Monday, May 27, 2013

Re-post of a review by Clive Margolis of How to Account for Sustainability written by The Happiness Initiative's Laura Musikanski

Corporate sustainability blog

- Laura Musikanski
Reviewed by Clive Margolis

This little book is a very good introduction into the scope and content of sustainability reporting. What is sustainability in practice? The book attempts to answer this. It’s a quick way to educate yourself about sustainability and broadly what it entails. I learned a lot, in a format that was easy to assimilate.

Inside are contained some gems of information – if somewhat disturbing. For example that only 7.6% of top positions in Fortune 500 companies are held by women (women hold 4% of Fortune 500 CEO positions, according to I was also astounded that by some estimates a total of $250 billion in asbestos-related damages have been claimed.

There is a chapter on each of the six areas of sustainability as defined by the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI): environment, economy, society, products, human rights and labour practices. Each chapter is split into challenges, examples and opportunities. The challenges present a realistic scenario and ask the reader to come up with ways to deal with it. The ‘challenge’ is often the next step for the company in the frame. For example, in the Environment chapter the ‘company’ has achieved sustainability successes, but now has to deal with challenges from advocacy groups.

I particularly found the non-environmental chapters enlightening – perhaps because I am more aware of environmental issues than say, social issues, and can see the connections to sustainability more clearly. For example, what is the connection between corruption and sustainability? You have to think a bit.

But when it comes to the chapter on human rights, it is easier to see the connection between dangerous working conditions – perhaps the use of banned chemicals – and environmental degradation.

There is a cleverly-entitled conclusion: “you get what you measure”. The book concludes with a practical section on how you can begin to assess your business profile on the sustainability landscape, with helpful tables to guide you. It is the start of a self-assessment and measurement process.

But I was not wholly convinced by the claim that the book gives you “ideas how business practices can provide profitable solutions to sustainability challenges”. I only wish the business case for sustainability were that simple. The picture that does seem to be emerging is that startups may find it much easier to turn sustainability into profitability, and there are plenty of examples in the book.

In sustainability reporting what is missing is in many ways as important – or perhaps more important – as what is captured, as what is missing helps you identify where more work needs to be done.

This would be a good book for those starting to report on sustainability, or even to learn quite a lot about it

Friday, May 10, 2013

A Happiness Practitioner's Challenge for Olympia

HI all! Please find here a Happiness Practitioner's Challenge ~
from Jhana Chinamasta in Beautiful Olympia WA:
(Read more about her below...)

Greetings from Olympia, WA!
           Thank you for all that You are doing, wherever You are, to Create a Sane, Resilient, and Happy Civilization.

Important News:
In my view, a very important breakthrough has occurred. The Task Force of Sustainable Thurston County has issued a mind-blowingly ambitious draft Vision Statement... and it awaits Public Comment from anyone who lives in Thurston County.... 

There is an online Public Opinion VOTE happening right NOW... but for just a few more days.... In my understanding, this is a chance for citizens of the county to voice their desire for a strong push toward real Resilience. Sustainable Thurston is a project of the Thurston Regional Planning Council. The process of collecting ideas and forming a Vision Statement is designed to help point the direction of the region for decades to come. Much time and effort has been invested in creating this opportunity, and it may not come around again for quite a while....

Vision Statement for Thurston County
from Sustainable Thurston Task Force,

In one generation - through innovation and leadership - Thurston County will become the most sustainable and livable region in the United States. We will consume less energy, water, and land, produce less waste and have a lower carbon footprint than any region our size. This will result in environmental sustainability and create prosperity based on sustainable practices. We will lead in doing more while consuming less. Through efficiency coupled with strategic investments, we will build a robust economy, enhance our excellent education system, and foster an inclusive and equitable social environment that remains affordable and livable.

We will view every decision at the local and regional level through the sustainability lens - thinking in generations, not years. The region will work together toward common goals, putting people in the center of our thinking, and inspire individual responsibility and leadership in our residents.
                                                                    ~~~ *~~~~

Perhaps I have been drinking too much of Olympia's Magic Kombucha, but that all sounds OK to me! It sounds, in fact, exactly like what we have been working for. So, if you live in Thurston County, Washington, can you please help by finding the time in your extremely busy Lives to  VOTE your Heart's Response to this Vision. If you know anyone who Lives in Thurston County, then please:“Pass the Word”. This could be a Critical Leverage Point for long term social and environmental gains.

Vote for the Vision at Engage Sustainable Thurston. Read the courageous "Project Details" for each of the interlocking sectors of society offered at the sidebar of that website. Voting ends in just a few days; if we are invited to express our wishes, and there is only silence, what does that say? When the Thurston County Regional Planning Council Sustainability Task Force members all sit around their table, tally the results, and read the Public comments --  and there is only a smattering of interest from the community, then just how loudly are we calling for change, after all? If we do not voice our desire for such true sustainability, it could appear there just was no interest, which is tragic, as there is actually so much interest and support for such goals.

Those working within the system for sustainability and livability don't need our silence as a response... they need helpful, lively, and supportive engagement. In Truth, they cannot do it without our vote! They need to be able to demonstrate Public support. This could be the platform for the much needed "Synchronization of Prototypes.” If we have a Mandate, there will be many opportunities for new forms of Partnership.

Sadly, there are so few people from the Public involved, either because they are unaware, too busy, or perhaps because of an inability to work together in the past and permissible skepticism. So, the Community members who do "show up" (vote, provide input, ideas, feedback through the online portal, and at the Community meetings) are the tiny handful who are setting Public Policy. We need Community government. Someone has to pave the roads; if we have a Sustainability Mandate, we get to have input on what kind of material is laid down on those roads, by whom, driving what, through what land, what is built along them, and where they lead... and fracking, coal trains? Kiss those bad boys good-by!

The very least we can do is to mount a strong effort via email and social media within our sustainability and resilience circles to "get out the Vote", and let the record show that:

YES: if that Vision is Sincere -- we DO support those Beautiful Goals.

If you Live, as I do, in beautiful Thurston County -- this is our chance. Our local government has heard us and is trying to reflect what it has heard. We have buy-in. The Word and the Vote are very Powerful and can Change the Future.... We have nothing to lose by voting -- and everything to gain: for the Community, the Local Planet, and for a Creative, Inspired approach to our shared Challenges....

Speaking of Challenges... if you don't Live in Thurston County -- Let's Go! Here We Come (dancing)!


More about Jhana Chinamasta, Olympia WA:

I’m a Caring Economy Conversation Leader certified through the Center for Partnership Studies founded by Dr. Riane Eisler (The Chalice and the Blade, and The Real Wealth of Nations) and a graduate of Dr. Eisler’s Cultural Transformation Master Class. A writer and artist, I am in cahoots with Transition Olympia, engaged in building local micro-economies, and participating in the surge towards establishing Community and Natural Rights.

The Happiness Initiative relates strongly to that work; it is a fluid, mobile, nurturing idea that empowers the numerous and various Resilience initiatives. It unites them in a framework that gives easy entry for others to come aboard and “look around,” thereby growing the movement. I think it is quite important for all “New Society” co-creators to get a glimpse of the HI framework, and have a chance to experience “Flow” with it; it's easy to engage the public about whether they are happy or not! From that conversation, the steps to a Caring Economy, Green Cities, Green businesses, healthy relationships with Nature, and with each other are very clear and have a radiant unifying construct in HI. So – Good Work There!

I believe that the Happiness Initiative may be a game changer. It provides an “on-ramp” to the vast network of New Renaissance idea-constructs and Prototypes that are rapidly aligning in this phase of shared “evolution”. We are Neural Synapses linking-up in an extraordinary way, in an extraordinary timespace. My gig is achieving “Prototype Synchronization” – ASAP! The Thyme is NOW....  Enjoy it, Believe it, Achieve it....

                                                   ~~~ * ~~~ * ~~ * ~~~
                                             (particles behaving as waves)