

Corporate scandals, a faltering economy, and stock- market declines have dealt a serious blow to the legitimacy of the suicide economy and the big corporations that dominate our lives. Thousands of people are already spreading the message that there is a life-serving alternative that we can grow into being. As suggested by the case examples from Appalachia and Argentina presented in this issue of YES!, living economy initiatives flourish most readily under the conditions of economic adversity that dramatically expose the suicide economy's false promises of instant, effortless wealth. The United States may be entering such a period. While the ruling elites occupy themselves with seeking to restore faith in the pathological institutions on which their power and privilege were built, the rest of us can embrace this moment of economic failure as an historic opportunity. Through our individual and collective choices, we can grow into being the economic institutions, relationships, and culture of a just, sustainable, and compassionate world of living economies that work for all.

Dr. David C. Korten is the author of When Corporations Rule the Worldand The Post-Corporate World: Life after Capitalism; board chair of the Positive Futures Network; president of the People-Centered Development Forum; and a visionary-advisor member of Social Ventures Network. For more on living economies visit

Garden of Simplicity

by Duane Elgin
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Simplicity is the new mantra for the overworked, over-stressed, and over-cluttered, and for those who want to lighten their impact on the Earth. The author of the classic book on voluntary simplicity says the ways to simplicity are many ...

In the midst of our nation's sensational economic boom, a quiet and quite unexpected revolution in simple living is steadily transforming our society. Slowly but surely and ever-growing number of people are consciously rejecting the traditional trappings of affluence. they are choosing instead to live well within their means, achieving a life that is inwardly rich, not outwardly showy.

There are many ways people are orienting their lives around this yearning for simplicity. Here are some of the diverse approaches that I see thriving in this garden of simplicity.

Choiceful Simplicity- Simplicity means choosing our path through life consciously and deliberately. As a path that emphasizes freedom, simplicity also means staying focused, diving deep, and not being distracted by consumer culture. It means consiously organizing our lives so we give our true gifts to the world.

Commercial Simplicity- Simplicity means that there is a growing market for products and services that sustain resources and provide lasting utility. Similarly, a new enterprise model recognizes natural ecosystems and healthy workers as important measures of productivity.

Compassionate Simplicity- Simplicity means that we "choose to live simply so that others may simply live." A compassionate simplicity means following a path of reconciliation with other peoples, with other species, and with future generations.

Ecological Simplicity- Simplicity means limiting our consumption to avoid destroying or depleting finite resources. It also means developing creative and sustainable alternatives like solar power and telecommuting.

Elegant Simplicity- Simplicity means that the way we live our lives represents a work of unfolding artistry. An elegant simplicity is an understated yet highly pragmatic aesthetic that contrasts with the excess of consumerist lifestyles.

Frugal Simplicity- Simplicity means cutting back on spending that is not truly serving our lives and practicing skillful management of our personal finances. through these practices, we can achieve greater financial independence while decreasing the impact of our consumption upon the Earth.

Natural Simplicity- Simplicity means connecting with the ecology of life and balancing ur experience of the human-created environments with time in nature. We experience a deep reverence for the community of life on Earth and accept that the nonhuman life of plants and animals has its dignity and rights just as human life does.

Political Simplicity- Simplicity means organizing our collective lives in ways that enable us to live more lightly on the Earth which, in turn, involves changes in nearly every area of public life - from transportation to education and media, to the design of our homes cities and workplaces.

Soulful Simplicity- Simplicity means approaching life as a meditation and cultivating our experience of intimate connection with all that exists. By living simply, we can more directly awaken to the living universe that sustains us, moment by moment. Soulful simplicity is more concerned with consciously tasting life in its unadorned richness that with a particular standard or manner of material living. In cultivating a soulful connection with life, we look beyond surface appearances and bring our interior aliveness into relationships of all kinds.

Uncluttered Simplicity- Simplicity means taking charge of a life that is too busy, too stressed, and too fragmented. An uncluttered simplicity means cutting back on trivial distractions, both material and nonmaterial, and focusing on essentials. As Thoreau said, "Our life is frittered away by detail... Simplify, simplify!"

As with other ecosystems, this garden-scape is comprised of a rich diversity of expressions. With each conscious expression of simplicity, we contribute to the richness of our own lives and those of generations to come.

Commentary: 12-Step Program to Stop Climate Change

by Alisa Gravitz
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How much is enough to stop climate catastrophe? Baby steps and half measures won't do it. We need a plan of action and timeline that matches the scale of the problem and provides a bar for evaluating corporate, government, community, and household plans to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to levels we can live with.

The following is based on the work of scientists at Prince?ton University's Carbon Mitigation Initiative (CMI). The CMI group proposes we stabilize emissions at current levels, instead of more than doubling them over the next 50 years as would happen with business as usual. To tackle this challenge, they divide the task into “wedges” of equal size—each with the capacity to reduce carbon emissions by 1 billion tons per year by 2054. CMI lists 15 ways of getting there, out of which we need to achieve just seven to hit the target.

At Co-op America, we added our own filters to this building block approach. We screened out measures that are too dangerous, costly, and slow, and we beefed up those that are safe and cost-effective. Wind is now cost-competitive at utility scale; solar will be in three to five years. New nuclear, synfuels, and “clean” coal are not cost-competitive. In addition to the proliferation, waste, and safety hazards, nuclear power will take too long to scale up; four strikes, nuclear power is out.

With these filters, we developed a plan that uses current technologies; is safe, clean, cost-effective; and is more than big enough to meet the climate challenge—12 wedges when we only need seven. Each of the following could achieve 1 billion tons per year in CO2 reduction by 2054, except the solar and wind options, which would each reduce emissions by 1.5 billion tons.

  1. Increase fuel economy for 2 billion cars from an average of 30 mpg to 60 mpg by 2054.
  2. Cut back on driving. Decrease car travel for 2 billion 30-mpg cars from 10,000 to 5,000 miles per year by 2054, through increased use of mass transit, telecommuting, and urban design that is conducive to walking and biking.
  3. Increase efficiency of new buildings and appliances to achieve zero-emissions, in order to achieve 25 percent average reduction across all buildings by 2054.
  4. Decrease tropical deforestation to zero and double the rate of new tree plantings.
  5. Stop soil erosion. Apply “conservation tillage” techniques to cropland at 10 times the current usage. Encourage local, organic agriculture.
  6. Ramp up wind power. Add 3 million 1-megawatt windmills, 75 times the current capacity.
  7. Do a major push for solar power. Add 3,000 gigawatt-peak solar photovoltaic, 1,000 times current capacity.
  8. Increase efficiency of coal plants from an average of 32 percent efficiency to 60 percent, and shut down plants that don't meet the standard. No net new coal plants; for any new plants built, an equal number should be shut down.
  9. Replace 1,400 gigawatts of coal with natural gas, a four-fold increase in natural gas usage over current levels—a short-term step until zero-emissions renewable technologies can replace natural gas.
  10. Sequester CO2 at existing coal plants. Sequestration involves storing carbon dioxide underground, an unproven technology that may, nonetheless, be better than nothing.
  11. Develop zero-emissions vehicles, including plug-in hybrids and electric vehicles powered by renewable energy.
  12. Develop biomass as a short-term replacement for fossil fuel until better carbon-free technologies are developed, but only as long as biofuels are made from waste and can be made without displacing farmland and rainforests.

This framework can help us think big and fast enough to avoid the worst consequences of climate change. If we are to achieve each wedge by 2054, the next 10 years must see a major ramp-up. Anything less and we're kidding ourselves.

The good news is we can do this. We have the technologies and the know-how. Taking these actions opens the door to more jobs, energy security, real progress on the war against poverty, a cleaner environment, and a safer world.

Alisa Gravitz
Alisa Gravitz is the executive director of Co-op America, a leading non-profit organization working on market solutions to social and environmental problems ( She also runs Co-op America's Solar Catalyst Group, which is working to rapidly bring solar power to scale. See for the CMI plan and methodology, and to learn how you can be part of the climate solution.