Friday, June 28, 2013


Excerpts from Joseph Zammit-Lucia’s article – The art of sustainability: imagination, not spreadsheets will create change.

"Our failure to address environmental issues is not a failure of information but a failure of imagination."

Our culture is taken up with an all-pervasive pretence at rational, data-driven decision-making. Within many businesses, this culture of the rational is pushed to the extreme. Any form of emotional engagement is frowned upon. When it comes to sustainability, this is largely ineffective. First of all, data is by definition about the past.

Secondly, imagination and commitment are both affective not cognitive processes. They require emotional engagement to work. The rational, data-driven approach tends to keep us stuck in the past and the present, reducing sustainability to mere extrapolation. We reduce the amount of packaging around a product and call it sustainable. We make something out of recycled material and we call it sustainable. We jig our supply chain around and call it sustainable. Yet none of this will be sufficient to deliver a sustainable future. It will simply prolong very slightly the time it takes to hit the wall.

The businesses that will lead the way in sustainability will move away from rationally pursuing sustainability as an extension, with minor tweaks, of our unsustainable culture and lifestyle. They will start reimagining a future that is unknown, currently unimaginable and truly sustainable.

The achievement of a truly sustainability lifestyle will not pop out of a spreadsheet. It will not be achieved through technological fixes, efficiency improvements or marginally reduced use of natural resources. It requires a reimagining of the way we live, produce and do business.

The excitement lies in the fact that we still have very little idea of what that might look like. We can let our imaginations let rip. Those businesses that can build the capabilities to imagine more and imagine better will get there first.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Guidelines for Transition

Excerpts from Joanna Macy’s essay HEARING THE CALL.  For more, read the entire essay here:

1.     Come from gratitude.   We have received an inestimable gift: to be alive in this wondrous, self-organising universe with senses to perceive it, lungs that breathe it, organs that draw nourishment from it.   And how amazing it is to be accorded a human life with self-reflective consciousness that allows us to make choices, letting us opt to take part in the healing of our world.

2.     Don’t be afraid of the dark.  This is a dark time filled with suffering, as old systems and previous certainties come apart. Like living cells in a larger body, we feel the trauma of our world. It is natural and even healthy that we do, for it shows we are still vitally linked in the web of life. So don’t be afraid of the grief you may feel, or of the anger or fear: these responses arise, not from some private pathology, but from the depths of our mutual belonging.

3.     Dare to vision.  We will never bring forth what we haven’t dared to dream or learnt to imagine. For those of us dwelling in a high-tech consumer society, replete with ever proliferating electronic distractions, the imagination is the most underdeveloped, even atrophied, of our mental capacities. Yet never has its juicy, enlivening power been more desperately needed than now.

4.     Link arms with others.  Whatever it is that you’re drawn to do in the Great Turning, don’t even think of doing it alone. The individualism of our competitive  industrialised culture has isolated people from each other, breeding conformity, obedience and an epidemic of loneliness. The good news of the Great Turning is that it is a team undertaking. It evolves out of countless spontaneous and synergistic interactions as people discover their common goal and their different gifts.

5.     Act your age.  Now is the time to clothe ourselves in our true authority.  Every particle in every atom of every cell in our body goes back to the primal flaring forth of space and time.  In that sense you are as old as the universe, with an age of about 14 billion years.  This current body of yours has been being prepared for this moment by Earth for some 4 billion years, so you have an absolute right to step forward and act on Earth’s behalf.  

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Sleeplessness & Dreams

Ever have this happen ---

“it’s 3:23 in the morning
and I’m awake
because my great great grandchildren
won’t let me sleep
my great great grandchildren
ask me in dreams
what did you do while the planet was plundered?
What did you do when the earth was unraveling?”

A possible solution ---

“Remember that there’s tremendous power in having a dream. Dream of a new place—a place where the pursuit of happiness is sought not in more getting and spending but in the growth of human solidarity, real democracy, and devotion to the public good; where the average person is empowered to achieve his or her human potential; where the benefits of economic activity are widely and equitably shared; where the environment is sustained for current and future generations; and where the virtues of simple living, community self-reliance, good fellowship, and respect for nature predominate. We can build this future if we join together and fight for it.”

From James Gustave Speth’s May 31, 2013 Commencement Address To the University of Massachusetts at Boston available here.