Friday, October 26, 2007

Steve McIntosh, Ross Robertson, Alan AtKisson

Steve McIntosh of Boulder, CO has just published an excellent new book on integral theory, Integral Consciousness and the Future of Evolution, (Continuum International Publishing, 2007). I learned of Steven only recently, when Ross Robertson asked to interview me about integral ecology and "bright green" ecology for the What Is Enlightenment? website. The audio interview can be found on the WIE Unbound section.

Prior to the interview, Ross sent me a copy of the October-December, 2007 issue of WIE, the main topic of which is "Envisioning the future of ecology, politics, and consciousness." Ross Robertson wrote the lead article,"A brighter shade of green: Rebooting environmentalism for the 21st century," an excellent and highly informative look at what some are calling "bright green" environmentalism, which embracing emerging technologies to find solutions to environmental problems. In Ross's article, and in our subsequent interview-session, I learned about WorldChanging: A User's Guide to the 21st Century, which may be understood as a bright green version of the Whole Earth Catalogue of the 1960s and 1970s.
In reading Ross's article, I encountered for the first time a my name and Alan AtKisson's name on the same page, which was a treat. Alan was student of mine when he studied at Tulane University, 1978-1982. He has gone on to become a major international player in the sustainability world with his own corporation.
In addition to Ross's fine article, the Ecology, Politics, and Consciousness issue of WIE contains an illuminating interview Steven McIntosh. The interview, "Integral politics comes of age," was conducted by Carter Phipps. I won't try to summarize the interview, except to say that it has some exceptional insights into the problems facing a world in which vast numbers of people are perating at differing waves or levels of consciousness.
When I discovered that Steve lives in Boulder, to which I moved in 2006 from New Orleans, I got in touch with him. Recently, we took an easy hike through Boulder's famous Chautauqua park, where we had occasion to talk about his new book. The first half of the book is a clear, accessible, and articulate account of the major elements of integral theory, whose most important recent exponent is Ken Wilber. Particularly useful is Steve's account of integral politics, according to only when a solution to a major problem comes into view do most people really begin to understand that there is a problem. With no solution in sight, problems tend to fade into the taken-for-granted background, as when it is assumed that hunger will always be with us, because it always has been and there is no way to feed everyone in today's world. With that assumption in place, and with no apparent solution in sight, hunger recedes into the taken-for-granted background. Years ago, a movement known as the Hunger Project proposed to make people aware that hunger is a problem and that is doesn't have to remain with us forever. Whether the Hunger Project could have been more successful by emphasizing available solutions, and then using such solutions to call attention to the taken-for-granted (and thus relatively invisible) problem is a topic for another discussion.
Ross Robertson, Steve McIntosh, and Alan AtKisson are all integral ecologists, even if they don't claim the title. They discern that all major perspectives must be brought into play in order to characterize exactly what an environmental "problem" happens to be, and also in order to propose solutions that take those multiple characterizations into account. Crucial for all three is the need to change consciousness regarding environmenta problems. Change of consciousness can occur to some extent in advance of correlative changes in social institutions, but institutional change is required for consciousness change is to endure. More later on all this.

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