Is there no escape from an economy that devours nature in the name of endless growth? John Thackara’s answer is a rousing ‘yes, there is!’ Drawing on a lifetime of travel in search of real-world alternatives that work, he describes in this book how communities the world over are creating a replacement economy from the ground up. Each chapter is devoted to the creative ways people in diverse contexts tackle timeless needs: restoring the land,
sharing water, making homes, journeying, growing food, designing clothes, caring for each other. From Bali to Brazil, as well as Delhi, London, and California, Thackara writes of soil restorers and river keepers, seed savers and de-pavers, cloud commuters and e-bike couriers, care farmers, food system curators, fibershed stewards, money designers and more.

Read together, these encounters add up to a joyful new story about what an economy is actually for. In place of an obsession with stuff, money, and endless growth, this book describes social practices that cherish all-of-life, not just human life. Growth, in this new economy, means soils, biodiversity and watersheds getting healthier, and communities more resilient. Its core values are stewardship and health, in place of extraction and decay.

Thackara is inspired, too, by the ways artists in different cultures open our eyes to different ways of looking at – and acting in – the world. Seen through this new lens, the health of living systems, not money, is the ultimate measure of wealth, and work is a natural way to thrive, not just survive. These quiet but widespread changes are signals of reconnection, says Thackara – with each other, and with our local ecology. Marveling at the power of small actions to transform the bigger picture, he concludes that a great transition is under way. It’s the end of one civilization – but the birth of another.


1. CHANGING: From do less harm, to leave things better • 2. GROUNDING: From heal the soil, to think like a forest • 3. WATERKEEPING: From harvest the rain, to river recovery • 4. DWELLING: From depave the city, to pollinator pathways • 5. FEEDING: From social farming, to food as a commons • 6. CLOTHING: From dirt to shirt, and soil to skin • 7. MOVING: From two-wheeled freight, to cloud commuting • 8. CARING:
From cure to care, from me to we • 9. COMMONING: From social money, to the art of hosting • 10. KNOWING: From ways of seeing, to ways of acting

Publication: August 2015
Extent: 192pp
Size: 23.4 x 15.6cm
Binding: Hardback
Price: £18.95
ISBN 978 0 500 518083 ) + bar code (see attached Advance Info sheet)


John Thackara is a writer and event producer who has spent a lifetime searching for live
examples of what a sustainable future can be like. He writes about these stories at his blog, Doors
Of Perception, and organizes festivals that bring the project leaders he has met together. Described
by Business Week as “one of the great voices on sustainability”, John Thackara’s previous books
include the best-selling In the Bubble: Designing in a Complex World. Along the way, John has
been a magazine editor; a publisher; Director of Research at the Royal College of Art, where he is
now a Senior Fellow; and Director of the Netherlands Design Institute. He has curated two national
biennials – Designs Of The Time in the UK, and City Eco Lab in France – and nine Doors of
Perception conferences in Amsterdam, and India; the Economic Times of India praised these
events for their “brilliant insights into the internet and sustainability”. In 2013, John launched a
workshop format called xskool that helps diverse groups develop the design agenda for their