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What If… a Coneference Collaboration Lead to Real Sustainable Result?

My CollaborateUp colleague, Richard Crespin, and I attended an incredible conference on corporate sustainability. Sustainable Brands is not just a conference, it’s a community of collective impact, made up of individuals who represent some of the world’s largest, most influential brands. The conference is a platform for sharing insights and creating relationships that serve as a key platform for effective partnerships across companies, sectors, industries, and the world.

CollaborateUp is a boutique consulting firm that specializes in facilitation of effective multi-stakeholder engagement and was asked to lead sessions with key sponsors at the Sustainable Brands Activation Hub. Working with Coca-Cola’s Ekocycle, SAP, and BASF, we brought people together around their WHAT IF statements, visionary goals for a more sustainable world through business.

These sessions revealed a set of innovation pillars that anyone looking to multi-stakeholder collaboration to solve a tough problem should consider.

INNOVATION PILLAR #1: Clearly Define the Issue to Solve
INNOVATION PILLAR #2: Co-Create a Unique Value Proposition That Working Together Will Achieve
INNOVATION PILLAR #3: Identify the Target Population That the Effort Is Meant to Serve
INNOVATION PILLAR #4: Bring the Key Players to the Table

To read the entire article, click here.

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A Redbox Success.

Last night I stopped at a Redbox to grab a movie for girl’s night with my sister and our friend Kathy who was in town. Not the most savvy hollywood movie buff, I flipped the pages of selections and stopped when I came across Lee Daniels’ The Butler. I had heard good things when it was released months back and thought it would be a decent pick.

My sister is the mother of an 11 month old baby who doesn’t sleep well. This means my sister is a constantly exhausted woman who hasn’t slept much in 11 months. We took over-under bets on how soon she’d crash. Not only did she make it through the entire movie, but she asked to pause during every baby check. The Butler is that good.

It’s good because it’s captivating and brilliant in a way only a film based on a true story can be. The film follows the emotional experience of a black man working as a butler alongside United States Presidents for 34 years all while the civil rights movement takes place outside the walls of the White House. The interactions Cecil Gaines (played by Forest Whitaker) has with the presidents shows the human side of a massive global issue. As an American watching the film, it compels you to follow the historic journey of a sad and difficult time in our country’s history. To think the brutal acts of extreme violence toward black people were done in our nation’s neighborhoods just a handful of decades ago, it’s hard to believe it’s true.

Gaines states, on the way back to visit the cotton farm he grew up as a field worker on, “Americans always turn a blind eye to our own. We look out to the world and judge. We hear about the concentration camps, but these camps went on for 200 years in America.” With the societal advancements that have come over the years, it is so critical for films like this to force us to take pause and reflect on the times of past that have made up the realities of today. As we point fingers to those others currently fostering unjust communities, we must first reflect on the inequality of our own past, and challenge ourselves to question how far we’ve really come.

The film ends in 2008 with the momentous election of President Barack Obama. The speech started with, “If there is anyone out there who still doubts that America is a place where all things are possible; who still wonders if the dream of our founders is alive in our time; who still questions the power of our democracy, tonight is your answer… It’s the answer spoken by young and old, rich and poor, Democrat and Republican, black, white, Latino, Asian, Native American, gay, straight, disabled and not disabled – Americans who sent a message to the world that we have never been a collection of Red States and Blue States: we are, and always will be, the United States of America.”

In 2008, I lived in Chicago and stood with the crowds in Grant Park as the first African American man was voted in by the American people as President of the United States of America. It didn’t matter what political party any of us identified with, we all were there to be a part of history. I linked arms with black women who were crying next to me as the future president said the words above. I understood it was a big day, but as a young white woman, it wasn’t possible for me to fully comprehend the emotions of the women as we experienced the same moment. The Butler brought me back to that night and made me feel proud of the women next to me, and every other person who had felt racial discrimination who felt a new sense of hope in our nation’s future on that significant day.

While watching the film, I couldn’t help but think of the Big Shared World journey and the importance of humanizing hard to comprehend situations through effective storytelling. By personifying the bigger picture, the film was able to connect audiences with a thought provoking and emotional experience about a time when segregation and deeply ingrained discrimination was the norm. I do not have the power of Oprah, but now that I have been empowered by Oprah’s film, I hope that the people I have conversations with in the coming months can help provide a narrative that is human and insightful.

There is a poem by a German pastor Martin Niemöller, originally written in the late 1940s, that is often cited as a poignant statement on the dangers of political and societal apathy. I read it as a personal challenge to build empathy and speak up for my fellow human.

First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out–
Because I was not a Socialist.

Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out–
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out–
Because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.

I plan to embark on this journey to address just that challenge – my role in the world and how I can speak out to be a voice for the vulnerable, quieted voices. What if there were no labels, no borders, no black and white. What if there was a day when a poem would read:

Humans came for other humans, and I spoke out — Because I was also human.

In joined voice. -C

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Life is a moving adventure.

A couple years ago, my dear cousin and friend Annie gave me a magnet with the quote:
“She wasn’t where she had been, she wasn’t where she was going, but she was on her way.”

I was touched by how pertinent the statement felt at the time. While the magnet has moved from fridge to fridge, the sentiment still rings true. I have a feeling it always will. While some days and situations may feel more stable than others, as long as there are more ahead, we will always be in transit in the journey of life.

Over the past year, when people ask me where I live I tell them, “I’m from Minnesota and based in Washington DC.” Without intention, I have become somewhat of a professional nomad. Since graduating from college in 2009, I moved from Chicago to Oklahoma for a job. When my lease was running up, I questioned if Oklahoma was really the place for me, so I packed up my apartment and moved home to Minnesota. After some months in my parent’s suburban basement, I applied and got into graduate school at University of Minnesota which prompted a move downtown Minneapolis. Two great years in the most perfect apartment, my lease was running up, my fellow graduates were planning moves to Washington DC and I was wondering if Minnesota really was where I wanted to be to start my post-grad career. I put in my notice, packed up my apartment, and moved to a tiny studio in the heart of Washington DC. As my lease was running up at the end of August, I started to think about whether I really wanted to stay or if it was time to pack up my apartment again…

Thus began the fourth cross country move in just under five years.

While I think I’m pretty consistently downsized, every time I move I get rid of clothes that haven’t been worn since the last move, paperwork no longer needed, and other items not worth taking across state borders. A few years back I was introduced to the genius of the late George Carlin. Every time I’ve moved since, I have his classic bit on “Stuff” running through my head. Linked below for viewing enjoyment.

I used to think this pattern of moving meant I had commitment issues, but I think it’s actually re-commitment issues that spawn the location changes. I don’t mind committing to a new adventure, and I usually do so whole heartedly. But when the time comes to decide if I want to keep doing what I’m doing, I get the itch for the next adventure, and the next location to call home as I explore. Your location determines a lot. Mainly, how you interact with the world every day. And so, before I decide where I move next, I moved my stuff to Minnesota and plan to take in the adventure of the Big Shared World journey!

3 Questions. 3 Months. 30 Countries. 300 People.

Thanks for coming along for the journey, let’s make it a good one! -C

A couple years ago, my dear cousin and friend Annie gave me a magnet with the quote:
“She wasn’t where she had been, she wasn’t where she was going, but she was on her way.”

I was touched by how pertinent the statement felt at the time. While the magnet has moved from fridge to fridge, the sentiment still rings true. I have a feeling it always will. While some days and situations may feel more stable than others, as long as there are more ahead, we will always be in transit in the journey of life.

Over the past year, when people ask me where I live I tell them, “I’m from Minnesota and based in Washington DC.” Without intention, I have become somewhat of a professional nomad. Since graduating from college in 2009, I moved from Chicago to Oklahoma for a job. When my lease was running up, I questioned if Oklahoma was really the place for me, so I packed up my apartment and moved home to Minnesota. After some months in my parent’s suburban basement, I applied and got into graduate school at University of Minnesota which prompted a move downtown Minneapolis. Two great years in the most perfect apartment, my lease was running up, my fellow graduates were planning moves to Washington DC and I was wondering if Minnesota really was where I wanted to be to start my post-grad career. I put in my notice, packed up my apartment, and moved to a tiny studio in the heart of Washington DC. As my lease was running up at the end of August, I started to think about whether I really wanted to stay or if it was time to pack up my apartment again…

Thus began the fourth cross country move in just under five years.

While I think I’m pretty consistently downsized, every time I move I get rid of clothes that haven’t been worn since the last move, paperwork no longer needed, and other items not worth taking across state borders. A few years back I was introduced to the genius of the late George Carlin. Every time I’ve moved since, I have his classic bit on “Stuff” running through my head. Linked below for viewing enjoyment.

I used to think this pattern of moving meant I had commitment issues, but I think it’s actually re-commitment issues that spawn the location changes. I don’t mind committing to a new adventure, and I usually do so whole heartedly. But when the time comes to decide if I want to keep doing what I’m doing, I get the itch for the next adventure, and the next location to call home as I explore. Your location determines a lot. Mainly, how you interact with the world every day. And so, before I decide where I move next, I moved my stuff to Minnesota and plan to take in the adventure of the Big Shared World journey!

3 Questions. 3 Months. 30 Countries. 300 People.

Thanks for coming along for the journey, let’s make it a good one!