A Magazine Capturing the Story of Health- For People, Environment, Economy & Habitat

Archive for March, 2011

Lesson Learned: After the Fall – Joe Sibilia’s Sustainable View of Riding a Bike

Publisher’s Welcome: Welcome,  Joe Sibilia, CEO of  Joe offers his  point of view on bike safety after a personal experience being hit by a SUV riding his bike.  This will be indexed with other reports tied to Frederic Page’s first report on  If Road Safety is Relevant?

Can a bike be primary transportation and a sustainable practice?

by Joe Siblia


Springfield MA

Sustainability takes discipline and commitment. Part of it for me is riding my bike to work and around town. I don’t own a car.
Late afternoon, on St. Patrick’s Day, after a long winter of snow, cold and ice, the sun was shining, spring w…as in the air, the temperature was warm and my bike was calling me for some attention.

As I was riding home, clad in a short-sleeved shirt, a green sweatshirt (it was St. Patrick’s Day afterall and Oki demanded I wear green), my dad’s pants and some hiking boots, a speeding car on Wilbraham Road in Springfield, Mass. hit me hard on my left side and sent me flying.

They kept going. My friend Doug commented that most people would stop, even for an animal. They must have been in a hurry.
As I was flying in the air, I noticed the speed of the black SUV, with tinted windows, before I crashed into the pavement, slid over the tree line and landed on the sidewalk, headfirst.

It wasn’t the first time I’ve been hit. The other two times were skirmishes on ice and snow and a slow race for position at a traffic light – minor bumps. This time it was different.
Since the blood was flowing freely from my head, arms and leg, I thought it best to stay put for a moment and gain my composure. I removed my sweatshirt and wrapped my head in the t-shirt and pushed the sweatshirt on my arm and leg, closed my eyes and began to pray.

The first thing that came to my mind was the need to get a really good, cool looking, helmet (I’ve foolishly stayed away from safety gear, as a result of my own ignorance and ego).

The first comment I heard was, “Dude, are you dead?” Since I heard the enlightened concerned citizen, I knew I was not.

As the rubber necking took hold and the crowd gathered, I took the time to begin a meditative practice. I thought it a great opportunity to remove myself from my body and watch the process unfold as a witness to events.

The cops arrived before the ambulance and made sure I was not an escaped criminal and any warrants for my arrest did not exist. I was cleared to remain in my present state.
Further up the street, some onlookers found the mirror and some parts from the hit and run car. My bike was behind me and my goggles, bag and reflector were strewn about.

Trying to integrate sustainable living practices in a fast paced business environment requires constant daily attention.

Riding a bike, taking public transportation, using recycled materials, recycling, composting, and giving value to that which has been abandoned, takes a lot of energy. It’s distracting from the pursuit of making money.

Some may say the costs are too high. I offer another point of view. Friends I haven’t seen in a while have visited me. People have contacted me to extend their regards.

I’ve watched some movies I wanted to see and I’ve been served meals in bed. Maybe next week I’ll get hit by a truck and really have some luxuries.

Let us not be distracted by the conventional view of the costs of sustainability. Let us look at all the advantages – cleaner air, water, land and a more caring society.

Let us look at all our challenges as a time to grow and experiment with a new beginning. I’ll start with a new helmet, more sidewalk riding and greater advocacy for bike paths on and off the roads.

Sustainability has some costs, but the benefits are far greater. Live well, do good things and stay in touch.


Authors Bio:

Joe Sibilia is a visionary of the socially responsible business movement, he is founder and CEO of Meadowbrook Lane Capital (MBLC), described by the Wall Street Journal as a “socially responsible investment bank” specializing in turning values into valuation.

Joe  is also the CEO of CSRwire, the social responsibility newswire service that distributes and archives corporate social responsibility/sustainability news to journalists, analysts, investors, activists, academics, public relations and investor relations professionals worldwide.

Publishers Note: community wishes Joe good healing and recovery from his broken bones; and we welcome his voice to the hall of people in our community, who understand road safety is so much more than driving and road conditions.  Road Safety is about creating a new infrastructure and understanding so bikers can commute along side drivers safely.


thestoryofmeaningfuluse – Celebrating a Successful Launch!

A letter from the publisher…..

by Lavinia Weissman


Boston, MA

Dear Readers,

A recent 10 day bout with the flu, gave me opportunity to sit quietly and take stock of the incredible experience I had over the past month, launching this e-zine….

In between tending my symptoms, I was able to get into the data of the initial few weeks of reporting to find out what articles people liked the most…

My findings came as no surprise—the most popular articles were anything related to Dave Wann’s “New Normal” and health …. Our magazine readers  enjoy reading about health here from the perspective of what I see key to capturing the story of meaningful use….

When I first began to think about the concept of  “meaningful use” last year and why meaningful use can only be reported in the context of story……I did so as kind of tongue and cheek in response to the President Obama’s program for adoption of electronic medical records to serve “meaningful use.

As part of this program, Obama offered a  financial incentive program that could total up to $44K  to each doctor, who adopt use of electronic technology”

My dry humor made me wonder what would happen we gave every American$44K+ bonus to live their life in health. To me real “meaningful use,” is about changing the way we think of health so that we put less burden on the health care system to fulfill the promise of health. Why?  Health is part of everything we do.

How we live, take care of ourselves, where we live and work and with whom….this ultimately is the place in which we find our health, restore it when it is not working or learn to live with a glitch that we cannot recover from.

And it has everything to do with how we work, earn and spend our money and the way we relate to an economy.

If our economy is not healthy, it becomes that much more difficult for us to retain our health, recover from illness or live with others adapting our ways to whatever our health condition includes.

Years ago, I recall in the “Economist,” someone wrote that Americans are always seeking the fountain of youth as its drive for health.

At this time, given the depth of challenge to any form of assuring health for the environment, economy, person and place—- I  believe Americans and people all around the world are coming to a realization that health is something we have to create out of living and working cautiously and respectfully with others.

The initial popularity and testimonies for the value of this magazine has created a challenge for me to grow into in order to make this a sustainable enterprise. And I am doing just that!  Phase 2 contains some great plans that are already in production.

  • a series of articles from Dave Wann describing the “New Normal,” and stories that describe the actions of people living this way;
  • missives from other countries translated into English from French, Spanish and Portugese;
  • Some of our editors write for post on; we will be linking these editorials to articles that contain the research and stories that led us to formulate our editorials;
  • Mercadio Etico has joined our media partnership and we will be bringing you  stories their editors source in Brazil.

And more going live this week……..

Watch this week for the first  “Life Lessons”; authored by Joe Sibilia, CEO of

Life lessons are stories that describe challenging experiences, members of our network have encountered that have inspired them to do something differently.  I am personally excited that Joe Sibilia is the first person to contribute int his way.

I will follow with a second column related to the Japanese radiation disaster and my personal life lessons regarding radiation toxicity.

Just imagine, all this took shape while I was ill.  The ideas came back to me in email from my amazing network that are making this magazine the value it is today!

Let me take a minute to apologize for the disruption to our service, while I was ill.  Please know, we are doing the best to respond to your wonderful attention that our data aggregation shows and report to you on a daily basis as much as we can Monday- Friday (EST).

Our mission is to inspire anyone who reads us to create the work that nourishes them for life by bringing you inspiring stories of how people, companies and learning communities work wisely to live well.

Now for a few matters  of business:

Software Glitches

@workecology  had near 1,000 followers and a glitch took it down.  Please sign on to @WeCareHealth to resume twitter notification with us.

Help us build our subscriber base

Please click the share button at the end of this post!and tweet or add it to your Facebook wall— just help us spread the word.  If you read, please subscribe directly to the magazine and ask your friends to do the same. While our readership is most pleasant, we wish to show our financial supports we have a community  of members that are subscriber based, directly or through Networked Blogs.



Authors bio:

Lavinia Weissman is an sustainable market leadership coach, journalist, and publisher of As a speaker she describes the new emerging patterns of markets shaped by sustainable market leaders and the social networks they work with and employ.  As a coach, Lavinia works with all her clients to inspire professional development that assures a person the opportunity to embed sustainability as a leader into the network and culture of people they work with.

Publisher’s Note: Please be patient while we figure out if Twitter can repair our @workecology id and recover our network.  By Friday 4/1, I hope twitter will resolve this and I will know by then what I have to do.

CEO Pay , Corporate Taxes- One Woman’s Think!

Do We Protest or Change to Sustain?

by Lavinia Weissman

@workecology  (twitter system problem has not yet been repaired: please be patient)

Boston, MA

Everyday there is a sensational headline or more,  protesting CEO Pay. This topic is complex and far more complicated relative to industry and sector.  In Massachusetts, where I live – advocates from government, industry and non-governmental organizations are getting active in the analysis and scrutinizing the need for change.

CEO pay seems to seep into many other complex issues, e.g. rising cost of health care, CEO performance and ethics, and legislation that protects major corporations from paying taxes.

Yet, I don’t believe we will get out of the squalor and mess government is in financially that is complicating the global economy and stripping citizens of their ability to sustain, if we keep perpetuating the same discussions about corporate greed or tax dodging.

As the US Government continues to face a shutdown because our politicians cannot agree – is compliance, scrutiny and protest going to be our only tools to spark change.

As I read the news over the past weekend, I was reminded to two notable observations from my own research,

1. Jared Diamond, winner of the Pulitzer Prize wrote in Collapse: How societies Choose to Fail or Succeed. Historically, Diamond has been chastised by environmentalists as “being in bed” with corporations Diamond reminds us that when he visits a corporation, he writes honestly and factually.

On some properties he has seen destruction and on others he has seen caution and he wrote his book, Collapse with this value in mind,

“My view is that, if environmentalists aren’t willing to engage with big businesses, which are among the most powerful forces in the modern world, it won’t be possible to sole the world’s environmental impact problems.”

2. Tyler J. Elm, Wal-Mart Stores, Inc, Former Senior Director of Corporate Strategy and Finance, identified a new form of perspective in th examination of global companies;  Of the 100 largest world economies, 42 are corporations (not countries).

This argues for the merit of looking at a corporation that is an economy, e.g. Wal-Mart and General Electric from different filters and questions than companies that are not performing to the scale of a large global economy.

This also provides an interesting perspective from the view of transparency and analysis about forming a new generation of activity to reform taxes, compensation and CEO performance in my my mind.

In my mind right now the tradition of how NGO’s protest and debate and how media reports is limiting. This is the case particularly in the United States to  where the value for sustainability conflicts with a diverse input from outside the corporate sector that argues for scrutiny, compliance and legislation to change the problems we perceive as sole focus for solution.

Based on the recent press that GE paid no taxes in 2010 after posting profits of $14.2B, I had a citizen’s reaction of “What?” Given conditions of our schools, health care system and more: I was torn about the degree to which corporations do not pay taxes. But hidden in my story is a strong view I have that US government of all levels, Federal, State, City do not perform.

Do I focus my time on protesting corporate tax dodging?  How do I deal with my stress that  government in my country is focused on spending rather than focused insuring our spending carries us forward into a future and that all sectors align with this value in action, not just government?

If GE paid taxes, how much of this money now would be wasted in a time where our government is not performing for a majority of its citizens.  I have become mixed in thinking about taxes, since US government  is not performing?

I am disappointed on the corporate side as to what they can do with profits to create new jobs, increase access to health insurance and over haul their compensation and benefit schemes to recognize the rise in chronic illness, stress and the average American’s inability to insure the 4 pillars of sustainabillty – a job, a doctor, a home and education.

The Latest Focus for Protest – Corporate Tax Dodging.

From the corporate perspective, wheels are spinning about corporations who do not pay taxes. Political activist, Chuck Collins, Senior Scholar at the Institute for Policy Studies in Washington DC is one of the quality voices in the NGO movement questioning why corporations do not pay taxes.

Collins lives with his family  in a neighborhood of Boston, known for its grassroots and political advocacy, Jamaica Plain. He has become one of the leading voices documenting, analyzing the complexity of the issue fills the blogSphere with a quality of advocacy journalism that is exceptional.

Chuck’s personal page on Facebook, provides a look into that complexity, why there is no easy solution and why it is so urgent to lead change in this arena as corporations that include GE, Bank of America, Verizon, and Federal Express.

Collins editorial on Huff Post Business is candid, factual and maps out the full agenda in a brief editorial, General Electric King of the Tax Dodgers.

And yes, General Electric heads this list of tax dodgers and some facts I know of that would not be posted to a tax analysis with regard to Jeffrey Immelt’s compensation over the past few years.

General Electric the Corporate Citizen Change Agent

As I indicated to Chuck Collins on his Facebook wall over the weekend, I think the fact that General Electric is what he describes as the “King of Tax Dodgers” is dedicated to Corporate Citizenship and all that implies to its governance and has embedded sustainability into its culture.

In review of my own research archives and identification of these facts, I wonder how the CSR practice of  transparency will apply to GE’s filing a return of $0 on its Federal IRS return?

With Obama appointment of GE’s CEO Jeffrey Immelt’s to the Federal Economic Advisory Panel this sets a stage for more controversy related to GE’s lack of tax payments and a need for transparency.

For naysayers, it is easy to take the position that Obama has made a mistake appointing a registered Republican to this position who heads a corporation that delivered $14.2B in global profit and $5.1B in US profits in 2010. GE claimed a tax benefit of $3.2B based on federal tax qualifications.

Last year, I covered a story on a meeting at the Paley Center called the #CSRdebate.  At the time, I attended this meeting, I felt that the success of this conversation reflected more a progress report on accountability, performance and success of embedding sustainability into a corporate culture.

General Electric has done all that leading globally initiatives that are impacting climate change, health and energy through their internationally respected initiatives of Ecoimagination and Healthmagination.

Within that story, George Kell, Executive Director of the UN Global Compact pointed out

George Kell pointed out that the American tendency to shape conversations that are generalized does not work for construction of complicated issues that involve CSR.  Generalizations cannot empower what is needed to have a constructive CSR conversation.

Kell’s final remarks offered related to reporting on  the membership of the UN Global Compact  response of 20% interest to climate change that he anticipated would grow to 30% next year represented an indicator of importance.

It is still unclear of the 7700 members of the UN Global Compact how rapidly more than 10% of its members are actually embedding sustainability.  Yet, General Electric is a leader of that in forum and within the top 1% of performers.

Also represented in this event, was Bob Corcoran – Vice President, Corporate Citizenship, President & Chairman, GE Foundation. Bob outlined how GE’s core business strategy to embed sustainability into its culture is driven by its corporate citizenship program.

Ecomagination and Healthyimagination were driven by General Electrics’ innovation of sustainability venturing.

Immelt himself authored his plan, A Blue Print for Keeping America Competitive and published it in the Washington Post. The plan focuses on trade, export of US goods and job creation.

Over the last two years, GE has created over 6,000 manufacturing jobs in the United States as well as stepped up to investing in energy and health related businesses that create new companies and jobs.

In 2008, Immelt gave hope to a group of students at UC Berkeley Hass School of Business when he

In 2008 in  forum to UC Berkeley Hass School of Business, Immelt gave hope and direction for a future to these students, that so few know how to give at these times, shortly after the September 2008 financial market meltdown.

Immelt  has described  himself as a banker with “deep pockets, who also invested in people. Immelt differentiates himself from an investment firm because he devised and put into practice a sustainability framework that defined how General Electric could lead the world into the building of a sustainable economy.

Outside of GE, Immelt announced and carried through on plans to  invest in new ventures that are not entirely owned by GE. In some cases these small enterprises are competitors to GE divisions and businesses; creating a social network of coopetition as part of the GE Culture.

Immelt’s Compensation and How It is Managed

GE Directors and Immelt have align Immelt’s compensation based on long term strategy and current financial performance. In reviewing articles regarding his compensation; I have decided to begin to look at other companies closely in terms of ratio of profit, total sales and CEO salary. But doing this analysis was a good beginning.

While reports show that Immelt”s compensation for 2010 doubled, within the report were some explainations of adjustments from past years and a modification to how Jeffrey Immelt used General Electric resources of personal use. Directors viewed that Immelt performed well. In this context,

  1. He compensation doubled to a total of $15.2M based on profits of $14.2B.
  2. Shares offered in 2006 were cancelled because the company did not meet its performance expectations at that time.
  3. During 2 years of reduced financial performance, Immelt received no bonus.  The $4M received for 2010 was the first bonus he received in two years.
  4. In 2010, Immelt received $389,809 of other compensation by using the GE jet for personal business.  He has a new agreement to lease the jet for personal use and reimburse for the cost of its use.

What does the US need – Corporate Taxes, Lower CEO Pay or a Sustainable Economy

While I would not identify myself as a ‘libertarian,” I have to ask what would I prefer?  That a profitable corporation pay taxes ? Or create a tax systmee for sustainable economy?  Is there a simple answer to these questions. I think not.

For a company that is leading performance in the top 1$ for sustainable value, there is a real advantage to not protesting the problem, but opening a dialogue with this company to find out what change would benefit stakeholders and how.

And a real dialogue is not based on protest, argument and debate–a dialogue begins with briefing sessions and gives the players opportunity to learn and absorb in an educational forum.

This kind of initiative is then structured  in a setting where participants can focus and think and ask question from which to generate questions that direct the participants in a new direction of thought that can be formed into a action strategy.

Embedded in this issue are issues of leadership, CEO performance, global versus local economy, size of company and a new view of a size of company that merits being defined an economy, readers what do you think? Is the world ready to redefine the GDP and spark new economic thinking that is sustainable and not about corporations or government and political feuds?


Authors bio:

Lavinia Weissman is an sustainable market leadership coach, journalist, and publisher of As a speaker she describes the new emerging patterns of markets shaped by sustainable market leaders and the social networks they work with and employ.  As a coach, Lavinia works with all her clients to inspire professional development that assures a person the opportunity to embed sustainability as a leader into the network and culture of people they work with.

Publisher’s Note: Please be patient while we figure out if Twitter can repair our @workecology id and recover our network.  By Friday 4/1, I hope twitter will resolve this and I will know by then what I have to do.

Sanofi-Aventis & Genzyme Conspiracy

Note from the Publisher:

The development plan for is to archive meaningful story capture in a format that assures the a daily story can be archived with other related stories. We are building a program to provide our readers a long view of our story capture for educational purposes as we observe the stories to weave into an activity of sustainable impact.

This week we will be featuring a series of stories related to Sanofi-Aventis’s acquisition of Genzyme drawn from a 3 post series, originally published in

CSRwire Talkback | join the conversation –CSRwire is the leading source of corporate social responsibility and sustainability press releases, reports and information. 

Sanofi Aventis was an early adapter and contributor to the UN Global Compact Community.  Lavinia Weissman selected to follow this story of Sanofi’s acquisition of Genzyme as a way to report on the story of how Sanofi Aventis will embed responsible a framework of sustainability into the Genzyme culture and its performance, moving forward.

Let the story begin……………………………………………………………………………………..

Hostile Take Over or Sound, Sustainable Business Strategy?  – Post 1 of a 3 Part Series.

Search on Category: SanofiAventisStoryCapture to find all related articles.

By Lavinia Weissman


Boston MA

original date of publication in CSRWireTalkback  07 October 2010

The Boston Globe published an article on Monday, October 4, 2010, titled “Sanofi-Aventis launches take over battle with Genzyme.”

On July 29, 2010, Sanofi-Aventis offered a fair price bid price for the purchase of Genzyme. On August 30, Genzyme confirmed it received an unsolicited bid of $69.00 per share. The bid was turned down by Genzyme’s CEO Henri Temeer.

Mergers among the Fortune 500 are increasing; for example, Pfizer acquired Wyeth and Merck acquired Schering-Plough. Acquisitions and mergers usually involve some form of workforce reduction, management of corruption and, of course, higher profits. Is there something different about Sanofi’s bid for Genzyme?

CEO Christopher A. Viehbacher came to Sanofi from GlaxoSmithKline in December 2008. His priority was to respond to declining profits occurring with the patent expirations of key drugs in 2013.

Viehbacher chose to accelerate CSR as a core strategy with a mission to improve the health of the world’s 6.8 billion citizens. Sanofi-Aventis’ 2009 Sustainability Report outlines an overview of programs in research and development that have a patient-centric focus.

Sanofi is now an emerging leader in global markets in Latin America, Africa, Russia, India, China and South Korea. Annual global sales total 29.3B (euros), making Sanofi the 3rd largest pharmaceutical company. Sanofi-Aventis has strengthened operations and organized itself to take innovation and research to market, drawing on its active participation in the UN Global Compact since its establishment in 2000.

While Genzyme is innovative in regards to research and development for cancer and other illnesses, it has proven to be weak in sustainability. A viral outbreak, a plant shutdown, low inventories and a $175M FDA fine disrupted Genzyme’s operations and reduced its share value to as low as $45. Bid rumors added value to a shaky year for Genzyme and increased its value per share to $71.

This invites the question:

Is Sanofi-Aventis’ bid for Genzyme simply another hostile take over or a bid for a sustainable core business strategy?

As of 20 March 2011 -The merger is still in process and moving forward in a positive way, what do you think now? What have you learned?  Post 2 will be posted Monday, April 4, 2011. Stay tuned.


Authors bio:

Lavinia Weissman is an sustainable market leadership coach, journalist, and publisher of As a speaker she describes the new emerging patterns of markets shaped by sustainable market leaders and the social networks they work with and employ.  As a coach, Lavinia works with all her clients to inspire professional development that assures a person the opportunity to embed sustainability as a leader into the network and culture of people they work with.

Judy Wicks, a Philadelphia Restauranter, Redefining the Global Economy Locally

by Dave Wann


Golden, Co

For twenty-six years, restaurateur Judy Wicks poured her energies into the White Dog Café in Philadelphia.  Though the restaurant started and remained relatively small, there have been many other ways that Wicks has measured growth. She’s never bought into the dominant paradigm that growth is defined solely by increased profits.

Judy does not believe that economic exchange can be one of the most satisfying and meaningful ways that humans interact. As Wicks sees it, growth is also about increasing knowledge; expanding consciousness; developing creativity, deepening relationships, increasing happiness and well being – and having fun.

“Money is simply a tool, she emphasizes. “Business should really be about relationships – with everyone we buy from and sell to, everyone we work with, and with the Earth itself.”  Wicks made a conscious decision to stay small; to be one special restaurant rather than a chain. She hung a sign in her closet that she’d see each morning: “Good morning beautiful business.”

The sign reminded her of the farmers who were already out in the fields picking fresh organic fruits and vegetables; and the pigs, cows, chickens that were out in the pastures, enjoying the morning sun and fresh air.

She would think of the restaurant’s bakers coming early in the morning to put cakes and pies in the oven, and she’d even remember the growers down in Chiapas, Mexico, growing the organic fair trade coffee beans that made her restaurant so fragrant each morning.

The relationships and beauty she’s after have been reflected over the years in various programs, activities and spin-offs. For example, her decision to pay staff a “living wage” was the result of her realization that the people she worked with were very important to both her and the business.

A living wage is a voluntary commitment by a business owner to pay employees the minimum amount needed to cover the cost of living in a particular location. It’s typically far above the federally mandated minimum wage, and at first Wicks refused to consider it.

Then one day she stood in the kitchen with three of her kitchen staff as they chopped vegetables and sliced meat.  “Looking at their faces, I had an instant realization,” she recalls. “Of course I wanted to pay Brian, Tyrone and James enough to live on – to buy food, clothes, pay their rent and other expenses. How could I not pay people working at the White Dog enough to cover basic needs?”

Another epiphany came when she drove to a favorite hiking location, a forest north of Philadelphia. “The beautiful ferns that I loved were crumpled to the ground like brown tissue paper because of the drought we were having,” she recalls.  “And the creek, once rushing waist-deep, had no water at all, only dust-covered rocks.

‘This is what it will be like, I thought, when global warming brings drought and fire to some parts of the world and storms and floods to others.’” Her personal connection with nature prompted a commitment to purchase 100 percent of the restaurant’s electricity from renewable sources.

The White Dog became known for serving healthy food from local sources. It was worth the extra effort to her for several reasons: the direct relationships with farmers and growers build community and provide transparency about quality; local food reduces “food miles” and carbon emissions; and the much fresher food is superior in taste and nutrition.

She was especially concerned about the drawbacks of standard factory and feedlot farming of livestock, so she made an effort to find local sources of grass-fed beef and pasture-raised pork. Still another chapter in her business evolution followed an “aha” realization that she was part of a much wider food system.

Judy  became as much an activist as business owner, sharing her hard-earned market niche with other restaurants throughout the city. “I had to move from a competitive mentality to one of cooperation in order to build a local economy based on humane and sustainable farming.”

The White Dog soon became an education and support center. When the farmer who supplied the restaurant with organic pork needed a refrigerator truck to expand his business and supply other restaurants, Judy Wicks lent him $30,000, which he has since paid back.

Every year, Wicks staged a Green Dog Day to talk about green business practices and launch new green initiatives, which included a compost project that supplied compost to inner city school gardens; a solar hot water system to heat dishwasher water, and a ban on bottled water.

Judy Wicks’ overall vision – a sustainable global economy based on a worldwide network of sustainable local economies – has now spread to many other communities. She co-founded BALLE, the Business Alliance for Local Living Economies, in 2001, which now includes 80 or more local networks and over 20,000 locally owned businesses.

One of the best examples of BALLE’s mission is Sustainable Connections in Bellingham, Washington, which now has 600 independent businesses in its membership. Recognizing the need for a new generation of farmers to provide locally grown food, that program has offered apprenticeships to 30 or more new organic farmers in the past three years.

Choosing a place and taking responsibility for it is the first step in building a local living economy, she asserts. Ten years ago, she sold her stocks and put her life savings into The Reinvestment Fund, a Philadelphia community investment group that loans money to support things like affordable housing, local businesses, and community centers.

“I soon discovered that the wind turbines producing renewable energy for our region, including my own home and business, were financed by The Reinvestment Fund,” she recalls.

“From my local investment, I receive not only a modest financial return (which has recently outperformed the stock market), but also a ‘living return’  – the benefit of living in a more sustainable community.”


Authors bio:

David Wann is an author, filmmaker and speaker on the topic of sustainable design and lifestyles. He is the author of The New Normal: An Agenda for Responsible Living (St. Martin’s Griffin, 2011) and contributing editor to

The Tug of War between Capital Expenditures and Care

by Lavinia Weissman


Boston, MA

Yesterday, I had a delightful lunch with someone to work on our business plan for a launch of a new capacity building organization that combines all our talent.  There will be more on this through many many posts to come.

What made our conversation shaped with ease is a value we share – both of us have an understanding of how so much of what is implied by a need for “care,” in this complex world is the implications of  the rapid spreading harm that we are now learning about in Japan.

The Earthquake, e.g. Haiti and Katrina was a natural disaster. The BP Oil Spill was a man made disaster to health of the environment, earth, economy and people.

Now Japan is a combination of all of that a natural disaster complicated by man made harm; radiation exposure.  This harm is beyond an immediate danger, this harm like the BP Oil Spill will lead to generations of modified human genetics and natural mutations that lead to a rise in chronic systemic and neurological illnesses, cancer and more.

This will change the health of the entire region through which toxins of any kind blow into the wind.  It will challenge health of environment, people, earth and economy.

It moves the world into a state of uncertainty and building a response to  a need for care we cannot define let alone imagine and view an accelerated response. The March 16, 2011 column In Good Company: @vaultcsr’s blog – The Japan Crisis: What is the Role of Business in Disaster Response? tells the story of a Japanese man rumbling through the piles in search of people he employed out of care; care and respect for those who serves his business and clients.

Claire Mumford, CEO of the International Business Leaders Forum, gives this example in the context of examining business role in disaster response? This is a value that I believe was the original focus in many ways of CSR Frontier Leaders, e.g. Ben and Jerry, Jeffrey Hollender and Anita Roddick.

It is a value I hold dear.

Yet there is another value even more critical at this time. This value relates  to how we regard  health for the world and all beings who reside on earth. It is my belief we need to reshape how we think of capital expenditures that related to developing science and equipment to counteract global warming.

We need to formulate a new system of thought that values raising the resources we need to respond to a disaster or simply the accelerated response we need now to the harm that has been building for years.

Implied in this view is the need to foster a change through cooperation between competitors. Eric Lowitt and I, recently

shared a conversation in which he described his plan for   BOOK 2 . Book 2 is leveraged from Eric’s first book, The Future of Value. share an understanding of how the cost of research and science to generate new drugs, cures, accelerated response to harm of natural resources has become an obstacle t0 change for sustainable value.

We are both interested in building  a new forum or education and all that implies. The mission of this forum is to insure the accelerated action research  of to accelerate sustainable change.

It is my belief that the Japanese business man searching through the piles for people he cares about is a metaphor for the kind of attention we need to give to what so many want to deny because of the rising cost of investigation to generate research into applied learning for systemic impact.

Reader what do you think? Do you believe we need to give the same care and attention to how we organize capital expenditures as much as we do to people in the first stage of response to a disaster whether natural or man made?


Authors bio:

Lavinia Weissman is an sustainable market leadership coach, journalist, and publisher of As a speaker she describes the new emerging patterns of markets shaped by sustainable market leaders and the social networks they work with and employ.  As a coach, Lavinia works with all her clients to inspire professional development that assures a person the opportunity to embed sustainability as a leader into the network and culture of people they work with.

GE and the Three Models of Sustainability Venturing

by Eric Lowitt


Boston, MA

GE announced the next phase of its $200 million Smart Grid Challenge at last week’s 2011 CES. This phase, focused on crowdsourcing “ideas for harnessing and managing energy at home,” is the latest in a line of entrepreneurial efforts used by market leading companies to accelerate their sustainability efforts.

In fact, since the beginning of 2010, GE and several other companies turned to the venture playbook to connect capital and know-how with ideas to further pursue sustainability.

While sustainability venturing is en vogue, the tactic isn’t right for every company. My review of companies with sustainability venturing efforts underway — GE, Nike, Marks and Spencer, Vodafone, 3M, GM, and Virgin among them — suggests two large steps must be completed before venturing can be effective.

First these companies made powerful connections between sustainability and corporate and competitive strategies. Specifically, they’ve adopted the view that sustainability is a means to grow, not solely a source of new risks to be managed.

Second these companies adjusted business processes to improve their processes’ environmental and social impacts. These adjustments have been very well covered elsewhere.

The completion of these steps increases the likelihood that venturing efforts will pay off. The next step is to be precise about the goals of your sustainability venturing plans. Are you looking for ideas to grow into new businesses?

Are you looking to fund potentially disruptive sustainability innovations in your value chain? Or are you seeking access to start-ups that could provide a range of benefits for your company?

These three options have led to the creation of three sustainability venturing structures.

  • Crowdsourcers engage the open public to provide ideas to solve a particular challenge and ultimately lead to business growth. 
  • Amplifiers are developing networks of venture capital firms, value chain partners, public sector partners, and even competitors to bring about systemic change in an environmental or social issue.
  • Investors place an investment in either an incubator or similar firm that funds start-ups in a sustainability related market.

Crowdsourcers. These companies look to the open public to help solve a particular challenge.

The best ideas are provided with a modest to significant level of funding. Perhaps the most prevalent example is the GE Smart Grid Challenge. GE sees the development of a smart grid — a network that delivers electricity using digital technology — as a massive growth opportunity.

The company has long been lauded for its ability to scale great ideas into successful businesses. By partnering with four preeminent venture capital firms to bring its Smart Grid Challenge to life, GE is turning to the open public to provide ideas to accelerate the development and adoption of a smart grid that the company can then scale.

Amplifiers. These companies have internal captive funds focused on sustainability. Nike and Marks and Spencer are examples of companies in this category.

Nike’s Sustainable Business and Innovation (SB&I) function created an “Innovation Lab,” called the SB&I Lab, to identify and fund disruptive technologies that can provide sustainability solutions.

The SB&I Lab works with a range of partners to increase the impact of its investments. Similarly Marks & Spencer launched a 5-year, £50 million fund, called the Plan A Innovation Fund, to bring sustainability solutions to life. Like Nike’s SB&I Lab, the Plan A Innovation Fund develops partnerships to maximize their investments’ sustainability impact.

Investors. These companies invest in start-ups focused on bringing new sustainability solutions to market. At least two methods for these investments have emerged. The first method is an investment in a sustainability focused incubator. In January 2010 3M New Ventures invested in Germany based MAMA Sustainable Incubation AG.

MAMA, which opened in early 2010, invests in “green entrepreneurs” to bring innovations to market. The second method is the establishment of a branded investment firm. Associated with Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Group, Virgin Green Fund is a private equity firm “investing growth capital in the renewable energy and resource efficiency sectors in North America and Europe.”

As companies transition from internally focused sustainability initiatives to investments that can bring about systemic change, sustainability venturing efforts are likely to become more prevalent. Companies will increase the likelihood of success by choosing the right structure for their sustainability venture efforts.


Author’s Bio
Eric Lowitt is a sustainability consultant, author, and speaker. This article is adopted from his forthcoming book, The Future of Value, to be published by Wiley in September 2011. As the research director for, Eric works with Lavinia Weissman on the publishing direction for this publication.
Publication note:
This excerpt was originally published by the author at, January 10, 2011.