Stefan's blog

Community Visioning Initiatives "For the Duration of the Emergency"

(or: how to sort through all this, and arrive on the same side, so we can help each other)

We now live in very complex times, with challenges ahead which will certainly require unprecedented solutions. The challenges ahead will require unprecedented solutions because these challenges include, but are not limited to: the economic crises, global warming, peak oil, resource depletion, an ever increasing world population, global inequities, cultures of greed, corruption, and overindulgence, a marginalization of the wisdom associated with religious, spiritual, and moral traditions, and insufficient understandings of which basic elements of community life and cultural traditions lead to enduring peace and which do not.

Given the nature of complex societies, it is understandable that many of us would like to believe there are experts “somewhere” who understand how we got into this, and must therefore know how we can get out of it. However, this writer very sincerely hopes that more and more people are coming to the realization that the difficult challenges ahead are not something that the experts will resolve while the rest of us are doing something else…. Everyone is involved when it comes to determining the markets that supply the “ways of earning a living”; and given the unprecedented nature of the challenges ahead, all of us have important responsibilities in the coming months and years ahead.

Unfortunately, sorting out what our responsibilities are—or sorting out what the real challenges are, and what are sound and practical solutions—is becoming more and more difficult, as there is now, in many parts of the world, a multitude of ideas of all kinds coming to the fore in personal, family, community, and cultural life—all at the same time.

Somehow or other, we need to sort through all this, and we need to do so in a way that helps us to realize how much we need to be learning so that we can be part of the solutions… and how much we really need to be on the same side, helping each other.

One suggestion which could assist in bringing many solutions to light at the local community level is a 161 page proposal by this writer titled “1000Communities2”. “1000Communities2” (“1000CommunitiesSquared”) advocates for Community Visioning Initiatives, “Community Teaching and Learning Centers” with ongoing workshops, and “sister community” relationships, as a way of generating an exponential increase in our collective capacity to overcome the challenges of our times.

For readers who would like to explore this idea further, this writer has created more than 5 different introductions to the “1000Communities2” approach. Three of these “introductions” are included in the Fall, 2008 issue of The IPCR Journal/Newsletter (http://ipcri.net/images/The-IPCR-Journal-Newsletter-Fall-2008-B.pdf ). One of those “introductions” is also part of an “Educational Materials Outreach Package”, which is accessible for free, and which is located at the bottom of the homepage of The IPCR Initiative. The most comprehensive introduction to the “1000Communities2” proposal was written in December, 2008 and is titled Transitioning from Less Solution-Oriented Employment to More Solution-Oriented Employment”(http://ipcri.net/images/Transitioning-from-Less-Solution-Oriented-Employ... )

We are in need of innovative and imaginative solutions.

In 1984, the non-profit organization Chattanooga Venture [Chattanooga, Tennessee (USA)] organized a Community Visioning Initiative (“Vision 2000”) that attracted more than 1,700 participants, and produced 40 community goals—which resulted in the implementation of 223 projects and programs, the creation of 1,300 permanent jobs, and a total financial investment of 793 million dollars. (for source references, see p. 9 of the “1000Communities2” proposal, at http://ipcri.net/images/1000Communities2.pdf )

If even a few of the kind of Community Visioning Initiatives described in the “1000Communities2” proposal generated results similar to those achieved by the Chattanooga, Tennessee (USA) Visioning Initiative, people in all parts of the world—keenly attuned when it comes to resolving challenges which require urgent solutions at all levels of society— could be inspired to carry out similar Community Visioning Initiatives. And if many communities carried out similar initiatives, and also achieved significant results, our collective capacity to resolve the challenges of our times would surely begin to accumulate at an accelerating rate.

There is much which leaders could be asking from the people who respect their leadership, both as a matter of civic duty, and as a matter of necessity; and there are many people who will be very appreciative when they find that they have an important role to play in the work ahead. Leaders should guide citizens so that they can discover how they can do their part to contribute to the greater good of the whole.

Even now, as you are reading this, truly inspiring contributions of genuine goodwill are being generated in a variety of ways—and in a variety of circumstances—by countless numbers of people in communities around the world. A combination of Community Visioning Initiatives, “Community Teaching and Learning Centers” and “sister community” relationships can bring to light the many truly inspiring contributions of genuine goodwill in your community and region, and contribute much to the building of “close-knit” communities of people… communities with a healthy appreciation for each others strengths, communities with a well-developed capacity to resolve even the most difficult challenges—and communities which demonstrate a high level of compassion for their fellow human beings.

[Note: In light of the urgent need to increase collaboration between diverse communities of people, anyone may access all IPCR documents (including the above mentioned 161 page “1000Communities2” proposal) for free, at the website of The Interfaith Peacebuilding and Community Revitalization (IPCR) Initiative (at www.ipcri.net )].

With Kind Regards,

Stefan Pasti, Founder and Outreach Coordinator
The Interfaith Peacebuilding and Community Revitalization (IPCR) Initiative

How Dishwashing Can Contribute to Interfaith Peacebuilding and Community Revitalization

(Or… A Resume of One Person’s Life Path in Response to the Challenges of Our Times)

I have been actively involved in peacebuilding and community revitalization work for over 20 years—as a writer (project-related correspondence, short novel, short story); an editor (newsletters, quotation collections); an advocate of ecologically sustainable communities; a practitioner of voluntary simplicity; and, since 2001, as founder of and outreach coordinator for The Interfaith Peacebuilding and Community Revitalization (IPCR) Initiative. My career goal is to help as many people as possible—by way of writing, facilitating workshops, building community partnerships, and networking with people anywhere who are working along similar lines—to become aware of the countless number of things people can do in the everyday circumstances of their lives which will contribute to peacebuilding, community revitalization, and ecological sustainability efforts in their own communities and regions—and in other parts of the world. I see myself most clearly as a facilitator of workshops associated with The Eight IPCR Concepts (see “Brief Descriptions of The Eight IPCR Concepts” in the section “All IPCR Documents” on the IPCR homepage at www.ipcri.net )

To make the contributions I believe are mine to make, I have, over the years, had to find other work as a way of earning a living; and I have been employed in many different settings, including field worker on organic farms, mail clerk, retail bookstore clerk, door-to-door canvasser for citizen action groups, and as a dishwasher in both university dining service settings and restaurants.

I am currently seeking full time employment as a dishwasher, and as a responsible and courteous part of Dining Services associated with a progressive higher education institution. My first choice would be an educational institution in a medium size town which is rated high for walkability—and which is already aware of the need to provide pathways and safety instruction to encourage bicycle use.

I have taken into account the nature of the work I am doing [building The Interfaith Peacebuilding and Community Revitalization (IPCR) Initiative, see www.ipcri.net], the nature of the challenges associated with this work, the uncertainty in many fields of employment, and what I have found works well for both employers and myself. When I am working on long and difficult pieces of writing (I am working on a writing project now which may take a year to complete), and especially with the challenges in my particular field of activity, I find that I prefer earning a living by way of manual labor in relatively stable and responsible work environments. I also like being associated with educational institutions, because of the prevailing and ongoing focus on learning (which carries over into the local community), because of access to a university library—and especially if university employees receive free tuition for a certain amount of coursework per year. In addition, I believe there is much reform which will be required at educational institutions so that they can be most useful in helping to resolve the unprecedented challenges we are now facing. I believe I have something to contribute to such reform, and would be most willing to contribute whatever I can to positive and constructive approaches to reform, at any educational institution that would have me as an employee. And I do believe that I have the personal qualities to be a responsible and reliable dishwasher, and a good natured, courteous, and helpful member of any dining services unit.

Attached to this post are two files: a draft cover letter, and a draft resume. The resume is four pages long because it includes a supplement titled “Detailed Goals and Challenges Assessment, with Commentary”. I believe it is necessary to provide such a supplement, as a way of helping readers of the resume to fairly evaluate why I might be seeking employment as a dishwasher.

I was wondering if there is anyone who has any helpful comments or recommendations for me. Any progressive educational institutions they would recommend I apply to? Anyone working along similar lines, with similar difficulties, who has some other, different ideas to suggest? Any comments on this particular approach to job seeking: as in do you think this approach might work? What are its strengths and weaknesses? How can it be improved?

Each person has to decide for themselves what will work best when they are trying to adapt to adverse and unsupportive cultural influences. I believe I'm making some good contributions, but feel it's time for a change. I’m listening if anyone has any constructive suggestions.

With Kind Regards,

Stefan Pasti, Founder and Outreach Coordinator
The IPCR Initiative

On Uncertainty in Times of Great Challenges

(with Testimony by U.S. Secretary of the Treasury Timothy Geithner)

Below are quoted excerpts from a meeting of the U.S. Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs, on February 10, 2009. Much of the meeting was a hearing on “Oversight of the Financial Rescue Program: A New Plan for the TARP”. The quoted excerpts included here are from the “Question and Answer” period following formal testimony by U.S. Secretary of the Treasury Timothy Geithner. The excerpts are an exchange between Senator Mike Johanss [(R) Nebraska] and Secretary Geithner, with additional comments at the end by Chairman Christopher J. Dodd [(D) Connecticut]. The complete meeting is accessible on video at the website of the U.S. Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs (see http://banking.senate.gov/public/index.cfm?FuseAction=Hearings.LiveStrea... ; with this section coming from “counter number” 168.27 through 172.29)

As a brief introduction to the excerpts from the above mentioned hearing, I would like to suggest the following: it may be that many people, in communities around the world, understand that there are many very difficult challenges ahead. However, the serious nature of these challenges has not—yet—created priorities capable of uniting us in a way that includes realizing how much we need to be learning so that we can be part of the solutions… and how much we really need to be on the same side, helping each other.

The quoted passages below may help readers appreciate the need for us—for as many of us as possible, in communities around the world—to be working together… and the need for appropriate education so that we can help each other, and so our efforts can be as coordinated as possible.

On the subject of appropriate education, I would like to recommend two essays I wrote (since September 15, 2008) which advocate for Community Visioning Initiatives, “Community Teaching and Learning Centers”, and “sister community” relationships as a way of generating an exponential increase in our capacity to overcome the challenges of our times. The two essays are “A Greater Force than the Challenges that are Now Facing Us” [this essay, in particular, includes a quote from then Director of the Congressional Budget Office Peter R. Orszag, and my own commentary on the subject of increasing “confidence” (see http://ipcri.net/images/A-Greater-Force-than-the-Challenges-We-Are-Now-F... ] and “Transitioning from Less Solution-Oriented Employment to More Solution-Oriented Employment” (see http://ipcri.net/images/Transitioning-from-Less-Solution-Oriented-Employ... ) Note: In 1984, the non-profit organization Chattanooga Venture [Chattanooga, Tennessee (USA)] organized a Community Visioning Initiative that attracted more than 1,700 participants, and produced 40 community goals—which resulted in the implementation of 223 projects and programs, the creation of 1,300 permanent jobs, and a total financial investment of 793 million dollars. [Source references for this information are on p. 9 of the “1000Communities2” proposal (also by this writer), a 161 page document which is discussed in both of the above mentioned essays)].

I do hope that more and more people are coming to the realization that the difficult challenges ahead are not something that the experts will resolve while the rest of us are doing something else—everyone is involved when it comes to determining the markets that supply the “ways of earning a living”; and given the unprecedented nature of the challenges ahead, all of us have important responsibilities. There is much which leaders could be asking from the people who respect their leadership, both as a matter of civic duty, and as a matter of necessity; and there are many people who will be very appreciative when they find that they have an important role to play in the work ahead. Leaders should guide citizens so that they can discover how they can do their part to contribute to the greater good of the whole.

Here are the excerpts referred to above:

Senator Johanns:

“One last question: it comes out of the document you gave us…. (….)… You say a key component of a capital assistance program is a forward looking comprehensive stress test that requires an assessment of whether a major financial institution has the capital necessary to continue lending and to absorb the potential losses that would result from a more severe decline in the economy. And you’re going to do this for everybody (every financial institution) over $100 billion dollars. They’ll be required to do it. How many institutions would be over $100 billion dollars?”

Secretary Geithner:

“I’m not going to get this perfect, but it’s roughly in the scale of 25.”

Senator Johanns:

“25.”

Secretary Geithner:

“And again, this is a critical part of what banks and supervisors have to do. It’s an ongoing normal process… we’re just going to try to bring a little more consistency and realism to how its done.”

Senator Johannes:

“Okay…. My last thought on this, and it’s more of a thought than a question… this stress test… when you publicize to the world that they have—they lack the capital necessary to continue lending, in an economy that is, maybe beyond what they projected…. I would think that will cause a very, very serious problem for those 25 institutions… if not literally a run of the institutions. How do you prevent that?”

Secretary Geithner:

“It’s a very difficult, complicated process. I think it’s important to recognize that the world today looks at these institutions with great uncertainty about the scale of their losses ahead. They know a lot about what their exposures are, and they know they face some risks ahead; and our hope is by bringing more clarity to that process, with some support for capital, you’re going to get the markets in a better position where that uncertainty is dispelled, and they’ve got a (____?) foundation to do it.

“Now, again, the markets may be overestimating those risks—they may be underestimating—but right now, the level of uncertainty that exists—itself—is very damaging. And it’s not something you can solve by – and you’re not suggesting this, and I don’t mean to imply this—by trying to obscure that basic problem. Because right now that problem itself is putting a huge amount of pressure on these institutions, and making it much harder for them to do what’s necessary to grow and expand. They’re being forced—many of them, some of them—are being forced to contract because of that.

“So arresting that process is important; but you’re absolutely right, it’s a very delicate, careful balance, and you need to look at these things together: with some care and rigor and consistency and realism on the supervisory process, combined with access to capital, combined with these other measures we’re going to produce to help provide—help provide some broader financing for these markets. It’s going to be a difficult balance; but again, the markets today are living with this acute cloud of uncertainty about what those basic risks are. And that itself is contributing to this dangerous dynamic where there is more deleveraging, shrinking in balance sheets, than may need to happen.”

Senator Johanns:

“I could see the frown grow on your face as I asked this question, and I understand; but if we don’t figure this out, you’re going to need a gigantic amount of capital to protect these 25 institutions. So I just think it’s something we have to pay a lot of attention to, because it puts a mark on them.”

Secretary Geithner:

“And can I just, before we leave this… I wanted to say that these institutions are all in different circumstances, and the scale of needs vary substantially across institutions. And it’s not fair to tar them with the same brush…. They’re in different circumstances; we’re going to treat them carefully, and differently, recognizing their relative strengths and weaknesses—again, with the basic objective of putting (them) in a position where they’re going to have a stronger foundation to get through this thing. And I don’t believe there’s any realistic way to get through this excerpt by trying to do that.

Senator Johanns:

“Mr. Chairman, thanks for your patience; again I went over—“

Chairman Dodd:

“No, no, I’d like to commend my colleague from Nebraska. We have new members in this committee who are just tremendously valuable, and I include my colleague from Nebraska. It’s very, very good—excellent questions…. (….)…. And let me just say too, before we turn to Senator Merkley, on this very last point—I think it’s a very important exchange that just occurred between you Mr. Secretary and Senator Johanns….”

Additional Note: There are many ways to position the above exchange in the larger context of current events, and having some understanding of the larger context (the “big picture”) will help in arriving at a realistic appreciation of the difficulties ahead. However, some of the very uncertainty discussed above is in fact caused by the many different “narratives” that are being offered to explain current events to the larger public. Some of these “narratives” (frameworks for understanding the “big picture”) are useful and constructive, and some are counter-productive.

The IPCR Initiative website provides a “Ten Point Assessment of the Most Difficult Challenges of Our Times” which includes the following challenge: “10) Sorting out what are real challenges and what are sound and practical solutions is becoming more and more difficult, as there is now, in many parts of the world, a multitude of ideas of all kinds coming to the fore in personal, family, community, and cultural life—all at the same time.” This difficulty, combined with all the other difficult challenges ahead, is what has led to this writer advocating for a combination of Community Visioning Initiatives, “Community Teaching and Learning Centers”, and “sister community” relationships as a way of generating an exponential increase in our collective capacity to overcome the challenges of our times (as mentioned above). Having said that, one way of positioning the above exchange in the larger context of the “Troubled Assets Relief Program” (TARP) would be to refer to the overview of TARP provided by Wikipedia, which is provides sufficient information to be useful as a starting point. As an immediate reference point, here are some excerpts from that overview (at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Troubled_Assets_Relief_Program )

“The authority of the United States Department of the Treasury to establish and manage TARP under a newly created Office of Financial Stability became law October 3, 2008, the result of an initial proposal that ultimately was passed by Congress as H.R. 1424, enacting the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008 and several other acts.” (from last paragraph in the “Purpose” section)

“TARP allows the United States Department of the Treasury to purchase or insure up to $700 billion of ‘troubled’ assets.” (from 1st paragraph in the “Purpose” section)

“Another important goal of TARP is to encourage banks to resume lending again at levels seen before the crisis, both to each other and to consumers and businesses. If TARP can stabilize bank capital ratios, it should theoretically allow them to increase lending instead of hoarding cash to cushion against future, unforeseen losses from troubled assets. Increased lending equates to 'loosening' of credit, which the government hopes will restore order to the financial markets and improve investor confidence in financial institutions and the markets. As banks gain increased lending confidence, the interbank lending interest rates (the rates at which the banks lend to each other on a short term basis) should decrease, further facilitating lending.” (from 5th paragraph in the “Purpose” section)

“On October 14, 2008, Secretary of the Treasury Paulson and President Bush separately announced revisions in the TARP program. The Treasury announced their intention to buy senior preferred stock and warrants in the nine largest American banks.” (from 1st paragraph of the “Timeline of Changes to the Initial Program” section)

“In the original plan presented by Secretary Paulson, the government would buy troubled (toxic) assets in insolvent banks and then sell them at auction to private investor and/or companies. This plan was scratched when Paulson met with England's Prime Minister Gordon Brown who came to the White House for an international summit on the global credit crisis. [needs reference] Prime Minister Brown, in an attempt to mitigate the credit squeeze in England, merely infused capital into banks via preferred stock in order to clean up their balance sheets and, in some economists' view, effectively nationalizing many banks.” (from 3rd paragraph in the “Timeline of Changes to the Initial Program” section)

“One of the most difficult issues facing the Treasury in managing TARP is the pricing of the troubled assets. The Treasury must find a way to price extremely complex and sometimes unwieldy instruments for which a market does not exist. In addition, the pricing must strike a balance between efficiently using public funds provided by the taxpayer and providing adequate assistance to the financial institutions that need it.” (from 3rd paragraph in the “Eligible Assets and Asset Valuation” section)

As of February 9, 2009, $388 billion had been allotted, and $296 billion spent, according to the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget.” (Note: The total amount allocated (from the 1st paragraph in the “Expenditures and Commitments” section)

[Above quotes from “Troubled Assets Relief Program” section of Wikipedia at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Troubled_Assets_Relief_Program ]

Post submitted by Stefan Pasti, Founder and Outreach Coordinator of The Interfaith Peacebuilding and Community Revitalization (IPCR) Initiative ( www.ipcri.net ).

Confidence that is Based on the Soundest Kind of Evidence

Here is an excerpt from the “Opening Keynote” to the “Good Jobs, Green Jobs” Conference (Feb. 4-6, 2009) in Washington D.C.—by Achim Steiner, Executive Director, United Nations Environment Programme

“We know, very much as a result of the past 12 months, that markets are not divine creations - they are made by men and women and as such they can be redesigned by human beings and governments to achieve multiple aims.”

I truly believe that there is much good work being done out of the “spotlight” of even the most progressive networks looking to gather together inspiration and “nuts and bolts” how-to information. One of the “countless numbers of things we can do in the everyday circumstances of our lives” to contribute to overcoming the challenges of our times is to “bring to light” the good efforts of people and organizations, from all levels of activity… from international coalition building to helping a neighbor who really needs help.

As an example of “bringing to light” good efforts, I have read a few articles on the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) website related to green jobs, and in each article I found very helpful comments from Achim Steiner, the UNEP Executive Director. So, when I looked at the program for the “Good Jobs, Green Jobs” conference (Feb. 4-6, 2009; Washington D.C.), and saw that Achim Steiner was scheduled for the “opening keynote” on February 4, I immediately began searching to see if I could find a text of that speech. And the UNEP website did have a complete text, here at http://www.unep.org/Documents.Multilingual/Default.asp?DocumentID=563&Ar...

I have included some excerpts from the speech here in this post (see excerpts below). I believe this speech is worth noting because it can provide readers with a glimpse of the kind of leader who brings attention to good work wherever it can be found, and whose good intentions are ready to extend to any part of the world. I also believe Achim Steiner is the kind of leader who sets a tone for the kind of positive and constructive information exchange which leads to strong coalitions which can endure the tests of time. And I believe that we need to be learning about, creating, and supporting many more people with these kinds of leadership skills if we are to overcome the challenges of our times.

I encourage readers to read his speech at the above link. And I encourage readers to add links here to other examples of this kind of leadership, and other examples of good efforts, from every level of activity. When there are more examples of this kind of leadership, and more examples of good efforts from every level of activity, than there are examples of misguided leadership and efforts based on poor judgment, then we will have a confidence about the future that is based on the soundest kind of evidence.

Excerpts from Achim Steiner’s Speech:

“In mid-February, the world's environment ministers will meet at UNEP headquarters for the UNEP Governing Council/Global Ministerial Environment Forum.

“Here we will present some of the latest findings on the state of the world's ecosystems, such as forests and soils to coral reefs and fisheries, in our UNEP Year Book 2009….

“Globalization means that the ups - and currently the real downs - of the global economy reach everywhere. But so, too, do ideas and imaginative initiatives….

“The investments being made now in order to counter the various "crunches" need to set the stage for a resource efficient, innovation-led, economic renaissance.

“The challenge today is to embed Green Economic policy in national economies everywhere - to make the many shining examples already pursued here and there part of the mainstream of economic thinking, part of the ‘here and now’….

“UNEP's Global Green New Deal report, bringing some of these global ideas and policy-actionable initiatives and compiled by a team of leading economists, will be published on 16 February at our environment ministers gathering….

“If we are to deal with the immediate crises and the ones just around the corner, then every dollar, Euro, peso and yuan is going to have to work smarter and harder.

“The investments being made now in order to counter the various "crunches" need to set the stage for a resource efficient, innovation-led, economic renaissance….

“There are still many voices being raised saying we cannot afford it - that it is interfering in the market as if the market was some perfect construct - independent of human affairs….

“We know, very much as a result of the past 12 months, that markets are not divine creations - they are made by men and women and as such they can be redesigned by human beings and governments to achieve multiple aims….”

From speech by Achim Steiner, United Nations Environment Programme Executive Director (and United Nations Under-Secretary General)— given as “Opening Keynote” on February 4, 2009 at the “Good Jobs, Green Jobs” National Conference [Feb. 4-6, 2009 in Washington D.C. (USA)]

Comments and excerpts from Achim Steiner speech submitted by Stefan Pasti, Founder and Outreach Coordinator, The Interfaith Peacebuilding and Community Revitalization (IPCR) Initiative

[“Everyone is involved when it comes to determining the markets that supply the ‘ways of earning a living’.” (SP)]

Why There Will Be More Locally Produced Food in the Future

Recently, I have had some good conversation with a number of people over 65 years old who remember very clearly their experiences of working on dairy farms in Loudoun County, Virginia (USA). One man remembered that when he was in school, just about everyone else in his class lived on a dairy farm. That got me to wondering just how many dairy farms there were in Loudoun County when dairy farming was at its peak, so I went to the local library, to see what might be in the local history section. On this occasion, I found just the document I was looking for on my first visit: a spiral bound edition of “Dairy Farming in Loudoun County”.

The book “Dairy Farming in Loudoun County” had sections on the history of dairy farming, inspections, transportation of the milk, youth group activities, breeding for high levels of production, etc. I also found out that at the peak of dairy farming in Loudoun County, there were more than 400 dairy farms. There were three important reasons why there were so many dairy farms: 1) the land was excellent for growing feed for the cows 2) the landscape was mostly rolling hills, which were better for grazing cows than large scale monocropping and 3) there was a large market for the milk in nearby Washington D.C. (and a railroad line facilitated the process of shipping the milk in great quantities). The book also included a community by community list of the names of many of the farms, which provided an opportunity for me to ask people to see what farms they remembered.

Readers may be wondering now: how many of the dairy farms are still there? The answer may be difficult to believe: just one. Some of the reasons for this unprecedented transition from one way of life to another very different way of life: 1) expansion of housing developments and associated infrastructure from Washington D.C. outwards created many jobs which made it possible for people to make more money while working less hours 2) the above mentioned expansion caused parcels of land to increase in value 3) the combination of higher costs without a corresponding higher income left many dairy farmers with no choice but to change to another way of earning a living.

This unprecedented transition was, in part, made possible because in the last 60 years technology and energy cost accounting concepts have made it possible for energy costs to be very low in comparison with the perceived benefits. Recently, however, there are an increasing number of people with expertise associated with energy production who feel that energy costs were artificially low in the past, in relation to the actual costs associated with ecological sustainability (for some specific evidence of this, see references to “ecological footprints” in a document titled “1000Communities2”, which I wrote, at http://ipcri.net/images/1000Communities2.pdf. Furthermore, much of what we thought were positive outcomes of an energy intensive infrastructure do not seem to be serving us as well as we thought they might. As just one example of such a “perceived benefits vs. real benefits” view, I would suggest that 75% of the people who still remember what a farming community was like when much of the work was done by hand will say that it was a good life then, but they are not so sure about what is going on now… even though many of them worked 12 hour days then, and it was hard work. Are we really so sure about where we are going?

My feeling, expressed by the “1000Communities2” proposal (and in a number of shorter descriptions of the proposal—see the Fall, 2008 issue of The IPCR Journal/Newsletter at http://ipcri.net/images/The-IPCR-Journal-Newsletter-Fall-2008-B.pdf, is that more and more people, in more and more parts of the world, are coming to the conclusion that all of us have important responsibilities associated with resolving a significant number of very serious challenges in the years ahead. I also believe that overcoming these challenges will require problem solving on a scale most of us have never known before. And I believe there are more and more people, in more and more parts of the world, who understand that the unprecedented solutions required will include much more local food production than there is now.

In the context of this particular “journal entry”, I would like to identify some of the articles and excerpts from publications which have convinced me that there will be much more locally produced food in our future. Since this is really an informal “journal entry”, I will simply list these resources, without any commentary. Some readers may already be familiar with these sources. Others may find some very interesting reading, looking into the complete texts of the excerpts referred to here. The goal of a “journal entry” like this, as in the goal of the “1000Communities2” proposal, is to encourage a more comprehensive assessment, by each and every one of us, on the subject of 1) are we really well informed about the challenges ahead? 2) are we really as well prepared as we would like to be to meet and overcome the challenges ahead? I encourage readers to share their thoughts: a) on whether they also believe there will be more locally produced food in the future b) on whether what they understand as “the good life” includes a large percentage of people being able to earn a living producing food—and to share whatever other comments or experiences arise from considering the thoughts and resources shared here.

In the Spirit of Sharing and Learning,

Stefan Pasti

Some Resources Related to the Likelihood of More Locally Produced Food:

1) From “The View from Oils Peak” by Richard Heinberg at http://www.richardheinberg.com/museletter/184

“Agriculture: Here there are two primary categories of strategies:

a) Maximize local production of food in order to reduce the vulnerability implied by a fossil-fuel based food delivery system
b) Promote forms of agriculture that rely on fewer fossil-fuel inputs

“While efforts along these lines require support at the national level, some local polices could be extremely helpful, including the promotion of farmers’ markets and community-supported agriculture; promotion of gardening, including community gardens, rooftop gardens, and school gardens; and the favoring of local and organic production over conventional food for school food programs and other purposes that are under the control or influence of government.”

2) From “Energy Descent Action Plan (EDAP) Primer” by Adam Grubb at http://www.eatthesuburbs.org/edap-primer/

“The phrase energy descent was first used by Australian permaculture co-orginator David Holmgren. He wrote in 2003 that ‘I use the term ‘descent’ as the least loaded word that honestly conveys the inevitable, radical reduction of material consumption and/or human numbers that will characterise the declining decades and centuries of fossil fuel abundance and availability.’”

3) From “Energy and Permaculture” by David Holmgren at http://www.permacultureactivist.net/Holmgren/holmgren.htm

“The transition from an unsustainable fossil fuel-based economy back to a solar-based (agriculture and forestry) economy will involve the application of the embodied energy that we inherit from industrial culture: This embodied energy is contained within a vast array of things, infrastructure, cultural processes and ideas, mostly inappropriately configured for the "solar" economy. It is the task of our age to take this great wealth, reconfigure and apply it to the development of sustainable systems.”

4) From the FAO Newsroom section of The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United
Nations (FAO) website. In the “Focus on the Issues” subsection, see “High-level conference on world food security…”, and then see “Conference News” (6/6/2008). Specific article “Food
Summit Calls for More Investment in Agriculture” (paragraphs 1, 2, and 9) (at http://www.fao.org/newsroom/en/news/2008/1000856/index.html)

“The Summit on soaring food prices, convened by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) (June 3-5, 2008), has concluded with the adoption by acclamation of a declaration calling on the international community to increase assistance for developing countries, in particular the least developed countries and those that are most negatively affected by high food prices.

“’There is an urgent need to help developing countries and countries in transition expand agriculture and food production, and to increase investment in agriculture, agribusiness and rural development, from both public and private sources,’ according to the declaration.”

….“On climate change, the Declaration said: ‘It is essential to address (the) question of how to increase the resilience of present food production systems to challenges posed by climate change... We urge governments to assign appropriate priority to the agriculture, forestry and fisheries sectors, in order to create opportunities to enable the world’s smallholder farmers and fishers, including indigenous people, in particular vulnerable areas, to participate in, and benefit from financial mechanisms and investment flows to support climate change adaptation, mitigation and technology development, transfer and dissemination. We support the establishment of agricultural systems and sustainable management practices that positively contribute to the mitigation of climate change and ecological balance.’”

5) From “A History of American Agriculture 1776-1990 (Farmers and the Land)” (first accessed at the website of the United States Department of Agriculture, in August, 2001) (currently accessible at www.about.com, in the section titled “Inventors”-- web address http://inventors.about.com/library/inventors/blfarm4.htm

% of Total Labor Force working as Farmers, U.S., 1790-1990

1790—Farmers made up about 90% of labor force
1840—Farmers made up about 69% of labor force
1850—Farmers made up about 64% of labor force
1860—Farmers made up about 58% of labor force
1870—Farmers made up about 53% of labor force
1880—Farmers made up about 49% of labor force
1890—Farmers made up about 43% of labor force
1900—Farmers made up about 38% of labor force
1910—Farmers made up about 31% of labor force
1920—Farmers made up about 27% of labor force
1930—Farmers made up about 21% of labor force
1940—Farmers made up about 18% of labor force
1950—Farmers made up about 12.2% of labor force
1960—Farmers made up about 8.3% of labor force
1970—Farmers made up about 4.6% of labor force
1980—Farmers made up about 3.4% of labor force
1990—Farmers made up about 2.6% of labor force

6) From “Letter to the New Education Secretary” by Worldwatch Institute at http://www.worldwatch.org/node/5971

“American workers, managers, and professionals at all levels and in all sectors must understand the foundations of a green economy as represented in leading environmental and sustainability education programs. These foundations call for redesigning the human economy to emulate nature: operating on renewable energy, creating a circular production economy in which the concept of ‘"waste" is eliminated because all waste products are raw materials or nutrients for the industrial economy, and managing human activities in a way that uses natural resources only at the rate that they can self-regenerate (the ideas embodied in sustainable forestry, fishing, and agriculture).”

7) From “Fifty Million Farmers” by Richard Heinberg at http://www.energybulletin.net/node/22584

“One way or another, re-ruralization will be the dominant social trend of the 21st century. Thirty or forty years from now—again, one way or another—we will see a more historically normal ratio of rural to urban population, with the majority once again living in small, farming communities. More food will be produced in cities than is the case today, but cities will be smaller. Millions more people than today will be in the countryside growing food.

“They won’t be doing so the way farmers do it today, and perhaps not the way farmers did it in 1900. Indeed, we need perhaps to redefine the term farmer. We have come to think of a farmer as someone with 500 acres and a big tractor and other expensive machinery. But this is not what farmers looked like a hundred years ago, and it’s not an accurate picture of most current farmers in less-industrialized countries. Nor does it coincide with what will be needed in the coming decades. We should perhaps start thinking of a farmer as someone with 3 to 50 acres, who uses mostly hand labor and twice a year borrows a small tractor that she or he fuels with ethanol or biodiesel produced on-site.

“How many more farmers are we talking about? Currently the U.S. has three or four million of them, depending on how we define the term.

“Let’s again consider Cuba’s experience: in its transition away from fossil-fueled agriculture, that nation found that it required 15 to 25 percent of its population to become involved in food production. In America in 1900, nearly 40 percent of the population farmed; the current proportion is close to one percent.

“Do the math for yourself. Extrapolated to this country’s future requirements, this implies the need for a minimum of 40 to 50 million additional farmers as oil and gas availability declines. How soon will the need arise? Assuming that the peak of global oil production occurs within the next five years, and that North American natural gas is already in decline, we are looking at a transition that must occur over the next 20 to 30 years, and that must begin approximately now.”

8) From “The Food and Farming Transition” by Richard Heinberg at http://globalpublicmedia.com/museletter_199_the_food_and_farming_transit...

“It is reasonable to expect that several million new farmers would be required—a number that is both unimaginable and unmanageable over the short term. These new farmers would have to include a broad mix of people, reflecting the UK’s increasing diversity. Already growing numbers of young adults are becoming organic or biodynamic farmers, and farmers’ markets and CSAs are also springing up across the country. These tentative trends must be supported and encouraged. In addition to Government policies that support sustainable farming systems based on smaller farming units, this will require:

a) Education: Universities and community colleges must quickly develop programs in small-scale ecological farming methods—programs that also include training in other skills that farmers will need, such as in marketing and formulating business plans.
b) Apprenticeships and other forms of direct knowledge transfer will also assist the transition.”
c) Financial Support: Since few if any farms are financially successful the first year or even the second or third, loans and grants will be needed to help farmers get started.
d) A revitalization of farming communities and farming culture: Over the past decades UK rural towns have seen their best and brightest young people flee first to distant colleges and then to cities. Farming communities must be interesting, attractive places if we expect people to inhabit them and for children to want to stay there. “

9) From p. 6 of the Fall, 2008 issue of The IPCR Journal/Newsletter at http://ipcri.net/images/The-IPCR-Journal-Newsletter-Fall-2008-B.pdf

“b) People can, one by one, decide to deliberately focus the way they spend their time, energy, and money so that their actions have positive repercussions on many or all of the action plans which emerge from Community Visioning Initiatives.
c) The result can be that there are countless ‘ways to earn a living’ which contribute to the peacebuilding, community revitalization, and ecological sustainability efforts necessary to overcome the challenges of our times.

“Furthermore, Community Visioning Initiatives can include “Job Fairs” in the final phases of the process, which summarize the knowledge accumulated during the Visioning process.

Here are some excerpts from “Step 12: Summary Presentations and Job Fairs” of the “15 Step” outline (see p. 22-42) provided in the “1000Communities2” proposal:

“Job Fairs will provide a forum for organizations and businesses working in solution oriented fields of activity to describe employment opportunities and future prospects, to discover local talent, to hire qualified prospects, and to build knowledge bases and skill sets for the future.” (from p. 39)

“Special Commentary: By now, there will have been sufficient public discourse for those people with understanding about high level shifts in investment portfolios to have learned something about what directions future shifts will be leaning towards. The job fairs which come at the end of the Community Visioning Initiative process provide opportunities for all key stakeholders in the community (businesses, organizations, institutions, government, etc.) to demonstrate their upgraded awareness—and their interest in the welfare of the community—by offering and facilitating new employment opportunities… and thus helping with a just transition from patterns of investment which in only limited ways represent solutions to prioritized challenges to patterns of investment which in many ways represent solutions to prioritized challenges.” (from p. 39)

“[Note: As mentioned on p. 125, one aspect of this just transition can be that people who do deliberately focus their investments of time, energy, and money towards solutions identified by the Community Visioning Initiative being carried out in their community may receive, as encouragement, local currency. And then such local currency can, in its turn, be redeemed in ways which will be particularly helpful to people transitioning from less solution-oriented employment to more solution-oriented employment.]” (from p. 39)

Concluding Note to Readers: I hope this information has been helpful in some way. (SP)

Transitioning from Less Solution-Oriented Employment to More Solution-Oriented Employment

“The transition from an unsustainable fossil fuel-based economy back to a solar-based (agriculture and forestry) economy will involve the application of the embodied energy that we inherit from industrial culture. This embodied energy is contained within a vast array of things, infrastructure, cultural processes and ideas, mostly inappropriately configured for the “solar” economy. It is the task of our age to take this great wealth, reconfigure it, and apply it to the development of sustainable systems.” (David Holmgren, from “Energy and Permaculture” article)

Introduction

We now live in very complex and challenging times. More and more people, in more and more parts of the world, are coming to the conclusion that all of us have important responsibilities associated with resolving a significant number of very serious challenges, which include (but are not limited to):

1) global warming and reducing carbon emissions
2) peak oil and reducing dependence on petroleum based products
3) global inequities and the tragic cycles of malnutrition, disease, and death
4) an increasing world population requiring more resources when many resources are becoming more scarce (with a special emphasis on the increasing number of people who are consuming resources and ecological services indiscriminately)
5) cultures of greed, corruption, and overindulgence have caused a crises of confidence in financial markets, and are in many ways slowing the restructuring of investment priorities needed to respond to the challenges listed here (and other challenges)
6) there still seems to be a majority of people on the planet who do not have a clear understanding, well-grounded in personal experience, of which basic elements of community life and cultural traditions lead to mutually beneficial understandings, which lead to cycles of violence—and why it is so important for people to achieve clarity on this subject.

The “1000Communities2” Proposal

One suggestion which could assist in bringing many solutions to light at the local community level is a 161 page proposal by this writer titled “1000Communities2” ("1000CommunitiesSquared").

The “1000Communities2” proposal advocates organizing and implementing Community Visioning Initiatives in 1000 communities (communities—or segments of rural areas, towns, or cities—with populations of 50,000 or less) around the world

1. which are time-intensive, lasting even as much as 1½ years (18 months), so as to give as much importance to developing a close-knit community as it does to

a) accumulating and integrating the knowledge and skill sets necessary for the highest percentage of people to act wisely in response to challenges identified as priority challenges
b) helping people to deliberately channel their time, energy, and money into the creation of “ways of earning a living” which are directly related to resolving high priority challenges
c) assisting with outreach, partnership formation, and development of service capacity for a significant number of already existing (or forming) organizations, businesses, institutions, and government agencies
d) helping to build a high level of consensus for specific action plans, which will help inspire additional support from people, businesses, organizations, institutions, and government agencies with significant resources

2. which expand on the concept of “Community Teaching and Learning Centers” (created by the “Teachers Without Borders” organization) so that such local community points of entry function as information clearinghouses, meeting locations, educational centers for ongoing workshops (on a broad range of topics related to the Community Visioning Process, and building the local knowledge base), practice sites for developing “teacher-leaders”, a location for an ongoing “informal” “Community Journal”, a location for listing employment opportunities—and provide a means of responding quickly (by changing the emphasis of workshop content) to new urgencies as they arise

3. and which suggest—as a way of emphasizing the need for an exponential increase in compassion for our fellow human beings—that communities (with the resources to do so) enter into “sister community” relationships with communities in other countries where there has been well documented calls for assistance with basic human needs.

The following three sections of this article will provide some further information about the concepts Community Visioning Initiative, “Community Teaching and Learning Centers”, and “sister community” relationships.

What are Community Visioning Initiatives?

Well organized efforts to identify problems and brainstorm solutions are a universally recognized approach to problem solving which is commonly used in family, community, business, and government
settings in every part of the world. In its most basic format, a Community Visioning Initiative (CVI) is simply a more comprehensive variation of the above mentioned approach to problem solving.

Community Visioning Initiatives (CVIs) are especially useful as a means of increasing or maximizing citizen participation in the planning phase of community revitalization efforts. In 1984, the non-profit organization Chattanooga Venture [Chattanooga, Tennessee (USA)] organized a Community Visioning Initiative that attracted more than 1,700 participants, and produced 40 community goals—which resulted in the implementation of 223 projects and programs, the creation of 1,300 permanent jobs, and a total financial investment of 793 million dollars.

[Note: Since the source references for all quoted material in this document can be found by searching the pdf file of the “1000Communities2” document, they are not reproduced here. The “1000Communities2” document is accessible at the website of The IPCR Initiative, at www.ipcri.net, or through the following link http://ipcri.net/images/1000Communities2.pdf]

Community Visioning Initiatives (CVIs) can be described as a series of community meetings designed to facilitate the process of brainstorming ideas, organizing the ideas into goals, prioritizing the goals, and
identifying doable steps. Many CVIs require steering committees, preliminary surveys or assessments, workshops, task forces, and collaboration between many organizations, government agencies, businesses, and educational institutions—and seek to build up consensus in the community for specific goals and action plans by encouraging a high level of participation by all residents.

The “1000Communities2” document referred to in this article incorporates input from many different fields of activity, and emphasizes a time-intensive approach to Community Visioning, which may take up to 1½ years (18 months) to complete. (For more details, see Section 6 “A 15 Step Outline for a ‘1000Communities 2’ Version of a Community Visioning Initiative” of the “1000Communities2” document.)

[Note: The “1000Communities2” version of a Community Visioning Initiative includes a step (Step 12) which is described as follows: “Summary Presentations and Job Fairs”. Here is an excerpt relating to job fairs, from p. 39 of the “1000Communities2” document: “The job fairs which come at the end of the CVI process provide opportunities for all key stakeholders in the community (businesses, organizations, institutions, government, etc.) to demonstrate their upgraded awareness—and their interest in the welfare of the community—by offering and facilitating new employment opportunities…”]

What are Community Teaching and Learning Centers?

The concept of “Community Teaching and Learning Centers” (CTLCs) was created by the organization “Teachers Without Borders” (see www.teacherswithoutborders.org). The website of “Teachers Without Borders” includes the following description of CTLCs: “Community Teaching and Learning Centers (CTLCs) are local, practical education centers designed to be embraced by and emerge from the community itself…. CTLCs use existing facilities and are often outfitted with libraries [(which include) dictionaries, references, educational material of general interest] … computers, face-to-face classrooms, and break-out spaces, used primarily to serve several essential functions for community sustainability.”

In this “1000Communities2” proposal, the concept of CTLCs is expanded so that such local community points of entry function as

1) information centers, resource centers, clearinghouses (on how residents can deliberately channel their time, energy, and money into the creation of “ways of earning a living” which are directly related to resolving high priority challenges
2) locations for workshops on topics suggested by the “Preliminary Survey” [see Step 3 of the 15 Step Outline (Section 6)], and as determined by the CTLC Coordinator
3) practice sites for the development of “teacher-leaders”
4) community centers for meetings, both planned and informal
5) locations for “Community Journals” (which are collections of formal and informal input which may be contributed to or accessed at all times)
6) locations for “Final Version” Document submission (“voting”) as part of Steps 5, 6, 7, 9, and 10 of the 15 Step Outline (see Section 6 of the “1000Communities2” document)
7) locations for “Summary of CVI Process to Date” Notebooks, for latecomers, and as an information resource for media
8) central locations for listings of employment opportunities
9) as a special form of community education, which can respond quickly (by changing the emphasis of workshop content) to new urgencies as they arise

How would the “sister community” concept work?

Programs for developing the sister community concept already exist as a result of the work of Sister Cities International.

“Sister Cities International is a nonprofit citizen diplomacy network that creates and strengthens partnerships between U.S. and international communities. As an international membership organization, we officially certify, represent and support partnerships between U.S. cities, counties, states and similar jurisdictions in other countries.” The mission of Sister Cities International is “to promote peace through mutual respect, understanding, and cooperation—one individual, one community at a time.” “Sister Cities International represents more than 2,500 communities in 134 countries around the world.” Key program areas include: Sustainable Development, Youth and Education, Humanitarian Assistance, and Arts and Culture.

Unfortunately, there are often so many different activities which require our attention during the course of any given day, and many of us simply do not know how much good can be done in the world with even minor contributions of time, energy, and money. Here this writer will provide the names of ten organizations—and a brief description of their work—which should be sufficient to bring to mind how many different kinds of positive outcomes could result from such “sister community” relationships. [see Appendix 5 of the “1000Communities2” document (“Examples of Humanitarian Aid Which Can be Explored Through ‘Sister Community’ Relationships”) for more detailed information about these organizations.]

The Ten Organizations (or concepts) are:

Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies
World Food Programme
Doctors Without Borders
Teachers Without Borders
S3IDF (Small-Scale Sustainable Infrastructure Development Fund)
IDE (International Development Enterprises)
Alternative Gifts
Peace Corps
Foreign Student Exchange
Adopt a Child (“Sponsoring” a child)

1. The Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies
“There are many circumstances in communities around the world where the activity of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies is essential for communities of people to survive natural—or human-created—disasters, and progress to a recovery and rebuilding phase.”

2. World Food Programme
“WFP is the United Nations frontline agency in the fight against global hunger.”

3. Doctors Without Borders
“Every year, Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) provides emergency medical care to millions of people caught in crises in nearly 60 countries around the world. MSF provides assistance when catastrophic events — such as armed conflict, epidemics, malnutrition,
or natural disasters — overwhelm local health systems.”

4. Teachers Without Borders
“Teachers Without Borders is a non-profit (501c3), non-denominational, international NGO founded in 2000, devoted to closing the education divide through teacher professional development and community education. Our organization focuses on the building of teacher
leaders.”

5. Small Scale Sustainable Infrastructure Development Fund (S3IDF)
“Our Mission: To foster pro-poor, pro-environment small scale infrastructure services with financing and technical assistance for the electricity, water, sanitation and other infrastructure (eg.
transport and telecommunications) necessary for poverty alleviation.”

“Based on more than 25 years of experience, IDE has developed a unique market-oriented development model that benefits the rural poor. We call it PRISM (Poverty Reduction through Irrigation and Smallholder Markets). Using PRISM, IDE integrates small farm households into markets and develops sustainable businesses that reduce rural poverty worldwide.”

7. Alternative Gifts International (AGI)
“AGI is a nonprofit, interfaith agency. AGI provides education for people of all ages about global needs and raises funds each year in its Alternative Gift Markets and from individual donors to respond to those needs. Designated grants then are sent to the established international projects of several reputable nonprofit agencies for relief and development.”

8. Peace Corps
“… 190,000 Peace Corps Volunteers have been invited by 139 host
countries to work… (in the following areas): Education (36%), Health & HIV/AIDS (21%), Business (15%), Environment (14%), Youth (6%), Agriculture (5%), Other (4%).”

9. Foreign Student Exchange Programs
“A student exchange program is a program in which a student, typically in secondary or higher education, chooses to live in a foreign country to learn, among other things, language and culture.
“American Foreign Exchange (AFS) is an international, voluntary, non-governmental, non-profit organization that provides intercultural learning opportunities to help people develop the knowledge, skills and understanding needed to create a more just and peaceful world.”

10. Sponsor A Child

What does Children International do?
“Our child sponsorship solution provides health, educational, material and emotional aid to impoverished children around the world. One-to-one sponsorship gives these children the opportunity to break the cycle of poverty and realize their full potential.”

Transitioning from less solution-oriented employment to more solution-oriented employment

Section 6 of the “1000Communities2” document is titled “A 15 Step Outline for a ‘1000Communities2’ Version of a Community Visioning Initiative”. Step 12 of this 15 Step Outline begins as follows:

Step 12 Summary Presentations and Job Fairs

(Approximate Time Required: 4 weeks)

A. Goals

1) Steering Committee members (with help from volunteer Advisory Board members, etc.) will summarize the Community Visioning Initiative (CVI)process
2) Steering Committee members-- and key community leaders who were very much involved in the CVI process—will make presentations based on the summaries
3) Specifically, information will be provided on how residents can deliberately focus their time, energy, and money so that their actions
a) can have positive repercussions on many fields of activity relating to solutions
b) can result in an increase in the “ways of earning a living” which are related to solutions
and action plans
4) Job Fairs will provide a forum for organizations and businesses working in solution oriented fields of activity to describe employment opportunities and future prospects, to discover local talent, to hire qualified prospects, and to build knowledge bases and skill sets for the future

The following passage is also included as “Special Commentary” for Step 12:

“Special Commentary: By now, there will have been sufficient public discourse for those people with understanding about high level shifts in investment portfolios to have learned something about what directions future shifts will be leaning towards. The job fairs which come at the end of the Community Visioning Initiative process provide opportunities for all key stakeholders in the community (businesses, organizations, institutions, government, etc.) to demonstrate their upgraded awareness—and their interest in the welfare of the community—by offering and facilitating new employment opportunities… and thus helping with a just transition from patterns of investment which in only limited ways represent solutions to prioritized challenges to patterns of investment which in many ways represent solutions to prioritized challenges.”

As mentioned on p. 125 of the “1000Communities2” document, one aspect of this just transition can be that people who do deliberately focus their investments of time, energy, and money towards solutions identified by the Community Visioning Initiative being carried out in their community may receive, as encouragement, local currency. And then such local currency can, in its turn, be redeemed in ways which will be particularly helpful to people transitioning from less solution-oriented employment to more solution-oriented employment.”

Especially important to this kind of transition will be a community’s capacity to identify local specific “engines of economic stability”. The 15 Step Outline for a “1000Communities2” version of a Community Visioning Initiative (mentioned above) includes Step 3 “Preliminary Surveys”. One question which is recommended for such “Preliminary Surveys” is as follows: (for all of the questions, see Section 9 of the “1000Communities2” document)

Question #5: Identifying Engines of Economic Stability

Many people seem to be worried that “the economy” will collapse if some form of “voluntary simplicity” philosophy becomes more and more accepted… and yet many of the challenges of our times have chronic elements (see Appendix 1), suggesting that it may require decades, generations, or even centuries to overcome such challenges. (There will be work to do….)

a) Please name as many engines of economic stability and methods of economic conversion as you can which you believe would result in communities that

minimize resource requirements
maintain ecological sustainability
maintain a high level of compassion for fellow human beings

and which represent what a significant majority of community residents surveyed would describe as a high quality of life.

Important Note: Having responses to the above question (and many others, through “Preliminary Surveys”) from 150 key leaders from a significant variety of fields of activity in the community will, by itself, be a significant contribution to the “(reconfiguring) the embodied energy from the industrial age, and applying it to the development of sustainable systems” (see quote at the beginning of this article).

Problems that may arise

Even though there may be a sense of shared urgency among a majority of the residents in a given community, there are problems, issues, and challenges which can turn the whole Community Visioning Initiative process into an unfortunate experience with few positive outcomes. And yet—given circumstances which require problem solving unlike anything most of us have experienced before—experiments must be tried, and risks must be taken. However, every precaution should also be taken to avoid costly efforts which result in unfortunate experiences with few positive results. Such experiences might be demoralizing, and impair the effectiveness of other constructive efforts in the future.

As a way of minimizing destructive and demoralizing thinking and maximizing constructive thinking and constructive action, the “1000Communities2” document includes a section on “Problems That May Arise” (Section 13). As one example from that section, consider the following:

3. The need to proactively encourage constructive thinking

“There will be people who are inclined to focus their attention, regardless of the difficulties and urgencies of trying to resolve multiple crises, on trying to make money by preying on people’s fears and misunderstandings, or on trying to encourage people to set aside their higher aspirations, and indulge in destructive behavior. Such behavior is clearly counterproductive to the building of caring communities; it can be very dangerous for community morale, and it can become a crippling obstacle in times of crises. Responsible people will take sufficient
preventative measures to encourage a high percentage of constructive thinking and constructive action in their community.” [Note: This particular “problem that may arise” is formulated into a question (see question 7) which is included in Section 9 “15 Suggestions for Preliminary Survey Questions” in the “1000Communities2” document.]

Concluding Comments

This writer understands that creating the knowledge base, skill sets, and the compassion for our fellow human beings necessary to resolve the challenges of our times will require

1) recognizing deficiencies in the knowledge base and skill sets of our communities as they are now (an awareness which can be brought to the forefront by Community Visioning Initiatives)
2) recognizing deficiencies in compassion for our fellow human beings (an awareness which can also be brought to the forefront by Community Visioning Initiatives)
3) linking together the concepts of Community Visioning Initiatives, “Community Teaching and Learning Centers”, “teacher-leaders”, ongoing workshops, and “sister community” relationships
4) curriculum development “on the fly”
5) teacher training “on the fly”
6) community centers which are neighborhood-friendly, and which provide ongoing workshops that are deliberately affordable
7) encouraging as much formal and informal meetings with other people in the local neighborhoods for discussion, information sharing, mutual support and encouragement, fellowship and friendship—so that the result will include the building of a close-knit community of people with a healthy appreciation for each others strengths, and a well developed capacity to resolve even the most difficult challenges.

This writer—and the “1000Communities2” document—also advocate three propositions which are especially relevant when considering the value of local community points of entry information
clearinghouses, and ongoing workshops….

a) There are countless numbers of “things people can do in the everyday circumstances of their lives” which will contribute to peacebuilding, community revitalization, and ecological sustainability efforts, in their own communities and regions—and in other parts of the world. [As one example of the countless numbers of things people can do, consider the list of “105 Related Fields of Activity”, located at the website of The IPCR Initiative at http://ipcri.net/related-fields.html]
b) People can, one by one, decide to deliberately focus the way they spend their time, energy, and money so that their actions have positive repercussions on many or all of the action plans which emerge from Community Visioning Initiatives.
c) The result can be that there are countless ‘ways to earn a living’ which contribute to the peacebuilding, community revitalization, and ecological sustainability efforts necessary to overcome the challenges of our times.

Everyone is involved when it comes to determining the markets which supply the “ways of earning a living”. All of us have important responsibilities associated with resolving a significant number of very
serious challenges in the months and years ahead. Communities of people can deliberately create countless “ways of earning a living” which contribute to the peacebuilding, community revitalization,
and ecological sustainability efforts necessary to overcome the challenges of our times.

Even now, as you are reading this, truly inspiring contributions of genuine goodwill are being generated in a variety of ways—and in a variety of circumstances—by countless numbers of people in communities around the world. A combination of Community Visioning Initiatives, “Community Teaching and Learning Centers” and “sister community” relationships can bring to light the many truly inspiring
contributions of genuine goodwill in your community and region, and contribute much to the building of “close-knit” communities of people… communities with a healthy appreciation for each others strengths, communities with a well-developed capacity to resolve even the most difficult challenges—and communities which demonstrate a high level of compassion for their fellow human beings.

With Kind Regards and Best Wishes,

Stefan Pasti, Founder and Outreach Coordinator
The IPCR Initiative

[Note: This article is also accessible in pdf format at the website of The IPCR Initiative (www.ipcri.net) or by using the following link: http://ipcri.net/images/Transitioning-from-Less-Solution-Oriented-Employ...

Source Notes: Since the source references for all quoted material in this document can be found by searching the pdf file of the “1000Communities2” document, they are not reproduced here. The “1000Communities2” document is accessible at the website of The IPCR Initiative, at www.ipcri.net, or through the following link http://ipcri.net/images/1000Communities2.pdf

A Greater Force than the Challenges We Are Now Facing

Highlight from blog entry: "... true confidence is built up because people believe that the efforts of everyone working together is a greater force than the challenges they are facing. In accordance with this point of view, confidence is dissipating rather than being built up—particularly in the United States—because our public discourse does not honestly and truthfully identify enough of the actual challenges we are now facing for all of us—collectively—to know that our efforts will be enough to overcome them.

Complete Essay is as follows....

Dateline: September—October, 2008

We are living in very complex and challenging times. More and more people, in more and more parts of the world, are coming to the conclusion that all of us have important responsibilities associated with resolving a significant number of very serious challenges. Currently, here in the United States, the crisis in the financial markets has become the challenge regarded as most in need of urgent resolution.

This writer has viewed or heard observations and commentary on the nature of this financial market crisis, and descriptions of possible solutions, from many credible sources—as a result of access to the Internet, and access to programming provided by C-Span (a private, non-profit company, created in 1979 by the cable television industry to provide public access to the political process). In the context of this essay, this writer will make reference to two comments made by Dr. Peter R. Orszag, who is Director of the Congressional Budget Office (briefly, a government agency with a mandate to assist the House and Senate Budget Committees). One comment is from his testimony before the Committee on the Budget, U.S. House of Representatives, on September 24, 2008 (“Federal Responses to Market Turmoil”)(testimony accessible at http://www.cbo.gov/ftpdocs/97xx/doc9767/09-24-MarketTurmoil.pdf), and one from the Director’s Blog section of the Congressional Budget Office’s website [see blog entry titled “Troubled Assets Relief Act and Insolvencies” (September 25, 2008) at http://cboblog.cbo.gov/].

Why Confidence is Dissipating: Yet Another Viewpoint

Consider first this comment:

“Over the past several weeks, the collapse of confidence in financial markets has become particularly severe.” (Dr. Peter R. Orszag, House Budget Committee Testimony, see p. 3, 3rd paragraph)

It is this writer’s interpretation that Dr. Orszag’s comments in this particular testimony focus primarily on the kind of “confidence” which is built up or dissipated depending on whether there is more or less certainty about the structure and systems of the financial markets. It is also this writer’s interpretation that much of the observations and commentary he viewed or heard relating to the financial crisis focused on the structure and systems of the financial markets—in accordance with the view that the financial markets are the “grid” through which transactions are conducted, and if the “power stations” are constrained from generating “current”, there will be a limit to the number of financial transactions which can be “conducted”, no matter what else happens.

This writer believes that it will always be helpful for people with much experience in the related fields to assist the general public in understanding of the structure and the systems associated with financial and economic markets. However, public discourse of this nature will consistently fail to provide sufficient understanding of how to build up “confidence” as long as it cannot or will not identify enough of the “whole picture” to properly serve the needs of the problem solving process. For true confidence is never really built up by merely convincing a majority of the people involved that they believe the markets are based on sound and practical principles; true confidence is built up because people believe that the efforts of everyone working together is a greater force than the challenges they are facing. In accordance with this point of view, confidence is dissipating rather than being built up—particularly in the United States—because our public discourse does not honestly and truthfully identify enough of the actual challenges we are now facing for all of us—collectively—to know that our efforts will be enough to overcome them.

How We Can Know Which Institutions Are More Likely to be Solvent in the Future

Here this writer will acknowledge that specific expectations are created by the above discussion: in particular, that this writer can offer a sufficiently compelling approximation of the “whole picture” with regard to the challenges which we are facing—and that this writer can provide suggestions for how we can arrive at knowing that our efforts will be enough to resolve those challenges. And here he will assure readers that he intends to fulfill those expectations. But first, it will be helpful to consider one additional comment from Dr. Peter R. Orszag, this one from the blog he provides as Director of the Congressional Budget Office (from September 25, 2008):

“As I stated in my testimony yesterday before the House Budget Committee, the current crisis is fundamentally one of collapsing confidence in the financial markets and ‘providing more transparency about the lack of solvency at specific institutions may be necessary to restore trust in the financial system.’ In other words, to restore confidence, participants in the financial markets need more clarity about which institutions are solvent and which are not. To the extent
proposals like the Treasury one can accomplish this end, it would be a step toward resolving the crisis, not worsening it.” (see above reference, paragraph 3)

As a way of expanding on the above observation, this writer would add that everyone would be more confident if there was also more clarity about which institutions—of every kind—were more likely to be solvent in the future, and which less likely. But unless we can see into the future somehow, how can we be sure which institutions are more likely to be solvent in the future? This writer believes that even though we cannot see into the future, we can achieve much more clarity than we have now about which institutions—of every kind—are more likely to be solvent in the future. We can do so by being more honest and truthful in our public discourse. In our own personal lives, honesty, responsibility, transparency and confidence are all mutually supportive… we must find ways to inspire, encourage, and support honesty, responsibility, and transparency in our public discourse. Returning to the “electricity” metaphor, when the “power stations” are more honest, responsible, and transparent, the “current” more naturally flows to the institutions which are most critical to overcoming the challenges ahead.

We are living in very complex and challenging times. Currently, here in the United States, the crisis in the financial markets has become the challenge regarded as most in need of urgent resolution. However, there are other crises which are also in need of urgent resolutions, both here in the United States, and in other parts of the world. This writer identifies the following five challenges as sufficient to suggest that we—collectively—are in urgent need of problem solving on a scale most of us have never known before:

a) global warming and reducing carbon emissions
b) peak oil and reducing dependence on petroleum based products
c) global inequities and the tragic cycles of malnutrition, disease, and death
d) an increasing world population requiring more resources when many resources are becoming more scarce (with a special emphasis on the increasing number of people who are consuming resources and ecological services indiscriminately)
e) there still seems to be a majority of people on the planet who do not have a clear understanding, well-grounded in personal experience, of which basic elements of community life and cultural traditions lead to mutually beneficial understandings, which lead to cycles of violence—and why it is so important for people to achieve clarity on this subject.

There may be many readers who disagree with the emphasis on these particular challenges. Those readers may then just consider the above list as an example which will serve to illustrate how we can answer the question raised above: “Can we really know which institutions are more likely to be solvent in the future, and which are less likely?” Here is how we can know. Earlier in this essay, this writer stated the following:

“… true confidence is built up because people believe that the efforts of everyone working together is a greater force than the challenges they are facing. In accordance with this point of view, confidence is dissipating rather than being built up—particularly in the United States—because our public discourse does not honestly and truthfully identify enough of the actual challenges we are now facing for all of us—collectively—to know that our efforts will be enough to overcome them.”

The above challenges identified by this writer may or may not be the challenges other people would identify as the five challenges most in need of urgent resolution, but the most important points to be made here are as follows:

1) if public discourse does not honestly and truthfully identify enough of the actual challenges we are now facing for all of us—collectively—to know that our efforts will be enough to overcome them—how will it ever be possible to build true confidence?
2) if our public discourse does succeed in bringing to the forefront enough of the actual challenges we are now facing—and also contributes to the creation of a greater force (in the form of high levels of citizen participation in local, regional, national, and international action plans) than the actual challenges—then we will have established a high degree of true confidence about what institutions will be more likely to be solvent in the future (i.e. the ones which will be most helpful to us in overcoming the challenges ahead).

What then do we need to do? We need our public discourse to be as honest, responsible, and transparent as possible, so we can identify, nurture, support, and sustain ways to build a collective force greater than the challenges we are now facing. The remaining part of this essay will focus on how we, collectively—through the efforts we can make in the everyday circumstances of our lives (by deliberately focusing our time, energy, and money)—can become that greater force.

Creating a Multiplier Effect of a Positive Nature: The “1000Communities2” Proposal

In 1984, the non-profit organization Chattanooga Venture [Chattanooga, Tennessee (USA)] organized a Community Visioning Initiative that attracted more than 1,700 participants, and produced 40 community goals—which resulted in the implementation of 223 projects and programs, the creation of 1,300 permanent jobs, and a total financial investment of 793 million dollars. (For source references, see p. 9 of the “1000Communities2” proposal)

This writer has recently created a 161 page proposal which expands on the community building tools used in the above mentioned Community Visioning effort, and which is tailored specifically so that it will be possible for communities of people to overcome even the most profound challenges. The proposal is titled “1000Communities2”.

The “1000Communities2” proposal advocates organizing and implementing Community Visioning Initiatives in 1000 communities (communities—or segments of rural areas, towns, or cities—with populations of 50,000 or less) around the world

1. which are time-intensive, lasting even as much as 1½ years (18 months), so as to give as much importance to developing a close-knit community as it does to

a) accumulating and integrating the knowledge and skill sets necessary for the highest percentage of people to act wisely in response to challenges identified as priority challenges
b) helping people to deliberately channel their time, energy, and money into the creation of “ways of earning a living” which are directly related to resolving high priority challenges
c) assisting with outreach, partnership formation, and development of service capacity for a significant number of already existing (or forming) organizations, businesses, institutions, and government agencies
d) helping to build a high level of consensus for specific action plans, which will help inspire additional support from people, businesses, organizations, institutions, and government agencies with significant resources

2. which expand on the concept of “Community Teaching and Learning Centers” (created by the “Teachers Without Borders” organization) so that such local community points of entry function as information clearinghouses, meeting locations, educational centers for ongoing workshops (on a broad range of topics related to the Community Visioning Process, and to building the local knowledge base), practice sites for developing “teacher-leaders”, a location for an ongoing “informal” “Community Journal”, a location for listing employment opportunities—and provide a means of responding quickly (by changing the emphasis of workshop content) to new urgencies as they arise

3. and which suggest—as a way of emphasizing the need for an exponential increase in compassion for our fellow human beings—that communities (with the resources to do so) enter into “sister community” relationships with communities in other countries where there has been well documented calls for assistance with basic human needs.

What are Community Visioning Initiatives?

Here it may be necessary to pause for a moment… for there is good reason to imagine that there are many people who do not know what a Community Visioning Initiative is. Unfortunately, at this particular point in time, there seems to be many important initiatives which are critical to overcoming the challenges of our times, but which are not quite “coming through the mist as much as they should be.” Thus, this writer believes it may be very helpful, as a supplement to the above proposal description, to offer in this place a brief “primer” on Community Visioning Initiatives. This “primer” is an excerpt from the “1000Communities2” proposal, mentioned above. It is worth noting that although there are at least 100 cities and towns in the United States which have carried out strategic visioning initiatives or community visioning initiatives, and although some of these initiatives have been time-intensive as suggested by the above proposal, there have not been any such initiatives—that this writer is aware of—which identify community visioning initiatives as a “centerpiece” for problem solving as it might relate to the five challenges listed above… and thus as a “centerpiece” for helping us—collectively—to become a greater force than the challenges we are now facing.

Here is the excerpt from the “1000Communities2” proposal, offered as a brief “primer” on Community Visioning Initiatives.

[beginning of excerpt…]

[From Section 3—“A Summary of the Potential of Community Visioning Initiatives”]
(see pages 5-9 in the “1000Communities2” proposal)

A. What are Community Visioning Initiatives?

1. Well organized efforts to identify problems and brainstorm solutions are a universally recognized approach to problem solving which is commonly used in family, community, business, and government settings in every part of the world.

2. In its most basic format, a Community Visioning Initiative (CVI) is simply a more comprehensive variation of the above mentioned approach to problem solving.

3. Community Visioning Initiatives (CVIs) are especially useful as a means of increasing or maximizing citizen participation in the planning phase of community revitalization efforts.

4. In 1984, the non-profit organization Chattanooga Venture [Chattanooga, Tennessee (USA)] organized a Community Visioning Initiative that attracted more than 1,700 participants, and produced 40 community goals—which resulted in the implementation of 223 projects and programs, the creation of 1,300 permanent jobs, and a total financial investment of 793 million dollars. (For source references, see p. 9 of the “1000Communities2” proposal)

5. Community Visioning Initiatives (CVIs) can be described as a series of community meetings designed to facilitate the process of brainstorming ideas, organizing the ideas into goals, prioritizing the goals, and identifying doable steps.

6. Many CVIs have followed a model which has three basic steps, and which requires 3 to 6 months to complete (this is a variation of the “Oregon Model”2):

a) Where are we now? (or What are we now?)
An assessment which incorporates:
Community Values
Strengths and Weaknesses
Most Difficult Challenges
Most Valuable Resources

b) Where do we want to go? (or What do we want to be?)
Brainstorming and strategic planning sessions
which involve:
Brainstorming Positive or Desirable Community
Improvements
Developing these Ideas into Practical Goals
Prioritizing the Goals

c) How can we get there?
Brainstorming and/or focus group sessions which
answer the questions:
What action plans will help us achieve our goals?
Who will implement the action plans?
How will they be implemented? (With what
funding?)
How will we know if our efforts are achieving the
desired results?

7. Many CVIs require steering committees, preliminary surveys or assessments, workshops, task forces, and collaboration between many organizations, government agencies, businesses, and educational institutions—and seek to build up consensus in the community for specific goals and action plans by encouraging a high level of participation by all residents.

8. This “1000Communities2” proposal incorporates input from many different fields of activity, and emphasizes a time-intensive approach to Community Visioning, which may take up to 11/2 years (18 months) to complete. (For more details, see Section 6 “A 15 Step Outline for a ‘1000Communities 2’ Version of a Community Visioning Initiative” of the “1000Communities2” proposal.)

[end of excerpt]

An Additional Note: The “1000Communities2” version of a Community Visioning Initiative includes a step (Step 12) which is described as follows: “Summary Presentations and Job Fairs”. Here is an excerpt relating to job fairs, from p. 39 of the “1000Communities2” proposal: “The job fairs which come at the end of the CVI process provide opportunities for all key stakeholders in the community (businesses, organizations, institutions, government, etc.) to demonstrate their upgraded awareness—and their interest in the welfare of the community—by offering and facilitating new employment opportunities…”

If even a few….

There are many important initiatives which are critical to overcoming the challenges of our times, but which are not quite “coming through the mist as much as they should be.” Community Visioning Initiatives can be very helpful in exactly these kinds of circumstances, as this community building tool encourages and facilitates the creation of a “constellation” of initiatives by which the best (in view of the participants in the community visioning initiatives) solutions to the most difficult (in the view of the participants in the community visioning initiatives) challenges can bubble up to the surface, be recognized as priorities, and therefore be brought forward as appropriate recipients of people’s time, energy, and money. Many people can realize the wisdom of deliberately focusing the way they spend their time, energy, and money. The result can be a deliberate increase in the “ways of earning a living” which are directly related to overcoming the challenges identified by residents as priority challenges. As the ancient Chinese proverb says: “Many hands make much work light.”

If even a few of these kind of Community Visioning Initiatives generated results similar to those achieved by the Chattanooga, Tennessee (USA) Visioning Initiative carried out in 1984 (see references in both of the last two sections of this essay), people in all parts of the world—keenly attuned when it comes to resolving challenges which require urgent solutions at all levels of society— could be inspired to carry out similar Community Visioning Initiatives. And if many communities carried out similar initiatives, and also achieved significant results, our collective capacity to resolve the challenges of our times would surely begin to accumulate at an accelerating rate.

Concluding Comments

“…the soundness of ideas must be tested finally by their practical application. When they fail in this—that is, when they cannot be carried out in everyday life producing lasting harmony and satisfaction and giving real benefit to all concerned—to oneself as well as to others—no ideas can be said to be sound and practical.”
(D.T. Suzuki, from “Essays in Zen Buddhism”)

Are our economic and financial markets based on sound and practical principles? Are our government and educational institutions being honest, responsible, and transparent about the challenges we are now facing, so that we may be truly confident that our efforts will be enough to overcome the challenges of our times? Which institutions—of every kind—will be more likely to be solvent and sustainable into the foreseeable future, and which less likely?

The above mentioned “1000Communities2” proposal suggests one way in which a significant majority of people can attain a high degree of true confidence that economic and financial markets, government and educational institutions—and all other fields of activity which have a significant role in determining the quality of everyday community life—are based on sound and practical principles, and are likely to be solvent and sustainable into the foreseeable future.

Everyone is involved when it comes to determining the markets which supply the “ways of earning a living”. All of us have important responsibilities associated with resolving a significant number of very serious challenges in the months and years ahead. Communities of people can deliberately create countless “ways of earning a living” which contribute to the peacebuilding, community revitalization, and ecological sustainability efforts necessary to overcome the challenges of our times. We—collectively—can become a greater force than the challenges we are now facing.

Even now, as you are reading this, truly inspiring contributions of genuine goodwill are being generated in a variety of ways—and in a variety of circumstances—by countless numbers of people in communities around the world. A combination of Community Visioning Initiatives, “Community Teaching and Learning Centers” and “sister community” relationships can bring to light the many truly inspiring contributions of genuine goodwill in your community and region, and contribute much to the building of “close-knit” communities of people… communities with a healthy appreciation for each others strengths, communities with a well-developed capacity to resolve even the most difficult challenges—and communities which demonstrate a high level of compassion for their fellow human beings.

Note: In light of the urgent need to increase collaboration between diverse communities of people, anyone may access all IPCR documents (including the above mentioned 161 page “1000Communities2” proposal) for free, at the website of The Interfaith Peacebuilding and Community Revitalization (IPCR) Initiative (www.ipcri.net). In addition, this writer has created an “Educational Materials Outreach Package” which introduces the “1000Communities2” proposal, and which is also accessible for free (see the bottom of The IPCR Initiative homepage).

With much hope for a more peaceful and sustainable future,

Stefan Pasti, Founder and Outreach Coordinator
The IPCR Initiative

Bringing Solutions to Light at the Local Community Level

Introduction—Many Challenges, Many Potential Solutions

More and more people, in more and more parts of the world, are coming to the conclusion that we—collectively—have a need for problem solving on a scale most of us have never seen before. (For supportive evidence, see the “Ten Point Assessment of the Most Difficult Challenges of Our Times”, accessible on the homepage of The IPCR Initiative (www.ipcri.net).

At the same time, there are also more and more people, in more and more parts of the world, who are discovering that there are countless numbers of “things people can do in the everyday circumstances of their lives” to contribute to peacebuilding, community revitalization, and ecological sustainability efforts, in their own communities and regions—and in other parts of the world.

One suggestion which could assist in bringing many solutions to light at the local community level is a 161 page proposal by this writer titled “1000Communities2”. “1000Communities2” (“1000CommunitiesSquared”) advocates for Community Visioning Initiatives, “Community Teaching and Learning Centers” with ongoing workshops, and “sister community” relationships, as a way of generating an exponential increase in our collective capacity to overcome the challenges of our times.

The “1000Communities2” proposal is accessible in pdf format for free at the website of The Interfaith Peacebuilding and Community Revitalization (IPCR) Initiative, at www.ipcri.net.

Other Resources at the website of The IPCR Initiative

Also accessible at The IPCR Initiative website:

1) The IPCR Journal/Newsletter Summer 2008 issue, which includes an introduction to the "1000Communities2" proposal, and Section 9 of the proposal (15 suggestions for preliminary survey questions, in advance of a Community Visioning Initiative). [Note: This writer understands that organizations and communities of people often use questionnaires and surveys to identify problems and resources, and to build consensus for collective action—and is surprised that this community building tool is not more well-developed for use at the local community level.]

2) Two other outreach messages describing the “1000Communities2” proposal (at the bottom of the homepage).

3) The document “Brief Descriptions of The Eight IPCR Concepts”, which provides starting points for workshop discussion at “Community Teaching and Learning Centers” mentioned above.

The “1000Communities2” group site on the WiserEarth platform

The second outreach message—“Action Alert: A Multiplier Effect of a Positive Nature”—includes reference to a “1000Communities2” group site created on the WiserEarth platform (see www.wiserearth.org)...

“To facilitate discussion-- and as a way of focusing member contributions towards specific and constructive results-- 26 excerpts from the original 161 page proposal have been made into Wikipages for this group. (See “List of ‘Titles’ for the 26 Excerpts” in the “Introduction” to that Group Site). Members of this group are encouraged to make posts in the “Discussion” section of this group site—or in the corresponding Wikipage area-- which are related in some way to one or more of the 26 excerpts, or to some specific element of the "1000Communities2" proposal. Hopefully, back and forth discussion on various elements of this “1000Communities2” proposal will supplement, add to, and refine the relevant and practical “how-to” and “why” information already in the proposal. Such discussions may encourage and inspire people in different parts of the world to create similar community-specific proposals, and result in active participation by many people in a Community Visioning Initiative associated with their specific community.”

A profound and critical need (not yet widely recognized….)

This writer believes that there is a profound and critical need for an exponential increase in compassion for our fellow human beings. This profound and critical need is especially urgent when viewed as only a part of the challenges listed in “Ten Point Assessment…” accessible on the homepage of The IPCR Initiative.

And yet… an exponential increase in compassion for our fellow human beings is, currently, not widely recognized as an essential and critical element of most comprehensive responses to the challenges of our times.

If even a few….

We are in need of innovative and imaginative solutions. In 1984, the non-profit organization Chattanooga Venture [Chattanooga, Tennessee (USA)] organized a Community Visioning Initiative (“Vision 2000”) that attracted more than 1,700 participants, and produced 40 community goals—which resulted in the implementation of 223 projects and programs, the creation of 1,300 permanent jobs, and a total financial investment of 793 million dollars.1

If even a few of the kind of Community Visioning Initiatives described in the “1000Communities2” proposal generated results similar to those achieved by the Chattanooga, Tennessee (USA) Visioning Initiative, people in all parts of the world—keenly attuned when it comes to resolving challenges which require urgent solutions at all levels of society— could be inspired to carry out similar Community Visioning Initiatives. And if many communities carried out similar initiatives, and also achieved significant results, our collective capacity to resolve the challenges of our times would surely begin to accumulate at an accelerating rate.

The Building of “Close-Knit” Communities of People

Hopefully—by encouraging as much formal and informal meetings with other people in the local neighborhoods for discussion, information sharing, mutual support and encouragement, fellowship and friendship—a combination of Community Visioning Initiatives, “Community Teaching and Learning Centers” and “sister community” relationships can contribute much to the building of “close-knit” communities of people… communities with a healthy appreciation for each others strengths, a well-developed capacity to resolve even the most difficult challenges—and communities which demonstrate a high level of compassion for their fellow human beings.

With Kind Regards,

Stefan Pasti, Founder and Outreach Coordinator
The IPCR Initiative

Notes and Source References

1. The statistics are from “Revision 2000: Take Charge Again”, a brochure this writer received from Chattanooga Venture. These statistics are also accessible in a detailed overview of Chattanooga community revitalization efforts titled “Chattanooga: The Sustainable City”, at the website for the James MacGregor Burns Academy of Leadership at http://www.academy.umd.edu/Resources/AcademyPublicationsPDF/BoundaryCros... (see Chpt. 3, p. 7) (Confirmed June 15, 2008)

Action Alert-- A Multiplier Effect of a Positive Nature

Introduction

In 1984, the non-profit organization Chattanooga Venture [Chattanooga, Tennessee (USA)] organized a Community Visioning Initiative that attracted more than 1,700 participants, and produced 40 community goals—which resulted in the implementation of 223 projects and programs, the creation of 1,300 permanent jobs, and a total financial investment of 793 million dollars.1

We now live in very complex and challenging times. This writer has created a “Ten Point List of the Most Difficult Challenges of Our Times” (see www.ipcri.net) which suggests a need for problem solving on a scale most of us have never known before. Challenge #10 reads as follows: “Sorting out what are real challenges and what are sound and practical solutions is becoming more and more difficult, as there is now, in many parts of the world, a multitude of ideas of all kinds coming to the fore in personal, family, community, and cultural life—all at the same time.”

Community Visioning Initiatives can contribute much to this “sorting out” process, and help build the kind of consensus which attracts investment from significant sources. This writer believes communities of people can experience a “multiplier” effect of a positive nature from implementing a well-organized Community Visioning Initiative. He has, therefore, created a proposal titled “1000Communities2” ("1000CommunitiesSquared") to help bring this community building tool more to the forefront of public discourse.

What are Community Visioning Initiatives?

Many of us will be familiar with the problem solving strategy of identifying problems and brainstorming solutions. Well organized efforts to identify problems and brainstorm solutions are a universally recognized approach to problem solving which is commonly used in family, community, business, and government settings in every part of the world. In its most basic format, a Community Visioning Initiative (CVI) is simply a more comprehensive variation of the above mentioned approach to problem solving. The more comprehensive CVIs require steering committees, preliminary surveys or assessments, workshops, task forces, collaboration between many organizations, government agencies, businesses, and educational institutions—and seek to build up consensus in the community for specific goals and action plans by encouraging a high level of participation by all residents.

The “1000Communities2” ("1000CommunitiesSquared") proposal

The “1000Communities2” proposal advocates organizing and implementing Community Visioning Initiatives in 1000 communities (communities or segments of rural areas, towns, or cities with populations of 50,000 or less) around the world

1. which are time-intensive, lasting even as much as 1½ years (18 months), so as to give as much importance to developing a close-knit community as it does to

a) contributing to accumulating and integrating the knowledge and skill sets necessary for the highest percentage of people to act wisely in response to challenges identified as priority challenges
b) helping people to deliberately channel their time, energy, and money into the creation of “ways of earning a living” which are directly related to resolving high priority challenges
c) assisting with outreach, partnership formation, and development of service capacity for a significant number of already existing (or forming) organizations, businesses, institutions, and government agencies
d) helping to build a high level of consensus for specific action plans, which will help inspire additional support from people, businesses, organizations, institutions, and government agencies with significant resources

2. which establish a significant number of local community points of entry called “Community Teaching and Learning Centers” [if use of that particular description “Community Teaching and Learning Centers” is permitted by the organization “Teachers Without Borders” (see http://www.teacherswithoutborders.org/html/ctlc.html)] to act as information clearinghouses, meeting locations, classrooms for ongoing workshops (on a broad range of topics related to the Community Visioning Process, and building the local knowledge base), practice sites for developing “teacher-leaders”, a location for an ongoing “informal” “Community Journal”, a location for listing employment opportunities—and to provide a means of responding quickly (by changing the emphasis of workshop content) to new urgencies as they arise

3. and which suggest—as a way of emphasizing the need for an exponential increase in compassion for our fellow human beings—that communities (with the resources to do so) enter into “sister community” relationships with communities in other countries where there has been well documented calls for assistance with basic human needs.

Many Difficult Challenges Ahead

More and more people, in more and more parts of the world, are coming to the conclusion that on top of the challenges of

a) global warming and reducing carbon emissions
b) peak oil and reducing dependence on petroleum based products
c) global inequities and the tragic cycles of malnutrition, disease, and death
d) an increasing world population requiring more resources when many resources are becoming more scarce (with a special emphasis on the increasing number of people who are consuming resources and ecological services indiscriminately)

there still seems to be a majority of people on the planet who do not have a clear understanding—well-grounded in personal experience—of which basic elements of community life and cultural traditions lead to mutually beneficial understandings, which lead to cycles of violence—and why it is so important for people to achieve clarity on this subject.

If even a few…

If even a few of these kind of Community Visioning Initiatives generated results similar to those achieved by the Chattanooga, Tennessee (USA) Visioning Initiative carried out in 1984 (“Vision 2000”), people in all parts of the world—keenly attuned when it comes to resolving challenges which require urgent solutions at all levels of society— could be inspired to carry out similar Community Visioning Initiatives. And if many communities carried out similar initiatives, and also achieved significant results, our collective capacity to resolve the challenges of our times would surely begin to accumulate at an accelerating rate.

Many hands make much work light

There are many important initiatives which are critical to overcoming the challenges of our times, but which are not quite “coming through the mist as much as they should be.” Community Visioning Initiatives can be very helpful in exactly these kinds of circumstances, as this community building tool encourages and facilitates the creation of a “constellation” of initiatives by which the best (in view of the participants in the community visioning initiatives) solutions to the most difficult (in the view of the participants in the community visioning initiatives) challenges can bubble up to the surface, be recognized as priorities, and therefore be brought forward as appropriate recipients of people’s time, energy, and money. Many people can realize the wisdom of deliberately focusing the way they spend their time, energy, and money. The result can be a deliberate increase in the “ways of earning a living” which are directly related to overcoming the challenges identified by residents as priority challenges. As the ancient Chinese proverb says: “Many hands make much work light.”

Concluding Comments

The above mentioned proposal—“1000Communities2”—is accessible in pdf format for free at the website of The Interfaith Peacebuilding and Community Revitalization (IPCR) Initiative, at www.ipcri.net. (This writer is the founder and outreach coordinator for The IPCR Initiative.) (A pdf file of the "1000Communities2" proposal has also been attached to this blog entry).

This writer has also created a Group Site for the “1000Communities2” proposal through the WiserEarth networking website (see http://www.wiserearth.org/group/1000C2). To facilitate discussion-- and as a way of focusing member contributions towards specific and constructive results-- 26 excerpts from the original 161 page proposal have been made into Wikipages for this group. (See “List of ‘Titles’ for the 26 Excerpts” in the “Introduction” to that Group Site). Members of this group are encouraged to make posts in the “Discussion” section of this group site—or in the corresponding Wikipage area-- which are related in some way to one or more of the 26 excerpts, or to some specific element of the "1000Communities2" proposal. Hopefully, back and forth discussion on various elements of this “1000Communities2” proposal will supplement, add to, and refine the relevant and practical “how-to” and “why” information already in the proposal. Such discussions may encourage and inspire people in different parts of the world to create similar community-specific proposals, and result in active participation by many people in a Community Visioning Initiative associated with their specific community.

With Kind Regards,

Stefan Pasti
The IPCR Initiative

Notes and Source References

1. The statistics included here are from “Revision 2000: Take Charge Again”, a brochure this writer received from Chattanooga Venture. These statistics are also accessible in a detailed overview of Chattanooga community revitalization efforts titled “Chattanooga: The Sustainable City”, at the website for the James MacGregor Burns Academy of Leadership at http://www.academy.umd.edu/Resources/AcademyPublicationsPDF/BoundaryCros... (see Chpt. 3, p. 7) (Confirmed June 15, 2008)

"1000Communities2" ("1000CommunitiesSquared")

Greetings,

The following is a description of a new resource—a document titled “1000Communities2”—which is now available for free at the website of The Interfaith Peacebuilding and Community Revitalization (IPCR) Initiative.

“1000Communities2” (“1000CommunitiesSquared”) is a 161 page proposal advocating Community Visioning Initiatives, “Community Teaching and Learning Centers” with ongoing workshops, and “sister community” relationships, as a way of generating an exponential increase in our collective capacity to overcome the challenges of our times.

Challenges which receive much attention in this proposal include

a) global warming and reducing carbon emissions
b) peak oil and reducing dependence on petroleum based products
c) global inequities and the tragic cycles of malnutrition, disease, and death
d) an increasing world population requiring more resources when many resources are becoming more scarce (with a special emphasis on the increasing number of people who are consuming resources and ecological services indiscriminately)
e) there still seems to be a majority of people on the planet who do not have a clear understanding—well-grounded in personal experience—of which basic elements of community life and cultural traditions lead to mutually beneficial understandings, which lead to cycles of violence—and why it is so important for people to achieve clarity on this subject.

The proposal includes over 150 excerpts and quotes, which are provided to refer readers to relevant sources for further research—and to demonstrate the need for problem solving on a scale most of us have never known before.

Most of the above mentioned excerpts are in the appendices, where this writer provides evidence which indicate the serious nature of the challenges identified above, and where he contributes his views on possible solutions. Here are the titles of Appendices 1-6:

1. A Ten Point Assessment of the Most Difficult Challenges of Our Times
2. About Global Warming, Peak Oil, and Population and Consumption Patterns
3. The Transition to Sustainable Communities
4. Evidence of the Need to Increase Compassion for Our Fellow Human Beings
5. Examples of Humanitarian Aid Which Can be Explored Through “Sister
Community” Relationships
6. Integrating Spiritual Wisdom into the Everyday Circumstances of
Community Life

The main part of the proposal contains descriptions of the proposal, and its various elements, and includes:

1. A 15 step outline for a Community Visioning Initiative (19 pages)
2. 15 Suggestions for Preliminary Survey Questions
3. A section on “Problems That May Arise”
4. A section on “Evaluating the Process”

The goal of this “1000Communities2” proposal is to encourage others to create similar community specific proposals for their communities—and to highlight the potential of this kind of Community Visioning Initiative approach.

The 161 page document is in pdf format at the website of The Interfaith Peacebuilding and Community Revitalization (IPCR) Initiative (see homepage of www.ipcri.net), and can be downloaded for free. [The document is also in a file attached to this blog entry.]

With Kind Regards,

Stefan Pasti, Founder and Outreach Coordinator
The IPCR Initiative

Spiritually Responsible Investing

“The ways we 'invest' our time, energy, and money have a direct impact on the 'ways of earning a living' that are available.”

Attached to this post is a twelve page paper on “Spiritually Responsible Investing”—which I offer for comments and recommendations. The paper includes the proposition: “The ways we 'invest' our time, energy, and money have a direct impact on the 'ways of earning a living' that are available.”

The paper, titled “Spiritually Responsible Investing: Integrating Spiritual Wisdom into the Everyday Circumstances of Community Life”, was presented* (in absentia—by a graduate student there) at the “Faith, Spirituality, and Social Change” (FSSC) Conference held at the University of Winchester, Winchester, United Kindgom, April 14-15, 2007

* [Note: Two additional quotes have been added to the paper—see 2) “Plan B 3.0” and 3) UN Human Development Report” on p. 2-3]

The introduction to the paper is as follows:

To begin this discussion of Spiritually Responsible Investing, I would like to offer three propositions, and one definition.

The first proposition is:

There are countless numbers of “things people can do in the everyday circumstances of their lives” which will contribute to peacebuilding, community revitalization, and ecological sustainability efforts, in their own communities and regions—and in other parts of the world.

The second proposition is:

The ways we “invest” our time, energy, and money have a direct impact on the “ways of earning a living” that are available.

The third proposition is:

The most advanced societies are the ones which are successful at integrating spiritual wisdom into the everyday circumstances of community life.

And the one definition:

Spiritually Responsible Investing can be defined as investments of time, energy, and money which increase our capacity to integrate spiritual wisdom into the everyday circumstances of community life.

[Note: This paper “Spiritually Responsible Investing….” has not yet been incorporated into the website of The IPCR Initiative, at www.ipcri.net Many of the ideas in the paper were incorporated into the essay “Peacebuilding in its Most Compassionate Form” (see “Keynote Documents” at www.ipcri.net)]

With Kind Regards,

Stefan Pasti, Founder and Outreach Coordinator
The IPCR Initiative

Notes from “Summary” of “Human Development Report 2007-2008: Fighting Climate Change: Human Solidarity in a Divided World”.

I have just read the Summary of the “Human Development Report 2007-2008: Fighting Climate Change: Human Solidarity in a Divided World”. “Human Development Reports are an annual publication of the United Nations Development Programme.

[Note: The homepage for “Human Development Reports” is http://hdr.undp.org/en/). Introductory information, the full report and the summary I read can be accessed from the following address http://hdr.undp.org/en/reports/global/hdr2007-2008/. The full report and the summary can be downloaded at no cost. (The Summary is also an attachment to this post). The full report was released November 27, 2007.]

I have excerpted some passages from the “Summary” which I believe will be both instructive and encouraging to readers. I realize it is possible that many readers will be familiar with the observations represented by these excerpts. And yet…sometimes we do not appreciate how much good work is being done on many levels of activity in the hopes of contributing every possible effort towards common goals of human welfare, ecological sustainability, and peace. I hope these excerpts will help readers feel that there really are many people making genuine contributions towards the greater good of the whole.

“…non-marginal changes are needed….”

“Several things can be said at the outset: First, non-marginal changes are needed, given the path the world is on. We need big changes and ambitious new policies. Second, there will be significant short term costs. We have to invest in limiting climate change. There will be large net benefits over time, but at the beginning, like with every investment, we must be willing to incur the costs.” (p. 4)

“… distribution of the costs and benefits will be far from uniform.”

The most difficult policy challenges will relate to distribution. While there is potential catastrophic risk for everyone, the short and medium-term distribution of the costs and benefits will be far from uniform. The distributional challenge is made particularly difficult because those who have largely caused the problem—the rich countries—are not going to be those who suffer the most in the short term. It is the poorest who did not and still are not contributing significantly to green house gas emissions that are the most vulnerable. (p. 5)

“(global warming could)…stall and then reverse progress built-up over generations….”

“Looking to the future, the danger is that it will stall and then reverse progress built-up over generations not just in cutting extreme poverty, but in health, nutrition, education and other areas.” (p. 7)

“It raises profoundly important questions….”

“Climate change demands urgent action now to address a threat to two constituencies with a weak political voice: the world’s poor and future generations. It raises profoundly important questions about social justice, equity and human rights across countries and generations.” (p. 8)

“Future generations will pass a harsh judgement on a generation that looked at the evidence on climate change, understood the consequences and then continued on apath that consigned millions of the world’s most vulnerable people to poverty and exposed future generations to the risk of ecological disaster.” (p. 8)

“The real choice facing political leaders and people today is between universal human values, on the one side, and participating in the widespread and systematic violation of human rights on the other.” (p. 10)

“Winning that battle… will require far-reaching changes at many levels….”

Winning that battle (against the threat of global warming) will require far-reaching changes at many levels—in consumption, in how we produce and price energy, and in international cooperation. Above all, though, it will require far-reaching changes in how we think about our ecological interdependence, about social justice for the world’s poor, and about the human rights and entitlements of future generations.” (p. 13-14)

“… rich countries account for almost half of emissions of CO2.”

“With 15 percent of world population, rich countries account for almost half of emissions of CO2.” (p. 14)

“The automobile sector accounts for about 30 percent of greenhouse gas emissions….”

“The automobile sector accounts for about 30 percent of greenhouse gas emissions in developed countries—and the share is rising.” (p. 22)

“… estimate… will require rich nations to cut emissions by at least 80 percent….”

“Using plausible assumptions, we estimate that avoiding dangerous climate change will require rich nations to cut emissions by at least 80 percent, with cuts of 30 percent by 2020.” (p. 15)

“… current trends (suggest)… emissions could rise by more than 50 percent… by 2030.”

“On the basis of current trends and present policies, energy-related CO2 emissions could rise by more than 50 percent over 2005 levels by 2030.” (p. 15)

“(What is needed is)… an unparalleled collective exercise in international cooperation.”

“Avoiding the unprecedented threats posed by dangerous climate change will require an unparalleled collective exercise in international cooperation.” (p. 19)

“Successful adaption policies cannot be grafted on to (dysfunctional) systems….”

“Successful adaptation policies cannot be grafted on to systems that are failing to address underlying causes of poverty, vulnerability and wider disparities based on wealth, gender and location. Dialogue over Poverty Reduction Strategy Papers (PRSPs) provides a possible framework for integrating adaptation in poverty reduction planning. (p. 27)

“The world lacks neither the financial resources nor the technological capabilities…”

“The world lacks neither the financial resources nor the technological capabilities to act.” (p. 8)

“Perhaps most fundamentally of all, it challenges the way that we think about progress.”

“The starting point for action and political leadership is recognition on the part of governments that they are confronted by what may be the gravest threat ever to have faced humanity. Facing up to that threat will create challenges at many levels. Perhaps most fundamentally of all, it challenges the way that we think about progress. There could be no clearer demonstration than climate (change) that economic wealth creation is not the same thing as human progress. Under the current energy policies, rising economic prosperity will go hand-in-hand with mounting threats to human development today and the well-being of future generations. But carbon-intensive economic growth is symptomatic of a deeper problem. One of the hardest lessons taught by climate change is that the economic model which drives growth, and the profligate consumption in rich nations that goes with it, is ecologically unsustainable. There could be no greater challenge to our assumptions about progress than that of realigning economic activities and consumption with ecological realities.” (p. 27)

With Kind Regards,

Stefan Pasti, Founder and Outreach Coordinator
The IPCR Initiative

Offering Links-- Seeking Links

The Interfaith Peacebuilding and Community Revitalization (IPCR) Initiative has added a new 30 page “Links” pdf document to the IPCR Website (see the “top of page” navigation, at www.ipcri.net). (Note: The "Links" document is also an attachment to this post.)

There are 24 categories of links included in the document. There is also information, often from the “About Us” section of the “links” website, which may help readers appreciate the “link” as a useful resource. Hopefully, the categories chosen, and the more-than-brief introductory information provided about the links listed, will help readers see more of the connections between different elements which are part of the same “big picture”.

I was wondering if there could be an active thread here at The Relocalization Network on useful links, and useful categories for organizing links. Brainstorming on this subject could be a constructive step towards the goal of helping people with common interests make connections.

With Kind Regards,

Stefan Pasti, Founder and Outreach Coordinator
The IPCR Initiative

"The Spirit of the Sacred Hoop": A Short Story

Many years ago there was a tribe of people who were experiencing challenges that were threatening their very existence.

During this “time of fear”, a young woman experiences a vision—of a bird which says to her “You must all leave where you are, and travel to a place far away… You must look for the tree at the center of the sacred hoop. You will know when you have found this tree when you hear birds singing on the branches of a tree, and you understand their song.”

The tribe of people eventually begins this “great journey”. Do they find the tree at the center of the sacred hoop?

“The Spirit of the Sacred Hoop” is a nine page short story which recognizes intuition and spiritual wisdom as important elements of community and cultural sustainability.

“The Spirit of the Sacred Hoop” story is accessible at the website of The Interfaith Peacebuilding and Community Revitalization (IPCR) Initiative (at www.ipcri.net). Look in the “Core Documents” section of the IPCR website homepage for a link to the pdf file.

All IPCR documents can be downloaded for free, or requested as an attachment to an e-mail.

With Kind Regards,

Stefan Pasti
The IPCR Initiative

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