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Friday, 25 July 2008 23:57


Section VI - The Curve of Hope
Chapter 3 - Defining Sustainability - Ecological & Communal Harmony


Make no little plans; they have no magic to stir men's blood and probably themselves will not be realized. Make big plans; aim high in hope and work, remembering that a noble, logical diagram once recorded will not die, but long after we are gone be a living thing, asserting itself with ever-growing insistence.

Daniel Hudson Burnham

How can we become in harmony with all life?

When I initially created ‘The Epochs of Sustainability' construct re-shown below, it wasn't yet clear to me that ‘The Curve of Hope' line lacked a certain authenticity the way it flowed off of the ‘Exponential Waste and Pollution' line. A friend, Mark Maggiora, suggested that 'The Curve of Hope' was only possible if there were ‘Exponential Improvements'. This was very helpful for me as I now had a name for the five (5) categories that were beginning to take shape in my head. Each of the categories --
  • Seeding & Nurturing
  • Transformative Learning
  • Re-Focus Technology
  • Structural Changes
  • Conscious Evolution
is articulated briefly in the following five chapters.

Although they are articulated discretely, one per chapter, they are very interconnected.  The underlying principle is to be organic. Thus, the base to build upon is 'Seeding and Nurturing'. With this foundational way of being, 'Transformative Learning', Re-Focusing Technology' Ecological and Social  Harmonyand 'Structural Changes' synergistically complement each other, and a new way of being, 'Conscious Evolution' emerges.

From this new consciousness, which is already well underway, we find ourselves in touch with the deepest underlying principle, being in harmony with all of life's processes. I believe this principle also underlies 'The Natural Step' system conditions that lend great insight for re-defining sustainability.

The definition of sustainability found on most university websites and towns that have adopted a definition is -

'‘meeting the economic, social, and environmental needs of the present without compromising the similar needs of future generations.'

It is a powerful definition that seems accurate, but lacks the energetic connection with the Earth and the Universe that those cultures who have been sustainable over the millenniums exhibit. Until we internalize that connection, I believe we will continue to articulate the severity and urgency of our crisis, but won't be able to find the will to make the tough decisions and choices that we will have to make, and we will look to solve our problems primarily through technological innovation and economic incentives. I don't argue that we don't need these things, just that the primary paradigm shift is to develop a deep appreciation from which we make wise, ethical choices.

The definition I propose is twofold and flows with life's processes rather than trying to manage them --

Ecological Harmony – Living within Nature's limits to Renew, Cleanse and Heal

Social Harmony – Communities, Local to Global, who are governed by Ethics of Peace, Sufficiency, Sharing, and Supporting the Common Good



Please think about a virtue in your life that seemed to improve everything around it.

What was the experience?
What was the virtue?
How might the application of that virtue be applied to one or more of the five categories listed above, and to achieving balanced sustainability?

Rev. 2009-02-24

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