[This post was written by Megan Foster, Grant Russ, and Tina Xiong, and complements previous students’ analysis of the question What is Sustainability?]
An elevated level of equity would be ideal through the aspect of civil society as the center piece placed in between the economy, the state, and environment. From this perspective, each neighboring sphere to civil society is still necessary to keep sustainability in balance. Appropriately, though, the state, operated by the means of democratic governance, would garner the most attention since it in turn largely manages equity to civil society. As civil society becomes more of the focal point by the democratic institution it would allow such equity of access and discourse on a large body of thought and literature for the civil body to express its interest and mediation on the path towards sustainability.
Democratic institutions also allow advantages for a larger portion of civil society to take part in political freedoms and participation, which is also needed during this long enduring trek towards sustainability. Sustainability itself nearly focuses on the following three similar dimensions as of civil society: the social, the environment and the economy. Equity would naturally gravitate to this central core of dimensions and thus produce a more dynamic, growing and accessible opportunities for civil society, and sustainability.
As Gary L. Larsen puts it (more…)
Read Full Post »
A student recently asked:
How do we promote sustainable practices amongst people who don’t care about sustainability? Is it within our rights to force sustainable practices/actions on people who don’t care? Why do people who don’t care not care? Can they be changed? Should they be changed? (or is that infringe on their freedoms? Should we have that freedom?)
My response was that if we think of sustainability in terms of requiring democratic participation, forcing people to comply would run counter to this goal and be, therefore, unsustainable. However, has it ever been the case that 100% of the American population has gotten behind any initiative? The modern American democratic process regularly makes decisions that are supported by slim majorities of voters, and just five out of nine Supreme Court Justices can decide a case that will have repercussions for decades to come. Both of these outcomes take place within the American democratic process, but such majority decisions often results in a situation where quite a large number of people are put in a position of forced compliance with a policy or decision that they may not agree with. How does our working definition of sustainability account for this conundrum? Is it sufficient to our working definition to ensure that a process is in place that facilitates democratic participation, even if the outcome results in the dissatisfaction of a large minority of citizens (a minority that could potentially represent 49.9% of the population)?
Complexities abound as we probe these questions more deeply. If we attempt to specify these questions within a particular place, time, and situation, perhaps we might be able to discern some patterns about what causes people not to care about an issue someone else considers essential for sustainability. For example, do those who claim not to care have insufficient information about the topic? Are they being kept in the dark or being actively lied to? Do they have some kind of investment in or commitment to the status quo that they don’t want disturbed? Do they have an alternate definition of “sustainability” that isn’t being considered to their satisfaction?
Read Full Post »
I’ve recently been alerted to the existence of an online journal devoted to issues related to sustainability, Mother Pelican: A Journal of Sustainable Human Development.
Mother Pelican is a product of The Pelican Web, whose mission it is “to collect, organize, and disseminate knowledge on sustainable development, with especial focus on human development; and to publish the monthly, free subscription, open access Mother Pelican, a journal on sustainable human development.”
The Pelican Web website contains links to resources and also provides an outline of the organization’s research agenda:
Read Full Post »
Onward Oregon is
part of growing grassroots movement to restore civic power to the people of Oregon and their communities. We envision a state where all of us can enjoy comfort and prosperity, equal opportunity and a beautiful and healthy environment. But this will not happen without your participation. Many Americans have forgotten that government is actually, “We, the people,” not—as some would have us believe—an alien, inept or untrustworthy entity. Let us reclaim our constitutional right to a truly democratic government. Our path is not left or right, but onward.
One of Onward Oregon’s current initiatives is their Mapping the Commons workshop series:
Oregon Commons, a project of Onward Oregon, is presenting a series of workshops this fall as a step toward our larger goal of strengthening active stewardship of the commons — the gifts of nature and civilization we share across generations. Join us for “Mapping the Commons,” a fun and interactive workshop designed to help grow our awareness, our network and our commitment to serving the common good. Together, we’ll explore the many facets of the commons and identify opportunities to become more active as its caretakers.
Onward Oregon is hosting two of these free workshops this fall:Salem on Nov. 13 and Portland on Nov. 20.
Read Full Post »
Old AM radio tuner, photographer Claudio Divizia, 123RF Stock Photos (www.123rf.com)
Oregon Public Broadcasting’s Think Out Loud radio program this morning was on the topic “Sustainable Oregon and Iraq.” This program featured discussion of two recent developments in regional sustainability efforts. The first was on the five-year agreement that Oregon State University and the government of Iraq entered into help Iraq’s universities in developing sustainable engineering and design programs. The second topic of discussion was on “EcoDistricts,” a new and evolving urban planning concept that seeks to coordinate various existing environmental, equity, and economic strategies in a particular neighborhood to foster cohesive, mutually-reinforcing positive outcomes.
This program this morning got me interested in reviewing other segments of two regional radio programs that I’ve found highly informative over the years, OPB’s Think Out Loud and KUOW’s Weekday. See below the fold for this list.
Read Full Post »