Using this Site

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

The aim of this site is to provide a catalog of solutions appropriate to the challenges humanity faces on Earth in the 21st century. By “appropriate solutions” we mean solutions that advance sustainability, social justice, and economic sufficiency.

This is similar to and includes appropriate technology, a term that has typically been used in association with technology that can be practically and economically applied in “third-world” countries (though in a sense we’re all becoming “third-world” countries now); but it’s more than this. We need solutions today that involve more than technology: we need more appropriate models of human organization, relationships, economic systems, education, and culture.

Our goal is not to duplicate other sites, but to collect in one convenient location the most important links, references, and original contributions to this critical field of inquiry, most immediately for the purpose of supporting new social enterprises and social businesses.

One of the immediate challenges that arises is how to define a well-formed “appropriate solution” to a problem—which also assumes that there is a way to define a well-formed problem. While there’s no doubt room for debate on this, it seems to be worth accepting as a working definition that a well-formed problem is one that admits of one or more concrete solutions, and an “appropriate solution” as one that meets the minimum criterion of providing greater social and environmental benefit than whatever is currently in use or practice that is socially unjust or environmentally unsustainable. And while it’s likely impossible to create a complete taxonomy of problems and solutions, it is possible to group problems and solutions in ways that are more or less comprehensive and useful, and to break larger problems into smaller ones while still addressing them from a whole systems point of view. That’s part of what this site tries to do.

It does this in part by establishing guidelines for what constitutes a “problem” and a “solution,” guidelines that are of course subject to revision but that nonetheless provide a framework for analysis and assessment.

Equally important, however, is the continual delineation of new challenges and opportunities—based on their continuous emergence over time—as informed by the appropriate solutions that are shared here. In principle this is an ongoing and open-ended quest to identify and address the critical issues facing humanity today and, foreseeably, tomorrow, in such a way that, minimally, we avoid causing more harm, and hopefully achieve some level of significant human progress in dealing with the issues of our times.

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