Academic journal article Canadian Review of Social Policy

The Resilience Imperative, Co-Operative Transitions to a Steady-State Economy

Academic journal article Canadian Review of Social Policy

The Resilience Imperative, Co-Operative Transitions to a Steady-State Economy

Article excerpt

The Resilience Imperative, Co-operative Transitions to a Steady-State Economy Mike Lewis and Pat Conaty Gabriola Island, B.C: New Society Publishers, 2012

In the book The Resilience Imperative, Co-Operative Transitions to a Steady-State Economy Mike Lewis and Pat Conaty bring forward the importance of transitioning from business as usual to a steady-state economy; that is, moving from the current fossil fuel fed, growth economy to one that is smart, scalable, and sustainable. The authors introduce their SEE Change pedagogy as a mechanism to achieve this steady-state economy. It is a four-part methodology that requires one to first SEE Change (SEE= Social, Ecological, Economic), second to SEEK strategic pathways, third to SHARE what we are learning, and lastly, to SECURE the paths once they are cut. This book caught my attention right away because it draws heavily on the work of other experts that complement the authors' levels of expertise in the field, thereby earning immediate credibility. It is a comprehensive guide not only for strategic alternatives for revolutionizing how we act, but also for challenging assumptions on how we think, thus encouraging us to be deliberate in organizing our economic life so we secure a sustainable world for future generations. This book will appeal to a wide spectrum of readers: early adopters of social innovations that are facilitating the transition to a steady-state economy; those involved in leading and facilitating learning and change on issues such as, the demise of the moral economy, affordable housing, and sustainable food; students of business, economic development, ecology and sustainability; as well generalists who are curious about why these issues are so important. Overall, this volume offers a sound education on the history of capitalism and social innovations.

This book is both stimulating and overwhelming from the first page. Stimulating, because of the rich discourse and analysis embedded in all the chapters, which include citations from Boulding, Tuqueville, Mill, Keynes, Polanyi, Soddy, Thompson and other leading thinkers in economics, politics, and social philosophy. Invoking these writers brings forward a sense of urgency to reconceptualize our current economic paradigms in order to secure sustainable livelihoods for people today and for future generations. The overwhelming component of the book comes when one considers the how to bring about change. The authors muse whether it is even "possible for the beneficiaries of 150 years of fossil-fuel-fed economic growth to transcend their own culture?"(16). To deal with the dissonance between the theory and the practicality of the proposed transition, Lewis and Conaty rightfully acknowledge the benefits accrued to humans since the discovery and manipulation of oil, and are even empathetic to our addictive attachment to fossil fuels; however, they stand firm that now is the time to address peak oil, climate change, and the decline of the ecosystem.

The challenge presented in writing about this timely topic is to move past the touching of the readers' hearts or moral compasses toward motivating them to action at either a personal or community level. I believe this challenge has been brilliantly met first through the analysis that gives substance to theories, and then through the case studies that bring experiences to life. For example, the key innovations they examine cover topics that the majority of citizens complain about, such as borrowing costs, affordable housing, energy, and sustainable food systems. The authors propose that many accept the status quo since they are not conscious of the harmful impact that their every choice has on our interconnected world. Further, most of us are unaware of alternative choices and even if we are, we are fearful of change. …

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