Wednesday, January 18, 2006

The Simpler Way

I swiped this from the Energy Bulletin, and I'm adding Ted Trainer's site to the "resources" section. Ted's essay offers extensive solutions. Bookmark it for a glum day.

The Simpler Way
Ted Trainer, personal website

...Problems of ecological destruction, Third World poverty, resource depletion, conflict and social breakdown are caused by consumer-capitalist society and cannot be solved unless we move to simpler lifestyles, more self-sufficient and cooperative ways, and a very different economy, i.e., The Simpler Way, discussed in section two.

There is now a Global Alternative Society Movement in which many small groups are building settlements of the required kind. The final section argues that the top priority for people concerned about the fate of the planet should be building these new lifestyles and systems within existing towns and suburbs.

...Living more simply does not mean deprivation or hardship. It means focusing on what is sufficient for comfort, hygiene, efficiency etc. Most of our basic needs can be met by quite simple and resource-cheap devices and ways, compared with those taken for granted and idolised in consumer society.Living in materially simple ways can cut enormous amounts off the money a person needs to earn.

...Living in ways that minimise resource use should not be seen as an irksome effort that must be made in order to save the planet. These ways can and must become important sources of life satisfaction. We have to come to see as enjoyable many activities such as living frugally, recycling, growing food, "husbanding" resources, making rather than buying, composting, repairing, bottling fruit, giving old things to others, making things last, and running a relatively self-sufficient household economy. The Buddhist goal is a life "simple in means but rich in ends."(January 2006)

One of most difficult challenges in sustainability is to break free of the prevailing worldview and imagine an alternative. Longtime sustainability visionary, Ted Trainer (Faculty of Arts, University of N.S.W., Australia), has been working out
his ideas for many years. Recently he reformulated his ideas into a new format. Each of the three sections can be viewed individually:

Part 1: The Situation
Part 2: The Alternative, Simpler, Way.
Part 3: The Transition Process (and notes.)

Parts 2 and 3 I find to be the more interesting, since they deal with specific solutions. Those who find Trainer's ideas outlandish might be surprised by the success of the Amish who have lived the Simpler Way for hundreds of years. (See Amish FAQs and Plain Technology (MIT Technology Review).)Many more of Trainer's works re available at his website. (I wish he would date his articles -- it's hard to tell what's new in his long list of publications!). -BA

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