We are currently facing challenges on many different fronts; economically, environmentally, socially, etc. Is it time for a new global vision? Humankind has passed through three major paradigm shifts, the hunter gatherer, agricultural, the industrial and is currently in the computer age. Each paradigm increased the need for resources per capita. Also, each successive paradigm decreased in the amount of time it lasted. While the hunter gatherer paradigm lasted over 100,000 years the computer paradigm has only been 50-60 years and is showing signs of stress already. Now that we as humans are capable in examining paradigms and paradigm shifts it is possible to carefully plan the next one. (more information on this – 6th paragraph – The Future or Not the Future?)
In our current paradigm one is deemed successful when one can live a higher throughput (more resources needed) lifestyle, but what if success was judged on a highly productive and enjoyable lifestyle that was low in resource use? When changing paradigms many of the old ideas can be incorporated, possibly with different intentions. In the 1930’s the Civilian Conservation Corps, or CCC, which was part of the New Deal was started under Franklin D. Roosevelt. Our country was experiencing the Great Depression and through this program young unmarried men from families on relief were payed 30 dollars a week, of which 25 dollars was sent back to their families, to work on projects mainly on government land such as camping facilities in our National Parks. This program gave these men skills along with something to do besides sitting at home waiting for better times.
Mary and I had the opportunity to visit the Timberline Lodge at Mt Hood in Oregon. During the same time period (1936-1938) the Works Progress Administration hired skilled and unskilled workers to build the lodge. A good portion of the materials were harvested from the area such as timber and stone. Recycled materials were used such as old blankets from the Civilian Conservation Corp camps that were turned into rugs, curtains and bedspreads. Most of the money spent was not used in purchasing materials but instead went to salaries for the workers. The skilled workers had work in those uncertain times while the unskilled workers learned new skills such as stone work, weaving, blacksmithing, timber framing, etc.
Currently we are in need of such a program, yet one with different goals. The main goal would be to teach the unskilled what is needed to live a low throughput lifestyle, one which is low cost and low impact and can heal the Earth. Our culture is waiting for the leader to come forth and make the changes necessary, but really it is up to each and every one of us. A low impact lifestyle can be highly productive, enjoyable and less stressful than how many of us are living now. Many of our young adults coming out of colleges are strapped with debt only to find that the jobs they desire are not there. It is common to advise these young adults to go back to college and take on more debt to qualify for the jobs they are seeking. For some this may lead to a bright future, however for many it just does not work out. To live a low cost, low impact lifestyle and be successful it takes as much skills and knowledge as a college education. The main difference is after the time spent in being educated on throughput and low cost low impact living one is not as susceptible to the economic ebbs and flows.
Many of our young adults are disillusioned and are turning to drugs, crime, or just dropping out because they cannot compete in today’s cultural demands. Can we include everyone in a brighter future or as resources become less available will an increasing number of people be left out? A new vision could include everyone.