The very basic, key requirement in a content economy is that every individual human participant becomes self-aware, self-conscious of sustainable progress and self-sufficient through auto-determination, self-leadership and independence from centralized structures.
That is a lot of responsibility for a single person! How can you cope with self-sufficiency when the entire world seems to be attached to the strings of centralized controls? If you cut those strings where would you live? Get your food? Your water or energy supplies? Health care? Clothing? How would you get rid of your waste or move from A to B?
The transformation from a growth economy of centralized dependencies to a content economy of self-sufficiency in sustainable progress is not just a simple ideological decision, it is a personal commitment to turn your entire life upside down.
Even on the individual level such new type of society would require a structural renewal of the way you address your life on a daily basis. It would take various years of learning new skills and integrating them into your existence in such a way that you get again a feeling of abundance. The learning period will be tough because your self sufficiency would not produce enough yet for you to adequately survive. You are forced to work together with others who are in a similar process.
In essence we see the following happening on the individual level but also in business, local government and institutions. The whole thing boils down again into four phases:
1. Acceptance of the new paradigm: This element is key to understand and commit to the process you go through and find the motivation to endure the tough transition period.
2. Personal leadership: Someone only decides to depart from situation A towards a new situation B if the latter provides better perspectives than the first. For may it is a tough decision to make, requiring reassurance through a growing awareness and consciousness as the local, personal or global crises clarify the ideas. Once the decision has been taken you are ready to address to future with determination keeping that desired new situation in mind during the entire process.
3. New professional skills: gradually you will find what skills are required to address your new challenges. We all have many skills already and today, with the usage of internet we have access to a large diversity of knowledge without having to move from our chair. Applying new skills to produce abundance will totally depend on the environment in which you develop your independence. Nowadays technology is very much advanced to produce abundance in nearly any environment on the planet and beyond. It is up to our creativity and adaptability to implement it for our benefit. Some may argue that access to technology costs money and indeed this may be true in the transition phase. But when we look at the abundance of tools that have grown obsolete in the last few decades, or even now due to the crises, we have plenty to pick from at nearly no other costs than that what we need to get the materials to us. Creativity, wit and guts is much more valuable than the tooling that is lying around us unused.
4. Purpose driven cooperation: when we consider true abundance, with the use of modern technology and our own talents and energy we can and maybe need to work together with our neighbors. For certain requirements we need a certain productivity scale to be auto-sufficient. Combining these interests with those who face the same problem will add up 1+1 and make 3.
Such cooperation is even possible on a larger urban scale involving self aware institutions and governance. Dealing with result driven self sufficiency through applied technology one may find the need to involve such institutions even if they still operate in the old paradigm. Consider the challenge of people living in dense urban city environments. How would they be able to cope with content economy if the only way to access food production is by applying the most modern views on urban vertical and spatial agriculture. And even such fragmented self sufficiency would necessarily be combined with innovative usage of water, waste management cycles, energy production and usage.
Such techniques would become multi-disciplinary and multi-functional requiring the cooperative participation of people with a large diversity of skills. Over 50% of the global human population now concentrate their lives in dense urban environments due to the effects of hundreds of years of economic based paradigm. And this amount is only growing. Even if we wanted we could not turn this clock back fast. So a very intense local small scale urban cooperation will need to develop rapidly to create sufficient output to provide the participating people with a minimum amount of life support in the transition phase to avoid an exodus into the country side or total urban anarchy.
It is a totally new area of development that is still in its teens from an expertise point of view but key for the survival of massive amounts of people who have nothing else than their 26th floor, 80 m2 apartment to deal with when the old paradigm collapses further. The current centralized power positions around food, water, energy and other basic supplies have fragmented the local available productivity into single massive product production lines for global distribution. The diversity of products surrounding the cities is extremely limited and scarce, in such a way that it would never be able to help the starving city population in case of disaster. Sufficient local diversity for self sufficiency would take decades of focused transformation to develop. Eg. With the current footprint the nearly 17 million people counting population of Holland would need a territory of 20 stories to supplies its needs. This is of course impossible so we have two options: reduce drastically our consumptive life styles while trying to use space as well as possible or allow the unthinkable the reduction of the population to sustainable levels by allowing them to perish or move to other places….A reversed migration away from the cities would create such devastation in the encounter of the travelling masses that it would represent a human disaster of unknown precedence. The best option we truly have today, while the old paradigm is still holding up, is to do our best to implement the content economy where ever we can right now, taking individual responsibility while we can, having access to resources and knowledge without yet the stress of surrounding chaos.
Right now the STIR Foundation has already started to work with small scale local new cooperative initiatives to at least create sufficient experience in working with new result driven models based on equality and competences, rather than hierarchy and speculation. Many of the human interests cannot be addressed comfortably in this way because they are still trapped in the economized hierarchies. These old power positions will try to milk their cash cows as long as they can before they fall over, even if this finally means that the transformation will come too late or at the expense of huge sacrifice.
All that people like you and me can do today is to accept the fact that we need to take responsibility sooner or later. The sooner we take our first steps at picking up the right skills, establishing the network of contact for early experiments, the better it is. I personally did and know now how painfully difficult it is. By keeping our initiatives low key or outside the reigning systems we remain at a safe distance to experiment at will. When the openings come due to the recessions and massive crisis we can try to expand expertise fast like fractals. Via twitter, blogs, social media we can share experiences in an open way and stimulate more and more people to start developing their own initiatives and join the movement.
Meanwhile remember the psychology of change that affects most people. For some time to come the largest part of the population will laugh at you while you are at it while the systems will try to do what they can to stop you, uphold themselves at the expense of everything or get you back into the old systems through tricks backed by the reigning laws. That’s the name of the game. At the end the content economy will of course affect you positively and provide you and the surroundings with sustainable progress. But before that it is the process of letting go and diving into the in depth transformation that produces all the pain and challenges. It is up to you if you want to take the leap or wait if the whole thing solves itself.