A New Economy?
On the one hand we are witnessing (and surviving) the chaotic crash of our existing economy as it repeatedly struggles to respond constructively to the fast emerging challenges of climate change (eco) and extreme wealth imbalances amongst humans (social). These twin challenges are an ‘ecosocial’ crisis.
On the other hand we are fortunate to be part of a dynamic and surprisingly widespread effort to emerge a new economy, a version that reconnects humans with each other (a social economy) and learns to honor our essential dependence other species and our planetary ecosystems (an ecological economy). Putting these core ideas together has us arrive at the notion of an ecosocial economy, an energizing and regenerative vision for all of us to get behind and in front of.
A theme for us in Gaia U is how to find and fine tune our own roles in this extraordinary, world-scale transition. We know for sure for that each of us needs to develop our capacity for personal and community level transition. In particular that means learning how to generate our own ecosocially congruent livelihoods in order to move our economy further in an ecosocial direction whilst also reducing the power of the mainstream to co-opt us, our families and our communities into performing extractive roles on it’s behalf.
Learning how to make a living in a new, ecosocial economy whilst un/learning and letting go of our dependencies on the old is no mean feat and while some of us have gone some part of the way for ourselves none of us yet has anything like a complete experience of transforming a world economy – and that’s our goal!
It is (in Gaia U terms) the biggest action-research project ever, one that invites us to step up to living big lives and being willing to take bold leadership (we’ll talk more about leadership in a later element about Leaderful Communities).
We are using ‘a new economy’ rather than The New Economy just to make sure that we remember that the goal is to integrate both profound ecological and social regeneration in which the economy is a subset of ecosystems and society. Sometimes the progressive edge of our cultures forgets the ecological imperatives and over attends to human only needs (those of us from permaculture backgrounds have a strong role to play in reminding our colleagues that social and economic regeneration are entirely reliant on ecological health and that this is our priority).
Meanwhile see this link to The New Economy Coalition (for the USA and Canada), The New Economics Foundation for the UK both of which give an overview of new economic activity (with not quite enough ecological regeneration included yet) and let us know about any similar organizations in other parts of the world.
 Action research, action learning, action inquiry, participatory action research and more are all flavors of the same ice-cream. They are all learning and unlearning methods suited to use in situations of complexity where no-one has enough knowledge, wisdom and bandwidth to be the authority who knows what needs to happen. These methods invite collectives of thinking and doing people to collaborate in loose groups in order to work out the who, when, where, what and how of making interventions in complex systems (probing). These groups note the results and therefore get a better sense of how the system works and design their next responses accordingly (working small to start with and getting bolder as confidence increases).
This is the way we make progress when we don’t really know what we are doing – more later when we look at the Learning and Unlearning Element.
 At Gaia U we take the view that permaculture education and experience are foundational – without this knowledge and wisdom our designs for world-change are likely to continue with anthropocentric bias meaning that our ecosystems will not be regenerated.