The Great Turning: Argument for Earth Community

The above is a video of David Korten, author of “The Great Turning” and leader in the movement for a more sustainable planet.  Though 31 minutes long, it is worth a listen.

Korten presents an interesting though fairly politicized argument for the movement from an imperialistic society to what he calls an “Earth community,” one where collaboration and partnerships prevail. Korten tells the tale of human history gone awry, of imperialism and power hungry leaders denying basic humanity and creating racism, sexism, classism, environmental devastation, war and poverty as a result. As Korten says, business as usual will lead to environmental and social collapse as we continue to feed these “relics of a dying era,” (Korten, 2006). These relics he speaks of are old industries and static thinking; automobile reliance, military states, peak oil, ideological conflicts.

Ideology is a topic Korten touches on a way for imperialistic leadership to utilize stories we create for ourselves to instill fear and justify their actions. By believing we have enemies, we develop a common goal to protect ourselves against them. We develop a “them and us” mentality, demonizing those are not us and building leadership principles based on the idea that to lead, you must conquer others. Korten suggests this “Empire” world is completely and totally unsustainable.

He suggests that a new type of leadership needs to be developed, one created on collaboration and common ground and one that shuns the dominant class perspective. In this new Earth community, a true democracy will be formed, allowing communities to speak with an “audible voice to change the course of the human future,” (Korten, 2006). He argues that “relationships are the foundation of everything” and that in order to sustain as a species, we must embrace a larger global conversation of cooperation in order to continue to flourish on this planet.

I think these leadership principles resonated with me particularly because they really exist at the core of sustainable leadership and management. Whether you work for a private corporation or a non-profit or even a government agency, learning to lead by collaboration and cooperation is a necessity for success and growth in years to come. We have seen the devastating results of a dominance structured leadership and it has proven to be costly, ineffective, counterproductive and often times suicidal. I think Korten best summed it up when he said, “on a finite planet, peace, equity and sustainability are inseparably linked.”

Posted by: Ashley / follow me on Twitter

A Birthday Celebration: Here’s to a Better, Greener Year

Happy Birthday, America.  Today you are 202 years old which by today’s standards, that still makes you a toddler among other nations.  This has been quite the year though – what with historic election of our first black President, dominating swimming in the Olympics, finally putting OJ Simpson in jail and watching the financial markets crash.  You must really be tired, America.  But the end of your 201st year has sparked some major changes in environmental policy and sustainable development that suggest that maybe, just maybe, year 202 could be our greenest year yet. 

Let’s take a quick look back.  The term sustainability really came to rise in this country in 1969 with the passage of the U.S. National Environmental Policy Act which created the sometimes controversial Environmental Protection Agency.  A decade later, President Jimmy Carter installed solar panels on the roof of the White House and encouraged all Americans to put on a sweater, turn down the thermostat and conserve.  That’s about as bright as it gets in our brief history – a year later, with election of Republican candidate Ronald Reagan to the office of the Presidency, they were torn down.  Reagan also removed all controls and regulations on oil prices, thus eventually making his sucessors prisoners of the Middle East and increasing America’s dependence on foreign oil exponentially. 

The 90s and early 2000s were plagued by ineffective legislation and in the latter years, a leader who showed little to no support for any real environmental change despite mounting evidence that climate change would have a devastating effect on future generations.  We are on the brink of a new decade and it seems, America, there may be a light at the end of this tunnel afterall.  We have elected a president who acknowledges global warming as an eminent threat to our future (which in and of itself is a small victory) and a climate bill in Congress that looks to be the most aggressive piece of environmental legislation ever drafted.

But that’s not all – multi-national companies are showing signs that they believe sustainability is both profitable and socially responsible and that they wish to be both.  Even the US Military is jumping on board with renewable energy efforts to decrease their carbon footprint.  Being green and sustainable is no longer a fad for hippies and tree huggers – although America, we should applaud them for being right all this time.  We are in the midst of strange times with unchartered ground ahead – but the need to reduce, rethink and reapply our knowledge and resources to be smarter and sustainable is no longer just an option.  It’s a necessity. 

We’re in the midst of a revolution, America.  So Happy Birthday – and here’s to a brighter, smarter, cleaner year ahead.