Going Green Our Own Way: 5 Challenges to Creating a Connected World

April 2, 2012 by Frontline Copy

Green copywriting & marketing for the green living worldBy Faith Attaguile
Green living, once a sideline issue for the “weirdos” of the world, has gone mainstream. But not out of choice. Out of necessity.

Looking behind the mask

We live in a consumer culture that values immediate gratification over long-term wellbeing. The results? Broken people. Shattered communities … and devastated eco-systems.

But all is not lost. Look around and you’ll see positive changes taking place right now. We’re waking up. Increasingly, we’re demanding higher standards of sustainability from corporations … as well as ourselves.

We’re beginning to look behind the labels and into the lives of the people who produce the things we use. We’re taking action when we don’t like what we see.

But most importantly, we’re breaking out of social isolation and making new community links. Not just where we live. Across continents and around the world, too.

Creating a connected world

So connections … the key to real change … are “in.” When our political leaders ignore us, we move around them, link together from the ground up, and complete the things they’re still talking about.

Right now, we’re creating new, cooperative economic forms everywhere. They’re limited only by the needs and imaginations of the people inventing them. Their reach extends around the world.

They range from local trading societies, to microcredit banking, to community cooperatives, to guerrilla gardening ventures.

These new cooperative groups are too varied to count. But a unifying thread weaves throughout them. And that’s our desire to transform old, unsustainable ways of doing business into something quite different.

In his book, CO-OPPORTUNITY (London: John Wiley & Sons Ltd, 2010), John Grant outlines five main challenges we'll have to overcome in order to achieve a sustainable society. They involve stepping outside our comfort zone. Looking at the world through a differest set of lenses. Changing ourselves, even as we change the world ...

CHALLENGE 1:
It’s not just about climate change.
It’s about creating our own climates for change.

Have you ever sighed and said, “Too much information!” while surfing the net, reading a book or scanning a magazine? If so, you’re not alone.

Take the issue of climate change. The information’s all there if we look for it. Theories abound as to what we need to do.

But information alone, without human connections motivating us to action, can immobilize rather than energize us. And that’s a block to change.

Enter the internet.

True … it can immobilize us with too much information. But there’s a new kid on the internet block called social media. And it’s energizing us beyond our wildest dreams.

Whether blogs, forums, local meet-ups, Twitter, Facebook, Google+ (to name just a few in this ever-changing world) – these social media platforms create connection possibilities that have never before existed.

Through social media we’re able to talk and interact with others around the world. Discuss the issues concerning us. See what others are doing … and copy or customize those actions locally and regionally.

Connections. They’re providing the means for inventing endless new “climates for change” footprints. All leading to a more sustainable world.

CHALLENGE 2:
It’s not just about dreaming.
It’s about relocating our dreams.

We’ve grown up in a consumer-driven economy. Our dreams are largely focused on getting the newest, sexiest car. The latest iPad. Or some cool shoes.

Now, the latest iPad may be quite nice to have. But when we’re only focused on getting new stuff … “stuff” begins to take on the quality of life. And life becomes collateral damage in the rush to buy more stuff.

When these values drive our lives, human connections suffer. The evidence is there for all to see.

The answer? Stop sweating the small stuff and begin dreaming of the big picture. But don’t be fooled by those words. The big picture could be as small as a local community garden project.

Here’s why: Urban gardeners often unite over a shared concern about food quality. But the very act of growing their own food transforms their viewpoint.

That’s because it requires them to connect with each other. Then together, they discuss problems … throw out ideas … and find solutions.

These connections, forged around a common dream, allow people to experience the possibility of a better, more cooperative world. They participate in it. Change it. And are transformed by it.

They’re relocating their dream footprint with every seed they plant.

CHALLENGE 3:
It’s not just about accountability.
It’s about becoming accountable for the whole.

Imagine a big corporation promises to reduce their carbon footprint by 40%.

But they continue a policy of using poorly-paid Chinese labor to make their products. And they refuse to provide health-care for their employees.

Would we give them a green pass for the first? Turn a blind eye to the rest? Not in today’s world. And especially not when social media has its say.

As a result corporations are being forced into increasing accountability for the whole. For wellbeing in general.

A truly sustainable world will accept nothing less.

CHALLENGE 4:
It’s not just about individual interests.
It’s about the interests of all.

There’s a myth that ours is a “free” market economic system.

Fact is, the market as we know it isn’t “free” at all. The biggest welfare recipients in the world are corporations that often get huge tax breaks and enjoy big governmental subsidies (among other things).

Under this system, GDP growth comes first. General wellbeing pulls up the rear. Sustainability is an afterthought.

Our challenge is to transform this interest-of-one footprint into a footprint that includes the interests of all.

We can create alternative systems that are economically viable. But we must first make sure they are socially viable. Which means they value ecosystem health and quality of life over everything else.

CHALLENGE 5:
It’s not just about product abundance.
It’s about social abundance.

We’ve all heard about the importance of return on investment. It’s what a business uses to determine its success or failure in our current economic system.

Think of it as the profit footprint. This may be a valid measure at the unit level to show how a business is doing from a purely monetary point of view.

But it measures the profitability of stuff, not the wellbeing of people. And the wellbeing of people is critical to achieving a sustainable world.

Grant suggests shifting our focus from purely investment returns to what he calls the “wellbeing return on resources.”

That’s because, he says, true social abundance grows out of human cooperative efforts to protect and nurture a healthy ecosystem from top to bottom. The rest is poppycock (my words, not his).

I agree. At the very least, a sustainable world requires us to value the wellbeing of all above the stuff of life.

We can point our finger at others outside our own circles, and we may be right about some of our criticisms. But we must also look within. Forge stronger relationships. Nurture new cooperative efforts. And have fun in the process!

If we meet these challenges, transforming them into solutions as we find our way, we’ll lay the groundwork for a more sustainable world our children and grandchildren will be able to enjoy.

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