Here’s the problem.
As our global systems are stressed, there are those who see opportunity to further entrench inequality, nationalism and division. In 2007, failures in the financial system led not to needed structural reforms but to even more power to those who caused the crisis.
Those same forces see even greater opportunity in 2020.
It’s up to those of us who want a greener, fairer, more democratic future to put forth an alternative. If we don’t imagine it, it can never be.
The New Possible offers twenty-eight unique visions of what can be, if instead of choosing to go back to normal, we choose to go forward to something far better.
Assembled from global leaders on six continents, these essays are not simply speculation. They are an inspiration and a roadmap for action.
With essays by:
Kim Stanley Robinson
Kim Stanley Robinson (Foreword) is an American novelist, widely recognized as one of the foremost living writers of science fiction. Robinson began publishing novels in 1984, and has been a proud defender and advocate of science fiction as a genre; which he regards as one of the most powerful of all literary forms.
Michael Pollan (Chapter 7) has been writing books and articles for over thirty years, focusing on the places where nature and culture intersect: on our plates, in our farms and gardens, and in our minds. In additional to being a five-time New York Times bestselling author, he is a journalist, activist, and the Lewis K. Chan Arts Lecturer and Professor of Practice of Non-Fiction at Harvard University and Professor of Journalism at the UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism.
Executive Director and co-founder of Sunrise
Varshini Prakash (Chapter 2) is the Executive Director and co-founder of Sunrise, a movement of young people working to stop climate change, take back our democracy from Big Oil, and elect leaders who will fight for our generation's health and wellbeing. Varshini's work has been featured in the New York Times, the New Yorker, TeenVogue, BBC, The Washington Post and more. She was recently named to the Grist Top 50 Fixers and the Time 100 Next list.
Dr. Vandana Shiva (Chapter 16) is trained as a Physicist and in 2010 was identified by Forbes magazine as one of the top Seven most Powerful Women on the Globe. She is the founder of Bija Vidyapeeth, an international college for sustainable living, and of Navdanya, a national movement to protect the diversity and integrity of living resources, especially native seed, the promotion of organic farming and fair trade. Amongst other distinctions, Dr Shiva was identified by Time Magazine as an environmental “hero” in and Asia Week has called her one of the five most powerful communicators in Asia.
Psychologist and Buddhist monk
Dr Jack Kornfield (Chapter 21) trained as a Buddhist monk in the monasteries of Thailand, India and Burma. He has taught meditation internationally since 1974 and is one of the key teachers to introduce Buddhist mindfulness practice to the West. After graduating from Dartmouth College in Asian Studies in 1967 he joined the Peace Corps and worked on tropical medicine teams in the Mekong River valley. He studied as a monk under the Buddhist masters Ven. Ajahn Chah, and the Ven. Mahasi Sayadaw Returning to the US Jack co-founded the Insight Meditation Society in Barre, Massachusetts, with fellow meditation teachers Sharon Salzberg and Joseph Goldstein and the Spirit Rock Center in Woodacre, California. Jack has taught in centers and universities worldwide, led International Buddhist Teacher meetings, and worked with many of the great teachers of our time. His 16 books have been translated into 20 languages and sold more than 1 million copies. He holds a Ph.D. in clinical psychology and is a father, husband and activist.
Human rights activist, a physician, social anthropologist, a businesswoman
Dr Mamphela Ramphele (Chapter 5) is a South African human rights activist, a physician, social anthropologist, a businesswoman and transformation leader known for her activism in the struggle for liberation against racism and sexism in South Africa. She continues to lead transformative initiatives as a Co-Founder of ReimagineSA and Co-President of the Club of Rome.
Programmer and designer of software
Justin Rosenstein (Chapter 4) is a programmer and designer of software, organizations, cultures, and systems in service of love. He is also Co-founder of Asana, whose mission is to help humanity thrive by enabling all teams to work together effortlessly. Previously he was the, co-inventor of Google Drive, Gchat, Facebook Pages, and the Facebook Like Button. Justin is dedicated to enabling all of humanity to collaborate toward a thriving sustainable joyful world for everyone. He is the founder of One Project; a social venture accelerating collaboration toward global thriving. More information can be found at oneproject.org
Helena Norberg-Hodge (Chapter 24) Helena Norberg-Hodge (Chapter 24) is a pioneer of the new economy movement, and has been promoting an economics of personal, social and ecological well-being for more than 30 years. She is a recipient of the Alternative Nobel prize, the Arthur Morgan Award and the Goi Peace Prize. Author of the inspirational classic Ancient Futures, she is also producer of the award-winning documentary The Economics of Happiness. Helena is the founder and director of Local Futures and The International Alliance for Localisation.
Dr David C. Korten (Chapter 27) holds MBA and PhD degrees from the Stanford Business School. He is a former member of the faculties of the Harvard Graduate School of Business and the Harvard Graduate School of Public Health. For 21 years, he lived and worked as an economic development professional in Ethiopia, Central America, the Philippines, and Indonesia and is founder and president of the Living Economics Forum. His books include Change the Story, Change the Future: A Living Economy for a Living Earth, and the international best sellers When Corporations Rule the World and The Great Turning: From Empire to Earth Community.
Tristan Harris (Chapter 9), called the “closest thing Silicon Valley has to a conscience” by the Atlantic magazine, spent three years as a Google Design Ethicist working on how to fix the attention economy and technology’s asymmetric influence over the thoughts and actions of billions of people. He is now cofounder & president of the Center for Humane Technology, a non-profit whose mission is to re-align the technology with humanity.
Dr Eileen Crist (Chapter 18) Eileen Crist taught in the Department of Science, Technology, and Society at Virginia Tech for 22 years, retiring in 2020. Her work focuses on the extinction crisis and loss of wild places, pathways to halt these trends, and inquiries surrounding humanity’s relationship with the planet. She is coeditor of a number of books, including Gaia in Turmoil: Climate Change, Biodepletion, and Earth Ethics in an Age of Crisis and Keeping the Wild: Against the Domestication of Earth. She has written numerous academic papers as well popular writings, and is Associate Editor of the ecocentric online journal The Ecological Citizen. Her most recent book, Abundant Earth: Toward an Ecological Civilization, was published by University of Chicago Press in 2019.
Dr Francis Mading Deng (Chapter 22) is currently Deputy Rapporteur of South Sudan National Dialogue and Roving Ambassador. He formerly held the positions of Sudan’s Ambassador to the Nordic countries, Canada and the United States; Sudan’s Minister of State for Foreign Affairs; the first Permanent Representative of South Sudan to the United Nations; Human Rights Officer in the U.N. Secretariat; Special Representative of the UN Secretary General on Internally Displaced Persons; and Special Advisor of the Secretary General for the Prevention of Genocide. He holds an Ll.B (honors) from Khartoum University, and Ll.M and J.S.D. from Yale University. He has authored or edited over forty scholarly books on a wide variety of subjects and two novels on the crisis of identity in the Sudan. Dr. Deng has held senior positions in leading American Universities and think tanks.
Dr. Riane Eisler (Chapter 8) is a social systems scientist, cultural historian, and attorney whose research, writing, and speaking has transformed the lives of people worldwide. Dr. Eisler is president of the Center for Partnership Studies dedicated to research and education, and Editor-in-Chief of the Interdisciplinary Journal of Partnership Studies. She has addressed the United Nations and keynotes conferences worldwide. Her books include The Chalice and the Blade (now in 56 US printings and 27 foreign editions), The Real Wealth of Nations, and most recently Nurturing Our Humanity: How Domination and Partnership Shape Our Brains, Lives, and Future (co-authored by anthropologist Douglas Fry, Oxford University Press, 2109).
Dr Arturo Escobar (Chapter 26) is an activist-researcher from Cali, Colombia. He was professor of anthropology and political ecology at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, until 2018, and is currently affiliated with PhD programs in Design and Creation and in Environmental Sciences in Colombia. Over the past twenty-five years, he has worked closely with several Afro-Colombian, environmental and feminist organizations on ecological and transition issues. His most well-known book is Encountering Development: The Making and Unmaking of the Third World (1995, 2nd Ed. 2011). His most recent books are: Designs for the Pluriverse: Radical Interdependence, Autonomy, and the Making of Worlds (2018), and Pluriversal Politics: The Real and the Possible (2020).
Dr Rebecca Kiddle (Chapter 25) is a Senior Lecturer in Urbanism at Te Herenga Waka - Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand. Her research focuses on the nexus between people and physical space, and the use of urban design as a tool to support the making of cities that work for both people and the environment. She is interested in Māori identity as it relates to towns and cities, and the role of young people in decision-making processes to do with the built and natural environment.
Dr. Mike Joy (Chapter 17) is freshwater ecologist, science communicator and Senior Research Fellow at the Institute for Governance and Policy Studies at Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand. After seeing first-hand the decline in freshwater health in New Zealand, he became an outspoken advocate for environmental protection. Mike has received a number of awards for this work, including the inaugural New Zealand Universities Critic and Conscience award (biennial, 2016). He was also a semi-finalist for the 2018 Kiwibank New Zealander of the year and the 2013 Royal Society of New Zealand’s triennial Charles Fleming Award recipient for Environmental Achievement. Dr Joy works tirelessly to address the multiple environmental issues facing New Zealand and is passionate about sustainable food production.
Natalie Foster (Chapter 14) is the co-chair and co-founder of the Economic Security Project, a network dedicated to a guaranteed income that would provide an income floor for families in America and anti-monopoly action to rein in the unprecedented concentration of corporate power. She's a senior fellow at the Aspen Institute Future of Work Initiative and Institute for the Future, and former director at Obama's Organizing for America, MoveOn.org and Sierra Club.
Jess Rimington (Chapter 13) is a next economy strategist, practitioner, and scholar focused on ethics and methodologies of emerging post-capitalisms. Her research and practice is grounded in historical analysis, accessible truth-telling, present-day prototyping, and imagination. She is the co-author of the forthcoming Beloved Economies: Transforming How We Work, and considers herself a microeconomic activist. Jess is a third generation, female small business owner and lives with her partner in Atlanta.
Jeremy Lent (Chapter 1) is an author whose writings investigate the patterns of thought that have led our civilization to its current crisis of sustainability. His recent book, The Patterning Instinct: A Cultural History of Humanity’s Search for Meaning, explores the way humans have made meaning from the cosmos from hunter-gatherer times to the present day. He is founder of the nonprofit Liology Institute, dedicated to fostering an integrated worldview that could enable humanity to thrive sustainably on the earth. His upcoming book is The Web of Meaning: Integrating Science and Traditional Wisdom to Find Our Place in the Universe.
Atossa Soltani (Chapter 3) has been a global campaigner for tropical rainforests and indigenous rights, now going on three decades. She is founder and board president of Amazon Watch and served as the organization's first Executive Director for 18 years. Currently Atossa is the director of global strategy for Amazon Sacred Headwaters Initiative, working to protect 74 million acres in the most biologically diverse ecosystem on Earth. She is the Hillary Institute 2013 Global Laureate for Climate Leadership and is a producer of The Flow, a feature-length documentary currently in production about learning from nature's genius.
Mark Anielski (Chapter 12) is a Canadian well-being economist, author and an international expert in measuring the happiness and well-being of communities and businesses. He is the author of the award-winning book The Economics of Happiness: Building Genuine Wealth (New Society Publishers, 2007) and An Economy of Well-being: Practical Tools for Building Genuine Wealth and Happiness (2018). He is a former Adjunct Professor in both the School of Business, University of Alberta and the Bainbridge. Alberta Venture magazine named him one of the 50 most influential people in Alberta (Canada) in 2008.
Ellen Brown (Chapter 11) is an attorney, chair of the Public Banking Institute, and author of thirteen books including Web of Debt, The Public Bank Solution, and Banking on the People: Democratizing Money in the Digital Age. She also co-hosts a radio program on PRN.FM called “It’s Our Money.”
John Restakis (Chapter 15) has a Master degree in Philosophy of Religion and has been active in the co-operative movement for over twenty-five years. He is the former Executive Director of the Community Evolution Foundation and the British Columbia Co-operative Association. John is Co-founder of Synergia Co-operative Institute, does consulting work on international co-op and community economic development projects, researches and teaches on co-operative economies and the social economy, and lectures widely on the subject of globalization, regional development, and co-operative systems change. He is the author of Humanizing the Economy – Co-operatives in the Age of Capital.
Dr Zak Stein (Chapter 19) is a scholar at the Ronin Institute, where he researches the relations between education, human development, and the evolution of civilizations. He also serves as Co-President and Academic Director of the activist think-tank at the Center for Integral Wisdom, where he writes and teaches at the edges of integral meta-theory. He has published two books, including Education in a Time Between Worlds, along with dozens of articles. Zak is a long time meditator, musician and caregiver, which has shaped him more than any professional engagements.
Oren Slozberg (Chapter 20) is the executive director of Commonweal in Bolinas, an organization dedicated to resilience, healing and justice with over 25 programs in Health & Healing, Environment & Justice and Education and Arts. He is also the program director of the Center for Creative Community at Commonweal which explores the intersection of dialogue, cognition, creativity, and community through summer camps, retreats, and community gatherings. Slozberg has been a senior program developer in the fields of education, youth development, and the arts for more than 30 years. Prior to Commonweal, Slozberg was a senior trainer with Visual Thinking Strategies in public schools and fine art museums in the USA.
Anisa Nanavati (Chapter 6) is a high school student that was born and raised in Tampa, Florida. She is currently attends Academy at the Lakes in rural Land O’Lakes and is the North American Coordinator for Earth Uprising. Anisa’s activism includes plans to educate members of her community about the threats of the climate crisis and promote understanding among all, regardless of party alignment.
Fr. Joshtrom Kureethadam
Fr. Joshtrom Isaac Kureethadam (Chapter 23) Fr Joshtrom Isaac Kureethadam is Coordinator of the Sector on “Ecology and Creation” at the Vatican Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development. He is also Chair of Philosophy of Science and Director of the Institute of Social and Political Sciences at the Salesian Pontifical University in Rome. He obtained a doctorate in philosophy at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome and was a Research Scholar to Campion Hall, University of Oxford, U.K. where he is currently an Academic Visitor. His publications include Creation in Crisis: Science, Ethics, Theology (Orbis Books, 2014), The Philosophical Roots of the Ecological Crisis: Descartes and the Modern Worldview (Cambridge Scholars, 2017) and The Ten Green Commandments of Laudato Si’(Liturgical Press, 2019).
David Bollier (Chapter 10) is coauthor, with Silke Helfrich, of Free, Fair and Alive: The Insurgent Power of the Commons (New Society Publishers). He is Director of the Reinventing the Commons Program at the Schumacher Center for a New Economics, and Cofounder of the Commons Strategies Group. He blogs at Bollier.org and lives in Amherst, Massachusetts.
Philip Clayton, Ingraham Professor at CST at Willamette University, holds a PhD from Yale University and has published several dozen books and some 200 research articles, as well as holding guest professorships at Harvard University, Cambridge University, and the University of Munich. Philip works at the intersection of science, religion, and ethics, and researches societal changes that are necessary for establishing sustainable forms of civilization on this planet. Philip is the president of the Institute for Ecological Civilization (EcoCiv.org).
Kelli M Archie
Kelli M Archie is Senior Science Advisor at the Institute for Ecological Civilization and Research Fellow in the Climate Change Research Institute at Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand. She has a Ph.D. in Environmental Studies from the University of Colorado, Boulder and is a native of Colorado. Her previous research addresses climate change adaptation in the United States, the Indian Himalayas, Vanuatu and New Zealand. Kelli currently lives on the side of a ski run high in the Rocky Mountains with her husband and their four young daughters.
Jonah Sachs is the director of One Project. He is the co-founder of Free Range Studios, one of the minds behind the Story of Stuff series and the best-selling author of Winning the Story Wars.
Evan Steiner works to address global issues at their roots, focusing on structural issues within economics, finance, and business that are causing harm to people and the planet. His passion is building infrastructure that enables new economic paradigms based on ethics, ecological regeneration, and human flourishing. His current role is supporting partnerships and strategy for One Project, a social venture working to create new forms of governance and economics that are equitable, ecological, and effective.
freelance artist and illustrator
Marko Oblak (Earth) is a freelance artist and illustrator out of Seattle, Washington. As an avid outdoorsman, he draws his artistic inspiration from the natural environment, specifically through his passion for fly fishing. Many of his pieces are a representation of a backcountry adventure. As a self-taught artist, Marko specializes in intricate fine-line ink work and digital rendering. His work ranges from murals, custom tattoos, to print work.
Nikki McClure (Us) is an artist who lives in Olympia, Washington, under cedar trees along the eastern shore of the Southern Salish Sea. She cuts her images from single sheets of black paper with an X-Acto knife. She collaborates with her husband, Jay T. Scott, a fine woodworker, on lamps and furniture as well as daily walks. Her son is also a frequent collaborator and instigator of adventure as well as inspiration for many of her books and images.
Zaria Forman (Change) documents climate change with pastel drawings. She travels to remote regions of the world to collect images and inspiration for her work, which is exhibited worldwide. She has flown with NASA on several Operation IceBridge missions over Antarctica, Greenland, and Arctic Canada. She was featured on CBS Sunday Morning, CNN, PBS, and BBC. She delivered a TEDTalk; has spoken at Amazon, Google, and NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center; exhibited in Banksy’s Dismaland; and was the artist-in-residence aboard the National Geographic Explorer in Antarctica. Her works have appeared in publications such as The New York Times, National Geographic, The Wall Street Journal, and Smithsonian magazine. Forman currently works and resides in Upstate New York, and is represented by Winston Wächter Fine Art in New York, New York, and Seattle, Washington.
comics-journalist, cartoonist, and organizer
Sam Wallman (Wealth) is a comics-journalist, cartoonist, and organizer based in Melbourne, Australia, and a member of the Workers’ Art Collective. The piece included here was originally created for the Sunrise Movement, a movement of young people working to stop climate change, take back our democracy from Big Oil, and elect leaders who will fight for our generation’s health and wellbeing founded by the author of Chapter 3, Varshini Prakash. Sam is a committed unionist, having worked as an organizer for the National Union of Workers, and a delegate on the shop floor prior to that. Three of his pieces of long-form comics-journalism have been nominated for Walkley Journalism Awards, including Winding up the Window: The End of the Australian Auto Industry and A Guard’s Story: At Work in Our Detention Centres, which won the 2014 Australian Human Rights Award in the Print and Online Media category.
Abby Paffrath (Work) was born and raised in Breckenridge, Colorado, and now lives in the Teton Valley of Wyoming. A true mountain girl, the outdoors have always been a huge part of her life. She has a bachelor’s degree in Fine Art from the University of Montana and a master’s in art education from Lewis and Clark College. Abby learned the art of batik while studying in Bali, Indonesia. She creates to slow down and connect with her environment, with the purpose of bringing joy to all those who wear and enjoy it.
Lindsay Jane Ternes
Lindsay Jane Ternes (Food) is an award-winning artist based in Boulder, Colorado. Born in Billings, Montana, and raised in Colorado Springs, Colorado, Lindsay’s passion for art was apparent from a young age and never waned. At the University of Denver she majored in Marketing and Studio Art to equip herself for a future in fine art, and she rediscovered her love for landscape painting while studying at The Marchutz School of Fine Arts in Aix-en-Provence. Her time in southern France greatly influences her scene selection and light interpretation today. She typically works on location, painting en plein air around Colorado, but you’ll also find her painting in Glacier National Park each summer.
Favianna Rodriguez (Education and Cover) is an interdisciplinary artist, cultural strategist, and social justice activist based in Oakland, California. Her art and praxis address migration, gender justice, climate change, racial equity, and sexual freedom. Her practice boldly reshapes the myths, stories, and cultural practices of the present, while healing from the wounds of the past.
Mira Sachs (Love) is a 7th grader at Piedmont Elementary School in California with a passion for art, justice, and the natural world.
social studies and language arts instructor
Lavie Raven (Community) is a social studies and language arts instructor at Oak Park and River Forest High School and serves as the Prime-Minister of Education for the University of Hip-Hop. Raven taught in the Chicago public school system for twenty years and has done community arts work since he was a teenager. In his artistic and pedagogical practice, he has created strategies for integrating hip-hop into community service projects and classroom education. He was the recipient of the Fund for Teachers Award, which he used to do hip-hop community work in British Columbia. Raven also received the Fulbright Distinguished Teacher Award and worked with Māori hip-hop activists and created hip-hop workshops for youth at schools in New Zealand.
Nina Montenegro (Tomorrow) is a Chilean-American visual artist, illustrator, and designer, whose artwork is in service to reconciliation and restoration. She is co-founder and co-creative director of the design studio The Far Woods with her sister Sonya. In March 2020, they released Mending Life: A Handbook for Repairing Clothes and Hearts with Sasquatch Books.