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Can Sustainable Values Bridge the Conservative-Progressive Divide?

Sustainability makes strange bedfellows. In this case, a small Jewish-leaning business and a fundamentalist Christian megachurch.

In his latest article for TriplePundit, Martin Melaver, author of Living Above the Store: Building a Business That Creates Value, Inspires Change, and Restores Land and Community and CEO of the socially responsible business Melaver, Inc., talks about a strange partnership his company recently entered into. At first glance, the two organizations couldn’t be less alike. Dig deeper, though, and you’ll see that responsible stewardship of this big ol’ mudball we all share crosses faith, party, and ideological borders.

One of our clients is a fundamentalist Church with a mega-congregation. My own company is a small family business with strong leftist Jewish values. You wouldn’t think we’d have much to talk about except the weather and SEC football. The differences could not be greater.

The K-12 school that is a part of the Church has a sign on its football stadium that reads “With God’s help we will crush the enemy.” In my own lexicon, I don’t think I’ve ever used the word “warrior” outside the context of a yoga position. The Church finishes all of its meetings with a prayer. Our own company meetings are much more riotous by comparison. The Church evangelizes on television every Sunday. We try to do our talking through various sustainable practices that take years before they come to fruition.

There are some things we are never going to agree on, some other things I can’t even imagine having a conversation about. And yet despite many cultural differences, our two entities are slowly discovering some compelling common ground.

This particular Church is interested in creating a continuum of care for its congregants, a cradle-to-grave development that most of us would recognize in one way or another as good ol’ mixed-use, mixed-income community development. And, as trustees of church coffers, they are interested in energy-saving strategies and water-conservation technologies that reduce costs for its constituents – thus making them similarly invested in being good stewards of our natural capital. In short, a conservative Church finds itself breaking bread with a progressive business on a sustainable real estate  venture.

Read the whole article here.


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