The Best Response Ever About Why Guilt and Shame Don’t Work

This Facebook Live video by Brené Brown, “We need to keep talking about Charlottesville,” posted August 15, might be the best thing I’ve ever come across on how to combat oppressive language without heaping guilt and shame on the other person, building bridges instead. I’d known her name but not her work. This video made me a fan. Strongly recommended.

She has an unusual perspective: a white anti-racist raised in the South, often mistaken for black by people who hadn’t met her, on the basis of her full legal name.

Can we create a world where these girls will be judged "not by the color of their skin but by the content of their character"? Photo by Anissa Thompson, freeimages.com

Can we create a world where these girls will be judged “not by the color of their skin but by the content of their character”? Photo by Anissa Thompson, freeimages.com

I’ve been saying for many years that guilt and shame are not effective in making change (and in my work to create social change in the business world, I do my best to harness other motives, like enlightened self-interest). The example she gives of the young man confronting his father shows exactly why they don’t work. Not to confront racism or other isms, and not to protect the planet.

Brené is a better communicator than I am. As I engage in dialogue with “the other side,” I will do my best to remember her communications lessons, and those of Van Jones, whose wonderful riff on how to talk to Tea Partiers I wrote about several years ago.

For more of Brené Brown, visit her website.

Posted in Activism, Diversity, Environment, Events, language, Marketing Techniques and Philosophies, People Helping People, Politics, Protests and Crackdowns, Psychology, Shel's Personal Life, Social and Economic Justice Tagged with: , , , , , , , , ,

Where Do We Find Our Courage?

In the aftermath of the Charlottesville Massacre (a massacre that kills one person is still a massacre in my opinion, if deliberately intending to harm many—19 were injured by the madman’s car), an activist friend posted a cry for help. This is a piece of it:

…how can I fight this if I’m scared? And if I’m scared and it immobilizes me then who else will be able to face that fear and take action? And we must take action. We white people must take action. We must be at the forefront of this fight. With our sisters and brothers of color.

All my life I have fought for justice, for people, for equity. How do I step up to this fight with my full self and do what has to be done? How are you doing it?

Here’s what I wrote (slightly edited):

Singer, actor, activist and athlete Paul Robeson. Courtesy NY Public Library Digital Collections.

Singer, actor, activist and athlete Paul Robeson. Courtesy NY Public Library Digital Collections.

It’s OK to be scared, and then do the work anyway—that’s what courage is. I know you already know this, but maybe others reading here will take inspiration.
The times in my life when I’ve done this, and there have been several, have been among the most meaningful moments of my life. But I’m no great hero—and the times when I failed to step up and do the right but scary thing are some of my few regrets. Here are two successes and one failure that I’m thinking about in particular.
1. In 1975 and 1976, I ran the Gay Center (that’s what we called it back then) at Antioch College. I left when the semester was over and began a summer-long hitchhiking trip. A few weeks later, on July 5, 1976, I stopped by for a short visit. I still had the Gay Center key and was crashing there. During that visit, some creep threw a rock through the center’s window, wrapped in a vile hate-speech note with a swastika drawn on it. I not only went to the police [and the campus authorities], but I wrote a letter to the school paper, including the full text of the foul note, and called out the perpetrator. Nobody offered any protection [nor did I request any] and I kept sleeping there until I pushed west.
2. When the US bombed Libya in the early 1990s, I called up [local peace activist] Frances Crowe and asked her where and when the demonstration would be. She said she didn’t know of one. I said “noon at the courthouse.” I was out there by myself the first day, and the passers-by were hostile enough that I was worried for my safety. But I was back the next day with a handful of others, and the day after that with about 20 folks, and I watched the tide turn. By that third day, supporters passing by far outnumbered hostiles. I felt my actions had made a real difference.
The regrets are mostly about not having the strength to verbally interrupt oppression. I’ve gotten better at this over the years. Many of the incidents were when I was a child or teen and didn’t have the strength or the skills to do this in a positive way. But I particularly regret one incident in 1986 when I should have been able to think and act differently: I failed to interrupt a neighbor’s racist comment. We had just moved in next door and I was in his living room at that moment, getting acquainted. I let the comment go by as if I hadn’t heard it. 31 years later, I still feel shame about that.
As an activist for more than 40 years, I’ve been very lucky. I’ve really only risked my life or serious injury a dozen times or so. I’ve never had to spend time in a real jail; my one and only arrest (Seabrook, NH, 1977) was part of a movement too big for the state’s corrections system, so I spent a week in a large National Guard Armory room with 700 other comrades and we made it a school of nonviolence theory and practice.

But my greatest successes bore no personal risk. I faced no serious repercussions when I started the movement that saved our local mountain, or when I set the wheels in motion for the first nonsmokers rights regulations in the city where I was living. Nobody was going to crack a nightstick over my head while I was being paid to organize the Gray Panther chapter in Brooklyn, NY.

I realize just how privileged my place of activism has been when I think of the nonviolent warriors who fought for their rights in places like Nazi Germany, apartheid South Africa, and the American South in the 1950s and 1960s. I think of my long-dead friends and comrades Dave Dellinger and Wally Nelson, who served had time in prison for refusing to fight in World War II. I think of another dead friend, Adele Lerner, who came to the US to escape the Nazis and who was present at the Paul Robeson concert in Peekskill, New York that when the Klan attacked—and who was responsible for a lot of my political and cultural awareness in the early 1970s.She turned me on to Leadbelly (who’d been a friend of hers), Malvina Reynolds, and real cheese, to name three among many. I think of labor organizers, LGBT activists, and so many others who gave their lives so that my generation could have our freedom to protest. Their actions give me the courage to continue to work for a better world.
And I think about the power of ordinary people to step through the door that cracks open for a moment, to step into their greatness and change the world. The seamstress, Rosa Parks. The shipyard electrician, Lech Walesa. The activist serving a life sentence, Nelson Mandela. The humble priests Daniel and Philip Berrigan, who spent so many years in jail for direct action against the military. These and many other heroes put their lives on the line in a way I never had to.
Mind, I’m not beating myself up. I’ve chosen a path of “easeful activism” (as my yoga teacher might call it). I’ve found plenty of ways to be an effective agent of social change without getting beaten, killed, or thrown in jail. I haven’t found it necessary to be a martyr, but I deeply respect those who do. And I am prepared if the day comes where I am called to do as much or more. I will not allow fear of my own death to keep me from doing the right thing. I will continue to follow the path of nonviolent action for deep social change.
impact in the world? Please post your comments below.
Posted in Activism, language, People Helping People, Politics, Protests and Crackdowns, Psychology, Shel's Personal Life, Social and Economic Justice Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Saving the Planet and Your Profits: Can Going Green Actually Be Profitable for Your Business?

Guest post by a writer who wishes to be anonymous.

The most common reason as to why a lot of the companies shy away from joining the green initiative to save the planet is because they think it will cut heavily into their profit margins. Unfortunate as it is, the promise of ensuring a better future for our children and the planet as a whole is not a strong enough incentive to trump the lure of immediate gains in most cases. The good news is that it doesn’t have to be the only incentive because eco-innovation can also be profitable for businesses. The following points should shed some factual light on the misconception that environmentally friendly business practices can only be economically demanding without the promise of profit.

A Shadow on the Earth. Photo courtesy of Pixabay

A Shadow on the Earth. Photo courtesy of Pixabay

Investors

Investors realize the potential of eco-innovation and they know that going green will become an unavoidable option in the future, once all other options begin to run out. What this means is that banks, government agencies, private agencies and even crowdfund projects will be more interested in you if the new business you are starting is geared towards making the planet a better place to live in. The same also applies for established companies that are willing to make the transition to greener practices.

Potential

There is just so much business potential in the sustainability market for both young start-ups and established businesses to branch into that it’s almost ridiculous even from a strictly business perspective if somebody ignores the sector purely on account of misinformed and outdated preconceptions. For example, the promotional bags from Customer Earth are cheap, reusable and recyclable at the same time, essentially making them the perfect example where business meets environmental awareness. The retail businesses that do buy from them don’t lose anything in terms of money or quality, but instead they automatically serve to help the green initiative and gain positive favor in the eyes of everyone for the same action.

Waste Reduction

Waste management is a costly affair for manufacturers around the world and with China refusing to take up any more foreign waste, it is fast becoming a very big problem worldwide. As green manufacturing techniques work primarily towards reducing waste during manufacturing processes in the first place, it definitely is the way to go. Reducing waste decreases significant costs that are associated with waste management and treatment, which in turn makes for better profits. It has been estimated that by adopting more efficient manufacturing techniques, companies in the UK alone could save billions of pounds every year. Given that the UK is not even in the top ten nations list (11th) of countries when it comes to eco-revolution, further initiatives need to be taken to improve the UK’s participation for both environmental and business reasons.

As we progress towards the future, going green is the only way forward and anything that goes against it will only set us back as a race and not only a nation. At this point in time, the biggest issue is that a lot of businesses and some of the most influential people in the US consider sustainable business models to be an enemy of profit. Not only is this just a misconception, it is the kind of misconception that could propel the nation back instead of pushing it forward at the global stage. Hopefully, as technology progresses further and the profits of becoming a green business become more apparent, such views will change more rapidly.

Posted in Uncategorized

How Old Is Too Old to Start a Business?

Someone asked on Quora whether 40 was too old to start a business. Once I was done laughing, this is how I answered:

Fireboard decorated by Grandma Moses, 1918. Courtesy Wikipedia.

Fireboard decorated by Grandma Moses, 1918. Courtesy Wikipedia.

One of the US’s most famous painters, Grandma Moses, started painting at 77 and made it her career at 78. I’ve known dozens of people who started a business after working in the corporate world for decade. And when I was a paid organizer for the Gray Panthers in my early 20s, my chapter leader was a 75-year-old fireball who had taken up yoga and become a vegetarian at age 70. It is only your own thinking that is holding you back.

But start small, keep another income stream, and test the waters. Make your business viable—and make sure you like it—before you saw off the bridge. Expect to flounder for a year or two as you figure out the intersections of your skills and interests with what the market wants.

I stated my business at 24 after several failures over the previous several years, expecting it to be a part-time thing until I could find a job. Instead, my business kept morphing and getting both more interesting and more successful. I’m now 60 and in the midst of yet another business reinvention. What I do today looks almost nothing like what I did 20 years ago, but the seeds were always there. My latest incarnation is helping businesses turn hunger and poverty into sufficiency, war into peace, and catastrophic climate change into planetary balance—not through guilt and shame but by creating and marketing profitable products and services that address these enormous challenges.

Posted in Entrepreneurship, General Commentary, Green Business, Psychology, Shel's Personal Life, Social and Economic Justice Tagged with: , , , , , ,

Why the Climate Justice Movement Needs Diversity

Recently, a reporter asked questions about diversity and the environmental movement. I spent a long time responding because I wanted to share it (with slight adaptations) with you, too. Here we go:

1. If possible, could you explain why diversity is so important
for the environmental movement?

  • Everyone loses when people of color or of lower income see the environmental movement as something for white people or rich people. To win the battle, all sectors of society need large majorities who will support the behavior changes and own the issue.
  • Many poor communities/communities of color are hit much harder by industrial pollution (e.g., coal plants and refineries in poor neighborhoods) or—both globally and in the US—are at higher risk for climate-change-related flooding, drought, etc.
  • In the time of a government that is openly hostile to poor people, people of color, and the planet, the rise of intersectionality—seeing multiple issues as linked—has been a major factor in the resistance. We are all stronger when we are all looking past our own immediate self-interest into building a movement.
  • A key piece in fighting climate catastrophe is increasing neighborhood food self-sufficiency. Many poor communities are food deserts, with wildly inadequate service from supermarkets, low quality overpriced food in convenience stores, and often, a junk food culture. Turning urban rooftops and empty lots into high-quality organic food production can create not only better health outcomes but also address climate change (removing the long distances food is transported, oxygenating polluted air, keeping water from contact with roofing materials, etc.) AND economic disenfranchisement (creating jobs, lowering food costs). I have even visited a successful urban farm on the roof of an eight-storey building in the heart of the South Bronx.

    Multicultural contingent at a climate march. Photo by Shel Horowitz.

    Multicultural contingent at a climate march. Photo by Shel Horowitz.

2. Climate change hurts all living things, but there are issues
that specifically hurt people who aren’t white, straight,
privileged. What are these issues, and what organizations
actually work to make these issues well-known, and matter?

From New Orleans’ Lower 9th Ward (flooded by Katrina) to the Maldives Islands, people of color bear more of the risk. In many cases, they have the least to do with causing climate change, so there’s a huge justice issue.
It’s harder to make the connections between climate change and LGBT organizing, but here’s one: pressure to be in procreating hetero relationships may cause some people to have children (or have more children). This pressure to “be fruitful and multiply” was probably a huge factor in religious messages against nontraditional lifestyles (such as the wretched passages in Leviticus that have caused so much misery and suffering for thousands of years)—but at the time the Old Testament was written, small bands of humans needed aggressive population growth. Not anymore. Reducing population growth is an obvious way to lower the temperature. Thus, freedom to choose whether to have children becomes a climate issue.
A stronger connection comes back to intersectionality. No one is free when any group is oppressed. Lesbians and trans people especially have been heavily involved in justice issues generally (the push to find a cure for AIDS was largely lesbian-driven, even though they themselves had lower risk than either gay male or hetero folks), including the climate change movement. By working toward healing the planet, they help liberate themselves too.
[I also connected this journalist with Majora Carter in the Bronx and Van Jones in Oakland—two of the most effective activists doing environmental/climate change organizing within communities of color.]

3. In general, could you explain why an inclusive environmental
org staff is one of the most important assets an environmental
organization, and the movement, can have?

  • People respond best to those they see as like them. If an organization only has white, economically comfortable, straight staffers, it be a lot tougher to organize in the communities that need it most.
  • As a movement, we are much stronger in diversity. Working with people of different backgrounds and cultures lets issues surface and be addressed. A white person from the suburbs may not analyze a situation the same way as a person of color from an inner city neighborhood. By recognizing the value of many different perspectives, solutions arise that are more holistic and more likely to be implemented. As a child growing up in NYC, I never thought about community food self-sufficiency until my teens. People who grew up in the farm community where I live now have been living and breathing it their whole lives. But I knew a lot about mass transit, housing density, and other things that are out of the context of my rural neighbors where I live now.
  • We need to walk our talk around inclusiveness and intersectionality—and show up for other communities when they need us. Not just so they show up for us, but because it’s the way the world should work.
It’s from intersectionality that I really developed the work I do, moving business forward on climate change and on hunger, poverty, and peace by showing them how it is in their economic self-interest. As a profitability consultant for green and social entrepreneurship businesses–and author of 10 books, most recently Guerrilla Marketing to Heal the World (endorsed by Seth Godin, Chicken Soup’s Jack Canfield, and many others), I show businesses how they can go beyond mere “sustainability” (keeping things the same) to “regenerativity” (making things better). I work with them to develop and market profitable products and services that turn hunger and poverty into sufficiency, war into peace, and catastrophic climate change into planetary balance.
And as an activist, my proudest campaigns include my (only) arrest at Seabrook in 1977 (the action that pretty much ended the drive toward nuclear power) and founding the movement that saved a local mountain here in Western Massachusetts. I was an early adopter of intersectionality and have been making connections between movements for more than 40 years, starting with connecting student liberation and the Vietnam peace movement as a high school student in NYC. I was raised in a low-income household and have worked for both social justice and environmental causes since 1969 (at age 12). Several years of my life were focused on LGB activism (T wasn’t really on the radar yet). I was on the organizing committee for our local Pride March for three years until they threw the bisexuals out, and my wife and I still march in this parade almost every year. In my 20s, I even had a VISTA job as an organizer for the Gray Panthers and immediately brought them into a Brooklyn-wide anti-racist, mixed-class coalition against nuclear power that I co-founded.
Posted in Activism, Business Ethics, Democracy, Demographics/Psychographics, Diversity, Eco-friendly, Environment Tagged with: , , , , , , , , ,

As Bad As Things Are, We Still Can Laugh—And This Made Me Laugh A LOT

If you’ve been walking around in shock and depression since the election, and you’re anywhere near Minneapolis, get thee to Brave New Workshop, 824 Hennepin Avenue, and buy tickets to “Guardians of the Fallacy: Executive Disorder.” Bring a bunch of liberal and progressive friends.

You need at least one good laugh per day right now. At this show, you’ll make your quota for many weeks.

Founded in 1958, the US’s oldest live political satire troupe may also be its funniest. This show had all four of us roaring with laughter, even if we missed some of the pop-culture references. Only one skit had me scratching my head and saying “huh?” (But a few of them had me asking “what did she just say?”; the enunciation got muddy at times.) I saw The Capitol Steps during the Clinton administration and this was much funnier. All four of us felt it was actually more consistently funny than Saturday Night Live.

This group of five writer/actors has an uncanny ability to get deep into our angst, to express all the fear and worry we face, and to be side-splittingly funny. It’s not really a musical but it has several hilarious song parodies. Remember these names: Lauren Anderson, Denzel Belin, Ryan Nelson, Tom Reed, Taj Ruler (the five writer/actors) and their gifted improvisational accompanist Jon Pumper. One day some of them may be as familiar as BNW alumnus Senator Al Franken.

Cast of "Guardians of Fallacy." Photo by Dani Werner, courtesy of Brave New Workshop. Used with permission.

Cast of “Guardians of Fallacy.” Photo by Dani Werner, courtesy of Brave New Workshop. Used with permission.

Although a large majority of the show takes on DT and his cohorts, two of the funniest skits—a woman still grieving in July over Hillary’s loss, and an interracial gay couple encountering a patronizing liberal manager at Trader Joe’s—skewer liberals, and one with no political content involves two Minnesota fishermen. But you also won’t soon forget Sean Spicer and an a enthusiastic Alabaman taking us a few decades into the future to lead a tour of the DT “Presidential Lie-berry,” whose only book is a copy of the McConnell healthcare bill…the pre-existing conditions song…a perfectly captured 20-second cameo by Jeff Sessions…and Hillary chomping down on WHAT? (no spoiler here, you’ll have to go and see it).

I don’t happen to live in Minneapolis, but was glad to visit while this show was running. Which it does through October 28. I hope they release a video or go on tour. People in my own area of Western Massachusetts would love it.

And by the way, if you’d like to get out of that despair, sign up for action alerts from groups like 3NoTrump, the organization my wife, daughter, and son-in-law started after the election. Each week, they post three easy and EFFECTIVE action alerts. 3NoTrump is also on Facebook and Twitter.

Posted in Arts & Entertainment, Democracy, Diversity, Politics, Psychology, Shel's Personal Life Tagged with: , , ,

Is Sexist Excuse Language Covering Up Something Much Deeper?

Just read an article about how the phrase “he’s basically a good guy” has been used to justify all sorts of appalling behavior. The writer, Karen Rinaldi, claims this is sexist because she doesn’t see a similar phrase used for women.

But many times, I’ve heard phrases like “she’s basically a good person” used similarly.

Language is very important, and framing even more so. I agree that these phrases (for either gender) have been used to excuse all sorts of horrible behavior that should never be accepted. But change happens when we meet people where they are and find ways to move them further. This is typically a slow, gradual, incremental process. And the only way it ever works is if you approach your opponent with the idea that he/she is basically good. We as activists must be especially careful to keep that understanding top-of-mind. Far too often, we demonize our opponents and drive even more wedges, when change might happen if opened sincere opportunities to be heard, to listen, and to grapple with our differences instead of building walls of name-calling and accusation. It’s a marketing activity. And we market our ideas to those who disagree by finding pieces of their ideas we can agree with and build from, or at least that we can respect.

Sometimes, we even need to validate that they feel they haven’t been given a fair shake, and then show how the way to get that fair shake is not by pushing others down who are climbing up behind them, but by building ladders to help everyone rise. This is slow, difficult work, but also immensely rewarding. I’m no expert in this area, but I’ve seen it work miracles.

Effigy of "the Donald," photographed by Shel Horowitz at the Climate March, April 2017, Washington, DC

Effigy of “the Donald,” photographed by Shel Horowitz at the Climate March, April 2017, Washington, DC

Sometimes, it’s quite challenging. I heard DT speak in 2004 and was repulsed even then. His behavior in the last few years is beyond despicable. When I think about how I would behave if I had the chance to confront him, I can’t find much good—but I do see him as reachable through his misery. I see him as a deeply unhappy person, traumatized by a tyrannical father, someone who hasn’t found contentment even while accumulating a vast fortune, celebrity status, and the most powerful job in the world.

So I would go into the room searching for what it would take to make DT a happy person and give him a purpose in making the world better, knowing that the answer would eventually end the abuse, lies, misogyny, racism, and all the other crap he brings to the table.
Posted in Activism, Ethics: General, Innovation, language, Marketing Techniques and Philosophies, People Helping People, Psychology, Social and Economic Justice Tagged with: , ,

The Wrong Personalization Assumptions Can Sabotage a Sale

Yes, personalization in marketing is a good thing. But it has to be done right. You’ll find some important lessons in this Epic Fail attempt I received.

A contact on LinkedIn sent me this note:

Hi Shel, I am starting a new business and am looking for business owners, who would allow me to test our solutions to grow their customer base. If you would be so kind to review this 30-second video and let me know what you think. It is for the real estate industry, but the concept is universal. Thanks! <URL>

It was a link to a personalized video that wanted access to my Facebook account but didn’t require it. I clicked on “proceed without Facebook” and watched her 38-second video. Then I wrote back thusly (she has not answered my two questions so I’m taking that as a no):

 

Well, I’m going to give you a detailed response and make a blog out of it. (May I use the sample video in my blog? And do you want to be named?) I think there’s a good future in personalized video marketing. But this example had major problems both in the underlying assumptions and in the implementation of the technology.

ASSUMPTIONS

The video assumes that:

  • Everyone wants a big house in the suburbs, with a big yard and a big garage
  • Everyone is white and Christian and heterosexual
  • Anyone would call a Portland, Oregon phone number to buy a house in Massachusetts

As a result, it comes off as generic and not really personalized. Right now, I live on a farm. I grew up in New York City and lived for 17 years in a small college town. If I were a real estate prospect from any of those three communities, or a person of color, or (as I am) a non-Christian, I would dismiss this video as irrelevant, and actually be offended that a “personalized” video was so out of touch with my particular reality. Using the name and community is not any more personalized than a mail-merge on a mass mailing.

Real personalization would draw from a video clips library of people who looked and acted like the families of the actual prospect, and show a home search that reflected the character of the prospect’s own community—and, if the prospect were actually doing a home search, the types of houses s/he was looking at.

And the whole advantage of using a real estate agent is in things like familiarity with the market and a personal touch. This is why even the big national RE franchises have local offices in each community they serve. Giving a number from 3000 miles away is a huge disconnect and makes me uncomfortable.

You also assume that you can call it a 30-second video. It was 38 seconds plus probably another 15 while the video was assembling itself. You could accurately say “less than one minute.” 30 seconds is misleading.

TECHNOLOGY

  • Load experience
  • Geotargeting

Where a personalized video really shines is in creating the idea that the video was created just for the individual who gets to watch. I admire the honesty, but staring at a long pause with a note that it is creating the personalized video removes that illusion. We are all aware that computers are doing the work. Some other kind of splash screen saying that the video is loading and perhaps telling three points to pay attention to in the video might be a better user experience.

And the geotargeting was not only off, it didn’t match the video contents. For some reason, it thought I’d be looking at houses in East Longmeadow, a working-class/lower-middle-class suburb of Springfield a good 30 miles from here. But the homes shown in the video were more likely to be found one town over in Longmeadow, a much wealthier town.

A fancy house that you'd find in a wealthy suburb—mistargeted to me

A fancy house that you’d find in a wealthy suburb—mistargeted to me. Photo by Margan Zajdowicz, FreeImages.com

I personally am very happy where I live and have no interest in buying a home in either of those towns—but I understand that I am not the prospect for homebuying, but for using personalized promotional videos. I actually like the idea, though I think the library of personalized clips for my business would be far too complicated and expensive to assemble, as it would get into things like climate change solutions for manufacturers, retailers, restaurant owners, etc.

Posted in Advertising, Demographics/Psychographics, localism/locavore, Marketing Techniques and Philosophies, Technology Tagged with: , , , , ,

Good to See Southwest Spirit Featuring a Bunch of Social Entrepreneurs

If you read this blog regularly or have read any of my recent books (especially Guerrilla Marketing to Heal the World), you know I’m all about business as a tool to crate social change and profit at the same time.

This is social entrepreneurship, and it has a long and honorable history. 19th century chocolatiers the Cadbury brothers in the UK and Milton Hershey in the US founded their companies to model humane labor practices, for instance.

Still, I encounter lots of skepticism that business can create positive outcomes across the triple bottom line of People, Profit, and Planet. It’s the same kind of skepticism I used to hear a decade ago when I was making the case that business ethics could be a profitable business success strategy. Over and over again, I would hear, “Business Ethics—that’s an oxymoron!”

No, it’s not. And interestingly enough, I don’t hear that any more. The world is finally convinced that it is possible to be an ethical, profitable business. It’s convinced that you can run a profitable green business. I like to think my years of speaking and writing on this, and the ethics pledge campaign I ran from 2004-2014, had something to do with these shifts in thinking.

Now we have to take it further, beyond just being “sustainable” to creating a regenerative world. One way to do that is to develop and market profitable products and services that turn hunger and poverty into sufficiency, war into peace, and catastrophic climate change into planetary balance.

So on a recent flight, when I pulled the July Southwest Spirit out of the seat pocket and saw a big feature on combining social entrepreneurship with food, I was thrilled. You couldn’t really guess the social entrepreneurship piece from the title, “Good Food: To serve their communities, today’s top culinary minds are reaching far beyond the kitchen.”

Can’t say I’m surprised. I’ve admired Southwest’s commitments to ethics, service, leadership that continually honors its employees, eco-friendly features AND profitability for many years. And I was over the moon when the company purchased 1000 copies of my first book on business ethics as a success strategy, back in 2003.

While Southwest’s magazine reaches a far larger readership than my humble blog, I do think it’s important to spotlight a company that cares enough about other companies doing good to devote 13 pages to it, even semi-disguising it as a food feature.

Here are the businesses they spotlight, and what they’re doing. The article, of course, has a lot more details. Note: I’ve been a vegetarian for ethical reasons since 1973, but I recognize that is not everyone’s choice. I am including the meat businesses featured in the article.

  • Cala, a high-end San Francisco Mexican restaurant that seeks out ex-felons to hire
  • Portland Fruit Tree Project, matching urban homeowners who have surplus fruit with volunteers who come to pick the fruit, keep half, and give the other half to food pantries, food banks, and health clinics
  • The director of Rocky Mountain Institute of Meat, who set up a training program serving soldiers stationed far away—to make sure they could learn safe, sanitary procedures as well as discover ways to use the entire animal, with nothing wasted
  • Southwest's illustration for the Community Ovens profile (screenshot)

    Southwest’s illustration for the Community Ovens profile (screenshot)

  • A community oven project founded by the White Bear Lake, MN United Methodist Church, building community while providing a place to bake bread
  • Rooster Soup Co, a tony Philadelphia establishment that adds fresh turmeric to make soup from chicken parts that would have been thrown out; all profits fund Broad Street Ministry, a social service organization

Kent, Washington’s Ubunto, hiring and training refugees and new immigrants from many cultures, all learning each other’s food traditions

Posted in Business Ethics, Corporate Social Responsibility, Entrepreneurship, People Helping People, Social and Economic Justice Tagged with: , , , , ,

Both Left and Right Must Join to Counter DT’s Attacks on the Press

Just as Left and Right joined forces a few years ago to protect Net Neutrality (the right to an open Internet without tollbooths and bandwidth restrictions for those who are not part of big cable or news empires), so we must come together to protect our precious freedom of the press.
Someone commented on a post from one of my right-wing acquaintances that they thought DT was being humorous when he threatened CNN journalists. Here’s my response:
Making thinly veiled threats to beat up journalists is NOT humor. If you don’t see the need to protect press freedom and other First Amendment rights, you are wearing blinders. And your liberties will be trampled just as much as ours on the “other side.” Laughing off threatening behavior as “humor” is creating a culture where the behavior is permissible and excused. Put your glasses back on! We should be able to join across sides to protect First Amendment freedoms.
Another right-wing acquaintance posted on his own page,
If he can destroy the out of control reckless American MSM and force them to recalibrate their models and become honest, unbiased journalistic organizations instead of hacks (and that goes for FOX News), then he will go down as the greatest President of all time.
I responded:
If you want unbiased MSM, start by reintroducing the Fairness Doctrine. Eliminating that began a long slide away from honesty and toward bias. And despite flawed reporting, I still am thankful every day that we have a free press—sand very worried when DT attempts to create a culture where beating up journalists is OK. That’s right out of the Hitler playbook. Without primary sources in the MSM, bloggers with minimal research skills would have no platform.
No sooner had I posted these comments when I scrolled down in my feed and found a chronology of Nazi suppression of press freedom, starting with Hitler’s threats to press freedom in Mein Kampf. The parallels are disturbingly chilling. Please go read the link. I will wait.
Statue of Thomas Jefferson. Photo by Thad Zajdowicz, FreeImages.com

Statue of Thomas Jefferson. Photo by Thad Zajdowicz, FreeImages.com

Thomas Jefferson, whose politics today would be described as Libertarian-Conservative, came back to the theme of the importance of free press over and over again. Here’s a whole page of Jefferson’s quotes on press freedom. His most famous is right at the top:

The basis of our governments being the opinion of the people, the very first object should be to keep that right; and were it left to me to decide whether we should have a government without newspapers or newspapers without a government, I should not hesitate a moment to prefer the latter. But I should mean that every man should receive those papers and be capable of reading them.

Another quote on that page speaks directly to the issue of fake news, and how much of that originates in government:
The most effectual engines for [pacifying a nation] are the public papers… [A despotic] government always [keeps] a kind of standing army of newswriters who, without any regard to truth or to what should be like truth, [invent] and put into the papers whatever might serve the ministers. This suffices with the mass of the people who have no means of distinguishing the false from the true paragraphs of a newspaper.
Why am I not seeing an outcry on the right as the country takes a sharp turn toward thuggish fascism? Their news channels will be restricted and attacked just as much as ours. Look what he said and continues to say about his one-time cheerleaders at Morning Joe.
This is important, folks. Do not let this petty tyrant erode our freedoms. It CAN happen here. Don’t let it.
Posted in Activism, Democracy, Ethics in Government, language, media-general, Politics, propaganda, Psychology, Socially Responsible Investing Tagged with: , , , , , , , ,

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