E.F Schumacher wrote Small is Beautiful before any of us were born, and this little book fell of our book shelf and onto our desk recently.
Its a brilliantly written manifesto for 'economics as if people and planet mattered'... The same idea that is the very slogan of think-tank NEF - The New Economics Foundation today. This bit had to be blogged as it encapsulates our vision for Old Tree growth.
“Our most important task is to get off our present collision course. And who is there to tackle such a task? I think everyone of us, whether old or young, powerful or powerless, rich or poor, influential or un-influential.
To talk about the future is only useful if it leads to action now. And what can we do now, while we are still in a position of ‘never having had it so good’? To say the least – which is already very much – we must thoroughly understand the problem and begin to see the possibility of evolving a new life-style, with new methods of production and new patterns of consumption: a life-style designed for permanence. To give only three preliminary examples: in agriculture and horticulture, we can interest ourselves in the perfection of production methods which are biologically sound, build up soil fertility, and produce health, beauty and permanence. Productivity will then look after itself. In industry, we can interest ourselves in the evolution of small-scale technology, relatively non-violent technology, ‘technology with a human face’, so that people have a chance to enjoy themselves while they are working, instead of working solely for their pay packet and hoping usually forlornly, for enjoyment during their leisure time. In industry again – and, surely, industry is the pace-setter of modern life – we can interest ourselves in new forms of partnership between management and me, even forms of common ownership.”
All small medium enterprise (SME) owners, know how challenging it is to manifest a small business that can pay the required living wage and still make profit in today's economic climate. What is evident is that the small must survive for our fundamental wellbeing and resilience. In the realm of smaller and slower are the answers to our most prescient social, environmental and (longterm) economic crises.
Its important to remember that the gigantic can only survive with the availability of cheap fossil fuels. Cheap fossil fuels do the dirty work of industrial agriculture and modern civilisation. The days of cheap fossil fuels are nearly over, whether they last 10 or 100 years more is conjecture, we need to stop burning them anyway to stand a chance of surviving climate change. For sustainable human existence to become possible we need an alternative economy and mode of production that mimics nature. It has to be local, it has to be regenerative to the earth, it has to properly benefit the people that drive it, it has to be small.
To summarise Schumacher we have to focus on 3 things to create the conditions for the small to be viable again in these times.
- GROW FOOD, cycle all nutrients, BUILD SOIL
- Focus on human-faced production - invest in HUMAN SCALE TOOLS
- COLLABORATIVE PRODUCTION and ownership to increase productivity
OLD TREE are committed to these ends and are calling out to all producers and SME's for the collaboration and networking and peer-support that can help the create the conditions for these key stepping stones towards a sane: economy, ecology and society in these times.