News from the front desk No 323: On the 9 things we want from you 2017

Hello 2017. So you’ve pulled the gloves off, right? Put down your mincing dance booklet from the New Year’s Ball and allowed the crazies out of the bag early? Trump, Brexit, Le Penn, blah blah blah. Well, you don’t frighten us. We’ve seen it all before. We the people in Australia have lived and survived the most destructive PM in living memory, a man who unambiguously set out to destroy climate policy, renewable energy, sustainability and decency. His shadow lives on, we are not smug, we are not celebrating. This week he flagged we should have no renewable energy target. On Tuesday the federal environment minister was on ABC radio to talk about the issue. We had to turn the volume right up. Josh Frydenberg sounded like a mouse. We could barely hear him squeak. Said something about renewable energy costing consumers more than $65 a household.

Fran Kelly asked him how much his plan for 20 coal fired power stations retrofitted for “clean coal” would cost? No answer. Just some muffled noise. Poor Josh. He was so well regarded before they handed him that portfolio.

We don’t know about you, but right now sitting in Sydney and over the holidays in Melbourne, it’s simply too hot and uncomfortable to be kind to Josh or anyone else who is selling us down the furnace. Record breaking heat three years in a row, record breaking night time temperatures, newspapers forced to devote bigger and bigger pages to the climate and weather events, the sound of crackling, crumbling glaciers reaching us all the way in Oz. We reckon our gloves are also off, 2017.

We’re going to fight for the future we want and here’s how:

1. By tapping the power of business and capital

We will cover as much as possible of the amazing new businesses and fired-up capital looking for lucrative action in climate action, sustainability, green clean buildings, energy efficiency and radical housing. There is a new phenomenon we picked up this week on the Twittersphere, called the enernet.

Here’s how TechCrunch put it:

There’s massive economic opportunity ahead. How massive? Imagine standing in 1992, knowing that Google, Akamai, Netflix, Facebook, Amazon, eBay, BuzzFeed and Uber lay ahead.

This time it’s the “enernet”, not the internet, that will transform our lives. The story is the same, though the players have changed.

Here’s the tee up. Across the country, incumbent network providers operate highly centralized networks in their respective cities. Then, scrappy local outfits start serving the market with innovative, distributed technology. These startups create competition, and a new network emerges atop the legacy network.

That was the backdrop 30 years ago when a little thing called the internet emerged…. Today, the actors are SolarCitySunrun and a host of others moving us off fossil fuels and into clean energy supported by smart equipment, services and software, offered atop existing utility networks. This time, it’s the enernet.

Enernet. Noun. A dynamic, distributed, redundant and multi-participant energy network built around clean energy generation, storage and delivery and serving as the foundation for smart cities. 

See what we mean?

Money and power shifting in waves and tsunamis to saving this planet.

We will dangle and jangle the jewels and rewards of this genuine progress and activity and demonstrate how exciting and rewarding it is.

Obama called it in his parting words from the White House: this revolution is unstoppable, he said.

We need no less than to rebuild our economy, our financial systems, our values and ethical frameworks, the way we treat and measure and respect our natural resources. We need to reframe the way we are with each other.

2. By celebrating and shining a light on the nurturing alternative economy

Call it the caring/sharing economy, sure, go right ahead, 2017. You’ll find this is a growing market picking up along the way the most incredible of people. Those who can see that doing things in a cleaner, more organic and ethical way is also rife with huge rewards. They’re finding they can have their needs met in so many ways – social connection, self validation, intellectual curiosity, cultural and creative needs, but more connectedness with people and nature.

3. Radical Housing

By shining a light and a tonne of intellectual/social fertiliser on the emerging heroes of our new housing revolution that we just touched the sides of at our Surround Sound last year.

Yes we were a bit shocked to see in the video to see guests say they believed this was the first time that all these people had been in the same room. So more talking, more cross pollinating, more “uberisation” of housing and deliberative development.

Here’s what the impressive Dr Andrea Sharam told us this week:

“Governments are finding it extremely difficult. They have a conceptual toolbox [of solutions], but are just playing with same tools over and over again. They need to take stock and think really hard about what the issues are.”

Governments are beholden to “entrenched interests” in housing, leading to “the same old policy solutions put up”.

Examples are the continued call for relaxation of urban growth boundaries and planning restrictions. We need different diverse solutions coming from different people. We will continue the conversations.

4. By connecting and growing

By doing our best to grow out platform in online, events and other media. So that we can connect ever bigger numbers of people prove we are not thousands but millions all on the same wavelength. By sharing our stories and fostering the power of connected thinking and robust discussion.

5. By remembering attitude is everything

We want to not be afraid of the Big Bad Wolf, or Donald Trump or any silly Aussie pollies for that matter. Yes, we’ll need all the help we can get. We all get a bit shaky sometimes. But the biggest lesson we learnt last year came from an architect we chatted to walking out of a particularly depressing talk on climate. He said, so what if we don’t make it, so what if we fail? We’ve all got to go sometime. We’ve had a great time while we’re here.

So yes, attitude is everything. It’s better to fight as hard as possible, always, rather than give up. We can’t always affect the things that happen, but we have full control over how we react.

6. Literature and the arts

This brings us to the power of the arts, fiction in particular, to show us how we can negotiate an uncertain future.

To see how we can find meaning and even joy amid the most dreadful dystopian world that might be thrust upon us, read a powerful piece of fiction from our UK correspondent David Thorpe. It’s from a free online book, Realistic Utopias. It comes from an event in May 2016, where TippingPoint, Free Word and Durham University brought together writers and leading climate change experts “to learn from each other and to inspire new writing that could encourage people to act to help our environment”.

So yes, we’d love to publish some fiction.

7. Reading wide and wild

If you want to read a kind of tragic humanist piece that will make you feel almost sorry for the accidental president in the US right now see this very powerful piece here. It’s written not by a political commentator but an ordinary person who describes himself as “a teacher and examiner from Sheffield, UK, and I’ve lived in seven different countries…”

But be warned you won’t feel the same after.

Here’s an extract:

Trump is famously hostile to the notion of learning: no-one has anything to teach him. He was born rich, and that means he’s a genius and that everyone must respect him. He appears to have no ability for self-reflection. The mirrors he has in his house may be framed in gold, but he’s never been able to bring himself to look in them for more than a few seconds. Instead he’s surrounded himself by people who tell him what he wants to hear, who repeat back to him his inner mantra: you’re the richest, the best, the greatest writer, builder, statesman, etc etc etc. But it’s his inner voices that are the problem, the ones that tell him that he’s nothing, a failure, that everyone sees him as a joke. The ones that (presumably) sound a lot like his father.

His tweets in particular reveal that at some level he knows that his self-aggrandising self-image is hollow and brittle. So he lashes out, including physically. And it’s getting worse.

People are laughing louder. He’s now put himself in a position where the entire world knows that he is venal, insecure, stupid and deluded.

8. Look to Pussy Power to help pull us through

The sight of four million woman marching to demonstrate they will fight with all their might the erosion of the human spirit and of mutual respect embodied by the US president’s words had a big impact. So this will be the year of pussy reclaimed. Puss In Boots, you were a girl all along! Not to mention Pussy Riot subversion already well under way in Mother Russia.

9. Remember how far we’ve come

They say the hardest thing to envisage is the past. So we need to constantly remember how far we’ve come and be inspired and empowered that we can go much further faster, again.

So we’re ready 2017

So 2017, with your resurgent denialism, powerful lobby groups and snout-in-the-trough oligarchs, you don’t scare us.

We are not here to meekly ask what you have in store for us. We are here to make you deliver what we want.

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