Posted in Sustainability

June 22, 2011

The Living Systems View of “Good”

flower

|Photo by daisybush|http://www.flickr.com/photos/dennajones/4951125886|

I am very much looking forward to my upcoming cafe conversation with Carol Sanford, author of the recently released The Responsible Business. Someone once said, “What Deepak Chopra and Steven Covey are to the individual, Carol Sanford is to the whole organization.”  I have considered her as a mentor at a distance, ever since getting introduced to her work by fellow Arlington resident Bill Reed.  What I have come to appreciate about both Carol and Bill is their incisive emphasis on regenerative design and capacity building as they help people to understand that they are not separate from but a part of “the environment.”  In a recent blog post, Carol shows how our anthropocentric views have not only put us at the center of things but also apart from them, in ways that are increasingly detrimental.  Even with the best of intentions to “do good,” there is often a division between provider and other (think what is implied in “giving back” or “helping the environment”), as opposed to “working to evolve a living order” of which we are intimately a part.

What follows is an excerpt from Carol’s recent blog post “Sustainability: Moving From ‘Less Harm’ to ‘Deep Good'” (for the entire post follow this link). Read More

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June 22, 2011

The Living Systems View of "Good"

flower

|Photo by daisybush|http://www.flickr.com/photos/dennajones/4951125886|

I am very much looking forward to my upcoming cafe conversation with Carol Sanford, author of the recently released The Responsible Business. Someone once said, “What Deepak Chopra and Steven Covey are to the individual, Carol Sanford is to the whole organization.”  I have considered her as a mentor at a distance, ever since getting introduced to her work by fellow Arlington resident Bill Reed.  What I have come to appreciate about both Carol and Bill is their incisive emphasis on regenerative design and capacity building as they help people to understand that they are not separate from but a part of “the environment.”  In a recent blog post, Carol shows how our anthropocentric views have not only put us at the center of things but also apart from them, in ways that are increasingly detrimental.  Even with the best of intentions to “do good,” there is often a division between provider and other (think what is implied in “giving back” or “helping the environment”), as opposed to “working to evolve a living order” of which we are intimately a part.

What follows is an excerpt from Carol’s recent blog post “Sustainability: Moving From ‘Less Harm’ to ‘Deep Good'” (for the entire post follow this link). Read More

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June 21, 2011

All Together Now

mouse trap

|Photo by jelkeschaafsma|http://www.flickr.com/photos/24746830@N06/2909403533|

A Mouse Story

A mouse looked through the crack in the wall to see the farmer and his wife open a package. “What food might this contain?” The mouse wondered -he was devastated to discover it was a mousetrap. Read More

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May 4, 2011

Steps to an Ecology of Change

ecology

|Photo by chucklepix (Steve)|http://www.flickr.com/photos/42507736@N02/5094175658/in/photostream|

I love great writing, and for that reason always look forward to reading the newest issue of the Whole Thinking Journal from the Center for Whole Communities. The most recent issue can be found here, and features beautiful and thought-provoking pieces from my Whole Measures co-trainer Mistinguette Smith, former Ruckus Society Executive Director Adrienne Maree Brown, and CWC board member Tom Wessels, among many others.

I wanted to spend some time here reflecting on the Wessels article in particular, “Resilient Communities: An Ecological Perspective.”  Tom Wessels is a natural historian, a professor at Antioch University, and a keen observer and student of the landscape of New England.  He is also a proponent of understanding the dynamics of various kinds of complex systems, from eco-systems to organizations, as a pathway to knowing what constitutes more sustainable behavior.  Read More

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March 29, 2011

Dance Lightly

Photo by: Munana

The following is a letter by Akaya Windwood, President of the Rockwood Leadership Institute and member of the IISC Board of Directors…

Tsunamis. Unemployment. Volcanoes. Cote d’Ivoire. Homelessness. The Middle East. The Midwest. Pirates. Earthquakes. Drug and human trafficking. Union busting. Collapsing economies. Dropout rates. Nuclear fallout. Foreclosures. Floods.

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March 21, 2011

The Practice of Belonging

Several years ago I worked with a friend who is an outdoor educator to put together an orientation session for a group of high school students who had signed on to be part of a youth activism project I was directing.  The program invited young people to explore issues in their community and to select and address those that spoke to them.  As part of our orientation, my friend put together an “alien test,” something he learned from the tracker and educator Tom Brown.  Just before the session we scoured the school grounds gathering leaves and bark, plants and nuts, a bird’s egg, soil, and other sundry items and brought these into the classroom where we met after school, along with a series of prepared questions.  One by one, my friend laid the objects and questions out in front of the students: What is this? Is this plant edible? Can you tell me whether this soil is healthy or not?  Where does your water come from?  Do you know which, if any, of the items you ate for lunch today was locally grown? There was a marked silence after most of the questions.  The point was made poignantly clear – in many respects we are aliens to our immediate surroundings.  For us to do meaningful community change work, we suggested, it behooves us to really get to know our community, or as someone once put it, take a step towards inhabiting it not just residing there. Read More

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October 6, 2010

Going Wide and Upstream

I’m writing this post from St. Louis where I’ve been working with a team from Conservation International to facilitate a meeting of their Business and Sustainability Council.  This three day convening is focused on sustainable agriculture and has featured presentations from content experts including Dr. Jon Foley from the University of Minnesota’s Institute on the Environment, who offered the short video above to summarize “the other inconvenient truth” we face around feeding a growing population against a backdrop of stressed water and land resources.  As the clip indicates, the challenge of sustainably feeding a global population of 9 billion (projected by 2050), if doable, will only be accomplished through extensive collaboration.  Furthermore, it is going to take going beyond many of the either/or debates (local vs. global, GMOs vs. organic) to embrace a full spectrum of strategies.  In other words, it’s not about finding a silver bullet, but rather the “silver buckshot.” Read More

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August 27, 2010

Movement Time

Six weeks from now, on October 10, 2010, 350.org is sponsoring a global work party to spread and deepen awareness about and inspire further action around our growing climate challenge.  This grassroots movement is spreading at a time when most governments and businesses seem inexplicably stymied about how to make fundamental commitments toward shifting unsustainable behaviors.  And it feels like we are on the edge of a tipping point, perhaps spurred by this summer’s record breaking heat wave and dramatic weather events in places like Pakistan and Russia.  So consider signing up for or hosting a local event if you have not, and take a moment to read this call to action by co-founder Bill McKibben following the failed climate bill in Congress – “Get mad and then get busy.”

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August 12, 2010

I Despair, Therefore . . .

“The seeds of Reunion are sprouting everywhere. That which was hidden for millennia is coming to light. Soon, fertilized by the detritus of our decaying civilization, the sprouts will mature, bloom, and bear fruit. Our job is first to receive them, then to spread them everywhere and to guard and foster them with every ounce of our love.”

“Three Seeds” by Charles Eisenstein

It’s awfully hard to read the news these days, especially if one is tuned in to the scientific and environmental communities:

“Northern Hemisphere Temperatures Shatter July Record

“Declining Phytoplankton Another Sign of Climate Catastrophe

“Climate Change and Illegal Logging Could Wipe Out Rainforest Wildlife by 2100” Read More

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August 11, 2010

Thoughts on My Bike

This is our last week in the Cambridge office – as of Monday, we’ll have moved to South Boston, in the Seaport area.  Most of the IISC staff have been driving to work over the years we’ve been in Cambridge (with a few taking the bus or riding bikes).  Once we’re in our new office, we’ll be switching to most of us on public transportation or on bikes.  It’s good news for the planet!  I’m looking forward to shrinking my carbon footprint.  Thought you might enjoy this video!

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