A Common Framework for Global Change?

November 26th, 2012

On several other sites I’ve posted articles calling for the development of a “Common Framework” for global change, the kind of change that we really can believe in, and can work to bring about ourselves regardless of who’s in Washington.

(You can find the original article here: Demanding Change, and the experimental work on the new economy here: Altonomy.com. I welcome your thoughts and comments.)

This idea grew out of thinking about the development of a “Common Currency” and a “Common Currency Exchange” (and coincidentally trying to find a way to unite and evolve the energies of the Occupy Movement). What if we had a way to convert local and alternative currencies to each other and to the established national currencies of the mainstream world? What if we had a way to establish and provide abstract value that did not depend on control by the wealthy, but was in fact engineered to produce “the greatest benefit for the greatest number”? Wouldn’t people want to migrate to it?

Now of course the immediate reaction to this idea might be that it’s utopian, or that it’s illegal, or that it’s impossible because of human nature. I think we can address each of these issues; but I also think there’s both deeper and wider challenges.

The deeper challenge is how we create and sustain this alternative economy in the real world; the broader one is how do we bring about all the other changes that are needed to make this alternative economy possible. Addressing the broader one is how I arrived at the idea of the Common Framework. If we can create a currency exchange, why not an idea exchange? Can’t we incorporate every idea that is genuinely useful—i.e., in Dave Buck’s terms, “to take care of everyone and do no harm,”—into an overall framework for the purposes of understanding and discussion? Imagine a sort of “wikipedia” of social change: what do we need, and how do we get it?

There is at least one stab at this that I know of, and that’s Worldchanging: A User’s Guide for the 21st Century (2006, edited by Alex Steffen), the latest edition (2011), and the web site built around it, which has now been taken over by Architecture for Humanity and its founder, Cameron Sinclair. Having found the original hopelessly daunting, it’s a relief to learn that

In 2011, green is the starting point, not the destination. This second edition of the bestselling book is extensively revised to include the latest trends, technologies, and solutions in sustainable living. More than 160 new entries include up-to-the-minute information on the locavore movement, carbon-neutral homes, novel transportation solutions, the growing trend of ecotourism, the concept of food justice, and much more. Additional new sections focus on the role of cities as the catalyst for change in our society. With 50 percent new content, this overhauled edition incorporates the most recent studies and projects being implemented worldwide. The result is a guided tour through the most exciting new tools, models, and ideas for building a better future.

And all of this is encouraging and useful. So what else do we need?

Well, unfortunately it seems that we are still headed in the wrong direction. So there’s something more that’s needed than simply a compendium of great ideas. We also need the compelling motivation, as a species, to embrace these and other changes that will safeguard the planet. That’s what the idea of the “common framework” may help to provide, and what the work on designing an alternative economy is all about.

As noted above, you can find the original article here: Demanding Change, and the experimental work on the new economy here: Altonomy.com. I welcome your thoughts and comments.

Trackback URI | Comments RSS

Leave a Reply