At a party given by a billionaire on Shelter Island, Kurt Vonnegut informs his pal, Joseph Heller, that their host, a hedge fund manager, had made more money in a single day than Heller had earned from his wildly popular novel Catch-22 over its whole history. Heller responds, “Yes, but I have something he will never have … enough.”
On a macro level re-gearing the machine that is the modern economy to a more sustainable model requires many changes, not the least of which is the valuation of the cost of resource depletion, in investment models - “valuing the externalities,” so that appropriate and honest comparisons can be made between, for example, the cost of clean energy and the cost of dirty fossil energy. However it is also a reality that as consumers we simply must re-consider the concept of enough. This is tremendously difficult in a world in which we are all exposed to the constant mantra that growth (ie more consumption), is the only way out of the hole. The retail figures are up they cry, and the markets start to settle and the cycle begins again. But we’re munching relentlessly through the world’s finite resources at the very same time…… Until we are really in tune with the concept of enough (and I confess that I probably find this more difficult than many), I’m not sure a truly sustainable model is an option in the developed world. Herman Daly at CASSE - the Centre for the Advancement of the Steady State Economy - a former World Bank economist, and the father of the alternative to growth economic model - is a recommended read: http://steadystate.org In an earlier post I quoted Japanese design and retail company Muji’s philosophy. It’s worth requoting here:
MUJI is not a brand. MUJI does not make products of individuality or fashion, nor does MUJI reflect the popularity of its name in its prices. MUJI creates products with a view toward global consumption of the future. This means that we do not create products that lure customers into believing that “this is best” or “I must have this.” We would like our customers to feel the rational sense of satisfaction that comes not with “This is best,” but with “this is enough”. “Best” becomes “enough”.
There are degrees of “enough,” however. MUJI aims to raise the standard of “enough” to the greatest extent possible. “Best” contains a faint amount of egoism and disharmony, but in “enough” we sense restraint and compromise. On the other hand, “enough” might contain a sense of resignation and a slight amount of dissatisfaction. So by raising the bar of what denotes “enough,” we cast away that resignation and slight dissatisfaction; we create a new dimension of “enough” to attain a clear and heart-felt “This is enough.” That is MUJI’s vision.
It’s important to remember how little effort it takes to switch the body into ‘recharge’. After a busy couple of weeks getting ready for Hay on Earth, and Do in September, it was a a pleasure to spend a day day sea kayaking, relaxing and building a driftwood house with a fine crew of family and friends including Jane Davidson who spoke at Do 2009.
Good conversations happen when body and mind are relaxed, helped by the best day of summer so far. My Do reminder: spend more time paddle-powered.
Paul Cripps runs a mountain biking, trekking and rafting business in Cuzco, Peru. A few years back he signed up to 1% for the Planet, and has stuck with it through good times and bad, which is a strong commitment for any business to make. These lines from a recent mailing show what happens when Doers step into action:
Please click on the following youtube link to a short video about our last year’s tree planting project in the Pampacorral community near Lares in the Cusco region of Southern Peru. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XwoGam-EUp0
Since joining www.onepercentfortheplanet.org in 2007 and donating 1% of our turnover to sustainable projects, Amazonas Explorer has been involved in reforesting over 64,000 native trees in the Lares valley – I believe if we all got together, we could easily double, triple or even quadruple this amount and really start to make a difference.
My dream – to plant 1,000,000 trees by 2020 - let me know if you want to get involved.
Here’s a Do for you. Write down your dream - the start place of the goal you’d set if you knew you couldn’t fail. What’s your million trees?
“I love those who can smile in trouble, who can gather strength from distress, and grow brave by reflection. ‘Tis the business of little minds to shrink, but they whose heart is firm, and whose conscience approves their conduct, will pursue their principles unto death.”—Leonardo da Vinci
Matt is MD of the design studio BERG, which invents products and designs new media. Projects include Popular Science+ for the Apple iPad, solid metal phone prototypes for Nokia, a bendy map of Manhattan called Here & There, and an electronic puppet that brings you closer to your friends. Matt speaks on design and technology, is co-author of Mind Hacks - cognitive psychology for a general audience - and if you were to sum up his design interests in one word, it would be “politeness.” He lives in London in a flat with a wonky floor.
Last year we held an auction at the end of the event.
It wasn’t planned. But it was a lot of fun. And it raised some money for The Do, which is always good.
So at the end of this year’s Do, we are holding another auction.
We are looking for items or ideas for things that will be people will be interesting in biding for. It can be anything, but creative, unique and quirky items work well.
So far we have: welsh blankets, mature organic wine, a signed print of the Rally Fighter, the offer a speech by Uffe Elbaek for expenses only and a sketch from Geoff McFetridge, not forgetting some Swedish axes.
If you think you can help we’d love to hear from you