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Sustainability in Practice

by Worldchanging New York local blogger, Joshua Wiese

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If sustainability can be seen as a field of business in itself, Michael Block and his colleague Michael Gresty might be seen as pioneers. In 2003, Mr. Block and Mr. Gresty co-founded the Sustainability Practice Network, an open and intentional community of people seeking to build bridges between academics, corporations, NGOs, and students working on sustainability issues.

Mr. Block is the founder and CEO of Kinetix, a Manhattan-based consulting firm committed to sustainable development and corporate sustainability; Mr. Gresty serves as the company’s president. Beyond their business aspirations, both men felt a need to raise awareness about sustainability issues generally. They needed a tool to develop a community of practitioners to engage - and the Sustainability Practice Network (SPN) was born.

SPN membership is now at around 700 people and growing. The network connects people through two mediums. Members can discuss questions, ideas, and information on upcoming events related to sustainable development and corporate sustainability on SPN's list-serve, and meet in person to discuss topics in sustainability and hear about some of the latest developments in the field at SPN's monthly panel discussions. Topics at recent panels have included “In an Era of Corporate Social Responsibility, What is the Role of the Courts,? “Messaging Sustainability - Trend or Sign of Systemic Change,? and “The Quarterly Earnings Treadmill: Barrier to Sustainability or Keeping it Real?? Each panel usually has four participants who are active in the field in question, and a moderator to direct the conversation.

SPN’s future is open to possibilities. Both Mr. Block and Mr. Gresty have stayed committed to the network being participant-driven. Workgroups to foster more in depth collaboration and discussion have formed around specific issues like media, real estate, and finance. And a more formal structure is being created that will make room for a steering committee and allow participants to become more directly involved. SPN is even launching a new website, which should come online sometime next week.

If you’re interested in getting involved, panel presentations are usually held the second Tuesday of every month. The next event, scheduled for Tuesday, February 13, is titled “How Can Shareholder Activism & Engagement Change Corporate Behavior?? For more information on upcoming SPN events or to join the network, check out their new website at www.sustainabilitypractice.net.


**Unfortunately, SPN’s the monthly events conflict with another excellent, but more liabatious sustainability-networking event, Manhattan Green Drinks. While it's disheartening to see these two monthly events overlap, the ambitious and train-savvy among you can definitely swing both.

Image: flickr/gustavog

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