From local investing in "everybody eats" restaurants, through slow business and the best vacation response ever, to a revival of simple low-impact living and DIY culture, the signs are everywhere of a fascinating new (and old) economic model emerging out of our financial crisis. While some see this as the birth of no growth or "steady state" economics, these phrases have always seemed negative, and restrictive, to me. Economist Juliet Schor has a different term—the Plenitude Economy. And in this beautiful video, she lays out what it might look like.
Presented by The Center for a New American Dream, and summarizing the content of Schor's book Plenitude: The New Economics of True Wealth, what I love about this video is that it absolutely brims with positivity, excitement and optimism. This is not about letting go of a system that is working well, yet is unsustainable—it is about accepting our status quo is broken, and taking our culture and our economy to the logical next step in ensuring health, happiness and planetary stability.
Unlike the usual either/or struggles of techno-optimism versus low impact anti-consumerism, Schor seems to recognize that there is a middle path to be had. A path based on viewing technology, economics, and our cultural institutions and assumptions not as ends in themselves, but as tools toward a higher goal—a more fulfilling, sustainable, just and (this one is important!) fun model that allows us to actually live our lives.
A plenitude economy? Sign me up.
And the best part is, from working 4 day weeks to telecommuting to swapping clothes or sharing rides to simply talking with your neighbors, all of us are practicing some aspects of the plenitude economy already. This is about connecting the dots, not reinventing the wheel.
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