10 groups pushing for cultural change
19th June, 2009
Inspiration for change comes in many guises – from downshifting your personal life to celebrating a community Apple Day to joining a movement for social justice.
A generation of everyday heroes is thriving
Around the world, cultures are in flux as technological innovation and the shift away from local towards global has affected all matters of life.
Transformations in our relationship with nature, other people and other communities throw up many difficult questions. Can a ‘quality of life’ coexist with a ‘life in the fast lane’? Are cultural traditions a casualty of the culture of convenience? Is interconnectedness really bringing us closer together? Can communities be self-sufficient while being sufficiently diverse? Is small still beautiful? While the search for answers isn’t easy, there are many wise voices in the wilderness. A generation of everyday heroes is thriving, within which social entrepreneurship is giving small ideas a big chance; smart grids are powering small communities; designers are pioneering a sustainable future and anyone can text message for debt-relief.
As we ‘place’ ourselves in the changing world, we are actively engaging with the power to perform world-changing acts. The fox is in the henhouse – we hens need to get a-flapping.
California-based education- and activism-oriented website with features and critical comment on health, climate change, peak oil and local economy issues, founded by non-profit organisation the Sustainable Energy Institute (formerly Fossil Fuels Policy Action). Proponents of the ‘big picture and fundamental change’, opponents of the dominant paradigm and ‘the seductive trance of the renewable energy technofix’, it offers ‘eyes-open’ responses to our current crises through media, speaking, activist alerts and projects.
US online magazine and now book – Worldchanging: A user’s guide for the 21st century, edited by Worldchanging co-founder Alex Steffen – that provides its readership with tools for change through ‘solutions-based-journalism’. Built around the concept of ‘bright green environmentalism’ (technological change + social innovation = sustainable development), its international network of writers aims not only to identify problems, but also to suggest answers, new systems and new ways of living.
Published by Harry Abrams, £9.99
Named after Small Is Beautiful author EF Schumacher, this educational establishment set on the Dartington Hall Estate near Totnes, Devon, offers courses on subjects relating to environmental and social sustainability, as well as regular seminars and open days. A masterclass in the most urgent challenges of sustainability, students are encouraged to ‘be the change’.
Advocates on global issues for 25 years, the Action Group on Erosion, Technology and Concentration investigates the erosion of land, rights and cultures, assesses new technologies (agriculture, genomics) to see how they impact on the poor and marginalised, and monitors international governance and corporate concentration in technologies to ensure the ‘sustainable advancement of cultural and ecological diversity and human rights'.
Findhorn Foundation and Global Ecovillage Network
Begun in 1962 as a garden plot in a caravan park, the Findhorn Foundation has turned today into a spiritual community, ecovillage and an international centre for holistic education. GEN was set up in 1995 to help ecovillages share ideas, and to support and encourage the evolution of sustainable settlements across the world.
Rob Hopkins’ creative response to global issues starts at a local level. a step-by-step model for communities to lower carbon emissions, decrease dependence on oil, and become more self-sufficient and resilient to climate change and peak oil, the transition movement also holds the promise of a more vibrant and connected society.
International Downshifting Week
It isn’t necessarily about giving up your highly paid job and moving to the country (unless you want to), but slowing down, living with less – stuff, money, stress – and adopting a simpler, greener lifestyle. Tracey Smith’s initiative shows that even a few basic changes can help ‘tip the work-life balance in favour of life’.
The environmental campaign group behind Flora Britannica, Apple Day and Community Orchards and Confluence, Common Ground was formed in 1982 by former FoE colleagues Sue Clifford and Angela King, and environmentalist Roger Deakin. Linking nature with art, it uses the creative impulse and cultural events to inspire people to change things at a local level.
Low-Impact Living Initiative (LILI)
Searchable online resource of more than 130 topics – from factsheets and books to courses, forums and links – to help people get started on the road to sustainability, reduce their impact on the environment, gain new skills, improve their quality of life, live in a healthier and more satisfying way, have fun and save money.
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