Buckminster Fuller once remarked that “You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.”

The Alliance Center and Natural Capitalism Solutions (NCS) are doing both. We have a long history of working together to counter neoliberalism, the dominant global economic ideology that has driven global inequality, environmental destruction, climate chaos and much more. We are also leading efforts to replace neoliberalism with regenerative economics.

NCS’s and Hunter Lovins’ work in critiquing neoliberalism goes back to 1999 with the publication of the book Natural Capitalism: Creating the Next industrial Revolution. Natural Capitalism was itself put forth as an alternative to neoliberalism, and the “cheater capitalism” it has fostered. The book is widely credited with launching the belief that there is a business case for behaving more responsibly to people and the planet—contradicting Milton Friedman’s dicta that “the social responsibility of business is to increase its profits” (New York Times, Sept. 13, 1970.) Now, essentially all businesses have a corporate social responsibility/ sustainability function. Most large companies have a Chief Sustainability Officer. Shareholder primacy is increasingly under attack, and such concepts as stakeholder capitalism are gaining acceptance from Wall Street to Main Street.

Together, the two organizations have been instrumental in launching the concept of regenerative economics, the leading alternative to neoliberalism.

Hunter Lovins, president of NCS, has keynoted more than a dozen events at The Alliance Center presenting this alternative. The Alliance Center was a cosponsor of NCS’ 2017 Regenerative Futures Summit. The Summit brought together such alternative economics thinkers as Kate Raworth, Joihn Fullerton and Hunter Lovins. Many outcomes sprang from this event, including the writing of the Nautalus Award winning book, A Finer Future: Creating an Economy in Service to Life specifically Chapter Three and the launching the Well-being Economy Alliance. The Alliance also hosted the Regenerative Organizations Summit in 2017. It hosted the launch of John Fullerton’s Regenerative Communities Network in 2018. At all of these gatherings, speakers detailed the failings of neoliberalism and the necessity to replace it with regenerative economics.

NCS was instrumental in launching several alternative MBA programs, and remains key in the Bard MBA in Sustainable Management. We are also working with the UNSDG Academy to embed the concepts of regenerative economics into management education. NCS has built curriculum detailing why neoliberalism must be replaced. Hunter now teaches this curriculum at such universities at the Bard MBA in Sustainable Management, the Gabelli School of Business at Fordham and others. Hunter was awarded the lifetime achievement award by the humanistic management network, a global academic consortium for her work opposing neoliberalism.

The partnership between The Alliance Center and Natural Capitalism Solutions has produced such works as a series of blogs for the Regenerative Development Institute at Regis University, articles in the Journal of Humanistic Management and the attached chapter which will be featured in the forthcoming book, Thrive: Basic Principles of a New Economy.

These are examples of work that are of outstanding academic quality but more importantly showcase the practical implementation that The Alliance Center and Natural Capitalism are doing. The most recent example of this is the Regenerative Recovery Coalition. This Coalition is implementing regenerative economics in a physical location, presenting the state government, legislators and resident with an alternative economic system to neoliberalism

This work is of relevance both locally and internationally. Hunter Lovins helped launch the Regenerative Hub in Costa Rica, and was asked by the King of Bhutan “to reinvent the global economy.” It was that request which led to the publishing of A Finer Future: Creating an Economy in Service to Life. Hunter also serves on the Club of Rome’s transformational economics hub: Earth For All.

 

Written by Hunter Lovins

“Did you see that?!” 

“What?” I pulled my head out of my pillow and squinted in the dark at my husband.

“A big flash,” he reported. “And now the power’s out. I think a transformer blew.” 

In the growing dawn I could see branches sagging under heavy snow. 

“I’d best go unplug the Leaf.” Our solar system with SimpliPhi batteries in the garage will run our house effectively indefinitely, but our trusty electric vbehicle pulls a lot of load. If we’re on power conservation mode, it’s best to wait to charge it until the solar system is getting lots of photons. Normally it’s great: I drive for free, my power stored during the day and trickled from the batteries into my car each evening. 

This time, our rural coop lost power for the better part of three days. Snowmagedden left parts of Northern Boulder County bereft of electricity. But not our ranch. We called the neighbors, as we do in such times, offering warmth, phone charging and Internet access.

This is a challenge not created by Covid. It reminded me, yet again, that our life support systems are not resilient. But, this challenge I’d prepared for. Years ago I’d gotten a one-time payout, which I spent installing a solar system that powers my home, fuels my EV and sells any excess to the utility. If I need more power than the batteries have stored, I buy it from the same utility. But if the grid goes down, the system stands alone. My husband groused at the cost until the floods of 2013 took power out for a week. Since then, the system has kept us toasty, our fridge cold, our rooms lit and computers connected many times. It was a luxury when I put it in. Now, doubling the size of our system would cost one fifth of my original investment. Every time the power goes out I wonder why everyone doesn’t have a system like this. 

The Coalition’s Climate Change and Energy working group was just talking about this. As renewable energy becomes cheaper everywhere than coal, oil, gas or nuclear, what is the best system architecture, as Colorado transitions to a 100% carbon free grid? Should the utilities own it all and retain their monopoly business model? They would like that. But under that scenario, I’d be freezing in the dark with my neighbors. As the people of Texas did a few weeks ago when the climate change-driven storm hit there. Replicating my system across Colorado would be far more resilient. Such distributed generation, intertied to the grid, would support job creation, and lower system costs for everyone. But this won’t happen unless we demand it.