Moving from Health Care to Healthy Sustainable Living
My #csr colleagues will have to forgive me, my last post showed I am taking on a new focus that centers around #sustainability and #health to build #wecarehealth. I have noticed many of them steer from articles that are about people and people who are patients and they tend to look at health as something that is part of #philanthropy, #nonprofits and not tied to #csr. Health is very much part of #csr and there are numerous companies that now include Nike, Procter and Gamble and Disney giving this attention.
I simply ask the community I respect of #csr to please share with your readers this very important message. This post is important and should be read by anyone committed to CSR and sustainability. If I got anything from the last BSR 2010 conference, it was the strength of the message that companies need to make social issues of societal scale part of their agenda. Health is just that.
It's my focus now no matter what - from any view where I work, coach, teach and write.
Our health care system in the United States and in fact around the world is moving more people into a new form of poverty. This form of poverty is grueling and different than the poverty that people are born to due to ignorance and inaccessibility to resources.
This form of poverty is spreading to a group of people who have been disabled by Wall Street, the health insurance industry, “the Money Fix,” the reduction in jobs, and the pharmaceutical industry and to be honest to some degree the LOHAS industry and market that serves people to live the “life of health and sustainability.”
I lived in Park City, UT just before the 2008 melt down where I met in this “green” Hollywood, many of the people who rely on generating their wealth based on investments in those niches or work as economic decision makers in this niche that is destroying the ordinary person and middle class from living in life in a sustainable format.
Just before Christmas, Jeffrey Hollender,
in his new role as Chairman of the American Sustainability Business Council reported on CSRwire.com TalkBack in a poignant editorial, “The 30-Year War on Middle Class America,"
" We all know part of the answer as well as the chilling statistics that narrate the story. 2009, a terrible year for almost all Americans was a very good year on Wall Street, where the 38 top firms earned a total of $140 billion. Goldman Sachs had its best year since 1869 and paid its employees an average of $600,000 each. Meanwhile, ordinary people were in many ways worse off than they’ve been since the Great Depression as a result of decreased job security, higher unemployment, a vast reduction of value of retirement savings, the mortgage crisis and increases in personal debt."
I urge you to read this editorial in full. Jeffrey provides a concise and grounded argument for why US Government is not working; and how corporate lobbying groups continue through PR and even what CSR experts call “greenwashing” to obstruct sustainable change in any form.
Before New Years, Marcus Robinson,
President of Consortium for Community Development, Trustee to Lakeland Regional Health System and Board Member at Harbor Shores Community Development --- put me in touch with a group of people who had convened a dialogue, Communities of Health.
This activity parallels the conversation and dialogue I have begun with a community of health care leaders in Melbourne, AU interested to convene an inquiry launch of a #wecarehealth initiative to shape sustainable healthy communities in their part of the globe.
My conversations with Marcus Robinson by phone were reflective and generative. I realized that road map that I synthesized from my 1997 Green Gulch Inquiry on Healthy Communities was timely now. It could become an architecture for launching people from any sector, channel in niche to redefine health in the context of what is health. Marcus offered me some input that was simple and succinct and actionable that is rare in my experience. We will add to our conversation very soon with something productive, I feel.
For New Years weekend, I took some time out to attend a yoga and meditation retreat at Menla Mountain Retreat and Conference Center.
During the retreat, I chatted with people primarily from New York City. Unlike my experience in Boston where I live, I found most of the New Yorkers, I spoke with at this retreat exceptionally honest and candid about their experience of the 2008 meltdown. These people did not live in the typical denial of I struggle with in Boston where I live and try to foster sustainable thought leadership about health. I find most people I meet in Boston entrenched in the patterns of Harvard Medical Area (school and hospitals) either living in hopelessness or despair due to unemployment and failing health.
The people I met at Menla Mountain were accepting the limited prospects of work due to the reductions of jobs. They were learning a new way to survive in the contract mode of self employment. Including no easy way to obtain health insurance or benefits. These people were learning to live decreasing their consumptiona and making priority to finding ways emotionally and physicallyto protect their health. I found in our social and heart filled conversations a basis from which to chat with heart and consciousness that is key to creating the change we need.
In contrast to these conversations, I took a tour of the new spa at Menla Mountain that is now under construction were some what the same old same old. The spa was being constructed thanks to wealth donor funds and shaped as a health spa similar to that I have seen in Austin, Texas and Park City, UT where the emphasis is to market to the wealthy and not give priority to the healing and education such a spa can offer people who are ill, stressed and work and live by ordinary means. In fact, the ambitious spa I saw in Austin no longer offers healing work and primarily relies on day treatments to local residents marketed as spa days and serves the more affluent community local to the conference center.
I have from my research and professional experience a vision and agenda of possibility to offer Menla Mountain to shift the reality and vision of this spa to something that can serve a real purpose and transform health, I won’t offer that up until I have opportunity to think through what that means with the wonderful staff that staffed the retreat I attended that included John Lundin, Michael Burbank and Tanya Hollendar.
Then I returned home and found these articles of value waiting for me on the screen of my laptop that I left at home.
1. Nicholas Kristoff’s oped on “Equality a True Soul Food,”
There it was in black and white in the New York times...
if you want health in this country, we have to focus on inequality. Epidemiologists have now proven that financial inequities described by Jeffrey Hollender are the root cause of declining health in this country and a state of depression that is challenging us as a country to change.
eloquently and bluntly completed an editorial titled: The Rich Don’t Really Care About the Poor, by addressing this message to the top 4 wealthiest men:
"Together, Slim, Gates, Buffett, and Ambani control more wealth than the world's poorest 57 countries. The danger is that while we have a global economy that knows how to concentrate money and power in an ever smaller set of hands, we have no robust mechanism to alert us to the injustice, dangers, and instability that come along with this package. Someday, to our peril, the poor will find their own way to remind us."
3. Finally, an interview with Wendell Potter,
former VP of Corporate Communications at CIGNA, one of the largest health insurance companies in the US. Potter in June 2009 gave testimony against the HMO industry that left his categorized as a “whistleblower.
Potter recently published is book, Deadly Spin and was interviewed on Truthout. In this interview,
Potter says he wrote Deadly Spin to show how a huge share of healthcare premiums bankroll relentless propaganda and lobbying efforts focused on protecting profits. The book is as much about public relations and spin as it is about healthcare.
In a nutshell, I would like to respond to all these men, who have shown a level of brilliant mind and heart to speak to the most extraordinary challenge of all time.
@NickKristof , than you for your clear capacity to speak to that which I personally know intimately first hand as a caregiver, a mother, a daughter, and a human being who is challenged by her own illness. It is only by way of holding a faith and level of spirit that is in my genes, passed on to me by my dad and his father --- that I have kept myself going since the most stripping events of my life to recognize, I have something to teach.
@CarlPope ,I am that person of compromised finances that you speak about and Jeffrey Hollender described. I am also a professional skilled in leadership and competencies of facilitation that understand health from a perspective that is needed now. It is grounded in my career as a health care program manager. After that career, I did a thesis to examine how philanthropy can measure return on investment in 2001-2002. The basic learning, I extracted from this exercise showed me that the philanthropist (or foundation with board of shared decision makers) would need to step out of the way and give generously to a learning community that included the people who most needed the change, e.g. a patient and simply require the funds be used for outcomes and measures of social impact rather than dictating what should be done and how.
@wendellpotter , like you I saw the early stage formation of the problems in the HMO industry. I left for very personal reasons that included my interest to leave of my choice while I was still viewed as someone doing a good job. I did not want to become a “fall guy” to a bean counting MBAs in health care management. I was naïve when I left, I did not realize how my early stage career. in the HMO industry was like working in Disney world where I fixed problems I loved solving because for me it was always about the patient.
And to my readers and future readers,
I am dedicating this year completely to redefining health by elevating the view of what has to change for the patient from the Wall Street perspective, as well as community and patient. We cannot make health a sustainable proposition globally and locally by paying attention to specific needs of lifestyle and diagnosis.
So to close this post, let me offer the wisdom of two exceptionally women gifted with brilliant mind and sweet heart:
- Judith Rodin, President of the Rockefeller Foundation, who identifies the future of CSR and describes the "wicked interventions" needed globally that will move beyond the dinosaur obstruction of governments around the world.
I have no energy to give government as a volunteer citizen. I will work for government in any form if they request is to contribute professionally to form a strategy and act on it within communities of health that are people centric. I will select the people I work with based on a value for using imagination to move beyond failure and crisis.
- and JK Rowling, creator of Harry Potter, who offers an understanding of imagination as a benefit of failure .
This year, I plan to only associate where imagination is something associated with value as a form for building mutually shared success to author and construct concrete change. This is the only way we can as a country and a world build economic change that measures social impact for a majority of the global citizens.
I have also established a clear condition for this change to only form partnerships and collaborate with people who are willing to raise the economic resources to fund any activity to lead change in health. It is time now to move the activity of #sustainable #wecarehealth into a form of sustainability. People are ready and the resources necessary when invested in any group I work with will result in change on many fronts that I can help to accelerate and foster into practice to form community of health practices.