Saturday, November 21, 2009
Saturday, November 14, 2009
Randy Veitenheimer was a guest speaker on the final panel at our OLLI class. People were intrigued by his discussion about the "community overlay" he has developed as an economic redevelopment tool for Tecumseh, Oklahoma.
Saturday, November 7, 2009
Tuesday, November 3, 2009
"We Call It Life" commercial by the people who want you to believe CO2 is nothing to worry your pretty little head about.
Walmart Commercial: Girls bragging that T-shirts are made from Soda Bottles
Walmart Commercial about CFL impact
Ray Anderson, Greenest CEO in America speaks for 15 minutes.
In summary, a 12-minute video from Patagonia with many thought leaders on achieving sustainability in organizations. Refreshingly honest.
Why I won't switch to CFLs with toxic mercury to save $10 per month on my lighting bill but instead employ natural daylighting and dimmer switches.
I hope you have enjoyed this free education brought to you courtesy of the Environmental Science Graduate Program at Oklahoma State University in Stillwater, Oklahoma.
Thursday, October 8, 2009
Monday, October 5, 2009
Sunday, August 16, 2009
Tuesday, August 4, 2009
Simple and Painless? The limitations of spillover in environmental campaigning presents a critical examination of the evidence that urging people to switch to energy-efficient light bulbs encourages them adopt more ambitious changes.
Both these reports are readable, fascinating, and paralyzing. Download and despair with me! http://www.valuingnature.org/
Speaking as an average American energy glutton, I was able to cut my carbon emissions by about half through good choices, behavior modification, and a lot of insulation. When I think about what is necessary to cut emissions 90% I recoil at what that means for my lifestyle.
In the limbo game it is fun to sing "how low can you go?" But I'm not entirely sure I could sport a bikini and actually shimmy under a blazing limbo pole. And if I did....you can bet I would sell tickets to see that!
Wednesday, July 29, 2009
Monday, July 20, 2009
I like to try new recipes and new ingredients in an effort to continuously improve. My students are like my tasters. From them I learn how to make the topics tasty. To them I am grateful.
Wednesday, July 15, 2009
Today was a good day for thinking. I met with my marketing advisor and together we pondered some good questions. His specialty is personality traits so we discussed if there were radio talk shows in Europe that influenced the politics and science. The one that stumped me was "can a far right wing conservative known to be low on openness ever become a sustainability advocate?" I'd like to say everyone can hold their exact beliefs, maintain their lifestyle choices, and just snap their fingers and become sustainable. But I don't think that is possible.
Can I overspend daily and build a savings account?
Can I eat like a pig and remain slim?
No, we probably can't ask people to change but I predict a gradual evolution across society will occur over the coming decades that will create a more widespread mindset rather than the polar opposites that paralyze progress today. I think our children will be as ashamed of our ignorance as we are of our ancestor's discrimination.
Wednesday, July 8, 2009
A low-carbon economy might just be a high-fun society to live!
Wednesday, July 1, 2009
It is NOT lonely at the top, it is lonely at the edge -- the cutting edge. At the top everyone wants to be your friend, at the edge you stand alone. They also call it the bleeding edge which is the second clue it is a painful place to be. When I spoke in front of the city council tonight I was bringing mainstream global thinking to mainstreet middle America where it is viewed with great suspicion as cutting edge risky propositions. Ironically the sustainability knowledge I shared with my local government officials is not even cutting edge in other parts of the country. Opportunity doesn’t keep knocking until we are ready, it moves on to receptive people willing to open their doors.
My friends tell me I am once again too far ahead of the curve and that I should not waste my time. Dress rehearsals are important. Citizenship is rarely a waste of time; it is a privilege and responsibility. Some people confuse this as leadership, but that is not accurate. An innovator invents for the love of creation; followership is not required. The innovator sees a way to make the world a better place and expressing that vision is an absolute joy. I have special knowledge I shared with my city tonight. They may have to hear it ten times before it becomes familiar and acceptable. And I really don’t mind paving the way for that tenth person who will be heard. Who knows, I may even get back in the queue and be that tenth person. The point is to persevere toward progress because it doesn’t happen by accident or apathy.
Monday, June 15, 2009
Wednesday, June 10, 2009
Thursday, June 4, 2009
Sunday, April 26, 2009
Kellie is an engaging speaker who amazed and delighted MBA students with her fresh take on maximizing shareholder value. Her Whirlpool example was a real tear jerker. Sales also increased.
Buy the book and you'll have a first-class understanding of CSR.
Monday, April 20, 2009
Maybe a college instructor isn't supposed to care quite so much but I am so fond of my students. I look forward to watching them learn the language of the industry, reading their papers with dozens of typos, and seeing those light bulbs go off above their heads. Sustainability is a funny field; it ranges from moments of gentle ecological enlightenment to being horrified and sometimes even morally outraged. Sadly the semester is coming to a close which means I'm also inventing extra credit opportunities to help those borderline students who were distracted by life.
Today some my students went to their first city council meeting to watch citizenship in action. We have a new Mayor who is a 27-year-old OSU student. They saw people standing up for principles. At issue was a $25 fee assessed to Senior softball players who lived outside the city limits. Dozens of citizens gave up their evening to politely protest this discrimination; it was the principle not the money. Sustainable societies springs from citizenship.
The $25 fee generated a total of $750 additional revenues, but it was a net loser because teams disbanded taking with them thousands of dollars of team fees. Teams opted not to travel to Stillwater for the day; there is a loss of economic development. Goodwill was not increased. If you take a sustainable holistic analysis of this situation, it becomes clear the community backlash coupled with revenue loss makes this $25 fee suddenly not a viable idea. I think they can find a win-win, even now, because a dialogue has been initiated.
Saturday, April 4, 2009
I very well could be Ray Anderson's biggest fan in Oklahoma. I have a deep abiding respect for all he is and does. He is the CEO of Interface Carpet: a one billion dollar carpet company with 27 plants worldwide. He read Ecology of Commerce in 1994 and became a "reformed plunderer" who publicly states his quest is to make Interface a restorative company. Ray earned the ultimate green business PHD: Paul Hawken Degree.
As a teacher of green business I have to confess, Ray is the poster child for what I want all my students to become. You can hear his famous speeches on Google video or YouTube. The first thing you'll notice is his disarming southern drawl and then you'll hear him humbly speak of integrity, responsibility, courage, and love....all in the context of profitable manufacturing.
Monday, March 16, 2009
CAFOs are an interesting evolution in business. Think "Henry Ford makes bacon... lots of bacon." Factory farming is a logical extension of product manufacturing invented in the Industrial Revolution. This means it comes under the scrutiny that all mass production now requires and it also brings a host of ethical questions.
Because I strive to hybridize sustainable business practices I feel it is not only appropriate but necessary to engage the people from the CAFO industry. We may agree to disagree but surely we can have conversations and learn about each other and maybe, just maybe find some common ground for the mutual benefit of those in the present and those of future generations. Sustainability begins with a conversation and that begins by listening. We all want to be heard.
Thursday, March 12, 2009
A dot, a basic building block
A point, a point of view
A fulcrum, for leveraging conception
A dot turning full circle, is still a dot
A point turning, pivots understanding
A fulcrum turning, tips the balance
A dot moving, engenders a line
A point moving, engenders another
A fulcrum moving endangers the world
Our world, a dot in the universe
Our world is, just a point of view
Our thought, a fulcrum on which to move
- Sachin Phatak
Saturday, February 28, 2009
Sustainability starts with palatable dialogue about energy efficiency, which slides into green business practices and sometimes metrics, life cycle analysis, cradle to cradle, or holistic planning. It only becomes beautiful when people realize that all these dance steps we learn lead us back to ourselves. It is there, as Dorothy told us and all of Oz, right there in the private life and the inner thought realm where the complexity of sustainability suddenly becomes exquisitely elegant and simple; it is no more or no less than about maintaining the connection to the authentic self and all those life forms and nature’s services that sustain our hearts and our homes.
Wednesday, February 25, 2009
Perhaps what matters is the smallest of gestures, intention of actions, and the way we treat each other? I suggest all the majesty is but a glorious backdrop for those who are precious. Let's not overlook that simple tiny truth in our quest for a sustainable world.
Saturday, February 21, 2009
Students assume they are graded on grammar, facts, style, articulation, effort, etc. I grade on all those too but more importantly I look for openness, stretch, and growth. WHY?! The greenest CEOs were open for but a moment in time that is when they were able to embrace the sustainable business message. That openness comes with practice and is essential to develop a restorative economy.
Are you open? Can you aspire to be open? Can you break from the comfort of the pack where people are partially open or conveniently open and find a place on the third standard deviation to the right where you are always open? Chic Thompson (earlier post) says that people think he is just incredibly lucky in business but he told me his secret to success was to be open! Click here and find out more from Wiki: Openness
Monday, February 16, 2009
Like tornados, occasionally amazing people blow through Oklahoma. Today I stood in the path of one such person, Chic Thompson who was the OSU Creativity Festival keynote speaker. Since I was blocking the door he decided to stay and chat. What started as a casual conversation about my online teaching experiences became a pinball wizard tournament. We solved most the the world's problems in alphabetical order, no less. No, really our conversation circled around how to coax people to be more open, more compassionate and more sustainable. It was an absolutely pleasure to exchange ideas with a creativity guru.
I encourage you to wander his website and read about the world's most prolific inventor. http://www.whatagreatidea.com/books.htm
The bad news is that we have a design problem. The good news is that we get to reinvent everything. This is a great time to embrace innovation, entrepreneurship, and creativity all under the guiding principle of sustainability. We can despair about the state of the world or we can do something about it. Sustainability really isn't an option; the alternative is rather bleak.
“What a great time to be born. What a great time to be alive. Because this generation gets to completely change the world.” - Paul Hawken 2008
For me Australian Glenn Murcutt defines what a green architect is. I heard him give the keynote address at the USGBC GreenBuild in Portland. I laughed, I cried, I held my breathe and remained mesmerized with rapt attention. I was so moved by his presentation that once it was over I hurried to the stage to meet him because I wanted to beat the crowd. I stood alone. The other 4,000 people had headed for the exit.
So I said what any unbashed fool would say "this way sir" and I escorted him off stage as if I was some kind of conference host. We exchanged a few broken sentences about architecture poetry as if complete thoughts were unnecessary. There are those rare moments in life when you can look into the eyes of a stranger and sense their essence . . . then words fall away.
He knew he had touched a core in me with his design philosophies and that I was a grateful repository. The room was full of architects but I felt like that day I alone heard him. I think he saw that too. His out-of-print book Touch This Earth Lightly is an intriguing story about sustainability that goes beyond architecture and has become a seminal work in my development.
I am fond of saying "In five years, you will be the same person you are today except for the books you read and the people you meet." This book, this person, changed me.
I see Murcutt won another award despite his low-profile.
Sunday, February 15, 2009
Last night I attended a live play at the turn-of-the-century theater The Pollard in Guthrie, Oklahoma. The audience was full of people I loved: my fellow Lions club members, my parents, various Senators, a former president of OSU, my date, my mentor, etc. The play was good but the audience was divine. New couples, blind dates and 50 year sweethearts filled the place with good vibes. I took note of the "social capital" being exchanged during each intermission. Handshakes, greetings, hugs, and business cards were flying.
Dr. Halligan mentioned I was glowing with happiness and I suppose I was. I recognized the world was perfect and beautiful for that moment in time. Sometimes sustainability is like having Nemo matrix vision where you see invisible patterns and although you can't explain it, it is a source of bliss.
If there is one thing I have learned about sustainability it is that genuine collaboration in the foundation. Social capital builds the trust necessary for collaboration to flourish. There is forced collaboration (i.e. eminent domain) and there is genuine collaboration entered into with good faith that seeks a win-win.
Saturday, February 14, 2009
Still, like that little guy in the mirror, that voice of consumerism nags at me. "You know you want it," it says. "Isn't the Lexus lovely?" If I bought a new car every 5 years that is 12 cars in a lifetime. Many people buy a car every 2 or 3 years; that's 24 brand new vehicles to satisfy their craving. Think of the resources it takes to construct 24 cars! Then there are those people who own only 3 or 4 cars in a lifetime.
Mom's Diner was packed this morning so I shared a table with a WWII marine. He was 87 years old, not terribly clean, but terribly lonely. He told as much of his life story in 30 minutes as possible. When his breakfast arrived he let it get cold so he could get in a few more stories.
Fred had been a teacher and principal in Arizona and a perpetual defender of the underdog. He talked about how he admired the fighting ethic of the Blacks in WWII even though they were treated with prejudice by the white society back home. They fought not for the racists they lived among at present but for the principles that had yet to manifest fully for them. They fought for ideals and freedom. He admired them.
Fred revisited one theme over and over during the conversation: men who father children and walk away never to know them. That was one circumstance that had stumped him his whole life; he just couldn't understand it though you could tell he wrestled with it many times.
When I am 87 I hope I am not still muttering about damaged people who try to do damaging things to others. It is a waste of energy...energy better invested in understanding global causes and offering societal solutions. Those men are symptoms of sick society with a rot deep in the core. Women who worship their VISAs are just as sick. Not only is society based on unsustainable business practices, we have millions of individuals who are unsustainable at their core being. If they can't even manage their private lives, can they be expected to create or even participate in a sustainable society? (no.)
In my utopian society everyone is healthy, emotionally and physically. There is no place or reason for malice. There is no greed, no waste, and no hate. Will we ever evolve to that point? I think we have to . . . if we are to survive as a species. Evil (or fill in the blank: wrong, malice, laziness, violence, abuse, etc) is a form of wasted human capital. It is entropy. There is no waste in nature. I look at all the plants and animals that have evolved and wonder when will the humans evolve? Will technology exasperate the situation or propel us closer to a utopia? This isn't just wishful thinking, it is survival thinking.
Thursday, February 12, 2009
Tuesday, February 10, 2009
I wanted to see how the other half lived (or the other 99.5% lived.) The noise and light instantly assaulted my senses and I had to turn it off for a few minutes before I could make another run at it.
Those first peaceful moments of the day are holy . . . evidently. I like the quiet; I enjoy my thoughts. I like the sounds of my environment, urban, rural, mountain, school, playground; they are all real. All sounds naturally generated by the place are appropriate and fulfilling. I like engaging people, I don't like people squawking at me on a box. Like bizarre Japanese food, at least I can say "I tried it."
I crossed paths with Jerry Mander a few years ago. Literally, I walked perpendicular across his path several times over the course of the day. Though not directly involved with sustainability, he is very well known in the environmental circles. I'm not quite sure why he was at The Land Institute in Salina Kansas, but he was. He has a lot to say about TV and is quoted here: http://www.turnoffyourtv.com/healtheducation/addiction/addiction.html
I do watch DVDs, YouTube comics, and Ted.com 15-minute talks so I'm not media-deprived but mass market television is a whole other drug.
"The cure for boredom is curiosity. There is no cure for curiosity." - Ellen Parr
(Thank God. - Jane)
Sunday, February 8, 2009
Sustainable Business is focused on economic development, green technology, renewable energy, sustainable agriculture, making money while going green, greening the supply chain, et al but the tragedy I see as the most important and the least addressed is the tragedy of the common folk that is, the everyday man and his or her shattered self and family.
Wes Jackson’s position is that we don’t get sustainable agriculture right, then all the other efforts don’t matter. We’ll starve. Okay, I’ll give him Maslow’s base on the triangle. But I’ll take it one step further. If we don’t create socially sustainable societies of people capable of compassion, all the solar panels and biofuels and locally grown food does not matter because our family structure is so utterly broken.
When half the students who start high school in Oklahoma City do not graduate the first tragedy I think of is the lost potential. I’m not referring to earning potential, although that is certainly compromised, but the human potential of becoming a fully functioning person who taps their talents and becomes a contributing member of our society, yes our society not just theirs. What happens to people we don’t know matters, whether you think it does or not, it matters. Living a sustainable life means not just getting the carbon footprint down but sustaining the family unit.
I can speak to this not from the pulpit of righteousness but from the heart that has been broken. I’ve seen berated children paralyzed with fear accompanied by their damaged mother in a domestic violence shelter. I’ve seen people make drugs and alcohol (and other addictions) their God. I've seen people bored with themselves and bored with life; this is a living death. We live in a world that ignores spousal abuse, accepts divorced families, panders to deadbeat dads, and allows child neglect in the name of adults’ rights. What is "Legal" and what is "Right" drift further and further apart. Modern society also scoffs at balance and spiritual growth, encourages debt, discourages citizenship and celebrates consumerism. No amount of sustainability research is going to find the technological fix for a disintegrating society.
Solar panels and wind energy can power our homes but will we be more prosperous or more content in our own homes when strife and dysfunction are the norm? Suburbia and isolation are not normal yet that is where most of us reside, so I have to wonder, do we even know what is normal, good and healthy? The accountability and support that came with the village concept was traded for privacy and property rights. We shortchanged ourselves.
Wendell Berry says “ However destructive may be the policies of the government and the methods and the products of the corporation, the root of the problem is always to be found in the private life. We must learn to see that every problem that concerns us … always leads straight to the question of how we live.”
As a self-appointed change agent I have had to realign my goals to accept I cannot change the world, but I can change one world – mine. And just maybe that will make a ripple that will rock some boats and make a bigger wave. Tending my own knitting certainly keeps me busy. The serenity prayer asks “God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference.
And where does one go to learn wisdom? Beats me, but I had a friend remind me just today that they hide the darnedest things in books. I agreed and jested that if they wanted people to know they would have made a tv show.
Wisdom is no more rare than air, we just don’t recognize it.
Painting by Mark Chagall
Friday, February 6, 2009
Lovely concept. Beautiful imagery. I don't recommend repeating this word in a loud crowded bar after a few drinks. People will think you are a crazy lush. And maybe you are, but that would beside the point, if I had one.
I do think each of us has the innate ability to listen to our instincts and develop a unique business or a unique mindset in an established business. How do you find your passion? Read. Learn. Stay Open. It will find you. Your place is to recognize it when it crosses your path. Now go! Learn something new today! ...even if it just something about yourself.
I had an educator tell me one time that "you can lead a horse to water and though you can't make him drink but you can sure make him thirsty." Grades create thirst, but I hope that some how there is a deeper thirst in a person, that they find the drive to learn in order to improve themselves and improve their ability to affect their world for the better.
Thursday, February 5, 2009
It wasn't until this baby came into my life that I truly understood the depth of the concept of "sustaining life." I spent 10 days in silent meditation being open to the ethereal invitation to bear a child. (that is proof I am a slow learner, a quick study would have needed only 10 seconds to accept such a gift) I named her Sage meaning a "profoundly wise woman who is a gentle shade of green."
Sunday, February 1, 2009
Sustainability is endued with reverence. It doesn't marginalize the weak, it recognizes the inherent value. It doesn't externalize the problems on the silent, it takes all into consideration. Through Sustainability, discernment about what is important and what is not becomes clearer. This world is full of meaningless consumerism, shallow words, and careless actions...but Sustainability points to what is meaningful.
Sustainability is: respect for all living things, love of life, commitment to sustain life, celebration of cultures, pursuit of the truth, a reverence for science. Sustainable thinking means embracing the mysteries and reveling over all things good.
Sustainable business finds the path of "right livelihood" and provides value now but with the twist of conscious intentions. Sustainability does the right thing, even when no one is looking. Integrity. Honesty. What's not to love about that??
Wednesday, January 28, 2009
But I don't recall ever being approached by a skeptic who said "please tell me how wrong I am." We all have a given amount of energy and we have to decide where to invest it.
I have 3 very dear friends who are pronounced skeptics each for vastly different reasons. I have another 3,000 friends who are not skeptics, but it is these 3 that vex me sometimes because I LIKE them and RESPECT them for being wonderful, intelligent, humorous, kind people. One is an astrophysicist PhD and dean, one is a modern day medicine man who was also my doula, and one is a brilliant metal artist.
As a teacher I strive to give people the tools to development discernment of the truth. But those people have paid tuition which implies they have asked for my direction in their development. My three amigos have not asked that of me.
So how do I deal with those 3 people? I LIKE and RESPECT them. They don't have to think like me, read what I read, live like I do - they can just be themselves. They are perfectly wonderful people. Occasionally I tease them I will prepare a delicious dinner of Roasted Crow for them to eat. But then again, I may have to eat my own cooking and if that happens I can only hope they will be as gracious to me as I strive to be to them now.
There are few issues that warrant damaging or limiting relationships especially when those relationships are so highly prized.
Tuesday, January 27, 2009
We saw this with California when they changed their building codes in response to the 1970s oil crisis. They now use 40% less energy per capita than the national average. They dared to be better and build better and they accomplished both. Impressive. I sometimes wonder if California is their own country or really part of the U.S.
Also, in my UK building newsletter, they reported that Obama is looking to UK for leadership in green building. They have the "Code for Sustainable Homes" that puts our green efforts at a distant second. As a building code, it may be a tad tough to achieve, but at least they set the bar high. http://www.building.co.uk/sustain_story.asp?storycode=3132028&origin=bldgsustainnewsletter It is about time we "adopt and adapt" some proven sustainability ideas from our "socialist" neighbors who figured out some of these challenges years ago.
Saturday, January 24, 2009
What makes it a miracle is the transformation from forgotten dump to world class city in just a short 30 year time span.
I was fortunate to work for one of the original architecture/planning firms that helped facilitate this change. I chronicled the stories as told by the inner circle. They were stories about change, collaboration, humility, courage, political will, visionary foresight, and hope.
Sounds like some guy in the White House doesn't it? But Vancouver wasn't just a top down miracle, it was ALSO a grassroots effort and an economic business decision. You might call it a convergence of ordinary flawed human beings who were committed to making their corner of the world better for themselves and for future generations.
Friday, January 23, 2009
His 3,000 square foot home cost him $14 per month to operate. It was mortgage free also. I knew he was a retired physics teacher so I asked him what he did for a living now.
"ANYTHING I WANT TO," Johnny replied with a smile. That was my lightning bolt.
I returned to Dallas. I paid my $2,000 mortgage, $450 electric bill, the $200 lawn care bill, the $1,200 nanny, the $1,000 car payment, the $250 water bill. Johnny lived on 9,000 gallons of water per year. My water bill showed I had used 27,000 gallons in ONE month. I used a three year supply of water in 30 days. Lightning strikes twice.
Johnny was a kind teacher. He did not belittle me for my excess and ignorance. He spoke his truth and let me convict myself. As I read about America's green CEOs I see a similar pattern. Each was approached by a trusted friend and were ready and able to hear the message without someone screaming at them. We are all always learning.
Wednesday, January 21, 2009
Monday, January 19, 2009
Photo credit Boston.com: A figure from Antony Gormley's "Another Place" welcomes one of the Tall Ships to Merseyside as it sails past the Burbo Bank windfarm on the approach to the Port of Liverpool on July 18, 2008, Liverpool, England. (Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)
Sunday, January 18, 2009
Thursday, January 15, 2009
Sunday, January 11, 2009
The police got rid of 90% of the meth labs a few years ago so now the users just import it from Mexico. The supply will always find a way to fill a market demand. So it begs the question , why is there a demand for this life-wrecking product??
Just because you don't use this drug doesn't mean it doesn't affect you. You drive on the same streets, you shop with them, you are their neighbor, and you will likely be their victim either indirectly or directly. Over Christmas someone broke into my car in my driveway and stole $1,500 of merchandise. It was likely a drug user needing cash to fund his habit.
When you run a business you will have to find qualified, trainable, drug-free people to hire as employees. Good luck in Oklahoma. Half the students who start high school in Oklahoma City do not graduate. You may have greened the supply chain, lowered the carbon footprint of your product, recycle, and support green business in every way possible, but with a workforce with these kind of issues, you will be limited in your success at running a green company.
Tuesday, January 6, 2009
If we could read a book per class, boy howdy we would really be able to establish green business in your minds. First we have to establish what the problems are, hash out the science to understand those issues, determine what the constraints are, and finally what the solutions might look like. But no solution is perfect so then we create more problems and more constraints.
What I can do is give you 28 articles on various topics and point you toward the top resources and authors should you ever need to investigate it further.
I do consulting in Green Building. I tell clients that when they google that term they will find 23,000,000 links to investigate. If they spent one minute per site, night and day, every day of the year, it would take 43 years to investigate those links. The other option is to ask me to identify the top 20. That is what I can do for you as students - shorten your learning curve or at least your wandering curve. I have spent five years in Sustainability following rabbit trails, tracking trends, reading authors, etc. I have 16 weeks to sell you the top 20 things you should know.