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Our current food reality is highly difficient and needs revision in order to provide resilience of our health and continuity as a species. Life science shows that we do not just eat proteins, vitamins and carbonhydrates. We eat molecular and energetic information which is processed into our own living system.
With this information we need to review our nutritious means. Decades of tests with food in different environments show that food which appears the same has totally different nutritious values, depending on the type of environment it grew in. Experiments with biophotonic equipment in relation with effective soil base management and coherence among species has delivered very positive results.
With FRE2SH we intend to create communities of people that begin to rely entirely on the type of food that we produce together in our food resilience programs. We wish to see if we can show health and vitality improvements. This is important to reduce our dependence on health care and the related costs that tend to become unsustainably and exponentially high. It is also important to improve the wellness, engagement and productivity of our communities within a general sense of quality of life.
Another call for attention:
Sustainocratic STIR partner Dr. Swati presents her first english release of the successful Dr. Swati health TV show in India with a powerful message on pollution and climate issues. Her release coincides with World Environment Day.
We add an invitation to commit together
In 2009 STIR Foundation introduced the invitation to all societal stakeholders to a new level of collective accountability for developing our core conditions for sustainable human progress: Sustainocracy. In the region of Brabant (Netherlands) the staleholders accepted the invitation and AiREAS cooperative venture for the cocreation of our healthy city and environment was born.
Sustainocratic ventures and local AiREAS initiatives can be set up anywhere in the world where the stakeholders are willing to group together and take responsibility for innovative health driven processes. It proves to be a powerful innovative drive for all involved and a healing factor of economic wellness and stability.
Global Health Deal
In 2016 the local government took over the commitment for Health. In this video the key people of the province express their commitment.
This gave STIR and AiREAS the impulse to go global with the invitation, using the Dutch precedents as proof of concept and willingness to commit. In our global AiREAS publication we introduced a specific chapter (free downloadable) on the Global Health Deal invitation as well as a chapter on the new type of entrepreneurship that arises.
The alliance with Dr. Swati is one of the signals to the world that this process is successful, powerfully engaging and highly productive. And everyone can be part of it!
The inspiration came from a Dutch region referred to as “Rijk Dommel en Aa”. The region is not formally registered as such. It comprises two mid sizes cities and 5 smaller communities. It is surrounded by canals and rivers which make it a rectangular territory.
This confinement had been for some years a place to develop regional cocreation at government level. At one stage someone asked me to look at the region from a practical sustainocratic point of view. Two converging lines came together, governance and peer 4 regional sustainocratic development. How do we unite those lines into a functional format that enhances the combination rather than drive them apart?
Governance tends to deploy itself around “files”. These files normally live a life of their own within the context of current political-economic steering mechanisms. Rijk Dommel and Aa had its own traditional files for the region:
- Energy and Water
- Nature and Recreation
- Housing and living
- Farming and Food
The focus that government had agreed among themselves was to facilitate the population’s spare time (recreation, sport) development.
When Sustainocracy started to look at the region, that hosts 400.000 residents with an multiple equivalent of regular visitors to festivals, activities, recreation, tourism and special events, it introduced the 5 core values for regional development (health, safety, basic needs, self resilience and self awareness). At provincial level we are developing the Health Deal, inspired on the Healthy City commitment in Eindhoven through AiREAS. During a first multidisciplinary encounter the people present were asked to come up with ideas to simply enhance this particular member of the leading core values: Health.
In the cocreation exercize 6 areas of attention were defined:
- How can we involve all people and institution into this health driven process? (involve)
- What are the impediments and problem spots in the region? (impediments)
- What are the admirable initiatives that can be highlighted and supported? (initiatives)
- What experimental initiatives can we define? (experiments)
- Can we organize events for people to experience what we want to achieve with their help? (events)
- Let’s investigate in the region what residents feel about the subject? (research)
Health, files and areas of attention
With “health” as leading topic the files and areas of attention could easily be combined into a matrix.
Just one meeting was needed to populate the matrix with multidisciplinary teams that develop the ideas into projects with the corresponding commitments.
When a project is defined it is seconded by all and deliveres a measurable result that can be related to the higher sustainocratic purpose, Health in this case. Since all key partners are available to commit resources the project can get rapidly equiped with the finances, technology, human creativity and hands on power to get into an execution phase. The process can be repeated as often as needed in the region with increasing involvement of all stakeholders together.
The process is fast, dynamic and very effective. One of the polical executives mentioned with a degree of surprise: “In one afternoon extremely difficult and complex projects are defined here and committed, what normally takes us 30 years!”
Many regions around the world are now coming to see how we do this. India, China, central Europe, Turkey, etc are candidates for developing sustainocratic platforms soon.
We tend to work in three steps with them in Eindhoven:
- Come over to learn and get inspired
- Come over to discuss how to implement it within their own regional complexity?
- Implement locally and establish a cooperation to work together
That is how Sustainocracy expands by combining governance with new guidance based on core human values and integral societal involvement.
When we look at our natural surroundings we see many living species. They are all healthy. Life ‘s mechanisms are based on health. The unhealthy always disappears to make room for new health!
That is why I declared health a Sustainocratic core value, something to take responsibility for together, individually and as society. Our current societal and global executive model produces unhealthy evolution with just one ending. If we want to evolve in a healthy way we change our models and awareness.
In my own region of Brabant and the city of Eindhoven (the Netherlands) we have been working together on the concept of `healthy city` for over 5 years now. The first initiative taken came from myself and my own STIR Foundation (City of Tomorrow), using the Sustainocratic work format. Our work became a confrontation with ourselves and the way we manage our cities and communities. And still is. The learning process is however unique, exciting and worth sharing.
This is a long blog again as it describes a process of awareness and a solution of common understanding and need. I describe first the issue, the impossible solution and the workable one from a core human values point of view. The latter works.
A unique dinner
Twice a year the political councillors of the five big cities of this region join for dinner, the so called `diner pensant` (dinner to think), together with the hierarchical representatives of the province. They discuss the practical issues related to their temporary jobs (every 4 years we see new executive faces after the elections). They are accompanied by their top civil cervants who run complex programs in the city. This time the leading topic of the evening was `health`. I was invited to speak.
My speech is not an easy one. Despite the noble purpose of the evening and the practical commitment of the region to work on health we need to face the potential impotence of the venture.
Cities have never been envisaged from a health point of view. Doing it now we face a confrontation with a reality that is engrained into our city management and the democratic structure of our system of governance and societal steering. For 5 years we have been working with a solution developed by my foundation in cocreation with the organizing (of the dinner) city of Eindhoven. This solution is a source of inspiration for other cities but at the same time a challenge without presidence as it questions everything a city has ever stood for.
Perverse old city management
The 5 years of experience in Eindhoven has become a practical voyage and proof of principle. It also became of tremendous academic interest for me to investigate the process through backward analysis. It gives modern insight on the practicality of transforming city management, sustainable leadership and societal awareness. Above all it is a research issue about human awareness development, executive blocks and hierarchies, and the human courage to break loose and co-create a totally new way of developing society. But before that we need to be aware of the current historic and ruling perverse reality of unhealthy city development and executive.
Cities have never developed around health, on the contrary. Cities developed around self declared land ownership, trade routes over sea and land, logistics, industrial processes, market places, public events and protection against the aggression of others. 5000 years of city development show us that everything turns around the hierarchy of power, the speculation with services and goods, consumption and all of this eventually translated into money driven executive management. Money leads in cities because the city hardly produces anything of itself. It interacts with its surroundings to purchase all it needs to continue speculation with the people who are attracted to this perceived abundance of real estate, shops and services.
Nothing in the city sustains health. Every executive decision made to develop the city is related to money driven choices that generally produce more pollution and health problems, not just in physical sense but also in the mentality, culture and behavior of people. Economic growth through inflation prevails while the problems are remediated through costly regulating bureaucracy and expensive care systems. There are at least four big reasons why a city is not at all healthy:
- A city consists of tarmac, cement and glass, eliminating every reference to nature or living species in an ecosystem. When something is not perceived by people than it does not penetrate our sense of reality. People in a city don´t identify with life and develop a mentality of so called `frozen ego´s`, emotionless for the problems of our living surroundings simply because those surroundings do not exist in their daily interaction. There is hardly any empathy, no sensitivity, no awareness. At the same time the materials used to sustain the city and its growth are extremely polluting, producing unhealthy dust and fumes.
- A city is based on the trade and consumption of goods producing a psychology of greed and hoarding rather than an attitude of productivity for wellness.
- The dependence of the city on goods from outside the city makes it a decadent negotiator for volume, purchasing as cheaply as possible whatever it needs to sell it as expensively as possible within the city. The effect is that the city contributes to the decadent way of treating our sea, soil and air producing all the problems that we face in the world that lead to huge catastrophes.
- The entire city is based on economics of trade that structurally rewards the systems that pollute (traffic, logistics, consumption, etc) while those who take responsibility are often do this as volunteers or get blocked by the official system.
The city inhabitants and users hardly identify themselves with issues such as climate change, acidifying seas or the invisible air pollution. The population does however show direct interest in sources to make money (through labor, social security, loans or pension schemes) to pay for all the services that a city provides. 90% of all city´s executive decisions are dealing with sustaining, rewarding and enhancing these patterns. The city’s transactions are being taxed and this sustains the bureaucracy, the investment in economic growth and the financial reserves to repare local damage. This damage repair is seen as a cost, not as lack of original responsibility.
Never ever the city or its population has seen or considered itself beyond its own city confinement, empathised with nature or the city´s own natural surroundings. The city invests in tarmac, cement and glass, more logistics and mobility, causing the pollution to even grow further. When I was introduced to this powerful audience of this unique diner the presenter used this video of air pollution in the Netherlands referring both to the challenge we face, the problems we caused ourselves and the responsibility I try to take through sustainocratic ventures in Eindhoven.
This video was placed on YouTube in 2013, two years ago, and has been watched just around 1000 times. Any teenage or adult video on fashion or music will receive such amount of views in mere seconds. It shows where the public interest goes. Health is not in the minds of city people as they deal with other mental priorities and choices. Health hence can never be a democratic issue, nor part of a political campaign. Health is a core responsibility, a key value of life. But this responsibility has been made subject to the political and economic system that defends other priorities and prefers to remediate damage rather than prevent it. Country level executive work is largely a copy of the city´s management culture.
As the city consumes it parasites on the sea, the land, the air and all life on planet Earth. The exponential growth towards 7 billion human beings, of with 70% have populated the cities, delivers a life threating situation managed by hypocritical, perverse city politics and economics. We can hence conclude that all current humanitarian and ecological problems on Earth can be related directly to the sum of all cities and that cities hardly identify themselves with their responsibility due to intensive self interests and a political and economic system that stands health in the way. The countrywide government floats on top of the consumption in cities and the logistics to supply them. The results are catastophical for all life on Earth, including human awfulness as humankind is too kind.
If this can be explained by pinpointing the executive problem of a polical and economic steering format and hierarchy why then did Brabant and Eindhoven accept my invitation back then, in 2010, to start cocreating the first healthy city of the world, using air quality as guiding principle?
Motivation differs, goals converge
My own motivation was and is still to initiate a society that takes core human values as leading dots on the horizon thus producing a self reflective and correcting society. By doing so one continuously challenges reality to see if progression can be made by engaging with such values (eg. Health, safety, self-sufficiency, self-awareness, basic needs fullfilment) and the continuous threats against it produced by life itself (human or nature). This would produce a continuous stream of innovation while we carry our responsibilities all together as a population. But it requires a different relationship with the executive steering.
Eindhoven had the courage to accept that challenge but the motivation goes step by step.
The motivation of the political partner at the city council was not yet challenging the political system that, in my reality, would disappear and be replaced by a new democratic setting. She was primarily interested in the potential of producing smart innovations as well as the production of insights that help her define her own executive policies around the air quality norms that come from the political hierarchy above the cities. Still now, after 5 years, the political partners introduce me and the cocreation efforts through AiREAS as a `measurement system for air pollution` rather than the beginning of a societal alternative in which we have taken responsibility together. I don´t push the situation as I see it as a gradual process. To accept my proposition immediately would mean political suicide in the perverse context of our present day systems. The story of perverse decadence can only be told by me as independent viewer of our realities but not by the city executive who is elected to uphold the system. We can however work together and need space todo so.
This evening session was the very brave first public setting organized by the executive of Eindhoven, accepting the total turn around of regional governance, with all the consequences of such move. The proof of principle of 5 years cocreation has developed enough arguments for the executive to adopt its challenge and present it to their colleagues as the best option forward. It has become a choice now, a serious executive option and this evening the choice was presented to the entire executive world by Eindhoven. The second part of my presentation was to explain this solution to get to cocreative health responsibility without political or economic suicide or chaos in between.
Socrates once said: “You can spend a lifetime fighting the system or put all your energy in creating a new one”. Sustainocracy is a commitment to create the new using the key values of our existence. For our traditional city executives it is hard to accept Sustainocracy when one is still in between two realities, professionally in one, humanitarian or intellectually in the other. Half denial and half acceptance is hence the safes way forward. Often we still hear the remark that “health has to become a business case” while in reality we realize and show that health is a basic, core responsibility, not a trade or something you can buy. Health is on the other hand so abstract that people generally do not understand, until we face the absence of it. That may also be the explanation why health never became an executive issue before.
Nature provides wisdom
When we look at nature we realize that it is always healthy and health driven. Life itself is by definition healthy. The natural living ecosystem that surrounds us is always healthy. That what is not dies or is eaten. The unhealthy always disappears to make room for new health!
A human being is also a healthy creature of nature. When we produce unhealthy situations in our surroundings we do the equivalent with ourselves. A process of elimination starts until our responsibility reaches our awareness. We have never acknowledged this responsibility because we only became aware when it was too late. The individual dead do not complain. But the collective threat of death does make us react as a group. We have let ourselves be governed by our (equally natural) greed and competitive mentality around power and control. The consequences manifest themselves because the health thriving living reality confronts us with the shortages we created ourselves through exhausting life that does not automatically recover with the development of new life. The lack of natural group empathy with nature has shown that we don´t know what we really are. We are presented with a mirror by nature through the appearance of catastrophes, illnesses, crises and chaos.
Cities are the first structures that develop this awareness because of the vulnerability that now appears and the responsibility that has long been denied. It is not at all strange to see that the large trade centers along the seashore are the first that need to deal with the rising sea levels caused by air pollution and climate change that has been produced by those same trade centers. It is not strange either that cities at cross roads in the country side are feeling tremendous fluctuations in their economies because they eliminated local self sufficiency and productivity and became totally dependent of the economic variables of the rest of the world. When Eindhoven realised this in the 90´s it tried to find a way to become more productive itself and came to the powerful conclusion that it could present itself to the world as key innovating city. Brainport was born as a concept of cocreation. It gave the city a sense of productive ownership of something it could control rather than being victim of economic fluctuations from elsewhere. The acceptance to my invitation can be seen in that context.
As stress builds up the awareness in the cities grows because they are now affected themselves in multiple ways by nature, shortages and the local crises. Responsibilities manifest at executive level and tension arises between this new sense of responsibility and the persistence of the old executive system, sustained also by powerful local lobbyists. Recogizing the problem is the first step towards a solution. That is why this diner and the possibility to speak openly about this tension, became a huge step for humankind, a burst of true healthy executive mentality, guts and sincere desire to solve such critical issues. But the old world is still dominant as the new world shows itself.
To provide room and space to develop itself the old executive is asked to step aside.
It is of course not the executive itself that steps aside. Their act is a demonstration of guts and sense of responsibility. What is set aside is the dominance of the political and economic steering system to provide space for the development of our key values that otherwise would remain trapped by the system. The executive then steps back into society to address the issue together, not as a boss but as a partner. For this we need to create the right conditions.
The transformation starts outside the hierarchy of interests. Players are looking at creating patterns to fullfil the higher purpose that is placed in the open space left behind by the retreat of the steering mechanisms. The open space itself now needs to be managed too to avoid chaos or anarchy. That is where Sustainocracy comes in as concept and way of working. We introduced the figure of the ´sustainocrat`, an independent professional that has the task to create a table based on equality instead of hierarchy, invite the many players in this multidisciplinary arena and assure that the higher purpose (health in this case) remains leading. Together the participants, in which government still plays a key territorial role, share the health driven responsibility with social innovation through its citizens, technological innovation through value driven entrepreneurship and applied knowledge through science and education. As the process develops and cocreation ends up into value driven projects with measureable results every participant is confronted with the need to address change also in their own organizations. But these changes can be addressed effectively because of the powerful arguments developed in the sustainocratic settings.
The example that is most used is AiREAS, the sustainocratic venture to produce health in relation to air quality. In AiREAS the sustainocratic space is now filled with various multidisciplinary teams that are producing an overwhelming amount of practical and scientific insights, social and technological innovations and concrete advice about legal and executives obstacles that stand sustainable progress in the way. AiREAS is providing a continuous stream of proof that can be used to start initiatives around every key issue that demands our attention fast.
Key conclusion is that, when the lid is off the dominance of political and economic steering, an explosion of creativety appears that addresses health and other core human values as a natural phenomenum. By structuring this creativy in the multidisciplinary format of Sustainocracy we can address any complexity because we introduce change not just through product innovations but also, all at the same time, by removing the blockage that the hierarchies created. The new sustainocratic society exists. It resembles an ecosystem in which all participate to shape and maintain a wellness based community in close resonance we our surrounding nature and natural resources. Sustainocracy is still relatively small on the global scale and hence still vulnerable but the ideology and practical outrole has proven itself, has been documented and now simple finds its way to the rest of the world as its seeds are being carried by the enthusiasm of all participants.
Three Dutch events in two weeks time show a trend toward a YES…but…..
Event 1: Innovation Estafette 2013 (12.11.13): This gathering in the RAI in Amsterdam was organized by the ministry of Economy Innovation. It’s message was that “the entire population should be actively involved in the issues of the nation”.
The question then arises: “What is the issue of the nation? Money? Technology? Pollution? Health?” Different opinions show during the conference.
Event 2: ROET conference 2013 (13.11.13): This gathering in the High Tech Campus of Eindhoven was titled “Air quality, are we done?”, referring to the efforts of the Dutch government to comply with standards set by Brussels.
The question arises: “Are we just to comply with norms? Or do we need to invest in responsibility?”
Event 3: Half year members meeting of AiREAS (27.11.13): This event took place in Eindhoven where this global citizen’s initiative for healthy cities was started.
The question arises: “How can we manage the citizen’s leadership relationship with dominant institutions?”
It is interesting to note the built up of the events. Event 1 is calling for responsibility, event 2 is taking responsibility from a political, economic point of view and event 3 is turning the paradigm around to take responsibility from a humanitarian citizen’s perspective.
It shows a clear tendency towards a new global standard of awareness, responsibility and co-creative action in favor of environmental and human health. The “but” refers to the underlying stress between the reigning system of economic and political compliance and the universal system of nature that reacts to unbalance.
The real turn around is in event 3, helped by the awareness and commitment offered through the first two event. Even though event 3 is still minute, vulnerable in the magnitude of the old lobby of system’s dominance, it is extremely significant. It is not just a bunch of citizens that are standing up. The memberships contains global institutions such as Philips, ECN, Imtech, intellectuals and researchers from the Universities of Utrecht, Amsterdam, Twente, Madrid, Eindhoven and Delft, as well as local governmental officials from the city of Eindhoven and province North Brabant. All professionals interact as citizen’s first.
The three events show the usual human inner conflict:
Do we sell or buy responsibility (economics)? If so, who takes final responsibility for the “healthy city” if we prioritize our economic options (politics)?
Or do we take responsibility our selves as human beings before even considering our professional priorities (sustainocracy)? If so, are we in the ability to take responsibility in the complexity of our city development?
The duality can be clarified when we look at the way we deal with it in our homes. A family is the smallest human community in pursuit of sustainable human progress and securities. The society of which we are member is expected to provide the same, just a size bigger.
How do we deal with health at home? Who is the boss? What happens when someone gets sick? Do we go to work (economics)? Do you prioritize our sickness with other issues (politics)? No, we deal with health first.
So: Will “health” become a standard? Yes!
BUT: We all need to give it the same priority as at home.
This word indicates the lasting impact of human activities on our natural surroundings. This influence has reached such a point of significance that it will leave an eternal researchable print on the surface of our planet. It resembles the geological markings that were left behind by other huge impacts on our planet and its lifeforms, s.a. climate changes, volcanic eruptions, meteorite impacts, ice-ages, etc. Those eras have received a particular name because of the unique traceable combinations of environmental impact and interaction with the existence and evolution of life, the appearance and disappearance of species and evolutionary patterns. Anthropocene is the very first era that can be attributed to the behavior of a single species, the human being.
This Anthropocene is hence the very first conscious act of destruction, pollution and manipulation. It does not mean that the consciousness is done entirely on purpose. It is a consequence of an evolutionary development of a human society that has avoided, neglected or remained unaware of the need for harmonic relationships with our universe. This awareness is now reaching the awakening consciousness of the species, demanding the intense and urgent modification of societal structuring that evolved over many millenia. The question that arises today is whether the required transformation is at all possible, considering the way the species deals with power, authority, aggression and greed in its structuring of responsibilities. Lots of modern talks consider the need to define ethics, spirituality and morality in our behavior and social organization. Hardly any reflection occurs yet on a much more serious consequence of the Anthropocene: the genetic anthropocene!
Genetic footprint of pollution
The human consists of rational intelligence which becomes aware of the Anthropocene from the traditional external sensory point of view. It is a challenge of course to translate this rational into behavioral changes that allow our species to progress in a sustainable manner. A lot of effort goes into transforming our industrial, manufacturing and logistic activities. What we have neglected in our quest for material abundance is that we are also beings with physical properties that are equivalent to those of our surroundings. From a molecular composition point of view we do not differ from our natural environment. The molecules come together to shape a human life around a purpose yet the quality of the assembly is a good as the quality of the surrounding components. Pollution in our environment is equivalently present inside our physical system. Our body is a complex machinery of harmonically interacting elements that involves the entire evolutionary complexity since the big bang. Our molecular composition and our enrichment through sensory interaction with our environment, is a mirror image of the consciousness of the surrounding universe about which we reflect. Pollution is part of that, when it occurs, and influences in exactly the same degree our composition and awareness.
What does this mean?
It means that our genetic coding is including the physical and psychological disorder that the pollution of our environment is providing. This is measurable through science. Many other species show genetic disorder already due to the Anthropocene. Some have mutuations that mutulate their existance and evolutionary chances. Others, especially on bacterial level adjust to such an extend that they become a threat to human kind.
Genetic research has found in the last few years the codes that predict the chances of any person to suffer a disorder in life. Right now this research is done from a material perspective to determine how much health insurance someone may have to pay when society becomes aware that a certain illness is more or less likely to occur. The morality of such conclusions is of course highly disputable but the same research can show that the same genetics show an Anthropocene too in our genetical footprint. In practical reality we see that more and more people suffer cancer and other types of health problems. Archaeological research on mummies, skeletons and other human remains of our history confirm this tendency.
There are of course scientists that refuse to admit this. Some simply believe that the growing problems in health are a consequence of a longer life expectancy and improved scientific level of knowledge and maintenance of statistics. This is ridiculous of course. Why accept the disorder and mutations in animals, insects and plants, and not in the human species. We are the same as our environment!
This is an even more serious consequence then the effects of the Anthropocene itself. Even if we manage to adjust our behavior we will eternally show the scars of our Anthropocene in our own genetic anthropocene, with all the related consequences in our own evolutionary quality of life. Harmony with our surroundings is therefor an issue of universal ethics that urgently needs to be introduced in our systems of law, morality and behavior.