Co-opportunity by John Grant - Join Up For a Sustainable, Resilient, Prosperous World (Book Review)
We're excited to welcome British author and green marketing guru John Grant back to the top of our reading list. His latest offering 'Co-opportunity' invites us all to "Join up for a sustainable, resilient, prosperous world." In his recent Change Makers interview John said, "I actually think green should be a bi-product of us living co-operatively together; with the maximum well being and genuine cultural progress gained from the least resources. It could be a new 'elegance' - low effort, conscious life design." We definitely agree and we're delighted that 'Co-opportunity' is choca block full of 'elegant life design'.A Field Journal
Co-opportunity is published by Wiley and printed in the same style (vegetable ink, acid-free FSC paper stock, cardboard cover) as Grant's last book, the acclaimed Green Marketing Manifesto, winner of the environmental category in the 2008 British Book Design & Production Awards. In the introduction John Grant describes this, his fifth book, as "a work in progress... I see this as more of a field journal from someone who - like many readers - is working on co-opportunity." This is a collection of stories, projects, case studies and inspiring leaders that Grant has come across on his journey through green marketing and sustainability consulting. All the examples are of people working co-operatively to create a more sustainable, resilient and prosperous world.
John Grant's Positive Voice
As the ever ebullient Jonathan Porritt says in his foreward for Co-opportunity, "John Grant is your archetypal glass-half-full man." And indeed if you are ever having a 'what's the point!' type of day, which we all surely do, then we recommend Co-opportunity as the book to pick up. With all the fantastic examples of innovative solutions it will remind you that you aren't alone and that there are so many creative ways to make a difference. Porritt goes on to say, "There is a generosity of spirit about all this which is highly stimulating...Those who favour the school of eco-asceticism, characterised by hairshirts, horror stories and self-denial won't get much joy out of this particular text."
Motivating by example
In the way that we so enjoyed with Paul Hawken's Blessed Unrest, the plentiful examples make reading Co-opportunity an amazingly motivating experience. Like Hawken, John Grant, through the simple gathering of stories into loose themes, makes us aware of just how many powerful grassroots projects there are creating positive change in global and local communities. Among the many examples in this book are some of our TreeHugger favourites including, Adventure Ecology, Cape Farewell, Carbon Gold, Carrot Mob, Do Lectures, Eden Project, Grameen Bank, Howies, Kiva, Method, Plastiki, Sahara Forest Project, Toms Shoes, Transition Towns, Tweehive, Worn Again.
The Co-opportunity Overview
While essentially reading like a 'Who's Who' of co-operative sustainable innovation Co-opportunity does have a structure to guide you through the jostling case studies. The book is divided into five parts, with three concise chapters apiece, starting with 'Part 1: A Climate For Change?' in which Grant lays out the stark scientific facts before us and asks how we can work together to effect necessary changes in our society. Things get a little loftier in 'Part 2: Relocating the Dream' where Grant challenges the notion of the consumerist dream and what a prosperous life can really mean. In 'Part 3: Co-operative Responsibility' Grant looks at the role and responsibility of business and industry in creating more transparent systems. 'Part 4: Economic Resilience' touches on Tim Jackson's work on economics and sustainability and we learn about the power of social ventures and micro loans.
The Abundancy Ethic
The final section of the book, 'Part 5: Abundance', celebrates intelligently productive systems such as Permaculture, rather than GM Crops, and alternative currencies such as the Totnes Pound and Hub Culture Ven. Co-opportunity concludes with the concept of the 'Abundancy Ethic' which Grant puts forward as the key to successful co-operative systems. "If there is no central command and control, how can a community work well together? The answer is they need a shared ethic. Without this all you have is a set of individuals. With it you have an aligned group working towards something they believe in."
Open Source Editing
Co-opportunity is an example of co-operative abundancy in and of itself, as a comprehensive overview of sustainable innovation and by taking advantage of the Web 2.0 facility for collaboration. Grant not only crowd sourced his case studies from friends and colleagues, but he also put the first edit of the book up on PSFK.com, asking for feedback from readers in a collaborative online editing experiment. He says, "It seemed only natural to do this with a book on co-operation. But - rather proving the point on open source systems being more effective - if the book has any quality, I'd say it is mainly because I've had so much helpful input for which I'm very grateful."
It would be remiss of me not to mention the fact that John Grant has included one of my current non-TreeHugger projects in Co-opportunity. In the chapter 'Putting co-operative responsibility into action", under the "Shared Texts" section, he mentions Creative Data, a series of public design installations I am working on, in collaboration with UK climate scientists, communicating local environmental issues to local people in their local environment. In case you're interested, Grant writes about Creative Data on p.186, and here's Sami Grover's great post about The Butterfly Effect, the pilot project for Creative Data that took place in Norwich last summer.
Coopp - Co-opportunity Blog
Green Normal - John Grant's Blog
Abundancy Partners - John Grant's consultancy with Jules Peck + Tamara Giltsoff
More on John Grant:
Change Makers: Meet John Grant, Author of Co-opportunity and The Green Marketing Manifesto
Greenwash Watch: Beyond the Marketing Spin
Hope + Glory? Why Is Green Marketing The Way Forward?
PSFK on the Future of Marketing: London, June 1
The Queen's Postbag Becomes A Battleground For Credit Crunch + Energy Debate
Tweehive - Have you heard the Buzzzzzz on Twitter today?