Biodiversity as Natural Capital

October 28, 2010 § Leave a comment

Diversity is more than just a mantra. Beyond the mission statements, glossy admissions brochures, and announcements at meeting time, we feel the importance of diversity intuitively, viscerally. Are we hard wired to seek diversity? On a more rudimentary level, does a healthy society require diversity? Public Radio International’s fascinating daily program The World features a story today, “Biodiversity as Natural Capital” about the work of Thomas Lovejoy, who examines the importance of biodiversity to our ecosystems.

Nations are rallying as more species slide to extinction; urgent action, and the outlay of resources in the form of expertise, equipment and funding, seems the only way to prevent these massive collapses, and the consequent loss of biodiversity.

The idea of “Natural Capital” is a hopeful formulation for reframing the debate on humanity’s relationship with the environment. In short, if we begin to consider natural resources (clean watersheds, healthy plants/animals, open space, and sustainable foodways) as a form of wealth, then we might reorganize our priorities, both as individuals and communities. Some of these resources already play a supporting role in monetary calculations like real estate values, so the leap isn’t as great as it might initially seem.

By extension, we might very convincingly make the argument that just as biodiversity is essential to a healthy ecosystem, diversity of background and perspective is essential to any human community. Polycultures are healthier, richer, more resilient organizing structures than monocultures.

Slogans and value propositions aside, diversity is a lived experience, perhaps even one that is encoded in our DNA. It’s high time that we demand the same standards from our communities and organizations that nature asks of us as organisms. It’s one thing to be rich, and quite another to be truly wealthy.


The Elusive Small House Utopia

October 22, 2010 § Leave a comment

The Elusive Small House Utopia is a fascinating recent article from the NYT Magazine, both for what it says about what we want from shelter these days, as well as what we might desire at some point in the imagined future. What sort of future will it be? How might we create a home ground that actually might work to enable our utopian vision of the future? Local boy Thoreau gets a mention (of course), but the Home for a New Economy is not gunning for anything quite so radical as his 10 x 15 foot hermitage. Think 1,700 – 2,000 square feet.

What does your ideal home look like, and what does that say about you?

Where Am I?

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