Let’s begin with a caveat. This will seem wrong to many of you. This is because it is not familiar and our brain prefers the familiar so it can conserve energy. Just remember this conservation is a threat to learning and discovery and particularly creativity and innovation. We have to manage our reactions to the new to open doors in the mind. There will be plenty of time and ways to test and validate if it is worth letting go of old molds and frameworks. But be willing to suspend certainty until you have experienced the different approach.
First, one begins with a Whole in mind and works from the whole, all the time. This may seem obvious, but it rarely happens. Lets remind ourselves how we know a whole. A whole is born (e.g. a person or animal) , formed by nature in her work (e.g. a canyon), or created by humans with an intention of being an enduring whole—e.g. a family. This contrasted with planning processes that work with functional aspects such as jobs or incomplete parts of a whole such as task forces . Additional examples here including working with a river, storm water or a city. These are not wholes. An example of a whole is a corporation, a watershed as demarcated by nature, a customer, or a valley. Puget Sound or Cascadia are wholes, not the State of Washington or the Province of British Columbia. More
Most people believe that sustaining the planet is a good idea, given the impacts that human civilization is having. Business has played a big role in creating those impacts, and has been playing a big role in trying to address them. The problem is that sustainability only looks at half of what needs to be taken into account when thinking about whole living systems. Sustainability primarily addresses reducing impacts and increasing efficiencies. Corporate sustainability programs are wrapped almost entirely around these goals.
But every experienced businessperson knows you can’t make a healthy business by only reducing inefficiencies. The experience of running a successful business teaches that it’s the ability of a business to generate value that is the real source of its vitality and viability. You can only make a healthy business by figuring out what you want to grow, how to grow it effectively, and then defining inefficiency as anything that doesn’t produce what you are trying to grow. What is true of business is also true of the planet. More
The observation of birds and natural bird migration patterns are absolutely essential for the survival of Native American healing, spirituality, and culture. Hunting, planting, and ceremony are often coordinated with the appearance of particular birds. Birds also remind storytellers that it is time to teach children about the lessons learned from the eagle, the hawk, the heron, the dove, and so on. A bird such as the eagle does not simply represent flying close to Creator or seeing from a higher perspective. Rather the eagle teaches and is this value and power. This is very different from the perspective of EuroAmerican culture in which birds and animals may symbolize human values. There are numerous examples of bird symbolism in the Bible. If Native Americans only valued birds for their symbolic value, then they might be satisfied to read or think about them or view them in an aviary. But they are not, because birds must be observed in their natural state in order to learn directly from them.
Bird behavior plays a central role in the origin/creation stories of many tribes. The raven is linked with the sun among the Tlingit of Alaska. The eagle teaches early humans how to survive among tribes as diverse as the Hopi and the Ojibwe. The Innu, an Algonquian people closely related to the Mikmaq, Passamaquody, and Cree, revere the Canadian goose because, in their creation story, he/she helped bring the warmth of the South. Geese migrating south to north mean that the snows are melting and it is time to hunt again. When they return south, it is time to store goods for winter. And at the end of a prayer, or in closing a ceremony, instead of “Amen,” Innu will sometimes exclaim “Ho ho ho Eshqua.” Eshqua is Innu for the goose.
The presence of birds is essential for the protection of nature’s diversity. The great Mohawk elder Ray Fadden lamented the loss of songbirds in New York forests. No more spreading of seeds to nurture the once rich undergrowth, healthy trees, and the insects and animals that depend on them. Mr. Fadden told me that even the bear were ill as a result: far less plants to eat, fewer roots to dig. The bear, ancestor of one of the three Mohawk clans (turtle, bear, wolf) and first teacher of herbal medicine, is threatened by the loss of birds.
Value-adding has gotten a bad rap. Mostly because we are used to hearing the term “value-added,” which has come to mean a financial reward for our step of the chain on the way to consumers.
I spoke in Beirut in November to the ministers of energy, environment and other arenas, plus 120 CEOs of corporations in related industries. The video is above. Value-adding is the subject of the talk. Value-adding means to change positively the lives of the stakeholders every time you engage them. The ‘ing” is indicative of a never-ended commitment to increase the value to the system of stakeholders.
I sit and listen to the speakers at the Energy conference in Beirut, Lebanon present their papers and reports. One after another they describe what it will take to become a low carbon society. I wonder, do they really not understand that carbon is the basis of all life? A low carbon world is one where little or no life is happening! “Low carbon society” points to the biggest problem we have with reversing global warming, and creating healthy watersheds, cities and even our planet: not the carbon itself, but our way of thinking about it.
If we stood in the shoes of Life, we would hear her call us to increase our connection to the natural cycling of carbon as it regenerates life again and again. Life isn’t looking for carbon neutrality or carbon negative solutions. She wants carbon active, carbon engaged in life-generating processes. She wants us to be educated about carbon and how it works. She wants us as partners in the cycling processes that engage carbon with water and oxygen—molecules in motion that evolve the expression of a living planet. She wants us carbon positive, doing positive things with carbon. More
When I was a keynote speaker for The Competitiveness Institute last year, I was swamped by people who wanted to talk about the failure of the clustering model of economic development. They were from Africa, Ireland, South America— many other nations and regions around the world. “Why did some work, some seem to work only to fail later and some never get off the ground””, they wanted to know. I stayed an hour talking with them.
Sept 29th, Obama gave a speech that may foster the same questions in a few years. The call is to return to innovation as the basis of greatness. They Office of the President’s Economic Council issued a white paper to announce and detail this call for a Strategy for American Innovation. The intention is very important—sustainable growth and quality jobs. And they are to be place-based, meaning in their case the “targeting of places and drawing on the compounding effect of cooperative arrangements”. The intention is a good start. But it has the same challenges as the concept of clustering, which is also promoted by the National Council of Economic Development. Until they understand the living systems approach to organizing economic planning and exchange among humans, we will have the same failures, shortfalls and episodic successes that cannot be rationally unexplained.
I will say here, what I said to the folks at The Competitiveness Institute, from regions, cities and counties who inundated me with their questions. You can only succeed IF you organize around the unique story of that Place. That is the true meaning of place-based. Otherwise it is like trying to change careers at mid-life because you want to make more money and you have defined your next career move based on what is paying the most at the moment. It likely is not something you are particularly suited to or even evokes something you are passionate about. Not a good career defining process. Better to be who you are in life, uniquely, and so it is for your city and region. That is what Story of Place branding and development process is about. It grows sustainable economies and quality jobs that spark and regenerate innovation as a part of its nature. It is built into the infrastructure. More
Carol Sanford and Joel Glanzberg on Chautauqua, KVNF, Public Radio. We explore the meaning of Story of Place® in creating Developmental Economies® and regenerating communities.
“Developmental Economies®” (DE) involve the Business community in a different and more effective way. DE is a way of improving the vitality and viability of existing business and creating and incubator for new businesses that extend the uniqueness of the region and its “vocation”. Every PLACE has a uniqueness and out of that comes an opportunity to create unique value-adding (rather than value-added) offerings that cannot be copied and as a result become valued in the region and beyond for their uniqueness and distinctiveness that mirrors the PLACE itself. The cities where this has happened, for examples Portland OR, Curitiba, Brazil, have increased greatly the wealth and prosperity of a place and overcome the hazards that traditional economic development causes. It also makes a more cohesive community within its diversity of creativity. You can stream it or download it for listening to later.
Developers are defamed and condemned regularly for raping the earth. And it is true that a good number of developers are quite inured to their effects. But there is a whole new breed who not only care, but are intentional about bringing a significant value into the communities and neighborhoods where they design and build. And not just for public relations. They see value coming to everyone when they engage this way, including themselves. One example is the idea of considering every project to be one one where the developer is in investing into a Regenerative Neighborhood InitiativeTM (RNI). More
Throughout history, countries that have shipped their raw materials to other counties for processing have lost out to the converters. The further along the conversion process a company is, in adding value, the more viable it is through time. Nations, and the businesses in them by and large, become stable and wealthy because they can make and provide goods and services, not because they own a source of basic commodities. Even with soaring international prices, the amount of income generated by mineral resources in a modern advanced economy remains relatively low compared to the converted products into which they are made. The tendency is to seek efficiencies for a competitive advantage, leaving other nations and businesses to make the real wealth off the resource. This is a losing strategy in the long run, and the long run is getting closer every day. More
I love chocolate. My favorite is the seventy percent cocoa kind. I always read the package for source information and buy Fair Trade Certified. Because of that certification, I am trusting that the contract manufacturers’ workers and the indigenous craftspeople and field harvesters are paid fairly. I trust that they work under safe conditions and under global standards of health protection. I am so thankful that someone is doing that checking for me. I also know that I am only achieving part of the goal that I have as a conscious consumer. It is necessary but not….well you know.
When I buy household products, I want non-toxic products so when they go down the drain, or into the air, they are not harming the very sources of life (or humans). I want the materials that make it up to not destroy habitats with their by-products. I want raw materials to not come from substitution of invasive species for indigenous habitat (like palm oil’s rampant proliferation has). I want fish and wildlife, trees and habitats to benefit from my way of living. I want to know how corporations are working with the earth and her living systems. But again, this is part of my concern, not all. More