Professor Jem Bendell

notes from a strategist and educator on social and organisational change

Quarterly Updates – sign up

Posted by jembendell on May 12, 2015

I have started producing quarterly updates… yep 4 emails a year on what Im doing. In each on Ill be linking to written outputs and forthcoming events. You can sign up here: http://eepurl.com/beciEb

Here is the text of the latest update:

I want to update you on the festival we are organising this summer on the shores of England’s largest lake. The full programme, which includes over 80 experts, plus lots of outdoor activities is now out: download here. As it is during the summer holidays, we are providing a free children’s programme of professionally run outdoor activities – and babysitting. Half the places have now gone, so book now if you are interested.

The research festival is preceded by a 6 day course on sustainable leadership that I’m teaching. We have some wonderful people joining the course.

In the past months I’ve been on secondment to the UN, and as I’ve been in Geneva I presented my research at a couple of events. In April I presented to the UNECE about the monetary cause of the house price crisis that is affecting many cities. I explained, based on my work in ‘Healing Capitalism’, that the more consolidated a nation’s banking system is, the more their lending is focused on real estate, and so this leads to the asset price inflation of housing. Solutions must involve re-balancing the process of new money creation by commercial banks. That can be achieved by promoting more local banks that focus on lending to businesses (e.g. breaking up RBS) and introducing credit guidance so we move away from a situation where over 80% of new credit creation is for real estate. Other options include removing from commercial banks the priviledge of creating money. Given that, according to research, most politicians dont even realise that commercial banks create over 90% of a nations’ money supply, we have some way to go before sensible policies even begin to be considered. I wrote about these issues in Open Democracy.

In May I presented my research on currency innovation to UNRISD. I drew upon a paper that was published earlier this year where we provide a case study of a local currency created in a slum in Kenya that has already boosted trade by over 20% without indebting anyone nor requiring foreign aid. I noted how the current Financing for Development discussions at the UN have completely overlooked monetary issues and currency innovation. As a result of the discussions, recommendations for including complementary currencies are being submitted to UNDESA.

We had a great response to the Money and Society free online course (a “MOOC”), with over 300 people registering and around 100 completing all assignments and graduating to the alumni forum. Some of the participants joined us on the Certificate of Achievement in Sustainable Exchange in London. The next offering of the free online course starts on August 23rd and runs for 4 weeks, taking about 5 hours of work time per week. Read more about it, and the accredited course, here. Sign up for the MOOC via martin.pyrah@cumbria.ac.uk
Some of my research to develop this MOOC led me to look at trends in financial technology (fintech). In March, I was asked to speak about ethical implications at the main annual conference on fintech in the City of London. I warned that as we move to a cashless society, we risk becoming dependent on oligopolies that have shown themselves to be susceptible to political pressure. I argued that the issues are so important to the future of democracy that the UN, via the ITU, should be involved, not only banking regulators. I wrote up my speech here.

I was out of the country for the UK election, but followed it with interest. As the results came in, I wondered what some contemporary management theories might imply for the future of the opposition parties. So I shared an idea for a Liberal Green Alliance in Open Democracy.

If any of these topics interest you, then do engage in the Sustainable Leaders linked in group, or see my latest musings at www.jembendell.com

In the coming quarter I will be shuttling between Cumbria, London and other locations due to speaking engagements (see below). I hope to see you at the Leading Wellbeing festival in July.

Upcoming talks and workshops:

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An immigrant walks into a bar…

Posted by jembendell on April 23, 2015

An Eastern European Immigrant to the UK (aka: human) walks into a bar: “A key reason I came to the UK was because of education for my kids. I grew up in communist Hungary but the education was so much better than the values they are teaching now.”

Me (slightly pissed human): Why do you say “but”? Why not “so”?

Immigrant: …… (Silence, maybe confused.)

Me, point maybe made: “So you like the UK for its schools?”

Immigrant: “Yes, but it was tough at first with my different landladies in Oxford. I realise they don’t differentiate between types of foreign residents. Its crazy foreigners can get benefits. But most of us don’t. I don’t think people know that EU migrants to the UK are a net economic benefit to the UK. I think its crazy you have a system that funds people to not work and have babies, that can be taken advantage of by foreigners, so then we all get the blame.”

Me: “Why isn’t it something to celebrate about Britain that we look after the basic needs of vulnerable people and all babies?”

Immigrant: “Well its impossible to pay for everything”

Me: ” Where did you get the idea we can’t afford that? We afford to give billions more to bankers, including many foreigners, for bail outs, than to single mums. I don’t think your landladies have considered Eastern European bankers in London having been a net drain on the economy. So where are they getting their bad impressions from? They’ve been given a narrative of blame. Are you joining that?”

Immigrant: “But don’t you think you need to tighten up as Britain is an island with only so much space. You can’t have all these people coming for benefits”

Me: “Ah, space. You means house prices and rents? UK population growth in the past decades was less than the amount of new housing built. The cost of housing is driven by our banking system where about 80 percent of new money is created as loans for property purchases. Immigration is a not a significant factor for the systemic problem of cost of housing in the UK. The fact you haven’t heard much about that reflects the mass corporate media and BBC agenda to ignore systemic political issues.”

Immigrant: “Something is wrong when my husband finds its easier to sign on for unemployment benefit than open a joint account to access our own money. Your benefits system is too easy.”

Me: “Maybe banks should be more efficient: it sounds like they could learn from job centres! We might improve the benefits system but its a secondary or non issue for the state of the UK right now. You sound like you tried to find common ground with your landladies but end up blaming others less fortunate than yourself. It seems there’s a cascade of blame on every one lower than them on the power ladder. I remember there was a kid at school who was bullied and who tortured insects”

 

Reflections

This was a very educated lady, works at a top University. My reflection is that once narratives of blame are maintained by mass media then a spirit of wanting to connect to people living in societies with such narratives can then lead us to find complementary narratives to the power structure that those main narratives of blame protect. We all peck the smaller bird.

My speech at the UN on the housing crisis:

https://www.opendemocracy.net/jem-bendell/from-castle-to-cage-what-to-do-about-housing-crisis

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Upcoming talks and workshops in 2015

Posted by jembendell on February 13, 2015

Ive finalised my calendar for talks and workshops for the first half of 2015. To find out more information or book a place, follow the links provided.

March 18th-21st London, UK: Lecturing on Sustainable Exchange masters module.

A talk in 2014

A talk in 2014

March 19th London, UK: Panellist at Tomorrow’s Transactions Forum.March 30th Geneva, Switzerland: Disruptive Leadership, talk at Hub Geneva.

May 16th-17th Copenhagen, Denmark: Keynote on Leadership, Transition World opening summit.

June 7th New York, USA: Transforming Money, speech at the Global University of the Entrepreneur’s Organisation.

June 16th Ambleside, UK: Disruptive Leadership: Innovating major changes for sustainability, Open Lecture at Institute for Leadership and Sustainability, University of Cumbria.

June 17th and 18th Carlisle and Lancaster, UK. Engagement and Influence: How to Communicate Your Work, a workshop at the University of Cumbria. Request attendance via iflas@cumbria.ac.uk

July 10th-15th Lecturing on the Certificate of Achievement in Sustainable Leadership.

July 16th Ambleside, UK: Opening Address at Leading Wellbeing Research Festival, July 16-18.

Sept 7th to 11th Ambleside, UK: Workshop on Values-Inspired Leadership, at Impact International.

If you would like me to keynote or run a workshop from September onwards, let me know with an email to jb [at] jembendell dot com.

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Why are the British Museum and BBC misinforming us about money?

Posted by jembendell on February 5, 2015

I love the British Museum. An awe inspiring collection of amazing cultural artifacts housed in a wonderful building.

Could anything better ever come from mass theft?

In researching my Institute’s forthcoming free online course on Money and Society, I visited the Museum’s exhibition on the history of money, that is sponsored by Citibank. I was pleased to see that the Museum presents clay tablets from ancient Sumeria as the first examples of money. Over a few thousand years old, these tablets show the earliest known accounts, with promises of beer and other crucial daily items! Despite this, my Museum guide moved swiftly on, to suggest that ancient coins from Lydia were the first forms of money. Was this just one misinformed volunteer? I searched online and found two videos made by the museum and the BBC (see below). They show that the British Museum staff and BBC editors are probably misguided, and definitely misguiding their publics.

They assume money has to be a thing, a precious metal, rather than an agreement about a unit that can enable exchange.

The Sumerian tablets show to us that records of promises are the first forms of money we have on record; that doesn’t mean the commodities that were being promised were the money. Promises, i.e. credit, is the first form of money we can discover from digging things up!

The BBC video for schools also invents another fictional story when they say that Emperors put their faces on coins for ego reasons. Maybe they had egos but that isn’t reason. The origin of coins is that the Emperors made a certain object a currency that they then required as taxes/tribute in order to force a population(s) to provide real good and services to soldiers, who would be given the coins as the armies/authorities controlled the mines and the mints. Unless the coins were then demanded as taxes from the population, the population probably wouldn’t bother wanting them and therefore might not give the soldiers any food, drink or hospitality. So coins were born through war and oppression. The practice continued through the European empires, where colonial powers demanded taxes from Africans, Asians and others be paid in a currency the Europeans invented and controlled.

In a few thousand years people wont be able to dig up the trillions of credit there is in our current economy, but they may find some 20 pence coins. Will they conclude we all traded with 20 pence pieces?

In my research for the course, I’ve discovered how much nonsense is presented about the history and nature of money, by our professional economists, business and finance journalists. One key nonsense is the idea that money was invented to cope with the difficulties of bartering goods. That was a story invented by economists like Adam Smith, who simply invented this history of money emerging from barter as it suited the emerging discipline of economics.

What might the avoidance of the real history of money and banking be about? Do we not want our kids, or the general public, to understand how money and banking evolved, with a lot of push, secrecy, squabble and shove?

The problem is that the projection of current assumptions onto the past, combined with the limits of what we can dig up, and the self-convenient fictions of orthodox economists, collectively maintains a view of money that restricts our sense of what money is or what it could be. At a time when we are ravaging our communities and planet in service of these things we call “money” and “debt” this is delusion that must be exploded now.

It’s why I think our free course is important. After taking it you might wonder if the British Museum and Citibank are distant cousins. Our course starts next week!

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Future lines of debate and action on climate

Posted by jembendell on September 28, 2014

Last week’s climate summit and week of side events in New York got people talking about climate change. But I looked at the 400,000 person march with a heavy heart. The climate science has moved on. It was hinted at by Leonardo DiCaprio in his speech to the UN, when he mentioned the plumes of methane rising from the ocean floor. What’s been happening in the Arctic the last few years is far beyond even the worst case predictions. It amounts to localised 5 degree warming already, and the summer pack ice disappearing in the next few years, when just 7 years ago we were told by scientific consensus that might happen in the 22nd century. The warming in the Arctic has been exponential. There are signs that this is already affecting the frozen methane on the sea floor, leading to methane release into the atmosphere. Over 20 years, methane is 84 times more potent than CO2 in greenhouse effect. Mass release of methane is a mechanism that scientists have known for years was the cause of the last mass extinction, the Permian, which ended 95% of species on Earth. (For videos on this, see Last Hours, or 10 minutes of this)

Given this information, the future debate about climate will be very different to what was considered appropriate in either the conference centres or on the streets of Manhattan last week. It is this future debate that we need to explore ourselves, urgently, even if politicians, businesses, and mainstream environmental groups are not ready to yet.

On the sidelines, I’m seeing four future lines of debate and action on climate: profound change, emergency response, local resilience, and transcendence.

Profound Change is the theme we heard from Naomi Klein, Leonardo DiCaprio and others in recent weeks. The argument is that the efforts to incorporate climate concerns into current economic systems has failed to have any significant impact on aggregate carbon emissions. The arguments that such approaches are “pragmatic” and “non-ideological” no longer have any evidence to support them. Instead, the only intellectually or morally sound environmentalism is now an explicitly revolutionary one, that seeks to change our political economic systems. Ideally, peacefully – I’ve not heard of any one calling for armed struggle! Klein’s new book (This Changes Everything) explores this Profound Change analysis.

Emergency is another approach to the latest climate science, whereby people think that a Profound Change in political or economic system is not sufficient, as we are now on course to experience abrupt climate change within the lifetimes of humans already borne. Therefore, such as emergency paradigm starts with calls for urgent geoengineering to cool the arctic to save our civilisation and even our species. The argument is that the risks are now so great that we have to take the risk to geo-engineer. The call becomes one not only of scientific research and experimentation, but also for intergovernmental frameworks for implementing such an approach and dealing with possible damaging consequences for some peoples and regions. This emergency approach can also trigger discussion about how to deal with climate-induced collapses in societies, including humanitarian responses and security responses. For instance, this could include new roles for atomic energy agencies to bring nuclear plants to cold shut down in situations of social and economic collapse. Authors exploring these ideas include Mark Lynas (The God Species) and several writers in The Ecologist. While people thinking within the emergency paradigm are often talking about physical adaptation, such as higher sea walls, they are not often discussing deeper psychological adaptation to climate change, which is where two other lines of debate come in.

Local Resilience is a third approach I have been hearing on the sidelines. This is when people consider that it is too late to avert a collapse in the current civilisation due to catastrophic climate change, even if profound change occurs in our economic systems and geoengineering is underway. A belief in near-term collapse leads to people focusing on what forms of life could be sustained, what values and aspirations might help up in a transition to that different way of life. This isn’t the well-known agenda of transition to a post carbon world, but a transition to a way of life where basic facets of our current societies no longer exist, such as the nation state, industrial agriculture, pharmaceutical drugs, and so on. The film Collapse introduced the world to the late Michael Ruppert, who expressed this view quite eloquently. Some of the more radical elements of the Transition Towns movement give space to this line of argument, as do authors like John Foster (After Sustainability), Charles Eisenstein (The More Beautiful World our Hearts Know is Possible), and projects like Dark Mountain, that encourage new cultures to emerge to help in this traumatic transition ahead. A key insight from this approach is how to not make things worse through attachments to ways of life and values. Are brands, properties, or nationalities so important? There are many things that we hold to be true and important in our societies which we need to be better at letting go of.

Transcendence is the name I’ll offer for a fourth line in the emerging debate on climate. It is when one allows oneself to consider that near-term extinction of the human race is now probable. Obviously to most people that is a harrowing and saddening thought. In my experience most people, like myself, attempt various forms of denial when faced with this idea. Many consider it would imply fatalism and risk states of despair, depression and inaction. However, those who do accept this analysis, at least for reasons of intellectual and emotional exploration, are finding a range of different insights result. For people like me, who since 15 years of age defined self-worth in terms of contributing towards sustainability and protecting the climate, this process can be extremely destabilising, involving some grief. Yet despair can be transformative. It can lead you to transcend your previous sense of self, and allow a new one to emerge, less framed by attachment to notions of self-worth or progress. Others may find they stop working on sustainability altogether. Others may enter depression, especially if they cannot cope without a story of self-efficacy. This line of debate is difficult for me to describe at this time, but appears to emphasise that we reflect on fundamental questions about the meaning of our lives and the meaning of life itself. Some will turn to religion for answers, and yet others will find existing religious explanations as fundamentally limited in how they address such dilemmas. The writings of Carolyn Baker (Collapsing Consciously) explore these issues, by deriving insights from hospice care. I think the writings of others who study what we learn from suffering will also be helpful in this line of thinking, such as those of Mark Matousek.

I recently brought these hidden debates on climate science into the classroom with our mature students at IFLAS. Most have been engaged for years on matters of social and environmental progress. None of the four perspectives I outline above suggest that “progress” has a future. As such, these ideas can destabilise one’s sense of self. I’ve always believed that real education is of the heart and soul as well as the mind… I just didn’t think it would have to involve such a difficult topic. I’m informed that the potential trauma from certain perspectives on climate science is not something that therapists have been widely discussing or have experience with treating. The climate category on “Therapy Today” indicate something of the state of the debate in this profession. I realise many people will shy away from this debate, and instead return to positive things such as the price of solar falling below that of coal. At a subconsious level people who do that will know they are simply changing the subject from what the latest climate science is suggesting about the changes we are already locked in to. Denial may be tenacious, but wont last.

I’ve mapped out here 4 lines of debate on climate science and action that were largely hidden during last week’s events on climate change in New York because I find them bubbling up in more and more conversations, and after broaching this subject I feel a responsibility to provide further information. There will likely be more lines of debate. There are also insights that can be blended from each. For instance, perhaps some forms of geoengineering could be supported by those who think that it’s too late to save this civilisation or the human race. One thing I am convinced about already is that many of our current institutions, including things as basic as our monetary institutions, are not designed to help us address this tragic new agenda. I am also convinced the more that senior decision-makers are attached to the idea of being good and self-efficacious, and being seen to be such, the more they will make things worse for humanity. Instead, we need people to approach this difficult time with greater humility, equanimity, gratitude, inquisitiveness, compassion, love, playfulness and hope. I am also convinced that the institutions we have created in our political, economic and social sphere have not promoted such qualities within them or to the top roles. So the greatest leadership challenge I see today is therefore one of unlearning a lot of deluded notions about self, success, and progress.

If this stuff is new to you, I recommend you talk to someone about it.

Im not a therapist.. If you think you might benefit from talking to one, here are a couple of links relevant to UK readers:

http://www.itsgoodtotalk.org.uk/therapists/

http://www.emdrassociation.org.uk/home/index.htm

 

 

Posted in Sustainable Development, United Nations | Tagged: , , , | 4 Comments »

Funded PhD on Sustainability in the UK Lake District

Posted by jembendell on September 19, 2014

Full Time Postgraduate Research Studentship, University of Cumbria, England

Deadline for submission 12 noon Friday 24 October 2014.

The Faculty of Education, Arts and Business is pleased to invite applications for one full-time PhD student scholarship. The research student will be based in either the Institute of Education or in the Institute for Leadership and Sustainability.

13.5K stipend per year, PhD fees paid up, and a £500 field costs allowance per year.

To commence January 2015 for three years. UK and EU applicants only.

The Institute for Leadership and Sustainability welcomes applications for research in either of two fields in which we are actively engaged via research, teaching, conferences and advocacy.

  • Sustainable leadership development – which we understand as the practice of enabling people to development their ability to lead change in organisations and society towards greater social fairness, personal wellbeing and environmental sustainability
  • Currency innovation for sustainable development – The University became known worldwide in early 2014 for becoming the first public University to accept bitcoin. This relates to our research on how new thinking on currencies and exchange systems can provide opportunities for economic resilience and sustainability.

In both areas we particularly welcome action research or similar approaches, that draw upon both sociology and management studies. Your supervisor for either topic would be Dr Jem Bendell, a Professor of Sustainability Leadership, who teaches, researches and advises on both topics. With over 300 senior managers from circa 100 countries attending our sustainable leadership development programmes each year, we have good networks for both research and dissemination.

Notes for Guidance

The research outline is indicative of your scholarly aptitude and should provide sufficient evidence to convince the interview panel that your proposal is soundly based and that you are able to develop an appropriate research study with supervisory support. The outline should not exceed six pages of A4 double-spaced typescript and should comprise the following sections:

  • rationale;
  • aims;
  • summary of relevant published studies;
  • tentative research question;
  • proposed design and methodology including time-scale of study and indications of feasibility;
  • bibliography;
  • expected outcomes or implications of the proposed research.

In considering the proposal the admissions panel will be looking for evidence that an applicant has sufficient grasp of current research in the field to allow the formulation of a feasible research question. The proposal is not expected to be definitive.

Candidates for research degrees must be good honours degree graduates of a recognised university in the UK or comparable university overseas, or persons with equivalent qualifications who show evidence of exceptional ability, or who have demonstrated their ability in graduate studies. The successful candidate is also likely to have completed a masters degree.

Application Submission

Your application which should comprise the application form and a research proposal should be sent electronically to linda.shore@cumbria.ac.uk. You should also ask your referees to complete the reference form and return it to linda.shore@cumbria.ac.uk by the same date. Also copy jem dot bendell @ cumbria dot ac dot uk

Deadline for submission 12 noon Friday 24 October 2014. Late applications will not be considered.

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Ecuador’s helpful knee in the balls of the Bitcoin boys

Posted by jembendell on September 9, 2014

So its confirmed Ecuador will be launching their own digital currency. In the meantime, they have banned other forms of private digital currency like Bitcoin.

On the one hand, it is brilliant that the fame of bitcoin, and its distributed ledger technology, has helped Ecuador’s government consider not only the issuing of a digital currency, but the concept that economies can have multiple currencies. I have always thought the power of Bitcoin is in opening minds to the field of currency innovation for the common good, rather than the specific properties of the Bitcoin currency itself.

What should we make of Ecuador’s move? The best starting point is for a government’s central bank and treasury to have a clear public purpose, to serve the long term interests of people. Ecuador is ahead of most in making its Central Bank have to innovate to deliver “buen vivir” i.e. wellbeing. Other central banks simply assume that managing inflation and interest rates within certain levels is what’s key, with some secondary attention to employment and government deficits. That maintains the delusion that monetary policy isnt innately political and shaping all aspects of social and political life. But I digress…

Some bitcoin enthusiasts are upset with Ecuador’s move as they like to pretend that computer software can replace matters of governance, and that a pre-defined algorythym for currency issuance means we dont need to question whether issuance is either fair or useful. It is simply ridiculous to think that issuance to those with the most powerful computers is a valid form of issuance. It is equally ridiculous to ignore this question of issuance, and the resulting inequities in bitcoin distribution, because it might be inconvenient to one’s libertarian views, a rush to get rich, technotopian obsession or desire to smash the system and be proven right afterall (all of which are rather immature adolescent attitudes, which correlates with the pioneers of this space – sorry chaps!).

The main problem with the bitcoin boys is they dont base their enthusiasm on a coherent view of what’s wrong with money and what’s needed for socially useful currency innovation. To recap: currently national currencies are not issued by governments or central banks but by private banks when they issue loans. In most countries this is circa 97% of money in circulation. Think of the dollar, pound, euro and so on, and they are all predominantely issued for profit by private banks, not by either govenments or treasuries. Thats nuts for many reasons, environmental, social and economic (as my various talks and writings on this blog have explained). This simple fact is so stupidly overlooked by mainstream economists, financial journalists, its bizarre. Thankfully some like Martin Wolfe at the FT have now started breaking this taboo subject, as has the Bank of England’s own publications.

In response, we shouldnt see assets like precious metals as the answer, as this leads to contraction of economic activity and the cornering of the currency by the powerful, as it did in the past. A gold standard would be a disaster. Gold bugs have always struck me as a little odd in wanting to assert their personal power against a dangerous world.

But non-commodity currencies and non-state currencies should be issued not-for-profit far more than is the case today. Otherwise, we risk creating the same problems with our current systems where the ability to make money from money has led to an over-financialised economy that extracts wealth from the real economy and leads to gross inequality and unsustainable debt levels. That’s not controversial, as the UN has been describing this over-financialisation problem for the past decade.

Not-for-profit currencies can be issued by national or local governments or privately. So I am in favour of governments issuing their own digital currencies. For instance, state or city governments could issue a currency that they would offer to pay as wages, and could request tax be paid in it, or limit certain services to payments in such currency (e.g. business rates or car park fees etc). The power of a government to demand tax in a certain currency is a key way it maintains the value of national currencies at present. This tax-power could be used to enable an ecology of currencies that aren’t controlled by the banks.

It is clear that Ecuador will seek to spend the new currency into circulation, as wages for socially useful work. It is unclear what services or taxes they will price in this currency, or whether they will restrict payment options for some items in the new currency. To do so would be the simplest way to uphold the value of the currency, as it would mean there would be a market for people to buy it in order to pay for certain services or taxes.

Banning private currencies is compromising freedom but is Ecuador’s response to the potential for abuse and a concern they might lose further control of monetary policy and their tax base. Regulation rather than prohibition is the answer. I hope that after launching their own digital currency, Ecuador will revisit its digital currency ban and instead introduce rules for private digital currencies and related payment service firms.  Any prohibitions on private currencies should not be applied to nonprofit community currencies or b2b credit systems, which are really useful coping systems for communities and businesses with cash flow problems.

Ecuador will face great technological challenges in protecting their new digital currency from attack by both financial and ideological interests. They had best get the best coders and also create paper records! Maybe some maturing bitcoin boys could help.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged: , | 3 Comments »

Sheepfulness

Posted by jembendell on August 28, 2014

… I think 2 years in the land of Beatrix Potter is rubbing off on me.

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A boy, walking alone on a felltop stops to look at a sheep. It stares back.

Boy: You seem calm. Are you happy?

Sheep: What’s happy?

Boy: Oh… it means lots of things.

Sheep: So “happy” is a concept?

Boy: Er, sort of. It’s an idea about a bunch of feelings.

Sheep: So you want to know if I’m experiencing the idea of “happy”?

Boy: Not quite, I guess I was asking about the feelings. Are you in pain?

Sheep: No

Boy: Are you comfortable with your life?

Sheep: I’ve a bit of an itch.

Boy: No, I mean comfortable with what you do! Are you doing enough stuff?

Sheep: Is “enough” another idea?

Boy: Yes. But are you worried about death?

Sheep: I know it happens but I don’t know when. What’s there to worry about?

Boy: I think we worry about death a bit as we don’t know what the purpose of life is.

Sheep: Is “purpose” another of your ideas?

Boy: Yes

Sheep: Is worrying an idea too?

Boy: It’s more like a feeling.

Sheep: What’s the feeling?

Boy: A feeling of going round and round in circles with my ideas, and this then tensing the muscles in my chest.

Sheep: So you create a purpose-idea to experience a happy-idea that is difficult because you have created a worry-idea and end up tensing your muscles?

Boy: Sort of

Sheep: So why do you focus on that happy-idea if it tenses you up?

Boy: Maybe because it’s what grown-ups do. But are you saying you don’t think?

Sheep: Baa! Animals think too. Didn’t you notice? But I don’t create ideas. I appreciate stuff I like, and avoid experiences I don’t like. Just look at the sunset!

Boy: Yes, it’s nice. But isn’t that a bit selfish?

Sheep: There you go again with another idea! “Selfish!” My positive feeling from looking at the sunset is the Universe’s experience as well as mine. I’m enjoying the universe enjoying me enjoying the sunset. Wjy else would it have made it so beautiful to us?

Boy: So are all our ideas and concepts bad?

Sheep: No, your ability to create concepts and ideas has given you your technology and culture. I wouldn’t be here otherwise. Neither would so many of you! Your ideas of geometry and building mean I have a nice warm barn for the winter, if I’m still here.

Boy: OK, I get it. Some ideas are useful and some are not. It’s what they do to us, and what we do with them, that matters.

Sheep: Nice. Will you experience a happy-idea when you eat me?

Boy: I did before. But I’m not sure anymore.

 

There endeth a bit of Lakeland Zen

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Have you let the arms-traders inside your brain?

Posted by jembendell on July 20, 2014

At times of war mongering, and mass media’s de-humanising of others, it is worth remembering the evidence and analysis of the economic drivers of such madness have existed for over a century.

This, in a footnote in 1860 by John Ruskin:

“It is one very awful form of the operation of wealth in Europe that it is entirely capitalists’ wealth which supports unjust wars. Just wars do not need so much money to support them; for most of the men who wage such, wage them gratis; but for an unjust war, men’s bodies and souls have both to be bought; and the best tools of war for them besides; which makes such war costly to the maximum; not to speak of the cost of base fear, and angry suspicion, between nations…And all unjust war being supportable, if not by pillage of the enemy, only by loans from capitalists, these loans are repaid by subsequent taxation of the people, who appear to have no will in the matter, the capitalists’ will being the primary root of the war…”

Perhaps President Eisenhower has read some Ruskin as he thought through his farewell address in 1961 that warned the American public and world of the growth of the Military Industrial Complex that was coming to control US foreign policy in favour of constant war.

So next time you see some “news” that makes you go

“gah, those disgusting…” or

“we should remove that son of a…” or

“we should send in the…” or

“something [violent] must be done…”

stop and wonder..

… have you let the arms-traders inside your brain?

 

Posted in Corporations | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Sustainable Leadership course takes off

Posted by jembendell on July 18, 2014

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Scholarship winners Tom Shakli and Emily Oliver (centre) receive their certificates from guest lecturer Jane Burston and IFLAS director Professor Jem Bendell.

 

On September 1st the inaugural cohort of the Post Grad Certificate in Sustainable Leadership will gather for a week in the Lake District. Lucky them! Around a dozen professionals in the broad field of sustainability are going to explore how to better lead change at scale. Im pleased we have also been able to offer scholarships to two of the participants.

The scholarships have been funded by the Robert Kennedy College, which is based in Switzerland. Together with the University of Cumbria, RKC jointly delivers an MBA in Leadership and Sustainability, which regularly brings executives from around the world for a week’s residential study in the Lake District.

Emily Oliver and Tom Shakhli, both from London, have been accepted onto the Postgraduate Certificate for Sustainable Leadership which will be delivered at both Ambleside and the university’s campus in the capital.

Tom Shakhli is co-manager of the Brixton Pound, perhaps one of the best-known community currencies in the UK.

He said: “It is an exciting area of work to be in, because it feels like it’s the start of something bigger. There isn’t really a blueprint for success. That’s why I think it’s important that there are academic institutions such as the University of Cumbria that have departments dedicated to this area of work.

“The Postgraduate Certificate in Sustainable Leadership seems ideal because it can give organisations such as ours the requisite knowledge to take our initiatives and have them really make a difference.”

Amongst other freelance projects, Emily Oliver has recently founded and currently co-manages FoodCycle Wandsworth and is keen to begin her studies.

She said: “I’m aware that in order to further develop skills in organisational leadership, an understanding of sustainable strategy, and ability to nurture impactful results, I need to study them effectively.

“As I learn best through practice, this course’s experiential approach is an ideal opportunity to do that – as well as build a support network.”

To find out more about courses offered by IFLAS, including the new Postgraduate Certificate in Sustainable Leadership, visit www.iflas.info

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment »

 
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