Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Wild Ride

After studying sustainability for five years I began last spring to amass materials to teach a class on Green Business.  Sustainability is the thread that runs through every material, resource, person, society, policy. It is a conversation that can begin anywhere and ultimately ends up back in your lap forcing you to question yourself rather than the outside world. My former students have described it as "an emotional roller coaster" because they had been insulated from the state of the environmental damage and the consequences of our mode of life. They are horrified to discuss global collapse but also impressed by the solutions and accomplishments of green business leaders and thought leaders. There is cause for hope but first reality must be faced. 
Classes start in about 10 days and I'm looking forward to meeting my online students and seeing what they bring to the class. Probably more so than typical classes, in sustainability the students are co-creators of the conversation. Their knowledge, their reactions, their reflections shape the conversation as much, perhaps more, than the instructor. I often remind people that we are ALL still learning - the President, the CEO of Walmart, students in college, instructors - all of us.
The best analogy I can offer to visual sustainability is a spiral that lurches forward while growing wider in uneven measures. Our conversations will be circular; we will revisit topics and widen the conversation each round as we begin to apply a systems thinking approach to the topics. If sustainability was actually a roller coaster it would indeed be a WILD RIDE. The goal is to survive the ride and maybe even learn to enjoy it buckle up!