Page 1 Copyright © Bob Neville - 2014 – 2019 www.communityregeneration.net.au
Is this really sustainable..? What makes communities sustainable? This question has been thrashed about for many years while many studies, papers and conferences have spent millions on searching for “solutions. ”However, the topic is continually “studied” to the point where it all seems so complex - But is it..?
One of the World’s many Mega-Cities – Shanghai has a population of over 24 million, with over 3,600 people per square Kilometre.(Australia has 3.1) Is this sustainable in a world where productive farmland, water, and all other natural resources are being unsustainably exploited and exhausted?
Someone once said: “Every profession has its mystery comprised of its particular jargon of phoney intellectualism created to make the simple appear to be complex, in order to keep the ‘high priests’ in the positions and the ‘laymen’ in theirs. Interesting thought…! So I might as well put my ten cents worth into the debate. However, my answer to the question comes NOT from the perspective of a Government or University-funded study or trial, but from the completely opposite end of the scale – as one who has no academic qualifications other than a life-time of working at the coalface of small communities – essentially – from the School of HARDKNOX. First, let’s define what we mean by sustainability. Most people talking about sustainability from a top-down perspective are usually referring to “economic sustainability”.
Yet to be truly sustainable, a community, city, region or a nation needs to consider sustainability from a three-dimensional perspective - Economic, Social and Environmental.
couple of hundred years for a different culture to destroy that triple-edged sustainability forever and replace it with the one we have now, which is clearly unsustainable.
The absolute fact is that the three are inseparable.
So when you start taking about “sustainability” stop and ask yourself exactly what you mean by this and consider that if your view of sustainability does not satisfy the natural equation – it can hardly be seen as truly sustainable. Today, we live in a world that is now completely out of control, socially, economically and environmentally - a world of dark contrasts of have and have not’s – a world driven by obsession with economic development and technology in the face of enormous social challenges. Generational change now overtakes communities so fast that successive generations get run over and left behind (like driving a car at high speed at night with the lights on low beam.) In fact, in many cases, the lights are not even switched on…!
This is a natural three-way equation which cannot be broken without adverse effect. Neglect of any one of these, or worse still, all three, will lead to gradual decay or even sudden disaster. We have the record of every great nation throughout history. Many have sooner or later fallen because this equation has been broken resulting in the nation decaying from within due breaking this natural equation, also leaving them susceptible to invading cultures. Consider, Indigenous Australians had the most sustainable existence ever for more than 40,000 years economically, socially and environmentally, yet it took only a
Page 2 Copyright © Bob Neville - 2014 – 2019 www.communityregeneration.net.au
At this point, let me define what I mean when I refer to Social Challenge: "Social Challenge refers to any undesirable or uncharacteristic behaviour, activity or condition which reflects negatively on the health and well-being of the individual or others in the community." If you objectively look at much of what we call Economic Development today, you will admit that it is not fulfilling the threedimensional sustainability equation and in many ways is contributing to social challenge. Yet today, in our enlightened, sophisticated world we head knowingly to the cliff edge and pretend that everything will be ok. Do you know the (originally intended) meaning of the word “sophisticated”? Most people think it means – clever, or enlightened, or more important and more knowledgeable, a “class above” – and being sophisticated is something that many people aspire towards. But no, the word actually means (or meant) “deceitful” or “pretending to be something that you are really not.” So is our obsessive drive for economic development today “sophisticated?” (We hear law enforcement referring to “sophisticated crime.” Do you feel that you are working in a sophisticated industry – doing wonderful things to improve the wealth and wellbeing of many people – without considering that economic development can ignore
its capacity for social and environmental degradation? I say it again to live truly sustainably you cannot separate the three dimensional economic, social and environmental equation – one impacts upon the other, sooner or later. The reality is much of what we call economic development is destroying social or environmental sustainability or both or even all three. Take this thought even further…! When you think about it, nothing that mankind has ever done, or will do, will ever be truly sustainable. After all, every business and organisation that ever exists eventually dies, just like each of us. Even every plant that grows out of the ground eventually dies, none are sustainable in a perpetual sense…..howe ver, what “sustains” our planet, our families and our communities in a finite sense is summed up in one word – REGENERATION.
they are getting better or getting worse, they don't stand still. Sustainability – in the form of positive regeneration, is the heritage we should all strive to leave for future generations. But how many of us really think this way? Then there’s that word “heritage” – what does that mean? Most people see heritage as old buildings or things from the past that have been preserved for us to enjoy today – yet, the word heritage has more of a futuristic connotation rather than a backward looking one. It means “birthright” or as I prefer to call it “birthgift” or “legacy” – “what we do TODAY that leaves a legacy for tomorrow.” So our heritage should be a sustainable footprint that we leave for the next generation (a future heritage) and if the footprint that Economic Development leaves is not truly economically, socially and environmentally sustainable, then it is more accurately described as economic disaster.
So what is the answer to our opening question – “What makes communities sustainable?” Sustainability = Consistent Regeneration: (socially, economically, and environmentally.) Just like working in your garden, your community won’t be sustainable if you are not regenerating it. Every community is uniquely different in terms of "everything" (location, climate, history, resources, opportunities, natural and built environment and people). All are changing, constantly and just like a garden
How can we justify any form of economic development, so called, if it does not sustain our environment or if it actually contributes to negative social values?
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Consider this very important point. Seasonal change is natural. In life, in communities, in business, when we experience or reach a certain standard of living (the good season) we somehow expect that the good times must always stay. In our “sophisticated” world, we have difficulty in accepting that there will be good times, not-sogood time and bad times.
This may be caused by a natural or man-made cycle or even a disaster of some kind. But the seasons WILL change, that’s the nature of things. In good times, when you are used to picking 100 apples from the tree every year, (that is to say, when your business is going really well) why is it these days that if the season changes and the tree only gives up 10 apples or none, we still expect to have 100 apples? (We still expect that our business should still give us the same returns – and when it does not, we have to find someone to blame – usually the government.) In any business, change will be constant, good times and bad times (ask any farmer.) Why do we have such unrealistic expectations today – that the “good season” should just go on and on..? Why…? We have substituted “money” for real wealth! Consider the words of David Suzuki geneticist/activist: “Money doesn’t stand for anything and money now grows faster than the real world. Conventional economics is a form of brain damage.”
It is building a world of debt slavery, fattening the few on the misery of many. This exploitation is done at expense of the only foundation of all sustainable economy - real wealth - productive farmland, sustainability/ renewability of natural resources, fisheries, forests, clean air and water – the rightful heritage of future generations. We need a revolution of thinking on the part of every caring individual in a world which is obsessed with “development” and consumerism – where the word “sustainable” is not really understood. Yes, for all the enlightened critics out there enjoying the good times, I know that this view is not “sophisticated”, but to you I say: “A closed mind and a corpse have one thing in common – both listen to reason with equal intent.” For most people in developed nations, conventional economics has been successful at providing a standard of living Kings and Queens throughout history could not even dream of. So is this really considered to be successful Economic Development? We have achieved much of this through cheating nature with unbridled debt, at the expense of our finite resources and environment and we continue to do so, as other nations struggle to catch up. This is clearly unsustainable. One can only try to imagine the ultimate consequences – if one dares. Today, the end result of sophisticated economics is making too many communities and nations “sustainable” through debt and exploitation of finite earth’s resources. This is truly not sustainable. So before you so loosely ask the sustainability question – think about what you really mean - sustainable in the short term so that some people
can have more now at the expense of future generations? Credit can be a useful medium – as long as it provides a better economic and social outcome without robbing future generations and destroying our environment. How many lives are being destroyed by debt every day? To be realistic about sustainability, we must face and ride seasonal change and see it as an opportunity to take stock, refocus and meet the challenge, using credit only as means to a positive end. If we don’t we will be consumed by it. You don’t blindly ride out economic adversity by throwing more money at something or increasing debt to sustain something if it is clearly not sustainable……What was that definition of insanity…? “Doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result..!”
When Indigenous Australians, New Zealanders and Americans faced economic hardship due to drought, flood, fire or ice age, they did not use “sophisticated economics” and whip out a credit card to sustain them through it all via the illusion of “virtual wealth”. No, they adjusted accordingly and survived as best they could as a three dimensional, sustainable economy and in the process they learned more about resilience and “how” to survive, which was the positive benefit of the experience, one we don’t gain today by substituting virtual money.
Page 4 Copyright © Bob Neville - 2014 – 2019 www.communityregeneration.net.au
Sure, we are more sophisticated than that today, aren’t we…? Seasonal change once meant that you looked forward to different fruits and vegetables, really appreciating them.
Now, you can have anything you want any time in our smart, sophisticated society which can bring in cheap produce from overseas all year round, much of it grown at starvation rates while our own fruit and vegie growers pull out their trees and plough their crops back into the ground. And this is called “economic development”…? There is a natural economic law in play here – and this is something that every individual, family, business, community and government needs to accept: From my Community Gold Quotes: “Adversity is inevitable – part of the evolutionary reality of life’s journey. How we view, accept and face adversity will determine whether it becomes a gift or a curse.” If you have the courage to deeply consider these words with an open
mind, they can inspire you with a new way of thinking about holistic sustainability. I’m not talking about any sophisticated, conventional economic theory here. This is the pure natural science of reality – Natural Resource Economics which in the final count is what sustains all through the natural miracle of regeneration. There is a better way to regenerate our communities. But it requires the courage to live, work and play within the framework of the Natural Science that sustains our very existence. Money is not ‘wealth.’ All real wealth (new wealth that is sustainable) can only come from the earth itself by value-adding what the earth provides in a resource-balancing process of “earned income.” The source of wealth is primary production and sustainable management of natural resources, including clean water, fisheries, clear air and sustainable forests. Someone asked: “But what about the KNOWLDEGE economy?” Well, what about it? All the knowledge in the world won’t feed your family if we continue to destroy the only source of all new wealth. You can’t eat knowledge, but what we are doing with the debt economy and all of our sophisticated financial and economic knowledge can be
compared to watching someone cut of parts of their own body to feed themselves – and how sustainable is that…? Knowledge is only useful when combined with experience and understanding which leads to wisdom and humility. What have we really learned with our sophisticated Economics other than to cheat nature - as I said, cutting parts of our body to feed ourselves? I hope this gives you a different, perhaps more sobering understanding of the meaning of sustainability, enough, perhaps, to cause you to consider its three-dimensional absolute natural equation: Sustainability = economic, social and environmental regeneration – naturally. How you can contribute to sustainable regeneration as an individual, family or community. There are many ways that this equation can be applied, so I encourage you to inquire about the Community Gold Program and become part of the “RE” Generation in an emerging industry for ALL small communities. For more information, visit the website Video. Also, check out the Articles page of the website. www.communityregeneration.net. au
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What makes communities sustainable? This question has been thrashed about for many years while many studies, papers and conferences have sp...
Published on Feb 18, 2019
What makes communities sustainable? This question has been thrashed about for many years while many studies, papers and conferences have sp...