A recently published, "Project Epignosis - Transforming the City 2.0" asserts that creating integral economic laboratories at the local level would afford a means for transforming impoverished urban settings into more vibrant ecosystems (McConnell, 1). Submitted as 'an idea worth spreading' in response to a challenge by this year's TED Prize winner -- The City 2.0; Group Epignosis has joined others from around the world championing ideas of their own in hopes of winning one of ten, $10,000 micro grants from TED's 2012 award.
Where conventional science typically relegates itself to measuring 'exterior' quantities utilizing sophisticated mathematical methods, such approaches generally produce findings excluding dimensions of experience representing 'interior' qualities of 'value', 'meaning', 'morality' or 'happiness'. Consequently, but contesting the inequities engendered by a centralized monetary system exacting interest bearing debt from the world's masses, many associated with the occupy movement and anti-austerity protests have indicted neo-liberal economics for recklessly undermining the cultural, ecological, and economic health of global populations.
By contrast though, the 'White Paper on Initiating an Integral Economic Laboratory' points to a recurring flaw in both the design and function of infrastructures which results when efficiency in imbalance to resilience, threatens to disrupt an ecosystem's vibrancy. Comparable findings however, emanating from the work of both Geoffrey West, who's identified an "inexorable trend toward urbanization worldwide" (3), and Bernard Lietaer's scientific breakthrough rendering "a single metric as an emergent property of (the ecosystem's) structural diversity and interconnectivity" [italics added], constitutes sound reason for reassessing traditional approaches to 'system' design and maintenance (4).
""Sustainable Development" is the term given to the combination of human well-being, social inclusion, and environmental sustainability. We can say that the quest for happiness is intimately linked to the quest for sustainable development.
The most basic goal is that by measuring happiness across a society over time, countries can avoid "happiness traps" such as in the U.S. in recent decades, where GNP may rise relentlessly while life satisfaction stagnates or even declines. " from an Introduction to the World Happiness Report
For these same reasons perhaps, the entire field of happiness economics "has grown substantially since the late 20th century" thanks to such visionaries as Jeffrey Sachs, editor of the World Happiness Report and Helena Norberg-Hodge (see her TEDx Talk), producer and co-director of a documentary film, The Economics of Happiness (Wikipedia, 7). Their respective work is part of a "generation of studies by psychologists, pollsters, sociologists, and others" showing "that happiness, though indeed . . . subjective experience", poses a strong benchmark of "underlying crisis or hidden strengths" (Helliwell et al., 8)
Faced with the unprecedented scope of ecological, societal and economic challenge our planet currently faces, Ronnie Lessem and Alexander Schieffer have fashioned a working framework from a foundational conviction that nature and culture are profoundly interrelated. Consequently, and along these same lines, they've articulated an approach that in recognizing its inherent potential, likewise perceives culture "as a natural extension of nature" (10).
"Our current self/world distinction, and its consequent parsing of all the world into discrete entities, has run the course of its usefulness as the dominant paradigm. Our individuation, as individuals and as a species separate from nature, is complete; in fact it is over-complete . . . To the extent that the separation is an illusion and that we too are part of nature, that illusion has unleashed a new force of nature that has transformed the planet." from an "Introduction" to Charles Eisenstein's, The Ascent of Humanity (11)
As Charles Eisenstein has articulated so eloquently in his Introduction to Sacred Economics however, "(h)umanity is only beginning to awaken to the true magnitude of the crisis on hand." Noting too that this "present convergence of crises-in money, energy, education, health, water, soil, climate, politics, the environment, and more-is a birth crisis, expelling us from the old world into a new", he points to the "spiritual dimension" of the heart as the channel by which we're "born into a new normal: a new kind of society, a new relationship to the earth, a new experience of being human."
"I dedicate all of my work to the more beautiful world our hearts tell us is possible. I say our 'hearts,' because our minds sometimes tell us it is not possible. Our minds doubt that things will ever be much different from what experience has taught us . . .
To this, those of us at Group Epignosis add a rousing 'Amen' as we in turn, embrace the emergence of a global network of practitioners like Trevor Malkinson at Beams and Struts who together, aspire to realizing the 'more beautiful world our hearts tell us is possible'.
1. McConnell, Brian. "White Paper on Initiating an Integral Economic Laboratory: Project Epignosis." (2012): Academia.edu, June 2012. Web. 14 June 2012.
2. Lessem, Ronnie and Alexander Schieffer. "Chapter 22 - Co-creating the Future." Integral Economics: Releasing the Economic Genius of Your Society. Ashgate Publishing (Farnham, Surrey, England: Gower, 2010). Web. 14 June 2012.
3. Bettencourt, Luis, Jose Lobo, Dirk Helbing, Christian Kuhnert, and Geoffrey West. "Growth,innovation, scaling, and the pace of life in cities." (2007): Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America (PNAS). April 24, 2007, Vol. 104, no. 17. Web. 14 June. 2012.
4. Lietaer, Bernard, et al. "Is Our Monetary Structure a Systemic Cause for Financial Instability? -Evidence and Remedies from Nature." (2010): Journal of Futures Studies, Vol. 14, #3, April 2010. Web. 16 June. 2012
5. Wilber, Ken. The Marriage of Sense and Soul: Integrating Science and Religion. New York: Random House. 1998. Print.
6. United Nations. General Assembly. Happiness: towards a holistic approach to development. GA/11116 - A/65/PV. 109. July 19, 2011. Web. 16 June. 2012.
7 . Wikipedia contributors. "Happiness economics." Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia . Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, May 23, 2012. Web. 18 June. 2012.
8 . Helliwell, John, Richard Layard, and Jeffrey Sachs, ed. World Happiness Report. The Earth Institute, Columbia University. April 2, 2012. Web. 18 June. 2012 .
9. Lessem Ronnie and Alexander Schieffer. "Chapter 22 - Co-creating the Future." Integral Economics: Releasing the Economic Genius of Your Society. Ashgate Publishing (Farnham, Surrey, England: Gower, 2010). Web. 19 June. 2012.
10. Lessem Ronnie and Alexander Schieffer. "Chapter 2 - The Four Fundamentals of Transformation Management." Transformation Management: Toward the Integral Enterprise. Ashgate Publishing (Farnham, Surrey, England: Gower, 2009). Web. 19 June. 2012.
11. Eisenstein, Charles. "Introduction." The Ascent of Humanity. Panenthea Press (Harrisburg, PA, 2007). Web. 21 June. 2012.
12. Eisenstein, Charles. "Introduction." Sacred Economics: Money, Gift, and Society in the Age of Transition. North Atlantic Books - Evolver Editions. Web. 21 June. 2012.