Saturday, November 13, 2010

Youth in the Bioregional State

"Our goal is a delightfully diverse, safe, healthy and just world, with clean air, water, soil and power--economically, equitably, ecologically and elegantly enjoyed. Period. Which part of this don't you like?" --William McDonough

To adapt the quote of the architect above to socialization that facilitates sustainability, the bioregional state's goal is a delightfully diverse, safe, healthy and just world, and feels that it starts with youth. This is because youth can learn to create clean air, water, soil and power in their regions to be economically, equitably, ecologically and elegantly enjoyed.

Bioregional Hellenization: Youth in the Bioregional State

What kind of adulthood do you want? And if you are an adult already, do you feel like an adult providing a good model for youth? What kind of world do you want available for your generation or the next generation? If you want one that is sustainable, ethical, just, replete with knowledge and skill bases for living in your region of the world, and built for passing that world on to your children who can expand, improve and update it, I suggest you keep reading for some ideas of how to share your passion for this with others. Even if you are far from living it now, know that you can live it.

I suggest that a strong independent, sustainable society starts with the children, giving them forms of socialization that prepare them to be more than passive fatalistic consumers of someone else’s degradation decisions. The aim is helping them be active creators of a sustainable world. This is something that they can enjoy and take pride in now as well as be assured they are doing something durable instead of self-destructive, passing it on to their next generations.

What is there to be proud of nowadays? Are many societies really worth preserving as they are, when environmental degradation, corruption, and material forms of globalized feudalism increasingly grip the world with fatalism and fear, sapping people’s vitality for change?

A purpose of training, educating and teaching the youth of today should be to imbue them with sustainability ethics, and imbue them with the knowledge that sustainability is already here, technologically and materially, so nothing has to be invented. It merely has to be implemented by someone’s actions. That someone is you.

The current generations from five to twenty years of age can see a sustainable society, and can themselves build this society. These current generations should know that seldom will they find a more noble, moral, and ethical purpose of life than to build a sustainable society for their region. Intertwined issues of environmental justice, sustainable development, and human rights can be expressed in the same actions because damages to human rights are typically associated with damages to the environment and visa versa. (Read the books Deeper Shades of Green or Blessed Unrest for more on this.)

Previous posts (though I've changed my mind there about how misled people are--being coerced to provide free advertising for only selling international banker's carbon credits markets) and the book in certain areas mentioned the importance of the institutions of the bioregional state and its larger ideas for a sustainable society as providing socialization frameworks to build youth leadership in sustainability in the current and in the next generations. This post summarizes some of those ideas, and lets you start on your own with a model that is scalable worldwide.

Build it and They Will Come: Civic Democratic Institutions and Commodity Ecology

The bioregional state aims to build two similar sustainability organizations in youth society on the watershed level, worldwide. These non-governmental, volunteer institutions are the foundation of the bioregional state—simultaneously a non-governmental foundation, a material/technological foundation, and a cultural foundation for later expansion. It builds material and technological change options, as well as builds representation, skills, and leadership that can represent for the long haul a 'world shared though always localized' ecological self-interest that is intertwined with our built environmental decisions.

Civic Democratic Society

From age 5, a youth in a particular watershed gets to vote. This is for the Civic Democratic Institution, a 'living poll' of notables in the region who are liked for providing a mediation part for their local culture instead of based on what kind of promises they have for the future. It spots them in whatever capacities they are doing and liked for already. See above links for detailed descriptions.

Thus the age of 5 becomes a youth transition into the community as a voter.

By the age of 10, a youth can be nominated as a candidate themselves. Particularly if youth are unrepresented in many states of the world formally, surely with their smaller and growing bodies, their environmental toxicity deserves some representation at a earlier age as a check and balance against degradative adults pushing them full of badly chosen toxins? Thus the bioregional state calls for existing youth organizations in all watersheds of the world to ally to build common non-governmental frameworks mentioned in Article I of Constitution of Sustainability, particularly the Civic Democratic Institution. Quoting the above:

Article I.

Section 1.

...To further secure the blessing of sustainability, and to assure that the roots of democracy and sustainability thrive, check, and balance any nascent semblances of a corrupt governmental apparatus, a council of citizens shall be established in all watersheds as a monitoring and civic appreciation body along the following lines and for the following rationales: the framework of the citizen councils shall be a facilitation tool for coalitional building, for the prioritizing of political interests in particular geographies, for environmental monitoring, and for political party agenda formation. To whit, this is summarized in six sections, as follows.

Section 2.
There shall be two stages of voting for the council members, in accordance with two tiers, or procedures and levels, of voting. This is to avoid political party clientelism and to assure the representation of a wide variety of groups and interests. These council members are informal and external to the governmental apparatus, though their existence has a great influence upon later formal politics, grounding and adhering to a particular geography of interests, instead of being manipulated from afar by ideological interests.

There shall be a long first tier followed by a short second tier of voting. All voters with the below qualification can vote once for any persons who have resided in their watershed for at least 10 years. The candidates are the pool of all people who have lived in the watershed for 10 years or shall have been born within a particular watershed and reached ten years of age. The voters for these candidates shall be all citizens over the age of five, though with these residency and/or watershed naturalization requirements. The voters can vote for as many candidates as they want who fulfill their qualification. This is to be a culturally representative body, designed to be comprised of those whom a society of voters in aggregate feels worthy of recognition.

The accumulated social totals will reveal who and where the potentially admired leaders are, without requiring them to ‘run’ for an office—which draws a different caliber of people. This procedure simply ‘spots’ in an informal capacity any citizens in society, in whatever capacities in which they are already being successful or widely admired. It’s a recognition for what they are doing already, instead of related to how well they can convince people of their future good intentions."

Thus two sustainability 'youth transitions' are given at age five and ten, building pride and participation experience with status and identification within the local watershed or bioregion.

These are one institution's socialization structures for sustainability that provide a better youth experience and then a better adulthood than any degradative societies give for many people today. The bioregional state’s institutions encourage youth actions toward health, ecology, and economy intertwined in a particular region, aiming for its optimization, nested with other regions. It can be scaled worldwide.

Culturally and economically, respectively, these two are the local non-governmental checks and balances against governmental corrupt power and its influence on developmental decisions and choices. Corruption is a lack of representation from those injured in development decisions in the long or short term. Corrupt developmental power is a degradative pressure toward bad developmental choices in plans and material choices without local input with the aim of creating a clientelism over people by removing their choices and establishing an ecological tyranny.

It works well with secular or existing religious organizations, and can serve as a cross-religious working group in all of them.

Russia: Worse Case Cultural Scenarios of Political Alienation Still Have a Natural Political Concern for the Environment

What about places with little faith in anything, religiously, governmentally, or collectively? Well, this institution is designed to build that base from scratch at a locality's own pace. Let's take Russia as the poster child having experienced almost 80 years of harsh environmentally degradative policies in the Soviet Union without any local feedback at all, then a collapse of that system itself in the 1990s which made it even worse for a decade. However, even in Russia’s degradative context with its widely apolitical youth alienated from most formal politics, they have the 'natural politics' of our human species--a very high environmental voluntarism and localist concern.

Mentioned in Anna Stetsenko's chapter "Adolescents in Russia" in the book The World’s Youth (2004):
"A nationwide survey [in Russia in 1997] examined political orientations of 1,897 young people, aged 16-29....Over 50% saw no opportunities to make an impact on the life of their communities; only 10% trusted political parties and movements; 16% trusted the Parliament; and 22% trusted the government. Similarly, a 1996 survey of 700 students (aged 15-27) in a typical small Russian town revealed a complete absence of youth organizations, with the school being the center of social activism. Less than 1% of all youth participated in political parties. More than half of all participants of this poll were not members of any organization. However, 13% said they would like to participate in some ecological organization, and about one-half said they would like to take part in saving a local lake (1997 survey). Young people’s concerns seem to lie mostly in the areas of sports, health, culture, and local environmental issues. A study that compared environmental awareness in German and Russian adolescents found that the willingness to engage in environmental behavior was at similarly high levels in both groups (1995 survey)."
So even with the massive breakdown of trust in larger political action, there is still seen the natural, real world concern politically for collective action in their own regional self-interest. That is why this motivation, as a base worldwide, is better to build from than some abstract ideological commitment pushed by untrustworthy international pressures or national parties.

Thus even here youth may be motivated to establish the CDI and Commodity Ecology, contexts instead of accepting someone else's hierarchies. After this local base, it can scale worldwide on a grassroots level, particular to each watershed of the world. The Commodity Ecology helps link producers of a region's sustainable choices together with consumers to build a 'grass roots command economy' of producers who know what markets are there by agreement beforehand instead of only using the market mechanism. This dynamic is discussed elsewhere above, and here.

This can form a real, grounded, worthwhile even idealistic adulthood different from the empty consumerist, cynical, empty participation and lack of knowledge of youth or adults in mass consumer crowds without a particular home. This is a different youth and adulthood form, different from an endlessly empty youth without adulthood encouraged by many Western-modernistic, corporate-dominated, stateless, civicless globalized worlds of identity based on some corporation's degradative products.

Such institutions can be crystals, crystallizing a different sustainable culture outward, with four levels of interest:

1. State politics - after the non-governmental institutional base, a more sustainable and culturally representative localism is an ecological checks and balance toward a sustainable political policy in larger institutions degradative ways.

2. science/educational institutions - once the above two institutions are established, novel paths of learning, monitoring, and building an optimal local integration of materials flows with people of their region is started; this implies a more knowledgable appreciation and discrimination for the framing of development to fit particular regions characteristics and environmental contexts--by choosing wisely in the 91 categories of materials and avoiding choices that undermine the region.

3. financial localism - with the community currency of the watershed or region discussed as part of the Commodity Ecology context, what is networked into acceptance is a stable producer base for a local currently which has historically been the main difficulty of maintaining a local circuit of capital in this way (instead of lack of consumer desire) as a financial check and balance on centralized banking.

4. and consumptive sustainability - within the 91 group producers of the Commodity Ecology context, and local arrangements for material flow changes in choices can be shared. I suggest the publication of a watershed based "Whole Earth Catalogue" or magazine reviewing the developments in each category of producers, as well as which services are available in the region or how to attract them. A suggestion from another magazine is to encourage producer's interest by free advertising for their products (only their sustainably labeled products, labeled by the CDI above). The magazine is paid for by the subscribers willing to see the network of sustainability services taking shape in their region. In return, the subscribers get a coupon card for rebates on these sustainable services featured in the magazine/catalogue in exchange for the free advertising. Both producers and consumers gets something they want this way: the former gets free access to markets and the latter gets rebates in those services, materials, and technologies. It’s a price rebate club for sustainability and a community as well somewhat similar to the community that developed around the more despatialized Whole Earth Catalogue that sold millions of copies several generations ago. This is a "Whole Watershed Catalogue" instead.

Permacultural Practice for Sustainability and Youth Outreach: The Watershed Design Center As a Change Force Itself

Third, other ideas are for the built 'physical plant' of the community watershed center, its organic gardens, and its growing agroforestry projects--making the watershed community center itself as a group learning experience to demonstrate these technologies and materials in action--as well as how this changes their sense of themselves in the process of creating it and then inspiring and helping other watersheds to organize their own.

Self-recruitment could expand through existing networks, for who friends who as best for the watershed in question. This simultaneously builds institutions bioregionally in a networked fashion, and allows people to learn techniques of socialization, prioritization, voting, and constructing a future when they are young as a form of civic education and organizing as a normal daily activity.

People could learn to construct their own sustainable technology choices in sustainable methods and materials for and from their regions’ options. It can provide a truly selfish and intelligent opportunity to better themselves though education and employment and network building in the watershed or bioregion of their choice. It is an appealing ideology of ecology, sustainability, and human civil rights and market choices enjoined in harmonious relations.

It could be organized as a non-profit for property ownership of land, for constructing a manner for wayward or delinquent youth to be turned around toward a worthwhile adulthood that they could later share with others, to inspire them to education and further self-esteem.

It can include arts mastery, musical skills, and musical instrument construction from regional materials. This could become a school of troubadours of sustainability, as touring musician groups of the watershed as well, etc. Thus music, art, technological innovation/design, redesigns the arts on sustainable materials, mixed with diversity of regional culture, regional materials, and democratic representation.

The CDI/CE groups could organize yearly festivals or watershed fairs. It could help organize competitive sports teams, self-defense training in the martial arts for the mental health, bodily health, self-control, and mental focus that it provides.

It can serve as a reserve army for construction of outreach--for other sustainable buildings in different regions in natural disasters or in their own--creating "shock building" quick construction.

It could conduct rural or urban field trips to each other’s regions, to build urban and rural versions of the institutional forms. It could build its own school from local materials, replete with gardens and growing forests, as an experiment for what is right for the region in the long term and what works is useful for other neighboring watershed's attempts later as a skill base of expansion.

The whole idea is to keep these institutions non-governmental, i.e., keep them from becoming a tool of a coercive state or singular ideological vision of a political party that always polarizes and fails to represent the geographic quality of green concern that is across the political spectrum instead of limited to a particular ideology.

Let youth have these institutions and they will expand these networks like lodges of sustainability around the world’s watersheds within half a century, learning and sharing information in their travels between them in all areas of the world in these 'houses of sustainable technologies' (HOSTs, for an abbreviation).

And seed technologies. The permaculture inspired watershed community center design arrangements can be a living museum or archive of well adapted living materials like seed sharing of heirloom crops--a living art that requires a practitioner each generation or its art dies. Biodiversity and the bioregional state is very important. Institutionalizing biodiversity means putting it in our regular daily social networks instead of keeping it separate from us. We can fit in particular situations far better instead of overshadow them as a destroying alien creature in the landscape. Around the heirloom living gardens that spread the seeds for free for travelers or for sale by mail, youth as they grow into adults can see themselves like the forest agroecology growing tall around their sites on permacultural principles. This is similar to Gaviotas where their community was expanding forestry instead of cutting it down. Take a clue from them by reading the book by Alan Weisman about Gaviotas or my analysis of it applied to sustainability and what they failed to do well and how to improve it. Or pick up my book. Today might be the first day of the rest of your life.