Sharing our Visions
Zoom Hui November 17, 2022
On November 17, 2022, Pathway to Survival held a zoom hui – or “zui” – with the aim of bringing forward ideas about an equitable dignified future in Aotearoa – a future that resolves festering injustices of wealth inequality and colonial heritage.
Our chair, Caz Sheldon, started us off with the question: “Why is it easier to imagine the end of the world than the end of capitalism?” It is shocking how neo-liberal ideology has colonised our imaginations. This hui was about retraining our imaginations for a future in which we all do well.
Four invited speakers presented their ideas, followed by discussions in small groups, and a further discussion with the whole group.
To encourage open discussion, we did not record this hui. Below are some highlights, including comments from the zoom chat.
Following the success of this zoom hui, we anticipate this will be first of many conversations.
Paul is a member of Pathway to Survival, and Our Climate Declaration.
He is 73, a regional councillor, and a retired meteorologist.
Key Points from Paul
In the past I had despaired our future could be one of droughts and collapse. European colonialism has produced enormous riches, but at the expense of alternative cultures, such as the Incas, which it destroyed. But I have been inspired by indigenous struggling in South American countries, where rights have been given back to people.
Reimagining the world in 2035:
- Here in Aotearoa, we gave personhood to the Wanganui river. The precedent has spread to other countries.
- Decisions are made using deliberative democracy.
- We have shifted to Tradeable Energy Quotas (TEQs), with quotas declining at 10% per year.
- Emissions are down 70%, and atmospheric CO2 is levelling off at 360 parts per million (ppm).
- We live in cohousing, incorporating passive warming and solar housing.
- Plant-based crops replace dairy. We practise permaculture and mixed farming. There is strong regeneration of forests and our fauna.
- We have brought nature back into the heart of our cities.
- Cities are safe for cyclists.
- There are fast comfortable rail services, with sleepers. Carriages are constructed in Dunedin, providing apprenticeships for other trades.
- Air traffic is now for emergencies only.
- There is good work-life balance, and social life for the elderly.
- We walk in our forests.
- We use time shares.
- We have networks with trust and solidarity, and a sharing economy.
- There are checks and policies to protect social power from getting unbalanced again.
- We don’t depend on the dollar.
Catherine is of Ngāti Kurī and Te Rarawa descent, and lives in Whangārei.
Catherine is a member of Pathway to Survival, and has been an analyst, advisor and iwi representative in many national and international spaces. She currently works as an indigenous consultant for the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs.
Key Points from Catherine
The importance of culture, from an indigenous perspective.
- From an indigenous perspective, culture is fundamental for wellbeing.
- My Māori people’s traditional belief systems are based on Natural Law – including an understanding that order in the physical world has a metaphysical (or, some may imagine, “spiritual”) foundation (as distinct from religion in a Western sense).
- We believe we have divine origin, being descendants of Supernatural Ancestors (commonly known as Atua). As our core identity, this shapes our values and conduct, in alignment (as much as possible) with the Atua’s guidance and wisdom.
- A near-corresponding concept (for anyone who only believes in physical, not spiritual, reality) is to think in evolutionary terms: science tells us that all life in the Universe originates from the Big Bang, and all life on Earth is born from the heart of a star.
- Indigenous people see the crises that are happening as merely symptomatic of a deeper pathology – i.e., disconnection from their metaphysical Self (and therefore, disconnection from Divine life guidance, and the wisdom for all solutions to all the world’s problems). We need to understand, and re-activate, our profound link with nature as one path to re-connecting with the metaphysical Self.
- Therefore, re-setting humanity’s culture in this way is critical and has important scientific and practical application in today’s world. It’s not airy-fairy.
- We need an education system that empowers individuals from a young age to know who They are, in their core Being; then we can unlock how to create our reality for the benefit of all. Still today, indigenous people have traditional knowledge of, and practice, ceremonies and protocols about how to achieve this.
- Then maybe we will get on track, relating to the natural world as part of us, and us as part of it.
Ben is a climate activist, father of four, and builder from Ōtautahi Christchurch.
Key Points from Ben
“We fell in love with money, got married, and got divorced from reality.”
“This is not the most important issue of our generation – it is the most important issue ever.”
Getting to 2035:
- It is important to make this as painless as possible.
- Education is important. Many people don’t know the basics of climate change, so must be educated in a down-to-earth way about CO2. Reinstall trust in science, and remove propaganda.
- Use the land for growing food instead of having lawns, which are a sway of unused land – a display of wealth.
- Use e-bikes. These are better for health, and can never get stuck in traffic. Use buses and trains for long distance.
We must prioritise stopping greedy projects like the proposed airport at Tarras.
Rosemary started her activism when her first grandchild was born.
She is active in Restore Passenger Rail, and has a 10-acre property.
Key Points from Rosemary
These changes will take mass mobilisation and a mindset change: we are in service to humanity. We’ve got 2-3 years to start turning things around.
Life in 2035:
- Transport is affordable and accessible. There have been no new fossil fuel vehicles since 2025.
- Every community has a shared local food growing area. These have small herds of animals.
- Dairy is 1/90th of the size it was in 2022, and now feeds only people in New Zealand.
- People drink oat milk, where the land has not been poisoned by cadmium from dairy. There are oat-milk factories, and fermentation.
- Rivers are returning to their braided state.
- There are publicly owned solar arrays.
- No-one is without shelter! Marae style arrangements are available.
- There is distributed, publicly owned electricity.
- New homes are made only from wood, perhaps with government subsidies.
- No-one makes money from electricity.
- Rent caps were introduced years ago, and property speculation is a thing of the past.
- There is a Basic Income, and no GST (refer to John Minto on this).
- Citizens Assemblies work alongside government. There is a participatory economic model. Most daily decisions are made at local level.
- The Climate Change Commission has real power, and all decisions are made through a climate change lens.
- Narcissists not tolerated in our government representatives.
- Psychological help is available for all.
- Prisons are a place for rehabilitation. The Police are a service to direct people for help.
- There are jobs moving roads and railways away from water, and in managed retreat. There are some sea walls.
- Dunedin is a hub for car conversion. Workers follow a Spanish Mondragon-style cooperative model, aided by government. Batteries are recycled.
- The airline industry no longer operating. Many families have moved home. Tourism is flourishing at local level.
After all this, emissions are starting to go down, but there are still massive floods, droughts, etc. There is no going back in our lifetimes.
Group Discussion and Zoom Chat
- Be the change you want to be. Live in local resilient communities. If you do stuff locally, you don’t need transport. Many communities are becoming resilient, have food coops, community gardens, recycling. 10-minutes walking suburbs, main shops.
- Values will change when people do things for each other. People learn from doing.
- Make values conscious and use them as a guideline. What would you do if you were kind? Where do actions come from? What values in nature do we value?
- Principle of reciprocity. Value of respect. Trust.
- Education should ensure these values are a dominant part of our culture:
pono – truth, integrity;
tika – equity, fairness, justice, what’s right;
aroha – compassion, understanding, tolerance, connectedness.
- Make education more in tune with outdoors. Be out in the forests, learning from the landscape.
Learning from Indigenous People and from the Past
- Indigenous populations have learned to be happy on the same place for a long time.
- Look for old wisdom we can bring into the future. Our forebears knew how to survive and live well, without fridges/freezers and many other things we have today.
- History is a lens back to the past through which we can see how to let go of how we live currently.
- We can be inspired by Cuba, a small very poor country that successfully adapted to sudden cessation of fuel, food and fertiliser imports when the USSR collapsed in 1990. It decentralised many services and activities including food production, and trained doctors to be very good at prevention since drugs & radiology weren’t around.
- Ursula Le Guin is an author who imagines a frugal small-scale, human-level society with decent relationships, especially in her fantasy novel The Dispossessed. This is one of the best and realistic imaginings of how people could live in a collective anarchist type way.
System Change and Degrowth
- There are two useful key ideas from Jason Hickle’s book Less is More (https://www.jasonhickel.org/less-is-more):
(1) End built-in obsolescence.
(2) Stop advertising.
- Reuse, repurpose, and recycle.
- Use taxes, including an inheritance tax, to prevent accumulation of wealth in individuals and families across generations.
- Give 16 year olds the vote – that would shake things up a bit.
- To achieve meaningful outcomes we have to get rid of systemic corruption. Merely optimising different sectors isn’t enough.
- Renewables need infrastructure, but there is no feasible plan to create it. Limiting consumption to that which is necessary (rather than consumption of luxuries) would help.
- Grow life-nurturing activities and reduce destructive activities. There is some value in advertising, as long as it’s for useful (not destructive) goods and services.
- Regulate to stop waste ASAP, so that resources are prioritised for things people need to survive. By 2035 have in place things to stop waste, e.g. home insulation and solar cookers.
- Change our attitudes so there’s an organised reduction in energy use to avoid chaos.
Technology, with emphasis on Low-Tech
- Use small-is-beautiful type technology from existing sources that doesn’t create or exacerbate social inequity and injustice.
- Look to models in society that are working and creating resilience. Avoid ‘advanced’ technology that disconnects us further and further from Nature and makes us vulnerable to technology disruption.
- An inspirational book: The Age of Low Tech, By Philippe Bihouix-Bristol University Press. A review can be found at https://www.resilience.org/stories/2021-09-01/the-age-of-low-tech-by-philippe-bihouix-review/
- Wind and solar power.
- Coppicing: don’t cut down a whole tree, just the bits you want to burn. Keep the trees, and they keep growing. There is a place for burning wood.
- Walking among the trees brings physical and mental health, instead of hay fever.
- A woodstove that can equally burn green or dry wood.
- Read an article by Molly Melhuish about bringing forests into our cities. https://assets.nationbuilder.com/ourclimatedeclaration/pages/444/attachments/original/1666750217/0TTTpresentationFinalsmall.pdf?1666750217
- We don’t need fossil fuels to create nano-tech. It could be a golden future. High-tech but small-scale sustainable society. Use brains instead of brawn.
- We should have a human rights-compliant world in which indigenous peoples’ traditional territories and resources aren’t exploited for materials for high-tech products.
- We can’t replace fossil fuels, so we have to consume less energy. Hence there would be many kinds of human and low-powered vehicles, including ones for people with mobility challenges and for small children.
- Public transport and active transport.
- Transport on water to connect with the South Pacific. Sailing ships with modern sails.
- Everything has to change, so everybody has to be involved. Need as many people as possible thinking about not business-as-usual.
- When talking to people who disagree, ask what values we share.
- The hope that is in our group may attract people outside our bubble.
- Being in a space of positivity tends to draw people in. However, balance positivity with a willingness to face painful predicaments and speak the truth.
- We need each other to keep each other well.
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