Saturday, April 23, 2011

The Capital Institute

The Capital Institute is exactly the kind of organization we need to start putting the concepts of ecological economics into action in the real world.

The videos below show a wide-ranging conversation between John Fullerton -- an ex-JP Morgan executive and the Founder and President of the Capital Institute -- and Robert Johnson, Executive Director of the Institute for New Economic Thinking.

Fullerton touches on a broad array of inter-related sustainability topics, including ecology, ecological economics, systems thinking, reductionism, transdisciplinarity, biomimicry, complexity science, interconnectedness, resiliency theory, social sustainability, happiness, and the purpose of capital.

It's clear that he's read and learned from the best, and has a lot to add to this field - I highly recommend working your way through each of the short clips below.

The Profound Ecological Implications of a Perpetually Growing Economy

Inspirational Authors Who Challenge the Growth Economy

Is Growth Becoming a Scarce Commodity? 

Rethinking Finance as a Part of the Whole

Systems Theory: Balancing Efficiency with Resiliency

Social Sustainability: Does Wealth Equal Happiness?

How Detroit Did Everything Wrong

A Challenge for the Next Generation

Mobilizing the Top 1%

Stay going.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

IKEA's Social Sustainability Risk

IKEA is in many ways a sustainability poster-child.  They were one of the early companies to work with The Natural Step and have a good looking list of projects aimed at reducing their negative social and environmental impacts.

Photo: LA Times - Workers prepare pieces of Ikea furniture for packing at the then-new factory in Danville, Va., in 2008. (Steve Sheppard, Associated Press / April 10, 2011 
But this recent news on complaints about poor working conditions and racial discrimination in one of their US factories is a stark reminder about how the funnel walls are everywhere and closing in -- with such fierce demand for low-costs, manufacturers too often find it tempting to put the squeeze on their own employees.  From the LA Times story:

The dust-up has garnered little attention in the U.S. But it's front-page news in Sweden, where much of the labor force is unionized and Ikea is a cherished institution. Per-Olaf Sjoo, the head of the Swedish union in Swedwood factories, said he was baffled by the friction in Danville. Ikea's code of conduct, known as IWAY, guarantees workers the right to organize and stipulates that all overtime be voluntary.
"Ikea is a very strong brand and they lean on some kind of good Swedishness in their business profile. That becomes a complication when they act like they do in the United States," said Sjoo. "For us, it's a huge problem."

There are many interesting undertones in this story of course - chief among them the fact that Sweden seems to be treating the US like the US treats China, taking advantage of lower labor standards.  And the obvious cultural differences between Sweden and the US, and what that means in terms of leading a shift towards sustainability (they're way ahead of us, and I think in large part because Swedes have a more collaborative, community-focused, rule-following nature than the individualistic, cowboy Americans).

But for me the interesting thing is that it underscores just how tough it is to set that vision of truly sustainable future and continuously, diligently, repeatedly monitor and adjust activities throughout a large organization, so that the vision is clear and everyone's invested in avoiding missteps like this one.

Thanks to @NilsJK for the heads up on the story.

Stay going.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

PowerShift 2011

I wasn't able to make it down to DC for PowerShift 2011 - but have had a great time following the action via livestreams and various twitter accounts.  Here's a quick sampling of some of the great videos and photos coming out of this movement:


Taking it to the Streets:

Press Coverage: 

Coverage in the Washington Post, LA Times, New York Times, HuffingtonPost, CNN, Politico,The Nation.

Bill McKibben's Speech:

Al Gore's Speech: 

Van Jones's Speech:

Shutting Down BP Station: 

Stay going.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Friday, April 08, 2011

350 Takes on the US Chamber of Commerce

I picked up the video below via GOOD.  It's about's "The US Chamber Doesn't Speak for Me" campaign, and getting people amped for PowerShift.  Enjoy:

Stay going.

Thursday, April 07, 2011

The Most Important Company on Earth - Happy Birthday Interface

The latest video from Ray Anderson, founder of Interface, shared a powerful message with his team yesterday, on the 38th anniversary of the company's founding.

All of our thoughts and prayers are with Ray - stay strong and enjoy the view from the top of Mount Sustainability.  Thanks so much for all you've done for so many - in the current and future generations - through your commitment, leadership, courage and inspiration.  And thanks to all the good people of Interface working hard day after day to climb that mountain.

For more on the Interface story, check out Ray's latest book, Confessions of a Radical Industrialist.

Stay going.

Wednesday, April 06, 2011

2010 ACUPCC Annual Report

The 2010 Annual Report of the American College & University Presidents' Climate Commitment (ACUPCC) was released yesterday.  Click on the icon below to flip through the e-version.

It's hard to believe it's been four years we've been working on this - and it's amazing to see how far these institutions - 677 of them to date - have come in managing their carbon emissions, raising awareness, engaging their local communities and providing the education and research needed to lead the transition to a low-carbon economy as safely as possible.

To see which schools have joined this network, and to check out the details of their emissions profiles, and their climate action plans for reducing those emissions, go to the ACUPCC Reporting System at  There you can search by school, or institution type, or state and click through to all of the greenhouse gas inventories and climate action plans.

Check out the press release announcing the report - there are some great quotes from the co-chairs of the ACUPCC Steering Committee, like this one from Mary Spangler, Chancellor of Houston Community College:
Across the country, colleges and universities of all types and sizes are rethinking what it means to prepare graduates for the 21st century economy. We are working with partners from the private and public sectors to ensure our students gain the necessary skills and experience to help create the green economy.

I'm very proud of the team at Second Nature who worked to pull this beauty together, and so appreciative of all the people at the ACUPCC institutions who provided the content and are working diligently every day to fulfill this commitment.

Please share this far and wide and support your alma mater in their education for sustainability efforts!

Stay going.