All Posts Tagged With: "Business"

Thankful Thursday: It’s Raining Mentors

photo: anslatadams flickr stream

Late in 2008, I realized I needed some mentorship to take my business in a new direction. During 2009, I was blessed with such a windfall of mentors, it was sometimes a challenge to absorb all that they had to teach.

Being a diligent student, I always tried to get as much out of them as I could. To learn the business systems, the mindset shifts, tools and processes to access inner wisdom – everything from inner reality to outer reality.

Recently, I reflected on how overwhelming this can be. It’s a case of – the more I learn, the less I know. I feel like an open field in a rainstorm. Sometimes the rain is very heavy, sometimes it’s a light, gentle drizzle.

In any field, when it rains, the amount of water that soaks in depends on the receptivity of the ground. When it’s hard-packed and dense, then most of the water will run off and not soak in. If it’s loose and loamy and full of all kinds of dead organic matter and lots of air, organisms and creatures, then much of the water will soak in.

This is an apt metaphor for this last year of intense learning and redesigning my business. It’s really fine if what I’m trying to learn just runs off and does not soak in. I can’t force it to soak in, can’t change the rate of soaking in. All I can do is prepare myself, prepare the ground, to the most effective extent. Still accepting that not all of it will soak in.

I have to simply trust that what does soak in is what I need right then – the nutrients, the moisture that will help me continue to grow. Just like the field – of course, the field needs the rain, but it doesn’t need ALL the rain. Some of the rain runs off, and goes into other ecosystems, streams and waterways, and that’s fine.

The part that does soak in becomes integral with my own way of thinking and being in the world, and that is just a beautiful thing.

Is Your Diet Making You and the Planet Sick?

A question I hear a lot from my clients is, what else can I be doing to go green? In addition to helping them to organize what they are already doing in a more systematic way, I always have suggestions of how to take it further. (For a first-hand experience of organizing your thoughts in a systematic way, tune into my special FR*EE call this Thursday, 11/12 at 4:00 p.m. EST, “How to Overcome Green Overload in Your Small Business: 5 Steps for Cutting Through the Clutter.” Follow this link for more info, and to register.)

So. . . .on the topic of taking green a little further. . . .You’re probably aware of studies that have been done on the links between eating animal protein and human health. But have you heard that commercial meat production is a major contributor to climate change? The UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization estimates the global meat industry generates 18% of the man-made greenhouse gas emissions that are accelerating climate change worldwide . . . far more than transportation.

Why not try going meatless one day a week? Since everything is interconnected, you’ll find that the benefits ripple through several other areas, including your health and your wallet. Read more at Meatless Monday, a great resource from the Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health.

Make Your Own, Custom 10-Things List

This is the first in a series of posts that will preview some aspect of my upcoming FR*EE teleclass  ”How to Overcome Green Overload in Your Small Business: 5 Steps for Cutting Through the Clutter.” At the end of this post, there is a bit more detail about the class.

The other day I had a conversation with a client who was rationally trying to decide where to go next in greening her household, which she rightly thinks of as a small business. Having effectively reduced her family’s energy use, she now wants to turn to their diet. She’s weighing all the options, to decide what actions might be feasible, based on their preferences, schedules, and budget.

She got on the subject of industrial agriculture and its terribly negative impacts on the Chesapeake Bay. For example, in the past, farmers were pressured by the chicken industry to produce vast quantities of chicken as cheaply as possibly, despite pollution and health risks. We can easily become paralyzed by worry and overwhelm from the messages we get in the media about how bad things are and especially our role in the destruction.

These messages speak to our inner sense of shame, turmoil, guilt, and anxiety. And it’s paralyzing because we don’t like feeling that way, so we tend to push away and avoid the subject. And rightly so – these dark feelings are a survival technique, part of how we are designed and wired. The problem is, we cannot act effectively from a place of negativity and avoidance.

During the call, I advised her to focus on things she really likes doing. Pass up the actions that blow her schedule, require her to drive a lot, or completely overhaul her family’s eating habits. Even if she did implement some dramatic changes, they would be at great cost and so would be only short-term fixes without lasting power in their lives. They would eventually drop them, because they are just too hard to maintain over the long haul.

A lot of messages about going green are genuinely helpful lists of things you should be doing – emphasis on the word, “should.” Rather than trying to conform to somebody else’s list of “shoulds,” it’s a much more fruitful and enjoyable exercise to notice, in looking at one of those lists, what things pop out, which appeal to you and which are simply irrelevant.

Start with the things that appeal to you, and start small. Small changes can ripple through with big effects. For instance, if you are thinking about not eating meat altogether, for health, environmental, or even spiritual reasons, the best way to start could be to cut out meat one meal a week or one day a week. (This site, Meatless Monday, is a great resource.) That gives you the experience of planning, preparing, and eating a meatless meal. It allows you to test-drive that change, rather than making it wholesale across the entire week.

This way of customizing green actions from a place of desire, rather than obligation, is one aspect of my upcoming FR*EE teleclass, “How to Overcome Green Overload in Your Small Business: 5 Steps for Cutting Through the Clutter.” This call is on Thursday, Nov. 12, at 4:00 p.m. EST. I’ll show you how to:

• Bring your desire to go green into alignment with your need to grow your business;
• Create new opportunities for your business by going green; and
• Find reliable yet innovative eco-friendly resources

There’s just so much information out there, and I will teach how to put on a pair of green-colored glasses. How to see through all the clutter to the strategies, goals, and vision that really fit you, that are uniquely tailored to your needs, your business, your life.

GO: Where Change Agents Come for Inspiration

photo by Kristina McDanolds

On New Year’s Day, we received an email from our good friend, Michael Furbish, who owns the Furbish Company , a green builder whose work we have profiled recently . They are clear about their mission on their website: "Furbish Company designs, sells, installs, and maintains plant-based building systems. We view plants as living machines. Set up properly, they enhance building performance while providing aesthetic beauty." In other words, they are change agents.

In our first post for the New Year, I wanted to welcome our new visitors, and remind our regulars about our purpose here. Since Michael says it so well, I’ll just use his words:

"Your site is absolutely wonderful. Every time I visit, it is deeper and richer. My one regret is that I spend too little time enjoying this space. As you articulate so well, appreciating the empty space . In many ways, your site is just that. It is the space that invites thinking about what can be."

I love that – we not only create space to think about what can be, we highlight what is, already. There are so many businesses and organizations that are doing wonderful, thoughtful, meaningful work around here. We intend to continue presenting their great work. We are the go-to resource for change agents to learn about each other and to refuel on inspiration when they are feeling drained by the challenges of being on the cutting edge of change.

We will also post more often about general, universal themes. Julie’s work as a green design and sustainability consultant, as well as her involvement in the community, provides much material. Alyssa will write more about her urban gardening and DIY projects. As an artist, her hands-on creative urges are boundless!

So, sit back and enjoy. Subscribe to our RSS. Tell your friends, especially your change-agent friends. Find us on Facebook , Twitter , Flickr , and Virb .

We’re Going to Blogging School

photo by Julie: Lucky's Warehouse by Furbish Co.
Recently, we started in earnest to learn all we can about the blogging world, including how to increase our site traffic so we can continue to offer GOforChange to our community and the wider world. Naturally, we enrolled in Upstart Blogger’s 30-Day Blogging Course . We are known mostly within our own networks, where we reliably preach to the converted. But what about people who are just waking up to environmental and economic challenges? With our expertise, wealth of information, online forums, calendar, and marketplace, we are determined to reach a wider audience.

We started GOforChange in early 2008 to help spread the word about the growing sustainability , local food , social justice, and greening movement in the Baltimore area. A blog was the right format to share information about upcoming events, volunteers opportunities, advice, and all the organizations and businesses in our area that are working for a better world. We are always learning about new things — community gardens, energy auditors, local artisans, schools — and the list of topics keeps growing. We continue to believe that reliable information about local resources is valuable to people who want to know how they can make a difference in their daily lives and communities.

As of Day 5 of the course, we have already learned much about social networks, Technorati rankings , Google Analytics, and reaching out to like-minded blogs. We are shifting our posts to offer more advice, musings, and stories from Julie’s work as a green architect and sustainability consultant, and Alyssa’s hands-on artistry in urban gardening, composting, and other DIY projects. Interspersed with posts about Baltimore-area topics, these will have a broad appeal beyond our geographic region. The Upstart Blogger course is something we probably should have taken six months ago, but back then we just didn’t realize how much we don’t know! Stay tuned for updates on our progress.

Sustainable Business Network DC

photo: DC Farmers Markets
Worried about the economy? Perhaps the Sustainable Business Network of DC can help connect you to the right business owners, managers, community leaders, and others to increase your base of clients and customers. If you join the network as an individual consumer they can help you find a job, eco-friendly products, or connect with a local community of like-minded individuals. The office at SB NOW is filled with a staff of directors and eco-minded business professionals with LEED accreditations, experience with Department of Environment, UK, managing and marketing non-profits as well as working for businesses like LOHAS (Lifestyles of Health and Sustainability).

Wake Up, Freak Out, Get a Grip


Wake Up, Freak Out – then Get a Grip from Leo Murray on Vimeo .

Two friends told me about this last Friday, so I had to check it out. It’s an excellent tour of the "tipping point" effects of climate destabilization — something even the IPCC predictions don’t account for. Leo Murray’s animation and narration makes the very complex science of climate feedback easy to understand and visualize in stark terms. While it does give a glimpse into probable scenarios of species extinction, climate refugees, and other human misery, Murray also tells us it’s not inevitable. This is not the time to panic, he says — this is the time to ACT!

On a related note, David Orr came to Baltimore on October 1 to give a talk about climate change policy. He and a group of experts have been briefing the two presidential campaigns as part of the Presidential Climate Action Project . On their website, you can view and download policy papers on what the next Transition Team has to do in order to hit the ground running in the first 100 days in office. Look through their "Climate Action Briefs" on topics such as the role of small business in addressing climate change, national security in a changing environment, the moral case for energy efficiency, and the great potentials of a new "green" economy.

While it’s very good news that the best minds in the U.S. are coming together on this, Leo Murray’s video is a timely reminder that we have spent the last 20 years waiting for government and industry to fix this problem. The message is loud and clear: it is up to US to act, and we must act NOW.