Ecovillages are intentional communities designed to be environmentally, socially, and/or economically sustainable. The concept gained popularity in the 1960s and 70s when communes became more widespread, although many traditional, rural communities have long engaged in these practices. Following the publication of the landmark study “Ecovillages and Sustainable Communities” by Robert and Diane Gilman in 1991, the first ecovillage conference took place in Findhorn, Scotland (where there is now a thriving ecovillage). Now, more than 400 such communities exist all across the globe.
One common view of human beings is that we are “by nature” selfish, violent, cruel, and untrustworthy, and that, to the extent we manage to restrain these base instincts, it is because we are taught to be generous, and punished if we go around hurting others. Sometimes this view is accompanied by a story about human development: once upon a time, life was nasty, brutish, and short, a war of all against all. Prehistoric human beings were violent barbarians. Fortunately, civilization has gradually brought out the better angels of our nature. Free markets can actually direct humans’ natural selfishness toward socially beneficial ends, and laws backed by the threat of violence are able to ensure that a semblance of order is maintained.
We are living through extraordinary times. Even pre-COVID they were strange, unprecedented in a variety of ways; now more so, crazy in many ways. Among the madness, contradictions and movements for and of change, the detritus of human society is somehow being raised from the shadows into the light of public awareness, apparently impossible to conceal or deny. As well as providing a stage for social goodness and acts of community kindness, the pandemic has functioned as a mirror to a range of social horrors and abuses, failed structures, inept politicians and corrupt methodologies. Nothing new, nothing previously unknown; old issues rooted in divisive attitudes, broken systemic practices and organized methods of conditioning and control made loud.
The small Himalayan country of Bhutan, mainly known for measuring national happiness instead of GDP, is the only carbon-negative country on the planet. Believe it or not, it has only had one single death from COVID-19. Is that a coincidence? Madeline Drexler’s new article in the Atlantic, “The Unlikeliest Pandemic Success Story,” dives into the reasons that Bhutan has managed to fare so well against the novel coronavirus while rich countries and middle-income have struggled to keep it in check. The tiny developing country, landlocked between India and Tibet, wasn’t exactly set up for success. It began 2020 with exactly one PCR machine to test for the virus, according to Drexler’s reporting, and one doctor with advanced training in critical care.
The Productive Workers' Army (EPO) is a grassroots movement composed of Venezuelan workers that came together in 2014. They dedicate their volunteer labor to rescuing various companies that have been paralyzed because of the economic situation which the country is going through, the shortages of spare parts and supplies due to the US blockade, and the various kinds of political destabilization. The movement, with 2,270 members spread across the country, defines itself as "an unconventional army to win an unconventional war." When the EPO is contacted by workers from the company in trouble, those best placed -- according to the sector to be treated and the geographical location of the company -- visit the entity to "diagnose the critical productive knots.”
The impact of COVID19 can already be measured and will be assessed in the future by the striking numbers of people infected, the unacceptable numbers of deaths, the unquestionable damages to the world economy, production, trade, employment and personal income of millions of people. It is a crisis that goes well beyond the scope of health. The pandemic has emerged and spread amidst a scenario previously marked by overwhelming economic and social inequalities within and among nations. With unprecedented migratory and refugee flows, xenophobia and racial discrimination have reemerged. The remarkable advances of science and technology, particularly in the area of health, focus in the pharmaceutical business and commercialization of medicine, rather than in securing the wellbeing and healthy living of majorities.
By Staff of Atlanta Black Star - My mom has told me a story several times of when my dad bartered a painting for bread. He had done a small oil painting of a loaf of bread with a wine bottle based on a local bakery. One day they were hungry and had no money, so he went to the bakery and in exchange for the painting the baker gave him the same daily baked long loaf of bread featured in my dad’s painting. At that time they lived on about $800 a month with only a VA pension and an SSI check. In New York City during the ’80s we used subway tokens in place of dollars at bodegas — a corner store — and with street vendors. My best friend and I stretched our resources on Saturdays by going through together with one token each way on the subway, and then we’d have two tokens to use for lunch. So, we could share a hot dog and a knish from a hot dog vendor. Another example that connects me to the work I’m doing now is the apartment building I grew up in on East 9th Street. My mother gave birth to me and my father delivered me in our apartment in 1978 with everyone from the building there pitching in. Our building went through a long coop conversion process. It was resident self-managed through the ’80s and then formally became a low-income co-op in the early 1990s. I did not know that I lived in a “shared-equity cooperative” until two years ago at a Community Land Trust conference I went to for Cooperation Jackson.
By Pam Brown for Truthout - Left in the hands of Google or Facebook, the "commons" of all our data stand to enhance corporate wealth while creating a surveillance state. But what if the producers of all that content -- us -- developed platforms where users shared ownership of this data and played a role in governance? Could all that socially produced value be used for the common good? Yochai Benkler, author of The Wealth of Networks: How Social Production Transforms Markets and Freedom, says we could be on the verge of a great new tipping point of people power
By Rajesh Makwana for Information Clearing House - Razor-wire fences, detention centres, xenophobic rhetoric and political disarray; nothing illustrates the tendency of governments to aggressively pursue nationalistic interests more starkly than their inhumane response to refugees fleeing conflict and war. With record numbers of asylum seekers predicted to reach Europe this year and a morally acceptable humanitarian response nowhere in sight, the immediate problem is more apparent than ever...
When was the last time you lost yourself? I’m not talking “six beers” kind of lost yourself or “eleven episodes of Gilmore Girls” kind of lost yourself or “somehow six hours on Tumblr” kind of lost yourself. I’m not talking “karaoke” kind of lost yourself unless your karaoke really is that great. I’m talking that immersive, all-emotions-go, timeless kind of lost yourself. Where you feel safe and dangerous all at once. Was it a show? A performance? Were you performing or watching? A rally? A really good dance party? For me? Last Friday. I created a Power Hour of Fun for my birthday party. This was an hour-long, non-stop party of 60 different activities happening in a row. Examples include: A minute of high fives. A minute of trust falls. . .
If there's one thing we American's love, it's a health fad. Whether it's the paleo diet, cross-fit, vitamin supplements or hot-yoga, we gravitate towards just about anything that promises us improved health and well-being. And why shouldn't we? Health is wealth, after all. But what if, despite all of our focus on healthy eating habits and active lifestyles, we were failing to address one of the major health-destroying aspects of modern life? What if all of our work to reduce environmental pollutants and combat unhealthy habits were being undercut by or our failure to address a much more fundamental hazard? New research into the determinants of primate and human health provides strong evidence that this may well be the case. Scientists studying African baboons and UK civil servants have come to the same conclusion, and their results are startling – and startlingly under-reported. What is this neglected risk to our health, this invisible plague that diminishes both our quality and length of life? In a word: Hierarchy. We now know with certainty that rigid hierarchies are bad for the health of everyone in them – except those at the very top. But there’s good news too: according to the World Health Organization, cooperative values and cooperative action are the prescription for combatting these negative effects.