Simplicity and
Sustainability

STOCKHOLM FUTURISTS MEETUP
20 Jan 2014
Adam Jorlen, Futurist
@adamjorlen
Where do you see yourself?

Source: Fred Polak - The Image of the Future
Jim Dator’s 4 Generic Futures
• Continuation – the current historical trajectory continues, most usually conceived
of as ‘...
Discipline
Simplicity
Simplicity and Complexity
• …Simplicity often lies on the other side of complexity, so for
any problem, the more you can z...
The History of Simplicity

Religious and spiritual
traditions ( for ex Gautama
Buddha, John the Baptist,
Laozi, and Confuc...
Philosophy

Jean-Jacques Rousseau
strongly praised the simple
life in Discourse on the Arts
and Sciences (1750).
“Simplify, Simplify.”

Henri David Thoreau Walden, a reflection on
simple living in natural
surroundings.
Gandhi and materialism

“You may have occasion
to possess or use
material things, but the
secret of life lies in never
mis...
Economics

E. F. Schumacher argued
against the notion that
"bigger is better" in Small
Is Beautiful (1973)
Voluntary Simplicity

Duane Elgin
Voluntary Simplicity
Movement (1981)
Simplicity and Technology

“That’s been one of my mantras — focus and
simplicity. Simple can be harder than complex: You
h...
Today
• Grassroots awareness campaigns, for ex UK National
Downshifting Week (founded 1995)
• DIY ethics
• Maker Movement
...
Discuss: A Garden of Simplicity
• Uncluttered Simplicity – Plato: “simplify the mechanics of the
ordinary, everyday life.”...
Questions
* In an increasingly complex world; how effective have the calls
for simplicity by Thoreau, Elgin et al been?
* ...
The Future of Sustainability?

Source: Jean Russell – What is Thrivability?
Simplicity and sustainability
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Simplicity and sustainability

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"Simplify, simplify".

When Henry David Thoreau made this plea 150 years ago, he was reacting to the increasing complexity of life around him. Today we find ourselves in a far more complex world, one in which increasing numbers of us are beginning to see the wisdom in Thoreau’s appeal. Duane Elgin helped define this trend back in 1981 with his first book, Voluntary Simplicity: Toward a Way of Life That Is Outwardly Simple, Inwardly Rich. In that now-classic text, Elgin encouraged us not just to cut back on consumption and ease our busy schedules, but to live a life with purpose, in which every action is the result of a conscious choice.

These slides are the basis for a discussion about the images of the future of the simplicity and sustainability movements from Thoreau and onwards.

* How effective have Thoreau's and Elgin´s calls for simplicity in an increasingly complex world been?

* What can we do to find the simplicity beyond complexity in our lives?

* What's next for these movements?

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This slide pack was prepared by Futurist Adam Jorlen for the second meeting in a series about alternative futures by Stockholm Futurists. The four themes are COLLAPSE!, Simplicity and sustainability, Limits to Growth and Abundance and Transformation, the singularity and evolution of consciousness.

Please visit www.meetup.com/StockholmFuturists/ for more info.

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Simplicity and sustainability

  1. 1. Simplicity and Sustainability STOCKHOLM FUTURISTS MEETUP 20 Jan 2014 Adam Jorlen, Futurist @adamjorlen
  2. 2. Where do you see yourself? Source: Fred Polak - The Image of the Future
  3. 3. Jim Dator’s 4 Generic Futures • Continuation – the current historical trajectory continues, most usually conceived of as ‘continued economic growth’; • Collapse – a breakdown of the social order due to one or more of a number of possible causes, such as economic instability, environmental overload, resource depletion, moral degeneration, military conflict such as an external attack or internal civil war, meteor/comet impact, etc; • Disciplined Society – a society organized around some set of overarching values, whether ancient, traditional, ideological, natural, environmental, God-given, etc; • Transformational Society – which sees the end of current forms of behaviour, beliefs, norms, or organization, and the main sub-variants are ‘emergence of new forms (rather than a return to older or traditional ones, as above), possibly even including intelligent life-forms. The two high-tech’ (technological) and ‘high-spirit’ (spiritual) transformation. Source: Joseph Voros - Galactic-scale macro-engineering: Looking for signs of other intelligent species, as an exercise in hope for our own
  4. 4. Discipline
  5. 5. Simplicity
  6. 6. Simplicity and Complexity • …Simplicity often lies on the other side of complexity, so for any problem, the more you can zoom out and embrace complexity, the better chance you have of zooming in on the simple details that matter most. • TED talk by Ecologist Eric Berlow
  7. 7. The History of Simplicity Religious and spiritual traditions ( for ex Gautama Buddha, John the Baptist, Laozi, and Confucius) “Manifest plainness, Embrace simplicity, Reduce selfishness, Have few desires.” - Laozi
  8. 8. Philosophy Jean-Jacques Rousseau strongly praised the simple life in Discourse on the Arts and Sciences (1750).
  9. 9. “Simplify, Simplify.” Henri David Thoreau Walden, a reflection on simple living in natural surroundings.
  10. 10. Gandhi and materialism “You may have occasion to possess or use material things, but the secret of life lies in never missing them.” ~ Mohandas Gandhi
  11. 11. Economics E. F. Schumacher argued against the notion that "bigger is better" in Small Is Beautiful (1973)
  12. 12. Voluntary Simplicity Duane Elgin Voluntary Simplicity Movement (1981)
  13. 13. Simplicity and Technology “That’s been one of my mantras — focus and simplicity. Simple can be harder than complex: You have to work hard to get your thinking clean to make it simple. But it’s worth it in the end because once you get there, you can move mountains.” [Steve Jobs - BusinessWeek, May 25, 1998]
  14. 14. Today • Grassroots awareness campaigns, for ex UK National Downshifting Week (founded 1995) • DIY ethics • Maker Movement • ?
  15. 15. Discuss: A Garden of Simplicity • Uncluttered Simplicity – Plato: “simplify the mechanics of the ordinary, everyday life.” • Ecological Simplicity – lighter touch on Earth • Family Simplicity – quality of relations and integrity with each other • Compassionate Simplicity - Gandhi: “Choose to live simply so that other simply can live” • Soulful Simplicity – Connection with all life in all its richness • Business Simplicity – Sustainable products and services • Civic Simplicity – public transport, education, design of cities and work places • Frugal Simplicity – Skillful practices of our personal finances Source: Duane Elgin: Voluntary Simplicity: Cool Lifestyle for a Hot Planet
  16. 16. Questions * In an increasingly complex world; how effective have the calls for simplicity by Thoreau, Elgin et al been? * What can we do to find the simplicity beyond complexity in our lives? * What's next for simplicity and sustainability?
  17. 17. The Future of Sustainability? Source: Jean Russell – What is Thrivability?

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