Greetings to all Occupiers in this cafe.

The "Core Conversation" thread seems to be rife with talk of a different structure and process for what we call our "economy." I am creating this thread with the idea of hauling all that rich conversation over here and re-opening the Core Conversation thread to an exploration of other topics that might one day grow up to be their own threads as well.

Here is where we can critique the old economy if that is your bent, thrash out the meaning and structure of a new economy, the values we hold most dear about energy exchange with our world that truly values the others who share this world, whether it is by legislation or by grass-roots one-brick-at-a-time rebuilding. What needs tweaking? What needs to be discarded.

How do we begin? What are the steps? Where is it happening already? 

Here are some resources I am familiar with:



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"Occupy your Neighborhood" is an interesting double entendre, but I think it's a poor metaphor and ain't gonna happen in any effective way through this globalized website.

The #Occupy movement is, primarily, a protest movement which, like many before it, also models within each local event some more healthy modes of interaction, leadership and decision-making.

Gandhi believed that every protest (NO) movement had to be accompanied by a constructive (YES) movement, but not only is there little likelihood of the global #OWS movement consenting to a positive vision specific enough in its outlines to allow focused efforts, there is already another movement far better prepared to do just that: the Transition Town movement.

We have an active Transition Vermont group (also with a ning site), since we are a small enough state to feel in some ways like a single community, and also several dispersed Town/City/Watershed-based Transition groups that coordinate with the Montpelier-based state movement and engage in local organizing and mutually-supported on-the-ground personal lifestyle shifts.

I would encourage those interested in "building a new world within the shell of the old" to get plugged in to the Transition Town movement. Its Transition Handbook, created from years of on-the-ground experience and collective discernment, spells out the goals, the values, the steps, the obstacles, the need for both outer and inner work - and leaves it to each community to create their own place-based model.

Having just digested the gist of this conversation after a week away and with no time to track this (or any other) thread adequately, I am going to step in here as an overdue referee.

Robert, in your protests against being called abusive towards Kimberly, you have employed the very linear rational hair-splitting defense that you have so strenuously spoken against in numerous posts. Suggesting that someone has purposely misrepresented or lied about a topic of conversation here, especially in the context of all her posts, is a personal attack and I will make no bones about saying that. That sort of retort has no place here.

If you were to activate your listening capacities to employ more than the rational (and, I might add, ideological) knowledge you have accumulated and relax for a moment, you would no doubt notice that Kimberly has been utterly sincere in her communications. Sincerity does not make her correct or even adequately informed, but neither does your stridency make you right--especially not your insistence that you represent (without ego) WHAT is right.

What is most useful (and difficult) and what makes a conversation matter are things like open inquiry and the accommodation of dissent. Chewing over the finer points to the extent of revealing some of the primary assumptions beneath our positions may well lead only to an elaboration of a profound gulf between you. And if you don't have the patience to go that far, at least cop to that. But that doesn't give you license to suggest someone is a liar. I'm goin' with Vic here. Lighten up.

I respectfully disagree with your judgements. I stand by my previous statements. I have not attacked any person, merely false ideas and blatant contradictions (do you like that term better than "lie"?). When someone states something so emphatically that it has to be punctuated by the word "Period" and then immediately denies saying it, perhaps you would call that an oversight. 

But it is wonderful to see the shadow side of so many of you coming out - tossing personal judgement at me for allegedly judging another. "Ideological, strident". It gets very boring when everyone pretends to be ascended masters with shit that don't stink.

If the Stewards of this site deem it acceptable, I've just added a blog titled: What is the Zeitgeist Movement and Who is Peter Joseph? which exposes the fraudulence of his movement and his own megalomaniacal and tyrannical control over it.

Sorry, but I have no patience for cults that mislead us down false paths, nor for the missionary zeal of their true believers. I have nearly infinite patience for honest debate. And I don't need to "lighten up". Perhaps others here need to be less quick to take offense - for offense is far more often taken than given (but we prefer to blame the "other").

Roughly 400 years of that attitude has given us the predicaments we're in, so I not only don't share it with you, but discourage the spread of it.  From science, humans got/get all sorts of ideas for rearranging things out of context and for a diminished view of themselves.  The possibility of control required for production of scientific evidence ends far before reality does.  Without throwing out the baby with the bath water, we need to back away from over reliance on science, in order to preserve space for human adventure and knowing.

I'm placing my bets on recovery/restoration of wholes torn/broken by science, by way of renewed human being.

Wendell Berry: "The paramount standard by which the work is to be judged is the health of the place where the work is done."

Ian McHarg's book Design With Nature (1969) set me on this path as much as anything. It was required reading for a course concerningThe Urban Landscape my first term in college.

"[G. Scott] Williamson's greatest distinction lay in his certainty that health was as recognizable a phenomenon as disease, and, moreover, that health in the individual was likely to be associated with health of the family and, indeed, of the community. He believed that physical, mental and social health were unified attributes and there were aspects of the physical and social environment that were their corollaries.

[I]ntrigued by Scott Williamson's proposition as to the unity of physical, social and mental health, and their identification with specific social and physical environments, I persuaded a number of students that it might be enlightening to identify the specific environments of pathology -- physical, mental and social -- for the city of Philadelphia. As planners, landscape architects and architects our competence lies in manipulating the physical environment, but we are responsive to the idea that social processes are important to the design and planning professions."

Dear David,


Ian McHarg.

how nice to hear him referred to..a big influence on me as a young planner.  I still have that book in my library.

 ( You have lured me back in..I was over the hill and far away until you mentioned Ian and brought tese values of a thriveable economy once again to the center of our conversation here on "the heart of a sustainable economy")

In the midst of the urgency of what is happening around us, I have turned back to re look at another great thinker..Buckminster Fuller whose writing.thinking design and technology..all  started with humanity, started with the 100% , started with nature, started with serving the 100% every step of the way and working out from there to science, design technology that serves all of humanity..where our choices of what to invest our energy in is about the whole of humanity and also about future generations.

To summarize and paraphrase what I have found in these writings:

innovation cannot be in and for is not sufficient.continual growth is not a healthy thriveable goal 

design and technology should arise from purpose and need..not solely to generate growth and profit

design & technology should immediately benefit the whole..not trickle down over time  from those who can best afford the new technology to those who can't..have ipods and lap tops trickled down to the poor even though we have affirmed access to the internet as a universal human right?  Where is the affordable, durable lap top for every man?.

"Comprehensive Anticipatory Design Science"

That's what Buckie called the process,

Fuller defined himself as a “comprehensive anticipatory design scientist”. He

broad thinking instead of specialization;

 advocated for anticipatory,forward-looking exploration in order to plan for the future;

 and believed that together design and science could uncover how to benefit the greatest number of people while expending the fewest resources

amazing how relevant that is at this exact moment in time.( his was a time of depression and war, great uncertaianty and crisis)

in connection with another project I am working on I ran across another very insightful comment from Buckie on his "4D" design and technology.(4d meaning forward looking, taking account of future generations, stewardship for future earth and future generations of earth dwellers).

 Unfortunately I didn't capture the quote and source in my notes but he is saying that settling for the energy and production we get from apples, from burni ng wood or oil l and coal is insufficient and inefficient because it doesnt fully or efficiently utlize the natural sources of energy available to us ( he wasn't speaking of food supply..he was speaking of science and technology that look to capturing and utiliizng the vast unlimited power of the universe through  design and techhnology.)

Your mention of "health", not just persoal health but cultural health ..the interconnection between personal health and healthy community is definitely at the heart of a "thriveable" or as Buckie would say "regenerative" economy.  It is "health" that is that step beyond  merely" sustainable"

On the Island we have a non-profit/facilitator called "The Healthy Island Project" sponsors programs that evolve a process of ongoing awareness to what "healthy island"  means.  Illness or health care in the usual sense is rarely, if ever, a topic of discussion.People lal over the island come together once a month for a "healthy island breakfast" ..artists, food pantry, churches, island heritage trust, headstart, island fishermans wives,reach perfoming arts center, opera house arts,  to share latest concerns, issues, needs upcoming events.  Various alignments emerge to co-sponsor, co-evolve,  "all island" events.     It's a great model for civic engagement that goes beyond merely voting or even activte engagement in political processes.. ( have to check out Williamson..missed that..thanks for the heads up)

So what's the simmary for all this?


"Thriveable economies begin with healthy  vibrant communities"

"Thriveable economies invest in science and technology that includes stewardship for earth now and in the future, that serves all of humanity..todays humanity, tomorrows humanity, simulatneously, inclusively" 

 Ilove your phrase refercing fixing what is broken in science and technology..very much at the heart of a "thriveable economy.although Buckie's term for it is closer to the spirit of what you are pointing to

"regenerative economy"

Thanks for your thoughtful wise and generative post.

Bucky used the term "regenerative" to refer to the earth and its natural processes, and the term was often preceded by one he considered synonymous, "sustainable". He proposed a technology that is what we now know as biophilic, or biomimic: modeling human artifice on nature's innate regenerative principle - nothing wasted, everything recycled (what McDonough et al call Cradle to Cradle).

The two most common definitions of "thrive" are to grow vigorously (flourish), and to gain in wealth or possessions (prosper). Of course, "thriving" has been the central value of our current economic paradigm, and it is not sustainable.

In all natural ecosystems, as well as in the evolution of all new species, there is an early period of rapid growth, expansion, profligate consumption and competition for a niche. A mature species or ecosystem is one that has achieved a steady-state reproductive rate, shifts to cooperation with its neighbors, has developed an extremely frugal use of inputs (resources), and leaks little in terms of either energy or material resources out of the cyclical system. 

If we are to have any hope of continuing as a species on this Gaian earth, we have to cease acting like an adolescent species seeking to "thrive", and start acting like a mature species settling down into a steady-state or sustainable economy.

well said.


"thriving" came up eraly on in this member discussion on the heart of a sustaianble economy..that "thriving" implied something more vital, erath connected, humanity connected than  merely sustainable.  Bucky also frequently referred to "thriving" as a standard.

get your point though in the sense that you are using the word "thriving"..and it is an important one.

An economic system built on continual growth is not sensible, not sustainable, not "thrivable". The ida should be to drive to an to a sustaianble balalnce of all the maximums Buckie sought to embody n his technology & design:  efficiciency,wise use of natures energy sources,maximum benefit to humanity, maximum benefit to earth and and for the future. 

Robert, you have steeped yourself in ideas. You are enveloped within them as in a fortress. You have a definitive retort to every alternative view. You have decided what is and what is not. You say what you mean and you mean what you say. You are the epitome of the loyal skeptic, the one who declares his yearning for the perfect movement and still finds so much to critique about all its manifestations.

You have decided the definitions of "thrive" that matter and since it has some relationship to the dominant paradigm then it must be discarded like something outmoded... like so much else in the Great Unraveling. But it's all a bit narrow, Robert, even the idea of the steady state, the zero-growth model you speak of so articulately.

Peter Block has said that "all transformation is linguistic." From that view, it is not acceptable to cede control of the word "thrive" to the current economic paradigm. This movement, after all, is about so many things, but among the most important things it is about is to change our "story," which is told in the images, emotional triggers, symbolic references embedded in the words we use.

It is also not acceptable to define steady-state purely in economic terms as you have, fortified with all the theoretical, literary and reductionist data at your command.

This revolution is also about the frontiers of human relations, an unlimited trove of gifts that shall never fall into the realm of zero-growth; discovering the implications of the full meaning of "the Gaian dance," watching and taking part in the slow death of the falsehood by which we have cared so poorly for ourselves and our home--the idea of a separate self, the separate ego--something we both know well.

As for the term "thrive," I declare that we shall take it back, redefine it for ourselves in terms that are sustainable indefinitely. Here are my definitions of "thrive" and this is the reason I named this thread:   

  • what sustainability is to a material economy, thriving is to the spiritual economy.  And to the extent that sustainability is about economics, then thriving is about embodiment (living our true nature) becoming a new economy.   What does that look like?
  • Sustainability evokes the esthetics of earth and water. Thriving is about the fire of spirit and the air of open heart-space.
  • If sustainability invokes balance, thriving challenges balance as chaos challenges order...and even predictability.  How does that feel?
  • Thriving is the emergent dimension of sustainability, the living evolutionary edge where innovation and experimentation, the trial--and error--of organic vitality, is constantly occurring. 
  • Thriving is the mythic dimension of sustainability, the meta-narrative of potentiality; a reference to the continuous, spontaneous process of creating, modifying and re-forming the open architecture of diversity; a distributed network (whose center is everywhere) of freely accessible information, innovation and self-organizing governance.

I have every intention of maturing--as you would define it-- but I have no intention of sitting back in my steady-state rocking chair and settling for your version of sustainability.

Gary Horvitz.


I'm so glad you (think you've) got me all figured out. But you've obviously misread or misconstrued most of what I've posted.

I don't "have a definitive retort to every alternative view" - there is no file cabinet here of such retorts to pull out as needed. I challenge sloppy thinking, poorly -articulated ideas, self-contradictions, and old-paradigm thinking disguised as alternative or revolutionary.

I have not "decided the definitions of thrive that matter" - we as a human culture have done that. I merely point to our current consensus. Arbitrarily changing the nature of a word to force it into a new relationship to other ideas rarely does anything other than obscure communication and thinking.

I have used the term sustainable to describe the Gaian dance of life, and only secondarily to depict any authentic economy that subsists within that dance rather than superimposing itself over it. I have never used the terms "steady-state" or "zero-growth" in this discussion.

The term "thrive was first used here by Aerin Dunford: "thriving communities".

And then Lindsay Newland Bowker picked it up and ran with it ad nauseum: a life of thrivability, thriveable economy, something thriveable (Not just viable.  Not just sustainable), thriveable new economy, thriveable global community , to "thrive" as living fully with minimal material things and minimal impact , our run amok financialized unrelgulated capitalist system is not collapsing quite's thriving, a "thrivable" economy, A thriveable economy, a thriveable economy,  What we have  done in the past…isnt a thriveable economy, a thriveable economy, an economy with thrivability, a sustainable thrivable economy, thriveable economies, A thriveable RBE, a critical critical heart of a thrivable economy, a thrivable economy, the heart of a thriveable economy, similar to our phrase "thrivable", a healthy thriveable goal, at the heart of a "thriveable" or as Buckie would say "regenerative" economy, Thriveable economies begin with healthy  vibrant communities, Thriveable economies invest in science and technology, at the heart of a "thriveable economy, "thriving" implied something more vital, An economic system built on continual growth is not…"thrivable" 

I simply pointed out that the term is understood in both the ecological and economic sense: to grow vigorously (flourish), and to gain in wealth or possessions (prosper), and that - in both senses - is compatible only with an immature living or artificial system.

What's "all a bit narrow" is the current paradigm and almost all allegedly "alternative" thoughts about how to change it. What I've been speaking to is the broadest paradigm that has carried this living planet through so many billions of years of evolution.

Distinguishing between a "material economy" and a "spiritual economy" is precisely the dualistic paradigm that has de-souled our world. To Nature and to all indigenous cultures they are one and the same, so they can't operate on different principles.

What you dismissively refer to "your version of sustainability" is Gaia's version. 



 Just connecting this up with the comment that you just made above on recovery of intuition.I agree that is a core driver of a new economy..a core driver of the new culture we can envison when we put on the mind of the 99% and strat thinking that way.

That concept is too big , too root for the narrow bounds of  "heart of a sustainable economy".I tthink it would be a great separate discussion on "the new culture" or something.  People cannot become disncfrabchised, alienated, blind feeders of a hungry greedy tapeowrm if the are allowed to stay connected with their natural gift of inuition from birth.  My belowed freind Seymour Pappert , co-founder of MIT's Media Lab, spent is life spreading this word.  I see that in my mentoring  work with head strat kids..They surge to high levels of discovery, invention and creativity when they have opportunities to explore and observe from themselves, fully conncted with their inuition, their inution fully connected to all their natural gifts.


I wonder if you would consider initaing a member discussion on "inution" and it reclamation as part of a new culture?

Here it would be interesting to talk about  conmectivity  ( or disconnection from) inution fosters and feeds different economic models. 

Wholistica requires a populace connected not just to values that drive the econoy and its choices for production and investment..but to their own interiority..a living continuous connection with their own interior truth and wisdom, their ow interior intuition.   

What happens in a facilitated discussion among folk who begin with what appear to be conflicting and opposing views is a connection with this interiority in each is from that that the "common wisdom": arises.

  So we don't have to wait to raise a new generation fully conneceted to their own interiority, never separated from it, we can at the local level, around our tables, in our grange halls, in school auditoriums, tap into that ,,give eople the expereience of thinking and living and acting from that place.

My theory is that once people have had that experience once or twice, they automatically prefer feels right, it feels natural, it feels "wholistica"  I believe that the transformation comes ot from talking about it but from actually creating opportuniities to feel that.

How do we do that?  Do we have enough trained faciliators already among us to bring that to every neigborhood?.. 

A treasure, thanks David.  I have never seen any videos by or of McHarg.  A real treat.  A real treasure.

I had never hear that stat he gave about only 1 in 5 manhattanites weer mentally well due to the deviance of withdrawal caused by overcrowding.  I hope he got to see the dramatic humainztion of NYC that ocurred after 1969 with the creation of lal that beuatiful vibrant richlyu used park space.or got to see how clean the reviers are of trash, not polluted . used to got out fishing almost every summer night on a little power boat..I loved to drift fish  by the statue of liberty; we raced J-22's out of the Manhattan yacht club and more and more kayakers wee beginning to appear on the rivers.  I hope Ian saw some of that.

But his main point is very true that overwhelming cultural distresses cause deviation sof all kinds that do not serve the whole including the deviation of withdrawal.

When I left NYC  in 1998 after 32 years in beautiful Brooklyn Heights, a place of natural beauty, connection to the river, a real community, a place of ethnic festivals, block asociations( only about 50 persons lived on my owner occupied block face of nicely restored old brownstones), street parties, pot luck suppers back and forth, none of the eelcetronics explosion had happened. 

I hadn't been back for any visit until I had a few hours stopover en route  two years ago.  We don't really have that electronics thing  here on my island except in summer when affluent regular visitors crowd on the steps of our tiny libarry trying to get a wi fi signal or stand in the one place in the village, in front of an abandoned  50's mobil station where there is a cell signal.  I was shocked to a point of sickness to see evryone withdrawn into their own world via cells and blackberries totally oblivious to all the wonder and beauty around them in Bryant of the wolrds truly great peole's parks.

I disagree with Ian though that it is all due to overcrowding or the loss of connection with nature.  Many nay other forces have been at work including the economic disparity that has brought us to worldwide crisis..


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