Is it time to consider growth beyond GDP or life beyond cities?

Published on by Green Initiatives

"When people say they want solutions, they're actually seeking only a specific kind of solution, one that leaves everything they have now intact but guarantees them more of something: more security, more healthcare, more education, more money, etc., but at no cost or inconvenience to themselves. In the real world, solutions change core values and processes. If they don't, they are not real solutions."

Have you ever asked yourself if there is a form of growth beyond GDP and real estate value which solves most of the problems we face as individuals and as a species? As we witness the greatest rural-urban migration in history have we considered whether urbanization is indeed the solution to all woes? What about the fact that most of us are in such a hurry to accomplish tasks that we do not even truly experience the purpose of what we are looking to accomplish?

Join Green Initiatives on a 3-week book tour in Shanghai and Beijing in June 2018 with Andy Couturier, author of The Abundance of Less – Lessons in Simple Living from Rural Japan, to discuss the rich life and subtle teachings of 10 Japanese individuals who seem to have the answer to many questions.

Andy inspires with a message of abundance in well-being through a deliberate choice of less despite the wide availability of material affluence.

Most of us understand that we are in a crisis and that we all need to think of lots of solutions and start trying them all now. From rooftop gardens to generating electricity with our exercise bikes to better agricultural practices to may be carbon neutral hydroponics, etc.

But we should also take a pause and focus on some of the key principles that Andy’s book talks about. These include:

  • humility (Oizumi)
  • doing things for yourself  & thinking for yourself (Oizumi)
  • having enough downtime & and allowing idleness (Yamashita, Murata, Atsuko)
  • don’t be greedy with the soil (Yamashita)
  • very little production, very little consumption (esp Nakamura)
  • desire less (Murata)
  • think about the results of your actions

Join one of our events and follow the campaign:

We will cover with Andy key subjects like:

-  Urban vs rural living: Where is the future of sustainability?

-  Work & vocation: Is a mix of self-subsistence farming and craftsmanship the future of work?

-  Post-materialism growth: Defining the self through what you make instead of what you have?

-  Mind, wellbeing & sustainability: What is the impact of our mindset on the planet and on our own wellbeing?

-  Downtime and technological addiction: How should we self-regulate the use of technology to lead richer lives?

-  Convenience and consumption: What is the value of manual work and doing things instead of consuming them?

-  Family life & sustainability: How can families engage in a sustainable lifestyle being most exposed to the pressures of society?

-  Self-reliance farming & land distribution: What do they mean when they say “don’t be greedy with the soil”? What can we learn from their deep attachment with the land they farm?

Education and thinking independently: why are we forced into thought patterns which block us often from personal growth?

"So many of us don’t fit in the world we are given. Yet “being true to yourself ” is not easy either. If we go against the mainstream currents of society, too often we end up solidifying the ego. This is even more true for those who make art. So . . . how can we navigate a way through this thicket that feels natural to who we really are?"   (Andy Couturier)

Who Is Andy Couturier?

Andy Couturier is an essayist, poet and writing teacher. He recently received the prestigious 2017 NAUTILUS literature award in the category ecology and sustainable living.

He is the founder and creative director for the opening, a center for creative writing. His essays and articles on ecology, sustainable living, and the problems inherent with nuclear power have appeared in The Japan Times, TheNorth American Review, Adbusters, Kyoto Journal, The Oakland Tribune, and Creative NonFiction.

Dragon Boat Long Weekend Trip with Andy Couturier in Anhui

Still need to make plans for the long weekend? Want to go somewhere not near, yet not too far? Don't want to waste time planning the trip? Want your trip to be relaxing and meaningful?

Join us on an extended weekend in the beautiful countryside of Anhui, where we will stay in a traditional village with houses which recently have been renovated by the Wildhomestays team.

Unwind from Shanghai city life and enjoy a walk in the or take a dip in the crystal-clearwater of the ponds along the creek behind the village. First, charge your batteries and then participate in our evening events with Andy to learn from his experience with Japanese counterculture and how it relates to you and to China.

** 3-day trip @1550rmb/person, includes round trip bus fare, 3 nights accommodation, simple meals, and attendance to Andy's talks. **