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Future Internet 3: People are leaving the rat race and its ignorant ways behind
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The strangest thing is happening out in that magical meeting place called the Web. People from all over the world are using Internet technology to connect with others who want to leave many aspects of modern social paradigms behind. Small communities and movements are being formed based around new ideas on how people want to live in the world. Concepts like 'well-being' as opposed to economic profit as the purpose for life are being shared amongst minds all across the globe. People are expressing their philosophies over the Net and the results are very inspiring. Many are realizing that they are not alone in wanting to change the world for the better.
Have you ever heard of ecovillages http://gen.ecovillage.org/? These are actual places where people of like mind are deciding to cohabitate in a sustainable way that leaves minimal impact or ecological footprint on the environment around them. It is almost like this modern technology is helping us return to a time where people lived at one with the Earth, while the village type of living must be a great conduit for traditional close human relationships among families. These villages are popping up all over the world; culture and nationality is irrelevant. This is a process of informed minds deciding to collaborate with others to experience a type of life defined on their own principles. Could the Internet itself have been the medium of information and communication that sent these souls on their quest for a new way of being?
Another new movement that I've come across is Slow Food: http://www.slowfood.com/ and with it, Slow Cities. This group of people started out as a reaction to the fast food industry that they believe goes against what eating should be about, as well as its effects upon the environment. Now whole cities are calling themselves 'Slow' and altering their practices of food production so that wild and farmed populations of animals and vegetation are treated with dignity and with sustainable biodiversity in mind to keep future human generations healthy. There are currently over 80,000 members in over 100 countries who believe that the eating process shouldn't be homogenized, taste is important, and keeping rare plants and flavors alive is necessary to keep the true 'spice of life'. I don't think any of us want to lose the enjoyment of a meal that tastes different from any other, where we sat for hours enjoying our friends' company, and where we know that the whole eating process didn't scar the world.
As I am currently based in Australia I have discovered a few other concepts that I'm sure are prevalent in your nation as well. Downshifting Downunder http://www.downshifting.net.au is a site dedicated to downshifting, or making the conscious decision to work less, get paid less, consume less, and have plenty more time for the things in life that are important, like spending time with those you love. We only have so much time here on our planet and I'd be quite unhappy on my deathbed to realize that I had spent nearly all of my magical human existence working for money, accumulating possessions, and damaging the Earth while never getting to know my family and community. Not getting to enjoy the natural beauty that our surroundings have to offer, or ever encompassing a complete feeling of relaxation would be a great shame. This group believes that 20% of all Australians have chosen to downshift with the motto that 'consumption is not the only way to happiness.'
This idea coincides with another site I read about in an Australian Conservation Foundation magazine called http://www.wellbeingmanifesto.net/. This is a manifesto that questions the focus of the Australian political system. It states that Aussies are three times wealthier than their parents and grandparents in the 1950's and yet we are not any happier. This small group believes that a change in focus from a purely profit-driven mentality to one that values social and individual well-being is the key to a better future. I've read about the country Bhutan which has the measurement GDH instead of GDP, Gross Domestic Happiness instead of Gross Domestic Product. Could we also need a shift from materialism to one of a simple emotional prerogative?
As this article was greatly influenced by words from the ACF, I feel I also must mention their website http://acfonline.org.au/ and the section you can click on called Green Home. This is an awesome eye opener for other average people like myself who would like to make a difference to how we are living in our present lifestyle. It has sections like Gardens, Shopping, Transport, Waste, Water, Energy, and Packaging, which show you how a small change in these areas of your life can have huge positive repercussions for the environment, as well as your wallet! I had to stick that fact in, as I do know how necessary every dollar can be in this consumer capitalist world we live in.
Did you know that by keeping your car's engine in tune you would reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 5-15%? You can also save 100kg (220 pounds) of pollution each year by keeping your tires at the maximum recommended pressure. You can reduce evaporation of water in your garden (44% of household water is used on the garden) by 70% when you use mulch (leaves, grass clippings etc). Having your appliances like TVs and computers on standby power uses 11% of all Australian residential electricity. What a waste! There are many more facts on their site that will inform you how to have less of a damaging effect on the world while you're here, check them out.
As you can see, there is a revolution going on around us as we speak. It is a quiet revolution of the collective consciousness of our species. New technology has meant that we are now becoming more informed (or rediscovering ancient wisdom) about our interrelation with the world. Instead of rats racing toward the cheese, we can become turtles enjoying the breeze.
By Jesse S. Somer
Jesse S. Somer is a believer that humanity will one day be a happy species that lives at one with all that it relates with.
Gavin Thomson is a freelance illustrator/ graphic designer who is still convinced you can make a living by drawing pretty pictures for people in exchange for $. While he creates in a variety of styles and mediums his primary love is comics. You can view samplings of Gavinís work at his online portfolio http://www.gavinillustration.com
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