Thursday, July 2, 2009

A Vehicle, a Method and a Bridge to a Green Future

A repost from Saturday, September 27, 2008
A Passion for People, Profits and a Sustainable Future

You are not here merely to make a living. You are here to enable the world to live more amply, with greater vision, and with a finer spirit of hope and achievement. You are here to enrich the world. You impoverish yourself if you forget this errand."
~Woodrow Wilson

"I am only one, but I am one. I cannot do everything, but I can do something. And I will not let what I cannot do interfere with what I can do."
~Edward Everett Hale

Social Entrepreneurship

Social entrepreneurship is the work of a social entrepreneur. A social entrepreneur is someone who recognizes a social problem and uses entrepreneurial principles to organize, create, and manage a venture to make social change. Whereas business entrepreneurs typically measure performance in profit and return, social entrepreneurs assess their success in terms of the impact they have on society and often work through nonprofits and citizen groups.

What is a Social Entrepreneur?

A social entrepreneur is a different kind of social leader who:

-Identifies and applies practical solutions to social problems by combining innovation, resourcefulness and opportunity.

-Innovates by finding a new product, a new service, or a new approach to a social problem

-Focuses first and foremost on social value creation and in that spirit, is willing to share openly the innovations and insights of the initiative with a view to its wider replication

-Doesn’t wait to secure the resources before undertaking the catalytic innovation

-Is fully accountable to the constituencies s/he serves

-Resists being trapped by the constraints of ideology or discipline

-Continuously refines and adapts approach in response to feedback

-Has a vision, but also a well-thought out road-map as to how to attain the goal

What is Social Entrepreneurship?

-Describes an approach to a social issue. It is not a field of discipline that can be learned in academia.

-More related to leadership than to management

-An approach that cuts across disciplines (medicine, engineering, law, education, investment banking, agronomy, environment, etc.) and is not confined to sectors (health, transportation, finance, labor, trade, and the like).

Social Entrepreneurship

“The green economy has the power to deliver new sources of work, wealth and health to low-income people — while honoring the Earth. If you can do that, you just wiped out a whole bunch of problems. We can make what is good for poor black kids good for the polar bears and good for the country.”
~Van Jones, Head of the Ella Baker Center and founder of, Green for All

Equal Access to Civil Justice: Pursuing Solutions Beyond the Legal Profession
“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

"The hostile attitude of conquering nature ignores the basic interdependence of all things and events---that the world beyond the skin is actually an extension of our own bodies---and will end in destroying the very environment from which we emerge and upon which our whole life depends."
~Alan Watts (1915 - 1973), English mystic & writer. "The Book: On the Taboo Against Knowing Who You Are" (Vintage), Page: 9,10

A Vehicle, a Method and a Bridge to a Green Future
A Passion for People, Planet and Profit (P3)

What if we could truly improve our Community?

Would you be willing to give the possibility consideration? Real thought and deliberation? The project before you will elicit “Buy In” at all levels, from Business Executives to Hourly Employees, Entrepreneurs to Civil Servants, and Professionals to Craftsmen. It seems safe to say we all see the need for the stake-holders of our community to fix for ourselves that which should to be fixed, to correct that which needs correcting. Now is the time to come together as a body of citizens, community and business leaders and public servants who recognize our responsibility to ourselves and our neighbors.

What is the vehicle to accomplish such a goal? Oddly enough it is founded in one of the most capitalistic and misunderstood ideas, The Direct Sales Industry or, as it is also known, Network Marketing. We all know the phrase of doom, “We’re looking for a few sharp people” at which point we cringe and run for the exits. However this concept isn’t designed solely to benefit the “Upline & Downline” rather, it is to generate capital to create a social venture capital fund that will manage and allocate resources to an Umbrella Organization made up of citizens, business leaders and civic leaders who will allocate the revenue generated to areas of need within our community. Naturally, individual distributors are compensated and a viable product is offered to people who often need this service when they least can afford it. In the best fashion of capitalism it is a win/win for all parties in the process. A product of value is offered, a need is met, individuals have an additional revenue stream, a community has democratic access to additional capital and is better for the effort.

As you will see after your review of the project, this will be accomplished by adding value to companies, employees and the community, value created from the hopes, dreams and efforts of our fellow citizens. This project will allow them each to contribute to the real improvement of the community with a broadly inclusive, city-wide project of beauty, social up-lift, enterprise and sustainability. I invite you to take a clear-eyed and open-minded look at this innovative project combining the best impulses from our citizenry with the dynamism of the free market to produce a synergy that is greater than the sum total of the parts.

Before we get to the core of this proposal, please review the following commentaries about the critical role of Social Justice to meeting sustainability challenges and how one businessman is blazing a trail for more enlightened business practices.

Five E’s Unlimited
A System's Approach to Sustainable Development

Today’s problems cannot be solved with today’s mindset. Incremental changes are inadequate; a bold and broad agenda for systemic changes in values, lifestyles, institutions, and politics is required.

The Nexus of Sustainability & Social Equity: Virginia’s Eastern Shore (USA) as a Local Example of Global Issues
R. Warren Flint


Mona J.E. Danner
Old Dominion University


The practice of sustainable development requires society to equally and simultaneously address economic enhancement along with actions that offer environmental protection, while also insuring that the most disadvantaged people in our communities are provided the ability to improve their quality of life. The ethnic and class stratification of different societal sectors represents one of the most tenacious forms of inequality in any part of the world. For this reason, where inequities persist in severe forms, ideas about balancing economic development and environmental preservation may be particularly contentious. The primary premise of this paper assumes that without equity considerations economic and environmental sustainability objectives of a region cannot be achieved.

If we expand the meaning of environmental equity or justice beyond disproportionate impact from pollution on public health, and combine issues of populations that are disproportionately affected by environmental insults as well as adequate access to environmental benefits, then we have a paradigm under which to explore mechanisms for poor people to derive equal benefits from the advantages of environmental related business income. By exploring how poor people might benefit from nature‑based business activities as an example, we can begin to demonstrate important linkages between a foundation of good environmental quality and the prosperous development of economic activity in certain societal sectors that might otherwise not make this connection.

This paper addresses a Virginia Eastern Shore (USA) case history example to explore whether or not a nature‑based economy and consideration of a targeted, value-added tax on this industry's income can finance the transition of a region's neediest citizens to a better quality of life and in‑turn a more amenable setting to further enhance economic development in the region that is environmentally sustainable. A focus on environmental equity emerges as key in this discussion because of the historical disregard for the environmental health and rights of disenfranchised peoples, where a disproportionate and dangerous ecological price for economic growth has been paid by poor people and people of color, both in the United States and in other nations. Thus, the nexus of sustainable development and equity, where equity considerations loom large in the search for economic development that does not degrade natural resources.

The Nexus of Sustainability & Equity
"Individual and collective economic vitality is an important element of any sustainable community. But sustainable development cannot be achieved unless jobs are environmentally clean and do not contribute to air or water pollution or create toxic wastes. Further, social equity must dominate community dynamics so there exists a climate of fairness -- evenhandedness both economically and environmentally -- toward achieving social well‑being for all. 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."

The Meaning of Profit
The Story, Friday, September 26 2008

Part of the bailout package before Washington includes salary limits for top executives of Wall Street companies. The fear is that many CEOs will continue to get rich while the rest of the country, and the world, go into a financial tailspin.

Hal Taussig believes that CEOs have a responsibility to do more than earn wealth for themselves. He created a successful travel company called Untours. The company has a budget in the millions and maintains a healthy profit margin - but Hal does not keep any of the profits. He donates them to charity.

Hal talks to Dick Gordon about the spontaneous moment that led him to this alternative business lifestyle. The result swims against the tide of the profit motive: Hal actually finds that having an empty bank account is exhilarating.

* Learn more about the Untours company and foundation
* Learn more about B Corporation, an organization of business leaders like Hal

B Corporation
Higher purpose. Higher standards of accountability, transparency, and performance. These leaders across the United States have created profitable, competitive businesses while taking care of their employees, community, and environment. Meet the B Corps »

We envision a new sector of the economy which harnesses the power of private enterprise to create public benefit.

This sector is comprised of a new type of corporation the B Corporation which is purpose-driven and creates benefit for all stakeholders, not just shareholders.

As members of this emerging sector and as entrepreneurs and investors in B Corporations,

We hold these truths to be self-evident:

- That we must be the change we seek in the world.

- That all business ought to be conducted as if people and place mattered.

- That, through their products, practices, and profits, businesses should aspire to do no harm and benefit all.

- To do so requires that we act with the understanding that we are each dependent upon another and thus responsible for each other and future generations.

In The News

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