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The latest news, food for thought, recipes you’ll love, great advice on everything from raising kids to nurturing bees, plus videos designed to entertain, educate and enlighten. If you’d like to find out what’s on our mind – or let us know what’s on yours -- this is place to be.

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Thursday Thought

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Author: the Inkslinger

Chrystie, our Goddess of Public Relations, sent me this bit of philosophical gossamer that I thought said a very great deal in a very small space. Certainly it is a point worth pondering and so I offer it as a thought for a Thursday.


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Managers Need To Do a Better Job Managing. Me included!

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A few weeks ago, Stefan Stern, writing in the Financial Times, noted:

“New research into the UK workforce, to be published this week, reveals that the British malaise is as serious as any. The online market research group, YouGov, has surveyed 40,000 employees working at all levels in all sections of the economy. Only half (51 per cent) feel fully engaged by the company they work for. Less than two-thirds (63 per cent) say they feel loyal to their employer and an even smaller proportion (51 per cent) believes their employer deserves any loyalty.”

If human capital is our greatest resource, why do we so often fail to engage, value, and develop it? I believe that part of the reason is that it’s hard work that many of us don’t know how to do. At Seventh Generation, we've made it a goal to create the best working experience that anyone has ever had. Without commitment and focus, success is not possible. And, as I know all too well, even with commitment and focus, you sometimes fail.

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If it’s Tuesday, This Must Be Tromsø…

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Author: the Inkslinger

Today is World Environment Day, an annual international United Nations event that highlights environmental issues and encourages positive action.

Each year, a different theme is chosen and a different city is selected to serve as the host of the event’s annual environmental exposition. This year the theme is “Melting Ice –A Hot Topic?” and the host city is Tromsø, Norway.

The theme was selected to dovetail with International Polar year 2007. According to the U.N.:

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The Real Wealth of Nations – A Great Book!

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Great books are few and far between, but go out and get this one. A review from the Baltimore Chronicle gives a better overview than I can!

Do you ever open your eyes in the morning and think, Oh, wow, why bother...? If so, you’ll be glad to hear that macrohistorian and cultural transformation theorist Riane Eisler has just delivered another massive and exhilarating dose of hope for the sane and weary, with the publication of her latest book, The Real Wealth of Nations: Creating a Caring Economics.

In The Chalice and the BladeThe Chalice and the Blade, her 1987 introduction to “partnership” as the leitmotif of sane social engineering, Eisler persuasively argued that nonviolent, egalitarian, culturally advanced and prosperous societies have existed in the past and could certainly be made (by us) to exist again.

Now comes The Real Wealth of Nations, tackling the ominous gaps in our mental map of what economic theory is all about. An economy is more than the market, the government, and the military, says Eisler, eventually citing chapter and verse from a long list of other scholars to create a very persuasive case. A complete picture of a national and global economy must include the whole range of vital caring and caregiving activities—mostly undervalued, undercounted, and either severely underpaid or totally unpaid; and mostly performed (surprise!) by women—that take place in the community and in the home.

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Pretty City

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Author: the Inkslinger

White Rhino, who currently is lost in the woods of the Left Coast, forwarded this post from the Cool Hunter about Dongtan, a new 100% eco-city being built in China.

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After the Flood

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Author: the Inkslinger

Today we have a guest post from Ariya Martin of the New Orleans Kid Camera Project. The Crescent City is a realm near and dear to my own heart and to many others here, and I think this initiative is one of the most inspiring to emerge in the post-Katrina era.

Well, as the first blog posted from the New Orleans Kid Camera Project, and as one of the organizers, I thought it would be appropriate to give a project overview and talk about our mission.

The New Orleans Kid Camera Project is a grassroots community endeavor that was created to address the psychological and emotional impacts of Hurricane Katrina on children returning home to New Orleans. Working with professionals in mental health, journalism, photography, and emerging Internet technologies, participants develop the creative, cognitive and technical skills to represent their own experience and perspective without external mediation. The primary goal of the project is to furnish young New Orleans' residents with the skills, equipment, motivation and expectation of success that will empower them throughout their lives to advocate on their own behalf, influence policy to create social change, find a creative outlet to process the changes they have undergone, and expose a broad, global constituency to their community's ongoing struggle.


Chris

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In Tofino

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From the balcony of the room, one could be atop a giant schooner challenging the 20 – 30 mile an hour winds that fill the ocean with endless whitecaps. This jagged shoreline is relentlessly wild. Rocky points hide coves within coves. The rock is sharp and granular, the beaches packed hard with fine damp sand that never dries. The tides rush in over hundreds of yards of almost flat beach, beaches nearly devoid of shells other then the mussels that have been pried loose from the nests where multitudes grow, more than one could ever harvest or eat. There are carcasses of halibut or salmon cast overboard by fisherman who must only fish with actual fishing lines. And a peculiar type of seaweed that starts with a large, hard, air-filled head, followed by a thick rope-like arm that gradually thins as it extends 10 or 15 feet.

You can run, bicycle, even push a stroller on the hard sand. The water, at less than 50 degrees would seem a deterrent to water sports. Yet Tofino is a surfer’s paradise. You can rent a board and a wetsuit, complete with boots, gloves and a hood at anyone of 20 places. There are almost always waves. Sandy beaches extend for miles. You can always find a spot to your self. I must pass as my arm tries to heal from what is either too much paddling on my last surf trip or to much surfing on the Internet.

I take a long time to slow down. And the empty space of unstructured days reveals a deep well of exhaustion. Exhaustion layered upon itself. Exhaustion that rests deep down upon my soul. Exhaustion left unrecognized. It is easier for me to push a little harder than to slow down. It is a habitual pattern, learned from my father and then re-patterned by me into my very own obsession.

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Bee Line: Imidacloprid Is Da Culprit?

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Author: the Inkslinger

It wouldn’t surprise anyone (at least here) to find out that chemical poisoning is ultimately to blame for the strange epidemic of honeybee vanishings. That idea gets another boost today from new reports that researchers are zeroing in on the pesticide imidacloprid as the likely cause.

“Research has shown that in sublethal doses imidacloprid and other neonicotinoids can impair honeybees' memory and learning, as well as their motor activity and navigation. Recent studies have reported ``anomalous flying behavior'' in imidacloprid-treated bees, in which the workaholic insects simply fall to the grass or appear unable to fly toward the hive.”
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Wiping Up History

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Author: the Inkslinger

In 2001, we had a problem with our baby wipes. Or rather with the manufacturing partner who produced our formula for us. What happened next is a case study in the challenges that socially responsible businesses so often face. Literally. By that I mean that University of Oregon Lundquist College of Business Professor Mike Russo and former grad student Dan Goldstein have actually turned the story into one that just won the 2007 oikos Sustainability Case Writing Competition sponsored by the oikos Foundation at the University of St. Gallen, Switzerland.

The case study, Seventh Generation: Balancing Customer Expectations with Supply Chain Realities, topped 22 other submitted case studies to take top honors. You can read it here.

While we were all being interviewed for the project and reliving the days back when, we took the opportunity to turn on our video cameras and make our own little mini-movie about the experience for the archives:

It’s an interesting parable about how difficult it can be for a small socially responsible company when the right thing and the profit thing don’t want to get along, which actually describes a fairly typical day around here. What do you do? Here’s what we did when the wipe out loomed, and while I don’t think there’s anybody here who would ever want to go through it again, I’m also sure there’s no one who isn’t thankful for the lessons learned.

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Things Worth Knowing

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Author: the Inkslinger

They say we live in the age of information. Wireless internet, satellite TV, digital radio, ThisTube, ThatTube, a zillion channels and everything’s on. Information is everywhere. People traffic in it. Profit from it. Spread it. Share it. Find it. Know it. We cram our tired heads with trivia and ephemera and worse, but to what end?

Because the fact is, information is only as useful as the things we can do with it. If we can’t do anything personally constructive or publicly useful with a specific piece of information, that’s the tip-off that we should ignore it and move on. There’s nothing to see here.

Slap that kind of filter over your private inputs and watch the static and the noise drop like a stone. Listen to how quiet it gets. See how very little useful necessary vital information there actually is swirling around out there in the i-storm we call the modern world. 99.99% of it just goes poof. Still, there is always information we can use in some way. There are always some things worth knowing. Here’s a few that are…

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