25 July 2010

Reframing the Conversation: Challenge & Strategy Sessions for Sustainability Leaders

Posted by Admin under: Forum; Leadership; Organization; Sustainability .

We all know a great deal about what is wrong with our society, regardless of what perspective we are coming from. To take a page from Dick Cheney’s playbook, if there is even a 1% chance that our current way of being is causing irreparable damage to the earth—to its atmosphere, its oceans, and its web of life—we have a responsibility to address this challenge. It may be that part of what is wrong with our society is also a dysfunctional government, an economic system that is designed to crash periodically and is making everyone poorer in the process, and a lack of intelligent discussion throughout our culture; but the overriding concern is whether we will survive as a species.

We need to begin to change the dominant conversation, and one place to start is with “missed opportunities.” We all know what’s wrong with what others are doing; but maybe it’s more important to look at the “missed opportunities,” as a way of stopping things from turning out badly for us and for our descendants.

At the SLF we are discussing the idea of changing the format of our monthly meetings, to be less “presentation” meetings, and more challenge and strategy sessions, with people doing interesting work and willing to share it. Consider, for example, some of the issues that we can address in this way, from the design of transitional shelter in Haiti to the greening of the cities and towns we live, from the possibility of a local currency to the need for altering the social environment of consumer society; these are issues that we can actually do something about, if we are willing to discuss them in this way.

In reality we need to invent a new form of social structure, based on truthtelling, relevancy, and a search for common frameworks. Let me spell out each of these in turn.

Let’s start with the fact that we do not all tell the truth, all the truth and all the time. We live with polite fictions, with “hope,” and with ideological doctrines that obscure as much as they illuminate reality. If we’re prepared to admit this, and ask others to do so also, can we agree to a focus on “telling it like it is,” whatever that means to each one of us.

Secondly, can we agree that some issues are more important than others? Can we agree that “energy independence” is as important as “clean energy,” that is to say energy generation that is not putting more greenhouse gases into the atmosphere and that is not piling up toxic wastes for future generations to contend with? Can we agree that restoring the health of the oceans, cleaning up the atmosphere, and preventing the loss of biodiversity are all important goals, as important as giving people the opportunity to improve their living conditions, their education, and their civic engagement?

Finally, then, it comes down to a search for common frameworks that can sustain massive social, political, economic, and ecological changes. What we know is simple, that we need to live in greater harmony with nature. We need to derive our energy from its natural cycles, and not from the stored-up energy of geologically remote eras. We need to increase our well-being, and that of others on the planet, while operating within our planetary limits, and protecting and restoring its regenerative cycles in every way we can.

For the SLF, this means transforming our meetings into conversations for action around sustainability initiatives, taking advantage of the opportunities that are constantly arising, and exploring the possibilities of productive dialog with people of all persuasions, beliefs, and faiths. Look for these new kinds of events — “mini-unconferences” — starting in the fall.

One Comment so far...

The Sustainable Leadership Forum » October 16 Challenge and Strategy Session: “Toward a Sustainable Growth Strategy for New Jersey” Says:

25 September 2010 at 9:58 am.

[…] We’re therefore kicking off our series of fall sessions in a new format, as “challenge and strategy sessions.” By which we mean that each meeting will pose a significant challenge in the field of sustainability, and seek a strategy to address that challenge that the group can align on. (For more on these kinds of sessions, see Reframing the Conversation: Challenge & Strategy Sessions for Sustainability Leaders.) […]

Leave a Reply

Join Our Email List

Subscribe Here for newsletters and occasional emails.

Latest Posts (see more below)

Past Events

Correction: We'll be hosting this year's holiday potluck — "Bringing Solar Power Home for the Holidays" — on Saturday, December 15, 2012 from 4 to 9 p.m. Click here for more details. RSVP to [email protected].
Saturday, November 17, 2012, 10 a.m. Eastern: Sustainable Neighborhood & Community Conversations (III).
Saturday, October 13, 2012, 10 a.m. Eastern: Transforming Neighborhoods and Communities II.
Saturday, September 8, 2012, 10 a.m. Eastern: Transforming Neighborhoods & Communities.
Saturday, June 16, 2012: SLF Potluck June 16: Sustainable Living Communities.
The Sustainable Haiti Conference took place April 23-25, 2012 in Miami.
"Inside Job" Movie Party. Saturday, February 11th, 6:00 PM, Liberty Ridge, The Hills, Bernards Twp, Basking Ridge, NJ 07920.
2nd 'Buy Haitian, Restore Haiti Conference', January 26, 2012, Karibe Convention Center, Petion Ville, Haiti
Dec 11 SLF Potluck: "Bringing Sustainability Home for the Holidays" Basking Ridge, NJ. RSVP to [email protected].
Saturday, July 9, 2011, 4 p.m. Open House Party & Potluck, Saturday, July 9, 4 p.m., Basking Ridge, NJ.
RSVP to [email protected]
Saturday, May 21, 1-4 p.m. EcoCenter Update. At the Morristown EcoCenter, 55 Bank Street, Morristown, NJ 07960.
Saturday, April 16, 1-4 p.m. "Haiti & Us: The Leading Edge of Sustainable Development." At the Morristown EcoCenter, 55 Bank Street, Morristown, NJ 07960. A copy of the update presentation has been posted here.
Saturday, March 19, 1-4 p.m. "Creating the Morristown EcoCenter." Held at 55 Bank Street, Morristown, the site of the proposed EcoCenter.
Saturday, February 19, 1-4 p.m. Monthly meeting, ""A Profound Transformation in Consciousness," Morris County Library, Whippany, NJ. Click here for details.
Saturday, January 15, 1-4 p.m. Putting Idealism into Practice: Tour of Half Moon House. Click here for details.
Saturday, December 18, 1-4 p.m. Challenge & Strategy Session: "Reinventing Wealth," followed by our annual "Potluck for the Planet" from 4 to 8. Click here for details.
Saturday, November 20, 1-4 p.m. Challenge & Strategy Session: "How Do We Measure Sustainable Value?". Click here for details.
Saturday, October 16, 1-4 p.m. Challenge and Strategy Session: "Toward a Sustainable Growth Strategy for New Jersey".
Download the slide presentation here, and the discussion paper here.

Please note

In addition to joining our email list, you can also register at this site to receive notifications of new articles and add comments, but because of the number of "spam users," we have implemented a screening mechanism to prevent automated registrations. Please contact us if you have any problems with it. Thanks.


Leadership Quotes

"Nearly every man who develops an idea works it up to the point where it looks impossible, and then he gets discouraged. That's not the place to become discouraged."
(Thomas A. Edison—thanks to Regan Caton)

"Life isn't about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself.” (G.B. Shaw)

"There is the true joy of life: to be used by a purpose recognized by yourself as a mighty one; to be thoroughly worn out before being thrown on the scrap heap; to be a force of nature instead of a feverish, selfish little clod of ailments and grievances complaining that life will not devote itself to making you happy." (G.B. Shaw)

"Leadership is a privilege to better the lives of others. It is not an opportunity to satisfy personal greed." (Mwai Kibaki, President of Kenya - thanks to Christine Comaford, Rules for Renegades)