I write this amidst daily reports of terrible destruction taking place in Gaza, devastating loss of life and impending famine. Meanwhile, whilst less present in our media, the war in Ukraine continues; as does the climate emergency that threatens the future existence of life on earth.

In many ways it feels like a time of despair. Is there hope?

In her book ‘Doughnut Economics’, Kate Rowarth wrote in 2017;

“We live in an economy that needs to grow, whether or not it makes us thrive. We need an economy that makes us thrive, whether or not it grows.”

That feels even more true today where the mainstream economic conversation certainly in the UK t is about economic growth, reducing taxation, restricting public spending, fighting inflation; the language of economics that has dominated the last 75 years or more. A language whose underlying assumptions feel like they belong in another age, constrain our thinking, our imaginations to dream of an alternative.

Recently I spent the day working with a group of leaders using our imaginations, trying to free our thinking and create an alternative future. They were on a development programme for future directors and board members of organisations. In my small group, after everyone had rehearsed their own difficult conversations, we had an open slot to work through what the group felt were ‘even more’ challenging conversations. We discussed how to give difficult feedback and how to tackle unhelpful attitudes and inappropriate behaviour in senior leaders. Then we alighted on how to support others’ mental well-being, when people are experiencing so much stress in their lives. The group shared really interesting initiatives happening in their own organisations and I was struck by both the energy in the conversation and the degree of care for others demonstrated by these leaders. We also remarked on the importance of this conversation and the need to carve out time to think about, discuss and address the issue.

Is there hope?

Kate Rowarth offers a radically different way of thinking about and creating a global and local economy that ensures the planet and humanity thrive.

In our work we invite people to imagine and try alternative approaches, be courageous, experiment, play, let go of ways of thinking that do not serve them, be present and connect with others. And how we and they thrive when we genuinely listen to each other, feel empathy and compassion, consider the complexity of the challenges we face and have a dialogue around new ways of thinking and new solutions.

There is hope.