Ecuador The First Commons-Based Country


a world for the Commons

The FLOK Society Project: Ecuador commits itself to an open commons-based knowledge society

Via Bethany Horne, FLOK Society:

“The FLOK Society welcomes Michel Bauwens to Ecuador. Bauwens, a founder of the P2P Foundation, flew into Quito on Sept. 17 to begin collaborating towards a fundamental reimagination of Ecuador.

Bauwens will lead a research team that is proposing to unleash a participatory, global process with an immediate implementation in Ecuador. The process will remake the roots of Ecuador’s economy, setting off a transition into a society of free and open knowledge.

In the first semester of 2014, Bauwens will assist in setting up a global network of transition researchers. The P2P Foundation is a global network of researchers that is documenting the shift towards open, participatory and commons-oriented practices in every domain of human activity, but especially also the shift from collaboration on open knowledge and code, towards cooperation in open design, open hardware, open science, open government, and the shift towards open agricultural and open machining practices that have great potential for increasing the productivity and sustainability of farming and industrial processes.

Ecuador is the first country in the world which is committing itself to the creation of an open commons knowledge based society. In order to achieve the transition to a ‘buen saber’, or ‘good knowledge’ society, which is an extension of the official strategy towards a ‘buen vivir’-based society, the Advanced Studies Institute (IAEN by its Spanish initials) in Quito, Ecuador, led by the rector Carlos Prieto, has initiated a strategic process, called the FLOK Society Project, which aims to organize a major international conference in March 2013, and will produce 10 strategic documents proposing transition policies towards the good knowledge society, which will be presented to the Ecuadorian citizens through intensive participatory processes, similar to those that took place for the establishment of the new Constitution and the ambitious National Plans, which set the guidelines for government policy.

While Buen Vivir aims to replace mindless accumulative economic growth to a form of growth that directly benefits the wellbeing of the Ecuadorian people, Buen Saber aims to create the open knowledge commons which will facilitate such a transition. FLOK stands for ‘Free Libre and Open Knowledge. In order to establish these transition policies and documents, IAEN has connected itself with the global hacker and free software movement, but also with its extension in the many peer to peer initiatives that directly aim to create a body of knowledge for physical production in agriculture and industry.

The P2P Foundation knowledge base has also focused on documenting new policy and legal frameworks being set up by sharing cities such as Seoul, San Francisco, and Naples ; and regions such as Bordeaux, Open Commons Region Linz in Austria, South Sudan, the Cabineto Digital of Rio del Sur, and more. Its database of 22,000 global commons initiatives has been viewed nearly 25 million times and attracts 25,000 researchers, activists, users and readers on a daily basis. Michel Bauwens is also the author of a Synthetic Overview of the Collaborative Economy, an external expert for the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences, a member of the Hangwang Forum in Chengdu that works on industrial sustainability, and engaged in a research project for Leuphana University on digital liquid democracy. As a founding member and partner of the Commons Strategies Group, he co-organized two global meetings on the commons, the last one in May 2013 in Berlin was dedicated to the emerging field of Commons-oriented Economics.

In March, the P2P Foundation organized a ‘global Hispanic wikisprint’, with the help of Spanish-Brazilian activist Bernardo Gutierrez, in which more than registered 500 individuals and collectives, in more than 60 cities and 23 countries, mapped the open, p2p, sharing and commons initiatives in their region and areas of activities, resulting in a Latin American network of connected activists and scholars.

IAEN believes that the connection between the hacktivism communities, the FLOK Society, and the global and Hispanic networks active in constructing open commons will be vital to create a synergy with the local actors of Ecuadorian society, and will help us accomplish the mayor goal we have set for ourselves as a country.”

State of Civil Society 2013 - Are Governments limiting the effectiveness of civil society?

Report outlines a 'litany of threats to civil society'

Finance | Niki May Young | 29 Apr 2013

The effectiveness of civil society organisations internationally is increasingly being hindered by legal restrictions, funding cuts and technological blocks according to the latest State of Civil Society report.

The 2013 report, published by Civicus, outlines a significant departure from the optimism of its 2012 predecessor, with the organization’s Secretary General Dhananjayan Sriskandarajah warning that efforts to tackle inequality and resolve conflict will be “significantly undermined” if more is not done to promote an enabling environment for civil society organisations.

With contributions from nearly 50 experts and civil society leaders around the world, the 500-page report paints a gloomy picture of conditions for civil society organisations globally, with Dhananjayan saying the report has found a "litany of threats to civil society."

In her foreword, Cathy Ashton, who is the high representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy for the EU, said: “A vibrant and independent civil society is an essential ingredient of effective and stable democracy. The EU has for many years sought to incorporate the input and views of civil society in its foreign policy.”

But she warns that, “It is precisely because of the importance of civil society to European foreign policy that I am growing increasingly concerned about the efforts of some states to bar, constrict, or control the work of NGOs. In too many cases, the voices of civil society are being stifled and the space in which they can express their views is shrinking. This is happening through overt means of oppression such as the implementation of restrictive laws and the persecution of activists, as well by marginalising civil society in national and international decision-making processes.”

The 'threat' of the internet

While the 2012 report displayed a more positive hue, pointing to the Arab Spring uprising and similar democratic civil action spurred by the influence of social media, the 2013 report warns that, a year on, governments have addressed this threat. The internet has increasingly been used as a hub for new online civil society communities, to express views and publish real-time information on what is happening in their countries and to allow the real-time organisation of offline protests. Aware that social media has mobilised citizen action, however, some governments are in turn placing greater restrictions on technology or taking action against those using it. Contributors note the arrests of tweeters or bloggers and the interrupting SMS services. The authors warn that over 45 countries, most notably China, have imposed some kind of restrictions on their citizen’s internet.

Adding to technological barriers, governments are also using their legal system to block funding to civil society organisations. The report advises that many organisations with a “political edge” or strong human rights or advocacy focus struggle to find domestic funding and are forced to look internationally. But some governments are blocking such funding through legislation. For instance, in Ethiopia CSOs that receive more than 10 per cent of funding from foreign sources can not undertake advocacy or human rights work. The report notes a "contagion effect" with countries adopting similar laws to their neighbouring or like-minded countries, and raises concern that "regressive international norms" are being established. 

In order to progress civil society throughout the world, Civicus says a number of key principles should be followed. These include: improving CSOs’ transparency and accountability; improving connections between CSOs; tackling corruption, and providing sufficient resources. CSOs need to be strategic and work together in coalitions in order to utilise the multiplicity of strengths across the sector and combat barriers.

World Protests 2006-2013 | Executive Summary

September 2013

Initiative for Policy Dialogue
Initiative for Policy Dialogue

The full paper can be downloaded from IPD at or from FES at We encourage distribution through websites and blogs; the executive summary and paper may be distributed without alteration with an attribution statement about the authors and their institutions and a clickable link to the original.

This September 2013 study analyzes 843 protests occurring between January 2006 and July 2013 in 87 countries covering over 90% of world population. The paper focuses on: (i) major grievances driving world protests (ii) who is demonstrating, what protest methods they use, and who are they opposed to (iii) achievements and repression of social movements in the short term, and (iv) the main policy demands of world demonstrators. The paper calls for policy-makers to listen, whether messages are articulate or communicate only through frustration and violence.

In recent years the world has been shaken by protests. From the Arab Spring to the “Indignados” (outraged), from Occupy to food riots. There have been periods in history when large numbers of people rebelled about the way things were, demanding change, such as in 1848, 1917 or 1968; today we are experiencing another period of rising outrage and discontent, and some of the largest protests in world history.

Our analysis of 843 protest events reflects a steady increase in the overall number of protests every year, from 2006 (59 protests) to mid-2013 (112 protests events in only half a year). Following the onset of the global financial and economic crisisbegan to unfold, there is a major increase in protests beginning 2010 with the adoption of austerity measures in all world regions. Protests are more prevalent in higher income countries (304 protests), followed by Latin America and the Caribbean (141 protests), East Asia and the Pacific (83 protests) and Sub-Saharan Africa (78 protests). An analysis of the Middle East and North Africa region (77 protests) shows that protests were also prevalent prior to the Arab Spring. The majority of violent riots counted in the study occurred in low-income countries (48% of all riots), mostly caused by food-price and energy-price spikes in those countries. Interestingly, the period 2006-2013 reflects an increasing number of global protests (70 events), organized across regions.

The main grievances and causes of outrage are:

Economic Justice and Anti-Austerity: 488 protests on issues related to reform of public services, tax/fiscal justice, jobs/higher wages/labor conditions, inequality, poverty/low living standards, agrarian/land reform, pension reform, high fuel and energy prices, high food prices, and housing.

Failure of Political Representation and Political Systems: 376 protests on lack of real democracy; corporate influence, deregulation and privatization; corruption; failure to receive justice from the legal system; transparency and accountability; surveillance of citizens; and anti-war/military industrial complex.

Global Justice: 311 protests were against the IMF and other International Financial Institutions (IFIs), for environmental justice and the global commons, and against imperialism, free trade and the G20.

Rights of People: 302 protests on ethnic/indigenous/racial rights; right to the Commons (digital, land, cultural, atmospheric); labor rights; women’s rights; right to freedom of assembly/speech/press; religious issues; rights of lesbian/gay/bisexual/transgendered people (LGBT); immigrants’ rights; and prisoners’ rights. A lesser number of protests focus on denying rights to specific groups (eg. immigrants, gays).

Although the breadth of demand for economic justice is of serious consequence, the most sobering finding of the study is the overwhelming demand (218 protests), not for economic justice per se, but for what prevents economic issues from being addressed: a lack of “real democracy”, which is a result of people’s growing awareness that policy-making has not prioritized them—even when it has claimed to—and frustration with politics as usual and a lack of trust in the existing political actors, left and right. This demand and the crisis of political representation it expresses is coming from every kind of political system, not only authoritarian governments but also representative democracies which are failing to listen to the needs and views of ordinary people.
A profile of demonstrators reveals that not only traditional protesters (eg. activists, unions) are demonstrating; on the contrary, middle classes, youth, older persons and other social groups are actively protesting in most countries because of lack of trust and disillusionment with the current political and economic system. They are increasingly joining activists from all kinds of movements, not only in marches and rallies (the most common methods of civil protest, in 437 events), but in a new framework of protest that includes civil disobedience and direct actions such as road blockages and occupations of city streets and squares to raise awareness about their demands (a total of 219 occupations of public spaces). The period covered by this study also captures the advent of a new era of civil disobedience/direct action carried out by computer hackers and whistleblowers who “leak” massive amounts of government and corporate data. Contrary to public perception, violence and vandalism/looting appear in only 75 events, or 8.9% of world protests. Though only used by a few, 33 events record desperate methods such as hunger strikes and self-inflicted violence (eg. self-immolation or protesters sewing their own lips).

Who do protesters oppose? An analysis of main protests in the period 2006-2013 shows that demonstrators mostly address their grievances to national governments, as they are the legitimate policy- making institutions that should respond to citizens. Protestors demand that policy-makers take public responsibility for economic, social and environmental policies—that should benefit all, instead of just the few. However, protests against the inadequate political and economic system appear second in importance, reflecting significant discontent with the working of current democracies and demands for real democracy. Protestors further oppose (by order): corporations/employers, the IMF, elites, the financial sector, the ECB, military and police forces, free trade, economic/military powers (eg. EU, US, China), the G20, the World Bank, specific political parties, some social groups (eg. migrants, homosexuals, gypsies) and, in some cases, religious authorities.

Not only is the number of protests increasing, but also the number of protestors. Crowd estimates suggest that 37 events had one million or more protesters; some of those may well be the largest protests in history (eg. 100 million in India in 2013, 17 million in Egypt in 2013). As of 2013, as many as 63% of the protests covered in the study achieved neither their intended demands nor their expressed grievances in the short-term. This outcome is not necessarily negative, since many of the protests are engaged with long- term structural issues that may yield results in time. Some 37% of protests resulted in some kind of achievement, mostly in the areas of political, legal and social rights—global issues and economic justice appear the most difficult areas to achieve change.
Repression is well documented in over half of the protest episodes analyzed in the study. According to media reports, the protests that generated the most arrests were in Iran, the UK, Russia, Chile, Malaysia, US, Canada and Cameroon; the most deaths were reported in Kyrgyzstan, Egypt and Kenya; the most injuries, in Egypt, Thailand and Algeria. Our research also documented a rising concern with some modes of repression that do not imply the use of physical violence: citizen surveillance. It must be noted that while arrests and surveillance are directly linked to government-led repression, a number of the injuries and deaths may be a result of violent clashes between different groups.

The set of policies needed at the national and global levels to address the grievances described in this paper cross over virtually every area of public policy, from jobs, public services and social protection to taxation, debt and trade. Governments need to listen to the messages coming from protesters. However, policy reforms will be insufficient if governments fail to guarantee democratic participation and curtail the power of elites—not only in local and national governments but in the institutions of global governance as well. Leaders and policymakers will only invite further unrest if they fail to prioritize and act on the one demand raised in more of the world’s protests between 2006 and 2013 than any other—the demand for real democracy.

Source: Ortiz, I., S. Burke, M. Berrada and H. Cortes. 2013. World Protests 2006-2013. Initiative for Policy Dialogue and Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung New York.
Source: Ortiz, I., S. Burke, M. Berrada and H. Cortes. 2013. World Protests 2006-2013.
Initiative for Policy Dialogue and Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung New York.

*As of July 31st 2013

Culture of Peace


Take a look at the sterling line-up of peace-makers participating in the Forum. I am honored to be a part of this group—holding up a higher turn of the spiral for the UN and Civil Society as we redefine peace as an active process that begins with prevention rather than war.

See the Program here.

Sharing the World's Resources: A Dialogue on Sharing Food

When we think of sharing on a global level we immediately think of Share the World’s Resources. Their newest contribution is about sharing food.

It begins, “Today, the principle of sharing is increasingly being discussed as a solution to the manifold social, economic and political problems of humanity. There are many people and organisations that now talk about the importance of sharing as a way forward for society in terms of reducing consumption, conserving resources, preventing wastage or addressing poverty. And one notable recent development is a conversation on sharing in relation to food. This may concern the sharing of food through a charity, the salvaging of surplus produce from farms or supermarkets, the free distribution of food at some event or gathering, or even the sharing of a meal between friends or strangers.”

Read more here.

Spinning for the Commons

On a shelf in the Library of the Schumacher Center for a New Economics sits a small wooden box with worn leather handle—13 inches by 8 inches by 2 inches. It opens to reveal the parts of an apparatus for spinning cotton. Govindra Deshpande presented this traveling spinning wheel to Bob Swann at the "Tools for Building Sustainable Local Economies" seminar convened in 1983 by the E. F. Schumacher Society, the predecessor of the Schumacher Center.

Vinoba Bhave
Govindra told how he had walked with Vinoba Bhave, the spiritual successor to Gandhi, during the establishment of the Gramdan Villages of India. Vinoba was concerned with inequity in land distribution, which prevented the landless from constructing homes and earning a livelihood.

To address this concern, Vinoba journeyed from village to village on foot. When he arrived, the villagers would gather around him, so great was their reverence for this gentle man. Vinoba spoke to them as follows: "My brothers and sisters, those of you with more land than you can use, won't you share that land with your brothers and sisters who are in need?"

Inspired by his appeal, those with excess land would assign title to Vinoba, who would reassign it to the poor. This practice was called "Bhoodan" or "Land Gift." Much of India's land was redistributed in this way, but without tools to work the land or capital to build, the land lay unused. The new owners sold their titles back to the wealthy, perpetuating the pattern of unequal distribution. So Vinoba initiated a new practice called "Gramdan" or "Village Gift." The title to the land was transferred to the village itself, instead of to individuals, and then leased for productive use. If the lessee left the region, the use rights reverted to the village for redistribution. Many of India's villages became Gramdan Villages, bringing about a peaceful land-reform initiative.

Gandhian Practice
It was the practice of Gandhians to engage in productive labor while holding meetings, thus setting an example for others. When arriving at a village, Vinoba and his followers would sit on the ground, open the cases of the spinning wheels they carried with them, assemble the parts, and spin. Gandhi taught that the spinning of cotton was both a symbol of, and practical step toward, freeing India from the economic oppression of Europe. The cotton was later woven into khadi cloth, a home-spun substitute for the silks and linen imports from Belgium and England.

Govindra told us that the spinning wheel he was giving Bob was the very same one that had been with him during his long walks with Vinoba. He was making this gift because of Bob's leadership during the community land trust movement—a voluntary land-reform initiative in the United States inspired by Gramdan.

At the seminar, we had just discussed the community land trust as one of the tools citizens could use to implement a new economy that met social, ecological, and cultural criteria. We knew about Bob's years of work advocating for a new approach to land tenure, and we recognized the appropriateness and gracious generosity of Govindra's gift. We were all moved.

New Gramdan Movement
In its simplest form, the economy is no more than that place where human labor, organized by human ingenuity, transforms the natural world into products for use by others. All production requires access to land and natural resources; however, Bob taught us it is not land and natural resources that create wealth but rather the transformation of those resources into products needed by others. Land and natural resources are the base, the givens of an economic system, but they are not themselves appropriate commodities.

When land and natural resources are treated as commodities and traded on the market, as they are in our current system, it causes an imbalance in the economy. A small handful of people can then profit from the need of all for access. No new wealth is generated, only a speculative value with all the consequences of a speculative economy, including social inequity and ecological degradation.

How might access to land and natural resources be allocated instead, if not by the market? This was one of the questions Bob Swann addressed in forming the first community land trust in 1969 in Albany, Georgia, as a way for African American farmers to gain access to land. There are now hundreds of community land trusts around the United States, and the movement is spreading to Europe and other parts of the world.

Vinoba Bhave provided the spiritual leadership that brought about such land gifting in India. Region by region around the world a new Gramdan movement will be led by engaged citizens who are alarmed by a deteriorating eco-system and who recognize the injustice of the current system for distributing land. It will start with localized examples of land gifting and grow into a broad cultural revolution for the Commons.

True Value
For years the spinning wheel sat idle on the shelf in the Schumacher Library, the wooden box closed, the pieces unassembled inside it. No one knew how to put it together or use it.
Recently Ron Gaydos, one of the participants of that 1983 E. F. Schumacher seminar, visited the Library with a film crew. He is producing a film on the new economy with the working title of "True Value.” The Schumacher seminar had been a turning point for him in his thinking about economics, and the film would begin with the Berkshire projects he had studied then.

He reminisced about the people at the seminar, including Govindra Deshpande, and said that the Indian elder had taught him how to use a Gandhian spinning wheel. "Do you remember how?" I asked. "Perhaps," said he.

I brought the spinning wheel from its shelf and unwrapped it. Ron’s hands recalled what he had learned, and soon everyone in the Library watched as the cotton spun. Tears and laughter. We were delighted by the serendipity of the moment and moved by the long history of Commons advocacy represented by the small wooden case again in use.

Agricultural Commons
A new movement for the Commons is being driven by the urgency to move land into the hands and care of next-generation farmers building resilient regional food economies. Led by Greenhorns and incubated at the Schumacher Center for a New Economics, the Agrarian Trust is a national platform for education on alternative land tenure models, engaging stakeholders in a cultural conversation on land access, ownership, and an agricultural commons. The Trust will replicate innovative case models across the country, to ensure that the historic number of farms now being passed from one generation to the next will result in more land held in trust for the common good

One such model is Indian Line Farm, the first Community Supported Agriculture farm in the U.S. The land is owned by the Community Land Trust in the Southern Berkshires, while the farmers hold a ninety-nine year lease, own the buildings, and run the business.

Welcome to Transformation

Can fusing personal and social change radically transform our societies? We say yes. Michael Edwards introduces open Democracy’s new section: Transformation.

On a winter’s night in 1955, a young preacher named Martin Luther King climbed into the pulpit of the Holt Street Baptist Church in Montgomery, Alabama. Once there, he delivered a speech to a packed crowd of close to five thousand people that would eventually lead to his own assassination, but breathe new life into the struggle to transform America and the world.

If his speech that night is remembered at all these days it’s because of what it helped to launch - the Montgomery Bus Boycott, which heralded a decisive turn in the movement for civil rights.

What King said has largely been forgotten, yet the content of his speech was revolutionary in ways that stretch far beyond the context in which he delivered it. As I listen to it now on a scratchy YouTube clip the hairs on my neck stand up straight, the voices of the crowd rising to a crescendo as King talks about love for others and non-violence as the keys to the struggle for equal rights.

“But it is not enough for us to talk about love,” he said, “there is another side called justice. And justice is love in calculation. Justice is love working against anything that stands against love. Standing beside love is always justice.” “There lived a people, a black people” he continued, “a people who had the moral courage to stand up for their rights, and thereby infused new meaning into the veins of history.”
Love is the anchor or inward expression of social justice, I think King was saying, and justice is the outward expression of “love in calculation” - a conscious design for remaking the world around a radically-different rationality than self-interest. Deep transformations are possible if love and justice reinforce each-other to create a permanent shift in direction among human beings and the institutions they create.

“Only new selves could give birth to a new world, but only a new world could sustain the new human beings who constituted it, and who would sustain it in turn,” as Josiah Royce put it in the aftermath of the American Civil War, almost one hundred years before.

Today there is a resurgence of interest in the possibilities of transformation that combines the personal and the political. There is an upsurge in attempts to put them into practice, spurred on both by the failure of conventional approaches to make much headway against inequality and the urgency of problems like climate change, which demand boundary-breaking solutions.

That’s why we are launching Transformation as a new section of open Democracy, designed to celebrate, articulate, challenge and debate the practice and potential of radical changes in our societies, examined through the frameworks of love and social justice, personal and social change.

King, of course, was drawing from much older sources when he made his remarks that night, including philosophers like Royce and later on Paul Tillich (the subject of his doctoral dissertation), the legacy of Mahatma Gandhi and his Satyagraha movement, and the traditions of the social gospel. It’s also fair to say that there were others in the civil rights movement like Fannie Lou Hamer and Ella Baker who translated King’s words into on-the-ground realities with much more consistency, through their commitment to grassroots democracy and the struggle against sexism among their colleagues.

Then as now, there will be no end to patriarchy without deep-rooted changes in men’s behavior; no solution to climate change unless all of us reduce our consumption and carbon footprint; no decline in inequality unless we learn to share resources with each-other; no meaningful democracy until we work through our differences in a spirit of common purpose; no lasting peace if we continue to project our fears and insecurities onto other people.

But turning these examples around, there must also be real and living forms of politics and economics that grow from and reinforce the best qualities in ourselves, and in which we can actively participate. “We must be the change we want to see in the world” is a favorite quotation attributed to Gandhi, but it’s equally true that we must see the change we want to be – otherwise transformation is pure theory, and that means showing people that real economies can deliver justice and wellbeing, and real politics can bring people together to break the logjam of vested interests.

Unfortunately, such boundary-breaking experiments are in short supply, constantly constrained by the mantra that change is impossible because of – insert your favorite bogeyman – the world economy, footloose corporations, human nature, the weakening of governments, corruption in politics, the decline of the public, too much TV and far too much Rupert Murdoch. If we believe that only small changes are possible in our political and economic systems, then small change is all we’re going to see – another turn of the wheel with little or no forward movement.

The challenges of uniting personal and social change in this way were central to the social movements of the 1960s and 1970s, expressed through civil rights, gay liberation, the rise of the women’s movement and the first stirrings of environmentalism. In the decades that followed, this spirit was less in evidence in politics and activism, though it remained alive among feminists and other radicals like Audre Lorde, June Jordan, and bell hooks in the USA. Elsewhere, the social and spiritual sides of activism began to move apart, perhaps exhausted by earlier efforts or beaten down by the arrival of the neo-liberal revolution, and the celebration of self-interest and materialism that followed in its wake.

We want Transformation to be a place where people across the world can re-activate this conversation by engaging with each-other about the meaning of deep-rooted social change; about how politics, economics and social activism are actually being transformed; and about the lessons that are being generated along the way.

We are interested in contributions in any area of transformation. This includes practices like “mindfulness”, which seem to help the processes of personal development along, and new institutions and ways of doing things that build on and nurture a commitment to non-violence, love for others and radical equality. Most of all, we want to publish stories of people who are re-combining the personal and political in new ways.

We hope you are as excited by this project as we are, and that you’ll join us as readers and writers, networkers and publicists.

Marrying a rich inner life dedicated to the cultivation of loving kindness and compassion with the practice of new forms of politics, economics and social activism is the key to transformation, but how this will actually work is anybody’s guess. Those who think they already have the answers waiting to be rolled out in detail are either fools or liars, for this is a path that demands a huge amount of rigor, effort, clarification and patience. Transformation is not another good-news magazine, but a place to engage with each-other about the realities and struggles of the radical imagination.

We want to challenge the reluctance of many progressive activists and writers to take the personal dimensions of social change as seriously as the political, by showing that personal change is not New Age narcissism – it means engaging in the daily struggle for dignity and justice in a different spirit that opens up more effective routes to action.

At the same time we want to challenge the reluctance of many spiritual and self-help advocates to take the political dimensions of personal change as seriously as the inner life they espouse, by showing that love flourishes more easily when new institutions are built on sharing and solidarity instead of the mindless pursuit of competition, growth and power.

Combining love with justice is always difficult and demanding, never more so than in situations of fierce discrimination, violence and dispossession, but learning from these situations is unavoidable if transformation is to have real meaning. It is in these hardest places that the most important insights are often found.

All great stories are love stories in one form or another, but the story of love and justice has not yet been told. With your help we aim to put that right. Welcome to Transformation.

A Nobel Prize for Business

“One thing was clear from all the buzz after the prototyping session: this Nobel-like prize for business as an agent of world benefit will be so much more than a prize,” David tells Axiom News. “It will be a world-changing global learning process, spreading and scaling ‘up-building’ and ‘up-worthy’ news, helping create a new grand narrative about the exponential rise of good business for creating a sustainability + flourishing world.”    

To read the entire article, please click here to download the PDF.

An Open Letter to the Young People of the World

We are the music makers, 
And we are the dreamers of dreams, 
Wandering by lone seabreakers, 
And sitting by desolate streams; 
World-losers and world-forsakers, 
On whom the pale moon gleams: 
Yet we are the movers and shakers 
Of the world forever, it seems… 
We, in the ages lying In the buried past of the earth, 
Built Ninevah with our sighing, 
And Babel itself in our mirth; 
And o’erthrew them with prophesying 
To the old of the new world’s worth; 
For each age is a dream that is dying, 
Or one that is coming to birth. 
(Arthur O’Shaughnessy) 

You, the young people of the world, are the movers and shakers, the music makers—the most privileged people who ever walked the Earth. For the first time in history, one generation—your generation—holds the key to the greatest challenge our species has faced since it proudly named itself homo sapiens. This is the challenge of change—of profound, timely, and conscious change. 

Privilege entails responsibility. You have the privilege to meet the challenge of timely and conscious change, but you also have the responsibility that goes with the privilege: the responsibility of taking an active part in promoting this change. 

To live up to this responsibility you need to understand the nature of the problem and its possible solution. Why do we, the human family, face the challenge of change? And what can you, your generation, do about meeting the challenge? There is a straightforward answer to both these questions. 

We face the challenge of profound and timely change because the world your fathers and forefathers have created is not sustainable. “Unsustainable” means that if the world doesn’t change, it will break down. It cannot keep going as it is. 

We are now seven billion humans on the planet. How many of us will survive the next ten years? The next five years, or the next three? And if some of us go under, how will the rest manage, given our interdependence and our proneness to resort to violence to assure our short-term interests? If the world continues its downhill slide, and if the mindset of the rich and powerful doesn’t change while there is time, there will be a holocaust from which no one will emerge unscathed. 

The answer to the question of why we must have timely and profound change in the world should be clear. We either change, or we go under. But what can you, today’s young generation, do to create the required change? 
The answer to this question is straightforward as well. You need to take to heart two wise sayings, by two of the wisest people who ever lived on this planet. Albert Einstein said, you can’t solve a problem with the kind of consciousness that gave rise to the problem. And Mahatma Gandhi said, be the change you want to see in the world. Take Einstein’s insight first. You need to develop a new consciousness, adopt new thinking. This means not just acquiring more data, more information, mere additions to the current kinds of knowledge. It means new knowledge, a new way of thinking. Some call it a new paradigm

Now consider now Gandhi’s advice. Why is it important to “be” the change you want to see in the world? Is changing yourself the way to consciously change the world around you? 
The answer is that it is indeed. In a critically unstable system even small “fluctuations” can provoke major transformations. You have heard of the “butterfly effect.” The popular story is that when a monarch butterfly flaps its wings in Southern California a storm develops in Outer Mongolia. The tiny air current created by the butterfly grows and grows, until it changes the pattern of weather on the other side of the globe. 
The fact is that a chaotic system—and the world’s weather is such a system—is supersensitive and inherently unpredictable. But not only the world’s weather is chaotic: so is the world’s economy, the world’s financial system, and the world’s natural environment. All these systems have now been pushed to the edge of chaos, and as a result they have all become supersensitive. Butterfly effects are coming about in them. 
You, the young generation of our chaotic times, are precisely positioned to be the butterfly that creates the crucial effect. You were born at exactly the right time: at the time when the world around you is becoming open to change. It’s hardly possible to create real change in a stable society: it has powerful defenses against it. There is a simple reason for this: those who hold the reins of power fear change—it may divest them of their privileges. Whether they are politicians, business leaders, or ecclesiastical, educational, or social authorities, the powerful, unless they are exceptionally open and wise, do everything in their power to maintain the status quo. They try to “excommunicate” those who want change— not literally, as the Church did in the Middle Ages, but by modern means: by ignoring the agents of change, and if ignoring them is not feasible, then by discrediting, ridiculing, and isolating them. 
This is not an insurmountable problem for you, today’s young generation. The dominant forces in the world still resist change, but they no longer have the power to resist it effectively. Contemporary societies are no longer stable; they suffer from multiple crises—economic, financial, and ecological, even social and cultural crises. They are approaching a condition of chaos, and in a condition of chaos new thinking can spawn new behavior and lead to effective innovation. Even small groups and seemingly minor initiatives can catalyze major change. 
There was chaos in the human world in the past as well, but it was local, and the opportunity to change was likewise local. Today’s chaos is global, and the opportunity it brings is also global. Failing to seize it would be not just the height of stupidity: it would be a crime against humanity. 
The bottom line is this. The world needs timely and effective change: a global shift. Your generation is uniquely positioned to bring about that shift. The Giordano Bruno GlobalShift University is committed to make available to you the new-paradigm thinking you need to evolve your consciousness, develop new thinking—and change yourself so you can change the world. ***************************** 
The Giordano Bruno GlobalShift University held its Founding Congress at the Budapest Historical Museum in the Royal Castle of Hungary on the 9thof September 2011 and will open for enrollment on the five continents as of 2012. This open letter indicates the University’s commitment to young people, and its resolution to offer a program of education that empowers them to be self-reliant and productive members of society, as well as effective architects of a world that is sustainable and peaceful, and free of the barriers and subordination that often constrain the lives and the opportunities of young people today. September 27, 2011

Financing the Global Sharing Economy

A report by Share The World’s Resources demonstrates how governments could mobilise over $2.8 trillion each year to bolster the global sharing economy and prevent life-threatening deprivation, reverse austerity measures and mitigate the human impacts of climate change. 

To read the entire report, please visit the Share the World's Resources web site here.