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Bill McKibben: Pursuing Prosperity and Local Sustainability November 9, 2009

Posted by Laura Arnold in Uncategorized.
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Bill McKibben spoke on the campus of Indiana University Purdue University at Indianapolis (IUPUI) Monday afternoon (11/09/09). McKibben was one of the organizers of a recent global day of action on October 24th called 350.org. Several members of the Indiana Renewable Energy Association participated in these 350.org activities throughtout the state of Indiana.

McKibben, author of Deep Economy, challenges us to find ways to create more sustainable communities, both locally and globally, and frames a fresh perspective on where we should lead our economy, environment, and society for a more durable future. An IUPUI 40th anniversary event presented by the Common Theme Project, IUPUI; Christian Theological Seminary; Earth Charter Indiana; Hoosier Environmental Council; Improving Kids’ Environment; Indiana State Museum; Indianapolis Winter Farmers Market; and Unitarian Universalist Church of Indianapolis.

The thesis of Bill McKibben’s most recent book, Deep Economy, is twofold: On the one hand, the growth economy described in Adam Smith’s The Wealth of Nations has produced unprecedented gains in many people’s standards of living, aiding the development of liberal democracies and human rights. On the other hand, there are signs that the growth economy is reaching and exceeding the planet’s environmental limits, and economic wealth is not producing equivalent gains in human happiness. The subtitle of McKibben’s book, The Wealth of Communities and the Durable Future, asks us to consider, what other forms of wealth in our communities are worth investing in, both locally and globally, to create more sustainable, satisfying, and inspiring places to live?

Bill McKibben has a wealth of anecdotes about how people are living more sustainably in local communities, both in the U.S. and around the world. He has proposals for downsizing the scale of farms, energy production, and living spaces, and supporting radio stations, community theaters, and civic organizations in order to enrich the places where people live. At the same time, he appreciates the benefits of markets, and he argues that securing property rights for the world’s poor is vital to global equity. His twin goals of deepening economic ties locally and building up the wealth of communities globally provide an effective framework for conversations about Inspiring Places.

In the Spirit & Place event, McKibben gave a 35-40 minute talk that focused on his insights and proposals, including his work on global movement 350.org’s “International Day of Climate Action.” The lecture was followed by a Q&A session, a book signing , and a public reception.

Audience members have several ways to follow up on this lecture. The Indiana State Museum will sponsor a panel with McKibben on November 10 on the question: Can local food feed Indiana and the world? On November 11, will host a community panel, with audience participation, to discuss the connections and disconnections between market prosperity and vital places today. There will also be lists of the events in IUPUI’s 2009-2010 Common Theme Project, and the audience will be directed to the project’s web resources, which will include bibliographies of books and films with links to community organizations working in relevant issue areas.

McKibben explains that he has solar panels on his home in Vermont.

This tidbit brought to you by the Indiana Renewable Energy Association.

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