A New Pattern for this Blog

pattern

I have been posting to this blog two or three times a week and occasionally more or less. For the time being, I will be posting only once a week unless something calls for immediate attention. The main reason is the demands of a new project. I will be writing a book with my former student and present colleague, Andy Hoffman. The book, which will take the shape of an extended conversation with Andy asking the questions and commenting on the answers I will provide. It’s not to be as formal as this seems. We tried this format at a conference earlier this year with considerable success. Stanford University Press will be the publisher. We aim to see the book in print in early 2013. The advantage in a book form is that we get to edit the responses. No Twitter to deal with.

The second reason is also load related. I am going to do more teaching and academic stuff this year, especially at the Marlboro College Graduate School MBA in Managing for Sustainability Program. A few other mentally demanding gigs also. I do most of my thinking and learning through my writing, so you may, even with this apology, see my stuff appear more often. As I my recent writing might indicate, the political conversation offers numerous opportunities for sustainability punditry. Conversation may be the wrong word; most of what is being said is monologic and bombastic. I keep asking myself why any of these folks wants to be President, and find little or nothing that would forward the cause of sustainability.

Everyone promises to undo something that came to be because the community of the United States was being torn apart. Growthism will do that every time as it demands more and more commoditization of both the goods we consume and the channels through the goods are delivered. The strident campaigning for what I would call (others have also) radical individualism is another theme that runs opposite to any appreciation for others whether they are. Another nail in the coffin of community.

I reread, The Spirit Level, by Wilkinson and Pickett recently in preparation of a short course I will be giving on “Leading Corporate Sustainability.” Graph after graph show a correlation between income inequality and some form of human or societal bad. The US is almost always at the extreme, and above the trend line. Here is a composite graph for a list of common health and social problems plotted against income inequality. The Occupy protests and encampments raised consciousness of the great schism between the masses of our population and a small plutocratic minority, but didn’t provide information on the serious consequences that these data and others in the book do.

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Sustainability-as-flourishing is what I am fundamentally concerned about. Nothing good is likely to come of all the political and economic talk and change ahead because none of it accounts for the complex, interconnected world we inhabit. Simplistic remedies do not work for solving systemic problems. Bombing the nuclear facilities in Iran will not bring peace to the world; it is likely to drive us in the opposite direction. Neither is going back on the gold standard going to prevent a future financial meltdown. And so on.

OK. That’s all she wrote. I’ll be here again next week.

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