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 permacircularity. Read on and I trust you’ll get some useful pointers.
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 permacircularity – 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 permacircularity and its implications for city and settlement design.
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 permacircular 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.
Hello everyone. It’s been quite a while again (almost three months this time) since I last posted something. Life has been intruding, so to speak. I won’t go into all details. Some of them are pretty mundane, others less so.
One event stands out for me though, strangely or not so strangely related to this blog’s theme through the passageways of metaphysical lucidity. My father Klaus Arnsperger died, aged 87, on January 13th in a hospital in Zurich. My mother, my sister and I held his hands and stroked his chest up until his very last breath.
As the US presidential election campaign drags on and becomes more and more alarming with regard to the planet’s true needs, I’ve been seeking intellectual and existential solace in my family and also in further forays into the “Ecovillage L.A. 2066” project I outlined in one of my earlier posts.
In this context, I’ve recently been reading stuff by Richard Register, the father of the “ecocity” concept and founder of EcoCity Builders. I love it.
The French engineer François Grosse, currently the CEO of the urbanism consultancy ForCity, whose quantitative analysis of recycling underlies the contents of my most visited and quoted post up to now, is doing me the honor and the pleasure of contributing this blog’s first guest post. He delineates the rationale for what he calls “quasi-circular growth,” based on his understanding of why (a) recycling might well be useless in the long run in a growing economy but why (b) a de-growth — or negative growth — economy isn’t the answer. Ultimately, he calls for a deeper cultural overhaul of our entrenched habits if we are going to usher in a permacircular society.
My collaborative-utopian-imaginative-radical open-action-research project Ecovillage L.A. 2066 has been out there now for a few days. It’s getting off to a somewhat slow start, but that’s probably normal. Perma-circularity is in itself a new notion to wrap one’s head around, and applying it to an urban “hyper-organism” such as Los Angeles might seem like a tall order even for those who are prepared to go permacircular at full throttle.
So while, hopefully, the word gets around and gradually spreads, today I want to send out a somewhat geeky post. Some geekiness is called for, because we need a whole new vocabulary for the challenges facing us.
It’s kind of a dream idea. A bit crazy, in fact — the stuff utopian ideas and innovations are made of. You might call it a thought experiment. On a massive scale.
I want to call it “Ecovillage L.A. 2066.”
The question: What if, 50 years from now, Los Angeles were organized and inhabited as an ecovillage, or – more to the point – a federation of ecovillages? A metropolitan ecovillage of 20 million people, envisioned as a permacircular region: What would it look and feel like? What would have to change, and why would those changes – momentous as they would have to be – offer exciting new cultural and social horizons?
Have your relatives at the dinner table been asking you lately about the difference between false and genuine circularity? If so, and if you felt your answer came up short because the blog posts I’ve been feeding you are so long, let me try to encapsulate things so you have a snappy set of replies handy next time.
This weekend the Swiss people exercised their democratic sovereignty to say “Yes” or “No” to a very important popular initiative, labeled “Green Economy.” Its full name was “For a sustainable economy based on an efficient use of resources.” This initiative was initially spearheaded by the Green party. In essence, it proposed a gradual reduction in the country’s ecological footprint to one planet, down from about 3.5, over the next 35 years. The final verdict was “No,” with a rejection of the initiative by 63.5% against versus 36.5% in favor. (If you need to brush up on what popular initiatives mean in Swiss direct democracy, click here.) Only the canton of Geneva said “Yes,” by a relatively short majority of 52%. Among all other cantons, the highest “No” rate of 78% was observed in the central canton of Schwyz; the lowest “No” vote was around 53% and came about in Basel-City and in Vaud.