Upskilling for Post Growth Futures, Together
By Donnie Maclurcan / postgrowth.org
Jan 23, 2014

When I was seven, I was given an Apple Macintosh in the hope that Mavis Beacon would teach me how to touch type. It was an unreasonable expectation, for I was actually more interested in escaping to the fantasy lands of computer games such as Dungeons and Dragons, and Lode Runner. Yet, these games had a lasting, unexpected impact on my thirst for learning. In playing Dungeons and Dragons, I remember being particularly excited each time my archetypal characters would gain ‘experience points’ that enabled them to upgrade their abilities.

I still feel that childlike thrill each time I learn something new. It’s the giddy rush that comes from the outcome of a simple transaction: effort goes in, new skill comes out. And as the acquisition of knowledge or skills opens new doors of possibility, the world around me continuously changes; like reaching the next level on a computer game. What’s more, I’ve discovered I get the same rush watching others learn, and that my experiences are enriched when I participate in learning alongside others.

As my work has expanded to explore how humans can flourish within the planet’s biophysical limits, I’ve also become painfully aware that in some aspects of my life, I’m not very well-equipped to flourish in futures beyond economic growth. In retrospect, my formal schooling gave me a good base in certain skills such as public speaking, writing and analysis, but did nothing to prepare me in other areas of life, such as growing food, relating to animals and building things. I was being prepared for labor specialization, often at the expense of learning practical skills that will matter for us all in years to come. We are now heading into a time when generalists – people who can see the big picture and connect seemingly disparate skills and fields of knowledge – are needed just as much as specialists.

But the rising value of the generalist does not mean we each need to know how to do everything ourselves. Voids in our individual skill-sets are actually critical to building harmonious communities. As Bill Kauth and Zoe Alawan say, “We need each other, and we need to need each other”. Caroline Woolard of the New York City barter platform OurGoods elucidates this concept in sharing that, “When you take a class in a barter system you know the teacher needs you too”.

Thus, I recently found myself wondering, what range of skills might we collectively need in order to thrive in post growth futures? Or, if the Post Growth Institute were to develop a platform for ‘resilience training’, what existing efforts should we be promoting? What would we include were we to extend beyond traditional areas of sustainability reskilling such as growing food, building energy systems and learning techniques to effectively bring communities together?

Loosely sorted into nine categories, the list below contains areas of knowledge and skills I consider most important for collective thriving in a range of possible post growth futures. I’ve hyperlinked to explanations and guides for things that may be unfamiliar, and I acknowledge that certain skills, such as hunting, are justifiably not seen by everyone as necessary for human flourishing. In this sense, what would you add, change or remove?

Means of Learning and the Self

Community, Family and Leadership

  • Key lessons from human history
  • Asset-based community development
  • Running an ‘offers and needs market’
  • Relationship skills
  • Non-violent communication and conflict resolution
  • Diversity sensitivities (including GLBTQI, cultural, religious, disability, age, indigenous/First Nation)
  • Parenting and family dynamics
  • Dynamic teaching and group facilitation
  • Circle work and other decision-making techniques
  • Confident public speaking
  • Singing in harmony and dancing together
  • How to read and play music
  • Holding and participating in sacred rituals
  • Improvisation theatre
  • Storytelling
  • Restorative justice
  • Fun cooperative games for children and communities (including outdoor and card games)
  • Sharing law
  • Effective campaigning and lobbying
  • Child honouring and protection (including an introduction to ADHD, child trauma and special needs)
  • Graphic facilitation
  • Conversational French/Spanish/Mandarin/Arabic
  • Archiving (sound, video, images, stories, items, documents)

Health

Food and Nature

Bushcraft

Building, Equipment and Vehicles

Urban-oriented Skills

Crafts and Making

Business

The above ‘kitchen sink’ list appears, at times, focused on individualistic approaches to self-sufficiency that are more about surviving than thriving. Yet resilient leadership has little to do with creating bullet-proof, invincible fortresses of individuals. It’s more about engaging with others in vulnerable ways that drive human connection. By sharing personal experiences we open up to greater sharing of passions, knowledge, skills and resources, as well as discovering more clearly what work remains to be done, both together and alone. What makes the entire system strong is in understanding that everyone has something to offer; that, as in nature, complimentary diversity within a community’s skill sets creates greater resilience.

Fortunately, it’s increasingly easy to locate places and means by which to seed and nurture new knowledge and skills. The Skillshare platform, for example, allows us to find ‘project-based classes anytime, anywhere’. Thousands of intensive, live-in programs, such as the one soon to be offered by the Gross National Happiness Centre in Bhutan, are springing up around the world. Other initiatives, such as the International Youth Initiative Program in Sweden and the Mycelium Learning Journey in the USA, seek to build skills alongside the incubation of a participant’s social innovation.

Sure, there are times when it’s important to learn things alone. It’s just that there is a great deal to be gained from more of our learning happening together, building shared resilience in the process. As Eric Brende, in his book documenting his time within Amish communities, notes, there is a powerful spin on an old proverb, rather than ‘many hands make light work’, it’s worth considering how ‘many hands make work light’.

3.5 ·
1
Trending Today
How a Lack of Touch Is Destroying Men
Mark Green · 4,140 views today · Why Men Need More Platonic Touch in their Lives
How Comedy Can Disarm Bullies
3 min · 3,502 views today · As long as you're funny, it can get you out of almost anything - even getting mugged, as co-founder of Between Two Ferns Scott Aukerman recounts. Unfortunately, not everyone...
Immigrants For Sale (2015)
33 min · 2,562 views today · The detention of migrants has become a multi-billion dollar industry in which immigrants are sold to the highest bidder and traded like mere products. The Corrections...
Globalization Makes No Sense
Chris Agnos · 2,337 views today · When I lived in San Francisco, I often would marvel at the movement of goods through the ports across the bay in Oakland. Full container ships would enter the bay one after...
Proof of Evolution That You Can Find on Your Body
4 min · 1,850 views today · Vestigial structures are evolution's leftovers — body parts that, through inheritance, have outlived the context in which they arose. Some of the most delightful reminders of...
Your Lifestyle Has Already Been Designed (The Real Reason For The Forty-Hour Workweek)
David Cain · 1,669 views today · Well I’m in the working world again. I’ve found myself a well-paying gig in the engineering industry, and life finally feels like it’s returning to normal after my nine months...
John Lennon's "Imagine," Made Into a Comic Strip
John Lennon. Art by Pablo Stanley · 1,088 views today · This is easily the best comic strip ever made.  Pabl
A Hauntingly Beautiful Short Film About Life and Death
5 min · 898 views today · The Life of Death is a touching handdrawn animation about the day Death fell in love with Life.
Today I Rise: This Beautiful Short Film Is Like a Love Poem For Your Heart and Soul
4 min · 894 views today · "The world is missing what I am ready to give: My Wisdom, My Sweetness, My Love and My hunger for Peace." "Where are you? Where are you, little girl with broken wings but full...
Compassion, the Antidote
Martin Doblmeier · 802 views today · Thich Nhat Hanh has published nearly 100 books and is one of the best-known teachers of Zen Buddhism in the world today. In the early 1960s his practice of what he termed...
Without Saying a Word This 6 Minute Clip From Samsara Will Make You Speechless
6 min · 739 views today · Can you put this video into words? It's a clip from the phenomenal documentary Samsara, directed by Ron Fricke, who also made Baraka.  If you're interested in watching...
How Wolves Change Rivers
4 min · 683 views today · When wolves were reintroduced to Yellowstone National Park in the United States after being absent nearly 70 years, the most remarkable "trophic cascade" occurred. What is a...
Those That Did Not Seek Revenge
Dr. Ann Russo · 604 views today · Dr. Ann Russo on violence, healing, and transforming justice.
Touch Isolation: How Homophobia Has Robbed All Men Of Touch
Mark Greene · 595 views today · Homophobic prohibitions against male touch are hurting straight men as well.
Stunning Small Homes Form Part of a Communal Compound for Best Friends
Lighter Side · 577 views today · If you’re lucky enough to have longtime friends even as an adult, then you know probably already know how much it means to be able to spend time together. Maybe you even have a...
Where the Term "Redneck" Came From
15 min · 493 views today · If you don't know this story, you'll never look at the word the same again.  This is just a window into the sometimes shocking, subversive and untold history of the United...
The Foiled Bomb Plot in Kansas That Didn't Make Trump's Terror List
5 min · 485 views today · When a plot by a pro-white militia to bomb a Somali mosque in Kansas was foiled by the FBI last October, the aborted conspiracy received little national coverage - nor did it...
DAPL Opponents Vow to 'Rise' From Ashes of Oceti Sakowin and Keep Fighting
Lauren McCauley · 481 views today · 'They cannot extinguish the fire that Standing Rock started,' Dallas Goldtooth declared
10 Words Every Girl Should Learn
Soraya Chemaly · 332 views today · "Stop interrupting me."  "I just said that." "No explanation needed." In fifth grade, I won the school courtesy prize. In other words, I won an award for being polite. My...
The Most Astounding Fact about the Universe
3 min · 239 views today · This is Neil Degrasse Tyson's response when asked to describe the most astounding fact about the universe. Background music is the cinematic orchestra - To build a home.
Load More
What's Next
Like us on Facebook?
Upskilling for Post Growth Futures, Together