How to get sustainable

Sustainable living has been done. It’s not new. It’s age old. It’s probably older than language, older than thought in our species.

It’s a way of life wide spread in the natural world. I’d say most life forms have found a way to live sustainable. Humanity also contains examples of sustainable living. There are cultures who have at their foundation a wisdom-knowledge pair that runs through everything that they create and sustain on top of it.

Examples of these cultures are found here:

And here:

Because these cultures have what our culture doesn’t have, namely a narrative that informs its peoples resource utility in such a way that it is sustainable, it sounds logical to me to ask if we might learn this wisdom-knowledge pair from them.

Think of it as reverse developmental aid. We’re in the need. As a culture, we are in need of aid. Aid in our development towards a way of life that is in concert with the natural world of living organisms. Aid in social and cultural ways to transform away from rampant depression, live destroying air pollution, degenerative sicknesses, and a general disequilibrium with our environment that is the driving force behind the current man induced extinction rate that will leave the planet without 50% of it’s species by 2050.

Other cultures are ready to help. In fact, at the Rio+20 UN Summit on sustainability and the environment, help was offered:

Sonia Guajajara, of the Guajajara tribe, said, ‘We have come here to raise awareness about our fight and to show that this model of development is not realistic… We want to show the world what it really means to live sustainably. Nobody understands sustainability better than indigenous people’.


With all that in place, all we need now is a new cultural direction. An arrow in life that points towards cultural growth by immersing oneself in other cultures. Our culture needs to encourage people to leave our culture and live with a sustainable culture for a few years. It could be valued equivalent to a secondary education degree or something like that.

In the long run it accomplished two goals.

  • One, cultural wisdom and knowledge from the other culture gets mixed with our own. This trickles back into our culture.
  • Two, the other culture stays alive and its wisdom is preserved.
Underlying processes

One of humanities key features is it’s curiosity. It’s what drove us as hunter/gatherers to move around and it’s what spread our species to live and adapt to every habitat on earth. When agriculture was invented, we stopped moving but our curiosity did not. It led us towards the creation of immense mental structures that eventually developed into science, the arts, religion, and politics. It’s unstoppable force is still noticeable today. New gadgets, new likes, new apps, new technology, new frontiers, new anythings excite us like nothing else. It’s part of our species and it has driven us on the amazing trip that humanity has so far traveled.

Standing still has thus driven us into matter while not eroding our unsatisfiable thirst for new things. This is currently what cripples our planet, our health and our sanity and it is also crippling sustainable cultures. The thirst is exemplified in our cities. The city is an orgy of New. The confluence of so many goods, peoples and concepts wields a force on young minds everywhere that is irresistible. It’s not strange then that other cultures see their youngsters leaving their ancestral homes and cultures for the exciting world of city living. We’ve seen the same on our own farms and lands.

Thus sending people away from our culture, does not need to frighten us. Because of the pull of the city, people will feel attracted to it for the time to come. Plus young people from other cultures will keep joining ours. Here then, we need to create a circle. Allow me to illustrate:


Drawn in a landscape the distribution and flow of people currently looks like this:


We see one arrow. This arrow is not created intentionally by the culture. It’s an emergent property of the culture’s values, those of learning about and creating within matter. It draws people toward it’s cities. This is not sustainable. One can infer that from the omission of a recurrent pointer towards the origin of the arrow. (Because anything sustainable needs at least two arrows).  A new arrow can be intentionally created by our culture to bring it into balance:


In this picture we project an arrow from our culture towards sustainable cultures. ‘Scholars’, meaning people from all walks of life interested in sustainable cultural values, could enlist to a cultural institution that helps peoples form both cultures to find a suitable host culture for the scholar.

By drawing on expectations about what sustainable cultures would teach us, the picture shows a decreased amount of people concentrating in city’s and instead a more balanced distribution of people over the available surface of the planet, most notably, into environments with more diverse lifeforms, closer to food sources, closer to the perspective widening, mind soothing and healing forms our nature.






Author: Nico Vlaming

A holder of a BSc in Cognitive Artificial Intelligence, self taught meditator, guerrilla gardener, campfire enthusiast, late blooming psychonaut and board member at

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