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Author Topic: Small is Beautiful  (Read 1574 times)

Aporia_filia

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Small is Beautiful
« on: September 10, 2016, 01:27:55 PM »
An editorial article from The Guardian called my attention a couple of days ago:
https://www.theguardian.com/technology/raspberry-pi

The Guardian was using the title of a book that I was about to use as the title of this new subject: "Small is Beautiful"
This would show some of the youngsters in this blog that the idea of controlling our growth was already significant in the old 70's. I recommend a re-read. It also give us a perspective to see how strong is the inertia of human development.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Small_Is_Beautiful

There are a few threads in this walking the walk that point in the same direction: what to do.
Not eating meat, not using FF, etc. I find they are a bit too obvious attitudes with little and slow effect (don't stop putting them on practice!). On the other hand if we try to change the basis of our relations with the rest of the society this might have a more profound effects. They are in the spirit of Small is Beautiful.

The first thing to do (for those who can), in my opinion, is to turn our backs to traditional banking.
Take all your money out of them!!! And use ethical banking!!!
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ethical_banking

My longer than 15 years experience with ethical banks is fantastic. As an example I had between 3-5% profits on my savings every year, being the less important advantage of the system.

Another important step is probably shown here:
https://www.theguardian.com/global-development-professionals-network/2016/sep/10/soil-our-best-shot-at-cooling-the-planet-might-be-right-under-our-feet

which also could be posted in the gardening thread.
« Last Edit: September 10, 2016, 01:54:24 PM by Aporia_filia »

Jim Hunt

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Re: Small is Beautiful
« Reply #1 on: September 10, 2016, 03:56:57 PM »
Reality is merely an illusion, albeit a very persistent one - Albert Einstein

Bruce Steele

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Re: Small is Beautiful
« Reply #2 on: September 10, 2016, 07:06:46 PM »
Walking this back.  I keep thinking somewhere some group of humans needs to agree on containing themselves to some defined area and living off the available resources contained there. If I have learned anything about energy use as a farmer it is distance and speed derail subsistence / sustainability. Because it becomes impossible to both live modern lives and live by modern governance, food safety rules , marketing constraints ( trading resources for money ) pollution standards ( like no fireplaces / wood burning because smoke ) lack of common areas for food gathering ,taxes, sewage rules etc. etc. I think deconstructing our lives and lifestyles to live small is basically illegal.
 We need new rules of governance with a overarching goal of resource
sustainability, minimization of transport, and minimization or elimination of trade outside a prescribed physical boundary. Hard limits to resource extraction with rebuilding plans for resources that have been overused or have declined because of climate. In fishing we define overfishing as fishing when a stock has declined to < 25% of virgin biomass. Once that threshold is exceeded a rebuilding plan closes all take until the stock has recovered to + 60 % of virgin biomass.
 So I propose a group of humans agrees to live within a defined region, live off the resources available there, not accept trade or export, and agree on a set of governance that focuses all efforts at small is beautiful and zero fossil fuels. Somehow the progress of that group should be available to a larger audience with the goal to repeat and convert as much land as possible into "island" societies. Population will of necessity be part of a governance guideline but how that is achieved should be flexible while at the same time limiting population expansion beyond available resources.

sidd

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Re: Small is Beautiful
« Reply #3 on: September 10, 2016, 08:59:01 PM »
" ... a group of humans agrees to live within a defined region, live off the resources available there, not accept trade or export, and agree on a set of governance that focuses all efforts at small is beautiful and zero fossil fuels."

Sounds Amish. They do trade, but the priority is to make everything they can, keep it inside the community is the motto. Some do it without a grid connection.

And some  have electric and cellfones and combines and ... depends on the local bishop and elders. I know some who swing millions of dollars in grains every year, but dont have electric in their homes, or use anything but animal power for personal transport.

sidd

Iceismylife

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Re: Small is Beautiful
« Reply #4 on: September 10, 2016, 09:21:15 PM »
...
 We need new rules of governance with a overarching goal of resource
sustainability, minimization of transport, and minimization or elimination of trade outside a prescribed physical boundary.

...
Transportation eats up 1/4 of our carbon usage.

Protectionism. CO2 based.  Not one world economy any more.

The best pedal powered bike in the world would get 2,000mpg at 60mph if powered by gasoline.  Six hundred mpg at 50 mph is doable for a one seat-er sacrificing some performance for usability.

Wood gasification should reduce pollution from wood burning.  You can run it through an engine with a catalytic converter and get close to zero emissions.

Aporia_filia

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Re: Small is Beautiful
« Reply #5 on: September 16, 2016, 03:25:55 PM »
Thanks Jim, didn't see the biochar thread before your advise. I had heard of it, and find it a very interesting issue to study. But there Bruce comes and tell the truth about where are the main problems we find. Laws and taxes are designed  for industrial production.
Small is beautiful is not compatible with such a design.
About the 'isolated group of people' that Bruce said, yeah, sounds Amish, and I pretty much dislike the religious idea. Just take religion out and it might work. Or not!?

A few years ago there was a study about how kibutz did evolve in Israel. It was interesting and focus in human relationships. It was published in a psychology magazine. (sorry again, I don't have the source, but the magazine is from Scientific American editors, called in Spanish "Mente y Cerebro") The kibutz could well be a kind of Bruce's proposal, not forgetting that their intention was not to cut emissions, it was just a matter of idilic survival but had the 'isolated group' coincidence.
What they found was very interesting. There were basically 2 kind of kibutz: the lay-kibutz and the religious kibutz. The lay ones were formed mostly by hippie type people and the religious ones were formed by strict Jewish orthodoxes. The study was done more than 30 years after they started and did show that almost all the lay kibutz had collapsed while the religious ones were still going on.
Why? They found that lay ones had suffered from social instability from the very beginning, something that did not happened in the religious ones. They could explain this saying that in the lay groups there were people who's intention was to live from the others, not willing to share hard work or restrictions imposed by the events. This kind of parasitic behaviour was poisonous enough to break social equilibrium and end up in factions and conflicts.
In the strict religious groups unity and cooperation was the rule and there were no parasitic members because, to start with, no one of this kind of people would like to join a group of people where social rules are so strict.

So back again to the simple theory. Is a matter of symbiosis instead of parasitism.   

I would like to share more time with you guys in this forum, but it's difficult to find free time, or not to be too tired to try to write in English.

Martin Gisser

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Re: Small is Beautiful
« Reply #6 on: December 11, 2016, 08:59:50 PM »
The study was done more than 30 years after they started and did show that almost all the lay kibutz had collapsed while the religious ones were still going on.
Why? They found that lay ones had suffered from social instability from the very beginning, something that did not happened in the religious ones. They could explain this saying that in the lay groups there were people who's intention was to live from the others, not willing to share hard work or restrictions imposed by the events. This kind of parasitic behaviour was poisonous enough to break social equilibrium and end up in factions and conflicts.
In the strict religious groups unity and cooperation was the rule and there were no parasitic members because, to start with, no one of this kind of people would like to join a group of people where social rules are so strict.

It is a pity that such projects require religious fervor, if not coercion, to work. Here is my idea: Replace the supernatural religious metaphysics by a radical earth-directed ethics:

Thou shalt live carbon negative. (N.B.: Carbon neutral was yestercentury's sustainababble.)

Maybe it might work if a community is dedicated the purpose of contributing to sustaining the climate. Maybe that requires too much scientific radicalism. I'm actually hoping to find some moderate (secular) Buddhist community where the 2 hindrances are understood: Not carbon negative, no bodhisattva. Not carbon negative, no sangha.
Why is the earth silent at this destruction? (Martin Heidegger ca. 1937)

anotheramethyst

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Re: Small is Beautiful
« Reply #7 on: December 30, 2016, 09:19:27 AM »
A few years ago there was a study about how kibutz did evolve in Israel. It was interesting and focus in human relationships. It was published in a psychology magazine. (sorry again, I don't have the source, but the magazine is from Scientific American editors, called in Spanish "Mente y Cerebro") The kibutz could well be a kind of Bruce's proposal, not forgetting that their intention was not to cut emissions, it was just a matter of idilic survival but had the 'isolated group' coincidence.
What they found was very interesting. There were basically 2 kind of kibutz: the lay-kibutz and the religious kibutz. The lay ones were formed mostly by hippie type people and the religious ones were formed by strict Jewish orthodoxes. The study was done more than 30 years after they started and did show that almost all the lay kibutz had collapsed while the religious ones were still going on.
Why? They found that lay ones had suffered from social instability from the very beginning, something that did not happened in the religious ones. They could explain this saying that in the lay groups there were people who's intention was to live from the others, not willing to share hard work or restrictions imposed by the events. This kind of parasitic behaviour was poisonous enough to break social equilibrium and end up in factions and conflicts.
In the strict religious groups unity and cooperation was the rule and there were no parasitic members because, to start with, no one of this kind of people would like to join a group of people where social rules are so strict.

So back again to the simple theory. Is a matter of symbiosis instead of parasitism.   

I wonder if their conclusion is wrong.  I just watched a documentary about a planned environmentalist community, which did well in the single year that the documentary covered, but it got me thinking.  I grew up in a town of about 400 people, and I live in a different town now, but here I have a very large extended family with a long history of shared traditions.  I have always had community, and I see that most people in the modern world don't.  A planned community of any kind is essentially a community of strangers, and you should expect the exact same types of problems that you would have if you built a large family out of complete strangers.  In a religious community, there is clearly defined leadership based on established traditions and a shared culture.  In environmental communes, everyone is basically winging it.  There's nothing wrong with that, because you have to start somewhere, but you have to realize that you're starting at the very beginning trying to build a tribe out of total strangers.  You can help mitigate some of these effects by building an emotional sense of community by starting your own traditions and rituals (repeated group behaviors with emotional significance, not necessarily religious).  You need to have clear leadership and goals, and you need to clearly state the rules and consequences of breaking them.  Every group that tries this helps make it easier for other groups to follow, as long as they share their successes and failures with the world.  Your traditions define you as a group.  You need to build a group that speaks to people at a deeply tribal, emotional level to build the type of loyalty that makes group cohesion kick in as a governing force.  Working together, celebrating together, building a group identity through traditions and storytelling, and having very clear behavioral boundaries all help create a tribe, a real community.   

anotheramethyst

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Re: Small is Beautiful
« Reply #8 on: December 30, 2016, 09:23:21 AM »
Also, I forgot to mention, if you come from a background where fossil fuels do all the work for you, and you're transitioning to a lifestyle that does not use them, everyone is going to continually underestimate the amount of work and labor involved until they get used to it.  Traditional farmers work from sun up to past dark during the planting and harvest, and much of the growing season as well.  Then winter is a time of rest.  The upside is if everyone accepts this from the beginning and does there share without any drama, then nobody has to deal with a boss or the profits of their own labor going to some higher-ups who don't do as much. 

Aporia_filia

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Re: Small is Beautiful
« Reply #9 on: February 09, 2017, 12:16:00 PM »
Anot. what you said about 'making' a tribe is truth. And what you tell in your last post is exactly what happened to me when I moved to my actual place.
Fifty years ago, here people used to work every bodies land. Work was so hard that is was much easier to join forces and do it all together. Later each one had his part.
Now when they see me changing all diesel engines for electric PV ones, they think I'm a perfect idiot for loosing my time (new engines are not as powerful and fast) and my money. (still the investment is not that different in terms of money, agro diesel is heavily subsidized)

TerryM

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Re: Small is Beautiful
« Reply #10 on: February 09, 2017, 04:59:41 PM »
I grew up in a tiny village of ~50 families. What I worry about is the length of time it takes for a newcomer to gain acceptance.
 
Many have plans of skipping out to a cooler, wetter, dryer, smaller, place when it hits the fan. If that place is an extant village it could take generations before being allowed full membership in the community. Those used to city life where strangers flow in and out of existence with little concern on others part may not be prepared for the kind xenophobia that a close knit village can exhibit.


Terry