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.
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
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.
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.
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!