Blogs > Ron Jones > January 2011


Would it be fair to suggest that some things just aren't working out the way we intended? If so, what can we do about it? Anything? And how much of "anything" is needed to create a critical mass? What does fifty-six have to do with it? Well, it may not be a magic number, but it's not a totally random one either. Bear with me and I'll try to explain...

Surely we were all equally "surprised" by the news that Congress has received its lowest approval rating ever, according to a recent Gallup Poll. We are beginning to realize that lame "duck" is far too generous a description for the current crop of impostors who are either bitterly cleaning out their desks or already working on their next re-election campaigns.

We continue to receive our daily ration of posturing and dose of rhetoric as the Administration and "leadership" of both Houses artfully choreograph a bizarre set of dance steps to give the appearance that they are working together toward addressing the nation's growing list of man-made disasters, led by a debt that has reached almost $14 trillion.
Meanwhile, lobbyists who pander for the whole range of special interests skillfully wrangle the sacred cows of their masters through the narrow loopholes of exemption and across the treacherous slippery slopes of real compromise, making sure to circumvent all those quicksand puddles of the dreaded "common good" that line the trail. You have to believe that at least some of these cattle barons realize that not only is the entire herd being systematically rustled but that the deed to the ranch itself is now being held in the vault of a foreign bank.

When we descend somewhat from those lofty heights of Capitol Hill and look more closely at some of the contributors to our national paralysis we perhaps begin to reluctantly recognize the tracks of our own participation in the expanding debacle. The combination of apathy and complacency, when added to the deliberate deception of seasoned manipulators, has left us all more than a little complicit, even if we're not totally cognizant.

In the building arena we have continued to go along with the strait-jacket "one-size-fits-all" advocacy of the trade associations, even though the 800-pound gorilla, having lost more than a third of its members, has been reduced to something far less imposing and formidable. The decades of serving up hypocrisy and spin, the erroneous assumption that an organization can be all things to all people, and the refusal to evolve with the times have marginalized the neighborhood bully and reduced him to a desperate jester.

When an organization refuses to entertain the notion that the pathetic 2% participation by its members in its political action fund may have more to do with what it is advocating than with their temperament or frugality (even though a well-paid outside consultant came to that conclusion as well), one gets a pretty clear signal that somebody is not listening.
Simultaneously, after a meteoric rise to national prominence and masterful penetration into the public policy arena, the new kid on the (green building) block, with its fire-hose gusher of "rating systems" (cleverly touted as standards) and its startling income growth (now in the tens of millions of dollars annually), is experiencing some of the bitter harvest sewn by its own bureaucracy, its technocratic arrogance, and its condescending "we know what's best for you... and everybody else" attitude and demeanor.

After all, when the status of a member is determined by the size of the check that has to be written it's not hard to understand that the little guy, the individual, cannot help wondering whether he or she matters at all. Perhaps that is why the organization recently was forced to extend the voting period to elect its new national board members because the modest requirement for 10% membership participation (a pesky inconvenience imposed by its own bylaws) had not been satisfied. In other words, more than 90% of those eligible to vote for the candidates who would "lead" the organization have apparently either been sufficiently disenfranchised or are simply too disinterested to bother.

If you're still here you are no doubt wondering what this has to do with fifty-six...
For the better part of two years a small group of us has been gestating the idea that the building sector needs an alternative organization where our opinions can actually be heard, where our ideas do actually count, where we can speak with a common voice (even when we don't completely agree), where we can make a meaningful commitment to a more sustainable future.

What we came up with is the Green Builder® Coalition, a non-profit, grassroots group of individuals who are determined to make a difference, who are looking for personal empowerment, who are willing to make a personal investment, who believe that we all have a stake in the relationship between the built environment and the natural environment, and who are willing to embrace some personal responsibility for the outcome, not only in our own self interest but for that of future generations. We are not a trade association, nor are we trying to represent any extreme positions. We are simply dedicated to transparency, honesty and a level playing field.

Almost two and a half centuries ago, a diverse group of fifty-six individuals made a commitment that carried with it much more serious (and potentially far more grave) consequences than what we are now suggesting when they signed a document called the Declaration of Independence. Fifty-six people put a lot more on the line than just their signatures and, as a result, they changed the future.

We believe it could happen again. Fifty-six may not seem like a big number, but it is a pretty good place to start.
Please visit to see what we've been up to. We are anxious to hear from you.

Posted: 1/8/2011 5:34:09 AM by Heather Wallace | with 0 comments

About Me

Ron Jones, Co-Founder and President of Green Builder® Media, is recognized as one of the fathers of the green building movement. Instrumental in establishing guidelines and programs through NAHB, USGBC and a variety of regional initiatives, he has more recently worked with the International Code Council in the development of both the National Green Building Standard (ICC 700) and the International Green Construction Code.

He is the charter chairman of the Green Builder Coalition, a grassroots non-profit advocacy group whose goal is to promote integrity in the building industry, and beyond, in an effort to return balance and harmony to the relationship between the built environment and the natural one.

A recognized author and keynote speaker on four continents, his industry credentials and leadership experience, combined with his inspirational message and “take no prisoners” style, make him a high-demand presenter for conferences and events of all kinds.


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