The Presidential Ask

The 2016 US Presidential election is once again being framed as a brutal contest of wills between two disparate ideological camps: the activist government liberal and the skeptical libertarian conservative. Neither party is actually offering anything like that kind of decisive metaphysical clarity. On both sides, there are deep divisions over how to put ideas into practice and which ideas express the “pure” sense of principled public service.

The world is more connected than ever, and this means all issues of public controversy are now more complex than ever. Every choice, whether in the realm of action or in the realm of ideas, has ramifications. Interconnectedness and complexity mean those ramifications are less and less likely to flow directly from the ideological core of a given way of acting, thinking or talking. Continue reading “The Presidential Ask”

Daniel Wordsworth: On Wonder & the Human Gift

Last night in Minneapolis, Daniel Wordsworth—President of the American Refugee Committee—reminded a packed house of 1,000 changemakers that while the attacks in Paris were an unspeakable act of inhuman violence, “We saw the people of Paris come together in a thousand acts of human kindness.”

He then told the story of asking spiritual leaders what it means to be human. A process of dialogue led to this inspired response:

First: Being a human is wondrous, but more than that, each person is a thing of wonder. Second: Each person has a unique gift, but more than that, it is in the giving of that gift to the world that we become fully human.

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Climate Integrity means No Excuses

A few weeks ago, former Minnesota Governor Al Quie said to a small room that the climate issue requires the same approach he believes should drive all public service, and he expressed that approach in three simple ideas: Radical integrity, creative collaboration, and no excuses. It struck some of us as the most clear-headed, forthright, and appropriate way to talk about how to solve big problems and be of service in the world. With the Governor’s permission, we adapted it to be the theme of the Minneapolis 2015 Climate Action: Last Stop Before Paris.

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Lima: World Bank / IMF Civil Society Session

For Better Accountability and Inclusiveness of the Bretton Woods Institutions: A Role for Civil Society Sponsor: Group of Lecce Panelists: Susanna Cafaro (The Group of Lecce); Sargon Nissan (Bretton Woods Project); Joseph Robertson (Citizens Climate Lobby); Moderator: Domenico Lombardi (Centre for International Governance Innovation); Final Remarks: Carlo Cottarelli (Italian Executive Director at IMF) The aim … Continue reading Lima: World Bank / IMF Civil Society Session

Australia Diary: Day 3

Saturday, Sept. 12, 2015

First day of the first-ever Citizens’ Climate Lobby Australia National Conference.

It’s Rod’s day. I get some coffee and breakfast. Send some emails. Post some photos. Rod starts us off with good work on how CCL’s way of lobbying is different. It is excellent, because he is prefacing the Group Start I will do and the lobby training for the next day, so that all of that other work will be easier, more far-ranging, and more attuned to achieving the desired outcome. Then we have three presentations—one from Warwick Smith, one from Walter Jehne, and one from me—then a panel discussion between the three of us.

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Hummingbirds, Polar Bears & People

The climate crisis is not only about polar bears. Our own actions have ramifications in the world, so polar bears and other life forms are threatened by the degradation of complex life-support systems. Those natural systems depend on a stable climate, with carbon dioxide concentrations between 280 and 350 parts per million. Those same life-support systems help to make our world livable for human beings, so we have built a civilization that depends on that efficient, life-giving interplay of natural forces. 

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Bonn: A leap forward for climate action

The governing paradigm for energy policy and climate action is shifting, now, in real time. With a few crucial innovations, we can achieve a more rapid pace of decarbonization than was previously thought possible by any players in the global negotiations. We will need: Commitments that are catalytic, cooperative, and accelerating over time; A framework that … Continue reading Bonn: A leap forward for climate action

The Vastness of the Open Water

Lake Superior is the largest body of fresh water in the world, by surface area, unless you count Lakes Huron and Michigan as one lake, because they are connected by an open flow of water 5 miles across. Where we draw boundaries determines how we rank the objects of our experience and exploration. On my first visit to Lake Superior, I had the privilege of being with two friends, who have redefined boundaries in ways that bring benefit to the wider world. Paul is a brilliant convener of friends and citizens, who brings people together, with a unique confidence in their ability to find each other’s virtues and build on them, together. David is a sailor and Arctic explorer, whose voyages have taken him through the Northwest Passage, in both directions, and around the Americas, fully 28,000 miles in one trip. Our time together in Minnesota reminded me that we are always at the edge of our prior experience; we are always exploring. We tend to think of our lives as bounded by known quantities, by economic limitations, political prescriptions, and the strict definitions our choices subject us to. We often fail to see how we can transcend systemic limitations.  So, it becomes important to think about how our experience is exploration, and how our way of thinking about possibility matters.

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