This book was a disappointment for me. As one who has appreciated Small Is Beautiful, 25th Anniversary Edition: Economics As If People Mattered: 25 Years Later . . . With Commentaries and Human Scale I was not expecting so much fine print and examples, even through grouped into the following five categories, struck me as kludgy:
+ Imagination alone can work miracles in the absence of resources.
+ Worlds of planning, commerce, culture, technology, and politics are disconnected BUT the authors see a massive shift emergent toward participatory culture. I am reminded of Paul Hawkin's Blessed Unrest: How the Largest Social Movement in History Is Restoring Grace, Justice, and Beauty to the World and Collective Intelligence: Creating a Prosperous World at Peace.
+ There are a lot of buzzwords among the fine print, such as creative engagement, adaptive transformation, etcetera. This is where I begin to think this has crossed the line toward kludge.
+ I am *very* impressed with the small section that focuses on children play power, connecting a merry-go-round to pump water to a gravity storage container.
+ Page 17: What many of these strategies shared was the principle of putting information clearly in the public domain and drawing togetyher a debate between a public, political and professional audience to unlock different perspectives and produce different solutions. I am reminded of Jim Rough's brilliant work Society's Breakthrough!: Releasing Essential Wisdom and Virtue in All the People
+ Art in public spaces inspires new forms of social networks. Rivers can have “Save My River Chapters” all along its path, I am reminded of the Salmon Nation the future-oriented denizens of Eco-topia have put into place.
The book does downhill from there, in part because the small print is annoying, in part because while the photos are truly beautiful, this book does not convey what the Germans call “the feeling in the fingertips.”
I am however very impressed toward the end when the book talks about OASIS (Open Accessible Space Information System) and the discussion the authors offer of how training children and citizens to map their neighborhoods at the sapling level in unleashing enormous stores of energy. I am especially impressed by a map on page 158 that shows “Desireable Places to Plant a Tree.” THIS IS PERFECT. Now imagine a Global Range of Gifts table at the sapling and ceramic refrigerator level for the whole planet, so the 80% of the individuals that do not do planned giving can give a sapling or a cell phone or a month's worth of medicine. I this coming and pray it will arrive sooner.
The book re-engaged me at the end where there is a superb discussion of how we should plan neighborhoods with running water so that the poor can upgrade as they improve their condition, rather than vacating. Grow wealth locally.
This book is offered at a very fair price and on that basis am taking it up to four stars instead of three. If you love this topic, this is book by two people who care, offered by a publisher who has the integrity to price it affordably.
I read this book with A Civilization of Love: What Every Catholic Can Do to Transform the World and The Porto Alegre Alternative: Direct Democracy in Action (IIRE (International Institute for Resear) and in a fascinating way all three hung together–Civilization of Love ends by pointing out that the future Church is going to comprised of young urban poor; and the Porto Alegre book, an edited work, ends compellingly by saying that we should not have to choose between statism and the market, it is possible to put everyone's eyes on the whole of the budget, and dramatically redirect how our tax dollars are spent. I agree, but not in 2008. That just became another lost epoch. See my review of Obama – The Postmodern Coup: Making of a Manchurian Candidate and of course Running on Empty: How the Democratic and Republican Parties Are Bankrupting Our Future and What Americans Can Do About It.
With my last remaining link, I recommend All Rise: Somebodies, Nobodies, and the Politics of Dignity (BK Currents)