In June of this year, James Gustave Speth addressed a group of foundation professionals on the topic of “Towards a New Consciousness in America: the Role of Grantmakers.” He invited those in attendance to help him change America’s mind. By which he meant changing long held beliefs and habits that prevent us from conducting our economic lives in a way that supports both people and the environment.
As former Dean of Yale School of Forestry, former Administrator of the United Nations Development Programme, co-founder of Natural Resources Defense Council, founder of World Resources Institute, his remarks carried weight. His call was urgent.
What if the following occurred? A decline in legitimacy as the [existing economic] system fails to deliver social and environmental well-being, together with a mounting sense of crisis and great loss. If both of these conditions occurred at a time when the country had wise leadership, accompanied by the articulation of a new American narrative or story, by the appearance across the landscape of new and appropriate models, and by the projection of a powerful set of new ideas and policy proposals previously “laying around” and confirming that the path to a better world does indeed exist – were all these to come together, real change would be possible. And prospects would be enhanced and advanced by a new social movement, powerful and inclusive. The best hope for such a new dynamic is a fusion of those concerned about environment, social justice, and true democracy into one progressive force. We are all communities of shared fate. We will rise or fall together, so we’d better get together.
Friends, a new consciousness in America is not a utopian dream; rather, it is a practical necessity.
Gus Speth is one of three speakers at next Saturday’s Thirtieth Annual E. F. Schumacher Lectures in New York City. He will continue his appeal for an alliance between the environmental, social justice, and progressive communities to forge an economics that can meet the multiple challenges ahead. His talk titled: “Letter to Liberals: Liberalism, Environmentalism, and Economic Growth,” will challenge long-held liberal assumptions.
Neva Goodwin, Co-Director of the Tufts University Global Development And Environment Institute will speak on the topic “What can we hope for the world in 2075?” and Stewart Wallis, Executive Director of the New Economics Foundation in London will talk about “The Great Transition.”
Please join us November 20, 2010 at the Community Church in New York City for the Thirtieth Annual E. F. Schumacher Lectures.