Briefing No. 8
4f9f4303-1939-451a-9896-54a34386af5f.jpg

WHAT WE’RE READING
On the Greenwood Place bedside table

Bill Gates has given every US college student graduating in 2018 a free download of Factfulness by the late, great Hans Rosling. It’s a brilliant book about clear thinking. Please take it on holiday this Summer.  And recommend it to your friends.

READ MORE

We’ve also been reading, and re-reading, Drawdown.  Paul Hawken, supported by two hundred climate analysts, has pulled together a compendium of climate solutions that —in combination with existing strategies and pushed hard by governments, businesses and individuals—could not only stop the growth in atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases but also reduce them.

Unlike most popular books on climate change, it is not a polemic or a collection of anecdotes and exhortations. In fact, it’s basically a reference book: a list of solutions, ranked by potential carbon impact, each with cost estimates and a short description. 

It is fascinating, a powerful reminder of how narrow a set of solutions dominates the public’s attention. Alternatives range from  farmland irrigation to heat pumps to ride-sharing. The number one solution, in terms of potential impact? A combination of educating girls and family planning.

READ MORE


1d81e1b4-7d4a-4db3-a8ef-c52dcc0c1018.jpg

BENDING THE ARC

Dr. Paul Farmer, Dr. Jim Yong Kim, Ophelia Dahl, Todd McCormack, and investor Thomas White began a movement in the 1980s that has had a profound impact on global health forever. The groundbreaking work they began in a squatter settlement in Haiti—creating a model of how to deliver the highest-quality care in the most unlikely places—would eventually grow to have massive global effects. 

Bending the Arc tells their story.

WATCH THE TRAILER HERE


AIR POLLUTION IN AFRICA

Africa has an air pollution problem in its urban and rural areas but the scale of the problem is not easily quantifiable because of the absence of air quality monitoring systems on the ground in many countries. 

In industrialised countries, factories, cars and power stations are usually blamed for polluting the air. In Africa, the causes are hiding in plain sight. Kerosene, used in homes all over the continent to light homes and cook foods, is a deadly threat of which many people simply unaware. 

According to research from Stanford University and the University of California, San Diego published in the journal Nature this week, 400,000 African children under five died prematurely because of the bad air they breathed.  Additionally, pneumonia alone caused the deaths of 500,000 children under five years of age in sub-Saharan Africa and air pollution is known to be a leading contributor to this disease. Air pollution can stunt brain development, trigger asthma and cause strokes and cancers later in life.  

Even a modest improvement in air quality could have significant health benefits for infants.

READ MORE


3f27fb90-f519-4798-a2a7-2f962021fb82.jpg

VISUALISING THE WORLD’S MONEY

How much money is there in  the world ? Strangely enough, there are multiple answers to this question, and the amount of money that exists changes depending on how we define it. This infographic is fascinating - and disturbing. 

READ MORE


SUCKING CARBON DIOXIDE OUT OF THE ATMOSPHERE

A team of scientists from Harvard University and the company Carbon Engineering announced on Thursday that they have found a method to cheaply and directly pull carbon-dioxide pollution out of the atmosphere.

If their technique is successfully implemented at scale, it could transform how humanity thinks about the problem of climate change. The research suggests that people will soon be able to produce gasoline and jet fuel from little more than limestone, hydrogen, and air. It hints at the eventual construction of a vast, industrial-scale network of carbon scrubbers, capable of removing greenhouse gases directly from the atmosphere. Above all, the new technique is noteworthy because it promises to remove carbon dioxide cheaply.

READ MORE


586067e6-e5f3-4e57-b00e-f2d0f4bd1f63.jpg

AND...A FINAL WORD
 
“The 200-year present” is a phrase coined by peace research pioneer Elise Boulding to describe a concept that places us in the middle of history, rather than its beginning or end. 

Katy’s grandfather was born in India in 1918 and lived in that country through Gandhi’s leadership of the Indian Independence Movement, the Second World War and the partition of India in 1947.  She says that his vivid depictions of childhood and his retelling of the politics and personalities of the era remain with her and so they will become known, through her, to her daughters, one of whom might live to see the year 2118. 

Close to you, someone will have been born around 100 years ago and some child will be alive around 100 years from now.   If we think in terms of events over that 200-year span (1918-2118), we realise how long change takes and get a better sense of our place in history.

Rebecca Eastmond
Briefing No. 7
55f48e57-8f78-448a-9f5f-91372473a1f6.jpg

WHAT WE'RE READING

On the Greenwood Place bedside table

Oak and Ash and Thorn by Peter Fiennes is a lyrical story of Britain’s woodlands. 

We all know how useful trees are: they exude oxygen, stabilise the soil and make the rains fall. They provide shade from the sun and shelter from the storms. The vast majority of species on earth - from jungles to oceans - rely on trees for nourishment.  Trees are the best natural air conditioner creation affords, sequestering one thousand billion tons of carbon in their bodies and in the soil around them. 

But Fiennes reminds us that our connections with woodland go beyond the utilitarian, they are also cultural, historical and personal.   He calls out Felix Dennis whose philanthropic legacy created the Heart of England Forest which continues the tree planting Dennis began during his lifetime.  He reminds us to treat the woodlands well. We need them more than ever.

READ MORE


HOW SHIPPING CONTAINERS CHANGED THE WORLD

Shipping containers play a fundamental role in the logistics of aid, particularly in humanitarian first-response missions. Adapted containers are also increasingly being seen as part of a solution for urban homeless populations (TempoHousing started building shipping container homes in the Netherlands back in 2002). 

We learned a bit more about the shipping container this month.  The first shipping container took to the seas in April 1956. By 2017, 90% of all goods were transported in globally standardised containers. Dock workers moved 1.7 metric tons per hour before the introduction of container transport. After containers were introduced they could move 30 metric tons per hour.  

Quartz provides a fascinating overview of the history and economic impact of the shipping container. Read more here.

LEARN HERE

7989e707-55ce-4c8e-b596-fa44d4dcc189.jpg

VIA NEGATIVA

We were reminded this month of the power of the concept of Via Negativa - the negative way - which Taleb discusses at length in his book AntiFragile and picks up again in his more recent release, Skin in the Game.

Instead of concentrating on what you do, the focus turns to what you don't do or what you eliminate (the way that Michelangelo apocryphally told the Pope that he carved his David simply by removing everything that was not David from the marble block)...

Philanthropy - which has nothing to sell - can use the concept of Via Negativa particularly well. It’s interesting to think about where simply by removing a harmful addition can make a real positive difference (removing added sugar from children’s meals?) - without side effects and with little or no cost. There are clearly some places where we do need to intervene (Planting trees? Limiting economic distortion?) but perhaps fewer of them than we think...

READ MORE


91bff352-870a-4629-a40c-89b128052594.jpg

THINKING BIG

There’s a crack in everything, that’s how the light gets in... (as Leonard Cohen said)

Staying curious, acknowledging our limitations, noticing that things change, keeping learning, opening up the cracks... Being entrepreneurial about philanthropy demands a great deal of humility - if you do manage to nudge things in the right direction its highly unlikely that the journey you take to get there will be the one you mapped out at the start.

New Philanthropy Capital and Lankelly Chase’s new publication “Thinking Big” points out that our dysfunctional thinking as philanthropists, and the equally dysfunctional thinking of our partners in the non-profit sector, limits our collective impact.  It provides some rules of thumb that can help us to recognise and tackle these failings in our own work.

READ MORE


e92d9db4-9b32-4722-8930-e84240614ce5.jpg

AND...A TIMELY REMINDER ABOUT POWER 

It’s a basic tenet at Greenwood Place that lasting positive impact cannot happen unless we empower clients and consumers to own their own priorities and decisions.

So, how do we reflect this in how we behave as impact investors and philanthropists? We were pleased to see this recent article on "Who has the Power", thinking through some of the issues here

For more linked thinking to this topic, take a look back at the Lean Data impact measurement piece highlighted in Briefing 6.

READ MORE


EVENTS AT GREENWOOD PLACE

We’re heading to the Skoll World Forum next week and also building the programme for an immersive Greenwood Place Community trip to Kenya in the Autumn - where we’ll be talking with low-cost solar companies, community-owned conservationists and agricultural co-operatives amongst others.

We’ve listened to your ideas about the teach-ins and roundtable discussions you’d like to see us host in 2018 and we’re planning breakfast discussions with Hugh Possingham, Chief Scientist of the Nature Conservancy, Stephan Chambers, Executive Director of the Marshall Institute @ LSE and Per Heggenes, CEO of the IKEA Foundation.

If you want to learn more about these or anything else in the Greenwood Place diary, give us a call.

c50f4f70-609b-4ad1-a857-5757addf8685.jpg
Rebecca Eastmond
Briefing No.6

WHAT WE'RE READING
On the Greenwood Place bedside table


Go, Went, Gone by Jenny Erpenbeck is a profound, gripping and beautifully written novel.   It brings humanity to the huge and complex issues of migration, asylum and refuge.  Do read it.

READ MORE

unnamed.jpg
 

THE PALE BLUE DOT

On February 14, 1990, when the Voyager 1 spacecraft completed its exploratory mission, it turned its camera around and took the iconic “Pale Blue Dot” photograph. The image, composed of 640,000 individual pixels, depicts Earth, a mere 12% of a single pixel, at the centre of a scattered ray of light resulting from taking an image this close to the Sun.

 
Maria Popova reminded Rebecca earlier this year of the value of occasionally stepping right back and taking the telescopic view. No better way to do this than to ponder the image and listen to Carl Sagan’s lovely Pale Blue Dot monologue.

LISTEN HERE

unnamed-1.jpg
 

AN IMPORTANT LETTER

One of the most influential investors in the world wrote this month to the chief executives of the world’s largest public companies.

 
Larry Fink has put business leaders on notice that their companies need to do more than make profits — they need to contribute to society as well if they want to receive the support of BlackRock ($5.7T AUM).

 
“Companies must ask themselves: What role do we play in the community? How are we managing our impact on the environment?” he writes. “Society is demanding that companies, both public and private, serve a social purpose... To prosper over time, every company must not only deliver financial performance, but also show how it makes a positive contribution to society.”

 
Despite Mr. Fink’s insistence that companies benefit society, it’s worth noting he’s not playing down the importance of profits. He believes that having social purpose is inextricably linked to a company’s ability to maintain its profits:

READ MORE

 
unnamed-2.jpg

THE USES AND ABUSES OF DATA

We’ve got The Tyranny of Metrics by Jerry Z Muller on order but, in the mean time, we enjoyed the FT’s review of the book.

 
As Tim Harford writes in the FT, Professor Muller’s book is 220 pages long, not including the front matter. The average chapter is 10.18 pages long and the book weighs 421 grammes. These numbers tell us nothing of course. If you want to understand the strengths and weaknesses of the book, you need to read it. Muller’s argument is that we keep forgetting this obvious point.

 
The fact that 24 people turned up to Greenwood Place’s 2 hour session on impact measurement this month (we had to book a bigger room, and borrow extra chairs…), not to mention the quality of conversation around the table, suggests that the philanthropists in our community at least are thinking very deeply about what to measure, and what data they should use to guide their actions.

READ MORE

 
unnamed-3.jpg

AND...A FIRST IN IMPACT MEASUREMENT

Over the past decade, Acumen has invested $22.1 million in 20 energy companies to impact 81 million lives. But what does it mean? Did the lives of these 81 million people improve, and how?

Over the past year, Acumen’s Lean Data team listened to more than 5,500 customers of their portfolio companies across 11 countries, focusing on 18 impact indicators ranging from income level to energy access.

Amongst other learnings, we now know that these companies have given 58 million people access to modern energy for the first time.  We also know the various levels of income their customers earn and whether they see a tangible change in their lives.  At this point in history where affordable energy for every human on earth is within our collective reach, it’s a compelling read:

READ MORE

 

WHY AREN'T FOUNDATIONS ACTUALLY HELPING THEIR GRANTEES LIKE VCs DO?

Philanthropists sometimes have a tendency to assume that A people do strategy and the B people do execution.  In fact, execution is where most of the game is played.  We were very pleased to come across this piece that reminds us about the critical importance of the expense of talent support and operational excellence.

READ MORE

 

EVENTS AT GREENWOOD PLACE

We’re heading to the Skoll World Forum in April and also building the programme for an immersive Greenwood Place Community trip to Kenya in the Autumn - where we’ll be talking with low-cost solar companies, community-owned conservationists and agricultural co-operatives amongst others.

 
Thank you to those of you who have given us ideas for the teach-ins and roundtable discussions you’d like to see us host in 2018.  If you want to learn more about anything in the Greenwood Place diary, give us a call.

 
And thank you to our advisory board members Jamie Cooper and Miko Giedroyc, and to our friend and colleague Tris Lumley, for pointing us in the direction of some of the things we’ve enjoyed and included in this Briefing.

unnamed-4.jpg
Rebecca Eastmond
Briefing No. 5

WHAT WE'RE READING
On the Greenwood Place bedside table


The Book of Joy is a beautiful book that documents a week of conversations between the Dalai Lama and Archbishop Desmond Tutu in 2015 at the Dalai Lama’s home in Dharamsala.  The two men look back across their lives and reflect together about finding calm and joy in a world filled with suffering.  We plan to re-read it this Christmas as we seek to take some of its lessons into 2018.

READ MORE

unnamed.jpg

LOWER COST & HIGHER VALUE

We’re looking forward to having Tom Adams and David Bonbright visit Greenwood Place early in the New Year to help us think more clearly about impact measurement.  
 

We’ve been reading some of their writings in preparation.  We particularly liked Tom’s practical advice in ImpactAlpha about how to make data gathering something that is cost effective and works as well as possible for frontline companies, funders and investors.

READ MORE

 

EXACTLY WHAT IS THE GREENWOOD ANYWAY...?

People keep asking us how we came up with the name Greenwood Place.  And so, we wanted to share the excerpt below from Roger Deakin’s book “Wildwood, A Journey through Trees” .  

As Deakin says, “To enter a wood is to pass into a different world into a different world in which we ourselves are transformed. It is no accident that in the comedies of Shakespeare, people go into the Greenwood to grow, learn and change.  It is where you travel to find yourself….”

READ MORE

 

A COUPLE OF PODCASTS FOR A WINTER'S DAY WALK…

We loved Nobel Laureate Daniel Kahneman’s interview on the On Being podcast.  His insights into why we think and act the way we do, and how at odds that can be with how we like to think of ourselves, are fascinating, unnerving, and very relevant. Listen here. 

And Darren Walker, CEO of the $11.7 billion Ford Foundation, had a fascinating conversation with students at the London School of Economics last month.

Walker believes that “philanthropy today must be motivated by justice, generosity isn’t enough. Generosity allows those of us who are privileged to be comfortable in our giving. Justice requires that we get uncomfortable.” Skip the introductions - it gets interesting around 12m 36sec when the Q&A begin. Listen here.

unnamed-1.jpg

 

EVENTS AT GREENWOOD PLACE

We’re talking impact measurement in January at Greenwood Place, attending the Skoll World Forum in April and planning an immersive Greenwood Place Community trip to Kenya in the Autumn - where we’ll be talking with low-cost solar companies, community-owned conservationists and agricultural co-operatives amongst others.  Do let us know if you’d like more details regarding any of the above.  

unnamed-2.jpg


HAPPY CHRISTMAS FROM ALL OF US AT GREENWOOD PLACE


Greenwood Place provides philanthropy support, advice and execution for a small group of strategic philanthropists. We take an entrepreneurial approach to tackling tough social and environmental problems. We work closely with our clients to find the places where they can make the most difference, we support their learning and we partner with them to achieve real, lasting change. 

"The Greenwood is the place in Shakespeare's plays where characters go to grow, change and learn."

If you want to discuss any of this information further please feel free to contact us directly.   
And you can access back issue Briefings on the Greenwood Place website here.

The Greenwood Place team

Ariana Murray Wells
Briefing No. 4

WHAT WE'RE READING
On the Greenwood Place bedside table

We just finished Doughnut Economics and we've made notes on every chapter we've read.

Kate Raworth's economic model for the 21st Century is an ambitious, radical roadmap for bringing humanity into the sweet spot that meets the needs of all within the means of the planet. 

READ MORE

unnamed-26.jpg
 

AND WHAT WE'VE BEEN WATCHING


Chasing Coral is a beautifully made and chilling documentation of the environmental catastrophe happening globally now. 

Some 40% of the Great Barrier Reef is estimated to have died in 2016 alone due to rising sea temperatures.  Over the last 30 years 50% of the coral has disappeared.  Based on current trends, within the next 30 years, annual bleaching will have killed most of the world's coral. 

Jiro Dreams of Sushi follows the work and life of Jiro Ono, the 85 year old who is recognised by many as the greatest sushi chef alive.

He works every day at his tiny, 10 person, basement restaurant and, he says, "I love making sushi. I enjoy every day." His life lesson? "Immerse yourself in your work.  Never complain...dedicate your life to mastering your skill.  That's the key to being regarded honourably."

Ikigai is a Japanese word that translates roughly as the happiness of always being busy - doing work that uses your strengths, has an impact, makes a living, and brings joy.  It might be translated into French as 'raison d'être.'

SEE MORE

unnamed-27.jpg
 


IMPACT: MORE AND BETTER

Philanthropy operates in places where systems are broken. Not every good idea or great organisation can or will shift a system, but where there is a chance of moving beyond incremental change to accelerate a solution to one of the world's most pressing problems, surely philanthropy should do everything it can to help. 

Scaling Solutions Toward Shifting Systems, a new report from Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors, investigates the role that funders can play, and how they can either support or constrain the organisations they support through the way that they approach their giving.

MORE HERE

 


BLOCKCHAIN TECHNOLOGY
 

We've been talking to land rights experts and to mini-grid investors about blockchain technology and its capacity to give agency to the poor.  So we were delighted to see that other people are thinking along similar lines.  Vinay Gupta and Rob Knight argue that blockchain gives emerging economies an unprecedented opportunity to create transactional security and trustworthy governance infrastructure. Article here.

READ MORE

unnamed-29.jpg
 


LAST WORDS: BUILDING THE CIRCULAR ECONOMY

Greenwood Place's home, Somerset House, hosted Pentatonic's Trashspresso machine.  

The start-up company manufactures flat pack furniture entirely from rubbish and with traceable, modular components. 
And, check out http://preciousplastic.com/ for a step-by-step guide to recycling and repurposing plastic in your shed at home. Maybe this could be your ikigai? Click here

READ MORE

 


EVENTS AT GREENWOOD PLACE

We thoroughly enjoyed our launch party in September surrounded by so many friends, family, clients and advisors. We were kindly supported by Woven Gold, the choir from the Helen Bamber Foundation who added to the wonderful atmosphere of the evening. We are so grateful to everyone who was able to attend and we look forward sharing and growing our friendships and partnerships on the Greenwood Place journey. 

unnamed-30.jpg

Greenwood Place provides philanthropy support, advice and execution for a small group of strategic philanthropists. We take an entrepreneurial approach to tackling tough social and environmental problems. We work closely with our clients to find the places where they can make the most difference, we support their learning and we partner with them to achieve real, lasting change. 

"The Greenwood is the place in Shakespeare's plays where characters go to grow, change and learn."

If you want to discuss any of this information further please feel free to contact us directly.   
And you can access back issue Briefings on the Greenwood Place website here.

The Greenwood Place team

Ariana Murray Wells
Briefing No. 3
 

WHAT WE'RE READING
On the Greenwood Place bedside table

We took quite a stack of books on holiday this Summer.  

Tim Marshall’s Prisoners of Geography was a great read and a reminder of the salience of geography in international affairs.  Ideologies come and go but geography remains…. 

We also thoroughly enjoyed Progress by Johan Norberg.  If- like most of us -  you are predisposed to assume that things are worse than they used to be, this book unleashes wave after wave of evidence to the contrary.  The main reason why things tend to get better is that knowledge is cumulative and easily shared and as Norberg puts it, “The most important resource is the human brain...which is pleasantly reproducible.” 

READ MORE

 

AND WHAT WE'VE BEEN WATCHING

We were gripped and deeply moved by Ava DuVernay’s film '13th', a piercing documentation of mass incarceration in today’s America, which contains 5% of the world’s population and 25% of its prisoners.  

Although we haven’t quite got around to setting up a Greenwood Place film club yet, it’s definitely on our list.  Check out Influence Film Club for recommendations of great, thought-provoking documentaries as well as articles and other read-arounds that provide context.   

SEE MORE

 
unnamed-5.jpg
 


ELEPHANTS AND OTHER EXTRAORDINARY ANIMALS

We were amazed by acoustic biologist Katy Payne’s story of how she discovered the layers of infrasonic communication between elephants and what she has learned from more than 30 years of listening to animals. 

It was fascinating to learn how emotional elephants are.  Payne says that the excitement when a group of elephants that has been separated for a few hours come back together is "the most marvellous show of total New Year’s Eve, family-reunion excitement".  Listen here

Oliver Uberti’s article documenting GPS tracking of elephant travels, and how conservationists are using data to help to reduce human-animal conflict was an interesting complement to the podcast.  

MORE HERE

 
unnamed-6.jpg
 


ENSEMBLES NOT SOLOISTS
 

We’re involved in a couple of collaborative ventures here at Greenwood Place.  In both cases, informal teams have formed for practical reasons - no single party has all the answers (when exactly does one party have all the answers in any event?) or all the resources needed to reach a successful outcome.  So we were very pleased to come across Jeffrey Walker’s piece about collaboration in philanthropy - why it makes sense, when it makes sense and, more importantly, what you can do to maximise its chances of success

READ MORE

 


ARE YOU A SELF-INTERRUPTER?
 

As an inveterate email checker, Rebecca was both fascinated and appalled by Adam Gazzaley and Larry Rosen’s recent article in Nautilus about how we use media and technology.  One study of 3,048 Dutch teens and adults found that people of all ages multitasked at least a quarter of the time—with teens dual tasking 31 percent of their day.  Another study saw UK workers dealing with an email, which itself took an average of just under two minutes, taking an average of 68 seconds to return to their work and remember what they were doing.

READ MORE

 
unnamed-8.jpg


EVENTS AT GREENWOOD PLACE

It’s Greenwood Place’s launch party next week.  Hooray! It’s exciting to be building a community of people who are committed to inspiring entrepreneurial and measurable philanthropy.    We look forward to raising a glass with you.

And do look out for our Autumn programme of teach-ins and roundtable discussions.  If you want to learn more about what’s in the Greenwood Place diary, give us a call.

Ariana Murray Wells
Briefing No. 2

WHAT WE'RE READING

On the Greenwood Place bedside table


We just finished The Bet by Paul Sabin which explores the clash in ideology between Paul Ehrlich and Julian Simon. The bet was about the 10 year price of five metals, but it illustrates much more - our collective gamble on the future of humanity and the planet.  

Ehrlich and Simon's divergent visions of the future (catastrophe and scarcity vs a world where free markets and innovations yields continued prosperity) polarised and politicised environmental discussion, particularly around climate change.  Both Ehrlich's apocalyptic framing of the debate, and Simon's utopian alternative made it almost impossible to have a sensible, practical conversation about what policy actions to take and when, what they will cost and what is their respective urgency.

READ MORE

unnamed-12.jpg
 

GIVING SMART 

The survey results reported in this month's Stanford Social Innovation Review gave us pause for thought. 

Bridgespan reviewed nearly 1,500 financial statements spanning the years 2009 to 2014 from organisations with big budgets, professional staffs, and successful programs.

As we all know, the ability to build strong and successful programmes comes from strong infrastructure and financial health. Nevertheless, 53% of organisations surveyed suffered from frequent or chronic budget deficits and 40% had fewer than three months of reserves.
Time to Reboot Grantmaking 

READ MORE

 


LEADERSHIP IN DIVIDED TIMES

We’ve been thinking and reading about inequality and division this month.  

We spend a lot of our time at Greenwood Place thinking about and working on issues of inequality, division and fractured community, and two pieces particularly resonated with us this month: Kim Samuel's latest piece in the Huffington Post: The Fire This TIme, and Jacqueline Novogratz's speech to graduating class of New England College: A Message to our Next Generation of Moral Leaders.
 

READ MORE

 
unnamed-11.jpg

MISTAKEN IDENTITIES

Rebecca discovered the BBC Reith Lecture podcast this month and is listening to philosopher Kwame Anthony Appiah's series of four lectures on Country, Creed, Colour and Culture on her walk to work in the morning.  He argues, broadly, that the subjects we rely on to try and define ourselves are often wrong or misleading.  What makes national sovereignty, for instance? Is it shared ancestry? Is it a common language and literature? And if those ideas start to fray when you examine them closely, what is it? Listen here. 

LISTEN HERE

 
unnamed-10.jpg


In the news
INDIA TURNING GREEN

With President Modi on the clean energy train, India has announced that it will lower its annual coal production to 600 million tons from 660 million tons. It was welcome news to world leaders and a reflection both of the changing economies of renewable energy and growing environmental consciousness in a country with some of the world's worst air pollution. (NEW YORK TIMES, JUNE 2nd) Read full article here.

 

EVENTS AT GREENWOOD PLACE

Story Telling with Greta Cowan

Greenwood Place hosted a leadership and storytelling seminar with the hugely talented Greta Cowan. Greta specialises in helping her clients bring their vision for change to life and to make it inspiring for others, through story.  She has an extraordinary gift and we were so privileged to have spent the day with her. The event was hugely inspirational and will hopefully be something we will revisit in the future. Thank you Greta!

unnamed-9.jpg
Ariana Murray Wells
Briefing No. 1

WHAT WE'RE READING

On the Greenwood Place bedside table

We’re waiting eagerly for Arundhati Roy’s new novel, The Ministry of Utmost Happiness to arrive through the  letterbox. Read the New York Times review here.

We’re reading The Rebirth of Education, by Lant Pritchett - (thank you to Girin Beeharry for the recommendation).  

Worldwide, 91 per cent of primary-school-age children were enrolled in school in 2013.  To put that in perspective, the average adult in the developing world today receives more schooling than the average adult in advanced countries did in 1960.  School enrolment, however, is far from the same as education. Few of these billion students will receive an education that adequately equips them for their future.  Pritchett’s book is well worth the deep dive, but if you want the summary try this:

READ MORE

09roy1-videoSixteenByNine1050-v2.jpg
 


WHY POVERTY IS LIKE A DISEASE

The stresses associated with poverty have the potential to change our biology in ways we hadn’t imagined. It can reduce the surface area of your brain, shorten your telomeres and lifespan, increase your chances of obesity, and make you more likely to take outsized risks. 

Now, new evidence is emerging suggesting the changes can go even deeper—to how our bodies assemble themselves, shifting the types of cells that they are made from, and maybe even how our genetic code is expressed. 

READ MORE

 


CIVIC ENGAGEMENT

We’ve been thinking and reading about Smart Cities this month.  
 

Over the last two decades the label ‘Smart City’ has been applied to a family of technologies that can speed up the flow of things around the city and reduce the physical frustrations of urban life – free flowing traffic instead of jams; smart flows of energy and less waste; public services better targeted where they are most needed. 

Many of these innovations are obviously useful.  But often they get tied up with interesting tech ideas rather than people’s real needs (I really don't need my fridge to tell me I am low on butter). 

Where the Smart Cities concept gets interesting is where it combines the best of new generations of technology that can use data, to co–ordinate, analyse and target, while also involving citizens much more closely in shaping how cities can work. As in many other fields, technological innovation is being combined with social innovation to achieve more. 

READ MORE

 
unnamed-13.jpg


ASKING GOOD QUESTIONS

 A great deal of our work at Greenwood Place is about asking questions.  And so we were delighted to come across this short piece by Roy Steiner.

READ MORE

 


WEALTH & INEQUALITY

US household wealth was estimated at $83 trillion at the end of 2014, mainly stocks, bonds, real estate and personal property.  What if we divided it up so that everyone had the same amount?  With 320 million people participating, each would have around $270,000.

In reality, the median wealth of a US household fell 36% after inflation, from 2003 to 2013, decline from $88,000 to $56,000.  And the wealth of a household at the 97.5 quartile was 12 per cent better off, with its net worth increasing from $1.19 million up to $1.36 million. (Figures taken from Edward O Thorp’s “A Man for all Markets”)

 

ARCHBISHOP DESMOND TUTU:

Surprise,  forgiveness & healing

Rebecca is slightly obsessed with the On Being podcast series.  One of this week’s highlights for her was listening to Krista Tippett’s interview with Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu, entitled “A God of Surprises".  Hearing Tutu talk about his work with South Africa’s Truth & Reconciliation commission is deeply humbling and has much to teach us today.  

“There’s no question about the reality of evil, of injustice, of suffering, but at the centre of this existence is a heart beating with love.” 

Ariana Murray Wells