Day 16 @EDE Class: New Forms of Capital, from Globalization to Localization

Sep 11, 2018. We learned that we need a new economy system in global scale that aims at making the world more sustainable. How do we go from this 30,000 feet view to a 3,000 feet view, namely, from global to local? In the class, we learned many useful frameworks / models for thinking about the subjects.

Model #1 – plugging the leaks

We analyzed in a local community, the sources of money coming in and the leaks of money going out.  What business opportunities can we create to plug the leaks? (photo by the author)

Model #2 – new forms of capital

In conventional economy system, only financial capital is valued, resulting in neglecting costs and benefits that cannot be readily measured by money. In a new economy system that takes into account sustainability of ecosystem, the physical, mental, and spiritual well being of human being, and the harmony with other living things, we identify 8 forms of capital. Each capital corresponds to a currency, something that can be exchanged between people. (photo by the author)

Model #3 – fundamental human needs, Manfred Max-Neef model

We used this model to identify where we are at each type of fundamental human needs. Though qualitative and intuitive, it exposes where the needs are not well met. Then the next question is what can you do to meet those needs? (photo by the author)

This Fundamental Need model was developed by economist Manfred Max-Neef. Find out more here (Wiki).

Model #4 – the economics of happiness & localization

We watched the film “The Economics of Happiness” produced by Helena Norberg-Hodge (full length film-68 min, Vimeo, abridged version-19 min, Youtube) It is enlightening! Most thought provoking to me is the other side of globalization. Honestly I haven’t thought deep and critical enough about globalization but have been associating it with economic advancement, liberal values, more international connections, things that are seemingly good. I find this nice discussion guide and companion for the film is a great resource for further reading and understanding. It’s made by Norberg-Hodge’s organization, International Society for Ecology and Culture (link, PDF, 74 pages). Let me quote here:

globalization. n.
1. the deregulation of trade and finance in order to enable businesses and banks to operate globally.
2. the emergence of a single world market dominated by transnational companies.
(Often confused with international collaboration, interdependence, global community.)

localization. n.
1. the removal of fiscal and other supports that currently favor giant transnational corporations and banks.
2. reducing dependence on export markets in favor of production for local needs.
(Often confused with isolationism, protectionism, the elimination of trade.)

The Community – going out of chaos

There is hope that this community, our class, is going out of the second stage of community building, chaos. The new process of kitchen and volunteer assignment are both woking. We have better food and mostly on time. Volunteers automatically take care of cleaning the classroom after class, cleaning the kitchen after meals, and preparing tea breaks between sessions. These small changes took away lots of the previous distraction.

However, this does mean that everything starts to become perfect. A new debate regarding someone’s style of talking just happened in the WeChat group. Many didn’t approve one student’s questions to the teacher, considering them irrelevant and even politically incorrect. The debate almost borders on the freedom of speech.

We were doing exercise in the class. (photo by ZHU Yu)
Kitchen volunteers set up this table as a storage place for fresh produce. They spread out the veggies to keep them fresh and dry. For plant protein, we have edamame, peanuts and tofu. (Only vegetarian meals are provided here) On the wall, contact number of suppliers and amount purchased.  (photo by the author)

Life here

I have been sleeping on average 5 hours a day. By now many of my classmates know that I get up super early and write. I don’t use alarm (to avoid waking up my roommates) but can naturally wake up 4ish, sometimes even 3ish, excited about sorting my thought on paper soon.

Today, someone asked me how I can sleep so little but still remain awake and clear headed in class? I hadn’t thought about it. I slept more but felt less energy when I was working alone all day from my home office. That’s a strange contrast. Interestingly, another classmate who heard the question suggested a possible answer: here I am around a group of people full of positive energy 🙂 That makes sense to me! More specifically, I also am motivated by working directly on things that I truly care about, sustainability. I am constantly challenged by thinking harder and in new frameworks we just learned. I clearly see the value of this blog, as each day I receive feedback from people near and far.

A few minutes walk from the UNESCO training center, there is this nice wooden recreation path towards Qingchengshan Mountain. There was no group activity tonight and I took a quick walk there. (photo by the author)
Our volunteer translator was sick. I volunteered to help translating a couple sessions. (photo by ZHU Yu)


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