The (En)Rich List celebrates a wealth of inspirational individuals whose contributions enrich paths to sustainable futures. More »

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Name
Short Bio
1
E. F. Schumacher
19mil
An internationally influential economic thinker, statistician and economist best known for his critique of Western economies and his proposals for human-scale, decentralized and appropriate technologies.
2
Herman Daly
733k
The 'intellectual father' of Ecological Economics and the steady state economy, and founder of the journal Ecological Economics.
3
Donella Meadows
666k
Team member of MIT's Club of Rome, co-author of Limits to Growth, founder of the Sustainability Institute and co-founder of the Balaton Group.
4
Rob Hopkins
937k
Author, speaker, activist, educator, and co-founder of Transition Town Totnes and of the Transition Network.
5
Serge Latouche
1.75mil
Professor Emeritus at the University of Paris-Sud, the main intellectual force behind the popularization of the Décroissance (Degrowth) Movement, and author of 'Farewell to Growth'.
6
Tim Jackson
2.27mil
Professor of Sustainable Development, Economics Commissioner of UK Sustainable Development Commission, TED Speaker, and author of "Prosperity without Growth".
7
Vandana Shiva
4.59mil
Environmental activist, philosopher, a major figure in the eco-feminist movement, author of over 20 books and other works critiquing the corporatization of the global food system.
8
Bill McKibben
9.05mil
Author, activist and environmentalist. Founder of the 350.org movement for addressing climate change.
9
Mahatma Gandhi
98.1mil
Political and ideological leader, foregrounded non-violence activist tools and led campaigns for easing poverty, expanding women's rights, ending untouchability and increasing economic self-reliance.
10
Bill Mollison
1.11mil
Researcher, author, scientist, teacher and naturalist who, along with David Holmgren, is considered to be the 'father of permaculture'; founded The Permaculture Institute in Tasmania.

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{ 44 comments… read them below or add one }

avatar manuel correia March 20, 2012 at 16:58

helen nearing
author, artist, homesteader, and co-creator of the 1940’s back to the land movement in the USA.
scott nearing
radical economist, educator, writer, political activist, homesteader, and advocate of simple living.

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avatar Donnie Maclurcan March 20, 2012 at 18:44

Thanks Manuel – we agree! Helen and Scott are in our honourable mentions list: http://enrichlist.org/honorable-mentions/.

Donnie and the team

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avatar dharm kaur khalsa March 21, 2012 at 06:18
avatar Claire March 21, 2012 at 09:42

Search: Marx
‘Sorry, but no results were found.’
Ho ho.
Also good to see your post-growth world will not be post-patriarchal. Do you not think these social formations might be connected?

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avatar manuel correia March 21, 2012 at 09:51

I agree very much with your observation that this, and all too often other lists, display a serious bias of male representation.

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avatar Jen Hinton March 23, 2012 at 04:13

Hi Claire. Thanks so much for your observations.

Gender-bias has been at the top of our discussions in developing this list.

Despite dramatic increases in global connectivity, the diversity of influences on Post Growth Institute members is understandably limited. The list is our Top 100 based on this limited experience. We expect that, with time, it will evolve, just as we imagine that this list is more progressive than it would have been had we written it 20 years ago.

We have included many historical figures who helped start the discussion and debate about sustainability and limits to growth. Historically, these have been men, due to the obvious advantages that men have had in receiving formal education, publishing their ideas and being taken seriously as intellectuals and/or pragmatists.

Five of the seven Post Growth team members who created this list are females. Yet in the 2nd round of list voting, where our group moved beyond our direct influences, we all had a hard time expanding the pool of female nominees.

Likewise, our list has mostly white people from “rich, Western countries”. This can be attributed mostly to the fact that English-speaking people from Western backgrounds receive more attention for their ideas and actions, on a global scale (due to resource, language and other biases) and, in the Western world, white people still have major advantages in receiving formal education, publishing their work and being taken seriously.

We hope that a look beyond the surface will reveal the (En)Rich List as a step towards greater equity. Keeping in mind this site is a parody of the Forbes List, it’s worth noting that the (En)Rich List Top 100 includes 32 females. The Forbes Rich List Top 100 includes 11.

We’re delighted to read your comments because we want this list to promote ongoing conversations. Resources permitting, we hope to open the list to public nominations and voting in the future, so that we can all learn from each other’s thinking and, thereby, increase the pool from which we draw inspiration!

Jen and the Post Growth Institute team

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avatar Tsering March 21, 2012 at 11:15

You might need to do some further reading on the Dalai Lama.

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avatar Donnie March 25, 2012 at 01:33

Hi Tsering,

Might you be able to point us in the general direction you had in mind?

Thanks,

Donnie and the Post Growth team

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avatar Charles Arthur March 22, 2012 at 01:52

Here are some more inspirational individuals whose contributions enrich paths to sustainable futures:

Sunita Narain
Harish Hande
Jeremy Rifkin
Zhao Zhong
Jayati Ghosh
Satish Kumar
Zhengrong Shi
Richard Branson
Paul Polak
Marty Chan
Prigi Arisandi
Zhang Yue
Arnold Schwarzenegger
Anote Tong
Bunker Roy
Abdul Aziz bin Ali Al-Nuaimi
Simon Maxwell
Phaedra Ellis-Lamkins
Gunter Pauli
Chandran Nair
Ellen MacArthur
Michael Liebreich
Achim Steiner
David Hasanat

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avatar Donnie March 25, 2012 at 01:28

Thanks Charles. A real mix of people in there, many of whom are unfamiliar to us!

Gunter Pauli will be in Sydney early April.

Donnie and the Post Growth team

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avatar Charles Arthur March 29, 2012 at 01:13

You can find many of these people at the Making It magazine web site: http://www.makingitmagazine.net – they have contributed articles to the magazine which deals with global industrial development issues.

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avatar Wayne Pearce April 5, 2012 at 06:40

Arnie Schwarzenegger? With his 12 Hummers??

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avatar seth itzkan March 24, 2012 at 17:57

They might want to add Allan Savory to the list. His work on restoring grasslands is our surest hope of mitigating global warming, desertification and famine.

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avatar Donnie March 25, 2012 at 00:53

Thanks Seth. Alan’s certainly pioneered some great work – appreciate the suggestion – will keep in mind for next time!

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avatar Jessie Henshaw March 26, 2012 at 16:12

It’s a great effort, really, but flawed it seems. I can’t really explain it but I personally know many of the people on the first couple pages, who nearly all share a strange belief. With the exception of Ken Boulding (who learned about it as a problem from JM Keynes and wrote on it for years) they all dismiss the connection between societal policies for maximizing rates of growing investment savings and the tendency of the economies to ever accelerate their rates of depleting everything usable on earth. I’ve been scratching my head between efforts to write about that for years and years. Why is there a near blanket denial of the most visible direct cause of the problem??

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avatar Joshua March 28, 2012 at 13:27

Jessie,

I wouldn’t say that many of these people on the first page dismiss this concept. In fact, for many this is part of the central acceptance that you cannot continue to grow the economy on a finite planet. Maximizing rates of growing investment savings is right up there with belief that we can grow our economy forever. A post growth (or steady state) economy cannot function that way. Once you remove the growth imperative you have to remove compound interest from the monetary system if you want it to have any connection to natural stocks. You also have to introduce policies that protect the natural wealth of our planet and maintain a sustainable scale (Herman Daly) of our economy, allowing for those ecosystem services to regenerate the amount we use every cycle.

Though he’s not on the list, Freddrick Soddy did influence many you are, and said: “you cannot permanently pit an absurd human convention, such as the spontaneous increment of debt [compound interest] against the natural law of the spontaneous decrement of wealth [entropy].” Debt of course has to be connected to savings, at least in a more sustainable monetary system. Again, Herman Daly is a proponent of this idea.

Herman Daly’s view on compound interest: “debt can endure forever; wealth cannot, because its physical dimension is subject to the destructive force of entropy…the positive feedback of compound interest must be offset by counteracting forces of debt repudiation, such as inflation, bankruptcy, or confiscatory taxation, all of which breed violence.”

Additionally, you are talking about savings of monetary “wealth,” of which currently its value is (a) arbitrary and (b) not necessarily reliant on natural stocks. The mear concept of inflation and compound interest show that while we may value certain things based on natural stocks, the value of our money is disconnected from them. A more adequate form of money would be base on time, not debt or gold, and would not relay on compound interest to accelerate value loss.

Cheers,
Joshua

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avatar Jessie Henshaw March 28, 2012 at 16:37

Joshua, Your comment helps me clarify my complaint. The contradiction I’m trying to point out is about how eloquent people are about the limits of the economy’s use of the earth, but at the same time remain peculiarly silent about our use of money to make endless multiplying requests for resources to be consumed for providing us services.

What’s your take on that cockeyed disconnection? Wouldn’t it seem to utterly disable well meaning efforts to constrain resource use, if at the same time you are “stabilizing” ever multiplying resource demand?

Ever multiplying resource demand is what naturally happens when the basic principles of government and society include stabilizing rates of profit so people can use their investments to multiply their investments. Why that’s among the central purposes of government seems to be that it’s what literally everyone wants, to have their idle savings produce a multiplying “free lunch”. So I think government is just doing what everyone asks for. You’d think the people who noticed the dire circumstance that ever growing resource use causes would also notice it was connected to ever growing demand for resource use.

It appears Keynes was actually the first person who *did* notice the connection. So if the “enrich list” were to be of people who successfully brought attention to the real dilemma facing us, our approaching a natural limit of money in a society entirely organized around multiplying money, it would contain only Keynes and Boulding.

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avatar Ingrid March 28, 2012 at 18:32

Jessie,

There certainly are people who seem to want to ‘have their cake and eat it too’–material affluence AND sustainability for all. As you point out, this isn’t possible. Post Growth Institute (PGI) recognizes this. While not always directly addressing the core tenets of the unsustainable financial system (or using different language when they do), the people celebrated in the (En)Rich List are all in some way or another creating alternatives to a society organized around multiplying (and concentrating) money. Remember that our List was created as a parody of the values touted by the Forbes parade of billionaires, not a magic-bullet ‘solution’ or the last word in the complexities of the financial and ecological crisis.

You might be interested in one of Post Growth’s projects, Free Money Day, designed to get people thinking about our relationships to money and how it dictates the terms of our lives. Questioning money as the basis of value is one of the reasons PGI exists.

Thanks,
Ingrid and the Post Growth team

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avatar Jessie Henshaw March 28, 2012 at 21:53

Ingrid, It most certainly does throw me into a strange and uncomfortable position to so strongly support the purposes and values of the Post Growth community, and also have to point out a problem. As a physicist I appear to stand on much firmer ground than our near societal unanimity for avoiding the most emotionally sensitive part of our problem.

I study what makes natural systems succeed or fail, letting them grow to smoothly stabilize or to collapse themselves in exhaustion along with their environments. They either change strategy while still vigorously expanding, to make peace with themselves and their worlds, or they rip themselves and their part of the world apart. As far as I know J M Keynes was the first to discover that, so evidently wildly misunderstood by the economics profession.

We steer our economy using money, managing our resource uses by reinvesting our resource profits. It’s a “neat trick” that lets us continually multiply our control of our environment and consume everything usable on earth as fast as human creativity makes it possible, ~3% a year faster and faster. If you sense a problem with that central organizing purpose of our larger society and “opt out”…, it’s indeed a courageous personal step. But it doesn’t save your world. The whole system has to “come home” to living at peace with the earth, or the parts will have no whole to be part of.

There may be many different ways to say it, but there is only one available means of doing it. That’s for the system as a whole to change how it manages its profits. Rather than to use profits to multiply our new form of life to oblivion, it would need to apply the profits to stabilizing our radically new way of life on earth, and our radically new relationships with the rest of nature.

Everyone in the no-growth community is surely alluding to that, one way or another. So far all the popular proposed strategies seem carefully designed to avoid bringing up the need to persuade mainstream global society to stop using its profits to multiply profits, now that it has become delusional. I think there’s no better time to point out such things than when you happen to see them, understanding that the real cause is that we live in a natural world, and in this case, full of surprises. The end of growth is either “coming home” or a leap into nature’s pile of discards.

avatar Tamir Berkman March 26, 2012 at 17:57

Congratulations to Donnie and team on a brilliant source of inspiration!
Best of luck,
Tamir

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avatar Robyn Lucienne March 26, 2012 at 19:53

I,m sorry Donny but I can’t find Martin Luther King even in the honourable mention and if you could please put Vincent Lingiari, 1966 “We want to live on our land, our way” if I put this on my facebook without them it would be very disrespectful, I know you would agree that it was an innocent oversight and hope to correct. Cheers

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avatar Donnie March 26, 2012 at 20:21

Hi Robyn,

Martin Luther King Junior’s profile can be seen here.

While we’re not updating the list at the moment, we’ll be sure to keep VL in mind for any future iterations – thanks for reminding us of his incredible contributions which are continued by Pat Dodson, Paul Lane and others at the Lingiari Foundation, amongst many others who fight for greater social equity.

Donnie

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avatar norah chaloner March 27, 2012 at 07:16

Maude Barlow, chair of the Council of Canadians is missing in this terrific lineup of people who are changing the world and need our support. Her work for world water protection as a human right and her work for social justice regarding environmental and indigenous rights brings a lot of us onside to do our best to work for a better world for all.

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avatar Donnie March 27, 2012 at 10:05

Thanks Norah,

A wonderful suggestion that we’ll take into account for any future iterations of the list.

Donnie and the team

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avatar Cynthia Wineburgh April 1, 2012 at 11:22

Thank you for this list, which is so incredibly much more inspiring and liberating than the Forbes list! But I wonder about people who live some of the paths described by people on this list – we are used to celebrating influential figures in the First World, but what about more who are less First World academic/professional types or admired by same? Those who live a difference for the world’s people who will never know who some of these figures are?

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avatar Donnie April 1, 2012 at 14:54

Thanks Cynthia,

Your comments are really poignant. We thought long and hard about sharing with the world profiles of people who are ‘living’ sustainability and rarely receive exposure. In the end, we realised that, for this project to get up and running, we needed to work from our strengths, cognisant of our limitations. You can see more about this approach in the About page and in this particular comment.

Is what you suggest a project to which you might like to contribute? We’re talking at the moment with people in Tasmania, Australia, who would like to do a local version of the (En)Rich list in their own state.

Donnie and the team

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avatar Robert Searle April 3, 2012 at 02:06

Yes, an interesting listing of influential people. I was pleased to see an entry on Michel Bauwens who has been doing marvellous work for p2p interaction.I have contributed four “articles” to his site, and they may be of interest here.

http://www.p2pfoundation.net/Transfinancial_Economics

http://www.p2pfoundation.net/Multi-Dimensional_Science

http://www.p2pfoundation.net/Universal_Debating_Project

http://www.p2pfoundation.net/Improvised_Voice_Instrumental_Music

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avatar Neal Gorenflo April 4, 2012 at 19:59

Interesting list. Some names I’d consider:

José María Arizmendiarrieta, founder of the Mondragon Corporation, one of the largest networks of worker-owned and controlled cooperatives, a model for many around the world.

Elinor Ostrom, Noble winner for her work on the governance of commons

Richard Stallman, founder of the Free Software Foundation, and catalyst of the free and open source software movement

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avatar Ingrid April 4, 2012 at 21:33

Good suggestions, Neal. We are not yet sure how we are going to arrange the selection process for a possible 2nd edition of the list (maybe take nominations by and for natives of each continent?) but we’ll keep those in mind.

I know there’s a lot to scan so easy to miss but we actually did get Elinor Ostrom in there at #44.

Cheers,
Ingrid and the Post Growth team

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avatar prabat parmal April 5, 2012 at 04:42

Nice to see Amartya Sen at no. 71. I was expecting Thomas Edison too.

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avatar s.vijayakumar September 19, 2012 at 09:29

the list is fine.but how can rank mahathmagandi as rank 9 and vandanasiva as 7.this is not agreeable.the ideology of gandhi is everlasting. he is the father of our nation india. vanadana siva is just an activist. comparing these two person vandana is far away from gandhi.

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avatar Donnie September 19, 2012 at 18:02

Thanks for the comment.

Some of our group had a similar perspective to the one you present, others didn’t. The end result, with our internal voting, was as you see the list in its present form. Hopefully it can be seen less about a ‘ranking’ and more about increasing exposure for some wonderful people and their work.

Donnie and the team

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avatar Asko Kauppi March 5, 2013 at 04:17

Would probably be best to left deceased people (s.a. Gandhi) out of the list. I don’t think Forbes lists dead people either, do they? (got here via this tweet: http://twitter.com/postgrowth/status/308913351847714816)

Interesting unknown names – will have a look.

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avatar Donnie March 5, 2013 at 04:20

Hi Asko,

Thanks for your comment. We planned to provide a sort option so that people could filter by whether someone was still alive or not, but with limited resources we created as much functionality as we could. Given the project is part educational and part parody, we thought it valuable to include people even if they had passed on.

Donnie and the team

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avatar Chris September 27, 2013 at 06:56

This is an amazing list — thank you for creating it! I’m especially excited to see names that I’m not familiar with, because that means I get to learn about new amazing, inspiring people.

I think it’s a great list. Lists of this kind are unavoidably subjective and based on the collective life experiences of the people who made them. People are going to disagree about inclusions, exclusions, and rankings. That’s all fine and good and healthy. Thanks for putting this out there. It gets the conversation started, and exposes us to people we maybe haven’t heard of before. If others disagree, they can publish their own list, and the conversation can grow yet further.

Inevitably, I do have a few suggestions for consideration in the next round. They may be Bay Area-centric, because that’s where I live:

Van Jones – advocate for equity and “green jobs”, powerful and eloquent voice for equity and climate change issues

Nikki Henderson – executive director of people’s community market in Oakland; maybe still a little early in her career – but a rising star in the food justice movement

Al Gore – yes he’s a pudgy self-absorbed rich white guy, but you can’t underestimate what he’s done to bring climate change into the national conversation

Barrack Obama – maybe one day? Depending on his climate change legacy. But then again, he has been a tireless advocate for continued and perpetual economic growth. So…maybe not.

All these people may or may not deserve a place on the list. I could go either way. But there is one person whose omission from the list I would consider conspicuous. They weren’t even given an honorable mention. I suspect that if you were to ask the people on the list to make their own version of the list, many of them would include this person on the list, almost certainly within the top 50. The person:

David W. Orr – educator, author, long-time and tireless advocate for ecological literacy in our education systems, founder of the Oberlin Initiative, an ambitious undertaking to transform an entire community to be resilient, self-sustaining, and carbon neutral

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avatar Donnie September 28, 2013 at 05:37

Thanks Chris! We’ll certainly take these suggestions into account (especially David W. Orr) if/when we do an update to the list.

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avatar Miranda Green October 22, 2014 at 17:58

this is a wonderful website !

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avatar jim February 1, 2017 at 10:42

As much as admire the top 7, I’m not sure they should really top Ghandi.

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avatar Donnie February 1, 2017 at 17:36

Thanks for the feedback Jim. We certainly thought long and hard about Ghandi’s place in the list. In the end, we used a democratic voting process across our entire team, and a few of our team shared aspects of Gandhi’s life of which we weren’t so aware that could have influenced the voting. At the end of the day, it’s a highly subjective ordering, with the order mattering less, perhaps, than shining a spotlight on these incredible people.

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avatar Ingrid March 29, 2012 at 12:22

Jessie,

We hope you will continue to support PGI despite the difference of opinion on strategy. I think our disagreement is not on whether the premise of contemporary society is delusional but whether raw information-based reasoning will catalyze the necessary change. I don’t see our approach as denial of the problem you describe so much as recognition that we do not have the leverage to directly effect that change ourselves, and that when a critical mass of people is entrenched in a particular set of thoughts and behaviors, just pointing out the problem is not enough. Yelling “Iceberg!” is not likely to change the turning radius on the Titanic. Especially when the captains are dead set on proving they’re unsinkable.

The Post Growth team recognizes that time is short, and we are choosing to focus our efforts on ideological and practical projects where we see the most potential for transformation. We are skeptical of the potential for a single top-down solution, if it is feasible at all, to avoid becoming corrupted or misunderstood. We recognize the work of many and varied people because we disagree that there is “only one available means” in favor of the view that it will take millions of people and dozens of compatible (though not necessarily institutionally dictated, centralized) strategies to create and sustain alternatives to oblivion, which is what we all hope for.

I do believe that if the financial system does not rearrange itself in short order, it will disintegrate of its own accord. And if the growth-based financial system does not disintegrate before the global ecosystem is devastated, there will be no parts to live in. That far I think we agree. A unified “coming home” would indeed be ideal; the opposite possibility is nearly unthinkable even for someone like me who has been thinking about it intently for 10 years or so now and vaguely for 10+ years before that. However, I don’t see the end of growth as a clean all-or-nothing dichotomy.

I imagine what we’re actually facing is somewhere in between: maybe a few more recession-plateau ratchet steps down, followed by global chaos and a period of immense suffering (which we are already seeing in communities on the wrong side of ‘globalization’), followed by emergency reorganization. The rebuilding period will almost certainly be piecemeal and messy, with lots of trial-and-error and surprises, some of them quite unpleasant for people who thought they were exempt from the basic principles of nature. Regardless of the timing and character of the transition, we will be working with climate, air, water, soils, and biological communities that have been compromised indefinitely. It seems to me that until mainstream society comes to its senses (which I am afraid will take a crisis on the magnitude of the Great Depression at least), the best we can do is build ‘lifeboats’ that will provide resting places and serve as models for replication and adaptation, slowing the degradation of the ecosystem in the short run and minimizing the degree to which human communities go down with the ship later on.

I would be happy to continue the dialogue via e-mail. I think I have said as much as I can in the public forum on behalf of PGI. I will contact you shortly.

Be well,
Ingrid and the PGI team

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avatar Jessie Henshaw March 29, 2012 at 18:47

Great, I hope I can find a way to get you to appreciate the natural forces I’m trying to describe. I would agree with just about everything you say here, actually. What I pointed out is not so much intended as offering a better strategy, but one that is unavoidably essential to include with the others. The other more socially motivated efforts are not wrong in any way, except for hoping they can be enough do the job without engaging the physical systems of nature.

Yes, my short description might have sounded like a “top down” model. When natural growth systems transition from systematic growth to systematic maturation it appears as if all the parts are acting in unison. Nature doesn’t even have a top-down method she can use, in any case. So, finding “the idea that works” emerging more or less everywhere at once is more how it usually looks. The pieces all just seem to fall together, like we observed at the end of the Soviet Union and in the recent Arab spring, or other great moments of consensus change.

For humanity to do what it never has done in unison before may or may not require our getting to a point of greater desperation than everyone presently feels. I expect you realize our continued failure to find a common idea of what to do will certainly keep taking us toward ever more desperate circumstances, though. Discovering that moment of acting as a whole for the first time could either then happen so smoothly as if by design, or like a kind of birth process, that appears rather painful and messy with the new organism somehow emerging bewildered but unscathed.

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avatar Taya April 2, 2012 at 20:43

To Jessie and Joshua, and Ingrid and the whole Post-Growth team,
THANK YOU for letting the above comment stream happen. I can’t tell you how refreshing it is to scroll to a comments section and see actual discourse on this most central of issues. I applaud the post-growth team and their creation of this imperfect, incomplete, discourse-inspiring list – thank you for your positive and embracing attitude toward all the comments that I’m sure you knew you’d receive. It is my belief that the ability to engage in uncensored and effective discourse will be invaluable in navigating the desperate times we find ourselves in, as the need to understand and resolve increasingly complex and divergent information from all aspects of the human experience grows. Jessie – I found your last paragraph in the above comment, describing the possibility of humanity acting as a whole, particularly inspiring. I don’t know who you are, but can I quote you nonetheless?

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avatar Ingrid April 3, 2012 at 09:28

Thanks, Taya! Encouragement much appreciated. Please keep following us and repost the (En)Rich List wherever you can. 😀

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avatar Jessie Henshaw April 3, 2012 at 10:53

Taya,
I’m really am a physicist, one who studies how complex natural systems quite frequently change directions of development in unison, to create the familiar behaviors of things that are, or act like, self-directed organisms. That no system on earth actually has a top-down control method for its unified behaviors, is one of the things you eventually find while studying them. I wrote a new short discussion of how to begin using my way of studying them, as a method of closely observing their behaviors. Ingrid recently asked of I had one, and so I thought I’d try a new approach, while also collecting links to some of my old ones.

fyi – “Steps to a natural systems view”
http://www.synapse9.com/signals/2012/03/31/steps-to-a-natural-systems-view/

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