The GreenGate Concept: Beginnings
What this is all about:
Almost nine years ago, a passionate and committed team of individuals began meeting to talk about the state of the world, the price of oil, climate change, and living in the 21st century. The thought leaders of this discussion were a diverse group: a world-class environmentalist, a pioneer in organic food agriculture and distribution, a designer and builder of truly sustainable housing, and a technologist who had spent years working in design and construction as well as product and technology R&D.
There wasn't an actual goal at the beginning of the get-togethers other than to talk, compare observations, concerns, and present ideas about the future - theirs and their children's. But whenever smart, passionate people come together, common principles emerge, and good things result. The elevator message was this: Is it possible, given today's technologies and know-how, to live smart, work smart, positively influence the environment, and do it with a business view - actually impact the bottom line - while being responsible?
They thought so.
The initial principles weren't so much earth-shattering as perhaps practical and possible for the first time because of two relatively recent events. First was a steep ramp-up, particuarly in the last ten years, in advances in two technology areas that significantly impact how we live: efficiencies in renewable energy technology was improving quickly and cost effectively, and the availability of sustainable materials, brought on by the need to develop alternatives to oil-based products in the event there was only expensive petroleum available.
The second was equally as important: early signs of a business climate that might be receptive to a paradigm shift in awareness of environmental issues.
Why the second? If technology could drive down the costs and do things right, well, business would - might - listen. And they all knew that the only way big business woud embrace it was if it was competitive. Interest spread as the original four began to talk to their colleagues and friends, their customers and associates about the discussions, the observations, and the tentative but powerful conclusions. As a result, others - business leaders, students, academics, interested parties with that same stated passion in living well and living smartly - joined the discussions as the audience expanded, contributing mightily to the flood of ideas and adding to the energy, and a framework began to emerge that encompassed a philosophy of how they ought to conduct themselves in everything they do.
Over a fifteen-month period, over coffee, lunches, dinners, early and late nights, culminating in a week's formally facilitated workshop in late 2006, the group talked through the "hard" issues mentioned above - climate change, energy, rising costs - and the "softer" ones - the social and community aspects of the future and the impact the "hard" issues would have on living well and smartly, expanding on those first principles: What would the culture and community look like that lived that way? Where else and how else can those principles be applied? To business? To education?
And here's the short story in partes tres:
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