Posted by TCW
Did you miss Part 1?
Taking into account that:
- we live on a limited planet with limited natural resources;
- that our current socio-economic system, which encourages consumerism and materialism, is not able to bring us sustainable development and sustainable living, neither does it promote personal happiness and satisfaction;
- that for reaching sustainability, we need a paradigm shift: changing our focus of consciousness from “having” to “being”;
- that social change is possible only after we reach a critical mass of individuals, who have already changed their own lives or are willing to do so;
- that a person can change his way of living much easier, if he has the support of people with similar values;
Taking into account all of the above, I urge for the establishment of a network of societies (associations) for sustainable living and self-actualization. Following the principle of decentralization, such a society should be formed in every country, state, region or large city. In each territory more than one of such societies could exist and operate at the same time. Each of them should remain independent, but cooperation between them is welcomed.
Societies that already exist can become societies for sustainable living and self-actualization by transforming themselves and aligning with principles set forth in this manifesto. Societies for sustainable living and self-actualization should follow (to the greatest degree possible) these principles:
I. Purpose of societies
The purpose of societies is to bring together individuals who want to live a sustainable lifestyle and pursue self-actualization – individuals who share similar values, have a similar stance on the problems of our modern world and a similar vision for the future: a vision presented in this manifesto.
The purpose of societies is to encourage cooperation between members in all areas of life – personal as well as professional. The purpose of societies is also mutual support and assistance between members. Societies can also organize educational, social and other events that are in some way connected with these activities. Each society can have its own additional purpose.
II. Foundational principles
Members of societies agree upon the following principles, on which the activities of societies are based:
- Basic human needs are certain material goods (food, water, shelter, clothes, footwear, heating…), good social relations, and physical and psychological health
- To satisfy these needs everybody should have an opportunity for employment, access to healthcare, and a safe social environment
- The notion of economic growth is an outdated concept; gross domestic product (GDP) cannot be the measure for defining success of a society – the most important criterion for how successful a society is, should be the degree to which basic human needs of members of a society are met
- Globalization has both positive and negative aspects; to minimize the use of energy for transport we should localize production of goods to the highest possible extent (e.g. local food)
- Fossil fuels should be gradually replaced with alternative energy sources (biomass, wind, sun, geothermal energy, water power, the tides…), and our total energy needs should be reduced (energy-efficient buildings, public transport…)
- Environmental impact of consumer goods should be minimized – we should follow the waste hierarchy (Reduce, Reuse, Recycle); each product should be made in such a way that it lasts for as long as possible
- We should search for a balance between the economy, the society and the environment – this can be done by advocating and implementing social justice, sustainable development, public health, and by slowing down population growth.
- Individuals, who want to be part of downshifting (living a simpler life to escape from the rat race of obsessive materialism and to reduce stress), should be encouraged.
- All of these changes must be implemented in a peaceful and democratic manner, taking into account the rule of law; if the state and its policies are not capable (or willing) of accomplishing these changes, the civil society has the right to self-organize, within the limits of applicable law
- If the laws of the country get in the way of achieving positive social changes, the civil society has the right to use all legitimate means necessary to change these laws (demonstrations, strikes, petitions, lobbying, boycotts, informing the public, finding consensus in society, voting opponents out of power, etc.)
III. Activities of societies
The activities of societies for sustainable living and self-actualization will be as follows:
- Educational activities and information for members
- Organizing lectures, seminars and courses on ecology, sustainable development, sustainable agriculture, green building, health, nutrition, personal development, etc.
- Organizing cooking classes for healthy diet
- Organizing courses on gardening and permaculture
- Providing information about products on the market that pose a threat to health or the environment
- Providing information about products and companies that are in alignment with sustainability principles, are health-beneficial and treat workers fairly
- Protecting the environment and reducing consumption
- Organizing field trips to local organic farms (promoting community-supported agriculture)
- Organizing clothing swaps and other used goods swaps or flea markets
- Organizing environmental volunteer projects (e.g. waste clean-ups, revegetation, environmental monitoring…)
- Planting and cultivating a community garden (if available)
- Creating an ecovillage or an eco-neighborhood for members that want to live in that kind of setting
- Social activities and mutual support
- Organizing social events, trips and picnics
- Organizing charity campaigns (financial and material donations) for members that got into financial difficulties to the extent that their basic human needs could not be met
- Negotiating for discounts and other benefits that members could use with various companies and producers – especially with organic farmers and merchants of ecological products
- Legal and organizational assistance for members who want to establish a social enterprise (cooperative, mutual organization, social business, charity organization…) or start their own business
- Developing and deploying web applications for social change
(To speed up development and to serve the common good, all such applications should be licensed as open-source software. Other groups with computer programming skills may be invited to collaborate on this endeavor and already existing open-source software may be utilized. Alternatively, existing commercial applications and services may be used, for as long as they provide acceptable solutions. In addition, offline solutions to some of these problems can also be implemented, though their utility will be limited).
- Deploying a web application for donating, lending, trading or swapping items (e.g. cars, clothes, furniture, tools…) or offering services (carpooling, hitchhiking, house sitting, hospitality exchanges…)
- Deploying a web application for crowd funding – for donating, lending or investing money to socially beneficial or green projects. Whether loaning money with interest is allowed or not, is up for each society to decide.
- Establishing LETS (Local Exchange Trading System) between members of a society. Web application for LETS should enable that a part of a payment could be made in national currency, allowing for any potential taxes to be paid.
- Establishing publicly accessible database of products on the market that pose a threat to health or the environment, as well as products and companies that are in alignment with sustainability principles, are health-beneficial and treat workers fairly. Database should be accessible on the internet and through mobile application for smartphones – users should be able to check if a particular product is in the database by capturing its barcode with digital camera on their phone. All information in this database should be protected with Creative Commons license.
- Public relations and commitments
- Promoting societies in social and mass media and acquiring new members
- Creating a website and an internet forum for each society
- Promoting sustainable development, healthy lifestyle and personal development
- Promoting lifestyle that puts less emphasis on acquisition of unnecessary material goods. Instead, more time and money is put into activities that benefit health and strengthen interpersonal relationships (sport, relaxation, cultural events, vacation…)
- Advocating tolerance, democracy and human rights, equality before the law, and peace in the world
IV. Umbrella organization(s)
Societies for sustainable living and self-actualization can establish an international umbrella organization. This organization should have no direct influence on the workings of its members (the societies), however it will have the authority to give advice and to coordinate some of the larger projects. The organization will:
- Organize international conferences/teleconferences for members to discuss current problems and assignments
- Coordinate development of open-source web applications for social change, that have been described above
- Maintain an official website, which should enable users to find any member society in their own or any other region of the world
- Oversee the statutes and workings of its member societies. If misalignment with the core values of the organization (principles set forth in this manifesto) is detected, the organization can issue an opinion or start a procedure for expelling the rogue society
Societies, groups and organizations other than societies for sustainable living and self-actualization, can also be part of the umbrella organization (as associate members), if their purpose is in the spirit of this manifesto.
In principle there could be more than one global umbrella organization, and there will be many regional ones. New ones can be formed as needed. The whole system of societies and their umbrella organizations should function much like a network and therefore had minimal hierarchical structure. With no strict hierarchy, there will be no single point of failure.
In the next several posts I expand on some of the issues mentioned above. The following writing can also be considered as being a theoretical foundation for my manifesto. Continue to Part 3: Cooperation and human nature.