What Does the New Dream Mean to You? Join Us in the Inquiry

October 29, 2018

Red Car Red Cart

Do you ever think deeply about the far-reaching impacts of consumption? 

  • About how your choices as a consumer affect your neighbors, the folks who live across town, or people on the other side of the world?
  • About what it means—for all of us—when advertisers unfairly target communities with unhealthy products like fast food, tobacco, and alcohol?
  • About the inherent inequity of a world where some of us—drowning in stuff and choices—seek desperately to downsize and minimize, even as so many more of us struggle to even have choices and meet basic needs? 

At New Dream, we've been thinking about this a lot—and we invite you to join us in the inquiry. Now is a great time to ask ourselves what “reducing consumption” means, when social divides grow ever wider and so many people experience economic insecurity. How do we find new ways of connecting, building community, and ensuring the well-being of all people and the planet?

As New Dreamers, we need to recognize how our choices—as consumers and as neighbors—affect others, and how the larger systems at play in our society perpetuate and reinforce the inequities of consumption. We need to understand why, for example, for every $100 in white family wealth in the United States, black families hold just $5.04—and how we can all play a role in helping to reverse these trends. 

At New Dream, we've long worked to fight back against a culture that tells us our worth is defined by what we have and how much we have. That’s the “old dream”— driven by consumerism—that we’ve tried hard to change. But as our communities continue to experience social and environmental breakdown, the work to define a new dream—one that includes all of us—is messy and urgent. 

The moment we’re in—#MeToo, #NeverAgain, #BlackLivesMatter, divisive politics, and just 12 years to take effective action on climate—offers an unprecedented and deeply important opportunity for all of us to add our voices and unique perspectives on consumption in the growing movement for truth and change.

What does the “new dream” look like to you? Share your voice and experiences!

Core to New Dream’s founding values is an exploration of how race, gender, economic security, sexual orientation, religion, ethnicity, age, and more—i.e., equity—intersects with our prevailing consumer culture. As an organization, we’re eager to make space for all voices, including those who are most impacted by runaway consumption, advertising, and a culture that defines success based on ownership and status.

Why We're Doing This

We’re asking you to join us in our renewed inquiry on equity and consumption for several reasons:

  • The overconsumption that’s prevalent in so much of our society is disproportionately affecting marginalized communities who largely do not contribute to this problem.
  • People living at the intersection of poverty and a high-consumption culture often struggle to meet basic needs and have too little choice—and what they do consume and the options they do have are often unhealthy or downright toxic.
  • If all of us—as New Dreamers—aren’t considering consumption from an equity perspective, we will not be able to fully engage and support the young people in our communities. Individuals under age 37 are the most diverse cohort of the U.S. population—with nearly half identifying as "multicultural—and if we don’t center their needs, solutions, and leadership, our efforts will quickly cease to be relevant.
  • We need to shift the narrative away from the “old dream”—driven by rampant consumerism and resource use—to define new dream that includes healthy communities and opportunities for all of us to thrive

An understanding of equity in our lives and work must be “baked in.” It cannot be achieved through a single experience, workshop, or isolated public statement, but must be part of a journey, taken over time. 

It’s an evolution that we need to undertake—as individual New Dreamers, and as an organization.

Fortunately, this kind of inquiry is what the New Dream community does best. Question the status quo. Shift thinking. Consider possibilities. Inspire action.

Our Vision for New Dream

What will this look like for New Dream, as an organization? With your support, we will:

  • Weave consideration of—and action on—equity throughout our work, educating and expanding our audience to help you understand the needs and concerns of those most impacted by consumption.
  • Support you in questioning the status quo and envisioning new systems that address the impacts of runaway consumption.
  • Elevate and amplify the concerns and ideas of marginalized people, including youth, so we can all support their vision of a just future.
  • Shift the dominant narrative by telling stories and supporting arts and culture that demonstrate that change is possible when we question consumption.
  • Help you take action through our diverse network of partners.

We want to know what you think. Please complete this short survey to let us know your thoughts on this renewed approach to consumption. Thank you!