Archive for May, 2010

uncovering common will

Monday, May 24th, 2010 | Uncategorized | 13 Comments

I just returned from a two week trip to Brazil for the occasion of launching the Brazilian edition of Theory U. I was able to stay on a bit to learn about the current changes in this amazing country of 190 million people. It’s the world’s fifth largest—in terms of population and size. Brazil has been much better and faster in coming out of the global economic crisis of the past two years. Why did Brazil manage so much better? Instead of giving the billions to bankers, they gave it to the poor, to the most marginalized. They linked economic development with reducing inequality. They invested it in education for all. They invested in better infrastructures for entrepreneurs and small business (example: boosting micro-credit for micro entrepreneurs). And they regulated the banking sector.

I was impressed to see how much was accomplished in just about a decade: reducing the social divide, eradicating hunger, responding to HIV/AIDS in a manner that is a role model for countries all over the place, and so on.

So why is it that in Brazil, after Lula got into power, the grassroots movement that got him there kept creating changes throughout society, while here in the US, after Obama got into power, the movement that got him there seems to have disappeared?

I don’t think I really know the answer to this question. But I have seen three relevant pieces of data: (1) I saw great companies like Natura that do business by routinely working and collaborating across all social, economic, and ecological divides; (2) I saw greatly innovative sustainable cities like Curitiba in which government, business, and the community have been collaborating across fairly open boundaries for about four decades; and (3) I saw the Economic and Social Development Council (CDES) that regularly convenes about a hundred leaders from civil society, business, academia, and government to dialogue and co-create an agenda of the future. What do these three examples (Natura, Curitiba, CDES) have in common? Their common element is that they are based on uncovering common will (which then in turn creates the required political will): a shared understanding of the current situation, of who we are, and where we want to go. That’s exactly what’s missing here in the US. Here we have an ever-widening vicious cultural and political divide that rips the country apart…

Where do YOU find yourself and your country in terms of the deeper common ground? Does that common ground exist–can y o u feel it? What helping infrastructures support the cultivation of the deeper common ground? What’s working (or not) in your country? Where do YOU FEEL the future in your country right now?

otto