The Transformation Game

Having Transformation Go Viral in New Jersey

New Jersey, like the rest of the world, is in a period of profound transition. As we come grips with the fact that humanity’s impact on the planet is creating serious risks for all of us, and that each of us must do what we can, where we are, to make a difference—we simultaneously realize that our individual actions are insufficient, and that we need, at all levels, transformational change. We need to foster an awareness within both local and global communities that change is both essential and inevitable. Whether we’re concerned with climate change, or biodiversity loss, or social injustice, it’s clear that above all we need to restructure our economy, to make it cleaner, and fairer, and more restorative of Earth’s systems in order to achieve any degree of sustainable prosperity.

For many people, the sheer size and scope of this challenge may seem beyond their ability to comprehend, so they withdraw into narrower realms of life — making a living, maintaining a relationship, or pursuing “professional development.” Those who do recognize what the planet confronts us with may become cynical and resigned, get burned out, or simply feel overwhelmed and unable to take any meaningful action. The challenge, in this game, is to engage with other social change agents in a common search for the levers of regenerative transformation.

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Re: Back to the Well–One More Time

Joel Harmon writes:

I wholeheartedly concur with Jonathan and Kent that this is a terrific contribution.

The student section is a well written and reasonably comprehensive coverage of key issues and elements.  It offers a great compendium of resources, including some of our group’s best work.  There might have been a bit better/richer coverage of education — including the SJ sustainable schools program, Jamie Cloud’s sustainability curriculum, ISE/SGAP’s problem-based sustainability program, NJHEPS’ initiatives, and ASHE’s  higher ed “green schools” program (several NJ universities already are, and more could/should become).

Your sections are a GIFT.  They aggregate so much from your super-extensive experience, reading, thinking.  It offers a very nice summary of many prior works.  [Note: Perhaps it’s time to do another survey of NJ biz sustainability, to gauge movement and the current state of things in the State].

Appendix II (like much of your work) requires a great deal of commitment to thoroughly read and absorb.  If you (or anyone else) sees further value in leveraging this high-potential material,  I offer some considerations/suggestions.

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Re: Back to the Well–One More Time

Kent Fairfield writes:

Thanks a lot, Matt, for sending this prodigious piece of work. Yes, there is still reason to go back to the well.  I’m so impressed that you have been able to draw on your 40 years of experience in NJ, with background on our state’s environmental history that goes back further than anyone I know. Your current contacts around the state enable you to adroitly reach out to and refer to today’s politicians and others in a highly credible and pragmatic way.

I love the way you enabled your students to do such an in-depth study and to honor them by sending it to a broad audience.  Few professors can make such a claim.  I love that you can draw on comments from Gov. Murphy as an engaging grounding for the work.  Who knew that MRS. Murphy has even spoken out on the issues and will do it again next week?  She may be a hidden ally in the whole attempt to motivate the Governor and much of Trenton.  I find the scope of your 37 recommendations to be impressive.

I haven’t had time now to go through the whole document in depth, but I did want to offer a few comments. I find your thoughts on externalities to be valuable, and I haven’t run into incentives for positive treatment of externalities.  I’m pleased that our earlier survey on sustainability in NJ was a useful source, along with Jonathan’s and Victoria’s subsequent work.

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Fellow ISErs!

Yet another one from me on a Green Economy for New Jersey. I’m really testing that famous definition of insanity about failing, failing, failing at the same thing and still expecting different results. But after this maybe 16th attempt, I think that will be it on this topic.

Anyway, a few things about it.

  1. The first part of it is largely my class’ product. But that also catalyzed me to then go beyond it with what I had to say in the second part
  2. Well, I had a lot, some 40 years’ worth of ideas and experience, which is why it is so long—as well as because I think it is important and hope it is useful to someone someday
  3. This is my third “legacy-type” offering, both on New Jersey and not. The first two were “A Look at Sustainable Development in New Jersey: How Have We Done & What Are the Opportunities– If We Want Them?,” a history of the Ups and Downs of Sustainability in New Jersey; and “On 40 Years Watching the Sustainable Business Field,” on where I think the sustainable business field needs to go. I fear I have a fourth in me if I can find the time, energy, and spirit—and/or if I can find a co-writer late summer willing to write every odd-numbered draft. It would be on “Now that New Jersey is Interested in Climate Change—Finally, what are we still missing?” I’d really like to finish getting these 40-year things off my plate so I can focus outside of New Jersey on global things, especially transformational (big societal) change (the subject of my Ph.D. research). Not that New Jersey will ever be totally out of my watching
  4. As this document is so long, I wanted to point out both the students’ section, and mine, have separate Tables of Contents. Both have Executive Summaries, Intros, Conclusions, and Recommendations. So you can read a bit here and there!
  5. Both the students’ section, and mine, summarize a number of relevant historical reports, etc. You may find some familiar ones there
  6. Beyond the green economy topic, you might find a more meta-topic interesting. In my section, there’s a unit on “Mindset Barriers.” These are, in my view, quiet attitudinal and communications obstacles, not just to the green economy, but to other new ideas. This one I may re-use in my thesis research.

Feel free to let me know what you think.

Hope you all have restful summers.