Business-school graduates and business people may know their numbers, but a deeper understanding of how this planet works as a whole often is missing still. What to do about it? Start small and keep reading!
The Biggest Little Farm
So what’s this farm? There’s a documentary called “The Biggest Little Farm”. It illustrates like nothing we’ve seen before how an ecosystem can work, how it evolves and, more importantly amidst climate change, what we could do in our local communities to help reverse heating of the globe or similar catastrophic effects. Before going further, here’s a link to the website and to its IMDb page.
In case you can’t find a way to watch it, the story begins in L.A., USA, with a couple adopting a dog. Todd barks constantly and clearly is bored out of his mind. Long story short, the couple buy land outside of the city in the hills where there’s a commercial orchard of lemon trees, avocado trees and dry dirt everywhere. It looks uninviting, rugged and as if nothing will grow there.
The two previous owners have failed at forcing money out of the area. The naively brave couple move to Apricot Lane Farm and blow their first-year budget within half a year, at which point nothing has even been planted yet. And I just hear “Oh my god…” in my head.
But then magic starts to happen. Magic, Mother Earth. She heals herself when given a chance to show what she’s capable of. Year after year new problems arise, troubleshooting happens, they give the farm what it needs, it prospers even more, cycle of new problems and so on. It seems as if they can’t get a break but all of it is necessary before equilibrium is found. All hardship has to happen in order for solutions to be found, to bring them closer to a new normal, compared to the barren lands void of soil.
“The Biggest Little Farm” is authentic, honest and full of hope. It teaches many lessons, both literal and figurative, and will stay with me for years to come. I hope you’ll have a chance to watch the story about Apricot Lane Farm, too.
Money, Money, Money
Business still doesn’t happen in vacuum on this planet, but our activities affect the whole. Stuff goes down the toilet when people take ecology out of all sorts of equations, turn anything under the sun into a potential money-making machine, mess things up royally, and walk away with an “Oh, it was doomed to fail!” instead of sitting down before acting to ponder what makes dirt soil.
Yes, dirt and soil. One creates vast expanses of land where nothing grows, where dust storms rage and where landslides appear at excessive rainfall. That’s dirt. That’s also a huge risk in causing environmental-refugee numbers to skyrocket over the next few decades, because people like to feed their kids and drought, no crops, no food on the table means moving to where such is found.
Soil on the other hand has the good stuff, the microbes from compost, and creates life when it’s given life. It also allows plants to bind the top layers strongly in heavy rain. In short, dust is dead and soil is alive.
One would think that business people do their homework before deciding to go with only lemons and avocados on dry dirt land, but they end up abandoning their failed project due to only dabbling with it a bit. Fortunately they are replaced with someone eager to re-create harmony with the land. Obviously there’s much more to the story of Apricot Lane Farm, but balance demands multitudes (of species) as well as a deeper interest in and understanding of food chains.
As a person with a science degree I’m admittedly slightly triggered when we compare ad nauseam our attention span to that 8-second one of a goldfish. Amidst climate change, Mother Earth should get more than lethargic scrolling through social-media accounts. It’s deep reading that will change the world, if at all, and collectively we need to start spending more time learning useful stuff. Check out my blog post Why Life-Long Learning Should Be Your Business Value if you still need convincing!
Sustainable Development Is The Only Way Forward
For a farm-related investment to yield, one must give first. And that means starting to learn about sustainability, sustainable development, and sustainable business strategy.
But this theme goes so much further than merely what’s “green”. Sustainable development is an all-encompassing concept, which shows the necessity of keeping its economic, social, and environmental dimensions in harmonious balance or we won’t hand over a good home to our future generations.
The point of this particular blog post isn’t to discuss further the meanings of sustainability-related concepts, but you can count on my returning to them more than once this year, so please stay tuned for ideas how you can start implementing them in your own firm. I would love for something bigger to come out of my at times *ahem* passionate contributions.
Actions Over Words
This is the time for all of us to act. To question what we’ve always taken for granted, as truth, as permanent. To be uncomfortable in realisations that some decisions made up until now haven’t been the most favourable for the planet and its health. To humbly sit with the difference between “want” and “need”.
To invite this concept into all areas of our everyday lives and as business owners to change course if this is the only sensible option. If nobody around us acts, we should still be couragous enough to do good alone.
It’s no excuse if policy makers shy away from their responsibilities either, so vote when you can for those, who think even remotely about our grandchildren’s generation. The children who have yet to be born didn’t ask to be put on this planet and they certainly didn’t ask to live in a time of one catastrophy after the other.
Words are cheap, actions not. We’re here for you when starting your journey in a less single-use, consumerist direction and finding new ways to not just make money for the sake of it, but to pay bills and create experiences with money made in more meaningful ways.
The point of sustainable development isn’t deprivation but moderation and balance, and that should be the end goal for us all. Let’s claim responsibility of our actions together and find our unique ways to contribute.
Photo credit: Elena Mozhvilo.