is encouraged. (Each section has its own index.)
August 1, 2007: A
Way to Collaborate
July 12, 2007: Laying a
June 4, 2007: Let the Turf Wars Begin
May 1, 2007: Building
March 27, 2006:
Opportunity Expo, May 1, 2006, Cape Cod Community College
March 14, 2006:
Ideas on Sustaining Cape Cod's Water and Open Space
23, 2005: Sustaining a
7, 2005: The Pulse of Progress at Cape Corps
2004: Volunteering to Sustain Cape Cod
2004: The World Series
2004: The Cape Cod Center for Sustainability Brokers Successful
Partnerships among the Cape's Nonprofits
2004: Building the Wealth of the Cape
2003: A Knuckleball of an Idea
Laying a Foundation
In the effort to sustain Cape Cod's natural resources and way of life
and to develop an organization that engages individuals to work toward
that end, we encourage the sharing of knowledge and experience by groups
as well as individuals.
In a capitalist economy, competing self-interests spur economic growth
and build wealth. The Scottish economist Adam Smith articulated the
principles of the individual’s “invisible hand” more than 200 years ago.
Smith published his ideas at a time that coincided with the American
Revolution in which we broke away from Great Britain and established a
new political framework that relied on the voting rights of the
individual. And throughout our history, shared or common interests have
often become broad-based coalitions for change.
“Trust-busting” efforts of the early twentieth century restricted the
emergence of monopolies. The “New Deal” set in place programs designed
to counter the consequences of the Great Depression. The “Great Society”
chipped away at social barriers that limited the access of minorities,
especially blacks, to economic opportunity and political power. And
opposition to military operations mired in Vietnam led us to change
course and pull out and end that conflict. Anti-war sentiment now is
pursuing similar end results regarding our ongoing military operations
in Iraq. All of those accomplishments resulted from the invisible hands
of individuals seeking solutions to problems.
In the broad mix of matters that fall within the term “sustainability,”
concerns about “climate change” have emerged as a groundswell of common
interest. This groundswell is not only affecting our national policy but
also that of state and local governments.
The private sector too is focused on these climate concerns, and
companies are resetting their mission statements to be “green” or
“sustaining.” We see marketing slogans similar to that of one of
our local utilities which states that “climate is everything.”
In each of these instances, broad common interests took shape as similar
self-interests coalesced. Public policies and business practices changed
in response to these shared self-interests. And this occurs
constructively to the extent that individuals form their thoughts and
opinions based on accurate and commonly shared information.
We serve our own self-interests when the broad community is engaged in
civic life. This engagement fosters the exchange of information, and
this sharing of knowledge then makes it easier both to understand the
priorities and observe the practices of our civic and business leaders.
It is the joining of our “invisible” hands that makes the hand of those
in power visible, whether their power is economic or political. As
citizens in a democracy, we need to know the direction in which we are
actually heading. We need to understand how closely it relates to the
expressed intentions of those we’ve empowered to lead us.
Sustainability is all about this exchange of accurate information. And
to that end, we have established a
Web site that encourages
this exchange and welcomes content provided by others who have specific
areas of interest and expertise. We are also building a database of
individuals and organizations committed to Cape Cod and to sustaining
its quality of life. We look for ways to promote and supplement the
efforts of nonprofits. We regard education and the exchange of ideas as
the fundamental underpinnings of our society. Education and
training are the essential foundation of economic opportunity and
well-being for individuals.
Sustainability is far more than the concern about “climate change” or
the “green” initiatives that are emerging as a set of shared
self-interests. Sustainability is fundamentally a set of
“invisible hands” and interests that help shape our common interaction.
Sustainability is not top down, it is bottom up. It relies on
collaboration, not command and control. It is an “invisible hand” that
can guide society in shaping its priorities and attending to the
consequences of its economic, social, and public policies.
Editor of the Larson Report and president of the
Cape Cod Center for Sustainability