As I just finished reading America the Possible by James Gustave Speth a statement early on in the book has occupied my thoughts. “To set in motion the conditions of a better America and a better world for our children and grandchildren, we must first carry out a reconnaissance, as [Abraham] Lincoln said, of ‘where we are, and whither we are tending’ ….If we don’t view the complete picture, we are unlikely to do the right things”
We all know the things that are wrong in the world today, but do we stop to realize all the good things that are taking place and setting the path for the right direction? That is what I want to share today, my list of all the things I know are in place that we can learn from and use as a model to build from.
The problems in the world today are all-encompassing; from economic to environmental, from health issues to personal security. Today I want to focus on just two of the problems we face.
Economically not only is the US in dire straits but so is the majority of the world. Jobs are scarce, part-time jobs have replaced full-time. Large corporations leave cities for nicer pastures at the drop of a hat it seems.
Positive signs of changing economy
it’s 3:23 in the morning
and I’m awake
because my great-great grandchildren
won’t let me sleep
ask me in my dreams
what did you do while the planet was plundered?
what did you do when the earth was unraveling?
Drew Dellinger, poet
- In Cleveland, Ohio with unemployment at an all-time high, forward thinkers looked to the businesses that weren’t going to leave to create a worker cooperative. The Cleveland Clinic wasn’t going to leave any time soon and they needed services to operate a hospital. Out of this came the Evergreen Cooperatives, owned by the workers. So far the cooperatives includes a full-scale laundry which took over the laundry needs of the hospital, a large-scale commercial greenhouse to provide produce to the hospital and a solar installation company. These are jobs that fill a need in the community.
- We are seeing the growth of B-corporations where B stands for social benefit. The best figures I could find came from the book in that there were 422 new companies formed as B-corporations by 2011.
- We are seeing a rise in local currencies such as the Baltimore Note (BN) which supports local businesses by leveling the playing field.
On the environmental side of things we are starting to see a new awareness as well.
Work and spend less, create and connect more ~~ Juliet Schor
- Increase in the tiny house movement, with many young people choosing to build a tiny house rather than rent or buy a larger home and insurance companies now agreeing to insure tiny homes and limited financing to purchase a tiny home.
- More people are starting gardens, and some are taking barren land and turning it into an edible forest in an urban setting and sharing what they know on both their blog and their book.
- Farmer’s markets and CSAs are spreading faster each year.
- Alternatives to living in McMansions isn’t confined to the tiny house movement, growth in co-housing has come about to fill a need for community and reduced resources, along with transition towns which are being built to be as self-sustainable as possible.
- The books Plastic-free and Zero Waste Home being on the best sellers lists and highly sought show people are looking for solutions to the ills affecting us, it’s not just you and me.
- The numbers of people who have given up their cars or have never bought a car are the highest in generations, even in the US where cars have been seen as a way of life, people are walking away from ownership. When a vehicle is needed those in larger metropolitan areas are opting in for car-shares as a solution and bike rentals and sales are also growing.
Reduced consumption trends
- Consignment and thrift shops are seeing more traffic and wearing used clothing is seen as acceptable.
- People are cutting the cable and opting to borrow movies from the library or even watch them on online, on-demand services such as Netflix and Hulu
- Speaking of Netflix, sales of DVDs are down as people are opting not to buy movies they can watch on demand, this saves precious resources.
- We are seeing the brick and mortar book stores close, while sales at used book stores increases and lines are getting longer at libraries.
- Craigslist and FreeCycle are making it possible to keep items in circulation, and reducing the amount of new items being purchased.
- The popularity of DIY websites and Pinterest show people are embracing the idea of learning to do for themselves.
Perhaps a new spirit is rising among us. If it is, let us trace its movement well and pray that our own inner being may be sensitive to its guidance, for we are deeply in need of anew way beyond the darkness that seems so close around us. ~~ Martin Luther King, Jr.
This is my good news, we may be in a world of trouble but there are positive signs of a new direction. People who show us a new way of life is possible. What is your good news this week?