Have you ever read a book that blew your mind? Sacred Economics by Charles Eisenstein was just such a book for me. If you ever wanted to deepen your understanding of the concept of money and the influence it has on our society, this is the book to read. If you have heard people talk about a gift or steady-state economy and wondered how any such things could be implemented, this is the book to read. If you are tired of reading books that identify society’s problems without laying out potential solutions, this is the book to read.
The concepts explored in Sacred Economics are deeper than capitalism vs. socialism vs. communism. It dives down to analyze how we use money, and explores how society could be reshaped, and many of the issues we struggle with today solved, if we were to change the way money works in some fundamental ways. After examining the history of money and how it has shaped our society the book begins to look at thought provoking ways we could change the system so the economy would grow smaller in a way that doesn’t crash everything, and ultimately reach a steady-state.
Some of the interesting concepts explored include using negative interest rates to shrink the economy and grow the commons, using local currencies to empower and strengthen local economies, backing money with resources that are owned by everyone to make them precious, paying a social dividend to help support people in an economy that has eliminated unnecessary jobs, and more.
The book doesn’t read like a novel. It has a decidedly academic tone (with footnotes) and is more like studying at times than reading for pleasure, but it’s worth the effort. And the best part is that the author has made it available for free in HTML and PDF formats on the website!
Posted by: Joshua Kielas, 03.09.2018
An Overview by Clare Strawn, PhD
What is Resilience?
Resilience is the capacity to adapt to changing conditions and to maintain or regain functionality and vitality in the face of stress or disturbance. It is the capacity to bounce back after a disturbance or interruption.
Resilience anticipates interruptions and a dynamic future. Responding to change is an opportunity for a wide range of system improvements.
In these days of fires and storms, few people dispute that we are experiencing climate change and that our near future will be very different than the past 50 years. How does this reality impact our planning and development perspectives? While climate change may seem too big an issue for us as individuals to make an impact, we are embarking on a neighborhood planning process to enact the community infrastructure for the coming decades of environmental and economic change. In designing these plans, we should keep two concepts in the forefront of our decisions:
- What can we do, at the neighborhood level, to mitigate climate change by transforming the systems and lifestyles that contribute to global warming?
- How can we re-design our community life to increase resilience and quality of life in the face of dramatic shifts in the environment and economy?
These questions should be addressed in each of the four focus areas for planning (economic development, land use, transportation, and open space) as they both frame and intersect these issues.
In addressing these questions, there are a few core principles that should be considered:
- Provide for basic needs — food systems, water, energy, waste management —as close to home as possible and with diverse and redundant ways to access these needs.
- Community and collective action is key to resilience. How can we enhance our local social and human capital?
- We have opportunities to innovate solutions with appropriate technology and we can also borrow solutions from around the world. Transforming our built environment can be a tremendous economic engine.
- How can we build on our core identity as a community to contribute to the resolution of larger problems? How can we implement the sustainability and development goals outlined in Envision Eugene in our neighborhood?
Focus on Feasible Implementation Strategies
- Community education and collaboration to implement individual and household level changes that do not require city and/or systems changes. Examples: home food production, solar power installation, transportation choices.
- Identify concrete measurable five and ten-year goals, such as: target a percentage of households not dependent on EWEB (redundant power systems), aim for 50% of food consumed produced within 10 miles, build integrated food system (connected with Eugene farm to table systems), increase person powered transportation, develop locally sourced water capacity, establish systems for neighborhood disaster coordination and communication, shift the mix of housing types and diversify land use, increase community participation and neighboring.
- Research obstacles to implementing these goals and plan for their remediation.
- Identify limitations imposed by city and county codes and policies (such as requirements for parking and curb paving that increases rain water run off rather than channeling it to better use).
- Identify gaps in social and economic infrastructure (such as lack of available of places for groups to meet and informal social spaces).
- Identify through market analysis why we have empty storefronts. What economic development opportunities would better serve our community?
- Inspire the community with examples of possibility that expand our horizon of possibilities. For example, how do we increase housing density and affordability while preserving productive land for agriculture? How do we creatively reduce and slow traffic?
The Green Paper has many ideas and proposals that can be considered.
Also check out “The Resilient Design Principles” from ResilientDesign.org