In this talk from Bioneers by the Bay 2008, John Abrams (author of The Companies We Keep: Employee Ownership and the Business of Community and Place) makes the case for an approach to climate change solutions—as well as solutions to other crises—that involves looking at the project in a whole new way: as a cooperative, employee-owned business venture.
But change is coming. I mean, that’s the way we humans are. But change is coming. Whether we’re against it or not, now is the time when we must insist on the future we want and need. Either that, or we’ll let a different future happen to us against our will. One way or another, there will be change. None of us can do it all. All of us can do something. And maybe it’s more than we think. At South Mountain Company—the design, build, and renewable energy company I founded in 1975 that’s been owned and operated by its employees for the past two decades—one of our goals is to make all operations carbon neutral in ten years. We really have not fully defined what that means yet for us, and the depth of that, but we’re moving toward the goal nonetheless. Today we heat our building and run our forklifts with biodiesel, which we make ourselves. Twenty-five percent of our electricity is generated on site. By the end of this fall, that will become 90%. In our work we’re moving closer and closer, sometimes reaching this goal of net zero energy houses, and even our subsidized affordable housing, which is a large part of our work, is built this way to make sure that it’s forever affordable.
But so what? How does our fumbling little drop in the bucket matter? It gives us hope.