14 Ideas that could help create a joyful green society

Many of you may have read a very interesting article by Charles Ledbetter in the Observer last month:

http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2015/jul/12/14-ideas-that-could-save-labour

Now my intention here is not to be party political. But I think this set of imaginative ideas stands up free of parties and I think are very relevant to the kind of society in which many would wish to live in or at least aspire to.

Could they be added into the Joy in Enough (JiE) mix for discussion? Without wishing to sound like old Mr Grace from that dreadful 70’s sitcom ‘Are You Being Served?’ I really do feel that this is wonderful and challenging work that you are all doing. I am full of admiration.

God bless all of you,

George Dow

 


One comment on “14 Ideas that could help create a joyful green society
  1. Tony Emerson says:

    I too had read this article and was impressed.

    I very much agree that this type of thinking can transcend party politics. I would query some of his introductory comments: our society has become so unequal that redistribution is vital (as some of his proposals recognise), while phrases like ‘Labour needs to stand for the social self, where the desire for individualism and choice meet an appetite for collaboration and sharing.’ are at best meaningless.

    But when he talks about a ‘sense of a better, shared future’, then this might be the basis of the ‘grand narrative’ that so many commentators say is absent in modern politics. And I think the term a ‘better shared future’ could be a shorthand for JiE. Among the aims of JiE are ‘Form a vision for a genuinely sustainable economy which promotes ecological, social, psychological and moral flourishing’. (number 4 – see http://www.greenchristian.org.uk/joy-in-enough.)

    I would welcome further debate on this set of ideas. Is this the vision we have in mind in Joy in Enough and in Green Christian generally? How well does it reflect underpinning Christian theology as well as ecological necessity and social goals? The concept of sharing is surely an essential component of all three. And what would need to happen in the political engine room to bring a programme based on this about?

    Some comments on the particulars of the article: numbers 2 and 12 do involve redistribution – in 12 he talks about the boardroom-shop floor pay ratio being reduced to 8:1. Numbers 2, 3 and 9 are explicitly green. Number one, a revival of basic practical skills training, is advocated both by the transition towns and the blue labour movements. Most of the proposals would require some form of public funding support – therefore taxation, redistribution again.

    But the big call is for more voluntary community activity: proposals 4, 5,6,7,8, and 9 would all require lots of voluntary effort on the ground. This of course sounds a bit like Cameron’s ‘big society’. Now the critique of ‘big society’ is not just that it was a fairly cynical way of reducing spending on public services. It was also a totally unrealistic proposal because nearly all of the trends in society and the policies of his government were working against voluntary action: consumer culture, long hours of work, job insecurity, longer commutes (related to job insecurity). All these factors were identified in Putnam’s work on social capital. Another one I identified when doing some research for a home counties voluntary action council 10 years ago was the rise in international travel among retirees. The people they used to get to run the local CAB’s etc are now flying off to their gites in Spain a few times a year. Another good reason to support the campaign by HACAN, CBT and other transport NGO’s for a tax on frequent flyers http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/jun/20/frequent-flyer-tax-leisure-airfares.

    And Putnam recognises the vital role played by the church in promoting voluntary activity. As well as the direct role of the churches in voluntary action we are a sort of training ground in the organisation skills that church goers or ex-church goers, use in a wide variety of organisations.

    A lot of food for thought for JiE

    Thanks George for bringing it to our attention

    Tony

    Joint co-ordinator, Joy in Enough

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