I’m not going to lie, the recent report that climate change is moving far faster than scientists had expected hit me in the gut. It breaks my heart to think of our world without coral reefs, polar bears and so many of the amazing creatures who share the world with us now. It sickens me to know that lives and lands are going to be savaged by bigger, more frequent storms. And my heart bleeds for those, mostly in poor parts of the world, who are going to get hit the hardest.
So yes, it hurts. And it makes me furious. It just flat out pisses me off that the pure greed, ego and boneheadedness at the helm of the U.S. is putting us on a course to accelerate climate change even faster.
I know I’m not alone. Heartbreak and anger are part and parcel of caring deeply about this planet and what we’re leaving behind for our kids and grandkids. I have such deep respect for our environmental and climate action movements. We have the courage not to just pretend the problem isn’t there and the toughness to keep working for solutions despite the pain and frustration. To put it bluntly environmentalists are Bad Asses! And we’ve never been more important. No matter the pain we have to stay in the fight.
So here are a few tips and tools to help build our Resiliency Muscles and make our efforts even more effective:
Never waste a good crisis. The IPCC report is a crisis moment. There has never been such a dire statement supported by the world’s leading scientists that we need to act NOW. The good news is news is paying attention to it. I was pleasantly amazed at how much media coverage the report has been receiving. Climate action groups and grass roots activists all over the world are taking their voices and actions to new levels. Let’s all use our voices, communications platforms and direct actions to keep accelerating this momentum.
Get on a balanced news diet. As advocates we like to stay informed. Many of us are news junkies. I confess I fall into that category. But I’ve learned to be selective in which sources I plug into. I watch plenty of CNN, MSNBC and even FOX to see what’s being put forward there. However, I turn off the shows that have several talking heads talking over one another, hyper-sensationalizing everything. That does not help the issue or our own wellbeing. I also plug into certain positive news outlets and solutions journalism outlets like NationSwell, Media Matters, Positive News, Yes Magazine.
Take care of your inner environment. I learned the hard way that despite our best intentions we activists are often at the same level of consciousness that created the problems in the first place. We are often stressed out, burned out, more focused on blaming the bad guys than loving what we’re trying to save. Sometimes being stressed out and exhausted is even worn as a badge of honor in advocacy causes. But I assure you, you are not your most effective if this is your state of being. Learning how to step out of stress and fear and hate, becoming a more peaceful centered warrior is a profound act of power. Developing a presencing and mindfulness practice, simple regular meditation, unplugged time in Nature should be top priorities on every social changemakers’ Do List. Cleaning up our inner environment is critical to doing our best work for our planet’s environment. Here’s a recent post with some tips for how to go about it.
Shifting the consciousness we bring to our work can be like adding a turbo boost both to our productivity and our peace of mind. And we need to hit turbo. Our political leaders are not going to fix this for us – the systems they operate in and sometimes their own moral codes are just too broken. We activists, advocates and Bad Ass Environmentalists are the solution we’ve been waiting for. This amazing planet deserves our very best. And we deserve a little more peace and empowerment doing our sacred work.
Here’s are some encouraging words from author and rebel, Howard Zinn:
Revolutionary change does not come as one cataclysmic moment (beware of such moments!) but as an endless succession of surprises, moving zigzag toward a more decent society. We don’t have to engage in grand, heroic actions to participate in the process of change. Small acts, when multiplied by millions of people, can transform the world. Even when we don’t ‘win,’ there is fun and fulfillment in the fact that we have been involved, with other good people, in something worthwhile.
As someone who has been in the New Economy arena for many, many years I can’t believe I hadn’t read this book yet. What I love most about it is that it lays out practical policy change options AND the much more causal cultural and even spiritual aspects of THE MESS we are now dealing with.
It offers some beautiful insights into the spiritual aspect of activism.
“We try not to act from anger or fear. We act because, in this life we have been given, we believe we can help make things better. … Acting out of our compassion to lessen suffering and improve the lives of others is he way we celebrate the spirit. Knowing that each of our acts, however small, builds the vitality of the Web of life, brings us joy, satisfaction, and power.
In the Spirit-driven model, it doesn’t matter whether a person is ‘successful’ in changing the condition. While practical goals are important, the spiritual goal is to awaken the compassion that lies at the root of all change. ‘Success’ doesn’t mean I’ve saved an endangered species or cleaned up a toxic waste dump or fed hungry children. Success means awakening in myself a Spirit that can help make better life for others. Success means I have acted in the world as though I were a part of it, not apart from it. Success means becoming conscious of and faithful to my values and to my soul.”
I LOVE this! This is exactly what I bring in the Resiliency and Empowerment trainings that 3EStrategies offers to activists and change-makers. We do our best work when we are focused on what we’re for and truly about rather than what we oppose and resist.
I would love to hear from those of you who have read or do read this book.
Stressed? Worried? Tired? Having a hard time feeling optimistic given the barrage of bad news on “the news”? Well, you’re not alone. Research shows that 83 percent of American employees are stressed out about their jobs. A majority of self-employed social entrepreneurs report being overwhelmed and overworked. And mountains of evidence show that consuming breaking news, cable news and our own news feeds on social media has negative impacts on our moods, stress levels and overall wellbeing.
And yet, for those of us who are trying to do our part to make the world a better place staying active and informed is important. So how do we find a balance? How do we stay informed without stressing out and stay engaged in a hopeful, empowered way?
As someone who has been an activist, social entrepreneur and political figure and who has been through some rough, rough stuff as a result I’ve put a lot of personal and professional effort into developing resiliency and empowerment strategies.
One of my very favorite things these days is working with fellow social entrepreneurs, activists and leaders to become more resilient and empowered. 3EStrategies offers workshops, webinars, materials and individual/ organizational coaching to help change-makers become healthier, happier and more effective in our important work. We are getting phenomenal response to these services. Here are what a few clients had to say:
“I was feeling so overwhelmed by all that is happening in our country and our world that I’d become sort of paralyzed. After the 3E resiliency training I am so much more balanced. You helped me start seeing hope and new opportunity.”
“I had no idea that adding short times for mindfulness and reflection could make our team so much more effective and motivated. Thank you for that.”
“Our whole office feels lighter and more optimistic.”
“I was having a terrible time dealing with the loss of a position I had put my heart and soul into. Working with you really helped me see that I still have much to offer.”
If you or your organization are interested in learning more about our Empowerment and Resiliency training just drop a note to email@example.com.
In the meantime here are a few key strategies for shifting from stressed out to empowered.
Breathe deeply. Usually the more stressed we are the shallower we breathe. Just the act of taking deeper, fuller breaths will begin a relaxation response.
Develop a meditation/mindfulness practice. This is easier than it sounds and doesn’t require hours of sitting still or visiting monasteries in the Himalayas (though the latter is pretty cool). This really begins with just practicing becoming fully present and aware of your thoughts. I know for sure this practice will change your life. There is no question that my long-term meditation practice is one of the main reasons I’ve been able to survive and thrive through really difficult challenges.
Get out into Nature. Stopping to smell the flowers really does reduce stress and increase optimism. This is especially true for all you hard-working environmentalists who often are so busy saving the planet you fail to enjoy it! Be sure to leave the devices turned off!
Bring Nature to you. Lots of research shows that having living plants and even cut flowers nearby reduce stress and elevate mood.
Turn off social media notifications. Unplug once in a while! Period.
Be media savvy. Remember in our uber-competitive, clickbait-driven media culture sensationalism is all the rage. Breaking news is scientifically designed to trigger us emotionally. Balance it out with healthy doses of positive news. This 3E blog post shares more tips for healthy media management including good sources of positive news. (In fact, our Change Maker Times newsletter focuses on positive developments in the movement toward a healthier economy. There are more than enough sources of doom and gloom what’s not working – we help spread the word about the under-covered good stuff that’s also taking place.)
These are a few empowerment basics. If you’d like to learn more about developing empowerment and resiliency strategies for yourself or your team just drop a note to firstname.lastname@example.org or call us at (541) 617-9013.
Those of you who have been clients and colleagues of 3EStrategies for a while know that we bring a deeper more philosophical, even spiritual perspective to our consulting work. That’s part of our company’s culture and DNA.
Those who follow us more closely might also know that I personally have been through a pretty tough politically motivated media onslaught the last couple years. It’s been one heck of difficult challenge and I’m grateful, though not surprised, that the false allegations have been revealed to be just that and are finally laid to rest.
However, one of the two media outlets responsible for most of the false reporting continued to try to discredit me when 3EStrategies published our first Sustainable Cannabis Tips and Tools newsletter. On what must have been a really slow news day the Oregonian actually featured this as the front-page article in a way that was clearly a smear attempt, trying to make me look bad because I am offering social enterprise and sustainability services to the cannabis industry. As thick as my skin has become it still rankled a little. I mean really what does it take to shake these particular fleas?!
But then I drew upon all the growth and resiliency muscles I’ve developed these past few years. I have worked a lot with a Course in Miracles and remembered the teaching that advises to consider that maybe the situation before us isn’t what it looks like. Maybe it’s not happening to us but happening for us? And, what’s the risk in considering that possibility?
Well, as it turns out, the smear piece got noticed by some others. Culture magazine ran a positive article countering the Oregonian’s false narrative and we’ve had a flood of business inquiries and our largest canna-client to date!
There is massive, massive power in learning to monitor our thoughts, drop initial judgments about every situation and just consider that, despite appearances, the uncomfortable thing happening might be happening FOR us.
So, take heart all of you pioneering social entrepreneurs and activists. Though the old status quo institutions and systems may resist your positive intentions and directions you have more power and support than you know.
Pulling out of the Paris Climate Agreement is a beautiful example of American exceptionalism. Exceptionally stupid. Exceptionally arrogant. Exceptionally selfish. Exceptionally short-sighted. We now join the exceptional nations of Syria and Nicaragua in opting out.
This is such a pathetic example of belligerence and ignorance trumping leadership and sanity. Any system that allows such a reckless vocal minority to rise to power is not a shining beacon — it’s cancer.
Trump has said there is no global community, only nations competing with one another. Competition or not we are a community. Thank god some of the actual leaders in the world are stepping up and they will continue to move to address the most serious threat of climate change.
It’s a sad and frustrating day, but don’t lose hope or resolve. There has never been a more important time for activists and socially responsible business leaders to keep up the good fight.
On this Earth Day 2017 I hope all of you take some time today to get outside and enjoy and appreciate our beautiful planet.
I’ll be celebrating here at the New Economy & Social Innovation Forum in Malaga Spain. We’ve had an incredible event so far and I am truly inspired by all the positive developments, energy and deep commitments to really positive change. Here is a recent article about why I think the event is so important just now in these challenging political times.
And in honor of Earth Day here are a few pieces of good news (that you rarely hear about in the news) about what’s happening on our lovely blue planet.
Vegetation cover globally has actually increased since 2003 due to the natural regrowth of savannahs in Australia and Africa and forests in Russia, and also large-scale reforestation programs in China.
Clean energy is growing at a record pace. Last year the U.S. added 11 Hoover Dams worth of renewable energy and the world broke records for solar and wind installations.
Electric vehicles soared past 1 million in 2015 and are on-pace to reach 20 million by 2020.
As you read this a Conservation Optimism summit is taking place in London where environmentalists and wildlife biologists are sharing the many conservation, restoration and species recovery successes going on right now on the planet
Today I celebrate this gorgeous blue planet and the incredible diversity of life she supports. I also celebrate the successes we environmentalists, eco-entrepreneurs, scientists and advocates are having in protecting her.
Our belief systems are one of the most powerful forces in existence. As history has shown this is true whether or not those beliefs are accurate. Inaccurate but firmly held beliefs fuel racism, sexism, Nazism and genocide.
One of the most dangerous, self-destructive beliefs alive and well in America and beyond is that protecting the environment damages the economy. Environmental regulations are said to cost too much, slow economic growth, hurt businesses, cost jobs and give other less-environmentally sound countries a competitive advantage.
The belief that environmental protections harm our economy is at the heart of the Trump Administration’s economic growth approach. Trump’s team is rolling back environmental protections from slashing clean air and water programs to allowing dumping of coal mining waste into rivers to loosening the environmental and human health regulations related to fracking. Their reasoning is that these types of environmental protections are harming the U.S. economy.
That reasoning is not supported by factual evidence. First, the costs of environmental regulations are not as high as right-wing pundits claim. Second the costs of lack of regulation aren’t factored into the total costs equation. Third, environmental programs and clean economy sectors produce jobs and economic activity in and of themselves.
So what do environmental protection and regulation programs actually cost? A common drumbeat in the political discourse is the need to shrink the size and cost of government. If that is the goal, dismantling or slashing the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), which is the current strategy of the Trump administration, isn’t going to work.
Here’s why. According to the U.S. Office of Management and Budget (OMB), the total U.S. federal budget for 2015 was approximately $3.8 trillion. $2.45 trillion of that was in the category known as mandatory spending which is comprised primarily of entitlement programs including Medicare, Social Security and veterans’ benefits. $1.11 trillion of the total budget was allotted to discretionary spending which includes the military, food and agriculture, another chunk of veterans’ benefits programs, another chunk of Medicare, all general government administration costs and the energy and environmental regulation programs.
In sum, Social Security, Medicare, military expenditures and veterans’ benefits account for three quarters of the total federal budget. Payment on national debt is another 10%. That means everything else – education, transportation, science and space, housing, energy and environmental programs make up about 20% of the total budget. Energy and environmental protection programs account for less than 5% of total governmental costs. To make a direct comparison, the total annual EPA budget is approximately $8 billion. The budget for military and veterans’ benefits is approximately $758 billion. In fact, the EPA accounts for less than 1% of total federal spending. And yet, the Trump administration is planning to add approximately $50 billion to military by slashing the EPA. That math doesn’t work.
The other piece of the argument that environmental protections harm the economy is the belief that such regulations are so burdensome they drive businesses to failure. There isn’t a lot of research on the economic impacts (bad or good) of environmental regulation. The research that does exist doesn’t support the argument that regulations are a significant cause of industry failure.
Consider the coal industry. Anti-regulation proponents wail that clean air and water protections are to blame for the huge downturn in the coal industry. That’s just not true. The coal industry is falling victim to market forces including the unexpected influx of cheap natural gas from fracking and the rapidly dropping costs of renewable energy options. Sources including the New York Times, Time, and Reutersall document the market conditions that are the real culprits in coal’s demise. Recently, at a rally in coal country Trump promised to, “turn the EPA from a job killer into a job creator.” That same day Dayton Power & Light announced plans to close two of its coal-fired plants by next June, stating that “without significant changes in market conditions,” the plants would not be economically viable beyond 2018.
Consider also the automobile industry. General Motors didn’t tank because of regulation. It tanked in large part because Japanese automakers perfected smaller, more highly fuel-efficient cars to meet customer demand and GM failed to follow suit. This was coupled with the crippling costs of the ridiculously expensive U.S. health care system and GM’s contractual agreements to provide health care to employees. Foreign automakers do not deal with the burden of such expensive private health care costs. Whether or not you agree with the Obama Administration’s bail out of GM (and Chrysler) it worked and the companies are now going strong. It’s rarely pointed out that right in the midst of the bail out the government mandated significant increases in vehicle fuel-efficiency standards. Obviously those regulations weren’t too burdensome. Possibly, they contributed to the kind of innovation necessary for GM to redesign itself.
Now, Trump’s team has rolled back the most recent required increases in fuel-efficiency standards. This will add more profits to Big Oil but it likely won’t strengthen the U.S. automobile industry. The rest of the world is moving ahead with increasing efficiency and a burgeoning electric vehicle market. Failing to match these innovations will just make U.S. auto companies stagnant again.
So, there’s little evidence to suggest environmental regulations hammer the economy. Meanwhile there is strong evidence showing lack of regulation can be extremely costly, right now in the near-term. According to EarthJustice, despite significant progress in addressing the air and water pollution issues, air pollution still kills 1 in 20 Americans and more than 4 million women of childbearing age are exposed to levels of mercury that can harm fetal brain development. There is substantial evidence that growing asthma numbers, especially in children, are linked to toxins and particulate emissions from coal-burning power plants.
The health and human suffering concerns are clear but the direct economic costs have been less so. However, the Washington Post recently reported several new studies assessing the direct economic costs of pollution caused by energy production in the United States. In the year 2011 alone, those costs amounted to a staggering $131 billion. That’s a big number but it’s also a sign of progress because in 2002 those costs were even higher at $175 billion. During that decade the U.S. certainly didn’t consume or produce less energy, but there was a decrease in the amount of pollution associated with energy production. Regulations and pollution abatement technologies have been working.
EarthJustice notes that, according to the OMB, the benefits of all major environmental rules over the past 10 years have outweighed the costs by at least 2 to 1 and in some cases as high as 14 to 1. As high as these returns on investment are they cover only health care savings. If costs of environmental clean up efforts were factored in the benefit to cost ration would be even higher.
The third piece of the regulatory cost-benefit equation typically overlooked by anti-regulation proponents is that environmental protection and regulation programs are jobs generators in and of themselves.
A recent study by the OMB estimated that an EPA-mandated clean up of the Chesapeake Bay, which is on the chopping block under the proposed Trump budget, is “anticipated to create 35 times as many jobs as the proposed construction of the Keystone XL pipeline”, and “jobs in the coal industry actually increased by 10 percent after the EPA cracked down on mountaintop-removal mining in 2009” since more workers were required to do the extraction. Pollution abatement and control products and construction and environmental restoration projects create jobs.
In Gravity’s Rainbow, Thomas Pinchon noted, “If they can get you asking the wrong questions, they don’t have to worry about answers.” The question is not whether we should and can grow jobs – the question is what kind of jobs do we want to grow? And perhaps the most important question of all is, do we really believe we can have a thriving economy on a decimated, depleted planet? At the end of the day the economy is a wholly owned subsidiary of the environment that sustains us. To believe and act differently is not rational, but ideological.
There is no question we are living in turbulent times. From Brexit to the election of Donald Trump change is afoot and a whole lot of it is unsettling. Although this brings additional uncertainty for socially conscious entrepreneurs it also provides new opportunities to exercise important leadership.
As old systems rumble and shift, there will be increased opportunities for innovation and new life to push up through the cracks. Identifying and developing those opportunities is the purpose of the New Economy for Social Innovation (NESI) Forum taking place in late April in Spain.
NESI is bringing together nearly a thousand business, government and thought leaders from all over the world to think through and work to lay the foundations of a new economy, one specifically designed to serve the common good.
Such an economy would be in stark contrast to our current situation. Katherine Trebeck, who will be a speaker at the NESI conference, outlines the flaws in the current model in a recent article. She notes:
Eight men control as much wealth as the poorest half of the world’s population, while 1 in 9 people go to bed hungry and others see their living standards stagnate. As the richest 10 percent of people create almost 50 percent of the world’s carbon emissions, we are facing the sixth mass extinction and dangerous climate change.These statistics illustrate the profound unfairness generated by economic systems geared up to increase GDP and by those businesses that are geared up to maximize short-term returns to shareholders.
Also called “the Davos of the new economy”, the NESI Forum will focus on key topics such as moving beyond a limitless growth economy, reshaping banking and finance, conscious consumption, philanthropy in the new economy, democratizing energy and the role of media and social media in the new economy.
With many major governmental institutions and policies in serious flux there has never been a better time for social and eco-entrepreneurs to step out of their everyday work routines and into serious leadership. Besides, given the current political climate couldn’t you use a few days spent with totally positive, forward-looking entrepreneurs and new economy advocates who are stepping outside of fear and status quo and getting real about designing the future?
Consider the current instability from the perspective of a caterpillar. During its incredible transformation and evolution, while in the cocoon, as the caterpillar’s body begins to break down it starts to produce what are called “imaginal cells”. These cells are so foreign the worm’s immune system attacks them. That kills some of the imaginal cells but it also increases the overall disintegration of the status quo caterpillar body. Despite the resistance the imaginal cells keep coming and at the point of maximum disintegration and upheaval of the caterpillar body the new cells begin clumping together and eventually realize they’re now a butterfly!
The purpose of the NESI forum is to bring together new economy imaginal cells so that we can find our wings.
Today is International Happiness Day. Since 2013, the United Nations has celebrated the International Day of Happiness as a way to recognize the importance of happiness in the lives of people around the world. In 2015 the UN launched 17 Sustainable Development Goals that seek to end poverty, reduce inequality, and protect our planet – three key aspects that lead to wellbeing and happiness.
This has me thinking about the work I’ve done in Bhutan regarding their Gross National Happiness Index. Bhutan is one of the world’s newest democracies and it is running a really important experiment. Instead of just measuring economic success based on overall growth and the size of the economy (e.g. Gross Domestic Product), Bhutan is being much more intentional and considering what kind of growth it wants. Of course they are working to grow jobs and income, but not at the cost of destroying their culture and natural environment.
Some cynics scoff at the idea and brush it off as quaint and trivial, but that is a mistake. The Gross National Happiness Index is actually a robust set of metrics that are used to make real world economic and societal decisions. Governmental infrastructure and budget decisions are run through four overarching criteria:
Sustainable and equitable socio-economic development
Preservation and promotion of culture
The values of wellbeing, environmental protection, and cultural promotion are imbedded into early learning programs and schools as well as governmental processes. For example, I was amazed when I learned that young children in schools in Bhutan do a regular mindfulness practice. The teachers help them to get quiet and meditative for a few minutes each day. They call it “Mental Flossing” as in the mental hygeine equivalent of dental flossing. In other words getting yucky stuff out of our minds is just as important as getting yucky stuff out of our mouths!
In a fun twist this year the Smurfs teemed up with the U.N. to put their blue enthusiasm into International Happiness Day. Here is a Smurfy video about it.
I am delighted that there will be several representatives for the Gross National Happiness Center in Bhutan at the New Economy for Social Innovation Forum that I will be speaking at in Spain next month. And I just learned that at the forum there will be an unveiling of a new GNH Center for Spain and Latin America. Outstanding!
Here’s to spreading a little more happiness in our world today and all days.
Most of us have cut our teeth and careers on the notion of business competition, survival of the fittest and dog eating dog. Turns out that’s very narrow view.
More and more companies and social entrepreneurs are moving toward collaborative, mutually-supportive, network-building business models.
Premium Cola is just one of myriad examples of successful businesses that are taking a more collaborative, ecosystem approach. Details can be found here.
Collaborative economies and business models is just one of the exciting New Economy trends and possibilities that will be explored at the upcoming New Economy for Social Innovation (NESI) Forum. 3EStrategies’ CEO, Cylvia Hayes, will be a speaker and media partner at the NESI forum.
We would love to hear about your collaborative business experiences and examples.