Seeking to Empower Humanity with the Perspective to Manifest Evolutionary Change Everywhere

In the last few decades, it has become increasingly clear that humanity is facing a crisis of unprecedented proportions. The problems that stand in the way are not of economical or technological nature. The deepest sources of the global crisis lie inside the human personality and reflect the level of consciousness evolution of our species.

- Dr. Stanislav Grof

Friday, May 28, 2010

Reflections on the Green Innovation in Business Unconference May 27, 2010 – Washington, DC

Having recovered from putting in my eleven hours at GIBU on Thursday (yes, 8AM – 7PM thank you), I wanted to offer some reflections on what came out of it.

For those not in the know, the GIBU is an amazing workshop that travels to multiple cities throughout the US which allows participants to discuss sustainability issues that are relevant to them and work collaboratively towards their solutions. This was year two for GIBU, and for me (which qualified me as a wily veteran, I suppose). I frankly favored the format this year over last years – primarily because we were given the expectation of a final product at the end of the day which helped drive fruitful, goal-oriented discussions.

(what’s an unconference?)

As a brainchild of the Ashoka Foundation and EDF, the focus of the workshops is on innovative solutions to real challenges. I spent my day facilitating a discussion on Sustainable Education (which should come as no surprise, really). What was particularly interesting is that it evolved from a high-level focus on training at all educational levels (from kindergarten to professional) into a project designed to radically reinvent public education at the K-12 level. The idea that came out was a “School without Boundaries” – a learning lab that would teach environmental science, Green practices, local farming, energy system maintenance in addition to the core curriculum of math, English and the like, but that required no school building.

Essentially a potentially mobile learning environment, localized within a community, that would inculcate the skills necessary for the students to effectively participate in a resource, energy and ecologically constrained 21st century. With a heavy emphasis on learning through service, students would help improve their own communities ecologically and economically. Furthermore, it would also equip the students with the necessary skills to actively compete in a global Green economy – which is particularly crucial when we realize that over 60% of all American students never receive a college degree. All in all, such a school is a hands-on, collaborative engine for the rapid dissemination of sustainably-oriented learning into society that would also make the communities in which it was embedded more sustainable.

I’d say that qualifies as an innovative solution to a real challenge.

The question that struck me was how to take such a model and apply it to a professional environment. Yes – it would be easy to dismiss such a notion as impossible, until you realize that in order for businesses to stay competitively sustainable in the 21st they must have methods to on-board near-continuous improvements in their ecological impact.

The business of staying-in-business is already highly dependent upon skill improvement and professional development – and the demands to adapt are quickening even for “traditional” skill sets. Add the critical need for sustainable or Green skills and knowledge, and business of staying-in-business will require a significant on-going commitment towards sustainability education; whether it’s bringing training in from outside the organization, or from the company-wide implementation of ideas developed internally. Human enterprise must make strong investments in its own survival in order to last during the difficult times of the 21st century. And in an Age of Information, levels of knowledge enterprise-wide will differentiate the fit from the also-rans.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Confessions of a Fossil Fuel Addict

I look out into the world and watch the slow spread of oil across the Gulf of Mexico creep across the collective consciousness of the country like the dawning realization of a drunk who’s just rammed his car head on into a family van. The screams and spinning wheels prying awake his dulled sense of culpability, and his capacity to grasp consequence.

And to put what’s happening there any less lightly would taint my credibility as a reporter on things sustainable.

Let’s really confront what we’ve done here, as a consequence of our addiction to fossil fuel. We’re looking at the probability that most, if not all, of the Gulf of Mexico will be contaminated with oil for centuries. We can probably write off any chance of the seafood in the Gulf being edible for humans again for a significant fraction of our lifetimes. This assumes, of course, that much sea life is even going to survive. The Gulf of Mexico already has a mini-crisis with low-oxygen levels creating localized Dead Zones (thanks to unsustainable farming practices) – spreading millions of barrels of oil over the Gulf will cripple the normal chemical exchanges that oxygenate ocean water. So it’s entirely possible that the Gulf itself will turn into the new Dead Sea.

And no – we don’t like to hear bad news. And as a professional in a field already overburdened with a reaction against negative environmental messaging (i.e. “you’re wrong and what you’re doing is bad”), I am keenly sensitive to people’s poor psycho-cultural reactions to negative reinforcement. But just as any sensible parent would take preventive measures, however harsh, to ensure their children don’t run out into the street – so too must the environmentally-minded cry foul when the truly foul doth occur.

There are times when only hard medicine will cure the disease. And this surely is one of them.

So let me start this by saying – “My name is Andrew Moore. I have a problem. I am a fossil fuel addict. My irresponsible choices helped create this crisis. If I want to stop this from happening again, I have to make better choices. My future, my children’s future, and my planet’s future depend on it. I want to quit fossil fuels, and I want to quit them forever. And I want to start Today.”

If we won’t own our demons, how to do we expect to conquer them? As Green a life as I strive to live, I still have to take my share of responsibility for what’s happened. And while there are certainly those who are more responsible than others (and they will be held accountable in more ways than one), I refuse to play the hypocrite and shy away from my own culpability in this catastrophe.

So here’s my challenge to you, gentle reader. If you look at this news unfolding in the Gulf of Mexico, and feel even a fraction of the rage that I feel watching an entire ecosystem threatened with annihilation, then I call on you to take ownership of what’s transpired. Take a long, sober look in the mirror and admit the role you’ve played in causing this to transpire.

And if that hard dose doesn’t make you want to make some changes in your life, then my fellow citizen of this tiny blue marble: I don’t know what else will.