fair-handeln! Anstiftungen für zukunftsfähiges Handeln – Book Review

Review by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

Anstiftungen für zukunftsfähiges Handeln
Edited and published by Jaana Prüss
192 pages, with many illustrations, color and b/w
Softcover with flaps,
Price: 19,90 €,
ISBN 978-3-00-045409-7

fair-handeln_Buch_frontThe best translation for the title would be "acting fair" as "fair trading" would not fit even though some might translate it in that way. So, in other words “acting fair! Incitements for sustainable interactions” would be the best full English translation for it.

Talking of translations; presently the book is only available in German. However, an English translation of it is being planned, so I understand.

The book tries to give practical answers to may questions such as how is it possible to live well in today's affluent society without having to open every time the wallet in order to buy new and open the trash can regularly to throw old tings away?

What ideas and practical ways exist already with which one can participate in the far-reaching transformation process in which our western consumer societies are finding themselves in our present time?

How and where can one put something that one no longer needs at the disposal of others; how and where can one extend the use of resources? Or also: What are true values? When do I experience myself and my actions as meaningful?

Such questions and others this handbook and “participation manual” entitled “Fairhandeln! Anstiftungen für zukunftsfähiges Handeln” is trying to follow up and answer. It also presents to the reader innovative activities of the civil society – exemplary projects in which a new understanding of wealth is being lives whereby quality of live is not dependent on the amount of goods one has and owns.

Ordinary people who are doing the uncommon are given a voice in this book: lending instead of owning, do it yourself instead of buying, upcycling instead of throwing away.

Together they plant up empty spaces in the cities, keep bees, establish open workshops, Repair Cafes, practice barter or Share Economy, concern themselves with healthy regional diet or cooperative agriculture. They look for answers to the conflict of resources, for practical alternatives to our current throwaway society and demand involvement and participation, free access to knowledge, to water, energy and culture as fundamental rights, as commons.

The book is broken down into three parts:

Part 1 is a reading book with essays and portraits of the different authors, actors and experts, both male and female, which give an insight into and information about urban gardening, share economy, barter circles, upcycling, commons post growth economy, etc.

The second part is an action and participation manual with concrete methods beyond consumption and throwaway society. Practical instructions, construction guides, recipes, and much more.

And part three is an information book with many contacts, addresses, portraits of the actors in the field, and is designed as a collection, an index and information pool to the questions as to where can I find what, where can I lend this, repair that, participate and learn myself how to do things...

Everyone has individual talents, gifts, creativity and skills that need to be activated and put to use. This book would like to inspire the read and give him or her courage to become active themselves, to do things for themselves and to try out things in the various fields of society.

The book is written in a very easy and slightly quirky style which makes it great fun to read. The fact that the subjects are presented in short articles of often two or three pages maximum also makes for this and enables the book to be truly used as a manual being able to dip in and out as needed.

The editor Jaana Prüss works as a cultural activist, artist, curator and project manager in the realms of culture, art and sustainability. In 2004 she founded Morgengrün Kommunikation. Since 2013 she is the chair person of the und.Institut für Kunst, Kultur und Zukunftsfähigkeit e.V. in Berlin.

fair-handeln! came about as the result of a cooperation of the und.Institut with Morgengrün Kommunikation and many protagonists of change. The production was made possible through crowdfunding and was also supported additionally by the Heinrich Böll-Stiftung, Stiftungsgemeinschaft anstiftung & ertomis, GLS Bank, Naturstrom, and others.

I have very much enjoyed this book and regard it as one that is very much needed in today's world to get people active in society to bring about the changes that are needed for a better and healthier life for all. A new fairer society and world is possible and it is up to all of us to make it, together.

© 2014