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Rediscovering AnimalsĀ 

#5-The Look of Business in the Steady State

Dietz and Dan O'Neill Enough Is Enough, p.200. Don't miss the whole story.
#5 in the authors' "...Encouraging Scenes From a Steady State Economy" is a vision of business in the steady state. Profit is not the only objective, as is seems to be now. In the steady state, businesses will also focus on improving social and environmental conditions. More democratic management, worker ownership, shared working hours could be part of the scene, thus providing more sense of purpose and contentment in holding a job.

In exploring the best development of business as a complex system, simple guiding rules, communication, relationships, and feedback at all levels are recommended by Margaret Wheatley. Giving these practices high priority provides more chance for a business to execute its best intentions while allowing it employees to be creative and explore new ideas.

I hate to be negative, but we need to do something to get current business ethics back on track Practices like death dating and planned obsolescence, shrinking content or packaging, selecting fruit for shipping longevity at the expense of nutrition and taste, selling produce laced with pesticides--all make me sick at heart. We can do better than that. Is the bottom line are only guidepost? We don't do quality anymore? Honesty? Integrity?

We are way behind some other countries in making official some of the most useful policies to ensure a reasonable future for our grandchildren. One example: I just did a search on EPR--Extended Product (or Producer) Responsibility. Its history on this continent is here. In short, EPR means "...economy-based rules require manufacturers to partially or fully pay for end-of-life management costs, including collection, recycling and final disposal." Details include take-back policies (or product taxes and recycling subsidies), product labeling, and responsibility for environmental damages and clean-up costs. EPR encourages longevity in design and the provision of spare parts and repair--plus the jobs that would go with the restoration of those old-fashioned ideas. Earth 911.com provides details and a list of companies and products that engage in the practice.

The application to all this in the Hen House becomes obvious when you look around. The pen is a made from reused chicken wire, posts, and three large acrylic paintings from the set of my musical "Petra and the Jay." The paintings make great shade for part of the pen in summer, and they reduce the snow load in winter.
I must admit, however, that we don't recycle the occupants. Turkey is now 11 years old and Lucy goose is twelve. They eat a lot, and the whole gang goes through one cup of oyster shell every day, not to mention the water the ducks spill out of their bathtubs. At least the ducks provide eggs for a neighbor child who is allergic to chicken eggs.

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#4."...Encouraging Scenes From a Steady State Economy"--Community

California poppies. Photo by Shawne Workman

Rob Dietz and Dan O'Neill Enough Is Enough, p.200. Don't miss the whole story.

In the 1950s the San Francisco Bay Area was surrounded by fruit orchards and countryside--brown rolling hills in summer dotted with huge oak trees that loomed in grand silhouettes when the hills turned green in winter. Tall eucalyptus lined the streams and roads. You drove through the hills for five miles or more before a collection of small farms signaled the appearance of a collection of shop-lined streets--the next city down the road. Streetcars laced the shops together if you didn't want to walk through town. You knew who owned what shop, which owner liked kids, and that the ice cream parlor was next door to the dress shop, right in the middle of town. There you could get real ice cream sodas, made with thick syrup blasted into the creamy dessert drink with a fizz-fazz spigot.

Such is the vision of Dietz and O'Neill in Enough Is Enough: Building A Sustainable Economy In a World of Finite Resources. We need to transition our economic focus from global to local and quit wasting energy shipping cardboard fruit all over planet Earth

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Family Time, Steady State Benefit #3

February 12,2013
"With a shorter work week, family members can spend more quality time...Children receive more attention..." Rob Dietz and Dan O'Neill Enough Is Enough, p.200. Don't miss the whole story.

So what has this to do with the Hen House? It's about finding the gift of fresh eggs every morning and the satisfaction of building nests to make the hens happy enough to lay them for you (not hiding them in the wood pile). It's about time to sit on the bench beneath the ponderosas and watch the hens hunt and scratch, soaking up the safe time outside the pen with the dogs on guard. You could call it a prelude to localization, also recommended by steady state pundits. Urban chickens are growing in popularity these days--encouraging.

I can think of too many ways I could use more time: learning to paint, re-learning to play the piano, learning some Spanish, sharing some great books I've found, exploring ideas with friends over coffee, improving my tennis or bridge, playing some sandlot baseball again.

The point is that, with a cap on manufacturing to minimize throughput, the constant obsession with growing every business ceaselessly, with no real need, begins to seem wasteful of both time and resources. Businesses would do well to focus on service and quality, opportunities to provide job sharing, shorter work hours, specialty training and creative hand work to replace robotics, worker training and participation in management. If manufacturers were responsible for their products forever (as they are in some place), they could provide more jobs, like making parts for repairs, repairing the product, and recycling its every component.

Taking this one step further, if land, water, air, and underground resources were considered commons, not private property, the care and management of the land could be assigned to those who wanted to use it or live on it. This shift in responsibility would be a sure cure for boredom for people with shorter work hours. Could be a full-time job for some.

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