Friday, August 28, 2009

Resource Based Economy

Precepts of the Venus Project

A Resource-Based Economy is a system in which all goods and services are available without the use of money, credits, barter or any other system of debt or servitude. All resources become the common heritage of all of the inhabitants, not just a select few. The premise upon which this system is based is that the Earth is abundant with plentiful resource; our practice of rationing resources through monetary methods is irrelevant and counter productive to our survival.

Modern society has access to highly advanced technology and can make available food, clothing, housing and medical care; update our educational system; and develop a limitless supply of renewable, non-contaminating energy. By supplying an efficiently designed economy, everyone can enjoy a very high standard of living with all of the amenities of a high technological society.

A resource-based economy would utilize existing resources from the land and sea, physical equipment, industrial plants, etc. to enhance the lives of the total population. In an economy based on resources rather than money, we could easily produce all of the necessities of life and provide a high standard of living for all.

Consider the following examples: At the beginning of World War II the US had a mere 600 or so first-class fighting aircraft. We rapidly overcame this short supply by turning out more than 90,000 planes a year. The question at the start of World War II was: Do we have enough funds to produce the required implements of war? The answer was No, we did not have enough money, nor did we have enough gold; but we did have more than enough resources. It was the available resources that enabled the US to achieve the high production and efficiency required to win the war. Unfortunately this is only considered in times of war.

In a resource-based economy all of the world's resources are held as the common heritage of all of Earth's people, thus eventually outgrowing the need for the artificial boundaries that separate people. This is the unifying imperative.

We must emphasize that this approach to global governance has nothing whatever in common with the present aims of an elite to form a world government with themselves and large corporations at the helm, and the vast majority of the world's population subservient to them. Our vision of globalization empowers each and every person on the planet to be the best they can be, not to live in abject subjugation to a corporate governing body.

Our proposals would not only add to the well being of people, but they would also provide the necessary information that would enable them to participate in any area of their competence. The measure of success would be based on the fulfilment of one's individual pursuits rather than the acquisition of wealth, property and power.

At present, we have enough material resources to provide a very high standard of living for all of Earth's inhabitants. Only when population exceeds the carrying capacity of the land do many problems such as greed, crime and violence emerge. By overcoming scarcity, most of the crimes and even the prisons of today's society would no longer be necessary.

A resource-based economy would make it possible to use technology to overcome scarce resources by applying renewable sources of energy, computerizing and automating manufacturing and inventory, designing safe energy-efficient cities and advanced transportation systems, providing universal health care and more relevant education, and most of all by generating a new incentive system based on human and environmental concern.

Many people believe that there is too much technology in the world today, and that technology is the major cause of our environmental pollution. This is not the case. It is the abuse and misuse of technology that should be our major concern. In a more humane civilization, instead of machines displacing people they would shorten the workday, increase the availability of goods and services, and lengthen vacation time. If we utilize new technology to raise the standard of living for all people, then the infusion of machine technology would no longer be a threat.

A resource-based world economy would also involve all-out efforts to develop new, clean, and renewable sources of energy: geothermal; controlled fusion; solar; photovoltaic; wind, wave, and tidal power; and even fuel from the oceans. We would eventually be able to have energy in unlimited quantity that could propel civilization for thousands of years. A resource-based economy must also be committed to the redesign of our cities, transportation systems, and industrial plants, allowing them to be energy efficient, clean, and conveniently serve the needs of all people.

What else would a resource-based economy mean? Technology intelligently and efficiently applied, conserves energy, reduces waste, and provides more leisure time. With automated inventory on a global scale, we can maintain a balance between production and distribution. Only nutritious and healthy food would be available and planned obsolescence would be unnecessary and non-existent in a resource-based economy.

As we outgrow the need for professions based on the monetary system, for instance lawyers, bankers, insurance agents, marketing and advertising personnel, salespersons, and stockbrokers, a considerable amount of waste will be eliminated. Considerable amounts of energy would also be saved by eliminating the duplication of competitive products such as tools, eating utensils, pots, pans and vacuum cleaners. Choice is good. But instead of hundreds of different manufacturing plants and all the paperwork and personnel required to turn out similar products, only a few of the highest quality would be needed to serve the entire population. Our only shortage is the lack of creative thought and intelligence in ourselves and our elected leaders to solve these problems. The most valuable, untapped resource today is human ingenuity.

With the elimination of debt, the fear of losing one's job will no longer be a threat This assurance, combined with education on how to relate to one another in a much more meaningful way, could considerably reduce both mental and physical stress and leave us free to explore and develop our abilities.

If the thought of eliminating money still troubles you, consider this: If a group of people with gold, diamonds and money were stranded on an island that had no resources such as food, clean air and water, their wealth would be irrelevant to their survival. It is only when resources are scarce that money can be used to control their distribution. One could not, for example, sell the air we breathe or water abundantly flowing down from a mountain stream. Although air and water are valuable, in abundance they cannot be sold.

Money is only important in a society when certain resources for survival must be rationed and the people accept money as an exchange medium for the scarce resources. Money is a social convention, an agreement if you will. It is neither a natural resource nor does it represent one. It is not necessary for survival unless we have been conditioned to accept it as such.

From The Venus Project

From New Illumination

Peace Through Education

Documentary project:

Thanks, Aimie!

Worldwatch Institute Blogs

Four new Worldwatch Institute Blogs are now online: Dateline: Copenhagen, Nourishing the Planet, Green Economy, and Transforming Cultures feature regular contributions from Worldwatch researchers and staff tracking global environmental issues, from upcoming climate change negotiations to how we'll feed a growing population sustainably. Recent posts from each blog include:

Thursday, August 27, 2009

The basics of green living

The importance of green living has become a front burner issue recently. This is simply a responsible lifestyle that focuses on minimizing one’s negative impact on the environment. It is a healthier and happier way of life for you, your family and the global community.

Living green offers a cleaner way of life designed to offer protection to the earth from the waste created by our generation, by shifting our focus from just making choices to making more environmentally conscious choices, and clears a cleaner path for the generations that will inherit any environmental mess we leave behind.

There are many ways people can “Go Green” without it being a complex transition. Many people fear going green because of cost. Making this change may even save you money while you help to save the planet.

Living a green life must be about innovation not deprivation. It’s not about doing without; it’s about doing it differently. It can mean changing many things, maybe in ways you may not have thought. There are a plethora of things that we can all do, many which won’t require much effort that we can adopt into our daily lifestyle. Many of the classic life lessons that are taught in school like recycling and not littering are some of the basic principles, also turning off lights in the bedrooms, bathrooms and other places in your house that are not in use. We all know how important it is to recycle, cans, glass and plastic, but what about other items in our homes that we no longer use? Remember the saying, “One man’s trash is another man’s treasure.” This is very true in today’s times. There are organizations and groups that you can connect to reach people all throughout your community that would consider your unwanted items their treasure. Two of these organizations are the Reuse It Network or Freecycle. Groups will be listed according to city and state. There are also charities that you can give your items to for a tax deduction.

Now let’s talk about how green living will affect your health and the health of your family. We are bombarded with toxic chemicals on a daily basis in our own homes. When you go green, these chemicals are no longer an option for you. You can find more organic and natural options than you ever thought possible. The best option when it comes to your food is to buy from local farmers. You are then getting a great value for your money and supporting your local community. The cleaners you use to clean your home also affect you and your family in numerous ways. Thankfully, some of the leaders in the household cleaning products, know how important having natural products has become to us, but we can still go further. Read the labels, research the ingredients, know what you are getting and how it will affect your family.

Living green is the gateway to a happier, healthier you.

By Columbia Life Coach ExaminerTerri Marshall

Eco City in Hamburg

Known as the 'German Venice', the port city of Hamburg is rapidly developing beyond its maritime history. Within the past few years Harburg has experienced major advancements in commercial and residential growth, cultivating multifarious layers of enriching diversity. The Eco‑City project proposes to not only enhance Harburg's current progression, but to set a new standard for 'environmentally forward construction'.

Eco City is sustainable, and environmentally responsible. It does not exploit or soil nature but co-exists with it in harmony. This is guaranteed through the implementation of the newest technologies such as wind turbines on site, solar energy, recyclable materials, green roofs.

Eco City offers a rich mix of classic industry architecture, lovingly restored harbor buildings, and modern architectur design, satisfying all demands for an upscale working environment. Larger spaces can be divided starting with 250 qm per office. Storage space can be taylored to individual needs, always in accordance with Eco City's general concept and design.

Eco City's organic energy concept aims for self‑sufficiency, creating the smallest possible ecological footprint. It is a self‑sustaining place that does not exploit, or pollute the environment but aims to co‑exists in harmony with its surroundings. This is guaranteed by the implemtation of 21st century technologies such as:

WIND TURBINES - Iconic wind turbines tower over the site, generating the bulk of Eco City's electricity. Smaller vertical wind turbines are distributed across the site, further providing emission free renewable energy.

SOLAR ENERGY - Solar water heating will be used to offset the use of natural gas. Site lighting will be powered by solar technology.

GREEN ROOFS - The majority of all visible roofs will be green and planted with ample trees and flower beds, providing areas for walking, relaxation, cafe spaces etc. They will help slow down the run off of storm water from the site and will avoid overburdening the municipal storm water system as well as significantly reduce the heat island effect of Eco City.

MATERIALS - The project will utilize environmentally friendly materials which will help promote a healthy indoor building atmosphere. Passive design techniques and efficient facade and building design will reduce energy consumption by 30%.

The combination of alternative energy concept, engineering of the future and innovative architecture elevates Eco City to a new standard for an environment-friendly work atmosphere within high tech surroundings. This is tomorrow's urban development: sophisticated, down to earth, and easy to use. Good for the people, healthy for the community, friendly to the planet.

From Green Stories

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Greening Our Schools — Transformative Education for Sustainability

Beach Fairy is a primer
on transformative education for sustainability.... Here you will find what you'll need in order to genuinely green
  • your classroom,

  • your curriculum,

  • your students' learning,

  • your school community,

  • and your life's work as a teacher.
It's all here, for the sake of all the children, of all species.

Nature as Teacher...
You care about children, so your reaction to everything you've been hearing and learning about climate change and other global issues is natural, and heartfelt. And because you care about kids, you care about their future, and the future of their planet.

Nature as Teacher...

Education for sustainability makes sense to you because you don't want to teach for UNsustainability. But where to start?

Right here! You'll find answers, ideas, support — some online professional development — for greening your teaching.

GreenHeart Education gives you a starting place and a simple yet transformative model of education for sustainability.

Here's what you'll find on this website:

  • the rationale for transforming our teaching to safeguard the future

  • a research-based curriculum model for greening preschool to secondary school education

  • simple transformative tools for making education part of the solution, starting today

  • answers to your concerns about transformative education for sustainability and curriculum alignment

  • ideas for greening your classroom and school facilities

  • ways to encourage your school community to go green
    (including colleagues, administrators, staff, students, parents, visitors)
And if you have questions or concerns, or ideas you'd like to share, please contact us.

Even if you're not a teacher but simply a member of the human family who wants to put sustainability into action, you'll find here lots of beyond-the-usual ideas for greening your world and worldview, as well as support for advocating a transformation to sustainability-centered education.

If you care about the future of our species, our home planet, and the rest of life on Earth, then we're kindred spirits.

Teaching for a healthy, green future — that's what education for sustainability is — shouldn't be lonely and difficult, but it can be. Often, it takes courage and support to walk your own green path—to create your own gift to the future. GreenHeart can give you that support and encouragement. We've been working at "greening the heart of education" for almost 25 years.

This is Education for Sustainability

This is Education for Sustainability
Two of my favourite kids in a field of mustard, near our Pizza Garden
(Thanks to Wendi for these beautiful photos
of some of my students.)

Click on one of the tabs in the navigation bar
on the left or on a link below
to get started on this transformative journey that is greening the heart of education....

GreenHearted BlogCompassionate Climate Action
Share our experiences in transformative sustainability education and climate change activism pre-Copenhagen this December. Visit for more.

Climate Change Primer
This climate change primer gives teachers what they need to know about global climate change, and offers resources for teaching it.

School Greening
School greening means transforming your students' education, making sustainability the focus of curriculum and professional development, facilities and operations, and organizational behaviour.

Greening the Curriculum
Greening the curriculum (using this green curriculum model) creates graduates for the 21st century

Greening School Facilities
Greening school facilities is imperative because our students learn what they live. They should spend their learning time surrounded by energy efficiency indoors and naturalized playgrounds outdoors.

Greening School Behaviour and Attitudes = Greening Our Ethic
Greening school behaviour means applying an environmental / sustainability ethic to all decisions we make within our school community.

Reasons for Greening Your Teaching
Educators who want to green their teaching need a transformative rationale to help them get "outside the curriculum box." Here are several reasons for greening your teaching.

Integration as an Ecological Teaching Tool
Integration of sustainability learning into the rest of the curriculum is an ecological teaching tool that counters the dangers of reductionism.

Transformative Tools for Sustainability Education
A paper on transformative tools for sustainability education, presented by Julie Johnston at the World Environmental Education Congress in Durban, South Africa, July 2007

Transformative Nature Study
Transformative Nature study is experiential learning about organisms and natural objects, especially their origins and interrelationships, that helps students make friends with the rest of Nature.

School Gardens
School gardens are a great way to use the schoolyard as a classroom, reconnect students with the natural world, and teach them valuable food production skills that integrate with several subjects.

Barriers to Environmental Learning and Action
The many barriers that keep adults from environmental learning and action can be categorized as cultural, psychosocial, adult learning, and environmental adult education barriers.

Enticements to Sustainability and Environmental Learning and Action
Enticements to sustainability are the cultural, psychosocial and educational ways to inspire and motivate environmental learning and action.

References for Barriers and Enticements to Environmental Learning and Action
A list of the references for a literature review on barriers and enticements to environmental learning and action, as part of a master's degree in (environmental) adult education.

The Future Generations Party - An Economic and Political Solution
Educational solutions to the sustainability crisis are important, but not enough. Our economic system needs transforming, and our political systems need to be reminded that future generations matter.

Sustainable Family Development - Helping Families Go Green
So many environmental efforts are aimed at individuals, but isn't the family a primary unit of change in our society? Sustainable family development helps families develop "green" competencies.

Greening Homeschooling
Greening homeschooling means allowing Nature to be a teacher in your child's education.

Friday Fun with Nature
Friday Fun with Nature will collect heartwarming animal and other nature stories from the worldwide web.

Saying Grace Together
Saying grace together at mealtimes is an excellent way to "practise gratitude" and grow closer together as a family, in a way that teaches children where their food comes from.

Prayers for the Earth
Prayers for the Earth is a collection of graces and prayers from different cultures and religions around the world.

About Us
GreenHeart Education is Julie Johnston and Peter Carter, a teacher and a doctor, who together have over 35 years experience in the environmental / sustainability field.

Contact Us
Use this page to contact us at GreenHeart Education.


Education for Sustainability in Local Government: Handbook

A resource for local government, the handbook introduces Education for Sustainability and provides information on stakeholder engagement.

Part 1 - Cover, Acknowledgements & Summary (PDF)

Part 2 - Introduction (PDF)

Part 3 - The Project Process (PDF)

Mentoring Local Government in Education for Sustainability Logo Part 4 - Sustainability – What is it? (PDF)

Part 5 - Education for Sustainability – What is it? (PDF)

Part 6 - Local Agenda 21 (PDF)

Part 7 - Tools and techniques for EfS and Stakeholder Engagement programs (PDF)

Part 8 - Evaluation of Education for Sustainability Programs (PDF)

Coastal Management Education Assessment Tool

  1. Address your coastal management education needs and challenges if you are designing a new program.
  2. Improve the effectiveness of your existing coastal management education program.

The tool uses an Education for Sustainability framework and provides links to a number of web-based resources including:

The tool was developed through a collaborative effort between the Australian Research Institute in Education for Sustainability (ARIES) and the Australian Government Department of the Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts (DEWHA).

The idea for this tool came about from the publication in 2006 of the National Cooperative Approach to Integrated Coastal Management Framework and Implementation Plan (the Framework) which identified the need for capacity building in coastal management as one of its five key coastal issues for national collaboration.

As part of the development of this tool a research program was carried out by ARIES that identified:

  1. Significant needs and gaps in coastal management education across Australia
  2. Opportunities for increasing the effectiveness of existing education programs.

You can read further information on these findings in the research report.

Many thanks go to our Key Informant Group, consisting of coastal educators and practitioners from across Australia, who helped develop this tool and to the Steering Committee who provided valuable guidance and support.

This tool has been developed for:

  1. Coastal educators and practitioners involved in designing and delivering coastal management education programs including local government staff, non-government organisations, industry associations, the formal education sector, natural resource managers in short, anyone involved in coastal management education.
  2. State and federal agencies which provide support and funding to education programs, in order to identify current provision in coastal management education, the needs, gaps and priorities and to inform the national Framework.

This tool can be used to assess and/or develop the framework for a full range of coastal management education programs including:

  • coastal management lecture series
  • media campaigns
  • water quality monitoring programs
  • school-based programs
  • professional training programs.

The tool takes you through a series of steps:

1. It helps you identify the type of education program you are seeking to improve or develop

2. It asks you a series of questions to help you decide how effective your program is, based on an Education for Sustainability framework. If you are designing a new program it helps you identify the key approaches that you need to use in the development of your program.

3. Based on your responses to the questions, the assessment will indicate how aligned your program is with an Education for Sustainability framework, and:

  • help you identify opportunities to improve your program's effectiveness
  • assist you in developing an action plan to improve/develop your program.

This tool uses an Education for Sustainability approach which offers exciting and effective new opportunities for coastal management educators and practitioners to:

  • actively engage participants in the learning process
  • encourage motivation and deeper thinking about coastal management challenges
  • motivate people to get involved in actions and solutions to improve the coast.

At a strategic level, an Education for Sustainability framework can:

  • assist people with the decision-making processes surrounding coastal management
  • give people confidence and motivation to discover new ways of working together and developing solutions and actions to jointly manage our coasts more effectively
  • motivate, equip and involve individuals and groups in reflecting on how they currently live and work and how their lifestyles affect our coasts.

It is now generally agreed that sustainable management of our coasts will require a process of ongoing learning or adaptive management. This process requires skills such as systems (or holistic) thinking and critical reflection as well as active participation by all stakeholders. Education for Sustainability works with people to develop their skills in these areas as well as involving them in a learner centred approach to coastal management issues.

For more information see the ARIES Education for Sustainability Portal.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Teaching as a Spiritual Practice

"To educate is to guide students on an inner journey toward more truthful ways of seeing and being in the world," writes Parker J. Palmer in The Courage to Teach. He defines spirituality as "the diverse ways to answer the heart's longing to be connected with the largeness of life." We have been inspired by these definitions of education and spirituality to create a "map" to some of the resources on this website about teaching as a spiritual practice. Reading about teaching as a vocation and watching movies about some idealistic teachers, we find ourselves contemplating how teachers live out these spiritual practices.

Connections: Teachers encourage us to cultivate the art of making connections.

Enthusiasm: Many of them are energized: they do not hold anything back.

Hospitality: they welcome alien and different thoughts and ideas.

Imagination: Teachers spur us on to express ourselves and to be creative.

Listening: They make it clear that all things in the world want to be heard.

Meaning: They are meaning-makers par excellence.

Nurturing: They help us learn how to take better care of ourselves and others.

Openness: Teachers model empathy and a love of diversity and pluralism.

Questing: They savor questions and the thrill of the journey.

Transformation: They are catalysts of change and seekers of wholeness.

Unity: They want us to see the commonalities that tie us to others and to respect differences as well.

Wonder: They hope that we will become more curious.

You: They want us to become all we were meant to be.


The Courage to Teach: Exploring the Inner Landscape of a Teacher's Life by Parker J. Palmer

Parker J. Palmer, one of the Living Spiritual Teachers profiled on this website, has taught for more than 30 years and is a senior adviser to the Fetzer Institute. He is the founder of the Courage to Teach Project for k-12 teachers nationwide. His book on the subject is an exhilarating and illuminating read designed to help teachers emphasize identity and integrity over technique, honor the sanctity of students and their yearning for knowledge, and realize afresh the community of truth and "grace of great things."

Palmer tackles some of the major challenges facing educators who have lost heart. He suggests ways to reclaim selfhood, overcome fear, and deal with paradox. He believes that teachers must jettison the armor of self-protective professional autonomy and cherish the conversation of colleagues. The Courage to Teach brims over with spiritual insights into the mystery and the magnificence of knowing, teaching, and learning. Here are a few gems from the text:

• "Teachers must be better compensated, freed from bureaucratic harassment, given a role in academic governance, and provided with the best possible methods and materials. But none of that will transform education if we fail to cherish-and challenge-the human heart that is the source of good teaching."

• "The courage to teach is the courage to keep one's heart open in those very moments when the heart is asked to hold more than it is able so that teacher and students and subject can be woven into the fabric of community that learning, and living requires."

• "Mentors and apprentices are partners in an ancient human dance, and one of teaching's great rewards is the daily chance it gives us to get back on the dance floor. It is the dance of the spiraling generations, in which the old empower the young with their experience and the young empower the old with new life, reweaving the fabric of the human community as they touch and turn."

• "If we embrace the promise of diversity, of creative conflict, and of 'losing' in order to 'win,' we still face one final fear-the fear that a live encounter with otherness will challenge or even compel us to change our lives. This is not paranoia: the world is really out to get us. Otherness, taken seriously, always invites transformation, calling us not only to new facts and values but also to new ways of living our lives-and that is the most daunting threat of all."

• "Good teaching is an act of hospitality toward the young, and hospitality is always an act that benefits the host even more than the guest."

• "To become a better teacher, I must nurture a sense of self that both does and does not depend on the responses of others-and that is a true paradox. To learn that lesson well, I must take a solitary journey into my own nature and seek the help of others in seeing myself as I am-another of the many paradoxes that abound on the inner terrain."

From Spirituality and Practice

New Learners for the New Economy

While things are looking a little brighter, the economy still seems to be in a bit of free fall. (Except if you're at Goldman Sachs.)

If you aren't looking for work yourself, you know someone who is searching for a job, who just graduated, or is tuning up their skills so they don't get permanently furloughed or downsized. What qualities do you need as a learner to adapt to our new economy? What learning attributes do employers seek in the flatter, fragmented, and constantly changing workplace? Based on a book I just wrote, it's clear many of the ways we were taught to be learners in school are directly in contrast to the qualities we need in today's economy and job market.

Below are twelve critical "habitudes" of learners in the new economy. These habits and attitudes are critical to adapting to our new information-overload economy, thriving amidst constant change, and allowing you to enjoy your work more. Moving out of the old ruts of learning -- that it is boring, and that someone else is in charge -- will help you grow personally, expand your skills much more rapidly, and allow you to experience greater pleasure in your work. And seeing what you do as pleasure is perhaps your greatest asset you can bring to any potential employer.

New learners for the new economy . . .

1. Are highly adaptive. They are able to see where opportunity lies and network to it. Perhaps you were hired for program development, but that market is withering. As a new learner, you are strategically attuned to the signals your sector offers, and are able grow your skills and experiences toward new opportunities. Where is opportunity right now in your sector? Where will it be in a year? If you a job seeker, in interviews be ready to talk in about how you adapted to workplace or educational change, and provide examples. Then, when you get that job, be that adaptive person you described.

2. Ask great questions. Powerful learners ask lots of questions. After that, they pause, and listen carefully and deeply to answers.

3. Are curious about everything. Folks who do not take advantage of new ways to understand their businesses or their work, through blogs, online newspapers, newsfeeds, wikis, Googlereaders, are missing important opportunities. Great learners are very self propelled and entrepreneurial about their learning, and have lots of "learning projects" going all the time. Read avidly about your business or market sector. In fact, read avidly. As much as you can, whenever you can.

4. Have a broad knowledge base that they are always expanding. (See above.) Although many of us are pushed to specialize in our jobs, new learners for the new economy are also broad thinkers. They have interest in lots of different knowledge domains.

5. Are good at seeing patterns. As you sort through mountains of information available all the time, what patterns do you see? What sources are reliable? Why? And how can you synthesize? One of your most valuable attributes as a new learner is your ability to "see" the underlying patterns in information, workflows, organizational crises, and synthesize. Look for ways you can organize and see patterns in information.

6. Are team players who share what they know willingly and generously. New learners for the new economy lead horizontally, through influence, not competitive moves, backstabbing, or out maneuvering others. As a learner this means not hoarding what you know, but offering up knowledge to others and collaborating around tough problems. You really are a better learner and thinker when you work with others, and your own influence only grows through right-spirited cooperation.

7. Are a glass-half-full resource managers. The New York Times recently reported that the University of Washington's department of communications decided eliminate landline telephones. "We found a way of saving money that doesn't hurt the student experience, and I think everybody's happy," said the communications department chair. Landlines, the department concluded, were an old fashioned technology that weren't needed anymore. Can you figure out how to survive -- and thrive -- on less? We are on the forefront of a massive shift in American life, where we consume less, own fewer things, and do more for ourselves. New learners for the new economy consume less, and manage resources very carefully, not just because it saves money, but because it is the right thing to do.

8. Understand that every contact matters. Great learners are tutored by everyone. From the man you give a dollar to on the street on the way to work, to the president of the company whom you meet in the elevator, every time you interact with another human being you are learning. Every encounter is a learning moment. You embrace this.

9. Know that hierarchy doesn't matter. The old command and control ways of managing the world are being disrupted and disordered, even as this upsets folks who love hierarchy and the old rules. The new reality is influence comes from everywhere, and success and profitability can be found from virtually ANY position. Like #8 above, new learners for the new economy believe this and live it in their actions at work. If you answer phones, are you putting every bit of yourself into it? Are you learning all you can from every phone interaction? Every position matters; everything you do matters.

10. Are choiceful about how they socialize. Where are you linked in? How do you spend your time? Who influences what you think? Great learner-employees are choiceful about their social contacts and habits, because they know this affects their learning. Take your influences seriously.

11. Own mistakes and are error alchemists. New research tells us we actually learn more from our mistakes than our successes. Successful new learners are good at owning their mistakes, admitting errors, and fluent at figuring out what valuable lessons they contain. No matter how painful, practice seeing your screw ups as opportunities. Turn lead into gold.

12. See learning as pleasure. It is! There is almost nothing more exciting than the adventure of a new learning project. Live this adventure. This alone will make you a vital, energetic, standout employee.

Finally, here's the great thing. Probably almost everything you've been doing since you were a kid, playing online games, IMing, Facebooking, and Tweeting will help you be the employee you need to be. Enthusiastic, engaged, cooperative, self-propelled learners are now more than ever highly valued employees. They are the new learners we need. Enjoy.

©2009 Kirsten Olson, author of Wounded by School: Recapturing the Joy in Learning and Standing Up to Old School Culture

Author Bio
Kirsten Olson, author of Wounded by School: Recapturing the Joy in Learning and Standing Up to Old School Culture, is a writer, educational consultant, and national-level Courage To Teach facilitator, and principal of Old Sow Consulting. She has been a consultant to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the Kennedy School at Harvard University, and many large public school systems and charter schools.

For more information please visit

Green Eating Guide

Tips for making healthy food choices for you and the planet


The food choices that we make every day have a profound effect on the environment. From farm to fork, growing our food, processing it and transporting it all use tremendous amounts of energy, water and chemicals.

By making just a few small changes in our eating and buying habits, we can greatly reduce this impact. When we eat green, we help the environment by reducing global warming pollution -- and help ourselves by eating fresh and healthy food.

This guide offers advice for choosing climate-friendly food, buying organic and certified produce, watching your waste and eating locally. Use it to select food options that are good for you and the health of our environment.

Choose Climate-Friendly Food

The higher your food is on the food chain, the more energy that's required to produce it -- and the more global warming pollution it releases into the atmosphere.

Beef, for example, creates a great deal of pollution because cows produce methane, a potent global warming gas, and grains typically used to feed cattle consume large quantities of energy and chemicals. Worldwide, the destruction of forests for cattle ranching creates massive amounts of global warming pollution.


  • Add more fruits, vegetables and grains to your diet. Limit red meat consumption.
  • Buy fresh. Avoid frozen or extensively processed and packaged foods.

Buy Organic and Certified

Conventional agriculture, which is often dependent on the intensive use of chemicals such as fertilizer and pesticides, can have a negative impact on air, water and soil quality. Many widely used pesticides have been linked to an increased risk of cancer and reproductive problems.

But there are alternatives to conventional agriculture. Innovative farmers from coast to coast have adopted more sustainable farming systems, reducing the need for synthetic pesticides and fertilizers. By shopping for organic or other sustainably certified foods, you can support their efforts.

Logo: USDA Organic Label

The USDA Organic label ensures that a product contains at least 95 percent organic ingredients, while a variety of other eco-label certifications help consumers choose food produced with the environment in mind.


  • Buy organic and other sustainably certified foods. Visit Consumer Reports to find out what labels to look for.
  • For more about pesticides and produce, get advice from NRDC's Simple Steps.

Watch Your Waste

According to a recent study, the average American household wastes 14 percent of its food purchases. But it's not just the food that is being wasted -- all of the water and energy that went into producing, packaging and transporting the discarded food also goes to waste.

Most of this food waste ends up in landfills, where it releases methane pollution as it decomposes, further contributing to global warming.


  • Purchase only the amount of food that you are able to consume before it expires.
  • Compost your food waste. Get tips from NRDC's OnEarth magazine.

Eat Local Foods

Buying local is a good bet for reducing pollution and the energy used to transport, store and refrigerate food.

Most of the 270 million pounds of imported grapes that arrive in California every year have traveled 5,900 miles from Chile, for example. Throughout the course of the year, the cargo ships and trucks that transport them release 7,000 tons of global warming pollution into the air.

When all other factors are equal, choosing local food is good for the planet, good for your health and good for local farmers.


  • Shop at a local farmer's market or join a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) group. Find one near you at Local Harvest.
  • Consult NRDC's Eat Local guide to find out which fruits and vegetables are fresh near you and get great seasonal recipes.

Source link: NRDC

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Ultimate Guide to Sustainable Travel

Photo: Frog
Text by Maryellen Kennedy Duckett
Photo by

50 real ways to journey responsibly—and still have fun.

We all know enough to reuse our hotel towels and request that guest room linens not be changed every day, but what else can we do to reduce our impact as we travel?

Traveling responsibly means conserving natural resources, supporting local cultures, and making a positive impact on the places we visit. This guide will help. Some steps are big, others are small, but all can make a difference, especially if we take them together.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Act of Peace

Many conflicts in the world result from shortages of natural resources. There are many things you can do to reduce the impact of your consumption - recycle plastic in your community, pick up litter, give (don't throw) clothes away, use old newspapers for kids crafts... tell us your ideas!

Here are some ideas to get you started.

Work in a community garden

Teach someone how to read

Participate in a political process

Break up a fight at school

Join an international pen-pal network

Listen actively when someone speaks

Do not repeat hurtful jokes

Make a video about peace and post it online

Forgive a past hurt

Take a class in conflict resolution

Write and share a poem about peace

Befriend someone from another culture

Learn about the history of another country

Be polite at checkpoints

Organize a peaceful demonstration


Citizenship and the Creation of Community

by Peter Block

Community is built not by specialized expertise, or great leadership. Community grows out of the possibility of citizenship*. The citizenship we are speaking of is not that of voting rights or what nation we belong to. Citizenship that builds community is a state of being where we have the boldness to:

1. Hold ourselves accountable for the well being of the larger institution of which we are a part.
2. Choose to own and exercise power rather than defer or delegate it to others.
3. Give form to a collective possibility that creates hospitable community its own sense of being.

Problems, such as performance, productivity, accountability, and success in a marketplace will not be resolved through better leadership and more expertise. Organizational transformation occurs though a new realm of conversation among members, or what we call here, citizens. Citizens surrender their power when they allow themselves to become consumers or clients of solutions provided by leaders and experts. When citizens retrieve control over their concerns from leaders and experts, they can engage in a new realm of conversation for possibility that can provide new access and power in dealing with the problems arising from a breakdown in community.

The possibility this creates is an institution, society, or culture of accountability and commitment. Chosen accountability and commitment are the means for a society that works for all. This is the essence of reconciliation. In contrast to an institution shaped by policy, practices, goals and programs, it creates a society shaped by its possibility*.

This kind of institution or community takes its identity from the kind of commitments its members (citizens) make to each other. These are commitments made without quid pro quo, barter, or exchange. In this kind of society, accountability replaces entitlement, commitment replaces negotiation, and conversation replaces persuasion and manipulation. Isolation and reticence evolve into connectedness and activism, which gives us community that is alive.

Shifting the way we design and convene community gives us access to this collective and infectious aliveness. We can name this the architecture of social space, because it is an architectural phenomenon as well as a linguistic phenomenon. The tools of this architecture are embedded in these powers:

The Power of Place

Whatever room or place we are in at the moment is a model for the larger world we want to create. It is not just the means to the destination or the end we have in mind, it is that place itself.

It is in this place that the possibility begins. All that comes afterward may deepen, clarify, and expand, but if it does not begin in this room, with these people, under these conditions, then the possibility has been postponed.

Knowing this gives new meaning and importance to the elements of the room: the arrangement of seats, the walls, the floor, the quality of the light, the food, and the sound system that allows all voices to be heard.

The Power of the Small Group

The small group is the unit of change. It is communal and becomes an antidote to patriarchy, elitism, and the closely held expertise that becomes a substitute for citizenship. The circle is the symbol for community, and the small group is the essential element of community. However we congregate, the configuration of the small group seated in a circle is the cornerstone of the gathering.

The Power of Invitation

It matters how we come to this place, this group. Invitation is a powerful act of openness, generosity, and inclusion. It is essential to enrollment.

A true invitation evokes choice. We have the freedom to accept or refuse. Recognizing and exercising that freedom of choice naturally calls us to be responsible for our answer. It is this combination of choice and responsibility that gives volunteerism its power.

Accepting an invitation always carries a cost. There is a cost to you personally, and there is a cost to others in your life. Recognizing that we have given up something to be here adds meaning to the fact we that came.

The Power of Reception

We are intentional towards those who answer our call. We welcome them for the act of showing up. Many have paid a price for their attendance and this must be honored. It takes courage to show up, for each one knows that once they walk into the room something will be demanded of them, and it will be much more than they ever expected. It is our hospitality that supports this courage.

The Power of Context

Context is the possibility that gives rise to this moment. It is why we are here. As such it is both decisive and in each of our hands.

We begin each gathering with a statement of context by the convener. As a member of the group, I need to know why I was invited. This is our first question. Why did I come? is my second question. Like two sides of a coin, invitation and acceptance constitute the full context for our coming together.

The context or purpose of the convener alone is incomplete -- a partial sentence and a death sentence. A lecture or presentation without connection is not a conversation. Gathering for the sake of persuasion is living out a context of authority that produces a void, with no place to stand, only silence with our arms folded.

The mutual creation of a new context becomes the beginning of the new conversation and balances power in service of accountability and commitment. Why they invited us begins the conversation, why we chose to come completes it.

The Power of Connection

Creating and realizing an alternative future that wasn't going to happen anyway requires a foundation of relatedness. Connection and being related precedes content. We need to be reminded we are not isolated or alone -- each time we enter the room. Connection and relatedness creates the trust and social space where we find our own voice and each person is heard in a way that reveals the humanity that we all hold in common.

The Power of No

There has to be space for doubts, questions, and even ultimately saying No. This is done without explanation. For every request or demand made upon us, we hold the freedom to say No cleanly, blame-free as a matter of choice. The presence of this possibility is the precondition of commitment. If I cannot say no, then my yes means nothing. The act of refusal is the beginning of a new conversation.

The Power of New Conversation

A new conversation is the energy source and lifeblood of community. In the absence of a new conversation, we are sentenced to have the old conversation over and over and over again. Repeating the same conversation is the source of our cynicism.

The new conversation is dialogue without advice. It is being authentic about our inauthenticity. It begins with a statement of our own contribution to the problem, sometimes called confession.

It entails the pursuit of increasingly powerful and confronting questions. In this context, the questions are more important than the answers. The most frequent and least useful question is: What are we going to do? This question should be postponed until the answer to it reveals itself from the power, depth and authenticity of the dialogue.

The Power of Commitment

We recognize the power of speech called declaration. A commitment is a declaration made without barter and with no expectation of return. It is made for its own sake, as virtue is its own reward.

Our commitment comes to life when we make it public. We make a statement of commitment, a declaration, to the small group first, for this group stands in for all in the community. Authentic commitment also requires us to name the price we are willing to pay for this commitment, and the cost that this commitment places on other people.

The Power of Gifts

The possibility of community is the possibility of bringing everyone's gifts into the center. Volunteerism, the action path of citizenship, has no interest in deficiencies, only in strengths. The customer or client stance, by contrast, is vitally interested in deficiencies and needs, for they are the basis on which we are serviced, led, and ultimately controlled.

When we recognize and state to another how their actions had meaning and value for us; in other words when we take their gifts into our hearts, we affirm the healing power of community. We live into a future where each of us has something vital and life-giving to offer.

The Point

These powers are elements that create the experience of community and in turn the outcomes we desire for our institutions. They outline the architectural elements of social space and of convening community. They are both spatial and linguistic. The architecture of the room -- combined with the way the room is occupied, the social space -- gives concrete form to a group of human beings choosing accountability, commitment, and, ultimately, choosing to care for the whole. We might say such a group creates a communal clearing for citizens, in which our possibilities can be realized.

*Many of the thoughts presented here, especially the concepts of citizenship and possibility, come from the wonderful thinking and work of John McKnight and Werner Erhard.

Thoughtful Citizenship

Imagine an America where the solutions for our future result from a partnership of thoughtful politicians and thoughtful citizens...

We elect politicians to be guardians for our future. It’s only common sense to expect them to be thoughtful and careful about what’s best for all of us, our children, our grandchildren, and the world we live in. Our job as citizens is to be equally thoughtful, careful, and engaged. We participate by voting, by being well-informed, by volunteering, and by holding our politicians and ourselves accountable for our shared future.

The *Thoughtful Citizen Guidebook*(670k) is a free e-book providing helpful, non-partisan tools for thoughtful citizenship: including asking crucial questions, engaging in positive, productive conversations, and making well-considered decisions. In it you'll find contributions by a number of respected authors - Marilee Adams, Ira Chaleff, Maren & Jamie Showkeir, Juanita Brown, David Isaacs and the World Café community, Mark Levy, and Stewart Levine.

This project is sponsored by the Inquiry Institute because we believe that great results—and the best decisions—begin with asking ourselves and others the most thoughtful and important questions. Our vision is to help establish a culture of thoughtfulness, accountability, and partnership for politicians and citizens—because we’re all on the same side when it comes to wanting our great country to grow ever stronger and better.


Download the
Thoughtful Citizenship
Guidebook (671.1K)

About Marilee Adams
& This Project

More Resources for Becoming a Thoughtful Citizen

Contact Us

The World Cafe Shaping Our Futures Through Conversations That Matter

what is the world cafe?

Through both our research and the decade of practice that followed its emergence, we have come to view the World Café as a conversational process based on a set of integrated design principles that reveal a deeper living network pattern through which we co-evolve our collective future.

what is the world cafe?As a conversational process, the World Café is an innovative yet simple methodology for hosting conversations about questions that matter. These conversations link and build on each other as people move between groups, cross-pollinate ideas, and discover new insights into the questions or issues that are most important in their life, work, or community. As a process, the World Café can evoke and make visible the collective intelligence of any group, thus increasing people’s capacity for effective action in pursuit of common aims.

The integrated design principles have been distilled over the years as a guide to intentionally harnessing the power of conversation for business and social value. When used in combination, they provide useful guidance for anyone seeking creative ways to foster authentic dialogue in which the goal is thinking together and creating actionable knowledge.

As a living network pattern, the World Café refers to a living network of conversations that is continually co-evolving as we explore questions that matter with our family, friends, colleagues, and community. The metaphor of the "World as Café" helps us notice these invisible webs of dialogue and personal relationships that enable us to learn, create shared purpose, and shape life-affirming futures together.

In this sense, the World Café is also a growing global community of people, groups, organizations, and networks using World Café principles and processes to evoke collective intelligence and link it to effective action in pursuit of common aims.

cafe design principles
seven principles for hosting conversations that matter
Click on any stamp for more information on that principle and how to use it.

set the context
Set The Context

There is an old saying that if you don't know where you are going any road will get you there. When you have a clear idea of the what and why of your Café then the how becomes much easier. Here are a few questions to ask yourself and those helping you plan:

  • What is the topic or issue we want to address or explore?
  • Who needs to be invited to participate in this conversation?
  • Who represents both the conventional and the unconventional wisdom?
  • How long do we have for the inquiry?
  • What line(s) of inquiry do we want to pursue? What themes are most likely to be meaningful and stimulate creativity?
  • What is the best outcome we can envision? How might we design a path toward that outcome?

create hospitable space
Create Hospitable Space

Most meeting places are sterile, cold, and impersonal. Consider choosing warm, inviting environments with natural light and comfortable seating. Honor our long traditions of human hospitality by offering food and refreshments. Hospitable space also means "safe" space--where everyone feels free to offer their best thinking.

Hospitable space begins with the invitation to attend a Café. Include the theme or central question you'll be exploring in your Café in the invitation. State it as an open-ended exploration, not a problem-solving intervention. Use color, hand printing, graphics and other ways to make it stand out from the deluge of paper and e-messages we all receive.

When we ask people where they have experienced their most significant conversations, nearly everyone recalls sitting around a kitchen or dining room table. There is a easy intimacy when gathering at a small table, that most of us immediately recognize. When you walk into a room and see it filled with café tables you know that you are not in for your usual business meeting.

Creating a Café ambiance is easy and need not be expensive:

  • Stagger the tables in a random fashion, don't set them up in straight rows
  • Use plastic red checked tablecloths
  • Cover these with two sheets of flip chart paper
  • Place a mug or wine glass filled with water based markers to encourage people to write and draw on the tablecloths
  • A small bud vase and a votive candle will complete the table set up
  • Have some soft music playing as people arrive
  • Be sure to have some food and beverages available

explore questions that matter
Explore Questions That Matter

Knowledge emerges in response to compelling questions. Find questions that are relevant to the real-life concerns of the group. Powerful questions that "travel well" help attract collective energy, insight, and action as they move throughout a system. Depending on the timeframe available and your objectives, your Café may explore a single question or use a progressively deeper line of inquiry through several conversational rounds.

As we have worked with groups over the years we have asked hundreds of people what makes a powerful question. Several themes have emerged. A powerful question:

  • Is simple and clear
  • Is thought provoking
  • Generates energy
  • Focuses inquiry
  • Surfaces assumptions
  • Opens new possibilities
  • Invites deeper reflection
  • Seeks what is useful

A note about appreciative process... David Cooperrider has long championed something he calls "appreciative inquiry." After several years of studying how people ask questions he has stated that the most important lesson from appreciative inquiry is that "people grow in the direction of the questions they ask." The questions we ask and the way we construct them will focus us in a particular manner and will greatly affect the outcome of our inquiry. If we ask: What is wrong and who is to blame? We set up a certain dynamic of problem-solving and blame assigning. While there may be instances where such an approach is desirable, when it comes to hosting a Café, we have found it much more effective to ask people questions that invite the exploration of possibilities and to connect them with why they care.

One potential pitfall is posing questions that ask about the nature of truth. Philosophers have spent thousands of years arguing the nature of truth and many of the wars in history have been fought over such questions. We are seeking to reach "shared understanding about what is meaningful to each individual." Such shared understanding does not mean that we all share the same perspective on what is true, but rather, that each participant has the opportunity to share what is true and meaningful for them. This in turn will allow us all to see our collective situation in a different light, hopefully enlarging our individual views of truth along the way. Our experience has been that questions which focus on "What is useful here?", are more effective at generating engagement on the part of participants and tend to provoke less defensive reactions than questions which focus on "What is true?"

encourage everyone's contributions
Encourage Everyone's Contribution

People engage deeply when they feel they are contributing their thinking to questions that are important to them. Encourage all participants to contribute to the conversation. As Meg Wheatley says "Intelligence emerges as a system connects to itself in new and diverse ways." Each participant in the Café represents an aspect of the whole system's diversity and as each person has the chance to connect in conversation more of the intelligence inherent in the group becomes accessible.

We have found that on occasion it is helpful to have a "talking object" on the tables. Originally used by numerous indigenous peoples, a talking object can be a stick or stone, a marker or salt shaker, almost anything so long as it can be passed among the people at the table. There are two aspects to the talking object. Whomever holds the talking object is the only one empowered to speak. And whomever is not holding it is empowered to listen. For the speaker the responsibility is to focus on the topic and express as clearly as possible their thoughts about it. For the listeners, the responsibility is to listen to what the speaker is saying with the implicit assumption that they have something wise and important to say. Listen with a willingness to be influenced, listen for where this person is coming from and appreciate that their perspective, regardless of how divergent from your own, is equally valid and represents a part of the larger picture which none of us can see by ourselves.

It is not necessary to use a talking object all the time, but in cases where the topic being explored raises impassioned responses, it can be a very effective way to ensure everyone has the opportunity to contribute, even if they simply choose to hold the talking object and observe a few minutes of silence.

connect diverse perspectives
Connect Diverse Perspectives

Ask members to offer their individual perspectives and listen for what is emerging "in the middle of the table." Use the tablecloths and markers to create a "shared visual space" through drawing the emerging ideas. Sometimes the co-created pictures can really be worth a thousand words in showing the relationships between ideas.

A woman we know once remarked: "The most radical thing you can do is to introduce people to folks they don't know." Make sure that participants from each round each go to tables with different people as the conversational rounds progress. This cross-pollination of ideas often produces surprising results that could not have happened otherwise.

Setting up your Café in conversational rounds and asking people to change tables between rounds allows for a dense web of connections to be woven in a short period of time. Each time you travel to a new table you are bringing with you the threads of the last round and interweaving them with those brought by other travelers. As the rounds progress the conversation moves to deeper levels. People who arrived with fixed positions often find that they are more open to new and different ideas.

Our experience shows that it's very useful to ask one person to remain at a table to act as the table host. This person will summarize the conversation of the previous round for the newcomers ensuring that any important points are available for consideration in the upcoming round. They then invite the travelers to likewise do a brief sharing of the essence from the previous round allowing everyone to become more deeply connected to the web of conversation.

listen together & notice patterns
Listen Together and Notice Patterns

Listening is a gift we give to one another. The quality of our listening is perhaps the most important factor determining the success of a Café. Whole books and courses have been written about how to listen. One of our favorite analogies comes from jazz great Wynton Marsalis who explains that when jazz musicians get together to jam, whoever is the best listener ends up contributing the most to the music, because they are able to play off of whatever is being offered by the other cats in the band. Café conversations share that jazz element, of inviting each person to express themselves authentically, and those who listen skillfully are able to easily build on what is being shared. A few tips for improving our listening:

  • Help folks to notice their tendency to plan their response to what is being said actually detracts from both the speaker and the listener
  • Listen as if each person were truly wise, and sharing some truth that you may have heard before but do not yet fully grasp
  • Listen with an openness to be influenced by the speaker
  • Listen to support the speaker in fully expressing themselves
  • Listen for deeper questions, patterns, insights and emerging perspectives
  • Listen for what is not being spoken along with what is being shared

share collective discoveries
Share Collective Discoveries

Conversations held at one table reflect a pattern of wholeness that connects with the conversations at the other tables. The last phase of the Café involves making this pattern of wholeness visible to everyone. To do so, hold a conversation between the individual tables and the whole group. Ask the table groups to spend a few minutes considering what has emerged in their Café rounds which has been most meaningful to them. Distill these insights, patterns, themes and deeper questions down to the essence and then provide a way to get them out to the whole room. It can be helpful to cluster this aspect of the conversation by asking for one thing that was new or surprising and then asking people to share only those ideas which link and build on that particular aspect. When it is clear that the group has exhausted this topic ask for another one and repeat the process until you have given each table or person the opportunity to speak about what matters to them. Make sure that you have a way to capture this, either on flip charts, or by having each table record them on large post-it notes, or even their table cloths which can then be taped to a wall so that everyone can see them. After each table has had the opportunity to share their insights, the whole group may wish to take a few minutes of silent reflection and consider:

  • What is emerging here?
  • If there was a single voice in the room, what would it be saying?
  • What deeper questions are emerging as a result of these conversations?
  • Do we notice any patterns and what do those patterns point to, or how do they inform us?
  • What do we now see and know as a result of these conversations?