Tag Archives: sustainability

Sustainability is a movement defined by a taxonomy we created called a content map which organizes all categories and keywords under three elements – overview, planet, people, and prosperity.

Forty Billion Videos but How Do I Find One I Want to Watch?

ThiFindings question headlines a blog post in MediaPost Publication, VIDblog by Daisy Whitney who hits hard noting “With Americans watching upwards of 40 billion videos online each month and rising, how do you even find anything anymore? Discovery is becoming a huge issue and is regularly cited by advertisers, agencies and programmers as one of the biggest challenges facing the online video business.”

Discovery is when you find something and is not to be equated with searching when it comes to the Web.  Four years ago when we founded EarthSayers.tv, a cause-related site which aggregates and curates videos highlighting the voices of sustainability, a search on Blinkx for the term, sustainaibility, netted 21,000 results.  Today it’s up to 386,000. And, we know from experience that a full 50% of them are duplicates as people upload one video to YouTube, Vimeo, and Blip.tv, sometimes with different titles.

One can understand why “advertisers, agencies and programmers” see discovery as one of the biggest challenges facing the online Screen shot 2011-11-09 at 11.29.56 AMvideo business, but what about cause marketers charged with a task to educate and motivate our citizens to solve complex problems? It’s a big, big problem, but is largely unrecognized by non-profits, large and small, who are barely getting their feet wet with Web 2.0 tools and techniques, let alone addressing the whole finding issue.

Screen shot 2011-11-09 at 11.29.32 AMThe over-commercialization of the Web continues largely unquestioned or challenged by those with an education agenda.  Our strategy in terms of sustainability and citizen education is to aggregate and curate content for interest-led social networks using our content management system and content library, but branded for a specific network or subscriber base.  Portion control based on a taxonomy allows for special collections and using other more traditional ways of organizing books and periodicals to appeal to browsers is basic, but under-utilized by Web publishers.  It works for categories of sustainability such as conservation, design and architecture, eco-economics or other causes involving citizen education.

Sustainability and Occupy Movements

John Friedman, CSR-P, in his Sustainable Life Media blog post asks the question, Is the Occupy Movement a Call for Sustainability? His response is  well thought out and makes for excellent reading.  The article spurred me on to express my thoughts on Why the Occupy Movement is a Call for Sustainability. This is a perspective gleaned from having reviewed hundreds of videos based on a Web-wide query for sustainability voices; being at the Occupy Portland event as a video documentarian, and writing several blog posts.



As John points out “The initial media stories were somewhat dismissive; focusing on the lack of clarity and focus as the movement grew, perhaps forgetting that democracy is inherently a messy process…” reinforcing my belief that mainstream media folks are suffering from what activist Julia Butterly Hill calls “disconnected consciousness.”

From my perspective, the occupy movement reflects connection and consciousness, especially around issues, programs and actions that may be legal, but are immoral as well as those that are illegal and immoral.  It should come as no surprise that those in Abolish-Corporate-Personhoodseats of power and leadership who have chosen to see and profit from the world only through the green lens of consumerism (and also suffering form disconnected consciousness) are shaking their heads, mystified over what exactly it is that these folks are doing out there and where, for heavens sake, is the deal, the offer, the ROI, the plan for fixing every little thing.

It has taken sometime for our citizens to wrap their heads around the concepts that corporations are individuals, big money is to be made from caring for the sick and the dying, and mothers and children who are poor are the scammers out there we need to be protected from, especially if they come from Mexico to work in our fields and contribute to food production.  I hear the voices of sustainability in the signs and speeches at Occupy events and who now join hundreds of others in the sustainability movement such as Julia Butterfly Hill or Raj Patel who advises us generosity is the



antidote to greed or author Sharif Abdullah who explains economics in terms of criminality and morality or economist John Perkins who rightly points out we – producers and consumers – have “looked the other way” to social and economic costs in order to maximize profits and buy more and more cheap stuff or or any of the thousands of voices of sustainability out there who if they not on the street (yet) are at least online and in our libraries, accessible to all.

High Risk Energy Alternatives: Nuclear and Gas

ConsciousAwareness4GIn the context of diminishing fossil fuel resources, climate change, and the quest for a carbon free future, the EarthSayers.tv special collection on high risk energy alternatives features nine videos about nuclear power and natural gas, the latter involving an extraction process called fracking.

All of these videos were made before the meltdown of three units at the Fukushima reactor site.

We will continue to grow the collection so as to provide voices of sustainability to our citizens who will be asked to make decisions in their communities – oceanside, rural, urban, mountain – about alternative, high risk energy sources.

(1) 300 Years of FOSSIL FUELS in 300 Seconds
Fossil fuels have powered human growth and ingenuity for centuries. Now that we’re reaching the end of cheap and abundant oil and coal supplies, we’re in for an exciting ride. While there’s a real risk that we’ll fall off a cliff, there’s still time to control our transition to a post-carbon future.

(2) Energy: The Next 10 Years Really Matter by Alexander Van de Putte
Alexander Van de Putte, Senior Director and Operating Officer at PFC Energy International and a member of PFC Energy’s Executive Committee discusses how givens and wildcards can affect our future global energy needs. He discusses how Givens, which are defined as: low uncertainty with high impact events, such as climate change, demographics and hydrocarbon supply will impact our ability to produce energy.

(3) Peak Oil and Resource Wars by Daniele Ganser
Daniele Ganser talks about Peak Oil and Resource Wars at student seminar on sustainability, 2009. What’s the solution when demand is going up and availabiity is going down? It’s only been 150 years of the oil age.

See also special collection from Peak Moment TV.

(4) Climate Change and Nuclear Energy by Anthony Giddens

Anthony Giddens, Baron Giddens is a British sociologist who is renowned for his theory of structuration and his holistic view of modern societies.  Underlying foundations of climate change science and nuclear proliferation are two greatest risks in this century and we must mobilize against them. He discusses issue of energy security in a rapidly industrializing world in a world of scarce resources.

(5) Nuclear: Dirty, Dangerous and Expensive by Kevin Kamps
Kevin Kamps of Beyond Nuclear explodes the myths now being promulgated by those promoting nuclear power. He tells of the insoluble problems of nuclear waste, how nuclear power plants routinely emit radioactive poisons, how catastrophic accidents can happen, how nuclear power plants are pre-deployed weapons of mass destruction for terrorists, and the enormously high costs of nuclear power.

Trailer for the Save the WORLD AWARDs show. Issues addressed at this television event include: Climate, Energy, Water,  Pollution, Hunger, Peace, Dignity, and health. It takes place in a nuclear power that was built but never used in Austria.

(7) TED Debate: Does the world need nuclear energy? Brand & Jacobson
Nuclear power: the energy crisis has even die-hard environmentalists reconsidering it. In this first-ever TED debate, Stewart Brand and Mark Z. Jacobson square off over the pros and cons. A discussion that’ll make you think — and might even change your mind.

TEDTalks is a daily video podcast of the best talks and performances from the TED Conference, where the world’s leading thinkers and doers give the talk of their lives in 18 minutes.

(8) Gas Drilling: Stories From the Front Line
Candace Mingins Ms. Mingins lives with her husband and three children on their family farm in Van Etten, NY. A well was drilled on their property in 2006. In 2008, she helped organize Shaleshock Citizens Action Coalition .

(9) Gas Drilling is Unsafe
Central United Methodist Church Endicott, NY; March 17, 2009 Barbara Arrindell is the co-founder and Chief Science Officer of Damascus Citizens for Sustainability. She discusses what is involved in gas drilling on a scale of development with many stages -all entail contamination. This is a process that could only happen in a de-regulated situation. This is a public health crisis.

Cause-driven Organizations: Stars not Planets

A recent Pew research study which examined nine months of consumer data spanning the first three quarters of 2010, and summarized at journalism.com “sheds light on the significance of search aggregators and social networks, the importance of creating a family of related Websites, and hints at which kinds of sites might have more success with paywalls than others.Screen shot 2011-05-12 at 11.53.57 AM

The importance of linking sites with mutual interests, say all those around water, needs to be emphasized to cause-driven organizations who continue to view their Website as the center of the universe, rather than as one star among hundreds in a virtual constellation accessible to educate our citizens on becoming more conscious and aware of this one planet and its needs. We  need to connect the stars for  them and view their learning process as a journey, an exploration.  For us at EarthSayers.tv we are connecting the people around the sustainability movement and beginning to organize them into  special collections around geography and issues such as water.  Linking is what we do to increase awareness and adoption of sustainability principles and practices. We always appreciate when organizations link back, but few do.  That’s got to change.

Finding Precedes Engagement

Finding before Engaging

The hot topic these day among our business and civic leaders is not search and how it influences what we are finding to learn or buy.  It’s civic and customer engagement. Unless you’re a big corporation with deep pockets how can you engage when you can’t be found?  Yes, social media plays a minor role so far in search and a bigger one in terms of engagement, but searching on keywords is the first step in a buying or learning process.

Many decision-makers still consider the Web too “technical” for them to understand and manage. Search, if it is managed at all, is left to individuals with the least amount of exposure to the organization’s clients/customers/students/citizens and little if any access to the organization’s strategic plans and tactical program planning. This is not the situation in large, consumer brand companies.

Here is an example of the influence of search on a topic I think demonstrates how influential search results are to spinning, not crafting a story.  I hope it sparks leaders to begin questioning how search  works and how it may not be working for their organization or their stakeholders.

Oil Spill: BP#1, Our Health #3, and Wildlife #4

What is a third grade student searching YouTube on the term oil spill seeing these days and what are they likely to click on? Why should we be concerned how search results architect knowledge and information, influencing how our citizens perceive local, regional, national and world events?

Youtube is the second most popular search engine.

Let’s follow up on the Gulf Coast oil spill and see what impression you are left with.

BP is in the prime spot on what is called a SERP – search engine results page – followed by the second promoted video a YouTube Channel, Vision Victory, which seems to be a real estate and financial video blogger named Daniel of crushthestreet.com.  Organic (unpaid) search begins with a news report on health concerns of the spill by AlJazeera English with National Geographic in fourth place with a video about penguins and the oil spill. Check out the view numbers.

Screen shot 2011-04-06 at 8.35.39 AMThe BP click through is to their YouTube channel and the first video features “Ike Williams, owner of Ike’s Beach Service in Gulf Shores, Alabama, who’s been in business on the beach for 27 years. His staff is getting ready for what is expected to be a busy tourism season this year along the Gulf coast, now that the area is returning to normal.”

Screen shot 2011-04-06 at 9.09.00 AM

How many people out there think the Gulf Coast is returning to normal? If enough people believe it, does that make it true? How reliable of a source is BP?

How can you engage the third grader and the other 3.3M searchers (monthly U.S. out of 4M worldwide) when you can’t be found or seen and when searches on keywords ranging from cameras to oil spill to sustainability are increasingly being dominated by large corporations who buy their way to the top?

Time to start paying attention to what’s happening with Google and YouTube search and learn what’s under the hood.

Sustainability News is mostly CSR Reporting

One of the many Web advantages are alerts.   I subscribe to sustainability alerts from the New York Times and, recently, the Financial Times. I didn’t anticipate any difference, really,  in either the quantity or quality of the news alerts, but I was surprised by both the quality and the quantity.

The alerts from the New York Times come in sporadically, here are four in March:

  • At the Home and Housewares Show, All Things Bright
  • Armani Takes Up a Cause
  • New Technology Could Make Desalination More Accessible -A Singapore company..
  • Spa Treatments by the Dead Sea

Now compare these to the alerts from the Financial Times received today, Sunday, April 3, 2011

  • Call on companies to act on emissions
  • Danish pensions invest in giant offshore wind farm
  • Data providers join forces to meet information demand – In the aftermath of the financial crisis, key data providers have all made the same bet – that in years to come environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues will be a more important part of investors’ decision-making.

And three more topics to drive home the point:

  • Environment to be at heart of aviation policy rethink
  • Technology has potential to retrofit the world
  • Reporting: Building a system – Commercial building sites are perhaps not the first places most people would look to find examples of the way IT systems and software are helping companies manage their environmental footprint and reduce waste.

What became painfully obvious to me is that the lightweight nature of news stories, not only in the New York Times, but 3BL Media and their CSR Minute (they mix sustainability and CSR coverage) as well as Just Means (actually Just Means positions itself as one stop news for CSR, but mix in sustainability) are practicing business oriented  reporting on what mostly boils down to what I call RADs or reports, awards, and do-good stories praising corporations for their actions.

Even Sustainable Life Media (SLM) (sustainable business focus and “bridge to better brands”) spends an inordinate amount of time and space covering the do-good actions of large, multi-national corporations some of which have as their core business toxic chemicals and reputations for environmental and social justice abuses.  There are exceptions such as a recent story by Bart King in SLM that PUMA could be the first brand to measure impact on eco-system services, a major accounting and financial management issue.  This is a critical sustainability issue as discussed on EarthSayers.tv by  John Fullerton of the Capital Institute and Larry O’Connor of LaTrobe University in Australia. Interestingly enough PUMA’s initiative is part of a larger one by the French parent company, PPR group. The author goes on to report, “The Group said the overarching program, dubbed PPR Home, will go beyond the traditional Corporate Social Responsibility model and set a new standard in sustainability and business practice in the Luxury, Sport & Lifestyle and Retail sectors.”

Fact is, though, if you are in the business of reporting on sustainability here in the U.S., there’s not much out there.  No point in blaming the messenger unless they aren’t digging deep enough and finding those companies who are making inroads like B Corporations and non-profits such as the Textile Exchange. The messengers are reporting on what corporations are giving them as news and progress. It’s all about RADs – reports, awards, and the do-good stuff.  At some point, however, a U.S. focus on large companies combined with the assumption that CSR can be reported as sustainability and vice versa makes  “news” more like PR spin and reporting more like marketing rather than journalism, blogs or no blogs.

More on Sustainability and CSR

Recent report by Deloitte, How to Leverage Sustainability Initiatives for Finance Transformation, makes Environmental Sustainability stampthe point “sustainability is no longer just an effort to portray good corporate citizenship along side ‘normal’ business operations.” If in the short run the best way to have a C-level voice for sustainability is through the CFO, and we all agree that any initiative worth its salt needs C-level representation, then it is time for companies with a strong sustainability bent, and no C-level sustainability officer, to move their sustainability reporting out of the Corporate Social Responsibility Report and onto the main playing field. GHG emissions, materials, waster, water, land use and biodiversity are not externalities in terms of risk and costs. It’s the CFO who runs accounting and these sustainability measurements need to be on the books.  John Fullerton of the Capital Institute talks about externalities in the content of an economic transformation and Larry O’Connor of LaTrobe University in Australia comes at the same issue from an accounting reform perspective.

Social + Environmental

There is a strong argument for a C-level Sustainability officer who integrates social and environmental sustainability addressing the need for improving health and welfare by engaging customers, partners, and employees in adopting sustainability practices and principles at home, work and in their communities along with an in tandem with ConsciousAwareness4Genvironmental sustainability. Fundamentally, raising consciousness levels and creating a sustainability culture has to be the work of all us, it just isn’t going to happen if we don’t transform the way we do business and without C-level representation it isn’t going to happen fast enough.  One executive who speaks eloquently on culture and consciousness is Dominque Conseil, Global President of Aveda.  Give him a listen, links are to his videos on EarthSayers.tv, voices of sustainability.

Where does this leave Corporate Social Responsibility?

In the Economic Intelligence Unit’s, Future Tense Report (2008), they reference IBM’s transformative efforts at removing barriers between its communications functions which in addition to the more traditional of marcom, media and PR was to include the”corporate citizenship” function.  This was not seen by IBM as a reorganization, but about rethinking.   No word on how things are going, but it’s a good point to start a conversation.

Comparing Sustainability to Social Responsibility

I wish I could say I came up with this comparison chart. I could have used it many times over the past year. It was part of Webinar sponsored by two companies, Verdantix and Enviance. The chart  is from David Metcalfe’s presentation which was excellent as was Greg Scandrett’s introduction. Greg is VP of Product Development at Enviance and David Metcalfe is CEO of Verdantix.

Responsibilty is not Sustainability 2

As a sustainability advocate it became clear to me early on in my journey that the social responsibility professionals in an organization were not very interested in our project, EarthSayers.tv, the voices of sustainability. CSR since the advent of social media has become heavy on the “managing corporate reputation” with emphasis on the managing part and, as noted in this chart, focused on NGO’s and eco-consumers, rather than building a trustworthy reputation based on social sustainability principles and practices.

Up to now the C-level sustainability officer is generally focused on environmental concerns, water and energy being high priorities, and cost reductions.  At the social and environmental sustainability intersection is where companies can begin to examine their role in externalizing risks and costs, a practice and mind set that has greatly harmed the environment and all living beings.

Creating Material Change by Heidi McCloskey

Heidi McCloskey was interviewed by me at the 4th Annual International Business and Sustainability Conference sponsored by The Center for Global Leadership in Sustainability at the School of Business Administration in Portland State University. Help with sourcing sustainable goods and commitment to innovation and collaboration.  View her interview on EarthSayers.tv.
Heidi is Communications Director of the Textile Exchange.

Sustainability and Net Neutrality

Net neutrality is an important issue not only to the sustainability movement, and in particular EarthSayers.tv, our Internet Network dedicated to the sustainability movement, but to all individuals and organizations seeking to have a voice and with a cause.

In today’s interview with Amy Goodman on Democracy Now, Net Neutrality, Josh Silver, co-founder of the media reform group Free Press, notes “And with the internet brings this possibility that any website could act as a television network, a radio network. It is the ultimate game changer in the future of how Americans access information and learn about the world.”

It’s difficult to explain how EarthSayers is a Website that’s a Network.  Working on getting this clearer for the power of it can be a game changer, but only when the game changers, many of whom are not Web savvy or just plain Internet adverse, see the advantages of investing in Networks like EarthSayers.  We are one of a few but, as Josh says, “any Website could,” and we have been open to sharing our know how.

We will begin in 2011 to actively seek sponsors for EarthSayers.tv, voices of sustainability, and from those individuals and companies who want to change the game whether it be transforming our economic system to changing culture and consciousness. There are now over 700 sustainability voices on EarthSayers and we add more each day from over forty channels, traditional and online.

P.S. Josh notes that policy hasn’t kept up with technology so part of our job as sustainability advocates is to educate the policy makers and get them on board with the program.