Presentation: “Seeding a New Culture”
By author and sustainability expert, Paul Hanley
On Sunday, 1 February 2015, Paul Hanley, author of the insightful new book, Eleven, presented a webinar lecture in Washington, D.C., USA, hosted by the U.S. Bahá’í Office of Public Affairs. Drawing on the material in his book, Mr. Hanley discussed how humanity and the world will adjust to support 11 billion people by the end of this century and how we can and are beginning to cure the social and environmental ills currently plaguing humanity and nature. As part of his talk, Mr. Hanley emphasized a solution rooted in local education and capacity-building processes practiced in the Bahá’í community. A recording of the talk with slides was available, but has unfortunately been lost. More than 100 individuals took part in the event and feedback was very positive.
Sponsoring Organization: U.S. Baha’i Office of Public Affairs, http://publicaffairs.bahai.us/
According to medium U.N. projections, by the end of this century, 11 billion people will populate the planet. Increasing the population by 50% will greatly exacerbate current social and environmental problems facing humanity and force everyone to change everything (or accept a halting and retreat, rather than a further advance of civilization). Paul Hanley’s book, “11,” discusses the need for a major shift in approach to agriculture, a move away from our materialistic culture, and a transformation in individual and collective mindset. Specifically, he addresses the need for an alternative to traditional resource intensive agriculture, the culture of consumerism, and the individualist competitive mindset. As alternatives, Hanley proposes involvement in service and spiritual activities in one’s local community, grassroots re-greening projects, and an ethically enlightened mindset centered on the virtues of unity, justice, equity, and service.
To successfully transition from our current culture, agriculture, and mindsets to sustainable alternatives, Hanley proposes a process-based ethical education model that can be simultaneously implemented at the levels of the individual, community and institution. He discusses one such model, the Ruhi model, which is currently being used in over 10,000 communities around the world. According to Hanley, using a process-based approach means that we do not have to agree on reality or an ideal reality to move forward. Instead, we can consult as communities: assess our local realities, envision alternatives, act to achieve the alternatives, reflect on the results, and repeat.
Hanley argues that by using a process-based approach to continuously search for truth and systematically act to improve our social and spiritual conditions, we will seed a new culture and realize eventually an ever-advancing civilization. However, given the urgent and global nature of our current social and environmental crises, Hanley also asserts that change at the individual and community level will not be enough. Institutions will need to assemble local learning at the regional, national, and international levels and reflect effective approaches back to the local level to catalyze transformation.
Paul Hanley has published 1500 articles on the environment, sustainable development, agriculture, and other topics. He is editor and co-author of Earthcare: Ecological Agriculture in Saskatchewan (Earthcare 1980) and The Spirit of Agriculture (George Ronald 2005). Paul is a recipient of the Canadian Environment Award and the Meewasin Conservation Award. He has been environment columnist with the Saskatoon StarPhoenix since 1989. Paul lives in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, in Canada, with his wife and the youngest of three sons--plus two dogs. For more information, blogs posts and events go to www.elevenbillionpeople.com>
See our review of the book "11" at http://iefworld.org/node/708
Last updated 13 February 2015