Monday, February 27, 2012
Collective Invention collaborated with the founders and Board of Trustees for Roots of Peace, an international non-profit working to develop sustainable agricultural models in war-torn areas from Afghanistan to Croatia, from Iraq to the West Bank. We explored strategic options and organizational dynamics related to the geographic expansion of their mission to “de-mine, replant, rebuild.”
Monday, December 20, 2010
By Cheryl D. Hicks and Fiona Hovenden, Ph.D.
From Responsible Management in Asia: Perspectives on CSR
Palgrave-Macmillan, 2011 (Published December 2010)
View full article here »
Friday, July 24, 2009
It’s hard to find a person who is against sustainability. I can think of only two people I know. Sustainability is in the same league as Motherhood and Apple Pie. But sustainability’s approval rating nosedives in most conversations approximately 30 seconds after it starts. That’s usually the time when the gauzy notion of sustainability inevitably gives way to defining the term (30 point approval rating drop) or actually doing something about it (free fall).
What’s going on here? For one, humans are good at using our big brains to know a lot. But it doesn’t always translate into doing a lot. Second, we are on sustainability overwhelm. Staying current is like drinking from a fire hose – everyday. And that’s hard to swallow. Third, amid this explosive growth in knowledge and information the very meaning of sustainability has been diluted to the point of meaning just about anything, and thus meaning nothing.
We all support motherhood, apple pie and sustainability. We know what the first two mean and we know how to create them. Not so for sustainability. Even the Brundtland Commission’s definition – development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs – is difficult to apply to the here-and-now of one’s daily life. Paper or plastic?
Without an explicit shared agreement about the meaning of sustainability even the well-informed and well meaning among us cannot make much progress. Indeed, this lack of clarity enables avoiding the most neglected problem in sustainable design today: time. There are many projections about when catastrophic environmental events will take place (GHG, ice shelf melting, sea-level rise, water wars). It’s hard to know how accurate they are and it doesn’t matter. The plain fact is that we don’t have time to wait and find out if the projections are correct. What matters is taking smart bold steps now because here’s what we do know: the longer it takes to start meaningful healing of the earth, the less likely we are to have a viable future. In short, we don’t have time to waste.
Is there any hope? Yes, and its not false hope. Design – and design thinking – as a set of solution-seeking tools is spreading to every corner of the world. Indeed, we are all designers now and optimism is an onboard skill of every designer everywhere (sustainable or otherwise). More importantly, healing the earth is igniting the largest movement of human energy in the history of the planet. It is a movement without precedent; amorphous, unorganized, instinctive, and blessedly uncontrollable. Literally billions of people are on the job. It is already the single largest public works project ever.
In the end, if we can get as good at creating sustainability as we are at creating motherhood and apple pie we could find ourselves being happy, well fed and living long, balanced lives. Cloth or disposable?