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The Only Sustainable Form of Wealth: Tyson Yunkaporta on PYP 494

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Gone are the days, for most people, when you could sit still in school, get good grades, and have a reasonable expectation of converting your academic achievements into career capital.

Because what kinds of careers promise job security and financial stability in a world that's simultaneously flooding and boiling?

Australian academic, craftsperson, and storyteller Tyson Yunkaporta looks at Western civilization as a self-terminating algorithm, and current events are not proving him wrong.

So given that we've brought economic, environmental, political, and social ruin down upon the planet, with just a tiny percentage of people poised to thrive in some digital metaverse until the food runs out, what are the rest of us to do?

How are today's young people supposed to plan out their lives?

What are the responsibilities upon older generations? Do we in Gen X have to “take one for the team” in order to give our kids a livable future? And what does that even look like?

How can we take care of ourselves and build stability and wealth in the framework of a crumbling system?

To give you a sense of Tyson's assessment of the current state of industrialized civilization, here's a verbatim from our conversation, in which he riffs on Audre Lorde's pronouncement that you can't tear down the master's house using the master's tools:

“So we've finally arrived to dismantle the master's house using the master's tools, but he doesn't live there any more.

“He doesn't live there any more. He's buying up water rights and spearheading land grabs elsewhere. He hopes we'll tear his house down because it's insured for more than he could get for selling the place.

“And his nephew, who's into social justice and deep ecology and philanthropy is using the house now. He’s holding a frat party / spiritual retreat there and he invites us all in for vodka shots and ayahuasca.

“Nah, these new masters have no home, no country. They are super wealthy refugees from the great nations they have guttered and rendered irrelevant, building leaky life rafts from decentralized autonomous organizations, making a crossing to digital realms without Westphalian boundaries in a bid to keep all their shit while the world floods and boils.”

This is dark stuff, but dark stuff that we ignore at our peril.

And part of the mission of Plant Yourself is to help us face reality with open eyes, so we can build a better future in partnership with others.

There are dozens of threads to follow in this conversation, but the one that leaves me with the most hope and resolve is how we can each discover our role in the “thousand year cleanup” that's going to be necessary following the continued collapse.

I'd love to hear your thoughts – just remember, please, to be kind and respectful in the comments. There's room for all of our voices, and in fact they're all necessary, given the uncertainty and ambiguity we're facing.


Sand Talk, by Tyson Yunkaporta

The Master's Tools Will Never Dismantle the Master's House” – 1984 Audre Lorde essay

Douglas Rushkoff

The Dawn of Everything, by David Graeber and David Wengrow

Fritjof Capra

Tikkun Olam

Looking for Transformational Change?

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You CAN Change Other People!

Well, that's what Peter Bregman and I claim in our provocative book of that title.

What we really mean is, you can help the people around you make behavioral changes in their own best interests. If you think you're powerless to help people change, it's because you've been going about it the wrong way.

Discover our straightforward, replicable process here: You Can Change Other People.

Audiobook: Use the Weight to Lose the Weight

Listen to Josh LaJaunie and me narrate our latest audiobook, about how to start moving when you're obese.

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The Plant Yourself Podcast theme music, “Dance of Peace (Sabali Don),” is generously provided by Will Ridenour, a kora player from North Carolina who has trained with top Senegalese musicians.

It can be found on his first CD, titled Will Ridenour.

You can learn about Will, listen to more tracks, and buy music on his website,


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1 comment on “The Only Sustainable Form of Wealth: Tyson Yunkaporta on PYP 494

  1. sean owens says:

    Fantastic episode Howie, really enjoying your conversations with Tyson. Rethinking what Plant Yourself really means is very powerful, it has made me rethink how I plant myself in my own community. Thanks! Sean

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