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Jennifer Shriver
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The Cabreras are fierce about the importance of a sleek and powerful mission (arrow) vision. Like an expensive Tesla, sleek. They make a good point: hardly any mission or vision statements are interesting, compelling, or even readable.1 Hopefully you know by now that I work for Community Cycles, Boulder's bicycle... Continue reading
Posted May 1, 2017 at Mouserat
A few years back, I had the opportunity to help launch a recycling and re-use project here in Colorado. We recycled asphalt roofing shingles and found a great new use for this recycled material, re-using those waste shingles in asphalt pavements for roads and highways and driveways and parking lots.... Continue reading
Posted Apr 24, 2017 at Mouserat
The Cabreras do entertain discussion of ethics and democracy, what I think of as Justice. As they say, "... systems thinking as a concept is a lot like democracy. You can’t do democracy in an aristocratic way. Democracy has to be of, for, and by the people." (Cabrera, D., Cabrera,... Continue reading
Posted Apr 17, 2017 at Mouserat
The Cabreras, in their book Systems Thinking Made Simple, explore the four colors that make up all of art, the four nucelotides whose combination create all of life, and the four rules that create systems thinking. The idea that our thinking is improved if we become systems thinkers is interesting,... Continue reading
Posted Apr 2, 2017 at Mouserat
That's what Karl Marx was thinking about, almost 200 years ago, as the early stages of the industrial revolution were already looking bleak for humanity. In the first few chapter of A Finer Future, Hunter Lovins describes the failure of neoliberalism to create happiness, or to create a healthy, caring... Continue reading
Posted Mar 31, 2017 at Mouserat
Resilience Practice by Salt and Walker (Island Press, 2012) gives a tantalizing overview of current thinking about resilience as a next step in sustainability. After we create sustainable, closed systems (recycling, conserving waste and water and energy, powering our new Nissan Leaf with our new Tesla solar roof), we still... Continue reading
Posted Mar 21, 2017 at Mouserat
Let's start by talking about survival, which includes health care. In the United States, we have a fragile system, with the lowest per-capita ratio of doctors to members of the general population. Our health care system does not ensure that people have the right to health care. Last week, we... Continue reading
Posted Mar 7, 2017 at Mouserat
You may know this line from a famous old Beatles' song: "I heard the news today, oh, boy..." Speaking of climate change and knowledge, I heard some news today: Ocean currents affected by climate change, lead to major disruption in Northern Europe's habitability. Melting permafrost leads to huge carbon release.... Continue reading
Posted Feb 28, 2017 at Mouserat
Since 1992, a vast amount of my energy and cognition has been focused on raising my two children, dealing with the overwhelming everyday activities of house, family, school, groceries, work, money. I've acquired frown lines and laugh lines, it's been great and terrible, and all-consuming. Coming back to graduate school after this long hiatus, one of the big impacts is how much climate change has advanced, how clear the science is, and how rough it looks. So I've been thinking about where I/we might move, and in what ways (community, creativity, social justice, racial equity, renewable energy? who comes along, who gets left behind? co-housing community? geodesic dome? guns? animals?) I have seen some scenarios that indicate the Great Lakes area as a place where human populations could survive. So I appreciate all your comments, and the final question, could we live in a small city, perhaps a city that's been abandoned by industries more than once, could I stay happy and resourced and effectively contribute to that town, creating a sustainable and resilient environmental culture? No answers here. Just open appreciation of the question and the challenge. And your aunt sounds really interesting.
I'm grateful for Professor Goldstein's guidance that these readings "are directly from the research rock.face and not processed for introductory-level classes, and so framed in ways that may not always be intelligible for the non-specialist." I appreciate the invitation to accept and even enjoy incomplete comprehension, and I'm right there.... Continue reading
Posted Feb 20, 2017 at Mouserat
Katie, I agree that those numbers are important and can be powerful, and I appreciate the opportunity to re-consider Dr. Meadow's hierarchical ranking of the leverage points. You comment makes me think about EPA and OSHA standards. I had the opportunity to submit testimony to OSHA about its formaldehyde standard, on behalf of the International Ladies Garment Workers' Union, because formaldehyde is a known human carcinogen and sensitizer. We supported a standard of 0.1 ppm of formaldehyde: textile and carpet manufacturers wanted the standard to be much higher, 5 ppm. I remember reading these manufacturers' testimony, and noticing how much they cared about the number. The standard was finally set at 1 ppm, closer to the lower number. While this doesn't affect systems that might be shifted at goal or paradigm levels (do we need clothing? do we need a garment industry? where should we locate our good manufacturing jobs?), the lower number prevented human suffering from over-exposure to formaldehyde, influenced ongoing movements toward more sustainability in the garment industry, and continued the movement in this country toward safer chemicals. And the resistance and concern of the manufacturers left me with a lasting conclusion: Numbers matter.
My paradigms are rocking at their roots these days. As a lifelong environmentalist, here's the biggest enviro-root being rocked: environmental protection is a good idea. I have drunk that Koolaid. I fully embrace the paradigm that earth stewardship is in everyone's best interest. Analysis shows it's even good for business.... Continue reading
Posted Feb 13, 2017 at Mouserat
Mallika, thanks for this wise and insightful summary of the readings, and for your evocative, pointed question. Certainly the authors intend to present a successful example of an industry coalition, formed to advance sustainability, achieving that goal. I think we can all agree that they succeeded in creating the Sustainable Apparel Coalition. That achievement itself is a stand-alone miracle. But whether that coalition's work has led to significant environmental change remains unclear. Although, taking my daughter shopping at H&M last weekend, I did see one rack (out of 100 in the store) dedicated to organic cotton garments. Chouinard et al point to outside forces that have helped shape their moment:changing investor interests, along with more and better environmental and sustainability data. Similarly, Product Stewardship efforts have built some coalitions while achieving solid results, perhaps most notably in the field of paint recycling and re-use. But this coalition, like Chouinard's, remains charged with potential energy. Whether it becomes kinetic maybe be up to us and our changing expectations.
Yes to all these comments. And the garment industry is particularly intractable. Even after the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire, the industry resisted practical fire protection methods. Today's garment and apparel industries are notoriously unrepentant about their use of sweatshops with low pay and horrible working conditions. Production of cotton and textiles is environmentally destructive, with outrageous use of water, toxic pesticides and dyes, and energy. But Yvon Chouinard and Patagonia are working to tackle the problem, identifying most if not all the pieces of the puzzle. Multi-faceted and robust, their system is resilient and integrates bounded rationality and protection of our commons. Bringing Walmart along with them, Patagonia's leaders are systematizing change. It reminds of this fascinating information: perhaps Republicans leaders will similarly fill the need for climate leadership.
an $8.7 trillion boom in sustainable investments. market forces its way out of a trap.
1. Meadows’ Resilience, Chouinard’s Patterns To create a resilient system, identify all the key elements, e.g. accurate prices for ecosystem services; positions needed in a renewable energy company; basic ingredients for a co-housing community. Or all the pieces of the pattern to make the garment industry environmentally sustainable. The rule:... Continue reading
Posted Feb 7, 2017 at Mouserat
Wow. Great blog, Neil. I have been wondering how third parties, along with elimination of the oppressive relic of slavery, the electoral college, and adoption of direct representation of parties in the legislature (as in many European countries including France). So the percent of popular vote equals a percent of the seats in the parliament or legislature. That would open up some more feedback loops. Plus it would be more fun. I note that in a couple of places, commas would make your writing a tad more clear. Afficionado of the comma, however, to be transparent. Again, really great job. clear, interesting, well-documented. I will model my next blog post after this. Are you going to run for office? You have my vote. And my work on your campaign.
Jennifer Shriver is now following Brugo
Jan 31, 2017
Question: which systems do you need to understand (stand under) more deeply, in order to disrupt them? Racism? Sexism? Capitalism? Junkfoodism? Denial? Addictions? OK stopping before this gets...addictive.
Yes. And the business community will not necessarily benefit from the chaos. Unlike Trump's (Bannon's?)100-day shock and awe plan of astonishing and terrorizing the country and anyone who dares question them, the business community runs on long-term plans. A snack-food company is planning to locate a new factory in Longmont. It will open in 2018. Ikea purchased land in Broomfield for a new store: they closed on the land in 2015 and hope to open the new store in 2018. Playing a fast-and-loose dice game (was that a 2? or a 1?) with regulations is not going to help the business community. I remember when worker right-to-know laws were being passed. State by state. Producers, manufacturers, distributors of any kind of chemical used in any workplace had to comply with a bevy of state regulations. Finally the chemical industry itself, perhaps with a big sigh, requested one national regulation. Hopefully tRump's absurb policies will cause him and the republican party to shed support like ducks shed water. Hopefully we can find the reinforcing feedback loops to help unbuild them, while building up a world of brew-pubs, bicycles, and benevolence.
Yes. Beautiful. So clear, so powerful. Thank you, Vin. Reminds me that the Bioneers conference is at CU this weekend.
In this week's reading, Meadows explores archetypal problem-generating structures, revealing their inner systemic workings. Righteously, she says that understanding these structures is not enough. We need to be able to avoid these traps, or see how to get ourselves out of them. I agree, while also believing strongly that fully... Continue reading
Posted Jan 30, 2017 at Mouserat
Extremely cogent, concise, and clear summary of these first couple of chapters, and I appreciate your focus on how systems thinking can inform and assist the practice of decision-makers seeking to support and sustain nature's systems. An intriguing concept: delays in feedback to flows can allow a long-term, constant harvest. Even nonrenewable stocks produce steadily for a large extent of time, at a 1% increase in capital. The models demonstrate a kind of information that could suffuse the network: patience; caution; steadiness. In my history of farmers -- my great grandfather was one, after completing his seven years as an indentured servant, to pay for his passage from Ireland, in flight from the British, and my mother grew up on his farm -- there's a connection with the land, an unearned and unavoidable learning of pace and patience, sun and rain, taught by the growing time of living things, where the relationships and information in the network having priority. Many of our farmers today are primarily affected by economic systems that push them toward GMOs and factory farming, and by the USDA and cooperative extension services, which tend to support agro-business. Our farming communities can be isolated, mechanical, and lacking in educational and cultural enrichment that could lead to a renewed connection with the systems of nature that support us.
Heartily agree. Thank you for that beautiful quote from the Venerable Bhikkhu Bodhi. Today my heart hums with this part: "reverence and respect for the natural world, recognized as our irreplaceable home and nurturing mother." I felt that, had a taste of that at the women's march in Denver last Saturday. Your post brings to mind the section of Donella's book where she talks about a woman managing a car dealership (even electric cars, as you say!) Agreeing that we need better bus systems and bike/ped systems, I was still astonished to see how a 6-day delay caused the graph to even out. Faster responding lead to more oscillations, the kinds of oscillations that take us to uncertainty, collapse, and increasing fragility rather than resilience. I want to learn, and help us all learn, how we can flatten those curves, gentle the oscillations. I wish we still had mastadons.
Toward the end of her second chapter, A Brief Visit to the Systems Zoo (great title!), Meadows reveals the trick she's been describing in detail, with flows and stocks and feedback loops: The trick, as with all the behavioral possibilities of complex systems, is to recognize what structures contain which... Continue reading
Posted Jan 24, 2017 at Mouserat