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Ted Trainer's Simpler Way

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  • #380830
    trandtotrandto
    Member

    I was at onlineopinion the other day and happened to see his name crop up as the author of this article about renewable energy not leading us into the future :ohmy:

    It’s interesting to read the comments :shrug:

    and his site is back

    #380831
    WombatWombat
    Member

    Thanks mate! He writes good stuff and it would be a shame to lose it.

    Nev

    #380832
    s.alexanders.alexander
    Member

    I’ve just read Ted Trainer’s new book (2010), “The Transition to a Sustainable and Just World” (available from Envirobook http://www.envirobook.com.au/Publishing/publishing.htm) and it’s brilliant. His critique is radical but hard to fault, his vision of an alternative society is truly inspiring, and his discussion of strategy is as good as I’ve seen.

    I think it’s also worth acknowledging that Trainer was advocating ‘transition’ type movements well before the recent burst of Transition Towns. I greatly admire him, and I feel his work deserves much more attention than it gets.

    #380833
    WombatWombat
    Member

    Thankee! Will have to opook into that!

    Nev

    #380834
    s.alexanders.alexander
    Member

    Hi folks,

    I’ve just written a comprehensive review of Ted Trainer’s work on The Simpler Way. Hope some find it useful…

    Available here: http://simplicitycollective.com/ted-trainer-and-the-simpler-way-review-essay

    Cheers

    Sam

    Attached files

    TedTrainerandTheSimplerWay.pdf (339.7 KB)

    #380835
    trandtotrandto
    Member

    Just re reading it all now, prompted me to do my reassessment thread ..

    #380836
    trandtotrandto
    Member

    I have started to read this again, mostly via the Simplicity Institute website. One thing that struck me was the energy usage & the estimated need to reduce useage by a factor of 20. By energy i think they are talking about everything, how much energy used in fuel, electricity, gas etc etc

    If we are talking about the need for a 20 fold reduction in energy consumption from the average. I am wondering if there is anyone that seriously thinks they have met such an austere goal? I know we personally have cut back but not by that much ! This is cutting back from the average not from the high consumption / energy use of some.

    Anyone? Or would they be the guys not using the Internet haha!

    #380837
    purplehatpurplehat
    Member

    Just talking electricity – the “compare your usage” thing on the back of my bill says that our little family of 2 is using less than half the average usage of a one person household. And yes, still using the internet! haha

    Certainly doable in electricity at least. This last bill was pretty high for us.. I’d hate to imagine.. an average bill for a two person household must be almost $400. I think people will be forced to make a change at that kind of cost, surely?

    #380838
    trandtotrandto
    Member

    purplehat post=348887 wrote: Just talking electricity – the “compare your usage” thing on the back of my bill says that our little family of 2 is using less than half the average usage of a one person household. And yes, still using the internet! haha

    That’s awesome but if Ted Trainer is right, don’t we need to be MUCH lower than that again, several orders of magnitude less ? (same with me, I know I need to consume* WAY less but am no greedy to cut back, so in no way am I having a go at you, I am really interested in what others here think)

    I mean I originally came to “thinking simpler” is “use less” and you are doing the right thing but is it a case that if we don’t do the job properly, why do it at all ? Isn’t the idea behind consuming less to leave the World in a better place then when we arrived AND a sense of fairness, in that everyone should be able to consume equally, therefore my bit is “xyz” ? If so, we need to recognise that consuming less is all about direction and we need to arrive at the goal of sustainability, or am I way off the mark ?

    *by consume I mean the total of all the energy inputs needed to sustain my lifestyle, be that food, electricity, gas etc

    #380839
    MetuMetu
    Member

    I had a quick read of Ted Trainer’s Simpler Way, and for the most part I agree with many of his points. Like it is a socio-economic problem and we do have to aim to consume less. However, I don’t necessarily agree with the one-way only solutions. We do to those who are actively seeking to change, a disserice by making concrete benchmarks, or painting a picture about living a simpler way which is romantacised. In other words it’s not very realistic.

    I only know this now I’ve tried it. Any attempt to be more self-reliant, whether you work full time/casual in the economy, or are retired, has it’s own fair share of stresses. I don’t believe this is adequately portrayed in what I read of Trainer’s articles. I notice the comparison he made between what happens in a modern day lifestyle, and a new “Simpler Way”, was very one dimentional. The modern day lifestyle, had short statements (ate breakfast, served customers, served customers, ate lunch) and in the “Simpler Way”, he paints a more vivid picture as if it’s like viewing an episode of Little House on the Prairie or The Waltons.

    I had to laugh at the reference of moving the goat. Of course in his version, it behaves just as it should and doesn’t escape to damage parts of the neighbour’s yard. Of course if you have a wayward goat and they find a weakness in your fence, you have to give up parts of your day to go find the goat and repair any damage to neighbours property. That’s if you really do care about the kind of community Trainers explores as a solution.

    As for the examples given for the typical modern day schedule, sometimes when you serve a customer, you make a new friend. A conversation with them might encourage you to walk to work instead of driving. Those relevant (and doable) details to people living a modern day life, wasn’t portrayed because his version of it was meant to be devoid of life and meaning.

    trandto said:

    Isn’t the idea behind consuming less to leave the World in a better place then when we arrived AND a sense of fairness, in that everyone should be able to consume equally

    There can be no equal balance in the world when it’s run by so many different organisations, governments and parties with vested financial interests. I do agree with the essence of what Trainer outlines as over consumption, and reducing that on an individual basis, but by attempting to treat everyone across the world the same, we run into reality again. Take the many hippy communes that were popular back in their day. Not many survived to modern day, simply because people were so different, their interests changed and some were carrying the weight others didn’t want to. Simpler Ways come with their own “waste” as a result of sharing resources.

    The conflict arises when ideology wants to overwrite reality. For example, take a person in a wheelchair, a couple raising a family and a single person with good health. You cannot treat them all the same. Some will require more resources, some don’t. How do you treat them all the same? Ideologically you can respect them all, but can you really treat all their needs exactly the same?

    To my mind Trainer does his audience and his own work a little disservice, by representing a model that (a) modern day people cannot relate to enough to follow through with the required changes (b) starts the cycle he wants to change, back up again, because all or nothing leaves a big gap for people to fill in the blanks “individually” again.

    but is it a case that if we don’t do the job properly, why do it at all ?

    If you’re trying to answer this ideologically, given all people cannot be treated the same, then you’re right – why bother – becuase ideologically, it doesn’t match reality. Yet if the focus is to bring about lasting change, then where’s the harm in addressing the solutions on an individual basis?

    Surely if we can reach a point where the overall effect is close to neutral, rather than focussing on a mathematical equation of large reductions by numbers (almost corporate the way Trainer suggests we marginalise people to a single digit, in order to achieve an “ideological” surplus) surely it’s worth exploring CLOSE rather than so far away, don’t even try.

    I like the issues Trainer raises and I don’t think he’s a zeolot of any sort. He’s just sharing “a way” of thinking about a solution. That’s just as relevant as me saying an individual approach works too. I would hope everybody finds something they can identify with, and make use of it because humans are pretty good at turning “ideas” into reality. 🙂

    #380840
    trandtotrandto
    Member

    Metu post=348918 wrote: The conflict arises when ideology wants to overwrite reality. For example, take a person in a wheelchair, a couple raising a family and a single person with good health. You cannot treat them all the same. Some will require more resources, some don’t. How do you treat them all the same? Ideologically you can respect them all, but can you really treat all their needs exactly the same?

    I think you misunderstand (or I do), you don’t treat everyone the same at all, far from it. Resource allocation is never up to the individual though, to assert that is naive and flies in the face of observation surely ? That aside, it can only get worse as we have another few Billion being added to the Planet.

    Metu post=348918 wrote: To my mind Trainer does his audience and his own work a little disservice, by representing a model that (a) modern day people cannot relate to enough to follow through with the required changes

    Oh I agree, and that’s not anything to do with my point. Mine was based around “do I need to do this because I must…” the questions I asked were, are there alternatives, was Ted’s stuff based in the reality of what needed to be done in order to be sustainabale, I was looking beyond his rhetoric (the bits you thought funny/ironic) to see if the sketched outline had substance ? I see no alternatives offered, is that fair… a modicum of civilised consumption reduction is like being a little bit pregnant… no disrespect but the stuff you mentioned seems to be all platitudes or excuses for people continuing on the same path of destruction, ie Tragedy of the Commons. ie Is that how I need to live if I want to be sustainable, if not why not ?

    How do we change behaviour, nudge theory is one newer option being explored. I see the O’Ffarrell Government is using a consultant flown over from the UK to explain it to the Public Servants over here (Buddah help us) but mainly to try and extract higher returns for fines and debts :pinch:

    An example of it in action, how much are you consuming (power water and fuel lets say) vs how much a “sustainable person” consumes vs how much your neighbour consumes. Anyway, that’s more about changing the group dynamic on a national/international basis, something I am keenly aware will not happen, until it’s too late of course :shrug:

    I think I need some clarification, I am not exploring this to change the behaviour of the population at large. While I am cognisecet of what they do, I understand that greed and fear are motivatiors that the majority will never overcome. I am exploring this to understand my motivations and to see if I should change my behaviour. I am asking questions of alternatives that conform to genuine sustainability, from an holistic point of view. Not by nonsense like creating a marine park in Aus and then importing fish from overseas, which is the way we seem to define sustainability here in Aus.

    I am retired at 46 because I was tired of working. My partner worked 3 days a week (until we came over here).

    and thank you so much for continuing the debate. My “style” is often perceived as confrontational but please don’t take it that way you have made many valid and interesting points that have me thinking.

    #380841
    trandtotrandto
    Member

    Just an addendum, this is where I am coming from

    Science is clearly linking these events to climate change, with human carbon emissions as the prime cause.

    The polar icecaps are one of the vital regulators of global climate; if the ice disappears, the absorption of more solar radiation accelerates ocean warming, with increasing risk of large-scale release of carbon dioxide and methane from melting permafrost. This may initiate irreversible runaway warming.

    Global energy, food and water security are also poised on a knife edge. These changes are occurring at the 0.8 degrees increase, relative to pre-industrial conditions already experienced, let alone the extra 1.2 degrees that probably will result from our historic emissions.

    The “official” target of limiting temperature increase to no more than 2 degrees is way too high. Current policies, such as our Clean Energy Future package, are far worse and would result in a 4 degrees-plus temperature rise. Official panaceas, such as carbon capture and storage, are not working.

    Australian leaders glibly talk about adapting to a 4-degree world with little idea of what it means – which is a world of 1 billion people rather than the present 7 billion.

    of course if we don’t agree with the climate scientists, that’s a whole other debate

    but assuming we do, if not us, then who ?

    #380842
    MetuMetu
    Member

    I think I gave some clues where I was coming from in your other post. I’m not too big on academic exercises, when it comes to human ability. I have to read through Trainer’s articls more thoroughly, but I have yet to find points which include care for those with impairments, or the need for medications? They may be there, I just haven’t found them yet.

    I was looking beyond his rhetoric (the bits you thought funny/ironic) to see if the sketched outline had substance ?

    To be fair, I was only laughing from the perspective of owning livestock. I wasn’t laughing at the concept of owning goats and taking responsibility for them, as a subsistence model. Anyone who has owned livestock (particularly goats and pigs) will know once they get an idea in their head, and you’re not watching – there goes the day looking for them down the trail of destruction left behind. :laugh: Any hope you had of doing the rest of the days chores, gets held back. Any money put aside for other important things, gets redirected to repairs.

    I found it funny to read how the Simpler Way was protrayed as being relatively painless (specifically to Trainer’s comparisons) while the modern lifestyle was full of drudgery. Anyone who changes track to live the Simpler Way, under that impression, is in for a shock only reality can bring.

    People need to be clear from the outset, any lifestyle change comes with different challenges they need to be able to adapt to in real terms. A goat, is not just a goat on a point scoring table about ethics. I feel Trainer highlighted two obscure lifestyles, that did both a disservice to reality. How does that effectively translate into real people’s lives, or is Trainer’s proposal only an academic exercise? I suspect that is the case, for it offers no real change.

    Trainer’s work demonstrated the good cop, bad cop, scenarios’ described as cause and effect. It’s deliberately there to provoke good person/bad person, good economy/bad economy, emotive responses. It compares consumer society in first world countries to the very few who earn the most, and lumps those of the working class and poor into the same category. Who really needs to know the difference, when all that must be accepted is our “collective” net worth. So anyone in a first world country, is hence known as a wasteful consumer.

    In Trainer’s alternative model, being the Simpler Way, we don’t have to address personal needs, because our much more stringent (and upright) local community will decide our needs for us based on a smaller “collective” model.

    Isn’t that how our current system works today? How does downsizing that collective model, acheive equality? Well it doesn’t, but it’s supposed to be a conceptual equality, if you just line up the right giving people, everyone will receive. In the Simpler Way, where no one needs what the collective doesn’t require, there simply is no want.

    Everyone else who doesn’t abide by the collective perception radars, are on the outside (yet again) because collective models are great at identifying collective interests. They simply won’t make any decisions on behalf of the minority. How does that work better than what we already have? You will still get a select group of people getting the fewer (which becomes the new underclass) to carry the burden of the community’s prosperity.

    A lot of the indicators Trainer uses to suppose we’re going down hill as a society, could equally be applied to any historical era. Drug and alcohol problems have been with us since they were discovered, and these were in much poorer civilisations. The Middle Ages had their fair share of “increased” security issues too. I’ve lived in rural towns he said are now dying – not getting along and exclusion of those on the outside were rife too. These were small economies, run exclusively on local interests. This was before globalisation. I grew up in these collective model groups, and there was still social inequality.

    There was a difference between a farmer’s kid and a picker’s kid, and everyone knew it. You didn’t befriend the minority, if you wanted your interests to stay on the collective table. The farmer provided the jobs, the pickers were the labour. The farmer’s wives helped with the community interests, getting known as those with a social conscience, only because there were labourers to do work for them. The labourers kids weren’t considered equal, to the farmer’s kids. And so on, and so on.

    Remind you of the various Gypsy groups which meandered from community to community in the history books – being both dispossed by the collective, and equally exploited for the cheap labour?

    If people believe everyone will just pitch in the community to get it done, since there will be no real wage, think again. Think about all those former economies built before our current one. A wash lady was still a wash lady, and was deemed of less importance to a farmer’s wife, who may use their services. You didn’t invite the wash lady to help can the seasonal harvest. Besides, she was too busy washing the communities laundry anyway, and you can always pay her in preserves.

    We’ve had Trainers model working in the past, and people weren’t made equal then either. Whether we trade in money or apple sauce, there will always be an underclass. If anyone wishes to make a difference to the disadvantaged, simply make a personal contribution with what time/resources you have available today. People don’t need to downsize an existing collective economic model, to realise it’s impossible to deal with inequality by making it a “collective” interest.

    It’s like suggesting to save the planet, we must all move to the countryside. There’s a problem with that broad sweep of the brush – more country will have to be cleared, so less trees to deal with our increased pollution, just to relocate on mass. What’s wrong with including suburbia as part of our resource reduction attempts? What’s wrong with dealing with the inequalities we have today, through the economic model we have today?

    Trainer paints a picture of villains and heros, when in reality, people are neither. There is no perfect countryside, suburbia or hobo existence to solve the world’s problems with. There are only individual efforts and regard for one’s own work. By work, that can mean either to give, or to receive of other’s efforts. It’s about sharing and enjoying, whatever that scale gets measured out to quantify by others.

    Because it’s the sharing and the enjoying part we are destined to repeat. How can an economic collective on any scale, enforce “enjoyment” upon people? If people are currently struggling to enjoy the current model, how long before they lose their zeal living Trainer’s new model? Both involve working hard – but they both use the mechanism of enforced regulation by the collective. That’s imposing “enjoyment”, simply because, the model imposes this will be the outcome. Hard work in, enjoyment comes out.

    What happens when working the Trainer’s way isn’t rewarding enough? How will the collective deal with that? Corporal or Capital punishment, reduction of priviledges – or just deny an application of more resources, otherwise known as a good old trade embargo? That stratagey has been used in the past too, and it always led to varying degrees of war. Or at least, a division of underground power either working with (corruption) or against collective interest.

    For my evaluation, Trainers Simpler Way didn’t do a better job of what we currently have. It just sets up the parametres to compare villain global economy, with hero local one. There can be absolutely no doubt that local economies are more resilent than global ones. There can be no doubt either, local should be where it’s all happening for individuals. It’s where they’ll get to know their neighbours and the best darn local solutions to any problems they may encounter.

    But I disagree that local means endemic happiness with equality for all. Resources get wasted in local economies too. There are control games, lets not pretend it doesn’t happen. Life experience has shown me, being in love with a Utopian existence has nothing on reality. If we’re going to do any changes, we ought to do it for the right reasons. If we want to build community people enjoy, and we don’t believe we can do it from where we are, then when are we going to make the changes necessary?

    Trainer supposes all those wonderful things which can only be found in the Simpler Way, are unnavilable to any person operating under today’s self-deluded economic model. Does that seem very sound a proposal in exchange, to you? If it’s just a matter of dropping the self delusion, simply be honest with yourself. Can you apply what Trainer talks about today, yourself? If you see any challenges, then that’s the reality of the Simpler Way. Not that simple, is it? 😉

    Now imagine that “enforced” on someone born into a class which doesn’t allow for financial independence.

    Life in a nutshell, is not that simple. It’s full of disadvantage and privilege, learning curves and failures. Why should an economic model stop us or make us, express the true extent of ourselves? My life experience has spanned several classes (all except financial independence, which I don’t mind) so I’ve seen both conscientious people and unconscientious people operating within each class sector.

    In other words, it had nothing to do with money. It had everything to do with people though. Trainer touches on how to be a better community player, yet it’s destroyed by the charade between good and bady economy. Why is it destroyed? Because no-one comes to reality untouched by a lesser part of their humanity. By portraying the mindless, self absorbed consumption as just another “inheritance” by the birthright to a first world nation, he is more or less making a lack of money the solution. So it’s still about money then?

    Where is the clarity? I’m not surprised you want more answers. Yes, it’s about people doing better by people, but it cannot be inherited, even by Trainer’s methods. There is no economic model that will set people free, unless they decide to adopt the forgive all debts after seven years stratagy of biblical origins. But even that process lead to people being murdered and beaten to get back what was owed, before the time was up.

    Understand and accept that no-one or system is perfect, and you’ll feel less conflict as you make changes where you are. Why should the important changes you make in life, only be carried through guilt? Why can’t there be a larger element of enjoyment, as you make what personal sacrifices you feel you can make?

    #380843
    trandtotrandto
    Member

    Metu post=349125 wrote: Where is the clarity? I’m not surprised you want more answers. Yes, it’s about people doing better by people, but it cannot be inherited, even by Trainer’s methods. There is no economic model that will set people free, unless they decide to adopt the forgive all debts after seven years strategy of biblical origins. But even that process lead to people being murdered and beaten to get back what was owed, before the time was up.

    I have have been unable to explain my viewpoint, that’s my fault though. I was seeking general agreement that what were doing is killing the bio-shpere, the Science tells us we are … and from there to move forward, does Ted Trainer have all or some of the answers, who knows ? I put that forward as one concept to debate (I also posted another) but we seem fixated on that alone.

    You and others (and I am not having a dig) keep saying … but but but… all I ask is for you to step back from that. What we are doing is killing the bio-shpere and it’s ability to support humanity (The Planet doesn’t care, it will be here for Billions of years). I have no guilt in that, it’s like saying kicking my toe hurts both are based on factual evidence.

    The damage we are doing will kill Billions, there is no but but but to justify that, there is only ignorance of the Science. It would be nice for us all to face up to… that we’re not much different from any other genoicidal group, from the Nazis’ through Khmer Rouge, lets just face that and try and move forward. I am sure Pol Pot cared dearly for his mother and father, as did the guards at Auschwitz, S-21 and Hitler and Stalin. I wasn’t using guilt as a motivator but rather “do unto others as you would have them do unto you” kind of motivation. I would not have wanted the peoples of the past to leave the Planet in a worse condition then they found it but that’s what we’re doing… for the first time in human history.

    So a simple synopsis would be that most feel it is okay to “fiddle while Rome burns ?” Those in here saying they’re are fiddling less then say Gina Riehnhart or Clive Palmer, but fiddle we will regardless ?

    Sorry I was without a computer for a couple weeks and have been having t catch up on things ever since I had access to this borrowed one and I am thinking we have run our course here ?

    #380844
    MetuMetu
    Member

    Hello again

    I tried to reply yesterday, but a storm came through so I had to shut down the computer rather quickly. Lost the post, but back again today.

    We obviously see the world in different ways though. This is diversity at it’s best, and happens to be one of nature’s favourite ways to build resilence into it’s systems. I see the fact we have healthy disagreement, as a positive.

    I was seeking general agreement that what were doing is killing the bio-shpere, the Science tells us we are …

    The science also tells us it’s completely safe to eat genetically modified foods, and they don’t harm non gm crops. Science aside though, when I eat a plant or animal, I kill something. So yes, my living involves some death. My death in turn will feed the cemetary plot (what a waste – I’d rather feed a fruit tree, I’m told it’s illegal though). 🙁

    I’m not going to win an argument suggesting I don’t kill things in order to live. But this is the key point of where I tend to disagree with you though. It’s a “cycle” of life and death, therefore I contribute to living things and don’t just consume dead things.

    What we are doing is killing the bio-shpere and it’s ability to support humanity

    Which is why I attempt to support our local economy and organic produce as much as possible. It’s why (although we can barely afford it) we pay a monthly subscription to The Wilderness Society, to help protect what natural habitat is left in Australia. We can barely afford plants to put on the property too, but we try, because we’re trying to cover up the ground so it doesn’t radiate as much heat back into the atmosphere.

    It is why we break our backs digging clay earth by hand, to put in waterholes for the native wildlife. It is why I attempt to limit my car trips into town, once per week, and encourage our daughter to catch the school bus at least one way, per school day. It’s why my knees creak, every time I bend down to switch off the computer and tv at the socket, when they’re not in use, so not to waste electricity. It is why I limit my dishwasher use to only when I have so many dishes on the sink and little time.

    I could go on, but you get the picture. I have been avoiding putting up a list of what I do, do, because I think it comes across as egotistical. But I’m doing it now to raise a point of why I differ with you, on who is responsible for ruining what. While some aspects of humanity are taking large chunks of resources and not giving anything in return, it doesn’t mean all aspects of humanity are doing the same.

    It would be nice for us all to face up to… that we’re not much different from any other genoicidal group, from the Nazis’ through Khmer Rouge,

    To reenforce my point above, about who is responsible for what: that is like saying the Jews forced into concentration camps and gassed at regular intervals, weren’t much different to their Nazi captors. They shared the same land mass at one point and possibly even a local economy – but does that make the Jews the same as the ones killing them?

    So a simple synopsis would be that most feel it is okay to “fiddle while Rome burns?

    No, I just find it very uncomforable to write up a list of everything we do, do, and make it public. As I said, it sounds egotistical. The most satisfaction I experience is just seeing what my efforts lead to, in private.

    I suspect if any big changes are under way to make a difference, it is being done by the quiet achievers who don’t want to blow their trumpet, or market themselves as the new “good tonic” for the soul. They just want to do what they feel is right, within their means to do so.

    Which is why I say, don’t judge from the outside. Each individual has their own reasons, and may not feel comfortable telling you their life story to justify their existence.

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