All posts by solamardev

Episode 77 Majora Carter

Community is an essential foundation for sustainability and equity. I believe the spirit of change starts inside, and then in our homes, and then radiates outwards to our neighbors and shared community, expanding out to the Earth where we share the air, water, soil and precious life sustaining resources.

I’m thrilled to interview Majora Carter on her brand new book called Reclaiming Community: You Don’t have to move out of your neighborhood to live in a better one. Majora is a true inspiration and source of hope for us as we regroup to address systematic inequality. She is the Executive Director of Sustainable South Bronx, a MacArthur Fellow and winner of the prestigious Peabody Award. We met when Majora served on the Board of the U.S. Green Building Council. I first heard her speak at GreenBuild and was deeply moved by her incredible passion, vision and guidance for sustainable communities.

This interview with Majora is important to me on many levels, including that my parents grew up in the Bronx, about three miles from where Majora was born, and the community that is the main case study for her vital book. In our conversation, we discuss how to regenerate our communities, especially those where success typically meant leaving home to seek greener pastures. Majora shows us that this practice isn’t necessary and can be reversed. 

We discuss:

  • The shame and regret when Majora felt she had to leave the Bronx to be more successful.
  • The importance of creating the infrastructure to help residents aspire for beauty and wealth: economically, emotionally and spiritually.
  • That gentrification isn’t always “success” and that we don’t need to escape.
  • We talk about a higher passion, spirit that calls us and inspires us to create our own ministries. I have felt this calling deeply for decades since I first began to work in green building in 1991, and later helped found the green building council movement.
  • The importance of mentors.
  • Community isn’t just a place, it’s an activity.
  • Majora’s Community Development Retention Model, adapted from leading corporations. 
  • Majora’s Equation: Idea to Reality = Discipline + Hard Work + Time + [Love]

Episode 74 Ashok Gupta

A few days ago we wrapped up the COP26 Glasgow Earth Summit, resulting in the Glasgow Climate Pact signed by about 200 nations. The agreement was less than hoped and needed, pushing for nations to come back next year for COP27 in Egypt with stronger climate national plans [NDCs]. Even still, gains were made in some important areas, including methane and deforestation reduction, and addressing the “phase down” of coal. 

One of the highlights at COP26 was a new consortium of big business [called GFANZ: the Glasgow Financial Alliance for Net Zero] who advocate financing urgent carbon emissions reductions. In aggregate, the corporations comprise $130 trillion in capital. More and more, it seems business and technology is advancing the climate agenda faster than government. Boosting wealth as we redefine true value is the key to our survival. More than ever we’re witnessing this in the financial marketplace as electric vehicle stocks advance at quantum leaps in value. Since the 2015 Paris Agreement we’ve seen about $2 trillion invested into green energy and tech offerings.

Learning how to best scale and accelerate climate emissions reduction requires thought leadership and years of dedicated innovation. Today, it’s my privilege to host Ashok Gupta on my Regen360 podcast. Ashok is a rockstar for energy efficiency and clean power generation. His luminary 30 year career at NRDC, one of the nation’s flagship environmental organizations, has helped lead the transformation toward making buildings more energy efficient, and accelerating power generation to renewable energy. Ashok is a Senior Energy Economist at NRDC for Climate and Clean Energy. He served on New York City’s Sustainable Energy Policy Task Force under Michael Bloomberg. Ashok’s work has been highly recognized including the ACEEE lifetime achievement award.

In our free-flowing conversation, Ashok and I touch upon the importance of the building envelope, integrating renewable energy, and reflections on the COP26 Glasgow Summit. We reflect upon the changes on Earth since we first met three decades ago when Ashok gave me a tour of NRDC’s green building in New York, the first one in the United States, and well before the formation of the U.S. Green Building Council and its LEED Green Building Rating System, which helped inspire NRDC’s Rob Watson to steer and shepherd the world’s largest rating system. 
My late Dad always said: “Do not confuse effort with results.” We’re running out of time for results in the metrics of Earth. I’m so appreciative of the spirit and relentless work of Ashok over the past three decades to pragmatically show us the way.

P.S. The world has 98 months before we’re supposed to hit the Paris Agreement’s 50% carbon emissions reduction target. More than ever, it’s time for all of us to doubledown as we learn from Ashok how to scale and accelerate transformation. Boris Johnson framed the opening of the Earth Summit as the world’s last, best chance to save the planet.

Episode 73 Paul Hawken

Meet Paul Hawken, one of the world’s foremost natural capitalism and sustainability gurus on his new book Regeneration: Ending the Climate Crisis in One Generation.

It was a privilege for me to have the opportunity to chat with Paul about his new book and what the essence of Regeneration means for the planet. Paul’s vision is BIG and essential for the future of humans, other living species and all ecosystems. We talk about our inability to comprehend we’re part of nature and not “other,” and how to spark our imagination and creations to stop the harm, and manifest the healing.

As Paul teaches us, Regeneration values all life at its center, and builds a new economy around the rules of nature and life enhancing. Equity is inclusive in all decisions, as we learn about the tenets of regeneration in oceans, forests, land, energy, industry and cities.

Beyond stabilizing our climate, at a deeper level, as Paul writes, Regeneration is about bringing us back to life, purpose, meaning and dignity, as we acquire agency to build a collective for survival. Paul states that we are facing “a watershed moment in history,” and a time for action!

Here’s to building a new Earth together as “we are being homeschooled by the planet,” according to Paul.