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Saturday, December 20, 2014

2014 Person of the Year: Basheer Mohamed

“It's not about examining your life. It's about what you do with the options you have to improve it.
by Dave Newport, LEED AP

Basheer Mohamed is my 2014 Person of the Year, and I feel like I am ripping him off.

This wonderful guy who has worked and fought and suffered and kept going—and I am ripping him off.

OK, maybe not ripping him off. Maybe it's more of an exchange. But I am getting the better of it, I think. 

You decide. It goes like this.

Basheer was born in Sudan. His family scratched and worked and worked some more so they could move from Sudan to Denver when he was a young boy.  They didn’t have a lot, but they got a break and seized the opportunity to come to the US.

Basheer is bright and hard working so he was accepted into one of Denver Public School’s minority-serving high schools, CEC Middle College of Denver, a 94% minority school (mostly Hispanic) of about 430 kids. He worked hard at CEC, got good grades, and struggled to improve his life.

Today he is a sophomore engineering student in my university--and works refurbishing and upgrading surplus university computers and putting them back in the hands of worthy high school students from under-resourced communities in Denver. We call the program Computers to Youth (CTY).

Only a few years ago, Basheer was one of those high school students.  Then one day CTY showed up with a computer bundled with software and a dream: college.  He used the CTY computer to make his dream real. He told 9News Denver:

"My family never had a computer, so being able to bring one home [was incredible]," Mohamed said. "Between us and more privileged kids, it was really hard to keep up with them."

He says having his own computer changed his life. He was able to succeed in school and find his passion.

"It sparked my interest for engineering," Mohamed said.

He was also able to use his computer to seek out and apply for scholarships that are now paying his entire college tuition.  He does not know where he would be without this program.

"If anything, I'd probably be going to a community college if not just working," Mohamed said. "I don't want to know where I would've been without it."

But just getting admitted to CU’s top ranked engineering school isn’t enough for Basheer. He is making dreams come true for other kids like him.

I have a dream.

You can’t get there from here…

 Somewhere in stories like these some critics will assert that people in poverty need only work hard and they can bootstrap themselves up out of the ‘hood.


Last year we were able to bundle recycled computers with dreams and put them in the hands of 280 worthy kids in Denver inner city schools.

Two hundred and eighty kids.

We’re beating the bushes for additional corporate and crowd funded support to expand the program to a whopping 400 computer/dreams.

Four hundred kids.

That’s not even enough for all the kids in Basheer’s high school.

On the other hand, I am certain that every one of the 3,700 wonderful young men and women that come out of tony Cherry Creek High School in Denver’s high dollar neighborhood have a computer, a smart phone, and maybe a tablet too.

No offense to those kids. We have many of them with us too. They are fantastic kids that want to do the right thing—and they come with benefits.

Just saying.

“It's not about examining your life. It's about what you do with the results.”

I wrote the above couple sentences in one of my last blogs where I ranted about how Socrates pissed me off.

Now my own quote pisses me off. Thanks to Basheer, I now realize how privileged that statement is. 

I have options.

Basheer not so much. Basheer can examine his life and want to make it better all he wants to—but has fewer tools in the toolbox.

I’m a white male, tall, blue eyes, from a reasonably well to do white family. My Mom was a researcher at Brown and I was raised on the Brown campus. I started working for the Brown hockey team at age 10. Visited all the Ivy’s traveling with the team. Went to a New England prep school (all white) on a partial hockey scholarship. Didn’t need anybody to enable my college dream; it was what you did. Graduated from Syracuse.  Go Orange.

All while being pretty white. Didn't overcome much. 

I have probably squandered more opportunities than Basheer has ever been given. 

And here’s where I got the better of the exchange. I know I have white privilege.  But his life teaches me to eschew the worst kind of white privilege: the kind that squanders entitlement and opportunity others will never know—or fails to share those perks with those least among us.

A very valuable lesson. Now I realize how to revise my quote and see the world more clearly:

“It's not about examining your life. It's about what you do with the options you have to improve it results.”

Just as there is the “crime” of driving while black, it's a crime to waste the opportunities born of birth called “living while white.” Use them for good. 

Live a zero waste life.

“I'm not black, but there's a whole lots a times I wish I could say I'm not white.”
- Frank Zappa: "Trouble Every Day"

It’s been a tough year to be a black guy. Ah, check it; it’s been a tough few centuries to be a black guy.

As the events in Ferguson, Brooklyn and other places unfolded this Fall, we were mindful of Basheer and how he was dealing. He stayed focused. Worked on CTY. Prepared computers, set up events, did his job. I kept checking in on him. He didn’t talk about it, at least not to me.

He stayed the course. Focused.

Thus, he unwittingly let me have some of his empowerment. Another way this deal is better for me.  He seemingly didn’t let things he couldn’t control divert him from his future.  He continued to grasp the opportunity at hand, did well in school, all the while working to give back opportunity to others. I am certain his heart ached; he’s human. But he kept going.

This 20-year-old young black guy, working for the big shot white guy, inspired me.

Indeed, the CTY program is based on this exchange. It preserves and even enhances the dignity of all involved. As it must. Giveaways without dignity are counter productive. But in the case of CTY, we provide recycled computers to under-privileged kids who have worked to improve their lives and just need a break. They’ve earned it and feel good about themselves because this isn’t just the noblesse oblige of privileged white people from Boulder. They earned it. Thus it’s an exchange respectful of everyone’s dignity.

The exchange also mitigates some of my privilege, enables my dignity (such as it is) to be a little more credible, and gently reminds all to seize the moment.

Likewise, these sorts of human transactions, based on something as simple and noble as recycling, reflect everything that is best about sustainability. Environmental benefits, fiscal equity, and enhanced social justice all from one simple act.

I wish I had 50 programs like this.

Would that we had more guys like Jack DeBell too. Jack, our recycling development director, conjured up this vision over a decade ago. Jack’s a devout recycler and saw his opportunity to give back through the lens of recycling.  His life is about recycling stuff to make the world a better place-- and enabling dreams to come true.

I’d take that on my headstone. Thank you Jack.

Therefore, whereas…

Therefore, by the powers vested in my by the unanimous vote of a committee of one, I hereby bestow and confer the mantle of the Department of Changed 2014 Person of the Year award to Basheer Mohamed, who is afforded all the benefit and privilege befitting this title.

He exemplifies all that is best in the sustainability movement, all which is best in humanity, and is an inspiration to all good souls.

And in this immensely screwed up and challenging world, mindful of all the year’s tragic events across the planet from Syria to Ferguson to Ebola to Malaysia Airlines, somehow knowing Basheer is doing his thing makes it a little easier to remember the kindness and hope in the human spirit.

Thank you.

Tidings of comfort and joy to all.


PS: If you want to help Basheer help others, please feel free to help kickstart our kickstarter campaign. You can invest in others’ futures enabled by computer recycling and dream weaving here. May your Higher Power be with you.


Thursday, November 27, 2014

Dog days, turkey day, and 1963's enduring lessons

Defying unjust authority is an instinct to be nurtured

Guest blog by Robert Karl Hutchinson
Founding Director, Alachua Conservation Trust
County Commissioner, Alachua County, Florida

On this Throwback Thanksgiving Thursday, I woke up dreaming of sixth grade in 1963-64, the most memorable year of my youth. Yeah, yeah, yeah there was the Beatles, and The Assassination, and the Civil Rights movement, and the mysterious new attraction of each gender to the other.

But I didn't dream about any of that.

I dreamt of a dog, whose name I can no longer remember. And of a school teacher, perhaps the wisest teacher in a life blessed with incredible educators all along the way.

I was raised in The South. And on the first day of sixth grade, we were at recess and a beagle wandered into our playground, a magical place that included a creek full of crayfish and enough good climbing trees for every boy to have his own; the be-skirted girls didn't climb trees because they had not yet gained permission to wear pants to school.

This was an era when dogs ran free, and so did we.

The dog followed us back into the classroom, which had a door directly to the outside, and simply flopped down in a sunny spot, and our teacher, Mrs. Williamson hardly took note as she continued with her lesson. This became our routine, the dog arriving to school from a nearby house when he heard us, then spending the day with us and leaving when we did. I don't think we ever really knew whose dog he was, and he wasn't particularly playful and didn't mooch our lunches -- he was just comfortable being around 30 kids in a classroom.

One day the school principal stepped into the class unannounced, saw the dog, and blustering about The Rules, banished Dog from the classroom. Dog sat outside the rest of the day looking balefully in at us, and I'm sure the sad glances from my classmates were not lost on Mrs. Williamson.

The next day was business as usual -- Dog was under the pencil sharpener snoozing and twitching in the sun, Mrs. Williamson said nothing about it, and everybody was happy. And so it continued until a few days later, a voice crackled on the two-way intercom from somebody in the main office saying something about a "special teacher's meeting" and Mrs. Williamson moved quickly to grab the dog by his collar and shepherd him into the supply closet. She resumed her teaching, just as Mr. Principal stuck his head in the room, looked around, and was undoubtedly pleased at the class full of well-behaved students paying rapt attention to their really interesting teacher. For the rest of the year -- and a complex year it was -- the co-conspirator in the main office always signaled the potential for a visit from The Man, and we had an unspoken code with our teacher to defy The Authority.

Now that I'm an adult, I know how brilliant this lesson was. Keep in mind that this was in the small-town segregated South when the authorities were defying moral law and common-sense daily. And it was the same time that Stanley Milgram was observing volunteers "shock" strangers in experiments because the authority figure in a white lab coat simply repeated, "the experiment must go on." And the defense of Nazi collaborators, that they were just obeying orders, was still in the forefront of conversations about morality, such as in my Sunday school classes where lessons often included anecdotes from WWII, not even two decades old yet.

I have so much to be thankful for, but high among these is that scruffy dog and this brilliant teacher who spontaneously conspired to teach, in the most subtle yet indelible way possible, the lesson that defying unjust authority was an instinct to be nurtured, that defiance could be part of everyday living, and that it was as important as any of the lessons in our History of America textbook.

Happy Thanksgiving!


-Robert Hutchinson, "Hutch", is a County Commissioner in Alachua County, Florida, home of the University of Florida and many wonderful natural places. Many years ago, Hutch helped found and was the first Director of Alachua Conservation Trust, a non-profit that has brokered deals to preserve tens of thousands of acres of environmentally sensitive Florida lands. I am certain that is what he would point to as among the most notable accomplishments on his resume.  

BTW: I didn't ask Hutch for permission to post his writing. We are old friends and if he doesn't like it he can sue me or at least cuss me out. But this piece is the perfect first-thing-in-the-morning on Turkey Day to help remind of the many blessings in my life, in all the lives of people who read my blog. 

Saturday, October 11, 2014

STARS, Socrates and Ronald Reagan

If “the unexamined life is not worth living,”
perhaps the unexamined STARS report is not worth filing

By Dave Newport, LEED AP

Socrates pisses me off. Notwithstanding his heroic Hemlock choice, it takes major ego to lay down the unequivocal indictment "the unexamined life is not worth living." Who is this guy to decide whose life is valuable and whose is not? 

I love my unexamined life. Makes me happy...

Speaking of major ego, who is so engorged by bloated id that taking on a classic master is even an option?

OK, deflate.

Actually, I don't really dislike Socrates, I just don't think he went far enough with that statement. It's not about examining your life. It's about what you do with the results. My post-NDE ruminations have detected numerous Big Rocks inside me that need to be moved/blown up. But, as they are still sitting there, that just creates internal angst about my inability/unwillingness to act. 

Someday maybe.*

The road more traveled...

So in the absence of honest and productive work on my inner-person perils, I push away at those external forces I am more motivated/able to move. 

This year, one Big External Rock was STARS. In compiling our report I noticed how it parallels Socrates' pointed-gun ultimatum to live an examined life. 

Sort of.

STARS offers a structured checklist by which sustainabilistas can examine their own campuses' existence. Born as a self-reporting system of noble intent, STARS growth and acceptance has been somewhat held back by a perceived lack of accountability. 

Indeed, STARS’ station in the world was rattled last month by a report from the Sustainable Endowments Institute that found STARS’ credibility wanting. At issue was the disparate interpretation of various credits found in many STARS reports. An Inside Higher Ed news report was not flattering either.

But no argument.

Disparate interpretations, errors, and varying levels of, shall we say, competence in compiling data that is relevant and responsive to STARS requirements have dogged many STARS reports, including my own. As one of STARS’ three original co-creators and an original steering committee member, I know well STARS’ strengths and weaknesses—and requirements--and I still have found errors in my previous reports.

Indeed, STARS is a self-portrait. And each individual STARS self-portrait is fraught with all the imperfections of the artist’s hand, eyes and, like Vincent Van Gogh, inner turmoil.

But STARS is not art.

Get it right, write or wrong…

So, my campus wanted to make sure we at least got our own self examination right. 

We shopped around for independent third party reviewers capable of examining our STARS findings and offering meaningful commentary. Wow; sticker shock. Deloitte, PWC et al are in the business of auditing corporate GRI reports and opining on their accuracy. Get ready for five and six figure fees.

We needed kinder and gentler. What we found was a Philadelphia consulting firm with a former EPA enforcement attorney and other fine folks who were developing a sort of Turbo Tax checklist process for STARS. We offered to be their first STARS client. Upon conclusion of their review and our corrections, we became STARS first official third-party-reviewed guinea pig. The cost was modest.

What came back from their review was a little shocking. Little mistakes, broken links, but also a few significant faux pas. It was also kinda cute that these EPA types listed our foibles and the necessary "Corrective Actions." Old jargon never dies.

But overall it was inspiring. We learned a lot and are more comfortable with our self-examination. And we are more defensible--especially with internal stakeholders who now take the work more seriously. 

Perhaps Socrates was right; if “the unexamined life is not worth living,” perhaps the unexamined STARS report is not worth filing. 

“And, constant stars, in them I read such art as truth and beauty shall together thrive”

Maybe I am too harsh. STARS reports—flaws and all—are a good starting point and framework by which to devise and implement a campus sustainability action plan. Very true. 

For instance, STARS Reporter metrics don’t even seek to grade performance. STARS Reporters are all about commitment to change. STARS vision is about mapping pathways and metrics that can alter campuses towards a more sustainable future. These and other outcomes were part of the early vision of STARS.

But that was then and this is now. 

STARS is entering its seventh year of existence. Over 650 campuses around the world now use it for some purpose. OK, that’s a start, but in the US alone there are over 4,000 campuses. So a ways to go. STARS may be only seven years old, but the world needs STARS—and STARS needs the world. 


As one of STARS' parents, I love our child. But if we want to change the world through STARS it needs to be loved more by more people. It takes a village. STARS needs to grow into a mature, respected and loveable adult so the vision of being an effective instrument of change can be realized. 

Only a few years ago the Chronicle of Higher Education reported that STARS was emerging as a credible platform in response to other more subjective rating instruments that had evolved. Indeed, as we launched STARS, the Chronicle opined that, “Many think that [STARS] will ultimately become the gold standard of sustainability evaluations…” 

Let’s not squander that potential.

For their part, STARS' staff do a great job now of reviewing submittals and working with campuses to resolve issues. Indeed, even after our independent review, diligent STARS' staff found a couple other minor technical issues with our submittal. Great. More evidence that oversight and accountability is the key to STARS' maturity.

The STARS Steering Committee is vexed by the conflict between the need for more accountability versus the increase in cost/effort such accountability would bring. They talk about all that they are doing to insure/preserve/restore STARS' credibility. They worry that if the bar is set too high fewer will attempt the leap. A recent blog from the STARS chair** lays out all that is marshaled to enhance accuracy. 

Is that enough?

Truth or truthiness...

If STARS becomes marked by illegitimacy born of questionable claims who will want to be associated with it? We cannot countenance crap, and there is some out there. 

STARS can finesse the cost and workload of a STARS report by further eliminating marginal metrics, allowing opt outs of credits that penalize a campus for following the law and other limitations a campus cannot control, and by jettisoning onerous information requirements in other credits. 

For if STARS gets too many more negative press accounts of its illegitimacy, it's lights out. Can't finesse a way out of irrelevance. If, for instance, the Chronicle publishes an article where John Doe College is found to be greenwashing its STARS sustainability claims, STARS remaining cred could crumble. 

Recently, US News and World Report slammed two schools for fudging their submittals to that magazine's annual ranking. The schools were bruised. US News not. On the contrary, US News looks good because it imposed accountability in a self-reporting system. 

Maybe STARS needs to beef up its data-accuracy system to include publicly rebuking dodgy STARS reports. But that will be difficult for a membership-based organization. US News doesn’t have that limitation.

Either way, STARS must find a credible way to enhance data quality even if cost goes up a little. You get what you pay for. Indeed, low cost won't induce many to use STARS if credibility is off. And if costs increase past players' price points, they can opt for a free STARS Reporter version. 

The time is now to guide campuses into a more credible thus legitimate and sustainable future. All STARS submittals need unjaundiced jurisprudence to evaluate the claims within or we will all suffer.

STARS should embrace an update of Socrates' "unexamined life" quote championed by, of all people, President Ronald Reagan, that he adapted from the Russian parable: “Doveryai, no proveryai.”

"Trust, but verify.”

* In future posts: I will get back to blathering about moving the Big Rocks inside us. I have asked alert readers to send me thoughts on their own inner sustainability battles. It's been interesting reading. Please keep those cards and letters coming.

** Disclosure: The current Chair of the STARS Steering Committee, Julian Dautremont-Smith, is a colleague and friend dating back to before our collaboration with Judy Walton on the genesis of STARS. We remain friends to this day.

*** As always: Apologies to William Shakespeare, M. Scott Peck, Vincent Van Gogh, Stephen Colbert, and Ronald Reagan (and anyone else I have libeled) for shamelessly invoking their name and/or twisting their contributions to the world in service of my shabby ramblings and allegedly noble mission. I offer only this in my defense: name dropping makes me happy...

Monday, July 14, 2014

Random acts of sustainability

 People deride this generation as selfie absorbed and over indulged. 
But that sounds more like me than the students I see.

By Dave Newport, LEED AP

The "Free Trees" mobile tree jail in north Boulder, CO
The little sign said, “Free Trees.” Not knowing that trees had been wrongfully incarcerated and needed to be set free, I turned into the north Boulder neighborhood to help with the jailbreak. Do my duty as an expert and certified tree hugger.

Came upon the rolling jail seen at left to clearly see trees were not imprisoned; instead they were being given away to anyone who would give them a good home. 

Why? Climate change. 

These deciduous trees grow up, sequester carbon, purify the air, create shade that lowers home temperatures naturally, and lose their leaves in winter so we can bask in winter sun. These and many other relevant facts were posted on the mobile tree jail.

In the sustainability bible, trees are climate saviors.

There was no place to donate money. The signs made it clear they only wanted you to take the trees and plant and nurture them as you would your own children. I saw people inside the adjacent home. I kind of hung around and looked interested hoping they’d come out and chat. Nothing. These folks didn’t need me to tell them how righteous they were. They were just happy to do this thing.

OK, the sign did say they wanted their gallon plastic pots back.

But before you say “only in the Peoples Republic of Boulder,” look around. Random acts of sustainability happen all over the place.

A friend told me recently about her trip to a StarBucks drive through in another town. When she got to the window her double shot caramel macchiato was free. The car in front had paid for hers. So, she paid for the coffee going to the jalopy behind her.

These random acts of kindness happen even at StarBucks, McDonalds and Whole Paycheck (Whole Foods).  In fact, there’s a national organization of do-gooders like this with chapters all over—and zillions of inspiring ideas anyone can do. 

I suspect many of you have been doing these things for some time.

"Give it away, give it away, give it away now:" A new business model for kindness

Kindness is even evolving a business model. Panera Bread is in this new kindness business. They now have five stores nationally that price their menu on a sliding scale from zero to whatever you want to pay. Or you can clean up a store for an hour or two.

In an industry that typically make single digit margins, Panera stores that deliver 75% of average retail volume have to return other value to keep the lights on. Panera’s answer is local job training for under-represented communities. Puts people into jobs so they have money to buy coffee.

A business model for random acts of sustainability.

One World Everybody Eats restaurants in the US (2014)
Even better, it has gone viral. In fact, it’s not a business plan, it’s “spiritual franchising,” says Denise Cerreta, founder of the One World Everybody Eats Foundation. She grew her one person sandwich shop into a national organization that has helped startup sliding scale restaurants coast to coast.

Many doctors, lawyers, and yes, even our esteemed institutions of higher learning have offered quiet sliding scale options for years.

Human compassion is not a new quality; however, sustainability concerns are highlighting new ways for it to manifest. Random acts of sustainability are defining new ways to do, er, well enough by doing good.

"Oh think twice, it's just another day for you and me in paradise"

What separates sustainability acts like 'free trees' from peoples’ wonderful acts of kindness towards other people may be the intent. The intent of the 'free trees' folk is to help the planet and thus help people. The kindness acts go straight to people and thus help the planet. All good.

Likewise, the anonymity of these random acts seems to bolster our willingness to engage in them. Why?

“Doing something good for a stranger is a refreshing change from the way people usually connect in society, said William Talbott, philosophy professor at the University of Washington.

"In the modern world, we have a lot of relationships that provide reciprocal benefits: I'll scratch your back and you scratch mine ... those sorts of contractual relationships."

Although those relationships are fine — society couldn't function without them — people who do anonymous good deeds show us that we're not limited to self-interested relationships with one another, Talbott said.

"We can say, 'I just want to do something good for you without the expectation of getting anything in return at all.' And what a thrill it is to be on either side of that statement — the giver or the receiver."”

Random acts of sustainability benefit the planet and people we will never meet—and make the perpetrators feel good in the process.

For instance, our students' hunger strike in protest of sweatshop produced logo apparel was among the noblest acts I have seen. Students literally put their lives on the line for complete strangers. The strike went nearly three weeks before the university capitulated and agreed to buy only logo athletic apparel from sweatshop-free vendors, join the FLA, etc. 

I asked one of the students later what he felt about the whole thing and he remarked that he felt an inner satisfaction about helping change a system of injustice—but that he was worried this might be the high point of his life. “Don’t know what I can do that will be more sublime,’ he said. “But I have time to figure it out.”

Boulder Food Rescue students
Other of our students volunteer to bike-pedal untouched surplus food direct from serving lines to hungry people. Boulder Food Rescue solved many problems of so-called “post consumer” surplus food that normally has to be discarded or composted. Through speedy bike delivery direct to hungry mouths they bypass the food distributor networks that slow food delivery down thus triggering restrictive health regulations. And they do it on bikes in less than 2 hours from kitchen to the hungry—no fossil fuel vehicles even in the Boulder winters—in the name of climate preservation.

They are not alone. Bike-based food rescues are in every major Colorado community—and maybe in yours.  Part random kindness and part random sustainability acts, they betray the huge hearts and innovative brains our students have. People deride this generation as selfie absorbed and over indulged. But that sounds more like me than the students I see.

'She calls out to the man on the street: "Sir, can you help me?”'

Then there’s Rito.

Rito is the senior stock clerk at my local King Soopers grocery store. Rito knows where everything is—and is a really nice guy. Been working there 22 years. He works a lot, but clearly not getting rich stocking shelves.

Chatting with him a few weeks ago I asked if he ever takes time off. He lite up his big smile. Taking a week vacation soon, he said. Asked what he was doing on vacation, his grin widened more. Fixing up a local children’s shelter, he said. “They need some help.”

Sheepishly recalling my Facebook, I thought about all the self-indulgent selfies I have posted of good times in faraway places when I was on vacation. I wasn’t schlepping on a service spring break, I was partying in Florida—and posting selfies.

Rito doesn’t take selfies; he doesn’t own a cell phone. Rito showed the love to people who needed some. It wasn’t random and it wasn’t anonymous. They just “need some help.”

The words “trust” and “respect” come to mind when I think about these actions. Perhaps we respect ourselves more when we put ourselves out there.  Rito the 'lowly' stock clerk is a dignified man with plenty of self respect and respect for others.

Trusting strangers feels good too. I was trusted by the 'free trees' people. I felt good that they trusted me. I presume they felt good extending that trust.

Typical "Honor Honey" stand
Maybe you have seen an honor honey stand? There’s one around the corner from my house. A little stand by the side of the road open 24 hours where I can buy honey and leave cash or check in a little box.

They are all about trust—and sustainability. People are worried about disappearing bees. Supporting beekeepers supports the planet. No bees, no food.

A recent Kickstarter project was funded so that a small beekeeper could expand his hives, build an honor honey stand, and give hives to local farmers to help pollinate crops—all are very solid sustainability outcomes. Farmers are increasingly selling their produce this way too.

Trust sells.

"Feeling good was good enough for me"

OK, this is typically the preachy part of my blogs—but not this time, maybe. All I am saying is the above stories make me feel good. Break all the psychobabble down and that’s what left. Likewise, we seem to be happier when we help people and the planet. Sustainability identifies new challenges and new people so our creative, compassionate selves rise up. 

The Dali Lama says the purpose of life is to be happy. Service to others seems to be a universal, low cost path to that end. And if we advance sustainability along the way, then we feel good.

Feeling good is good enough for me…


Coda: Alert readers have already noticed this blog’s name change; “The Department of Changed.”  Definitely appreciate the emails suggesting new titles after my last piece, “The existential sustainabilista.” Several great name change options came in. Thanks all.

Going in this direction for several reasons, maybe one of them good.

First, change requires a new vision. What’s the changed system going to look like? So instead of interminable ramblings bemoaning the lack of meaningful change, my new special sauce is to offer interminable ramblings about Camelot. What does ‘changed’ look like? What’s the better vision of the future we need --- and where is it already happening? "Be the change" and all that...

Second, after the NDE described last time, this new blog title reminds me of the life systems I have allegedly changed--or am trying to. Need to keep myself accountable. Fat chance, but here’s trying.

Finally, I was once taught to work on things where a small push created a big result. One letter change; completely different paradigm.

Thanks all.
2X Coda: As in previous blogs, sincere apologies to the Red Hot Chilli Peppers, Phil Collins, and Janis Joplin for stealing lyrics from their songs and putting them in a context that only defiles their work...