From Mindless to Mindful Society

If you can’t watch John Gerzema’s TED-Talk video (16 minutes) read a text version at Abundance-blog, one excerpt below:

Returning to the Fold

Recently there’s been a rise in community-mindedness.  For one thing, people are looking more and more to their neighbors as their support system. Also, co-operative consumerism has taken off: consumers work together to get what they want out of the marketplace.  They pool their resources to incentivize companies to do good.

The artisanal movement is on the rise.  People look for locally derived products and services, and they support their neighborhood businesses.

There’s also a rise in local currencies.  Communities are printing their own money hoping to help residents make ends meet, as well as helping local businesses that have seen their sales drop due to the recession.

Generally it works as follows: individuals and businesses form a network to print currency. Shoppers buy it at a discount — it could be 90 cents for $1 value — and they spend the full value at stores that accept the currency. Consumers benefit because they get a discount on what they purchase, and the local businesses benefit from increased patronage.  (Source)

Some communities in the United States have started to publish residents’ electricity usage.  As a result, electricity usage in those communities has dropped.

In addition, Time Magazine wrote a few months back about a phenomenon called “cow-pooling”.  This is basically for people who want naturally-raised meat, but who can’t afford natural-food-store prices.  Friends and families band together to buy inexpensive, grass-fed meat directly from farmers.

In 1981 Duane Elgin wrote a book called “Voluntary Simplicity”. It was basically the Bible for those who were tired of working longer and harder, enjoying life less, and missing out on spending quality time with their family and friends, with very little to show for it, other than a mountain of perishable consumer products.

Today there’s a renewed emphasis on simplifying, not just because of the state of the economy, but because people want to live their lives around what really matters to them and, to quote Elgin, live “in a way that is outwardly simple and inwardly rich.”

Gerzema concludes his talk by indicating that values-driven spending will force capitalism to be better, it will drive innovation, and it will make longer lasting products.  This is a hopeful picture for our future.

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