When I posted an interview with wind energy pioneer Dale Vince, one Facebook commenter took issue with my references to his "hippie dropout" past, and the fact that he is now on Britain's rich list. The idea that we should be impressed by how his "wind energy empire was built", she said, nearly turned her stomach. Whether or not my original words were appropriate, this brought up a very valid debate once again.
Are the notions of material/financial wealth and environmental sustainability mutually exclusive?
Hippie Dropout is Not an Insult
I should first note that my references to Dale as a "hippie dropout living in a bus" were not intended to be derogatory—I originally wrote "New Age traveler", which is the term we use in the UK for the subculture, but was not sure how culturally relevant that would be to a US audience.
Semantics aside, what are we to do about the thorny conundrum of wealth and sustainability?
Learning from Alternative Culture
The man himself speaks of "dropping out", and describes that time as deeply informative and educational. And while he has now chosen a different path, I don't think he would argue against those who choose to continue pursuing "alternative lifestyles". In fact, from encouraging conversations about veganism and lower impact lifestyles at the soccer (sorry Dale, football!) club he owns, to exploring new ways of financing that cut out banks and traditional financial institutions, Dale's activities often seek to tackle some of the same cultural sticking points that the alternative/traveller/hippie movement has sought to address—they just do so from a different perspective.
Economics is a Real Issue
On the one hand, i have a lot of sympathy with those who argue that no growth economics should be pursued with vigor, and i have respect for those—like the Moneyless Man, aka Mark Boyle—who have sought (with varying degrees of success) to disconnect themselves from the destructive nature of our current economy.
Continue reading at: http://www.treehugger.com/files/2011/08/go-green-get-rich.php?campaign=daily_nl