Zone 2

Personal/Social Assets, Sustainable Global Economy

This zone is where you engage with the big wide world, striving to choose actions that can help tip the scales of the global economy toward sustainable outcomes. Investments in this realm largely involve career and lifestyle choices along with opportunities to use your time and energy to influence the shape of society and the economy.

Key areas of Zone 2 focus

  • Career choice
  • Workplace (sustainability, service)
  • Lifestyle choices
  • Advocacy/activism on local and state social/enviro issues

Resilience AmeriCorps focuses on vulnerable communities

This summer, the Obama administration launched a new AmeriCorps program that dovetails perfectly with the local resiliency efforts that we’ve highlighted as part of the Close to Home resilient investing strategy.  Resilience AmeriCorps was formed “to assist vulnerable communities that lack the capacity to address climate-resilience planning and implementation.  The AmeriCorps VISTA members will increase civic engagement and community resilience in low-income areas, and help those communities develop plans for becoming more resilient to any number of shocks and stresses, including better preparations for extreme weather events.”  Or, as funding partner The Rockefeller Foundation put it: to “support the development of resilience strategies to help communities better manage the unavoidable and avoid the unmanageable.”  Now that’s a punchy definition of resilience!

The focus on vulnerable lower income communities is especially encouraging, since many current grassroots efforts tend to involve generally better-off and already socially-engaged activists.  A White House overview of Resilience AmeriCorps stressed the importance of its social-justice priorities:

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Post-hurricanes, northeast turns toward resilient power

The one-two punches of Hurricanes Irene and Sandy have spurred cities throughout the northeastern United States to invest in more reliable backup power systems.  These “Resilient Power” initiatives reduce reliance on generators (which too often fail when fired up) in favor of more resilient solar, fuels cells, and power storage systems that can provide benefits between outages as well.  A new Resilient Power Guide from the Clean Energy Group highlights early state-wide projects from Maryland to Vermont, which have spurred 40 municipal programs.  The first target is emergency response facilities: “More than 90 critical facilities in the Northeast – including emergency shelters, wastewater treatment plants, firehouses and other first responder facilities – will have resilient electrical systems in place to improve emergency response in the next year, and to protect neighborhoods in the next power outage.”  Click through to learn more about these trailblazing programs, then dig in a bit in your area to see how you might engage in some Zone 4 resilient investing to advance these efforts in your community.

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Local business “pollinators” are revolutionizing economic development

For years, economic development has focused on attracting existing businesses to build or move to your state or city.  A new book from Michael Shuman challenges the track record of multi-million-dollar tax incentives and points instead at the rapid spread of “business pollinators” that spark local business ecosystems to life, creating far more jobs without relying on public funds to do so.  In fact, the fight among several “suitors” for a new factory or a movie production generally doesn’t create any new jobs for the national economy; indeed, existing companies have shown a net loss of jobs in recent years, while new small businesses have been the primary source of new job creation.  We’ve long appreciated Shuman’s efforts to spotlight the powerful effects of what we call the Close to Home investment strategy, and this new book shows the way forward in exciting detail.  Click through for some key excerpts and more info.

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Global Shapers: Youth Leadership Program

A network of hubs of of young leaders, centered on cities/regions. Participants are chosen for their leadership potential and desire to serve society. Hubs lead local projects to improve their communities, and shapers are able to participate in the worldwide network of Global Shapers as well as other World Economic Forum events. Visit their website.

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Center for a New American Dream

The Center for a New American Dream works to redefine what the American Dream means – focusing on the connections between a hyper-consumer culture, quality of life, and the environment. It offers numerous programs and tools to help Americans reduce and shift their consumption patterns. Visit website.

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Benefit Corporations and B Corps

Benefit Corporations are a new legal class of corporate structure, now available in over half the states in the US; Benefit Corporations are charged with not only serving the interests of their owners, but also creating a material positive impact on society and the environment. Learn more and find Benefit Corporations here.

An related initiative is the B Corp network, which while not a legal structure, is open to companies large and small in the US and overseas. To be certified as a B Corp, companies must meet higher standards of accountability, transparency, community service, and environmental sustainability. Learn more about the 1200+ B Corps.

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American Sustainable Business Council

The American Sustainable Business Council works to create a vision and policy framework for a sustainable, market-based economy. The ASBC engages in advocacy targeting policy makers, business leaders, and the public at large on issues including sustainable economics, financial markets, energy and environment, taxes, and worker ownership.  Membership includes businesses, organizations, and individuals. Visit website.

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Green America

The mission of Green America – formerly Co-op America – is to harness the economic power of consumers, investors, businesses and the marketplace to create a socially just and environmentally sustainable society. The website has a wealth of programs and resources designed to educate and empower its readers to take individual and collective action. Visit website.

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Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility (ICCR)

The Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility is a leading coalition of shareholder activists, with 300 organizational members, including faith-based institutions, socially responsible asset management companies, unions, pension funds and colleges and universities. ICCR members and staff engage with hundreds of multinational corporations each year to promote more sustainable and just practices, and their website is a great place to learn about the key issues being addressed by shareholders. Visit website.

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