Downscaling the Doughnut to Chapel Hill

As part of a student-led class at UNC-Chapel Hill, students created a model to downscale the doughnut to Chapel Hill.

Building upon the introductory class where students were introduced to doughnut economics, today we unrolled the doughnut and examined the four lenses to bring humanity into the doughnut:

  1. Local-social lens: how can all the people of this place thrive?
  2. Local-ecological lens: how can this place be as generous as the wildland next door?
  3. Global-ecological lens: how can this place respect the health of the whole planet?
  4. Global-social lens: how can this place respect the well-being of all people?

For each lens, we looked at examples from Amsterdam’s city doughnut to inspire ideas to downscale the doughnut in the context of Chapel Hill. We also discussed how the four lenses enable interconnections between existing problems and solutions as well as possibilities for new initiatives, policies, and projects to tackle these goals.

Using the Doughnut Unrolled template, we created a doughnut portrait for the town of Chapel Hill, North Carolina:

Chapel Hill Doughnut Portrait

  • The light blue sticky notes represent changes already underway and organizations and initiatives that help us thrive
  • The pink sticky notes represent existing challenges that people face in Chapel Hill
  • The dark blue sticky notes represent current targets set for the town of Chapel Hill
  • The yellow sticky notes represent current indicators to measure progress against each target

While posting ideas onto this template, students observed how many challenges and solutions fit into multiple dimensions of the doughnut. For example, not only does hog farming in North Carolina contribute to local-ecological challenges through direct emissions, but it also contributes to local-social challenges through contributing to environmental injustices, as well as global-ecological challenges through unsustainable agricultural practices that threaten ecological integrity on a global scale. 

During this activity, we also commented on how local efforts might not be directly impactful on a global scale, but they can serve as models or frameworks for other places to replicate. It was also interesting to observe how interconnected all these different solutions and challenges are on both a local and global scale. It speaks to the importance of combining all four dimensions to achieve the safe and just space within the doughnut and provides evidence that steps are being taken to fill these gaps. 





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