Archive for “October, 2012”

sustainability and consciousness

I tried an experiment recently.

Rather than just create a blog post as a statement, I decided to post it as a question on Facebook.

What I found fascinated me! I got 28 comments and started a fun conversation.

Well – here is the original post I was going to write:

The consciousness revolution is a necessary precursor to the sustainability revolution.


Because “Problems cannot be solved by the level of awareness that created them.” (

The finger-wagging, guilt-trip inducing environmentalist, and the depressed and jaded deep green ecologist will not deliver the sustainability revolution. From that consciousness, their actions stimulate an equal and opposite reaction, keeping us all stuck.

Of course there is a chicken-and-egg element to consciousness and sustainability, each spurring the other.

And they are both, visibly, happening simultaneously.

But until we get the center of gravity of humanity’s consciousness to a higher level, we will not be able to get sustainability to stick.

Bring it on

The consciousness revolution is not something happening “out there” — nor is its promise and potential inevitable.

Every day I have as my goal being able to say when I go to bed that night that I could not have lived that day with more love, more gusto, more kindness, more compassion, more courage, more humor, or more integrity.

We need you off the bleachers, on the court, with skin in the game — however that looks for you.

Find your center, and from there, let it rip.

The Rules for Being Human

The following list is attributed to Dan Millman, author of Way of the Peaceful Warrior.

When I first received this list I was 18 years-old and attending an Outward Bound course in Maine. It had been photocopied so many times that the letters looked a little over-bled and rounded out.

I rarely re-post other people’s content, but this is one that keeps coming up to share with you.

by Dan Millman.

When you were born, you didn’t come with an owner’s manual; you have had to learn the rules the hard way. These rues are intended to help make your life easier.

  1. You will receive a body. You may like it or hate it but it will be yours for the entire period this time around. You have chosen its shape on a deeper level; you can change it.
  2. You will learn lessons. You are enrolled in a full-time informal school called life on planet Earth. Each day in this school you will have the opportunity to learn lessons. You may like the lessons, or think them irrelevant.
  3. There are no mistakes, only lessons. Growth is a process of experimentation — trial and error. The so-called failed experiments are as much a part of the process as the experiment that ultimately “works.”
  4. A lesson is repeated until learned. It will be presented to you in various forms until you have learned it. When you’ve learned it, you can then go on to the next lessons. If you don’t learn easy lessons, they become harder. You will know you’ve learned a lesson when your actions change.
  5. Learning lessons does not end. There is no part of life that does not contain its lessons. Every person, every incident is the universal teacher. If you are alive, there are lessons to be learned.
  6. “There” is no better than “here.” Nothing leads to happiness. When your “there” has become a “here” you will simply obtain another “there” that again looks better than “here.”
  7. Others are merely mirrors of you. You cannot love or hate something about another person unless it reflects to you something you love or hate in yourself.
  8. What you create of your life is up to you. Life is like a movie; you may feel like a bit player, but you have the power to become a screen writer, casting director, producer, director. It’s your movie. You have all the tools and resources you need; what you do with them is up to you. There are three kinds of people: those who make things happen, those who watch what happens, and those who wonder what happened. Notice that you do have the courage; take charge of your life. If you don’t, someone else will.
  9. Your answers lie inside you. All you need to do is look, listen, and trust. Then you’ll realize that you are the spiritual being you’ve been seeking.
  10. You will tend to forget all this.

The difference that makes a difference

One of the most useful concepts — for anyone, really, but especially for change agents because we so often find ourselves spinning our wheels — comes from Stephen Covey’s The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.

This is the distinction between our circle of influence vs our circle of concern.

My circle of concern might encompass the entire Earth and beyond. For example, the Great Pacific Garbage Patch — an unusual concentration of plastic, other garbage and chemical sludge reported to be twice the size of the continental US — is in my circle of concern. Famine, in Africa and other parts of the world, is in my circle of concern. However, these lie largely outside my circle of influence.

My circle of influence are the things that I can actually do something about in my day to day existence. It’s not that I can’t do something about the humongous garbage patch in the ocean or people starving. I can. And my degree of influence over those things is relative to how powerful I am as a change agent. I can buy less trash and not throw it in the ocean. But I would still need to influence millions of other people to do the same, and we haven’t even gotten to the cleanup. Or the complex international political barriers to people having access to food.

And here lies the crux.

If I spend a lot of my mental and emotional energy in the parts of my circle of concern that lie outside of my circle of influence, I am leaking energy. I am ineffective.

However, if I focus intensely in my circle of influence, I find that my circle of influence grows.

So we tackle the problems and the issues that are in front of us and around us. We make the contribution that is within our power to achieve. Maybe we have to stretch, get a little bit uncomfortable, find the edge of our fear and lean into it a bit, to really find our personal power and expand it.

But if I spend my time outside my circle of influence, all I will be doing is spinning my wheels. And the world needs all of us fully engaged, right now, not only with good intentions but also with skillful means, with love, with compassion, making the difference we can.

“We do no great things, only small things with great love.” – Mother Teresa

Community and Sustainability 101

Year after year, decade after decade, the idea of living cooperatively with others in some form of intentional community has garnered increasing interest. Whether it’s a co-housing community or a full-blown ecovillage, people want to live more lightly on the Earth, share resources, and have a deeper, richer sense of community in their lives.

Whatever your land-based or community-centered project, you would do well to avoid some basic pitfalls and include some essential-yet-often-overlooked elements.

See this image:



Most community projects focus on the top two boxes, the bio-systems and the built environment, and tend to procrastinate on – or never address – the bottom two.

But the top two are the easiest to figure out and address, especially since the solutions related to them are widely available, information-intensive and mainly technical.

The bottom two are the hardest to implement effectively and require interpersonal skill development. Failure to address these well is a primary reason community projects fail.

And then there’s the glue – called that because it holds everything together. When a group has lack of alignment at this level, in the long term it breeds difficulty, struggle, and sometimes conflict.

So if you’re working on a project with other people, focus on the glue first; the purpose, vision, mission, and shared values. Then figure out how you are going to do governance and decision-making, and how the group will be physically/financially sustained in it’s efforts. This will provide a strong foundation for the rest of the work.

The top two boxes – which is where 99% of Permaculture, ecological design, and people’s conventional understanding of “sustainable living” lies – is actually much more straightforward to implement.