Welcome to Growing Good Lives

Growing Good Lives seeks to reclaim economics as the ‘Art of Living Well’. Working in collaboration with community groups, organisations and business, we deliver training, talks and events which aim to upend conventional notions of economic value and open our imaginations to ways of living that meet human needs in harmony with all of life.

the back story

For as long as I can remember I have been interested in what brings out the best – and the worst – in us and how we can create a world in which humans can thrive in harmony with each other and the living Earth. Thirteen years ago that interest led me to the work of Chilean economist Manfred Max-Neef and for the last decade I have been sharing his Human Scale Development (HSD) approach with people of all ages and walks of life – from students to community groups to business leaders.

It is becoming clear to most of us that all our systems need rethinking. The financial crises, Corona virus and the climate emergency are demanding that we do things differently from now on.

My experience as an artist, storyteller and improvisation teacher tells me that we need to address not only the physical practicalities of changing our systems, but actively cultivate our ‘radical collective imagination’. This vital capacity will allow us to vision a socially, ecologically and economically just future together. Educating ourselves about the myriad regenerative social and economic alternatives, existing and emerging, will give us the tools to make it happen.

Growing Good Lives is my contribution to this radical collective re-imagining.

Inez Aponte – Founder


Jacob Rask and Inez Aponte discuss how to frame the climate crisis for young people to increase engagement, the role of traditional storytelling in opening our imaginations and how to find hope and meaning in these challenging times.

Because Climate change is so big, it tends to be presented as a big global issue that needs to be addressed on a global scale (,, ) and we often leave out what it means for the very specifics of someones life. What does it mean for your dreams about the future? That is the kind of thing we can feel more empowered around.”

On activism, burnout and the role of parenting: “There is the ‘big work’ that we feel have to and the ‘small work’ we have to do, which is to care, and who is to say that that is less important? (…)
I have learnt over time that we are in a long transition and if you use yourself up at the beginning, there will be nothing left of you in a few months.(…)
There has to be some way that we become a different kind of people right now. There is a slowing down that we need to do, taking care of ourselves and others.  It may seem like we are doing lees, but it flips around and becomes the thing that is doing more.”

Tedx Stroud 2021 –  Reclaiming the art of living well – and why our future depends on it

The birth of her son led Inez to think about new ways of creating a fairer society. In this talk, she describes the work of Manfred Max-Neef, the founder of Barefoot Economics.
“I don’t want to have to look my son in the eye and tell him we couldn’t protect his future, because nobody could make a profit from it.”

Interview with upstream

In this interview, we hear from Inez Aponte, the founder of Growing Good Lives, an organization dedicated to bringing about a socially and environmentally just economic system by putting values, needs, and wellbeing at the heart of economic development work. Inez is a storyteller, facilitator and community organizer who uses the Human Scale Development Approach in her workshops and seminars. We talked about how she came to do this work, why we need a different way of talking about the economy, and the role of story and language in encouraging lasting behavior change.

Totnes street games festival


Sunday 23rd April 2017 was the day of the Totnes Street Games Festival. In the recently-renovated Rotherfold square, parents and children gathered to remember, relearn and encounter street games. The square was filled with laughter, children dashing around, skipping ropes, bouncing balls, chalk drawings. In this podcast, I speak to the organisers, children and parents to capture a sense of the day and why it matters.

 Inez Aponte and Ben Brangwyn live in Totnes, England, a town that has reimagined their local economy to support greater sustainability, engagement, and happiness for all.


The Totnes Pound was one of the first local currencies in the UK and has inspired similar initiatives across the nation. It was started to help keep money flowing locally and has succeeded in educating and inspiring people from around the world. It has however come to a cross roads: after years of hard work the volunteers who have been carrying it forward are ready to take a step back. Aware of this ‘change or die’ moment, in February this year I offered to research possible ways for the Totnes Pound to be re-envisioned.

A land conference – totnes, devon 2015

On 21st March 2015 130 people attended a one-day conference in Totnes to explore ‘How can we grow a proper relationship between people and place?’

We made a seven minute film and conference report, which provides links to audio recordings of the presentations that were given.


Really enjoyed your talk on Tuesday. So good to hear coherent recognition of truths that many of us schlep around in our hearts as we try to live whole and honest lives in an alien system. Thank you!
I enjoyed being encouraged to think out of the box.(…)It has made me feel far more connected not only to my community, but to humanity in general. It has raised my awareness on all sorts of levels.
When I first saw the programme I thought it would never work. What I then witnessed was a masterclass in facilitation. .