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The Dancing Economist | 02/Spring 2018

I have been blessed by the muse herself quite early – my first publication in German was a volume of poetry (DE).

Consequently, the development of social movements became the core of the agenda – and still is. However, I decided to reduce the amount of public appearances from 150 in 2017 to about 100 this year to slow down generally – as well as to shift the focus of my activities towards academics. In order not to gather dust and dehydrate emotionally, I also make room for more dance.

And a little bit more leisure time and slowing down is part of this plan. It’s time! A diverse reading wishes



Übersicht
  1. Highlights: Laudation for Alberto Acosta, meeting with Kate Raworth, Common Good Region, German TV hattrick, 3rd Common Good Balance Report from Team Christian Felber
  2. Project to establish a common good oriented bank: Licence application, GLS option
  3. Academics: GIVUN, IASS fellowship, Lecturer at the University of Applied Arts Vienna, ECG university programs, invitations
  4. Books: Paperback ECG, English edition "Money", Spanish edition "Ethical World Trade", audiobook "Inner Voice”
  5. Travel: Argentina, Belgium, Jakarta (upcoming)
  6. Dance: Boxing, 60 years EESC, tender fighting
  7. Recent media coverage
  8. Action!

I. Highlights

Laudation for Alberto Acosta

Only a few weeks after I set out to meet Alberto Costa personally and was able to win him over as a ECG ambassador, I was asked by the Hans-Carl-von-Carlowitz-Gesellschaft e.V. of Saxony, Germany whether I would like to give the laudation for this year's international prizewinner Alberto Acosta. Such are the coincidences of life. The award ceremony was a wonderful experience.The German prizewinner was the climate researcher Joachim Schellnhuber from Potsdam. I was familiar with his work through the media, but I had never heard him live. His speech was enlightening and illustrated a fully new dimension. Schellnhuber shows science at its best by combining mathematics with humanity. Conservatively speaking, there are 20 billion earth-like planets in our galaxy alone. Actually quite good news and food for awareness raising. Alberto Acosta received the international prize for his commitment to “buen vivir”, human rights and the rights of nature. Buen vivir is an alternative development model and can be translated as “the good life”. Acosta was elected Chairman of the Ecuadorian Constitutional Assembly, which developed one of the most ecologically advanced constitutions in the world in 2008. Read more in my laudation (DE).

Meeting with “Doughnut Economist” Kate Raworth

Kate Raworth’s book, “Doughnut Economics”, is perhaps the closest book in spirit to the Economy for the Common Good and gives it a solid theoretical framework. I devoured the English version after having used the doughnut diagram as a standard in my lectures for about two years. It has also inspired me in developing the idea of ecological human rights. This book, named after the donut, has become an absolute bestseller in England and is already available in numerous translations. I've been fortunate enough to meet Kate twice now. The first time was through an invitation from ECG spokesperson Katrin Muff, who invited both of us to the Business School Lausanne to work on modules for a new curriculum for business schools. A short time later, Kate and I were interviewed together in Belgium by Mo-Magazin. Independent of these events, I helped organise Kate’s invitation to Austria in cooperation with the “Gesellschaft für Plurale Ökonomik”. Kate will be part of the “Dialogforum” (DE) by the Austrian television station ORF on April 22nd in Vienna. A comparative overview of Doughnut Economics and Economy for the Common Good, written in collaboration with Kate, can be found here.

First Common Good Region in the pipeline

The sustainability conference (DE) in Marburg-Biedenkopf, Germany last Fall had a major impact. The local governor Kirsten Fründt (DE), who was actively involved in the conference, invited me for an entire afternoon to reflect on the concrete utopia of the first Common Good Region in Germany. Josef Rother, coordinator of the ECG local chapter in Lahn-Eder and professional municipal developer, also attended the meeting. We drew up 19 policy initiatives, of which the region would like to implement no less than 8. These include the first Common Good Certification for a region and the development of a Common Good Product for the region. Time to get to work!



German TV hattrick

A strong media start to the year was the invitation by the German television station ZDF (DE) to their cultural programme “Aspekte”, which was watched live by over a million viewers. I was an exclusive guest in the studio for 7 minutes, with the large, colorful words “Gemeinwohl Ökonomie" (Economy for the Common Good) in the background. The German video is suitable as an up to date and attractive introduction to the ECG.

A little later, the editoral staff of 3SAT "Scobel" (DE) contacted me regarding an opening credit interview to a discussion in honor of Karl Marx' 200th birthday. Again, these 11 minutes are a compact and up to date introduction to ECG.  

Also the ARD-Mittagsmagazin (DE) aired a piece about ECG through the example of the organic bakery "Märkisches Landbrot" in Berlin. In addition, I was interviewed live from Bremen.

Team Christian Felber publishes its 3rd Common Good Balance Sheet

Walk your talk: As an international advocate of a legally-binding Common Good Balance Sheet, I must, of course, set an example. In an extensive process, my team drew up the third Common Good Balance Sheet for the years 2015 and 2016. The 45-page report can be viewed here (DE). We are all very touched by how many fine and profound questions such a balance sheet triggers. We learned so much by working through the balance sheet and are already preparing for the next one..Thank you ECG


III. Project to establish a common good oriented bank 

License between FMA and FAC

As reported in the last newsletter, the Austrian Project Bank Economy for the Common Good applied for the “small license” for payment transactions (bank account with online banking, ATM and credit card) with the Austrian Financial Market Authority (FMA) on September 13th 2017. The FMA was required by law to respond within three months. In the end, they failed to respond in time. As a result, we had to file a default complaint and the FMA voluntarily handed over the application to the Federal Administrative Court (FAC). As a first step, this court must clarify who is now responsible for the application. It has become a long and difficult procedure (DE).

Cooperation with GLS

Because of these difficulties and the fact that the outcome of the license application process is unforeseeable, we prepared a plan B at the general assembly of the “Genossenschaft für Gemeinwohl” in January. The plan is to more closely cooperate with the GLS Bank, a cooperative bank based in Bochum, Germany. Ever since the GLS joined our project with a contribution of 100,000 euros, the discussions have consistently moved forward. Presently, we are considering that the GLS bank could open a branch in Austria with the name “Bank for the Common Good” and offer Common Good products. Everything is still open, but both sides have expressed their goodwill. I will participate in an exploratory meeting with the full board of directors of GLS in Bochum in April.


III. Academics

Research results of the project GIVUN are available

In mid-February, the results of the three-year research project "Gemeinwohl-Ökonomie im Vergleich zu unternehmerischen Nachhaltigkeitsstrategien (GIVUN)” (DE) or “ECG compared to corporate sustainability strategies” were presented at a well-attended scientific conference in Berlin. The research project was hosted by the Universities of Flensburg and Kiel, Germany and was funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research. The project, led by Bernd Sommer and Harald Welzer, explored the transformative potential of the Economy for the Common Good. The scientists were able to win over a number of companies for the project, including the DAX companies MAN, E.ON, the Otto Group and DM. Although these large corporations did not decide to complete a Common Good Balance Sheet, they at least discussed the prospect in depth and seriously considered the certification process.The study came to the following conclusion: “Compared with other instruments of corporate sustainability, the Common Good Balance Sheet performs strongly at achieving sufficiency, the absolute reduction in the consumption of natural resources. The ECG has the potential to contribute to a transformation towards a society that uses resources more responsibly.” Numerous scientists from all over Germany and beyond took part in the conference, including Jana Gebauer (IÖW Berlin), Stefanie Deinert (University of Fulda), Ralf Köhne (CAU Kiel) and Christoph Schank (University of St. Gallen). During the closing panel, I discussed the transformative potential of the Economy for the Common Good with Bernd Sommer, the main project coordinator, and Maja Göpel (formerly at the World Future Council, now Managing Director of the German government's scientific advisory council on global environmental change).

Academic Fellow at IASS since the beginning of the year

The previously announced fellowship at the Institute for Advanced Sustainability Studies in Berlin-Potsdam became reality on January 1st, 2018. Between now and the end of the year, I will spend four weeks in Berlin on a project with the working title “A Critique of Economics”. Positive results are guaranteed. My personal supervisor is Thomas Bruhn, who initiated the project “A Mindset for the Anthropocene”.

Lecturer at the University of Applied Arts Vienna

The gap created in my academic teaching that resulted after my contract at the Vienna University of Economics and Business Administration was not extended, has already been filled. Since the beginning of March, I have been teaching “Critical Reflection on Relevant Global Challenges” at the University of Applied Arts in Vienna, Austria.

Start of university programs on ECG

As previously reported, the Master program “Applied Economy for the Common Good” (DE) at the University of Applied Sciences in Burgenland, Austria and the Management Center Saalfelden will begin in September 2018. If you would like to finance a scholarship, please contact us.I am excited to announce that Economy for the Common Good will be added to the curriculum of the part-time MBA program in “Trend and Sustainability Management” at the Nuertingen-Geislingen University in Germany. Responsible for the content of the module is Dr. Oliver Viest, board member of the ECG association in Baden-Württemberg, Germany.The world's first university chair of Economy for the Common Good (EN) at the University of Valencia, Spain has begun and is very active. In addition to an international research project, the chair, under the direction of Professor Juan Ramón Sanchis, now also offers a course for ECG consultants in Spanish.

Invitations to universities

I am excited and grateful, that I continue to receive numerous invitations to speak at universities around the world! These invitations are increasingly connected to concrete activities for the Economy for the Common Good. Psychology students at the University of Trier, Germany, for example, have critically examined the ECG from a psychological perspective. I was very happy that the university president introduced me at my lecture in Trier and that more than 400 interested people filled the lecture hall. It is even greater to know that the online video (DE) has been viewed by more than 7000 people in a little more than six months.
Factor 20!




IV. Books

Paperback edition of the ECG book

Seven and a half years after the publication of the first edition of my book "Gemeinwohl-Ökonomie" (English title “Change Everything”) in August 2010, the book is available in 12 languages and has sold over 90,000 copies. On March 1st of this year, the new edition of the book, which is the foundation of the ECG movement, was published in paperback (DE) by the renowned German publisher Piper. While the first edition listed just 70 supporting companies, all of which had not yet published a Balance Sheet, the new edition lists the more than 2300 companies who support ECG and the over 500 which have voluntarily prepared a Common Good Balance Sheet. The chapter “Money as a Public Good” has been completely rewritten. The 20-point summary at the end was replaced by alternative questions to the democratically organized economic convention, so that the reader can better imagine how the foundations of tomorrow's economic order could be created by the democratic sovereign.

My favorite quotes (translated):
“Money is not an end in itself, rather a means to an end.” Frederick William Raiffeisen
“Property is only a means to an end, not an end in itself.” John Stuart Mill
“Economic activity is not an end in itself, but a means to reach the goal of a good life." Peter Ulrich

English version of “Money”

As announced in November, the English version of my book, “Money. The New Rules of the Game” was published by Springer, another highly regarded and leading German publisher. The book was awarded the international “getAbstract International Book Award” at the Frankfurt Book Fair in 2014. Springer unfortunately placed a very high price on the hardcover but we were able to negotiate the publication of a more affordable paperback edition. The paperback and a new ebook version have been available since March of this year. There is good news about my English books. The hattrick publications of an alternative economic order (ECG), an alternative monetary and financial system and an alternative trade system promise to succeed. "Trade for Good" will be published in London. More to come!

Spanish version of “Ethical World Trade”

My book, Ethical World Trade, which received the highest rating in the category “Future Books 2017” (DE) by the Robert-Jungk Library of Salzburg, Austria, was published in Spanish with the title “Comercio Mundial Etico” (ES). I took this opportunity to present the book in Madrid, Barcelona, Vitoria (Basque Country) and Valencia (together with the professor of the ECG chair). We organised the week around a previous invitation from the University of Santander (ES). The media reaction was, once again, amazing. With the new book, I was able to set a further accent for the continued development of the ECG. On this occasion I also replied to a Spanish economist of the “Austrian School”, Juan Ramón Rallo, who had extensively criticized the ECG in a 25-page essay. You can read my response here.

Audiobook “Inner Voice”

The “Inner Voice” (DE), my most personal book, was published by Publik-Forum-Verlag and is now in its third edition. Soon it will also be available as an audiobook, recorded by Hörbuchmanufaktur Berlin (DE). You can listen to a clip (DE) here.











V. Travel

Argentina


Shortly before Christmas I left for my second trip to Argentina. The local chapter in Buenos Aires, which had been created after my first trip, helped to put together an exciting tour: Córdoba, Colonia Belgrano, Rosario, San Francisco and La Plata. I visited five cities in five days. Despite the difficult conditions due to the transportation strike and the summer heat, interest was strong at all the venues. This can in part be attributed to the general dissatisfaction with the neoliberal government policy. Despite all international experience, pensions are being privatized, which will increase the precarious situation for millions. The interest of several universities in a ECG chair is very promising. I am excited to see that several new local chapters have been established. You can find a small photo gallery here.

Belgium

I have been to Brussels before, but never before to “Belgium”. Now I could experience the difference during my visit, which was organized by a wide range of actors. The two-day agenda included an invitation from the Flemish Ministry of the Environment, an experts lunch at Friends of the Earth, an experts briefing at the European Environmental Bureau, a panel discussion on ethical banking with Finance Watch and New B (a banking cooperative with 50,000 members), a workshop at The Shift (a network of 400 sustainable companies), a business lunch at the KPMG headquarters, an interview with Kate Raworth for the sustainability magazine Mo (see highlights) and, finally, an event in the packed City Theatre of Ghent. This event was made possible by a group of NGOs partnering with Oikos. The oikos founder, Dirk Holemans, guided me through the historic town, which was once the most important grain handling centre in the Middle Ages.The most important building is the 12th century Belfort Tower, in which the first (secular) city constitution was preserved. At the end of the 1990s, the incumbent mayor wanted to build an underground car park directly under the landmark. Holemans organized a citizens' initiative for a popular referendum. To do so, he had to collect the signatures of 10% of the eligible voters, which was successful. The second hurdle was that at least 40% of those eligible to vote must take part in the referendum. With 41.2% taking part, this hurdle was overcome even though the mayor had called on the residents to stay away from the vote. The mayor's second mistake was to treat the vote as binding, although the law did not oblige him to do so. The result should make it clear to him what the people want. 95% voted against the construction of the underground car park. The two days were highly motivating for the young local chapter, which gained numerous new members, but also for me personally. A small picture gallery is here.

Preview: Jakarta

After having had to turn down previous invitations from Singapore and Australia due to the distance and long flights, I have now accepted an invitation to the Asia-Pacific Conference of German Business (APK) in Jakarta, Indonesia in November. The topic will be fair trade instead of free trade. 1000 participants from Asia and Germany are expected to attend.


VI. Dance

A little boxing feels good

The Viennese “Tanzquartier” has become my second living room. We study contemporary dance in its broadest form: partnering, contact dance improvisation, ethnic dance, body work, martial arts and even boxing (nonviolent of course). I have to admit that experiencing boxing as a form of full contact was enlightening. Nonviolent boxing could become the medicine for a our culture which lacks physical contact and suffers from too much brain work.

60 years of the European Union’s Economic and Social Committee

After the premiere of the dancing version on the ECG (DE), I will be able to present the English version in Brussels on May 24th, the 60th birthday of the European Economic and Social Committee. Again I will be performing with my dance partner Magoa Hanke. We're already busy rehearsing.


  


Tender fighting

For some time now I have been searching for the healing and joyful effect of “empathetic measuring of strength, feeling each other's tonus and mutual kneading”. As things so often are, it has needed time to mature and now for the first time, I will be offering a workshop at the Spring Contact Festival at Schloss Glarisegg. It will be a concrete example of a holistic approach.


VII. Recent Media Coverage

  • On January 26th I was a guest in the studio in ZDF Aspekte (DE).
  • On February 26th, the Sächsische Zeitung (DE) published my opinion piece on Siemens' relocation policy.
  • An interview with me appeared in the Belgian newspaper De Standaard (NL) on March 6th.
  • The newspaper Die Presse (DE), which has not been particularly favorable in recent years (recently the paper declared in a front page article that the Project Bank for the Common Good had failed), published my guest commentary on Ethical World Trade on March 7th.
  • On March 8th, Deutschlandfunk (DE) radio broadcasted a long portrait of the ECG.
  • On March 28th, the Bavarian television programme “Station” portrayed the ECG, using the bakery Herzzogsägmühle as an example.
  • A longer interview appeared in the Slovenian “Svet Kapitalia” (SL) on April 2nd.
  • My guest commentary appeared in the Austrian Der Standard (DE) on April 3rd. The piece was on the acquisition of Monsanto by Bayer.
  • The editoral staff of 3SAT "Scobel" (DE) contacted me regarding an opening credit interview to a discussion in honor of Karl Marx' 200th birthday. 
  • Also the ARD-Mittagsmagazin (DE) aired a piece about ECG through the example of the organic bakery "Märkisches Landbrot" in Berlin.

VIII. Action!
Fellowships
If anyone has the possibility or an idea about financing a scholarship for the course Applied ECG, can contact Wolfgang Schäffner of the study center Saalfelden (DE) or me directly.

Research Project Common Good Report
In the bank project, we want to develop a research project to create a universally applicable common good audit. We are looking for funding. If interested, please contact me directly..

First results of the Democratic Trade Convention
The first 150 people took part in the Democratic Trade Convention (DE). The result is not representative, there was no pre-selection of participants, but it is encouraging. The tool is ready to use and can be applied at home, in your company, in a club, in a political party or in your community.

Become a member of ECG
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