Our Transformational Community Well-Being

[Editor’s Note: readers, from October 12 until November 9 I will be taking an amazing UBC Continuing Studies course called Sustainability Leadership: From Strategy to Transformation. My first assignment is to outline how this transformational shift is (or could be) helpful to my situation – my mission is to take the assignment  from me-to-we and provide some examples of how we can use some cool “emerging qualities” to create community in a chaotic world.]

Here we are. I’m not gonna lie, it’s a bit bleak out there. I mean, “scientists” and “business leaders” and “David Suzuki” will tell you that melting glaciers, rising seas, catastrophic earthquakes, desertification, staggering poverty, and the decline of the honeybee present some serious reasons for us to fear for – or just plain fear – the future. So, in the spirit of positivity and community-building, the Daily Gumboot is pleased to provide you, the people, with some fantastic options that you, the people, can consider as we lurch forward. Feel free to apply one, some or all of the options to your life and, most importantly, have fun with all of them!

Option 1. Our Well-Being…in Chaos.

THE IDEA: A few weeks ago I read the New Economics Foundation’s Well-Being Manifesto, which puts meaningful work and healthy human capital development at the centre of what it takes to create and sustain a flourishing society. Our Common Future supports the need to “create new values to help individuals and nations cope with rapidly changing social, environmental, and developmental realities.” Career Development Phenom Jim Bright argues that there is no linear career path, as where we work has more to do with chaotically interconnected random events – both lucky and tragic – than with education, training, self-assessment, counselling, research, and/or the cultural landscape of our home town (though all these things are important). Our careers – like life – exist in chaos and we need to prepare ourselves for it.

OUR ACTION: We need to create both personal and community-based “adaptability toolkits” that allow ourselves and our neighbourhoods to roll with the punches that life throws our way. After all, every neighbourhood needs food-growers/makers, artists, leaders, accountants, builders, designers, fixers, and creators to collaboratively thrive within chaos. So begin preparing your “adaptability toolkit” today! Being eternally adaptable will make you a transformational leader within a complex social – and global – network. Not to mention ecological ones, too.

Option 2. In the Business of Community.

THE IDEA: Henry Mintzberg’s article, “Rebuilding Companies as Communities” outlines a from-me-to-we solution for the many wrongly-worshipped CEOs out there. “We are social animals who cannot function effectively without a social system that is larger than ourselves,” says Mintsberg. “This is what is meant by ‘community’ – the social glue that binds us together for the greater good.” Mintzberg cites several examples of forward-thinking, people-firsting companies who ‘get it’ – one such organization, federation of Basque super-cooperatives, Mondragon, definitely jives with a les Nordiques as co-operative notion, as told by Gumbooteer Martin Renauld. As it turns out, putting people first is really good for business!

OUR ACTION: All around the world – in business, education or non-profit and with volunteerism, neighbourhoods, families, and politics – the simple, age-old concept of “community” is being re-applied everywhere. So, whether you’re sitting at your work-desk, sipping coffee in your ‘hood, or chatting with your mouth full during family dinner, reflect on this very important question: “how is this activity- this one I’m doing right now – positively contributing to my community?”

Option 3. Hug a Natural Capitalist.

THE IDEA: Termed by entrepreneur and world-changer Paul Hawken, Natural Capitalism seeks to solve the dirty, dirty problems being created by our outdated global system that is driven by Industrial Capitalism. Hawken argues that this can be done in four key ways: Radical Resource Productivity, Biomimicry, Service and Flow Economy, and Investing in Natural Capital.

OUR ACTION: Let’s start incorporating this stuff called “nature” into our economic formula, which currently employs a ridiculous equation that seems to assume our planet’s resources will keep pace with the exponential consumption of industrial capitalism. Be the change, people!

Option 4. Become a Radical Homemaker.

THE IDEA: Wency Leung presented the notion of Radical Homemakers in a recent edition of an up-and-coming print newspaper called the Globe and Mail. Again, a simple idea: give up the rat race and take care of your families and communities by growing local, organic and, more than likely, healthy food. After all, Our Common Future recommends that the Industrialized World strongly re-examine our relationships with money, food, fuel, people, and time.

OUR ACTION: “In pursuit of a more personally fulfilling and ecologically sustainable lifestyle, these so-called ‘radical homemakers’ are relying less on monetary income and are, instead, picking up domestic skills such as vegetable gardening and cooking to help meet their basic needs,” says Leung. Accept the honest fact that a reduction in income does not necessarily equal a drop in your standard of living. If you need a place to start, check out a recent post by Correspondent Katie Burns.

Option 5. When all else fails, become a Pirate!

THE IDEA: Somali pirates aren’t really “Somali pirates.” According to over 70% of Somalians, they’re actually a necessary component of a patch-work coastal defense structure! Forget the global community. Heck, forget everyone outside of your neighbourhood! This option is all about you and your closest shareholders. Sure, people outside your immediate circle might vilify you. But, remember, it’s not about them, it’s about you and your very local community.

OUR ACTION: Find some friends. Secure a boat, truck, web server, and/or multinational corporation. Pillage things from people and places without asking and, if necessary, use force, coercion and, possibly, the Internet to do it. Sure, pirate ships were and are bastions of democracy at its truest, but they’re also pretty violent. So, any action taken by us, I hope, is conceptual and only literal if necessary.

Masthead photo courtesy of Ahava Shira