Image credit: Magda Rod
Last week a conscious community of business owners and entrepreneurs gathered in Boulder Colorado for three days to attend the LOHAS Conference: Businesses Coming Together To Help Change The World. We're talking conscious triple bottom line business companies and people, gathering to share information and inspire a sustainable future for our species. The result? Inspiration, motivation, and spontaneous divine connections. Like when I went to pick up my complimentary bicycle (smile) at the Outlook, the Zero Waste Hotel where I stayed. I ran into Andy Keller, founder of Chico Bags, (I've always been a huge fan) one of the sponsors for the conference, and ended up sharing a fun bike ride through Colorado University to the conference, held at the eco conscious Julien Hotel.Did I say Divine connections? Well, yes I did, and I meant it. I have to really commend LOHAS Executive Director Ted Ning for including the spiritual element at the conference. Several of the workshops like the ones presented by Dr.Larry Dossey and Dr.Elliot Dacher, were based on spiritual principals and indicated just how important a truly holistic approach is to sustainability. I mean, we've got a planet to save ya know, we can't really handle this big of a problem our selves now, can we? Some Divine intervention is going to be required, starting with each one of us being as personally healthy on all levels as possible.
The panel about the oil spill in the gulf was a major highlight, and frankly my main motivation for attending the conference. I wanted to hear first hand from the experts what exactly is going on there, and what we can do about it. EarthEcho International CEO, and grandson of Jacques, Philippe Cousteau skyped in since he was on the ground working on the front lines of the spill. He was joined by The Cove producer Charles Hambleton and the EPA's Director of Public Engagement Stephanie Owens, for a panel moderated by Ten Ning.
Ning opened the panel by acknowledging that there's a feeling of helplessness because the problem is on going. and Owens added that "the solution is not swift or simple." The quotes kept coming:" The oil is toxic to the bottom of the food chain, and we don't know the extent of the damage. "The spill is a symptom of a bigger problem, our reliance on fossil fuels"and,Cousteau pointed out, ""We don't really know what the extent of the damage that is being caused by the dispersants is". Hambleton, noted that the toxic dispersants being used there now are tested to be only 56% effective, and are a bi-product of-gasp-petroleum refining! SO BP is essentially buying and selling themselves their own product?! AND, according to Hambleton there are other dispersants that have been proven 100% effective and are non-toxic. I took the opportunity to ask Stephanie Owens who the decision maker was for allowing the use of Corexit. She explained that she could not confirm whether or not Hambleton's comments are correct, and the Coast Guard decides which ones are used. Hmmmmmmm...and, that the EPA is not, in fact, the lead agency in the matter, but the Coast Guard is, then offered a website for up to date information.
Cousteau received a hearty round of applause for this whopper: "We spend 1,000 times more money every year in our federal budget for space exploration than we do to understand our oceans," "Knowing whether there was ever water on Mars - not critical to surviving on this planet. The oceans are."
The audience was encouraged to submit questions to the panel, and mine was "Is this really the biggest environmental disaster that's ever happened to our oceans, or is commercial fishing actually a larger threat?" Unfortunately they didn't get to my question, but did answer this important one: "What can each one of us do to help the situation?" Supporting NGO's that are working on the ground there was high on the list as way we can all get involved, since more than 5000 volunteers are there with nothing to do because hazmat training is time consuming, and required in order for anyone to get anywhere near the spill itself Cousteau suggested that being an advocate for a clean world and vowing to never buy another plastic bottle, and banning single use plastics overall was a good way to help things improve as well. Ms. Owens suggested that we all continue to engage in "thoughtful conversation "about the subject, and seek out the source of information before sharing it. Everyone on the panel agreed unanimously that boycotting BP was NOT the thing to do, since most stations are run by small business owners that need the income, Doing so would not really impact BP, they said, but would negatively impact our own communities. Larry Dossey closed the panel out with a prayer and moment of silence for all the suffering created by the disaster.
Watch a video recap of some of the highlights.
LOHAS hosted some terrific breakout sessions that I was happy to see included as well. So many in fact that it was difficult to decide which ones to sit in on so as to not miss another. Some of my faves were the Healthy Homes, which included Christopher Gavigan CEO of Healthy Child Healthy World, that addressed the growing concerns over the toxicity of products in our homes and especially that surround our children. and The Phood and Kids panel, which focused on the shocking amount of processed foods our kids, eat. Speaking of what people eat, one thing I would recommend to improve the conference next year, would be the absence of meat. According to Worldwatch Institute, livestock and their byproducts actually account for at least 32.6 billion tons of carbon dioxide per year, or 51 percent of annual worldwide GHG emissions.So, holding off on the—gasp—roast beef-next year might be a bit more appropriate.
The screening of the film Dirt was really enlightening, and I was truly inspired by the "Igniting Inspiration 101: An Advanced Workshop for Conscious Capitalists" workshop led by John Marshall Roberts.
Then there were the personal connections with like-minded peers that make these events even more fun. Like hanging out with Waylon Lewis at SocialK, Soap Group & CSR Wire's Speakeasy party for Elephant Journal at Bitter Bar,. Then another Divine connection, after searching all day for a ride partner to the airport, a spontaneous ride share and flight home with Mallika Chopra (where I learned all about her amazing website intent.com—think: if twitter and facebook had a baby, and it was born into supreme consciousness), Then last but not least, there's the fat stack of business cards I collected. I'm working my way through them now, to keep in touch with everyone.