We can be more sustainable and resilient into an uncertain future by being more generous with our skills, time, knowledge, information and material goods, while at the same time improving our lives through our relationship with others and through satisfying work.

Generosity can be as simple as giving someone something they need like a kitchen utensil that you have multiple of or teaching someone how to do something. By being more generous we can learn to live on less, depend less on money and associate it less with survival. This will help us transition from our current debt based growth economy which encourages us to value our possessions more than our contributions to others and the environment, to more of a gift, exchange and sharing economy.

Instead of a formal exchange, gift economies rely on rewards like a sense of contribution, community, honor or prestige. The idea is that people give according to their abilities and receive according to their needs. A sense of community grows along with the knowledge that if you give, you will be known as a giver and people will desire to give to you in turn. Wealth doesn’t come from keeping things but from the great honour and gratitude gained from giving precious gifts. The power of gratitude means that people are more likely to care for/about their gifts and will use it as intended or do some other beautiful thing with it.

I recently accepted a gift from David Holmgren, Co-originator of the permaculture concept to ‘pay what you feel’ to receive an online copy of his book RetroSuburbia: The Downshifters Guide to a Resilient Future. It was a difficult decision to decide what to pay as many things come into play when you think about the value something might have for you, your ability to pay, and the value of what has gone into a piece of work. Eventually I settled on a figure and felt very grateful to have my own copy of the book to reflect on over an extended period of time. It is from this place of gratitude that I have decided to share details of RetroSuburbia on my blog so that those of you who have not heard of this opportunity can see if it is something you are interested in and perhaps support David’s work too.

RetroSuburbia: The Downshifters Guide to a Resilient Future is an almost 600 page manual built around aspects of the Built, the Biological and the Behavioural fields showing how Australians can downshift and retrofit their homes, gardens and communities to be more sustainable, resilient and vibrant. It answers the questions of ‘why suburbia?’ and ‘why retrofit?’, though anyone can use this book. I don’t live in suburbia and I still find most of the book relevant to my situation. RetroSuburbia is a source of inspiration, introducing concepts and outlining patterns and practical solutions. It empowers people to make positive changes in their lives.

“Presented in full colour it is rich with photos, case studies from his own life and the lives of people he knows, every page drips with ideas, experience and advice with dirt beneath its nails.”

Rob Hopkins, Transition Towns Movement
Reading RetroSuburbia on my tablet.

If you are already on the path of downshifting and living simply, exploring RetroSuburbia will be a confirmation and celebration that you are on the right track and guide you on the next steps forward. If you are just beginning this journey, it provides a guide to the diversity of options and helps work out priorities for action.  For people concerned about making ends meet in more challenging times, RetroSuburbia provides a new lens for creatively sidestepping the obstacles.

Take a look for yourself here: https://retrosuburbia.com/

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