Food, Fuel and Finance

As part of our work, we develop an Ambit – a focus for our studies over the two year program, an area of expertise. Here is a first cut, from a 12 Feb 2008 post:

I was thinking that my ambit had to be a one subject thing that could be described in one word. But I look a the definition, and I see that this is not necessarily so:
1 : circuit, compass
2 : the bounds or limits of a place or district
3 : a sphere of action, expression, or influence scope

The sphere of action that I want to focus on is bounded by overlapping circles:

Food, Fuel, & Finance

Bio-fuels and food can be seen as interlocking processes that share similar characteristics, including, ultimately, the conversion and use of the sun’s energy for our benefit. The finance piece comes in as it seems that to build sustainable food and fuel networks for a global society that are rooted locally, we will need different finance and ownership mechanisms than are currently in place.

This area of study has a strong systems component at many levels, systems theory being one of my interests. And it is fundamentally grounded in the land. It is important, I think, for me to not get too far from having my hands in the dirt.

As my studies have progressed, I have found that the field of ecological economics unifies these three themes, grounding economic process in the environment and a more human conceptualization of society.

And I’ve seen the notion of generative patterns, expressed in a profound way in “A Timeless Way of Building”/”A Pattern Language” by Christopher Alexander emerge as a fundamental set of principals that align systems thinking with living design …

Finally, in my entrance essay I explore humility as a central value underlying sustainability. This starts to point at the fact that deep sustainability will require a spiritual solution.

Update: Interestingly enough, this discussion in The Archdruid Report seems to be pointing in a very similar direction …