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Looking Toward 2007: What's Next?
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In many ways, 2006 was a year of unprecedented success in raising awareness of the large planetary problems facing us, and of some of their possible solutions. Consider if you will:

Poverty: Mohammad Yunus won the Nobel Peace Prize. The (RED) campaign launched, bringing social entrepreneurial marketing to retail outlets everywhere. Movies (like Syriana, the Constant Gardener and Blood Diamond) have brought social messages to the big screen. Celebrities tromped off to Africa en masse to bring attention to that continent's woes.

Climate: The human impacts of Katrina continued to shock us and give us a sense of foreboding about what's to come. Al Gore's An Inconvenient Truth became the most successful documentary of all time. The UK government's Stern Review brought home the potential cost of global warming (greater than the Great Depression), while huge insurance companies began to warn us that the world is becoming uninsurable. Polls show that even here in America, a large majority now think climate change is happening and demands action.

Sustainable design: Whether in product, fashion, residential building or large-scale architecture, design seems to have hit its green tipping point where consideration of environmental impact is a given, and to ignore it is becoming taboo. Commercial efforts to tap consumers' hunger for change have multiplied, from retail carbon offset cards to Wal-Mart selling organic food. Target has introduced socks made of bamboo and non-toxic cleaning products, traditional home magazines give tips for eco-friendly renovation strategies, buildings like New York's 1 Bryant Park have become beacons among modern skyscrapers, and the rebuilding of the Gulf Coast is decidedly a green design challenge.

Technology: A year that saw innovations like the One Laptop Per Child machine and the Lifestraw go mainstream also saw both the first serious applications of carbon nanotubes and the first real attempts at regulating nanotechnology. Medical and public health breakthroughs are offering tantalizing glimpses of a world freed from HIV/AIDS and other major killers, while simultaneously bringing into sharper light the massive danger posed by emerging epidemic diseases like Bird Flu. And our understanding of the planet and the universe continue to expand, bringing a new sense of wonder as well as a more dire understanding of the troubles we've brought on our planet's natural systems.

Most of the major elite conferences (Davos, Aspen, Tallberg, TED) have taken on worldchanging themes. Worldchanging ideas, from Open Source to Closed-Loop, have broken into the mainstream in a big way. Peak Oil, Climate Neutral and Truthiness all became common usage, while best-selling books and a flock of documentaries have posed seriously the prospect of collapse, and begun to ask how we can avoid it.

We remain locked in a race between futures which are unthinkable and unimaginable.

As the year draws to a close and we begin speculating on the coming year, this rising tide begs the question: now that light bulbs have illuminated over so many capable heads, What's next? What needs to be done in 2007? What worldchanging tool, model or idea should we be watching (or hoping to see emerge) in 2007? What key piece of knowledge do we need? What action must we take? What do we do now?

For this week, we've asked some of our most respected allies, team members and friends to write a short response to this question. From today through Saturday, we'll be sharing their answers with you on the site, in a series of posts titled with their names. We hope you enjoy hearing what they have to say, and if you're inspired to share your own visions for what's next, please do so in the comments.

Happy new year from Worldchanging.

Zoe Chafe
Jon Lebkowsky
Jennifer Leonard
Jon Thackara
Sarah Pullman
Patrick Di Justo
David Bornstein
Paul Hawken
Jeremy Faludi
Phillip Torrone
Anna Lappé
Serge de Gheldere
Shannon May
Dave Roberts
Denise Caruso
Jason Kottke
Edward Wolf
Cameron Sinclair
Hassan Masum
Katie Kurtz
Michael Graham Richard
Jim Fruchterman
Peter Leyden
Micki Krimmel
Jamais Cascio
David Brin
Emily Gertz
David Hsu
Michelle Kaufmann Designs
L. Hunter Lovins
Conscientious Innovation
Gil Friend
Alan AtKisson
Geoff Manaugh
Blaine Brownell
Zaid Hassan

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Comments

The one thing that I do not see enough of a focus on is on education. I have always felt that there is no greater leveler than education. Efforts such as those listed above would go a lot further if children the world over had access to a decent education, and the ability to assimilate all the information that is increasingly becoming available to everyone. I hope that more grassroots efforts to improve basic education find their way into the efforts of people like Bill Gates (who is probably the best bet to drive this effort forward)


Posted by: Deepak on 25 Dec 06

There is some progress, but most of the above examples are examples of talking about progress, not progress that has really happened. Talking can be a diversion from, as well as an indicator of, progress.

I look forward to a year when we can congratulate ourselves on a reduction in CO2 emitted by humans into the atmosphere, a shrinking of the Asian pollution cloud and the hole in the ozone layer, and less cases of HIV/AIDS and malaria.

Best wishes.

Yours in hope,

Andy


Posted by: Andy on 26 Dec 06

TRANSPORTATION - We would like to see greater attention given to the environmental impact of transportation -- see Planeta -- and options travelers have in seeking the most sustainable options. Air travel threatens to become the largest contributor to global warming. How will this change how and where we travel?


Posted by: Ron Mader on 26 Dec 06

What's next? - the Australian perspective.

Down here in the middle of the Pacific, we've lived for a long time in the relative calm offered by our global (physical) islolation.

However, 2006 will be recognised as the year when Australia finally 'got' the global warming message. Our politicians scrambled to issue party messages, policy documents, and media statements which outlined their 'strong' commitment to addressing climate change. The challenge for us now is to turn all that green rhetoric into realistic and sustainable actions on the ground. Moving beyond short term political gamesmanship will be a hard slog - cutting through well intentioned media hype is the first of many challenges, followed closely by nationwide disengaging from our additction to aspirational consumerism - the epidemic of 'affluenza' we Australians currently suffer from. We will need to work on building stronger bonds within our communities - between ourselves and our neighbours, our friends, and within our families. Parents and children increasingly disconnected from eachother by overwork, over commitment, and overspending - the cycle has to be broken, and we need to focus less on the myth of economic growth, and more on the benefits that come from a genuine focus on quality of life.

We will need to look very closely at the future we really want AS A NATION, and make some hard decisions - about our own choices and actions, as well as those we choose to represent us on the global leadership bandwagon. I for one am optimistic about the wins to be made in 2007 - but I do hope we make the necessary quantum leaps much more than we (nearly) did in 2006 - I for one am delighted to be on this journey.

Happy Sustainable New year Worldchangers - we have a big job ahead of us but the rewards will be worth it.


Posted by: Michael O'Brien on 28 Dec 06

Note from a Canadian Mom:

The threat of pandemic influenza is very much on my mind and has really brought home the vulnerability of our communities and way of life. In 2007 I would like to see improvements in using and fostering the growth of local resources- whether it be food production (barter with local producers for services/products you can provide?), health and social services (volunteer to help with community services, train to be a crisis counsellor?), education (volunteer to teach a class for local youth?), 'green' initiatives(alternative power- is your area a good location for a wind farm- do some research, send local info to a company that might be interested?) among many other possibilities. Improve your own basic skills and capacity for withstanding supply-chain disruption: stock your pantry as well as you can, take CPR and first aid, attend local planning meetings and speak up, talk to your neighbors. This must start at the individual level. Reasess,Revise and Reach-Out is my goal for 2007- look at how you are living now in your home and your community and how you can improve on it, how you can help or encourage others to do so too.

Education is a subject all it's own, a very important goal and could be improved in a number of ways. Consider homeschooling, public schools have many positive aspects but are sometimes not able to provide a well-rounded education. Too many young adults are lacking in basic life skills and in a sense of co-operation and community with others. Much emphasis is put on a strong competitive spirit which in moderation is good, but in excess strips us of our humanity and in time our self-esteem, no one can be the best at everything. My personal experience has been that both areas are much improved when instruction takes place outside of a formal institution, when children have the benefit of being involved in the whole household/life routine and not just a few rushed evening hours. Another excellent benefit is that children spend less time learning what the have to and much more time learning what they want to. The quality of education is much richer overall when we are encouraged to grow and learn in the directions we choose- when we build on our inherent strengths. This also gives the children time to think, to dream and to experience so many other things that would not be possible with a regular school schedule.

And don't be concerned that you don't know everything- with the internet and so many resources available there is almost no end to the information you can find on any given subject.

Whether you choose to homeschool or not, talk to your children and let them ask questions. Teach them about the enviorment, your beliefs, the need for a strong sense of family/community, all of the important things that can be missed because they lie outside of a textbook and life is ever more busy.

Encourage your children to volunteer in their community, to help out with a community garden or some other project. Lead by example and volunteer with them.

This is the first time I've visited this site and I will definitely be back. My apologies for the long comment, it was meant to be shorter but I got carried away.


Posted by: Amanda (MaMa) on 29 Dec 06

I had meant to add in my comment earlier that a site that I have found to be a tremendous resource for pandemic preparation is Fluwiki. That also happens to be where I learned about Worldchanging, from a fellow poster named lugon.

The wiki proper link is...
http://www.fluwikie2.com/pmwiki.php?n=Main.HomePage
and the discussion forum link is...
http://www.newfluwiki2.com/frontPage.do


Posted by: Amanda (MaMa) on 29 Dec 06

Education should be NEXT for 2007. However, public schools have their 1950s infrastructure and private schools aren't much better. The architecture, technology, phone systems, and even the food service elements don't equip our children for their futures. Teachers have high-tech college educations and are often thrown into a time period before they were born when they start working. We shouldn't be afraid to pay more taxes to upgrade the facilities where our children spend their time.


Posted by: Barbara on 30 Dec 06

Environment, poverty, sustainabilty, local producers, charity....

Commerce, investment, taxation, enterprise...

Ever noticed that folks who talk about one of these sets hardly ever talk about the other?

What I like about WorldChanging is that it mixes these two 'worlds'. In truth we have only one so why do people see it in different ways?

Education must the key, but not the education of others - that's nowt but prostyletising. Surely education begins at home. What better time is there to resolve to learn something new ourselves and commit to sharing what we already know with others? In the UK there is an ever increasing demand for vaocational training - who better to teach than those who have made their living from farming, building, even web designing?

For those with environmental know-how how about getting some business qualifications? Then there's no need to moan about the lack of local producers - you can become one, then complain about the abundance of local competitors :-)

Wishing everyone loads of fun in 2007.

Michael



Posted by: Michael Saunby on 31 Dec 06

I've written a piece on "2007: the year of concreteness" that you migth find interesting: http://blog.articlestudio.ca/?p=549


Posted by: Luce Beaulieu on 2 Jan 07

We have made some progress.
God, I love worldchanging!


Posted by: Ragnar on 3 Jan 07

Back in 2005, NTEN survey indicated that 59% of nonprofits used elearning. A 2006 Social Enterprise Alliance QuickPoll indicates 73% would.
Goes toward 2007 predictions, don’t you think?
You are cordially invited to take the Poll “Can making an elearning game together help nonprofit social entrepreneurs solve the mystery of earned income venture profitability??


Posted by: SandraDickinson on 4 Jan 07



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