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I visited Portland Oregon recently and had a great time exploring a city alive with sustainability experiments!

Yarn bombing on Portland bike standPortland roadside grass strips taken over by flowers

Water sensitive urban desig

Bike parks before car parks!

Vege plots next to asphalt

Brunch on the Bridge Festival - closed to cars and laid with turf!

Portland mural










Urban meadow reclaiming

Free inner city light rail

Bring your own bag incentive



Creativity is the greatest human resource there is.

I’m looking forward to learning some new brainstorming process arts from Gamestorming: A Playbook for Innovators, Rulebreakers, and Changemakers, on its way to me in the mail.

“The future of work is not about dull routine… it’s about being more human.

Gamestorming is a set of best practices compiled from the world’s most innovative people and companies, condensed into a lightweight, low-tech toolkit that applies tools and rules to the problems of collaboration and teamwork.

The approach is a mashup of game principles, game mechanics and work. It’s a set of methods for inventors, explorers, and change agents. A practice made of people, paper and passion.

It’s for people who want to design the future, to change the world, to make, create and innovate.”

Quotes on purpose

Someone on a list serve I’m part of recently asked people to post their favourite quotes to share with groups they facilitate. Rather than spam the e-list, I thought I’d start to gather in one place some of the quotes that I return to.

They’re words that say what I believe in a pure poetry of only a few lines, and remind me of what I know.

“Accept that you will never be ready. Go make a difference anyway.”
~ Espen Sivertsen (KaosPilots)

“This is the true job in life, the being used for a purpose you consider a mighty one, the being a force in nature rather than a feverish, selfish clod of ailments and grievances complaining that the world will not devote itself to making you happy.”
~ George Bernard Shaw

“Make your work to be in keeping with your purpose.”
~ Leonardo da Vinci

“Be the change you want to see in the world.”
~ Mahatma Gandi

“Poverty is not only a lack of money, it’s a lack of sense of meaning.”
~ David Bornstein

“What is the most powerful lever you can imagine? A big idea, in the hands of a truly outstanding entrepreneur.”
~ Bill Drayton

“Ring all the bells that can ring/
Forget your perfect offering/
There is a crack in everything/
That’s where the light gets in”
~ Leonard Cohen

“No matter what your job is, no matter where you work, there’s a way to create a project (on your own, on weekends if necessary), where the excitement is palpable, where something that might make a difference is right around the corner.

Hurry, go do that.”
~ Seth Goodin

“The core psychology of a social entrepreneur is someone who cannot come to rest, in a very deep sense, until he or she has changed the pattern in an area of social concern all across society. Social entrepreneurs are married to a vision of, for example, a better way of helping young people grow up or of delivering global healthcare. They simply will not stop because they cannot be happy until their vision becomes the new pattern. They will persist for decades.

And they are as realistic as they are visionary. As a result, they are very good listeners. They have to hear if something isn’t working; and, whenever they do, they just keep changing the idea and/or the environment until their idea works. They are intensely concerned with the how-to’s: How do I get from here to there? How do I solve this problem? How do these pieces fit together?”

~ Bill Drayton

Leadership quotes

“We do not need magic to transform our world. We carry all the power we need inside of ourselves already. We have the power to imagine better.”
~JK Rowling

“Given the right circumstances, from no more than dreams, determination and the liberty to try, quite extraordinary things consistently happen amongst ordinary citizens.”
~ Dee Hock

“You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.”
~ B. Fuller

“Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back, always ineffectiveness. Concerning all acts of initiation and creation, there is one elementary truth, the ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: that the moment one commits oneself, then providence moves too.

All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one’s favour all manner of unforseen incidents and meetings and material assistance, which no man could have dreamed would have come his way.

Whatever you do, or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it. Begin it now.”

~ Goethe

“Leadership: listening to what is emerging in order to bring it to reality, as it desires”
~ Otto Scharmer

“A leader these days needs to be a host – one who convenes diversity; who convenes all viewpoints in creative processes where our mutual intelligence can come forth.”
~Margaret Wheatley

“When people who are actually creating a system start to see themselves as the source of their problems, they invariably discover a new capacity to create results they truly desire.”
~ Senge, Scharmer, Jaworski and Flowers, Presence

“People don’t resist change. They resist being changed.”
~ Peter Senge

“The leader’s responsibility is to name the debate, knowing what we need to focus on, and naming the questions.”
~Peter Block

“I’m not the Civil Rights Movement. I’m an expression of it.”
~ Martin Luther King

“Another world is not only possible, she is on her way. On a quiet day I can hear her breathing”
~ Arundhati Roy

“Sustainability is not a problem to be solved. It is a future to be created.”
~ Peter Senge

“The question of reaching sustainability is not about if we will have enough energy, enough food, other other tangible resources – those we have. The question is, will there be enough leaders in time?”
~Dr Karl-Henrick Robert

“Kennedy chose to go to the moon. Our generation must choose to remain on planet Earth.”
~ President Nasheed (Maldives)

“I am interested in the future because that is where I will live.”
~ Albert Einstein

No to multiple benefits?

Word power

Perhaps it’s because 1/1/11 and New Year’s resolution setting is still relatively fresh. Maybe it’s the strange wide-eyed process of coming back to computer world after a great holiday spent largely outside and disconnected from the net, and seeing how so many words are archived online, including on all the social media sites that I use. Mostly it’s because of the reading I’ve been doing around the context of the horrific shooting of Senator Griffiths, her staff and attendees at her first Congress on the Corner gathering in Arizona, USA. All of a sudden I’m more conscious of the power of the words we use.

Hours after the Arizona shooting, Sarah Palin and other political leaders in the US scurried to remove posts from the internet that, in the light of the assassination attempt, were worthy of profound criticism. These included a target map with Senator Griffiths’ voting area under gun cross hairs, and a Tweet from Sarah Palin encouraging renewed protest against the Health Care Reform Bill that read “Don’t Retreat, Instead – RELOAD!” Her Republican colleague Jesse Kelly in the State election had also run a campaign event offering citizens the chance to “Shoot a Fully Automatic M16″ to “Get on Target” and “Remove Gabrielle Giffords”.

More widely, our politics and the media have become increasingly filled with imagery of armed revolution and war. The recent reaction to Wikileaks’ outing of US cables included calls in different parts of the world for Julian Assange’s assassination and treatment as a terrorist (presumably with Guantanamo-style interrogation and no legal rights). Republican members have urged constituents to be “armed and dangerous”, and media commentators make jokes about shooting government officials or beheading a journalist at The Washington Post. “These sorts of things, I think, invite the kind of toxic rhetoric that can lead unstable people to believe this is an acceptable response,” said Senator Durbin after the attacks.

It would be easy to blame individuals who made inflammatory statements for the violent actions of some. In reality, those who used words of violence were neither planning to enact violence or directly wishing for others to carry out violent acts. But words have power, and those who believe that violence is an answer to things they don’t agree with can all too easily be influenced by hate speech.

Amidst the immediate reactions, some media commentary have explained the shootings as the act of just one mentally unstable individual. Alongside these, I’ve been thankful for some great opinion pieces in The New York times that are reflecting on the wider cultural context of the shootings, and how important it is that in a climate of ‘free speech’ we don’t allow hate speech to reign.

Argument isn’t wrong. Dissenting views or different political opinions aren’t wrong. What I don’t agree with is the use of violent language that suggests that those who hold different views not only shouldn’t hold those views, but plain shouldn’t be around. I think we all have a responsibility to chose our words wisely, particularly when we’re sharing ideas in the public realm, or if we occupy positions of leadership or influence (is that everyone who talks with others?).

“The problem here doesn’t lie with the activists like most of those who populate the Tea Parties, ordinary citizens who are doing what citizens are supposed to do — engaging in a conversation about the direction of the country. Rather, the problem would seem to rest with the political leaders who pander to the margins of the margins, employing whatever words seem likely to win them contributions or TV time, with little regard for the consequences.” ~ Matt Bai, The New York Times

“There’s room in a democracy for people who ridicule and denounce those who disagree with them; there isn’t any place for eliminationist rhetoric, for suggestions that those on the other side of a debate must be removed from that debate by whatever means necessary.” ~ Paul Krugman, The New York Times

While one man is likely to go on trial for the killings and woundings at the Congress on the Corner in Arizona, I hope this tragedy isn’t buried as only one’s person isolated responsibility. Because a culture of violence isn’t confined to only those who commit violent acts. Equally, the responsibility for non-violence is with everyone.

“So will the Arizona massacre make our discourse less toxic? It’s really up to G.O.P. leaders. Will they accept the reality of what’s happening to America, and take a stand against eliminationist rhetoric? Or will they try to dismiss the massacre as the mere act of a deranged individual, and go on as before? ~ Paul Krugman, The New York Times

Let’s hope for a new era of responsibility in our leaders and media commentators, and amongst people having conversations, blogging and tweeting everywhere. (Reform of gun ownership might be helpful too?)

As people look for cause and prevention, I’m hoping that leaders won’t be shut off from those they represent by excessive security requirements that prevent them from interacting with their constituents. I’m sure for a Senator who was just beginning her first Congress on the Corner would want more conversations about the things that matter on street corners everywhere.

So what does all this mean for my New Years resolutions?

This year I’m going to pay more attention to the words I use, particularly language that blames or contrasts goodies and badies, or ‘good things’ vs ‘bad things’. I suspect that there’s a similarity between violent political language and alarmist language around climate change and other sustainability challenges, and I’m keen to move away from scare tactics that inspire fear in anything I write or share online.

With some of my significant earlier years spent designing campaigns, and such an influential culture of alarmism and hyperbole (and probably too much time spent online – another New Year’s resolution!) let’s see how I go!


The Holstee Manifesto:

An invitation for 2011

I’ve just come across the fantastic blog of ideas man Seth Godin. One of his latest blog posts seemed like a great invitation into purposefulness for 2011. A short, sweet and all-important note to end 2010’s working year on:

“What are you working on?

If someone asks you that, are you excited to tell them the answer?

I hope so. If not, you’re wasting away.

No matter what your job is, no matter where you work, there’s a way to create a project (on your own, on weekends if necessary), where the excitement is palpable, where something that might make a difference is right around the corner.

Hurry, go do that.”

Back in the land of Oz

It’s been a long time between posts! Hola out there!

I’m now back in Melbourne, enjoying reconnecting with my birth city and getting into the flow of a new job working with change agents who want to implement sustainability programs within their organisation. After an incredible year studying my Masters in Sweden, looking both at the global challenges of unsustainability and learning about a strategic approach to organisational sustainability, I’m having a go at change at the individual and organisational level. While I sometimes doubt that working organisation-by-organisation will be enough to meet the challenges we’re facing in time, it’s a scale I feel I can do-ably work at for the next few years.

As well as the joys of coming back to old friends, an usually green and wet Melbourne and the beginnings of summer, there’s also a quiet buzz in the air back in the south and I’m enjoying seeing new projects emerge in the social entrepreneurship and sustainability space.

Here’s some of my latest crushes in Melbourne, fantastic projects that have started during my year away:

The newly launched Hub Melbourne, an amazing working space for social entrepreneurs and socially-focused business ventures

Awesome Foundation Melbourne, forwarding the interest of Awesome into the Melbourne universe, strings free $1,000 at a time, every month from February 2011

The first-ever TEDxMelbourne, focusing on young people

Kinfolk Cafe, a not for profit cafe that donates shares of its profit according to how customers distribute coffee beans between different labelled jars.

Our Say, an engaging online platform where citizens ask the questions and the politicians, and business and community leaders, answer.

Now that I’m all set up in my new home office I’m looking forward to connecting outwards here more often, and committing ideas and inspiration to the virtual page!

The old and the new mix it up on the streets of Melbourne