One of the main issues of the Occupy movement is economic inequality. Whenever I think about it, I keep coming back to my watershed work. For me, economic inequality is a vital but secondary issue. The more fundamental issue is how should money ideally flow within an economy? I believe it should be recycled often to fall again and again as rain upon the slopes. What we are seeing is a concentration of wealth low in the watershed and how unproductive it is down there. Trillions of dollars in credit default swaps. What kind of truly human aspiration is that serving? Trillions of dollars being leveraged for what? One can argue that more of that money should be shared more widely in the name of economic justice. But I think there is a more politically powerful perspective of economic effectiveness. How pathetically little is being truly created by all the money that has flowed too far downslope. A failure of imagination is draining our culture of economic vitality. It’s not an issue of rich vs. poor but an issue of how possibilities drain away when wealth accumulates downslope. All of us, rich and poor alike, would be uplifted by a flow that recycled and held the wealth of our species higher in the watershed. I believe it is spiritually important to see this as a long-term issue, not of taxing the rich and giving to the poor, but of adjusting thousands of the ongoing flows within an economy so that the money keeps getting recycled back up to flow over and over again.
– Paul Krafel
In case you don’t know, his “watershed work” is literally work on watersheds. During rain storms he walks high up into the watershed with a trowel, and makes lots of small changes to redirect water flows from concentrating in gullies. Paul has some fascinating photos of how this small work makes huge difference over time.