This past month I received invitations from a number of colleagues I respect including Bill Baue, Olle Johansson, Eileen O'Connor, Art Kleiner and Ralph Meima. These invitations were to events of learning that explore inquiries into aspects of what I believe is forming a new WorkEcology.
The "idea" of WorkEcology relies on an expectation that in all aspects of life we are embracing a need to explore a culture of change and not simply focused on personal change and personal growth. A "culture of change" implies that we are convening communities of practice into sustainable learning forums where groups of people come together to learn and apply that learning to lead change.
I reviewed each invitations as it arrived and attended one event. I reflected on each activity in the context of my research and current learning trajectory to discover and define a new forum of learning that integrates the practice of evidence based medicine and the evolution of the chaos of research relative to the environment and health, where you always find conflicting research. This adventure is turning me into an Agatha Christie of Sustainability because of my passion to learn how to apply the Precautionary Principle in action. This very personal "up close and personal" research has been a challenging learning journey, driven both by my life experience and the need I perceived to learn how to filter of the "Earth Charter's Principle of Exercising Precaution," into how we make decisions n any aspect of life.
My personal view grew out of my study of European environment and health legislation because I saw it so timely to the change that is now emerging in today's economy and personally motivated to make meaning of my own health experience and the effect of environmental toxins and non-ionizing radiation, sometimes described as EMF on my own health.
I have finally filtered from my personal experience a way to talk about this experience and what I learned rather than work my energy so hard that I hide my experience for fear people will view me a victim or misunderstand my experience and episodes of illness. Now there is ample scientific report and research to quantify my experience which I will describe in part within a new medical text book that I am contributing to on the practice of narrative medicine and utilization of technology and social media.
This experience ran in parallel with my value for the idea of "doing no harm" and building decisions and approaches to living and working that are sustainable and make it possible for the next generation to live well. I realized what is unique to how I think truly grows from my vision to participate and work with people who recognize and translate a need to address future generations in how we approach work, live and sustain ourselves, our health and the health of the environment. This perspective for me grew out of years of research on the implications of downsizing and layoffs and the issues related to a multi-generational workforce.
This economic ecological view of environment and health was basic to my decision to launch WorkEcology website as a community of practice after a conversation with Art Kleiner in 2003. . My friend Whit Tice
has taken this thought leadership a step forward with the discussion he launched this month titled The Latest and Greatest from Whit. Whit is filtering what I describe as principles of an ecological workforce through his view of the multi-generational workforce and the implications of reduction of available jobs. Whit's blog is a gathering place for anyone who wants to learn about the elements of becoming a portfolio worker and participate in the thought leadership that I tech in my course called Foundations of CoreGroup Theory and Practice.
Mid-September, I attended a meeting convened by the Audubon Society in Greenwich, CT and Audubon Magazine. The meeting was funded by Shell Oil - Houston and facilitated by Bill Baue.
The topic Future Scenarios: Energy and Economy.
The format for the meeting put all participants at ease no matter there form of participation --- learners, contributors and presenters. No one knew too little or knew too much. While the topic invited an exchange of intellect that could be very overpowering and heady, each presenter and participant was brought into a pace of learning that was comfortable and assured a pace where all could participate. In my experience, this atmosphere of learning is not easily where the topic is related to the environment of climate change. Kudos to Bill Baue and all present.
All the people in attendance had a clear intention to learn no matter what they could teach or contribute to the dialogue. No one was there just to hang out. The learning environment constructed reflected Audubon's mission, to convene conversations that empower a culture of change. By November, I will post an article that summarizes what was presented and explored at this meeting in detail.
By the end of September, I was able to find a way to focus of my work with a renewed energy that I used to prioritize my time and select where I dedicated my time to conversations, work with others and research.
While the time spent learning about potential grant applications, did not result in finding a grant, this "not so trivial pursuit" resulted in and produced remarkable value. It resulted in my give more concrete definition to the mission, purpose and activity for WorkEcology. This thinking is driving my writing to a level of clarity that is contributing great value to anything I write now
Core to my thinking that grew out of my time spent in Greenwich, CT, I was able to more explicitly describe my niche and audience for my work. This niche resides with the people who wish to learn and apply the Precautionary Principle in all aspects of the economy to lead change through formation of "living networks" (not institutions).
The day I concluded this, I receive an email from Art Kleiner
announcing that he will be an emcee at New York: The World Emerging Multi-National Corporations Congress on November 2 and 3.
In Art's words, he describes this event as
"the first conference of its kind - designed to tackle the challenges posed by the rapid growth of EMNCs, and forge partnerships with businesses from across the globe.I don’t think any shift in business today has as many consequences and ramifications, and I look forward to learning a great deal."
Here now is October's update on WorkEcology and WeCareHealth:
The Nau Grant application became a valuable lesson learned. Mid way in the campaign it became clear that this grant activity was not right for WorkEcology and at the same time it pushed me to lead and synthesize a system of thought so I can begin to continually apply for grants.
After I initially produced the Nau Nomination Collective Story with Rosalinda Sanquiche, EthicalMarkets.com,
I gave my attention to two other grant applications. I learned something new during this review about grants; grants are determined based on whether or not you have carried out this project successfully in the past and grants are often awarded for aa repetition of a proven learning.
Given my respect and my learning experience with Buckminster Fuller, I decided to learn how to apply for the Buckminister Institute Challenge Award. From this website, I discovered a trend in grant awards that would require a time line of a year or more of preparation work before WorkEcology could make application. So I am carefully considering this for 2010.
The Buckminster Fuller Challenge Award's purpose is to grant a new idea that is brought into practice and recognized. What is remarkable about this grant is the grant community actually contributes to building the BFI Idea Index of how new ideas come into fruition and links you to the people who have created these ideas through applied learning in a culture of change.
If you do not win the Challenge the story of your grant application is available at this site so others can consider getting involved with you or investing in your work. So it can return more to the applicant for the personal return on investment you make into your own idea.
From my view others have attempted something similar and not in such an empowering way. This method of granting encourages people to learn and bring about new ideas that have not produced social outcomes of this kind.
It is very different than the "institutional investor view," that Jeffrey Immelt, CEO of General Electric outlined to Hass Students, October 2008. In this lecture, Jeffrey described himself as a CEO investor with deep pockets to create networks of investment within GE and its supply chain to create change for energy and health. Given the reality of September 2009 and Wall Street, we all know now those deep pockets are rare and some of the most remarkable innovations grew out of no investment at all. I do not find the idea of no "investment" favorable personally because no idea grows without some kind of investment and my studies of micro-finance and enterprises and my own experience prove the opposite.
From all this self-generative learning, as the only person focused on WorkEcology and its development to make it real as a economic practice (embracing all aspects of the economy market place and beyond market), I concluded that I don't have time to muster and organize to become a non profit or recruit others to work with me in a format that assures they follow through me.
So this became an excellent learning leverage point that has helped me harvest the focus of activity that WorkEcology and I are now focused on.
WorkEcology Core Practice Value and Principle
As previously stated life for me got very simple thanks to attendance to the Audubon Educational Forum followed by a 2 1/2 hour walk and lunch with Ralph Miema, Project Director, Marlboro College Graduate School, MBA in Managing Sustainability.
My focus on Sustainability and the outgrowth of thought that grew over the past 40 years out of the Brundtland Commission convened by Harlem Gro Brundtland in 1983. I concluded in my conversation with Ralph that for me it is important that the design any conversation or project I am involved with assures future generations their existence and health. For me this is what matters to assure a quality of investigation, inquiry and education that serves to bring about healthy environment, health and economic outcomes.
With Ralph, I then explored the history of sustainability and education and began to hypothesize from the view of appreciative inquiry, what is working now and what can be working better, I was able to identify what is core to my own education, how I learn, teach and mentor now. This is the value for an education format called Capstone. Capstone education is a way to instill in students a method of learning theory applied to real world experience in a vocation in any economic sector, which is what is accomplished by teams and individuals who set out place their idea and project recorded in the Buckminster Fuller Challenge Idea Index .
I am an early Capstone graduate back to my first thesis on education in High School where I examined alternative methods of how people learn and the history of education. It is a method by which I have approached any new project I take on through work, community or home.
By the end of lunch, Ralph suggested that in a sense everything I have done over the last decade has grown into a living chronicle of sustainable education. I took his observation seriously and began to design an approach to this blog that reflected that.
Ralph's feedback to me is also grounded in his years of work and study in Sweden that gives provides both of us an quality foundation from which to converse, learn and teach. I am looking forward to reviewing Ralph's new book on scenario planning which is now in production and attending the December program for Marlboro Sustainability MBA Students to learn how I can contribute.
Three years ago as an outgrowth of my research on non ionizing radiation where I first reported a summary for Strategy and Business On line Leading Ideas: Cell Phone Health Hazards: Threat and Opportunity, this led me on yet another research opportunity to learn what was distinct with the December 2006 European Union Registration, Evaluation and Authorization of Chemicals legislation (REACH).
Unlike any previous environmental legislation in EU or United States, REACH is not about compliance or banning use, REACH legislation pushes manufacturing companies doing business in the European Union to think differently about the products they produce and the chemicals they emit. This legislation is mandating a new forum of education through which manufacturers need to partner with all sectors to generate a new forum of learning from which to build sustainable learning and act on what is learned.
I am now synthesizing what I believe this learning model is now and can be. The Precautionary Principle is pushing a new format of learning that is interactive and requires thought. While the education has a technical basis drawing on a high level of math, science and technology, this learning does is going to push people to be life long learners in and out of school environments. The learning practice will require constant assessment of the knowledge and its application to what is relevant today in matters of work, health and environment. No matter what sector you live or work in or culture, you will have to extract continuously knowledge from representatives of multiple expertise and culture to understand the current scientific agenda that assures citizens an investigation into early warnings or hints of harm and helps foster a dialogue to "do no harm."
This type of conversation may be advancing into a new inquiry format that has global representation this year at the International EMF Conference 2009, Stavanger Norway. This conference is an outgrowth of the last years inquiry hosted in UK by Radiation Research Trust.
Olle Johansson, M.D., Karolinska Institute sent me my invitation which I celebrated, even thought I am disappointed that I cannot attend. . Olle has been an exceptional member of my advice network since I was captured by the EMF global inquiry in 2003. He has joined in my conversation to learn if Non-ionizing EMF radiation could benefit from adoption into the REACH category of legislation which would move this issue forward for intelligent and responsible response in the US. Since while REACH legislation was passed by the European Parliament, it is relevant to any manufacturer selling product in EU, so it includes US manufacturers.
There is a recent advancement in the EMF discussion in Europe summarized at the Stavanger Conference Invitation that describes this advancement in the context of the Precautionary Principle,
regulatory limits are falling. An overwhelming majority of the European
Parliament recently voted for a set of changes based on health concerns
associated with electromagnetic fields. In a resolution 4th September
2008, the European Parliament notes that “the limits on exposure to
electromagnetic fields which have been set for the general public are
obsolete”, “obviously take no account of developments in information
and communication technologies”, and “do not
address the issue of vulnerable groups, such as pregnant women, newborn
babies and children.” These eye-opening statements are indeed
remarkable. A few countries have already acted in line with sound
This is an area in which the United States is behind Europe. I believe if I can find a funding source to attend this meeting, I can develop a report that will be a valuable tool to industry and all sectors and ultimately people sensitive to EMF toxicity. This toxin displaces people from their homes, communities of belonging and much more when it complicates a person's health and can harm their finances or push them to lose insurance coverage when in a country where insurance relies on the private sector for coverage. This social frontier is the last to be discussed in a way that goes beyond how often issues of scientific research are addressed to exercise precaution.
New Articles are posted here:
Starting June 2007, in the
European Union Registration, Evaluation and Authorization of Chemicals
legislation (REACH) went into effect. Like the
“End-of-Life Vehicles Directive (2000), “Restriction on the use of certain
hazardous substances in electrical and electronic products” directive (2002)
and the “Waste electrical and electronic equipment” directive (2002), REACH
legislation pushes manufacturing companies doing business in the European Union
to think differently about the products they produce and the chemicals they
Within the context of a global dialogue today, this principle is an outgrowth of a global dialogue that has taken place over 40 years contributed to by thousands of environmental experts, non-governmental organizations and private citizens that met over the course of numerous international conferences that was launched by the Brundtland Commission, which was convened by the UN and chaired by Gro Harlem Brundtland in 1983.
My contribution to IGI Global's User Driven and Narrative Medicine and adding my framework to be integrated through out the book.
Leveraged from the ideas and cases shared in this text book, I am building a design for a subscriber base blog to build a community of practice in Narrative Medicine.
A group of people will convene in New York sometime before 2010 to build a plan in action to form a professional association for clinicians and patients advocates who work with this approach to health practice. I will be the convener of this group.
Be sure to read announcements on our blog from
Just in from Carnegie Council for Students of Sustainability, A Carnegie Council Competition