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Moving Corporations to Change
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Despite the creep of corporatism, LOHAS 11 concluded this week in Marina Del Rey and delivered on its promise of an agenda built around social change and soy everything. Few conferences boldly include kundalina yoga, meditation breaks and taebo on the agenda, but LOHAS does so with perhaps a bit of pretension but a whole lot of active, eager practitioners. As someone who has attended previous LOHAS sessions, this year did not feel unique, though perhaps a bit more mainstream. Panels ranged from a thoughtful exposition on Virgin Unite, Richard Branson’s CSR platform to developing sustainable cities, to employing biomimicry techniques with a dizzying smorgasbord of samples scattered in between the sessions. The usual suspects from Green Hollywood ranged about the event. Ed Begley Jr. promoted his new website, Fixing the Planet, while Mariel Hemmingway plied her thoughts in her own session.

Perhaps the most interesting moment at LOHAS happened not at one of the events packed into the tight schedule, but at an event that took place in the evening at the home of Lawrence Bender. Lawrence is among the most indefatigable activists in Hollywood, laboring during the day to create content that aligns with his values like An Inconvenient Truth, while opening his home in the evenings as a non-stop salon where individuals and organizations can soapbox their issues before a like-minded crowd. The causes always vary, but his commitment is remarkable and relentless.

Last night, LOHAS concluded with an invite-only event at Bender’s home that featured Gary Hirshberg, the pioneering activist-entrepreneur who parlayed his passion for the environment into a startup venture, Stonyfield Farms, that scaled the heights of the food industry. His business currently commands more than $350 million in revenue as a jewel in the crown of multinational food giant Danone. Amazingly, Stonyfield has achieved this extraordinary success without comprising the spirit and values that its CE-Yo imbued in the business decades earlier.

Hirshberg used the theatre of Bender’s living room to announce ClimateCounts.org, a new website that could augur a new era of citizen action around corporations based on their environmental impact. Scheduled for a June 19 launch to coincide with LiveEarth, ClimateCounts will score companies on their carbon footprint based on several key functions: their business operations, willingness to disclose such information and their actions to mitigate the impact. Hirshberg is not aiming his sights on all companies, but primarily on those businesses focused on marketing their goods and services to college-age students, a highly attractive consumer demographic and perhaps the most willing segment to use their purchasing power to influence change.

To his credit, Hirshberg is not dogmatic about this effort. He readily admits that even Stonyfield Farms is far from ideal in terms of its footprint. However his campaign is focused on calling out firms who preach CSR yet exhibit different behavior in their actions. He wants to create transparency and drive change, not necessarily achieve perfection, by pulling the levers that are important to big business: counting votes and preserving reputation. Hirshberg stated that his inspiration for his effort derives in part from the student activism that fueled the broader social movement that toppled the anti-apartheid movement at the tail end of the 20th century. It’s a model worth emulating.

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Comments

Thank you to everyone contributing to World Changing.

Personally, I am living with 100+ people in a 18 year old spiritual intentional community working toward complete sustainability in the next few years. We are a 301(c)(3)non-profit

For me, I realized we (beginning with me) had to work at CHANGING MY LIFESTYLE and myself (to be unconditionally loving) to be more earth friendly. I was blessed to live with many indigenous people on my journey toward wholeness. I feel we must continue to move forward on all fronts...

There is potentially an exciting future as we embrace solar, wind energy, and electric cars/trucks.

Our community ministry includes soon-to-be launched Global Change TV & Radio.

We are offering our support to the Global Community by welcoming videos of higher consciousness, positive ideas, spiritual ideas, and/or services to the World.

These are just a few brief thoughts I have time to share.

Thank You All!


Posted by: Stephen Alish-TaSen on 19 May 07



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