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The Sustainability Revolution -- A Revolution of Interconnections

What is the nature of the revolution that is unfolding in 2012? It is a revolution of understanding how we, as individuals, armed with a deeper understanding of what’s broken about the systems and institutions we currently support, have the power to rethink what matters to us as humans on both an individual and societal level. It’s about a shift in what we expect from the social contracts we entertain – with each other, and with the brands, businesses and institutions we support and engage with. And it’s about how we define, create, pursue and measure success in a world where the definition of value has shifted. It’s about 1000 small movements, each seeking to realign a system – all rolled up into one big effort to redirect us back toward a flourishing future.

Like the 3 blind men who were led to various parts of an elephant and then asked to describe it, we may not all define the revolution in exactly the same way. McDonough and Braungart call it Cradle-to-Cradle. Jeremy Rifkin calls it our move toward An Empathic Civilization. The Middle Eastern population, rising up to demand democracy calls it the Arab Spring. Tens of thousands around the world call it Occupy Wallstreet. One calls it Occupy Love.  But whether green, or slow food or the Economics of Happiness or fair trade or collaborative consumption – each of these revolutions in their own right are reflections of the same thing: a growing realization that the social and economic systems which have served us for the past century are no longer creating or ensuring conditions for the on-going well-being of humanity. Bottom line? We seek betterness -- and we are ready to take action to find, or even redesign it for ourselves.

Since we began our journey at Sustainable Brands we have believed that the better future we seek is impacted by an inextricably interconnected set of economic, social, environmental, and ultimately philosophic assumptions we hold about the world which need updating. The fact is, our 20th century siloed way of thinking about and doing business optimizes well for efficiency, but doesn’t give us insight into the full impact of our activities, nor support our ability to redesign old systems which no longer serve us. We believe that to have a productive conversation about the needs and corresponding opportunities of our time requires a shift in the way we see, and work to solve the challenges we face --and that navigating this shift offers enormous opportunity to those who stand willing to tackle the challenge successfully. We launched Sustainable Brands with the mission to help shepherd this shift forward.

The growing community that has gathered with us around this shared vision over the past six years is indeed leading the way to a future we can all be proud to leave to our children. We are grateful stewards of this community, and of the conversation that is taking place here. We wholeheartedly welcome you to participate, and lend your voice in helping us reshape the future together. Won't you join us and see what all the excitement is about?

We look forward to having you!

KoAnn Vikoren Skrzyiniarz
Founder
SustainableBrands.com and the Sustainable Brands Conference

PS  Next week I'd like to share a piece I found recently on Interdisciplinary Thinking.  I think you'll like it.

Comments

On Point!

Koann,

I love this post! The growing movement of movements is palpable and seems poised to take us to a better future as you suggest.

I can't wait to read your piece on interdisciplinary thinking as I believe today's complex problems need both the deep thinking that silos can bring to the table, as well as connectors who can bridge the gaps between those silos. Otherwise, we tend to optimize the parts of a system at the expense of the whole.

Thanks for uplifting us and keeping us thinking!

-Chris Oestereich

UN Agenda 21

Koann, Your post is well articulated. I'd like to bring another dimension to the discussion. I'm enthralled by concepts -- and actions -- that fall under the Collaborative Consumption model, suggesting a new form of sharing and community behaviors that link to a greater good. I'm intrigued though, by a countervailing force in the form of activist opposition to UN Agenda 21. A February 3rd NYTimes article cites this, driven in part (or much) by Tea Party and Republican conservatives. So, the activity you cite may also be incurring resistance at its very core from those who choose to see this movement as further erosion of their inalienable rights. Your thoughts?

Resistance to the Revolution

Hi Amy -- I missed the TImes article you're referring to, so can't comment too much, except to say that every revolution faces resistance. I think the nature of this one is that it is represented by so many individual revolutions that are all converging around the realization that the natural world is connected, and that the possibility of true, meaningful individual well-being apart from consideration of the well being of the whole is an outdated illusion. Kevin alluded to Charles Eisenstein, below who does a lovely job articulating the isolation and alienation experienced by those who have reached the 1%, yet ignore their greater purpose beyond the accumulation of wealth. I believe things will naturally balance themselves out, and am excited to see this unfolding during our time, and to have the opportunity to help things along toward that end in some small way!

The Awakening

Well said KoAnn!

The shift in consciousness for an individual seldom if ever occurs all at ounce, such an instance would actually result in the collapse of ones sense of reality. A new out look, starts much earlier with the subtle shift of ones activities, thoughts that linger for a little longer than usual and seeing evidence of alternative opinions more and more frequently [behavioral psychologist refer to this as social proof]. Then, seemingly quite suddenly, we are receptive to acknowledging something new within us. This same dynamic plays out in a society at large as well.

I like to think of this as an awakening, more specifically an awakening to aspects of the human condition that have been suppressed. Key traits that lend themselves to leading a fulfilling life, traits like appreciation and reciprocity. The unseen externalities of the current economic system has been the loss of these two critical traits. We no longer know who makes our food, clothes and shelters as stated by Charles Eisenstein author of Sacred Economics. If we lose any sense of emotional obligation to these sources, any appreciation for what each does for us, then have to we assume the same lack of gratitude in return and slowly create a culture of objectification and loss of community that leads down the slippery path to exploitation, which sadly is exactly what we have.

However there is a fundamental desire to awaken these latent traits of the human condition. These traits that are so rooted in who we are they would inevitably eventually rise again. And we have been seeing it. Sustainable Brands and its constituents are at the core of the change. Providing the opportunity for people to participate in the subtle activities, to hear there is a different way and see it all around us every day.

Malcolm Gladwell pontificates on the 1,000-hour rule, suggesting it takes 1,000 hours of practice in an activity for a person to elevate to the status of expert. These brands are providing the opportunities for people to act consciously with appreciation that will lead to reciprocity, contributing to the 1,000 hours in becoming experts of the human condition.

Keep up the good work, much is depending on it.

not that fast!

10,000 hr rule...just saying...there are 9000 hrs between beginners and experts ;-)

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