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Worldchanging’s Alex Steffen Visits Nau

Posted by admin | November 6th, 2006 | Filed under Compassionate Capitalism, Environmental Change, Positive Change, Sustainability

alex.jpgAlex Steffen describes his job as “attention philanthropy,â€? a term he coined and described during a visit to Nau’s offices in Portland, Oregon. Put simply, Steffen’s worldchanging.com “spendsâ€? the attention of its readers on worthy ideas and tools that he hopes readers will use to accelerate social change.

Steffen’s new book Worldchanging: A Users Guide for the 21st Century“an extension of the bright green and humanitarian blog of the same name”is 600 pages of innovative and inspired solutions to many of the world’s most pressing problems, ranging from climate change to launching a sustainable business. Author and advocate Bill McKibben, in an upcoming review in the New York Review of Books, likens it to The Whole Earth Catalog “retooledâ€? for the iPod generation.

Steffen, worldchanging.com’s executive editor, was in Portland, Oregon October 29, on the second stop of a 12-city North American book tour. Proclaiming that “bright green is the new black,â€? Steffen observes that green technology is now culturally iconic. He cites the DVD rental program Netflix which has, in Steffen’s words, “dematerialized drives to and from the store as well as the store itself.â€?

The book delves further into topics and behaviors indicative of conscious consumption. Vehicle sharing programs such as FlexCar are now economically viable and reap powerful dividends: For every car shared, six less are purchased. Soon, a visit to your local library may include power tools alongside books. Drills exists in most US households and yet typically have 6-20 minutes of usage in a lifetime. Steffen says what we want is the hole, not the drill. For him the critical question is: What do we need to own?

In a world that still conveys status through objects, Steffen sees changing responsibilities for consumers. More and more, consumers will be held increasingly accountable for knowing the “back storyâ€? of their material possessions”in others words, where their stuff comes from.

Steffen’s book is more than anything else a glimpse into what’s possible for us, and for this planet, if we make the choice. For more information visit: http://www.worldchanging.com/book/

3 Responses to “Worldchanging’s Alex Steffen Visits Nau”

  • November 16, 2006 at 6:25 am | One.Love says

    Bob –
    Come on I can’t believe you are using the Republican/Corporate spin word “Climate Change” in this entry!

    “… ranging from climate change to launching a sustainable business.”

    I hate the fact that “climate change” has now been an accepted term for the devastating problem that is “GLOBAL WARMING”. When it is a spin word created by the Reublican think tank, like their other classics: “Compassionate Conservative, the Clean Skies Act, instead of “estate tax,” one now speaks of the “death tax.” “Drilling For Oil” becomes “Responsible Exploration For Energy.” “Logging” becomes “Healthy Forests.” “Manipulation” becomes “Explanation and Education.”

    Please Bob – think before you speak.

  • November 16, 2006 at 11:30 pm | owen says

    Liz, the term “climate change” was used directly on the worldchanging site to describe the book.

    “From consumer consciousness to a new vision for industry; non-toxic homes to refugee shelters; microfinance to effective philanthropy; socially responsible investing to starting a green business; citizen media to human rights; ecological economics to climate change, this is the most comprehensive, cutting-edge overview to date of what’s possible in the near future — if we decide to make it so.”

  • November 16, 2006 at 11:50 pm | Douglas says


    The buzzword for the last ten years has been “corporate social responsibility”, when what we actually mean is consumer social responsibility. I would argue that we’ve always been accountable for knowing the “backstory” of where our stuff comes from; our ethical responsibilities extend to that which we affect. Historically, our choices only brought consequences to those immediately around us and thus were easy to see and comprehend. In the modern international economy, our reach and our duties are harder to understand because they extend globally, far beyond our sight.

    But active consciences are inquisitive and demanding. People generally understand that their economic choices are moral choices affecting what they cannot see. As early as 1756, people opposed to slavery avoided using products of slavery. They started wearing white, unbleached clothes rather than clothes with colors because dyes had to be produced by slave labor (off-white, the new black!). By 1792, 300,000 Brits were boycotting sugar, the principal product grown by British slaves. That contributed to Parliament abolishing slavery in all its colonies in 1807. More recently, in the 1980′s, an international boycott and economic divestment ended South African apartheid. History shows consumers make a difference.

    I believe that all people want to lead responsible, ethical lives. Where Nau can contribute is by providing options to do so.


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