To continue with this week’s meditation/theme on the need for evangelism and spreading good news, I’d like to share my experience of working with a positive evangelizer in the area of sustainability.
I first heard of Hunter Lovins when a friend of mine recommended that I read the book Natural Capitalism, probably about 15 years ago, around the time the book was released. At the time, I very much felt that capitalism was the force harming society more than helping it. I couldn’t believe that natural capitalism could make a difference. So, I didn’t read the book. I was a skeptic about businesses going green like maybe some of you are now.
Interestingly, a few years later, I found myself working at the Chicago Manufacturing Center (CMC). My first job there was to be a knowledge manager. As I tried to do that work of organizing information and projects at CMC, it became clear to me that the priority of our CEO was in the area of sustainability. So, I started reading everything I could about sustainability, and eventually was put in charge of getting a grant to do a green business project.
It’s at that time that I met Hunter Lovins, and actually read Natural Capitalism. I ended up working with her on creating the program for CMC called GreenPlants that we had hoped would roll out to a national program, though it never did. We worked on something called the Sustainability Helix, and it was a grand idea of how to organize a business around sustainability. I loved working with Hunter because she was so inspiring, and to do this day, I try to keep on what she’s doing. Hunter always reminded me of a modern-day Annie Oakley with her cowboy hat and personal flair. For some of you, who may not be familiar with her work, I wanted to give a plug for her work at Natural Capitalism Solutions today. She’s probably my favorite green evangelist because she is audacious, sometimes shocking, but also practical and grounded in reality.
As much as I like her books, she’s an even better green evangelist as a speaker.
Hunter does something that a lot of environmentalists don’t do. She shows the solution to the problems, and does not believe that going greener is more costly. She talks about the good news of what becoming a greener world will mean for all of us.
For instance, in her chapter in Climate Capitalism, Growing a Better World, she writes about the problems with our conventional agricultural system, and as the chapter goes on begins to present hope:
There are ways to conduct agriculture that return carbon from the air to the soil, making sustainable agriculture a significant part of the solution. A new, sustainable relationship between agriculture and the climate can be created, and as with Climate Capitalism generally, it will be more profitable.
Then, she show examples of how to transform our agricultural system for the better such as how organic agriculture sequesters carbon.
I’m not sure how many people read Climate Capitalism when it came out because so few people associate capitalism with addressing climate change issues. Based on political discourse on both sides in America, you would think that addressing climate change would be devastating to capitalism.
Contrast that thinking to Climate Capitalism, which states:
Any sober look at the climate chaos now ravaging the globe and the efforts of the incumbent industries to remain dependent on the technologies of the last century makes it clear that we need a miracle. Perhaps not surprising to a capitalist, our best hope for the source of that miracle is the business community.
I haven’t seen Hunter since 2011 when the book came out. I continue to be proud that I have both Natural Capitalism and Climate Capitalism signed by Hunter with an inscription that says to a dear friend and partner in making it happen. I’m hoping this year in 2014 to be more of a partner for making positive change. I’m currently re-reading Climate Capitalism, particularly the chapters related to transforming our agricultural practices and adapting to climate chaos. You can get a kindle copy of either book for only $8.
Let me end today’s author spotlight by saying thank you to my many fellow bloggers who are doing your part, large or small, to make the world a greener place. Keep up your green work and evangelism!