What are Life Economies?

Life Economy – An Economy of Service to Life

Life is an incredibly beautiful, awe-inspiring and highly complex system, interconnected and interdependent. We are all one with the life system that is this planet Earth. From the waters that flow through our veins and the rivers we walk along, to the trees that give oxygen we breathe,  to the animals, plants, insects and micro-organisms that gift us with nutritious food. A Life  Economy is one where we strive to maintain and enhance the natural balance of life systems throughout development, for the healthy continuity of people and planet. By working to enhance life, we operate from the heart-center, where natural law dictates abundance not scarcity, love not fear, unity not separation. We begin to see the oneness of all of creation and the sheer beauty and awe in that truth. We foster a Life Economy by working with the land, and through consideration and valuing of the whole. 

All life has value – from mineralized rocks to oceans to tiny microbes to the roots of trees. It is the circle of life that we are a part of. A moose may give its life to nourish us. When we die, our bodies go into the ground and a tree may grow to form part of another’s habitat. The movement to a Life Economy is a natural evolution born out of the knowledge that there is no separation between us and the natural world. All is life and we are all part of the natural order of things. For life to thrive, we must begin to value life. In this way, we begin to truly value ourselves. 

An economy is a reflection of what society values and the value that we as beings, including the beings in our natural world, create, share and exchange. As we start to acknowledge and see more value in our natural world, our economy becomes infinitely bigger, for there is limitless value in the complex ecosystem that is life. What if we considered the forests and the rich soils as holding greater value intact – as life-givers – of oxygen and nutritious food? What if we valued the moose calving and fish spawning areas as key components of a life system? What if we strove to work with our life system, adding to it and making it better, creating greater abundance for all, through the decisions that we make? When we begin to value aspects of a healthy ecosystem,  we incentivize the creation of those aspects, for as a society we produce more of what we value.  

In order to promote a true partnership with our natural world, we must start to see the value in the gifts that Mother Earth provides. Science has given us a deep understanding of the complex relationships that exist within life systems, something that indigenous people have long understood. Using technologies like drones and satellites we can measure and monitor our planet like never before and using modern methods of accounting and integrated statistics we can begin to account for the value that lies in thriving ecosystems. When we can truly value what the natural world provides, we will innovate ways to ally with it. Rather than clear-cutting a forest and replanting it with monocrop trees, we work with the land and implement forest management systems that are conducive to the enhancement of life. When life thrives, we thrive. When we align with natural law and natural rhythms, abundance is available to us all. 

True Value Accounting (TVA) involves a standardized approach to the valuation of nature’s stock and the relationship between ecosystem flows where economic value has previously been immeasurable. TVA infinitely broadens the conventional concept of wealth and incentivizes the maintenance, perpetuation and enhancement of healthy life systems, from the soils to the watersheds to the calving areas and the migratory paths of wildlife. What is the value to us as humans of having clean air? Rich soils for nutritious food? Mineral-rich waters to nourish us? Life-giving oxygen from our trees and forests? These aspects of a life system, maintained or enhanced, become assets on the balance sheet. In contrast to Full Cost Accounting (FCA), which calculates the cost of their felling. For example, in FCA a deforested area of land is calculated based on loss of ecosystem, soil degradation and lessening of carbon sequestration. Through TVA, we create environmental and financial abundance by calculating the value of vibrant ecosystems and the components within them. Where we must clear areas such as to build a road, we consider migratory paths of wildlife and ecologically sensitive areas. Proper forest management techniques are applied, and everything harvested is used or sold, whether it is wood for timber,  plants for medicines, wildlife for sustenance or for clothing. In this way, we respect all life.  

As we begin to each remember our own inherent store of infinite value – of creativity, ingenuity,  innovation, as well as our Mother Earth and the infinite value created by the natural world, the natural economy is at once created.  

A TVA approach requires a relationship-based understanding of the interconnectedness of life systems. The natural world always strives for healthy continuity of life, always seeking to rebalance and reharmonize to that higher state of equilibrium. Because nature understands the laws of cause and effect. While we have not always as human beings understood these laws, they nevertheless exist. We are all subject to them, and that is a good thing. As long as we choose to take personal responsibility for our place in the natural order of things, and act accordingly, we too will be able to achieve harmony within ourselves and within the natural order.  

We are now shifting into a reality where we must remember our relationship with the Earth, with one another and with the systems that give us life. We must tune in and remember the language of natural law. This necessitates self-governance. We must re-learn to be our own leaders, to govern ourselves. The Nuu-cha-nulth indigenous culture has as its highest law a phrase called  IISAAK which means to observe, appreciate and then act accordingly. This is how we learn to make our own decisions from a place of connection and harmony that is of service to life.  

Creating healthy economies that reflect natural law  

There are two foundational aspects to a healthy economy: (1) the honest measuring of peoples’  time/value; and (2) the ability to trade this time/value fairly with others.  

People and Mother Earth represent time passing and value created. Currency is simply a measure of this time/value created. An honest means of measuring this time and value, together with a  medium to fairly exchange this value, a natural economy is created. A natural economy necessitates localization, decentralization, inclusion, and a long-term view, as is nature’s intelligence. The result is many healthy thriving economic centers reflect the true value of human creativity, ingenuity, and that of our natural world.

Life Economy – Code of Conduct 

  1. Value all Life. This can be applied by valuing the entire supply chain. For example, valuing not only the chicken we eat, but the farmer who raised the chicken, the soils, the Earth,  the sun and the rain that nourished the chicken and gave it life. This all forms part of the value of the chicken and in recognizing and acknowledging this value, we begin to open our minds to see more. This is TVA. TVA can be applied to valuing all life that exists within an ecosystem, rather than just one aspect. From calving areas, to hibernation dens,  to migratory paths of wildlife. What other life exists there that also has value to the system of life? What is the value to us humans of maintaining this balance? We may begin by recognizing and acknowledging each one of these gifts. 
  2. Respect all Life. Showing respect means taking only what you need and using all of what you take. When a moose gives up its life, all parts of the moose are used, from the meat to the fur to the bones. An entire economy is created just from one animal. And only the number of moose that are needed to nourish the community at that time are hunted. In this way, there will always be abundance. What resources are taken in the development of a mine that can be used for other purposes? For example, trees, wild edibles, animal habitats, fresh water, rich soils. How much do we need at one time? Can the life of a mine be extended when factoring in the value obtained from a TVA system?  
  3. Work towards Balance and Harmony of Life Systems. Always striving towards balancing life systems, as nature’s inherent intelligence does. We do this through the practice of reciprocity. Reciprocity is the obligation to keep the circle of energy (life) moving.  Acknowledge what you take, don’t waste what you have and give your excesses to others who may need it, for all life is interconnected and we are part of the circle of life. A tree may give the moisture that it receives from the rain to the plants below, knowing that it may not receive anything back directly from that plant. But it inherently understands its responsibility to maintain the integrity of the whole. We can give through tangible forms or intangible forms such as kindness and caring. By acknowledging the gifts we receive and acting with gratitude, we restore life to harmony, to wholeness. It is each person’s responsibility to maintain their own equilibrium and in turn, the whole.  
  4. Contribute to the Enhancement of Life. When life prospers, we prosper. Rather than destroying and rebuilding, strive to work with the land and enhance life systems. For example, the natural habitat of salmon is typically destroyed by road building and earthmoving which causes the silting of salmon spawning beds, which is detrimental to the fish. The simple act of observing and considering more, at a localized level, also referred to as traditional knowledge, may prevent this problem by knowing where the beds are and using alternate methods that don’t put dirt and silt into the water system. When developing our societies, how might we enhance ecosystems and habitats? How do we make things better, not worse?
  5. Be open to the Experience of Beauty in all Life. By seeing through the eyes of nature, we begin to recognize the inherent beauty, wisdom and creativity that exists in all life. Let us be open to that experience and to that higher intelligence – that is also within each of us. Celebrate its beauty and go forward in awe and appreciation for the life systems we are a part of. Observe, learn and co-create from this higher place of beauty and wisdom.

We practice this Code from a place of fostering self-governance by looking to nature’s intelligence, which is our own inherent intelligence. We question, observe and make decisions based on an understanding of the above principles, enabling us to begin to think like Mother  Earth. This will guide us back to harmonization with life. 

Life Economy Charter 

Everything is interconnected. Everything is interdependent. Everything is one. 

We are not separate from nature. We are nature itself. 

All life in the Universe is subject to natural law. 

The essence of natural law is healthy continuity. 

Continuity is understanding how to maintain a state of harmony. 

Natural law defines our rights and our responsibilities to each other and all beings. We acknowledge our responsibilities by practicing respect in all that we do. 

We work with the land not against it. 

Mother Earth provides us with great abundance. We share in that abundance with gratitude and give back to maintain harmony of life systems. 

In this way, we all prosper and thrive.