A panel of three young, knowledgeable professionals, representing the fields of green architecture, engineering, construction and interior design spoke about how they were purpose-driven in each deciding to start their own companies. They were each determined to achieve business success (for themselves and their clients) by partnering with the planet.
Sean Moran founder of NewGrang Design Build, had a disturbing experience early in his career when he worked for a design construction company. He wanted to save his company money and act more sustainably. He retrieved scrap metal from his company’s dumpster, gave it to a scrap metal group for recycling and emptied the dumpster to half so his company wouldn’t have to rent another one. He proudly told his manager what he had done. He was fired for that. He decided to start his company with the purpose of including sustainability in every project.
When Lisa Elkins and her husband moved to the Midwest, they simply couldn’t find any companies working with sustainability as a goal. They ended up working for firms that lacked any interest in green building. Lisa got a call one day from her doctor. He told her she had a large tumor in her heart and needed open heart surgery. She made an agreement with her husband that if she survived the surgery, they would start a green company. He agreed. She survived and they did. They started 2 Point Perspective Architecture, a firm dedicated to sustainability.
When Amber Autumn worked in construction, she not only witnessed unnecessary waste in resources, she saw paints, varnishes and thinners dumped in ditches that were water supply feeders. When she encountered resistance from would-be clients to the idea of sustainability, she set out to convince companies that they could be more profitable, efficient and productive while partnering with the earth. She founded her non-profit, Green Ribbon Foundation, and is doing just that.
These purpose driven young professionals were clear about the alignment of their work with their passion. They gave many examples and visuals of different ways they have brought unexpected solutions, such as zero net energy use, while making beautiful designs.
CBN participants engaged in discussion and mentioned some challenges for which we need positive community engagement, such florescent lighting and their negative impact on children’s behavior in the classroom; smart meters, now being installed in Chicago without public permission or feedback, whose radiation caused other communities to ban them; and G4 cell towers and their impact on sensitive people who live near them.
A fun highlight occurred when a participant talked about the panels’ work as a metaphor of inner and outer space — of body and spirit. Architects and designers start with the vision or purpose of a space, such as a bank which wants customers to experience them as friendly. The design architects see teller stations as walls that stand in the way of customers receiving that message. So they take down the teller walls and have all the stations with chairs facing each other across a table.
“When we identify our individual purpose, said one participant, we may have walls of perceptions that don’t allow us to act in alignment. So we may have to take down or rearrange inner walls to have a different relationship with ourself and others.” There was a rich conversation regarding inner and outer space.
Another participant said of the Conscious Business Network: “There is spiritual anorexia in business and business anorexia in the spiritual. We’re working on fixing that.”
Books Recommended by the panel and participants on this topic:
Natural Capitalism and Creating the Next Industrial Revolution
by Paul Hawken and Amory Lovins
Cradle to Cradle: Remaking the Way We Make Things
by Michael Braungart and William McDonough
About the Author
Therese Rowley, Ph.D., has a passion for supporting conscious leaders to operate in full power, high energy and clear focus that supports their meaningful engagement in business and in life. Her work with Fortune 500 as well as small company business leaders in facilitating large scale change spans three decades. She is an author, a skilled intuitive and innovative educator who accelerates client transformation. She founded The Conscious Business Network™ to highlight new business models that shape a marketplace of integrity, transparency and inclusion. Dr. Rowley has been adjunct faculty at the University of San Francisco, the University of Chicago Graham School and Booth School’s LEAD Institute, as well as Northwestern University’s School of Continuing Studies where she teaches on topics of leadership, strategy, intuition and transformation.