A New Military Mission: Clean Energy Now

Recently I learned of an interesting new direction that military veterans are carving out for themselves in this post-industrial economy: conservationists. Andrea Buffa of the Apollo Alliance wrote a splendid article on this movement.  In it she outlines three services that are aiming to build this more progressive landscape for veterans.

Veteran Green Jobs: Providing training plus community focused job postings and news for veterans.

Veterans Conservation Corps: Offers its services, training, and job postings through the Washington State Department of Veteran Affairs.

Operation Free: Serves as an information hub for mobilizing veterans towards the cause of energy independence.

This win-win approach to climate change and getting veterans back to work stateside is create and a necessity for all parties involved.  I am glad to see this movement become more refined in an administration more focused on social innovation than the last.  I do believe the most prudent way for these heroes to display their discipline and leadership training is by organizing for a new sustainable America.


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KIVA’s 4th Birthday Party

Vodpod videos no longer available.

more about “KIVA’s 4th Birthday Party“, posted with vodpod

On November 3rd, KIVA celebrated their 4th Birthday & $100M in loans at Hub Bay Area in Berkeley, CA.  I was in attendance to enjoy the festivities with colleagues, friends, and family.  Taking up three floors of the David Brower Center (home to environmental pioneers the Earth Island Institute, 350.org, and others) the party was a true celebration of four successful years of lending and microfinance.  Holding court in The Hub for the night was Max Schorr of GOOD, Amy Tobin of the David Brower Center, Premal Shah of KIVA, and Alex Michel of Hub Bay Area.  The perfect combination of leaders from the social enterprise and nonprofit communities plus great food and music made for an outstanding time.

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Blog Action Day 2009

To do my part in Blog Action Day I am posting videos from Thomas Friedman’s speech at the Aspen Ideas Festival 2008.  Friedman spoke on the problem of climate change and shared a bit of the thesis from his best selling book, Hot, Flat, and Crowded.  In the book and in this speech, Friedman does an impressive job detailing the landscape of the green revolution to combat climate change.  Stepping back from the scientific complexity of global warming, Friedman looks at how the problem intersects with geopolitics, human rights, economics, and even our American identity.  There are few people  out there that present a more comprehensive understanding of our climate crisis that Thomas Friedman.  This Aspen Institute speech runs 22:53 and is well worth the watch.

“There is one word you should never use for this project and that is easy.  That is not a revolution my friends, that’s a party.” -Thomas Friedman

Four lasting messages from Moore’s Capitalism

I  saw Michael Moore’s new movie, Capitalism: A Love Story recently and left the theater heated at our financial establishment.  How could so many American corporations get away with creating parasitic relationships with their customers?  Why were our tax dollars allowed to keep banks afloat without penalty for refusing to pass down that money to the consumer to stoke our economy?I know these feelings.  I have felt them before.  It is the feeling I have every time I leave a Michael Moore film, consumed with frustration.  Being aware of Moore’s sensational approach, I thought it was best to let the message sit for a couple of days to see just how those emotions evolve into lasting messages of inspiration.

The time is now. If Americans wish to have a voice in how we rebuild our economy as a more sustainable and responsible entity, then there is no better time than the present.  As awareness on this subject grows, now is the time to strike while the iron is hot.  The media barrage of coverage has left most people are aware of the state of our economy.  For those who haven’t heard from a media outlet, they have probably noticed in the changing work landscape at their own jobs – if they still have them.  This administration’s focus on transparency will prove useful when investigating our economic predicament.  Sifting through all the partisan nonsense will become less of an issue as the Obama administration reveals essential truths to the American people.  The best approach is a passionately informed one, or else you end up sounding like one of those town hall screamers.

You have options. One of my favorite parts of Capitalism: A Love Story was how alternative business models were showcased.  Not all capitalistic enterprises create hierarchical patterns of inequality.  With a strong mission focused on quality products for the target consumers, organizations keep the right focus.  Value centered organizations will survive any investigation into their business practices.  In these groups responsibility remains paramount and the consumer greatly benefits.  Revolutionary business models exist, such as co-ops shown in the movie, and should be supported for them to thrive.  There are a number of social enterprises that utilize their profit margins to cultivate business, and to broaden the size of the target community they serve.  The stagnant model of capitalism is not inescapable.

Democracy’s strength is in numbers. Another part of the movie that stood out to me was Moore’s focus on the activist community.  The segment on the workers from Chicago’s Republic Windows and Doors not only  provided a candid face to workers and American capitalism, but also provides the audience with a tangible example of by any means necessary democracy.  Left out of the equation, Moore shows how the activist community liberates people from their conventional understanding of capitalism and brings a democratic influence to our economy.  Our financial institutions are run by a small group of people.  The American model of capitalism acts without regard for the public interest because it lacks the number of voices required to act democratically.  The greater number of contributing voices, the more democratic our financial system can be.

This will be a fight. At no point does Moore allow the audience to think changing the American economy will be as easy as 1-2-3.  No single answer will solve the problem.  There is no single way to define the problem.  Our vales must change so business better reflect American ideals.  Though there is a lack of a clear formula for our economy he does stress one approach – action.  These actions will not be easy, and in some cases unlawful (for instance asking homeowners that have been foreclosed on to not leave their homes).  Existing irresponsible financial institutions can’t just be frowned upon, but passionately fought.  They are not just a group with mixed up values; these businesses have money, resources, and power on their side.  A collective informed effort is the only way to generate a fair fight over the future direction of our economy.

350.org wants you to take action on October 24, 2009.

350.org is an environmental organization building a movement to solve the global climate crisis.  Their answer emphasizes action by involving those that created the problem, us.  Through casting a wide net in search of an audience, they challenge all people to become involved in bringing our plant back down to safe levels of carbon in the atmosphere.

On October 24, 2009, 350.org aims to assemble the worlds largest organized climate action.  Through their website you can start your own local campaign or search of campaigns around you to join.

Never losing focus on the grassroots work needed to solve such perceived large and complex climate problem, 350.org uses social media tools to connect like-minded individuals locally.  Without these physical connections being made, the campaign will fail.  This separates 350.org’s work from that of other web focused agents of social change.  The desired end result of zealous online media campaigning will is people coming together to take action.

The collaborative efforts of hundreds of groups doing their part to reverse the diabolical trend of rising carbon emissions culminating on October 24, may extend beyond that Fall day.  This is the best case scenario for those looking for answers to increase civic engagement in fighting climate change.  Action groups sustaining their efforts after October 24 can keep the mission rolling, and possibly evolving into their own micro-climate change community.

Strategies likes that of 350.org change the perception of the climate crisis.  The immensity of the problem is justified because it covers the entire globe, but when small communities around the planet all contribute to the solution the climate crisis is made a bit smaller.  The complexity of the problem may lie in the scientific nature of atmospheric trends and reactions.  Though when groups come together to take humble action by cycling to work or buying local, the answers to climate change become a little more accessible.