New Renaissance vision – 25 years on

Maybe this year the Davos attendees may actually do something.

I can't believe it!

I recently came across this short unpublished article I wrote towards the end of 1996, reflecting on The Knutsford Lectures 1993-1996 on Visions of a New Renaissance, previously described in this post. It was an ambitious attempt to capture the spirit and outline of the needed New Renaissance, inspired by what the 19 individual speakers had said. The limitations of my perspective and the lack of suitable outlets meant the article was never published.

Discovering this piece led me to consider, what has changed in nearly 25 years. Was the outlined vision valid? Are we any nearer to it? Here’s my brief assessment, against the categories in the Emerging Vision section of the above paper i.e.:

  • Sustainable ecology.
  • Ethical behaviour and social responsibility
  • Local economy and community
  • Appropriate scale and human scale
  • Open science
  • Soul and spirit
  • Love, compassion, nonviolence
  • Holistic views
  • Living philosophy
  • Imagination, inspiration, arts


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Let’s start with self-kindness – be willing to be lazy

I really like this concept which I have at times embraced and striving again to do so in my retirement.

Robby Robin's Journey

When I mused about planning a year-long birthday project focused on kindness in my previous post, fellow blogger Crystal Byers, who writes the inspiring blog Faith + Gratitude = Peace + Hope, suggested that I could always start with self-kindness. Thanks, Crystal, that is precisely what I’ll do.

Self-kindness is a concept that many of us never think about. I’m sure some of us have never even heard the phrase (I raise my hand at this point). But there’s nothing more important. Having thought about this a little since Crystal planted that suggestion in my mind, it strikes me that there should be two parts to the Golden Rule. Along with ‘Do unto others as you would have them do unto you’, we should also admonish ourselves to ‘Do unto yourself as you would do unto others’. If you’re not kind to yourself, you will beat yourself up or…

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Sentimental Old Fools

At 72 I’m with you on this!

Older Eyes

My Dad was not a sentimental man.   Don’t get me wrong … he was a loving husband and father and his love of family showed through in everything he did.   But he wasn’t given to nostalgia or romanticizing about his past.   I don’t remember his crying over memories, good or bad while I was growing up.  That changed as he rolled into his mid-seventies, the very territory I am exploring right now.  He would tear up at the memory of my Mom, who’d passed some years ago.  He’d choke up thinking about his children taking care of him as he aged or when someone said something nice about him.  At one point, my sister and I found a Veteran’s Aid program that allowed him to stay in his assisted living home.  At first he said he didn’t want a handout but when I told him he’d earned it through…

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Rights Versus Responsibilities

Thank you John for a very clear article on the issue and I for one totally agree with your solution and also think it is 100%. Here in Canada we used to have 2 programs, Katimavik and Canada World Youth, that were a boon to many kids just out of high school, one of those being our son, but they were not mandatory. So this combined with the the second alternative would be fantastic.

Aging Capriciously


We have an epidemic of rights today and a drought of responsibility.  A number of years ago when I was a first-year teacher I had the following experience.  I was teaching at Guadalupe Area Project (GAP), otherwise charitably known as a “dropout school.”  It was mostly a school for students who had been kicked out of the St. Paul Public School System for a variety of reasons.  The school was started and run by a Sister Giovanni.  She was a leader in migrant relations on the West Side of St. Paul.  It was a largely Latino community.  Many of the residents on the West Side were recent immigrants from Mexico or Central America.


Sister Giovanni believed in giving kids and people a second chance.  She started GAP to help students who were displaced from the public school system.  We had kids of all types and most were not traditional “school…

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The joys in growing old – on reaching the ¾ century mark!

Ah the joys of aging gracefully and I love the expression “doing very little, slowly”.

Robby Robin's Journey

Yes, I’ve done it, I’m made it to 75. Just think, if I’d only made it to 70, I would have left this Earth still naively convinced that the world really was becoming a kinder, more inclusive place. That illusion has certainly been smashed to smithereens in the past 5 years. The reality that humans really are a work in progress, at best excruciatingly slow progress, has become all too real.

It never crossed my mind to post about my own birthday until a few weeks ago, when an article appeared in my news feed reporting on Debra Ferrell, a woman who, when unable to celebrate her 53rd birthday with family because of the pandemic, decided to carry out 53 acts of kindness to strangers instead. That had me sit up and take notice. I hadn’t thought anything about my birthday until then, but suddenly I thought, “Wait a…

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What does “Home” mean to you?

Home– such a double edged sword to a lot of people. As Jane so wisely asks here– where and what is it? I have had many homes in my lifetime and usually never think about it too much other than it is the place where I am loved and accepted and feel “at home”. Normally that is my physical house but it can also be the province of my birth and upbringing when I return and visit family. But for me home is always a welcome space.

Robby Robin's Journey

Yesterday morning two fellow bloggers I read regularly posted quotes about “home” within 30 minutes of each other. They live in very different parts of the U.S., write blog posts on very different topics, and have very different life stories, so it was an intriguing coincidence. I had my first “sit up and take notice” moment when I saw these two quotes and the very different messages being conveyed about the same topic. I had my second “sit up and take notice” moment when I read the comments other readers had contributed about these two very different quotes. In each case, the readers had very different interpretations of the quotes from each other and from how I interpreted them. Of course, that’s part of the fun of blogging and commenting, to learn from each other and share thoughts. But I was still surprised. And I’m still mulling over both quotes…

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A COVID Christmas message

Indeed it is a time to be careful and think before acting.

Robby Robin's Journey

This is an unusual Christmas post, but then again this is Christmas in a year like no other. This season is a time that’s meant to bring joy, and this year we have to be especially creative in finding ways to do so while keeping everyone safe. I wish everyone a happy holiday; this COVID world is at least offering us the time to look for joy in the small things, if we only choose to take it. Let’s take advantage of that.

I think this blog post from fellow blogger Kavitha at Sunshiny SA Site is important to reblog in its entirety. It is a strong reminder of why the restrictions in place in so many of our regions are there for a reason. The story it shares has been replicated far too many times: in Canada, South Africa, the United States, the UK, EU countries, and everywhere around…

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Map Monday: where are all the whales hanging out on Christmas Day?

Thanks for keeping us thinking about the beauty that surrounds us.

Robby Robin's Journey

I love whales and whale watching, and am blessed to live in an area frequented by several species of whales – during the summer and early fall, that is. They come to gorge on the bounty of the deep and sheltered waters of our beautiful Bay of Fundy. But where are they this time of year? And what about the whale species that we never see on the western shores of the North Atlantic, where are they? You are about to find out in the sequence of maps below. But first …

While I was researching these questions (aka googling) I came across a reason for us all to pay homage to whales over and above their magnificence in the sea. As it turns out, whales are one of nature’s best weapons against climate change. When it comes to saving the planet, one whale is worth thousands of…

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Will things be better in 2021? Read on…

Another great article from Matthew Mather with a look at our current crisis from a historical viewpoint.

Matthew Wright

I write this in December 2020, as one of the most difficult years in living memory draws to a close. Globally. It’s rare that virtually the whole planet shares a crisis. Usually it’s due to war. This time, it’s a pandemic, and the whole has been buoyed on an unprecedented swirl of social media.

The result has been a sense that 2020 has been a disaster. What surprises me is the amount of material I’m seeing which suggests that, come 1 January 2021, all will come right – I mean, 2021 couldn’t possibly be a worse year than 2020 – er – could it?

Actually, history tells me that it ain’t over until it’s over. Crises of this nature don’t shut down because the calendar’s rolled into a new year. Nor do they come out of a vacuum. If we dig beneath the surface we find that ‘2020’, in all…

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