Monday, October 20, 2008


I see these four principles (SECS as I call them) as being interconnected and intersupportive.

Simple living is sustainable living. In order to live sustainably, we need to live simply. As we need and use less, we also allow those who don't have to have more, thus moving toward equality.

Living cooperatively and/or communally allows you to share stuff, which means you can live more simply and sustainably. It also mean that those who share have somewhat of an equal access to stuff, reducing the disparities between people.

Income sharing communities are consciously egalitarian. In fact, the main organization of income-sharing communities is called The Federation of Egalitarian Communities.

Egalitarian is only sustainable if it's simple. As many people have put it, if everyone lived the way that the average American lives we'd need several planets worth of resources. We can get away with living so unsustainably now because of how unequal our consumption is. A simple life is the only life that promotes equality and sustainability--and cooperative and/or communal sharing can help us live simply.

To see how these are all connected, I'll quote from an interview with Oren Lyons, the 'faithkeeper' of the Onondaga Nation. He was speaking with Tim Knauss, of the Syracuse (New York) Post-Standard, about the traditions of the Haudenosaunee, or the Six Nations of the Iroquois Confederacy. One of these traditions is the oft-cited admonition to consider the seventh generation to come in every decision you make. (In other words, make decisions that will be sustainable.)

Lyons talked about Sen. Henry Dawes, of Massachusetts. Dawes sponsored legislation (the Dawes Act) which broke up the collectively owned Indian land, because he thought Indians needed individual ownership in order to become successful.

Lyons claimed that Dawes said that "I just came back from the Cherokee Nation ... in Oklahoma. Well, he said... they had schools, there was no war, they had their statehouse, they were living communally. They were very happy, he said, if not blissful there. They were all working like an Indian community. And he says, and that's the problem.... He says, well, as you know, if somebody is living in those terms, they're not going to progress. They're just going to be happy just the way they are. There'll be no progress....

"I think he said. ... the bottom line of our civilization was selfishness. We have to teach them to be selfish, so they can progress. ... It's about progress."

Here's an example of SECS, where the Cherokees (and other tribes) were living simply, communally, sustainably, and to a large degree, equally. And it was deliberately destroyed because of someone's ideal of 'progress' and the notion that we need selfishness and greed in order to progress.

But SECS isn't enough. Now, to make things more complex, I want to put out a set of principles that may at first seem to contradict my principles of Simplicity, Equality, Community, and Sustainability. I think, though, they complement them.

But first, let me give a living example of what I think is interconnected SECS.

Quote of the day: "When a system is whole and healthy, when it is based on relationships of interdependence and cooperation that further resilience, diversity, abundance, sustainability, creativity, and freedom, it exhibits that balance that we humans call 'justice'." - Starhawk
Word (or phrase) of the day: Co-Intelligence
Hero(es) of the day: Judi Bari


Michaelann Bewsee said...

Here I am, trying to convey a sense of some sustainability issues on my blog, but I'm gonna just start sending people to YOUR blog, and encouraging all the members of the Arise Green Committee to read it.
Thank you!

Anonymous said...

Nice write up. We can sure use some of this thinking right now as we watch the continual pro-growth (individual selfish wealth building) global financial model spinning in sheer chaos...


murph said...


I would be interested in your definition of sustainable. Word is used a lot but seldom defined.

MoonRaven said...


Thank you. This is high praise coming from you--I've admired the work that you and Arise do. I think it's important to link sustainability and social justice issues.


I appreciate your nice comment. Hopefully the financial, etc, chaos may create a situation where people will start looking for something different. We just need to make people more aware of the alternatives.


I actually talked quite a bit about sustainability three posts ago (10/14/08). I agree that it's used too much to mean too many different things. I heard Scott Kellogg (author of Toolbox for Sustainable City Living) complain that corporate interests are now using 'Sustainable Development' as a cover term for doing things that destroy third-world communities. Sustainable means thinking for the long-term--about a world that works for everybody.

Anonymous said...

Just found this.

Peter Whybrow writes in his new book: “American Mania, When More Is Not Enough,” that brings up the question, “What if people are biologically unsuited for the American dream?” And, "In a way, this financial meltdown is a healthy thing for us. We'll think intuitively again."

This is a scientific look at how hyper consumerism is making us ill, and has put all of us into this broken economic situation. This will be an interesting read, the science and mind biology, and elevated consciousness of sustainable living...

Wired Article and Youtube interview with Charlie Rose:


MoonRaven said...

Thanks for this link, Chris. This is a great article. It demonstrates that the crazed American way of life is not only bad for the world, it is bad for us.

I was at a meeting tonight where we talked about how the American diet destroys the environment. Someone talked about the 'Standard American Diet' and pointed out that the initials spell 'SAD'. That may be a comment about the whole American way of life.