We live in troubling times that require bold ideas and transformative solutions. For many ‘degrowth’ has become the beacon of hope that shines through the darkness, illuminating our path forward. With your help, ‘degrowth.info’ will make this light shine as bright as possible. Please support our efforts via our crowdfunding campaign.
Dear friends, amigas, prijateljice, copines, přátelé, Freundinnen, sõbrad, vrienden, hevalno, amiche, приятели, amics, ystävät, barátok, przyjaciele, vänner, Arkadaş, друзі, amikoj… we need your help. As you are well aware, the world is in crisis – ecological destruction, societal disintegration, and individual despair are spreading at an alarming rate. Yet, there is hope. ‘Degrowth’, both as an academic concept and an activist movement, has been demonstrating with bold clarity that while a reduction in global energy and material usage may be inevitable, it simultaneously offers an opportunity to improve ecological conditions and increase well-being for the vast majority of the world’s inhabitants. Living better with less is not only possible, it is also desirable and necessary.
Since the first International Degrowth Conference for Ecological Sustainability and Social Equity took place in Paris in 2008, this movement of activists, academics, artists and practitioners has been gathering momentum. In the following years another nine International Conferences took place (Barcelona, Berlin, Montréal, Venice, Leipzig, Budapest, Malmö, Bruxelles and Mexico City), three of which in the last year alone. In the next two years another three degrowth conferences will take place: in Vienna, Manchester and Den Haag. Various summer schools and climate camps with a focus on degrowth have also been held, and are being planned in the years ahead (in Spain, Germany, Czechia, Croatia – to name a few). A Master’s programme in ‘Political Ecology, Degrowth and Environmental Justice’ has been established in Barcelona, and generally degrowth topics are increasingly visible in university courses and programs. A ‘Global Degrowth Day‘ is now celebrated widely at the beginning of June. Debates on the necessity of abandoning the mindless pursuit of “economic” growth are starting to reach national and EU parliaments, while grass-roots organizing has increasingly been challenging the dogma that growth is a prerequisite for communities to flourish. In other words: degrowth is breaking into mainstream consciousness. But we need to do more to raise our voices and increase the visibility and legitimacy of the ideas and movements that collectively make up the umbrella of degrowth.
We, at degrowth.info, have a plan to turn this positive tide into a tsunami – to transform our web portal from a flicker to a roaring flame of change. Our website arose from the International Degrowth Conference in Leipzig in 2014 and in the last five years it has been tirelessly disseminating information relevant to movements demanding a radical socio-ecological transformation of our societies. However, the website is in need of a thorough restructuring if it is going to be able to rise to the challenges ahead. Inspired by the example of various projects, from ROAR to the Low-Tech Magazine, we want to make degrowth.info a truly representative platform of degrowth movement(s), where anyone interested in viable alternatives to the current hegemonic and destructive world order (activists, concerned citizens, journalists, politicians, decision-makers etc.) will be able to find meaningful critiques, inspiring stories of struggle and change, as well as information on how to organize and get involved. All this while incorporating the degrowth ethos into the structure and functioning of the website itself – based on open-source, creative commons, and low-energy use technologies (such as solar powered servers; development with ‘Ruby on Rails’; an option to ‘Degrow this website’ by switching to monochrome images and static web-pages; open, inclusive, transparent and deliberative decision-making in operating the web portal etc.).
Since the summer of 2018, at the initiative of the mostly Germany-based team that was running it up until that point, degrowth.info has significantly expanded its capacities and is now being administered by an international group of editor-volunteers. The fifteen (or so) of us come from across Europe and the Americas, having been brought together by the common goal of helping to spread the degrowth spirit far and wide. In this last year and half, having only met together once in-person (and a handful of times in smaller groups), we have nevertheless grown quite close and supportive of each other and our common project. Such is the strength of degrowth in bringing people together! But the cohesion and camaraderie shared within our team is not the only reason which makes us confident that this is the right moment to upgrade and strengthen our web portal. Ever larger numbers of people across the world are starting to raise their voices, demanding the abandonment of the currently destructive status quo and in favor of re-imagining the organization of our societies, built on socially and ecologically just foundations. Add to this the fact that in the near future, in a relatively short period of time, three degrowth conferences will take place, where discussions surrounding the necessity and desirability of exactly those kinds of socio-ecological transformations will be presented to ever larger, and more eager, audiences. By echoing and amplifying the voices from the streets and from the conferences – serving as a megaphone of the degrowth movement(s) – we believe that in this moment our web portal has a unique opportunity to become a true catalyst of change.
Building on the work of many committed organizations and individuals that have contributed to degrowth.info over the years, we are now ready to take the next step. The vision that motivates us is of degrowth.info being an invaluable tool of information dissemination and establishing connections for all those who feel part of the degrowth community, or who are curious about it. In order to be able to fulfill this vision, we believe it is necessary to substantially improve the entire website by creating a more intuitive and straightforward structure, as well as a simpler and more aesthetically engaging visual design. All current functionalities of the web portal will be kept, but also improved: a blog where posts provide a degrowth perpective on world affairs, give examples of contemporary movements and degrowth in practice, as well as share personal reflections; a library (repository) of a large amount of content related to degrowth (videos, publications, radio shows etc.) that also serves as a living virtual memory of all past degrowth conferences; a map of degrowth realities and countless information on future and past conferences, summer schools, climate camps and events. The library search function will also be upgraded and enhanced, making it easier to find relevant material. While a brand new calendar will improve the ability to share and find events. We will also support all future conferences by freely providing website templates and hosting to interested organizers. Finally, while the current webportal is multilingual (English, German, Spanish, French) there is much scope for improvement – from the ability to add new languages, to making each language variant customizable. These enhancements will make it easier for various national, regional and local degrowth groups to translate and modify the web portal according to their needs.
We have already made the first steps towards restructuring the web portal and we plan to have the improved version functional by summer 2020 – around the time of the Vienna Conference (the first of the upcoming three). But your support is now crucial. Although the vast majority of our work up until this point has been on a volunteer basis, we have reached the limit of where we can go with this. First and foremost, we need financial resources in order to be able to enlist an IT cooperative that will carry out all the technical aspects of the website restructuring. The more resources we gather the further we will be able to go with our vision. Moreover, we will need to financially support a member of our team so they can carry through the project development and implementation in a committed capacity.
With the holiday season approaching we encourage you to follow the degrowth ethos – let your gift be one of solidarity and support in place of material consumption. With your help we are certain that we can build a platform from which we will all be able to shout (and be heard): “¡ya basta – enough is enough!” Arundhati Roy once said that “another world is not only possible, she is on her way. On a quiet day, I can hear her breathing.” Now is the time to raise the volume loud enough so we can hear her on ANY day! With looming political, economic, and ecological crises on the horizon, degrowth – and degrowth.info as the movements’ megaphone – offers a roadmap on how to prepare for and face such immense challenges. Together with a common vision, one small step at a time. We look forward with great excitement to taking this next step with you.