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What would make a person “sustainocratic”?

After having covered the three institutional pillars of a sustainocracy (business, government and education) I now reach the individual citizens as fourth and main key to a sustainocratic society.

It is curious to have to deal with human beings in a different blogchapter than institutions. The latter are a human invention and only exist on paper. With an administrative number such institution starts living a life of its own using human beings to keep it going within a predefined mission. Institutions make products, sell services, proform scientific studies, educate, determine city layouts and regional landscaping, build houses, print money, extend loans, gather specific political interests, represent a certain belief, etc etc. So in reality institutions are human teams performing a specific task that has to do with human interests and activities. In a way they are all puzzle pieces that can be placed in certain ways to form a society of many teams of people interacting for a particular reason. Institutions keep enormous amounts of people occupied and give them something back. This is mostly a salary but also a challenge, status, a place to go, something to do, a something “to belong to”, a sense of security of different kinds. In most countries men and women can now be active in the institutions on a more or less equal basis, especially those that have developed around financial interest. Institutions around beliefs or politics are not necessarily based on equal rights.

We call this emancipation, the equality of rights to have a job for individual financial independence.

The institutionalized world has gradually occupied most of our daily lives and dominates our activities and choices. Emancipation may have ment that we can become economicly independent from other human beings but instead we have also become slaves of a system that has simplified our existance around money dependence. The purpose of this system determines the way institutions interact and how all the people find an occupation. The main institutional purpose is today blindly focus on yet another human invention: money.

The problem we face is that universal standardization of all objectives into financial means has taken our individual attention away from the real fullfilment of our basic requirements. We need financial means to gain access to our needs that are supplied by the system and we serve the system to get our financial means. We are unaware of what the system does to produce our needs and rely on it entirely. All this would be fine if there would not be a financial profitability aspect woven into the system. This makes the system speculative in its operation in order to produce maximum financial benefit for shareholders. There is no morality anymore in the processes because all attention is given to the flow of cash not the consequences of producing the flow. We have made money more important than ourselves. Poverty in the world of financial crises is explained to be “people who have no money”. In reality it are people who have nothing to eat or to live. We cannot eat money and do not live in a bank yet we organized our social dependencies that way. If poverty has food and a place to live they are not poor anymore. It has become of interest of the systen to deprive people from their needs just to get them committed to the financial system of dependency through work and debt. Dependency is control and control is power yet power is in crisis now because this system reached its limits of exploitation. Financial poverty cannot get back into the system even if it wanted to so it needs to become brilliant in finding alternatives to survive. Then people become aware and find new ways of building a complex society based on different values than just money.

A sustainocratic person has become aware of that and also that we keep this destructive “anti-ecosystem” going because of our own dependence on it for our daily needs. This awareness makes us conscious for change. To reduce our dependence we need to let go of it and become independent. That is extremely difficult. Self sufficiency is nearly impossible unless you live in the countryside. And even then you are only self sufficient for food and maybe energy but not for healthcare for instance. A sustainocratic person hence becomes aware that self sufficiency and sustainable progress can not be achieved individually. It needs to be done in cooperation, with expertise on how to deal with it productively.

When one becomes “aware” it becomes also a personal problem to remain inside the old system. It is like being trapped, made hostage in a way and deprived from all freedom while one sees how we destroy our habitat and social relationships. Letting go is a deed that can only be done if assured of some kind of new securities to sustain oneself and those who are close. Sustainocracy provides such security. It becomes a challenge to find people and circumstances to deal with it. To make things even more complicated one finds that the old system is so powerfully present in our lives that it wants to get back to us all the time. Many people suggest a conspiracy against humanity to use humankind for the benefit of a few. In fact we conspire against ourselves by creating and sustaining a powerful culture our of dependency and self interest.

When one is aware of different paradigms one can also find a transformative way between them that satisfies one’s own consciousness within a local practical reality. Finding a new balance of dependence and independence depends very much on the local possibilities that one can find.
I for instance live in a city where houses are built low and we all have a small garden. In theory it should be possible to get sustainable cooperation going for food and energy independence but human psychology interferes just as much as the old system. When surrounded by abundance of an obsolete but still very functional system why would you go to the trouble of producing your own? That would be hard work! It is difficult to see the need to make the effort also when hardly anyone does it.

Still there is a large undercurrent in society that is taking fragmented action. People become active in new mobility systems, grow their own crop, start doing this with solar panels and become conscious on the type of food they eat. Yet all this makes you a local hero but not yet sustainocratic.

You become sustainocratic when you step up your awareness to become “entrepreneur of your own life” in cooperation with other, on the way of creating a new local society. In your quest for self sufficiency you become active in platforms that give you back parts of your daily needs. You get organized in teams that produce direct local value. In fact you are institutionalizing bottom up a new society that focusses on local for local sustainable progress based on basic needs for health, vitality, safety and progression within the challenging posibilities of the local environment. This is time consuming and makes you step away from traditional employment but into a new kind of productivity and reciprocity. Within this personal transformation the art of letting go and accepting new responsibilities is delicate and often complicated. You may feel partly active in both worlds that each have different rules and manners.

When you do so you can also ask existing local institutions to reposition their powers to support you. A sustaincrat like me actively positions himself in the middle of a sustainocracy and invites old power institutions to look up their true value propositions that can be used in my own human based venture. It is a crazy thought for many people that a single individual can surround him or herself with “institutional monsters” of the old paradigm. But it is possible. Such monsters also consist of people who wish to do a purposeful activity and contribution. A hamer is meant to be used as a tool not as a killing instrument. Institutions are meant to produce benefits for humankind and if not they should be repositioned that way. As simple as that. It is democratic human working that makes this happen, as executive, civil servant, entrepreneur, student, medic, worker, parent, pensioner, etc. It becomes also a personal choice to contribute to one or the other purpose. In sustainocratic communities one can become individually active in various purpose driven communities. One is not confined to one job and income but active in various receiving reciprocal means in equal diversity. Money is not a goal anymore, it is one of the many means to an end. Human sustainable progress is the goal starting with local self sufficiency in as many basic needs as possble.

Sustainocracy is developing primarily around sustainocratic people, individuals and executives. Previously we were called cultural creatives due to specific awareness and willingness to adopt change in our lives. Now we connect this willingness to a new kind of commitment that develops outside the present dominance of financial systems. We may introduce new systems of value but they would be cyclic in a local environment. Sustainable progress is difficult for the early pioneers and so is sustainocracy that requires a multidisciplinary approach. As volume and support grows, voluntarily out of consciousness or involuntary due to crises and chaos, it will become easier.

The individual transformation and all the related choices one makes to set up a sustainocratic world also changes the attitude of the institutional world. They need to adapt or find ways to proceed without customers or workforce. In between there will be a challenging transformative time in which both systems coexist and transform in parallel. Think for instance of the foodsystem, now centralized through speculative means of production and distribution. It will grow to decentralized, direct access and with its own value system outside economics focussing on providing people with things to eat in exchange of their participation in the production process. Back to a life of agriculture? In a way, but adjusted to the situation today. Our relation with nature will change as we become aware of our environment. And in the long run we will balanse our lifestyle with climat changes rather than producing them.

A sustainocratic individual becomes a person that enjoys a higher personal awareness (self leadership) in a social system (self sufficiency) that produces sustainable human progress through purpose driven human interaction (cooperation), education and in close partnership with its local environment.

Urgency

When we live our life today we find that we need money to survive. If we take away money we have no access to the seeming abundance that surrounds us. We would have to create it ourselves. Our lifestyle is so complex and filled with gadgets that 100% individual self-sufficiency cannot create the same abundance. We would have to totally change our lifestyle or change way we gain access to the things we cherish in our daily life. This means that for an equivalent lifestyle we would have to transform our society into a new complexity. This only takes place when we start with ourselves.

When I became aware of my own vulnerability in a money driven dependency I needed to learn a whole new set of competences in an attempt to become more and more self-sufficient and therefor independent from money. With my university degrees and 8 spoken languages I could perfectly well get by in the money driven world that valued these talents in a globalizing world of financial speculation and supply chain efficiencies. But when I wanted to grow tomatoes in my back yard I was a total nitwit. In fact, from massive consumer to an independent self-sufficient producer was a frustrating encounter with my own uneducated discapacity.

It became clear to me that a global transformation would go from a highly complex, well organized world around systems of greed into an idealistic world of wellness that did not yet exist. Not because we do not want it to exist or even see the logic of it. Not because we do not have the insight, awareness, scientific knowledge or technology to shape it. We have it all.

No, simply because we lack the personal competences to get it organized. This new society, that needs to provide us with abundance with our direct involvement, is still totally empty. We all need to be re-educated, taken by the hand to show us how it is done, with a new mindset, a new mentality and a new motivation. This I can do for myself because I have the freedom of choice to a certain extend. But 7 billion people mixed up in financial, religious, state and other dogma’s will not come to insight together to stand up and start the change.

Meanwhile our financial markets and dependencies are leading to a point of overall collapse which is eminent. The abundance of today is unsustainable but the sense of urgency to transform is not there. Chance is that our current system collapses even before we have started to shape the new, value driven society. In fact, it has started to collapse already and many people around the world are suffering the consequences. Instead of learning from it and applying the proof to our own circumstances and start the change while we can, we sit back and let it all happen. When we go to the supermarket and find that we have no money we will not be able to buy our bread. But maybe we go to the supermarket and find that there is no bread anymore, even if we have money to buy it. The few remaining pieces of bread will cost a fortune and will feed someone for a day. And then it is over.

The sense of urgency is not just to gain awareness, we need to change our dependencies through self-leadership, acquire new competences and learn how to work together in new complex, value driven systems. And we need to do all this with the opposition of the old systems of dominant power that try to keep us away from taking such actions. This is virtually impossible. Even in the most favorable situation of individual, collective and institutional insight, the transformation will take many years (decades) to take place. And if so then we would need to put all our wit and talents together to avoid immense human suffering around the globe.

“Can do” is not just relative to “Undo” first but to “Let do” and our commitment to join forces and make it happen. Fast in this case is never fast enough. Experience in AiREAS shows that under the right circumstances human co-creation is virtually instant, with instant results. Knowledge how to do it is available, now find the right circumstances.

Note: the right circumstances are – when a local regional government (city, province) is willing to let go of control, including public money, making it available for an independent responsibility (purpose) driven coalition of that same government, scientific institutions, creative innovators and the local population.

How the Content Economy affects you

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.