I put in a new vegetable garden this year, ambitiously too big, I’m sure. But it feels good to watch the thin green shoots battle with the birds, the bugs and the hot sun. This is growth I can live with – productive and life-affirming. The other kind, the one that rules our economic lives, is more disturbing.
As the iconoclastic US writer Kenneth Boulding once quipped: ‘If you believe exponential growth can go on in a finite world, you’re either a madman or an economist.’
There are lots of people who understand that, at least implicitly. In my neighbourhood in downtown Toronto, our local park has become a laboratory for reclaiming public space, an alternative vision of the way the world could be. There are volunteer gardens, an outdoor bake oven, an organic farmers’ market and Friday night community suppers.
Like the enthusiasm for local food systems and ‘downshifting’, our park is a small part of the transition which is slowly emerging. Thousands of people are thinking creatively and building new lives with a smaller environmental footprint – a post-growth world in the making. You’ll find more examples in this issue.
You’ll find another kind of creativity in our ‘Southern Exposure’ photo feature as Bangladesh photographer Shahidul Alam uses his art to expose the impunity of the state’s notorious Rapid Action Battalion. Another feature from the New Economics Foundation (a terrific source of information on the need to challenge economic growth, by the way) looks at how to define and measure poverty accurately.
As with economic growth, you’ve got to measure what counts, not just count what you can measure.
Wayne Ellwood for the New Internationalist co-operative.