Category Archives: Sustainability

Caring Chaos

Initially, I hadn’t planned on participating in the Sustainability Project at TEDActive .

When I first saw the email about the project teams, I thought it was too big a time commitment (two hours a day!), especially for my first TEDActive conference. I also didn’t want to sign up to “lead” anything, as I thought there were many others more qualified than I. Oh, how things change!

Shortly after receiving the project team invitation from the TED folks, I made the mistake of posting a note on the TEDActive Facebook group asking if there were other sustainability professionals who wanted to connect during the conference. This prompted Sarah to personally invite me to participate in the Sustainability Project Team. When I told her I didn’t want to lead anything, she explained that all team participants are leaders. I just couldn’t turn down this invitation.

During our first meeting on Monday,  I thought we spent a lot of time going in circles. At least we did so by writing with dry erase markers on the windows of the Living Center; boy was that fun! Over the course of the next couple days we met frequently during breaks and meals. I continued to feel like our team wasn’t getting very far, and felt frustrated by the brainstorming process.  

But last night something magical happened. We all agreed that the TED Talks should include calls to action. We decided that the TEDx Curator platform should be expanded so that TED docents or guides could link TEDTalks to action items and serve as ambassadors to their cause. We also thought that TEDx events should have local calls to action in which their participants can engage.

WOW! Now that’s powerful stuff.

I also learned a lot about myself during this collaborative process. Having run my own business for the past eight years (up until February, 2010), sometimes I forget how to play well with others. Focus and patience are not my strong suits, and my participation in the sustainability project really pushed me to hone both those skills. As my good friend, and our project spokesperson, Ted Ning of LOHAS said, conversations in groups like this often contract and expand numerous times before they get to their end destination. The good news is that I think we’ve finally arrived, a lot more focused and even a bit more patient.

Thank you TED and and my sustainability project cohorts, for this inspirational growth experience!

Howl For A Sustainable Future

What an amazing week we’re having here at TEDActive! The sustainability team grappled with the big question of “How do we grow sustainability?” —  and we came up with inspiring ideas to connect people with actions through the TED website. We’re calling it TEDWalks, as in, let’s walk our talk when we think about making our world and thus our lives more sustainable.

When I got back to my hotel room, I was still so energized by our radical collaboration that  I wanted to capture our wish in a poem. This immediately led to thoughts of Allen Ginsberg’s “Howl”, and I adapted the opening lines of the poem. Having always loved his poem I take inspiration from the monumental shift of human consciousness it represents and borrow it for our own. Right here. Right now.

“We see the best minds of our generation enlightened, yet still starving for new ideas. Ideas we can share with the knowing and naked. All of us rising out of the dark streets at dawn, looking for an angry fix.
We dream of connecting all the angel headed hipsters burning for the ancient heavenly connection. Like our star of wonder dynamo machinery of night and day. A talky walky machine that sustains what matters and informs our brothers and sisters currently hollow-eyed with the supernatural knowing of a frightening future. We learn language to change and make possible new beauty and find ourselves in radical collaboration floating across the tops of cities – our every utterance data jazz. We call upon all of you who bare your brains in solidarity with the El Mohammedan angels illuminating Africa, now knowing with radiant cool eyes Blake-light tragedy. We make our lives a work of art with an ocean of tears. We reach out to others to help them overcome our fears. We howl to become the change we believe in.”

How do you infect creative consciousness?

break out of the old way of thinking of sustainability (credit: iStock)

TEDActiveSus, the Sustainability group, has a tough challenge. Like a TED speaker pointed out, people get bored of things, even when they are really important, and people are bored of sustainability. Social media, education and mobility are just more, well, sexy, than sustainability. So while our key question is “How to grow sustainability?” we decided to trash the actual word and focus on what makes things fun.

We rephrased the question, to ask what it meant for individuals in the group: How do we do business around common goals? How do we motivate people? How do we make sustainability more visible, tangible, sexy, fun and positive? How do we go to where we should be? How do we simplify and reduce, no, eliminate waste and radicalize efficiency? How do we measure success and How do we establish a reward system for business — how do we incentivize sustainability?

From this quest for reward we asked, what makes us happy? Being appreciated, fulfilling a need, being part of a community, and being part of something larger were central ideas to the discussion. The elusive creative consciousness that we can’t teach, or organize, but that we can spread was identified to start the conversation towards action to grow sustainability. These actions, that make us happy and create something HUGE will be sculpted more tomorrow, with the participants at TEDActive to help us, and the TED talks to inspire us. These actions will involve selfless, elevated moments that will utilize all our emotions, and become infectious.