With astonishing speed, human civilization has exhausted much of the planet’s rich biodiversity, fresh water and topsoil, and we are dramatically altering the earth’s climate. Generation after generation, we continue to leave our home more depleted and less diverse. Without rapid, fundamental change in our behavior, both the biosphere and human civilization are in great peril.
In recent generations, most of us in the overdeveloped Global North have lost connection with the experience of living in a place-based community of extended family, clan or tribe. Due to the destabilizing effects of colonization, migration and urbanization, most people have lost the local bio-cultural knowledge that was passed down through the intact communities of our ancestors.
Furthermore, most of us are profoundly estranged from the natural world. We have forgotten our interrelationship with the biosphere and now lack awareness of the perilous state we have created for the ecological life support systems upon which we rely. We suffer a mainstream culture and economy that rewards self-interested behavior over care for the commons.
People crave to come home to the heart of what it is to be human.
OAEC's experience is that despite living in such a state of alienation and individualism, people actually crave to come home to the heart of what it is to be human: to feel gratitude for our ancestors; to cultivate healthy communities; to act with mindfulness for the seven generations to come; to respect and steward the earth for the good of all life. We are evolved to want to tend deep, healthful and reciprocal relationships with the rest of the natural world. E.O. Wilson called it biophilia – “love of life”. OAEC’s work embodies this ethos.
"Economy" is not the management of money or the creation of surplus wealth, but rather the "management of home": the organization of our relationship to place.
Without ecological literacy – a deep understanding of relationships within natural ecosystems – we are ignorant of the consequences of our behaviors, both economically and culturally. Our current ecological, economic and climate crises are direct results of the mismanagement of home.
Diversity is a core characteristic of healthy ecosystems. To protect and restore bio-cultural diversity, OAEC supports diverse communities to design their own regenerative systems at the regional and local scale.
OAEC’s work is about remembering our way Home: about calling memory forward to restore and "re-story" cultures and economies for the care of all life. We help individuals and communities act as if they plan to stay on this planet, thriving and in good relationship with all living systems, for many generations to come.
OAEC is a resiliency demonstration site, modeling dozens of practical, personal and community-scale solutions to common challenges around the sustainable management of soil, water, food production, the restoration and preservation of biological and cultural diversity, and more effective ways to self-govern and manage economy. OAEC’s programs benefit from our twenty years of experience in developing and caring for our own 80-acre site, as well as supporting hundreds of other land-based projects and organizations.
The transition to a just and sustainable economy will only be achieved if more individuals become ecologically literate change makers dedicated to ecological justice. OAEC has developed many workshops and advocacy campaigns that help train, support and inspire individuals and social movement leadership to apply an ecological lens to their already inspiring work.
Example: Resilient Schools Training >
OAEC strives to achieve a “social change multiplier effect” by training and building the capacity of whole communities to become more effective agents of rapid change. We work to foster ecological literacy and to empower diverse communities – schools, local governments, public agencies, foundations, environmental and social justice organizations, farms and ranches, and policy coalitions – to design their own strategies to create the just transition towards a more regenerative culture and economy.
Example: Resilient Community Design >
We work to legalize and require sustainable economy, and to make illegal and dis-incentivize activities that subvert it. Sometimes on our own, but most often through broader advocacy alliances, we seek to change policy in the arenas of governance in which we are most likely to succeed – a city or county council, school board, water agency, or state legislature or agency – on issues that are ripe for change and move us toward a just and sustainable future.