Out with the Old

So long to 2011. The year departs with little progress toward sustainability. The political system in the US is frozen and can’t cope with today’s burning issues much less those that are smoldering and will burst into flames in the years to come. The continuing unemployment situation has dulled any serious talk about reforming work and changing our addictive consumption habit. We are still fighting a war and threatening to begin others.This year we even invented a new shopping holiday, the first day after Christmas, Monday this year. I tune into several blogs and listserves that focus on opposite themes: exchanging work for leisure hours, satisfying one’s cares without the… Read More

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Holiday Thoughts

I apologize for my absence. I have been taking care of my wife who has just had some back surgery. It was very successful but she has to take it easy for a bit. So I have been cook, bottle-washer, chauffeur, bedmaker and more for a couple of weeks. We are taking long walks everyday–the recommended therapy for her surgery, and not too bad for my health as well. I will be posting irregularly until after the New Year, but then plan to resume a sort of regular schedule. The holiday season is at heart a celebration of miracles. For me, Hanukkah is based on the miracle of the light… Read More

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Leaders-toward-Sustainability: The Importance of the Dashes

I am going to teach a weekend class in a few months in a new Ph.D. program in “Values-Driven Leadership” at Benedictine College near Chicago. My class is named “Leading Corporate Sustainability.” In preparing for the class, I have had to visit the concepts named in the syllabus I share with a few other instructors. The following come from the topmost level in the description of the course: value-driven, leadership, and corporate sustainability. I suspect I start with a different view of these than do the rest of my colleagues. Let’s start with “corporate sustainability.” If you look at the semantics of the phrase, it means a condition in which… Read More

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Time for the Bah Humbug Awards

I usually wait a few more weeks to write my annual “Bah Humbug” post, but I haven’t the patience to wait this year. My first shout-out goes to the myriad of firms that claim to be doing “sustainability.” The purported recipient of their corporate largesse, Mother Earth, has not noticed the “gifts.” Maybe it is because their efforts to lessen the impact of the goods and services that flood the market can’t keep up with their drive to sell evermore of the same goods and services. My second “Bah Humbug” goes to the advertising agencies and public relations firms that come up with the empty and misleading rhetoric these firms… Read More

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The Walmart (and other corporations’) Wink-wink

Grist just published a [story](http://www.grist.org/business-technology/2011-12-07-walmart-spends-big-to-help-anti-environment-candidates) about Walmart’s political contributions that raises my skeptical (more like cynical) eyebrows. The same story is commonplace these days. Walmart, which stayed out of political giving during its founder’s years, has become one of the largest corporate political contributors in recent years. Here is the Grist story in a paragraph. > Walmart talks big about sustainability, but doesn’t put its campaign money anywhere near where its mouth is. Whatever the company may say about the importance of legislative action on climate change or other environmental issues, its money is signaling the opposite, telling lawmakers that it’s perfectly fine to vote against environmental protection. I have… Read More

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Bulls, Deniers, and Pragmatism

I am just back from this trimester’s last intensive weekend of the Marlboro College Graduate MBA in Managing for Sustainability. I had an opportunity to spend a long, pleasant evening with Ron Nahser, who came to deliver one of the classes. Ron was formerly Provost or some other senior official at the Presidio MBA program, one of the few like ours. We spent much of the time talking about pragmatism, a favorite subject of his, and a new and active interest of mine. I have been thinking about the importance of pragmatism to sustainability. I believe it is central and essential. I also have been reading in anticipation that I… Read More

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The Sky Is Falling!

The Guardian, always a source of well-written news and commentary, carried an [article](http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2011/nov/30/end-of-growth) on the looming reality of no-growth economies. This has been a central issue in my course, Exploring Sustainability, at Marlboro College Graduate Center. This trimester we are examining economic models consistent with sustainability, and reading about the new economics that the article refers to. The columnist takes a long view of the likelihood on maintaining continuing economic growth policies far into the future, and argues that it just isn’t going to happen. The author, Richard Heinberg, begins with: The tide of economic growth that has flowed since the second world war may finally be ebbing. For politicians… Read More

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