Category Archives: Richard’s blog

Democratic by Design – new book with rich diversity of democratic approaches


By Richard Register

In the perfect world of politics and economics rolling along, direct and official accountability to the public, through free speech, open deliberation and voting (decision making) and taxing and spending (getting real about doing something) would be mainly through government and the law-making practice. The idea is to have open debate and a beautifully informed public. Everything is then supposed to work out nicely for “the People” as they like it. In people-initiated government-independent work, generally meaning business, sometimes non-profit organizations, just to keep the bad actors in line with a little bit of regulation for the common good… and all’s well that continues harmoniously.


  Gabriel Metcalf, from the book jacket

When I went to Norway for the first time, in 1988, I said to my host and friend there, Kirsten Kolstad, “I’d like to visit some environmental organizations; where can we find some?” She looked at me a bit puzzled. READ MORE

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Ecocity Economics 101

Richard Register

Some of you regular readers of our Ecocity Builders Newsletter might be interested in the way my mind works, which is largely through visual representation, so this article is one version of that. This will be something of an introduction to my book also, World Rescue – an Economics Built on What We Build, which is coming out this very month, available via Amazon. (Don’t have a mainstream publisher yet but expect to get there later.)

I’ll also look at Naomi Klein’s partial conversion and transformation (she says she’s a convert herself) in her recent book This Changes Everything. She says she used to be a climate change denier, but not any more. She even likes some things the World Bank has done and sees a little positive in some capitalism. READ MORE

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And the Climate Solution is…

Not to sound like a television game show, and certainly not to offer a $64 billion dollar prize for the answer, as if money would do it all… but what is the best answer? That’s in the singular. Is there one? Skip oil; go solar? Are there a dozen? Find deeper causes? Are there as many as there are people on the planet about now?

The latter should be the democratic answer, but maybe they would all converge, the elite and the salt of the earth, in an approach that makes the best sense.

Another question is why would I presume to know something about all that? Welcome to democracy! We are all supposed to have worthwhile, helpful thoughts and exercise freedom of expression to do our best with them and it, thoughts and expression. READ MORE

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Changes Toward Ecocities

I’m sitting in a restaurant late in the evening after giving a talk at the San Simon University of Cochabamba, Bolivia, student body 80,000. I’m amazed that what I’ve been seeing here and, just a few days earlier in Colombia, fits so well with what I was thinking about writing about for this issues of our newsletter, that is, good news: the progress toward ecocities in the last few years. Yes I know we are still – and rather massively – loosing ground to cars and asphalt in the developing world and the move toward seriously curbing greenhouse gasses in the United States and China is glacial. But some serious idea seeds and vigorous sprouts abound. I’m heartened by the overflow crowd for my talk an hour ago here at the University, and back in Bogota just three days earlier, the day I spoke there was “Car Free Day.” Thousands of mostly young people gathered in the main square in front of the Mayor’s office listening and dancing to reggae music; there must have been two bicycles for every three persons. READ MORE

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From Shangri-La to Baku and Back

Winding up my series, Part Three, on the recent conference “Toward a New Paradigm in Human Development” held in Baku, Azerbaijan, April 30, 2015

Richard Register

I picked up Lost Horizon at a small bookstore just before I left Kathmandu in 1995. The James Hilton yarn is famous for many in the Western World who never read it – or even heard of it – for introducing the timeless land of Shangri-La, a warm climate paradise sheltered behind the towering stone and ice teeth of the Himalaya mountains. Noting the book’s small size and reasonable 275 pages and knowing its popular almost mythic status, I thought it was just the entertainment for my flight out of Nepal and back to the world of my everyday affairs.

It was night at the airport, no posted sign of when our plane was to leave, though my ticket said departure in 45 minutes. READ MORE

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The Paradigms We Live In: Nature’s paradigms and ours

Richard Register

The following essay appeared as two parts in the monthly newsletter of the California educational non-profit Ecocity Builders, the first for their April, 2015 edition and the second for their May, 2015 edition with two separate titles, one for each month.

~  · ~

   Begin part two, May 2015, Ecocity Builders Newsletter

~  · ~

For my contribution to our Ecocity Builders newsletter last month I wrote about some of my then current thinking on paradigms, mentioning that I’ve been thinking a good deal about the subject in preparation for attending and speaking at the “New Paradigm for Human Development” conference in Baku, Azerbaijan organized and hosted by the World Academy of Art and Science.

What a difference two weeks make. I’m not the flighty sort but I’ve had some significant additions and some change in thinking in a rather short time. READ MORE

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Baku, Azerbaijan – A good Place for a “New Paradigm” conference

The current dominant world paradigm is all about hyper mobility, scattered development almost everywhere, oil to power mobility and the production/consumption machine – and fighting over it. The new paradigm is about not doing all that but instead learning how human cultures can become healthy among us people and as part of nature. Actually, it goes much deeper than that into the ways our consciousness and consciences manage our information and our lives, all animals in varying degrees, by instinct and by learning, nature and nurture. But after the more physical lead in, we will get to the more cerebral later in this writing.

An often-overlooked location on the surface of the Earth at the source of much of the old paradigm, in those physical terms I mention, is where a new paradigm will be considered at a conference in late April where I will be speaking: Baku, Azerbaijan. READ MORE

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Search for a Science of Unification

Editor’s Note:

Today’s multi-dimensional crises require the social sciences to think outside their individual boxes and work toward a more inclusive, integrated and comprehensive “science of society.” So argue three authors (Garry Jacobs, Winston Nagan, and Alberto Zucconi) in a paper entitled “Unification in the Social Sciences: Search for a Science of Society” published in the October 2014 issue of Cadmus, the journal of World Academy of Art and Science. The following article illustrates the significance of this subject to Ecocity Builders. The article retains the style and format of its original form: a letter from Richard Register to author Garry Jacobs in response to reading the Cadmus paper.  


Dear Garry:

Let me share with you a few themes that come up for me when reading your paper then try to make sense of your thoughts and mine at the same time. READ MORE

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This Changes Everything

by Richard Register, Founder, Ecocity Builders

This is something of a continuation of my last article, with a whole new perspective.

You may remember I wrote about a book called Extracted – How the Quest for Mineral Wealth Is Pillaging the Planet. Since then I’ve “met” The Shock Doctrine author Naomi Klein and bought her latest book from her. That one is called This Changes Everything and it’s about what climate change implies about rearranging our economics and politics—and more than that, maybe our trajectory toward ecological and political collapse on our lovely, rich and vital planet Earth. Emphasize this: collapse means essentially the death of practically everything we hold near and dear.

More on her book and related ideas later. First, just a reminder that “Extracted” was written for the Club of Rome, now 42 years after the Club sponsored the much misrepresented Limits to Growth study and subsequent highly controversial book of the same title. READ MORE

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Remembering my friend Rusong

By Richard Register, founder, Ecocity Builders

His name is Wang Rusong, last name first in China, and Wang pronounced “Wong” – much softer in sound, as befits this wonderful man.

At five minutes after midnight on November 28 in a Beijing hospital my friend Wang Rusong died. I got the message only a few short hours later, California time, from my friend and ecocity architect Paul Downton in Australia. Rusong was one of the kindest, gentlest, most hard working, insightful, original, dedicated and effective, humble and important people I’ve even met. Stuffing so much positive into one person is quite remarkable. Well, that was Rusong. You could almost not notice him until you realized what he was up to, capable of, of the kindest heart yet with a determination of steel. READ MORE

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