What we really want to do is to regenerate and thrive!
For many years now, when people ask me what I do, I tell them that I work at Healthy Buildings, “which is a sustainable Design-Build firm.” For almost as many years I have felt a twinge of “incorrectness” every time I say that, or anytime I use the term sustainable in any context. The fact is, considering the message we want to get across, the word sustainable is incorrect. Literally it means to be able to sustain. But do we want to sustain the current conditions in the world?
We live in a time of great social and economic unrest. The world is in turmoil, social inequities exist in countless arenas, and the world in general is in a state of economic weakness; most notably, the U.S. economy has been greatly weakened. On the environmental front, climate change continues unabated. As of May this year the greenhouse gas levels in the earth’s atmosphere, as measured by the Mauna Loa Observatory in Hawaii, the benchmark testing location, stand at 394.35 PPM. (http://co2now.org/). Scientists tell us that in order to stop climate change atmospheric levels of CO2 have to be held at or below 350 PPM. The last time we were at that level was 1985. We have sections of our oceans devoid of sea life as ocean acidification continues at alarming rates. Oil drilling and oil shale processing continue non-stop around the world. Socially the World Bank predicts that rising fuel and food costs will force up to 100 million more people to join the 1.4 billion people around the world who live “in extreme poverty.”
Are these really conditions that we want to sustain? Of course not. What we really want to do, what we really want to be striving for, is to Thrive.
A friend of mine, Andres Edwards, has authored two successful books on Sustainability. He now is promoting the concept of ‘Thriveability’! By his definition Thriveability… “focuses on collaboration and abundance. Rather than seeking to limit our impact by being “less bad,” thriveability supports actions that regenerate natural systems and our quality of life, and regenerates our capacity for empathy, compassion, collaboration, creativity, enthusiasm and love.”
Notice that key phrase… “regenerate natural systems and our quality of life.” We don’t want to sustain, we want to regenerate, we want to Thrive.
Consider the three chart images above
On the left we have the diagram that typically illustrates the three components of sustainability. Yes, they touch, but they are still separate, this is where we are today. In the middle is an example of tomorrow – instead of just sustaining ourselves we begin to regenerate natural systems and our quality of life. On the right is our ultimate goal – these three circles have merged, in all the communities of the world, to signify that sustainability has been achieved, that our planet is now Thriving.
We are blessed to live in the Napa Valley, one of the most beautiful places on earth. It’s beauty and distinction is rivaled by few. Yet if we are to protect this beauty, this lifestyle, and the strength of the local economy, we must look differently at how we do things, how we move about, how and where we live and learn. In short we must begin to regenerate, so that ultimately we can all Thrive.
Bob Massaro is the CEO of Healthy Buildings Technology Group, Inc and the President of the United States Green Building Council, Redwood Empire Chapter. Several months ago he and his dear friend Bonny Meyer, a 40-plus year Napa Valley resident and co-founder of a landmark Napa Valley Winery, formed Thrive Napa Valley, a fledging non-profit dedicated to forming a connected, thriving community throughout our valley.Share post