New Eyes. New Future.

So I’ve been hooked on the whole documentary kick recently and find myself searching through different films online in my free time. Today, I came across a film called War/Dance – a story about children in northern Uganda who have been displaced from their homes because of violence and war. The film shows that many of these children have experienced horrible things in their lives and now, are united through song and use dancing as a way to escape from the past and live for the future.

It was a film that really pulled at me, and I found myself balancing tears of happiness and tears of sorrow. After watching films like these – that do nothing more then retell an individuals story – I can’t help but feel awful for the way we are leaving this planet and our society for the next generation.

When you listen to any of these children’s stories…when you understand what they have had to go through…when you watch their tears role down as they simply tell you about themselves – how can we do anything else but ask ourselves – is this how life was intended to be lived?

Back in the summer of 2007 when I visited Tanzania, I met a friend who has had more of an impact on me than I ever thought possible for only knowing someone for a few weeks. His name was Johnny, and he was an orphan. Johnny was abandoned by his mother shortly after his birth and was the unintended outcome of a failed, illegal abortion. As a result, Johnny is mute, suffers brain damage, and has a limp and deformed arm.

I’ve never met a kid with a bigger heart – or a bigger smile. I miss Johnny.

Although Johnny and I didn’t share a common language, and could only communicate through laughs, hand motions, and grunts – by the time I left, I knew Johnny’s story. In so little time, I learned to see the world through his perspective and his eyes. All of the sudden, I learned that life was about more than the difficulties thrown our way, and was more about our attitude towards handling them. Johnny learned that pretty quickly, and was one of the happiest kids I’ve met despite his challenges.

You know, when I think of the kids in our world, I have a renewed sense of hope. It’s easy to look around us and pick out the messed up, broken, and failed things we have created. We so easily overlook the children, quietly standing beneath our gaze waiting for their turn to make a difference. When will we stop, look down, and seek their knowledge?

Sure they don’t have the wisdom or skills that are developed with age, but I believe in the knowledge of a child. I believe in their simplicity, their curiosity, and their love.

So as I was watching War/Dance, all of these thoughts started rushing back to me from my time in Africa. At one point in the film, a child confronts one of the rebels who had abducted him a few years early and asks if he knows anything about his missing brother, who he hasn’t seen in years. He then goes on to ask why they continue to abduct and kill children when they know it is wrong.

I wish I had just a fraction of the bravery and courage it takes to ask questions like those. Let alone sit and wait for an answer…

But to a child, some things are simply black and white. Some questions have to be asked. And often their curiosity leads them to ask those questions. Why do you kill when you know it is bad?

We’ve gotten good at answering those questions by explaining the ‘grey’ areas in life or explaining the complexity of the situation. But have we missed the point. I understand we live in a complex world, but aren’t certain things still black and white. We’ve gotten so good at answering children s questions that we begin using those same answers on ourselves. But what if we took the time to listen to the answer from a child’s point of view…

One of the girl’s from the movie makes the comment “I’m excited to see what peace looks like…”

I am too.

Anyway, I couldn’t really articulate everything I was thinking above, so I wrote the following. Maybe one day we’ll start to take the advice from our children…

New Eyes. New Future.

I want to see the world through the eyes of a child.
I want to feel pain as a child,
   experience joy as a child,
      share a story as a child.

Sadly, I don’t know if I remember how to think like a child anymore.
I can categorize their actions,
Observe their behavior,
And speak about their brilliance,
But to think their thoughts is far too difficult.

I wish I could hold back the tears for just once,
wipe them all away.

What world have we created for those younger?
Is this what I am proud to hand over?
I often dream of my legacy, our legacy,
We flip through the pages of history
And sum up others’ actions in a few brief words.

But what records will there be of us?
What direction are we moving?
And do our children want to follow?

We are numb to the world we have created
And confused when children seemed shocked about that same world.
Can we open our eyes for just once
To see what we have created?

If the fate of tomorrow rests in our hands,
Then when will we grasp it and change it…

I hope I will be there
When the last bomb drops
And the last tear falls

I want to be there
When the armies scatter
And the guns drop

When soldier’s arms are open wide to embrace children,
And a mother is reunited with her daughter.

I’m excited to see what peace looks like…

For I’ve seen the smile of a child in the midst of war.
It is a smile that has weathered a storm, and even though it rains,
Manages to peak through and find a glimmer of light.

But imagine those same smiles in the midst of peace...
With no worries or fears,
No demons or nightmares.

A smile about the world around them,
Not for the world inside of them.

But until that day,
I will walk with the stories of those children in my heart.
Their pains, their joys, and their stories are not mine,
But I will hold onto them as a reminder

A reminder that we are all walking side by side.
We are simply passerbys on this planet,
With the hope that we would leave this world
a better place than how we found it.

Complexity of Water

Donating money is easy; changing a lifestyle is hard.

Some of the people I know are extremely quick to offer money to aid and development groups whose goal is to 'serve the poor and underpriveleged.' This is great and I myself support many of these same groups. I don't think any less attention should be focused on these organizations.

However, it seem hypocritical and a cop-out for so many people to willing give their money to causes such as these (because of powerful marketing, inspiring personal stories, or shear size) but then live the rest of their lives with no regard to how personal life decisions impact the same cause that they were so quick to financially support.

So what am I trying to get at here, maybe it would help if I gave an example that sticks out to me. (Although honestly, I'm still looking up many of these issues to understand what it's all about)

As a society we have gotten really good at separating ourselves from the source of things. The Story of Stuff is an excellent summary of this problem, and shows how we very rarely know, or understand, where things that we use and consume come from. We're not taught to think of the larger system and processes involved. Rather we're taught to focus on the final product. I guess this would be one way to describe consumerism.

Let's consider the plastic water bottle as one example. To start, it is made from plastic, which is made from oil, which has a whole list of side-effects such as climate change, increased gaps between rich and poor, and increasing landfills. Plastic water bottles account for 1.5 million tons of waste each year, and require 50 million gallons of oil per year to produce. Sure it's great when they are recycled (although only 20% of all bottles are actually recycled), but is there even a need for the bottle in the first place? Additionally, it takes 'three times as much water to produce the bottle as it does to fill it.' Something just doesn't seem right...

Well let me back down a little bit, I don't want to start pointing my finger too quickly. It's easy to pick out flaws in others behavior (or in this case, partially my own), but I realize there are probably just as many problems that I need to overcome in my own life. None of us are perfect and when we loose humbleness, we loose our ability to empower others.

But back to the water bottles. Coming to Sweden, I made it a goal of mine to carry my aluminum water bottle with me everywhere so I wouldn't need to buy bottled water. So far, so good, and it's been at my side pretty much wherever I go (as evident by the numerous dents and scratches it has picked up over the last 4 weeks).

So the other day I started looking into the larger system and processes behind the water bottle industry that are so often disguised (or we're just too lazy to go look up ourselves). I came across a documentary called 'FLOW' which investigates water scarcity throughout the world and how multinational companies play a huge role in buying up poorer communities water resources to make a profit for themselves.

It's funny, in the past I often got (and still do get) pulled into the emotional side of developing countries having limited or no access to clean water. How can such a large proportion of society (we're talking about global society here, not western society) not have their basic right for water met when the rest of the world can easily go turn on a tap whenever we want? Something didn't seem fair, and who was doing anything about it?

So I often found myself supporting organizations who were drilling water pumps and developing products that sterilized dirty water.

But I never thought about how the water I drank and used in the western world was connected to those people.

What I started to learn from 'FLOW' was that the water I drink is more often than I realized connected to those same people that I always wanted to help - yet not in a very positive way. On top of the fact that larger water companies treat those communities fairly poorly, the money that I spent on their bottled water could have just as easily gone to directly supporting the organizations building the pumps in the developing world.

One estimate from the UN claims that 30 billion US dollars would be needed to provide clean water for the entire world. In just a single year, 3 times that much is spent on bottled water alone (taken from FLOW film).

So then I started looking into the difference between bottled water and tap water and sure enough, there's no difference. As much as the bottling companies would like us to think otherwise, the fact is that tap water is regulated by the U.S. EPA more stringently than bottled water is from the U.S. FDA.

Additionally, one research group found '38 different harmful chemicals, including painkillers, fetilizer and arsenic' in 10 popular brands of bottled water.

The more I researched the issue, the more surprising facts I found.

If you're at all interested in this issue or simply want to be more aware of global water problems, I would definitely recommend 'FLOW.' Check out the trailer and full-length film below.

FLOW Trailer

FLOW Full-length film

So when I start to think of issues like these and realize how little I actually knew about something that I use so frequently (water of all things, it nearly defines me, ha), I begin to realize how important awareness is. The same can be said for any other issue such as climate change, deforestation, sex trafficking, peace, or education.

The key is for our society to start questioning.

To stop being comfortable with what is, and be bold enough to make what should be.

Crossing the Tipping Points

New research published in Nature outlines 10 life-sustaining bio-physical systems for society and shows how they have either crossed a crucial threshold or are near to crossing that limit.

As you can see from the illustration above representing the 10 systems, we have already crossed the tipping point for three of them: climate change, biodiversity loss, and the nitrogen cycle.

This paper attempts to numerically evaluate some of the main 'sustainability' problems facing our society. It is a similar approach to that of the Natural Step, which outlines the four sustainability principles that cannot be violated to ensure a sustainable society operating within the ecosphere.

The research put forth in Nature is a first attempt at identifying those limits, which is tricky business. In identifying planetary boundaries, we can show how close we actually are to crossing the 'rough' limits we've defined for the system. At the same time, it may encourage inaction on issues where we still have some wiggle room.

For more thoughts on the proposed framework (which is actually based in Stockholm), check out the following article and comments added by leading experts on a few of these issues.

Age of Stupid Thoughts

Well, just got back last night from the premiere of The Age of Stupid and I have mixed feelings from the film. The movie accurately portrayed what it may be like 50 years down the road if nothing is done to slow down global warming, however, the film concluded on a fairly hopeless ending. I have no trouble with a film like that if the purpose is to dramatically show the negative effects to those who are interested in climate change but are somewhat on the fence about acting about the issue. For example, it made the point that protests and people pressure are extremely effective (and urgently needed when considering the closeness of Copenhagen) at urging political leaders to make necessary decisions. So I'm sure that group of people will leave the movie feeling assured once again about the importance and urgency needed to act on climate change.

However, for those still new to climate change and unsure about the next steps they can take, the movie was too much of a doomsday downer, with very little motivation to get out and do something. Now granted, there was a follow-up to the movie with interviews from Kofi Annan and others, but I feel like it could have been incorporated into the film itself a little better. Sure this is an extremely important issue that needs an all-hands-on-deck approach, but I believe inspirational leaders are more effective at moving the masses than a primarily negative movie.

The good news however, is that if we look at the whole and this week in general, there is that side of the coin as well. Tuesday in NY, the UN met to discuss climate change and Obama gave his first address to the UN. As with many of Obama's speeches, there are always parts that seem pretty memorable, and one of my favorite lines from this one was:
"But difficulty is no excuse for complacency.  Unease is no excuse for inaction.  And we must not allow the perfect to become the enemy of progress."
I especially like the last line. There are too many people who are expecting the perfect treaty to emerge from Copenhagen, which odds are that won't happen. However, that is not to say that progress will not be made. This is a complex issue, no one is arguing that fact. As a result, we will not end up with a perfect solution, and the process is going to require many iterations before getting it right.

So it will be interesting to read some of the articles that come out about the talks on Tuesday to see what progress was made. Here's just one of them so far describing the confusion regarding the current plateau in global temperatures caused by periodic fluctuations in the sea. Sadly, climate critics are using this as an excuse to downplay the urgency of drafting an international treaty by Copenhagen.

Consider This

Here's a cool video showcasing Nike's Considered Design project and sustainable product innovation in the shoe industry. They worked alongside the Natural Step Canada to remake this branch of their brand.

Newspaper Prank

Pretty fantastic - a group pranks the New York Post to raise awareness about climate change as we enter into "Climate Week" with a series of meetings and events taking place this week.

Peace + Soccer

Stumbled across some cool stuff PUMA is supporting along with their sustainability reports.

Check out Peace One Day and PUMA Peace (scroll down to see some sweet pics of the soccer matches they've held in support of Peace One Day)

Approaching Sustainability

There's been a lot of talk about climate change recently and seems to be the topic-of-choice for the media when it comes to sustainability. The reality however, is that there are numerous other problems that are all interlinked and partially responsible for the current state of the planet and society. Sustainability is such a broad and all-encompasing term that it is beginning to generate some confusion about what it actually means.

Earth System

Regardless of the various definitions thrown around for what sustainability stands for, we can typically draw consensus that it involves systems. At its root, sustainability is about understanding some broader system and how different things interact within it.

Of course the primary system we must consider is the planet earth, but depending on different situations and scenarios, the specific system can be further developed and refined, while keeping in mind that it resides within the larger system of the planet.

Natural Cycles

The interactions that take place within this large system are extremely important to note. The image above illustrates one view of those interactions. You have the lithosphere on the bottom which is basically the Earth's crust. On top of that layer is the ecosphere, which includes everything from trees, water, and the atmosphere. Within the ecosphere is society, ideally operating within the bounds of the ecosphere.

Each of these three categories interact with the other through various processes. A few of these interactions include:
- Volcanoes (Lithosphere to Ecosphere)
- Mining (Lithosphere to Society)
- Landfill Waste (Society to Ecosphere)
- Nuclear Waste (Society to Lithosphere)

The Sustainability Challenge

So by understanding and recognizing our planet as the key system, what then is the real sustainability challenge?

If you were to try and brainstorm as many issues as you could related to sustainability, you would probably generate a pretty extensive list. A few issues might include climate change, loss of biodiversity, increasing population, loss of good farm land, decreasing fossil fuel reserves, or greater eco-toxicity.

If you then look more closely at that list, you'll notice that nearly every issue is somehow tied to every other in some way or another.

The problem is that too many people view these issues as standard 'everyday' problems that must be periodically overcome, all of the time remaining within some 'safe zone' which society can function and thrive. This is sometimes illustrated by using a cylinder metaphor.

Cylinder Metaphor

The reality however is that many of these issues will continue to get worse and worse, and in fact, the walls of the cylinder (our supposed 'safe zone') are slowly caving in on us as time goes by. So instead, we have a situation that looks like a funnel.

Funnel Metaphor

Depending on the issue, these walls may be caving in more quickly than others. Regardless, by recognizing the funnel, we can see that the longer we wait, the less maneuverability we will have to make a change towards sustainability.

The real sustainability challenge is to recognize the walls and the fact that we are running into them and make systematic moves towards the opening.

How to Plan for Sustainability

So once we recognize this funnel scenario, we need to know how to plan to get to the opening.

As individuals, we sometimes like to plan and solve problems through a process known as backcasting. For example, if you were to move to a new location that you've never been to before (I don't know, let's say Sweden) and needed to find a house you would probably generate a list of neccesary things that must be incorporated with that new house once you arrived. So you might say that it has to be within biking distance of your school, within a certain affordable price range, and big enough to keep all your stuff. You would then envision that perfect solution and once you arrived in Sweden, start looking and making steps towards finding that dream house.

However, when individuals gather in groups, this type of planning typically breaks down and we resort to a planning strategy known as forecasting. Just like with the weather, forecasting involves using your previous knowledge and experience along with past trends to predict what the future might be like. The problem with such a method is that it restricts the future envisioned scenario to past trends and knowledge.

Backcasting from Success
This is of particular importance when planning for sustainability because we need to be able to envision a sustainable society in the future free from today's trends. Then once we have developed that vision of the future (the 'X' in the picture above) we can then backcast to today and develop strategic steps to get us from today to that point.

An example of a potential problem with forecasting related to sustainability may be a case such as energy. Some people may claim that solar or wind energy is the solution for a sustainable society. However, this kind of reasoning is based solely off of our current knowledge and trends. If we were to apply backcasting, we would instead envision energy in the future

Defining Success

So the key then in this whole pictures is that if we want to succeed in a complex system, we need to be able to define what success is. And from there, develop steps to success.

This can typically not be done on the level of detail, and rather, must be built on overarching principles of the system (which for sustainability, means the planet earth). But the problem is that most people who work in the field of sustainability have no idea what the basic principles for sustainability are.

Principles of Sustainability

By having a set of Sustainability Principles that can be used to analyze problems and assist in planning, we are able to create a 'common language' so that everyone working on the problem can properly talk together. A current problem is that experts (who are needed to help solve sustainability issues) get so hung up in their own field that it can be difficult to bring them together and generate consensus. So what are those principles?

There are four basic sustainability principles that have been developed and refined over the past few years by a wide group of scientists through peer-reviewed journals. Of course, as with any science, these are things to be further discussed and refined, but for now, these principles have proven successful and helped numerous businesses, organizations, and municipalities plan towards sustainability.

To generate the principles, scientists came to consensus on four system conditions for a sustainable society. These were built on scientific laws such as Conservation of Mass, the 1st and 2nd law of thermodynamics, and the fact that Earth is an open system to energy but closed to matter (the sun radiates energy to the planet but matter on the planet cannot leave, only change form).

If those four system conditions were true, then as a society, our main sustainability principles should follow that we do not contribute to those four things which can detract from a sustainable society. Summed up, the sustainability principles state the following:

Our sustainability principles are to eliminate our contribution to systematic...
1. increases in concentrations of substances brought up from the Earth's crust
2. increases in concentrations of substances produced by society
3. physical degradation of nature
4. undermining of people's capacity to meet their needs
In simpler language, we as a society should not be...
1. taking stuff from the Earth's crust at a rate faster than they can return (such as mining or drilling)
2. making stuff faster than it can breakdown in nature (such as plastics)
3. destroying nature (such as deforestation or over-fishing), or
4. making it difficult for others to meet their needs (such as unfair trade or working conditions)
By adhering to these principles, we can start to create a common language to work on sustainability issues. Without such a uniting framework, it becomes too difficult to identify where to start with so many different issues tied to sustainability.

Once we have this basic understanding, we can then start to apply specific planning methodologies such as the 5-Level Framework (discussed in an earlier blog post) or a more specialized approach known as the ABCD Analysis (I'll save to talk about that one for another time).

*For further and expanded information about the stuff previously mentioned, feel free to download the Sustainability Primer from The Natural Step Canada.

Having said that, there are still specific sustainability issues, such as climate change, which are off particular importance in the near future.

Here's a clip from BBC News summing up a few of the concerns and challenges for the Climate Change negotiations to take place in Copenhagen this December. Feel free to jump to around 6:30 for the actual discussions between the guests on the show (or just watch the whole thing - it's tied to 'The Age of Stupid' which premiers next week).

The video gets at a few of the key issues that are hoped to be resolved at Copenhagen. These include:
1) The role that developed countries will play at reducing their emissions.
2) The role that developing countries will play to limit the growth of their emissions.
3) Where will the money come from to help the developing countries.
4) Who will manage that money.

The specific details of the deal may not be reached by December, but if these larger questions can be addressed and answered, then significant progress will have been made in the right direction. The next few days will also launch "Climate Week" as some are calling it, which includes three key meetings in Washington, NY, and Pittsburgh to discuss climate change.

The Perfect Time

Here's some lyrics that have been rolling through my head a lot recently.

"Never Be Ready"
-Mat Kearney
Come on and lay down these arms
All our best defenses
We're taking our chances here on the run
The fear is an anchor
Time is a stranger
Love isn't borrowed
We aren't promised tomorrow

We'll never be ready if we keep waiting
For the perfect time to come
Hold me steady, we'll never be ready
When we don't know, though we can't see
Just walk on down this road with me
Hold me steady, we'll never be ready
I can really relate to this song, and the feeling of always wanting to wait for the perfect time before jumping in. Especially with this master's program in Sweden. One of the main points of this program is to learn key steps to implementing sustainability initiatives in businesses, organizations, and industries. Of the 75 people in the program, I am one of the youngest. It seems a bit crazy to expect someone with minimal experience to advise those much older than myself on key sustainability issues.

It feels as if I should wait a few months for the program to fully develop before fully jumping in. But hesitation is a hindrance and by waiting for the perfect time to come, I may miss out on some key issues.

Hold me steady, we'll never be ready...

Fortunately, I have already developed some really neat friendships here (in addition to Matt who came along with me) that I'll be able to walk through all of this with. In fact, I think that's one of the key aspects to sustainability. At least for me, I know how much more reassuring it is to see others go ahead and blaze a trail in which I can follow on. It's scary to "just walk on down this road" not entirely sure what the future may bring. By having friends to walk the road with you, the unknowns in life don't seem so big anymore.

I guess that's one of the goals of this program as well. A key difference that we have been discussing is the difference between forecasting and backcasting. We are most used to forecasting, which involves taking our current trends, knowledge, and experience and forecasting it into the future to imagine what a sustainable society might look like. Just like weatherman do to predict our weather for tomorrow. The innate problem for sustainable development with this concept however is that it ties a sustainable future to our current behavior.

Backcasting on the other hand releases us from the trends of today and starts by envisioning what a sustainable society might look like. For example rather than imagining what renewable energy may look like in the future, we could imagine what energy in general would look like in the future.

Backcasting then takes the envisioned sustainable society of the future and determines strategic steps to make towards that point.

Love isn't borrowed
We aren't promised tomorrow...

This was an interesting line that took me a bit to think over in my head. I'm still not entirely sure what it means and would love to hear thoughts from others. For me, it seems to be talking about taking responsibility for the way we live our lives. We can't simply borrow someone else's love. We can't borrow someone else's experiences or joys or fears. Our lives are meant to be lived by us, and we must remember that the good and bad come together in a single package. It's easy to find excuses because of the fears or unknown paths ahead. But it's on those uncharted paths that we will find tomorrow's joys. We aren't promised tomorrow though, so we need to start the journey today.

With regards to sustainability, it is also easy to fall in the trap of recognizing primarily the bad on the path ahead. It's important that we keep our eyes open and recognize both the good and bad. Our eyes and way of seeing have the power to manipulate reality, and we must be careful to objectively and fairly view sustainable development around us.

Every now and then it's encouraging to be reminded that we are all unsure of what the future holds. We are all unsure of the steps to get there and unsure where the high and low points will be. But regardless, tomorrow is ours and we can choose when to start that journey.

It gives me reassurance when thinking about the next step from this master's program. The next year will be a learning and growing experience. The ball is surely already rolling, and we'll see where it goes from there.

p.s. you should check out the rest of Mat Kearney's new album "City of Black and White" - it's awesome!

PFC on Tour

So I leave the country for just a year and in that time, Playing For Change decides to go on tour. I expect all you people still in the States to go and see them for me.

Introduction to MSLS

So I thought it would be helpful for me to start writing down some of my thoughts from lectures here at BTH on my blog. Classes started last Monday and so far, we have gone over the basics of the program, a really innovative way of discussing lots of issues in detail through a process called 'open space', and an introduction to the Natural Step approach.

Our program is entitled Master's of Strategic Leadership towards Sustainability (MSLS). Karl-Hendrik Robert (the founder of the Natural Step) has been lecturing to us for the past few days. He started by introducing his framework for analyzing and implementing sustainability into our companies, governments, and cities. The following day, he then went on to discuss the physics and chemistry underpinning his framework.

But before I get into what was discussed in the lectures, let me give you a very brief overview of the Natural Step (TNS). TNS was started up 20 years ago in Sweden in an effort to bring scientists together in consensus on sustainability. From this point, we would then be able to develop a common language in which to effectively discuss the 'un-sustainability' around us. From that vision, a network of multiple Natural Step's have popped up all over the world in numerous countries to help guide and facilitate companies, governments, and municipalities towards sustainability. This framework, referred to as FSSD (framework for strategic sustainable development) is based upon understanding the systems holding everything together. A common frustration is that we as a people like to specialize in 'things.' And although this is needed in our society, it creates problems because we rarely take the time to look up and see what others are doing in other specialties and fields around us. Such a mindset makes it very difficult to approach sustainability and it is the FFSD that attempts to bridge this gap.

Now back to some of the details from the lecture.

Karl-Hendrik introduced three questions that are key in evaluating 'un-sustainability.'
1) Do you have a definition of sustainability?
2) Referring to that definition, what is your gap?
3) What are you doing to bridge that gap?

The first of these questions is probably the most important. With sustainability being such a hot-topic nowadays, it seems silly that we very rarely actually talk about what sustainability means. Sure we talk about things such as water scarcity, soil degradation, and climate change, but we rarely define sustainability. Without a common definition of the term, it is hard to approach the larger picture, and we end up specializing too soon on the sub-problems rather than the larger picture. After a definition is agreed upon, we can then begin to analyze a our given situation and find ways of striving towards sustainability.

Once answering these questions, we can then move on to look at various strategies for achieving success. Here is the path which KHR suggested:

Step 1 involves understanding the system. This is where understanding basic chemistry and physics is important. This step involves understanding the rules of the game.

Step 2 then defines what success looks like for this specific example. If you don't understand the system well enough (and have a common language to communicate back and forth between one another) then it is impossible to determine what you want (success). This is one of the most commonly lacking aspects of sustainability in the real world.

Step 3 then determines a strategy. It is most often unrealistic to immediately transition to full-sustainability. Just as in chess, it is rare (if not impossible) to win in 1 or 2 steps. However, each move you make (even if it sacrifices one of your own pieces) ideally moves you towards winning. This is the same for making sustainable decisions. Although the intial move may not be fully sustainable, it may facilitiate and allow your next step to achieve success.

Step 4 then identifies those specific actions needed to be taken.

And step 5 includes the tools to get there.

So that is the basic overview of the framework, and then there are numerous steps within this bigger framework which we will be discussing in further detail throughout the year. Some of these we covered in the first lectures but I don't have the time or space to write all of that out at this moment.

However from the lectures, there were some interesting other thoughts that were raised. Here are just a few of them.

"We're looking for knowledge, but we're drowning in detail."
- This refers back to the specializing issue developed in our society. We are so accustomed to knowing more and more but we tend to always look to the detail rather than the system. KHR describes it like a tree - where the trunk and branches are the unifying system and the leaves represent the details. Sometimes we focus so much on our leaf that we forget to look at the leaves around us and more importantly, the branch connecting us to the bigger picture.

"We do not want to become poor now to become rich later."
- Many individuals view sustainability as a poor economical decision. The reality is however that if companies end up making fully sustainable solutions in their company too aggressively, then they will soon drive themselves to bankruptcy and no longer be able to impact those around them. So in fact, it is not in the interest of the company or 'sustainability' to try and push sustainability too fast. The best method is to start by looking for 'low-hanging fruit,' solutions that are financially smart, have a flexible platform, and are in the right direction.

"We don't live our lives to avoid cancer, nor do we live our lives to avoid un-sustainability."
- KHR was originally a medical doctor performing cell and cancer research. For this reason, many analogies and examples of his tend to revolve around cancer or the medical field. This example tries to illustrate how we don't consciously avoid cancer at every second of the day. Sure there are things that we do such as putting on sunscreen and not smoking that help avoid cancer, but most of the time we don't make a conscious effort to avoid cancer. In the same way, many of us don't live our daily lives in a way to be sustainable. Yet there are certain things that we just do such as recycling because it has become a regular habit. The reason we do these unconscious things is because we have developed a framework to understand them - what is needed is to further this framework to better understand the details. This is why there are thousands of cancer researchers throughout the world, now we need an equal amount of sustainability researchers.

"Sustainability is neither top-down or bottom-up."
- Sustainability does not work by educating the politicians and government to make smarter decisions. Neither does it work by educating the general public and expecting them to change the direction of the entire whole. Rather, these must both happen simultaneously. The first step to starting up TNS in Sweden involved something known as the 'Big Mailing.' This involved KHR mailing out a consensus document written by leading scientists on the issues agreed upon relating to sustainability to all households in Sweden. In doing so, KHR put himself in the position to start influencing the upper administration to get things done with the entire public as a witness.

There were plenty of other interesting topics brought up but I won't bore you with all of them right now :) I'm really excited to see how this framework applies to projects and issues I've been involved with in the past. In particular, I am excited to explore how to funnel 'sustainability' into our current culture.

We (at least in the US) are fast-paced and constantly desire to be entertained. This makes it difficult to explain frameworks such as FSSD and other methods to the general public, in less they go out of their way to better understand it. It isn't feasible to get the message across in a short 2 minute overview on CNN. I'm hoping this can tie into my interest in better understanding how organizations such as Disney can impact the public. Walt Disney has a quote "It is not higher education that interests me so much as general mass education." -WD

Disney was one of the first to distinguish that either education can be entertaining or entertainment can be educational (tied to edutainment). How does a structure such as Disney influence 'un-sustainability' - that's what I hope to further explore this year, we'll see where it leads.

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