A step towards collaborative sustainability

(Guest post by Ananya Mukherjee)

The problem

At a time when the UN forecasts that the world population is going to reach a staggering 10 billion somewhere between 2050-2100, it adds to the already present problems of lack of food security and sustainability coupled with lack of space, dearth of arable farmland and severely damaged ecosystems in certain parts of the world.

This also comes in view of the fact that in certain places around the world, agricultural practices sustain a vast majority of the population, now struggling to come into terms of a future that involves land and resource crises. The problem intensifies for women food growers as land availability is the biggest hurdle and challenge in their quest to achieve food security and also to take home a good income.

STOA (Science and Technology Options Assessment), a part of the European Parliament, organised a workshop in December, 2013 on “How to feed the world in 2050?”. The keynote speaker, Prof. Louise O. Fresco elucidated the fact that no one on the planet is immune when it comes to the challenges imposed by our quest to attain ‘food security’. According to her,”It touches everybody as without food we do not survive for more than a few days”.

Importance of Collaborative methods

Professor Fresco also stressed on the importance of a long term social contract by implementing sustainable methods of production, food purchase, cutting down wastage and also integrating the fundamentals of the concept called Eco-footprint. Eco-footprint basically refers to the amount of land, water and sources of energy required to produce sustenance for an individual. It is also representative of the average rate of consumption of resources by an individual and to also the fact that we need to develop ways to reabsorb the wasted resources and energy back into the system to reduce the Eco-footprint.

This only goes on to validate the importance of conscious and educated collaboration among the members of the involved communities who are affected by changes at all levels.

What are ‘Food Forests’?

There are various ways a community can garner a status as a self-sufficient food producing unit. One such community-based collaboration can be in the form of developing a Food Forest where a variety of indigenous fruits, nuts, berries, herbs and mushrooms can be grown. Unlike in ‘Community Gardens’ that involves a concept of owner-ship of the vegetable patches by individuals; a food forest is not designed on the lines of ownership by individuals.
USA has already started the implementation of this concept in Massachusetts and Washington.

The development of food forests can also be of great help in places that are cut-off during winter months or are located at high altitudes. In such places, the indigenous seeds are first acclimatised to the harsh conditions and short growing seasons and the robust lines are interbred by traditional techniques. Since, there is a window between the acclimatisation period and a fully-functional food forest, it’s leaves enough time for the residents and the members to be educated so they take only as much of the forest produce as required and reduce wastage.

Hydroponics and Aeroponics; some of the other methods that can be implemented on a community level

Apart from developing food forests and in order to address a lack of space and to get more city dwellers involved, hydroponic and aeroponic systems can also help deliver effective results by producing healthy food , reducing the dependence on resources and encouraging resuse and recycling.

In an hydroponic or aeroponic system, the soil that is essentially required to anchor the roots together and supply nutrients to the plant is replaced by coconut husks or clay pellets that simply support the plant system while nutrients are added via a water pumping cycle in case of hydroponics. Nutrients are sprayed in form of mists in a system based on aeroponics. Many practitioners urge people to come up with their own varieties of such systems in order to increase effeciency and yield as being the consumers, they are on the receiving end of all such processes. Therefore, they need to have an idea of what would work best for them and implement it accordingly by taking in account our current understanding of scientic processes.

Some practitioners without an access to roof-tops or live in cramped places in major cities in the world utilise the concept of vertical hydroponic and aeropnic systems.
Even scientists are now growing fresh herbs and vegetables at zero gravity aboard the International Space Station.

A possible outcome of collaborative efforts
These practices when implemented from the grass-root levels and involve communication with other communities can help improve indigenous systems in order to be able to work together towards a sustainable future.

Ananya Mukherjee is the Founder of The Idea Bucket, an initiative that tries to develop lifestyles based on the ideas of sustainability, collaborative economy, a scientific understanding and practical utilisation of a variety of subjects in order to help people in their quest to lead simple, fulfilling, debt-free lives.

On cooperation and friendship

Today we wanted to share 5 quotes that inspire us at Fajoya, which we feel say something about our mission.
We hope they’ll inspire you too.

Humanity is actually more cooperative and empathic than it’s given credit for.
Frans de Waal

It’s not how big your share is; it’s how much you can share.
Eddi Reader

Individually we are one drop. Together we are an ocean.
Ryunosuke Satoro

You can make more friends in two months by becoming interested in other people, than you can in two years by trying to make other people interested in you.
Dale Carnegie

It’s no good being a campaigner if you’re not a good neighbour.
Alistair McIntosh

Bring collaboration to work

Hopefully this week started out well for you. As you get on with your work tasks, we thought you might like a quick reminder on how you can make your work place a more collaborative environment. In fact, according to Jacob Morgan, author of Amazon bestseller “The Collaborative Organization”, you may find that there are good reasons to believe collaboration is THE option, rather than just an option.
To get the ball rolling, we’ve summarised Morgan’s guidelines on why and how to collaborate in the work place. Hopefully you’ll find them as inspiring as we did.

1. Understand that individual benefit is just as important as corporate benefit, if not more so. After all, any work place will is bound to become a saner place if co-workers remember that empowering and supporting can lead to much more than policing and enforcing.

2. Think collectively about your strategies before you think of your technology. The most effective way to reach your company’s goals could be to start by figuring out what makes those goals relevant and why you want to achieve them.

3. Listen to your co-workers! Learn what makes them move, what they’re passionate about, and take time to share your thoughts with them as well. If you become aware of all the diverse motivations that already exist in your around you, you’ll probably be on to an increase in productivity, and quite possibly a better work-life balance.

4. Have a readiness to integrate into the work flow. If you’re not on-board with whatever’s going on in your company, how should you expect that of your co-workers? Start to cultivate quality of presence at work, by being attentive, alert and available to discuss any questions that pop up.

5. Be ready to adapt to changing processes and new challenges. Collaborating with co-workers to tackle the quick dynamics that mark your work environment will turn work into a less stressful and more enjoyable space for all.

6. Remember that ultimately, your customers will benefit from your collaborating with co-workers. After all, it will help you provide faster and more accurate responses. It will also allow you to create a repository of knowledge for dealing with reoccuring issues, and come up with more effective ways to integrate customer feedback into your overall strategy.

Stuffocation

Destuffocate, innovate!

An interesting way to learn about the causes and likely developments of a range of social problems which have started to mark our lives, and which might become ever more pressing in the near future is to keep on track with the work of trend forecasters.
Trend forecaster James Wallman recently published a book about a social problem set to reach epic proportions – stuffocation. The term is used to refer a state of over-abundance, where we stop thinking of “having more” as a positive thing, to start perceiving it as something which can make our lives worse, bringing us more stress, anxiety and hassle. Generally, stuffocation is the reason why innovators like Wallman believe we’ve had enough of stuff, and that now is the right moment to start dedicating to finding and constructing happier alternatives.

In fact, some of these alternatives for the future are already here, and with social networking becoming more and more pervasive, we may find alternatives will start to quickly jump into the mainstream. Nevertheless, speed should not mean that alternative models like collaborative consumption and experientialism should be taken for temporary fads. Instead, they should be perceived as components of a long-term transformation. After all, the materialistic model which has lead us to the problems of over-abundance and stuffocation has taken most of the 20th century to catch on. To speak of a search for happier alternatives is to speak of long term cultural change.
Recent studies show that rates of individualistic consumption in Western economies have started falling since the early 2000’s, and in many societies the decline of materialistic models has already started, giving way to the pursuit of status, happiness and meaning through sharing experiences and resources.

Connecting all this to our news patterns of communication, it appears that in the 21st century, status and wellbeing will be increasingly drawn from what we do and from how we connect than from what we own. And what’s more? We might even find that many of the positive experiences we can get will often cost us next to nothing – like getting to know our local communities, starting up a conversation with our next door neighbours, helping each other out, cooperating and engaging in social learning, thus making our own cultures more distinctive in positive ways. We can gain identity through a simple collaborative effort to avoid the effects of stuffocation.

Inspiring enough? Why not try out the three simple steps Wallman suggests?

1 – Destuffocate!
2 – Don’t restuffocate.
3 – Take the amount of money you’d normally spend to purchase material goods and invest it in experiences and connecting with those around you. You’ll probably feel happier, have more interesting stories to tell, and find your daily life can have more meaning than you’d think.

6 habits of highly empathic people

Along with mindfulness, empathy is another word that’s currently marks different areas of culture.

Backed up by new findings in the fields of neurobiology, sociology and psychology, many authors and scholars now defend that our species thrives more by being homo empathicus than homo economicus.

It’s now clear that we’ve moved on from the 20thcentury age of self-reflection and self-involvement. We’re at the beginning of what cultural historian Roman Krznaric calls the age of outrospection, which will be marked by the rise of collaborative and empathic living.

Being the object of empathy can bring positivity into your life, but practicing it is bound to empower you to collaborate more, get a better feel of your community and do more good. With that in mind, we’ve made a summary of what Krznaric calls the six habits of highly empathic people, and we hope you’ll be as inspired by it as we are.

 

1 – Be curious about those who surround you – take time to get to know your community and what matters most to them.

2 – Cut with prejudices by discovering the points you have in common with others.

3 – For perspective, try putting yourself on someone else’s shoes.

4 – Cultivate the joy of conversation and active listening.

5 – Share the positive with your friends to inspire good changes in your community.

6 – Don’t be afraid to get creative

 

It may seem like too much if you take it all in one go, but if you take one step at a time you might start to notice meaningful changes take place.

 

Trustfad

Trust – More than just a fad

In our time, dominant discourse has it that everything is going digital. We’re told that even things as trivial as sliced bread can and should be disrupted, a process which can be enabled by the internet and the use of social networking sites.

Yet, with the increasingly easy access to such platforms where we can write or talk to our heart’s content, crucial ideas might be getting lost. First and foremost, the idea that truly effective contact takes doing, instead of just writing and talking.

While social networking sites may allow us to tell the stories we think matter, they alone cannot represent the main building blocks of our stories. We’ve reached a stage where merely adding someone to our contact lists isn’t enough. If we already know how easy it can be to make a first contact, we should want our next generation of social tools to help us earn the right to talk to our new connections again, starting and maintaining positive and enriching conversations. This is to say that the focus of our new social tools should be on helping us recover some of the more tangible aspects that would naturally characterise social relationships, upcycling them to fit more current lifestyles.

We shouldn’t want our new tools to merely take us from one kind of “social networking bureaucracy” to the next, but rather to help us break down digitally imposed barriers, allowing us to seize the value of our networks.

Like in more conventional settings, trust must still be an important anchor for social relationships. Naturally, one of the most positive ways to gain trust is through reputation. Hence, a new generation of social tools should facilitate the process of recording and tracking our own reputation and that of people around us. Linking a positive approach to reputation with the potentialities of social networking should mean trust will start gaining value outside its initial environment, turning into an asset we can use to buy cooperation from others, even people we’ve never met.

This is what leads us to believe in the value of trust as a currency. If we’ve managed to keep your attention this far, we’d be delighted to invite you along to explore these ideas and more. Help us on our mission to prove trust is not just the flavour of the month.