A vital lesson that resurfaced during the past two sustainability conferences, which I recently attended (Opportunity Green 2011 in Los Angeles and the 2011 LOHAS Forum in Boulder, Colorado) is the importance of nurturing one’s ability to sense, interpret and absorb essential knowledge from multiple layers of interaction.
During the LOHAS opening Keynote presentation “Changing Yourself, Changing the World: The Path of Purpose and Destiny”, Dr. Jean Houston, Founder, Human Potential Movement (www.jeanhouston.org) declared “We are present at the birth of opportunity that exceeds your expectations!” She inspired the audience with words of wisdom, demonstrating how we can increase our potential for higher development, to make positive changes, using some examples of psychological, spiritual and mythic-symbolic evolutionary accelerators. For instance, Jean advised “The world mind is taking a walk with itself” and we need to “use all of common humanity to re-scale for planetary propositions; a planetary society.” Humanity should realize that “economics should be the satellite of the soul of culture instead of the soul of culture being the satellite of economics.” If we are going to thrive, society needs to develop a “culture of kindness” and alter its “serial monotony”, which she defines as “the progressive diming of people’s passion for life.” Encouraging the audience to think deeply, Jean added “We are coded with potentials; few of which we ever use.” She concluded, “We are at the great either/or in history…facing issues that evoke our higher humanity; during this time of our great heroic journey, we are all mything links.”
Chris Kilham, Founder, Medicine Hunter (www.medicinehunter.com) travels around the world exploring how indigenous cultures live and heal themselves. During his session titled “Tales from the Medicine Trail”, he stated “All business is personal all the time….if you hear someone say ‘It’s not personal, it’s just business’, go work with someone else!”
He dazzled the LOHAS audience with photos and stories from his global journeys to discovery plants and roots that treat various ailments in a natural sustainable manner. For example, Chris discussed how he escaped pirates, navigated through South Pacific fire walks and participated in shamanic ceremonies, while uncovering many plants and roots, such as Kava from the South Pacific, which treats anxiety; Maca from Peru that’s used for increased energy; and, Cat’s Claw from the Amazon, which works as an anti-inflammatory. He shared his experiences testing some of these plants, explained how indigenous tribes benefit from cultivating and distributing them and talked about the natural health benefits of consuming these products, advising that we should care (if society is to survive) because many people suffer from side effects and sometimes death from the pharmaceutical medications on the market.
Infusing the audience with his enthusiasm, he stated that we should exert “boldness as we throw ourselves into this time of humanity.” Along the years, Chris developed strong relationships with various indigenous peoples. The tribes he’s worked with have what he calls a “deep sense of community”; they are not segmented as westerners, who as Chris said “go spend time in their boxes.” He showed a photo of one tribe, who excitedly grouped together to take their first ever photo. They were thrilled to be photographed for the entire world to see, stating “We want people to know that we exist.”
Casey Sheahan, CEO of Patagonia displayed much leadership as he gave the closing LOHAS presentation titled “Conscious Leadership is an Inside Job”. He discussed how Patagonia functions in a socially responsible manner, creating positive change in apparel manufacturing. For example, the company boasts a transparent supply chain. When determining which style to buy, their customers can see every step in a product’s development: from raw materials procurement, through manufacturing, to packaging and distribution (www.patagonia.com/us/footprint/index.jsp). In addition, Patagonia is mindful when selecting factories (www.youtube.com/watch?v=RQOcchD6x0Q&feature=relmfu). Furthermore, the company donates 1% of all sales to groups that are working to preserve the environment. Casey concluded his presentation with the following insight “Global transformation starts with personal transformation. We are all born with special gifts to share. Deliberate with your intentions; operate with your true self.”
During the L.A. Opportunity Green Conference (www.opportunitygreen.com), Gaylon White, Director of Design Programs at Eastman gave a Keynote presentation titled “Social Innovation Case Study: HydroPack & Bringing Water Back to Life”.
He explained how his company produces cellulose triacetate, a key part of a semi-permeable membrane that is used in the production of the HydroPack, water purifying pouch, (see below photo) and discussed the joint demonstration project in Western Kenya conducted earlier this year by Hydration Technology Innovations (HTI) and the Kenya Water for Health Organization (KWAHO).
The HydroPack pouch can be placed in contaminated water and over the course of approximately 10 hours it absorbs the contaminated water and converts it into drinkable water. This is accomplished through Forward Osmosis, which is a method by which trees/plants extract and absorb water and nutrients from the earth. Similar to a plant’s biology, the HydroPack’s semi-permeable membrane allows certain molecules and ions to pass through it by diffusion.
In the following video Keith Lampi, Executive VP & Chief Operating Officer at HTI and Nathan Jones, VP of Government & Institutional Sales at HTI, among others, further discuss how the process works. Nathan talks about the benefits and intended use of the HydroPack, stating that it should be “pre-positioned as a global tool for early intervention in disaster relief… waterborne disease is an acute danger in any disaster. The HydroPack works in any water; it’s guaranteed purity; has high acceptance rates and is easier and less expensive to transport than water.” Keith provides additional insight into the process, stating “Forward Osmosis starts with a semi-permeable membrane that’s twofold: 1) it’s Hydrophilic — it absorbs water and 2) it has great rejection properties — allowing water to pass through but all contaminants in the water such as viruses and bacteria get blocked; they can’t pass the membrane.” See attached video: (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_j5aijg5vns&feature=fvsr)
Written by Professor Shireen Musa,
Fashion Institute of Technology, State University of New York