Wednesday, August 25, 2010

New Earth Pioneers

New Earth Pioneers Global Eco Village Network
A focal point for those interested in eco villages, self sustainable communities, permaculture and green products

Eco Villages and Self Sustainable Communities

This project is for those who would like to get involved in or already live in self sufficient intentional communities or an eco village. We aim to provide a global network of intentional communities and eco villages who will send in videos, articles and photographs of what its like living and working on self sustainable communities. Even individual projects are welcome. We hope that the less experienced among us may learn from those in the know by sharing their communities with us in our virtual eco village. Communities can register for free and promote their own projects as they wish.

Monday, August 23, 2010


"This nation was built by men who took risks - pioneers who were not afraid of the wilderness, business men who were not afraid of failure, scientists who were not afraid of the truth, thinkers who were not afraid of progress, dreamers who were not afraid of action."
~Brooks Atkinson

"It is not because things are difficult that we do not dare, it is because we do not dare that they are difficult."

"Do not be too timid and squeamish about your actions. All life is an experiment. The more experiments you make the better. What if they are a little course, and you may get your coat soiled or torn? What if you do fail, and get fairly rolled in the dirt once or twice. Up again, you shall never be so afraid of a tumble."
~Ralph Waldo Emerson

"Nothing will ever be attempted, if all possible objections must be first overcome."
~Samuel Johnson, Rasselas, 1759

Innovation's Accidental Enemies

Bloomberg Businessweek
OUTSIDE SHOT January 14, 2010, 5:00PM EST

Leaders who demand proof that a new idea will work inadvertently stifle innovation. There's a better way to react to brainstorms
By Roger L. Martin and Jennifer Riel

Once upon a time there was a very big bank. Its CEO wanted to better serve its best customers and hired some consultants to tell him what to do.

At the time, the very big bank served its high-net-worth customers at stately private banking offices in downtown branches. The consultants discovered that many of these wealthy customers—lawyers, executives, and partners in big professional services firms—were unattractive customers. They chose plain-vanilla services and were both demanding and price-sensitive.

But the consultants found another high-net-worth segment that was underserved: entrepreneurs and partners from smaller firms. These folks had diverse needs, such as mortgages for their homes and investment properties, and investor agreements for multipartner ventures. But they didn't want to bounce from one banking specialist to another to get a deal done, or drive to a fancy branch filled with high-backed chairs and wood-paneled walls, paid for with their fees. Instead, they wanted integrated, personalized service in their neighborhoods, with no divide between their commercial and personal banking services.

At the final meeting, the consultants presented a strategy built around this new segment. As they wrapped up, the CEO asked: "Have any other big banks done this?" The lead consultant answered brightly, "No, you'd be the first," certain that this would seal the deal.

Not even close. The CEO killed the idea on the spot. And the very big bank's rivals lived happily ever after.

For many companies, innovation is the stuff of fairy tales: fanciful ideas and lurking dangers—all of it unconnected to reality. So it's no surprise that we find it such a struggle. Innovation is killed with the two deadliest words in business: Prove it.

When faced with a new idea, the boardroom impulse is to ask for proof in one of two flavors: deductive and inductive. With deduction, we apply a widely held rule. With induction, we develop a new rule from a wide range of data. In both cases, we use existing information to understand the issue in play. But for breakthroughs, there is no rule or pool of past data to provide certainty. So when a CEO, like our banker friend, demands evidence that an idea will succeed, he is driving innovation away.

Does that mean we are doomed to live in world devoid of proof—that innovation must be consigned to a realm of cross-our-fingers hopefulness? No, it's not so bleak. Instead, when facing an anomalous situation, we can turn to a third form of logic: abductive logic, the logic of what could be. To use abduction, we need to creatively assemble the disparate experiences and bits of data that seem relevant in order to make an inference—a logical leap—to the best possible conclusion.

At Research in Motion, makers of the ubiquitous BlackBerry, abductive logic is embedded in the culture. Mike Lazaridis, RIM's founder and co-CEO, encourages his people to explore big ideas and apparent paradoxes to push beyond what they can prove to be true in order to see what might be true.

In the mid-1990s, RIM was a modestly successful pager company. But Lazaridis saw potential in the idea of a portable e-mail device. He began to consider what it might look like, what it could do. He imagined something much smaller than a laptop but easier to type on than a phone. Laptops were already shrinking and bumping up against limitations on how small a QWERTY keyboard could reasonably get. Lazaridis stepped back to consider how a much tinier keyboard could be feasible—and he achieved a leap of logic: What if we typed using only our thumbs? He soon had a prototype and concrete feedback from it.

Asking what could be true—and jumping into the unknown—is critical to innovation. Nurturing the ideas that result, rather than killing them, can be the tricky part. But once a company clears this hurdle, it can leverage its efforts to produce the proof that leaders depend on to make commitments—and turn the future into fact.

Roger L. Martin is Dean of the Rotman School of Management at the University of Toronto. Jennifer Riel is Associate Director of the Desautels Centre for Integrative Thinking at Rotman.

Friday, August 20, 2010

First Green Bank

The First GREEN Bank Story
First GREEN Bank, which opened in Februrary 2009, was organized by experienced banking executives and business leaders in Central Florida. Ken LaRoe is the founder and former CEO of Florida Choice Bank which was founded in 1999. In 2006 with more than $400 million in total assets, Florida Choice Bank was acquired by Alabama National BanCorporation. Ken is now focused on First GREEN Bank and wants to change why America does business.

By promoting green building and sustainability through our bank, we can help other businesses realize the value in doing the same, and we hope to motivate them to expand their focus to include environmentally responsible goals.

Our Approach
Our approach to the community and the Earth are what set us apart from other banks. While we are a traditional customer-driven community bank providing personalized service, localized decision-making and extended banking hours, First GREEN Bank is the first bank of its kind to promote positive environmental and social responsibility while providing for increased profits for investors and clients.

First GREEN Bank promotes environmental responsibility and green building by offering lower interest rates for commercial projects that meet green building certification defined by the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) standards. Gold and platinum certified projects qualify for the lowest interest rates in order to motivate commercial developers to build green while at the same time making it possible to realize increased profits.

Lead by Example
First GREEN Bank leads by example, promoting environmentally responsible behavior through its own business and employees. Our loan officers are LEED Accredited Professionals in order to better assist clients and we cover the cost for and offer salary increases to all employees who attain LEED Professional Accreditation. FGB will provides zero interest loans to employees who buy automobiles that exceed 30 miles per gallon, and offers paid sabbaticals to employees who engage in environmentally responsible projects. FGB also provides green building expertise, networking, and product resources through its web site and staff so clients have all the necessary tools available to help ensure successful green building projects.

Clermont and Eustis First Locations
FGB opened with branches in Clermont and Eustis, Florida. The Eustis location opened in a temporary building while a new LEED certified sustainable building is constructed nearby. The new building will be built among old oak trees and will include a sustainable architectural design that includes; a green roof, low water consumption plumbing, solar power, water cisterns, Florida-friendly low-water use landscaping, recycled building materials, natural lighting and many other features that make up the gold or higher LEED certification. Future branch locations will be built to similar standards.

We believe that leading by example will help us achieve success by attracting like-minded investors, depositors, and clients.

We hope you will consider banking with First GREEN Bank.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Speaking of Faith; A Different Kind of Capitalism

Jacqueline Novogratz, founder and CEO of the Acumen Fund, spoke with Krista Tippett, host of the Public Radio show, Speaking of Faith (SOF), about "A different kind of capitalism". The Acumen Fellows Reading List and more useful resources can be found on SOF's website.

A collection of readings Jacqueline Novogratz recommends to foster empathy, self-awareness and a business mindset in the Acumen Fellows, who come from around the world. It includes economists as well as novelists, activists and thinkers from an eclectic range of perspectives.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Code Green cartoon hits part of the mark

By James Sorenson, Sun=Sentinel, August 17th, 2010, Code Green, Tuesday Forum, Opinion page,
August 17, 2010

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

I got a kick out of this Code Green cartoon, and can't say that I entirely disagree with the cartoonist's perspective. But she did miss something. What she failed to point out is that this is not a two-sided argument, but a three-sided one. While "evil capitalists" are certainly involved, since they are the only ones willing to take the risk of laying out their own money to manufacture and market products that they hope to sell, and while many who are "green" are so only for the "feel-good" value, it's the virulent "enviro-politicians" who also need to be considered.

Legislation forcing us to "be green," and the threat of things like carbon credits, which do nothing for the environment, has caused both an upsurge in the creativity needed to make "green" products and a drasticly disproportionate increase in the costs for such things. Usually it doesn't cost any more to make a "green" product than it does to make a regular version of whatever it is, but attaching the term "green" to the label means an automatic increase of at least 25 percent.

To that end, it's the "green" legislators who have essentially forced the "evil capitalists" to make the products that the "enviro-snobs" feel so good about.

If you re-draw it with the "green legislator" in the middle, with open palms and crossed arms reaching across, please also draw a bucket beneath him where the additional money extorted can fall. That'd be a third arm pocketing cash, but we are talking about government, aren't we?,0,1742950.story

Saturday, August 14, 2010

10 Common Sense Principles for a New Economy

10 Common Sense Principles for a New Economy
It’s time we the people declare our independence from the money-favoring Wall Street economy.
by David Korten
posted Aug 06, 2010

I find hope in the fact that millions of people the world over are seeing through the moral and practical fallacies underlying the Wall Street economy and—by contributing to the creation of a New Economy—are taking charge of their economic lives.

Here are ten common sense principles to frame the New Economy that we the people must now bring forth:

The proper purpose of an economy is to secure just, sustainable, and joyful livelihoods for all. This may come as something of a shock to Wall Street financiers who profit from financial bubbles, securities fraud, low wages, unemployment, foreign sweatshops, tax evasion, public subsidies, and monopoly pricing.

GDP is a measure of the economic cost of producing a given level of human well-being and happiness. In the economy, as in any well-run business, the goal should be to minimize cost, not maximize it.

A rational reallocation of real resources can reduce the human burden on the Earth’s biosphere and simultaneously improve the health and happiness of all. The Wall Street economy wastes enormous resources on things that actually reduce the quality of our lives—war, automobile dependence, suburban sprawl, energy-inefficient buildings, financial speculation, advertising, incarceration for minor, victimless crimes. The most important step toward bringing ourselves into balance with the biosphere is to eliminate the things that are bad for our health and happiness.

Markets allocate efficiently only within a framework of appropriate rules to maintain competition, cost internalization, balanced trade, domestic investment, and equality. These are essential conditions for efficient market function. Without rules, a market economy quickly morphs into a system of corporate monopolies engaged in suppressing wages, exporting jobs, collecting public subsidies, poisoning air, land, and water, expropriating resources, corrupting democracy, and a host of other activities that represent an egregiously inefficient and unjust distribution of resources.

A proper money system roots the power to create and allocate money in people and communities in order to facilitate the creation of livelihoods and ecologically balanced community wealth. Money properly serves life, not the reverse. Wall Street uses money to consolidate its power to expropriate the real wealth of the rest of the society. Main Street uses money to connect underutilized resources with unmet needs. Public policy properly favors Main Street.

Money, which is easily created with a simple accounting entry, should never be the deciding constraint in making public resource allocation decisions. This is particularly obvious in the case of economic recessions or depressions, which occur when money fails to flow to where it is needed to put people to work producing essential goods and services. If money is the only lack, then make the accounting entry and get on with it.

Speculation, the inflation of financial bubbles, risk externalization, the extraction of usury, and the use of creative accounting to create money from nothing, unrelated to the creation of anything of real value, serve no valid social purpose. The Wall Street corporations that engage in these activities are not in the business of contributing to the creation of real community wealth. They are in the business of expropriating it, a polite term for theft. They should be regulated or taxed out of existence.

Greed is not a virtue; sharing is not a sin. If your primary business purpose is not to serve the community, you have no business being in business.

The only legitimate reason for government to issue a corporate charter extending special privileges favoring a particular enterprise is to serve a clearly defined public purpose. That purpose should be clearly stated in the corporate charter and be subject to periodic review.

Public policy properly favors local investors and businesses dedicated to creating community wealth over investors and businesses that come only to extract it. The former are most likely to be investors and businesses with strong roots in the communities in which they do business. We properly favor them.

David Korten is co-founder and board chair of YES! Magazine, co-chair of the New Economy Working Group, president of the People-Centered Development Forum, and a founding board member of the Business Alliance for Local Living Economies (BALLE). His books include Agenda for a New Economy: From Phantom Wealth to Real Wealth, The Great Turning: From Empire to Earth Community, and the international best seller When Corporations Rule the World.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Michael Porter on Inner City Business

"Billions are wasted on ineffective philanthropy. Philanthropy is decades behind business in applying rigorous thinking to the use of money."
~Michael Porter, Professor at Harvard Business School.

Michael Porter on Inner City Business
Companies can benefit their communities simply by doing more business close to home
By Michael E. Porter

A decade ago, Archie Williams, the founder of a small printer-toner distribution company in the impoverished Boston neighborhood of Roxbury, happened to play a round of golf with Tom Stemberg, the founder and then-chief executive of office supply mega-retailer Staples (SPLS). Through 18 holes, the pair pitched, putted, and chatted—and became fast friends. Soon, Stemberg started buying printer cartridges from Williams' company, Roxbury Technology.

The deal turned out to be a win for both Staples and Roxbury—the company and the neighborhood. The office supply giant found a reliable supplier for an important product and Roxbury got a partner that could distribute its goods nationally. Stemberg soon became a mentor to Williams' company, helping with strategic planning, finance, and legal advice. Roxbury Technology is now a preferred supplier to Staples and has branched out into manufacturing. Last year it hit $16.7 million in revenue, up from $1.2 million in 2001. Even better for the community, almost all of Roxbury's 65 employees live in the neighborhood or nearby.

Staples is one of a handful of large organizations that have found a way to boost their competitiveness while also benefiting their local communities. Hospitals and universities, often located in city centers, do this. But all too often, large companies see corporate social responsibility as something entirely separate from their business goals. As high unemployment, rising poverty, and dismay over corporate greed breed contempt for the capitalist market system, companies would be wise to follow the lead of Staples. Serving the intersecting needs of business and the community is the only path to winning back respect for Corporate America.

Consider this: Nearly 20 percent of large and midcap companies in the Standard & Poor's 900 index are headquartered in disadvantaged urban areas. These companies are huge employers that purchase hundreds of billions of dollars in goods and services annually. But they ignore the impact they can have on the surrounding community and how their neighbors can affect their own productivity, hiring, customer base, and reputation. While almost all big companies have active charitable programs and give to social service organizations, they rarely grasp that helping revitalize their local communities can enhance their competitiveness.

Such strategies should be based on the concept of shared value, practices that increase productivity while benefiting the community. We are seeing many more ways to create shared value, ranging from reducing pollution to improving the productivity (and wages) of low-income workers. Such efforts must be tied closely to a company's core business operations, where it can bring its skills and resources to bear.

Nowhere are the opportunities for creating shared value more apparent than in impoverished urban areas. Economic inequality raises fundamental challenges to capitalism, and inequality will not be solved until we help residents of disadvantaged communities prosper in the market system. Inner-city residents need jobs near their homes that offer good pay and the prospect of long-term employment. These can be created only by business.

Corporations can, in turn, jump-start the real job generators in the inner city: small businesses. Enterprises with fewer than 100 employees create 60 percent of the jobs in the U.S., and the ratio is even higher in disadvantaged communities, according to data from the Initiative for a Competitive Inner City. Small businesses create wealth for both employees and owners, and those in disadvantaged areas hire disproportionately from the local community; 40 percent of the employees of the companies on the 2010 Inner City 100 list reside in nearby neighborhoods. Entrepreneurship is thriving in America's inner cities, but we need many more such businesses to hire residents and revitalize their communities. Major corporations can play a huge role in this process by sourcing from these pioneers.

Businesses acting as businesses, not as charitable givers, are arguably the most powerful force for addressing the issues facing our society. Companies, if animated by the principle of shared value, can drive the next wave of innovation and productivity in the U.S. Such efforts will give purpose to capitalism and represent our best chance to legitimize business again.

Michael Porter, the Bishop William Lawrence University Professor at Harvard Business School, is a leading authority on competitive strategy and the competitiveness of nations and regions. Professor Porter's work is recognized in governments, corporations, nonprofits, and academic circles around the world.