Tuesday, 13 September 2011

Rob Dietz parting letter: Steady-Stater/CASSE

Dear Readers,
I was thinking since you are interested in reading my blog and perhaps like me, deeply interested in a Steady-State economy, I am forwarding you this letter from Rob Dietz of CASSE. Please read them and see if you have friends,colleagues or even yourself to take on the opportunity.

For the Planet,

Steady Stater and CASSE Changes
1 message

CASSE Tue, Sep 13, 2011 at 12:32 PM

Reply-To: CASSE

Dear [Steady-Stater]
I am stepping down as the executive director of CASSE in a few weeks,
so this is my last time distributing the Steady Stater to you.
I hope you've come to see this newsletter as a salve for the wounds
we endure as we witness environmental catastrophes that grow in
lockstep with GDP.  This edition certainly offers some relief for
such wounds. You'll learn about what we've been doing to promote
a hopeful vision of an economy that fits on this finite planet.

Please click here to download your copy of the Steady Stater.

I will continue to work on CASSE projects, but before telling you
about that and why I decided to resign, I need to say thank you.
First to you.  Without concerned citizens to help us spread our message,
to support us financially, to pay attention to our efforts, and to keep us
honest, there would be no CASSE.  Second I want to thank Herman Daly
and the other pioneers who have worked so hard developing the concept
of the steady state economy, even in the face of a hostile mainstream
establishment.  I would be wallowing in despair if I didn't view the
steady state as a sort of life-line that can pull us out of the environmental
mess we've made for ourselves.  Third I want to thank my family and
friends. They've put up with my complaints over these past four years
(and they're a big part of the reason I took this job in the first place!).
Finally I want to say thank you to Brian Czech.  Because of his
unwavering dedication to the truth and his persistence in telling that truth,
thousands of people have been introduced to a better economic framework.
And I'm both proud and lucky to be one of them.

Regarding my resignation, I'm actually excited about it for two reasons:
(1) Partly from my experience with the Daly News, I've become more
and more excited about dedicating substantial time and energy to writing.
First on my writing to-do list is to turn our report, Enough Is Enough,
into a book.  Dan O'Neill, our European Director, and I signed a contract
to publish it in an updated narrative format.  I'll be focusing on that
project for a while, but I also plan to keep editing and writing for the  
Daly News. (2) I'm pleased with the job I've done during CASSE's start-up
phase, but I believe a new executive director can take CASSE to the next
level. We need someone with passion and knowledge, someone with a
talent for organizing, someone who can effectively convince the world of
what needs to be done -- in short, a difference-maker.
Please contact Brian Czech if you know someone like that, perhaps
including yourself.

It has been an honor and a pleasure to serve in this role.
I've learned so much, especially from my conversations and
correspondence with all the steady staters out there.
I'll close with one more story, but please don't forget to
grab your copy of the Steady Stater.

Once upon a time (well, actually it was January of 2010), Brian and I
were attending the New Green Economy Conference in Washington, DC.
It was a key moment for CASSE -- we had played a big role in planning
the conference, helping to set the agenda, invite speakers, and propose
workshops.  My best idea during the planning phase had been to invite a
member of the President's Council of Economic Advisers to be a panelist
during a session.  I thought it would be worthwhile for someone with the
President's ear to hear some steady-state concepts.  The other conference
planners agreed, and we were able to confirm Cecilia Rouse as a speaker.

Her session was the final one of the conference. Twenty minutes before
that final session, I sat on the edge of a planter outside the conference hall.
I was exhausted (that's no surprise for an introvert at the end of a hectic
3-day conference).  I pulled my notebook out of my backpack and started
scribbling some thoughts on what I might ask Ms. Rouse if given an
opportunity.  A few minutes later, Brian approached and sat down next to me.
After asking how his presentation went, I said, "I've outlined some ideas for
Cecilia Rouse, but I doubt I'll have the energy to ask her anything.
You wanna do it?"  But I knew he had already expended his political
capital for the conference.  He looked away and then looked back at me
and said, "We really need you.  It's your time."  I took a deep breath, stowed
my notebook back in my backpack, stood up, and as we began to walk
toward the conference hall, I replied, "Ok, I'll do it."

We found good seats near the front and listened to the panelists discuss
their topic, "Progress of the Obama Administration in Moving Toward a
Green Economy."  Ms. Rouse used the term "green growth" several times
during her remarks.  When the session was finished, there was a brief
opportunity to ask questions.  I quickly moved to the microphone where
I was second in line. With a pounding heart, I waited for my turn to speak.
When the moderator motioned to me, I tried to keep my voice steady,
as I said, "This is a question for Cecilia Rouse. You spoke about green growth,
but just last night, Herman Daly accepted the Lifetime Achievement Award
on this very stage for his work on the steady state economy -- that is,
an economy that aims for stability instead of growth.  But the idea of a
steady state economy is rarely considered among policy makers.   
Would the Council of Economic Advisers be willing to facilitate a 
public dialogue about the limits to growth and the steady state as 
an alternative?"

Her response revealed that she didn’t understand the question -- she used
phrases like “sustainable growth, steady state growth, and balanced growth.”
To her credit, she asked me for clarification. I explained that a steady state
economy features stable population and stable consumption of energy and
materials at sustainable levels. She still seemed confused, so she suggested
that we arrange a meeting at a future date.

Brian and I got that meeting the following week, just after President Obama's
State of the Union address (there's a photo in this edition of the Steady Stater
of the two of us on the steps of the Old Executive Office Building across from
the White House). We made a mini-presentation to an economist with a direct
pipeline to the President. I learned two valuable lessons from that experience:
(1) sometimes it's necessary to step outside your comfort zone to realize an
opportunity, and (2) a little encouragement can go a long way.

I hope you will step outside your comfort zone from time to time to
initiate difficult discussions about the limits to growth and the steady state
economy.  I'd also like to provide some understated encouragement
(just like Brian did for me):  We really need you.  It's your time.



Rob Dietz
Executive Director

BestOfGreen2011 2

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