Category Archives: Corporate Social Responsibilty

The only oil that goes with a Croatian bikini is olive!

German translation of the following here, and the Croatian translation found here, and now in Japanese here.

*** VICTORY! 22 January 2016 The new Croatian government announced a cessation of any further plans to drill for hydrocarbons in the Adriatic.

On the morning of 29 July it was announced that Marathon Oil had returned 7 of the 10 concessions for drilling for hydrocarbons in the Adriatic had been returned to the Croatian government.

In the interest of full disclosure, since writing this post in December 2014, and it subsequently going viral (nearly 125K reads in the original English version alone), I have been invited to join, and now serve the Clean Adriatic Sea Alliance as their Chief Strategy Officer.

Every link in the following post is VERY PURPOSEFULLY chosen toward education and action, I AM ASKING YOU MOST SINCERELY TO ACT on all three efforts embedded within this post (read on, don’t get caught up with the girl she’ll still be here when you finish)!

17 March 2015 UPDATE: http://www.croatia-split.com/blog/what-s-happening/adriatic-drilling-casa-replies-to-oil-agency-boss-barbara-doric.html

17 February 2015 UPDATE – the Croatian government is being sued for its illegal activities around drilling in the Adriatic. (I don’t agree with all that the HCSP stands for but…)

“This decision reacted by the Croatian Pure Party of Rights (HCSP).
Press Release signed by the President of HCSP, Josip Miljak in its entirety:
“A criminal decision of the Croatian government to announce an international tender for a fictitious oil and gas exploration in the Croatian economic zone is a crime which, if not prevented, Croatia could cost you dearly. If you sign contracts with foreign companies, a group of experts has already prepared two lawsuits, one Court for the Law of the Sea in Hamburg, ie. The UN Security Council and other State Attorney’s Office.”

If you care about the seas and oceans and clean water for all, renewable energy, the environment, cultural heritage, vacationing at the beach, water sports, sailing, boating, eating seafood, Croatia’s (or Italy’s) Adriatic and a quality of life based upon harmony with our planet in the face of greed and violation then this end-of-the-year post (originally written on 30 December 2014) is for you! No apologies, it’s a long one. I ask you to share it widely on all social media platforms. (Efforts are underway to translate it into multiple languages – hyperlinks will be offered in this paragraph as completed.)  Many thanks for an amazing year to all my readers. Sretana Nova godina, Happy New Year.

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I think about consequences – all the time (including how many people I might piss off as a result of writing this, and how).  I am not (though perfectly capable to be) a corporate consultant of scenario planning. I see inter-dependencies in ways that most people rushing through their lives never consider. What stimulates me must be for a greater good, and my heart and head must find a perfect balance for me to say – YES!  A lot of things ignite my passions and expertise but for me to engage it always comes down to integrity and authenticity.  This post is about the Venn Diagram offered by the convergence of the Croatian economy, its environment and how the manipulation of European Union regulations could have a devastating and far reaching effect. This is about shortsightedness, immediate gratification for individuals and how their greed, if one thing goes horribly wrong, will destroy one of the greatest treasure troves of untouched historic, ecological and economic value in the world and the livelihoods of a people who have depended upon the Adriatic for tens of thousands of years.  This blog post is about finding a way, with all of your help (please, PLEASE SIGN THIS Change.org PETITION as well as THIS Avaaz petition and then SHARE BOTH with friends), to turn back and make things as the Croatian tourist board says, “The Mediterranean as it once was”, and keep it that way for all of us but make it better economically for Croatians.

The Travel Channel references Croatian Bikinis (a Croatian bikini, btw, way is nude) and cliff diving, and if only once everyone wants to enjoy the freedom of laying on perfect golden sand and swimming in the sea waters ranging in colour from cobalt to aquamarine naked – and Anthony Bourdain is talking about the food and how beautiful it is here, well, expect those numbers to grow. It would be an understatement to say that the impact of tourism is huge and should be amongst the greatest market segments to be cultivated in Croatia.  And yet, the right hand doesn’t seem to know what the left hand is doing here (not unique to Croatia) or they would have blocked this effort. Don’t Croatian ministers actually strategise in their cabinet meetings?

I am in Croatia because I am trying to determine if I can make this my permanent home. (Now back in the United States unhappily let me say I actually found a home in Croatia.) Save for the fact that I am here in the dead of winter, I was drawn here largely because of the Adriatic – just as some 11.5 million people who came in the summer of 2012. Put that into perspective, a narrow band of Dalmatia hosting nearly 4 times the population of the entire country within a three month (between June and August).

(Emphasis in the following is my own.)

The first page of Lonely Planet’s guide to Croatian music festivals reads:

Sonus Music Festival

http://www.sonus-festival.com/ Pag Island Croatia August 2015

“Croatia’s music festival scene is flourishing, with exciting new events popping up each summer. A lovely natural setting is pretty much guaranteed, with idyllic beaches, lakes, meadows and forest clearings hosting crowds of delighted festival-goers.”

Rough Guides best of the Croatian coast landing page reads:

When it comes to beaches in Croatia, the best advice is to head south: it’s on the Dalmatian coast where the most seductive sandy shores, pebbly coves and sun-fried rocks are to be found. Indeed all of the beaches that made our list are in Dalmatia, except for one (the bewitchingly sandy island of Susak in the Kvarner Gulf). A sizeable collection of swoon-inducing destinations has been left off this list, largely for simple reasons of accessibility: islands like Korčula, Vis and Šolta boast any number of heavenly bays […].”

Croatia has been named the #1 world travel destination on the rise according to Fodor’s. The value of tourism to Croatia’s economy (like so many things here) is subject to wide ranges of statistics – the EU says 15%, while locals estimate that it makes up as much as 40% of the entire Croatian annual budget.  Croatia’s Minister of Tourism,  Darko Lorencin, said that the first six months of 2014 totaled € 2.12 billion, which was 2.2% more than the same period last year.  Estimates put 69% of the Croatian economy coming from the services industries – things like renting sailboats, bar and restaurant trade (offering seafood from the beautifully clean waters) and yes, those taking care of all those sheets and towels. If you take words of The World Bank’s front page on Croatia’s economy as sacred, then:

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Drvenik Channel, the Croatian Adriatic, view from my balcony 30 December 2014 to where I have been swimming for the last two months.

Croatia remains an ecological treasure in Europe, with 47% of its land and 39% of its sea designated as specially protected areas and areas of conservation. Croatia boasts 19 National and Nature Parks, with some- such as the Plitvice Lakes National Park – designated as United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) World Heritage sites. Croatia’s natural beauty draws in millions of tourists each year, with tourism revenues representing around 15% of the country’s GDP. Preservation of the environment is high on the development agenda and has been a requirement for European Union membership.”

BP over Adriatic

This map, provided by Richard West, shows the scope of the BP Gulf Oil Spill, aka Deepwater Horizon spill, as overlaid against the Adriatic; it wouldn’t ‘just be’ Croatia impacted but also Italy, Slovenia, Montenegro and Albania.

So, after two months of swimming in these pristine waters the fight for keeping the Adriatic clean is now VERY PERSONAL to me! WTF!? Why, oh WHY!?, would anyone think that drilling for gas and oil in these waters is a good idea? Even if there isn’t an environmental catastrophe on the scale of the (British Petroleum) Gulf Oil Spill (I wish someone would overlay the map at left against a similar one showing the whole of the Adriatic to see what might happen) from one of the ten platforms currently licensed to operate in Croatian waters, the impact on the developing film industry (Game of Thrones et al), tourism, fishing – Eurostat figures for 2013 put the export value € 115.2 million, archaeology (at the bottom of the sea) and culture, and yes, the preservation of these rare dolphins, let alone the livelihood of more than 50% of the Croatian population from even the smallest accident could be catastrophic. To which point I was just (8 Feb) introduced to the technical expertise and wisdom of Croatia’s internationally, and highly, educated Nenad Duplančić.  If you are Croat read this from Dignitea Hvar in your language, if you are from any place else I BEG YOU to use a translation tool to grasp the importance of his commentary on the proposed drilling in the Adriatic.  For the rest of you new drilling platforms have been banned in the United States since 1969 so you start to understand why (to maintain corporate earnings and salaries) multinational oil companies are looking at impoverished countries to exploit and destroy (unemployment here in Croatia is above 23%).

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Barbara Dorić – perhaps someone should be checking her bank accounts?

As I see it the Ministers of the Croatian government who should be fighting this with every fiber of their collective being include: Ministry of Culture, Ministarstvo culture, Mrs. Andrea Zlatar, Ministry of Economy, Ministarstvo gospodarstva, Mr. Ivan Vrdoljak, (who SHOULD BE looking at wave, wind and solar technologies and ditching petrochemical energy altogether because as Duplančić points out this industry is near it’s logical end), Ministry of Environmental and Nature Protection, Ministarstvo zaštite okoliša i prirode, Mr. Mihael Zmajlović, Ministry of Maritime Affairs, Transport and Infrastructure, Ministarstvo pomorstva, prometa i infrastrukture , MPPI RH, Mr. Siniša Hajdaš Dončić, Ministry of Agriculture, Ministarstvo poljoprivrede, Mr. Tihomir Jakovina and, of course, the Ministry of Tourism, Ministarstvo turizma or MINT, Mr. Darko Lorencin. So ask yourselves why a company blocked from exploration on the Italian side of the Adriatic should be given reign to do so by the head of the Croatian Hydrocarbon Agency, Barbara Doric? (Who, quite frankly, should be stripped of her citizenship and exiled to a very dirty beach for her role in promoting this debacle.)  Croatians are hardly indifferent to the beauty and life provided by their location – when so often you hear them express “who could buy this?” with a broad sweep of their arms across the vista offered by their Rivas and the Adriatic. Could it be that the Italians actually understand all that is at stake better than the Croatians?  

Saudi Arabia is manipulating the oil markets to keep the price of crude artificially low to discourage the further development and expansion of renewable energy, and with croatia nudethe established dangers of hydraulic fracturing to obtain natural gas it should be clear to everyone that petrochemicals are the very last thing that should be anywhere near a Croatian bikini.

This isn’t my country, yet I am supremely indignant about this and I hope all of you reading this are too.  Haven’t we seen enough destruction and war over the greed and insatiable consumption that comes with oil and gas? Climate change scientists indicate that a rise of sea levels will wipe out coastal communities around the world, hello? has anyone looked to see how much of Croatia’s population lives at very nearly sea level? In Europe climate change is expected to magnify regional differences in natural resources and assets. Negative impacts will include increased risk of inland flash floods and more frequent coastal flooding and increased erosion (due to storminess and sea level rise) and is projected to worsen conditions (high temperatures and drought) in a region already vulnerable to climate variability, and to reduce water availability, hydro-power potential, summer tourism and, in general, crop productivity.

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Photo source: Croatia Week online magazine

It needs to stop – now. 16 February is the deadline for open comments to the Croatian government, the form required for submission is found here.  It has painstakingly been translated into English to the right of the original Croatian so, REGARDLESS OF WHERE YOU LIVE, non Croatians who care about our seas can also submit comment. Please do! As you can imagine this fight is going to get expensive from a legal perspective, please “help with the heavy lifting” by making a contribution to the Clean Adriatic Sea Alliance.

Croatians have a real chance to set a world standard for clean energy working in tandem with the rest of their economy but it takes all kinds of people, everywhere, to put their ‘big boy and big girl pants on’ and say NOT HERE, NOT NOW, NOT EVER, and cap those wells and dismantle those ten platforms.  Join me?

If you enjoy my blog please consider ‘buying me a cup of tea’ in your currency via PayPal to livelikeadog@gmail.com and then, please do share the blog with your friends on Facebook, Google+ and Twitter – I am @TeresaFritschiTo order my book, please click on the cover art of my book below, thank you! 

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Greenwashing does not make your company a pillar of #CSR or sustainability! – Guest Blog for Ethical Value

ev logo Guest post for Ethical Value, co-published simultaneously

The Coca-Cola Co. ‏@CocaColaCo  “We believe investing in women is the absolute key to economic growth.” Charlotte Oades @USCCFBiz4Good #5by20. #Inspire2Act #IWD2014

cry TweetShortly thereafter came this retweet ‘love’ from a very smart man that I respect (who will remain nameless):

RT @CocaColaCo Fm producers #suppliers #distributors #retailers & recyclers we aim to empower 5M women http://CokeURL.com/l2me8  #Inspire2Act

I saw these Tweets and my stomach convulsed.  Not that empowering women is a bad thing, no, THAT IS A VERY GOOD THING, but, as Collective Evolution (and many other sources) so aptly points out:

“Coke uses “public relations propaganda” to convince consumers and entire nations that it is an “environmental company” when really it is linked to pollution, water shortages, and disease.”

‘The smart man’ I mention, in RTing this particular Tweet, seems to have bought into the green-washing of Coca-Cola courtesy of their marketing team (as do hundreds of millions of people on a global basis), and this not only stuns me because it is so contrary to “his brand” but also makes me sad and angry.  But it is this sentence, from Coca-Cola’s own website, that pushed me over the edge:

“As we move toward our 2020 Vision of doubling our business by 2020, enabling the economic empowerment of women will undoubtedly be an important contributor to our success.”

Let’s be clear, Coca-Cola’s #5X20 initiative isn’t REALLY, altruistically, about lifting women out of poverty it’s about market share, doubling their business, and in doing so, contributing to the health decline of 80% of the worlds’ populations whose average household income is less than $10 (USD) a day! Think about that for a second when the vending machine at your office is likely asking $2 for a single 20 ounce bottle of Coke! So I Tweeted:

#CSR? @CocaColaCo’s #5X20 is actually #causerelatedmarketing NOT #empowerment for #women! #LiesToldOnTwitter

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Artwork by Miranda Coss

Just so we are clear this isn’t a prejudice based in a Coke versus Pepsi (or any of their respective other beverage brands) preference; I am not and have never been a big cola drinker, while I do enjoy the occasional Dr. Brown’s, Izze or Orangina I would be willing to bet that my consumption of these amounts to less than a total of ten 16 ounce servings in any given YEAR. I think you should read this about what drinking Coke and Pepsi actually do to the body, and I can only hope you start to view your habit with a little more caution toward your health (or that of your kids and grandkids.

But I digress; this post is not primarily concerned with our beverage choices but the use of public relations to obfuscate the reality of Coca-Cola (and other multinational corporations) when it comes to legitimate social responsibility practices.  By leveraging social media, optimization of search engine results with technical acumen, strategic thought  and proactive and diligent management Coca-Cola is, to a large degree, successfully controlling its message.  To underscore my point, I just did a Imagesearch on Google “Coca-Cola environmental impact” of the 3.3 million results, (Google is the most popular SE in terms of use – see graph) on the first page of results ‘above the page break’ Coca-Cola has ensured their placement in three of the top five results – Wikipedia comes in at the #2 spot and at #5 is KillerCoke.org. (According to MarketShareHitsLink.com, October 2010, 75% of users never scroll past the first page of search results, which is why having a strategic communications plan that includes Web 2.0 for brand enrichment is so critical in our hyper-connected world.)

So what results are you, the consumer or a journalist doing research, going to get when a desire suddenly seizes you to learn more? Unless you are willing to dig deep – you would never discover that despite their “plant based” bottle PR campaigns that the resulting Imagebottles which both Pepsi and Coke are hyping as being eco-friendly are STILL chemically the same, absolutely identical to the polyethylene terepthalate, or PET, and high-density polyethylene, or HDPE, that regular plastic bottles are made of: these carry the same negative human health and environmental impacts as plastic made from fossil fuels. And yet the messaging makes those of you drinking the 14 (yes, fourteen different) billion (USD) brands from Pepsi   or the 108 (yes, ONE HUNDRED AND EIGHT!) beverage brands from Coca-Cola with all those plastic bottles going into the environment, all those trillions of empty calories being consumed, all the resources used and subsequent negative impact on the planet – in particular water use feel a bit righteous in your consumer choice – my darlings you have absolutely no reason to!

“Drinking” water in Ghana

I am not anti-Capitalism, but I have never, ethically, been able to use my skills and passion to promote an employer or a client whose business I did not fully respect (ie, prostitute myself for a paycheck).  I recently had a conversation with the CEO and founder of a technology firm whose platform is designed to help (genuinely) lift the bottom 3 billion of humankind out of poverty – the same number who also do not have access to clean drinking water or basic sanitation, the identical target market for doubling Coca-Cola’s business by 2020 for whom it will actually be cheaper to drink a cola beverage than to drink clean water! It’s fine to make money, it’s fine to make money in emerging markets, it’s a noble and wonderful thing to give a hand-up (rather than a hand-out), but in my mind’s eye it’s NOT FINE to sugar-coat actual objectives to make them more palatable to your consuming public and distort reality.  If Coca-Cola and Pepsi and the rest of their beverage industry brethren REALLY WANT to help empower women then I suggest taking 8% of their annual profits and fund opportunities for education previously unknown to all but a few of the bottom 3 billion of our neighbours or the various efforts to provide clean water around the world, their philanthropic and CSR departments can one stop shop for worthy projects at Charity Water, Water or in this blog post from Huffington .

Corporate Social Responsibility and the companion sustainability protocols are not ’cause related marketing’ (which is what Coca-Cola’s #5X20 actually is), what CSR ‘should be’ truly is the heart and soul, conscience and character of doing the right thing within a corporate environment.

If you enjoy my blog please share it with your friends on Facebook, Google+ and Twitter – I am @TeresaFritschiTo order my book, please click on the cover art of my book below, thank you! 

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Hack ~ innovation to global happiness

To hack used to be something I did ‘to be useful’ out in the “back forty” with one of these – you swing it back and forth thus ‘hacking’ the weeds down to something more manageable for a mower unit on a tractor to cover, or to till the earth without having all the seed heads getting into Imagethe dirt and creating even more work in the long run.

Hacking hasn’t been that for me for a very long time, primarily because in the early 1990s I landed a MarComm Manager role at a tech company spun out of the IBM, MCI and Merit called, then, ANS CORE Systems, Inc., shortly thereafter, changed to ANS Communications.  At that point, amidst towers, air conditioned closets, vast pyramids of empty cans of Mountain Dew and Coca-Cola, my awareness of hacking shifted dramatically; hacking became something our team of programmers protected our Fortune 500 client base from happening to their information systems with firewall and VPDN solutions.  Each and every one of my colleagues possessed the technical skills capable of breaking into, rather than protecting, IT systems but each had the moral compass to ‘do no harm’.  They were (and continue to be) innovators – way ahead of the technology curve that most of us deal with on a daily basis and obsessed with achieving perfection in code – my job was to shine a spotlight on the product suite they developed and have it gain adoption with our core audiences.

The general public is a bit more aware of hacking today – security breaches abound from crowd-funding platform Kickstarter, to Forbes and Neiman Marcus – it’s generally a rather nefarious association to hack something.  But thankfully hacking is emerging from doing “a hack job” to something about fostering positive disruption of a less-than-ideal status quo by applying the creativity inherent to each and every one of us.

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To raise new questions, new possibilities, to regard old problems from a new angle, requires creative imagination and marks real advance in science.

 — Albert Einstein

Several months ago I sat enraptured watching Logan LaPlante’s TEDx presentation on hacking his education – I am not a mom, but had I been such I would so want to create an environment for learning and living life for my kids as his parents clearly have.  At the end of the day it is Logan doing the heavy lifting on his life with a maturity that far too many of us (insert any nationality) do not possess. Self awareness, discipline, creativity and curiosity drive him (as much as his love of skiing on fresh powder).  The seminal article by Dr Roger Walsh referenced by Logan encompasses eight building blocks of a happy and healthy life and are referred to as Therapeutic Lifestyles Changes (TLCs) and I can’t help but wonder why (like Logan) this path to living has not become more mainstream – well, in fact I do know why, as do most of us.

The paradigm of happiness is treated like a Holy Grail instead of something common to our experience and when our reality fails to ‘live up to’ the perception drilled into our psyche by the media we chose ‘medication’ (pills, alcohol or on the psychiatrists’ sofa) rather than stepping into the void. The core outcome of hacking is innovation ~ seeing the possibility of doing something easier, with greater style or more efficiently, fostering positive impact for ourselves and the world around us all of which exist at the core of social responsibility.

ImageThere are hundreds of thousands of ‘hackers’ whose efforts have produced totally cool end results, but I want to share two extremes of creative thinking with you that I believe have real possibilities of fostering paradigm shifts in many of our lives.  Though I don’t personally know any of these people the term lifehack comes immediately to mind when I think of Anna Haupt and Terese Alstin of the Swedish firm Hövding who have created a cyclists dream come true – a bike helmet that is essentially a personal airbag, and the disruptive microfinance and financial inclusion technology model created by the Croatian firm Oradian‘s co-founders Antonio Separovic, Andrew Mainhart, Julian Oehrlein and Onyeka Adibeli.  I think it is a reasonable assumption to write that their quality of life is enhanced because each recognised in themselves creativity begging for outlet and then, as a fundamental principle of their businesses, they engaged in work that both stimulates them and which also incorporates ‘service to others’.  

Yes, I realise that my perception of any of these, and thousands of others, individuals might be skewed toward something larger than reality but in believing such perhaps the resonance of innovationpositive carries forward to inspire more creativity, catalysing innovation and fostering change.

As the Buddha is credited with saying, “All that we are is the result of what we have thought. The mind is everything. What we think, we become.”

If you enjoy my blog please consider ‘buying me a cup of tea’ in your currency via PayPal to livelikeadog@gmail.com and do share it with your friends on Facebook, Google+ and Twitter – I am @TeresaFritschiTo order my book, please click on the cover art of my book below, thank you! 

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What do their families eat? Arsenic and GMO in the food chain – guest blog for Ethical Value

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Concurrently published with Ethical Value

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Highland cows at Ardalanish Farms, Isle of Mull

A decade ago, on the Isle of Mull located off the western coast of mainland Scotland I had the very great pleasure to meet Minty and Aeneas Mackay at their, then, Ardalanish Farm (now owned by Andrew and Anne Smith). A ruggedly beautiful sweep of pristine earth where handsome Angus and Highland beef and rare breed sheep happily co-mingled and grazed on land that ran from a natural bay highlighted by a white sand beach with stunning purple accents (caused by indigenous mineral deposits) to heightened elevations with unobstructed views to Ireland on a clear day. Marked by Soil Association signs Ardalanish is certified to be thoroughly organic. Brambles run down to the sea and yielded abundant fruit for jam and cobblers, milk thick with cream from another local farm made our breakfast tea white, it was idyllic in a way that few places can claim to be.  I think of this place in its perfection and in wonder that the simplicity and reverence for living in harmony with every beast, the land and sea isn’t widely held as the standard – it is, in my opinion, simply common sense we should all be embracing. It is also what David Abram wrote in his Spell of the Sensuous of ecological philosophy living in close observance to the land and giving more than we take.

Food Map

The multi-nationals that control almost everything about our food chain.

We SHOULD BE having a global crisis of conscience but it is still a very small minority that would, or could, live this way; those who might choose to hoard heirloom seeds from year-to-year to ensure their independence and sustainability. A slightly larger percentage of the population understands GMO stands for ‘genetically modified organisms’ and these are essentially ‘designed’ to control world food supplies for the benefit of shareholder stock values but are having horrible effects on the genetic makeup of all living things. (Not all companies shown on the map are nefarious; the image is provided to illustrate the control of our food chain.  Consider – not represented on map – Rishi Tea and Tchibo which serve as beyond exemplary models for sustainability and transparency.)  Those that understand that cultivating our own food supply as well as knowing what is actually “in” the food we purchase – anywhere – is swelling but it is a finding-a-needle-in-the-haystack quest for food integrity unlike any time in human history.  Have we moved so far away from our hunter-gatherer and early agricultural history as to leave us numb as well as stupid?

Of late we discover that, in the United States, the Federal Drug Administration has been rather lax about the inclusion (or rather enforcing the exclusion) of arsenic in our pork and poultry (and what else?)  – don’t we already have sufficient poisons in our environment to create an epidemic of cancer globally?

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Join the movement! Click to learn more about GMO foods and labeling!

A piece of legislation that would be the equivalent of the universal bottle bill for labelling is in the centre of a smack down of laundered money and secret slush funds, with a list of big agra-business spending $22 million USD to defeat legislation in the state of Washington alone that should make every person on the planet be outraged out of their state of perpetual complacency and immediately (at minimum) start reading labels of their pre-packaged food purchases and clean out their portfolios and retirement plans of the violators.

I cook from scratch.  I shop at farmer’s markets which are vetted to be organic and I don’t purchase food with ingredients I can’t pronounce at the grocery store but without GMO labelling, and as a result of genetic contamination, that broad term that means that the buffer zones designed to keep GMO foodstuffs within bounds don’t work, I am fighting the same battle that we all seem destined to lose. I have to ask – what are the employees and executives and shareholders of these companies feeding their own families? Why are they NOT fostering change from within to achieve value and profit in conjunction with transparency and integrity around their product offerings? What kind of people put profit above the protection of our food supply and water? What kind of people carry this kind of ethical wasteland around inside their being and, god-forbid, is it contagious?

Witness, and by all means actively participate in, the rise of  the ancient wisdom of indigenous people such as the Iroquois Nations Great Binding Law in the form of Seven Generation Sustainability and have hope but a groundswell is needed – desperately. YOU!, reading this, foster positive change by making small choices based upon your own family – what will the planet be like for the children of your children’s children?  In the world of social media it’s easy enough to find critical influencers to ‘follow’ and begin your own education and then, choose some organisation to support even if you aren’t the ‘activist’ type yourself. 

If you enjoy my blog please share it with your friends on Facebook, Google+ and Twitter – I am @TeresaFritschiTo order my book, please click on the cover art of my book below, thank you! 

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Rubber Meets the Road – guest blog for Ethical Value

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Please consider visiting Ethical Value for consulting on CSR best practices!

Publishing simultaneously with Ethical Value – http://bit.ly/174hNas

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Let me be clear I am not an eco-warrior, or a war protester. I have the utmost respect for NGO workers but there is something terribly flawed in the pervasive hand-out, not hand-up mindset of so much of what is called ‘aid’ coming from the private sector or governments.  Create jobs with all that money for goodness sake! Image

Since the 1970s (in the tender bloom of my teenage years) I have maintained that doing right by the world around us, ethically, in terms of product development, green i.e. sustainability and its net results in recycling, reclaiming, up-cycling, stewardship of the planet as well as solving the Earth’s ‘pressing problems’ need not be mutually exclusive to creating jobs and building economies which scale and have positive impact. Making money out of ‘doing good’ is not a horrible thing! What is horrible, in my humble opinion, is leveraging ‘feel good’ marketing and communications to increase profit with only nominal re-investment in society or none at all (while fat, dumb and happy Joe or Jane consumer thinks they are making a difference in voting with their wallet).

My personal efforts with Thistle & Broom were driven by the belief that to sustain the cultural heritage of a specific country whilst positively impacting the lives of the actual artisans creating bespoke luxury products by their earning 66% of the retail price was a noble and ideal business model. Honestly, given my own elimination of the brick and mortar storefront a decade ago, T&B should have served as a paradigm shift for the luxury goods space and made me a key-note speaker at the Financial Times Business of Luxury Summit at least once.  Alas, I suppose I must content myself with having been quoted in The Economist!

There are plenty of other like-minded individuals with deeper pockets, outside investment, and, far cooler products than, say, an authentic hand-knit Fair Isle jumper. People who understand that doing good and having positive impact can only be sustainable with innovation and, yes, volume sales.  It’s why, as the driver of an 1989 Turbo-charged Saab convertible and someone who once sold luxury automobiles while simultaneously serving as the Finance Director for a United States Congressional campaign, who looks at the Bentley Continental GT and gets a total head rush, I am VERY EXCITED about the various vehicles of Croatia-based RIMAC Automobili and United States based BRAMMO.

ImageImageThe products of these companies fire on all possible cylinders for me (pun intended) even as I am not a motorcycle rider, nor likely to ever spend $1m USD on a limited edition car, or ride an electric drive bicycle. They are based in sustainable practices and if they only eliminated the consumption of petroleum based fuel they’d rock; but what both the RIMAC and BRAMMO marques offer are exquisitely designed, breathtakingly engineered and (mostly) practical transportation solutions.

As a modest car geek, you’ll forgive me if I get ridiculously excited about the tire shredding capability of the RIMAC Concept One car, 1088HP, 0-100kmp (0-60mph) in 2.8 seconds, a Bulgarian leather interior that is so gorgeous it belongs in MOMA and the Tate Modern, the coolest placement of engines ever – one at each wheel; something that RIMAC CEO Mate Rimac calls All-Wheel Torque Vectoring (AWTV) – the car is first and foremost a super car that just happens to out-perform combustion engines. Did I need to mention it’s also urbane and sexy?

Equally but differently so, Craig Bramscher of BRAMMO has taken his eco-consciousness and early adopter mind-set to create world class motorcycles that cherry picked engineering from precision racing brought such down to street level for law enforcement as well as commuters. PS, I LOVE that Craig has staff to teach an all-female riding school!

The men behind these machines certainly embrace the mantra of “I feel the need, the need for speed”, Vrrroom, and their teams excel at meeting their objectives.  It is only a matter of time before the Top Gear guys are begging for the opportunity to drive (or ride) any of these machines, very likely bumping into the top 10 episodes of all time in the process!  From an outsiders view, both companies successfully leverage the passion of their founders and best in class commitment to their portfolios while providing real value to employees, customers, their respective economies and the world at large.  It’s an exciting possibility to consider that in our near future that technical innovation and sustainability will be “where the rubber meets the road” fostering dynamic system changes across all aspects of our global economy.

If you enjoy my blog please consider ‘buying me a cup of tea’ in your currency via PayPal to livelikeadog@gmail.com and then, please do share it with your friends on Facebook, Google+ and Twitter – I am @TeresaFritschiTo order my book, please click on the cover art of my book below, thank you! 

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Sustainability communications

ev logo[I was invited by Ethical Value to be a guest blogger, this post was originally written for, and published there, but the content remains my own and I thought I would share it here.]

“There’s a kind of self-fulfilling perception to it,” said Robert Lichter, a pioneering media-bias researcher who heads the Center for Media and Public Affairs at George Mason University. “Once people see something they don’t like, they notice things that reinforce the belief that there’s bias” in the media as a whole.

While the above quote supports politics, the truth is that our personal filter (conservative, liberal, eco-warrior and corporate raider alike) determines just how any messaging will resonate with us; and that is precisely my point.  As a communicator I often marvel how the truly well-intentioned manage to sabotage their altruistic intent, while the commercially focused manage to leverage all the ‘goodness’ of the sustainability message to greater profit. (In this I am focused only on messaging and not on the financial means to cover every eventuality and thus to dominate the landscape.)

“However great an evil immorality may be, we must not forget that it is not without its beneficial consequences. It is only through extremes that men can arrive at the middle path of wisdom and virtue.”

Wilhelm von Humboldt

Sadly many of those (thoroughly) invested in sustainability, in protection of the planet and its renewal, whose works span every aspect of driving ethos toward a common standard of good, are very much like (highly skilled surgeons or) engineers in the technology sector with whom I have worked – infused with passion and intelligence they make the tragic error (from ego-centricity) that they can also create compelling, succinct messaging which will engage both constituent audiences as well as the broader general public.  It simply isn’t so. To establish that ‘middle path of wisdom and virtue’ demands cohesion, breadth of skill and continuity, the satisfactory resolution of a problem demands active communication – (not as exampled with this link) and it requires the development of communications which while not offensive to the ‘choir’ will encourage the ‘to-be-converted’. There is an art and science to this. You have to be capable of switching the flavor of Kool-Aid to accommodate specific tastes!  Bridging the space between the über-conscience and the corporate bottom line must draw upon our common humanity and our unified status as stakeholders– a precept of effective management fostered by R. Edward Freeman in his influential book Strategic management: a stakeholder approach published in 1984.

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Vintage Van Cleef & Arpel “birds” brooch (sadly, not mine).

The truest tragedy of sustainability communications, like our filters over choices related to primary source for news and information, begets the ‘birds of a feather, flock together’ syndrome. The message stays within a group already pre-disposed to the content; yet we are all stakeholders in sustainability.  Whether beating back human trafficking, climate change, fracking, Monsanto, big Agra-business and beverage companies over labeling or the total removal of GMO or the warmer and fuzzier challenges related to clean water, children’s education and immunization, the ‘eco-warrior’ is viewed as an extremist – even as all humanity would benefit from the changes being championed. Ironic isn’t it? And, as with the old adage about to mark true wealth is to be able to count on one hand those people you could call at 3 in the morning if you were in trouble, so too a resonate message for a cause our filter deems worthy will drive us toward engagement and support. ­­

Twenty years ago, what has now morphed into the sustainability dialogue was pitched as ‘cause-related marketing’ and those companies whose leadership ‘got it’ understood that alignment with something ‘warm and fuzzy’ was very good for the bottom line – especially with tax loopholes which allowed for the costs of deployment to be written off as charitable contributions or operating expenses.  Sustainability or Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) takes cause-related marketing one step further – or should – and applies equally to the not-for-profit as well as for profit segments of our society.  CSR ideally is the active cultivation of a corporate conscience embraced by every employee from the mailroom staff to the corner office occupant that ‘doing good’ because it is the right thing to do and in doing so subsequently creates benefit for the corporation.  I am of the opinion that embracing CSR is the surest path to creating not only broad stakeholder value but ultimately improving the full breadth of perception including employment branding (which fosters retention and mitigates costs related to hiring and training), AR, IR and PR, shareholder value, sales as well as fostering change for the greater good.

If you enjoy my blog please consider sending me the value of a cup of tea in your currency via PayPal to livelikeadog@gmail.com and then, please do share the blog with your friends on Facebook, Google+ and Twitter – I am @TeresaFritschiTo order my book, please click on the cover art of my book below, thank you! 

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