Tuesday, December 18, 2012

The Happiness Report Card for the Coal Train in Washingtpn State

Trish Knox, a community activist and graduate of The Happiness Initiative's Train the Trainer program recently gave a talk at a rally and produced a Happiness Report Card for the Coal Train:

Coal Train Report Card
Sustainable Communities All Over Puget Sound (SCALLOPS) present a Coal Train Report Card based on nine domains of happiness from the United Nations’ Gross National Happiness and from the local Happiness Initiatives in Seattle and Victoria.  Happiness domains measure the well-being of people in a community, region and country. 
 Sustainable Ballard, Wallingford, Bremerton, Edmonds, Bothell, Redmond, Renton, Transition Woodinville and Transition Olympia
 ·         request that a study be done regarding the impact of coal trains on our environment and on nature.  We are concerned about air pollution and the serious health threats from coal dust as well as increased diesel fumes.  We are also concerned about the well-being of our native people and marine life at Cherry Point.
 ·         request that an impact study be done regarding the psychological effects of these coal trains.  We are concerned about noise pollution and traffic congestion during the day and the disruption of sleep patterns at night.  Adding so many trains would seriously hurt tourism and other business thus adding stress on people’s lives.
The nine sustainable communities endorsing this report card conclude that coal trains do not add to the well-being and happiness of our region and request that you give the Gateway Pacific Terminal project a “No Pass” grade.

Trish Knox, Founder                                                                       TransitionWoodinville.ning.com

Monday, December 17, 2012

Personal SafetyNets Newsletter on Happiness

Thank you to Judy and Ben for the newsletter on Happiness!
To subscribe email info@personalsafetynets.com
 Personal Safety Nets®
On the Road to Happiness December 2012, Issue 55
In This Issue
Letters . . . We Get Letters
Multigenerational Households
Charting a Course
PSN Newsletters
We Get Letters . . .

Editor's note: Get ahead of the curve - start 2013 off right - by recognizing that we are all connected, we all (or at least, most of us) want to help others, and that letting safe others into our lives is a good thing. Below we've included  Peter's letter (not his real name) illustrating how human it is to procrastinate, and how wonderful it is to be surprised by others. 

Dear PSN Staff:
I told my neighbors I was off to the hospital and would be gone a few days for tests. They immediately offered (no, demanded) to pick me up and take me home. They then blocked off time to take me home from my next hospital excursion - treatment. A network of support showed up at my front door much earlier than I had expected. As people found out about my undergoing treatment, offers of help started pouring in. Who knew?

Very shortly I'll have started a "calendar of events" on a spreadsheet - of who is doing what, when and where. I've started reading Personal Safety Nets - Getting Ready for Life's Inevitable Changes & Challenges - which is not strange because last year I attended one of their conferences. I just never thought it would be me - I'm so happy I went to the conference!

I'm over trying to figure out 'Why me" and just grateful that I learned about reaching out and forming a safety network.
 Regards, Peter

"Peter" could also think about involving someone else to set up the spreadsheets or organize assistance for him using some other system such as Care Brigade or CareZone. Yes, there are actually people out there - and you may be one of them - who like setting up systems, filling out insurance forms, giving rides ... They are just waiting for a need to pop up. So ASK ... and remember that a "no" or "not now" is a fine answer. You want the people you ask to feel free to offer when they really can, right? So, say "thank you" and keep asking! By the way, thank heavens Peter's getting along fine now.
Did You See
This One . . .
Rose glasses
Multigenerational Households
Did you know 51 million Americans live in households where some combination of parents, grandparents and children are living together?
This may not sound new to you - it's something that's been done in societies for centuries - but here's what is news - the number is increasing in the U.S. by more than 10% per year - a growth rate never seen in our country's history!
Multigenerational households have rapidly expanded in the last few years: one in six Americans currently lives in a multigenerational household.  (see Money Magazines' The New American Household: 3 Generations, 1 Roof) In 1980 multigenerational households accounted for 12% of the U.S. population. By 2010 that number had climbed to an estimated 16.1%, withabout 4.2 million of the 113.6 million U.S. households consist of three or more generations.

In "How I Did It: Survived Dad Moving In" (USAA  Magazine,
Fall 2012) award-winning writer, Laura Bond explains the emotional and financial sides to having a parent move in. Bond regales us with stories of some awkward moments, including tiptoeing in after midnight, running out of toilet paper, and loss of personal space. She also reminds us of the many benefits that have resulted from the growth of her multigenerational household.Shared resources, shared work loads, splitting costs,  consolidation, and increased communications have enriched and eased her life.
The growth of multigenerational households has spawned new ideas and an industry in mini-abodes that might be just the ticket for those who wish to have parents and/or grandparents live very close but not under the exact roof.  MEDCottage(also called GrannyPod) - is aprefabricated 12-by-24-foot bedroom-bathroom-kitchenette free-standing structure for the backyard. It's more than a miniature house - it's decked out with high-tech monitoring and safety features that rival those of many nursing homes. It may be expensive, but there areplenty of benefits to such an idea.

Before you commit to move-in, multi-generational or not, check out our two compatibility checklists. Using one (#1)before you start, and theother (#2) before finalizing will have the potential of saving you hours of grief, and supplying you with many moments of mirth. Whether you are thinking of having your sweetheart, your parent, an adult child, a cousin, niece, friend, or friend-of-a-friend move in, spending some timethinking through predictable issues will provide peace of mind and good boundaries for going forward. Enjoy! 
Charting a Course

Happy yet? Did thinking about this raise or lower your thoughts about how happy you are? Last month we ran a story about Bhutan and the Happiness Initiative. There was a lot of information there about being happy, finding out how happy you actually are, and getting happier. Next month we'll give you some more feedback; and in the meantime ... 
After reading the info on "The Happiness Initiative" some of our readers took a survey that helps predict conditions of well-being. (loosely defined as happiness). We'll have information on those results in an upcoming issue and if you didn't take the survey yet, and would like to, you can still do so - and have your friends take it too. (use the "forward this email" button at the end of this newsletter, please!) The results may surprise you. And next month it'll be interesting to see how you, our readers, fare and compare to people at large.

Then, a few readers reminded us of YES! Magazine's Sustainable Happiness edition, and the story ofDr. Tal Ben-Shahar, former Harvard University professor and his class,  "Positive Psychology." His was the most popular class ever offered at that University! Hearing this, we just had to delve deeper.

Happiness Avenue Known as the "happiness course,"  Positive Psychology  focused upon thepsychological aspects of a fulfilling life, including topics such as happiness, self-esteem, empathy, friendship, love, achievement, creativity, music, spirituality and humor - and the idea of such a class quickly spread with more than
200 colleges and graduate schools in the United States who now offer a similar class. (Ben-Shahar's topics closely align with those of PSN.) 

Dr. Ben-Shahar, is the author of a number of profiles and books on happiness,  including:Life Changing Encounters (2011), Being Happy (2010) and Happier (2007). He says that you can learn to be happier, just as you can learn a foreign language, or to be proficient at golf. The best way to master such activities is to have an expert instruct you, and then for you to regularly practice what you are taught so that it becomes second nature.

Additionally, he adds, most of us need to unlearn certain habits and practices that undermine our ability to maximize personal happiness. It's important to live for both today and tomorrow and the need to incorporate both pleasure and meaning into life.

Tal Ben-Shahar's road-map or tips to happiness:
  • Give yourself permission to be human. When youEmotionsaccept emotions - such as fear, sadness, or anxiety - as natural, you are more likely to work with them. Rejecting emotions, even terming them "positive" or "negative", can easily lead to frustration and unhappiness.  

  • Find that intersection between pleasure and meaning. This is where happiness lies. Whether at work or at home, the goal is to engage in activities that are both personally significant and enjoyable. When this is not feasible, try to have "happiness boosters", moments throughout the week that provide you with both pleasure and meaning.  
  • Remember that happiness is mostly dependent on your state of mind, not on  status or the state  of your bank account.Barring extreme circumstances, your level of well-being is determined by what you choose to focus on (the full or the empty part of the glass) and by your interpretation of external events. For example, do you view failure as catastrophic, or do you see it as a learning opportunity?
  • Simplify! Americans are, generally, too busy, trying to squeeze in more and more activities into less and less time. Quantity influences quality, and we compromise on our happiness by trying to do too much.
  • Remember the mind-Mind Body Connectionbody connection. What you do - or don't do - with your body influences your mind. Regular exercise, adequate sleep, and healthy eating habits lead to both physical and mental health.
  • GratitudeExpress gratitude, whenever possible. We too often take our lives for granted. Learn to appreciate and savor the wonderful things in life, from people to food, from nature to a smile.  
  • Bank happiness. It's a currency, the ultimate currency for which all other assets/experiences are traded. You might work hard to make money but you make money so you can buy things or experiences that bring happiness.   Focus on what matters. 
  • Pursue meaningful and pleasurable activities to significantly raise your level of well-being.    
  • Avoid thinking that happiness and pleasure are the same thing. Pleasure is the experience in the here and now - from having the sense of purpose that comes from the future benefit of today's actions. Experiencing positive emotions is necessary but not sufficient for happiness. Living for the day, but only the day, will not bring optimal happiness.
Dr. Ben-Shahar's work is music to our Personal Safety Net's ears. We've long been saying that we all need: 1) to be seen, 2) to be heard, 3) to matter to others. His work supports this wholly. And it also supports our belief  in the importance of seeing the abundance about us, and expressing gratitude.  

Happiness may not be a specific goal, but a pathway, worn one step at a time, as we humans walk together toward the future. It's a state of mind that invites participation and community. Sometimes rocky, sometimes soft . . . this path leads to good places.Happy New Year 2013

Please join us in the journey. And happy holidays to one and all!!
Connections Connections
Have something, a service that's worked for you to recommend? An approach to putting together a team for yourself or someone else? That worked or didn't? We'd love to hear from you. Please send us stories, articles, citations, and the helping organizations you'd love us to share with our readers.
Some readers highlighted the December issue of the AARP Bulletin, specifically an interesting poll on Volunteering. People were asked if, in the past year, they had volunteered for an organization of group. 46% of those aged 18-49 said "yes", while 54% of those aged 50-plus said yes.

Where did they choose to help? The younger volunteers  helped with children's groups most often (50%), followed by helping people experiencing homelessness (25%) and seniors (21%). Those in the 50-plus group gave their time to seniors (39%), children's groups (30%) and those experiencing homelessness (21%).

Where can you help out during this next year? The answer is anywhere your heart draws you! Many organizations need your help, so please consider giving of your time and talents. Ask friends, check with local synagogues, mosques or church groups, or google "finding volunteer opportunities". See you there!

Two wonderful quotes came our way this month:
The happy heart gives away the best. To know how to receive is also a most important gift, which cultivates generosity in others and keeps strong the cycle of life.
 - Dhyani Ywahoo
Voices of Our Ancestors
We need to go back to being people  who think in terms of the needs of others. Learn to be  kind in the Maori way, be grateful for what you have instead of asking for too much. Notice when your neighbor feels pain, sorrow, sickness . . . We have to try to rebalance things.
 - Ellman Emery
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Our goal is to help you understand that creating a personal safety net is not only a continuing process but also a process that is done the world over.

repost: an article on measuring happiness in AlterNet

Saturday, December 15, 2012

TEDx Bellevue Sustainable Think Tank Happiness Winner

Last September, Anna Choi and a group of volunteers put on a TEDx in Bellevue. As part of the event, a challenge was given to the participants: what is an idea that could change the world for sustainable happiness?   Today, we post the winning response. 

The winner: Ruthi Landau, Department of Anesthesiology, University of Washington Medical Center

Her Idea: My idea is to pair, bring together, a child and an entrepreneur to conceive together a project. Through brainstorming, I envision that the child's idea, dream and possibly fantasy, will be transformed into a sustainable project implemented by the entrepreneur. I would love to see what a child's dream, through the magic, wisdom and power of an entrepreneur would look like. 

Posted by Laura Musikanski, ED of the Happiness Initiative 

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Happiness In the UK

Today the Government of Great Britain issued its happiness data.  You can check it out here
 the happiness wheel 
What does it say?  And how will it be used? Well, one major finding is that people are happier in a more healthy economy  Another is that in a down economy, people seem to be making more friends and that your relationships with your friends and family may have more impact on your health than diet and exercise. 

And how will it be used? In the words of Prime Minister Cameroon: 

“To those who say this sounds like a distraction from the serious business of government, I say finding out what will improve lives and acting on it is the serious business of government.
"We'll continue to measure gross domestic product. But it is high time we admitted that, taken on its own, GDP is an incomplete way of measuring a country's progress.” 

In other words: happiness matters.

Posted by Laura Musikanski, ED of HI 

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

A Happy Life

Slater and Bob met in jail. Slater and Bob met in jail. They had time to talk. In the hours they were forced to spend together, they devised a concept that is now spreading across the USA: Community Land Trusts. They were inspired by the Civil Rights Movement and Ghandian Land Reform Movement. They agreed on a basic premise: people of color needed to reconnect with land for true freedom.  Slater King was Martin Luther King’s cousin. Bob Swann was a major civil rights activist.  

The first community land trust (CLT) rooted in Georgia in 1969, providing homes to African American families. Today there are over 250 CLTs in the USA.  Thirty eight percent are in small cities and towns, 26% in rural communities and 36% in large cites. 

23 years ago, a group of people on Lopez Island got fed up. They also got inspired. The cost of housing went up 190% that year. Lopez had the highest per capita income and highest cost of living among the San Juan Islands, but 51% of the children were living in poverty. They started the Lopez Community Land Trust. 

Today, there are five neighborhoods built by the LCLT on Lopez. Today I visited one. Rhea Miller, one of the founders, took me around. She said, “oh, your from the Happiness Initiative, let me show you some happy people!”  And she did!

Four new homes were closing, and four young families moving it.  They were glowing.  The  houses are the size of an average home in the US pre-1950s: 800 square feet.  When you walk into them, you feel like you have walked into a spread of a shiny architecture magazine.  The design is svelte, graceful, intriguing and beautiful.  Way nicer than the gargantuan 2000-3000 square foot houses we are used to.  The houses are built on common space: shared gardens, play areas, library, recycling station, [eating and cooking spaces]*, and just pure beauty. 

Each house sports 

solar hot water
energy conservation & technology
rainwater catchment
grid-tied solar
high efficiency windows and insulated shades
its own super cool customized kitchen

The housing is made affordable by donations and grants. One way the community integrates people of means who move to the island is recruit them for board positions. This helps  integrate new people into the needs of the island, like affordable housing by the Lopez CLT. Home owners put in sweat equity – meaning they help  in the construction of the homes. 

But that is not all Lopez CLT does. Some of their other activities:

  •  Co-Forming a garden for school children that the local school now operates and that provides produce to local businesses 
  • Launched a campaign that resulted in Lopez as a GMO free zone
  • Growing and sharing local food with the community
  • Forming a grain community supported agriculture (CSA) 
  • Hosting a community seed cleaner, and mill
  • Creating a seed library and holding seed saving workshops
  • Providing children education on how to be a farmer 
  • Installing gardens for the elderly
  • Supporting space for free exchanges 
  • Co-hosting tribal canoe journeys  with the local tribes
  • Incubating small businesses from fudge shop to marine research nonprofit, massage therapists and fitness center
  • Providing USDA approved mobile meat processing unit
  • Hosting food charettes to discuss how to increase access of local food.
  • Issuing a Farm Products Guide for Lopez Island

I am grateful for the day.  It is nice to have a reminder.  This is one way to have a happy life:  to live in a place where many of the conditions of happiness- community, environment, material well-being,  learning, culture – are strong and support how you feel. 
Posted by Laura Musikanaki, Executive Director of The Happiness Initiativ

Monday, November 5, 2012

Final Report from the Bioneers Resilience Intensive by Thomas Atwood

Here is the final report on the Bioneers Resilience Intensive that The Happiness Initiative had the pleasure and privilege to attend. Thank you to Thomas Atwood for the report!

Catalyzing a Resilient Communities Network
A Bioneers Pre-Conference Intensive

Sponsors: Thriving Resilient Communities Collaboratory, Threshold Foundation


While the highly structured format of the conference did not lend itself to networking in the way that I had hoped, the experience served as an inspiring reminder of the many enlightened boats in the water working on resilience. Over 200 people were in attendance, representing a diverse constituency of volunteers, community organizers, public employees, and NGOs. I learned a great deal about how thought leaders frame the issues we work with locally, and continued to assimilate the vocabulary, visions, and strategies of the greater resilience community.

Many participants I spoke with looked to Scott Spann, Founder of Innate Strategies, as the convening visionary and strategist of the conference. Scott defined a framework of systems approaches to resilience, and took a question that I submitted during the morning session. I asked (perhaps audaciously) how we can “build relationship and clarity from the individual up” without increasing the number of engaged people, suggesting that a movement consisting of thought leaders alone was insufficient. In hindsight, a more carefully constructed question might have avoided the defensiveness and denial in his response, as he insisted that his initiatives “reach deep into the community.” On the other hand, I think that people who consult with Apple and HP on “global strategic projects” need to be reminded from time to time that 100 years of focus on mid-level bureaucracies, executives, and “decision makers” did not to lead to widespread feelings of empowerment in our communities.

The most interactive session was the afternoon Collaboratory (read “breakout group”) on Financial Resilience, headed by Kristen Sheeran (Ecotrust) and IPS board member Gar Alperovitz. About 25 people were in the circle, with constituencies and interests ranging from democratic activism, economic and environmental justice, and regional banking to accounting transparency, publishing, and online activism. We had an hour and a half to tell our stories, so this was the best opportunity to share our message in person. I spoke about the need for local support groups as a consciousness-raising base for recruitment into larger campaigns, and provided some concrete success stories from the field. Another resilience circle organizer from Berkeley, Gary Horvitz, spoke on a more philosophical level about the need to organize from deeper values and make personal connections.

As part of the afternoon session Through the Mapping Glass, I had an opportunity to frame the contributions that local circles can make to the broader movement. If the organizers follow up on our feedback, I expect the conference leadership to include us on its radar. Because the nodes on the map link a network of activities, values, and influential factors rather than specific institutions, we should not expect our name to appear there.  However, I addressed the following questions by writing comments on a cardboard cube:

1.     What should we seek to cause?
2.     What 3-5-7 elements are required?
3.     Who else needs to be included/invited?
4.     What additional knowledge should be integrated?

My responses focused on themes of consciousness-raising affinity groups with which we’re already familiar:

1.     We should be cause agents for building community, education, mutual support, plugging people into larger social action campaigns. We’re not a sufficiently powerful movement without broader community support and participation that can only come from social connection and trusting relationships. Ecology and economy are flip sides of the same coin.

2.     Required elements include facilitation and organizing skills, organizational development, and regional coordination. We need modest funding for meeting space and basic infrastructure. We need to recruit people with a shared vision of the power of small groups, and to become more deliberate about grassroots movement building.

3.     We should invite the community of faith, because our congregations are one of the few remaining community-based institutions that are culturally sanctioned to change the story. We need youth participation, because to value the perspectives and contributions of the young is to build the movements of the future. We need seniors for a “wise elder” presence that acknowledges, affirms, and inspires youth. We need multicultural representation, because Caucasians flip to minority status nationally by 2042.

4.     We must become rooted again in relationship intelligence and other soft skills. Non-violent communication, conflict mediation, non-directive and non-hierarchical leadership styles work best in small, uninitiated groups of well-meaning people who aren’t yet engaged.

Personal Conversations

Grant Ebert was present, but I did not meet him. Nikki Spangenburg offered to introduce me, but she was pretty much under siege the whole day, and it never came to pass. I did pass out a few brochures, and had conversations with a number of people I had not met before, including the following:

Carolyne Stayton

Carolyne is Executive Director of Transition US. We had a brief conversation before the conference began. I identified myself as a resilience circle organizer, and related the story of how replaying the webinar she presented with Chuck played a key role in delivering the resilience circle curriculum to Transition Palo Alto. I shared how the course inspired several new people to plug in to TPA activities.

She expressed an interest in talking more about that later in the day, but despite a concerted effort to find her during breaks, I didn’t see her again.

Gar Alperovitz

The Democracy Collaborative, IPS Fellow. I wasn’t previously aware of Gar’s bridging perspectives on ecology and economic justice, or his role in the work of IPS and the New Economy Working Group. I also didn’t know about his role in concrete, “boots-on-the-ground” new economy initiatives until I Googled his Yes! Magazine article about the Evergreen Cooperative Laundry in Cleveland.

We spoke briefly about our own work with local circles on the Peninsula, his daughter-in-law’s Unitarian Universalist connection, and his excellent talk about the green economy and the democratization of community wealth.

Mary Gonzales

Gamaliel Foundation. Mary gave a rousing talk in the first Plenary Panel that rocked the house (see the summary below).  We had a brief conversation about my background with PICO and the IAF, the state of congregation-based community organizing on the San Francisco Peninsula, and how the practice is more honored in the breach than in the observance by local affiliates.

I witnessed Mary in action, as she shared a compelling story with a group of young activists about organizing wealthy interests in Malibu with lower-income interests in Oxnard to stop an offshore natural gas pipeline. She trained over 400 people in turnout methodologies, who then packed a city council meeting and ultimately stopped the development.

Janelle Orsi

Janelle is an attorney, and the Director and Co-Founder of the Sustainable Economies Law Center in Oakland, an education, research, and advocacy group for transition to localized, resilient economies. SELC recently had a legislative victory for a bill they co-authored—Gov. Brown signed the California Homemade Food Act into law on Sept. 21.

We use Janelle’s video, Economy Sandwich, to introduce our circles to the legal challenges that confront small-scale community enterprises, such as cottage food initiatives or babysitting coops. See http://www.theselc.org/. We had met before, and had a brief interchange at lunch.

Carl Anthony

I was very fortunate to have a hallway conversation with this visionary leader of multiple social and environmental justice organizations. At 73 years old, he’s been a heavyweight in this movement for decades.  (When I returned home, I learned that he once slept in our house during a tour stop in Palo Alto!)

Carl recommended a film that emerged from his work on an MIT Press publication called Breakthrough Communities. Van Jones also contributed to the book. I’ve ordered the DVD  (The New Metropolis), which contains 12 case studies on community organizing, to share with our resilience circles.

Shaun Paul

Shaun is a Managing Partner of People and Planet Holdings, which is a new fund of Good Capital. While Good Capital has an office in San Francisco, he works out of Boston. His background includes development and conservation projects in Latin America. He indicated the need for a new way to envision economic well being,  beyond “the dominant paradigm” based on growth and measured by GDP.  He also commented that economic resilience needs to consider new models, including alternative trade as reflected by Fair Trade while also considering emerging practices like Direct Trade. He acknowledged that many people are beginning to include metrics that focus on well being as a measure of economic health, in addition to mainstream conventional metrics like GDP.

Naomi Soltana

The Story of Stuff project. She was a participant in the afternoon Financial Resilience Collaboratory, and seemed pleased to hear that we include the Story of Stuff in our curriculum.

Jahn Ballard

Jahn (pronounced “yon”) is the CEO and Trust Culture Officer of the Performance Management Institute and www.commons.org. He is the lead author of Dollars and Sense, a 2nd Edition of Managing by the Numbers, 2000 by INC./Persues. Jahn has developed a Accounting 3.0 ® (A 3.0 ™), which in his forthcoming book is open-sourced under the Creative Commons copyright as Integral Operations Finance (IOF). The book will introduce a new discipline of behavioral accounting called Value Creation Accounting, which mirrors the structure of financial accounting so both types can be linked mathematically, hard-wiring behavior with financial results. He is the inventor of financialdashboard.com, and the KPI Matrix®, as well as a supporting developer of the Financial Scoreboard. His software templates provide a comprehensive view into total work system metrics for property, contract, cash and behavior, which can then link to resource effectiveness through Green Math®. 

His mentor and colleague Lou Mobley (Mob-lee) introduced into the GAAP (Generally Accepted Accounting Principles), Cash Flow Statements, and Cash Flow from Operating Activities, none of which was available in accounting in any form prior to November of 1987. With Chuck Kremer, CPA’s leadership and Lou’s material, the prime financial driver has been identified — operating cash flow over sales, which for every dollar of revenue, reveals operating cash flow impact on the bank account.

Melissa Everett

Melissa is a Executive Director of Sustainable Hudson Valley in New York, where she does yeoman’s work on fundraising and publishing films and books. Themes include food, stewardship, arts, culture, spirit, Hudson River history and biodiversity, shoreline preservation, and scenic walkways and trails.

Sustainable Hudson Valley has helped to seed many projects, including the regional branch of the US Green Building Council and an environmental consortium of over 50 colleges and universities — both with many partners. They have been involved in a regional scenario planning effort that recommended focusing on human capacity more than technology or policy. They have created and started to roll out a workshop called Placemaking in a Changing Climate, which helps community stakeholders come together to identify paths for resilient development of land and commerce that also create more beautiful, vibrant, water-secure, cool and flood-resistant places.

Laura Musikanski, Jeff VanderKlute

Laura and Jeff work with the Happiness Initiative. Laura shared some intriguing stories about their Happiness Assessment tool, which helped them to compare the wellbeing of four communities of immigrants and refugees in Seattle: the Oromo, Somali and Filipino community centers, and the Vietnamese Friendship Association.

Conference Speaker Notes

9:15 Kenny Ausabel (Welcome)

Kenny set the tone of the event well by establishing the frame of systems thinking. Referring to the work of Buckminster Fuller and Paul Gilding (The Great Disruption), he said that it’s a matter of when, not whether the world is going to change course. Reminding us of the definition of resilience as the capacity of human and natural systems to undergo change and still retain their basic function and structure, he called for decentralization of power grids, food and water systems, and ecological governance.

Calling for the need for stronger communities and social capital, Kenny urged us to face our vulnerabilities. Gridlock and greedlock are the norm in the nation’s capital. Climate change is not an abstraction, and we must form a network of resilient communities. Most groups aren’t in touch with others, but could reach critical mass. He highlighted the need to get beyond prototypes and rapidly spread and scale what we already have.

Most groundbreaking efforts are local – not interconnected. Imagine, he said, proliferating them rapidly around the world. For that, we need access to capital, and Global Action Networks can meet this need. We’re here to build a hub, map the field, and respond to the pent up demand that already exists.

“The surest way to heal an ecosystem is to reconnect it with itself.”

9:24 - Steve Waddell: “The Power of Global Action Networks”

Steve began with the observation that we’re facing an unprecedented scale of pace and change. We’re like fish in water – immersed in our own historic experiences and our understanding of how to make things happen. We have to deal with the degradation that is happening now, and the human suffering related to environmental and economic collapse.

Global Action Networks can help to grow the new, sustainable initiatives are happening on the periphery of existing power structures.

He continued with organizational history lessons to help us frame our challenges.

The invention of the railway planted the seeds of our present-day business corporation. For the first time, businesses had to work across time zones. They had to transport an amazing number of people.  At that time, we had governments preoccupied with modest provision of services, trade, and national security.

World War 1 mobilized millions, and post-war governments had new levels of unprecedented power.

Fast forward to the 60s, which brought widespread recognition of human rights, new ideas about fair economic development, and the environmental crisis. Non Governmental Organizations of unprecedented scale and complexity appeared on the scene, incredible organizations we never thought possible. The mental models behind these organizations were distinctive, similar to a one-dimensional network. We’re talking about another type of structure, without a center and periphery.

We left the gold standard. We faced unprecedented rates of inflation and unemployment.
Economic, political, environmental, and social crises taught us that governments couldn’t do what we hoped they could.

Global Action Networks were a response to these developments:

·      Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), 1993
·      Transparency International, 1993. Focus on corruption.
·      UN Global Compact, 2000. Human rights, labor, environmental, anti-corruption principles integrated into corporate actions.

What do they have in common? These are inter-organizational networks (meta-organizations) with multiple hubs. They strive for large systemic change and transformation. Their organizing logic is one of coherence. They are by nature multi-stakeholder—we’re organizing as a system, now. Their three major areas of focus are the economy, health, and the environment.

Lessons for resilient communities

1.     Nurture System Stewardship.
2.     Embed action learning. Act and observe, reflect and plan. (PRAXIS!)
3.     Support transformational change
4.     Cultivate system intelligence
5.     Connect hierarchy and network (“Tie together hierarchy as well.”)
6.     Develop through fractals.
Construct local levels of resource management that reflect the global level.

9:40: Scott Spann: Systems Mapping of Resilient Communities

How do we use systems thinking to align from the individual level to the group? These factors dominate the emerging dynamics:

·      Increasing population
·      Increasing interdependence
·      Increasing quality of life demands

We also have emerging and converging issues:

·      Climate change
·      Equity
·      Food
·      Water
·      Energy

The emerging dynamic is one of complex, multi-stakeholder problems.

Graph: # of issues/opportunities and time

·      Relationship and clarity
o   Relationships with one another and with REALITY – it is knowable.
·      Inclusion and collaboration
·      Resilience and equity

Fundamental framework

1.     What’s the state of reality?
2.     What’s causing that reality?
3.     Where to intervene?
4.     How to make structural then behavioral changes?

Scott emphasizes the need to understand the system as a whole before jumping in with action steps.

Promise of Systems Thinking

·      RE-AMP
 Energy efficiency --> Demand for Clean --> Demand for New Dirty --> Retiring existing dirty

·      Holistic Strategy Map
“Extracted intervention points” – What are we trying to cause? How?

·      On the Commons
“It’s not privatization” -?? Mislabels it. It’s about an anti-democratic movement.

Build relationship and clarity from the individual up.

·      Individual level
·      Subgroup level
·      Whole group level
·      @scale

Specific examples:

Angel Blackwell, Policy Link. “The vital role of place and participation


Graph: Potential for stable climate vs Time (1950-2050)

·      Immediate and catastrophic change
·      Applied to resilience
·      Become clear about the state of reality – internalize it. Critical to our capacity to respond.
·      Structure of reality
·      What/Where to change.

What we’ve done so far


Mapped their mental models.
Thomas Linzey: asserting our human rights and nature’s rights, challenging the rights of corporations.
Percent of habitat conducive to life.
Getting youth to appreciate nature is critical.

Subgroups/Working groups

et al…

Individual maps/Integrated sketch

We now have an inclusive, integrated map.

10:02: Ruth Rominger: Operationalizing Action Networks
Garfield Foundation
RE-AMP Networks

What if we tried a systems approach to accelerate movement toward sustainability?

·      Define the system
·      Identify success
·      Strategies
·      Actions
·      Infrastructure, Tools

Systems understanding à Network design

·      Earth systems
·      Ecosystems
·      Complexity
·      Chaos theory
·      Computer systems

Purpose determines structure
The RE-AMP Guiding Motto: “Think systemically — Act collaboratively”

·      Understand the system
·      Align around long-term goal
·      Highest leverage interventions
·      Require simultaneous actions

Self-organizing network nodes

The advocates and funders in the room self-organized into working groups for strategic planning:

·      Increase energy efficiency
·      Increase clean energy
·      Clean up coal
·      Stop new dirty coal

Identified emergent structures.

Infrastructure: distributed, minimal.

Shared assets:

·      Governance
·      Shared story
·      Communications
·      Learning
·      Assessing
·      Resource sharing

Resist human tendency to centralize (leadership, capacity)

·      Democratic elections from working groups.
·      Staff hired and distributed in membership organizations

Transmit a shared story

·      Network Communications Commons
·      Network systems: relationships, flow of information. Work quickly through learning and iterating.

Distributed leadership and infrastructure

·      160 organizations, eight states.
·      ACT like a network
·      Connect, align, learn, act

Always Adapting

·      Pooled funding
·      Shared data
·      Governance
·      Commons and Media

Network Design

·      Stability
·      Connectivity
·      Diversity
Distributed: stronger, more creative together
·      Information flow
·      Power differentials
“Control is in the way of change”
“Too much control in a single component is in the way”
·      Minimum specs
·      Measurement: of patterns and emergence. Be aware of what can be measured. Be aware of patterns and watch for emergence.

“Font of creativity to bring in new ideas” — information flow allows for emergence.

Plenary Panel

David Orr, Oberlin Project 2009

Full spectrum sustainability: “You’re going to have lunch with a whole bunch of people.”
Black Swan events — small changes that have major effects.

CO2 in atmosphere will affect the climate 1,000 years from now.
“If you’re not depressed by depressing things, that makes me depressed.”

·      Adam Joseph Lewis Center: most important green building in 30 years?
·      Green Arts District: 13-acre development
·      Clinton Climate Positive: 1 of 17 carbon neutral sites
·      Local foods: 70%
·      Education: 1000 students/10 years

·      Full spectrum sustainability
·      Parts reinforce the resilience of the whole
·      Arts + humanities + sciences
·      transportation, smart growth

Mary Gonzales (Gamáliel Foundation)

Mary brought home the importance of listening campaigns, relationship building, leadership development, and direct local campaigns in leadership development and social justice movements. She did so with the rhetorical force of a Baptist preacher.

“You’re not a reflection of this country.”
Will Latinos vote? Not being talked about, we’re not engaging them.
Corruption IS acceptable in America.

Frederick Douglass:

“Those who profess to favor freedom and yet depreciate agitation, are people who want crops without ploughing the ground; they want rain without thunder and lightning; they want the ocean without the roar of its many waters. The struggle may be a moral one, or it may be a physical one, or it may be both. But it must be a struggle. Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will.”

1.     Don’t be an individual – live in a community.
2.     Believe in abundance rather than scarcity.
3.     Stop being powerless – we aren’t intended to be powerless.

Live in reality and engage

Listening campaigns instead of talking campaigns.

·      What do we ALL have in common?
·      Begin a campaign.
·      My job is to convince you that you are not the potted plant you believe you are.
You’re unwilling to use your power because you’re afraid of the responsibility you’ll bear if you step up.

Training. Boot camp. Trainers. Step up and define what you want to do, and then take people into action.

Book: Power and Innocence, Rollo May
“We seek to remain innocent. We buy into consumer culture.”

84% of the federal transportation budget goes to highways.
Gamaliel got an appropriation for free bus passes for youth. $156M for two years of work.
FTC sees this as chump change.
Who are the groups standing in the way?
Let’s agitate the groups!

Question: Where does spirituality enter into resilience?
“Most of our groups are congregations. Their answer is to pray. We have to pull them out of those buildings and into the world.”

11:05: Rick Reed (Senior Advisor, Garfield Foundation/RE-AMP)

140 groups, 12 foundations, eight states
Advocates and foundations

Garfield: environmental protection in North Midwest.

Created a map of the regional energy system.  The real activity was listening to each another think out loud and develop respect. Foundations didn’t understand that much more than anyone else.

Shared insight: Four leverage points need simultaneous intervention.
The initiative was all about building demand for clean energy. You’ll never scale clean energy the way you want to without blocking coal…

In a coal campaign, the Sierra Club defeated 30 coal plants.

Thinking systemically/Acting collaboratively

·      Systems analysis
·      Shared goal
·      Working groups
·      Share intelligence
·      Network practices

RE-AMP put .5M a year into “keeping that going.” It now has a $4M pool fund.

When you DO have a pool fund, have foundations and advocates together in the same room.

Benefits of the network model

·      Collective intelligence
·      Reach
·      Belonging

3rd party evaluation
65% say they’re using better strategies

RE-AMP Youth Caucus – current circumstances taken for granted, but we can’t take it as a given. Have a broader conversation – what would bring you into this movement?

“A feel good story about what we can do in our current circumstances.”

11:20: Andy Lipkis (Tree People, Los Angeles)

What do we seek to cause?

Next year is our 40th year. We’ve just come through a strategic visioning process. We know and understand the networking process, but we don’t do it well. The goal is to have a fully sustainable city by 20??.

Functioning community forest model. Reworking the city to biomimic the forest. Water, energy, transportation, sanitation. Metrics to get to the flip: inspire, engage, inform.

Demand policy changes. We blame the two parties, but we’re not out on the streets demanding this, and if we’re quiet, they get away with it. This requires a profound flip in each of our roles. Each of us is a manager of the ecosystem.

We also embrace top-down approaches.

We aren’t getting to the core of people’s pain. Saw the LA riots as a sign of failure to heal the pain. We start over. What can we do different? We weren’t about decorating, without linking it all up we weren’t doing the work.

It is economically and socially feasible to retrofit the whole city to function as an ecosystem. We manage the ecosystem so badly, waste so much. There is enough money to repair our ecosystem. We worry about exposing ourselves, or failure. We keep experiencing lack instead of abundance.

We’re committed: Shifting to Integrated Management

Taking it to scale

·      LA’s first justice zone
·      Six-year community-based watershed plan in a ??% Latino community
·      County approved environmental impact report. $200M budget!
·      Demonstrated more energy savings, air quality

We have to demand this kind of integration. “Board of Chiefs” Integration 2.0. $150M of private money for a heart transplant. The result will be a profound shift.

Campaign to save trees from cutting to make way for the Space Shuttle flyover.

11:55: Kristin Sheeran (Ecotrust, standing in for Astrid Scholz)

We’re here to provide a sketch of resilient communities. We have neither the moral authority nor the credibility to lecture other countries and cultures about sustainability. We seek systemic, transformative change. We’re going to need to be disruptive.

Ecotrust is an ecosystems investment fund. We manage 13,000 acres of forest land in the NorthWest, and we’ve beaten the market in most years.

Food systems: The challenge is to connect local growers with demand in cities. We conducted a series of informal meetings between farmers and chefs (“speed dating”).

Institutional buyers: “Food Hub” partnered with distribution partner in Boston (“FoodEx” -?)

Headquarters a hub: Our own building in Portland OR is in an upscale neighborhood called “The Pearl.” The building is home to other sustainable businesses and organizations and has millions of visitors, so we’re a hub. We’ve become a more resilient organization by housing our offices in a LEED certified building. We don’t rely on grants or philanthropic funding—we bank with One PacificCoast Bank. The bank lends to community-based fishing organizations. They need equipment, infrastructure, and other purchases to sustain the local fisheries.

How robust is a regional approach to sustainability? It’s time to redraw the maps. We need a global map created by regionally-minded organizations. Users go in, using global data sets. Utilize the variables – language, culture, economy, ecology. National and international institutions are failing. We need a different model of scale, and the flexibility to move across scales. Climate change threatens sea level rise, an unavoidable fact that is the same all over the world, and that no one can deny. We see the risks translate into local vulnerabilities.

“When nature finds itself in need of new ideas, it strives to connect, not protect.” –Steven Johnson?

How about an app store for the planet? Why is it so easy for a kid in Vietnam or in Brazil to find an Angry Birds game? What if it was almost as simple to access tools and resources for sustainability? It’s an imperfect analogy, but we need to accelerate the pace of communication and tooling throughout the world.

12:12: Peter Warshall: Dreaming New Mexico, Global Business Project
“Maniacal naturalist and infrastructure freak”

Bolinas, CA – Peter claimed a “first” for Bolinas, but it went by too quickly for me to capture the notes. Wikipedia says that this community is known for its reclusive residents. It is only accessible via unmarked roads; any road sign along State Route 1 that points the way into town has been torn down by local residents, to the point where county officials simply got tired of replacing them.

Running for public office: “To take your own morals and navigate within a constituency” is the best education ever.”

Peter is a Harvard graduate, cultural anthropologist, and Fulbright Scholar. He must have something to say, but the presentation felt rushed, and it was hard to extract coherent notes from the talk.

Dreaming New Mexico
Look to nature as a source of knowledge. You always have resistance and resilience.  We’re now at a time of resilience, looking at a time of renewal.

·      “Local foodsheds and a fair trade state”
·      Agro-Ecoregions
·      Part of resilience must always be commerce and trade.
·      Crops & forage must be resilient to agro-ecoregion whimsy: wet/dry periods, rainfall/evaporation, growing season.

Resilience limits

·      Solar
·      Geothermal
·      Wind

Value chains

·      Inputs
·      Production
·      Processing & distribution
·      Marketing
·      Consuming

Apples: all sold to school system were being grown in WA. They have apple agriculture in the region. Apples must be polished, washed. Locals didn’t have the machinery. The bigger apples that were rejected went to Whole Foods??

Beef: two very different tracks. Packing houses, large dairies. Open up the system by disconnecting.

·      Global
·      Regional
·      Urban

Chocolate: Citizens will not give up chocolate. Need a fair trade system.

Shadow governance: You have to think as if you are the government. Create a parallel system. “What we were saying all along” became reality in a crisis.

Your law has to be more flexible, inclusive. More food will be bought by the state for jail systems and orphanages. [sic – I can’t make this stuff up. -ta]

12:35 Carl Anthony, Breakthrough Communities

Just Transition

What will change look like? Intentional transition or collapse.
Transition is inevitable – justice is not.
Change is the new status quo.

Change as Shocks, Slides, and Shifts.

·      Shocks: Fukushima, Gulf oil spill
·      Slides: slower, incremental changes – not acute, but can be catastrophic
·      Shifts: the cultural and systemic changes we seek.

Prepare our movement strategy to harness these Aha! moments into change.

Resistance: Social movements, building for power. “We won’t achieve resilience without the power to contest.” Impacted communities at the front lines must be at the center of the leadership to define new communities.

Via Campesina – largest worldwide movement of peasants, small farm workers, agrarian reform. We need a land reform movement in the United States!
Be in deep alliance with people in the Global South.
Economy is management of home. Many economies seeded from below by regaining control of the land we live on.

Richmond, CA

Resilience Based Organizing: People meeting their needs through shared work.
Starting to grow food in our own communities. Rights to water. Our own energy sets.

Example: Bay Area – learning circles.

Urban Till organizer: Radically change – NEW CONCEPTION OF WHAT A NEIGHBORHOOD IS LIKE. “Don’t pull up the roots, just take the fruit.

Building a transformative narrative – public/private to PEOPLES LAND. Move from what is feasible to what is necessary. It’s not a technical problem, it’s a governance problem. Marry resistance and resilience.


We must restore and heal – restore the web of life.

La Collectiva: worker organized collective. Restore work and workers to full valuation.
The only way to exploit ecosystems is to exploit human labor. We are living in illusion if we think we can restore ecology without social justice. It’s all patriarchy, hierarchy, oppression.

Cities that run on the sun

What does this look like on the ground?

·      Democratizing
·      Diversifying
·      Consuming less
·      Social systems that are democratic

We have the answers at our disposal, but …
Implementing eminent domain in space over buildings – this is public space.

·      Cities that go with the flow
·      Cities that work together
·      Cities that know where they are
·      Cities where people set roots

Take housing into the commons. When prices go up, speculators move in.

Cities we all call home. Everyone does better.

12:54: Jim Sheehan, Envision Spokane

Community building – literally and figuratively. Started career as a public defender. The day after Nixon was pardoned, asked judge to pardon minor offender like Ford pardoned Nixon. Judge didn’t see it that way. Justice accessible to those with money and property. James Madison:  “We have to protect the opulent against the majority.” I did inhale, so have too many skeletons for public office.

Envision Spokane started in 2005.  Started by going to Tom Lindsay, democracy school. Came together in groups of 60-70 people to try and implement what we were learning. The Constitution of the United States was grounded in property, not rights.

Began to bring together activists: labor, libertarians, …
“This is what we want.” “We’re not interested in what we can get.” We’ll decide.

Put municipal initiative on the ballot, 4-yr campaign. Strange bedfellows in this group. 11 different points on the initiative: right to health care, healthy economy, workplace rights, etc. Needed 3200 signatures. Got 5500. The movement was well received in a way we didn’t expect. People realized that things weren’t really working all that well. We needed some systemic change. Things are worse today for clean water than they were when the Clean Water Act was passed 40 years ago. We restrict polluters on how much they can pollute, we don’t prohibit pollution.

The opposition framed it this way: “Ask people if they want to increase taxes to pass this community bill of rights. Do you want to decrease services?” Went on the ballot in 2009 – we didn’t win – 25% of the vote, 13,000 people. Outspent 8-1. $0.5M advertising against Community Bill of Rights from sources outside Spokane/Washington.

Went again, reduced margin of defeat to 4-1(??)

Head of COC in Spokane invited Jim to office for tour. Over coffee, offered not to put this on the ballot this time. Bring all of you to the table? “We’ve been doing that for 200 years and nothing has happened.”

Election night party at Jim’s house. He’s in the back, hears screaming. Returns in, 50/50 – lost 49.x to 50.x. We almost won. We would have restricted corporate personhood in Spokane. There will be lawsuits, etc. but our community is making decisions about what we want. We have the right and the ability to make our own decisions about what it is that we want. Incredibly grassroots.

Taking Community Bill of Rights into larger arena. New constitutional convention!? 320M Americans. The law prohibits activities discussed today. You can’t farm locally – sustainability is illegal.

Putting it on the ballot again for 2013. Council has made it a lot tougher to get initiatives on the ballot (big surprise). We’ll be on the ballot under the new rules. Watch for us in 2013 – give rights to nature and strop corporate personhood.
1:10 – no time for questions.


2:20: Collaboratory – Financial Resilience (see Summary on page 1)

4:05: Group reports

“Stewardship as a form of dominion…” (?)

Compassionate Action Network (Seattle)

Intergenerational knowledge transfer.

Value premise – reward value instead of harm.
Importance of metrics and accounting.

4:15: Through the Mapping Glass
Locate yourself in nodes to critique the map and explore collaboration. (Ask the question, who needs whom to succeed?)

The frame of the map changes. There are actually five maps, and you will self-select into five corresponding groups. Facilitators will orient us to our section of the map. Don’t ask them questions—they’re volunteers!

The five sections have a relationship with reality

1.     Ecology
2.     Society
3.     Economy
4.     Politics
5.     **Movement/Network Building
(I chose this section—I believe that Gary Horvitz covered the Economy)

·      Governance
·      Net resilience?
·      Quality of social network?
·      Quality of movement leadership and membership


Snag a white cardboard box & colored marker
Intitial/symbol upper right corners (6)

On four consecutive sides (save 2 for later):

1.     What should we seek to cause?
2.     What 3-5-7 elements are required?
3.     Who else needs to be included/invited?
4.     What additional knowledge should be integrated?

5:30: Gar Alperovitz: The Green Economy and the Democratization of Community Wealth

His afternoon talk was an excellent summary of the related political, ecological, and economic issues that define our current transition to a new historical era.

“I’m glad to be with you – fellow revolutionaries!” I think we know that what is being discussed here is about changing the most powerful economic system in the history of the world.

“Projectism” is a dead end. We don’t get to where we want to go without addressing existential questions of systemic change. The bottom line is what individuals (you and me) are willing to “cop to” (embrace). If you don’t like corporate capitalism or state socialism, what is it that you want—A different system that is sustainable, positive, and worthy of committing our lives to building? How does one begin to sketch it?

History says control of wealth dictates the rules. In the 19th century, “competitive” capitalism consisted of farmers and small businessmen. At the turn of the last century, corporate elites controlled the capital. The New Deal system in the US (which we’re just coming out of) embraced liberalism, democratic socialism in Europe embraced regulatory strategy. An institution (powerful and muscular) dictated the terms of this system – the labor movement.

The capacity to hold the corporate system in line is disintegrating. Labor now down to 11% of the workforce. We live in an era where that system is in decay. The top 1% has 20% of the income. Civil liberties are a benchmark—incarceration rates are critical. That’s the country we live in. There is a systemic crisis emerging.

What do you want? Corporate domination as an institutionalized drive for power. The corporation MUST grow – it’s not a matter of choice. If you don’t meet your Wall Street quarterlies, they will kill you. We once again have a medieval structure of economic power – 400 people own more than 180M people combined. You want to change that? That’s what you’re up against, and so am I. I’m a historian. Systemic revolution and transformation happen, and they are possible. Things change. The civil rights and feminist movements are examples.

We are in the pre-history of the possible transformation of this system. On the one hand, the system itself is creating pain unemployment and poverty. People are realizing that something is wrong – that’s a big deal. It goes to the ideology. People begin asking interesting, long-term questions. In areas of great pain, people are forced to create something new, or the pain increases. Take steelworkers in a Midwestern town, perforce of moral concern: “We’re going to take over this mill and run it as a mill.” They organized, and got $260M loan guarantees. This transformed the economy. In Ohio, you now have more worker-owned companies per capita than anywhere in the world. This sophisticated green economy uses the purchasing power of local hospitals and other institutions to alter the economy in the greenest possible way.

·      Community Development Corporations
·      Community Land Trusts
·      Institutions that can build the power and base to sustain communities – IF we’re up to it as the pain deepens. Us? Who else? Grasp this reality as a possibility.

When our next system is built, we will build transportation systems.

You can’t regulate those “big guys” – they’ll overtake the regulatory system. If you defeat them, they’ll come back.

As we consider the implications of this extraordinary day, that’s what we’re doing. We’re forming the ideas.

6:44: Ret Marine Colonel Mark “Puck” Mykleby
New National Security Sustainability Grand Strategy

He’s right about a lot of things, but this audience tolerates his self-assured assertions, violent frames, salty language, and disrespect for time limits out of uncomfortable politeness. No further comment.

Other takeaways

Triple Bottom Line (3E)

1.     Equity
2.     Economy
3.     Environment

·      To thrive, communities must have access to resources and relationships.
·      What is the percentage of economic activity that supports the local economy?
·      What percentage of the local community is engaged in high-quality decision making?
·      One key element is engaging more and more people into the decision making process.
Do we value life’s intelligence and intention? Do we value this highly enough? A foundational view of life’s design begins to ma