Grow Different, Not Bigger: Reader Response

Posted on Jul 21, 2010 | 3 Comments

Reader George E brings up an important question: How should we deal with unsustainable growth?


  1. George E
    July 23, 2010

    It is a tough pertinent question. And while we espouse various suggestions and remedies, I hope we try to ‘be the change we wish to see in the world’ (Gandhi). By practicing what we preach we can lobby and mobilize our local communities, our nations, our world.

    But how? Recently I discovered Participatory Economics. While it ought to be applauded for its active response to capitalism’s ever growing number of victims, one wonders how it could possibly work in practice. Any one interested in this can read the debate between Michael Albert (‘parecon’ is his baby) and George Monbiot (environmental and political activist/journalist) at Z Communications. Indeed there’s an engaging array of debates and commentaries going on at

    In which ever ways we attempt to deal with unsustainable growth I find it difficult to see how we cannot engage in political debate. The growing number of free market economies in the world is driving more people into business: further exploitation of finite resources on a scale we have never seen before.

    People who cherish their freedom, as do I, do not sit easily with too many regulations but what are our present alternatives? Certainly the corporate world needs regulations (look what our banks and financial institutions have done having been given free reign). But as our governments increasingly play into the hands of corporations these regulations, existing and those that should exist, are vulnerable.

    OK, I won’t ramble on. My succinct response:

    - At micro and macro level, *identify* crucial resources in short supply or those associated with environmental damage.
    - *Lobby* for regulation to largely reduce or end exploitation of these resources.
    - *Practice* and *lobby* for sustainable and environmentally harmonious alternatives and more innovation in these areas.
    - *Change* our habits and need for usage of products for which there is no currently sustainable alternative.

    The last point is the everyday stuff like taking the bus to work instead of your car, stop buying stuff you don’t really need, go vegan, be more politically active (and conscious), and promote such changes in your lifestyle.

    Yes, yes, these are the kind of lectures we have actually heard before and probably don’t appreciate being talked down to again. The question is are we actually putting them into practice?

    I’m trying!

  2. Daniela
    July 23, 2010

    As I enjoyed the didactic presentation and the point Charles Handy makes I can’t help thinking of how we distorted the concept of growth and success with accumulation of materials and power. I do believe that intellectual and spiritual growth, as well as transformations are not valued enough, specially in materialistic societies.
    In regards of size, amount of cars, and environment, this what I was thinking as I was watching the presentation:
    1. With modern technology and communications, more jobs that can be done from home, which will cost transportation issues.
    People need to leave the conglomerate cities, not to start a new cancer effect in a virgin area, but with an ecologically educated mentality.
    We already have the technology for safe public transportation such as electric trains. Yet the systems are not very effective in all cities such as Los Angeles.
    The economies of countries need to expand in different areas, instead of being centralized in major cities.
    Organize populations in more, smaller communities.

    SoYes, I agree we have to grow different and smarter, not bigger. So simple yet, so much to do about it.

  3. Dale Yeager
    July 30, 2010

    This reminds me of a great book called “No Man’s Land”. The concept is “to big to be small to small to be big”.

    As a corporation we found ourselves in this position in 2009. We changed our paradigm and shifted from a traditional model to a tech based one.

    Profits increased and the size of our company decreased! It works.


Leave a Reply