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Contributed by Marian Brown on 02/25/2004
In his presentation, Jim will explain the concept of "Ecological Footprinting," a tool used to dramatically demonstrate the consequences of our personal lifestyle choices through quantifying the amount of land needed to support the production of all the things we use day-to-day and to absorb our waste. How would our footprint change if we shared a fuel-efficient vehicle and combined trips? Better insulated our house? What if we could share certain tools and appliances? Examples will be given of how these tools can be used to monitor the impact of a school, a household, a business, or a nation.
Merkel realizes that change is necessary on all levels of society -- including business, media, and government. He will bring focus to the actions individuals can take in their own lives. How does your consumption compare to world neighbors and the biosphere's capacity to regenerate itself? If you downsized, might you free up time for family, hobbies, and volunteering? Compare your own ecological footprint with the annual EF assessments made of 150 nations.
Jim Merkel quit his job as a military engineer following the Exxon Valdez oil spill disaster and has since worked to develop tools for personal and societal transformation. He founded the Global Living Project to further this work. Merkel and his partner Rowan Sherwood, an Ithaca College alumnus, (pictured, at right) conduct much of their work by bicycle -- riding from town to town, presenting workshops that spark provocative conversations about taking the next steps toward restoring the Earth and our lives. Together they homestead and run sustainable living programs from their land in rural Vermont.
Jim recently authored Radical Simplicity: Small Footprints on a Finite Earth, a revolutionary guide to living up to your own personal -- and measurable -- sustainability goals. "... I defy you to read [Radical Simplicity] and not come away thinking of ways your life might change for the better," says Bill McKibben, author of The End of Nature. While Merkel realizes that change is necessary on all levels of society -- including business, media, and government -- he will bring focus to the actions individuals can take in their own lives.
Combining warm images, compassionate advocacy, and absorbing science, this program proposes a personal answer to 21st-century global challenges. Formerly a self-described jet-setting military salesman, Merkel doesn't prescribe an ascetic life; rather he describes in detail, with measurable results, a life of joyful abundance; one where living on less sounds like fun -- because it is!
Contributed by Marian Brown