Friday, April 11, 2014

Hazel Henderson's newest book "Mapping the Transition to the Solar Age - from Economism to Earth Systems Science"

An Excerpt from Hazel's latest book which is available as a PDF.

"Towards the Green Economy: Clearly the transition to the green economy is already underway but will be highly disruptive to the industrial sectors and massive global apparatus of the fossil fuel and nuclear era. Many companies based on nineteenth and twentieth century technologies will go under and jobs will be lost. Bridging strategies using natural gas are already highly contested due to their huge water-use, polluted residues, methane release and other problems."

"A study by Cornell and Stanford University scientists outlines a plan for ‘A Fossil Fuel-Free New York State by 2050’ which omits shale gas due to its much higher than advertised methane emissions.24 The consensus reached at Rio+20, G-20 in Mexico and other summits in 2012 included the OECD Global Green Growth Institute, the Knowledge Platform, and 68 global financial institutions. NGOs and governments affirmed commitments to using natural resources in their capital accounting.25 In addition, the $5.2tn of private investments since 2007 tracked in Ethical Markets’ Green Transition Scoreboard® attest to the huge shifts now in the pipeline."

"While renewable energy stocks suffered from their opposition’s media attacks, contrarians saw opportunities. US investor Warren Buffet’s MidAmerica Renewables investments reached $13.5bn, and the US Department of Defense is now the single most important driver of the cleantech revolution in the USA.26 In 2012 and 2013, nature provided ample evidence of the massive CO2 emissions’ effect in ocean warming and driving unprecedented weather conditions worldwide: floods, droughts, fires, tornadoes, heat waves, all causing huge losses and insurance costs." "This paper is an attempt to contextualise all these phenomena and explore the future: the new planetary awareness driving these paradigm shifts as we humans ‘connect the dots’. This knowledge explosion is now challenging our cultural beliefs about money, wealth, scarcity, abundance and transcending financial models derived from obsolete economics, led in many countries by younger generations connected by social media. The new multi-disciplinary models and metrics reassure us that in moving beyond economics and GDP we will not be flying blind but moving to the many earth systems science models (including those from NASA28) and data from many scientific fields which this paper explores."

Monday, February 17, 2014

Downshifting civilization to meet the realities of the biosphere

“The future, to be viable at all, must be one of drawing back, easing down, healing… It requires more than productivity and more than technology; it also requires maturity, compassion and wisdom. These conclusions constitute a conditional warning, not a dire prediction. They offer a living choice, not a death sentence… The idea of limits, sustainability, sufficiency, equity and efficiency are not barriers, not obstacles, not threats. They are guides to a new world… We see ‘easing down’ from unsustainability not as a sacrifice, but as an opportunity to stop battering against the earth’s limits and to start transcending self-imposed and unnecessary limits in human institutions, mindsets, beliefs, and ethics.” - Donella H. Meadows, Dennis L. Meadows, Jorgen Randers, Beyond the Limits: Confronting Global Collapse, Envisioning a Sustainable Future

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Discussing the access to capital equation at the Innovate! SoCal conference.

Should be an engaging conversation tomorrow on our panel at the Innovate!Socal Conference
"Our panel takes up the challenge of improving performance of pre-seed and venture capital funding and looks at how entrepreneurs can be better prepared for investment. The group addresses the critical need for shortening deal decision times, improving deal quality by better preparing entrepreneurs, and reducing capital access barriers to under-represented demographic and geographic groups."

Panel moderator Paul J. Corson, Executive Director of Innovation Fund America, drives the discussion. 

Panelist 1 – Richard Koffler, CEO, Greenwings Biomedical
Panelist 2 – Greg Wendt, Senior Wealth Advisor, Stakeholder Capital, Co-Chair, Capital Action Team for CA Forward
Panelist 3 – Victoria Sassine, Mutual Fund Trustee, Managers Investment Group Panelist
4 – David Carter, CEO, Upside LA

Sunday, January 12, 2014

We must evolve to a complex systemic view to address the world's challenges.


The caption for image on the left shares: 
"A schematic history of human civilization reflects a growing complexity of the collective behavior of human organizations. The internal structure of organizations changed from the large branching ratio hierarchies of ancient civilizations, through decreasing branching ratios of massive hierarchical bureaucracies, to hybrid systems where lateral connections appear to be more important than the hierarchy. As the importance of lateral interactions increases, the boundaries between subsystems become porous. The increasing collective complexity also is manifest in the increaseing specialization and diversity of professions. Among the possible future organizational structures are fully networked systems where hierarchical structures are unimportant. "

and the conclusion of the article sums it up:

"There are two natural conclusions to be drawn from recognizing that human beings are part of a global organism. First, one can recognize that human civilization has a remarkable capacity for responding to external and internal challenges. The existence of such a capacity for response does not mean that human civilization will survive external challenges any more than the complexity of any organism guarantees its survival. However, one can hope that the recent reduction in the incidence of military conflicts will continue and the ability to prevent or address local disasters will increase. The difficulties in overcoming other systematic ills of society, such as poverty, may also be challenged successfully as the origins of these problems become better understood."

"Second, the complexity of our individual lives must be understood in the context of a system that must enable its components (us) to contribute effectively to the collective system. Thus, we are being, and will continue to be shielded from the true complexity of society. In part this is achieved by progressive specialization that enables individuals to encounter only a very limited subset of the possible professional and social environments. This specialization will have dramatic consequences for our children, and their educational and social environments are likely to become increasingly specialized as well."

Sunday, January 05, 2014

2013 Annual Holiday Party Green Gifts to the Earth from Green Business Networking in L.A.!

Thought you'd enjoy what we're up to with the non-profit group we started in 2006 - this is our 8th annual Green Business Networking Holiday Party. Our community has grown, with an event every month since we started and now over 5,000 people on our email community list. And, we have so much fun!

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

CA Economic Summit Advancing the Triple Bottom Line

The CA Economic Summit is a collaborative process to "advance the triple bottom line" through advancing our economy. I'm very grateful to play the role of Co-Chair for the Access to Capital Team for the summit. Here's a video which is a quick highlight of the conference. Here's a link to our initial capital action plan for the state and a brief article describing our work.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Must watch - Earth from Space - core perspective from which we can evolve from economism to earth systems science.

This Nova Program - "Earth from Space" gives the perspectives and information necessary to evolve our worldview and create a civilization which will ensure a resilient biosphere for a thriving humanity for many generations to come.

Friday, September 27, 2013

A straightforward pathway out of our myopia...

"Our perceptual myopia, which has focused on products not processes, on objects and entities rather than their broader fields of interplay, has led us to reward analysis and punish synthesis, to overvalue competition while ignoring the equally valuable role of cooperation, and to artificially define "problems" and devise "solutions"to fit them..." - Hazel Henderson 

So... now we systematically build cooperative processes which synthesize broad perspectives into grounded currently relevant coherent solutions contextually applied at human scales across the world. That's all!

Monday, July 15, 2013

Saturday, July 13, 2013

"Green Century" an inspiring television show which I'm featured in

Great show put together by friends called "Green Century" available online and on public television. My segment starts just after minute 22.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Innovation for the next 100 years.

Innovation which does not have resiliency embedded at it's core is likely a mirage of true evolutionary change.

The recent article "Innovation for the Next 100 Years"in Stanford Social Innovation Review by Judith Rodin from The Rockefeller Foundation wrote states:

"Innovating for resilience is critical if we are to protect against the disruptions of the 21st-century world. As we do so, we should keep in mind the qualities resilient networks, communities and organizations share. Among them are:

  • FLEXIBILITY | able to change, evolve, and adapt at a rapid pace. 
  • REDUNDANCY | able to change course and adopt alternative approaches. 
  • RESOURCEFULNESS | able to identify problems, establish priorities, and mobilize resources and assets to achieve goals. 
  • SAFE-FAILURE | able to absorb shocks and the cumulative effects of slow-onset challenges so as to avoid catastrophic failure if thresholds are exceeded. 
  • RESPONSIVENESS | able to re-organize and re-establish fund and order following a failure. 
  • LEARNING | able to internalize experiences and apply those lessons to decrease vulnerabilities to future disruptions.
These are very close to the life's principles as defined by the Biomimicry Institute.

 


Saturday, April 27, 2013

Catalyzing the Connection Economy

First posted on Ethical Markets and Triple Pundit

Somewhere along the line our culture lost contact with the recognition of oneness of all life, the connectedness to each other. Our institutions – government, economy, religion are all built on a false premise of separation.

Simply spoken, in Economics 101 we learned that everything around a business other than what is termed “business as usual” are “externalities” – “external” to the business, and the economy.  The model of endless growth for its own sake without regard to the effects of such growth is a symptom of blindness to such “externalities.”  Our prevailing economic growth-based model is not working to serve the needs of all humanity. If you don’t agree with me, ask the roughly 2 billion people who are living on less than a dollar a day. You may simply believe that their welfare is separate from yours, and you needn’t concern yourself with their plight…

“Not everything that counts can be counted, and not everything that can be counted counts.” – Anonymous

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

My first published work, in book form, "Creating Good Work"


My first published work, in book form, came out today. I wrote a chapter in "Creating Good Work - The World's Leading SocialEntrepreneurs Show How to Build a Healthy Economy"

In the book over 20 leading innovators in social entrepreneurship, known as "deliberate disruptive design" share their learnings, experiences and insights gained from their work in building a new healthy economy.

Jeff Hollender, thought leader in corporate responsibility and co-founder of Seventh Generation wrote about the book: "Social entrepreneurs are committed to a goal that neither our government nor big business has been willing to take on - the building of enlightened society. It's the job of these special people who want to leave the world a better place for those who have yet to be born. The book provides practical, hard-won advice for how prospective and even-in-the-trenches social entrepreneurs can do just that. This is a book you'll not want to miss."

I resonate with his sentiments - that it is incumbent upon everyone in this generation to work for the well being of current and future children, of all species. I'm privileged to be part of such a movement, and inspire others to do the same through this work.

Saturday, February 09, 2013

"Transforming Economics into True Wealth" Statement November 2012


I'm a signatory for this statement on TRANSFORMING ECONOMIES INTO TRUE WEALTH

Posted on Ethical Markets website: 

"This is an invitation to fully engage in the planetary whole-system shift now under way.  Many SRI investment professionals recognize our human responsibility for the many breakdowns in our societies and enfolding ecosystems resulting from our limited consciousness: climate change, hunger, poverty, conflicts, financial crises and ecological destruction. These systemic breakdowns are accelerating due to global interconnectedness and now driving the breakthroughs worldwide occurring below the radar of the mainstream mass media. The 193 country members of the United Nations have recognized human interdependence and that no nation acting alone can solve these global systemic crises.  Thus, they have pooled their sovereignty, however imperfectly, seeking solutions through treaties, agreements, protocols, institutions and agencies to promote the common good and all life on planet Earth.  Likewise, many public, private and civic sector organizations, professional and academic groups are also coalescing to take broader responsibility."

The statement is:

TRANSFORMING ECONOMIES INTO TRUE WEALTH

Invitation To Fully Engage In The Planetary Whole-System Shift Now Under Way

We undersigned investment professionals recognize our human responsibility for the many breakdowns in our societies and enfolding ecosystems resulting from our limited consciousness: climate change, hunger, poverty, conflicts, financial crises and ecological destruction. These systemic breakdowns are accelerating due to global interconnectedness and now driving the breakthroughs worldwide occurring below the radar of the mainstream mass media. The 193 country members of the United Nations have recognized human interdependence and that no nation acting alone can solve these global systemic crises.  Thus, they have pooled their sovereignty, however imperfectly,seeking solutions through treaties, agreements, protocols, institutions and agencies to promote the common good and all life on planet Earth.  Likewise, many public, private and civic sector organizations, professional and academic groups are also coalescing to take broader responsibility.

Transforming Finance - a top priority

Last fall, I had the pleasure of joining a group of leaders in the new economy and responsible investing movement at the home of Hazel Henderson for the annual "SRI Leaders" retreat. At the retreat we reflected on the state of the global financial system and further offered perspectives and solutions for transforming finance to serve the world, rather than extract from it. Here's a link to the Statement: "Transforming Economics into True Wealth (November 2012)"

Hazel posted an article on CSR Wire based on the retreat, and the Statement which we created.

Here's the full text of the article:

By Hazel Henderson

Despite incremental reforms, the Dodd-Frank Act in the USA, Basel III and the 0.1% financial transaction tax now approved by EU finance ministers, the global financial casino is still playing.

Financial lobbying still seeks to block or weaken reforms and floods of money distorting democratic politics, loosed by the Supreme Courts’ 2010 Citizens United decision, are still flowing unchecked.  Billions still secretly fund attacks on climate science, social safety nets, teachers and other public employees and their pensions. All these efforts to repeal FDR’s New Deal and a fairer economy continue unabated.

Ethical Markets’ Transforming Finance initiative, launched in 2010 with its first Statement, emphasizing the bigger picture: finance is a part of the global commons, to serve real economies, not dominate them, and its high-frequency traders and all market players use and rely on taxpayer funded infrastructure: the internet, satellite communications, computers, wireless transmission over public airwaves.

Many high-minded financiers who have co-signed this Statement and later ones are former Wall Streeters. They are pioneers of ethical, SRI firms and are also interviewed on our Transforming Finance TV series, including John Fullerton, Amy Domini, Susan Davis, Karl Kleissner, Alisa Gravitz, Terry Mollner, Katherine Collins, Leland Lehrman, Sarah Stranahan, Michaela Walsh, Ben Bingham and author/lawyer Ellen Brown (available at www.ethicalmarkets.tv and www.films.com).

Our latest Transforming Economics Into True Wealth (November2012) is an invitation to fully engage in the planetary whole-system shift now under way. These investment professionals recognize our responsibility for the many breakdowns in our societies and ecosystems resulting from our limited consciousness: climate change, hunger, poverty, conflicts, financial crises and ecological destruction.

Sunday, February 03, 2013

Jan 24 2013 Radio Interview on Business Rockstars KFWB about "Conscious Capitalism"


Here's my interview on the radio show "Business Rockstars" about my views about the concept of "conscious capitalism" which is also the title of the new book by Whole Foods CEO John Mackay and Professor Raj Sisodia 


In the interview radio host Ken Rutkowski and I discussed the different paradigms in business. Most notably we distinguished between the outdated view of business as only serving shareholders and the profit motive to businesses recognizing the opportunity to not only succeed but thrive by serving all of the stakeholders in the business.

This more sophisticated paradigm leads to a more robust and resilient business while at the same time stakeholder engagement is a key driver in profitability for the most successful corporations.

I trust you'll enjoy listening to the radio show as much as I did sharing my views.

Here's a link to the show, my piece starts at around minute 44.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Bringing Good Capital Home with a Living Economy Fund


Originally posted on CSRWire.

When was the last time you asked a financial advisor to put your money in a financial fund that would support environmental and social concerns only to be met by a blank stare, because the advisor had no knowledge of that such a fund existed?

Or perhaps you went to your advisor and said, “I’d like to invest my money locally, in small businesses that are struggling here in our community and help them improve our local economy. Do you have a fund that will do that?”

Did the blankness of the stare deepen?

As a financial advisor I regularly place my clients in vehicles that might fundamentally change the way the economy works and at the same time provide a competitive return on investment. Unfortunately, there are simply few if any local choices that will satisfy such needs.

As a member of the California Financial OpportunitiesRoundtable, we ran into similar problems around providing access to capital locally. With SEC regulations and government investor protocols, targeting investments within a community through traditional financial vehicles is often difficult -- but not necessarily impossible.

Needed: Local And State Support For Small Business And Micro-Enterprise

We know that many Community Development financial institutions have been flooded with available funding lately, which says that the local interest exists, but the money is not yet flowing out for  investments in small local businesses and startups.

Getting money into the hands of those who can help build a healthy economy requires an economic development strategy at both the local and state levels that supports small business and micro-enterprises.

Our visions of global grandeur have often redirected our focus away from investing and buying locally, often fueled by the possibility of windfall profits in larger markets. But that focus has pulled us away from the richness of our community businesses and the economy they support. These businesses operate adjacent to the multinational big boxes that can sell for less, but become extractive from the local economy rather than generative.

Transforming Our Finance and Securities Laws

In the book, Creating Good Work: The World’s Leading SocialEntrepreneurs Show How to Build a Healthy Economy, (Palgrave, 2013) I wrote in my chapter about the transformation required to see money as part of the natural biosphere in which it operates. If we can transform our perception of money, we can simultaneously address issues such as the needs of communities, quality of life, human justice, food quality, education, infrastructure, energy security, and soil fertility.

The issue, of course, is that our securities laws and our financial vehicles operating under those laws don’t always allow us to invest our money in ways that can have an impact on these very important living issues.

This is especially true for those unaccredited investors whose net worth is less than $1 million. Equity crowdfunding may allow for more of this kind of investment to take place in the future, but we still run up against the lack of financial vehicles that would allow us to direct investments toward  environmental and social issues in our local communities.

In addition, financial advisors are also limited in this arena by the choices available through traditional channels. These investments are equally as prudent as others on the market while at the same time improving the quality of life in the communities. The problem is they are rarely offered because in many cases the traditional marketplace doesn’t know they exist.

Alternative Funding Sources

Getting funding into the hands of local businesses that are doing good work is a real challenge in this climate. However, instead of relying on traditional bank loans, alternative funding sources could be created for locally-owned businesses.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Film on New Economic Models - "Fixing The Future"

In our political debates, races, etc. there is always room for more conversation about the sustainable, thriving economies we can create in our own home towns. Here's a very inspiring film which I encourage you to watch if you are wondering what can be done to fix our economy, and our future!

Watch Fixing the Future on PBS. See more from NOW on PBS.

Monday, September 24, 2012

I was on the radio show "Business Rockstars" with Ken Rutkowski

Today I had the pleasure of being on Ken Rutkowski's amazing radio show "Business Rockstars" on KFWB News 980 in Los Angeles with over 800,000 listeners.

We had a wonderful conversation about sustainable business, ethics in business, our flawed economic paradigm based on the illusion separate from society and nature, B-Corporations, organic food labeling, sustainable investing, maximizing the quality of relationships in business for success, community relationships to business, corporate social responsibility and sustainable and responsible investing.

Hear the interview here, my brief interview starts at minute 55.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

I helped create the Access to Capital Guidebook as a member of California Financial Opportunities Roundtable



A key issue to grow our sustainable economy is moving capital to the businesses who need it most and businesses who are going to create jobs, wealth, and improvements to the quality of life for communities around the world. 

Entrepreneurship and local businesses are some of the key drivers to keeping our communities thriving, and the institutions which are meant to finance such businesses have lost human scale in the last 40-50 years. Big banks getting bigger, Wall Street dealmakers only doing bigger and bigger deals - leave much of the small to medium sized businesses without easy access to much needed capital.

Furthermore - small businesses which are privately owned are more likely to be in tune with the needs of society, the environment and the community of stakeholders around them. Thus the more ways we can support locally owned, small and medium sized enterprises, the better.

To that end, I have been very involved with the local investing movement for the last 7 years.
Most recently since mid 2011 I have been a member of the California Financial Opportunities Roundtable - a group of experts convened by the USDA Rural Economic Development and Federal Reserve Bank to identify pathways for moving money into the businesses and communities which need it most, and who will drive the most positive change for their communities. We represented finance, impact investing, philanthropy, business, economic development, government and more

The California Financial Opportunities Roundtable (CalFOR) is part of a statewide initiative supporting development of regional industry clusters to provide jobs, entrepreneurial opportunities, business growth, public and private sector investment in value-chain infrastructure and sustainable communities throughout California. Working with a wide array of partners, the goals of that project include:

  • Innovation in Capital Markets and new sources of investment for projects and business growth.
  • Expansion of regional food systems and associated value chain opportunities.
  • Growth of biomass utilization, biofuels and renewable energy production.
  • Development of region-specific industry clusters and related business networks.
  • Improved Rural-Urban collaboration and related infrastructure deployment
Our ACCESS TO CAPITAL GUIDEBOOK is available for viewing and download here: http://www.rurdev.usda.gov/Reports/CA-CalFOR.pdf

Monday, April 02, 2012

Evolving our businesses to become Common Good Corporations

There are many stories over the last 20 years of examples of ethically motivated businesses who grew to such a large scale which left the founders with choices either merge, sell out or cooperate with major corporations. The challenge has often been that the values and priorities which originally inspired the entrepreneurs from the beginning were very difficult to maintain when the business or brand is continued in the larger context, or the company is owned by a larger entity who does not share the priorities for the common good of the original entrepreneur.

One solution has been to adopt the B-Corp model, by baking the values into the DNA of the company.

My colleague and close friend Terry Mollner is an expert on such issues, and has played a meaningful role in this context for some time.

Here's a video of Terry discussing the heart of these issues, where he clarifies his vision that all companies have the opportunity to make their highest priority the COMMON GOOD, invites us to all discover the role we can play in bringing about this new way of doing business.

Tuesday, February 07, 2012

Common Market - What a Food Hub can do for the food economy!

We can create jobs, and healthier community by simply shifting the way that food is created and sold in our cities. It's that simple.

Friday, January 06, 2012

Building an economy based on reality.

It's time that we completely wake up as a civilization to reality as it is: EVERYTHING IS CONNECTED.

Carl Sagan said it decades ago, "the new consciousness is developing which sees the Earth as a single organism, and recognizes an organism at war with itself is doomed."

We must evolve from using war to get our needs met. This means every one of us. Starting with the language you use. Become aware of all of the ways that you use military and warfare lexicon in your daily life - do you really want to war if you are here to create peace?

From this recognition we must build an economy of connection, of relationships. An economy of peace, rather than one of war. Simply that.

Enjoy the video.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

"The Possibility for Profound Change in America"


We're in the driver's seat for "The Possibility for Profound Change in America" an amazing lecture which recognizes each of us are responsible for systemic change for our civilization. I met Gar a while back and he's extraordinarily thought provoking. Inspiring, and worth the investment of time. Enjoy!


Gar Alperovitz E. F. Schumacher Lecture from New Economics Institute on Vimeo.

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

Book: "Economyths Ten Ways Economics Gets It Wrong"

The challenge of our time is that our myth is that we have no myths.


Irony is, that we are still a deeply mythological culture and it is high time that our culture recognize the false premises and untenable myths that define our economic paradigm.

This is most recently highlighted by a blog from The Capital Institute which mentions a book on the myths of our economic viewpoint. Here's the blog entry:



"A Capital Institute shout out to Leland Lehrman for sharing with us David Orrell's eloquent cri du coeur found at the conclusion of Economyths, 10 Ways Economics Gets It Wrong. Leland calls the book "a brilliant reconstruction of economics that covers gender, happiness, fairness and other perspectives on economics in intellectually and mathematically rigorous ways without becoming unreadable." "


From the book:
"So, students. Decision time. You live at what many believe is a bifurcation point in human history. You've seen all the graphs with lines curving up like a ski jump. Human population. Gross domestic product. Species extinction. Carbon emissions. Inequality. Resource shortages. You know that something has to give. You've got an idea that the price isn't right. Maybe you're even suspicious that if the world economy does turn out to be a Ponzi scheme, you or your children are a little bit late to the game."
"You therefore stand at a fork in the road. You can take the orthodox route -- and risk ending up with a qualification as impressive as a degree in Marxist ideology right after the fall of the Berlin Wall. Or you can take a chance on regime shift by speaking up, questioning your teachers, being open to disruptive ideas, and generally acting as an agent of change. You can insist that the economy is a complex, dynamic, networked system -- and demand the tools to understand it. You can point out that the economy is unfair, unstable, and unsustainable -- and demand the skills to heal it. You can tell the oracles that they have failed. You can go in and break the machine. And then you can do something new."
I'm heartened by the fact that so many people have economics on the mind, and are independently coming to similar conclusions.

I trust that in coming years our economy will look much different, and work much better for the well being of humanity and all living beings on the planet. 

Sunday, November 20, 2011

We are the 100%

An important ethos expressed in this film, words of my friend Charles Eisenstein, author of the recent book "Sacred Economics"

Friday, November 18, 2011

Social Complexity Theory as a framework for new economic models


I have just learned from my brilliant friend Ron Schultz that he's the co-author of another book on complexity in the context of business. It is called "Coherence in the Midst of Complexity"
In my conversation with him, I learned that the ideas outlined in his book would most definitely apply in my field. I gathered that anyone who shares my passion for advancing the new frameworks in the fields of Sustainable and Responsible Investing would benefit from seeing the world through the lens of "coherence in the midst of complexity."
Here's an overview of Social Complexity Theory from the book's website.
"Complexity and emergence (the appearance and impact of the new) can be the bane of managers and their organizations. Both complexity and emergence threaten to upset adherence to predefined categories, which supposedly allows for efficiency. Indeed, traditional management thinking focuses on a retrospective coherence where ideas and events are assigned to categories, the categories are labeled, and outliers are treated as statistical deviants.  
"The study of how such attributed (retrospective) sense-making breaks down in and around organizations is the focus of social complexity theory. Coherence in the Midst of Complexity discusses the social complexity approach, where dialogue and stories allow for the degrees of freedom needed for the opportunities of emergence to take root. The book focuses on the experience of coherence and how such experiential lessons differ from the establishment and maintenance of categories and labels."
"Social Complexity Theory examines the role of coherence and emergence in organizations. Coherence is regarded by many psychologists as critical to day to the day productivity and effectiveness of individuals. Both scholars and managers have adapted this belief to the world of management and organizations. Coherence is regarded as a sign of a well-run organization. But, the concept of a coherent thought defined as how well an idea holds together as a single entity gradually breaks down as the scale shifts to individuals, groups, and ultimately larger organizations. 
"Adapting to and dealing with emergence is perhaps the most important task facing managers and organizations. Coherence as traditionally defined interferes with that task. By restricting the concept of coherence to measurement against definition (what we call ascribed coherence) managers and organizations implicitly are restricting their ability to deal with the unknown, the uncertain and the emergent." 
"Social Complexity Theory provides another perspective on coherence -- rooted in the felt experience of coherence and in the importance of emergence. Richard Rorty tells us: Knowledge is not a matter of getting reality right, but rather a matter of acquiring habits of action for coping with reality. In common parlance such coping mechanisms are called models. The aim of Social Complexity Theory is to teach managers and members of organizations to make use of some very different models as part of their coping mechanisms."

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Upcoming Movie - "Thrive"

Thrive, a very important upcoming film with some friends in it. Here's a link to the trailer.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Contentment.

From a Taoist Scripture - via a friend's text message:
"Don't chase after people's approval.
Don't depend on your plans.
Don't make decisions;
let decisions make themselves.
Free yourself of concepts;
don't believe what you think.
Embody the inexhaustible.
Wander beyond all paths.
Receive what you have been given
and know that it is always enough.
The Master's mind is like a mirror:
It responds but does not store, contains nothing,
excludes nothing, and reflects things exactly as they are.
Thus she has what she wants and wants only what she has."

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Economics based on Beauty and Community: Putting Aesthetics back into the Economy


Here's an article I posted on Ethical Markets Blog a while back - enjoy:

Right before I boarded a plane after a green business conference last year, I noticed a Body Shop store in the terminal next to the gate. The Body Shop was founded by the late Anita Roddick who was a very influential and inspiring thought leader who was one of the pioneering business people who incorporated social and environmental values into her operations. 

As I thumbed through my reading materials I found an article in Resurgence Magazine by Roddick entitled “The Currency of Imagination.” This eloquent article laid out some of her guiding principles and reflections on being one of the only CEOs in the crowd of human beings who raised their voices against the globalization paradigm represented by the 1999 WTO meeting in Seattle.

In the article she laid out a new vision for society, a vision which I share, where we establish community and beauty as driving values for our individual and institutional decision making. I have learned that for any successful endeavor in new economic thinking to work, it must be built on a culture of trust and collaboration amongst the participants. Such ideas have inspired me in the efforts I have made in my region. I am the co-founder of Green Business Networking in Los Angeles, a monthly networking event which brings together entrepreneurs and professionals committed to greening our economy through their businesses and the Green Economy Think Tank which convenes sustainability leaders to evolve solutions for a green economy.

Somewhere along the line we picked up a virus in our culture’s source code. This virus misguided us by placing money and power as the central measuring sticks for success, all fed by a rapacious economic operating system driven by the gospel of consumerism. The ethos of our economy has become largely devoid of beauty and community, transactions have become ”complex, opaque, [and] anonymous based on short term outcomes” according to Don Shaffer, President of RSF Social Finance. Instead, he states our transactions need to become “direct, transparent and personal, based on long term relationships.” On a similar theme, Judy Wicks, founder of the White Dog CafĂ©, who is also a co-founder of the very successful movement “Business Alliance For Local Living Economies” lives these principles. She says that her business was built on the principle of “maximizing relationships” rather than “maximizing profits.” As a result of her focus, her business thrived with the satisfaction of higher sales, and happier people.

In the wake of the recent financial crisis, and the significant ills facing our world, it has become clear to many people that the prevailing economic paradigm is no longer working to improve the wellbeing of all of humanity. With climate crisis, declining ecosystems, billions in wretched poverty, food riots, childhood diabetes, etc. individuals and institutions are experiencing the severe ramifications of an avaricious and predatory economic model. However, there is another way.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

"Money and Life - A Story about Money That Will Change Your Life"

Just befriended Katie Teague who is making this amazing film "Money and Life"  with interviews with my heroes and friends such as Orland Bishop, David Korten, Lynne Twist, Hazel Henderson, Ellen Brown, Stuart Valentine, Bernard Litaer, Charles Eisenstein who are some of the most inspiring people in this field I have met. 


The movie articulates many ideas which are unexamined issues in our global culture which has by and large placed the money at the center of the altar. 

So, since our global civilization worships the God of Money, or the accumulation of it, we are all well served to inquire into the nature of Money, and Life. And explore how we can work with money to heal, serve and increase life and well being for all residents of our world.



Lynne Twist states - "It's as if we, as a species, have realized we have a terminal disease and we need to come together in community and get ourselves through the crisis, and it will change the very fabric, the very nature, of our relationship with life itself."



Money & Life trailer from StormCloud Media on Vimeo.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

The Empathic Civilisation Emerging For The Community of Our Planet

Simply - as all disciplines of knowledge such as anthropology, biology, physics, psychology, economics, neuropsychology, etc. become more sophisticated and evolve, every discipline must also evolve in response to incorporate new world views. Further all the institutions of our culture - education, governance, religion, commerce, etc. are currently based on outdated world views.  As the world views evolve, so must the institutions.

This video is one of the most succinct articulations of a vision of an empathic civilization based on solidarity with all life on the planet.

Wednesday, June 01, 2011

Public Banking - "Banking in the Public Interest"

Excellent article was just written called "Reviving Main Street - A Call for Public Banks" highlighting the opportunity states across America have to restore a healthy economy - simply by creating a state bank.

Surprisingly, North Dakota is the only state in the union which has created its own bank.

The article highlights work of thought leader Ellen Brown , and the Public Banking Institute which educates policymakers about the opportunities from the straightforward process of forming a state owned bank.

Her site shares that:
"Public Banks are...
• Viable solutions to the present economic crises in US states.
• Potentially available to any-sized government or community able to meet the requirements for setting up a bank.
• Owned by the people of a state or community.
• Economically sustainable, because they operate transparently according to applicable banking regulations
• Able to offset pressures for tax increases with returned credit income to the community.
• Ready sources of affordable credit for local governments, eliminating the need for large “rainy day” funds. 
• Required to promote the public interest, as defined in their charters.
• Constitutional, as ruled by the U.S. Supreme Court
...and are not
• Operated by politicians; rather, they are run by professional bankers.
• Boondoggles for bank executives; rather, their employees are salaried public servants (paid by the state, with a transparent pay structure) who would likely not earn bonuses, commissions or fees for generating loans.
• Speculative ventures that maximize profits in the short term,  without regard to the long-term interests of the public."

Sunday, April 17, 2011

The Fastest Growing Socially Responsible Business Movement in the Country....

BALLE, The Business Alliance for Local Living Economies is a national effort of independent business networks in over 80 cities.

Green Business Networking, the non-profit business community I started in 2006, is the LA County BALLE network dedicated to serving LA Region's business professionals and owners building our green economy!

Here's an inspiring video about the BALLE effort, and conference - and look for my brief comment at 3:21 into the video:


Place Matters: Living Economies 2011 from BALLE on Vimeo.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Measuring our success and standard of living - it's not only about the money we make!

There was a sign in Albert Einstein's office at Princeton which said: "Not everything that counts can be counted, and not everything that can be counted counts."

With our singular focus on money in our global culture, many carry the belief that simply "more money" equals "more happy".  At a very basic level of subsistence more material goods and services in our lives are necessary for a degree of happiness, but beyond the fundamental level, there are diminishing happiness returns on every extra dollar of income or accumulation.  All of us know in our heart of hearts that at for anyone who has their basic needs met, the "more money equals more happy" is not really true.

Then, how do we measure the standard of living or true well being happiness in a community or a region?  Challenge is that our much of lives and well being do not all fall into the category of "economic activity."  Yet the issue remains -- how do you MEASURE the level of progress and standard of living in all of the non-financial dimensions?

"There is an interesting overlap between components of prosperity and the factors that are known to influence subjective well being or 'happiness'. Indeed to the extent that we are happy when things go well, and unhappy when they don't, there is an obvious connection between prosperity and happiness. This doesn't necessarily meant that prosperity is the same thing as happiness. But the connection between the two provides a useful link into recent policy debates about happiness and subjective well being."
Some of the components of "quality of life" - real wealth - are loving relationships, supportive and vibrant community, good health, cultural and creative stimulation, healthy and vibrant natural environment, contributing to society in a meaningful way and spiritual fulfillment. 

Yet, ironically, one of the key methods that most countries define standard of living is the measure of "Gross National Product" or GDP, which is simply a financial measure of economic activity.  But to meet the Earth’s challenges, these outmoded ways of measuring the “product” of our economy have to be reexamined. They are out of touch with our finite supply of natural resources (or natural capital) upon which our economic growth depends and they are similarly out of touch with the non-financial dimensions of the well being of participants in a society.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Article - "What’s blocking sustainability? Human nature, cognition, and denial"

We are in the midst of a paradigm shift from the old ways of understanding reality to a more sustainable civilization. William Rees wrote an article that articulates key concepts.

In summary he writes: 
"In 1992, 1,700 of the world’s top scientists issued a public statement titled The World Scientists’ Warning to Humanity. They reported that “a great change in our stewardship of the Earth and the life on it is required if vast human misery is to be avoided and our global home on this planet is not to be irretrievably mutilated.” More than a decade later, the authors of the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment were moved to echo the scientists’ warning asserting that “[h]uman activity is putting such a strain on the natural functions of the Earth that the ability of the planet’s ecosystems to sustain future generations can no longer be taken for granted.” Ours is allegedly a science-based culture. For decades, our best science has suggested that staying on our present growth-based path to global development implies catastrophe for billions of people and undermines the possibility of maintaining a complex global civilization. Yet there is scant evidence that national governments, the United Nations, or other official international organizations have begun seriously to contemplate the implications for humanity of the scientists’ warnings, let alone articulate the kind of policy responses the science evokes. The modern world remains mired in a swamp of cognitive dissonance and collective denial seemingly dedicated to maintaining the status quo. We appear, in philosopher Martin Heidegger’s words, to be “in flight from thinking.” Just what is going on here? I attempt to answer this question by exploring the distal, biosocial causes of human economic behavior. My working hypothesis is that modern H. sapiens is unsustainable by nature—unsustainability is an inevitable emergent property of the systemic interaction between contemporary technoindustrial society and the ecosphere. I trace this conundrum to humanity’s once-adaptive, subconscious, genetic predisposition to expand (shared with all other species), a tendency reinforced by the socially constructed economic narrative of continuous material growth. Unfortunately, these qualities have become maladaptive. The current coevolutionary pathway of the human enterprise and the ecosphere therefore puts civilization at risk—both defective genes and malicious “memes” can be “selected out” by a changing physical environment. To achieve sustainability, the world community must write a new cultural narrative that is explicitly designed for living on a finite planet, a narrative that overrides humanity’s outdated innate expansionist tendencies. "

Friday, January 28, 2011

Institute for New Economic Thinking - Rethinking Economics

"Overview
Founded in October 2009 with a $50 million pledge byGeorge Soros, the New York City-based Institute for New Economic Thinking is a nonprofit organization providing fresh insight and thinking to promote changes in economic theory and practice through conferences, grants and education initiatives.
The Institute recognizes problems and inadequacies within our current economic system and the modes of thought used to comprehend recent and past catastrophic developments in the world economy. The Institute embraces the professional responsibility to think beyond these inadequate methods and models and will support the emergence of new paradigms in the understanding of economic processes.
The Institute firmly believes in empowering the next generation, providing the proper guidance as we challenge outdated approaches with innovative and ethical economic strategy.
The Institute’s objective is to expand the conversation to create an open discussion for a wider range of people. Some would say that present day dialogue is closed and polarizing. We recognize the need for an environment that is nourished and supported by discourse, a discussion that spans a much wider spectrum of thinking and incorporates the insights of other intellectual disciplines in both the natural and social sciences.
The Institute was conceived during the first half of 2009 through a series of discussions that culminated at a summit in July of 2009 in Bedford, NY."

The co-founder of the institute  Research in Motion’s CEO Jim Balsillie gave a particularly good talk as his participation in the panel at the World Economic Forum on the subject of "redefining economics," and rethinking the entire paradigm of the situation.



Monday, January 17, 2011

"Property is intended to serve life" - notes on the fact that corporations are not people.

"Property is intended to serve life, and no matter how much we surround it with rights and respect, it has no personal being. It is part of the earth man walks on. It is not man." 
Martin Luther King, Jr. 

As a financial advisor, I advise people on their property - and much of that property exists in shares of corporations.



What is a corporation, more than simple property that are collectively owned and operated by human beings?

Oddly enough, however, somewhere in our legal code over the last 150 years such property was given the same rights and voice in our democracy as human beings. Most recently the supreme court has granted business interests unlimited spending in campaigns - thus granting corporations the rights of human beings in the democratic process of governing our society. There is an excellent article on the entire issue called "Wal-Mart is Not a Person" which gives a comprehensive overview of the topic, which excerpts Justice John Stevens of the supreme court:

"It might be added that corporations have no consciences, no beliefs, no feelings, no thoughts, no desires. Corporations help structure and facilitate the activities of human beings, to be sure, and their “personhood” often serves as a useful legal fiction. But they are not themselves members of “We the People” by whom and for  whom our Constitution was established."
And most interestingly - if we really look at the point of view that holds that corporations are actually persons - then the question which human beings are actually represented by such corporations?

Stevens addresses this here:



"It is an interesting question “who” is even speaking when  a business corporation places an advertisement that endorses or attacks a particular candidate. Presumably it is not the customers or employees, who typically have no say in such matters. It cannot realistically be said to be the shareholders, who tend to be far removed from the day-to-day decisions of the firm and whose political preferences may be opaque to management. Perhaps the officers or directors of the corporation have the best claim to be the ones speaking, except their fiduciary duties generally prohibit them from using corporate funds for personal ends. Some individuals associated with the corporation must make the decision to place the ad, but the idea that these individuals are thereby fostering their self-expression or cultivating their critical faculties is fanciful."


Not all businesses are corrupt, yet when it comes to the simple process of human beings coming together to design ways to serve life, the people that founded this country intended that actual people engaged in democracy. Thus it is imperative that we only grant constitutional rights to actual human beings, not property.


There are a number of movements afoot to amend the constitution, among them is http://movetoamend.org/ which states:
"We, the People of the United States of America, reject the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling in Citizens United, and move to amend our Constitution to:
* Firmly establish that money is not speech, and that human beings, not corporations, are persons entitled to constitutional rights.
* Guarantee the right to vote and to participate, and to have our vote and participation count.
* Protect local communities, their economies, and democracies against illegitimate "preemption" actions by global, national, and state governments.
The Supreme Court is misguided in principle, and wrong on the law. In a democracy, the people rule."
The simple thought here to take away is that as citizens in this world to we must continuously refine our discernment of the true motive, and the consequences, of decisions, laws, candidates, proposals, and political movements. And to discern whether such laws actually serve the quality of life of human beings.
 

Friday, January 14, 2011

Article I wrote "Social Capital Markets Conference 2010: The Evolution of Money and Meaning" for Green Money Journal

I thoroughly enjoyed this year's Social Capital Markets Conference. I wrote an article about it for Green Money Journal below.


"Social Capital Markets Conference 2010: The Evolution of Money and Meaning"


The very existence of the Social Capital Markets conference, known as SOCAP, says it all - over 1,300 vibrant, excited, inspired, brilliant leaders - philanthropists, social entrepreneurs, venture capitalists, micro-finance entrepreneurs, advisors, and consultants who joined together at San Francisco's Fort Mason in early October. They're all working with investing as a means to create better lives for the world's poor, restore and grow healthy ecosystems, foster social entrepreneurs, local food systems, local businesses, and more. All this was just a glimmer in the eye of SRI investors decades ago. Now, it is a reality.


It began this year for me the moment I took a photo of one of the receptions with my phone and posted it with this caption: "Tune in - turn on! Can you feel the Evolution happening? Social Capital Thought Leaders Meta Networking for the Common Good! It's REALLY happening all around the world and a thriving vortex in San Francisco! http://www.socialcapitalmarkets.net "


Estimates are that upwards of $120 billion of investment capital is now available for investments which have meaningful returns, while at the same time address environmental and social woes.