The Circular Economy and The Access Economy

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infographic 'Disownership is the New Normal'

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What happens to resource efficiency, recycling and waste management in a world where disownership is becoming the new normal?

As much as it may seem that the nuts and bolts of resource and waste management is about sorting machinery, storage, bins and collection systems, it is really ultimately about people.

We know that if people are to use resources mindfully, to manage them well, and to both demand and correctly use appropriate end of life systems, then we need to design systems that they are easy and convenient to use.

There are two ‘muscles’ that can be flexed in relation to resource and waste management – the Circular Economy muscle, and the Access Economy muscle. A lot of muscle-building effort has gone into the former, and the latter is a muscle we’ve only just discovered we can build.

circular economy biological loop - make, consume, enrich; technical loop - make, use return

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The Circular Economy is a concept and model which has been around for some time now, but is increasingly gaining traction – the UK’s leading waste & recycling organisation, WRAP UK have recently rebranded themselves as ‘Circular Economy and Resource Efficiency Experts’.

The Circular Economy seeks to shift activity from a linear to a circular model by making better use of materials, by keeping materials in circulation through reuse and recycling, industrial symbiosis and other efforts to divert material from landfill.

It displaces some demand for new materials, but does not address the rate at which materials enter the circle, as evidenced by total material demand continuing to grow faster than recycling rates improve.

It is vital to maintain a focus on bending the Linear Economy (‘take-make-waste’) into a Circular Economy, but it is not enough.

There is an entire, parallel area of territory yet to be explored, which I will call The Access Economy (aka Sharing Economy, Collaborative Economy) – or being able to access what we need by better using what we already have.

image of a drill - caption 'I do not need a drill - I need a hole in the wall'

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The Access Economy seeks to minimise the demand for materials, and is as – if not more – significant than The Circular Economy. There are also overlaps between the two eg. reuse could be considered Circular and Access.

The rapidly-gaining momentum of the collaborative (aka sharing) economy holds huge potential for addressing how we consume resources, and ways it could result in less waste.

The Access Economy is focused not on managing material at end-of-life, of better managing ‘waste’. It is focused on designing systems that facilitate more efficient, cost effective and in many case, community-enhancing ways of enabling people to meet their needs by tapping what is already available and leveraging idle assets (be they stuff, time, space, skills).

This means looking at the design of our living systems – how we grow food and prepare it; how we clothe and transport ourselves; how we meet our daily needs. We need to look at how we can solve the pain points of people’s lives – cost of living, time poverty –in a way that also delivers on environmental objectives.

The systems for The Access Economy are different from those for The Circular Economy – and significantly they may be more appealing to people who don’t see themselves as ‘green’, or really care about recycling. 

Successfully meeting sustainability challenges means we need to stop focusing on ‘reducing’ and ‘managing’ energy, emissions, water, waste and everything else (which are symptoms, outcomes of how people live) and start looking our systems through a lens of design (not just physical design) and social innovation.

Ultimately, environmental organisations and programs are not really about ‘environment’ at all – they are social innovation, because they set out to create new patterns of behaviour among human beings in order to lessen our impacts on the ecological systems which sustain all life. And social innovation is a design process.

We are now far from the traditional, familiar territory of the Circular Economy, but into an exciting new realm we have scarcely begun to explore that is fast gathering momentum around the world.

What would we be capable of if we combined the existing strength of the Circular Economy with the emerging juggernaut of the Access Economy?

Further references:

Circular Economy – Ellen Macarthur Foundation - a series of articles about the circular economy model, its principles, related schools of thought, and an overview of circular economy news from around the world.

Shareable - an award-winning nonprofit news, action and connection hub for the sharing transformation.

OuiShare - a global community empowering citizens, public institutions and companies to build a society based on collaboration, openness and sharing.

Collaborative Consumption - comprehensive online resource for collaborative consumption worldwide and network for the global community, curating news, content, events, jobs, studies and resources from key media outlets and industry blogs, as well as original content.

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South Australia to Share its Way to Zero Waste

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laptop displaying Share N Save at Campbelltown Produce Swap launch with people in background and produce on table next to computer

This article was written by Cat Johnson and originally published at Shareable.

Sharon Ede, writer of Cruxcatalyst, works for Zero Waste SA, and was the initiator of this project to ‘curate’ the local sharing/collaborative economy. Share N Save is now being actively supported by the South Australian government.

What would a zero waste world look like? One dimension is efficient recycling. But to truly get to zero waste, you’d need to go beyond recycling into reduce and reuse. In South Australia, they’re experimenting with how to take this one step further by adding “avoid” to the top of the waste management hierarchy.

To help avoid, Zero Waste SA created Share N Save, a map of “free stuff, shareable stuff, swappable stuff, community stuff you can borrow.” The site features an interactive maps that shows people to all the sharing services near them and helps communities find ways to avoid buying stuff in the first place.

Shareable recently chatted with Matthew Scales of Zero Waste SA about the importance of building sustainable communities, how they’re introducing people to sharing, and South Australia’s rich history of environmental and social innovation.

screenshot of Browse option in Share N Save

Share N Save helps people connect with sharing services in their neighborhood

Shareable: South Australia has one of the most successful waste diversion programs in the world. What do you attribute the success of the program to?

Matthew Scales: South Australians have a long history of environmental protection and being socially progressive. Since the 1970s we’ve had Container Deposit Legislation (the cash for containers scheme that gives consumers 10¢ for each eligible container returned) – the first state in Australia to have such a scheme. There’s a real pride in this scheme by South Australians and that’s flowed into the support for kerbside recycling systems as well.

Since Zero Waste SA’s establishment in 2004 we’ve worked closely with local government and the waste and recycling industry to refine the kerbside waste collection system resulting in the systems becoming more standardised across the state, with the ‘3 bin system’ being the default for most councils; a bin for organic waste which is sent for composting and turned into a product to enrich soils in one of the driest and most arid areas in Australia, a bin for co-mingled recyclables such as glass, paper and metals and a smaller bin for materials that can’t be recovered that are sent to landfill.

Add to that our relationship with the construction and demolition and commercial and industrial sectors where Zero Waste SA provides education about resource recovery and more efficient waste management practices in the production process as well as funding infrastructure and equipment to recover and recycle more materials more effectively and Australia’s first ban on lightweight plastic shopping bags and you can see the effect of all of Zero Waste SA’s initiatives contribute to our recovery and diversion rates of over 75 percent.

What is the Share N Save project? How did it come about? How does it fit into the Zero Waste program?

The Share N Save website is effectively a mapping website for collaborative consumption and sharing activities in South Australia. It’s the first of its kind in Australia and it helps South Australians discover local groups, events and activities to help with the cost of living, to connect with their local community and to avoid resources being wasted. The Share N Save website maps activities like toy libraries, community gardens, collective cooking groups and community produce swaps. It also takes in bike sharing, nappy libraries and things like Men’s Sheds.

At Zero Waste SA we’re interested in promoting sustainability on a level that goes far deeper than just concern for our use of resources and the physical environment, and focusing on sustainable communities and sustainable societies. We’re picturing the kind of neighbourhoods we want to live and work in, and that is a neighbourhood that is connected, resource efficient and compassionate.

The waste management hierarchy in South Australia places “avoid” ahead of reduce, reuse and recycle. This is a vital aspect of the sharing economy: that we don’t need to buy everything we need. Can you talk about the importance of this approach and how it’s being received?

‘Avoidance’ is so hard to target. It’s (relatively speaking) easy to explain to a householder what to do with a glass jar once it’s empty to ensure it doesn’t go to landfill, or help a business look at reducing their waste management costs by being smarter with their resources but what do you do to encourage people in our fast moving, consumer goods-driven society to actually buy less stuff? It’s an easy goal to identify as the top of the list in terms of the Waste Management Hierarchy because with less consumption comes less waste, less resource use, less energy and water use. But the question is, how do we do target that goal?

We started looking at the sharing movement and collaborative consumption as a great fit for that challenge. As the saying goes “You don’t need a drill, you just need a hole in the wall.” So, how can we as a society get access to make the hole without owning the drill? Collaborative consumption fits that bill. And not just issues of ownership are addressed through this, but core values of Zero Waste SA around avoiding valuable resources being sent to landfill.

When summer harvest time kicks in here in a few months time we’re looking at suburban backyards burgeoning with fruit and vegetables – but how many pears can you realistically eat and preserve? Sharing through food swaps and collaborative cooking firstly gets you access to a wider variety of produce at no to low cost and secondly stops your excess going to waste. Mapping and fostering this kind of behaviour goes to the heart of the principles of avoidance.

As an extension of South Australia’s Zero Waste initiative, Share N Save is in a great position to not only help people cut down their waste, but introduce them to the other benefits of sharing: building community, saving money, saving resources etc. What has the response been to some of these benefits of Share N Save that extend beyond waste reduction? Any unexpected responses or results?

Reconnecting with your local community has benefits well beyond just waste reduction. The State Government in South Australia has identified key areas in which to focus to improve our state which include:

  • giving our children every chance to achieve their potential in life
  • keeping our communities safe and our citizens healthy
  • building our reputation for premium food and wine
  • creating a vibrant city that energises and excites
  • keeping our high quality of life affordable for everyone.

Looking at that list, fostering the sharing movement and a culture of collaborative consumption is crucial for tackling those goals. Sharing can be seen as the blueprint to how we can start to address those priorities.

How could you keep life affordable for South Australians? Through sharing access to what you have to get what you need.

How would you keep your community safer? By being more connected with your neighbours, by engaging with those who are marginalised or disenfranchised, by providing those in need with access to the excess of others (for example through initiatives funded by Zero Waste SA to redistribute food like Oz Harvest and Foodbank)

screenshot of Map option in Share N Save

The interactive aspect of Share N Save is really exciting. I think it’s important for people to have access, not just to a list of available services, but to see what’s going on near them. What are the benefits of having the services mapped in this way?

Having a real-time map of your area is what keeps the content fresh and what we call hyper-local. It’s great to see the kind of activities taking place around the state but what personalises this and what drives the community to take the next step and connect with an activity in their area is that a map like this allows people to say “Hey, that’s just around the corner from me and I never knew it”.

Share N Save emphasizes the ground-up, community aspect of sharing and the power of communities to transform themselves in small, but meaningful, ways. What’s your big picture vision for this project? What would be the ideal outcome be?

Firstly, our goal is to map every single existing sharing activity already taking place in South Australia – and each time we present to a community group or different organisation people say “Oh have you spoken to those guys?” or “You should list this activity” and we unearth more content for the site, so in a year from now hopefully we’ll have twice the amount of content we do now and we’ll have a greater amount of activities in regional areas.

Secondly, we want to move towards one-to-one sharing. Right now we’re still in the phase of proving the concept and raising awareness in the sharing movement, and about what the current site does in connecting groups to groups and individuals to groups or activities. But we see no reason the site can’t move towards users registering to share and borrow on a much bigger and more personal scale.

If we can achieve that, we’d see South Australia emerge as one of the places the world intrinsically associated with the sharing economy and collaborative consumption. We also hope that through connecting South Australians using our site to resources on sites like Shareable and OuiShare they get inspired by what’s happening around the world and start activities up that aren’t being done in South Australia yet or even better they dream up ideas in the sharing space that aren’t being done anywhere yet.

Given South Australia’s reputation for being thought leaders and pioneers on environmental issues and issues of social progression (it’s not just our ‘firsts’ in terms of the environment like the plastic bag ban or deposits on containers; in 1894 South Australia was the first state in Australia to give women the right to vote and the first place in the world to allow women to run for office) we hope that the next big idea in the sharing movement that transforms sharing or transforms the technology we use to facilitate it is one from a person right here South Australia.

headshot of Cat

Cat Johnson is a freelance writer focused on community, the commons, sharing, collaboration and music. Publications include Utne Reader, GOOD, Yes! Magazine, Shareable, Triple Pundit and Lifehacker. She’s also a musician, longtime record store supervisor, chronic list maker and aspiring minimalist.

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How Prioritising Under Pressure Helps Us Understand Others’ Perspectives

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to do list

Here’s a fun engagement exercise that was used in a workshop I recently attended. You can use this with any size group, although it will be more effective with a bigger rather than a smaller group.

Step 1

Ask participants to imagine the following scenario, and write down each of these situations:

You’re home alone, and these six things happen at once:

  • a water pipe bursts in the kitchen
  • the baby is crying
  • the phone starts ringing
  • your neighbour’s alarm is going off
  • the cat has the budgie in its mouth
  • someone is knocking at your door

Augh! What to respond to first?

Challenge the participants to rank all of these events according to priority of how they would handle them – give them no more than one minute to complete this task (this is so they can’t think about it too long).

Invite participants to stand up when they have completed their ranking.

Step 2

When everyone is standing, ask them to move around the room and see if they can find someone who has these things ranked in exactly the same order. They must keep going until they find someone whose ranking matches theirs exactly.

Give the participants five minutes to see if they can find a match.

The number of matches may be none, one or many, depending on the group size and participants’ choices of how they ranked the events, and who they spoke to.

Step 3

Time’s up!

Ask the participants (or selected participants, depending on the size of the group) to share a little about whether they found a match; what others’ reactions were to their choice of task ordering; and what they thought of the choices of others who had the list in a different order to themselves.

People may report being taken aback at others’ ordering of priorities (‘you attended to the baby over saving the budgie?’; ‘you went to the burst pipe first before seeing to the baby?’), and often people will explain their reasons for doing the things in that particular order (‘the baby is just crying – the budgie is about to die!’; ‘I can check on the alarm while carrying the baby’).

Participants will have their reasons for choosing their particular response sequence.

Now – ask the participants what they think just happened.

Tell them ‘you just had a conversation about values’.

We all carry our assumptions into whatever we do, and we must remember that other people don’t always share our values.

This exercise is both a great icebreaker, and a reminder to be aware of our own values and assumptions, and our judgments of others’ values and assumptions, in any group situation.


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Brand Revolution

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Russell Brand facing camera, head down, sunglasses on, hands held up, forefingers extended

The kind of people who can assemble huge crowds into one spot will be the major influences on mass culture in the next decade.

- Jim Morrison

Unless you’ve been on a digital detox, you’d have found it hard to miss Russell Brand’s Newsnight interview with Jeremy Paxman in your feed. It has gone viral across social media, with the video footage alone attracting an average of a million YouTube views a day since it was published on 23 October (currently 6.5 million and rising).

Prompted by Brand’s appointment as guest editor of this week’s issue of London’s political and cultural magazine, New Statesman, the interview began with the question “Russell Brand, who are you to edit a political magazine?”

Brand’s subsequent disembowelling of the status quo of politics, economics and corporate influence on social and environmental breakdown has set the internet alight with discussion – some of it on the points Brand made, and predictably, much of it ad hominem attacks on the messenger.

It’s one thing to read the transcript or blogs commenting on the interview, another altogether to watch it:

In the following interview excerpt, after Brand admitted he doesn’t vote, Paxman asked him “well how do you have any authority to talk about politics then?”

Brand: “Well I don’t get my authority from this pre-existing paradigm which is quite narrow and only serves a few people. I look elsewhere, for alternatives, that might be of service to humanity. Alternate means alternative political systems?”

Paxman: “They being?”

Brand: “Well I’ve not invented it yet, Jeremy. I had to do a magazine last week. I’ve had a lot on me plate. But I say, but here’s the thing that you shouldn’t do. Shouldn’t destroy the planet, shouldn’t create massive economic disparity, shouldn’t ignore the needs of the people. The burden of proof is on the people with the power…”

Paxman: “…if you can’t be arsed to vote why should we be asked to listen to your political point of view?”

Brand: “You don’t have to listen to my political point of view. But it’s not that I’m not voting out of apathy. I’m not voting out of absolute indifference and weariness and exhaustion from the lies, treachery, deceit of the political class, that has been going on for generations now. And which has now reached fever pitch where you have a disenfranchised, disillusioned, despondent underclass that are not being represented by that political system so voting for it is tacit, complicity with that system and that’s not something I’m offering up.”

Paxman: “Well why don’t you change it then?”

Brand: “I’m trying to.”

Paxman: “Well why don’t you start by voting.”

Brand: “I don’t think it works. People have voted already and that’s what’s created the current paradigm.”

Paxman: “When did you last vote?”

Brand: “Never.”

Paxman: “You’ve never, ever voted?”

Brand: “No. Do you think that’s really bad?”

Paxman: “So you struck an attitude before, what, the age of 18?”

Brand: “Well I was busy being a drug addict at that point, because I come from the kind of social conditions that are exacerbated by an indifferent system that, really, just administrates for large corporations and ignores the population that it was voted in to serve.”

Paxman: “You’re blaming the political class for the fact that you had a drug problem?”

Brand: “No, no, no. I’m saying I was part of a social and economic class that is underserved by the current political system. And drug addiction is one of the problems it creates when you have huge, underserved, impoverished populations, people get drug problems. And, also, don’t feel like they want to engage with the current political system because they see that it doesn’t work for them. They see that it makes no difference. They see that they’re not served…”

Paxman: “Of course it doesn’t work for them if they didn’t bother to vote.”

Brand: “Jeremy, my darling, I’m not saying…the apathy doesn’t come from us, the people. The apathy comes from the politicians. They are apathetic to our needs, they’re only interested in servicing the needs of the corporations. Look at..ain’t the Tories going to court, taking the EU to court, because they’re trying to curtail bank bonuses? Isn’t that what’s happening at the moment in our country? It is, innit?”

Paxman: “Yeah.”

Brand: “So what am I gonna do, tune in for that?”

Paxman: “You don’t believe in democracy. You want a revolution don’t you?”

Brand: “The planet is being destroyed, we are creating an underclass, we’re exploiting people all over the world and the genuine, legitimate problems of the people are not being addressed by our political class.”

Paxman: “All of those things may be true.”

Brand: “They are true.”

Paxman: “But you took…I wouldn’t argue with you about many of them.”

Brand: “Well how come I feel so cross with you? It can’t just be because of that beard, it’s gorgeous.”

Paxman: “It’s possibly because…”

Brand: “And if the Daily Mail don’t want it, I do. Because I’m against them. Grow it longer. Tangle it into your armpit hair.”

Paxman: “You are a very trivial man.”

Brand: “What you think I am, trivial?”

Paxman: “Yes.”

Brand: “A minute ago you were having a go at me because I wanted a revolution now I’m trivial, I’m bouncing all over the place.”

Paxman: “I’m not having a go at you because you want a revolution, many people want a revolution, but I’m asking you what it would be like?”

Brand: “Well I think what it won’t be like is a huge disparity between rich and poor where 300 Americans have the same amount of wealth as the 85 million poorest Americans, where there is an exploited and underserved underclass that are being continually ignored, where welfare is slashed while Cameron and Osbourne go to court to defend the rights of bankers to continue receiving their bonuses. That’s all I’m saying.”

…within the existing paradigm, the change is not dramatic enough, not radical enough. So you can well understand public disturbances and public dissatisfaction, when there are not genuine changes and genuine alternatives being offered. I say when there is a genuine alternative, a genuine option, then vote for that. But until then, pffft, don’t bother. Why pretend? Why be complicit in this ridiculous illusion?”

Paxman: “Because by the time somebody comes along you might think it worth voting for, it may be too late.”

Brand: “I don’t think so because the time is now, this movement is already occurring, it’s happening everywhere, communication is instantaneous and there are communities all over the world. The Occupy movement made a difference. Even if, only in that, it introduced, to the popular public lexicon, the idea of the 1% versus the 99%. People for the first time in a generation are aware of massive, corporate and economic exploitation. These things are not nonsense. And these subjects are not being addressed. No one is doing anything about tax havens, no one is doing anything about their political affiliations and financial affiliations of the Conservative Party, so until people start addressing things that are actually real, why wouldn’t I be facetious, why would I take it seriously? Why would I encourage a constituency of young people that are absolutely indifferent to vote? Why would you? Aren’t you bored? Aren’t you more bored than anyone? And you’ve been talking to them year after year, listening to their lies, their nonsense. Then it’s this one that gets in, then it’s that one gets in but the problem continues. Why are we going to continue to contribute to this facade?”

Paxman: “I’m surprised you can be facetious when you’re that angry about it.”

Brand: “Yeah, I am angry, I am angry. Because for me it’s real, because for me it’s not just some peripheral thing that I just turn up to once in a while to a church féte for. For me, this is what I come from. This is what I care about.”

At first I thought that Brand was running rings around Paxman (or someone in a G-T state and someone in a D-Q state missing each others’ points).

But on reflection, I don’t think that Jeremy Paxman was in any way taken down or apart by Brand – I suspect it was a well crafted piece of theatre in that Paxman played Devil’s Advocate with Dorothy Dixer questions that enabled Brand to take flight with his responses, which I believe to be completely genuine (not ‘acting’ as some of his detractors have claimed).

In this short clip, Brand has encapsulated and communicated in minutes – MINUTES – what activists, concerned citizens and change agents everywhere, whose work spans a wide array of issues, have been on about for so long, in a way that has both gripped people and resonated with them.

Most importantly of all, it is because this came from Russell Brand that it has ignited. It hasn’t come from an academic, a political figure, an activist. It’s come from popular culture, which by definition has access to a greater diversity of antennae.

The messenger matters, as illustrated by this comment sourced from one of many Facebook threads:

Actually I think Brand has broken something in England. For this to be aired on the BBC is a biggy. The kids on Facebook are posting it and at last the mainstream have heard it. That’s THE most positive thing that’s been done for years. I marched in Manchester against the annihilation of the NHS the other week along with over 50,000 other people and it got two minutes. Nobody in London noticed. This will be noticed.

Like any change agent who sticks their head above the parapet, Brand has copped flak for his outspokenness. Across social media, this seems to have coalesced into several key grievances:

1) he pointed out everything that was wrong, but didn’t offer any solutions

Given the sum total of the greatest thinkers and do-ers in the world have yet to do this, or get their ideas traction, or to tipping point, it’s hardly a fair accusation.

Or as Brand eloquently rebutted it:

Jeremy darling, don’t ask me to sit here in a bloody hotel room and devise a global utopian system.

2) he’s criticising the 1% and profit, yet his net worth is $15 million

This is an ad hominem attack ie. it seeks to discredit the messenger, rather than engaging with the message. Those making this point need to remember that Brand’s message is all the more powerful coming from someone who is in this position – and that he’d already addressed this accusation in his New Statesman editorial:

I should qualify my right to even pontificate on such a topic and in so doing untangle another of revolution’s inherent problems. Hypocrisy. How dare I, from my velvet chaise longue, in my Hollywood home like Kubla Khan, drag my limbs from my harem to moan about the system? A system that has posited me on a lilo made of thighs in an ocean filled with honey and foie gras’d my Essex arse with undue praise and money.

Whether Brand is worth $15 million or $150 million is irrelevant. Not even $15 billion would address the systemic flaws raised in the interview.

3) he’s just playing it for a laugh

Brand himself, in both his interview and editorial for the New Statesman, is quoted as saying:

…first and foremost I want to have a f*cking laugh. As John Cleese said, there is a tendency to confuse seriousness with solemnity. Serious causes can and must be approached with good humour, otherwise they’re boring and can’t compete with the Premier League and Grand Theft Auto. Social movements needn’t lack razzmatazz.

Not only is he spot on in relation to competition for attention, but what many of the critics have failed to grasp is that by styling himself as The Fool, or The Jester, Brand has more scope to play with potentially dangerous material, challenge the status quo and breach taboos.

4) if Brand wants a revolution, he should get down to the ‘real’ work

Perhaps best expressed by this quote from Robert Lustig in The Huffington Post:

…he demonstrated his utter inability to offer any concrete example of what he believes we should do instead of vote. He wants fundamental change but has no idea how to achieve it…by writing thousands of words of political junk in a respected weekly magazine, he sets himself up as someone with something to contribute to an important debate. The truth is that he has nothing to contribute, other than the self-satisfied smirk of a man who knows he’ll never go hungry or be without a home.

See #1, #2 and #3 above.

If he really wanted to encourage the development of a genuinely revolutionary movement, he would start organising one. He would knuckle down to do really, really boring things, like handing out leaflets on street corners, launching petitions, holding meetings, just like the early trades unionists and labour activists he professes to admire so much.

Er no. That’s not the best use of his platform.

Attention is a currency, and like it or not, celebrities in our era have that currency to spend. Instead of criticising him for doing so, or nitpicking about his linguistic style – which I find a fascinating mix of Shakespearian vocabulary meets My Fair Lady grammar and dialect – let him spend it in service of those who, as Brand already noted, are people who have:

…alternative ideas that are far better qualified than I am, and far better qualified, more importantly, than the people that are currently doing that job.

It’s not his job to fix the world. It’s our job. All of us.

In fact I’d be more worried about many of the people offering Brand ‘solutions’ to champion than I would anything Brand had to say.

I personally don’t 100% agree with all the points Brand made, for example, I think the 99% meme was useful for awareness (and it sure feels good to metaphorically sink the boots into banksters now and then), but ultimately we are all – including the 1% – in this together. I think the idea of ‘left’ and ‘right’ in politics is no longer relevant, and those labels bog us down. But it doesn’t matter.


What matters is that people everywhere are talking about this.

Russell Brand wins the internet right now.

Brand is one of the most fascinating characters of the modern era – he’s independently wealthy (which makes him beholden to no-one), he has a massive public profile AND all his skeletons are already out of the closet.

These things put him in an enormously powerful position of influence.

He’s opened a Pandora’s Box for himself, with armies of change-makers now seeking everything from support for their initiatives to a chance to further ‘educate’ him. No doubt he’s going to continue his already impressive learning curve, but those who he referred to as ‘far better qualified’ also need to let him be who he is.

Russell Brand on stage with a megaphone

Let him sing the social consciousness equivalent of ‘Eye of the Tiger’.

Let him be an alarm clock and a megaphone.

Brand has delivered changemakers a signal interruption of epic proportion. How best to use it?

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Crux On Ice – A Change Agent’s Treasure Trove

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polar bear slipping on his back in front of sign 'watch for ice'

Since late 2011, I’ve maintained the discipline of writing (and sometimes curating/negotiating republishing) an average of one article per week.

Around full time work and a range of other social media and activism commitments (and life!), the time has now come for me to put Crux on ice – not for good, and not completely, as I will continue to post here, but will do so on an as-needs rather than a once-per-week basis. One piece a week doesn’t sound like much, but it can be as much as another full work day split over two evenings, depending on how much research is involved, and whether or not you have any topics up your sleeve.

I’ve also got some plans to do something else with Crux, which requires me to free up my time from a weekly blogging schedule.

For recent subscribers as well as existing visitors to this site, the vast majority of content here is ‘evergreen’ and will continue to be relevant. I encourage you to rummage back through the Crux files menu on the right hand side of the blog, or browse this summary of areas covered, including:

Values & Motivating People

physical and sticker badgesfour different big cats, eyes featured in layered horizontal strips red, brown, green and gold eyes



man in suit holding a black face mask over his face, having just taken off a similar white face mask russell brand with his 'fag pimp brand' sign, a gift from the WBC


Sustainability Thinking

young child in a forest touching a web of energy, green light human brain - left half grey cubicle farm, right half colourful image of people in nature


Understanding People

grid of icons styled from iconic movie characters an early version of Bugs Bunny, reclining eating a carrot and reading 'Victory thru Hare Power'



cartoon images of people all speaking in different coloured cartoon bubbles (no words - different colours show different 'dialects') graffiti art of beggar holding a sign that says 'keep your coins, I want change'


Case Studies

screenshot of online news story about LDOA reuniting pets and owners Jamie Oliver, dressed in pea pod costume, holding fork to mouth of little boy pleading with the reluctant little fellow to eat!

  • the University of Adelaide’s campus sustainability program Ecoversity, and how the Lost Dogs of Adelaide social media phenomenon could translate to local sustainability


Self Care for Change Agents

heart shaped yellow candy with 'Just Say No' imprinted on it in red


Changemaker Profiles

  • how leading change agents approach their work


Michel Bauwens, founder of the Foundation for Peer-to-Peer Alternatives

headshot of Neal

Neal Gorenflo, founder of Shareable

headshot of Ben Dyson

Ben Dyson, founder of Positive Money

headshot of dana pearlman

Dana Pearlman, cofounder of the Global Leadership Lab

headshot of Brett Scott

Brett Scott, activist, campaigner and author of The Heretic’s Guide to Global Finance

Thanks to everyone who has subscribed, commented, Tweeted and shared the content you’ve found on my blog, and to Donnie Maclurcan, Mike Freedman, Michael Michalko, Chris Rose, Susan WeinschenkBarrett C Brown and David Lavenda who contributed, or gave permission for me to republish their work as, a guest post.

I appreciate your support and interest and hope that the Crux ‘back catalogue’ continues to be useful for your work.