16 June 2009

A Sustainable Future

Posted by Admin under: Creation; Evolution; Forum; Future; History; Religion; Science; Story; Sustainability .

Our friend Dwight Collins has recently published – through his Collins Foundation Press – “The Evolutionary Epic: Science’s Story and Humanity’s Response,” a book which discusses the new “creation story” which has emerged in the last few years from our growing scientific understanding of the universe and our concurrent reflections on the human condition.

In the publisher’s foreword he writes:

A recent Worldwatch Institute study indicates that in about 1985, humanity’s “ecological footprint,” a measure of the rate at which we are consuming the Earth’s resources, began to exceed the rate at which the Earth is able to renew them. This disparity continues to grow. A majority of our natural scientists worldwide agree that we have begun to witness the first major collapse of species diversity since an asteroid collided with the Earth 65 million years ago.

A June 2008 special issue of National Geographic states that “the scientific consensus on the basic facts of climate change is virtually unanimous. Hard data such as temperature records, CO2 concentrations, and sea level rise, can’t be denied.” These facts indicate that all living species have entered a new era of uncertainty and intensified challenge for survival that is unprecedented in human history. Humans have difficulty perceiving most of these changes because the time frame of our lives is so short relative to the time frames over which environments and civilizations collapse.

If we accept that this new reality – although most people remain unable to fully comprehend it – is already upon us, then we have an obligation to begin to act in new ways. We need, first of all, to fully comprehend what is happening, and get others to recognize it as well.

We then have a choice to make: do we work to preserve our species, and seek to restore the ecology to a self-sustaining level, or do we merely stand by while nature takes its course, and either removes us completely from the picture or severely impoverishes our world?

This is not  a rhetorical question. Every individual must now take a stand. He or she must choose whether, and if so when and how, to take meaningful action. The alternative is to to go into denial or distraction, and to face this “new era of uncertainty and intensified challenge for survival” anyway, or to leave this fate to one’s children.

It is arguable, of course, whether humans are worth preserving, or even deserve to survive. Our species is, as both history and religion teach us, severely flawed. We are frequently cruel to one another; obsessed with materialism, status, and advantage; responsible for creating pollution and toxic wastes, harming our own health and that of others; unjust, bellicose, and self-destructive. We are also, however, as David Christian writes in the book, “the only creatures of which we know that can begin to grasp the story of the universe,” the first species “in our tiny corner of the universe, [to] represent the universe becoming aware of itself.”

So if for no other reason – and there are other reasons as well, such as the fact that we create art, and understand kindness and beauty, and are frequently inclined to collaborate – this alone makes our species worth preserving, and worth redeeming. And if we accept this conclusion, then we need to press forward with the kinds of actions that we know will make a difference.

The Sustainable Leadership Forum is one such action. It is a place to support each other, to deepen our awareness, to grow our resources, to expand our reach, to invent new forms of organization and new forms of being.

Dwight Collins writes,

The difference between our time and times past is that humans have developed a rich culture of scientific inquiry, much of it in just the last few centuries. Science has generated technology that has enabled humankind, in the geological blink of an eye, to establish dominion over the Earth. Relatively recent discoveries confirm that we are but one of many interdependent parts of a complex web of life on our planet and that we can no longer consider our natural resources to be infinite supply. It is clear that certain human behaviors seriously jeopardize the base of natural resources on which we depend for survival. Unlike earlier cultures, we know that we are destroying the means of our survival.

The importance of the new “creation story,” or the “new cosmology,” or “the universe story,” or “big history,” is that it gives us a meaningful context within which to take action. It offers us an alternative understanding of ourselves, and of our world, that helps to make meaningful action possible. It allows us to distinguish what is productive, life-giving, and creative, from what is destructive, soul-destroying, and repressive. It gives us a framework in which to ask the important questions, and to seek together to find the most powerful, most genuine, and most enduring answers.

Throughout history, humanity has found solace, wisdom, inspiration, and calls to action in the form of rich stories. The world’s great mythologies and religious traditions have enabled humans to join together in great numbers to take action on behalf of values and causes having little connection with imminent physical danger. Yet, however helpful they may be, these great stories have never before been asked to provide guidance in coping with the global challenges we now face. Nor have the stories had the benefit of the facts that science has recently revealed. This does not diminish the stories’ value, but it gives us the opportunity to write a new story, one that might help us evade our own global civilization’s proverbial “end-time.”

The Sustainable Leadership Forum is an outgrowth of, and a vehicle for, communicating this new story. It is actually one of many such organizations, of various different kinds, and we’re happy to align ourselves with them and work to support their growth and wider recognition. But we believe there is room for this group as a consciously-created, organizationally experimental, uncompromisingly transformational, leadership network, and we invite you to join us in this undertaking.

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Past Events

Correction: We'll be hosting this year's holiday potluck — "Bringing Solar Power Home for the Holidays" — on Saturday, December 15, 2012 from 4 to 9 p.m. Click here for more details. RSVP to [email protected].
Saturday, November 17, 2012, 10 a.m. Eastern: Sustainable Neighborhood & Community Conversations (III).
Saturday, October 13, 2012, 10 a.m. Eastern: Transforming Neighborhoods and Communities II.
Saturday, September 8, 2012, 10 a.m. Eastern: Transforming Neighborhoods & Communities.
Saturday, June 16, 2012: SLF Potluck June 16: Sustainable Living Communities.
The Sustainable Haiti Conference took place April 23-25, 2012 in Miami.
"Inside Job" Movie Party. Saturday, February 11th, 6:00 PM, Liberty Ridge, The Hills, Bernards Twp, Basking Ridge, NJ 07920.
2nd 'Buy Haitian, Restore Haiti Conference', January 26, 2012, Karibe Convention Center, Petion Ville, Haiti
Dec 11 SLF Potluck: "Bringing Sustainability Home for the Holidays" Basking Ridge, NJ. RSVP to [email protected].
Saturday, July 9, 2011, 4 p.m. Open House Party & Potluck, Saturday, July 9, 4 p.m., Basking Ridge, NJ.
RSVP to [email protected]
Saturday, May 21, 1-4 p.m. EcoCenter Update. At the Morristown EcoCenter, 55 Bank Street, Morristown, NJ 07960.
Saturday, April 16, 1-4 p.m. "Haiti & Us: The Leading Edge of Sustainable Development." At the Morristown EcoCenter, 55 Bank Street, Morristown, NJ 07960. A copy of the update presentation has been posted here.
Saturday, March 19, 1-4 p.m. "Creating the Morristown EcoCenter." Held at 55 Bank Street, Morristown, the site of the proposed EcoCenter.
Saturday, February 19, 1-4 p.m. Monthly meeting, ""A Profound Transformation in Consciousness," Morris County Library, Whippany, NJ. Click here for details.
Saturday, January 15, 1-4 p.m. Putting Idealism into Practice: Tour of Half Moon House. Click here for details.
Saturday, December 18, 1-4 p.m. Challenge & Strategy Session: "Reinventing Wealth," followed by our annual "Potluck for the Planet" from 4 to 8. Click here for details.
Saturday, November 20, 1-4 p.m. Challenge & Strategy Session: "How Do We Measure Sustainable Value?". Click here for details.
Saturday, October 16, 1-4 p.m. Challenge and Strategy Session: "Toward a Sustainable Growth Strategy for New Jersey".
Download the slide presentation here, and the discussion paper here.

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Leadership Quotes

"Nearly every man who develops an idea works it up to the point where it looks impossible, and then he gets discouraged. That's not the place to become discouraged."
(Thomas A. Edison—thanks to Regan Caton)

"Life isn't about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself.” (G.B. Shaw)

"There is the true joy of life: to be used by a purpose recognized by yourself as a mighty one; to be thoroughly worn out before being thrown on the scrap heap; to be a force of nature instead of a feverish, selfish little clod of ailments and grievances complaining that life will not devote itself to making you happy." (G.B. Shaw)

"Leadership is a privilege to better the lives of others. It is not an opportunity to satisfy personal greed." (Mwai Kibaki, President of Kenya - thanks to Christine Comaford, Rules for Renegades)