Foundation Interviews for Their Live Earth Day 2010 Radio Conversation from Boulder, CO: Host Kathryn Alexander, Ethical Impact, talks with Willi Paul, PlanetShifter.com Networks
Foundation Interviews for Their Live Earth Day 2010 Radio Conversation from Boulder, CO:
Host Kathryn Alexander, Ethical Impact, talks with Willi Paul, PlanetShifter.com Networks
April 22, 2010
2 - 4pm PST, 3 - 5pm MST
Call-in Number: (347) 215-9677
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Kathryn Alexander Interviews Willi Paul
Tell us about Planet Shifters; when did you start it and why? Are you concentrating on the Bay Area or other areas as well?
PlanetShifter.com has been collecting and sharing innovator interviews and start-up stories from the green movement since it was launched on EarthDay 2009. At the highest level, it is PlanetShifter.com’s database of new mythic themes, green inventions and next visions that continues to attract business and artistic people from all across the globe.
Born as an arts and sustainable business collective, PlanetShifter.com is now managed by Willi Paul and features over 200 Interviews that span the gambit of innovation and sustainability including thought leaders like Ed Begley, Jr. on grey water systems; author Eric Roston on carbon; Steve Kilbey (The Church) on rock music and mythology; and author Dennis William Hauck from the Alchemy Guild.
The new Planetshifter.com Networks is a client relations service that drives content and discussion through multiple networks, increasing partners, customers and revenue for my clients.
Planetshifter.com Networks is where socially responsible business owners and non-profits engage to educate and market their products and services to the public.
You seem to have a strong focus on Localization. Why do you think that is so important? Do you have a Transition group in the Bay Area?
Localization is the key to solving our national and global dependences. Through localization we team-up with our community, by forming partnerships with a range of NPO’s and social groups. If the moral mandate is to save the planet, then we must practice it with our neighbors first. I support Petaluma’s DailyActs.org as a Community Relations consultant and continue to tell our story of thinking global and acting local.”
See these posts:
Wanna Green the World? Plant a Garden! PlanetShifter.com Interviews Erin Axelrod - DailyActs.org Program Director on the May 15-16, 2010 350 Garden Challenge, Sonoma County, CA
“A Good Future Day”: DailyActs.org Shines a Waterwise Garden in Petaluma, CA
What impact do you think the localization movement will have on international trade and third world economies?
As each community builds its own capacity and teaches each other’s new green values and spiritual channels, localization can scale and be the new global model of sustainability. A dream now coming true.
Another strong trend is the interest on community. What trends/technologies do you see happening in community creation? What are we learning that will help us get along better?
Community building is now the same process as localization. Social media is only one part of gaining independence from big corporate profiteers, junk food salesmen and bribe taking politicians. “Getting along” will take some hard choices and coordinated actions. New values. See Green Sangha for my choice in new community values.
What seems to be the major challenges in creating a sustainable world? Who is addressing them and how are they doing it?
Well, this is far too large an answer for this busy green brain, but the major challenges might include:
- Broken budgets
- Broken prisons
- War as an economic solution for the few
- Pollution of all kinds
- Destruction of ecosystems
- Self-serving, short-sighted religions
There are a number of beliefs that inform our behavior and that have allowed us to create our culture. People are now talking about the creation of a ‘new story.’ What symbols and stories are people telling to support a more sustainable way of life?
I like the work underway by Awakening the Dreamer. See: The New Church of Sustainability is “Awakening the Dreamer.”
For more on my work in symbols, mythology and the new sustainability, please see my “The PlanetShifter.com Survival Guide to 2010: Curriculum Plans, Thought Leader Interviews and Big Green Ideas,” based on the Event Circle Interviews. and a list of related works here.
What social justice actions do you see people taking to address root cause issues?
Part of the localization mandate to me is our need to heal joblessness, poverty, hunger and our global polluted lands and rivers. This aspect of rising up and healing everyone together is central to localization and social or environmental justice.
You interview tons of people, who and or what stories have made the biggest impression on you?
Here are a few of my heroes so far:
- Trathen Heckman, DailyActs.org, , Director
- Bron Taylor, Author
- Ed Begley, Jr., Actor
- Steve Kilbey, The Church, Muse
- Simon Haiduk, Painter
Do you think green cities are possible? What would they look like and how would they be different?
Frankly I am not familiar with any green cities. It’s a patch work progress so far. A pocket park here, a bike path there. Lots of architects, planners and localizers are working to make this happen! See this Portland idea to create
20 Minute Neighborhoods.
I know you have been interested in exploring if sustainability is a new religion, so you see spiritual aspects in the sustainability movement? If so, what are they?
I have address this in my post entitled: “Is Sustainability a New Religion? GreenSource Knowledge Paper Series #3. Based on the Event Circle Interviews on PlanetShifter.com”
In addition, Awakening the Dreamer program is quite possibility the “new Church of Sustainability”. Consider the following analogs / components:
- Facilitators (readers, guides) are like Priests
- A strong set of Messages, Values and Principles
- The Alter is the media screen
- Participants as Congregation
- Call to join, be present and contribute
- Friendship bracelet for all participants
- Could be a once per week gathering
- Who are the Prophets? These include Swimme, Berry, Robbins, JB Hill, Hawken, Tutu, and many others
- Like ate church, the facilitators repeatedly called for feelings-based, silent reflection or “prayer”
- The Earth is God, we are stewards of the good
- Green Sanga principles enjoin the vision (Compassionate Action and One Body)
- Life changing mythological / biblical-like stories are stressed
Is there a role for technology in a sustainable world? What might it be? What kinds of technologies would fit?
I think technology and those who control and manufacture it will continue to have a big responsibility to promote ethical uses of resources, and machines that assist us, not enslave us - or dumb us into consumption. We need to work on localization more and less in MySpace.
It seems to me that lots of people are taking actions to help save the planet. What kinds of new thinking do you see being explored and practiced?
Here are two pioneers:
PlanetShifter.com Event Circle 2010.7 Interview with Rachel Zedeck, Founder and Managing Director, Backpack Farm Program with the Medea Group
Berkeley's Climate Scorecard: "Berkeley See-It." Interview with Timothy Burroughs, Climate Action Coordinator, Office of Energy & Sustainable Development - City of Berkeley, CA
As you look around, are there generational differences in both the interest in and actions being taken to bring forth a more sustainable world?
Not generation differences but race and income are still key challenges, as in environmental justice!
Two of the drivers that have created the collapsing world are greed and a belief in our separation from the living world. How do you see these changing?
I am hopeful that all of the world’s dominating religions will morph together into a more unified nature-based, global actionizer. It is religion and it’s capricious agents that are often responsible for war , ecological genocide and child abuse. It’s time to get off the cross and into the fields!
Are you hopeful about this shift? What makes you feel the way you do? What gives you pause?
I keep saying that the planet will survive even if human beings perish from their own unsustainability. I am not hopeful for homo sapiens.
… and anything else you’d like to share to help others better understand the current state of the planet and our human responses to that?
One of my main drivers is to help build new green stories and mythologies. See "The Earth Day Mythology": A Call for Ideas, edited by PlanetShifter.com.
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Willi Paul Interviews Kathryn Alexander
What is the most ethical green issue that you have solved in the past 6 months?
Solved? The most anyone can do right now, in my estimation, is to lessen my own impact and help our clients reduce their impact. However I think that begs the question, for us the real issue is how to change people’s understanding so that they begin to work within natural law. Our struggle, as a company, is to figure out how to work in ways that do not support the current collapsing systems and that will support the formation of new systems. To that end we are an L3C – social benefit company as a public statement that social benefit comes before profit. We are also becoming a B Corp to play our part in shifting the legal responsibilities of boards of directors to include putting the environment and the community before profit.
Why is a job in sustainability different than a “regular” gig?
One of the aspects of healthy work is that it nurture all involved. Historically that has not been true. Now, I believe, work that supports life has an inherent spiritual and psychological benefit as it nurtures the worker, the community and the planet.
How would apply your Whole Systems Approach to K Mart?
That question is way too big for a simple question. Wal-Mart is having a substantial impact on carbon reduction, but they are not shifting the things that matter (being in harmony with nature’s way) and may, in fact, undercut the ability of that to happen as they get confronted with the real changes that need to take place. That said, everything starts with baby steps. Part of the answer has to do with which belief is stronger – more progress is made by changing what already exists or more change is made by creating things anew.
Name the top three thought leaders in the green movement? What makes them great?
Thomas Berry – he brings very deep understanding, great heart and clear actions to bear how we need to change.
Cormac Cullinan – he is a lawyer living in South Africa who is working to change the law so rivers, canyons, mountains and trees have a voice under the law.
Janine Benyus – her insight into how to use the research and development of 5 billions years to solve problems within natural law through biomimcry is astounding.
There are so many….
What are the top five values or best practices at Ethical Impact, L3C? At your clients?
We don’t have a top five. The Sustainable Value Set is composed of 15 values that form a system. Using these values to make decisions ensures that actions taken will be sustainable. Three are, Integrity of the Whole, Right – Relationship, Zero Waste.
How important is evaluation in the certification process?
We have been trained to use measurement as a stimulus to action. The fallacy is that we then have a hard time giving value to the intangibles that can’t be measured. For that reason we have developed assessments to measure the effects of acting upon values (both good and bad) and then incorporating those measures into a balanced scorecard so the company has real-time information to act upon. The first time through creates a benchmark, then every two or three years, when the company re-certifies, they will know how much progress they have made. To us, evaluation is key.
Give us a few examples of the clients that you have worked with and what the challenges were going in?
When I worked with the Department of Public Works the issue was making a difference without stirring up the union. With the Youth Parole Board it was getting new information into the system. Each client has a ‘real’ issue and what they think is the problem, assessments help to define and clarify, but even things as simple as trying to measure energy can uncover issues in communication, leadership and morale that will affect the outcome if not addressed. That is why we include consulting hours with the certification process, so challenges to implementation can be showcased.
How do you envision the Green Academy will evolve in the next year?
We are doing introductory courses this year with the intent of offering longer series of several next year and then moving into personal certifications for staff, trainers and auditors.
What is an environmental risk program? Have you designed one?
Environmental risk is interesting, as is compliance. The basic premise is that a company needs protection from the coming changes if it continues to act and do business in the same way Our contention is that if a company turns toward the planet and makes Mother Nature a partner in all decisions and ways of doing business, then the risk is addressed and they become more than just ‘compliant.’ Obviously we prefer to work that way.
Has the economic crisis impacted your bottom line? Have you invented new ways to serve your clients?
Things have been much slower than we expected. We priced the introductory webinars at $50 for just reason, trying to give way more value for the money.
What is your track record on environmental justice issues?
One place where I see social justice tied to environmental justice is in the coffee industry. Pure Vidia Coffee created a non-profit to run the coffee company to ensure that coffee farmers have clean water. The push to fair trade and shade grown also supports this. Gunter Pauli has been working on ways to use coffee waste (94% is waste) to help women who have been rescued from prostitution and abuse start businesses using coffee grounds to grow mushrooms. I do not think we really understand the connection between environmental issues and social justice.
Who is your competition?
Humm, we see most other companies that are doing certifications as partners and collaborators, since our certification does not replace what they do, but deepens it. Likewise with The Green Academy, we go beyond energy and water management, so we are actively seeking partnerships with those that teach how to do measure and manage these areas.
Give us some insight into your corporate zero waste strategies.
Since we are a service business our approach is to pay attention to what we buy and make the very best use of it that we can. We have less than 15 gallons of waste a month, buy wind energy offsets and make sure that our suppliers do not use non-recyclable packaging. We also compost.
How do you advise on clients on green washing?
Once they have gone through our certification process green washing is out of the question. This is a major benefit of the Forever Green certification process – they can assure their market that they do not, would not green wash.
How do you define localization?
To be sustainable, I believe that trade should happen only with excess production and for only those things that can’t be produced locally (as close as possible). I’m not sure that total self-sufficiency is something people will cheerfully go back to, nor is it actually necessary. One of the wonders of diversity is that different things happen in different places. That only adds to the richness of life. However to not grow food so you can grow coffee for export seems counterproductive. Grow food AND grow coffee for export, just don’t grow so much coffee.
Is sustainability like a new religion? How so?
For me religion is about beliefs and rules for bargaining with a higher power to get what you want. So no I do not see sustainability as being religious. Sustainable practices have nothing to do with belief, they are driven by facts and by duplicating natural practices. However the inherent reverence for life and the gratitude and appreciation for the elegance of natural law IS spiritual and connects people to their highest and best self. The awe that nature’s elegance inspires certainly generates a deep appreciation for the consciousness that underlies all life, and that is at the heart of most religious philosophies.
Many see a major shift in the power of the USA as the banking, housing, climate and unemployment debacles hits home. What is your near term view of the future?
For those who are not committed to making a shift and who do not see the changes that need to happen, I see them working valiantly to resurrect the old order. Getting back to shopping and selling stocks seems reassuring. However for others, I think the economic issues and the other signs of problems are seen as validation that change is needed and is coming. Those folks are simply doing what they are already doing, creating the new world.
Is grey water or solar energy the more important residential technology moving forward?
This is the wrong question. Trying rank things assumes that there are no interconnections. Being creative with both water and energy are absolutely necessary. We are very used to making trade-offs, trade-offs don’t work and are not sustainable. That said, we cannot live without water, so reducing our use of it, eliminating pollution and facilitating access to it will be key to preventing violence world-wide.
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