New book on perma-circularity (in French)

1505694304_couv_num_047227My colleague Dominique Bourg (also from the University of Lausanne) and myself have just released a new book in French, entitled Ecologie intégrale: Pour une société permacirculaire (translation: Integral Ecology: Toward a Perma-Circular Society), published in Paris by Presses Universitaires de France. It’s the culmination of a two-year effort we engaged in between mid-2014 (when I arrived at Lausanne) and mid-2016 to spell out (a) what sustainability really means and (b) what the social, cultural and political conditions for the emergence of a genuinely sustainable society are. It’s during this period that we published our article, Vers une économie authentiquement circulaire: Réflexions sur les fondements d’un indicateur de circularité” (“Toward a Genuinely Circular Economy: Reflections on the Foundations of a Circularity Indicator”), in which we first coined the word permacircularité. (In French, we don’t hyphenate it. I’m thinking of soon going over to that spelling convention in English as well – since the related word “permaculture” has no hyphen either.) Continue reading

Newer glimpses of perma-circular America (Part 4 of 4)

This fourth and last installment continues, yet again, where the previous post left off. We’re finishing the stay in New Mexico and heading back towards southern California via central and southern Arizona.

10. Perma-circularity lesson from the past: Chaco Canyon and the Anasazi collapse

The archaeological wealth of the Southwest is immense. Sites such as Chaco Canyon are also one of the region’s most consistently successful tourist attractions. In and of themselves, these vestiges of a past civilization – commonly called “Anasazi” or “Ancestral Puebloan” – and of places and cultures such as Chaco, Mogollon, Hohokam and Mimbres attest to the complete absurdity of the frontier thesis of an empty land waiting to be “settled” by 19th-century white colonists. A mixture of settlement and movement prevailed in this vast region for millennia – with a complexity that is still baffling historians today, and with a number of enigmas still unsolved. Continue reading

Newer glimpses of perma-circular America (Part 3 of 4)

This third – and penultimate – installment continues, once more, where the previous post left off. We’re now heading out of southern New Mexico towards the middle and more northern parts of the state.

7. Looking to the mountain of Indigenous education: Greg Cajete

Bernalillo (NM) north of Albuquerque is not a place where we would have stopped of our own accord. But it’s the town where, after a couple of phone calls to make an appointment, Gregory Cajete offered to meet us for lunch. Greg, who is the Director of Native American Studies at the University of New Mexico and an Associate Professor in the College of Education, is one of the US’s foremost scholars of indigenous education and Native American epistemology and ethics. Continue reading

Newer glimpses of perma-circular America (Part 2 of 4)

This continues where the previous post left off. We’re now leaving Los Angeles and southern California to enter the rest of the Southwest – Arizona and New Mexico, mainly.

4. Unsustainable oasis in the Sonoran Desert: Phoenix

Phoenix is routinely displayed in writings and talks about the Southwest as the paradigm of unsustainability – America’s, or even (in the words of Andrew Ross, author of Bird on Fire) “the world’s least sustainable city.” It is located in the northern part of the Sonoran Desert (which extends far to the south into Mexico), on the Salt River upstream from where it merges with the Santa Cruz River to become the Gila River. As you approach the sprawling metropolis from the west, the surrounding landscape of dry sagebrush gradually gives way to a mix of sinister suburban subdivisions and strangely green fields, with beautiful mountains in the background. Phoenix is a gigantic artificial desert oasis, engineered from scratch starting in the 1870s on the very lands that, for four centuries up to the 1250s, harbored the ancient Hohokam civilization with its elaborate irrigation systems. Continue reading

Newer glimpses of perma-circular America (Part 1 of 4)

Before the academic year gets into full swing and I am swallowed up by the maelstrom of daily chores, I wanted to send off this four-part post with my impressions of the second Southwest USA trip that my partner Agnieszka and I took this past summer. It isn’t meant to be a tedious travelogue – nor is it, I hope, the equivalent of the proverbial slide show a distant relative puts you through during a weekend family brunch. Rather, I’d like to record and reflect on certain things about the United States’ past or present that I think might be relevant for all those of us who care about perma-circularity (by that name or any other) and about a lastingly maintained one-planet footprint. Continue reading

“To irrigate our souls”: Some thoughts on a Southwestern “hydrosophy” and the Colorado River

In my previous post, I offered some thoughts about how, in our quest for a perma-circular economy and society, we could learn – or re-learn – from the great cycles of the Earth’s biosphere. In this post, I want to dwell on one of those cycles: the water cycle and, more specifically, the “water wisdom” we might gain from flowing water, in the form of rivers and streams – a widsom I will call “hydrosophy.” While I live and work in a country blessed with beautiful watercourses and majestic watersheds circumscribed in part by formidable mountains, I couldn’t have written this post if my partner and I hadn’t traveled in the Southwestern United States this past summer and the one before. So I will begin from over there even though, as I am writing, it’s so far away from here… and I’ll end up suggesting that, perhaps, the Southwest’s most iconic river, the Colorado, might be the right place to start on our hydrosophical journey. Continue reading

Perma-circularity and deep personal change: Learning (from) the wisdom of the biosphere’s great cycles

Before I tell you more, in forthcoming posts, about the impressions and lessons I brought back from our second summer trip to the American Southwest, I’d like to kick off this new after-summer season with a somewhat more general post about our necessary quest for deeper wisdom, about nature’s great cycles and about how we might tune into them so as to tap into what they can teach us — with the help of Native traditions that have long known about these things. Continue reading

Towards a perma-circular humanity: An illustrated lecture

This is kind of a continuation, by other means, of the musings I offered in my earlier post on “native wisdom” and “Native Modernity.” At the beginning of March, 2017, I gave a half-hour lecture, complete with PowerPoint slides, to a group of about twenty Master’s students from the University of Lausanne, where I work here in Switzerland. The context was an interfaculty course on “Global Warming and Societal Change” (conducted jointly with the University of Lancaster) in which a colleague and I were to teach one session on homo economicus and the overcoming of “petro-anthropology.” You may wonder what those words have to do with perma-circularity. Read on and I trust you’ll get some useful pointers. Continue reading

GUEST POST: Re-visioning Los Angeles and envisioning perma-circular settlements through the ecovillage paradigm, by Paul Glover

A while ago I announced that, as part of my “Ecovillage L.A. 2066” project, I would review the 2012 edition of Paul Glover’s book Los Angeles: A History of the Future, initially published in 1982. Instead, I now have the pleasure and the privilege of publishing this guest post by Paul himself, in which he details his vision for Los Angeles on the basis of the ecovillage paradigm, and offers an example taken from an initiative with which he is involved in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. In doing so, he significantly enhances our understanding of the basics of perma-circularity – even though he doesn’t use the term himself. Paul Glover is a famous community organizer, probably best known for being the creator, in 1991, of “Ithaca HOURS” in New York, one of the United States’ oldest functioning community currency. He is also the founder of the Philadelphia Orchard Project as well as a dozen other organizations and initiatives. His website can be visited at http://paulglover.org/. I’m convinced this text will soon be recognized as foundational by many of us who are seriously engaging with perma-circularity and its implications for city and settlement design. Continue reading

GUEST POST: Towards perma-circular currencies? Why a regenerative economy calls for new forms of money, by Matthew Slater

The British community currency designer Matthew Slater, co-founder of Community Forge and co-author of the Money & Society MOOC, has sent me a text on why we should make our money system perma-circular and how we might go about doing it. Because he sent it to me right before my father’s death, and because in January and February I was overburdened with administrative university work, it took me a while to edit it and upload it. Here it is now, and I’m excited and honored to be hosting Matthew’s thoughts – rooted in many years of practice in the area of community currency design (currently focused on upgrading and open sourcing the largest of the community exchange networks, CES) – on my blog. Continue reading