"Solutionaries" attend Green Festival in Chicago, May 2010

The average lifetime of a species on planet earth is about one million years. Seeing as we humans are about 200,000 years old, you could say that we are exiting our adolescence and entering adulthood. We are waking up to the simple fact that our actions have consequences, such as degrading the environment, and we need to take responsibility for those consequences.

Correspondingly, progressive forces around the world are going through a maturing process, transitioning from being focused on protest (complaining about what we don’t like), to being focused on projects (actually building the next system—sustainability). We are going from a largely negative approach—standing up in opposition to things we define as bad (war, environmental destruction, inequality, injustice)—to creating the alternative institutions that will eventually become mainstream.

The term Solutionary is far better than revolutionary because it carries none of the negative, destructive connotations of revolution. The human race is entering a new epoch. Every revolution up until now has been a national process, with the revolutionaries seeking to gain control of the capital city in order to run that nation differently. The current transition is a global revolution in values: making a transition from a system where money values rule over the life cycle to one where life values rule over the money cycle.

Solutionaries can be activists or entrepreneurs. They know that the key skill set is organizing. They see each problem in the world as an opportunity for action that fixes the problem or at least lessens the suffering and increases the joy. Here are some examples.

Solutionaries look at the inequality in the world economy and address it by:
• opening Fair Trade shops that sell craft products made by low-income producer groups;
• developing Fair Trade certification systems (e.g., TransFairUSA) to educate consumers and drive revenue to the poorest;
• providing financing and technical assistance to grassroots groups in the global south so they can earn their way out of poverty and not be dependent on charity.

Solutionaries look at the fact that we are running out of clean, drinkable water, and they use that fact as the starting point for:
• inventing waterless urinals that each save 40,00 gallons of water per year;
• designing rain catchment systems;
• educating the public about the bogus bottled water industry and promoting the use of reusable water containers filled with tap water.

Huge crowds enjoy the Green Festivals in Washington, DC, San Francisco, Seattle and Chicago.

Solutionaries look at the 245 million tons of garbage we Americans send to landfills every year and they address it by:

• starting companies such as TerraCycle, which makes dozens of products from waste materials;
• launching recycling and composting programs that divert waste into productive uses (e.g., San Francisco diverts 72% of its waste into recycling and composting, generating income and saving money in landfill costs);
• expanding the Green Festivals, which for nine years have brought together hundreds of thousands of solutionaries and divert more than 90% of the events’ waste into recycling and composting.

So, from now on, when you see a problem in the world, put on your SOLUTIONARY hat and think of how that problem is an opportunity and a challenge to your creativity to find an organizational answer to the problem.

We can either curse the darkness, or we can create cooperative workshops making beeswax candles.

Are you a Solutionary? Check out this video where I discuss how we can unite Solutionaries. And if you have solutionary ideas, we’d love to hear from you!