Archive for September, 2009

4 Success Secrets of Going Green – #1 is Revealed!

photo by: julie

On Friday, October 2, everyone on GOforChange’s email list will receive a link to a complimentary Special Report, "4 Success Secrets of Going Green." At GOforChange, we create leaders in the green movement by giving entrepreneurs and small business owners  the freedom and confidence that comes from learning a green mindset. Together, we cultivate their expertise to increase profitability, satisfaction and success by going green. Today, we reveal the first success secret of going green:

#1. Green is not a "bolt-on" solution.

In your desire to go green, it’s natural to go for things, rather than making systemic changes. As you look for solutions to your problems, shortcuts are very appealing.

That’s why there is an explosion of eco-products out there: green cleaners, hemp clothing, solar panels. These are all great choices, but you can’t just buy your way to green. First, there isn’t enough money in the world for that! Second (and better) if you take the time to develop a green consciousness, you will begin to see much more effective solutions right in front of you.

Green-minded people look for connections, cooperate rather than compete, see abundance instead of scarcity, choose partnership over control, and celebrate interdependence.

You will start to see the solutions that have been there all along. The more connected you feel – to yourself, your networks, your community, the earth – the more ideas will come to you, effortlessly.

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This is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to cultivating your green leadership. Be sure to join our mailing list, if you haven’t yet — it’s the box right under the daisy on the upper right. You will receive our beautifully-illustrated, chock-full of tips, "GO Green Guide" as a thank-you. AND you’ll receive that special link to the full "4 Secrets of Green" report.

Earth Overshoot Day is Today, 25 September

photo courtesy

You’re probably wondering, what is Earth Overshoot and why is it today? Good questions. The Global Footprint Network created this measure to help us visualize our impact on the earth. In their words, "Just like any company, nature has a budget — it can only produce so many resources and absorb so much waste every year. The problem is, our demand for nature’s services is exceeding what it can provide."

So, Earth Overshoot Day marks the point each year when we essentially dip into defecit spending — you know, the way all those world governments do it. Or, you, if you have a big balance on your VISA bill. We are literally using the earth’s resources faster each year than the earth can replenish them with those mysterious, miraculous processes like pollination, soil creation, and filtering water. Otherwise known as Nature’s Services . And guess what? This day creeps up earlier in the calendar with each passing year. In the past, it was creeping up by 4 to 6 days each year. Last year, it was on September 23, which experts attribute to the global economic crisis slowing things down a bit.

The Footprint Network, ably directed by Mathis Wackernagel has a refreshingly clear way of telling us about it: "Globally, we now require the equivalent of 1.4 planets to support our lifestyles. Put another way, in less than 10 months, humanity will have used ecological services it takes 12 months for the Earth to regenerate."

They can get even more technical, for those of you who want the bitter details: "In 2009, humanity is projected to use about 40 percent more than nature can regenerate this year. This problem — using resources faster than they can regenerate and creating waste such as CO2 faster than it can be absorbed — is called ecological overshoot."

And there’s more on their excellent, very trustworthy website . Regular readers of this site know that we don’t often report the gloom-n-doom stuff, but this one is always an important wake-up call. Yes, it’s depressing. But, remember — we are an amazingly creative species. If we can land people on the moon, we can figure this one out! The first place to start is the easiest — stop wasting so much. What can you do, today, to help push Earth Overshoot Day back into October next year?

Art for the World’s Sake

3 5 0 S K Y from Daniel Dancer on Vimeo .

Produced this month in the Netherlands, this video beautifully illustrates the pivotal role of artists in global eco-awakening. We’ve posted before about the wonderful organization, . Their worldwide campaign for people to form 350s and photograph them inspired aerial artist Daniel Dancer to produce this very moving, ambitious video. On Dancer’s website is this tagline: "Art Changes People – People Change the World."

In 350’s blog entry , they note, "Daniel just completed his most recent aerial art project with 5,000 school kids in Uden, the Netherlands – the biggest showing we’ve had anywhere in the world for 350.  Inspired by the age-old windmills that have been Holland’s trademark, the students created an artistic masterpiece with their bodies showing both the simplicity and the beauty of clean, renewable energy.  And it is beautiful, because it combines so many things that make the 350 movement – bringing people together, showing direction for a better future, involving future generations of citizens, and, of course, the number 350."

They also quote the artists involved: "From Daniel, ‘Seeing so many children laying down looking up at the sky, being paintdrops, in a style reminiscent of Vincent Van Gogh, who lived not far from here, I am certain that each will remember this project the rest of their lives and am hopeful that they all become activists for a healthy atmosphere.’  And Dorry, the project coordinator – ‘This project combined love for the arts and love for the environment into one big, breathtaking experience!!!’"

We will have more to report about what artists are up to, as they help us all become more aware of environmental challenges and solutions.

09-09-09: Worldwide Interconnectedness Happening

photo by: julie

Wildness reminds us what it what it means to be human, what we are connected to rather than what we are separate from.  Terry Tempest Williams

World Day of Interconnectedness is September 9.

I’m going to get personal here. Many of you who know my work and teaching will probably not be surprised by this: I am obsessed with connection. My business, fundamentally, is all about discovering, cultivating, and restoring connections at many levels: to the living world, to other people, to communities, to meaning, to the arts, to craft, to great ideas, to myself.

Reflecting on this recently, I saw that one of my ah-ha moments about sustainable design came in 1989, at a lecture by the great Australian architect Glenn Murcutt . His work demonstrates the profound beauty and sense of connection that is possible when you ask the right questions. It is rooted in a deep reverence for and experience of the natural world. People who live in his houses routinely talk about the unique, profound connection they feel to the outdoors, quite unlike other buildings in our modern world.

Aren’t we all, consciously or unconsciously, longing for that deep, peaceful sense of connection? I know I am. It has driven me for the last 20 years, often to unexpected places. That sustainable design and green business is my lens and medium is no mere coincidence. It fits me because it marries meaning with cultural expression, vision with practical action, spirit and matter. It is grounded in the laws of the physical world, its harsh realities AND its sublime truths. A life spent trying to understand and model how nature does it is the most exciting thing I can imagine.

That’s why when announcements like this one come to my inbox, I jump at the chance to spread the word. A World Day of Interconnectedness? Why not!? From the website : "A deep sense of interconnectedness, or oneness, is at the core of decisions and actions that are life affirming and good for the whole. In other words, it will bring forth an environmentally sustainable, fulfilling and socially just human presence."

This is a global 24-hour event with a focus on celebrating interconnectedness. The intent is to manifest and attract more of what we want on a global scale: a greater sense of interconnectedness as a foundation for a world that works for all life.

It’s simple: On 090909 in every country at 9 AM in every time zone (starting in New Zealand), all people who are aware of interconnectedness and who are committed to translate that awareness into action are invited to practice interconnectedness as much as possible throughout that day. There are a bunch of wonderful suggestions of practices you can do in the areas of ecological sustainability, social justice, and spiritual fulfillment. Many of us strive to practice our awareness every day, and usually fall short (speaking for myself). This is a chance to be fully conscious and to tap into the world-wide juice of so many with the same intention.

Please post a comment here about your experience with this. It would be wonderful to hear how it went.

Measure Thyself

photo by: alyssa

When you see the word, "audit," what comes to mind? A pleasant, fact-finding experience? Or, sheer terror that some heartless IRS agent could rummage around in your financial records and wreak havoc in your life?

Thought so. By their very nature, audits seem destined to pull skeletons out of closets, dredge up facts about you that you’d rather not see the light of day. For some reason, green business consultants persist in using the dreaded a-word to describe their initial baseline measures. Putting "eco" or "green" before it is just like lipstick on a pig – it doesn’t soften the blow at all, does it? Would you volunteer to have an eco-audit done on your business?

And yet, it’s essential to know where you are, if you are to map out a plan to go in a new direction. The way I see it, change involves three key steps: measure your current impacts, receive a new vision, and map out a plan of action to get there. Well, here’s a confession: I have had the vision and the action, but I never measured.

Truth be told, metrics has always been my greatest challenge. I’m highly intuitive, so I don’t usually need "proof" of things. I took a seat-of-the-pants, I-have-a-feel-for-it approach all these years. But by avoiding key measures, I’ve also relegated myself to stumbling around blindly. I have a great map and I know where I want to go, BUT, I don’t know where I started from! Technically, that means I’m lost.

By never taking my own baseline, I also had no way to track my progress over the years. That’s like starting out with a personal trainer, but not weighing in or taking your measurements at the beginning. How would you know if you made any progress?

So, the shoemaker herself has no shoes. What now? I’ve decided to undergo not one, but two, green business audits over the next few weeks. I am using it as a fact-finding experience to determine which measures are the most relevant to small, entrepreneurial businesses.

I have been designing a program for small businesses to strategically embrace a green path, and the baseline assessment is indeed Job One. Once I take this formal step myself, I will have a much better idea of how to help other business owners use the information in powerful ways.

My own business has gone through tremendous transformations over the last 10 years, as I developed my green expertise. Much of it has been conscious, and a lot has been unconscious, serendipity, accident, call it what you will. I don’t expect that to change, but now I’ll see clearly the impacts I’m having – within my own business, and in my networks and circles of influence. I’ll finally be on the map.

P.S. Had to add this thought, after having coffee with Geoff Stack (Integrative Design Team Coordinator) this morning. Geoff pointed out that audits start with asking, "what’s wrong?" They are also somewhat limited in that they tend to look only at the usual suspects — energy use, materials streams, water use, travel, etc. As a result, you only see what you are looking for. A much more powerful approach is from a systems perspective like Natural Step , which opens us up to possibility more effectively. It’s a delicate balancing act, since both approaches have their merits.