Tag Archives: Environment

What’s a post about environmental capital have to do with Art?

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Finally here is the interview that I had with Manu Sharma from the Natural Capital Project!

Disclaimer:  I have known Manu for a very long time.  We’ve been friends since we were kids.  When we were little we always said that we wanted to do good in the world.  He recently moved from Toronto to Paolo Alto to work on this project with Stanford.  When I learned what the project was all about – I had questions.  This is not a random encounter – nor was I approached to do this interview by the project.  I was just sincerely intrigued.  I still have questions and will likely have a follow up post.

This interview in total lasts about 15mins. It’s been split into 3 pieces for easier consumption.  The 1st and 3rd part are audio only.  The 2nd part integrates the video desktop recording I’ve always been so curious about.     Also note that ‘B is for Blog’  is a work room so our contributors like to muck about with new ideas and new ways of presenting ideas.  Like, Social Return on Investment,  natural capital and trying to capture value in processes that have traditionally not been valued,  is a very tricky business.   It’s a project with huge scope, great hope and amazing minds working behind the scenes. (The first post we did was titled “The Natural Capital Project – What is that Forest Really Worth?”)

Part 1: The Basics (6.5 mins)

http://naturalcapitalproject.com

Part 2: The Model (6 mins)

Part 3: Why Manu is a part of this project (2 mins)

Now back to the question posed in the post….What does a post about environmental capital have to do with art?

Lots really  – if you think about it.

Something that’s always bothered me about many disciplines, (in particular, art,  science or engineering based disciplines) is the weird way we compartmentalize what we do and keep it far away from those whom we deem simply too inept to understand what we are all about.

That was so 1990.  Welcome to the new age and the world of the ‘interdisciplinary.’  These interviews with amazing people I’ve met are a way to stimulate discussion in and between the disciplines we, artists or otherwise, belong to.

The environment is what we all live within.  FStop10, our resident photog, has utilized the landscape around us, animals and their natural and not so natural habitats as inspiration and muses for her work.  Edward Burtynsky, one of the world’s most influential photographers, utilizes his perspective and use of the lens to bring  us into a part of our world that is so daily and yet so hidden. (You totally need to see this video that describes his collection titled ‘Oil.’)

The beauty of having an interview with an environmentalist or learning about a discipline outside of your own is that integration aspect – that integration aspect is what I think has been missing from problem solving and addressing the world’s most devastating issues. The world is three dimensional – there is no single discipline that will save us.

Artists are amazing critical and creative thinkers.  We can bring a completely different or complimentary point of view to any issue.  Moving from compartmentalized disciplines to interdisciplinary thinking is like moving from 2d to 3d in the films;  it helps to make the picture fuller and more detailed – it brings life to the perspective.

The Natural Capital Project – What is that Forest Really Worth?

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In my own work and art I have been very interested in trying to bring value to things that have been helping us along in life but never really get the recognition they deserve.

Our communities have had to endure environmental degradation and exploitation for commercial purposes. Let’s not be too smug – we need businesses to employ our communities and provide us with goods and services. But over the past little while we have finally collectively recognized that the ways in which we do business currently are not sustainable.

Lake Louise, Alberta Canada ~ We undervalue our natural resources and the commercial market is not the only place where these resources derive value.

THE NATURAL CAPITAL PROJECT is moving forward with research to develop tools that will allow business leaders to make more informed decisions about the environmental resources they use and how they use them.

“Ecosystem Services” is a phrase you are going to start hearing a lot more often.  It’s a concept that proposes that nature is doing a lot of work that is simply not being recognized; if we can provide a way for the work nature does  (that we rely on) to be recognized,  we can consider the implications of our actions.  It’s an interesting idea which is much along the same lines of SROI (Social Return on Investment) – where the value being created by non-profits and other social ventures is not wholly represented by a monetary return. For the true value of the work to be undrestood the monetary and non-monetary values (i.e. social good or ecosystem service) needs to be recognized together in a holistic manner.  For a more “official” definition of Ecosystem Services click here.

From my understanding the good people at The National Capital Project have been creating “demonstration projects” at sites where changes to the environment can have drastic consequences.  These sites are where models are being created for leaders from other organizations to SEE  how the models and tools work and more importantly how to integrate these new ideas into their own decision making processes (all links are from The Natural Capital Project):

This is a joint project between Stanford University, the World Wildlife Fund and The Nature Conservancy.

I’m pretty interested in this concept as it does relate to my own readings in SROI.  I’m going to try to do an interview with Manu Sharma  – an engineer who is currently working on the project who is based at Stanford. (He also happens to be one of my dearest friends ever in life – when I learned about his work I was pretty awe-struck).

Until my interview with Manu – If you have 60 seconds (which I know you do)  take a listen to this podcast from Scientific American about ecosystem services (I found the link to this via The Natural Capital Project website)

PS: Keep up the good work in your life!  I know sometimes it may seem like you’re not making a recognizable contribution – so tell us what you are up to! We can’t recognize you and your awesomeness if we don’t know what you’re about! Monetary value is only one point on the value spectrum – you are awesome – your work is bringing value into the world – share your passion!  Take comfort in the stories of others and know that you are not alone.  Work hard and fight the good fight my friends.