Lecture Summaries

 
Distributing Our Technological Inheritance
Gar Alperovitz, 1994

Arguing that our current sophisticated technology builds on a history of scientific achievements which are rightly our shared cultural inheritance, Alperovitz then constructs a philosophical argument for broad distribution of the profits earned from the capitalization of this technology. In the process he examines some of the practical ways that such distribution can be achieved.
 
 
Climate Change and the Politics of Interdependence
Benjamin Barber, 2009
Barber’s explanation as to why political process combating climate change has stalled is based on the idea that “in a market economy the logic of consumers trumps the logic of citizens.” By consistently favoring privatization and market-based decisions over public discourse and conscious decision-making based on the public good, we have created a system in which votes made with the dollar speak louder than votes at the poll. Today’s capitalism, Barber argues, makes little distinction between wants and needs. Half a century ago, the model capitalist was one who figured out how to produce something that people truly needed and made a profit selling it. Now that our needs are met (for many, but certainly not all, in the US and  the rest of the world) a version of “paper capitalism” has emerged, in which making a profit is more important than making a product. Barber points out that there are dire crises—global warming being the most pressing—for which solutions need to be invented to combat them. His argument is that this cannot be done in a system where individuals think of themselves first as consumers and only secondarily as citizens. To solve today’s most pressing issues we must reclaim our citizenship and strengthen the voices speaking out for the common good.
 
 
Natural Foie Gras and the Future of Food           
Dan Barber, 2008
“Who’s the farmer here, and who’s the chef?” This is the question Barber asks himself after witnessing the production of natural foie gras. Normally the epitome of unnatural food, most foie gras is made by force-feeding geese copious amounts of grain in a process called gavage and slaughtering them while their livers are enlarged, fatty, and particularly delicious. But when Barber pays a visit to a unique Spanish farmer, he learns that by allowing geese to eat as they please from a landscape of natural and local grains without any force-feeding, the result is a foie gras so flavorful that it doesn’t even need to be seasoned. The farmer and the chef are one and the same. Equally amazing is the way the flock is perpetuated: the geese are so happy and well-fed that they signal wild geese flying overhead to join them. The future of food, Barber suggests, could consist of working in concert with natural patterns and animal behaviors rather than against them.
 
 
Capitalism, the Commons, and Divine Right
Peter Barnes, 2003

Barnes defines the commons as "the sum of all we inherit together and must pass on, undiminished and more or less equally, to our heirs." The commons includes watersheds, air, DNA, playgrounds, Main Street, radio waves, political systems, and numerous other natural resources and social innovations. Barnes suggests that the commons should be held in trust for the benefit of current and future generations as a way of countering the power of the market and its search for short-term private profits.
 
 
Every Being Has Rights
           
Thomas Berry, 2003
The audience knew they were part of a memorable gathering when Thomas Berry delivered his 2003 Schumacher Lecture. Paul Winter came with saxophone in hand to honor a living sage; every face beamed. It hardly mattered what Berry said, but what he did say reminded us that we are a part of a common universe in which every being has the right to fulfill its destiny and the right to joy.  Berry's cosmology is deeply rooted in respect for all living things. His inspired lecture is a testament to this respect.
 
 
The Ecozoic Era
           
Thomas Berry, 1991

We presently face a radical transition in Earth's history. "[W]e have already terminated the Cenozoic period of the geo-biological systems of the planet . . . . A renewal of life in some creative context requires that a new biological period come into being, a period when humans would dwell upon the Earth in a mutually enhancing manner." Berry outlines the conditions required for the emergence of an Ecozoic Era, a time for healing the damage done to Earth and learning to live in harmony with it again. Drawing on the experience of Native Americans, he urges renewed understanding of the Great Story: the combined stories of community, Earth, and universe. Berry calls on Elders of the Tribe to inspire future generations with this vision, since only with a new myth to replace the current entrancement with a destructive technology will they "be able to endure the pains of transformation" sure to come.
 
 
The Family as a Small Society
           
Elise Boulding, 1982
Boulding argues that the household unit because of its scale, authenticity, and depth of relationships can be an effective tool for social change in the local community. She contrasts "global systems" with "planetary systems": The military, international corporations, and global markets which make up global systems she describes as serving institutional interests whereas the network of nongovernmental organizations which make up planetary systems and whose members are small-scale household units have roots in and serve actual places. Boulding has faith in the endurance of this "planetary localism."
 
 
It's Healing Time on Earth
           
David Brower, 1992

The first stage of the James Bay hydro-electric development project submerged four thousand square acres of northern Canadian forest. In the past eighty years the global population has tripled and the population of California has gone up by a factor of twelve. We may already have destroyed the botanical ingredients of a cure for AIDS. Brower delivers these and other stories of the ecological destruction taking place in all parts of the Earth, embellishing his narrative with stories of people working for ecological restoration and examples of the "miracles of wildness." He also identifies a strong public wish to assist with ecological restoration and urges us all to participate in restoration projects.
 
 
The Role of the Individual in Localizing Money Issue and Credit Creation
Christopher Houghton Budd, 2005
Explaining how we as individuals relate to the complex worlds of Money and Capital, Houghton Budd shows that an understanding of these aspects of the monetary world as well as an awareness of the importance of accounting give new meaning to the maxim, "Think Globally, Act Locally," both in terms of macro-economic realities and micro-economic desicion-making, and outlines how these two are linked. He concludes with profound advice for those who care about investing their money in ways that truly make a difference at the local level. 

 
 
Sustainable South Bronx: A Model for Environmental Justice
Majora Carter, 2007

Founder and Executive Director of Sustainable South Bronx,  Carter points to environmental justice as the civil- rights issue of the twenty-first century. She advocates economically sustainable projects informed by community needs. Her work to counteract environmental health hazards and high unemployment in her community includes the promotion of green roofs, greenways, clean technology, and a green-collar job-training program and workforce.
 
Stories From an Appalachian Community
Marie Cirillo, 2000

When asked by Vice President Gore what she would do if elected President, Cirillo said she would introduce a program of land reform. For thirty-three years she has lived and worked in Clairfield, Tennessee, located in a valley hemmed in by two big mountains and made up of a network of twelve unincorporated communities, most of which are former coal camps. Her single goal has been to gain some measure of economic self-sufficiency for the Appalachian people whose land and livelihood were wasted as a consequence of the extractive practices of absentee corporate owners. Cirillo's first task was to regain control of the land for human settlement and restoration by establishing the Woodland Community Land Trust. Her struggle for and with the people of the region to achieve that purpose makes her one of the true heroes in the effort to reverse the patterns of globalization.
 
 
Ecologically Sustainable Economic Development: Not Just Another Pretty Face
George Davis, 1993

Davis devoted his MacArthur fellowship to mapping the watershed of Lake Baikal, the largest fresh-water source on earth. Using zoning methods, conservation easements, and the community land trust model for the productive land, he has undertaken to implement a sustainable economic development plan for the watershed to ensure the protection of this important world resource in the face of the many changes going on in the former Soviet Union. Davis's motto, "Listen to the land, listen to the people," has helped him create cohesiveness among the various interest groups, including emerging regional government authorities, environmentalists, entrepreneurs, academicians, and representatives from foreign countries. His approach is highly effective and his lecture an important addition in a series on environmental issues. The E. F. Schumacher Society (now New Economics Instittue) is working with Davis Associates to implement a regional land trust in the Olkhon region of Baikal.
 
 
The Management Explosion and the Next Environmental Crisis
David Ehrenfeld, 1990
Ehrenfeld examines the consequences of "the extraordinary proliferation of administration, of bureaucracy, of management, the increasing percentage of people in our society who control events but do not themselves produce anything real." He gives examples of management that has become itself a raison d'etre, grown far beyond a size appropriate to its necessary modern-day role. When management grows so large, "it appropriates and stifles the life of the society." He then gives several suggestions on how to curb managerial excess, with the admonition that "[t]o survive with the many good features of our society intact and with our environment in a liveable condition, we must solve the problem of bureaucracy before it solves itself . . ." because "management, like anything undergoing perpetual growth, will eventually bring itself under control by running out of resources."
 
 
Flapping Butterfly Wings: A Retrospect of TRANET's First Twenty Years
William Ellis, 1998

Ellis has spent the past twenty years searching out the people and organizations with the best applications of appropriate technology. He records and circulates his findings through the TRANET newsletter, thereby helping facilitate the person-to-person exchanges that empower small communities around the world to successfully solve technological problems at the local level.
 
 
Very Small is Beautiful
Sally Fallon Morell, 2008
Arguing that modern notions of germs, microbiology, vaccination, and disease are doing more harm than good, Fallon Morell advocates eating habits, centered on raw milk, as a way to prevent disease. In addition, she argues that large-scale food production and pasteurization must be abandoned in favor of small-scale, local farming.
 
 
A Map: From the Old Connecticut Path to the Rio Grande Valley and All the Meaning In Between
Chellis Glendinning, 1999
"I come to you from a place where the earth is pink”—thus  Glendinning begins her warm evocation of place, the place in New Mexico where she lives, the particular spots on the map where other people have learned to set their roots, connect with the land, and live their lives in effective harmony with their surroundings. She contrasts the way in which the Europeans who invaded America (including her ancestors) regarded place as the battleground for empire and exploitation with the way the mostly Chicano people she lives among—the "down-to-earth people"—regard their place. They are trying to resist that empire, fighting against Wal-Marts and the Bureau of Land Management and the developers stealing from their ancient land grants. But however ugly and powerful the forces of what Glendinning terms the "global economic empire” may be, the challenge to them is really based on a deep feeling for place that she calls "a map of love;” in today's world, as she puts it, "loving the earth is a political act.” And this map, she shows, can apply to all of us, no matter where we live.

 
 
What Can We Hope for the World in 2075?
Neva Goodwin, 2010
Goodwin expects the next sixty-five years to be a time of rapid change in America and worldwide. Based on the best projections available, the energy sources we rely on today will become increasingly scarce and expensive, and the percentage of the population that is of working age will diminish. The likely result of this, for the U.S. at least, is “a future with less stuff per household.” But while some outcomes are largely out of our control, Goodwin argues that the opportunity still exists, maybe more so than ever before, to make the best of this imminent period of change by finding alternative energy sources, recognizing the importance of the commons, learning to live within our means, spending more time on leisure, and reforming and/or reining in corporations.
 
 
Wagner And The Fate Of The Earth: A Contemporary Reading of The Ring
Hunter Hannum, 1993

Wagner's four operas comprising The Ring of the Nibelung have long been subject matter for scholars; Hannum offers a new interpretation based on the work's relevance to contemporary society, which is suffering an environmental crisis without, as Thomas Berry says, a vision to guide it forward on a path to sustainability. The Ring, according to Hannum, is a drama that elucidates the "destructive elements of our age" while offering "a vision of healing and wholeness." He critiques the 1898 analysis of The Ring by G.B. Shaw, finding his rejection of the work's tragic aspects and his misreading of the drama's denouement illustrative of the "heroic" phase of the scientific-technical age in which Shaw lived. Instead, Hannum argues that the drama's denouement—Brunnhilde's return of the stolen gold to the Rhinemaidens—is a symbolic pointer toward ecological restoration and a vindication of Nature and the Feminine vis-à-vis the power of the patriarchy, as represented by the work's male characters. He presents composer-poet Wagner as an artist who, in a myopic industrial-commercial age, demonstrated a vision encompassing the fate of planet Earth.
 
 
Democracy, Earth Rights, and the Next Economy
Alanna Hartzok, 2001

It is only in recent human history that land has been enclosed and the rights of use given to a few people, as opposed to a whole community. Hartzok points out that individual equality, even in a democracy, cannot exist without equal rights to the abundance of the earth. She presents solutions that have been successful in Pennsylvania and elsewhere, including restructuring taxes so that land value, a communal asset, is taxed instead of wages or buildings.
 
 
 
Fifty Million Farmers
Richard Heinberg, 2006
It is high time that the discussion of peak oil includes a solution to the decline in supply. Heinberg conveys to us the urgency of converting our current agricultural system while options for doing so are still available. There is something highly dysfunctional and ultimately destructive about a system of food production that requires ten kilocalories of energy to produce one kilocalorie of food. His solution is a decentralized agriculture system relying on the productive capacity of regions, not long-distance transport of products. Small-scale, organic farming would decrease our current dependence on fossil fuels and prepare us for the inevitable end of cheap oil.
 
 
Development Beyond Economism: Local Paths to Sustainable Development
Hazel Henderson, 1989
 (revised 2007)
Henderson evaluates the need for a broader definition of economic development, one which measures progress and prosperity by social as well as by traditional econometric measures. "Guiding societies by today's over-aggregated indices is like trying to fly a Boeing 747 with a single oil pressure gauge! The social indicators debate is about disaggregation, revealing overlooked detail, locally and sectorally, and adding a whole row of additional gauges to . . . societies' 'instrument panels' so as to plug feedback into decision-making with more precision and timeliness." Henderson describes her experiences in developing countries that are trying to act independently of "Eurocentric industrial development theorists" in order to gauge economic progress more accurately and respond to their countries' real needs.

 
 
The Wisdom of Leopold Kohr
Ivan Illich, 1994

More than any other thinker of the twentieth century, Illich has challenged institutional bureaucracies and provided a strong voice for small communities. In this lecture, he reflects on Kohr's efforts to lay a foundation for an alternate to economics and traces historic attitudes of proportionality, scale, reasonableness, and economic scarcity.

 
 
Women and the Challenge Of The Ecological Era
Dana Lee Jackson, 1990

The era of greed and dominance must end. In the Ecological Era, according to Jackson, "we must learn from nature and from women in order to transform our destructive patterns . . . . The first step . . . is to cultivate and elevate in importance some of the qualities and values most generally associated with women that can help us abandon our suicidal patterns." We can then "combine what we have learned in the ecological era and what we have learned in the feminist era to respond to environmental crises."

 
 
Becoming Native to this Place
Wes Jackson, 1993
Co-founder of The Land Institute in Salina, Kansas, and pioneer in sustainable agriculture, Jackson is here too a pioneer—for sustainable communities. Years of seeing the harm done to his beloved prairies through the implementation of corporate agricultural practices determined his dramatic move to the small, almost abandoned town of Matfield Green in the Flint Hills of Kansas. Instructed by the history and traditions of the people who lived there before him, Jackson has undertaken to renew the town on an ecological and sustainable basis. It is a large undertaking, and it may not be successful; however, he has only one choice and we with him: to try. His lecture is a powerful affirmation of this spirit of renewal.
 
 
Call For A Revolution In Agriculture
Wes Jackson, 1981

Jackson points to agriculture—in particular to the methods of till agriculture, which cause soil loss and destroy the soil's water-holding capacity—as our "number one environmental problem, aside from nuclear war"  (and today he would undoubtedly add global warming). As practiced, modern agriculture undercuts the very basis of its own existence and thus jeopardizes the future of the human population. At the Land Institute in Salina, Kansas, Jackson and others are working toward a sustainable system of agriculture based on patches (rather than fields) of perennials (rather than annuals), a system "that is at once self-renewing like the prairie or forest and yet capable of supporting the current human population." He urges that we stop using the reductionist language of science and economics in our studies and applications of ecology and instead use language and metaphors that spring directly from nature.

 
 
The Economy Of Regions
Jane Jacobs, 1983

According to Jacobs the healthiest economic regions are those which have strong and innovative import-replacing cities of their own. The economies of such city-regions are shaped and reshaped by complex, economically enlivening, interrelating forces originating within their own regions. Such regions, she says, become capable of producing amply and diversely for their own people and are not passively manipulated by specialized economic forces from distant cities.
 
 
Cold Evil: Technology and Ethics in Today's Society
Andrew Kimbrell, 2000

When Kimbrell examines what is causing the greatest social and ecological havoc in today‘s world, he sees that it is not what we traditionally think of as evil—crimes committed in the hot passion of the moment. Instead the problems stem from our misuse of technology, a technology wielded by some very nice people, neighbors we have come to like and trust. Kimbrell blames the scale of technology that creates a double distancing between the user of technology and the consequences of that use. The lecture is a highly original reflection on the current condition of our society.
 
 
Salmon Economics (and other lessons)
Andrew Kimbrell, 2003
What would it look like if our economics were based on the laws of nature, rather than the fabricated laws of supply and demand? To help answer this question Kimbrell turns to Alaskan salmon for insight. In their bi-annual spawning journey, he sees examples of redistribution, reciprocity, and gift-giving—all aspects of pre-capitalist human economies. He makes the case that while most of us have come to see competition among people as natural, it was until fairly recently a luxury that humans could not afford if they wished to survive. But with the rise of free-market capitalism, humanity collectively has traded a life of doing for a life of having and in the process has made commodities out of everything, including land and our own labor. Rather than trying to make our economies fit into ancient natural systems, we are now putting enormous resources into reshaping nature to fit into our economies. Salmon, which are now subject to enclosed farming and genetic modification, are a primary victim. But rather than despair, Kimbrell sees the relentlessness with which the salmon fight their way up river as a sign that we can and must keep working to align human and natural economies.
 
 
Why Small Is Beautiful: The Size Interpretation of History

Leopold Kohr, 1990

"The answer to all questions underlying all our problems today is the size factor—not unemployment, not warfare, not juvenile delinquency, not business fluctuation, not Black Mondays, Black Fridays, or Black Tuesdays." According to Kohr we must reduce the huge size of modern nations in order to reduce their negative consequences. Using anecdotes and analogies Kohr shows why small is beautiful. Just as the small size of a harbor will diminish the power of great swells arriving from the open ocean, so can small communities lessen the impact of our global society's ocean-sized operations. This is the "harbor philosophy"; its application, says Kohr, is "the only prospect that will enable human society to survive."
 
 
Creating a Post-Corporate World
David Korten, 2000

Co-founder of Positive Futures Network (publishers of Yes! magazine) and the People-Centered Development Forum, Korten is best known for his analysis of the social and ecological problems wrought by global corporations. In his lecture he explores alternatives to an economy dominated by a few giant enterprises.

 
 
Voices from White Earth: Gaa-waabaabiganikaag
Winona LaDuke, 1993

A member of the Mississippi Band of the Anishinaabe from the White Earth Reservation, LaDuke is a strong and clear voice for the return to traditional land-holding patterns of her people. She explains how, in order to sustain the life of the Anishinaabe, her people have need of different kinds of land: the lakes for harvesting wild rice, the forests for hunting, and the meadows for gathering herbs. The earlier artificial allocation of square plots of the White Earth Reservation to individual tribal members and the inevitable loss of the Anishinaabes' land through sale to outsiders has resulted in a mosaic of land use that separates the community from its traditions. Her own work is devoted to restoring the integrity of the White Earth Reservation by repurchasing sold land and holding it in a community land trust arrangement so that it may be productively used without fear of loss. The story she tells is a moving one and provides a practical approach to healing a wounded people and wounded land.
 
 
Eat the Sky: The Climate Crisis at the End of Your Fork
Anna Lappé, 2008
There is a fairly standard list of environmentally friendly actions American consumers are typically encouraged to take: “drive less, buy a hybrid car, buy energy-efficient appliances, change our light bulbs.” But Lappé points out that this list entirely neglects food. Since 31 percent of greenhouse gas emissions can be traced back to food production, this is an extremely important element of climate change for us to consider. The food industry, she argues, does seem to acknowledge (at least to some extent) its role in the climate debate, but food companies seem to be making a concerted effort to portray themselves as part of the solution rather than part of the problem. Lappé calls on us not only to consider changing our own behavior but also to go a step further and question larger systemic issues such as continued government subsidies for agribusinesses.
 
 
Toward A Politics Of Hope: Lessons for a Hungry World
Frances Moore Lappé, 1985
According to Lappé, economic rules taken as dogma have allowed an increasing concentration of decision-making power over wide-scale food production and distribution: that power has come to reside largely with land-owning minorities, with "governments beholden to self-serving elites," and with the international corporations that dominate world trade. The roots of hunger, she says, are not to be found in the scarcity of resources but in the scarcity of democracy. A "politics of hope" working toward food for all must encourage trust in our deepest moral sensibilities.
           
 
Of Corporations, Law, and Democracy
Thomas Linzey, 2005

As the co-founder and staff attorney for the nonprofit Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund, Linzey is engaged in the work of "collective nonviolent disobedience through municipal lawmaking." He has dedicated himself to changing the method of governance in the United States. Linzey believes that for democracy to be a reality, a shift must be made from "regulating the activity to defining the actor." His lecture gives hope and direction to our communities that are too often plagued by absentee governing and ownership.
 
 
Natural Capitalism: The Next Industrial Revolution
Amory Lovins, 2001

It is fortunate for us all that Lovins applies his brilliant ideas to caring for the environment. Here he argues that those industries creating energy-smart products are not only viable but profitable. Not content to merely observe and comment, he jumps in to the designing of new-products design—taking risks, investing time and money, giving practical examples, and making a future industrial society based on sound biological principles seem feasible. 

           
 
Greening the Campus from a Purchasing Perspective
Kevin Lyons, 2002

To talk of the importance of using more ecologically responsible products is easy; to implement their use in our institutions is a different journey. As purchasing agent for Rutgers University, one of the largest state educational institutions,  Lyons had the opportunity to put theory into practice. His story reveals his dogged determination, attention to small details, consensus-building with stakeholders, frustrations, humble courageousness, and willingness to be marginalized—all necessary to effect change. It is the story of an unsung hero of our times.
 
 
The Ice Is Melting
Oren Lyons, 2004

Lyons is a tribal chief of the Onondaga Nation. Although referring to himself as unlettered, he communicates the wisdom Native Americans have passed down over the centuries. As Faithkeeper of the Turtle Clan he is responsible for maintaining the Clan's customs, traditions, values, and history—all of which he tells about in his compelling lecture. He takes us back to the days of the Founding Fathers and shows how influential Native Americans were in guiding them in the formation of a democratic government. Chief Lyons focuses on what is urgently needed today: waking up to the coming global catastrophe represented by global warming; a return to responsible leadership; and giving thought to seven generations ahead in our decision-making.
 
 
Economic Globalization: The Era of Corporate Rule
Jerry Mander, 1999

Long in the forefront of the anti-globalization movement, Mander sets forth in clear and impassioned terms the devastating effects of the current global economy—"the most fundamental redesign of the planet's systems since the Industrial Revolution"—and shows how such measures as the Multilateral Agreement on Investment are designed to make the rich richer and the poor poorer. But he also shows the steps that can be taken by individuals and groups in opposition to globalization to protest and resist its domination and raise the fundamental question, "Who should make the rules we live by?" Delivered just a few weeks before the massive protest demonstrations in Seattle in November 1999, Mander anticipates the powerful forces that gathered there and suggests ways in which the anti-globalization movement can continue to make its voice heard and its truths manifest in future struggles.
 
 
Bringing Power Back Home: Recreating Democracy on a Human Scale
John McClaughry, 1989
Although for generations the government of Vermont rested with the administrators of its 246 towns, the past thirty years have seen a slow but steady growth of central power. According to McClaughry, Vermonters are in danger of losing true citizenship and therefore of losing their democracy as more and more decisions affecting their lives are made by distant functionaries. "[T]he place where you belong and where you recognize those who belong and those who are strangers, where the good of everyone is tied together in an interconnected web that is ruptured only at the peril of everyone in the community—that is where citizenship resides." Reiterating the central theme of The Vermont Papers: Recreating Democracy on a Human Scale (co-authored with Frank Bryan), McClaughry calls for a federation in Vermont of new political bodies called "shires," which would be big enough to take back the powers lost to the state and small enough to allow direct citizen participation.
 
 
The Most Important Number in the World
Bill McKibben, 2009
Founder of 350.org, McKibben describes the birth of the 350 movement and makes an impassioned plea for immediate citizen activism on a global scale in the face of the increasingly dire effects of climate change and the lack of action on the part of world political leaders.
 
 
John Deere and The Bereavement Counselor
John L. McKnight, 1984

Just as the sod-busting steel plow was destructive of the healthy agricultural development of Wisconsin, modern service technologies such as bereavement counseling can be destructive of the natural caring web of community. According to McKnight, costly service technologies are often counterproductive, resulting in a community's loss of traditional wisdom and social commitment. He recommends the recultivation of social forms that do not replace consent with control, replace diverse cultural behavior with service monopolies, or turn citizens into mere clients and consumers.
 
 
The Community's Role in Appropriate Technology
George McRobie, 1982

Founder with Fritz Schumacher of the Intermediate Technology Development Group in London, McRobie discusses the role of intermediate technology in building self-sufficient regional economies. He explains that engineers should be trained to scale down their designs to meet the cultural, economic, and natural-resource conditions of local place. When engineers design to save energy and capital rather than to save labor, the resulting technology facilitates the creation of large numbers of workplaces rather than centralizing manufacturing. McRobie sees intermediate technology as a tool to redistribute wealth, giving back to communities, families, and local organizations the power that has gradually been taken from them.
 
 
The Company We Keep: The Case for Small Schools
Deborah Meier, 1998
Meier argues that at the heart of civic life are responsible relationships; we learn by the company we keep. She goes on to contend that our system of large schools tends to discourage responsible interactions by their very scale. Not content to just criticize, she outlines the steps she and her colleagues have taken to shape small schools within the public school system, increasing continuity of staff, more interaction among age groups, and a sense of community.
 
 
Bob Swann's "Positively Dazzling Realism"
Stephanie Mills, 2004

Writer, editor, ecologist, and activist, Mills has been involved with matters ecological, bioregional, social, and political for over thirty years. Although her books and essays have largely fallen under the rubric of nature writing, she presents here a portrait of Robert Swann, co-founder in 1980 of the E. F. Schumacher Society and its president until shortly before his death in January 2003. Focusing on his life-long active nonviolence, participation in the civil rights movement, and introduction into this country of the community land trust, Mills describes how Swann became an inspiring spokesman for community economics and was instrumental in advancing a community-based economic movement that continues to grow. She is eloquent in her portrayal of  Swann as "a visionary of the here and now."
 
 
Making Amends to the Myriad Creatures
Stephanie Mills, 1991
The purpose of the rapidly growing discipline called ecological restoration is to heal damaged landscapes by reinstating their original plant and animal communities, thereby making amends for humankind's degradation of ecosystems. Thousands of people nationwide are involved in this rigorous, labor-intensive, painstakingly slow work. Mills, author of Whatever Happened to Ecology?, a personal narrative of her journey into the bioregional movement, tells about current projects, describing the difficulties, pitfalls, and rewards in store for those who return a given area to its earlier biological diversity, stability, and beauty. She shows that protecting wilderness is not the only motive behind restoration: another is to regain a sense of belonging to and depending on one's local ecosystem, with the hope that "cultural interaction with [it] will inculcate a moral restraint on the impulse to control and determine, to expand and exploit," resulting in a sustainable way of life for future generations. 

 
 
Declaration of Independents
Stacy Mitchell, 2006
Independent businesses in the United States have been under attack in recent decades. Large chains, or "big-box" stores, have dominated the market for nearly every product, in the process homogenizing our once unique Main Streets. Now local communities across the country are fighting back, and Mitchell is helping to shape the tools. As a staff member of the Institute for Local Self-Reliance she creates effective guidelines for communities struggling to resist corporate invasion. Her lecture describes the application of innovative programs that provide hope for the future of independent business.
 
 
How the Conquest of Indigenous Peoples Parallels the Conquest of Nature
John Mohawk, 1997

Blending social history, which he teaches at SUNY Buffalo, with an ecological perspective, Mohawk is able to draw the parallels among various cultures, from the ancient Greeks to the Spanish conquerors to the Nazi Germans. Each of them essentially believed in a Utopian idealism in which certain people are destined for greatness and other people, along with their environments, are to be destroyed or ignored. This is now the philosophy underlying global capitalism and its institutions—and the reason why the world is in such trouble. Indigenous people understand that, and it is by connecting with their wisdom and their way of thinking that we can begin to ask serious questions about where we are heading and at what cost.
 
 
Reclaiming Community
David Morris, 1996
Co-founder of the Institute for Local Self-Reliance, Morris describes the growing tension between the globalization of economies and the localization of politics, between our role as consumers and our role as citizens. He suggests that the resolution of this tension lies in Schumacher‘s call for local production for local consumption. A localized physical economy can co-exist with an impersonal globalized information economy, but to achieve this co-existence requires instituting new rules to encourage production methods which are accountable to community and place.
 
 
Moving Toward Community: From Global Dependence to Local Interdependence
Helena Norberg-Hodge, 1996

Founder and director of the International Society for Ecology and Culture, Norberg-Hodge presents an eloquent argument in favor of worldwide action to oppose the global capitalist economy and its monoculture with revivified and strengthened local economies and communities. Drawing on her experience, particularly in Ladakh in northwestern India, she shows convincingly how much of a menace to tradition and stability the newly powerful global economy is, how destructive of culture as well as environment. But using her experience there in local organizing and cultural survival, she also demonstrates that it is possible to resist international pressures, raise awareness of the dangers of foreign influences, and create grass-roots initiatives for local empowerment and self-sufficiency.

 
 
Environmental Literacy: Education as if the Earth Mattered
David Orr, 1992
"For the most part . . . we are still educating the young as if there were no planetary emergency." Yet, continues Orr, the environmental crisis is "first and foremost a crisis of mind, perception, and values—hence, a challenge to those institutions presuming to shape minds, perceptions, and values. It is an educational challenge." Our society must embrace and implement new ways of teaching that emphasize and prepare people for ecologically integrated lives and livelihoods. Orr describes the goals and basic tenets of ecological education, presenting five measures that are essential to transforming the modern curriculum.
 
 
E. F. Schumacher: He Taught Us to Build Bridges and Plant Trees
Will Raap, 2006
Using the examples of the Intervale Foundation and Gardener's Supply, both of which Raap founded, he demostrates that economic gain can be linked to social and environmental gain. A business can flourish by enhancing the environment and supporting community while still generating a profit. Raap recounts the encouraging story of the Intervale in Burlington, Vermont. Once a dumping ground, the Intervale has been rejuvenated as an incubator for beginning organic farmers, providing a model for putting marginalized land into productive use to benefit the surrounding community.
 
 
The Columbian Legacy and the Ecosterian Response
Kirkpatrick Sale, 1990

The 500th anniversary of the "discovery" of America motivates Sale, author of The Conquest of Paradise: Christopher Columbus and the Columbian Legacy, to reassess the legacy of European settlement and domination, finding it dangerously inadequate. As a countermeasure to this heritage and as a practical step toward an ecological future, he proposes the creation of small-scale communities to be called ecosteries, modeled on the monasteries that arose after the fall of Rome but devoted in our day to ecological protection and restoration as well as the preservation of the knowledge necessary for that work.
 
 
Mother Of All: An Introduction to Bioregionalism
Kirkpatrick Sale, 1983

Sale argues that while the positive accomplishments of modern science are undeniable, the failures and dangers of the mechanistic, scientific worldview are such that the only sane path, the very path of survival, is "to once again comprehend the earth as a living creature." To begin to move toward this vision of the living earth, he says, we must get in touch with and understand the natural conditions of the specific place in which we live. Sale outlines four basic determinants of any organized civilization—scale, economy, politics, and society—and demonstrates how bioregionalism is an appropriate organizational model in each area, with historical validity and a workable vision for the future.

 
 
The Friendship Club and the Well-Springs of Civil Society
William Schambra, 1999

A senior program officer at the Bradley Foundation, Schambra focuses here on creating the conditions for people to practice the art of self-governance in small face-to-face communities. Taking as his model the Friendship Club, a small self-governing community of drug users and street people in Milwaukee, he shows how these people have cultivated new attitudes and virtues without making themselves into the "grateful clients of credentialed experts." This level of civil society, he notes, can be murky and disorganized, but the existence of an institution that is their own is worth much more to seemingly powerless disadvantaged people than the benevolent ministrations of the bureaucratic social agencies delivering services and benefits.
 
 
Going Local: New Opportunities for Community Economies
Michael Shuman, 2002 

Shuman's lecture to the Community Land Trust in the Southern Berkshires points to the shift that is occurring from a global economy focusing on cheap goods and the protection of private bottom lines to a local economy centering on place and the protection of families, communities, and the environment. Locally owned businesses and local production encourage self-reliance, which ultimately will "systematically resolve . . . material conflicts over oil, water, land, resources, and poverty . . . mak[ing] a very important contribution to world peace."
 
Local Stock Exchanges: The Next Wave of Community Economy Building
Michael Shuman, 2007
Shuman makes a critical point when he asks his audience how many have pension funds and sees a fair number of hands go up, then enquires of those who do have them, "How many are primarily invested in local business?” Almost no one in attendance raises a hand. Why is it that even “the most local-economy-minded people,” as he describes his audience, do not own stock in local companies? It is not because local businesses are poor investments; in fact, Shuman details a variety of ways in which small place-based businesses are more stable, easier to research, and do more for local economies than large corporations; rather, the issue is with the legal and financial industry infrastructure. Securities law discourages individuals from purchasing local business stocks, and issuing stock is tricky for a small business. Nonetheless, Shuman argues, the potential exists. A number of local stock issuings have already been successful, and states can help by revising securities laws. There remain a few hurdles to overcome, but local stock exchanges will offer the opportunity to help build local living economies.
 
The Garden Project: Growing Urban Communities
Cathrine Sneed, 1995
Delivering a powerful message that is moving, hopeful, and urgent, Sneed shows that bringing people out of the jails and off the streets into the garden can be transformative in both the human and natural realms. Her personal story is equally compelling as she tells about overcoming life-threatening illness, poverty, a skeptical bureaucracy, and the resistance of co-workers to her creation of a gardening program within the San Francisco jail system. Through their work in the garden and Sneed's untiring efforts on their behalf, she has taught the participants a better way to live.
 
 
Gardens That Build Hope and Healing
Catherine Sneed, 2008
Founder of the Garden Project in San Francisco, Sneed relates her experiences working with former inmates and at-risk youth to develop an organic community garden. All the food that is raised is given away to people in need: "This gives our folks a purpose; they know they can make a contribution." She makes it clear that her project has the power to profoundly change its participants and give them the tools necessary to function in society.
 
 
Letter to Liberals: Liberalism, Environmentalism, and Economic Growth
James Gustave Speth, 2010
The task of aligning the interests of liberals and environmentalists is not an easy one. Aside from the fact that the former focus primarily on social concerns and the latter on ecological, there is a fundamental split between them on the question of economic growth. For most mainstream liberal thinkers, economic growth is a necessary ingredient for a positive future, holding the potential to lift people out of poverty, but  environmentalists argue increasingly that continuing economic growth will not be ecologically sustainable much longer. Despite this schism, Speth argues, liberals and environmentalists are mutually reliant. In “a land of pervasive economic insecurity and stark inequality,” making real environmental progress will be politically impossible. And the effects of climate change are likely to have the harshest effects on the world’s poor. Thus, environmental campaigns cannot succeed without the strengthening of liberalism, nor can liberal goals be met without progress on the environmental front. Therefore, Speth calls for liberals and environmentalists to set aside their ideological differences and work towards common goals.
 
 
Green Politics: The Spiritual Dimension
Charlene Spretnak, 1984
Spretnak calls for a greater spiritual grounding within the Green movement. She encourages fostering those inner paths to wisdom which exist, though often unemphasized, within every religious tradition, urging that we move beyond the patriarchal, anthropocentric, media-shaped values of the modern technological world and, with increasing inner conviction, support a vision of gender equality, social responsibility, and deep ecological wisdom.

 
 
Ecological Design: Reinventing the Future
John Todd, 2001

To hear Todd is to be struck by his dedication, modesty, integrity, and humanity. A biologist and Earth steward, he is in the forefront of the new field called ecological design, which applies the intelligence of nature to human needs. By decoding this intelligence it can be used technologically in order to reduce the destructive impact of humankind on the planet. Todd tells about the work being done to create living technologies in the areas of food production, generation of fuels, conversions of wastes,  repairing of environments, and in his own case restoring of degraded and polluted waters. He describes his current involvement in an eco-industrial park in Burlington, Vermont, which will consist of small enterprises, such as a brewery and a fish farm, that share their resources so the waste or excess of one will be an in-put component of the other.
 
 
Toward An Ecological Economic Order
John Todd, 1985
Todd believes that a "new sustainable economic order can be established with ecologically based enterprises." Ecology as a basis for design, he says, "is the framework of this new economic order. It needs to be combined with a view according to which the earth is seen as a sentient being, a Gaian world view, and our obligations as humans are not just to ourselves but to all of life." Todd sketches some of the ideas and technologies developed by the New Alchemy Institute and Ocean Arks International, organizations that have made tangible progress—in soil recreation, water purification, resource recovery, etc.—toward reversing environmental degradation and restoring diversity in a sustainable ecological economic order.
 
 
The Promise of Ecological Design
Nancy Jack Todd, 2005

Todd shows us that the power of positive work can overcome horrific destruction. Describing the models created by the New Alchemy Institute and Ocean Arks International, she demonstrates the evolution of ecological design as a viable option for creating a sustainable world. Her lecture reminds us that nature is our best source of reference. Through adherence to natural systems we can "provide for the present population of the world sustainably."
 
 
What about Us?––the Earth's People?
Charles Turner, 2007
As the old paradigm of materialism that is causing social, ecological, and economic injustices crumbles, it is essential to consciously participate in the shaping of a new paradigm. Turner describes the transition from a material to a spiritual consciousness, saying, "We have gone through the materialization of consciousness to the extent that this age has focused on human beings as material objects . . . and now we are on the brink of an age that will bring the opportunity for our consciousness to be spiritualized."
 
 
The Right Livelihood Award and Further Initiatives for a Sustainable Society
Jakob von Uexkull, 1992

The Right Livelihood Award, known as "the Alternative Nobel Prize," was established in 1980 "to honor and support individuals who are finding practical solutions to the most urgent challenges facing us today." Von Uexkull describes the Award and many of its recipients, including those who are working for human rights and justice, environmental protection, and spiritual regeneration. The Award is one of a number of initiatives launched by von Uexkull, who believes that the only way to address today's environmental, economic, and social ills is to "set up shadow institutions, in order to create a new and alternative mainstream and to give it as much energy and standing as possible." He concludes with an appeal to "create the foundations for a sustainable world order without delay" and a proposal for a democratically elected People's Council for Global Sustainability.

 
 
Voices of a New Economics
Stewart Wallis, 2010
Wallis identifies overconsumption as a primary source of inequality and natural destruction. He outlines a new economic model that emphasizes well-being, efficiency, and development within the bounds of our global ecosystem. For change to come about, he says, society, business, faith, arts, and education will all have to become a part of the transition.
 
 
The Wisdom That Builds Community
Greg Watson, 1997
Watson relates the story of an urban community that came together to reshape its destiny. Starting with shovels and garbage bags to clean up abandoned lots, residents formed the Dudley Street Neighborhood Initiative, which used the structure of the Community Land Trust in acquiring lots that now support hundreds of units of renovated owner-occupied homes, a productive greenhouse, locally-owned businesses, and reinvigorated neighborhood pride. In telling the story of Dudley Street, Watson describes his own background as an African American growing up in Cleveland in the 1960s. Seeing the ecological degradation surrounding him, he grew to become a leader in the environmental movement, later returning to the urban landscape with a richer understanding of the complex issues needed to build sustainable communities.

 
 
Good Morning, Beautiful Business
Judy Wicks, 2004
Despite the dominating and destructive power of large, monolithic corporations, business can be an essential and effective force for community empowerment. Wicks shows how locally rooted businesses can address the needs of all stakeholders—employees, customers, investors, neighbors, and the earth. She describes the evolution of her restaurant, the White Dog Cafe in Philadelphia, and the way her personal experiences and beliefs gained in her business led her to adopt practices such as paying a living wage, supporting community service and  educational programming, purchasing 100 percent wind-generated electricity, and sourcing produce and humanely raised animal products from local family farms.
 
 
Buddhist Technology: Bringing a New Consciousness to Our Technological Future
Arthur Zajonc, 1997
A leading physicist and humanist, Zajonc focuses on the relationship between technology and work on one hand and right values and livelihood on the other. He shows how traditions and culture once provided a right moral context for work, but now that context has been broken apart by the dramatically increasing capacity of amoral technology to replace human work. Citing fascinating examples from literature and mythology, Taoism, and Studs Terkel, Zajonc makes a powerful case for the restoration of the links between technology, love, and beauty that must be re-established if we are to be fully human.