Beauty from the Inside Out By Kathryn Alexander
Kathryn Alexander Ethical Impact L3C
What constitutes a beautiful business? The two businesses I have in mind are not in physically pleasing surroundings. One doesn’t spend money that way and the other is rarely in the office, so….. Yet both of them warm my heart, get me so excited I glow and make the lives of others better. The reason why I find them so exciting, however, is that they are actively doing business and helping others do business in ways that are regenerative for the Earth.
What does it mean to be regenerative? It means acting in the same way Mother Nature acts. It means ensuring that what nature wants to happen in a place is supported by human endeavors and not blocked by them. This is news!!!
I’m on a mission to find more of these types of businesses, so if you have one in your backyard, please let me know.
The first one is the Permaculture Credit Union in Santa Fe, New Mexico. As their name indicates they use permaculture design principles when they consider loan applications. What this means is that they are more concerned and measure their success by impact and not profit. Profit is used to pay bills and expand their offerings, but the real measure of their success is impact.
They are concerned with supporting sustainability, so loans are cheaper for projects or purchases that move sustainability forward. They will give bikes loans, for example, and fund an organic farm before a non-organic one. A loan that would triple a business is preferred over a loan that would have a larger ROI (return on investment), is another example.
Permaculture Credit Union
They seek to have multiple impacts from each loan, so community-based lending is preferred over individual loans. They partner with other organizations that are like-minded to increase their impact. They are flying in the face of the industry ‘wisdom’ that says financial institutions can no longer make money on loans, they need fees. PCU keeps their fees as low as possible or non-existent in some cases, and they can do this because they are not trying to out bid other financial institutions with lower rates in a race to the bottom. They are what banks used to be!
The other company is Regenesis Group Inc., with offices in New Mexico and Arizona, and Massachusetts. They partner with architects and land developers to help them listen to the story of the land and discover what nature wants to have happen, now and in the future, so, using permaculture principles, the development will support that aim.
Regenesis Group Inc.
They were working with a developer in Mexico. The project was a beach hotel. There had been an estuary in the area, but it was degraded. As they worked together, the partners in the project got excited about making a difference, so the redesigned the project to protect and revitalize the estuary.
What happened was that as the land came back to health, wildlife returned, the drainage water was cleansed and the ocean water off of the coast was also cleansed. The result is projected to produce 500 metric tons of fish per hectare in an area where marine life had almost disappeared. This kind of thing warms my heart!
Yes, I’m excited when companies reduce their resource use in the first stage of sustainability. Yes, I get happy when companies begin to think systemically and take on zero waste in the second stage of sustainability, but it is the third stage, becoming regenerative that really makes me dance a jig! When we include the Earth as a partner and mentor, then we fulfill our own destiny and become shepherds of this living thing we call home.
The two core values in the Sustainable Values Set® are: all actions create the conditions that support Life, and manage the integrity of the whole. When we do just these two things in our businesses, then we become partners in Earth’s evolution instead of blocking it. That warms my heart!!!!
Kathryn Alexander is President and CEO of Ethical Impact L3C. contact details email firstname.lastname@example.org
Her expertise is in Strategy, Leadership Development, Culture, Sustainability, Ethics, Values. She has an MA in Organizational Development and Transformation from John F. Kennedy University and Doctorate work in Organizational Systems at Saybrook University. An experienced organization development consultant, she is also an author, adjunct faculty at Regis University in Denver, Colorado, the Entrepreneur Community Online, Southern New Hampshire University, and a national speaker and keynote
Kathryn has worked with organizations ranging from six people to the thousands. She has done strategic planning, visioning, and collaborative decision making using specialized meeting facilitation techniques. She’s worked with government agencies, corporate groups and manufacturing plants. A sampling of Kathryn’s clients include: Wildlife Restoration Volunteers, DRG Construction, AT&T, Rochester Telephone, the San Francisco Department of Public Works, Urban Land Institute, Pacific Telesis, Mervin’s Department Stores, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. She has been active in the American Society of Training and Development (ASTD), both the Bay Area and the Rocky Mountain chapters of the Organizational Development Network (ODN) and with the Time-Exchange Network, a complementary currency non-profit focused on seniors