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Integral Ecology and Sustainable Business

With thanks to Laszlo Zsolnai and Ove Jakobsen I was invited to participate in the publication of this valuable book published through Emerald Publishing. My contribution is about the Participation Society, an analysis of the evolution of our societal structures and the emergence of taking responsibility together as citizens and policy makers when dealing with our core human and natural values.

The entire publication: http://www.emeraldinsight.com/doi/book/10.1108/S1572-8323201726

My chapter on the Participation Society:  http://www.emeraldinsight.com/doi/full/10.1108/S1572-832320170000026013


The evolution of Sustainocracy

What started as a one man’s awareness breakthrough, that health and safety are natural core human values which stand above political, social and economic choices, evolved into an evolution of human societal development and multidisciplinary commitment to sustainable human development. Let us go through this step by step.

We all have a choice
We have a choice when awareness breaks through. When it does not then we remain trapped in a worldview imposed upon us by our reigning cultural surroudings and paradigm. It is as if nothing else exists or existed. The breakthrough opens our eyes to different realities and then the choice appears loud and clear. For me the choice was presented by life’s circumstances in two different occasions, the first in 1996, the second in 2003. The first time it affected me tremendously but did not pull me over the edge of making a definite choice, it just made me powerfully aware. The second time I made my definite and life changing choice.  I became my own first Sustainocrat in a new world.

choices 2

We all have a choice between life and death

Our current social political – economical paradigm evolves around death
Our consumption based global and local economy is based on trade of dead things. In order to make a product we need to get our resources from the living world, kill it and convert it into a consumable. We have built large marketplaces called cities in which we display the dead stuff in abundance to give the population a permanent sense of abundance. We only see this abunbance but do not sense the destruction this killing does to our environment. The killing is not visible because it happens outside the city while the city itself has eliminated all lifeforms other than the consumption based interaction with the human species.

Exponential growth of the human population, combined with the focus on trade of dead materialism, caused an exponential growth of devastation of our natural living environment. And we all contribute to it through our labor activities and blind consumption, often unaware of our shared responsibility in the disappearance of life on Earth and eventually that of our own.

Sustainocracy evolves around life
Having defined the 5 core values of sustaining life in an evolutionary manner, which had started with the first two (health and safety) within my own breakthroughs, a new social interaction appears. The 5 core values of Sustainocracy are:

  1. Health – The living nature is always healthy. If not the unhealthy dies and gets absorbed into a new cycle of healthy life. When humankind produces death just for the sake of abundance it interrupts the cycle of life and produces an avalanche of death. We humans are part of that cycle so inevitable we develop our own destruction too. Focus on health however is an awareness issue. Most people take health for granted and only become aware when sick. Becoming sick is a way of nature to develop also health through the development of our defenses. But self inflicted sickness is antinatural and we don’t know how to cope with it. That’s why cancer and other horrible deceases affect us. We also see that the human immunity is in decline. Health is hence a leadership issue, not democratically choicen but a core responsibility!
  2.  Safety – Without safety there would be no community. The whole essence to create a community in the first place is to get a better position for safety for all members. It does not only refer to physical integrity but also respect, equality, trust and cohesion among each other.
  3. Local resilience – Working together to fullfil the basic human needs such as food and housing is key to remain committed to the community. In Sustainocracy the 5 values are leading, as they are core human interests. The democratic part of Sustainocracy is not to chose direction yet to chose the priorities for innovative change together through dialogue and consensus. Our core values are leading, not our self interests around materialism, leading by trust in our abilities rather than fear for shortages.
  4. Self awareness – Withou the awareness breakthrough the choices cannot be made as they do not reveal themselves. Awareness driven cocreation is hence both a community leadership and educational core value.
  5. Three basic needs: we all need 1 kg for food per day, 3 kg of drinking water and 30kg of healthy air. I expressed it all in kilo’s for the sake of comparison. The quality of our basic needs has to be outstanding since our body consists of the same elements. When we manipulate or polute our basic needs, we do the same with our own living essential. Food to live is totally different from food to stock a supermarket to create a sense of abundance.

Transition from death to alive
The regions that gradually evolve into Sustainocracy through core values driven multidisciplinary cocreation platforms (such as AiREAS or FRE2SH or STIR Academy) have to go through an intense transition. This can only be done when the 4 pillars of the local community carry this responsibility together:

  • Local government: territorial responsibility for infrastructure and public funds
  • Local innovative  entrepreneurship: developing creative solutions
  • Science and education: providing knowledge to the processes
  • Local citizens: social innovation, cultural adaptation and behavior

In order to help these fundamental pillars to interact on the basis of equality the tables are presided by an independent Sustainocrat. The sustainocrat makes sure the core values remain leading and that the multidisciplinary cocreation breaks through its abstract discussions and gets to project definitions and commitment of the diversity of resources with an expected result.


Both paradigms coexist and gradually the emphasys will transit from the money dependent trade and control system to the multidisciplinary cocreation. This coexistence is especially demanding for those executives in institutions that are active in both worlds. It becomes easier when Sustainocracy is seen as the regional process for value creation and the old system for value consumption. Looking for local cylcic balance between creation and consumption is a huge step forwards and produces measureable productivity, wellbeing and resilience. A new economic cycle appears…..


The main driver this time is not technology but the psychosocial health evolution and awareness breakthrough


Read more (free download through open access):

The problem, the consequences and the solution

The problem:
The statement below is also referring to pollution, city convergence, life style, mobility, hunger, migrations, financial manipulations, power abuse, etc.


Awareness break through

The consequences

Need I say more? It is in our self interest to do something about it. Consequence driven investments damage economies and societies while proactive attention may give an innovative boost that keeps us busy for centuries. The Dutch have experience since we suffered our own water catastrophy in 1953, killing 1500 people. The implications now would be devastating, affecting 47% of the country. Time to act?



The easiest way to “solve” this is to wait for the problem to pass by itself.

This is NOT the solution, despite being the easiest way to address the problem

This is NOT the solution, despite being the easiest way to address the problem

This is NOT the solution either. Power abuse around money in fact stands solutions in the way.

This is NOT the solution either. Power abuse around money in fact stands solutions in the way.


The problem will indeed solve itself over time but scientists, economists and religious leaders now tend to agree that by that time there will be no human beings left to assume responsibility for our species.

10 years ago I stopped blaiming the world for unawareness and lack of sense of responsibility. For most individuals the issues are too abstract and mindblowing to picture  one’s own responsibility. Surrounded by definitions of economic patterns and efficiency tools I could not find any definition for sustainable human progress that I could relate to myself. So I created one.


Just try to adhere in commitment to this and things will change, for you and your surroundings

The commitment to myself and my natural surroundings evolved into the STIR Foundation, the cooperative venture AiREAS and FRE2SH and the STIR Academy for 21st century society and entrepreneurship. It changed my life and many others that got involved in these ventures. We can now involve the world by providing guidance, tools, inspiration and innovation.

The STIR cycle for sustainable excellence and progress

The STIR cycle for sustainable excellence and progress

Try it. It will change your lofe and that of your surroundings, always for the better.

Jean-Paul Close


Changing ways of looking at life

Not many people understand the functioning of our complex human systems called society. We interact without asking too many questions, suffering large consequences as they come along. We protect the selfinterest by living life as it comes making choices based on cultural norms, tradition, fears and ambitions. We do not really believe we can do a lot about the bigger picture as individuals.


When tend to be what our surroundings expect us to be (mirror)

When effects of pollution, global warming, migrations of desperate people, financial crises, scandals, etc reach our awareness we do tend to take a broader view of our reality. We may even reach a point that we adjust our daily choices with this new information.


Awareness places me and society within the context of the universe and our planet Earth. We start seeing the reality in a different way, not just what is expected from me by society

This awareness has an interesting extra effect on people as we begin to question the way we organize ourselves. We open up to an inner reality called “empathy”. This is a state of consciousness that does not just want us to survive in a competitive world. It helps us try to “do good” too. This “to do the right thing” is a state of mind that requires us to learn to feel sympathy for our surroundings. We open up to observing new realities, such as the suffering of other people, the effects of our actions on nature, the immorality of manipulation and injustice of certain human actions of greed. We arrive at a point that we project our daily choices on the world wide issues and take action accordingly within our span of control. We open up to understanding the bigger picture and see our own role with more clarity. Changing this role changes the human world of systems that, as a consequence, are forced to adjust.

Consumer conscience
On a worldwide basis we see our shops being packed with goods through an old system of supply and taxes on which institutions (business, government, banks) rely.


Property is past on in every step in the chain

You can’t solve problems by increasing them
It is in their system’s interest to keep this chain functioning because it produces labor, involves technology, keeps consumption going and produces funding for infrastructures and bureaucracy. It also provides means to address the consequences of this system. As the consequences grow exponentially, so does the need for money in this globalized system.

We understand that it produces the problems but we all depend on its functioning. How do we change it without putting this machinery on hold?

The first change is our own sense of “empathy” we the related change of our daily choices. We force the human systems to adjust to the newly growing popular mentality.

The second change is that the supply chain is stressed due to unsustainable chackles inside the system. The supply chain tries to optimize and reorganizes itself to remain strong.

The third change is provoked by the global issues themselves. If for instance competition for raw materials becomes as demanding as competition for sales the intellect is forced to look for adaptation to avoid system’s collapse. There is a lot of stress everywhere demanding leadership to cope with stressful circumstances.

Two complexities
The way we (STIR) addtess this at yhe top level of regional goverance and economuc development is by introducing a new complex system next to the old one. It is a system based on responsibility of change rather than keeping a supply chain going. It helps participants anticipate without being surprised by circumstances and the unexpected.


Awareness means that we manage to place the human system as instrumental, not dominant in our human evolution

When tension builds up locally in the old system relief is found by looping initiatives through the new system in a multidisciplinary way. This exercize helps people in charge to open up their minds to alternatives and choose their best options.

By doing so we achieve another interesting process, the development of the consciousness (to be) with the use of instruments to change things for the better (to do).


The psychology of change in a paradigm shift is the true transformative challenge of humankind

The biggest challenge we face in human reality is to integrate our growing awareness and empathy (awakening to new realities) with the systems that produce sustainable human progress and wellness. It becomes clear in our minds that for our own stability we need change. This is excitingly new when we come from an era of conservatism due to lack of awareness. The more we all become aware, the peacefuller we adjust our lives and systems through innovation of our structures and lifestyle. We start enjoying the prospect of progress rather than fearing the consequeces of change.


Awareness changes the world

Earth day

Earth day


Today, April 22nd 2014, is Earth Day. This just to remind us what we have and should cherish. I suspect that the rest of the year we don’t bother at all while there is nothing to remind us other than disaster, illnesses and system’s neglect.

At AiREAS we spend year in year out thinking of our planet and the giant issues we face. We also experience the difficulty to redesign and transform human societies, cultures and system’s complexity. The old money driven structure is extremely dominant and diverts attention all the time, making things worse faster than we can make it right.


In Hong Kong (China) alone 7 Million people suffer lung and heart problems due to air polution

Pollution day
I would like to turn things around and create a global “pollution” day. A day to commemorate the intense stupidity of human systems that were about to destroy our habitat and sustainable life perspectives. It will be a day that we laugh at ourselves and party all day to celebrate the return of common sense.


Our youth should be healthy, happy and positive

The day I met God

Did I tell you about the day I met God? The day I could answer what He looks like, if there is single God, what religion He is, what skin color He has or even if He is man or woman? Did I tell you why I met Him and what got me to Him? That my encounter did not convert me into a priest, imam or whatever messenger but in understanding better what it means to be human, consciously aware of life and the marvelous complexity of ever changing harmony?

Well this is how my encounter with Him was initiated. One day it occurred to me to ask the invisible God “is this it?”

Until that instant my life had evolved over roses. My self esteem was big and I had the idea that whatever I touched turned into gold. My relationship with God was one of a far acquaintance, a curiosity, one known from churches, Christian family beliefs, art and abstract prayers for wellness and welfare.

When I asked this question it was like crying out into a vacuum not expecting to hear anything back. My question referred to the emptiness of endless success. Where is the challenge? It was a question for myself and about what life was about?

Instantly my fortune changed.

Everything that I now touched seemed to turn into cold stone. The straight road of success had converted into a small mountain track full of pitfalls, challenges and struggles. I was surprised with this sudden change that I had called over myself. Reflecting back I could see two different lives, one before and after the famous question.

The second part of my life was distinctively more interesting than the first. In the first part I enjoyed recognition of the powers of human hierarchies but felt empty of purpose and meaning of my own. I was dealing with the artificial practice of management, financial growth and some modern expression of keeping human beings through economic processes. The second part got me to discover my own self through self awareness, reflection and dealing with challenges that developed my sense of values, ethics and responsibilities.

The first part of my life was rich in material sense and joyful with the ability to do a lot of pleasurable things with my financial means. But it made me blunt and unaware of everything else. Nothing ever seemed good enough while “more” was always on the wishlist. The second part was rich in spiritual sense through the processing of inner emotions, taking joy in valuing minor achievements and connecting to universal energies that I became aware of in my direct surroundings.

Still I had not met God, nor was I looking around to meet Him. There had been a curious query “is this it?” with a before and after. It even made me wonder why I had posed the question at all? The simple blind comfort of that financially rich life was a contrast with the complexity of a life full of emotional suffering and awareness building. Sometimes one wonders what use it has to become so consciously aware? It just gives rise to more questions and aversion against certain human ways. To be blind to all that has its advantages too.

When I thought that just about every possible endurance had crossed my path disaster struck once more. This time I had to protect myself and my children against severe aggression. For the first time I panicked. My worries had to do with control, not for myself but for the safety of my off-spring. My anguish took me to a small spiritual place in the woods to meditate. Without saying a word I stood there with my worries. At once a feeling of peace came over me. My soul calmed down and a sense of trust invaded me. “Everything is taken care of” was the message I received. And it was.

Ever since this trust stayed with me. No fear invades me anymore. No obstacles seem important. It was as if my life had changed dimension. I could “see” now, not just with my eyes but with all my senses, even my soul. Still there was no sign of God nor was I looking. The experience though had made me a believer that something extremely powerful had touched me. What that was remained within the scope of religious education. Despite the experience it still remained within my understanding of psychological tricks of my own.

The situation with my children was indeed dealt with and their safety and security was assured. I had taken responsibility. By doing this I had encountered the opposition of the entire structured society. It made me aware of the uncivilized money and obligation driven society, deprived of any sense of key universal responsibilities. I had stepped out of this “reality” to face the human world with new eyes and could now “see” with more senses than ever. What I saw did not please me, reassuring me in my decision to wish something else for my children.

With this revelation I started to live my life as an outcast of our current structured organisations around financial interests as these have grown to use human beings rather than serving them. I felt the inner drive to bring real universal values back into our human society. “But how?” I asked. No answer came.

I tried to do it the rational way, addressing the reigning complexity business and government structures, producing even reports to show them how negatively they operate in my paradigm. I offered them a way out through consultancy but was laughed at. No one seemed to want a way out, happy as people were with their position in hierarchies and their well paid professional activities. No one questioned the situation or themselves but in turn questioned me and my suggestions. I got no where. I just learned a lot, especially that it is not up to me to get people or institutions changed if they do not want to change themselves.

No God was giving me answers to my questions other than that I was complicating my own life in search for the answers myself. Meanwhile I had been trying to change the world by telling others what to do. It didn’t work.

Then I decided to change attitude and approach.

Rather than telling people what to do I decided to take responsibility myself using the revelations that had changed my views of the world and society. I became the change myself and started to invite people and institutions to come to me and help me co-create “my world”. When people do they either already think like me or get inspired by my reasoning. When they experiment with the new reality they may change through their own insights and corresponding motivation. My world becomes their and our world.

My own life had become part of the universe, its harmonic relationships and positively charged energies. I did not just reflect anymore about theories of life’s essentials and the way societies evolve, create values and destroy themselves through greed and lack of awareness. I became life itself through intense inner sense of significance and meaning with my own sensitivity to a broader spectrum of life as a whole. It had made me curious and able to learn about life, its origins and the nature of the universe of which I had become self consciously aware and self aware participant.

It was here that I met God, without searching or asking for Him. He was suddenly there in my awakening. I became aware that He had always been there. I had simply not seen Him, too occupied I had been with myself. Only when I set myself aside to connect to the Whole, the Whole revealed itself to me.

Now people ask me “what does He look like?”. And I respond that we all look at Him right now, all the time, but only see Him when He breaks through into our consciousness, blocked by self interest and fears. He breaks through when we learn to see with our soul, looking at the way we live life and feel the universe in an open manner. God is here all the time representing life itself. Just trust He is, drop fear and experiment with life until you are able to see Him for yourself.

Only the day I met with God I got the answer to my question “Is that all?”. The answer is “No, it is not! You have to live your life to the full to get the answer.” What that means is part of the revelation. Everything is predestined yet you are your own master of the revelation through living your own life in an active way. Just ask yourself “is this it?”. When you see God you will know.

5 levels of consciousness – level 5

We are always in search for harmony. The unconscious challenge we face when we live our life is that our world is constantly on the move. Change is the big constant we need to deal with. In order to get what we need to live we need to be on the move too. We tend to feel a constant drive as if we are in permanent disharmony. The 5th level is an awakening into the understanding the mechanisms of harmony, beginning with our own selves.

The underlying 4 levels are mere experience building exercises of our consciousness. When we are acting within the fields of growth, competition, change or organisation we feel occupied, challenged, maybe even powerful. We tend to feel that winning, more and more, are our purpose in life. We act short term, fearful to what we can loose, worried and influenced by all kinds of external powers. We only seem to be happy when we have things, preferably a bit more than others, and we do anything to achieve it. Balance and harmony are just temporary moments of rest before a new burst of energy sets us out to combat our surroundings for more. A new job, a bigger house, a new car, better wages, a holiday further away, etc.

The day we realise that all this is just part of a permanent natural search for harmony our life changes. We start consciously thriving for harmony instead of growth or competition. The 5th level has nothing to with intelligence or education. It has to do with deep inner understanding, a sense of harmony that starts within one self. This strange fearless feeling of trust and confidence comes at the strangest moments, normally when one has to let go of everything (possessions, feelings, beliefs, etc) and becomes aware that grows and competition brings instability while harmony brings piecw of mind and true progress.

One comes to terms with the idea that it is not what one has that matters but how one uses the abilities and resources to achieve progress through harmony.

Societies and communities behave like human beings with the same characteristics of consciousness. A business or country that is managed for growth behaves different than one focused on sustainable development through harmony.

With climate change, pollution and global warming we see that the overall tendency is towards this 5th level of awareness. We need not just consider harmony with our own selves but also with our environment.

It is all about harmony. At molecular level we recognise our physical living complexity through harmony. At biological level we see ourselves in harmony with all kinds of minute species that help us live by dedicating their life’s to ours in reciprocity. I refer to the bacteria and virusses that live on and inside our body supporting our own life system.Over 3 billion shape this living universe called “me”. Non of these species probably even consciously knows that I exit. For them I am their planet or universe.

Level 5 is inside all of us and we show the ability to deal with it on a daily basis. We just need to arrive at a point of conscious awareness about it. Harmony made our molecules unite into a unique new creature that needs to learn to arrive at a point of harmony with itself and surroundings. This harmony is not a final position of a fixed nature. Not at all. It is a new beginning. We stop fighting and start connecting in purpose driven processes that just have to do with life’s essentials:

* food (including water)
* health
* safety
* applied consciousness
* applied freedom

We place growth, competition and adaptability in evolutionary context and apply change to adjust to harmony using our awareness and consciousness to guide us.

Arriving collectively in the world at this point of consciousness is a breakthrough of understanding life and the universe providing sustainable human progress for all. A lot needs to happen still but the signs are all over not because we have become so smart, just because we become aware.