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Our WEAll member, the Post Growth Institute, recently shared a fantastic article on how we can reprogram our economic operating system to ensure a sustainable future – by adopting an indigenous worldview.

The United Nations estimates that indigenous territories cover approximately 20 percent of the Earth’s landmass. This 20 percent landmass stewarded by indigenous peoples amazingly contains 80 percent of the world’s remaining biodiversity.

The indigenous worldview has been marginalised for generations because it was seen as antiquated and unscientific and its ethics of respect for Mother Earth were in conflict with the Industrial worldview … But now, in this time of climate change and massive loss of biodiversity we understand that the indigenous worldview is neither unscientific nor antiquated, but is, in fact, a source of wisdom that we urgently need.

As the article explains, we can adjust or un-choose. Read about the two adjustments in our worldview that can help us work toward a more sustainable economy – and world.

This is an event report from the first in-person workshop of the ‘What’s the Story?’ project, held in London (UK) on Friday 6 March 2020.

‘What’s the Story?’ emerged as a collaborative effort instigated by WEAll and our members the Green Economy Coalition (GEC), and executed by The Spaceship Earth. Its goal is to create the space for new economy stories to spur the co-design of a wellbeing economy. The event in London on March 6 was the first ‘creative design sprint’ in this story crafting process.

By Anna Chrysopoulou

‘What’s the story?’ by Friday Future Love was an innovative, challenge-based experience to turn thinking into ideas with the participation of a diverse audience including artists, photographers, graphic designers, ad creatives, TV producers and marketers.

As outlined on the day, current issues such as climate and ecological emergency, and rising inequalities are linked by “old stories about our economy, which have given us absurd beliefs, deeply rooted on our culture, that demand unfit policies which sustain those stories”.

So, our economic system on its present form is a real Catch-22. It is urgent, therefore, to have a new approach by “creating new stories, that gives us good beliefs, so we demand proper policies and design a better economy for all life”.

It’s now time to reflect:

  • How do we relate to nature?
  • What is our economy’s priority?
  • How should we measure success?

These questions were thoroughly discussed by the attendees who all agreed on the importance of reconnecting with our natural environment, recognising that not only are humans part of nature, but nature is also part of us. It was suggested we should change the rewards mechanisms and find alternatives to our perception of success. For instance, success could be considered to reduce the use of materials, costs and time, to have a 6-hour working day, or achieve building a more local economy.

This discussion led to the next challenge: find new concepts and explore more deeply how these could be formed and communicated.

What would the outcome of this challenge be when creative people are in the same room? New stories, of course!

Imagine a new sci-fi series showing humans connecting with each other and nature by using a chip; a ‘Good Ancestor Fund’, where part of one’s salary could go to converting land into a forest for the benefit of future generations. Think of ‘reclaiming the bank holiday’ when families could spend time together planting trees; the introduction of a parallel pricing system showing the monetary worth of the true value of a product taking into consideration the loss of natural resources. An exhibition where the audience could look back on what went wrong in order to avoid the same actions in the future; a new myth where the tooth fairy does not replace the lost tooth with money, but the tooth has to be planted. Finally, think of a concept when we should ensure that everyone has enough of what is needed, or a dinner where guests represent a certain percentage of the population in terms of economic worth and meals are served proportionately.

All these ideas expressed by this brilliant audience lead to the conclusion that a gathering of like-minded individuals can create fantastic new stories, and Fridays are indeed for people and the planet!

What we talk about when we talk about a wellbeing economy

By Claire Sommer for the Wellbeing Economy Alliance

 

 

There’s a famous book of short stories by American author Raymond Carver called What We Talk About When We Talk About Love. Published in 1981, the book is an impressionistic whole created from 17 short stories about love.

The title captures the challenge of talking about something truly undefinable, by offering 17 stories with differing perspectives.

In the same way, our Wellbeing Economy Alliance community faces the challenge of describing a wellbeing economy and how to talk about it.

Earlier this year, Lisa Hough-Stewart and Katherine Trebeck asked for my help to distill key points from content developed by members into a simple set of high-level statements. These “anchor statements” are meant to help align our website and brochure, and create stronger pathways to all of our resources and content. 

We started with three key assumptions:

  1. We need simple, easier-to-understand language that helps people see themselves in our work, and want to know more. These points open the door for conversations and understanding.
  2. We need bullets that help us all succinctly articulate what a wellbeing economy means, to the greatest number of people – in short, easy-to-understand language. 
  3. The perspective we used is that WEALL says the What and our members create the How with campaigns, asks, and actions. WEAll supports our members.

The first draft turned into a fascinating conversation with members of the WEAll Narratives cluster via Slack, with members contributing suggestions and improvements from all over the world. It’s my pleasure to share just some of the wonderful contributions from the community below.

First, here are the five key points we landed on.

WEAll need…
  1.     Dignity: Everyone has enough to live in comfort, safety and happiness
  2.     Nature: A restored and safe natural world for all life
  3.      Connection: A sense of belonging and institutions that serve the common good
  4.     Fairness: Justice in all its dimensions at the heart of economic systems, and the gap between the richest and poorest greatly reduced
  5.     Participation: Citizens are actively engaged in their communities and locally rooted economies

While quite simple, we believe that these points are a sturdy set of wheels to help convey the Wellbeing Economy Alliance members’ initiatives and scholarship to more people and where we wish to go together. As Chris Riedy wrote, “When we faithfully carry these principles through into actual policies and programs, we do end up with proposals that are very different to what we have now.”

The first quality of Dignity came to mind from Donna Hick’s 2011 book of the same name, and Michael Pirson’s application of dignity as a pillar of Humanistic Management. In Slack, Martin Oetting added another nuance by noting that “dignity” is the first article of the German constitution: “Human dignity shall be inviolable. To respect and protect it shall be the duty of all state authority.” 

The second point about how to include Nature, or the natural world, grew from contributions by Dan Feldman to help us remember to seat ourselves as inextricably part of Nature, rather than separate from human society. We hope that “We all need nature” does this in an intuitive way.

Connection came into the list as an improvement on the less inspiring “collaboration” and helped us raise up “belonging”-ness as essential to wellbeing.

In the last point, we thank Juliana Essen as well as others for helping Participation enter the conversation. “Participation signifies active engagement, and there’s lots of research, for example in the field of deliberative democracy, that talks about how to create truly participatory processes that value difference and negotiate power differentials,” she wrote. “That’s the kind of participation we want.”

Keeping ourselves to a handful of statements was a challenge. We hope the inclusion of “happiness” in the first point is flexible enough to embrace meaning-finding, art, and whatever else people may need to enjoy life. We invite your reflections and comments about these five points on Slack, to lisa@WellbeingEconomy.org, or me at claire.sommer@grli.org

 

The biggest story yet to be told – how we transform our economies
  • If advertisers were selling a more sustainable future to the mass public, how might they do it?
  • If film-makers, musicians, poets, and journalists were tasked with making a sustainable and just economy resonate with their audiences, how might they tell that story?
  • How can the vision of a new economy that protects people and restores the planet start to feel real, relevant and desirable to the average citizen?

Social and environmental crises have already started to take hold around the world. Yet there seems to be no public narrative that explains how we can fix our predicament. We lack a story of solutions. Two global networks working on economic transformation – the Green Economy Coalition and the Wellbeing Economy Alliance (WEAll) – have come together to build that new narrative. We and our partners recognise that before change can happen, we need a convincing and credible story of change.

Our ambition is to tell the story of transition to a better economy, a better environment, and a better future for everyone. We want to convene some of the best communicators out there and inspire them to tell this story: the biggest story yet to be told.

By “communicators”, we mean everyone from the commercial space (marketing, advertising, social media, public relations professionals), to the cultural space (film makers, script-writers, musicians, artists), to the media (journalists, bloggers, writers, photographers), and beyond.

Although both the Green Economy Coalition and WEAll are global in scope, we plan to first pilot an approach in the UK (more on that within the Terms of Reference). Defining key messages and audiences will be a key first step.

We know that our mission is bold and will take time and resources. But existing narratives are failing to inspire sufficient action, and time is short. We have some initial seed funding to kick-start our approach, and we will leverage further contributions from funders and industry as we get underway.

That’s where you come in.

Who are we looking for?

We are looking for an exceptional person or organisation, based in the UK, to help us get this mission underway. You will know the media / marketing / comms world intimately, and are happy to draw on those contacts. You are:

  • Well connected in the ad / marketing / cultural space;
  • Skilled in developing compelling briefs that would appeal to comms professionals, businesses and industries;
  • Confident and experienced in convening and leading collaborative working sessions;
  • A bold and imaginative thinker able to take this idea as far as it can go;
  • Experienced in identifying the right audiences and executing delivery of campaigns.

Download the full Terms of Reference here for full details on the proposed project and how to apply.