How Can We Best Support People Who Want To Go Green?

photo by: Julie Gabrielli

I recently posed this question on several LinkedIn green groups and was surprised to get so many answers with a wide range of opinions. Most of them advocated systemic expressions of sustainability: green business, policy and regulation, economic incentives, standards, strategic planning, and simple common sense. A few mentioned awareness-building: education, marketing campaigns ("green is good"), and mission statements. The rest championed tools like directories, handbooks, and websites. One outlier suggested that sometimes the answer is just in a state of mind.

In the spirit of Ken Wilber and Integral , in one sense they are all right. Just not 100% right, to the exclusion of the others. I found it intriguing that the majority of them oriented towards systems, technologies, and policy, and only one touched on the metaphysical. Yet, consciousness of our innermost motivations, values, and beliefs is critical to the success of any greening initiative, whether personal or organizational.

As we make the transition from short-term, fear- and anxiety-based motivations to more long-term, optimistic and effective motivations, it’s important to bring greater consciousness to what’s behind our behaviors. Shining the light of awareness on how and whether our needs are being met can be transforming.

At GOforChange, we believe strongly that eco-friendly strategies are far better at meeting the full range of our needs than tired, wasteful consumerism. We are designing a process to help people bring that awareness to their own lives, called Your EcoBlueprint . One clear benefit is that it eliminates the mismatch between people’s "shoulds" and their actual behavior, giving them a fresh perspective on which green strategies actually work for them. Your EcoBlueprint is as unique as your fingerprint!

We invite you to give us your thoughts and feedback. What are the struggles or challenges you have with making green a priority? Is big-picture visioning a distraction from necessary action, or a helpful North Star? How are you negotiating the glut of information out there? We would love to hear stories of your ah-hah moments, successes, roadblocks, and your favorite awareness practices! Drop us a line through the contact page, or comment here.

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There Are 5 Responses So Far. »

  1. Hi, Julie,

    I’m just looking at your site as a result of hearing you on Weds evening. (I’m not much of a website visitor or blogger or technology communicator, because I’m on my computer all day for work and feel I don’t spend enough time outdoors being in the natural world!) The comment you made in the 4/28 message above that really strikes me is that just 1 person addressed what you called the metaphysical.

    I’m really preoccupied right now with the spiritual challenge of having become educated. You quoted a professor saying, “Yesterday you were ignorant, now you are negligent.” That’s what a lot of my psychic energy goes into: coping with the feeling that I am myself negligent and am surrounded by negligence.

    I am on a search for a smallish community (meaning a group of people that want to talk about this, not a place to live)that focuses in a very thoughtful way on the spiritual dimensions of understanding what’s happening to the planet. I don’t know how much you plan to include that aspect in what you are doing, but I notice that very few churches or other faith-based institutions are really addressing it on a regular basis.

    There are some non-religious resources that I’m starting to uncover and would love to have a discussion group or an interactive session on this topic: not the practicalities of living green, but the deep sadness you start to feel when you realize what we the human species have done to ourselves, each other, and the other species. And how do we carry on in spite of that knowledge?

  2. Rebecca,

    Well, you hit the nail on the head. I see a great need for this, and am slowly wading in, as much as my courage and inspiration pull me in. “Awakening the Dreamer” is a very interesting website and program. I haven’t done it, but several people have mentioned it to me.

    The dilemma of how to carry on, despite the sadness, grief, anger, guilt, what-have-you is the Buddhist path to a “T.” I’ve run across a wonderful book lately, “Mindfully Green,” by Stephanie Kaza, which tackles just these questions.

    I’m playing with what helps, and so far for me it’s anything that helps me to increase my feelings of gratitude, awareness, awe, wonder, etc. There is such creative power in these strong energies. I don’t pretend to understand it, but I do know it keeps me going!

    It would be great to start a group or session on this. Maybe that’ll be my next offering! The EcoBlueprint teleclass that’s running right now does touch on some of these ideas.

  3. Julie,
    I’m going to introduce you to a friend, Marcus Simms, who is running workshops based on Joanna Macy’s work. You may find it interesting. Personally, I prefer the hopeful approach taken by the Pachamama Alliance in “Awakening the Dreamer,” but Marcus’ workshops do address the “despair work” that Rebecca described.

  4. How to support them?
    Simply Get out of their way!; Don’t make it hard or scary. That includes making it easy for them to do green things such as walking, biking, mass transit, telecommuting and flextime. Reduce the permitting, inspection hassles for doing green renovations/building. Make green a First Class activity for all classes of people. As any bike or bus rider will tell you – that’s not true now.

  5. Greg — you are SO RIGHT!! How often do you choose to do something that’s harder than the way you do it now? (Okay, not a fair question for someone who bikes 25 miles a day — one way — to work! But, you get the idea.) “Because it’s the right thing to do” is just not enough. If it’s rewarding, fun, enjoyable, simple, sexy, appealing, etc — that’s the ticket to the mainstream.

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