Thursday, November 13, 2008

Practical Resources

When I think of practical resources, I think of useful things, such as tools, and when I think of tools, I think of The Whole Earth Catalog, first published in 1968, and revised under such names as The Last Whole Earth Catalog, The Whole Earth Epilog, The Next Whole Earth Catalog, The Essential Whole Earth Catalog, and The Millennium Whole Earth Catalog. There was also a 30th anniversary edition published in 1998. In addition, the Whole Earth people put out a magazine, Co-Evolution Quarterly, which they published from 1974-1985. In 1985, the name of the magazine was changed to the Whole Earth Review, later called simply Whole Earth. The final print issue was in 2003, but there is a website that has information about the catalogs and magazines, and contains book reviews, articles, and back issues. Co-Evolution Quarterly was a major influence on my life, introducing me to things like voluntary simplicity, bioregionalism, soft technology, the New Alchemy Institute, watersheds, the Gaia hypothesis, Buckminster Fuller, Gregory Bateson, Ivan Illich, Betty Dodson, Anne Herbert, and Donella Meadows. I still have a stash of old CQs that I look at from time to time.

Perhaps a twenty-first century version of the Whole Earth extravaganza is the WorldChanging website. They claim that "...real solutions already exist for building the future we want. It's just a matter of grabbing hold and getting moving." They even publish a 600 page book full of 'ideas for creating a bright green future' called Worldchanging: A User's Guide for the 21st Century, which has been compared to the Whole Earth Catalog. In fact, the founders of WorldChanging acknowledge the influence of the Whole Earth Catalog on their work.

Both the old Whole Earth and the new WorldChanging are full of idealism, but they are also full of practical, useful ideas, and we need more practical ideas.

Quote of the day: "...another world is not just possible, it's here. We only need to put the pieces together." - from the WorldChanging Manifesto
Word (or phrase) of the day: Butterfly Effect
Hero(es) of the day: Francis of Assisi


Anonymous said...

See an overview of the work of the New Alchemy Institute - google "New Alchemy Institute".

MoonRaven said...

I've referenced the New Alchemy Institute in my posts on Sustainable Resources (10/18/08) and Appropriate Technology (8/19/08). A good starting link to NAI's work is