Blow, Baby, Blow

My friends and foes alike tell me I don’t offer enough practical solutions to the problems of unsustainability. Maybe I have the causes right, they say, but your ways to bring about the cultural change needed to get off the unsustainable and on to the sustainability trajectory are too little and maybe too late. The dilemma I see is lies in the choice we must make between quick, invariably technological fixes and slower cultural shifts. Global warming demands that we choose to do something rather than dithering along doing nothing. Geo-engineering, tinkering with the planetary system on a grand scale, has become increasingly talked up as a solution to meet… Read More

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Social Media and Sustainability

With Earth Day rapidly fading from view, I can get back to my routine carping. SustainAbility, the consultancy founded by John Elkington, periodically posts what are usually columns worth reading. The latest one tells of how companies are using the internet and social media to start and maintain a conversation with stakeholders. The opening paragraph sets the tone of the article. “Open is good, closed is bad.” Not exactly what you expect to hear from a former top Shell executive, but when Bj�rn Edlund took the stage at the first Just Means conference on social media and stakeholder engagement he was almost painfully honest. He argued that “large corporations are… Read More

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Where Have All the Flowers Gone

Where have all the flowers gone? Long time passing Where have all the flowers gone? Long time ago Where have all the flowers gone? Girls have picked them every one When will they ever learn? When will they ever learn? I usually wait until later in the day to tend to my blog, but today, being Earth day, I began first thing. I start triggering my thoughts by scanning the web for stories, and today the first instance came off of the front page of the NYTimes home page. I’ll comment about this in a moment, but, first, why this very moving, sad song by Peter Seeger. I should be… Read More

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I Wasn’t Kidding about Good Deeds

Thanks to Environmental New Bits for this [tidbit](http://lib.wmrc.uiuc.edu/enb/2010/04/21/twittearth-day/) to chew on. > Thursday, April 22nd is the 40th Anniversary of Earth Day! To raise awareness about protecting the planet, Earthjustice has created the Twittearth Day page where people can check out what everyone is doing for Earth Day and twitter their own good deed for the day. Twitter is going to help promote Earth Day by tweeting to its more than 3 million followers! Help make this a big Twittearth Day success by letting your readers/members know about Twittearth Day and linking to http://twittearthday.com. And don’t forget the hash tag #twittearthday! I wrote the last post before I spotted this.… Read More

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Erev Earth Day

Jewish holidays start in the evening prior to the calendar day. And the day before, Erev whatever is celebrated by preparing. Erev Shabbat involves, for the observant, cooking and cleaning so the next day is free for rest and contemplation. Today, then, is Erev Earth Day, a time to prepare for the contemplation and commitments to be made tomorrow. Forty years after the first celebration of this special day, the Planet is arguably in much worse shape, in spite of grand efforts to curb the excesses of the affluent nations. With so many people, businesses, and governments becoming green, the pace of destruction may be slowing down, but we are… Read More

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More Synchronicity and the Bottom of the Pyramid

The synchronicity starts with grading final papers for my two classes at Marlboro College all weekend. The quality of the student’s offerings has made this norma chore a satisfying experience. Two of the students chose to write about Stuart Hart and C. K. Prahalad’s concept of the Bottom of the Pyramid (BoP). In this strategic model for generally large multinational corporations, the four billion people living at low income levels are seen as a virtually untapped new market for corporations, especially those in the business of offering consumer products. The assets of each individual may be very small, but the aggregate for this economic slice is 9-10 trillion dollars. Hart… Read More

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Earth Day Puts the Focus on the Wrong Subject

It’s only a couple of days to Earth Day, 2010. There’s little reason to celebrate this year. More people than ever question the reality of global climate change or the need to do anything serious about it. But at the same time, people are more positive about the state of the environment, but don’t act to maintain its quality. Pretty confusing statistics–all from the Gallup organization that has been tracking theses trends for a long time. The uptick in feelings comes with the Obama election. I wonder if this is an artifact reflecting a general change in confidence that came in 2009. Although the trend line showed an upward movement,… Read More

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An Ell-uva Difference

I am still mulling over the sufficiency conversation I was into this last weekend. I don’t know quite why it happened, but I got this vision of two words: being and bling. No two distinctions could be much farther apart in conveying a sense of what we humans have available to us as possibilities, but the only thing that distinguishes them in print is the letter “L,” instead of “E.” I found this definition of bling via a web search. It would be hard to find another pair of words where the substitution of a single letter would make such a difference in meaning. The word “bling” refers to any… Read More

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Sufficiency

I’m just back from a weekend conference close to home in Cambridge, sponsored by the Global Sufficiency Network. I was invited to participate in a panel moderated by Lynn Twist, author of The Soul of Money. Our panel focused on the connection between sufficiency and sustainability, a very challenging conversation because neither term is well understood. Those in the audience that talk about sufficiency didn’t have a clear idea about sustainability and vice versa, even though we we all concerned abut the same issues and the need for action. I went in with a view of sufficiency colored by past immersion in the sustainable consumption community. My understanding about it… Read More

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Can A Company Be Happy?

Continuing on the “happy” theme I have been on, I just read an article entitled, “How to Build a Happy Company,” in the latest issue of Newsweek. While the article is interesting, the headline is nonsense. How can a company ever be happy? I have never seen one and won’t ever–no more than I can ever expect to stumble over a happy rock. Only people can be happy. This kind of metaphor is not helpful even to the kind of companies the article points to. Attributing human possibilities to non-human things, except perhaps in poetry, produces at least two bad outcomes. One is the diminution of what it is to… Read More

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