A systemic crisis requires systemic solutions; it's time to talk about what's next
A new project aims to create a space to address systemic issues such as wealth inequality, environmental degradation, a broken political system, and rampant racial and sexual discrimination.
We live in exciting times, with all sorts of innovative solutions being developed to address specific problems in society and industry, but we also live in troubled times, with massive environmental, economic, and social issues affecting billions of people here on Spaceship Earth. Specific solutions to individual issues are a great start to effecting change on a small scale, but when we zoom out and take a look at the bigger picture, it’s evident to many of us that while those initiatives are laudable, and perhaps even effective on a local or regional scale, what we really need is a much bigger playbook, because what we’re dealing with is a systemic crisis.
Most of us in the green media ecosystem tend to cover individual aspects of sustainability, and to highlight distinct solutions to the issues that humanity currently faces, such as clean energy innovations or improvements to our food systems or waste streams. And while spreading the word about those solutions is important (and fits right into our current media habit of only consuming information in tiny tidbits and soundbites), the scope of the challenges we face seems to call for a different approach - a systemic one.
A new initiative from the Democracy Collaborative, called The Next System Project, is attempting to do just that, by creating a space to bring together stakeholders from across the spectrum of academia, business, activism, politics, and community development, to have serious discussions and debates about the prospects of “bold solutions capable of addressing these problems at scale.”
“The challenging realities of growing inequality, political stalemate, and climate disruption prompt an important insight. When big problems emerge across the entire spectrum of national life, it cannot be due to small reasons. When the old ways no longer produce the outcomes we are looking for, something deeper is occurring. We have fundamental problems because of fundamental flaws in our economic and political system. The crisis now unfolding in so many ways across our country amounts to a systemic crisis.” - The Next System Project statement
Led by Gar Alperovitz, a political economist and historian, and James Gustave Speth, a leading environmental activist and former presidential advisor, The Next System Project has already gained support from a variety of influential deep thinkers, heavy hitters, and go-getters, including Bill McKibben, Ralph Nader, Annie Leonard, Noam Chomsky, as well as activists and media personalities such as Oliver Stone and Danny Glover.
The basic premise of The Next System Project, which is “the need for a serious national conversation about the deep long-term challenges” we face, is laid out in a statement of its aims, which can be read on the project website. A 22-page report, titled “New Political-Economic Possibilities for the Twenty-First Century,” provides an in-depth look at the aims and goals of the project, and is available as a PDF on the website.
“Responding to real hunger for a new way forward, and building on innovative thinking and practical experience with new economic institutions and approaches being developed in communities across the country and around the world, the goal is to put the central idea of system change, and that there can be a “next system,” on the map.” - The Next System Project
If the aims of this project appeal to you, the next step is to add your signature in support of the initiative on the website, and to sign up for the launch webinar being held on May 20th at 3pm ET, which will feature the project’s founders and a handful of other influential leaders on a panel will moderated by Grit TV’s Laura Flanders.