Saturday, October 25, 2008

Green Future; A Synergistic Approach to the Triple Bottom Line (*TBL)

A project to build community and more participatory political and economic systems and a green consumer base using a synergy of people, commerce and social objectives by building a business with social justice and green metrics as bottom line.

The keys to our success will include the following;

* Accountable

* Focus from Ground Up

* Green & Sustainable

* Income for All Participants

* Market-Based

* Open to all, Inclusive

* Profits to Higher Purposes

* Transparent

* Triple Bottom Line (TBL) Metrics (Planet, People & Profit)

* Voluntary

(*For more on the TBL see, Triple Bottom Line and Sustainable Business Strategies)

Briefly, we have four options for sources of capital to meet the difficult challenges we face;

* Business
* Wealthy Individuals, Philanthropists
* Government, taxes, regulation and law.
* Non Governmental Sector; non-profits, religious and educational institutions, foundations, etc.

There is often an interplay between these systems but at foundation is private business. They all bring advantages and disadvantages to efforts at Human advancement. If we are to break free from the limitations and inertia of the status quo we need a new way to synthesize these various components to give maximum influence to citizens and community members in rebuilding their communities and being co-creators of a vibrant participatory democracy. The idea that I propose combines the best aspects of the for-profit and non-profit worlds into a more effective and more sustainable hybrid organization; the purpose driven mission of non-profits with the capital aggregation of for-profit businesses. With this idea we can provide popular access to capital by creating a Social Venture Capital Fund (SVCF)

Below is an introductory outline, some quotes that address my assumptions and a narrative laying out the context that we find ourselves. The idea itself can be found on my blog here, (, and below. I look forward to answering any questions that you may have.

Triple Bottom-Line; the DNA of a Green Business starts with People

* Problem --
Declining consumer confidence, decreasing discretionary incomes, growing environmental challenges, deteriorating neighborhoods, tightening economy. Government that seems ineffective, business that seem heartless and waning trust in societal institutions; government, business and between people and communities.

* Solution --
A community-wide project combining voluntary effort, the desire of people to help others and participate in something larger than themselves and the revenue generating capacity of Network Marketing to create a synergy that will excite and inspire us all to greater achievement and community spirit.

* Result --
Increased social capital, stronger communities, lower expenditures on crime, stronger consumer base, increased tax base, and a vibrant civic thrust toward a green future.

* Business Model --
A hybrid organization composed of business leaders, representatives of local government, community stakeholders and non-profits utilizing Network Marketing motivated by social outcomes and green metrics.

* Underlying Magic --
People hunger for more meaning and purpose in their lives, businesses seek connection to consumers and employees and the means to join the growing movement to a green future without compromising profit. Network Marketing offers low start-up costs and a short learning curve.

Under Further Development;
* Marketing and sales
* Team
* Projections and milestones
* Status and timeline
* Summary and call to action

In a nutshell the idea takes Network Marketing and uses the revenue generated to endow a Social Venture Capital Fund (SVCF). The SVCF will be managed by a board composed of community stakeholders with the purpose of funding essential community and capacity building efforts and supporting the SVCF itself (salaries, marketing, admin, etc.).

The SVCF will have the mission of greening our community using Triple Bottom Line (TBL) metrics developed by our group. As we green our community using TBL metrics (aka People, Planet and Profits or P3), we can increase the discretionary income of our most vulnerable citizens, increase the ability of community members to become self-reliant, contributing, productive citizens, augment our education budgets, support the arts, etc. Amazingly, the more people that we can help, the more support we can draw from beyond our community in partnership with our efforts.

A community wide effort has the potential in full blossom to generate millions of dollars to address critical community challenges even as we lower our Carbon footprint, house by house, block by block, community by community. The idea can be utilized in less grandiose contexts as well. It can be mounted as a pilot program in a small business, a day care center, or a non-profit.

The Triple Bottom Line and our fundamental assumptions; P3 = Progress

"Individual and collective economic vitality is an important element of any sustainable community. In order to advance economic security extant economic opportunities must be preserved and new development encouraged. Generally, economic vitality is founded in "a healthy...economy that diversifies and co-develops sufficiently to create meaningful jobs, reduce poverty, and provide the opportunity for a high quality of life for all in an increasingly competitive world"
~(President's Council on Sustainable Development PCSD, 1996:15).

Simple & Integrated Perspective on Sustainability
Warren Flint, Ph.D

Advancement toward social equity requires particular attention to the progress made by those who are most disadvantaged in the community, usually women, youth and children, indigenous people, and/or racial/ethnic minorities.

In essence, we are practicing sustainable development when we find the means to equally and simultaneously address economic development with environmental protection, while also insuring that the most disadvantaged people in our society are provided the ability to improve their quality of life. If disproportionately impacted community members aren't able to improve their well-being, the best designed plans will not meet with success and future generations will not enjoy a high quality of life. This is the nexus of sustainable development and equity -- without equity and justice considerations sustainability objectives cannot be achieved.

In this context therefore, we are affirming that sustainable development not only embraces wisdom and stewardship in the management of natural resources, but also considers fulfillment of basic human needs such as food, shelter, clothing, and the provision of economic means through which to achieve these needs for all peoples in present generations, without compromising the ability of other species sharing our world or future generations to meet their own needs."

“When the fundamental principles of fairness and equal justice through the rule of law are shaken, the cornerstones of our democratic society are threatened. Respect for justice and laws is diminished when large segments of our society do not have equal access to civil justice because they cannot obtain legal assistance to resolve disputes that touch on the very basics of life (e.g., health care, food, and shelter) or to seek legal redress of their grievances.”
~Yale Law & Policy Review, Vol. 17, No. 1, 1998

"Because legal services are increasingly necessary in a complex society, prepaid legal service plans analogous to health insurance have become an important means of assuring basic rights to millions of citizens."
~Ralph Nader

"NOTICE: This person is a member of the Legal Shield program and has 24-hour telephone access to legal representation by a law firm provided by Pre-Paid Legal Services, ® Inc. and subsidiaries. To any law enforcement officer or security personnel: If it is your intention to question, detain or arrest me, or if you intend to remove my children from my custody, or serve me with a warrant, please allow me to call my attorney immediately."
~The Legal Shield card offered by Pre-Paid Legal Services, Inc.

The project that I am working on is unconventional and at first glance, complicated. It utilizes some components that are not held in the highest regard. It is a bridge, a pump primer and catalyst, not an ends unto itself. It, no doubt, will have detractors. It is not a perfect idea because no idea can satisfy all interests, but it is practical, doable and uses market forces, volunteer energy and the human desire to help, to achieve it's aims. It is a low risk idea with a potential large upside. I believe that in full blossom it can green lower-income neighborhoods, provide liquidity in areas of most need and assist our efforts at forestalling economic collapse. Bold assertions true but I believe that I can make the case for this outcome if given the opportunity.

The idea can be found here, A Vehicle, a Method and a Bridge to a Green Future, ( along with supporting info. With this idea, we can create a new business model that will endow a social venture capital fund for many underfunded needs such as;

Funding small business start-ups, community cooperatives, support for early childhood education, tutors for students, additional income for teachers, support for the arts, hurricane mitigation, solar and energy conservation upgrades, neighborhood gardens, additional tree canopy, etc., all done using green metrics, local labor and the latest in green tech. We could make our neighborhoods LEED certified block by block, neighborhood by neighborhood.

You are probably aware of the condiments company, Newman's Own. Newman's Own ( is a company started by Paul Newman that donates all profits and royalties after taxes to educational and charitable purposes. I believe that this concept --using private enterprise for public good-- can be utilized in many other applications.

Wall St. wobbles waiting for Main St. to find it's footing and Main St. is scared. Noted conservative journalist and commentator David Brooks put it this way;

"If there’s a thread running through the gravest current concerns, it is that people lack a secure environment in which they can lead their lives. Wild swings in global capital and energy markets buffet family budgets. Nobody is sure the health care system will be there when they need it. National productivity gains don’t seem to alleviate economic anxiety. Inequality strains national cohesion. In many communities, social norms do not encourage academic achievement, decent values or family stability. These problems straining the social fabric aren’t directly addressed by maximizing individual freedom."

It seems that everyone is treading water until manna falls from heaven. Meanwhile, firms are laying off, businesses are failing, families frayed, communities are stressed, and people are suffering.

Free markets are constantly weeding out marginal players, this is par for the course. Economic dislocation always involve some pain. Yet, we may be in uncharted territory as we face severe challenges domestically and from abroad. Because of war commitments, huge entitlement programs and a citizenry hammered by a low tax mantra, policy makers have extremely difficult choices to make. Education budgets are being cut even when studies show that investments early on save expenditures down the road. Public safety costs are escalating and recidivism as well. We are increasingly paying more and getting less.

Essentially this is a method to use the power of the free market, volunteerism and self-help to build beauty, self-sufficiency and sustainability from the ground up in areas of society that are now a drain on public resources and often resistant to current remediation methods. The impulse to do good works, the need for social justice and the quickening wave of excitement about green energy creates an elegant community project generating a synergy greater than it's parts.

This project will not raise our taxes. This project will not force government regulation on overburdened business or people. This project will facilitate our working together to create green communities, bringing capital and income to areas of historic deficits. Please keep an open mind and have a look. As presented, it functions in a municipal context. I can show how the framework can be utilized in for-profit and non-profit organizations as well. Using this method, business owners may enhance recruitment, retention and job satisfaction for their valued team members and support Social Ventures through an innovative funding mechanism.

Thank you,

Bill Milner
Delray Beach, FL

“I’d put my money on the sun and solar energy. What a source of power! I hope we don’t have to wait until oil and coal run out before we tackle that.”
~Thomas A. Edison

No comments: