Food is Connection – A Good Story

Costa Georgiadis flew into Adelaide this morning to give his beard to Alistair and Helena Martin’s RipeNearMe movement.

People power is driving a revolution in the food industry.

Empowered communities.

Grounded people.

It’s Good Business


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Flaws in the system

So interesting reading about Odum’s “energetics” theories.
Perhaps the system we have been taught to believe in, is flawed?>

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Meaning and purpose

There’s nothing more empowering in life than meaning and purpose.

In the work environment, it’s and often overlooked role that the organisation (firm) plays in society today.

When society fails people, (Politicians, Laws, Equity, Justice), people turn inwards and become isolated – begin to work in an ever shrinking circle of influence.

Inspirational organisations have visionary leaders that paint a picture of their organisations role in the bigger scheme of things.

An inspirational leader provides a context that offers a rod for people to grasp onto to pull themselves out of the dross of the day-to-day.

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Culture of responsibility

Culture includes what people believe, how they behave, how they shape their environment, and what they understand about the world.

Most elements in culture are passed along by the family or the community, and people absorb this knowledge unconsciously as they grow up.

Indeed the values and habits of one social group are seen as ‘normal’, while those of other groups may seem strange, or threatening.

Firmaculture identifies that commercial enterprises, or Firms, have replaced our original sources of cultural influence, (ie – families, fiefdoms, or the church), and as such have an increased responsibility to identify clearly their beliefs, set rules for their behaviour.

Indeed a shared culture strengthens social bonds, and in this ever shrinking inter-connected world, strengthened social bonds and commonalities are the great leveler of humanity.

Firmaculture works with organisations to identify these elements and define the gap between where the organisation is today, and where it wants to be in the future.

A culture is defined by the objects with which people surround themselves.

And now the “Perfect Storm” of a visibly suffering Earth ecology and old-world economics-driven corporate goals are influencing aspirational Human desires to take us into a new period of evolution – the Natural Economy.

Firmaculture is a ‘closed-loop’ approach to achieving sustainable economic growth with a conscious consideration of the full life-cycle impact of an organsiations operations.

It involves brands, and marketing, with a deeper level of integrity behind truly sustainable long-term strategic advantages identified to fit in with short-term needs, and long-term wants.

It’s Good business.

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Sustainability = Innovation + Implementation

Attended the 1st 2010 Sustainability Drinks event in Adelaide last night with 30 other bods sharing an interest in making the world a better place – one drink at a time.

As with previous events, the function was held at snappy Adelaide ‘tearoom – restaurant – martini bar’, Saldechin.

Despite the irony of drinking to sustainability, I did my bit by catching a tram to the do and was impressed with the integrity of the bods in attendance, a legacy of the values and principles of the event organisers, The Shaper Group.

Local eco-pioneer and Shaper Group executive Nick Palousis did the MC honours introducing Saldechin host <…>, and then Shaper Group CEO Dan Atkins to share the sustainability love.

Saldechin are pushing the “support our local producers” bandwagon, and from what I could see, (and heard), they are genuinely innovating with their support for local wine makers through a ‘co-operative’ cellar door, and local produce on the menu.

Dan gave an inspiring talk for a half an hour drawing on his international experience with innovation and sustainability, extending on an earlier conversation we were having on the role of leadership in reinforcing values that drive innovation, strengthen brands, leading to sustainability.

The general tone had definitely shifted from a pure eco/green ‘change or we’re doomed’ sentiment of a few years ago to one of, ‘change, or die’!

The conversation was very much around the role of innovation in sustainability, simply to keep a business alive, and eco/ green sustainability initiatives were very much identified as a given to provide and economic benefit and market edge.

As the pace which the US found US$800B to prop up the flawed financial system demonstrated, today’s drivers are money, and the fear of losing it.

Saving the planet and providing a better future for our children are personal values I hold very deeply, however they are impossible ideals if you do not have the drive and commitment of a society which has been conditioned for 50 years to CONSUME their way to the grave.

The other telling topic in the ‘change, or die’ conversation was Web 2.0.

Haven’t heard it called that for a while, living in the Digital Native Web 3.0 cocoon of my own digi-endevours.

But certainly from a sustainability point of view I saw the cross-over with innovation and operational implications of organisations embracing new social media tools and changing the internal dynamics of how they reach and connect with customers.

The real issue again comes back to leadership.

Do Australian companies, particularly South Australian companies in the context of this gathering, really have an appreciation of the competitive environment that they are up against on a global scale?

Do we, as inhabitants of “the lucky country” really have an appreciation of the scale of the devastation of the last 18 months, and the trigger for innovation that this devastation has created.

Let’s hope so.

The more ‘over the horizon’ thinking like that from Dan and his Shaper Group crew, the more likelihood we will have a few organisations holding their ground against the tsunami of innovation heading towards us from the North.

I’ll drink to that.

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China steals the march on Clean Tech

China’s position as one of the world’s pre-eminent clean tech hubs was underlined yesterday, with the release of a major new report from The Climate Group arguing that the country has already secured a lead over many of its global rivals in the race to develop and implement low-carbon technologies.

The report, which updates a similar study from last year, concluded that despite the onset of the global recession, Chinese clean tech firms are continuing to record impressive growth, aided in no small part by the government’s decision to focus much of its $585bn (£354bn) stimulus package on low-carbon projects.

The study found that while the Chinese government is resisting international calls to set carbon emission targets, it is delivering good progress against domestic targets to improve energy efficiency, having cut the energy intensity of the economy 60 per cent since 1980.

It also highlighted the leadership position China has secured in the renewable energy sector, producing about a third of the world’s photovoltaic (PV) solar panels each year and doubling wind energy capacity in 2008 to take fourth spot in the global league table.

Liu Yanhua, vice minister of China’s Ministry of Science and Technology, said the country’s clean tech sectors had delivered “remarkable progress” over the past two years. “China’s installed wind power capacity is doubling annually; China has produced nearly 40 per cent of the world’s solar PV products; China has the world’s largest raw material resource for biofuel; and China’s auto industry is working to lead the world’s new energy automotive industry,” she said.

However, the report also warned that the rapid rollout of clean technologies will be essential to China’s efforts to curb carbon emissions given the continuing rapid expansion of the country’s economy.

It calculates that based on current trends, the number of cars on the country’s roads will triple to 150 million by 2020, accounting for a fifth of global carbon emissions. Consequently, the success of initiatives such as the government’s $2.9bn electric car development programme – which has already seen 13 cities purchase 13,000 electric cars – is deemed essential to climate change efforts.

Speaking at the official launch of the report in Beijing, former UK prime minister Tony Blair said the Chinese government would not be able to implement measures to curb car ownership and as a result had to focus on delivering low-carbon vehicles.
“I think the way we consume has to change, but I think it is completely unrealistic to say to people you can’t have a car, you can’t use a motorbike,” he said. “It is just not going to happen.”

Reiterating his view that new technologies offer the best hope of cutting emissions, Blair, who is closely affiliated with The Climate Group, said that industrialised nations will be unable to convince emerging economies to sign up to new development models based on reduced consumption. “If you were to say to people in China that we in the West have grown our economies and consumed all this, but you must live in poverty for the sake of the planet, they will say ‘No, I will not’,” he said.

The report also warned that the expansion of the Chinese clean tech sector was still largely reliant on the development of new financing mechanisms capable of raising the estimated $585bn a year that is required to meet its energy efficiency and carbon emission goals.

Changhua Wu, greater China director at The Climate Group said that despite the recent growth, significant increases in investment were still required. “It’s a 70-30 situation,” he said. “We have 70 per cent of the solutions today, but they are not all proven technologies and none are at the scale we need. Thirty per cent of the solutions will be found in the future. Therefore we still need foreign investment to drive the revolution.”

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Form follows function

Hello all.

Modern permaculture is a system design tool. It is a way of looking at a whole system or problem, observing how the parts relate, planning to mend sick systems, and seeing connections between key parts. In permaculture, practitioners learn from the working systems of nature to plan to fix damaged human systems.

This thinking applies to the design of an organisation as easily as it does to the re-design of a farm.

Firmaculture is the application of permaculture systems design to business.

Solutions tend to evolve from strategies that focus on efficiency (eg – more controlled uses of inputs and minimization of waste), to substitution (eg – from more to less disruptive interventions), to redesign (eg – fundamental changes in the design and management of the organisation).

Firmaculture is about helping business leaders make redesign choices – setting new goals, and adopting a shift in thinking that affects not only their business, but their actions in the community, at home and as an individual.

This progression generally involves a shift in the nature of one’s dependence. From relying primarily on imported technology-based interventions, to more locally available knowledge and skill-based ones.

This usually eventually also involves fundamental shifts in world-views, senses of meaning, and associated lifestyles.

Firmaculture is a broad-based and holistic approach that has many applications to all aspects of business.  At the heart of permaculture design and practice is a fundamental set of ‘core values’ or ethics which remain constant whatever a person’s situation – whether they are creating systems for town planning or trade; whether the land they care for is only a windowbox or an entire forest.

These ‘ethics’ are often summarized as –

Earthcare – recognising that Earth is the source of all life , and that Earth is our valuable home and that we are a part of Earth, not apart from it.

Peoplecare – supporting and helping each other to change to ways of living that do not harm ourselves or the planet, and to develop healthy societies.

Fairshare (or placing limits on consumption) – ensuring that Earth’s limited resources are used in ways that are equitable and wise.

Modern thought about permaculture began with the issue of sustainable food production. It started with the belief that for people to feed themselves sustainably, they need to move away from reliance on industrialized agriculture. Where industrial farms use technology powered by fossil fuels and each farm specializes in producing high yields of a single crop, permaculture stresses the value of low inputs and diverse crops.

The core of permaculture has always been in supplying a design toolkit for human habitation. This toolkit helps the designer to model a final design based on an observation of how ecosystems interact.  One of the innovations of permaculture design was to appreciate the efficiency and productivity of natural ecosystems, to use natural energies (wind, gravity, solar, fire, wave and more) and seek to apply this to the way human needs for food and shelter are met.

OBREDIM design methodology.

OBREDIM is an acronym for observation, boundaries, resources, evaluation, design, implementation and maintenance.

Observation allows you first to see how an organisation functions within itself to gain an understanding of its initial relationships.

Boundaries refer to physical ones as well as to those corporate governance and Government legislation might place, for example.

Resources include the people involved, funding, as well as what can be produced.

Evaluation of the first three will then allow one to prepare for the next three. This is a careful phase of taking stock of what is at hand to work with.

Design is a creative and intensive process and must stretch the ability to see possible future synergetic relationships.

Implementation is literally the ground-breaking part of the process when the re-shaping of the organisation occurs.

Maintenance is then required to keep the site at a healthy optimum, making minor adjustments as necessary.

Good design will preclude the need for any major adjustment.

The use of patterns both in nature and reusable patterns from other sites is often key to permaculture design. This echoes the Pattern language of Christopher Alexander used in architecture which has been an inspiration for many permaculture designers. All things, even the wind, the waves and the earth on its axis, moving around the Sun, form patterns. In pattern application, permaculture designers are encouraged to develop Awareness of the patterns that exist in nature (and how these function) and Application of pattern on sites in order to satisfy specific design needs.

Also key to the Firmaculturel design model is that useful connections are made between components in the final design. The formal analogy for this is a natural mature ecosystem. So, in much the same way as there are useful connections between Sun, plants, insects and soil there will be useful connections between different people and their relationship to the organisation and partners and customers.

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