rn: Instead of GNP: Measuring Well-Being


Jan Slakov

Dear RN list,

I am changing the order of part of the message below because Mike
Nickerson's book project is, I think, of great interest for all of us, no
matter where we live (whereas the other information is tailored to a
Canadian audience).

all the best, Jan
"Life, Money & Illusion"   (The book.)
        In the early 1990s I became intensely curious
about how the financial system is implicated in the
emerging crisis of non-sustainability.  In 1990 we were
producing the greatest volume of goods and services
ever produced.  The next year a recession started.  The
economy did not grow, but it didn't shrink either.  We
produced the same record volume of goods and services,
yet, because it wasn't more than the year before, many
people experienced serious hardship.  What is it about
the system that requires perpetual growth?
Understanding this is critical.

        Three years ago, I received money from the
International Development Research Centre (IDRC) to
continue gathering information and to produce a book
on the relationships between our economic system and
the natural systems of the living world.  I continued my
research but spent most of my time developing and
promoting the Canada Well-Being Measurement Act.
Now it is time to write.

        The topics in the book include: 'Life', with its
billion year plus track record and elegant process for
sustaining participants; 'Money' short for the economic
system and how it has evolved into a very powerful
catalyst for stimulating ever greater amounts of human
activity; and 'Illusion', which refers to the almost
opposite solutions that 'Life' and 'Money' prescribe for
today's serious problems.  One or the other must be

        Any exchange of effort between people, for barter,
love or money, is economic.  The topic need not be
dismal.  It is essentially about how we cooperate to
realize greater potentials than any of us could manage
alone.  Much thought and writing has been done about
how to adapt the present system so that it leads toward
sustainability rather than undermining it.  I have
collected a lot of illuminating material and feel that I
can organize it into a picture that will help others
grasp the problems involved and the solutions

        The need for transformation is immense and I
can no longer resist the compulsion to produce this
book.  It has upset me to realize that I cannot write
"Life, Money & Illusion" actively promote the CWBMA
 [Canadian Well-Being Measurement Act]
and earn a living, at the same time.  My MP is on side
and will soon introduce the Act to every household in
this riding.  The ball is in your court to reach out to
others and together to engage your MP.  The materials
are on hand and I am still available to answer specific

<snip>    Yours,  Mike Nickerson

Date: Wed, 12 Dec 2001 07:21:12 -0500
From: Mike Nickerson <•••@••.•••>
Subject: Update: Measuring Well-Being

Greetings Friends:

        This email contains:

1) News about an Ottawa City Council resolution
supporting the Canada Well-Being Measurement Act.

2) A project update letter recently circulated to our
mailing list.
        As many of you only receive email notices, this
will be new.  For those who received the printed copy,
my apologies for the repetition.


        On November 28, 2001, the City of Ottawa
passed the following resolution:

        "That the City of Ottawa support the goals and
principles contained in Bill C-268, "The Canada Well-
Being Measurement Act" and that this be
communicated to the Prime Minister, the Finance
Minister, all area M.P.s and to Mr. Joe Jordan, M.P.,

        This resolution resulted from the innovative work
of Ken Billings in Ottawa.  He asked at the City office
who on Council might be interested in well-being
measurement.  He didn't get the right person at first
and deserves credit for pursuing the run around
through several contacts before finding the Councilor
who would bring the information to Council.  Ken
provided a one page summary of the program and a
copy of "Measuring Well-Being" (available from us).  We
were then asked us to send enough copies for
distribution to each Councilor and the staff involved.
        Some time later, the issue came up at the Health,
Recreation and  Social Services Committee, a
resolution was proposed which they unanimously
agreed to send to the Council as a whole where it was
adopted as written above.

        I'd never thought of seeking municipal
endorsements.  It is an excellent way to promote the
Canada Well-Being Measurement Act.  When Jean
Chretian, Paul Martin and local MPs get letters from
Cities and Towns supporting well-being measurement,
their political interest will rise.
        Please consider approaching your municipality.
It would be a good move early in the New Year.  Each
such endorsements a big step forward.  Ask me for
backup literature.

        In addition to introducing the proposal for
National measures, you can tell the local Council that
the Federation of Canadian Municipalities has a
program to help Municipalities set up local well-being
measurement programs.  Information on this is
available at: http://www.fcm.ca  under:  "Quality of
Life in Canadian Communities March, 2001"

Details are available from:
Marni Cappe, (613) 241-5221, ext. 247
E-mail: •••@••.•••


        The letter which follows was sent out to our snail
mail list at the end of October.  It was accompanied by
a new flyer introducing the Initiative and the Canada
Well-Being Measurement Act and a reply form with
details about donating to the work at hand.  Ask me
<•••@••.•••> for details if you would like to help
move the initiative forward by making a donations.

The flyer begins:

        "Enough is known
        about what people need,
        and what our planet offers,
        to assure secure and healthy lives
        for countless generations."

"The 7th Generation Initiative aims to recognize
peoples' concerns and insights and make them
available to everyone, for critical assessment and
creative action."

        "The people are wise."

        "Every human has the ability to sense their
surroundings, many are extremely perceptive.  Together,
through communication, we have extraordinary

        "Inside, [the flyer] you will find a plan for
connecting the wisdom of people to the action
capability of government.  It is AN OPPORTUNITY TO

        The flyer contains a short explanation about why
we need to improve our measure of progress, a
description of the Act and some details about the work
initiated by Paul Martin and how those efforts differ
from Bill C-268.
        Copies of this flyer are available on request.


October 23, 2001

Dear Friends of Sustainability:

        There is more to do this fall than I can possibly
do.  This has lead to considerable frustration and a
keen hope that you will help promote the Canada
Well-Being Measurement Act.

        I have finally started writing a book on ecological
economics (a short description follows) and have taken
on some custom woodworking projects to pay the bills.

        The Canada Well-Being Measurement Act has
gained support from enough MPs that the bill's
sponsor, Joe Jordan MP, is forming a delegation to
propose that it be made into a Government Bill.  As a
Government Bill, it would stand a good chance of
becoming law, particularly if we continue the process of
raising public awareness and informing our MPs of its

        MPs are flooded with communications, so we
have to be creative/persistent to get their attention.
When an MP takes the time to look at the Act they
usually see its value, particularly if they know that
their constituents are in favour.  However, MPs can't
form an opinion until it comes to their attention.  Your
task would be to get their attention.

        The democratic and problem solving potentials of
the Measurement Act are great.  It would provide a
channel for citizens' concerns to be brought into public
view well before they reach 911 proportions.  We have
created a substantial stir with this proposal over the
last couple of years and thanks are due to the many of
you who have spread news of the Act, contacted your
MPs and contributed financially to the campaign.  We
need to keep up the pressure to see it through.  In
These key elements can only be assured by stimulating
broad public expectation that they will be included.

There are several ways in which you can help pass the Act:

        * Inform the people in your community;
        * Inform your MP;
        * Inform and involve organizations and networks to
help find people in as many places as possible to undertake 1 & 2; and
        * Make a donation toward coordinating of these efforts.

        [Add to this list *Approach your local municipality.]

        Some of the materials available to help with
these steps are listed on the back of the enclosed flyer.
Among the background information is a page detailing
"How you can help".  These and other items are
available on the web site below (or ask me for printed

        Included on the web site, or by request, are
articles of various lengths that can be given to
interested publications.  Please don't hesitate to ask for
and use these materials.  If we can achieve a general
awareness of this Act, it will become an institution we
can use.

        One additional action will help Joe Jordan make
the case that the Act should be a Government priority:
        * Encourage the Prime Minister to make the
Canada Well-Being Measurement Act a Government Bill:
        Rt. Hon. Jean Chrétian, House of Commons,
        Ottawa, ON, K1A 0A6,
        (613) 992-4211       •••@••.•••

        You can also help by supporting the
Sustainability Project/7th Generation Initiative with
donations made out directly to the Sustainability
Project, or (if you would like a tax creditable receipt) to
the Sierra Club of Canada Foundation.  Contributions
will be used to maintain the flow of printed materials,
hire help to coordinate the CWBMA campaign and, if
possible, get me back to promoting the Act when my
woodworking commitments have been honoured and
the book is well under way.

        I hope you appreciate the great opportunity that
the Canada Well-Being Measurement Act offers and
find it worthy of your effort and financial support.

                Yours,  Mike Nickerson

        *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *
        "Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful
        committed citizens can change the world,
        indeed it's the only thing that ever has."
                                            Margaret Mead

        *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *


Sustainability Project - Inviting Debate
P.O. Box 374, Merrickville, Ontario
K0G 1N0
(613) 269-3500
e-mail:  •••@••.•••