Saturday, November 15, 2008

NetImpact + Join the Impact

Movements are born, and built. Last night found me at a group dinner at the White Dog Café, Judy Wicks’ model of social entrepreneurship and sustainable dining, talking with students from Darden and Wharton about fair trade chocolate and the outdoor industry. Then I was invited upstairs to Judy’s house, where I talked to Mike Hannigan of Give Something Back Office Products, Mark Albion, founder of Net Impact, and Judy Wicks, one of the original members of the Sustainable Business Network (SBN). SBN is where the dream of a place like BGI was born, and these leaders are the architects of the movement we’re all part of.

But there’s been another important movement weaving through this weekend. Last week a small group of people decided there needed be some sort of organized, widespread public outcry to California’s passing of Proposition 8 banning gay marriage. Join the Impact started last Friday, and today there will be simultaneous protests in every state of the union, and in many cities abroad. I’ll be missing a session this afternoon in order to be present at the Philadelphia rally.

So what does this have to do with sustainability? Everything. Grassroots movements become mainstream when they are inclusive, integrated coalitions, united for a common purpose. Sustainable business will have traction when I look around a room at one of these conferences and see proportional representation of aspiring business leaders from minority communities. Strong leaders are authentic leaders, and there are too many closeted glbt people in the business world for their leadership to be truly powerful. Sustainability is about the planet and profit, but more importantly, it’s about people. All people. Bringing their whole selves into this movement. Because this is a movement about ideas, and ideas come from uncommon partnerships and unconventional thinking.

Because Prop 8 isn’t about marriage, it’s about legislating discrimination, allowing a simple majority to deny rights to a minority. And Net Impact isn’t about business, it’s about going beyond business to change the world for the better. And we can only do that once we’ve invited everyone to the table.

Check out my friend Gerod’s work linking sustainability and the glbt community.

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