Sustainability for the Complete Human Experience
The sustainability needs of the world are more diverse than food, energy, and construction sustainability, and broadening mainstream support for new ways of living, and new models of sustainability, should be built on the foundation of these diverse needs. By approaching comprehensive sustainability as sustainability for the complete human experience, we can bridge the gap between those who require basic survival sustainability (food, energy, and shelter) with those who can build on that traditional sustainability foundation to meet their own cultural, educational, recreational and social sustainability needs. Only by looking at both our physical/survival sustainability needs AND our emotional/fulfilled living sustainability needs can we expect to create a lasting and truly sustainable civilization.
A NEW PARADIGM
While reasons for what is happening in the world right now range from apathy to conspiracy, the fact remains that global statistics on starvation, people living without power, and homelessness (see below) are unnecessary with existing technology and global resources. The problem is not that solutions don’t exist, it’s that there doesn’t exist enough motivation for wide-spread implementation of these solutions. This is where sustainability for the complete human experience is essential.
By bundling fulfilled living practices like culture, recreation, education, and social architecture with traditional sustainability models, we tap into human needs psychology on what motivates people, and what makes people happy, to create a model that provides something for all people in every demographic. This opens the floodgates to broadened sustainable exploration, innovation, humanitarianism, and creating a new way of living that provides the resources to meet the survival needs of lesser developed nations specifically by meeting the cultural, contribution, and personal growth and fulfilled living needs of developed and developing nations.
SMALL STEPS TO BIG RESULTS
Education and sharing are the first small step that anyone can take to participate in this expansion of sustainability. The internet has created a constantly growing and improving tool for us to educate ourselves and others through sharing, cooperation, and collaboration with an entirely new generation of thinkers accessing, evolving, and leveraging this information in ways that didn’t even exist 5 years ago. For the first time in history the answer to any question, or globally sharing the next revolutionary innovation, is just a few keystrokes away for those of us with a computer.
This means the next huge leap in the ever evolving human story, and the solutions to the most pressing problems of our generation that will also address the issues facing us over the next century, really comes down to time, money and motivation. Individuals, businesses, communities, and schools are mobilizing to overcome these obstacles with success proven by the tools, tutorials, websites, YouTube videos, blogs, and other multi-media resources now available on-line.
The next step is creating sustainability for the complete human experience as the infrastructure for a CULTURE of cooperation and collaboration specifically purposed to address and demonstrate solutions to the issues of time, money, and motivation.
NEED FOR PHYSICAL SUSTAINABILITY
Physical sustainability provides the foundations for survival: food, energy, and shelter. From a global perspective the technology and resources necessary to meet the needs of every person exist but are not available (see statistics below) to many who need them. From a developed nation perspective, physical sustainability practices are (currently) not pressing issues but are essential to the creation of a sustainable civilization and sustainability for the complete human experience. Building sustainable infrastructure is also a great way to massively reduce the overhead of our most common living expenses.
Current food production methods are growing foods that continue to increase in price, have lower levels of key biomarkers for quality and nutritional value, and are energy, water, and space inefficient. People around the world are starving when the technology exists to build a sustainable food infrastructure that grows ten times the food, with 2% of the water, and 5% of the space of traditional food production methods. Building food infrastructure using this level of sustainability saves money, saves time, saves resources, and produces a surplus of food.
Personal sustainable food production alternatives like aquaponics can be built in a couple days for less than a hundred dollars and full-scale models capable of producing food for thousands of people can be built for less than the cost of a house in most states.
Ways to get started now:
The options for building an alternative energy infrastructure for off-grid living are increasing every year right along with the cost of electricity. Current options include a variety of solar, wind and water-based options as well as less known and specialized production methods like solar salt ponds and rocket mass heaters. The key to building sustainable energy infrastructure is making the decision to do it. With the diversity of options available right now, pretty much anyone can sit down and design a home system or systems that will pay for itself over time and save you money.
Like food, personal alternative energy saving options like rocket mass heaters can be built in a weekend for less than $50, and large-scale models capable of providing complete power for a small city can be built for a couple hundred thousand.
Ways to get started now:
Sustainable construction options include earthbag, straw-bale, cob, adobe brick/earth block, subterranean construction, earthship, bottle homes/reclaimed materials construction, and more. Homes that are energy efficient, beautiful, and significantly more earthquake and weather resistant than traditional homes can be built, by hand, for anywhere from $500 on up. Sadly, the minimal resources and education necessary to build these homes are not available to most of the people of the world that need them.
Another issue for eco-construction is permitting. While some of these building methods have been used for literally thousands of years, none of them have had widespread popularity since the advent of the building permit. Because of this, there is no building code that applies to most alternative building methods and it is easier for cities and counties to say ‘no’ than go through the process necessary to feel comfortable saying ‘yes.’ This doesn’t mean eco-building can’t be done, it just means that the process of working with local governments and regulations is something equally as valuable as the building itself to explore, evolve, and share. And if regulations/permits are an issue, consider looking into what size and purposed building can be built without a permit and/or building something just for fun.
For a page with some of our favorite sustainable construction videos click here.
NEED FOR EMOTIONAL SUSTAINABILITY
In developed nations the need for emotional sustainability is even more important than the need for physical sustainability simply because most people’s basic survival needs are already addressed. Statistically speaking (see below for details) sustainable food, housing, and energy support would help countries like America a lot, but what Americans really need and want are more fulfilling lives, a sense of purpose, a culture of growth, and meaningful relationships. While happiness has been scientifically shown to be independent of money, this doesn’t mean financial security isn’t important, only that human needs research points to a much deeper infrastructure for what motivates us and makes us feel fulfilled.
This need for fulfilled living and emotional sustainability, and the lack of it that is creating a lot of unhappy people, presents an amazing opportunity because achieving food, energy, and housing self-sufficiency, coupled with community building, is a solution. By setting ourselves free of the expenses associated with the basics of living, we create personal sovereignism and the space in our lives to focus on more important things than bills. Sustainability for the complete human experience can then be accomplished by recognizing the opportunity and making a decision to build models for emotional sustainability, on top of the physical sustainability, and incorporate personal growth and sharing, cooperation and collaboration, and community and meaningful relationships into daily life.
Personal growth and sharing the things we are most passionate about, and good at, meets four of the six human needs and is a beautiful gift for both the giver and the receiver. But who has the time, money, and diversity of options that they would really like to explore the virtually unlimited human capacity for learning and growth? And where can you find the people who love what they do and are truly inspired, versus just doing a job, when they teach? Sustainability for the complete human experience dictates that we need to build solutions to these questions into daily life.
One solution that is currently experiencing huge success is meetup.com. Meetup.com is a social networking site that allows anyone who wants to host a class or group an engine to share their passion with the public. Classes are usually free or very affordable and the diversity of options available is immense if you live in a major city. Another solution would be to organize a group of people into committing to learning from each other and setting some amount of time each week to personal growth and sharing whatever it is that they love most. The larger, more geographically centered, and time availability the group has, the higher the participation.
A foundation of physical sustainability as the infrastructure for a community dedicated to a culture of personal growth and sharing can be explored throughout this site as the open source blueprint for sustainable civilization that is being created.
Teamwork and a collaborative effort to create something impactful meets three of the six human needs and is an aspect that is notably missing in many people’s lives. The vast majority of people today work in specialized jobs with little creative interaction, live in relationships with no cooperative focus, and choose passive and less expressive social and recreational activities over collaborative ones. Working in groups with specific and tangible goals is foundational to creating sustainability for the complete human experience and with the technology today we are now capable of creating cooperative and collaborative teams with our world community instead of just our local community.
True Community fulfills all six human needs with meaningful relationships as the single most important need. Community can be any group or gathering of people, but True Community and meaningful relationships fall into a different category with the primary discerning factor being proximity to achieving and demonstrating unconditional love for one another. This means letting go of expectations, the need to fix or change each other, and bias of any kind: gender, race, politics, lifestyle, sexual preference, religion, etc.
As can be imagined, accomplishing the creation of any environment or community demonstrating unconditional love requires a commitment, and continued vigilance and personal growth, with unparalleled rewards for success.
Emotional sustainability can be summed up as an enriching social architecture designed to account for the emotional connection, growth, significance, contribution, and variety that people need in their lives and are not getting. Current society is not physically sustainable OR emotionally sustainable and creating a model where people meeting their own needs helps to meet the needs of others, consequently meeting the needs of the people helping them, is one path to transformative global and personal change.
A model capable of creating this will be founded on sustainability for the complete human experience because only happy and whole people can help other people become happy and whole; and the building blocks of happiness and wholeness are a balanced, secure, rich and fulfilling life. This balance, richness, and fulfilled living create emotional sustainability and the on-going provision of basic survival needs (food, energy, shelter) creates physical sustainability.
One Community is our model for all of this and is founded on the open-source sharing of all of the sustainability information we generate and come across, creating a hub for complete sustainability information and the open-source blueprints for a sustainable civilization.
Here are the statistics referenced multiple times in the discussion above.
WORLD SUSTAINABILITY NEEDS
Statistically speaking, it is obvious that global sustainability needs exist. The basics of survival are not being met for many people and the numbers are staggering:
● An estimated 15 million children die annually of starvation (World Health Organization)
● More than 100 million people are homeless worldwide (2005 UN Commission on Human Rights)
● 884 million people lack access to safe water supplies: approximately 1 in 8! (W.H.O. 2008)
● 3.6 million people die each year from water-related diseases (W.H.O. 2008)
● More than 80% of sewage in developing countries is discharged untreated, polluting rivers, lakes, and costal areas (2004-Wastewater use in Irrigated Agriculture) and “the majority of illness in the world is caused by fecal matter” (Water Supply and Sanitation Collaborative Council – 2008)
● Not since 1973 has energy use increases as much, in percentage terms!, as it did in 2010 (Economist – 6/2011) yet 1.6 billion people (a quarter of humanity) live without electricity (Millennium Development Goals Report 2007)
US SUSTAINABILITY NEEDS
What is surprising to many are the statistics here in the United States (and other more developed nations). While we do not have millions of people starving to death, “food insecurity” (people not knowing whether or not they will be able to continue to feed themselves), homelessness, and soaring energy price statistics are disturbing for the country with the largest economy in the world:
● In 2008 4 million US households became food insecure, the largest increase ever recorded (USDA)
● In 2010, 17.2 million households (14.5% or 1 in 7) were food insecure (Department of Agriculture)
● In the US as many as 3.5 million people go homeless in a given year (2009 Annual HUD Report)
● In 2009 the US imported 24% of all energy consumed (Energy Information Administration 2009)
● Over the past year alone, the household energy index has increased 2.7%, fuel oil has risen 35.4%, and the electricity index has risen 1.9%! (2011 US BLS Consumer Price Index Summary)
Emotional well-being and happiness statics show the larger problem affecting the majority of Americans:
● Anti-depressants have become the #1 most prescribed drug in the US with 118 million anti-depressants prescribed in 2005 alone (US CDC)
● Between 1995 and 2002, the most recent year for which statistics are available, the use of these drugs rose 48 percent, the CDC reported.