Monday, March 09, 2009

BTH is WorldChanging

A much appreciated colleague and friend, Andrew Outhwaite recently published on WorldChanging some reflections from Hallbarhet - the Australian (and affiliated regional events) sustainability conference / MSLS reunion. The piece focuses on social technologies for moving us more effectively towards sustainability. The importance of community and more effective ways of communicating and working together are central to effective sustainable development. (As Tony Cortese likes to say, "communication in sustainability work is like location in real estate. Communication, communication, communication." Andrew is excellent at studying, understanding, and practicing these tool, techniques and technologies. A quote from the WorldChanging piece:

We are now a global village whether we like it or not, with no enemy except the momentum of our unsustainable culture and the forces of nature we have unleashed. Though individuals need to act strategically, authentically and boldly, acting in isolation is not enough to survive and realise our evolutionary potential. A shift in focus from individual heroes to mass collaborative leadership and action is required, and that shift will challenge our attachment to our primary identities as independent, autonomous actors.

It seems more important than ever to remember that sustainability is not the characteristic of one individual, organisation or nation; rather, it is the result of the whole system. The ultimate challenge for leaders in this space is to push the edges of what we can and must do together, as a community.

The ACUPCC is a great example of the need for these kind of 'technology' - presidents have performed a great act of leadership by signing, and now are faced with the challenge of following-through - which will take ongoing, persistent, dedicated leadership to enable and empower their communities to incorporate sustainability principles into the educaitonal experience of all students, and transform their campuses into climate neutral role models for society. At Second Nature we get a lot of "how to" questions from all kinds of people on ACUPCC questions - they tend to be cloaked in technical questions - about solar power or energy efficiency - but they are really community questions - about how to engage with members of the facilities department, or work with business officiers to employ a 'true cost' economic analysis to investment decisions. It is the most exciting and challenging aspect of sustainability work and too often buried under the converstaions about technological performance and top-down policy decisions.

For more of Andrew's writing and work, see his Arising website.

Stay going.