Archive for the Category ◊ Economics ◊

• Sunday, December 22nd, 2013

Source: Kurt Cobb @ Resource Insights

Okay, so let’s think for a minute about the previously announced principle for sustainability: “The non-natural needs to prove its benefits, not the natural.” Think about how deeply conservative that principle is. And, here I mean conservative in what has become an almost archaic sense of the word, that is, to conserve those practices and attitudes which have proven themselves truly sustainable over the ages.

What passes for conservative today is actually a radical political and economic agenda to strip the world of its resources as quickly as possible and turn them into wealth for a small elite. There is absolutely nothing conservative about this program.

But even those who style themselves liberal are typically only a few steps behind their pseudoconservative adversaries. Many of the world’s progressives essentially believe that we should strip the world of its resources as well, only at a more measured rate while sharing the spoils more equitably. Both ways of thinking, however, have modern human society racing toward destruction. And, political liberals–who congratulate themselves for being open to the newest trends–may be even more susceptible to new technologies and methods that come with large hidden costs.

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• Wednesday, April 10th, 2013

Community Supported Agriculture, or CSA’s, are a great way to support local farmers, eat local and organic produce, and make our region more sustainable.

Source: Equiterre

The family farmers in our community supported agriculture (CSA) network are taking orders for the summer season of deliveries. 

From June to October, nearly 100 farms will deliver weekly summer baskets of fresh, locally grown, organic produce to more than 500 drop-off points across the province.


  • 6 to 12 varieties of vegetables in each basket
  • possibility of continuing in the winter (winter basket)
  • option of ordering organic meat

To make it even more convenient for you this year, we are offering more drop-off points at Metro grocery stores, as well as in some Agence métropolitaine de transport (AMT) train stations. 

Sign up now! (In French only, our apologies).

• Wednesday, February 27th, 2013

This is late notice, but here it is anyway:

Source: Equiterre

A talk by Laure Waridel, cofounder of Equiterre, eco-sociologist and author

Wednesday, February 27, 2013
5:00 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.
Concordia University, room H-763
1455 de Maisonneuve Blvd. West

Hardly a day goes by without some new study being published that demonstrates the enormity of the environmental, social and economic challenges – not to say crises – facing humans both individually and collectively. What role can universities play in enhancing the transition towards real sustainability? Laure Waridel argues that building an ecological and social economy is an urgent necessity that will require thinking and action from every discipline. 

For more information, see our events calendar.

Or, please contact the organizer of this event directly:

Andrew Ross
David O’Brien Centre for Sustainable Enterprise
John Molson School of Business
514 848-2424, ext. 5433

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• Tuesday, February 19th, 2013

Adam Werbach has been at the vanguard of the sustainability movement since high school when he founded a national organization of over 30,000 student volunteers who mobilized around environmental projects. A few years later, at the age of 23, he was elected the national President of the Sierra Club – the youngest in its 100+ year history.

In 2004, Adam turned the environmentalism movement on its head by publicly decrying its outdated thinking and lack of progress, given the scope of its mission. He challenged its followers to link their goals to other broad social and economic ones in order to have more impact.

Source: Peak Prosperity

It just does not make sense to constantly make new things from the things we have that are good. It doesn’t make us happy. It is expensive. The formal economy, in durable goods from toasters to bicycles to camping equipment to kids clothing to clothing, is about a trillion dollars a year in the United States  a trillion dollars a year. The informal market for that is much bigger. That means every time you borrow something from your dad, or you give maternity clothes to your sister, or you give a hand-me-down to someone else, or a neighbor borrows a shovel, that happens many, many more times than if you go to a store. It is decreasing, actually, because of the separation that we feel in the communities we live in. What ends up happening is, it is easier to order something on than to ask a neighbor and see if they have it.

What we haven’t seen is the same type of software technology and care and marketing, frankly, to the informal economy as we have in the formal economy. So when we start having the same things, you would expect to see when you go to to know when it is available, to see a picture of it, to be able to get it delivered. The things that you have in your friends’ closets, I think the world is going to start choosing that just because it is easier, it makes sense, it saves money. Actually, in the end, it is more fun to see your friends than to click around online. I actually think it is inevitable. The challenge is, we don’t yet have enough people throwing themselves into it. I think that is why the dialog we are having today is so important and what you are trying to bring about.

Things are the way they are because we made rules to make them like this. We have to change that. We change that with recycling. That has to be a step. Recycling didn’t exist 30 years ago in America. Now most people understand that you don’t throw away valuable resources. Reuse will similarly be a norm. In the same way, we spend lots of care buying things and bringing them into our home. We will understand that maintaining those things and putting them into other people’s hands will be similarly an important and well-respected pathway.

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• Friday, February 01st, 2013

This is a path to true prosperity without any gimmicks or solar panels or fancy technology. It is the path that our ancestors relied upon and it is the path that most indigenous societies use today. We cut out the middlemen (banks, financiers and government) and deal directly with each other to fulfill our needs.

The only trouble is that generosity requires a leap of faith. With the other person reciprocate? Will I be seen as a sucker? Will people laugh at me? And the inner dialog of objections continue…until you realize that you have nothing to lose and a lot to gain.


Silas Hagerty is a gift economy filmmaker in Kezar Falls, Maine. His most recent work is Dakota 38, the moving story of the largest mass execution in US history – - that of 38 Lakota Indians in 1862. He spent years doing the film and had no hesitation in essentially giving it to the Native American community when it was done. It was a natural part of his evolution in doing gift economy projects over many years.

After graduating from film school, Silas was looking for the rungs on the ladder of a conventional film career but began to see his passion for filmmaking could be a gift to be put in the service of others. The shift was powerful. Here’s how Silas explains the change in the way he thought and acted: “If I come into the room and am basically asking ‘how can you help?’ it creates a certain kind of energy. What I challenged myself to do was to walk into every encounter and instead ask, ‘what can I do for you? It’s a completely different energy. That basic structure started to change in me.”

This shift from a “me” to “you” – how can I serve you rather than how can you help me – is radical in today’s context, but really nothing terribly new. Anthropologists remind us that a communal sense has deeper roots than does our modern self-centric, individualistic social structures… has been working in the “pay it forward” arena for more than ten years. Its Karma Kitchen, for instance, has operated in Berkeley, California for several years on a model where patrons are charged nothing, but are told their meal was paid for by the generosity of the person who came before them. They are asked to contribute in order to keep this experiment going. And it not only has kept going for several years, but has inspired similar restaurants in Chicago and Washington DC. The gift economy model here is something like a large circle spooling forward. Though patrons don’t know each other, their mutual generosity is essential to keeping the restaurant alive. They, in a sense, are paying each other and learning that generosity does indeed beget generosity. This builds trust that ripples outward, a trust in generosity that does not remain within the confines of the restaurant. The collateral good here is incalculable.

• Saturday, January 19th, 2013

The Bleak Picture of Endless GrowthThis is a quote from a very powerful interview with Richard Heinberg about his newest book, Energy: Overdevelopment and the Delusion of Endless Growth.

The debate in our politics has been: how can we get more energy resources and how can we grow the economy so that we can produce more jobs and more prosperity. Of course, there is never any consideration (in mainstream media or politics) about the sustainability of this policy of more, more, more…it just isn’t questioned.

Heinberg’s new book is a heavy tome of large photographs that show the physical affects of this policy of endless growth on our Earth, on our natural world. And the pictures are very bleak, depressing and dark. This is our future if we continue on this path of more, more more.

We must start to act like adults rather than children who insist on more, more, more without considering the consequences.


Endless growth is a delusion with consequences…The spiral of climate change, peak energy, and economic crisis, with author Richard Heinberg. Fresh interview on giant new book “Energy: Overdevelopment and the Delusion of Endless Growth”. Followed by speech to Chicago Bioneers “Life After Growth: Why the Economy Is Shrinking and What to Do About It”.

Eye-popping, jaw-dropping, – I’m out of words to describe the tsunami of agencies and experts admitting our troubles are bigger than our brains.

• Thursday, August 30th, 2012

time bankWhile the old adage, “Time is Money” may hold true in a World where money rules our lives, time is really the only commodity we truly own. Time is far more valuable than money.

When people run out of money, they resourcefully turn to their other assets of value, like time, and look to maximize its usefulness. That’s where the concept of time banks come in.

There are no active time banks in Montreal or Quebec, according to the Time Bank Community Directory, although the NDG Time Bank was started here in 2009.

Source: Wall Street Journal

Even though she’s one of millions of young, unemployed Spaniards, 22-year-old Silvia Martín takes comfort in knowing that her bank is still standing behind her. It’s not a lending institution, but rather a time bank whose nearly 400 members barter their services by the hour.

Ms. Martín, who doesn’t own a car and can’t afford taxis, has relied on other time-bank members to give her lifts around town for her odd jobs and errands, as well as to help with house repairs. In return, she has cared for members’ elderly relatives, organized children’s parties and even hauled boxes for a member moving to a new house.

The time bank not only saves her cash, she says, but also lifts her spirits by making her feel “part of a community that’s taking some positive action during hard times.”

As Europe’s leaders struggle with a five-year-old economic crunch that has saddled Spain with the industrialized world’s highest jobless rate, young Spaniards are increasingly embracing such bottom-up self-help initiatives to cope. The diverse measures—some commonly associated with rural or disaster-zone economies—supplement a public safety net that is fraying under government austerity programs.

Research Credit: Cryptogon

• Saturday, August 04th, 2012

Joel Salatin, one of the most visible and influential leaders in the organic food and sustainable farming movement makes a simple argument for how each of us can make a difference in the way food is produced and the way the land is farmed to unsustainable levels.

It starts with one of us cooking at home with raw ingredeents. That is ecological participation.

Source: Peak Prosperity

It is a busy time for the local food movement. We need to be busy because there is a tremendous amount of pushback from the industry and the entrenched food system that is not happy losing market share to people like us and losing people to their dependency on Velveeta cheese and Coca-Cola.

And so that is why voting with your food dollar whether it is to find your farmer, grow your own garden, or go down to farmer’s market or to the roadside stand or whatever, any of these things.

The thing is, we need to just kick the supermarket addiction. Treat it like a bad habit and get in our kitchens. The number one thing you can do is get in your kitchen and cook from scratch. Because that takes the dollar away from all the food processors and all that distribution-food-processing network that is all devoted to taking the life out of food and making sure food will not perish or will not rot, extending the shelf life.

The longer the shelf life is on food, the less nutritious it is. So re-develop your larder. Enjoy culinary, domestic arts, and begin — one bite at a time — extricating yourself from the agenda of people that if you knew what they actually believe, it would curl your hair.

And the fact that we have given over to the government the safety of our food — I mean, we are talking about people who think it is much safer to feed your kids Twinkies, Cocoa Puffs, and Mountain Dew than raw milk, compost-grown tomatoes, and pastured poultry.

This is just unprecedented in the history of the world, and we are a culture of guinea pigs. Nobody has you by the throat. To make the changes that we described today do not take an act of Congress. They do not take a change in the legislature. They do not take a change in the tax law. What they take are individuals to make committed, participatory, convictional decisions and change the landscape of our culture.

• Monday, June 25th, 2012

Walkable Neighborhoods more ValuableThis isn’t really news to Montrealers, but it is still good to see the validation from the States.

Source: Smart Growth America

The most valuable real estate today is in walkable urban locations – and that’s a stark change from only a decade ago.

That is one of the principal findings of a new report from the Brookings Institution. Walk this Way:The Economic Promise of Walkable Places in Metropolitan Washington, D.C. is an economic analysis of the neighborhoods in and surrounding our nation’s capital.

“Emerging evidence points to a preference for mixed-use, compact, amenity-rich, transit-accessible neighborhoods or walkable places,” the report explains, noting that consumer preferences have shifted and that demand for walkable housing is outpacing supply, thus contributing to higher property values.

“A Life of Walking vs. Driving,” via the New York Times.

These popular neighborhoods are also economic powerhouses. Walkable neighborhoods perform better economically, perform better commercially, have higher housing values and had lower capitalization rates during the recent recession than their suburban counterparts, according to the report.


• Thursday, June 21st, 2012

Resistance, Revolution, Liberation: A Model for Positive Change (print $18)
(Kindle eBook $9.95)

Source: Oftwominds

We are like passengers on the Titanic ten minutes after its fatal encounter with the iceberg: though our financial system seems unsinkable, its reliance on debt and financialization has already doomed it. We cannot know when the Central State and financial system will destabilize, we only know they will destabilize. We cannot know which of the State’s fast-rising debts and obligations will be renounced; we only know they will be renounced in one fashion or another.

The process of the unsustainable collapsing and a new, more sustainable model emerging is called revolution, and it combines cultural, technological, financial and political elements in a dynamic flux.History is not fixed; it is in our hands. We cannot await a remote future transition to transform our lives. Revolution begins with our internal understanding and reaches fruition in our coherently directed daily actions in the lived-in world.

Category: Collapse, Economics | Tags:  | Leave a Comment