Tag Archives: sustainability

Green Fast Food Chain Beats Competition in Sweden and Elsewhere

I was recently a panelist at a seminar on the island of Gotland, Sweden along with Par Larshans who happens to be the chief sustainability officer for Max Burgers, Sweden’s No. 1 burger chain. Par sent me a link to an article that appeared about a year ago in Time magazine. The article,Why Going Green Can Mean Big Money for Fast-Food Chains, describes the phenomenal business success that Max achieved as it took measures to reduce it’s carbon footprint and provide healthier choices for its customers. Read it here. — t.h.g.

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Davos-What’s missing from the conversation?

Professor Jem Bendel is Director of the Institute for Leadership and Sustainability at Cumbria University in the UK, and a “young global leader” of the World Economic Forum. In this short video interview, he expresses his views on what is, and is not, happening at the Davos forum to address the global crisis.

Organizational design for life: Can Corporations be Reformed?

Important insights from Marjorie Kelly

I first met Marjorie Kelly more than 15 years ago when we were both privileged to be participants in a series of colloquia organized by the late Willis Harman (then Executive Director of the Institute of Noetic Sciences) and Avon Mattison of Pathways to Peace. I was, from that first meeting, quite impressed with Marjorie’s intelligence and passion for positive change. She founded, and for 20 years published, Business Ethics magazine. She is the author of The Divine Right of Capital and recently, Owning Our Future: The Emerging Ownership Revolution.

Her recent article, Living Enterprise as the Foundation of a Generative Economy, raises fundamental questions about the economy, corporations, and generative ownership designs. It is one of the most insightful and important articles I’ve ever read on the topic of organizing for sustainability. Here are a few excerpts. –t.h.g.

“What kind of economy is consistent with living inside a living being?” .

You don’t start with the corporation and ask how to redesign it. You start with life, with human life and the life of the planet, and ask, how do we generate the conditions for life’s flourishing?

If you stand inside a large corporation and ask how to make our economy more sustainable, the answers are about incremental change from the existing model. The only way to start that conversation is to fit your concerns inside the frame of profit maximization. (“Here’s how you can make more money through sustainability practices.”) Asking corporations to change their fundamental frame is like asking a bear to change its DNA and become a swan. ……

Can we sustain a low-growth or no-growth economy indefinitely without changing dominant ownership designs?

That seems unlikely. Probably impossible. How, then, do we make the turn? How can we design economic architectures that are self-organized not around profit maximization, but around serving the needs of life? ……

In ownership design, there are five essential patterns that work together to create either extractive or generative design: purpose, membership, governance, capital, and networks. Extractive ownership has a Financial Purpose: maximizing profits. Generative ownership has a Living Purpose: creating the conditions for life. While corporations today have Absentee Membership, with owners disconnected from the life of enterprise, generative ownership has Rooted Membership, with ownership held in human hands. While extractive ownership involves Governance by Markets, with control by capital markets on autopilot, generative designs have Mission-Controlled Governance, with control by those focused on social mission. While extractive investments involve Casino Finance, alternative approaches involve Stakeholder Finance, where capital becomes a friend rather than a master. Instead of Commodity Networks, where goods are traded based solely on price, generative economic relations are supported by Ethical Networks, which offer collective support for social and ecological norms.

Ownership is the gravitational field that holds an economy in its orbit. Today, dominant ownership designs lock us into behaviors that lead to financial excess and ecological overshoot. But emerging, alternative ownership patterns – when properly designed – can have a tendency to lead to beneficial outcomes. It may be that these designs are the elements needed to form the foundation for a generative economy, a living economy – an economy that might at last be consistent with living inside a living being.

Read the complete article here.

Newsletter-Fall 2011

Update

Hi all,

As you know, I’ve been residing in Thailand since the middle of June, but I’m sensing a call to get to where the action is, and right now that seems to be North America. So, I’ll be returning to the U.S. soon.

First on my agenda is to collect my mail and gather some warm clothing, then I’ll head for Michigan to participate in the International Conference on Sustainability, Transition and Culture Change, near Traverse City, Thursday, Nov. 10 – Monday, Nov. 14, 2011 at the Shanty Creek Resorts, Bellaire, Michigan.
http://sustainabilityconference.org/index.htm.

That conference could be the initiating event for an ongoing process of design, strategy planning, and implementation of alternative systems, especially systems of exchange and finance. I’m encouraging all who are able to attend and to pass the word to your networks. Notable participates will be Australian economist Steve Keen and Nicole Foss of Automatic Earth.

Over the coming weeks or months I’ll be available and open to invitations to speak, confer, and collaborate. [Contact me by entering a comment to this post]. You can view/hear many of my presentations and interviews by scanning the sidebar on this website. Some of my most notable recent presentations are on my Vimeo site: http://vimeo.com/tomazg/videos

I’ve been watching with great interest the OWS movement and am encouraged to see that so many people are no longer willing to tolerate the status quo. I’ve posted a few items about it recently on this site and will post more in the future. This may be the surge that begins the kind of real change that people have been looking for.

Demonstrations and other expressions of discontent can help to inspire people and encourage them to act, but that energy must be applied in ways that can effect real change. I’m generally optimistic about the prospects for a successful metamorphic change in civilization, but it will require us to learn radical ways of sharing, cooperation, and organization.

If we are to make the necessary shift of power away from Wall Street and Washington, we will need to reduce our dependence upon their systems and structures (like political money and banks) and organize new structures that empower people. Let’s work together to provide the direction this movement needs.

Just Released

Pertinent to that is the release a new book from EVOLVER EDITIONS/North Atlantic Books. Edited by Daniel Pinchbeck and Ken Jordan, and titled, What Comes After Money: Essays from Reality Sandwich on Transforming Currency & Commerce, this anthology includes “thoughtful, provocative essays from economist Bernard Lietaer, media theorist Douglas Rushkoff, Sacred Economics author Charles Eisenstein, musician Paul D. Miller (a.k.a. DJ Spooky), theoretical physicist Amit Goswami, Larry Harvey (founder of Burning Man), alternative historian Peter Lamborn Wilson,” and yours truly, Thomas Greco. My essay is titled, Local Control of Credit: The Foundation of Economic Democracy (p. 191).

In his introduction to the book, Daniel talks about the emergence of a conscious culture to challenge Wall Street’s consumerist paradigm. You can read it here: http://www.realitysandwich.com/impossible_alternative. More information about the book can be found at Amazon.com, which is offering the book at a discounted price.

Thailand Floods

Many people have been asking about the flooding in Thailand that has been widely reported in the news. Monsoon rains are normal for this part of the world, but this has been one of the rainiest years on record. A large amount of farmland has been inundated and some crops destroyed, but the biggest problems are in the urban and industrial areas that are built along the major rivers. As is the case everywhere, land is quite valuable in such areas and attempts are made to fill in marshland and restrict waterways to narrow channels. Nature has no regard for such activities. One of the worst effects of flooding is the increase in illnesses from water-borne microbes as floodwater is contaminated with sewage, which can also cause food supplies to be contaminated.

Fortunately, Chiang Mai, where I spent most of my time, experienced only a small amount of flooding along the Ping River for a few days a couple weeks ago, but fresh food markets in that area had water standing a foot or two deep, which might have caused some bacterial transfer to food supplies here. There are reports of increased numbers of people visiting emergency clinics and I myself was sick for a while with what seemed like a bad head cold and respiratory congestion. I don’t know if that was flood related but whatever the case I’m better now.

The main problems seem now to be in the south around Bangkok and Ayutthaya where severe flooding continues and has affected a great many people, plus manufacturing facilities, so you may feel some effect as well. Here’s an excerpt from some news reports about that:

Disk manufacturing sites in Thailand — notably including the largest Western Digital plant — were shut down due to floods around Bangkok last week and are expected to remain shut for at least several more days. The end to flooding is not in sight, and Western Digital now says it could take five to eight months to bring its plants back online. Thailand is a major manufacturer of hard drives, and the shutdowns have reduced the industry’s output by 25 percent.

And..

Inner Bangkok has so far escaped major flooding as the authorities divert water to areas outside the main capital in a bid to prevent the Chao Phraya River bursting its banks and flooding the political and economic heartland.

But efforts to keep the city of 12 million people dry have been complicated by a seasonal high tide.

Read more here: http://www.thaivisa.com/forum/topic/506532-thai-pm-says-floods-in-parts-of-bangkok-inevitable/

The airports seem to be OK for now—if the dikes hold. I fly out of Bangkok next week.

Cheers,
Thomas

Interview on GreenPlanetFM

On May 4 I was interviewed by Tim Lynch of New Zealand’s GreenPlanetFM radio program. You can lsiten to it here.