Blogs > Sara Gutterman > January 2012

Civility Unleashed

Tuesday evening, President Obama delivered his third State of the Union address to our nation. He began his speech with an attempt to transcend the politics of the day by referencing the bravery and teamwork of our armed forces.

For an ephemeral moment, there seemed to be pause in Washington backstabbing, a fleeting feeling of synergy as we silently celebrated the bravery of those who serve our nation. For one instant, the individuals in the Chamber, as well as those watching on television sets around the country, were not democrats or republicans, rich or poor, young or old, male or female. They were citizens, colleagues, community members, and even friends.

The President summoned all U.S. citizens to manifest the altruism and collaboration displayed by members of our military, rallying us to work together to create a better future with more educated citizens, higher paying jobs, clean energy, and security from threatening oil-rich nations.

Obama supporters say that the address was unifying. Critics claim that it was redundant, even defiant, and laced with politics as usual.

But, interestingly, on the day following Obama’s State of the Union, politics were indisputably set aside when Representative Gabby Giffords (D-Arizona) resigned her seat—not because she was under any pressure to do so, but because she knew it was the right thing to do. The extraordinary woman who miraculously survived an almost certainly fatal gunshot to the head disarmed an entrenched Congress and softened the hearts of a nation.

After viewing the news reports covering Giffords’ resignation, in which members of Congress displayed unmasked human emotion, I can’t help but wonder—must our political pendulum swing irresistibly from compassionate back to cutthroat?

Must we endure a violent assault on human dignity and life itself to enable us to shed our partisan straightjackets and release our civility? Is that degree of trauma necessary in order for us to listen to one another’s voices with tolerance?

The President asked us to return to our core American values, to level the playing field for everyone, so that we can create a better future. Giffords’ remarkable courage reminds us to appreciate the magical gift of life. It seems to me that the most effective way for us to actualize these things is for each of us to embrace this precious opportunity for self-determination.

How do you think that we can become a more civil society? Write to me at sara@greenbuildermag.com or follow me on Twitter @SaraGBM.

For more information about green building and sustainable living, visit www.greenbuildermag.com, like us on Facebook, and follow us on Twitter at @greenbuildermag and @VISIONHouseGBM for regular updates and breaking news.
 

Posted: 1/26/2012 10:09:33 AM by Mary Kestner | with 0 comments



The Unreasonable Man

George Bernard Shaw once said that, “the reasonable man adapts himself to the world. The unreasonable man persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. All progress, therefore, depends on the unreasonable man.”

Transforming the world around us requires courage. Challenging conventional wisdom demands innovation and imagination. And crafting a new vision for the future necessitates finely honed communication skills.

Over the past several months, we have been working with the Walt Disney Imagineering team to develop the VISION House® in INNOVENTIONS at Epcot®, a ground-breaking green show home exhibit that highlights the very best in green residential design and sustainable living. The Imagineering team has an incredible gift for communicating important sustainability messages in fun, creative, and imaginative ways that positively alter the world around us.

I’m delighted to announce that senior Imagineer Joe Tankersley has agreed to share some insights into how we can use the magic of storytelling to create a more sustainable future in an interview with Green Builder Media President Ron Jones on our Impact Series: Game Changers in Sustainability webinar program on January 19.

Joe, who has been with Walt Disney Imagineering since 1996 and has worked on projects for Epcot®, Magic Kingdom® Park, Disney’s Animal Kingdom® Theme Park, Disney’s Hollywood Studios TM, and Disneyland ® Resort, will be a wonderful addition to our list of visionary and “unreasonable” (in Shaw’s sense of the word) speakers for the Impact Series, which include internationally renowned author and sustainability expert Lester Brown, former HUD Secretary Henry Cisneros, ocean activist Jean-Michel Cousteau, venture capitalist Guy Kawasaki, environmentalist Dr. Marcus Eriksen, Vice President of Global Responsibility for Starbucks Ben Packard, former EPA and FBI administrator William Ruckelshaus, and Co-Founder of Celestial Seasonings and Horizon Organic Dairy Barney Feinblum.

The interview with Tankersley will be held live on Thursday, January 19 at 11am PDT/2pm EDT, and will then be available on demand on our website at www.greenbuildermag.com. To register for the webinar, go to www.greenbuildermag.com/impactseries.

We thank our generous sponsors for the Impact Series—Trane, Schlage, Boral, BASF, DuPont, Beam by Electrolux, BioBased Insulation, and Green Builder Coalition—who help make all of this innovation possible!

How do you adapt the world around you to create a more sustainable future? Write to me at sara@greenbuildermag.com or follow me on Twitter @SaraGBM.

For more information about green building and sustainable living, visit www.greenbuildermag.com, like us on Facebook, and follow us on Twitter @greenbuildermag for regular updates and breaking news.
 

Posted: 1/11/2012 12:28:06 PM by Mary Kestner | with 0 comments



Behind the Wheel

Over the holidays, I picked up a delightful little book called The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein. While I haven’t finished it yet (I have been fairly forewarned that the ending is heart-wrenching), I have read enough to recognize its precious message.

The tale is told from the perspective of a dog, Enzo, who just so happens to be a profound philosopher. Through his relationship with Denny, his car-racing ‘human’, and his own keen powers of observation, Enzo has educated himself on the sophisticated innuendos and delicate phenomenon of the world around him.

While readers readily relate to Enzo’s story, his unbridled passion, complete selflessness, and non- judgmental reactions may come easier to dogs than humans. He masterfully marries the joy of auto racing with pure joie de vivre, correlating driving practices with states of being and establishing that ‘life, like racing, isn't simply about going fast.’

Enzo deftly sprinkles clever maxims throughout his narrative. Perhaps his most enchanting mantra is, ‘that which you manifest is before you’ - an important reminder that we have at least some ability to control the world around us, and that it is not an event itself that it is important, but rather our interpretation and response to that event.

Enzo elucidates that race car drivers are often afraid of rain. It amplifies their mistakes and becomes an unpredictable element. But rather than fearing the rain, so instructs Enzo, a racer should embrace it—possess it—and initiate a response before he loses control of his car.

We alone can control our circumstances. By changing our mood, our approach, or our energy, we can create our own destiny. As Enzo says, “be it through intention or ignorance, our successes and failures have been brought on by none other than ourselves.”

What if we applied this truism to all of our relationships, intentions, and actions? What if we set aside our egos and looked at things from Enzo’s point of view? And what if we followed his suggestion to occupy the moment without worrying about the future? To live each day as if it was stolen from death? To feel the joy of life, relieve ourselves of our daily burdens, and recognize just how beautiful life really is? How would we change? What would we manifest?

What advice would Enzo have for you? Write to me at sara@greenbuildermag.com or follow me on Twitter @SaraGBM.

For more information about green building and sustainable living, visit www.greenbuildermag.com, like us on Facebook, and follow us on Twitter @greenbuildermag for regular updates and breaking news.
 

Posted: 1/4/2012 12:53:58 PM by Mary Kestner | with 0 comments



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