Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Wal-Mart: Friend or Foe?

After college graduation, I took a road trip from Bloomington, Indiana to San Francisco (well it was actually a one-way trip). Early in our trip we quickly became intrigued with talk radio, and as much as it kills me to say this, Dr. Laura. It was an unhealthy and somewhat pathetic simple pleasure, but it sparked good controversy on the long road ahead which resulted in one of my favorite quotes ever said by one of my friends in reference to the conservative "doctor:"

"Dr. Laura - love to hate her, hate to love her!"

I kind of feel like that is the sentiment surrounding all of the Wal-Mart green controversy. While you want to simply hate the big-box retailer for their massive overhaul of suburbanizing our local communities and displacing thousands of local businesses, you can't deny the bold initiatives they are making in the world of sustainability.

After recently hearing a presentation from a Wal-Mart executive, I have to admit I was quite impressed. He spoke of the various levels the company was addressing sustainability from its employees through its supply chain. It was an inspiring and impressive presentation. Just as he was winding down, he provided an example of a product that was actually a natural bug killer but it had a somewhat soft name. I think the message he was trying to prove that we are now living in a world where transparency is key and if you are a bug killer you should have a name that exemplifies the act of (and this is a quote in reference to how he feels about cockroaches and one that was quite animated) "KILL KILL KILL."

Now I am not advocating to save all the cockroaches, but surely he could have chosen a better example and not have offended the entire conservationist movement from which sustainability is born. This is an extreme and nit-picky critique of what otherwise was a very effective presentation. The point is, that Wal-Mart is under great scrutiny and for every step towards the sustainable light they make, they have to be hyper vigilant of the core values of the movement and how that is being messaged in the corporate values.

This is a complicated movement. One that is born of classic conservationist ideology and theory and is transforming into an almost manic marketing movement that everyone wants to be a part of. Are environmentalism and sustainability one in the same and can the old-school movement embrace the innovation that must be embraced to create a sustainable future? I think the only answer is they must.

At 200 million customers, no one can deny Wal-Mart's potential impact they can make through awareness campaigns, product innovations, and supply chain transparency requirements. Can we take the leap of faith or do will still remain skeptical? I simply don't know, but look forward to learning about the company's bold strides including the upcoming Live Better Sustainability Sumitt for Wal-Mart employees. Wal-Mart - Love to hate them or hate to love them?

Friday, October 5, 2007

Master Cleanse Confessions

After a few months of riding a manic wave of exciting new opportunities/events and emotional endings, I finally discovered some down time. In a true wellness spirit I committed myself to the Master Cleanse. While I will refrain from the physical and emotional drivers that sparked my desire to perform such an act, I thought I would share a few user-friendly insights from the quasi 5 day journey.

Day 1: I immediately woke up with body aches, nausea and an headache (note: this could be due to the sugar high I encountered the night before to "kick-off" my cleanse).

I should point out that I have always been a big believer in the mind-body connection and very early in my life, I became hooked on the Louise Hay book You Can Heal Your Life which makes the connections of specific physical ailments to their emotional counter part and provides a healing "mantra." Yes, this was in my most extreme "woo woo" days, but I should point out that friends and family to this day still call me with a specific ailment and ask me to refer to the book to identify their mental meanings/blocks. Anyways, I get that this cleanse was more mental for me than physical, so I totally acknowledge that I am creating this. Regardless, I spend the day somewhat useless with body aches, chills, headache and have to move most of my meetings. I can barely even stomach the master cleanse drink, but probably had about three glasses.

Day 2: Wake up and the headache and body aches are gone, but experiencing total stiffness in my joints and hips. Look in my Louise Hay book and find that hips represent moving forward in life with joy and ease. Of course! Make an appointment with Holy Miro - my eastern european masseuse and feel much better. Even manage to get some work done attend a few meetings - albeit a bit spacey.

Day 3: Feelin' good! Typical on day three. So to celebrate I have a cup of coffee. Yes that is right - I am drinking coffee with my master cleanse. My bet is this is not recommended.

Day 4: Seeing the light and the major emotional roadblocks and physical cravings that inspired the cleanse seem to be dissipating.

Day 5: Enjoying a delicious gingerbread pancake, processing the week of very vivid dreams, and ready to start anew! Goals accomplished:-)

Note: this is definitely not the appropriate and recommended process to pursue a cleanse (or break it). Always check with your doctor or health care professional for identifying the appropriate steps you need to take to accomplish your cleansing goals.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Bill Clinton Inspires Giving At A Whole New Level

Bill Clinton is on a giving and sustainable mission. With his recent book launch of Giving: How Each of Us Can Change The World and last week's Clinton Global Initiative Summit, he is truly transforming the landscape of philanthropic initiatives. (note: Clinton gives special tribute in his book to a non-profit that provides micro-lending to entrepreneurs in developing countries. is an organization I have been involved with since its inception and with Bill's support they had their first Oprah moment a few weeks ago. It was an amazing and touching experience to see the founder's Matt and Jessica Flannery's dreams realized).

Evidently, last week's CGI event resulted in commitment levels from celebrities, heads of states, and business executives to reach historic levels that will impact:

  • 8.5 million out-of-school children will be enabled to enroll in school for the first time.
  • 50 million people will have access to treatment of neglected tropical diseases.
  • 170,031,331 acres of forest will be protected or restored.
  • 11.2 million people will be empowered with increased access to sustainable incomes

But the giving buck doesn't stop there. After the momentous week, Bill Clinton found some time to celebrate and announce a new CGI event targeted towards youth. Bono, Chris Rock, Shakira, and Alicia Keys all joined the former President at Harlem’s Apollo Theater to announce Clinton Global Initiative’s first youth summit, called CGI U, planned for next year at Tulane University in New Orleans. The new initiative is designed to engage college and university students on some of the most pressing issues facing the world today. CGI U will challenge young people to take action by making commitments on the issues that concern them the most.

According to a Washington Post article, “what we are trying to do is make activism cool again for kids,” Rock said. The former president and the other superstar panelists took questions from the audience before giving up the stage to performances by hip-hop artist Wyclef Jean and soulful singer Keyes.

Via a partnership with MTV and Bill Clinton’s amazing leadership, CGI U potentially could catapult an entirely new generation to a level of giving that will tackle the issues of sustainable development, climate change and poverty in the most impactful ways. Check out the full press release here.