Our New World

Celebrate
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Contents & Features


Fireworks

Simply Gourmand

Simple, easy, economical,
nutritious, & pleasurable

Millenium Chic

Voluntary simplicity and
holistic lifestyles

Education

CEO training

Historical Precedents

The women´s economy

Decision Support

Finances, stats, and quantification

Tactics & Alliances

Suites of products and services,
marketing, partnering and
seasonality that worked

´Better Homes´ Strategy

More equity & less debt,
fewer expenses, less maintenance,
more space and ease of use...
a business launching strategy
How JHR estimates this will add up

To Launch The Discussion... Fireworks


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Simply Gourmand - Simple, easy, economical, nutritious, & pleasurable

Celebrating Icing

Simplifying our lifestyles involves redefining ´wonderful´, eliminating the meaningless refinements and extra features that add costs but little benefit, and identifying and concentrating on what genuinely gives us pleasure. The resulting treasures we arrive at may be rough by current standards but their costs in personal time and effort are miniscule compared to the exquisite pleasures inherent in these natural beauties.

Enjoying the tactile delight of handling a ´hunk´ of freshly baked robust bread with its rich thick crust, of tearing the moist core loose to savor by the mouthful, knowing this luscious treat is hearty and nutritious, would be one example. This is a quantum leap away from the mincing attempts at refinement demanded in standard dinnertable reenactments of ´fine dining´ where you are expected to eat limp slices of a breadlike product that must be slathered with the right grease to make it appealing. The best news is that the former is remarkably less expensive and time consuming than the latter, as well as being more healthy and almost blissful.

Some of our best tricks for achieving this balanced satisfaction have come from following the lead of my children. Our children´s sense of proportion is, in important ways, more trustworthy than what we´ve been taught. We can be their partners in exploring simplicity by being respectful of their ideas and values, adding our own contributions for joint testing.

So many of the recipes we value have so few ingredients and involve so little processing on our part and yet provide great nutritional benefits that we have come to the conclusion that most feasts can be ´abstracted´ down to a new incarnation that meets these standards.

We enjoy browsing ethnic cookbooks but have found gems, sometimes in unusual places such as nutrition research newsletters, but also from sharing ideas with other seekers of simplicity.

My daughter´s recent abstraction of icing makes a marvelous example. At first, I was skeptical that such an ´extra´ was not a camoflage for a failed baking idea or at least a decadent excess. But her Mocha Yogurt Icing, in fact, makes a significant improvement in nutrition over the standards while enhancing our basically hedonist goals in celebrating with a dessert.

She uses two cups of our yogurt made from powdered skim milk and stirs approximately two tablespoons of instant chocolate pudding mix into it until the combination has the consistency of luscious icing. After effortlessly spreading the creamy layer over the waiting cake, we sprinkle coffee Postum crystals over the top. You can do artistic swirls, if you´re inclined and the occasion is really special, but the delight is in the basics. A sensuous treat for a celebration of simplicity.

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Millenium Chic - Voluntary simplicity and holistic lifestyles

Gaviotas & Equitable Limits of Growth

The concept of the limits of growth, for us on this planet, has been around for a while. We have evaded many past estimates and gradually gained theoretical ground on the estimating process but the answer for the ultimate capacity is not as critical as recognizing those points where our actions are pressing current limits, especially when it´s time for solutions and the usual sources are far from ready to produce those new advantages needed for us to circumvent the impending problem.

We are at such a point and the developed imbalances of previous solutions is adding to the difficulty. Or maybe they are part of the solution if we can invent new social structures and attitudes. We, in the west, may have thought we were pioneering new attainable lifestyles. But having tested them and found them to be unsustainable, it´s now time to re-invent ourselves.

Worldwide, population growth is adding a billion to our number in a little over ten years time so we could double the current population in under fifty years at this rate. In the US, the doubling is expected to take sixty years, not long at all, less than a lifetime. At about the same time our ethnic and racial balance will be testing the equity and unity questions that have wrecked other nations. Our added population will absorb the surplus we now provide for export, even in the event of social peace for the duration.

In contrast to this population growth, basic foods like cereal grains are no longer keeping pace. Exhaustion of fertile resources is part of the problem as we have less promising land to farm, urban/industrial invasion, & techno-agricultural dependency. But land is only part of the problem of pace.

The gains in food production we´ve been making by developing more productive genetic variations are reaching their theoretical limits. We´ve been engineering plants that invest ever more of their growth in the food parts at the expense of root systems, stems and leaves. We are reaching the ceilings on this strategy. You can´t grow an ear of corn on a matchstick with a blade of green leaf. Though the agricultural researchers are developing amazing strains -- blackeyed peas that could be grown in space -- and investigating many native foods that have been left by the wayside, the horizon is not promising the level of growth that would be needed in this time frame. A timeframe that is not far off in human terms.

In food, land, water, energy, material resources and waste generation, the pressure is complicated by equity questions. The disparity between American´s resource usage patterns and other cultures´ ranges from 10-to-1 to 1000-to-1. Could we buy time by changing our consumption? But that´s only part of the reason for the change.

Advertising is a powerful force that represents the interests of more affluenza. In spite of it, daily more Americans have begun to realize that the possessions and fantasy they are pursuing have a price that´s not listed on the ticket. Diverted investment opportunities, diminishing returns on ever more fantasies, the weight of unrealized dreams, the loss of freedom of movement, space and time.

Our consumption is detrimental to ourselves.

Gradually we have begun to act on this realization -- to shed our inventory of albatrosses and white elephants, paring our possessions to those items whose maintenance and storage lead to use and enjoyment, paring down our job and time commitments so our heart´s desires are realized, taking ownership of the tasks and relationships that matter, being more creative in the allocation of our new, reduced stream of resources.

Now we must make it possible for our children to follow suit.

We must demonstrate that this strategy works longterm and from the beginning, that we´re not choosing deprivation or limiting our dreams. We must redefine wealth to match what really makes us happy and well off. Bill Gates ain´t got this one right. Paolo Lugari does. And so can we.

Thirty years ago Paolo Lugari founded Gaviotas, a community in the barren and politically turbulent outback of Columbia, weaving together visionaries, techinicians, artisans, rural peasants, ex-urban street kids and Guahibo indians. As an environmental success story, their achievements would be legend but better than that was the sense of community that developed, with no judges, police or crime or even political/religious conflicts as they struggled with adversity and celebrated their day-to-day progress with their own music and arts.

We needn´t choose such a monumental objective. We can network with local do-it-yourselfers whose visions match ours. We can restructure our lifestyle, enjoy the wealth of creativity and meaningful work, the joys of family and friends, the comfort of basic pleasures and the inspiration of natural beauty.


[For the whole story of Paolo´s work, find Gaviotas: A Village to Reinvent the World by Alan Weisman, available in paperback at RealGoods]


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Education - CEO training, self-created learning

CEO Training

What is it that CEO training would consist of? Would it consist of graduate courses in operations management or marketing or finance? Certainly some topics within those subjects would be useful, but expertise in those fields are what CEOs buy in the form of consulting, or hire as staff support. Knowledgeable about the aspects of her business, yes, not a theoretician in some peripheral intellectual discipline. But knowing the business is neither sufficient, nor initially necessary. Many have launched their business out of un-met need and basic energy to know.

Why do we see so many examples of entreprenuerial skills among the street-smart? Why is it that those who move from the ranks of the employed to self-employment seem to require some downtime, especially in the beginning? See the description in UnJobbing by Michael Fogler.

Being street-savvy? Taking downtime? How are they relevant?

The former develops our defenses against errors in judgement. The latter realignment harnesses our enthusiasm and clears our focus. Without the latter, our fears and inculcated insecurities ambush us and distract us from achieving our dreams. Without the experience of making errors, minimizing damage potential, and managing recovery, the hazards of negotiating and decision making would take a disproportionately larger toll than might be sustainable. Together these skills develop our intuition and networking ability and guide the pursuit of knowledge.

So how do you train to be a CEO?

Starting early would be desireable, taking smaller risks, taking the time to know our own strengths, interests, and weaknesses. Valuing your priorities will lead to a very selective curriculum, including only those topics that suit and only as much as they suit. Handling freedom would emerge in the struggle to assemble your personal prerequisites so you can meet the challenges on this route as they arise. Pursuing this path from the beginning results in a finely tuned set of knowledge skills adapted to exactly the requirements of your chosen tasks as well as judgement, self-motivation, self-discipline and appropriate self-esteem. Best of all, our skill at knowledge acquisition has been honed for future use, whenever necessary.

What is this program called and is it doable?

Some of us call it
unschooling.

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Historical Precedents - The women´s economy

Riding To The Rescue

Corporations, compulsory education, massive debt and mandatory lawncare were not part of the picture in the US at the beginning of this century. Early in the century, the number of hours in the American workweek was dropping at a rate that raised questions about what to do with the expected leisure by the middle of the century.

Today, instead of spending more time engaged in meaningful leisure activity and enjoying stimulating educational adventures with our children, Americans work more hours per year than other industrialized nations and the number of hours is rising. We´re dissatisfied with the quality of our children´s education. We spend hours chasing a lawnmower in spite of the environmental detriment that research has documented in our air quality, water systems and wildlife habitats. Meanwhile we worry about global warming and weather instability. We´re penalized for debts, not all of which we´ve incurred, and we sigh resignedly over downsizing, fraudulent advertising, corporate bullying and corruption defended by major legal resources and PR to protect political correctness.

How on earth did we get into our current dilemmas and how do we extricate ourselves?

One question at a time. First, union activity around the turn of the last century was driving the hours down and fighting brutal working conditions till working in big industry became more attractive than subsistence farming, bringing floods of un-unionized labor into the marketplace to fuel the growth of assemblylines. The struggles in that arena made little more headway when economic times became turbulent and eventually stalled when the economy began shifting from the adversarial mutations in manufacturing to a service economy.

Economic troubles induced the national government to try to boost banking resources by offering tax incentives to encourage home ownership. The marketing of debt as the key to free government subsidies converted the debt-averse Americans to eagerly harness themselves to ever larger liabilities, ignoring the bottomline that they were spending huge amounts of their hard earned money for interest that was invested in economic choices they had no say in and for housing options they wouldn´t have otherwise chosen to include in their homes.

Women, meanwhile, had been building the foundations of a women´s economy as well as agitating for the vote. The momentum faltered when the right to vote was won and the fallout from economic recklessness in the investment world settled over the ordinary people-in-the-street. Partly women were hit by ´friendly fire´ when the industrial world eyed these new homes as markets for furnishings and gadgetry, which women were induced to ´need´ by marketing pitches featuring newly educated home economists convincing the woman-in-the-street her skills were limited and old-fashioned. The hubris of the marketers induced women to begin bottlefeeding their babies, endangering infants and demeaning mothering and childcare. Women, whose educational opportunities and job definitions had already been constrained to areas newly defined as appropriate for women only, returned home till the war re-opened more of the big picture. Women´s progress on other economic rights, such as ownership and credit, barely crept, side-tracked first by depression-recovery and then by the war effort.

Regimentation inherent in this industrialization, urbanization and military logistics was incorporated into the education system and the system structured to serve the needs of the new order. The incorporation of these agendas into the training of children consecrated compulsory education´s position in the structure, obscuring its origins as a system to shape unwilling immigrant children, before the turn of the last century, into factory workers. Later, the Great Society pumped funds and propaganda into the system, -- creating another expansion in the world of debt, -- to support the impression that the traditional academic training received in the higher ranks of the education system was needed to support economic functioning and personal opportunity. The resulting tangle now inherited by this generation is insupportable and the percentage of irrelevance in the ordeal is overwhelming.

Finally, the question of how we get out of this.

To undo this juggernaut, women hold the key. The corporate world overplayed its hand when women entered the workforce in number. Now the purging of the middle ranks in downsizing and re-engineering, -- which is disguised as competitive strategy to preserve the inflated interests of top management, -- is projected to be the dominant trend for the next dozen years, according to data gathered by the DOL and economic researchers. The career opportunities for the current workforce and for emerging graduates now consist of repeated, personally shouldered re-training to remake themselves into the latest hyped job categories, always reletively near the bottom of the corporate pyramid and subject to the next competitive restructuring.

Meanwhile, the most fertile areas of growth are in becoming self-employed. Women have a firmly established base in number and diversity of choices there. We have fundamental banking and property rights more or less in place now. Equally important, at this point in the picture, a convergence of several opportunities and realizations give women an option that opens the door to better solutions for the rest of our problems.

Critical to our success in opening this door is the development of personal computing and e-commerce, for starters. Next is acknowledgement of the accumulating body of research, freed of the twisted political spin, which points to the importance of mothers and much more parental involvement in our children´s growth, from beginning to adulthood. Other factors helping us open this door range from emerging communities of women on the internet networking for all the social fabric improvements whose economic investments are restricted by the status quo, to the demonstrated benefits of individually created learning experiments, including growing opportunities to cherry-pick the best from academia´s over-expansion, in many cases without even leaving the comfort of home.

Though the path through this door is not without unknowns and missing pieces, though it´s a path with still limited established legitimacy, -- just as most pioneering activity, -- this door -- labeled homebased business -- has wonderful possibilities.

But why should this be a women´s venture? Are we suggesting that men be excluded or that they are the problem? Far from it. Men´s real salaries have been declining in spite of the immense income increases in the mostly male top management. Their demise in this picture is patently clear. We are in this together. Our sons and our husbands. Our brothers and our fathers. So why should this be a women´s venture?

It´s because women have the most to gain and weren´t sucked into job-legitimacy for as long as men were. Women are still the ones closest to our children´s needs. Women are the most underpaid, even at the entry level positions where discrimination is much harder to disguise. Over the course of time women´s pay gap becomes ever wider and top management has openly established its right to continue their exclusion of women. And last but not least, business management at the CEO level is closer to home management than it is to employment-logic. Isn´t that ironic.

The current socio-economic structure is not only undesirable in its present form, it´s unsustainable and someone has to re-do it, and do it soon. No one, no institution either, shows any signs of hope.

This time, it´s our turn to ride to the rescue. It´s our best option, and it´s a keeper.

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Decision Support - Finances, Stats and Quantification

HomeBased Business Stats

Among the most interesting and potentially useful statistics in the chapter on homebased businesses in the latest edition (5th) of the book, Effective Small Business Management by R.M.Hodgette & D.F.Kuratko are the stability indicators. Homebased businesses are apparently much more likely to survive startup than most other ventures. The numbers indicate that over 90% survive their first year and 85% are still in operation after three years. Speculation from other sources suggest that the reason may be the slower pace of development which may allow better decisionmaking or opportunities for recovery from initial errors. Generally the rule is to allow about three years for a homebased business to reach its initially estimated potential, not a matter of months. The many hats but only two hands phenomenon.

Also intriguing were the income stats cited. According to the authors, the average income of homebased workers in the US exceeded their counterparts outside the home. Averages, especially of incomes, are difficult to interpret. For one thing US incomes, except of course for the wealthy, have been declining, not advancing. And workers employed outside the home are also vulnerable to the perils of various kinds of downsizing, making their income averages less than their full employment level. By contrast, the self-employed tend to develop a spectrum of activities that support and complement their income potential through business cycles. Even the meaning of employment clouds the comparison because being ´employed´ includes parttime in American stats (but not European). All of which give the homebased worker an advantage statistically. Nor does the picture for the employed show signs of improving longterm in the US.



By nature, averages obscure the range of incomes within the group so we´ll need more than averages to explain what´s happening. Are those we meet day-to-day representative of a subgroup?

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Trends are important as well because self-employed workers have been pioneering new territory and the benefits of networking grow with the size of the group. So earlier adventurers may have had a rougher time than now, explaining contrary perceptions of tenuous existence on your own. In addition there is a gender balance shift in progress as the trend for women to join the self-employed grows more strongly now. Since women are less well paid as employees, their exodus may improve the ´employed income´ and the more rapid the exodus the higher the proportion of underdeveloped start-ups to depress the homebased average.

Changes in mix of business should get attention, too. The women´s economy, which serves women´s interests, is less developed but holds more promise, both for women and for the general welfare of our society and our environment. Not as lucrative initially, but the longterm paybacks could change, or go unreported. All of which muddy the picture for homebased incomes.

But dollars reported don´t fully describe the real income picture. In addition to the health benefits of being self-directed, there are financially unreportable advantages to being onsite to manage family wellbeing. Intangible benefits such as being able to participate in activities as an insider that would otherwise be a personal expense is an example of another difficulty in assessing real income. And many more homebased businesses engage in activities and support genuinely held personal causes as an integral part of their operation than other venues. None of these are likely to be represented in income comparisons.

So we´ll be watching for more research on real income comparisons and trends, though maybe we´d rather the data go uncaptured, and untaxable. At the moment however, the existing averages are apparently favorable.

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Though there was no indication of spread, hopefully the distribution is more humane than we see in our increasingly two-tier society of haves and havenots. For sustainability, equity is important, not only locally and nationally but also internationally. How much of this planet´s wealth is a sustainable level of acquisition? How much acquisition can a society tolerate when the cost of disparity is clearly not going to be local? The solution needn´t involve government, any more than other problems do. Much of what´s acceptable is preserved by women in many societies, even those that are patriarchal in appearance. If we strive for a genuinely desireable goal and make our opinions felt by those around us, insisting on non-violent consideration, the demonstration of our vision´s merit will be a powerful magnet.

The key is avoiding and opposing violence. What´s the scene elsewhere? Send us any data on missing pieces. We look forward to hearing from you.

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Tactics & Alliances - Suites of products and services, marketing, partnering and seasonality that worked
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Better Homes - More equity & less debt, fewer expenses, less maintenance, more space and ease of use...
a business launching strategy

News on our ´Better Homes´ strategy...

Suppose you held some equity in a house of your own but were financially harnessed to the job treadmill by the expense... mortgage, maintenance, and energy bills.

Suppose, in addition, that you discovered you could replace that house with a bigger one, which cost less up front and saved you hundreds of dollars per month, every month, in living expenses. The tradeoff, and there always is one, was in conventionality... majorly.

What opportunities would open for you? Would you take them?

We think we´re on the trail of such a home and invite you to a presentation we made at a recent Alternate Energy Association meeting in Cincinnati. Come have a first look at the proposed re-incarnation of the
Culvert House.
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