Two pictures on Twitter today got me to wonder what our chances still are as humankind.
Wave of air pollution
A wave of air pollution is travelling across Europe. On monday (April 23rd 2015) Paris closes for traffic.
Water pollution from nuclear disaster in Japan leaks and affects the world.
Antropoceen, the era of the 6th life destructive force since the birth of Earth, is attributed to modern humankind.
I tend to bring in some nuance. It can be attributed to organized human greed and lack of sufficiently established and followed harmony defending leadership.
At City of Tomorrow we do our best and certain initiatives grow fast (AiREAS, STIR Academy) but is it fast enough?
With great admiration for this self aware Chinese citizen. AiREAS is on its way to sign a first memorandum of understanding with a Chinese province who wants to tackle this issue together.
Originally posted on Global AiREAS:
Here you find a short intro of the impressive document of Chai Ling about the air polution in China and her own awareness breakthrough when she realized how vulnerable her new born daughter was in this situation. The document is a statement that calls for responsibility in the whole world, not just China.
Her awareness breakthrough is similar to the one experienced by the founder of the City of Tomorrow and AiREAS, single father Jean-Paul Close, who also came to the life mission to cocreate a society in which health and safety is carried as basic responsibility above politics and economics. He also became aware when having to deal with his responsibility for his two small children. With the image created by Chai Ling and the sustainocratic organization for “healthy cities” of Jean-Paul Close through AiREAS we can take responsibility all together, first as human beings, fathers and mothers…
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In 2010 I was invited to talk during Inspiration Days commemorating the 10 year anniversary of the Earth Charter, a declaration of all kingdoms and leaders do take Earth seriously. Now, years later, I review my speech and still second it 200%. Furthermore. I made it happen, word for word, because I could not find anyone else:
Part 1 explains why….
Part 2 explains how…..
And we did. AiREAS, FRE2SH, STIR Academy and SAFE grow now. As they grow they introduce value driven change.
Nice to see it back.
Approached in 2014:
Somewhere in 2014 I was approached by our Italian partners, the PLEF Foundation, with the question to help the student Caterina Dada by answering some questions on our interpretation of the word and concept of “Sustainability”. The line of questioning was very much based on the old Brundlandt definition of sustainable development.
My own definition
I answered of course from the perspective of my own definition of sustainable human progress as use to define complex Sustainocratic ventures. Her reserach was looking at mediterranean countries and the interpretation of the concept in the different cultures. She also had a closer look at the precize meaning of the word used in each culture. The Netherlands is of course not mediterranean but we were a welcome addition to the list.
My own practical approach in the Netherlands is to see Sustainable human progress as an innovation driver, a leadership opportunity for (co) creation of new values for global expansion. The Dutch authorities have been seeing sustainability issues as a cost with a challenging demand for change of everything that the Netherlands has grown into and that could now be questionable in terms of sustainable progress. My approach turns things around and sees the development as an evolutionary chance.
Recently Caterina presented us with her summary of conclusions and allowed me to blog them. With great pleasure I share it with you. It is of importance to me too because we look into the expansion of citizen driven ventures, s.a. AiREAS for co-creation of healthy cities. The way cultures and demographical, historical differences react around individual and collective responsibility, authority and ethics in value driven progress and innovation, including the effects of technology and communication on behavior and change, will be subject for research and growth development of our concept of Global issues, local solutions, global expansion. The thesis of Caterina shows that interpretation of the concept is not uniformly developed around the world adding an interesting dimension to our own drive for expansion of Sustainocracy.
Conclusion of the thesis
“The different interpretations of the concept of sustainability
in the Mediterranean area”
by: Caterina Dadà
From the research on the concept of sustainability in the Mediterranean area conducted through the survey that you kindly filled in, several agreements, several disagreements but also a wide range of shades. From the analysis of the answer to the question about sustainable development definition (a topic that is implicitly given for granted in a project about sustainable touristic development) almost every association answered in a different way. Some associations consider sustainability as an answer to current world issues, some as a natural evolution of humanity, some others look at it as a method to enhance local territory. Furthermore some associations link sustainability to a decrease of consumption, some others to a transformation of consumption and the Italian one even with a growth of this phenomenon. There is also an association, the German one, who even does not give any definition because it considers sustainability a subjective topic.
This disagreement on the concept of sustainability is well shown in the language. Two different roots at the base of the translation of the term sustainability are used: on one side the root at the base of the Arabic term التنمية المستدامة o “Istidameh”, or of the French one “développement durable” is related to the underlying concept of duration and renovation; on the other side languages such as Italian, Spanish and English translate the concept using the root “sustain”, from the Latin “sub teneo”, which is related to the semantic field of conserving, preventing one thing from changing.
However from the analysis of the remaining answers important agreements also emerge. Every association, for example, agrees on the fact that the present generation has responsibilities towards the coming generations. Another common point is that sustainability concerns the environmental sphere as well as the economic and social one. Finally, all the associations of the Mediterranean area link sustainability with the promotion of local areas and with community engagement.
As already mentioned, there is also a wide range of affinities and slight differences that allows the enrichment of intercultural communication: if, on one hand, common values are needed in order to build up the common ground upon which establishing the dialogue, on the other hand, small subtleties of interpretation allow “contamination” with other points of view without feeling one’s own believes threatened. We could say that these small differences build up a bridge that prevents diversity to become. As a consequence of what stated before, the existence of different interpretations of the concept of sustainability within the countries of the Mediterranean area should not be a concern: once a common vision on some basic agreements has been established, the existence of a wide range of big and small differences in the interpretation of the concept of sustainability, if accepted with awareness, does not make the concept of sustainability too loose or too wide, but it make the concept deeper, richer and adaptable to the different contexts of the real world. And this seems to be the situation of ONMEST2.
Although some disagreements about the concept of sustainability and differences in the organisation and management of projects, associations are brought together by the will to develop their region in a way that is lasting, effective and inclusive: a common view on some aspects of sustainability that offers an excellent. Finally, this enrichment deriving from diversity would be lasting and effective if, at the end of the project, participants will make a formal reflection on the differences they have run into during the collaboration: this would make every association aware of the acquired knowledge about other participants’ values, interpretations and habits, thus facilitating future potential dialogues.
When you drive back along a road that you just came from it will look very different even though it is the same road. This is called “perspective”. Often we do not even notice but when it does reach our awareness we refer to it at “perception”. In the global transition of societies perspective and perception are key, for ourselves and especially for our leadership. Perspective refers to the way we look at things, perception gives meaning to the conscious awareness with which we observe and make our choices. Perception is a rational way of awakening. We suddenly experience a “aha”, a flash of thought that illuminates something to the point of a better “understanding” or curiosity to look deeper. In the STIR Foundation we learned to deal with this by helping old leadership change perspective, even when trapped in a specific paradigm. We show them that time and space does not exist. Changing perspective we change the perception of reality. We assume an independent role of new leadership that invites old leadership, acting as catalyst for complex transformations. Let us try to get to an understanding of the phenomenum.
The conscious and unconscious.
We travel the spiral of our life’s complexity chronologically and largely in an admosphere of automated actions. On the one hand our preprogrammed spiritual reality makes us act without thinking and according to the natural patterns of living life in a diversity of life forms and situations. The same patterns we see back in all life forms. It consists of the large cycle of life, beginning with birth, then growth, death and evolution, and in smaller ones (living life) of harmony, greed, chaos and awareness. On the other hand we are conditioned by the human culture in which we live. The spiritual dimensions determine our automated actions while our cultural dimensions determine what our human surroundings expects from us. Both routines are experienced as “normal” and hence do not often get a second thought. It is as if we sleep through life as it does not reach our awareness to make us reflect about the perspective. This goes for leadership too. Unless something happens that wakes us up.
This can be anything. A sudden burst of awareness of a beautiful sunrise that awakens our spiritual senses into our rational mind. Or the loss of a job that makes us panic around sustaining our wellness. The credit crisis that upset the entire financial world. It are these bursts of the conscious breaking through the unconscious that enrich our lives because we become aware and start thinking about it.
The normal flow of a lifetime represents an interaction between the way we conduct our life and the reflection about the consequences of our actions or things that occur in the process that break through into our awareness. We are of course manipulated by the human surroundings that expects from us a certain behavior. This has changed over time and nowadays translates into economic dependencies, growth and consumption. While we live our lives we donot give all this much thought and behave according the patterns that are normalized in our surroundings as long as we get what we need. Noone would think of a transition of society. So what makes these days different?
Burst of awareness
Many things happen these days that make people think and reflect about the daily reality. Global issues, such as global warming, climate change, pollution, poverty, migration, religious conflicts, etc, tend to reach people through the media and often get very close, affecting people personally. The fear for chaos is enough for people to reflect and become aware that things need to change. The natural reaction is than to pinpoint at government and the responsibility of our political leaders. When these leaders seem to be wound up in their own culture of power and system dependencies the problems only seem to get worse. A difference in perception develops between the way society is managed and the way people see it. Society is not united anymore and conflicts arise against authority while people look at new ways to conduct their lives, often in survival mode. As individuals we suddenly have a choice. Do we follow the meanstream which clearly evolves into chaos? Or do we change perspective and deploy self leadership?
When we break loose from the meanstream of society we enter a phase of strong self reflection, the “I am” determination. Instead of walking the line unconsciously we place ourselves consciously on the cross of our own interpretation of reality. We question our surroundings from this point of self determination weighing our actions against our own perception of personal needs, ethics, awareness and responsibility. At this point we let go of our cultural meanstream and arrive at self leadership. We have a choice and every person takes the choice in a personal way. We see the timeline but placed ourselves outside and can now determine for ourselves where we place our focus. In our spiritual self time does not exist nor the timeline, just choices. Do we seek growth? Do we prefer conflict, competition or death? Do we seek self reflection and awareness development? Or do we want harmony? Our choice is conditioned by the way we perceive our surroundings and the support we receive for what we want to achieve. In the middle of a city our choice may well be to standup and join demonstrations against the political and economic forces that seem to block our progress or take away our wellness. Others may look for criminality as a way out of potential misery, or decide to go on the move in search for better opportunities elsewhere. Individual choices give rise to the breaking up of the old collective reality and culture. Within such tumult new community initiatives appear that do not follow the evolutionary timeline of the old community. New leadership is born.
The key of community leadership is the understanding that time nor evolution exists, just purpose of establishing harmony and wellness today. This new leadership does not reside in the political and economic leadership simply because there time and evolution does exist! The old leadership is conditioned by its past, promises and choices made that commit structures in an evolutionary setting. The old leadership does not lead anymore, it manages its own potential deterioration and collapse by trying to avoid it. The 1970’s political choice to let post war harmony go in favor of economic growth has now captured old times leadership in a self suicidal grid of unsustainable dependencies and liabilities. Leaders cannot step off the evolutionary line because they were chosen to stay there and make the best of it. If they do they loose their leadership position and level of power. Only at times of elections new leadership potential can make a theoretical difference but once installed they are surrounded again by all the strings attached to the position. Only natural collaps can free us from these community management styles giving room for true renewal.
New leadership, such as in Sustainocracy, makes a difference because it places itself independently above contemporary economics and politics. It invites old leadership to the field of cocreative harmony. By challenging old leadership to assume the role of awareness driven change for harmony the same leadership can remain in the field of growth feeding itself with new values created in harmonizing initiatives. No total collaps is needed when old leadership is given room by new leadership to clean up itself in an evolutionary way by stepping over its own chaos and managing the transformation in a peaceful and value driven manner.
Perspective and perception
When we now go back to the perspective and perception issue of the beginning of this blog we can look at old and new leadership and combine both for sustainable progress. Old leadership positions itself on the evolutionary line of growth through greed and risk avoidance. The perspective of leadership is to sustain its position and produce growth, no matter what. The perception forward is chaos through competition or collaps. This conditions decision making by avoiding it through fear. Decisions are not make against ethics or harmony anymore but against fear and self interest. The perception backward is the origin of this situation and the decisions of the past that condition the decisions of now. Old leadership is trapped between fear and the old securities that require growth.
New leadership positions itself voluntarily and visionary in the field of harmony with the knowledge and sense of ethics of the times we reached. Its perspective is to create harmony through innovative change. Within the complexity of human community building the invitation to create harmony is extended to all who desire such mission. Among those invited are also the old leaders who fear collaps and find their challenge for growth unsustainable in their own context. By joining the new context they can create new oportunities of growth through the harmonizing effect of the new setting. Things need to change, and some need to disappear but all is done with a perspective of renewal of wellness and harmony. It provides old leadership with arguments and support to allow change while avoiding overall collaps. It only needs to accept new leadership that has no handicaps and provides room for renewal through a different perspective of reality. Perception at new leadership sees change as a feeding condition for harmony while new age values automatically follow the line of natural growth forward through enlargement and old growth driven leadership.
Old political and economical leadership has historically chosen to position itself on the unsustainable timescale of economic growth. It produces the enormous stress in society, locally and globally, among people and our environment due to structural lack of harmony. Old leadership cannot adopt harmony because of the way they sold their soul to the paradigm of economic growth in which collaps is the only way out. New leadership is unconditioned and positions itself in the paradigm of harmony with a perception of change and potential of new elements of growth. When old leadership finds new leadership in value driven communities such as Sustainocratic ventures then old leadership can undergo its own transformation process without collapse and sustaining its growth paradigm by adopting change through harmonization. Key in the process is that new leadership remains settled in the harmonization paradigm and only passes on elements of growth instead of itself. In our new world this combination of new and old leadership will become institutionalized, shaping a new society where wellness reigns in symbiotic alliance with our surroundings provoking change when harmony is challenged by greed.
In Sustainocracy we defined the key values for society that produce sustainable human progress and harmony in local wellness. Those values are positioned above political and economic priorities. In fact, political and economic priorities become derivatives of the persuit of those higher values.
We defined the transformation economy as a necessary complementory asset to the speculative transaction economy. It has been proven that if the economic world has no corrective process to control its own natural greed, natural chaos will fill in the gap with all the consequences of crisis, depressions and inequality around the world. It is a natural phenomenum that systems move in search for harmony.
The transformation economy bridges chaos by introducing value driven change when we become aware that the transaction economy challenges our existence or evolutionary continuity. It becomes a self regulatory process by combining growth, chaos and awareness into a symbiotic challenge of cocreating harmony. So the transformation economy positions itself in the field of awareness (change) and harmony (cocreation) while the transaction economy positions itself in growth (greed) and competition (chaos) with risk avoidance.
Putting theory into practice
In theory this is fine but in practice it needed to be shown working through a full cycle: Awareness, cocreation of unique values, growth and the start of a new value driven cycle.
In 2009 I started the STIR Foundation to address this new economic and transformative model called Sustainocracy. Our first step was to determine the key values that we were going to address. We were still very much professionally indoctrinated around problem solving. By addressing a problem such as the energy transition we would always compete with big powerful structures. We would start idealistically to end up in a program for financial profit seeking (transaction economy) rather than value creation. It took over a year of experimenting with our ideology and practical experiences to arrive at the “healthy city” concept of “air quality, human health and city dynamics”.
In 2011 we organised the multidisciplinary structure AiREAS to address this issue in the first city, Eindhoven. The value creation process could start. All values address the higher purpose of health and air quality. Those values do not exist yet and hence cannot be bought anywhere. We defined projects with the priorities at hand to make them SMART and UNITED. Every cycle generates unique values within each of the partners while addressing the key central purpose together. New products, services, policies, knowledge, structures and insights are produced. Each one is made visible within the AiREAS context as well as its unique added value per concept. All values together help address the health and air quality in the region, stimulating further spontaneous innovative initiatives by others.
Individually the values represent unique new propositions that each partner can expand into their own (global) markets in the transaction economy of growth. Since the values were cocreated together a royalty is agreed as reciprocity for the transformation economy, creating a cyclic fund for continuity. So every value driven change and its growth scenario’s help to make a better world and a stable society with harmonic economies that clean themselves from mismanagement and manipulation.
This organisation of the City of Tomorrow is capturing the experiences of multidisciplinary cocreation and know how for expansion world wide. It was the STIR Academy that asked for the first invoice from AiREAS to pay out royalties. This made the circle complete for the first time. It had taken 5 years to introduce the new economic cyclic transformation platform and prove it to the world. Now it will only grow and becomes a serious player on the world market.