Monday, September 25, 2006
I'll let you read all about it by simply "googling" news on "google.org" and also go to www.google.org
While the idea that making money while doing good is not novel, the idea of creating a charity designed to engage in business ventures to achieve a non-monetary end is novel.
This is not in conflict with the model of business, but it is a very new approach toward actually engaging in game where everyone else is playing to MAKE MONEY, and google.org is playing to DO GOOD.
This points toward the underlying issue, yet again, their message appears to be "IT'S NOT ABOUT THE MONEY PEOPLE!"
I would tend to agree, more money or profits doesn't necessarily end up with more wealth (true wealth) and quality of life for the participants in the business game.
Kudos to Google for breaking new ground.
Mr Formenski has some interesting points in discussing the google model as a "not for loss" moniker model as opposed to "for profit" vs "non-profit" (he also discusses one of my favorite business models in mentioning Grameen bank)
For more on Mission Driven Business:
I recommend Mal Warwick's and Ben Cohen's book "Values Driven Business"
and Jeff Hollander's "What Matter's Most"
Saturday, September 16, 2006
The Buddhist government of Bhutan has been set on pursuing the goal of "gross national happiness" instead of pure GNP (gross national product). This goal was announced by the king of Bhutan when he took the throne in 1972, and in the last 20 years the government has been incorporating the philosophy in development and economic policy.
Naturally, I think they are right on track and completely in line with the Calvert-Henderson Quality of Life Indicators which I wrote about in an earlier post
"The Calvert-Henderson Quality of Life Indicators are a contribution to the worldwide effort to develop comprehensive statistics of national well-being that go beyond traditional macroeconomic indicators. A systems approach is used to illustrate the dynamic state of our social, economic and environmental quality of life. The dimensions of life examined include: education, employment, energy, environment, health, human rights, income, infrastructure, national security, public safety, re-creation and shelter."
The term Gross National Happiness was first expressed by the King of Bhutan His Majesty Jigme Singye Wangchuck.
Now, one can argue this is not a case of separation of "church and state" since Bhutan is a Buddhist monarch- but if you think about the Founding Father's vision of "pursuit of happiness" as a cornerstone of our society, the Bhutanese view is not far off, and we can gain from it.
This all underscores how much our modern economic system of measures and definition of "progress" has taken a big detour from the basic well being of individual citizens in our country.
Since we base the measure of quality of life based on what material goods we produce and consume, the oversights and ills of this country are a natural result, you get what you focus on...
I suggest further reading on any of these sites:
Gross International Happiness - a website of an organization wanting to take this philosophy global: http://www.grossinternationalhappiness.org/gnh.html
Tuesday, September 12, 2006
I want to focus on the upshot of what he's writing - that we have a grand opportunity to re-orient our economic and capital thinking to create new businesses, new industries by first recognizing the problems that we face. Once we embrace the reality of the current situtation, despair or denial are not necessary, but inspired engagement in new ways of operating our businesses and our lives.
"The key to building a global economy that can sustain economic progress is the creation of an honest market, one that tells the ecological truth. The market is an incredible institution, allocating resources with an efficiency that no central planning body can match. It easily balances supply and demand, and it sets prices that readily reflect both scarcity and abundance."
"Accounting systems that do not tell the truth can be costly. Faulty corporate accounting systems that leave costs off the books have driven some of the world’s largest corporations into bankruptcy. Unfortunately, our faulty global economic accounting system has potentially far more serious consequences. Our modern economic prosperity is achieved in part by running up ecological deficits, costs that do not show up on the books but that someone will eventually pay."
"Once we calculate the indirect costs of a product or service, we can incorporate them into market prices in the form of a tax, offsetting them with income tax reductions. If we can get the market to tell the truth, then we can avoid being blindsided by faulty accounting systems that lead to bankruptcy."
"As Øystein Dahle, former vice president of Exxon for
'Socialism collapsed because it did not allow the market to tell the economic truth. Capitalism may collapse because it does not allow the market to tell the ecological truth.' "
"We are entering a new world. Of that there can be little doubt. What we do not know is whether it will be a world of decline and collapse or a world of environmental restoration and economic progress. Can the world mobilize quickly enough? Where will the wake-up calls come from? What form will they take? Will we hear them?"
"Participating in the construction of this enduring new economy is exhilarating. So is the quality of life it promises. We will be able to breathe clean air. Our cities will be less congested, less noisy, and less polluted. The prospect of living in a world where population has stabilized, forests are expanding, and carbon emissions are falling is an exciting one. It should inspire us to make the difficult but necessary decisions ahead."
Dive in and read the entire article here: http://www.energybulletin.net/17779.html
Wednesday, September 06, 2006
( http://www.soulofmoney.org/ BTW - I recommend this book all the time to friends and clients - I'll revisit other material in this book in future comments.)
The workshop is an outgrowth of the work that of a group that Lynne created called The Pachamama Alliance. The Pachamama Alliance has a twofold mission :
"To preserve the tropical rainforests by empowering the indigenous people who are its natural custodians.
To contribute to the creation of a new global vision of equity and sustainability for all."
The experience of the day was transforming for many of the participants and I recommend it VERY HIGHLY to anyone reading this column. You can learn more at http://www.pachamama.org/atd/
The workshop is based on many generations of indigenous wisdom, born out of deep relationship with the earth. The material in the workshop is a clarion-call from the ancestral wisdom to our modern civilization to restore our balance with the planet we live on.
What does the workshop and the rainforest have to do with sustainable wealth?
I found a part of the answer when I "randomly" cracked open Lynne's book today, seeking the answer
Here's what I found - it speaks for itself!
Chapter 4 "Sufficiency"
She writes - "When you let go of trying to get more of what you don't really need, it frees up oceans of energy to make a difference with what you have. When you make a difference with what you have, it expands."
In the chapter Lynne speaks of her encounter with the Achuar people in the Ecuadorian rainforest in the early nineties. She refers to them as "naturally prosperous" since they hadn't "won some economic game to be prosperous"
She continues by saying
"With no money, no accumulation of goods, and none of the conveniences of our Western lifestyle, still there was no suggestion of scarcity; no lack and no fear that there wouldn't be enough of what they needed. There was no chase for more, no resignation or belief that they were living lives of less-than."
"They lived (and still do) in the experience and expression of enough, or what I call sufficiency. Instead of seeking more, they treasure and steward thoughtfully what is already there."
"for the Achuar, wealth means being present to the fullness and richness of the moment and sharing that with one another."
Naturally, we don't have to live in a rainforest to experience the same state of being.
These ideas point me to an innate fullness of being that is right here and always available to us.
They are a reminder that we don't need to live in the rainforest in order to return to the natural state of abundance-consciousness which we can share with eachother so fully.
Obviously, we can embrace the state of sufficiency and express throughout our relationships no matter where we live - to me this is true wealth and the hallmark of well being.
Friday, September 01, 2006
Since it was just a year ago this week that we saw the destruction of New Orleans, I thought I'd report on the topic of how the application of ecological economics could have benefited the home of Dixieland Jazz and Creole Cooking. (incidentally, New Orleans is the birthplace of my paternal Grandparents - my Grandpa was born in the French Quarter in the famous building with rod iron balconies...)
Case in point is the management (or lack thereof) of the vast watershed and wetland system in the Mississippi delta. Had it been managed better, the enormous costs of building levees, etc. would have been reduced and also the damage to the city could have been reduced dramatically. This is real money we're talking about (of course if FEMA would actually spend it, but that is another matter!)
Here's what they Earth Economics wrote on their website about the matter and the work that they are doing in New Orleans:
"In the wake of Hurricane Katrina, it is clear that flooding, storm damage and loss of life in Mississippi and Louisiana could have been less severe. Decades of damage to wetlands in the region had damaged the natural storm buffering capacity of barrier islands and local ecosystems.
Earth Economics is working with a team of scientists from Louisiana and around the nation to research Hurricane Katrina using tools from ecological economics.
- New Orleans and the Gulf Coast will be more vulnerable to hurricanes with warmer Gulf of Mexico waters, sea level rise and subsidence. This threatens the ecosystems, communities, economy and lives of people in coastal Louisiana.
- If the fresh water and sediment of the Mississippi River were diverted back into the wetlands they would clearly expand and provide storm buffering.
- Earth Economics is examining the dollar value of storm protection, carbon sequestration and other ecosystem services provided by the wetlands of the Mississippi Delta.
- Protection and restoration of wetlands with smaller levees is more economically efficient in providing hurricane protection than levee construction alone."
In the New Orleans theme, I'll also report on the work that they are doing to analyze and maintain what will hopefully become one of the first fully sustainable shrimp fisheries.
Shrimp harvesting is considered to be more environmentally detrimental....and important part of creole... keeping with the theme:
Here's what they're doing in the area of shrimp
"Our current efforts focus on the spot prawn fishery. Shrimp, harvested in the wild or produced via aquaculture, are one of the most unsustainable seafoods, involving vast amounts of bycatch, habitat destruction, mangrove deforestation, and dislocation of coastal communities.
Earth Economics has brought together a coalition of spot prawn fishers, NGOs, and government agencies from California to Alaska in creating and implementing a strategy for sustainable spot prawn production. This coalition aims to certify the spot prawn as the first sustainably-harvested shrimp fishery in the world."Earth Economics is doing other work in the areas of forestry, toxics, reforming finance and trade, and education of business, government and policymakers.
Their website also has a great list of "key concepts" which are very much worth a read, if you're interested.
From time to time, I'll elaborate on some of these ideas.