Reliable Prosperity

This site consists of short essays, called patterns, which form a hierarchy that starts here. We also list each pattern in alphabetical order within the Reliable Prosperity Index.

When the health of ecosystems and communities is not integrated into economic activities, all three suffer. In turn, economic dependence on destructive activities creates apparent conflicts between work, nature, and community. How can we create an economy that effectively meets human needs while regenerating natural systems? An economy which grows organically — and fills new niches — by working with nature and enriching human capacities?

This coastal estuary in Prince William Sound, Alaska is part of the coastal temperate rainforest stretching from Big Sur to Kodiak Island.

In a world of reliable prosperity, Capital arrangements of all kinds are gradually redesigned so that they restore — rather than deplete — Nature and Society. This will create extraordinary opportunities for those who foresee and drive these changes. The Fundamental Needs of people — and the Ecosystem Services that sustain them — are the starting point for a different kind of economic prosperity that can endure generation after generation.

While reliable prosperity functions on a global scale, it can be imagined as a healthy mosaic of Bioregional Economies forged within coherent geographic and cultural regions. Even in a globalizing economy, diverse bioregional economies that are more self-sufficient more competitive and less vulnerable.

Based on our 20 years of work in the coastal temperate rainforests of the West, we believe that individuals and businesses flourish best by aligning their interests with the communities and ecosystems around them. In the long-run, this involves getting price signals right by instituting True Cost Pricing. In the short-run, this means creating new business models, adopting new strategies (e.g. Resource Efficiency), transforming legal or institutional frameworks (e.g. Fair Trade), or looking at multiple benefits in a synergistic manner (e.g. Green Building). Reliable prosperity is emerging in Compact Towns and Cities, Productive Rural Areas, and Connected Wildlands; in for-profits, non-profits, and governments; in corner coffeehouses and vast corporations; among rich and poor. Individuals and organizations that see its potential and acquire the skills to build it will create ongoing and enduring economic opportunities. Individuals and organizations that continue to depend on the depletion of social and natural capital will face increasingly unpredictable global commodity markets, tightening laws and regulations, new taxes, public outrage, loss of motivation, and many other symptoms of economic transformation.

Despite the obvious depletion of nature in the Pacific Northwest, this region retains enormous financial and ecological assets, skilled people, and technical capabilities. The great cities of the region along with its inventive smaller towns are beginning to show serious engagement with the patterns that underlie reliable prosperity. Significant trends toward better Agriculture, Forestry, Fisheries practices, Renewable Energy, and Ecotourism signal rapidly increasing investment in better forms of living.

New investments, advanced learning processes, and significant political commitment will greatly accelerate this bioregion's transition to toward more reliable prosperity. It is now possible to imagine a tangible timeline — perhaps twenty-five years — within which we will achieve a fully functional reliable prosperity in the bioregion.

Over the long-term, decrease economic dependence on activities that deplete natural or social capital. In the shorter-term, make investments with triple bottom line — economic, social, and environmental — returns. Harness both market forces and changes in laws, taxes, and policies that favor reliable prosperity.