Today's buzzwords are collaboration, community engagement, and networked leadership across several industries. There's a lot of talk about adapting a systems perspective and moving away from linear approaches to change. These views and processes are all well and good. As a matter of fact, they hold the promise of a more holistic pathway towards ecological consciousness and societal transformation. But what if a well-rooted identity with an ecological ancestry as well as a present day sense of place do not first exist? Recently, I was...
Systemic sustainability is a process of development—individual, organizational, or societal—involving an adaptive strategy of emergence that ensures the evolutionary maintenance of an increasingly robust and supportive environment. Systemic sustainability goes beyond the triple bottom line and embraces “the possibility that human and other forms of life will flourish on the Earth forever” as beautifully expressed by John Ehrenfeld. Adam Werbach defines a sustainable business as one capable of “thriving in...
I was moved by Aimee’s post on Friday and wanted to continue the thread of her story. It is a simple story of life and death intertwined; of the preciousness of our lives during our brief journeys on this beautiful planet. Over the weekend I was talking with two friends, Marcelino and his wife Paula, under our pergola in the backyard. The garden was sunny and warm, full of blossoms, tomatoes and vegetables, buzzing with hummingbirds and honey bees. We were quite content as we talked. Two years ago, Marcelino had a terrible fall when he...
While perusing my Facebook page this afternoon, I learned that the friend of a friend—a woman named Maria—was recently hospitalized in her battle against an inoperable brain tumor. Maria's name sounded familiar so I looked her up. I know her, I thought. But I don't know her. At least not formally. I remembered her as Mari—her high school nickname. In my memory, she was one of those popular upperclasmen who roamed the halls of St. Brendan High School oblivious to people like me—the outcasts who generally blended...
I have noticed an increasing tension residing in sustainability conversations as to whether the primary focus of attention should be on local or global development, community or organization change. Rather than engaging in this either/or thinking, I believe it is critical to recognize that we have to work on multiple levels in multiple places. We live in a world of complex interrelated systems where change at one level will impact change on many other levels. There is no room for either/or thinking when working with systems. Rather, what is...
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