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April 22, 2011

Socially Responsible Investing in the Rockies’ Conference…in New Orleans?


Do you find this as frickin’ ironic as I do? An SRI in the Rockies conference held thousands of miles away in Nawlins? Who’s running the show, these days?

Coloradans, come and celebrate the 2011 SRI (Socially Responsible Investing) of the Rockies Conference! This year, it takes place in the beautiful rocky mountains of…N’Orlins?

Louisiana?

Really?


Is there anyone else out there that finds this as ironic as I do?

Shouldn’t the socially resposible investment community of the Rockies focus on the for-benefit movement within the Rocky Mountain region? Who’s looking at the whole system, and the hypocrisy of the components within the whole system?

I am a 40-something sustainability consultant who has a lot of respect for what the Socially Responsible Investment networks have brought to the front. Founded in 1988, long before Nike or HP jumped on the green bandwagon, the SRI movement has brought awareness to the investment community that at the time was breakthrough thinking. This network of change agents brought just that…change.

For this, I am truly grateful. But, 23 years later, the foresight these folks once had has seemingly flown out the (airplane) window.

Let’s reference the big picture and historical summary of the SRI movement. In the mid-80’s, a bunch of savvy financial advisors, socially aware entrepreneurs, and NGOs got together to create — through a collaborative process — a new way of defining a “successful” business profile. This new metric was based on three bottom lines as opposed to the conventional single bottom line: social, environmental, and financial viability. Today, triple bottom line economics is written into numerous business plans and mission statements; in fact, many predict that companies that do not take into account these three bottom lines will be left in the dust.

Social responsibility starts with all of us as individuals. It begins with us, as consumers, putting our money where our mouth is. It’s deciding to ride a bike instead of a car. It’s about buying a t-shirt that’s produced locally instead of in China. It’s about supporting our local economy, our local farmers, our local merchants and restaurants. It’s about deciding to have a staycation instead of flying somewhere exotic. Ultimately, the more we throw money to our local community, the more thriving our community becomes, and us in it.

So, why and how did the SRI of the Rockies decide to export their annual conference from Rocky Mountain high to the shores of Louisiana? I would love to tally the amount of dollars that the Rocky Mountain region “lost” in such a decision.  What’s most disturbing is the fact that the keynote speakers and the movers and shakers backing the event represent this country’s thought leaders. Leaders who espouse the benefits of new economies, environmental impact measurements, and social & environmental industry practices. I would love to attend such an event, especially if it meant carpooling with members of my tribe down the road to Aspen or Boulder or even Colorado Springs. But I honestly feel a tad insulted. To be solicited to attend an SRI Rockies conference that requires me to hop on a carbon-spewing airplane, to travel hundreds of miles away,  and to divert the money that would otherwise go to my local, bio-regional community seems to completely miss the point.

My hope is that the folks who are running the show can see the poetic irony here. And the hypocrisy. Perhaps we can all be better at admitting our hypocrisy—and let’s admit it, we all have a little or a lot of it—so that we can start to make the changes we so desperately need to bring on The Shift!

With gratitude and compassion for all of those willing to point the finger at themselves,

Pippa

Pippa Sorley is co-founder of eConscious Market, one of the Internet’s leading online green retailers.

She has 15+ experience working for both nonprofit organizations & corporations within the Natural Products, LOHAS, and Sustainable Business sectors. She lives in the Republic of Boulder, Colorado.

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