Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Overview of the US Development Strategy

Gertee Traveler goes traveling

inside fireplace made from metal scraps and foil

An email from Old Dog sent me to this article just posted at newswithviews: U N SEEKS CONTROL OF PLANETS DRINKING WATER by Jim Kouri, This article refers to the latest "rights" resolution adopted by the U.N.; it's recognized we all have the right to clean drinking water and sanitation.

General Assembly Adopts Resolution Recognizing Access to Clean Water, Sanitation as Human Right, by Recorded Vote of 122 in Favour, None against, 41 Abstentions

I haven't followed much of what happened at the big UN Summit last week so I poked around a few UN sites and their U.S. affiliate sites for updates.

President Obama’s speech fulfills the commitment he made at the United Nations a year ago to “support the Millennium Development Goals, and approach next year’s summit with a global plan to make them a reality. And we will set our sights on the eradication of extreme poverty in our time.” The policy outlined by the President has four pillars which will serve as the lynchpins for the Obama Administration’s improved, intensified and coherent approach to foreign assistance.

The President’s announcement of a new US Global Development Policy has four principles that will guide US foreign assistance in not only in addressing US commitments to achieving the Millennium Development Goals, but also bringing coherency and leadership into managing the breadth and depth of the US foreign assistance apparatus. The four pillars of the new US Global Development Policy are:

  1. The US recognizes that aid alone is not development. Available tools must be harnessed – including diplomacy, trade and investment policies – to help countries move from poverty to prosperity; (Some Americans think that "innovative finance mechanisms" means Global Taxes:
  2. The US will strive to offer people a way out of poverty by working with governments to improve societies in the long term;
  3. In order to bring countries out of poverty, the US will emphasize broad-based economic growth; and,
  4. The US will insist on mutual accountability for themselves as well as partners, better matching investments with the priorities of partner countries

The President’s speech is a call-to-action. It recognizes the power of partnerships with not only multilaterals such as the United Nations, but also recognizes the powerful catalytic role that the private sector, foundations and civil society does and can play in “realizing the future that none of us can achieve alone.”

President Obama calls upon his fellow leaders to lead and succeed noting that “no country wants to be dependent on another. No proud leader in this room wants to ask for aid.” He outlined broad governance ideals to help leaders unleash the power of the entrepreneurs, to engage women in the economic prosperity of their respective countries by opening schools and providing opportunities for them to attain economic well being and health.

It is clear this is not a “We lead, you follow.” policy. It is a clear departure from the past policies, a unambiguous articulation of doing business in a better and smarter way. Although we await the details to fill out the brief outline in his speech, the tidbits in the speech offer a sign that the US will no longer continue to do business as usual in its foreign assistance portfolio.

Here's a recent speech by Frederick Tipson (Director UNDP Washington) talking about the global Stand Up and root for sustainable development campaign:

Let us root for the team at the Peace Corps just three blocks to the west, and the team of the Foreign Service and the Civil Service over at the Department of State.

Let us root for the new team at the Agency for International Development (USAID) down the hill in the Reagan Building, and the Millennium Campaign Corp. (MCC) just two blocks to the East.
For the congressional staffers on Capitol Hill, and for the many think tankers, scholars, university students, church groups, and non-governmental organizations, and for the consultants, contractors, and corporations, who work within a few miles of this square to make a difference to those living in poverty and the conditions that keep them there.

And, yes, I would ask also that you root for the teams of the United Nations, such as mine, the UN Development Programme, and for the teams at UNICEF, at the World Food Programme, the UN Population Fund, and many others. And for those at the World Bank, the Inter-American Development Bank, and the International Monetary Fund -- all within a short walk from here.
This sure is the decade of action and innovation:

Monday, September 27, 2010

Global governance is not global government?

We keep getting search engine hits for the "Agenda 21 conspiracy." Apparently the official blueprint for global governance doesn't mean the creation of a global government. How silly of us to wonder what kind of a world is being created with all this collaboration and informal arrangements between state and nonstate actors. Governance doesn't exist within the parameters established for governments in the "free" nations. "Government" exists within strict legal guidelines and boundaries in the U.S., all under the direct supervision of the American people. Global Governance eliminates the people's direct power over their governments. The capacity to self govern our government employees is a non issue in a transnational setting.

Global Governance 2025: At a Critical Juncture

"The term “global governance” as used in this
paper includes all the institutions, regimes,
processes, partnerships, and networks that
contribute to collective action and problem
solving at the international level. This
definition subsumes formal and informal
arrangements as well as the role of nonstate
actors in transnational settings. Regional
cooperation may also be regarded as an
element of global governance insofar as it
contributes to broader efforts. Governance
differs from government, which implies
sovereign prerogatives and hierarchical
authority. Global governance does not equate
to world government, which would be
virtually impossible for the foreseeable future,
if ever."

Maybe the CIA can use Lady Gaga to teach us what global governance really means.

Maybe the Global Green Police can explain what happened to our local American police.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Common Purpose UK Mind Map

Here's a neat way of teaching how Common Purpose operates in the UK:

Thanks John!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

PG&E ~ Strategic Plans & Goals by the year 2020

Not all pilot programs are advertised or widely read by the general public. Some pilot tests, like COMPASS in 2000, are actually denied being in existence. And, not all national/state programs that adhere to U.N. Local Agenda 21 "suggestions" openly establish that connection for voters.

This is a telling matrix sent from our friend Giesla with Alaskans Against the NAIS:
January 22, 2010
Advice 3082-G/3598-E
(Pacific Gas and Electric Company ID U 39 M)
Public Utilities Commission of the State of California
Subject: Green Communities Program Advice Letter Pursuant to D.09-09-047

Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) hereby submits its Green Communities (GC) Program Advice Letter for its 2010-2012 Energy Efficiency (EE) Portfolio in compliance with Decision (D.) 09-09-047, Ordering Paragraph (OP) 20 and other directives of the Decision.

From: Brian K. Cherry
Vice President
Regulatory Relations
77 Beale Street, Room 1087
San Francisco, CA 94105
Mailing Address
Mail Code B10C
Pacific Gas and Electric Company
P.O. Box 770000
San Francisco, CA 94177

"This program supports the Strategic Plan’s goal for 50% of governments to
adopt energy/sustainability/ climate action plans by 2015 and 100% by 2020."
The Center for Sustainability California explains:

Energy Efficiency (R.09-11-014)

What’s this? This rulemaking continues the work of R.06-04-010 and serves as the forum for the CPUC’s continued implementation of the California Energy Efficiency Strategic Plan as well as the forum for initiating the next planning cycle for 2013-2015 energy efficiency program plans, funding levels, and related issues.

What’s new?

On August 24, the CPUC issued a Proposed Decision, proposing to adopt the Lighting Chapter of the California Long-Term Energy Efficiency Strategic Plan and require that the chapter’s adopted strategies be incorporated into energy efficiency program planning and implementation starting in 2011. Decision (D.)09-09-047 directed the CPUC Energy Division to create a lighting chapter for inclusion in the plan, including specific goals, strategies and milestones in the chapter for transformation of the lighting market in California and to solicit the input of key stakeholders through meetings and/or public workshops. Comments on the proposed decision must be filed by September 13, and reply comments must be filed by September 20.

Green Communities offers Sustainability Training Grants too.

Is there a Constitution for the New Green Order?

Is there a Local Agenda 21 Model Communities Program? From this link:


By Maurice Strong Chairman, Earth Council


In 1992, the leaders of 179 countries gathered in Rio de Janeiro for the United Nations Earth Summit to finalize a global action plan for sustainable development, called Agenda 21. In this document, they recognized that because “so many of the problems and solutions being addressed by Agenda 21 have their roots in local activities, the participation and cooperation of local authorities will be a determining factor in fulfilling its objectives.” Agenda 21 further calls upon local authorities in every country “to undertake a consultative process with their populations and achieve a consensus on ‘Local Agenda 21’ for their communities.”

When this mandate was set out in 1992, there was little information available on how to proceed. It therefore gives me particular satisfaction to report that, since 1992, more than 1,300 local authorities from 31 countries have responded to the Agenda 21 mandate by developing their own Local Agenda 21 action plans for sustainable development.

The task of mobilizing and technically supporting Local Agenda 21 planning in these communities has been led by the International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives (ICLEI) and national associations of local government. Now, with the further support of the International Development Research Centre and the United Nations Environment Programme, ICLEI is able to present the first worldwide documentation of Local Agenda 21 planning approaches, methods, and tools in this Local Agenda 21 Planning Guide.

The planning framework presented in the Guide has been derived from real-life Local Agenda 21 planning efforts around the world. The framework is being tested and reviewed by municipal professionals from 14 countries, North and South, East and West. The Guide should therefore provide a very useful introduction and technical resource on Local Agenda 21 planning to municipal professionals and NGOs facing a variety of development conditions.

The transition to sustainable development is not a soft option, but an imperative for our survival and well-being. It is going to require a great deal of courage and commitment from all sectors, including municipalities, to ensure its success.

Even as urban areas increasingly represent a concentration of our greatest social, economic, and environmental problems, they offer opportunities for some of the most effective solutions. They encompass great pools of talent and expertise within their many sectors, which local government officials can pull together to work on local strategies for action.

In my parting words at the conclusion of the Earth Summit, I said that we all “must move down from the Summit and into the trenches where the real world actions and decisions are taken that will, in the final analysis, determine whether the vision of Rio will be fulfilled and the agreements reached there implemented.” Of the many programs that have resulted from the Earth Summit, none is more promising or important than this one, which has hundreds of local authorities around the world now setting out and implementing their Local Agenda 21s.


Maurice Strong


By Elizabeth Dowdeswell Executive Director, United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP)


Today, humanity is on the move as never before. Driven from the countryside by political turmoil, population pressures, and ecological breakdown, most of those who head for the city do so to seek a better quality of life.

But this massive movement has only further strained the resources and infrastructure of already overburdened cities. The most explosive growth has been in the Third World, which has 213 cities of more than a million people and some 20 at the 10 million mark. The blanket of smog that hangs over cities such as Rio de Janeiro, Mexico City, Delhi, Beijing, and tens of thousands of smaller cities is symbolic of more critical problems—of vulnerability to environmental sanitation problems, to natural disasters, and to man-made disasters such as chemical plant accidents and urban fires.

The increasing pace of global integration will determine whether in the future the lines that separate a city, a country, a region, and a continent will become progressively more blurred. But one thing is clear: the fate of cities will determine, more and more, not only the fate of nations but also of our planet. We can afford to ignore the issue of the sustainable management of our cities only at our peril.

How can sustainable development be made meaningful at the local level? How can we develop systems to involve the stakeholders in devising appropriate solutions to local environment and development issues? How can the quality of municipal services be improved and integrated to address the environmental, economic, and social prospects of the communities?

These questions are critical, especially since terms like sustainable development and environmental conservation can often conjure up images of processes too grand for local communities and their organizations to handle and influence. Clearly, sustainable development at the municipal level requires an entirely different approach to the planning and provision of services.

The Local Agenda 21 Planning Guide, prepared by the International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives (ICLEI), introduces just such an approach—a planning framework for sustainable development at the local level. In simplest terms, the Guide documents a process for developing action plans to address complex problems inherent in modern urbanized societies. It presents a framework for engaging local authorities with residents and local organizations in the design and provision of services to the community, while simultaneously protecting local, regional, and global ecosystems.

In presenting this planning framework, ICLEI has given us a book filled with insights that subvert many of our most basic assumptions and suggest fresh ways to think about them.

For all these reasons, the Local Agenda 21 Planning Guide is more than just another book. It is a lever for changing the art of managing sustainable development at the level of local government. Indeed this guide can serve as a symbol of today’s historic transformation in the concept of partnerships—one that no informed person can afford to ignore.


Elizabeth Dowdeswell

Glenn Beck on his missing the point of communitarianism

A couple years ago Tim (my camp host who watches a lot of TV) told me he saw "what you write about" on a TV talk show. I said, "Wow, what show?" and he replied, "I forget, maybe it was Lou Dobbs." "Did they say the word communitarianism?" I asked. Tim wasn't sure, but he thought "they" did. I completely forgot about it until today, when Kevin Eggers sent this:
November 10, 2008

GLENN: Prime Minister Brown has said the international financial crisis has given world leaders a unique opportunity. Oh, it usually does, doesn't it? To create a truly global society, a speech that Gordon Brown is going to give today. The alliance between Britain and the U.S. and more broadly between Europe and the U.S. can and must provide leadership, not in order to make the rules for ourselves but to lead the global effort to bring a stronger and more just international order. He says we are living in a uniquely global age and it is now in our power to come together so 2008 is not remembered just for the failure of the financial crisis that engulfed the world but for resilience and optimism when we face the storm and gird it and prevailed.

You know what, it's funny that he would use that language because that is the language of the Sweater story that I am telling Mao but it is about facing your own storm. But your storm is your storm and that's what these globalists don't understand. It's your storm. It's my storm. It's America's storm. We must work together. We must stay together. We must listen to our neighbors. We must work together as a planet, but we must not ever lose our individuality. And that's what these collectivists want. That's what these communitarians want.

You You know, when I first sobered up and I went back to school, I mean, Joe Lieberman and I had a close relationship, believe it or not, at one point and he actually spoke to me then and I didn't mean to but I usually do end up, because I'm so brutally honest, I insulted him, and we've only -- you'll notice if Joe Lieberman is ever on this program, he will always say things like, "I remember when... but..." he'll also say, "I'm very proud of you because I remember you when... but..." he's never on except for extraordinarily crucial days. Election days usually. And that's okay. But Joe Lieberman and I used to go back and forth. This is right after I sobered up. We would go back and forth and he would say, "You're a Democrat." And I would say, "You're a conservative." But I started reading everything and when I first sobered up, I decided I was going to take absolutely everything out of me. I wasn't going to believe in anything, even God. And I took everything out of me and I only put it back in after I had examined it. I realized it, what was I, 30 something years old, 32 years old? I didn't really believe in anything other than what people had told me, you know? I was the average Schmo that, you know, you're busy, you got life going on and you're like, "Yeah, I think that one makes sense." But you haven't really done your homework on it. And there's a lot of reasons why. I mean, it's tough stuff, man. You really want to look at abortion? You really want to look at all of this stuff? And if you do, then it means you have to live within the parameters if you want to try to be consistent. And so I went to the library and I went to the bookstores and I bought everybody who would disagree with each other. Then I started reading on communitarianism and collectivism. And I'll never forget, I think it was Michael Lerner I was reading and I happened to see Joe Lieberman and I said, "Have you ever read Michael Lerner?" And he said, why, what do you think of him? And I said, I don't know, I like -- I think this is the way that we should be. And he smiled and he said, "I told you." And I said, "Told me what?" And he said, "You're a Democrat. Do you know that Michael Lerner is one of Hillary Clinton's favorite people." And I said, "Really?" I think it was Michael Lerner. If it's not, Michael, my apologies. And he said, yeah, she really believes in that, the "It takes a village." Because I had just started to really kind of investigate and it really started to -- I went back home and I started reading it again but, you know, with fresh eyes, with the eyes of, "It takes a village." And not that it takes a village, because it does. It takes all of us working together. It does. And this is where people are going to get lost. When you hear the rhetoric of "It takes a village, guys, we have to watch out for each other, we've got to work together, we're in this together," you think to yourself, yes, that's true. Why do you want to be such a hate monger and say we're not? But the secret is that village is forced to work together. It takes a village and it takes a village to tell that parent how to raise that child, to police that child. Somebody's at the top of the food chain and it's no longer the parent. It's no longer the individual. It's the community. And that's what people -- that's what I missed the first time I took glance at this and that's what's coming our way. Compassion. Community compassion. That's a lie. That's communism. That's Naziism. That's fascism, statism. It's not the most important ism and that is individualism.
A keyword search for this quote brought up some interesting articles, like this:
The Rise of Collectivist Conservatives
by Will Wilkinson

Will Wilkinson is a research fellow at the Cato Institute and editor of Cato Unbound. Added to on May 20, 2009. This article appeared in The Week on May 20, 2009.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Is a semi-private police state more livable?

Here's another great example of Big Mother's ideas for building a more livable world:

The D.C. Communitarian COPS' ideas for data gathering were the focus of all my early ACL research. Wouldn't you like to see your UN Local COPS' "Potential for Crime" file too? Is it too much of a coincidence that the same guy who "invented" the COPS' COMPASS database of American's most private information is now Obama's Drug Czar?

Thanks Curt!

Sunday, September 12, 2010

My idea of a Livable Community

vinyl upholstery works great on the floor too!

Gerteeville on a cold and sunny fall morning
low 20, high 65!

I don't think everyone shares the same ideas about what a livable community means.

My idea of a livable community is Gerteeville, Alaska where I now live. I can guarantee you, not very many people would agree with me. Too many summer tourists tell the local kids I'm "weird" for living in a tent year round.

So how does the livable world system based on perfectly managed urban density accommodate people like me? I know most Americans don't live my way, but other people do all over the world. And if we think those people aren't happy because they don't have a fully plumbed government inspected apartment and a cell phone, we are mistaken.

I really love what I've accomplished here, and I'm rather proud of it too. I've hand built every dwelling we have using both new and used materials. We have no indoor plumbing and use wood stoves for heat and cooking. We burn as much beetle killed spruce as we can get access to (difficult when there's no public wood cutting areas). We haul freshwater from the community well and use about 50 gallons per week for a household of three people. I get electric off the grid.

There is no local government here. There is no county or borough government. Our only police are State Troopers whose offices are 40 miles away. All privately owned land is tax free. There are no land use regulations and no inspectors. We have an all volunteer fire department. We live side by side with moose, fox, lynx, ravens, eagles, owls, dogs, wolves and bears.

We have severe winters and nasty summers. It was 20 above this morning at 8am. I had to get up and saw a load of firewood with a broken chainsaw that barely gave me 4 pieces of slab. Every day presents new challenges, and the only time I get to be lazy is when everything is done. But these are prices I'm willing to pay. I like my independence and honor the personal responsibility I have for my own health and safekeeping. I love opening my strange little home to strangers who meander through our wilderness. I am nourished by the closeness I feel in spirit to the people who live in our neighborhood (except for the WISE bunch, who also happen to be the communitarians out here). We are not isolated nor are we alone, and it's funny that old acquaintances who live antiseptically alone in big beautiful Seattle homes think we are. Will people ever stop projecting their own limited views of life on others?

I was introduced to Building Livable Communities in Seattle, WA in 1999.

Seattle planners told us they were rebuilding our neighborhood to be more livable. They had many new ideas for how they could possibly implement what they called our "local" vision for the future. Several of the ideas included using federal police to gather our private data.

To verify their claims that our rights to privacy and property had been "balanced" against the community, I went door to door on my block (N.E. 65th Street entrance to Roosevelt H.S.) and not one of my neighbors had any idea about the plan to build a livable community.

Over the next year I asked hundreds of Seattle residents what they thought about their plan, and the answer was always, "What Plan?"

Everyone I knew also insisted I made up the quote from the Seattle Police's Mission Statement: "To increase livability by reducing fear." Seattle neighborhood planners refused to define Livability for me. Seattle Democrat Nancy Rising thought it all sounded completely ridiculous. My repeating the planners terminology in my letters to the planners got me branded as a wacko.

My original opposition to Building Livable Communities was based on the fact that the planners lied when they claimed it was what the whole community said they wanted. When I learned Livable Communities was a communitarian idea and that a old Israeli terrorist named Amitai Etzioni was the guru for the big new idea for livability, my opposition expanded to be based against the communitarian theory behind building livable communities.

A recent commenter raised the point that our opposition appears to play into the dialectic. We've pondered that ourselves many times at this blog. The ACL Manifesto is obviously, by default, the dialectical opposite of Etzioni's communitarianism. If communitarianism is not the perfect unnamed final synthesis in the Hegelian Dialectic, it does need opposition to morph into the next planned evolutionary phase. Our antithesis proves it is not the perfect final solution to unjust social systems, because Marxist teachers told us the final dialectical synthesis/solution would be so perfect it gives rise to no opposition. We exist, therefore it cannot be perfect.

So now the question I'm sure most rational readers ask is, does the ACL exist merely because we recognized their imperfect lies or because we are their agents and we're frauds? Are we truly independent opposition or are we controlled opposition? I have no way of proving that to you. All you can wonder is why the hell we're the ONLY dedicated opposition research in the world. If there's supposed to be a "movement" arising from the people that opposes communitarianism, then based on the way that's NOT happening I'd guess we're going to be stuck in the communitarian phase of the Hegelian dialectic for a looooooong time.

Other writers have some evidence communitarianism is just another Hegelian phase of the forced evolutionary process, and I linked down on the right to Bobby Garner's Dialectical Tetrad article for those interested in the theory of Transcendence. Much of the idea is based on Alice Baily's writings, which I've yet to find time to study, and I'm guessing I'm going to learn more about it from Manley Hall when I find time to read his works. Will I stop being the opposition if I become convinced I am only helping move society toward the final Stutopian solution? Good question.

Livable Communities Coalitions and Global Livability Actions

Regardless of whether Senator Dodd's Livable Communities Act passes or not, Livable Communities will be built across the United States and all over the world. Here's a good representation of the way it's been introduced and implemented... already:
What We Stand For
Our goal is working to improve quality of life in the Atlanta region through smart growth. The Livable Communities Coalition is establishing a coordinated framework for working together to achieve its four guiding principles of smart growth. By adhering to these principles of smart growth, we can provide better choices for our citizens and businesses, reduce traffic, recycle underutilized and blighted properties, be more efficient in our use of public infrastructure, and save green space.
The Coalition advocates four principles:
Support greater densities and mixed use developments in appropriate areas, especially in our region’s centers and transportation corridors
Integrate transportation investments with appropriate land use
Increase housing choices by removing barriers that artificially restrict the market Guide how greenfield land is developed, promoting a sense of community, provide more houisng choices, leverage existing infrastructure, and conserve natural resources.
In England Livable Communities are being renamed the Big Society:
Christian groups responded en­thu­siastically to the Prime Minister’s speech on the Government’s Big Society programme this week, which laid out a larger place for voluntary groups in serving local communities. Speaking in Liverpool on Monday, David Cameron said that the Govern­ment planned “the biggest, most dramatic redistribution of power from élites in Whitehall to the man and woman on the street”. It would “foster and support a new culture of voluntarism and philan­thropy”. The Evangelical Alliance said the Big Society was “an immense oppor­tunity for community service which Christians should not pass up”. The organisation’s dir­ector, Steve Clifford, said: “We are delighted that the Prime Minister has recognised the in­credible work community groups are already doing, and want to en­thusiastically encourage churches to accept his invitation to get stuck in.” The Interim director of Livability, a Christian charity that works with disabled people, Adam Bonner, said: “This new emphasis on community work could prove a great way to highlight and develop the existing long term work that many churches and Christian projects are already doing and present further oppor­tunities for involvement.” It re­mained to be seen, however, “whether there will be enough funding and support offered to implement this Big Society initiative”.
In the Philippines it's sounding like a pretty good idea too:

Public Seminar


on September 23, 2010 (Wednesday)

at the Central Philippine University EMC Conference Room

8am – 5pm

It's ALL about the partnerships which have already been established:

For the past 30 years, Bob has led Partners to become the national leader on issues of livability and better communities. A network of over 1,000 organizations ranging from the World Wildlife Fund to the Urban Land Institute, Partners embodies the diversity and consensus-building needed in the recovery of the American city.

In South Africa studies in creating Livable Communities is well underway too:

The distribution of land uses can have a major influence on total transport needs, car ownership and use, the availability of alternative ways to travel and the effectiveness and viability of public transport. Government’s Policies are to encourage public transport, walking and cycling over the use of the private car. The paper presents a case study of how the coordinated spatial, urban design and transport planning approach can provide a transport system that will reduce the present excessive dependence on the private car, while providing a more efficient transportation service that supports, rather than impedes the development of a livable community.

Building Livable Communities is like a Science for Humanity:

Supported by Canada’s International Development Research Centre (IDRC), teams from cities in Africa, Latin America, Asia and the Middle East will exchange ideas and lessons on how they are making their cities healthier and safer places to live. These teams are composed of researchers, field experts and politicians. They are part of IDRC’s Focus Cities Research Initiative, an 8-city project where communities act as urban laboratories, testing innovative solutions to problems in such settings as landfill sites, urban agriculture plots, and water treatment facilities.

Here are just a few examples of this initiative’s unique work:

  • Jakarta, Indonesia: Organic waste is collected from poor households every day and is sorted, shredded and composted in order to prevent the contamination of community water sources.

  • Kampala, Uganda: In Africa’s “garden city,” local government is working with the Kawaala-Kasubi community to transform garbage into electricity, convert organic waste into fertilizer, and improve agricultural production in urban plots.

  • Ariana Soukra, Tunisia: Small-scale farmers are developing new technologies to harvest greywater and rainwater to irrigate urban crops in a water-stressed environment.

  • Moreno, Argentina: People from different walks of life are working closely together to address waste management and water provisions to ensure that their neighbourhoods are safer.

This is just a sampling of how this ideology has been slipped into the human consciousness around the globe. And on the surface it all seems lovely, doesn't it?

Friday, September 10, 2010

Is Tom DeWeese misleading us on purpose?

I keep getting forwards that link to Tom DeWeese's last article on Senator Dodd's proposed Livable Communities Act (S.1619).

DeWeese calls it a "socialist trap." He closes with a call for all Republicans to call and write their representatives to protest the bill because, I suppose, this will stop it, and in his expert opinion, registered Democrats (read socialists) have no reason to oppose it.

DeWeese claims he has been leading the fight against LA21 for over a decade. He tells us:
"S.1619 is the first federal Sustainable Development law to enforce the UN’s Agenda 21. It must be stopped now – or every single community in America will be forced to comply with UN policy."
Does the above quote give you the impression that calling and writing your Congress will STOP LA21 in the USA? Does it imply that as yet no place has been forced to comply with UN policy?

The truth is, there have been many federal laws and programs that have already implemented Sustainable Development from one end of the country to another. Clinton's President's Council on Sustainable Development was created in 1993. The National Town Meetings began in the 1990s too. The Communitarian Network and Presidential Adviser Amitai Etzioni worked side by side with the Clinton Administration to be the "moral" backbone for reinventing our nation under SD principles. Rebuilding Community and SD go hand in hand.

The federal department of Agriculture changed its mission statement to promote SD in 1993. The USDA is completely devoted to SD and everything they do promotes it. Sustainable Communities is the goal of every government program already ongoing in the country. Our best universities have been teaching SD for over a decade already.

There have been numerous state laws and programs since 1992 that have implemented Sustainable Development in every state in the union. There are numerous treaties that have already put the U.S. under U.N. communitarian law. SD standards are already mandatory.

So why would Tom DeWeese, a self proclaimed "leader" in fighting SD for over a decade, tell his readers that THIS new law proposed by Dodd is the key to stopping SD?

How is it possible that this "leader" of the U.S. opposition to SD has written only one article in all his years of "fighting" SD that mentions the philosophy behind SD? Why won't DeWeese tell you about the massive communitarian legal system and bureaucracy that already "legalized" SD in the USA? Why doesn't he explain communitarian law is supreme law under the revised U.N., or that every country in the world is facing the same changes to the structure of their governments? (Global government is NOT just an American problem!)

I asked Kevin Eggers if he could explain why average people like himself and the Santa Rosa Democrats Against LA21 can so readily understand communitarianism when people like DeWeese, who claim to be experts, can continue to completely ignore it. His response:
"Communitarianism makes sense. Senator William Borah described in his book "Bedrock" (1936) how the corporations were controlling things through their monopolies in a free market system and also how the corporations controlled things in the legislation or "planned industrialism" that was supposed to be for the people's benefit. Without calling it the Hegelian Dialectic, Borah explained the Hegelian dialectic of capitalism versus socialism with the large corporations winning no matter what. Today, the left can only see the expoitation of corporate controlled capitalism and the right can only see the exploitation of corporate influenced big government socialism. Our corporate controlled education and media maintains these left right divisions so they can get away with nearly anything."
Who else besides the corporate controlled media maintains the left right divisions?

Where can average people be the most effective in the war against the SD gangsters? At HOME, on their home fronts, where the SD programs claim to have the support of the whole community. Any time spent writing federal representatives about SD is a waste of time. They've already embraced the communitarian ideology. But if Americans go to their local meetings and take over their local councils... they can direct SD in any direction they choose (including straight into the garbage can where it belongs).

The bottom line is these innovative strategies to reinvent American government do not gain their validity only via national laws. Communitarian powers come from the communitarian claims that the "community" supports communitarian changes. If the residents in the community don't know anything about communitarianism, the planners have no clear opposition.

If we don't know what communitarianism is, then we can't identify the people who embrace it. If we don't know what legal theory supports SD, we can't challenge it using our legitimate local law.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Communities and Climate Adaptation in a Post-Katrina World: Are We Prepared?

National sustainable communitarian communities adaptation strategy coming next month!
Communities and Climate Adaptation in a Post-Katrina World: Are We Prepared? By Martin Chavez, Executive Director, ICLEI-Local Governments for Sustainability USA and former Mayor of Albuquerque, New Mexico

August 25th,2010

Of all the lessons and reminders that have followed Hurricane Katrina, the need for better natural disaster preparation is the most obvious. Katrina has even redefined what we mean by preparation: not just organizing better emergency response or building taller levees, but developing long-term holistic strategies to increase resilience to a range of threats and natural disasters – many of which may be exacerbated by climate change.

Katrina is a wake-up call for cities, towns, and counties across the country: You may not be within striking distance of a Category 5 hurricane, but you will be impacted by climate change, and you must begin to prepare. Climate adaptation must address the changes that are already being documented by scientists around the country and are predicted to worsen in coming decades: more heat waves in the Midwest, drought in the Southeast, wildfires and water shortages in the Southwest, and rising sea levels on the East Coast, to name a few. (For further details by region, see the 2009 Global Climate Change Impacts in the United States report.)

Climate scientists tell us that in a warming world, disasters will happen both quickly and in slow motion. For example, Miami, just like New Orleans, faces the threat of more powerful hurricanes generated by warmer oceans. But the entire South Florida region must also deal with slowly rising sea levels, which threaten to swallow coastal property, accelerate beach erosion, and contaminate underground aquifers – which supply drinking water to millions – with saltwater. These threats cannot be ignored: Proactive planning is critical, not to mention incredibly cost-effective (another obvious Katrina take-home); today’s choices will shape tomorrow’s vulnerabilities.

Defining Climate Adaptation

Most local governments that are addressing climate change have focused on climate mitigation, or reducing greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs). But even if all emissions could be halted tomorrow, we’d still face rising temperatures in the coming decades due to the GHGs we’ve already emitted. In other words, climate adaptation efforts must become as important as mitigation at all levels of government, but especially local governments, which are on the front lines of responding to any disaster or threat.

Climate adaptation is centered on initiatives that reduce a community’s vulnerability to actual or expected climate change impacts. The initiatives chosen depend on local and regional circumstances. Some communities may focus on building sea walls to protect coastal assets; others may prepare their infrastructure for more severe floods or their community members for droughts and heat waves.

How Can Communities Prepare?

Strong climate adaptation efforts are already taking shape in a handful of leading cities and counties, such as Miami Dade County, Fla., Chicago, Ill., New York, NY, Keene, NH, Homer, Alaska, and others. My organization, ICLEI-Local Governments for Sustainability USA – the leading membership organization of cities and counties committed to climate protection and sustainability – is working to share their lessons learned and to develop a national program called Climate Resilient Communities (CRC) that establishes the best practices for local climate adaptation. The CRC Program will launch in fall 2010, but some of the basic principles of the program are already in place.

Proactive planning can be undertaken with a five-step process:
• Conduct a climate resiliency study
• Set preparedness goals
• Develop a preparedness plan
• Implement a preparedness plan
• Measure progress, evaluate, and repeat the cycle

Most local governments are still navigating the first milestone in this process, working to identify their risks and vulnerabilities. But others, such as Chicago, have already integrated adaptation strategies into their climate action plans. Planners have discovered that mitigation and adaptation are not mutually exclusive: Some of the same measures to lower greenhouse gas emissions also enhance community resiliency. For example, increasing local renewable energy from various sources – solar, wind, geothermal, biogas – reduces the vulnerability from widespread power grid outages. Planting more trees on city streets helps cool buildings, which require less electricity; urban forestry also lessens the urban heat island effect and reduces storm water runoff during major rainstorms.

Leading Adaptation Efforts

Around the country, adaptation progress is happening at the local, regional, state, and federal levels. For example, Miami Dade County is integrating adaptation measures into its forthcoming community sustainability plan. In the San Diego Bay region, coastal cities and the Port of San Diego are developing a sea level rise adaptation strategy. The entire state of California released a draft adaptation strategy in 2009, and in October 2010, the White House Council on Environmental Quality is expected to release an update on progress to create a national adaptation strategy.

These efforts are encouraging, but far more work remains, and countless communities have not even considered the climate impacts they face. As we look back on the tragedy of Katrina and its aftermath, we must use it as an opportunity and a motivator to begin serious dialogues on climate adaptation.

To learn more about the innovations of sustainable cities and counties, read ICLEI USA’s Planet Earth magazine.

About ICLEI-Local Governments for Sustainability USA
With over 600 members nationwide, ICLEI-Local Governments for Sustainability USA is the leading local government association addressing climate protection, clean energy and sustainability. As a non-profit membership organization, ICLEI USA provides the expertise, technical support, training and innovative tools to help local governments achieve their sustainability goals. More information at

The Future of Local Agenda 21 in the New Millennium

This came up in a search I did last night before going on Rense's radio show. It's been years since I had the time to update ACL research pages and a lot has happened since most of the ACL research was posted online in 2003-4.

Want to do a little more local research too, find out exactly where Alaska stands in the United Nations Sustainable Development Programme. Here's a report on Juneau's ICLEI (Local Governments for Sustainability). Alaska is considered "ground zero" for climate impacts from global warming. Homer, Alaska is the local pilot test.,

"A number of Alaskan communities - including Homer, Anchorage, Juneau, Fairbanks and Kodiak - have joined the International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives (ICLEI) Cities for Climate Protection. See and ICLEI's Cities for Climate Protection empowers local governments to take action on climate change by offering a framework for reducing greenhouse gas emissions and improving livability within municipalities."

But, like Jeff said last night, this stuff is just too BORING. It's a lot more fun to join the collective movement and be "cool" than to stand up for individual liberty. It's a lot easier to believe in Obama than to look at the facts. Nobody needs to read anything anymore, especially not drug and porn book publishers (right David?). As most wimpy Americans know, it's just a lot safer to go along with the sustainable development programme.
The Future of Local Agenda 21 in the New Millennium
by J. Gary Lawrence

THE MILLENNIUM PAPERS are a series of discussion booklets which will be brought out by UNED-UK between now and Earth Summit III in 2002

The second of the Millennium Papers
is jointly brought out with LGMB and
takes a strategic view of the lessons from
Local Agenda 21 and the way forward
The Millennium Papers Co-ordinating Editor is Felix Dodds

The Local Government Management Board’s purpose is to provide services and support
to all local authorities in England and Wales. We have a particular focus on management,personnel and governance issues. And if we don’t know the answers, we will try and find someone who does.

Our expertise ranges from conducting national pay negotiations to developing good
practice on the environment, from running exams and qualifications to developing top
managers. Our aims include helping staff develop to the best of their abilities in order for local authorities to gain maximum benefits from their skills and expertise.
The LGMB is governed by a Board of elected members nominated by the Local
Government Association (LGA) and the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities
(COSLA). It is mainly funded through the Revenue Support Grant, subscriptions,
contracts for exams and negotiations, and projects for individual councils or associations.

At present there are separate financial arrangements covering the provision of service, including publications, to Scottish authorities.
Contact : Graham Pinfield
Layden House
76-86 Turnmill Street
London EC1M 5QU
Tel: 0171 296 6600
Fax: 0171 296 6666
UNED-UK Publications
Issue 1: Millennium Papers ‘Towards Earth Summit III – 2002’ by Derek Osborn £3.50
Earth Summit II – Outcomes and Analysis by Derek Osborn and Tom Bigg,
Foreword by Rt Hon Tony Blair MP (Earthscan/UNED-UK) £17.55
The Way Forward Beyond Agenda 21 Edited by Felix Dodds (Earthscan/UNED-UK) £17.55
Gender and Humanity into the 21st Century (Conference Report) Edited by Amy Cruse £10.00
The Future of Local Agenda 21
in the New Millennium
Presented by J. Gary Lawrence at a UNED-UK/LGMB Seminar
London, England on 29 June, 1998

Gary Lawrence is one of the key thinkers on sustainable development, an advisor to the US President’s Council on Sustainable Development and to US AID. He was on the US Government delegation to the 1996 Habitat II Conference and has also been Director of the Centre for Sustainable Communities at the University of Washington and Chief Planner in the City of Seattle.

I t is a pleasure to be back in the U.K. I am gratified to see so many here who
are interested in ensuring a good future for Local Agenda 21. Before we
begin I would like to thank UNEP-UK and the LGMB for
challenging me to think about this important topic and for
providing this forum for discussion. I would also like to
thank British Airways for their generosity in making my trip
here possible.
I have been asked to give you some thoughts on the future
of Local Agenda 21 as we move into the next millennium.
In my work I have to think about the future quite a bit.
In doing some reading on the subject I came across Scott
Adams’ description of the future as found in The Dilbert
“The children are our future. And that is why, ultimately,
we’re screwed unless we do something about it. If you haven’t
noticed, the children who are our future are good looking but they
aren’t all that bright. As dense as they might be, they will
eventually notice that adults have spent all the money, spread
disease, and turned the planet into a smoky, filthy ball of death.
We’re raising an entire generation of dumb, pissed-off kids who
know where the handguns are kept. This is not a good recipe for a
happy future. The alternative is for adults to stop running up
debts, polluting, and having reckless sex. For this to happen,
several billion Individuals (ibid.) would have to become less
stupid, selfish, and horny. This is not likely.” (1)
While a bit ‘over the top’, Mr. Adams’ description of the
present and a possible future seem to be close to the target.
In spite of all of the information available to support the
conclusion that it isn’t very smart to exhaust our natural and
monetary capital, to continue polluting and to continue
“We’re raising an entire
generation of dumb,
pissed-off kids who
know where the
handguns are kept.
This is not a good
recipe for a happy
future. The alternative
is for adults to stop
running up debts,
polluting, and having
reckless sex. For this
to happen, several
billion Individuals
(ibid.) would have to
become less stupid,
selfish, and horny.
This is not likely.”
the practice of unsafe sex, we continue to do all three. Our systematic failure
to protect and educate children may lead to a lack of hope and civility in the
communities of the future.
Local Agenda 21 (LA21) has been put forth by the
signatories to the Declaration of Rio and Chapter 28 of the
Agenda 21 Action Programme as a context for actions that
improve the present, avoid the futures we don’t want and
move toward the futures that we would prefer. LA21 also
suggests tools for use by local authorities to address these
important economic, environmental and social questions
about our present and future.
Chapter 28 describes its ‘Basis for Action’ as follows:
Because so many of the problems and solutions being addressed by
Agenda 21 have their roots in local activities, the participation
and cooperation of local authorities will be a determining factor in
fulfilling its objectives. Local authorities construct, operate and
maintain economic, social and environmental infrastructure, oversee planning
processes, establish local environmental policies and regulations, and assist in
implementing national and subnational environmental policies. As the level of
governance closest to the people, they play a vital role in educating, mobilizing and
responding to the public to promote sustainable development.” (2)
The principle activity the authors recommend to meet this challenge is:
“Each local authority should enter into a dialogue with its citizens, local organizations
and private enterprises and adopt ‘a local Agenda 21’.” (3) The text goes on to describe
methods, means and rewards associated with Local Agenda 21(LA21).
Some places in the world, like the United Kingdom, have taken seriously the
commitments made in Rio. Local authorities have made great strides toward
completing and using LA21 as an education, planning and priority setting
tool. These efforts have demonstrated great potential for helping many to
improve their lives. In so doing, local authorities have proven the importance
of another principle of Agenda 21 – the devolution of power from the nationstate
to local authorities. I have been told that LA21 has played an important
role in raising the profile of devolution discussion within the Government.
Other places have been much slower to adopt LA21. The reasons for this
lack of progress vary widely. In some cases LA21 is seen as an attack on the
power of the nation-state. In such cases, particularly when local authorities are
dependent upon threatened nation-state resources and/or permission to
enact new initiatives, LA21’s aren’t happening or are happening only as
theater. In other cases, where their is civil war, epidemic and/or severe
resource constraints, focus is necessarily on getting through today rather than
consideration of questions like “What will our lives be like a year or a decade from
now?” In the case of the U.S., our local authorities are engaged in planning
processes consistent with LA21 but there is little interest in using the LA21
The Future of Local Agenda 21 in the New Millennium
“ Each local authority
should enter into
a dialogue with
its citizens, local
organizations and
private enterprises
and adopt ‘a local
Agenda 21’.”
brand. Participating in a UN advocated planning process would very likely
bring out many of the conspiracy-fixated groups and individuals in our society
such as the National Rifle Association, citizen militias and some members of
Congress. This segment of our society who fear ‘one-world government’ and a
UN invasion of the United States through which our individual freedom would
be stripped away would actively work to defeat any elected official who joined
‘the conspiracy’ by undertaking LA21. So, we call our processes something
else, such as comprehensive planning, growth management or smart growth.
In those communities where LA21 has been adopted as the preferred
planning paradigm, some have found it useful and transformational. Others
treat it as just another type of public involvement strategy. In many cases the
process has brought people who have previously been or felt excluded into
the process of community building. In some, the priorities set during the
process have impacted project scope and spending
priorities. In all cases it is far too early to judge the ultimate
success, failure or utility of these efforts. LA21 is still a
young effort and local experimentation is still taking place.
It is not too early, however, to recognize some of the
barriers to the fulfillment of the LA21 visions.
Today I’d like us to examine four themes critical to the
future of Agenda 21. The way we address these themes will,
in large part, determine whether LA21 leads to positive
change or gets added to the list of planning methodologies
that employed planners and consultants, consumed
resources, and made little difference to those whom most
need help. The odds, I’m afraid, seem to favor the latter
outcome. It will be up to those who want LA21 to succeed
to address these barriers.
I want to raise some critical questions for which I have
no easy answers. My role today may be best described as
that of the ‘pea’ in the fable The Princess and the Pea. I will
be that slight irritant that keeps us from becoming too
comfortable with the idea that doing LA21 is the same
thing as succeeding in achieving the vision of LA21.
The problems I see and the questions I raise are not
intended as criticism of Local Agenda 21 or any individual or group working
to make Local Agenda 21 a success. I believe LA21 is a good model, perhaps
the best model we have to work with at the moment. I also think that people
of good intentions are diligent in their efforts to make this model work well
in the best interest of their communities. Francis Bacon captured my intent
when he said:
“Of myself, I say nothing, but on behalf of the business which is at hand I entreat
men to believe that it is not an opinion to be held, but a work to be done; and to be well
The Future of Local Agenda 21 in the New Millennium
This segment of our
society who fear ‘oneworld
and a UN invasion
of the United States
through which our
individual freedom
would be stripped
away would actively
work to defeat any
elected official who
joined ‘the conspiracy’
by undertaking LA21.
assured that I am laboring to lay the foundation, not of any sect or doctrine, but of
human utility and power. it is by no means forgetful of the conditions of mortality and
humanity (for it does not suppose that the work can be altogether completed within one
generation but provides for its being take up by another).” (4)
As I view community-based efforts toward greater sustainability, and think
about different measures of success that could be used, there appear to be
some particularly difficult barriers to the long-term success of Local Agenda
21. Some of the barriers are inherent to any discussion of sustainable
development. For instance, we haven’t worked out the issue of TIME (can we
actually anticipate the needs of infinite future generations?) nor have we
resolved questions of EQUITY (and its partner, Redistribution of Resources).
The book I am working on tries to addresses such basic sustainability issues.
This paper does not. Today I focus on some of the organizational and
communication issues that must be addressed.
The four areas I wish to explore are:
1. How does LA21 differ from traditional rational
planning models?
2. How do we know that the problems/issues/
opportunities we are addressing will be the
problems/issues/opportunities we will actually face?
How do we have confidence in plans that address
probabilities rather than certainties?
3. Have we ignored or under-emphasized the
institutional barriers to successful long-term LA21’s
and, if so, do we have the political skills to win intraand
inter-institutional struggles?
4. As we try to tell if what we are doing through LA21 is
working, what are the right tools for which audiences?
So, let us begin.
What is LA21 and how does it differ from traditional rational planning models?
LA21, like most rational planning models, attends to the process of designing
stand alone and interrelated projects and systems to meet the present and
future needs of anticipated populations. It involves defining problems and
opportunities, optimizing efficiency and effectiveness in the use of available
resources, and measuring progress against goals. For many planners, at first
glance, LA21 seems familiar and comfortable.
The Future of Local Agenda 21 in the New Millennium
As I view communitybased
efforts toward
greater sustainability,
and think about
different measures of
success that could be
used, there appear to
be some particularly
difficult barriers to the
long-term success of
Local Agenda 21.
On closer examination, however, LA21 can look unfamiliar and create
discomfort, as it calls for a significant reorientation of the planners’ role.
It asks for a change of orientation from technocratic to political (not partisan).
This fundamental difference has not been well recognized by the planning
profession, or those who employ planners. Not too surprisingly, NGOs and
individuals have expectations for changed institutional
behaviors consistent with the principles of LA21. However,
even among those progressive local authorities committed
to making LA21 work, the public’s expectation for
different corporate and professional behaviors is seldom
being met.
In its construction LA21 makes clear through its call for
involvement, empowerment and devolution of power that
planning is primarily a political activity that relies upon
science and planning techniques. Most rational planning
models assume the opposite that planning is primarily
technical with political consequences. With this shift in
emphasis, the customary relationship between planners
and the planning profession, the public and politicians
changes significantly. Planning done under LA21 should:
Change community decisions about what can or will be discussed and who has
a right to be at the table. LA21 threatens the role and power of traditionally
empowered groups. Therefore, it Increases political risk for elected
officials and senior civil servants through empowerment of new constituencies
with different and/or heightened expectations. The expectations of these
new groups will often differ from significantly from the expectations of
more established constituencies. Revamping the local balance of power.
Greatly increase professional risk for the planner if he or she appears to be
eroding the political influence of traditional community powers by increasing
the voice of those historically disempowered. As the shift from ‘top down’
the ‘top’ being institutions of government or community elite to ‘bottom up’
planning and decision-making occurs, institutional risk can also increase.
If new constituencies are asked to participate without a good understanding
of the rules, it can:
Even more confuse the planners and communities understanding of the
legal, regulatory and constitutional constraints in which planners work. In
particular, public empowerment can cause misunderstandings about the
difference between the right to be heard, a basic tenant of LA21, and an
obligation of local authorities to heed individual recommendations.
The Future of Local Agenda 21 in the New Millennium
It involves defining
problems and
optimizing efficiency
and effectiveness in
the use of available
resources, and
measuring progre s s
against goals.
For LA21 to be successful, planning professionals will
need different training than most are receiving today. While
the technocratic professional will still play an important
role, for this to work planners also will also the skills found in
sociology, psychology, community organizing and organizational
development. They also will need institutional
homes that encourage the use of these skills. This is no
small challenge, and one that doesn’t seem to be a priority
for the planning profession. This is a problem.
How do we know that the problems, issues and opportunities we are addressing
will be the problems, issues, opportunities we actually will face? When is it possible to
rely upon the information we use and ask others to trust?
It is a fundamental principle of rational planning that we live in a deterministic
world. Based upon the past and present, it is assumed that we can reasonably
predict likely futures and plan for them. However, both historical evidence
and chaos theory demonstrate that the past and present do not form a
reliable basis upon which to plan for the future. William Sherden wrote,
“Current science is proving this deterministic view of the world to be naive. The theories
of chaos and complexity are revealing the future as fundamentally unpredictable.”
If true, serious questions arise about the value of LA21’s that are designed
to mirror traditional planning by trying to be stable rather than dynamic.
Current LA21’s seem to be a more participatory and
inclusive version of traditional rational planning models
that assume that the future can be predicted based upon
the past. Most are not designed to be dynamic documents
that focus upon learning and adaptation.
There are a number of reasons why elements of the
plans today must be static even in chaotic environments. As
currently conceived, capital facilities bridges, transmission
lines and pipes, energy production facilities, etc.have long
lead-times for development and life cycles of 50 to 100
years. Such facilities are not flexible except at costs that far
outweigh the benefits of change. If it were technologically,
economically and politically feasible to meet capital needs
in different ways many small-scale electrical or water quality
projects rather than large-scale plants then the adaptability
of capital plans could be increased. In this scenario LA21
is dependent on technological innovation and changed
patterns of thinking among engineers and regulators. We
are not yet there, but we may get there.
Until we do, the planning profession will necessarily continue with the
notion that we can not plan if we can not reliably predict. The profession
The Future of Local Agenda 21 in the New Millennium
For LA21 to be
successful, planning
professionals will
need different training
than most are
receiving today.
“ Current science
is proving this
deterministic view
of the world to be
naive. The theories
of chaos and
complexity are
revealing the future
as fundamentally
relies on predictive models and data extrapolation to determine the future
for which we ought to be planning. In many cases, the future revealed
through these models is erroneously thought to be the ‘real’ future by those
who created it. Alternative or competing visions are, therefore, determined
to be wrong, misinformed, or subjective. Through reliance on data and
predictive models, institutions and individuals have learned how to protect
themselves from blame if things don’t turn out as planned. After all, the best
available data was used and, as professionals, we were objective in the use of
the data. Sherden has this to say about objectivity:
“Although chaos and complexity theories alone are sufficient to
doom prediction, there are other barriers that obscure our view of
the future, such as ‘situational bias’: the phenomenon by which
our thing is so obscured by present conditions and trends that we
cannot begin to see the future.”
“I.F. Clarke, a historian of future thinking, characterized
situational bias well, as follows: ‘Traditional beliefs, professional
attitudes, customary roles, inherited symbols, sectional and
national interests – these make it extraordinarily difficult for all
but the most original of minds to break away from patterns of
thought and go voyaging on the unknown seas of the future.
In consequence it is a rare forecast that makes any allowance for
the essential waywardness of human affairs and does not insist on
a strict continuity between self-evident present and the evidential
future.’” (5)
To Clarke’s list I would add pressure for political
correctness and the desire to avoid topics that are divisive
and painful such racism and classism. Except in times of
emergency, maintenance of the status quo seems safer than
change for organizational beings. In many instances,
continuing to do something that is familiar and accepted,
even if it doesn’t actually work, is deemed safer than trying
something new that might work. In our rational minds we
know that we can not know the future. However, in our
emotional minds we desire the security of knowing what is
going to happen.
LA21 is an opportunity to start breaking the habit of
doing plans for some forecast future and following those
plans even if the world has changed the week after the plan
is adopted. It is an opportunity to redefine planning as a
learning and adaptive system that reacts to new information in ways consistent
with community values and objectives. LA21, if it is to meet its promise,
can not be just something we do occasionally. It needs to become the way in
which we learn how to live a more sustainable way.
The Future of Local Agenda 21 in the New Millennium
In our rational
minds we know that
we can not know the
future. However, in
our emotional minds
we desire the security
of knowing what
is going to happen.
LA21 is an
opportunity to
start breaking the
habit of doing plans
for some forecast
future and following
those plans even
if the world has
changed the week
after the plan is
Have we ignored and/or under-emphasized the institutional barriers to
successful long-term LA21’s and, if so, do we have the political skills to win
intra- and inter-institutional struggles?
LA21 calls for problem definitions that mirror the complexities of nature and
human organizations. It also calls for more collaborative, cross-sector analysis
and recommendations for action. Emphasis on an increased understanding of
complexity and increased collaborative behaviours would represent a significant
change in the behaviour of most public institutions. Organizational theory and
practice have shown us that changing the process and expectations without
changing the reward system means, in effect, that you have actually changed
nothing. This raises some very difficult questions:
What does LA21 mean for the relationships between environmental departments
and planning functions and the other, more powerful professions that
dominate the local government institutional environment? It could mean:
Perceived or real invasion of the tradition ‘turf’ of other professions.
Challenges to traditional institutional power relationships within and between
Perceived attacks on the basis of individual expertise and the right to have
the last word.
What does it mean for organizational structure? It
could mean: Conflict with organizations’ existing reward
system as new, more cooperative behaviours are encouraged,
Breaking down sector and profession based structure and
What does it mean for the way in which our colleges
and universities train the professionals of the future? It
must mean: Changes in curricula used in training of urban
planning, operations and management to emphasize team
approaches and outreach to other professions, and I think
that one can generally predict the degree to which LA21
will matter over time by how closely its locus of activity is
attached to the place where resource allocation decisions
are made. If the activity is placed in the environmental
division of the planning office (traditionally a place with
little organizational power) then, I think, the chances for
success are small. If it part of the City Manager’s or Mayor’s Office, and
therefore integrated into regular decision-making processes, then the
chances of success are far greater.
The Future of Local Agenda 21 in the New Millennium
I think that one can
generally predict the
degree to which LA21
will matter over time
by how closely its
locus of activity is
attached to the place
where resource
allocation decisions
are made.
LA21 processes, essentially, try to decide which issues
matter most and how we can, collectively, address them
most effectively and efficiently. Environmental planners do
not make those decisions. They are made by budget and
finance people, the Manager and the politicians. If there is
disconnection between LA21 and these groups then the
effort is in trouble. That is unless, of course, you are willing
to organize political movements through which the public
forces the institution to change its priorities.
LA21 asks us to increase the number of things we consider
before we make a choice. What the public seems to
want from their elected leadership these days are simplistic
assessments and answers, not complexity. Unless there is an
explicit and implicit recognition that LA21 begs questions of
organizational culture and, in many cases, organizational
arrangement, then it is unlikely that the effort will succeed.
Running this process through today’s organizational
structures will probably kill it or, perhaps even worse,
change it so that it is non-threatening to the organization.
For example, when, in 1994, the city of Seattle completed its comprehensive
plan – Toward a Sustainable Seattle – it was very clear to Mayor Rice that
plan requirements for consistency between the operating budget, capital
budget and the goals of the comprehensive plan would not happen
automatically. Seattle had for years been operating as though the Mayor and
Council were overseeing a holding company within which were many
independent businesses with both complementary and competing objectives.
To ensure that the plan objectives would be carried out in a more coordinated
fashion he merged the planning function with the group responsible for
management and budget issues. This made it possible for the plan to be both
visionary and strategic in its application.
How do we know when we are effective?
I have, with Sustainable Seattle and other organizations,
been asking the question “Can you point to any particular
decision or a adoption of funded priorities that are a direct
result of community based indicators?” I have also been
asking whether there is any evidence that institutions are
tangibly more sustainable, open, self-critical and self-healing
as a result of the indicators they have adopted to guide
their internal affairs.
I haven’t done an exhaustive review of indicator efforts,
so there will undoubtedly be exceptions to what I have
The Future of Local Agenda 21 in the New Millennium
LA21 processes,
essentially, try to
decide which issues
matter most and
how we can,
collectively, addre s s
them most effectively
and efficiently.
planners do not
make those
“Can you point to
any particular
decision or a
adoption of funded
priorities that are
a direct result of
community based
found. And, there certainly are examples of incremental
and tangential effects and influences. However, no one seems
to be able to point to successful examples of fundamental
change except places like Alborg, which seems to be an
anomaly and Chattanooga where they really had no choice
but change, indicators or not. In Seattle, the indicators,
though well done, have barely affected the margins of public
consciousness. There is hope for greater impact, however,
now that King County government is trying to integrate
them into their decision-making.
I describe indicators as the tool which gives as regular
people the ability to know, based upon information that
tries to be objective, whether the things that matter most to
them are getting better or worse. Indicators are an essential
part of LA21’s that appears to me to be very fragile at this
time for the following reasons:
Community-based indicator efforts are initiated by visionaries or the truly
committed who don’t have conscious succession plans in place. Once the
strong personalities that initiate indicator activity move on to other things
the effort wanes.
Community-based indicator efforts, which I believe to have the best opportunity
to result in positive change, are largely fuelled by volunteer efforts
that will eventually run out of energy.
Institutional indicator efforts are most often designed to be non-threatening
to the established order and, therefore, will rarely be transformational
within their own Institution.
Institutional indicator efforts seem to take the form of
past rational budgeting paradigms (measurement of
effectiveness of expenditure against performance
targets) and become obscure and bureaucratic (see
bullet above).
There is little work being done to link the matters that
get reported upon in the media to the communities’
and/or institutions’ indicators.
The Future of Local Agenda 21 in the New Millennium
I describe indicators as
the tool which gives
as regular people the
ability to know, based
upon information that
tries to be objective,
whether the things
that matter most to
them are getting better
or worse.
I believe that
every community
needs both
and institutional
indicators. It should
not be an either/or
So, if these are actually potential pitfalls, how do we address them?
First and most obvious, community-based indicator efforts need financial
support. Volunteerism will always be an important part of the effort, but
without a financial base the continuity of the effort is in real danger. It is in
any local authority’s interest to have good information on what their
constituents care about and how they describe the things that matter.
Community-based indicators should be seen as a fundamental part of the
budgeting and strategic planning processes, even if what they might indicate
doesn’t reflect well on the local authority.
I believe that every community needs both community-based and
institutional indicators. It should not be an either/or situation. The various
audiences for this information will be radically different and one size does not
fit all. As Ludwig Wittgenstein said, “Ideas are relata, i.e., entities that stand in
relation to the persons who have them.” We need different groups with ideas
(indicators) that stand in easy relationship to themselves.
In conclusion:
Wittgenstein concluded his Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus
with this corollary: “My propositions serve as elucidations in the
following way: anyone who understands me eventually recognizes
them as non-sensical when he has used them – as steps – to climb
up beyond them. He must, so to speak, throw away the ladder after
he has climbed up it.”
I think it is time for all of us to take a look at LA21, and the
sustainable development movement as a whole, and ‘throw
away the ladder’. LA21 is important as an ideal – an expression
of the need for more functional democracies, better informed
citizens, equal rights, giving people the opportunity to take
responsibility for improving their lives, and sharing the
power of the state with citizens of the state. To further these
ideals, LA21 also must be an instrument of organizational change within both
governmental and non-governmental organizations. Creating the position of
LA21 Officer, engaging the community, holding the meetings and creating
the plans are all very difficult and exhausting things to do. Sadly, completion
of these tasks is not a signal to rest. It is, as Churchill said, “the end of the
beginning.” The next step is organizational transformation so that LA21 is not
a process but a state of being.
The Future of Local Agenda 21 in the New Millennium
I think it is time
for all of us to take
a look at LA21,
and the sustainable
movement as a
whole, and ‘thro w
away the ladder’.
(1) The Dilbert Future, by Scott Adams; HarperCollins Publishers; p13; copyright 1997
by United Features Syndicate, Inc.; ISBN 0-88730-866-X. Please note that Mr.
Adams is an U.S. author. In the U.K. reference would probably be to Cricket
bats. Mr. Adams terminologies for those among us that he feels are not all that
(2) Earth Summit – Agenda 21, The United Nations Programme of Action from Rio,
pp233 & 234. ISBN 92-1-100509-4; not copyright protected.
(3) Ibid.
(4) Philosophical Classics, by Walter Kaufman, from Bacon’s The Great Instauration,
Prentice Hall, p3; copyright 1961; Library of Congress number 68-15350.
(5) The Fortune Sellers, by William A. Sherden, p7. Willey Publishing, copyright 1998.
The Future of Local Agenda 21 in the New Millennium
“ Five years ago, the Rio Summit launched
Agenda 21. Since then 70% of our local authorities
have been inspired to ‘think global, act local’
through Local Agenda 21. But we must do more.
I want all local authorities in the UK to adopt
Local Agenda 21 strategies by the year 2000.”
RT Hon Tony Blair MP
UK Prime Minister’s speech to the 1997 Earth Summit II
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