Getting to the Heart of Sustainability
Welcome to our final netletter for the year! Like so many of us, the past year has been a challenging time for us at EcoSTEPS as we progressively come to terms at personal and societal levels with the practical and moral realities of a world heading rapidly into ecological overshoot.
We’ve taken some time to pause and reflect. Carole spent time in the back desert beyond Uluru, meeting with some wonderful indigenous women of spirit. Julian did projects across the Pacific in Nauru, Fiji, Samoa and New Caledonia. He also attended sustainability conferences in UK, US and Australia. A recent treat was an inspiring three-day workshop on ‘Spirituality – the heart of Sustainability’ at the Blue Mountains Retreat Centre of the Brahma Kumaris.
Together with some partners, we hosted a very successful Sustainability in the City series of workshops and worked on numerous sustainability projects. In summary, the past twelve months have provided us with some fresh perspectives to better address our sustainability challenges. Below we bring you news of some encouraging and exciting developments with two of our main frameworks and practical consulting tools (Ecological Footprint and The Natural Step) and share some insights on creating the right mindset for sustainability.
We finish the year on a high – optimistic and enthusiastic about our planned new catolist, re-generation workshops running in 2013…. If not now, when? If not us, who? Warm regards, Julian Crawford, Carole Young and the EcoSTEPS Team.
“There is one measure, and one measure only, describing the capacity and relationship between human society and living systems: Ecological Footprinting. It is the only standard by which we may calibrate our collective impact upon the planet, and assess the viability of our future. It is true north when it comes to sustainability; no report about the environment is complete without it.” Paul Hawken, Natural Capital Institute.
EcoSTEPS has been a long term supporter of the Global Footprint Network (GFN) and so we were delighted that our friend Mathis Wackernagel (GFN Founder) was recognised for his work with this year’s Blue Planet Prize which recognises outstanding efforts in scientific research or applications of science that contribute to solving global environmental problems. – and the $300,000 which he promptly donated on to GFN. Nice one!
EcoSTEPS has used EF on several projects including: Blacktown City Council and Central West Catchment Management Authority and found it to be a really useful educational and strategic planning tool.
TNS Spreads Its Wings
EcoSTEPS had its origins and foundations in The Natural Step framework when Carole Young and Julian Crawford spent a wonderful week in Sweden meeting and working with founder Karl-Henrik Robert in 1998.
TNS has just been relaunched as the Framework for Strategic Sustainable Development: After more than 20 years of developing the TNS Framework as a uniquely rigorous and unifying approach to sustainable development, the growing international TNS community is embarking on a new, thoughtful and well-planned expedition. TNS has established an impeccable reputation for sticking to its story and the increasing import of the work (shown in case studies, role models, international prizes, educational and research programs and other achievements) now lends us the daring to open the Framework up, to be a bit out of control?
EcoSTEPS uses the TNS four system conditions as an essential component of its sustainability strategy work on projects.
Creating the Right Mind Set for Sustainable Living
Jayanti Kirplani (Director of the Brahma Kumaris World Spiritual Organisation) writes beautifully on sustainable living:
For a challenge on this epochal scale, we need the collective grace that we witness in nature as massive flocks of birds or schools of fish soar and turn as one. This kind of unity emanates from an inner coordination, a fine-tuned alignment, a tacit understanding. It will not happen merely from agreements taken. These are blunt instruments compared with natures subtle alignment with universal principles and humanitys alignment at the level of thought and awareness.
What spirituality has taught me is that you cannot simply say let me change things out there. Instead you have to see what you can do to change yourself in order to make a contribution towards a better world.
The solution to materialism is the awakening of the human heart, t he awakening of human consciousness, so that I can really understand that the happiness that I am seeking is not to be found by a bigger house or a bigger car or a larger television set. It is actually found by going within.
Spirituality has an important concept that can perhaps help us deal with the current sense of fragmentation so many of us are experiencing in our lives. On an external level, the fragmentation constantly increases. The disintegration and chaos around us and inside us seem to accelerate. Spirituality would say that the problems actually begin inside. So, however much we may try, working to limit the damage or reverse the damage may not actually bring results, if we continue to try externally. Transformation to order from chaos, to cohesion and connectedness from fragmentation, will only begin to take place when we start inside and first transform our character defects.
Looking Forwards with Hopefulness
Back in 1999, EcoSTEPS used a photo of the Earth from the Moon taken thirty years before in 1969 to both celebrate the aspirational will of humankind and as a not too subtle reminder of the fragility of our Blue Pearl Planet.
Neil Armstrong died in August this year and it is becoming increasingly clear to all of us that we need to work harder and smarter to recognise, respect, value and ultimately love our world.
We’ve been developing some exciting new catolist, re-generation one-day workshops which we plan to run in 2013. If you are interested learning more about them then please let us know.