Thursday, July 29, 2010

Green Music Selection

Imagine Green Future; Project Overview

"To make the world work for 100% of humanity in the shortest possible time through spontaneous cooperation without ecological offense or the disadvantage of anyone."
~Buckminster Fuller, (His Vision)

Over time, this project will make purpose and profit become inextricably linked. This will have many positive outcomes given where we are currently. It will also generate new challenges that we must manage from a spiritually inclusive, creative and sustainable perspective.

Bill Milner,

Social Entrepreneur
Delray Beach, FL

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 project that I propose has two components;

An unrivaled marketing opportunity that will allow interested parties to associate themselves with a broadly beneficial project that has the potential to increase civic participation, transform large swaths of our community, enrich and empower the lives of our most vulnerable citizens and create a consumer base thirsty for green technology and increased means to afford it. This opportunity is for businesses that care about more than just the bottom-line and see the financial health of their business as being inextricably tied to the quality of life of the entire community and particularly to that of our weakest citizens. Using the power of Network Effects to build Communities of Practice around an inclusive green effort, provides an elegant and innovative way to a brighter future.

A vehicle to raise capital, pay staff and build capacity driven by that marketing opportunity and managed as a joint venture by local officials, business and the community. The capital raised will fund a wide variety of critical community needs including endow a venture capital fund to spawn new start-ups. The infrastructure itself will be entirely run by citizens; citizens with business skills, citizens with genuine green cred, citizens with authentic influence in urban areas, citizens who may be political officials, but can see beyond the inertia of politics and government.

This will be a privately managed, citizen-led endeavor with a minimum of government involvement and as little political involvement as humanly possible. What I really want to do, is to create a infrastructure that will allow us to learn to work together beyond the boundaries and consequences of our history. Something that will allow all of us to wipe the slate clean, and move forward together, with minimum hassle and maximum fun.

The marketing opportunity arises out of the fact that we will be mounting a novel and innovative project utilizing a great deal of self-help from the local community, a project of community uplift, individual initiative and collective effort. This is a project that by its very nature will generate a plethora of news stories throughout the duration of the project. This endeavor will be self-funding. The revenue generated will fund an umbrella organization that will spawn support systems, auxiliary units and partnerships with the private and non-profit sector.

An unrivaled opportunity for increased business in an era of declining revenue. The revenue will be drawn from a Social Venture Capital Fund (SVCF) funded by the collective efforts of the participants in our project. In the case of redeveloping one of the properties in our target area, all interested parties; contractors, building supply companies, landscapers, etc. would collaborate with us by enrolling their company and/or their employees in our core commercial service. The team members that serviced that account, would bring back to HQ the applications, their portion, $300 or less depending upon circumstances. The remainder is put into the SVCF. As the property is developed, all the collaborator’s are allowed to bid upon the various stages of the work and are paid from the SVCF. All work is evaluated for quality and other green metrics as we develop them. We can, of course, leverage these funds with foundation and government funds as well, given the social nature of our work.

The potential home-owner's story will be on a website along with a thermometer, and people beyond the area will be able to purchase the service and support the project as well as they track our fundraising and home-raising progress. If they want to support our green project but do not desire to use the service, they can offer to give the plan to one of the families in our target area. It includes a service called Legal Shield that will give piece of mind to parents and families in the community.

In the case of a school, one of our school specialists marketing teams will meet with school staff (including auxiliary and substitutes), parents, and interested community members from the neighborhood surrounding the school. The team will explain the value of the service, how proceeds from the service will be used to generate income for the participants and capital for a SVCF and devise a marketing plan to target parents of students with an interest in supporting the school. One of our teams will run the appointment, a stay-at-home parent or idle sub if during daytime, a teacher, secretary, or asst. principal, if after schools hours. As in the case above, the team members that serviced that account, would bring back to HQ the applications, their portion, $300 or less, depending upon circumstances. The remainder is put into the SVCF.

The SVCF will be divided up as follows; 1/4 to the classroom of the contributor’s child; 1/4 to other areas of the school; 1/4 to the surrounding neighborhood and 1/8 beyond the boundaries of the school to an even less well off neighborhood’s SVCF, and 1/8 beyond the shores of America. This type of overarching network of funding will insure inclusiveness and accountability and will encourage a more vibrant and stable local economy by providing liquidity in areas of need using green metrics and rigorous standards and high expectations for participants. As we increase consumer confidence and aggregate demand in the local economy, the general business climate will improve and bottom lines and balance sheets will begin to firm up again.

Our individual risk? $26 month ($10, onetime application fee). No government regulation, no taxes, no bureaucracy, no politics, no cries of heartless, green-washing businesses.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

7 Reasons Why Greening Up is Hard to Do

7 Reasons Why Greening Up is Hard to Do
By Anna Clark
Published April 08, 2010

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Green business owners beware: don't buy into your own press. Although we are wont to focus on the oft-cited LOHAS stat "1 in 4 adult Americans cares about health and sustainability," the real ratio is less favorable, especially in cases where the green label costs more. And that still leaves an uninterested majority. How much more progress could we make if we learned to engage the other 75 percent in the green conversation?

I've been trying to uncover the reasons why the majority doesn't value sustainability since 2005, and through my search I've made some surprising discoveries about the obstacles that we're facing.

The systemic barriers to positive change are entrenched and insidious, stretching far beyond the usual culprits of big industry and hyper-consumerism. Although my study was more anecdotal than quantitative, it reflects an investigation of those attitudes that don't appear in surveys.

Among the cumulative challenges these obstacles pose is the ability to easily, frustratingly, reduce sophisticated CSR programs to lip service. And many of the genuine issues preventing sustainability from taking root are exacerbated by the proliferation of green marketing strategies -- a sad irony. It calls to mind Einstein's warning, "We can't solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them."

Despite the discouraging nature of these findings, they do present opportunities for savvy entrepreneurs and conscious companies who can help consumers translate environmental awareness into action. Here are some observations that represent the most inconvenient -- and still largely unspoken -- truths standing in the way of a sustainable America.

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1. The socio-economic rise of women speeds consumption. Over the next five years, the global incomes of women are estimated to grow from $13 trillion to $18 trillion. That incremental $5 trillion is nearly twice the growth in GDP expected from China and India combined, making women the biggest emerging market ever seen. This means a huge opportunity for consumer products companies.

As one marketing strategist points out, "We are continuously doing research on 'why she buys' to give us insight into the impact that female consumers have on the marketplace." He goes on to suggest that delayed marriage, lower birthrates, divorce and higher incomes make women prime targets for goods in the convenience, luxury and technology categories. This spells serious un-sustainability.

2. Conservation is antithetical to a consumer-based economy. When almost 70 percent of the economy is based on consumer spending, how can we expect people to understand conservation? Until we are no longer affected by the 3,000 advertising messages we inhale each day, we will continue to buy. When the economy is bad our consumption may decline, but this also makes people less willing to spend more for green.

3. The environment remains stuck in the political divide. There remains a gaping chasm between the real and the pragmatic -- what should be done for the environment vs. what actually happens. But there is also the liberal vs. conservative divide. Many conservatives liken "enviro-preaching" to political correctness. Consequently, they react against things that are good, such as organic food and recycling.

As long as people equate "green" with "left," we'll continue to see stymied sustainability strategies and ineffective environmental policies.

4. Narrow-mindedness goes both ways. If in reading you are thinking how much you dislike conservatives, you are also part of the problem. Though I cannot relate to Fox News junkies as a group, on a personal level some of them aren't bad. My husband even watches it from time to time. While some of the headlines that come out of ultra-conservative news outlets are cringe-worthy, it's worth remembering that sometimes they are just filling a void in the mainstream media.

When Climategate hit, the mainstream media did a less-than-effective job of reporting the story, leaving people to wonder, "If there was nothing to hide, why the silence?" This debacle only magnifies the research from groups such as the Pew Center, which find that belief in man-made climate change among Americans is sharply declining.

5. Habits are hard to break. When I started my journey into sustainability, it was following the sickening revelation that, were my habits to be the norm, we'd be consuming five planets worth of resources.

Since that time, I've launched a sustainability consultancy, moved to a platinum-level LEED certified home, planted a garden, and adjusted my consumer habits considerably. I recently recalculated our ecological footprint to gauge how well I'm doing. Now we're down to three planets.

My point? Natural living doesn't come naturally for most Americans, no matter how hard we may try. It requires change, which statistically only 2 percent of us will embrace. I happen to be one of the few that thrives on change, but consistently living green still challenges me. No matter how much we talk up benefits and allude to the triple bottom line, conscious behaviors for a healthier planet on the part of humans are far from habitual.

6. Individuals are catalysts for change; institutions are not. Apathetic voters and zombie consumers are in effect leaving the future of the environmental up to institutions that are inherently anti-social. Where individuals have a conscience, large organizations must balance competing interests; frequently, money prevails over the interests of the public.

From corporate America to Congress, people of power and influence easily fall prey to the belief that the rules don't apply to them, a phenomenon that author Terry Price describes as "exception making" in his book Understanding Ethical Failures in Leadership. No amount of green window dressing can overcome an unethical foundation in an organization (case in point, before Enron collapsed, it had a stellar sustainability program).

As bad as gross negligence is, it has often been the catalyst to motivate companies to turn themselves around. However, many others continue to fly under the radar, undermining their sustainability departments with business-as-usual tactics from execs in pursuit of self-interest. No amount of good deeds on the part of large institutions can absolve individuals from personal responsibility. So far, mainstream consumers have yet to accept this.

7. Climate change creates inertia. With so many benefits we can promote on behalf of sustainability, why continue to harp on this hot-button issue? I speak as someone who entered this realm specifically for the purpose of stopping the Arctic from melting.

I'm stubborn, but I finally realized that other issues are equally, if not even more, pressing: world hunger, habitat loss, and toxins in our air, food and water, for example. By talking up these other points and offering concrete, doable solutions that can be scaled up, we can push people towards positive action regardless of their political affiliation or financial situation.

What might environmental advocates gain when we extend a thoughtful and flexible approach towards those who are different, dare I say conservative? By waiting for them to get it, we sacrifice the opportunity to expand our market.

Many other issues -- such as cheap energy, a car-based culture, and even our democratic system of government -- hamper sustainable development. Ignorance and good old-fashioned greed are also to blame. But condemnation is unproductive in a world so desperate for solutions.

Three Steps to Move Forward

Fortunately, the steps to a sustainable America are simpler than we think, and the positive ripples have the potential to put profits into our businesses, bolster our economy, increase national security, and improve our environment.

These common-sense solutions cost companies little while fostering a sustainable future and restoring us to a position of leadership for the long haul:

1. Become energy efficient. Companies that reduce their energy consumption by 30 percent can add 5 percent in operating capital to their budgets. According to a McKinsey report, the U.S. economy has the potential to reduce annual non-transportation energy consumption by roughly 23 percent by 2020, eliminating more than $1.2 trillion in waste – well beyond the $520 billion upfront investment that would be required. The reduction in energy use would result in the abatement of 1.1 gigatons of greenhouse gas emissions annually -- the equivalent of taking the entire U.S. fleet of passenger vehicles and light trucks off the roads.

2. Practice conscious capitalism. The land of opportunity can be a profound lever of social change when we apply American ingenuity and entrepreneurial spirit to solving the world's most pressing problems. Businesses like TOMS, which purchase a pair of shoes for impoverished villagers for every pair it sells, prove that having a mission can drive success, not hinder it.

Helping busy consumers make a difference through their purchases equals profit and positive change. Women, for example, make over 80 percent of the buying decisions in their households. Marketing good green ideas and healthy sustainable products to them helps channel their formidable spending power into a more sustainable society.

3. Don't divide, multiply! Don't get stuck in your silo marketing to a narrow group. Use your company's platform to build virtual communities among employees, colleagues, industry leaders and other stakeholders. Large companies such as Seventh Generation are creating interactive, virtual communities that are inclusive, educational and fun. Small companies can now do this online with a Facebook page and Twitter.

Don't forget about your community, too. Many a local school or non-profit would be grateful for your company to support their green efforts. I recently spoke at a symposium hosted by Lakehill Preparatory School sponsored by Professional Bank, a local Dallas business. Not only did the event raise environmental awareness, it raised visibility for the school, dozens of vendors, and the bank itself.

Of all the solutions I found in the various sectors I have explored, it is the personal and community levels -- where motivated individuals make simple changes in themselves and within their circles of influence -- where have I seen the greatest potential for genuine change.

This experience has renewed my faith in the power of individuals to make a profound difference. My new book Green, American Style, is a testament to the many -- from CEOs to soccer moms -- whose contributions as leaders and consumers are creating the potential to move markets and transform our culture.

Making informed decisions and incremental changes while reaching out to new people can improve matters considerably. The competitive advantages inherent in common-sense sustainability more than compensate for the cost in addressing the problems. Not everyone will follow through, but those who do are poised to profit.

Anna Clark is president of EarthPeople, LLC and the author of Green, American Style. She contributes the Eco-Leadership blog on Visit for more on all things green.

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