INTENT

Thrifty, Part 2: Rethink Waste for Sustainable Systems

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There’s a direct connection between consumption and waste: the more we consume, the more waste we create—and vice versa.  At Srisa Asoke, the ethic of “consuming little” also means actively reducing waste, specifically through the “3 Rs”: reuse, repair, and recycle. This installment of the Intentional Living Project’s exploration of material wellbeing (a.k.a., “being thrifty”) looks […]

INTENT

Thrifty, Part 1: Find Your Sufficiency Sweet Spot

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Being thrifty, or not wasting money and resources, is a long-held American virtue that fosters material wellbeing. Material wellbeing starts with the ability to meet basic needs for food, water, shelter, and clothing, plus essential services like health and education. If you’re reading this now, there’s a good chance that you have that covered. But […]

INTENT

Networked, Part 1: Feel Belonging with Good Groups

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It’s a sad irony that modern technology has provided us with greater capabilities than ever before to connect with each other, yet we have never been so socially disconnected.  This decline social life has been well documented by Robert Putnam, Professor of Public Policy at Harvard, in Bowling Alone: The Collapse and Revival of the American Community. Putnam drew […]

INTENT

In-shape, Part 1: Energize with Wholesome Food

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Millions of Americans resolve each year to get into shape, with weight loss as their number-one goal. This is laudable, to be sure, as obesity is a growing global epidemic that compromises health in myriad ways. Unfortunately, dieting and exercise regimes often emphasize appearance over wellbeing. Since our youth, we have been bombarded by media […]

Sustainable Development

The “Right Development” Approach

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Following last week’s post that critiqued the history of the development industry, I’d like to propose an alternative model of development, which emerged from my research on the Santi Asoke Buddhist Reform movement of Thailand. After studying for a year what made Asoke communities so successful, I determined that in order to raise the quality […]

Sustainable Development

Economic Growth, SAPs, and Aid: Oh My! A History of the Global Development Industry

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The concept of development implies positive change, and it is clearly an ideal toward which individuals, groups, and nations strive. But the term carries much more baggage than that. The Western world’s conceptualization of development—unilinear growth, evolution, or maturation toward an ever more perfect form—has its roots in evolutionary theories of the nineteenth and early […]

Sustainable Development

Global Volunteer: Ethnography of a Tsunami Aid Organization in Thailand

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The tsunami of December 26, 2004 swept away entire villages in Khao Lak, Thailand: houses, fishing boats, family businesses, shrimp farms, livestock, vegetable gardens, and people. Those who survived faced the seemingly insurmountable work of rebuilding their lives, but they didn’t have to do it alone. Volunteers from across Thailand and across the globe poured […]

Ethical Economies

“Resisting Global Capitalism”: Lessons from the Asoke Alternative

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“Resisting global capitalism” is one way to frame efforts to create conditions that oster socially just and environmentally sustainable economic activity. Far from being passive victims of global processes, individuals and social groups across the globe endeavor in diverse ways to resist, reshape, appropriate, and create alternatives to the dominant neoliberal economic model. Alternatives that […]

Ethical Economies

All is Not Well with Thai Buddhist Economics: Feminist Critique of Inequality

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The most significant flaw of the Thai Buddhist economic models described in the last few posts is that their ability to empower all members of society to achieve well being may be hampered by structural inequalities that result from the inherent hierarchy of their philosophical underpinnings—Theravada Buddhism—and the context in which they are implemented. Theravada […]