Interview with "For the Future"
By Bob Banner
HopeDance, December 2004
Because of the new non-profit "For the Future" that was primarily behind the success of the Oil Depletion Conference last November, I decided to interview some of their members: Linda Buzzell-Saltzman, Bruce Anderson and Sri Subramanian.
1. Can you tell our readers about the specific purpose of For the Future , and what inspired you and the group?
Over the last half-century or so, we Americans have created a way of life based on consumerism and on having more and more of everything material, without limit. That way of life isn’t particularly satisfying. In many ways it’s damaging, because it tends to exaggerate the worst aspects of our nature. And it’s utterly unsustainable. The world’s resources and the natural systems upon which we depend cannot support ever-expanding material appetites. The human enterprise will inevitably encounter limits, and those limits are approaching faster than most people think.
If we want our children to have a reasonable quality of life, we have to understand the dangers of a way of life based on consumerism, and develop some ideas about what we might do differently.
Our mission at For the Future is to encourage a process of reassessment and revisioning of our way of life at every level of American society. We define ourselves as a think-tank; we write, publish, make documentaries, lobby and organize, and use the Internet to develop innovative ideas and solutions. Our activities are intended to inform the public and to stimulate dialog about how to handle the transition to a stable, sustainable way of life.
2. Did the recent mini conference/film festival help in any way as related to your purposes of educating and creating committees? And if so, how?
It was very helpful to us. For the first time, we were able to share our ideas with an audience that had just seen "The End of Suburbia" and was responsive to what we had to say. We were also pleased to meet with the community/sustainability leaders on the other panels (including Santa Barbara’s Mayor Marty Blum), and it was very inspiring to hear Richard Heinberg and to chat with him afterwards over pizza and beer. We were energized and will be following up on the conference by creating Sustainability Circles where local people can discuss how to create sustainable sources of resources in the Santa Barbara area.
3. Can you tell us more about the Local Living Economies that you mentioned at the conference that have 14 cities with the required criteria? What does Santa Barbara have to do in order to become one?
Local Living Economies is a term coined by the founders of BALLE (Business Alliance for Local Living Economies, at http://www.livingeconomies.org/balle). All it takes is sufficient interest from local small business owners to initiate it.
Do you see this as an end in itself or will it be a preparatory-type strategy to become more a model city of sustainability?
It is part of a wider goal, that of creating a Sustainable Small Cities project whose aim is to lay out the steps a town can take to become more self-reliant, relocalized and sustainable so it can survive and thrive in the coming post-fossil-fuel/variable-climate future. Since we live in Santa Barbara, we’re starting here and hope to post our experiences on our website so that we can share them with other towns wishing to go in a similar direction.
4. How are the Post Carbon Institute’s "outposts" helping For the Future?
We’ve just formed an association with them. We are still looking into how we can help each other.
5. What kinds of committees have you formed and how will your group coordinate all the varied committees?
We’re planning eventually to start Sustainability Circles in each of the 17 Sectors of Sustainability [click for more details]. We’ll probably start with a "Relocalizing Energy" circle and a "Relocalizing Business and Jobs" circle. These circles will educate themselves on the issues and then come up with actions to take and recommendations for local governments and other organizations.
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