Humans have been on the planet for 3 million years (Homo habilis), 2 million years (Homo erectus) or 200,000 years (Homo sapiens sapiens) depending on what you want to call “human”. The structure and organization of life we know as “civilization” has been around for about 8,000 years. It took us about 8,000 years to discover that our modern way of life, as possibly civilization, itself, is unsustainable (meaning that it will end). Perhaps we might consider the fact that for 96% to 99.6% of human existence (190,000 to 2.9 million years) we lived sustainably on one planet’s worth of resources. What lessons might we learn from our history to guide us once again to sustainable lifestyles, or, even better, thriving on one planet? Because writing, itself, developed with the lifestyle we call “civilization”, we never did have anything like a written owner’s manual for how our ancestors lived sustainably for so much time. Hopefully, archeology, anthropology, and related fields of study will help us create one. These are my notes from a course that may provide some clues.
Note: I am working on this post off-and-on right now so it is not yet complete. A History of the World in 100 Objects is a podcast series from BBC Radio narrated by Neil MacGregor. To hear this excellent series, read their notes, and see their images, go here. It reviews a history of the […]
“The problems are not new. This culture has been killing the planet for 6000 to 10000 years. When we think of Iraq, is the first thing we think of cedar forests so thick the sunlight never reached the ground? That’s how it was, prior to this culture. The first written myth of this culture is […]
Top 5 Lessons for Village Living: (1) Without interaction between people, there is no village: (a) Allocate time for relationships. (b) Live in physical structures that encourages interaction and get the right balance between public and private space. (2) Invite those who can (a) skillfully hear and express their truth even when there is unpleasant emotion and (b) are willing to continually improve at this. Best way to know: you’ve had disagreements and come out the others side. (3) Be free! Learn from failure and communicate instead of creating too many rules. (4) Small is beautiful. Empower the smallest decision-making group possible for the decision at hand. (5) Welcome people, build goodwill, and be clear about a coherent vision and process.
Bill Coperthwaite was killed in a car accident at the age of 83 on his way to a Thanksgiving celebration last week (2013, report). So shocking and sad. Bill Coperthwaite dove into indigenous crafts and brought the yurt to America. He lived sustainably on land in Maine and wrote the beautiful book, A Handmade Life: […]
Since moving to Troy Gardens Cohousing Community last November (2013), many people have asked me what is cohousing and what does it actually look like. I’ve spent some time trying to process my own experience of living here and to communicate why cohousing is an important option.
Video of a recent 60-minute talk with music in 9, bite-sized bits, entitled: “Saving Rumi: Connecting to Ourselves for Sustainable Well-being”. It’s a good summary of the sustainable well-being project. Through words and music, the talk discusses how our current way of life is the largest failure in human history, advocates making changes to maximize sustainable well-being, describes some psychological principles needed, and suggests solutions, ranging from a scientific and cultural project called “Open Source Life Design”, to solutions being modeled by pioneering communities throughout the world, to an incubating idea for a Community Supported Sustainable Lake House (CSSL).
There are several communities described by BioRegional and at oneplanetcommunities.org (see this map) that follow the One Planet living framework which adheres to the 10 principles detailed in the figure to the left. They are communities designed to maximize sustainable well-being, chiefly by reducing planetary impacts. The first One Planet community in the United States […]
The Natural Step outlines the 4 principles of sustainability, a foundation for a lifestyle that maximizes sustainable well-being.