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The Doughnut as a Metaphor

The donut is used as a metaphor by Kate Raworth - creator of the Donut Economics. "The only donut that's good for you," she often says. The donut proves to be a powerful metaphor to inspire and enthuse people to work together towards an ecologically, socially and economically just society for all.

[Lees deze post in het Nederlands op donutbakkerij.nl]

What is that donut anyway?

And how does this work as a metaphor? The current economic system has led to inequality and climate change. It is time for a new economy: a safe and just space for all. No new insight, but to make the transition that has been initiated understandable and accessible to everyone, we need new stories and images. The simple picture of the donut is an invitation to everyone to contribute to a donut economy. Everyone is an economist and together we can make different choices about our housekeeping book. The donut is more mindset than model.

Many people want to get started with the donut, but quickly get lost in definitions. What exactly are the themes, which ones do we recognize and which ones are missing? It is a shame to lose yourself in an "analysis paralysis" in the starting phase. The essence of the donut - the two borders and the 'dough' of the donut - leaves a lot of room for your own interpretation. Include the theme that you miss, but also embrace what you may not have thought of yet, which is still a blank spot for you.


What does the donut look like to you? Image created during the Donut Economics Action Lab meeting: Doughnart.


There is always simplicity in complexity. My thesis is that the donut metaphor can be applied to unite all existing social and environmental initiatives. It can provide a common language to recognize from each other how we work on the donut and especially how we can work together. Looking through the donut's lens is finding complementarity and allies rather than rivalry and competition.

Donut Ingredients

With the Donut Bakery we continue the metaphor. We will discuss donut ingredients, donut recipes and donut flavors. How can we set up donut bakeries nearby and start baking!

On April 15, we went back to basics and in New Metropolis Nieuw West discussed the Donut as a Metaphor to develop impactful initiatives: how do you strengthen the social foundation of Amsterdam, within the ecological limits? We spoke with Kim and Maaike van Combiwel, Menno van de Kaskantine and Jeroen van Stadsdeel Nieuw West, to find out what the most important ingredients of their donut are. Are there any similarities? Differences? And which ingredients are indispensable?

The initiatives that were discussed had already started. Ingredients that are needed when you are still at the beginning, such as space or financing were not the focus of this evening. More important were the more 'soft' ingredients such as trust, a safe and positive atmosphere and the focus on neighborhood values.

The community lives at the neighborhood level. The neighborhood does not need to be saved. There is already a lot, it just needs to be listened to more. Truly partnering with the neighborhood means - for a policy official or project leader, for example - to step out of the systems world and enter the living world, to really become part of the community.

There are also more similarities than differences locally. Even in politics. At a more central level goals become more abstract and invisible. It is important to make the translation.


On June 15, we will continue the conversation to see how we can combine donut ingredients into a donut recipe.

Made it to the end of this post? Thank you for your attention! If you'd like to respond, you can find my contact details below in the footer. Have a great day. Rieta

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