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Andrew Cahill
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Nice post Katie! I think you hit on a lot of good points and enjoyed reading your revised MENV mission and vision statements. Your class reflection really resonated with me as well. While I did not touch upon it in my own reflection upon the class, I blogged quite a bit about the importance of better understanding different perspectives and it was a major takeaway for me as well. Working within the environmental field in the current realities of our political and economic systems (which I unfortunately do not see changing much in the next seven months or so) will certainly present many challenges I think as we seek to solve various environmental problems. One of the main challenges I foresee is managing relationships with the various stakeholders involved in an environmental issue. Whether they are concerned citizens (or angry), politicians, industry leaders or environmental advocates, each will have different perspectives on the issue and how it should be addressed. It will likely be quite frustrating at times, but I too will aim to do it in my work....we can compare notes on our experiences a couple years from now and see how we've held up!
Prior to this week, I had not ever seen or read the MENV program’s mission and vision, so I was very curious to view them. Upon reading through both, it took me some time to digest within the framework of the ten tests laid out by the Cabrera’s. In following... Continue reading
Posted May 2, 2017 at Elephant Metamorphosis
Don't fret, I'm back on the comment train for your posts Carly! I strongly agree with Neil - think he hit the nail right on the head and wanted to join in on the convo. Organizational culture is especially important to younger generations (especially ours) and many organizations have begun to recognize that building a strong culture is key to recruiting talent to work there and encourages them to stay, which enhances productivity. In terms of examples, Patagonia certainly comes to mind (another B-Corp), as I have heard a lot about their culture. For an assignment in our leadership class last fall, I interviewed Christian Anthony, the CEO of the company (ListenFirst Media) where my wife Meghan works. Anthony co-founded the company in 2011 and I asked him about the company's culture, which he stressed was very important, particularly in terms of building the culture in a new company. As CEO, Anthony stated that it was important to build a culture that features meritocracy and has a runway for growth, but noted that it should be a fun place to work as well. One of his challenges in scaling the company up from a start-up has been to maintain the culture that it started with and be a place where people stay and thrive. Hopefully I'm not overstepping my bounds here, but I'd be curious to hear your view on the culture at B Lab itself. How adept are they at practicing what they preach and maintaining a strong culture?
Last week, as exhibited in my previous blog post, I was feeling turned off by systems thinking. The second section of the Cabrera’s book did not resonate with me, however this week’s final section of the book provided a pleasant rebound as much of the content struck a chord with... Continue reading
Posted Apr 26, 2017 at Elephant Metamorphosis
I am all in on designing systems thinking visualizations that are beneficial to everyone, particularly because this week's reading left me feeling very confused. Such visualizations would also help to democratize systems thinking, as we briefly discussed around your blog post last week. Also... L-E-G-O-S! Companies have utilized Legos to help visualize problems within their business systems: https://www.fastcodesign.com/1669468/how-gm-is-saving-cash-using-legos-as-a-data-viz-tool "By mapping real world problems to an icon of our youth, each challenge must be approached with an inherent playfulness. And because Legos are, by their very nature, expected to be rebuilt, patterns don’t appear stuck in stone–or just as bad–printed in ink."
Toggle Commented Apr 19, 2017 on In the Eye of the Beholder at Charismatic Megafauna
I certainly believe that systems thinking can be a valuable tool and am intent on honing my systems thinking skills. Frankly, however, I felt that this week’s reading on “Becoming a Systems Thinker” in the second section of the Cabrera’s book did not aid that process for me. Overall the... Continue reading
Posted Apr 18, 2017 at Elephant Metamorphosis
Awesome post Jeremy! I dabbled in Legos, but it is apparent that my Lego creative talents were not on par with yours. I was more of Matchbox car and Playmobil guy (admittedly maybe a few Beanie Babies too, but let's not re-live that phase) and created my own imaginative systems (highways, neighborhoods, construction sites, etc.). As I got a bit older, I became particularly entranced with the SimCity computer game and developing/planning out cities. Anyway, it is fascinating how Legos and games such as SimCity work as excellent models of systems and their varying degrees of complexity. I think that they could be utilized as a systems thinking learning tool for people young and old, which would help to democratize systems thinking as the authors stated must be done. I know that I would not turn down re-acquainting myself with Legos (or SimCity) and honing my creative talents to create a Lego world of my own! May I borrow some Christmas lights?! I am curious - which Lego creation of yours are you most proud of?
Toggle Commented Apr 12, 2017 on Buy Your Child(ren) Legos at Charismatic Megafauna
Speaking from my own experience this semester, it has taken me some time to become more comfortable with systems thinking. Like numerous other topics, I believe that systems thinking can be intimidating at first, though once one overcomes that initial trepidation and really engages in the topic, it makes more... Continue reading
Posted Apr 11, 2017 at Elephant Metamorphosis
It is important to be realistic and maintain perspective on the precarious situation that global society presently finds itself in. War. Terrorism. Increasingly frequent natural disasters. Famine. Inequality. There are many other problems that can be cited and while modern global society is an incredibly complex system where a variety... Continue reading
Posted Apr 5, 2017 at Elephant Metamorphosis
Another fan of the city here, Ryan! Lovins' optimism on the future role of cities and their potential to foster sustainability caught my attention as well. In particular, I have been really interested in keeping tabs on the sustainability initiatives that the City of New York has developed in recent years. A few weeks ago, I know that I discussed NYC's efforts on enhancing its resiliency, but I find it fascinating to follow as the city has become a kind of a laboratory in terms of developing innovative sustainability policies, especially under former Mayor Michael Bloomberg. Of course, the hardest part is to effectively implement the policies, so it will be certainly be intriguing to see how they progress. Are there any other cities on the scale of NYC whose sustainability initiatives have caught your attention? I think monitoring how China's cities invest and pursue sustainability will be something to watch over the next few years, as it seems that the Chinese government is finally realizing that its rapid growth at great environmental cost cannot persist. Also, Miami (and other U.S. coastal cities): http://www.bbc.com/future/story/20170403-miamis-fight-against-sea-level-rise
Toggle Commented Apr 6, 2017 on big fan of the city here at Elephant Metamorphosis
Hey Harsha - I have had similar thoughts regarding the exploration of careers in disaster/emergency management, particularly after talking with Jess about her capstone project on resilience with the City of Boulder (and listening to Greg Guibert, the CRO of Boulder in one of my classes last week). Anyway, as a fellow New Yorker, I am curious what you think of New York City's resiliency plan that was released in the wake of Sandy and perhaps how your experience during Sandy has influenced the area(s) in which think the city's systems should/could become more resilient. Maybe you could land a job in their Office of Recovery and Resiliency! (http://www.nyc.gov/html/planyc/html/resiliency/resiliency.shtml) Don't fret, I didn't forget your question! I grew up about two hours north of NYC and my town is like many others in upstate NY - struggling economically in the post-industrial era. While it has made progress more recently in terms of economic revitalization, I think many such smaller cities/communities face a challenge in maintaining and supporting the economic health of many small businesses that in some cases are the foundation of such communities. In the context of Boulder, I think a good example would be the cost of housing/living.
Toggle Commented Mar 21, 2017 on Future Resilience Officer? at Mouserat
While reading Brian Walker’s “Resilience in Practice” this week, I was struck by a key question that he raised regarding resilience thinking: how much systems can take and still deliver the things we want from them? Walker defined resilience as: “…the capacity of a system to absorb disturbance and reorganize... Continue reading
Posted Mar 21, 2017 at Elephant Metamorphosis
Big fan of private sector investment in social and environmental innovation over here (obviously am also a big fan of your posts, as evidenced by commenting on them on back to back weeks!) I am curious, from your perspective working for B Lab, which certified B Corp(s) has most impressed you in its ability to continually innovate and deliver social and environmental benefits while also strengthening its business foundation? I know many of us are familiar with a B Corp such as Patagonia whose social and environmental initiatives are relatively well documented, but are there any companies new to the B-Corp community that have really caught your attention in terms of their social and environmental innovation? I just came across an interesting company in today's Daily Camera (http://www.dailycamera.com/boulder-business/ci_30843816/leonardo-dicaprio-invests-boulder-aquaculture-company-lovethewild) called LoveTheWIld. They are a Boulder-based food company that seems intent on making a positive impact by selling seafood that is sustainably sourced via aquaculture. Their innovation has even attracted the attention of Leonardo DiCaprio, who subsequently invested in the company.
I find the topic of resilience to be a fascinating one, as evidenced by my previous post from January 31, where I supported Meadows’ view of resilience as being a core characteristic of a well-functioning system. Therefore, I was enthused to see resiliency return as the focus of this week’s... Continue reading
Posted Mar 7, 2017 at Elephant Metamorphosis
Carly, While I have made similar connections throughout the course readings to this point, I thought this past week's readings really underscored the importance of bringing stakeholders to the table, learning from them by listening to their perspective and understanding the values that each holds. I agree with you, however that stakeholder involvement in the decision-making process must be examined. Overall, I am very interested in developing effective ways to gain diverse stakeholder perspectives on environmental problems as I believe they are invaluable in crafting effective policy solutions. In advance of completing a stakeholder mapping project for my capstone project on furthering sports sustainability initiatives, I have been giving thought to areas of potential collaboration between stakeholder groups. Additionally, I have been have been researching sustainability advancement strategies and came across the article linked below from the Sustainable Brands website, which emphasizes engagement and discusses stakeholder mapping as well. Since I know you're working with B Corporation on your capstone project, I thought you may be interested in checking it out. (http://www.sustainablebrands.com/news_and_views/mar2012/three-steps-engaging-stakeholders-your-sustainability-strategy).
Toggle Commented Mar 2, 2017 on Critical Systems Thinking at Brugos Angels
Since beginning the MENV program last August, we have all touched upon our motivations for joining the inaugural cohort. While we all are intent on making a difference to help the environment, some have highlighted their motivation to hone their skills in order to bridge the gap between science and... Continue reading
Posted Feb 28, 2017 at Elephant Metamorphosis
After having met Stan Deetz this evening and reading some of his work in preparation for Thursday’s class, I am really looking forward to his presentation in coordination with my fellow Elephant Metamorphosizers. Understanding systems dynamics can sometimes be an abstract concept (at least for me) and as a result... Continue reading
Posted Feb 21, 2017 at Elephant Metamorphosis
Chela, I have been trying to figure out the best way to productively do the same. I empathize with your frustration and give you a hell of a lot of credit for staying persistent in seeking to develop productive dialogue. Having grown up in a politically diverse area, I have plenty of friends and family with whom I have political differences. While in the past, I was often able to have productive arguments over issues based upon a common set of facts, that information baseline has seemingly disappeared. With the proliferation of spurious information sources available on the Internet and elsewhere, my attempts at such debate recently have quickly devolved. Our system of public political discourse is at an alarming point and as Meadows forewarned, "Most of what goes wrong in systems goes wrong because of biased, late or missing information." I am a bit perplexed as to how we go about fixing the current state of our information system, though I think it is critical to stay engaged. I would be curious to hear how your continued attempts at engagement proceed. Fingers crossed on some progress!
During our class last week, Dave Newport discussed the development of sustainability initiatives at college and university campuses throughout the United States under the AASHE STARS program. While sustainability programs have become more prevalent across the higher education system, it is apparent that each institution is at a different stage... Continue reading
Posted Feb 14, 2017 at Elephant Metamorphosis
Katie, like you, I am hopeful that companies who adopt and commit to sustainable practices will help to chip away at the climate change policy resistance that exists in our political system. I was encouraged by the following article from November in The New York Times (https://www.nytimes.com/2016/11/17/business/energy-environment/us-companies-to-trump-dont-abandon-global-climate-deal.html?_r=0) which highlighted how hundreds of companies (and investors) have advised President Trump to pursue policy action on climate change. While one may assume that if any group were to have the president's ear, it would be the business sector, it is abundantly clear that climate change policy will not be a political priority under this administration. Nonetheless, I believe that companies will continue to advance their sustainability efforts because they realize that it makes business sense to do so. As a result, perhaps more businesses can collaborate a la Patagonia and Wal-Mart to further climate action outside of the political realm. An exciting example of the potential for such collaboration is the Closed Loop Fund (http://www.closedloopfund.com/). There is certainly a long way to go in the pursuit of Sustainability 3.0, but as more and more companies commit and progress in meeting sustainability goals, I think pressure will increasingly build against policy resistance in Congress and the White House.
Prior to graduating college in 2012 as an environmental policy major, I often fielded the question: “what are you going to do with that degree?” I often responded by expressing my interest in pursuing a career in corporate social responsibility. In anticipation of the puzzled looks that usually followed such... Continue reading
Posted Feb 7, 2017 at Elephant Metamorphosis
Ali - late reply here, but I'm with you. As aspiring professionals in the environmental field, we have to learn how to better engage with those who are skeptical about climate change and adversarial about environmental topics more generally. I understand that many discussions are unlikely to be fruitful, but I think there is a real value to at least starting a conversation, because you never know whose mind you might change. It may not happen right away, but it at least gets them thinking and gives a personal connection to someone on the other side.
Transportation policy is quite an interesting topic to me, particularly in the Denver-Boulder corridor. Voters across the Denver metro area approved RTD's "FasTracks" initiative in 2004, a component of which was to expand commuter rail service between Denver and Boulder. Due to un-budgeted cost increases, its implementation has been delayed and commuters between Denver and Boulder remain heavily reliant upon driving. In addition to the creation of a HOT lane on U.S. 36, the main highway between Denver and Boulder, RTD has implemented bus-rapid transit service along the route aimed to mitigate congestion in the interim. While the implementation of such infrastructure likely upgrades the resilience of the regional mass transit system, would you recommend that RTD follow through on the eventual construction of the commuter rail line to further reinforce the resilience of the transit system? Not sure if you reviewed the issue at all in that class, but curious if you have any thoughts!
We are surrounded by systems – both naturally occurring and manmade. In many ways due to the increasingly interconnected and globalized world in which we all presently live, systems have become increasingly complex. Nonetheless, as I read through this section of Meadows’ book, I found myself considering issues I had... Continue reading
Posted Jan 31, 2017 at Elephant Metamorphosis
Watching how companies are beginning to adapt and adopt more sustainable practices into their business systems is very interesting to follow. While there has been the problem of "green washing," overall, it has been very encouraging to see many companies begin to take the issue of climate change seriously and work to mitigate their impact on the environment. Certainly, there is a long way to go in order to make corporate social responsibility an integral component of business systems, but more are realizing that the adoption of such practices make both environmental and economic sense. Systems are indeed very complex, but hopefully as more businesses achieve success in adopting sustainable practices, other businesses will take note and the system will gradually change. I think there is some momentum!