Monday, October 27, 2008

Ask "What's possible?" ...

Ask "What's possible?" not "What's wrong?" - Keep asking...

Notice what you care about.
Assume that many others share your dreams.

Be brave enough to start a conversation that matters.
Talk to people you know.
Talk to people you don't know.
Talk to people you never talk to.

Be intrigued by the differences you hear.
Expect to be surprised!
Treasure curiosity more than certainty.

Invite in everybody who cares to work on what's possible.
Acknowledge that everyone is an expert in something.
Know that creative solutions come from new connections.

Remember, you don't fear people whose story you know.
Real listening always brings people closer together.

Trust that meaningful conversations change your world.

Rely on human goodness.

Stay together.


Was trying to find the author for that poem (thanks Pablo for sharing it!) and a posting I had made in my blog more than two years ago came up in the search rs ...
I became curious about what happened that day. And I can't recall ...

The True Joy of Life

This is the true joy of life, the being used up for a purpose recognized by yourself as a mighty one; being a force of nature instead of a feverish, selfish little clod of ailments and grievances, complaining that the world will not devote itself to making you happy.

I am of the opinion that my life belongs to the community, and as long as I live, it is my privilege to do for it whatever I can. I want to be thoroughly used up when I die, for the harder I work, the more I live.

Life is no "brief candle" to me. It is a sort of splendid torch which I have got hold of for a moment, and I want to make it burn as brightly as possible before handing it on to future generations.

- George Bernard Shaw

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

22nd of September - World's Carfree Day

Today is the World's Carfree Day. Yeap, 22nd of September. Nevertheless, the traffic in Sao Paulo is as intense as usually. For today being Monday, it actually seems even heavier than normally in the beginning of the week.
I know that because I take a bus every day for at least 45 minutes to work and depending on traffic, minimum 1 hour, maximum 2 to get home. My work is about 40 km from home.
Well ... at least it's a bus of about 50 people in it, not a car, right? and runs on biodiesel, not petroleum. So a bit better? And the company neutralizes carbon emissions. Should be alright then?

Yeah, I guess that's a pretty good option for commuting. Just that ... there's NO MORE SPACE on the streets! And even if someone wanted to choose a public transport or a bicycle, then ... the public transport is crowded, and for the second option - you'd be suicidal, if you wanted to bicycle in SP!
Quick fact: in a city of 13 million (with Grange Sao Paulo about 18 million) there's about 4,5 km bicycle roads outside of parks. come some Sao Paulo traffic stats:
- more than 6 million cars on the streets, which, when lined up would almost reach around the world (40 000 km)
- 48 571 new cars in March alone (64% increase compared to the previous year)
- in 12 month period the number of cars increased 6,7% compared to the year before, which is 16 times more than the rate of population growth in Sao Paulo (0,41%)
- Daily, 1000 new cars are bought, in March the number grew up to 1500
- Average speed at the peak hour is 27 km per hour for cars and 12 km/h for public bus

One of the strategies the city implements is "rodizio": depending on your plate number, you are not allowed on the streets on certain days or hours (to alleviate the burden on the streets to accommodate the cars).

When I asked my friend, what would he do if the "rodizio" became tougher, he simply said, he'd get a second car.
Well, can't really blame him. Depending on a route, to cover a distance of 1 hr car ride, it could sometimes take up to 3 hours by public transport!!

They say, the metro system has been under financed for the last 28 years... as well as the bicycle roads ... and I think, there's quite a work to be done for responsible consumerism as well.
I wonder how much would the mainsteam ways of working change in the future due to traffic conditions (home office, flexible working hours etc.). It is already happening, I am just wondering about the mainstreaming effect...

I am curious about the future of our Sao Paulo.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Going to the depths of things ... until loosing sight of the measure of right and wrong, truth and false
Going to the depths of things ... breaking down of what once seemed an "absolute"
Going to the depths of things ... discovering
Going to the depths of things ... understanding
Going to the depths of things ... unlearning and relearning
Going to the depths of things ... loosening the grip of what had seemed complete and clear, setting it free, setting myself free
Going to the depths of things ... being guided by intuition (I didn't know it speaks to me!!)
Going to the depths of things ... sensing the direction, consolidating

The path feels right.
There's no hurry.
But excitement.


Time is a partner, not an enemy.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Reflections on ethics and the process of making things happen

Effective implementation of solutions for critical sustainability equations.

Insights of Oscar Motomura during Tallberg concert that followed a session of the Moral Boundaries Workshop, Summer 2008

IF ETHICS is the CHOICE for the COMMON GOOD (global reach and including all living beings): ...

deciding not to act because it is difficult and there are uncertainties involved ... is not ethical;

deciding to act small because it is more comfortable ... is not ethical;

deciding to hold back (your proposals, ideas and actions) because you don't want to go against "the group" ... is not ethical;

deciding doing the possible instead of trying to make the impossible possible ... is not ethical;

deciding to use just a part of your potential (to "save" it for self interest purposes) ... is not ethical;

deciding not to persist up to the limits of your forces ... it is not ethical;

deciding to conform to existing limitations (even the ones in the form of inadequate laws) ... is not ethical;

deciding not to act, to stay silent, letting fear stay in the way ... is not ethical;

deciding to conform to the "letter of law" instead of persisting on the path defined by the "spirit of law" ... is not ethical;

deciding to "delegate" your natural power, as a world citizen, to others ... is not ethical;

deciding not to try because nobody tried before ... is not ethical;

deciding not to act on the challenges of scale and complexity because they look overwhelming ... is not ethical;

deciding not to pursue the perfection and conform to what seems "negotiable" ... is not ethical;

deciding to postpone bold actions again and again "waiting for the right moment" ... is not ethical;

deciding not to act pressed by the conventions established by your own "professional community" ... is not ethical;

deciding to hold back because you may not be recognised as the author of the solution ... is not ethical;

deciding to "play the game" and pretend that you are not seeing the manipulations underway ... is not ethical;

deciding to live in the realm of ideas, diagnosis and theories instead of taking the risks and going for action ... is not ethical;

deciding to act only when all is scientifically proven, even when the truth is self evident ... is not ethical;

deciding to reject all radically creative ideas (yours including) when the "traditional-not-so-radical" ideas have not been working ... is not ethical;

deciding not to act because the process of reaching the perfect solution is too complex and difficult to implement ... is not ethical;

deciding to reject every proposal that looks "idealistic" and "utopic" ... is not ethical.

Saturday, September 06, 2008


I started a running practice this week, organized by the company I work for, they hire professionals to train the ones that have interest. In contrary to my initial thought, it was not just a jogging in a park, but a real running practice!! Some people of the group run marathons!!

To my own surprise:
- After the first training, I felt like part of me had re-awakened. The part that used to be in all sports competitions in high school, brought home medals, the one that thrived on sports, the strength, speed, heights, distance... I realized how much these things have not been part of my life in the last years.
I think from what I am sensing now, some forward going movement might come out.

- It reminded me how much I learned by doing sports. I think at some level, the sports really bring out and shape some particular characteristics like persistence, for example.

- And then the realization of how much ones mindset determines the outcome of loosing or winning. I do remember the judo matches when I lost in 10 seconds or sprints where I was paralyzed by fear. And then some other times where I focused on strength and success and it actually did work...

- Thought after 8 km run yesterday (aihh these long distance runners!!): sometimes the big picture doesn't matter a thing. If you know you are on the right track, just keep your eyes on the heels of the guy in front of you and keep going and keep going and keep going.
And damn it's hard to keep on going when the one in front steps aside and there's no one else on sight to hold on to and the finish is still far away.

- A thought on potential: how often do we give up because we think that we have reached our limits? And how much of the undiscovered we would reveal if we didn't stop just there yet! And after that just reached out even a bit further?
I think that applies everywhere. How often does 8 km seem just way too much to run in one go? or how unachievable do certain dreams seem to be at times?
Is it really too much then?

Saturday, July 12, 2008

"When was the last time you did something for the first time?"

That was a sentence I picked up from an AIESEC friend in India. He used to have that on his MSN commentline for a while.

And really got me thinking ... seriously ... when was the last time I did something for the first time? Gave a new look to something that I had taken for granted so far? Or when was the last time I stopped to think about it?

Naturally, living in a new environment, traveling, starting a new job etc offers more frequent opportunities for doing something that I've never done before. Yet, I think that the other side of this (a more critical one) is the will to take the time to reflect and the ability to look at things, even if the 'old' ones, from different and new perspective, re-thinking/re-perceiving them, in a way, re-learning from what's in and around us.
Could I do something for the first time every day? Could that, and how, be an opportunity to learn more about the world around me and within me?

*** ***

2nd day at work, 3rd day back in Brazil.

I opened my eyes at about 5.15, to check what time it is and to make sure I'm 'on the track' with getting to work (can't really trust myself with early alarms).

Then, the alarm went off at 5.45.
That's when I am and will be getting up to go to work from now on.
Wake up, shower, get ready, leave home at 6.30, get the company's bus at 6.40, arrive at the company's facilities at 7.40, have coffee with colleagues, get settled, start work at 8.

You know, I'm excited!!!
I had never got up that early to start work (even the thought of getting up at 5 or 6 (!!!) seemed crazy enough!!), but instead, it has even happened that I have finished work at hours around 3, 4, 5 am and gone to sleep. I used to love working at night, usually with my own projects in our NGO, thus working at home until late hours. Happened quite frequently in the last 6 months that I stayed in Estonia.

But I am really excited about the change - new way of starting the day, waking up with the sun, having a gradual entrance to the working day etc. So yes, I am excited about the change of the daily routine. And will keep learning from that way of being.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Back in Sao Paulo

Sunday 06/07/08
at 5.40
Day 1

After a 11 hrs flight from Paris I had a soft landing in Sao Paulo, my home for the time coming.
"Soft" was the landing as far as it goes for the plane. I myself had quite a re-integration 'awakening' :). The 6 months in Estonia had left its marks and the contrasts stroke more vividly than about 2 years ago when I first came to Brazil.

It was still dark in the morning (at 6 am), when I arrived since it's a winter time in Brazil. Though, it ain't during summer neither that the paulistanos can enjoy the 19 hrs daylight that the nordics can enjoy.
The air smells sweet of pollution (never knew that CO2 smells sweet!!!), there's a chaos in traffic (I'm still not able to block out that noise, since it's sooo vivid, it's like as if I was in the boiling pot), and from my 24th floor window I can see kilometers of stone and glass - the skyscrapers!!
It is such a contrast to my home or even to Holland where I had a 2 day stop over before changing the continents.
All in all, day one was a bit shocking - part of it because home had got deeper and stronger under my skin within these last 6 months of waiting for the visa, and secondly, for the contrasts really being huge.
Only relief was seeing some Brazilian friends at night for a beer - Marcio, Monika, Dea, Guga, and Zoe, of course - helped a lot to ease the re-integration hurdles.

Day 2

It's a night of the day 2, and I'm content. The weird sort of shivering anxiety that I had yesterday due to the initial "shock" is almost gone. Or I have found a way to handle it. It has turned into a positive movement in me...
I spent a whole day in the company I'm going to work - and got assurance regarding the decision to stay in Brazil.
Also met up with Pioneers of Change at night - many special people I had not met for a while, and good, deep conversations. Good energy that I would need more time to write about...

Now off to new start in Brazil will require a total lifestyle makeover :) - I'm a night person, but need to somehow turn into a morning person (that's basically cos my work starts at 8 and it'll take an hour at least to get to you can only imagine :).

Boa noite queridos!!

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Ask a Brazilian!

I realized the other day that I hadn't written much about the life in Brazil in general. So having that in mind, here's a quicky - (gringo = foreigner in Brazil) to learn more about Brazil.

There's a special section - Ask a Brazilian - which has Brazilians answering the questions foreigners have had about Brazil, Brazilians, cultural differences (dating for ex) etc.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008


Continuing along the lines ...

... of my last posting - the midsummer's day was "mõnus" (translates something like "great", but with a special flavour to it)! A bunch of us, old friends, were road-tripping around the South of Estonia for the long weekend. Started out on Saturday afternoon at Peep's summer cottage in the middle of the forest in Valgemetsa with some BBQ and drinks, good company and talks that lasted until 4 am. (Ohh I had been waiting for years (!!!) to meet up with you, Sarah and Peep!!)
Woken up by the ring of my cell phone by Elina after a few hours sleep in the tent (or in the cottage for some), we had a quick brunch (more BBQ :)) and off we took. Our intention to (re-)discover some local events/people took us to Vastseliina for a country fair, then to Suur Munamägi (the highest point in Estonia, which indeed ain't too high afterall - mere 318 m it is).
We landed in Triin's place in Elva for the night. Wonderful!! Home cooked meal, lovely dinner in the garden catching the last rays of the setting sun, beautiful, relaxing atmosphere, and of course SAUNA! Ahh I guess no foreigner (unless Finnish or so :) can imagine the feeling of walking on the night-wet grass after a hot sauna, sipping beer and then, when a bit chilled already, head back to the sauna... mmmm...
Oh and, of course, more BBQ that night!
Then another late 'n' relaxing morning, some good moments at Triin's home and off we took for a 1 hour trip to Antsla to Uku's place to spend the actual Midsummer's Day there. The trip later ended up being a 2 hour-discover-estonia journey, but was fun, and luckily we caught all the rain while on the way. The late sun came out right when we got to Uku's.
I know I'm going to repeat myself here a bit, but :P ... the night was adorable - great people, lovely landscapes and country house atmosphere (huh I wish I had photos of the trip with me right now!!), more BBQ (Uku's parents grilled some lamb for the crowd that night!), more sauna, more fun and great memories.

ps. I think I had more meat in the last 4 days than in the last 4 months altogether!
pps. To know a bit more about Jaanipäev or the Midsummer's day, click here or search internet. For the curious, we didn't exactly follow all the Midsummer's day traditions - like jumping over the bonfire, for example.
ppps. (that's the last one) Once again I was reminded that Estonia, my home country, has got its wonders and my friends are simply 5+.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008


Istun ja mõtlen siin (see on lihtsalt vahemärkus, sest tegelikult mul on üks töö pooleli, aga siiski...).
Istun ja mõtlen siin, et mõnus on ... eelmine nädalavahetus näiteks. Kõigepealt oli laupäeval Kersti sünnipäev, traditsiooniliselt kuu aega hiljem, tema suvilas Tornimäel (oli vist Tornimäe, eks?), suur hulk ülikooliaegseid sõpru-tuttavaid koos. Tore oli. Ja pühapäeval käisime Uku ja Martiniga Balletikooli galat vaatama. Minu jaoks täiesti ukulik ettevõtmine - ja selles mõttes ideaalne.
Üritus kestis 3 tundi, kusjuures teine vaatus oli väga hea. Esitus oli väga hea. Ma olin kohe täitsa põnevil, et mis saab ja nii.
Siis võtsime Harjumäel päikest, sinna on mingid uued, vingeid, lõunamaised lamamistoolid tekkinud. Ja maha pandud klaaside all mulksus vesi. Päike siras soojalt. Varsti tuli Triinikas ja läksime Kompressorisse pannikaid sööma - seda ka ei ole juba vist 2-3 aastat teinud. Mmmmaitsev ja mõnus.
Siis BocaPotis latte ja veel nata päikest ja muhedat olemist toredate sõpradega Toompea kandis murul (ma ei mäleta, kuidas seda kohta kutsuti täpselt)....Ideaalne pühapäev oli.
Esmaspäeval oli meil Elinaga ettekanne CSR teemal... ahh jälle üks sellistest mõnusatest asjadest, oma asja ajamine. Ja Elina on lihtsalt super (siia võiks kohe pika kiidulaulu panna). Siis oli kohtumine Marisega pangas - ikka CSR teemal ja jälle hulk edasiviivat energiat. Ja palju mõtlemis- ja tegutsemisainet ka.
Õhtul oli Triinika, Helkuri ja Kairiga Elevandis koosmõtlemine kooli ja hariduse teemal. Lihtsalt ükskord tuli Triinikaga Maneezi ja Narva mnt. nurgal rääkides miljon head mõtet, millest üks oli soov natuke koos mõelda hariduse ja kõige seonduva üle. Nii saimegi kokku. Ma ei tea, kuidas seda väljendada - head ideed, hea energia, head sõbrad, hea soov edasi minna. Kui ühe sõnaga ütlema peaks, siis praegu paneks selleks mõnus. Mõnusad momendid, mis kestavad rohkem kui sekundi ja milles on iva, millest mingil hetkel võib asja saada.

ahhh...kogu selle keskel on mul väga segased tunded. Viisa tuli kuidagi nii ootamatult. Viis kuud ootasin küll, aga nüüd tuli ikkagi nagu üleöö. Valmis ja nüüd ole kohal! Oeh!! Lihtsalt kuidagi ootamatult palju vastuolulisi tundeid... kodu ja ema ja isa ja Taavi ja Kadri ja head sõbrad ja siinsed tegemised ja armsad asjad on mu maailma 5 kuu jooksul jälle muutnud ... st veel paremaks teinud, uusi perspektiive andnud, aga nüüd on raskem ka.
Brasiilia töö ja elu ja sõbrad on ka väga väga väärt ja head, ma ju tean (muidu ma sinna ei lähekski...tööalaselt eriti, paremat varianti vist ei ole üldse olemas), aga nüüd tundub ikka palju vaevalisem see äraminemine, kui oleks olnud 4 kuud tagasi või kui oli 2 aastat tagasi, kui 24. juunil 2006. esimesest korda LatAm-i poole teele asusin. Siis ajendatuna soovist maailma avastada, ennast võõral maal proovile panna, tööalaselt areneda. Nüüd oli tööalane areng peamine ja väga suur põhjus, mis kaalukausi Brasiiliasse jäämise poole kallutas. Tegelikult on selle tööteemaga ka teatud isiklike oskuste ja omaduste arendamine väga tihedalt seotud, ka siin on Brasiilial selles mõttes palju potentsiaali, aga sellest ma vast kirjutan mõni teine kord ...

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

My life in Brazil, vol 2 - OUT SOON!

Yeap, my Brazilian work visa was approved (after 5 months waiting, and, of course, enjoying Estonia, my dear home, family and friends meanwhile:).

That means my life in Brazil, vol 2. will be out soon :). More about it shortly!


Saturday, June 07, 2008

"Why can't I pick a relationship that lasts?"

Am I destined to be lonely? Do I pick the wrong men? Why am I still single?

Yesterday I read on a story, contemporary story about relationships:

"I believe that I have lost my ability to trust my judgments on relationships. However, I still believe in love, and I have not given up all hope.
Here is the situation: I am 33 and single yet again after another failed relationship..."
And there was a whole story of a number of failed relationships, for variety of reasons.

In response to the story, advice followed:
"What is your reason for seeking a man? It may sound like a dumb question but ... Is it to have children and raise a family? To avoid loneliness? To feel relaxed and confident in your world? To enjoy sex? To demonstrate your value and attractiveness to others? To keep pace with your friends?
Perhaps with your therapist you can dwell on these questions long enough to see some specific and detailed answers emerge.
This might help you in several ways. For one thing, it can help you see exactly what you are losing when a man goes away. And so it can help you think how to replace those specific things that he was providing. If he was providing sex, for instance, and you miss the sex, then you can set about trying to find more sex. If the ache you feel is loneliness, then perhaps you need the company of others. If you feel wounded or betrayed, then perhaps you can work on that woundedness, exploring it, asking, Is it anger toward him, is it shock at how I have been treated?

So rather than suggest how you might better find and maintain another relationship, my approach is more to explore the various aspects of having a man and see how having a man is connected to your larger life aspirations."

Basically, think and see who you are first, be complete and then seek a relationship.

I loved how similar idea was put in Zoe's blog, some extracts:

The word to look out for this century is partnership. We are changing the love of necessity for the love of desire. I like and desire company, but I do not need it - this is very different.

They [people] are starting to realise that they feel a fraction, but are whole.
The other, with whom you create a link, also feels a fraction. He is not the prince or the saviour of anything. He is only a companion on a journey.

A new form of love, or more love, has a new features and meaning.
It aims for the coming together of two wholes, and not the union of two halves.
And this is only possible for those who manage to work on their individuality.

The more an individual is capable to live alone, the more prepared s/he will be for an affectionate relationship.

Everyone should spend some time alone every now and again, to establish an inner dialogue and discover your personal force.


Is it so? Does that explain?
It does on a broader scale (not in all cases), I guess (or what do u think?). And gives, in a way, a new (more relaxed?) perspective/meaning to the relationship status. Especially if you are 33 and single.

I'm 28 and single and my parents definitely think I should be rather concerned:)

Hummers out of fashion

If I look on the streets of Estonia, it seems to me that the time where a size of a car directly correlated with the owner's authority, prestige etc. have started to pass. Reasons could be many, but clearly there's no practical and real need for anyone to own a massive car like, for example, Hummer in Estonia.
I have seen fewer of these on the streets than 2 years ago. Or so it seems at least. That even though people have become wealthier. The reasons might be purely financial, its still expensive to maintain a vechicle like that.

And anyway, in the era of ours (the sustainability perspective!), can anyone really be proud of driving a powerful car that, by no means, is really justified?
I'm just curious to know, how the people that do drive these kinds of cars, think.

This thought came to me, when a shiny, majestetic (red!) Hummer passed me by in Tallinn the other day.

And then I read that General Motors itself is having some doubts about the future of the brand:
"It [GM] may also discontinue or sell off its well-known Hummer brand in a bid to develop more environmentally friendly vehicles as oil prices soar, the company said on Tuesday." by Al Jazeera News.

On 03/07/2008, a comment:
After a re-think, I don't think the mainstream has changed in Estonia. Being sustainable is not in fashion, but true, the segment of the "englightened elite", although still a niche, is still growing. I would have to explain that a bit, I'll come to that, when I come to that.

Banco Real receives 2 FT Sustainable Banking awards!

This week, The Financial Times and IFC, a member of the World Bank Group announced the winners of the 2008 FT Sustainable Banking Awards, with Banco Real of Brazil named as Sustainable Bank of the Year and also taking the overall Emerging Markets prize.

Now in their third year, the awards recognise banks and other financial institutions that have shown leadership and innovation in integrating social, environmental and corporate governance considerations into their operations.The programme has grown in popularity and this year’s winners were selected from a record 182 entries from 129 institutions across 54 countries.


Just really proud of Banco Real and its team (congrats to all!!!), and happy for having had a chance to work there!
The experience was beyond enlightening, encouraging, inspiring!

I remember a comment from an international consultant that worked with the sustainability team of Banco Real (ABN at that time), saying that Banco Real is of its own league, thus it's hard to even benchmark it against anyone else as its being benchmark for others!
Of course its not perfect, but the scale of changes made, the challenges taken up and the extent of trying to integrate sustainability into the core business was very encouraging to witness.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Thinking about moving a city?

Thinking about relocating to another city?
How about Masdar - Abu Dhabi's £12 billion city, first eco-designed city in the world (actually Dongtan in China was first, but looks like Masdar is taking a leap ahead).

The city's vision includes principles of a zero-carbon, zero-waste and car-free. Masdar has been designed to be powered by wind energy and solar power from photovoltaic farms. Now that building work is underway, and solar testing facilities have begun to feed the city’s grid, the developers hope that Masdar’s example can persuade other parts of the United Arab Emirates to follow suit.

Sustainable citizen by choice

I like the comment of Masdar's city development unit director Khaled Awad. He hopes that once the wider community has a better understanding of their own environmental footprint they will change the way they consume, making it “unnecessary for Masdar to have rules for behaviour that is not sustainable or even warranted”.

For example, there will be no limits on individual energy consumption and residents will be able to drive cars, as long as they are parked outside the city’s boundaries at all times.

Read the whole article in Ethical Corporation here.

Sunday, June 01, 2008

BBC World Debate - is business accountable?

How Accountable is Business?
Can openness and profitability go hand in hand?

This BBC World Debate took place at the GRI Annual Conf in the beginning of May. Take a look, it's worth it.
Check it out, featuring also my boss-to-be (if I get this looong waited visa, of course) Alessandro Carlucci from Natura.

Monday, May 19, 2008

A Man Without a Country

Just finished – in one go – Vonnegut’s last book „A Man Without a Country“, and wanted to highlight it.*
It’s humorous, yet critical and concerned, full of insights and reflections about the politics, society & life in the US (and the world).
The starting lines „There’s no reason good can’t triumph over evil, if only angels will get organized along the lines of mafia“ reflect well the author's style.

The book is very enjoyable and thought provoking, one thing that surprised me was the extent of Vonnegut’s concern about the future of humankind „...It seems to me that people live like the members of AA: day by day. And a few extra days is enough. I know very few of that kind of people that dream about the world left for their grand children."
„That’s the end of good news about anything. Our Planet’s immune system is trying to et rid of people. This is sure the way to do that.“

And there's a lot more...about integrity, honesty, war on Iraq, little Marsians etc

* especially so in the context, where I remember myself as a teenager checking out the "Breakfast of Champions" and thinking (regarding his style) "hm... that's a weird book", it went for his style of writing as well as illustrations. I guess it's all about timing. I really enjoyed it this time.

PS. it's a bit another topic, but I also loved Jaan's "Hingelõõm" particularly for how the illustrations/comics where integrated with the content/the story itself. I actually hadn't seen the illustrations given that big share in a novel before. (My ignorance might have to do with a fact that I've spent years of not reading too much other-than-for-my-work literature :).

Friday, May 16, 2008

Brazil: greenest lifestyles & GRI reporting awards

Just red a few newsbits about Brazil in

First one saying that Brazil, India are having the world’s most environmentally-sustainable lifestyle, according to a study tracking global attitudes towards consumption and the environment. There were four key areas in observation: housing, transportation, food and goods.

It's good news, but I'm very sceptical - I think that the consumption would increase in accordance with the household incomes and increase in spending power.

Yet, there's something special about Brazil (maybe I've felt that because I've been more exposed to such kind of people, but still) there's a certain (higher) sensitivity and energy in Brazil/brazilians in general and also regarding social and environmental topics, new lifestyles, innovation etc, certain spirituality.
I don't think it yet affects the mainstream (consumer), but it could soon.

The second news was about GRI reporting awards, where Brazil (Petrobras) and India (ABN Amro) won a few award categories. It's a good sign to demonstrate that the global best practice in sustainability is not anymore only concentrated in Europe (UK, Gery, Fra, NL etc), or USA, but the developing countries are right there on the map.
Like I said, Brazil is a good place to keep an eye on regarding CR/sustainability innovation (let's hope the general policial-economic climate will also remain positive).

Tuesday, May 13, 2008


Just thought of adding a comment here regarding my views on doing business.
While being keen on the green, sustainable, responsible business, I'm not an anti-business campaigner, I'm completely pro-business. I just think that contemporary times require us (for various reasons) & propose an opportunity to take much broader look at business, that is beyond the traditional single bottom line (turnover, profit).
We now look at business from more global perspective, along the value chain and the overall impacts along the life cycle of products/sercives, considering the social and environmental impacts of doing business. And for business, it has to do with both: risk management and business opportunities.
It's exciting time of re-thinking & re-modeling & re-inventing business/doing business. That itself does not imply a need to compromise the strive for profitability.

I'm inspired by this.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Gucci recycled?

I've worked in a bank that aims at bringing economic, environmental and social aspirations together, including giving incentives for their clients and suppliers to do the same.
I soon hope to be able to start working in my new job in a cosmetics company that values sustainable production and biodiversity, cooperation with local producer communities, aims at having 0 carbon footprint, offers refills for their products etc.
These being a few examples of businesses going "green", more sustainable...

Yesterday, after passing through a KG shop (luxury shoe brand) in Gatwick airport (all the shoes made in Brazil, by the way), I casually browsed through the Kurt Geiger's web site. Beautiful beautiful shoes!!!

And then a bit awkward thought came to my mind - how do the luxury brands and the whole sustainable development movement fit together? Do they at all?
I mean, honestly, I can't imagine the expensive luxury brands like Gucci, KG, Armani, Fendi, Louis Vuitton etc being associated with greener production, sustainable value chain management, fair trade and pricing, or you name it sustainability issue.
It just does not seem to fit together!?!

heheh I mean, just try to imagine anyone being proud of a recycled Gucci bag!!!

On the same note, I noticed the year 2007 marked as the "Celebrities going Green" year. Interesting eh!
Sheryl Crow campaigning for stopping global warming, Leonardo diCaprio promoting hybrid vehicles, Alicia Silverstone renovating her home to be eco-concious etc. I think these are good signs of changing public attitudes.

And on the top of it, found a blog item from the Luxury Summit, which claims that it's now in fashion to be green and fabulous. And that not only for the talk of it, but the customers have really started to look behind the label.

Monday, May 05, 2008

Are you mad?

"You are not mad at me, are you?" asked my friend apparently a bit concerned about a recent short personal argument.
"Hmm...I guess not really" was my a bit vague answer.

I guess I had a bit of reason to be upset, and I had this little stingy feeling inside as if someone had bitten a bit of my ego or something. But yet, I knew I really shouldn't be mad. I've learned that by being mad I don't really proceed anywhere, I just stay stuck in my own self destruction or in worst case burst it out and make the initial argument even worse.
It surely helps if I can get myself out of the situation by taking a look at myself through someone else's eyes. If you know what I mean, that is to leave my hurt ego aside and think what just happened. And to learn from it, and do something with these learnings, that is to channel this energy somewhere else but into the feeling of madness. And not seem totally indifferent regarding what just happened (the argument).
ehhh...I still have to reflect on that and try to make this a bit more consistent for myself...

Thursday, April 17, 2008

How companies think about climate change: A McKinsey Global Survey

Some interesting facts from McKinsey Global Survey:

* Fully 60 % of global executives surveyed by The McKinsey Quarterly regard climate change as strategically important, and a majority consider it important to product development, investment planning, and brand management.
* Fewer companies, however, act on these opinions. More than one-third of executives say their companies seldom or never consider climate change when developing overall strategy.
* Nonetheless, executives express optimism about the business prospects of addressing climate change. 61 % expect the issues associated with climate change to boost profits — IF managed well.
* Despite the uncertainties around regulation, a remarkable 82 % of executives expect some form of climate change regulation in their companies’ home country within five years.

I'd draw from here:
- Awareness, by itself, does not create change. There are loads of studies that demonstrate remarkable increase in the consumers, business people and other stakeholders' understanding of sustainability issues and challenges (climate change, poverty, social exclusion etc), its connection with doing business, daily consumption patterns and so on. Nevertheless, actually doing something about it, is significantly rarer. IE. one understands the issue, but doesn't actually act upon it and doesn't really get out of the "it-is-like-that, because-it-has-always-been-like-that", that for various reasons. For ex. a consumer x understands the issue of fair trade, the need for it and IS actually willing to pay more for a fair trade product. YET, the consumer patterns do not reflect that: in spite of the willingness, the consumer does not buy the product. Again, for various reasons.
How to have the ACTION reflect the AWARENESS? What are the challenges we face personally, in family life, in an organization we work, in the community we life in? How are we going to go about these challenges?'s quite a thing for the reinvention of the corporate world, the consumer society!

- Taking care of the environment, could be profitable for the company, if managed properly. What stops from doing it? Lack of the sense of urgency, knowledge and skills, consumer appreciation, too hard to let go of the 'business as usual'?

- Could acting before the state (by imposing more regulation) mean competitive advantage to the businesses taking a faster leap ahead?

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Carbon neutral events

Good to see the sustainability movement becoming a part of the organization of large conferences (that one is GRI conference).
Would be exciting to see the guys in Davos dressed in green :))), I guess it's not long from now.

The Amsterdam Global Conference on Sustainability and Transparency will be a “carbon neutral” conference through use of carbon offsets. Environmentally friendly materials will be used where possible, for example, for the 1,100 conference bags and all printed materials. The conference catering providers will serve organic food and there will be no bottled water available in order to minimize waste. Every conference participant receives a free Amsterdam public transportation ticket for the duration of their stay, to use on all trams, buses and trains.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Plastic bags vs jobs

Brazil is definitely a country of plastic bags. In supermarkets you have to rush and grab your stuff before the shop assistants manage to put each item in a separate bag, or even worse in the case of heavier things, layer it with another bag to make sure you are 'safe' to go. Saying "no, thanks!" to the eager assistants, you might save yourself from the double-layer of bags or, if lucky, have a few items fit together in one bag.
Me and my room-mate Zoe had a no-plastic-bag approach, so we'd take our backpacks when doing the weekly groceries. But yet we'd wonder, what would happen, if the plastic bag culture had to change by, for example, the use of plastic bags being banned. What would happened to the shop assistants, whose main job seemed to be helping you putting your things in the endless number of bags, or what would happen to the industry that produces these bags, or to the employees that get their jobs in this production process.

So here I red an interesting example of China, which has banned, for environmental reasons, the free hand-out of plastic bags. As a result, the country’s largest plastic bag factory has closed, throwing 20,000 workers out on the street. Some see this as posing a dilemma between environment and economy, but some argue that the good environmental policies are proven good for the economy.
What this case illustrates instead is the dilemma between doing something good for the whole people/society, but at the expense of adjustment costs borne by a small group – the 20,000 workers and the factory owner.

- On a broader scale, good environmental policies create jobs directly and indirectly. China is quickly emerging as the largest producer of photo-voltaic cells and of wind power equipment (both supported by World Bank projects).
- The clean-up of lakes and rivers and the expansion of sewerage and waste water treatment facilities create huge numbers of jobs in construction and maintenance.
- The health benefits of the clean-up reduce illness and prolong life expectancy, both of which are good for long-run economic development.

Finally, it seems to be a clear tendency for cities with better natural environment to attract more investment and create more jobs. The highest productivity in the world is in countries such as Denmark, the United Kingdom, and the United States, all of which have good natural environments.

Invest in genocide free world

Would you ever think that by buying stock of foreign companies such as PetroChina on US stock market you would be supporting genocide in Sudan?

There are already a few examples of shareholder activism, where the proposals ask for procedures to screen out companies who "substantially contribute" to genocide. Organizations working on passing the proposals include the Unitarian Universalist Service Committee, Physicians for Human Rights, American Jewish World Service, Genocide Intervention Network, The ENOUGH Project, The Aegis Trust and the Unitarian Universalist Association...etc.

For example, the US companies are already prohibited from doing business with the Sudan government and Sudan oil companies. HOWEVER, US investors and mutual funds can still buy shares of foreign companies that trade on US stock markets, such as PetroChina, that profit from Sudanese oil.

I red this newsbit today on SRI News, and became thinking of the INTERDEPENDENCIES again, and of the fact how many decisions are actually made uninformed.

Monday, February 11, 2008

"Why is it that only children have flying dreams?"

Mr. Jones to a woman "Have you ever dreamt about flying?"
Woman thinking, "hmm...I guess when I was little..."
"EVERYBODY says so!!!!!" Mr Jones, irritated, "Why is it that only children have flying dreams??"


One day some years ago I, all of a sudden, realized I can't fly...weird! funny! hein!
I mean where did that come from, right? That'd be a down-to-earth question.
And I don't mean the kind of flying like "flap your wings and fly", but a bit'abstract'...more like floating in the air.
The thing is that the sensation of flying seemed quite real, I guess I had dreamt it ... and one day I woke up with a realization that although I knew the sensation, I had actually not 'done' it, it was not real, not visible, not touchable.

I guess I could have come to that if I had actually given it a thought before. But one doesn't really wonder about it that often eh :). It was just "out-of-a-box" discovery, waking up with a realization that "I can't fly"!!!


On a second thought, maybe this sensation of flying was related to the fact that I did quite a lot of swimming when I was younger, and since in water the sensation of balance is different, maybe that's where the whole flying thing came from!

Thursday, January 31, 2008

Not so fast!

Speed is thrilling, I love adrenaline ... to an extent that I guess I would be a race car driver, if different things would have happened a certain way.

Opposites attract, they say. Taking it slow is mysterious. For me. It's a discovery. No doubts.

Follows a piece of writing that was passed through Pioneers of Change list a few days ago.


Not So Fast!

Those of us who think the world needs saving -- from environmental destruction, rapacious greed, decaying morals, drugs, crime, racism, whatever -- keep very busy crusading for our favorite remedies. School vouchers. Carbon taxes. Campaign reform. The Endangered Species Act. A lower capital gains tax. Strong regulation. No regulation.

You know. That long list of mutually inconsistent Holy Grails with which we like to hit each other over the head.

There's one solution to the world's problems, however, that I never hear the frenzied activists suggest.

Slowing down.

Yes, that's what I said.

Slowing down.

Slowing down could be the single most effective solution to the particular save-the-world struggle I immerse myself in -- the struggle for sustainability, for living harmoniously and well within the limits and laws of the earth.

Suppose we weren't in such a hurry. We could take time to walk instead of drive, to sail instead of fly. To clean up our messes. To discuss our plans throughout the whole community before we send in bulldozers to make irreversible changes. To figure out how many fish the ocean can produce before boats race out to beat other boats to whatever fish are left.

Suppose we went at a slow enough pace not only to smell the flowers, but to feel our bodies, play with children, look openly, without agenda or timetable into the faces of loved ones. Suppose we stopped gulping fast food and started savoring slow food, grown, cooked, served, and eaten with care. Suppose we took time each day to sit in silence.

I think, if we did those things, the world wouldn't need much saving.

We could cut our energy and material use drastically, because we would get the full good out of what we use.

We wouldn't have to buy so many things to save time. (Have you ever wondered, with all our time-saving paraphernalia, what happens to the time we save?)

We wouldn't make so many mistakes.
We could listen more and hurt each other less.
Maybe we could even take time to reason through our favorite solutions, test them, and learn what their actual effects are.

Said Thomas Merton, who spent his time in a Trappist monastery: "There is a pervasive form of contemporary violence to which the idealist most easily succumbs: activism and over-work. To allow oneself to be carried away by a multitude of conflicting concerns, to surrender to too many demands, to commit oneself to too many people, to want to help everyone in everything, is to succumb to violence. The frenzy of the activist neutralizes his work for peace. It destroys the fruitfulness of his own work, because it kills the root of inner wisdom which makes work fruitful."

A friend in India tells me that the onslaught of Western advertising in his country is a cultural blow, not so much because of the messages of the ads, but because of their pace. The stun-the-senses barrage of all TV programming, especially ads, is antithetical to a thousands-year-old tradition of contemplation. I can imagine that. I have been driven crazy by the somnolent pace at which things get done in India. Don't these people know that time is money?

What they know, actually, is that time is life, and to go zooming through it is to miss living. Psychologist Arno Gruen says our busyness is addictive: "In order to be able to feel alive, we ... need more and more external excitation. The stimuli themselves force us into an addictive mode. Since we think that all we require is more of them in order to fill up the emptiness, our need will grow for what actually increases the void. There are numerous stimuli of this sort: loud music, large cars, glittering colors, gleaming machines. What we finally seek for our feeling of aliveness is simply the speed with which a change in stimuli takes place. The form or content of the stimulus will have scarcely any significance. In fact empty forms will be preferred, since those with content and meaning slow down the tempo of change. To find meaning in an experience requires, after all, an act of mental organization, and that takes time."

Slow. Down. Do that first. Then, quietly, carefully, think about what else might need to be done.

The only problem with this cure is that I can't prescribe it for others, because I have such trouble following it myself. It's so easy to get swept up in the hurtling pace of the world. Like most of the other world-savers I know, I'm way too busy to eat well, sit quietly, take a vacation, or even, some days, think.

Edward Abbey, the great curmudgeon of environmentalism, knew better: "It is not enough to fight for the land; it is even more important to enjoy it. While you can. While it's still here. So get out there and hunt and fish and mess around with your friends, ramble out yonder and explore the forests, climb the mountains, run the rivers, breathe deep of that yet sweet and lucid air, sit quietly for awhile and contemplate the precious stillness, that lovely, mysterious and awesome space. Enjoy yourselves, keep your brain in your head and your head firmly attached to the body, the body active and alive, and I promise you this much: I promise you this one sweet victory over those desk-bound people with their hearts in a safe deposit box and their eyes hypnotized by desk calculators. I promise you this: You will outlive the bastards."

Good advice. Too bad I don't have time to take it. I have to go save the world.

(Donella H. Meadows was an adjunct professor of environmental studies at Dartmouth College.)